The Abortion or Orphanage Comeback

15 May

Originally written in 2010, I’ve made edits and added current happenings, including a twitter thread by USA Today. 2010 was a time when adoptees were starting to speak up online and adoptive parents weren’t liking it much, so many reacted badly. Since the Alito draft was leaked, the topic of abortion and adoption has seen a resurgence online, and the vitriol against any adoptee who speaks critically of adoption and/or is fine with abortion as a choice is swift and harsh.

Anyone else tired of it? I was tired of it back then, now I have no patience for non-adopted people telling adoptees what they must feel.

I see questions and statements posed by adoptees that relate to personal struggles, and they believe, or ask if it is related to being adopted. The feelings they may be insecurity, lack of self-esteem, feeling of not belonging, being different or other feelings – but all of them can be directly related to the loss that adoption brings to the one adopted. Other adoptees who suffered abuse and/or were adopted from a different country, lost their culture, language, those with racial differences have more feelings to add to the list, and again, it all comes back to being adopted. I’m sure anyone who has surfed the forums or blogs have seen these feelings stated or questions asked.

These feelings are valid and the adoptees have them and own them. In return for asking a valid question or making a statement about themselves and being related to being adopted, they get bombarded with ‘my kids don’t feel that way’ type replies, or I know an adoptee whose just fine being adopted. They end up being negated, dismissed, silenced. They are also shut down and belittled. The strength that it took to put themselves out there in the first place is received with ridicule, hostility and/or defensiveness. They are told that kids feel that way in biological families or that studies have shown that adoptees are just as well-adjusted as counterparts raised in biological families. They may imply that it is the adoptees parents who are at fault for not raising the adoptee to have a secure sense of self, and that today’s parents know better how to deal with this issues. They inject words into the discussion that infer the adoptee who asked the question is maladjusted and just had a bad experience. That adoptees and adoptive parents do just fine and ‘all is well’ in the majority of adoptions. And perhaps they are the majority, perhaps not, but that is not the reason why the question or blog post was written. Silencing and shutting down the adoptee voice is wrong. Providing pseudo-supportive answers in a manner that proclaims your superiority because your child never felt that way is wrong. 

The reason why the question or post was written was to open a dialogue to find support. Support from others who have been there and felt that. Such a simple concept that helps others feel connected and that they are not alone. That gives them a space to talk and deal with their realities and complexities of being an adoptee. That being an adoptee is for life and that life is complicated by being adopted. Knowledge that others felt and feel that way makes the journey less arduous. It is also a valuable learning tool for parents, if they would only open their hearts and minds and just listen. 

I deal with insecurity, abandonment fears, feelings of low self-esteem. I acknowledge that my temperament plays a large role in how I deal with these feelings. But the feelings stem from being an adoptee because that was the beginning of my reality. I have always been insecure, so how could it not relate to the separation from my mother? I would not have the feelings of being abandoned again, if I had not previously been abandoned. My lack of self-esteem would not have been always present in me since a child, if I had not been given away. Have other life experiences compounded those feelings?  Absolutely. But the original act is what all those life experiences build upon or compare themselves too.  Those feelings are the continuation of the first loss. Each successive loss compounds upon the previous loss, it is a logical conclusion that cannot be dismissed.  How each of us deals with these feelings is also up to us. But to deny the feelings exist, is not productive. 

Being talked down too, or asked stupid questions like would I rather have been aborted is mean-spirited and gaslighting.  It is hard enough dealing with contradictory feelings inside of you, that relate to not being able to imagine any other life than what you have lived and who you lived it with, and at the same time wishing you never had to be adopted in the first place, let alone stupid questions like the abortion one. That question is very much like the question thrown at inter-country adoptees that goes would you rather have grown up in an orphanage instead of being adopted? Those two questions should be removed from the dialogue (maybe add it to the negative side of your positive adoption language). There is no excuse for those who use those questions to shut down feelings, thoughts and words that need to be discussed. I wish the adoption self-proclaimed-experts would focus on teaching others how to open their minds, be mindful, to think critically about all aspects of adoption from the adoptee experiences, instead of spending so much effort creating and teaching happy positive adoption language. Seems like it would be a much better use of their time, unless it is the intent to never allow mindful thought in the first place when it comes to anything adoption.

For adoptive parents who ask the ‘would you rather be aborted‘  or ‘would you rather grow up in an orphanage’ questions? I have tried to figure out why they default to that for years; and the best answer I have is that they want to justify that adoption is the best solution, absolve and distance themselves of any guilt they may feel hearing that adoptees feel loss, because there was another different alternative to living with your family, the abortion or orphanage life, so it becomes their default position. They want to forget that the best solution is that the child grows up in their family, whenever possible. They came to be adoptive parents for many differing reasons, but for some of them, one reason, and one reason alone drove them to adoption – they were infertile but wanted to be parents.  The adoptive parents who use these tactics seem to need adoption validated, normalized, and even raised up to be equal too, or better than what they could not have, a biological family.   

I don’t believe adoption is equal too, or better than growing up in your own family. I do believe it can be good. I think you can be a family. I just don’t think it is the same. I worry that the ‘we are the same as’ mentality may cause the dismissal of the adoptees feelings, perhaps not now, but what about the next generation? I could be wrong but believe if you go into it with that mentality you set yourself up for failure. Accepting it is different from a biological family puts yourself in reality. For those who chose adoption as the 1st choice, I believe most recognize that you might not be the child’s 1st choice, especially once they truly understand what adoption is and means. For those who chose adoption as the 2nd choice, I have seen many whose struggles may prevent them from clearly recognizing why they may also be their child’s 2nd choice, a brick wall they cannot move past because they had to choose the 2nd choice, and it has to be as good as having their 1st choice. I am not trying to be mean-spirited or cruel, simply understanding that their loss and their own innate self-protection may not allow them an unbiased view. They may say all the right words, but it is more of a repeating what I was told monologue, which at the same time kind of questions it too.  At the same time I find it hard to understand why they cannot allow adoptees those same feelings that parents to adoption via infertility felt, and most likely if they are honest will always feel?  Why?  Why not admit there is the same theme running between these sentences: “I wanted to have my own baby to raise”. “I wanted to have my own mother raise me”. 

Just like the closed era had stereotypes of how the adoptee was a blank slate and would become like whoever raised them and we would never question our role. This new era of adoptive parents want to believe that allowing the child to grieve their losses that the adoptee will be healed, the adoptee will never come home and say you are not my real mother, the adoptee will heal completely, and all ‘will be well’, and they will live happily ever after.  I wonder what the future adult adoptees of today will feel. My guess is pretty much the same as we do, some okay, some good, some bad, some indifferent, some deeply troubled, some mad, some happy…the list is endless. 

And I’d guess the next generation of adoptees will have plenty to say about the adoptee experience…


Posted by on May 15, 2022 in Adoption


Tags: , , , , , ,

15 responses to “The Abortion or Orphanage Comeback

  1. KPMominTexas

    May 15, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    “I wanted to have my own baby to raise”. “I wanted to have my own mother raise me”. Yes!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. beth62

    May 16, 2022 at 2:07 am

    This “both/and” in my existence in my adoptive family, is the same as my adoptive parent’s.

    I am what you want me to be, and I am not what you want me to be.

    Both are true, for my parents and me. And both must be lived with together by all to succeed in our joint effort of family. One or the other cannot be ignored.
    I don’t know how it could work out for long, or well for all, or at all, otherwise.
    I think acceptance of that truth might lead to what we hear so often from adoptees, and some brave parents.
    I am what I am, it is what it is.
    ‘What it is’ ranges from – We Are Family… I’m fine… Ehh, sure, whatever… oh hell No.
    While all that may depend on the people involved, time also plays a part. ‘It is what it is’ tends to change over time.

    My brother’s, bio sons of my adopted parents, don’t share my kind of both/and with our parents. Although we do share other kinds of, I am what you want me to be, and I am not, with the ‘rents.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. beth62

    May 16, 2022 at 2:15 am

    Yes, I am tired of it. It’s blatant and speaks loudly.
    Orphanage, wth does anybody know about an orphanage these days? Obviously not much!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. beth62

    May 16, 2022 at 2:30 am

    “the ‘would you rather be aborted‘

    That is the dumbest question, it’s just begging for a, Yes. Or some kind of wisecrack.
    I’ve seen it used as a dig.
    And a suggestion to end themselves now when yes is the answer and they will not change their opinion that adoption is not all sunshine and roses.

    Liked by 2 people

    • cindy621

      May 16, 2022 at 12:59 pm

      I’ll ask that person “Would you rather be burned to death in a fire or drowned in an ice-cold lake?” Seriously, why are people so dumb?

      Liked by 3 people

      • beth62

        May 16, 2022 at 3:55 pm

        I get different answers to “Would you rather be adopted?”
        Yes and No.
        Can’t count the times when someone mentions someone is adopted and the remark is, “I wish I was Adopted”
        Can’t count the times I’ve had so many understand how traumatic and horrifiying it could be to loose your parents, your family and any real knowledge of it, regardless of why. And to have to live with the oppression of sealed birth records.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. cindy621

    May 16, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    Dear Tao,

    I know you’ve written a great post when I feel sad, irritated, seen, validated, and even kind of sick to my stomach. It’s a little late for me to be brainwashed into thinking I’ve had an excellent life as an adoptee and I don’t need to question my existence. I never understood why at such a young age I didn’t feel like I belonged in my family. I just thought I was a weird little kid. Now I feel sorry for my younger self not having anyone or anything to explain to me that my feelings were justified.

    Liked by 3 people

    • TAO

      May 16, 2022 at 5:17 pm

      Your last sentence is the sentence many of us also find ourselves making, so you aren’t alone in the journey, know that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. beth62

    May 16, 2022 at 4:18 pm

    Good Grief, the comments out there are harsh. It does remind me of 10, 20 years ago. Maybe it’s time to educate that general society we’ve talked about for so long. It’s an opportunity.
    Saw a remark to the would you rather have questions.

    “I’d rather that the Baby Scoop Era had never existed, and I pray daily that it never comes back.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • KPMominTexas

      May 16, 2022 at 5:34 pm

      I experienced the Baby Scoop Era. Honestly, it doesn’t sound to me that some things have changed enough.

      Liked by 1 person

      • TAO

        May 17, 2022 at 11:25 pm

        No they haven’t, they also added the prospective adoptive parents to be at the birth…


        • KPMominTexas

          May 17, 2022 at 11:27 pm

          So true-I can’t even imagine if the adoptive parents would have been there. I had enough pressure as it was to do everything right.


          • TAO

            May 17, 2022 at 11:38 pm

            I think it was one of the worst things ever to be put into practice. Funny thing – the National Council for Adoption put out a paper saying how it was incredibly wrong and AP’s shouldn’t go to the hospital till the papers were signed.

            They’ve since deleted the paper and jumped on the band wagon – my guess because it works.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. hotlantamax

    May 23, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    Interesting blog and responses. As a birthmother at a time when abortion was illegal, I know the ins and outs of this discussion. My memoir, “The Land of Sunshine and Hell, A Memoir of a ’60’s Unwed Mother” gives the perspective of not only giving up my child, but then having her find herself as a young woman unable to bear her own child, but having to adopt a child herself! So I witnessed the angst of an adoptive mother hoping she would be able to find a baby to raise. Paradoxical!!



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