When adoptees share their truth on blogs, I’ve noticed that adoptive parents or potential adoptive parents (AP’s and PAP’s) often chime in on comment threads with,“Wow, this was really hard to read…” or something similar. The feeling is definitely, “I wish you wouldn’t have spoken up and said that. It hurts and it makes things harder.”
I’ve witnessed this in blog-world, as well as face to facea few times when I shared my experience as well as the truth about some things going on in the adoption industry.
A few thoughts I have in relation to this:
If you haven’t adopted yet…
Consider it very carefully. Are you really ready to adopt a child if you don’t want to honestly face their true feelings? Not just their feelings now but feelings they may have twenty years from now? This week I posted a link to an adoption article I contributed to and it received this response:
“I honestly found this very hard to read. I feel it’s potentially damaging to potential adoptive parents.”
I didn’t take this negatively. It excited me!
I hope adult adoptees sharing the truth about post-adoption issues does unsettle people and do damage to their preconceived ideas.
Here’s the truth from one adoptee, Julie G, who commented on this post at Adoptee Restoration this past week:
“There is such a difference in having parents who love you versus having parents who want to know you and meet your needs…It’s funny how so many people wanted a baby back then, and at the same time, that same little baby caused so much trouble and pain.”
The bottom line is: do you want to really know your child? Or do you just want to know them as you want them to be? Or even as you feel you need them to be?
Is adoption about meeting their needs, or meeting yours? Chances are, your child’s feelings (whether a child or adult adoptee) will not always be comfortable for you. This is part of being a parent, and in adoption, it is only magnified. Adult adoptees do PAP’s no favors by hiding our feelings, and PAP’s aren’t served well by ignoring a significant portion of the adoption population who have experienced post-adoption issues, and have very legitimate concerns. This isn’t just about challenges many of us have faced personally. It’s about a movement to change an industry that desperately needs it for the sake of the children.
If you have adopted already…
Consider that one day your child will be an adult adoptee. You might want to think twice before you tell your son or daughter that something they said regarding their adoption is hard for you to hear. The way some AP’s express themselves, it’s almost as if they are speaking of their own adoption instead of their child’s. Your complaint of, “wow, this was really hard to hear” sends a message that they aren’t welcome to share their feelings openly without repercussions. It could serve to support what they perceive as an unspoken rule that they are responsible for your happiness.
(A good way to get practice for when your child is an adult is to be open to what adult adoptees have to say now.)
The main thing that comes up for me when AP’s or PAP’s continually comment about how hard some adult adoptee views are to read is that perhaps our adoption was really about someone else.
ah yes, i call this masterpiece “waist up character faces left with neutral expression”
This probably belongs on my
seriousadoption blog and not my personal one.
And I should probably be writing it during my off hours and not on company time.
But, along the lines of “stealing like an artist” and because it’s on my mind right now:
Adoptees are people. And thus should be conferred all the same legal rights and privileges conferred to
mostall other human beings.
We should not be purchased. We should not be sold by the governments of our countries of origin. We should not feel forced to retain the names and associations of our new “owners”. We should not be forced to remain in legal contracts we were not a consenting party to, as in most cases they occur when we are children or babies. We should have access to our birth certificates AND basic knowledge of who we are and the genetics we came from for valid medical purposes. And, legal rights aside, we have rights to our thoughts and emotions, particularly and especially on the social-legal institution of adoption. One up from that in the hierarchy, we have the right to be heard and have our thoughts considered valid without emotional insult based counter-attack. You don’t have to agree with us. But, you do need to be respectful of what we have to say as well as our right to be heard.
Calling someone “angry” or “emotional” with a negative connotation is a typical tactic of an oppressor to invalidate a valid argument for basic human rights. A problem and the genesis of other using the slur “angryadoptee” in response to any adoptee who poses a valid critique of the social institution they have the direct firsthand experience of being raised in.
“Oh, you don’t really mean that, you’re just angry.” “Are there any adoptees left in the world that are still grateful?” “Oh, you’re adopted, your emotions are preventing you from seeing this situation rationally.” “How ungrateful of you to propose that adoption was not the best situation you could have been raised in. Don’t you understand your parents couldn’t have kids? Don’t you understand that your mother didn’t want you.” The messages of the dominant non-adopted culture are infinitely less diverse than the real situations adoptees rise from.
Some of us are the “products” of rape. Some of us are the products of child abductions. Some of us are the result of human trafficking. Some of us “became available” for adoption through wars, poverty, governmental failures and widespread national situations of distress. No two adoptee narratives are exactly alike. To say that they are is to erase the experience of another.
Especially in the case of international adoptions, MOST (if not all) of our narratives are infinitely more complicated than “your mother didn’t want you”. And, also, especially in the case of international/trans-ethnic adoptions we become dual outsiders in our early lives as well as in our returns to our countries of origin. We are frequently not “at home” in white America. Similarly, upon return to our countries of origin, we are not at home being wholly Peruvian or Korean. We become that which is “other”. That which is “neither” and simultaneously “both”. We are a colonized people. That some could perhaps argue belong in the end only to ourselves. Our losses were/are real. Our responses to those are real.
So, to say someone is an “angry adoptee” as if that is: 1) a bad thing and 2) unjustified ——- serves no one other than slurs speaker. And should be an indicator of the speakers interest in the true well-being of adoptees.
“Putting adoptees in their place” will not serve “to make a future generation of adoptees more grateful”. Denying adoptees access to their legal records will not make them go home to live their lives and identities as you assigned them. And, in general, making demeaning remarks at someone who you might bill as “angry”, DOES NOT PACIFY THEM. So, if “sweeping all the angry adoptees under the rug and out of your hair” by shaming them is the goal of using that slur, you really ought to work on your human relations skills.
The thing that gets me (to be bigoted in return for a moment) is that the worst offenders are usually the non-adopted adoptive parents and adoption professionals.
As the future and current “new owners” of children and adults, they have vested interest in adoptees being portrayed as universally happy. Because they “don’t want to endanger” adoption. Or possibly “cause the picture of adoptees in society to take a negative trend.”
I’ve got a fucking idea here. To sound like so much of an “angry adoptee” for a moment. How about everyone focus on the “portrayal of adoptees” being FUCKING HONEST?
If you want to “sell” the idea of adoptees being “worthwhile investments” and “contributors to our communities” why don’t you show all the amazing things we do in spite of the fact our situations and social support really fucking suck?
And, make sure when you do it that you show that *we* did it. Not our parents. Not our schools. Not some fucking celebrity adoptive mother oh-look-at-me-i-saved-26-disabled-babies figurehead. US.
Also, in showing us in our complexity, make sure to show that we’re people not angels.
We’re not here to save anyone from their infertility or be the joy of anyone else’s life.
Adopt children because you want to raise them to be themselves . Not to fill an emptiness in your own personal development.
Adoptive children, like any other child, grow up into adult people. And therefore may evolve into a pokemon you may not entirely be fond of.
No matter what we evolve into, you do not get your money back. So, don’t adopt if you only want a water type pokemon. Or have a set idea in mind that you cannot deviate from, in what you want for or from your future child.
I understand, that naturally, this must be a very difficult concept for adoption professionals and adoptive parents to understand given that the majority of the social institution is based on assuring everyone that “LYING IS OKAY”. As illustrated by the following examples:
Amend birth certificates so that they lie.
Withhold information to first mothers/ birthmothers.
Withhold information to adoptees “until you feel that they are ready”.
Withold legal documents that pertain to the adoptee, from the adoptee, FOREVER.
Etc.,etc.,etc down the lie chute.
But, given that the entire institution is based on a monumental pile of LYING.
How can the same people think anger, if present, is unjustified?
They’d be angry if lying to them was legally sanctioned too!
True wisdom here. Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve experienced a lot of this, it becomes internalized. This entry gives me a greater understanding for why Islam doesn’t allow ‘adoption’ [sure you can take care of someone but you can’t change their name]. It wasn’t until I was around 14 that I found out my real last name.
We’re not here to save anyone from their infertility or be the joy of anyone else’s life.