“his life story”

I’ve almost done a “search terms post” here a dozen times, because I get some very strange ones. (I think it’s because I cuss a lot.) This one caught my attention for a different reason, though:

“why wont my adopted son believe his life story”

(I’ll be making some assumptions as I try to answer this question. I’ll do my best to recognize them and point them out when I do.)

Mr. or Ms. Search Term User:

I’m guessing by “his life story” you mean “the story of how your son got into your family.” (That’s interesting, because it’s usually non-adoptees who tell adoptees we need to call our adoption a one-time, safely-in-the-past event instead of our “life story.” But never mind.)

I’ll assume that your son was adopted at a very young age; otherwise he’d remember his own story. So, look: Why should he believe “his life story”? “His life story” is bullshit. No matter how much you know, no matter what you tell him, if you leave out the important part everyone leaves out, his life story is bullshit. He doesn’t believe it because it isn’t true. I’ll get back to the important part.

Meanwhile, if his adoption resembles mine (closed), he doesn’t have much of a story in the first place. He has a very vague story with no details and zero evidence to back it up. Why should he take anyone’s word for anything? He can’t even prove he was born. Non-adopted people have details: Their mothers were in labor for X hours at Y hospital, etc. Their birth certificates don’t lie.

What little your son has of his story is probably not what he wants to hear. The story I got was “Your parents weren’t married, so she couldn’t keep you: The End.” True, but only a fraction of the story, and a not very satisfying one. I didn’t want to know why I was given up; there are many reasons society provides for a woman to give up her child if someone else wants that child. I wanted to know why I wasn’t kept. There’s a difference. Maybe your son doesn’t believe “his life story” because it’s incomplete and doesn’t tell him anything worth knowing.

Maybe your son’s story, no matter how much of it you know and/or he knows, makes him sad. Again, assuming this is a closed/sealed records infant adoption, that should be easy to understand. A boy very possibly doesn’t want to be reminded no name was passed down to him for him to pass down in turn (not one that reflects reality, anyway). I think that matters to boys and men a lot. I’ve never met a female adoptee who rejected the reclaiming of the word “bastard” as vehemently as some male adoptees I’ve met do. Men don’t get raised, as women do, to expect to surrender their names when they get married anyway.

Of course, bloodlines and names are important to everyone. An adoptee’s story is the story of not having these things, of not belonging to one’s own people. Nobody wants to believe they’re that outcast. Perhaps your son doesn’t believe “his life story” because it says nothing good about him or where and whom he came from.

Maybe “his life story” is something that has never been your son’s to tell because everyone knows it. (Maybe he doesn’t look like you, so everyone can tell he’s adopted.) Maybe it’s easier for him to believe something he makes up. (And really, when one’s birth certificate is a falsehood, maybe one feels entitled to any number of imaginary parents and their stories. Why not? If he has to act in your play in order to earn your love, why shouldn’t he write his own script and expect others to go along with it?) Maybe your son doesn’t believe “his life story” because inventing his own helps him feel powerful, if only just a little. Maybe he feels that, from now on, if anyone is going to tell lies about him and his life, it’s going to be him. Not believing “his life story” may be his one way of feeling in control of his life.

I keep putting “his life story” in quotes for a reason: it isn’t his. He doesn’t even get to be its main character. Adoption stories start when Someone/s Want/s A Baby Very Much, or when a woman Makes a Loving Choice. They end when the Someone/s get/s A Baby. Other people’s stories start when they are born (or perhaps when their parents meet) and end when they die. Your son doesn’t believe it because it’s not “his story:” it’s yours, and, to a lesser extent, his first parents’.

I’ll ask again: Why should your son believe, if “his life story” resembles mine (you know, the one about the Someone/s Who Wanted a Baby Very Much and the Woman Who Made a Loving Choice)? I’m pretty sure he has senses and a brain and friends whose parents displayed their love by keeping them, not getting rid of them. The whole world tells him his story is a lie. That’s because, in ninety-odd per cent of the cases, the story about the Someone/s and the Woman is bullshit.

Almost all of us adopted as infants have the same real, true “life story.” It’s a story about a person or people who wanted a baby and had enough status and/or money to buy one, and a *woman who had a baby but not enough money or status to keep it. That’s the important part everybody leaves out, because nobody wants to be any character in that “life story.” One is either a victim, a purchaser of human flesh, or a purchased product. It’s a sucky, stupid, evil story that should be prevented from happening to anyone whenever possible: The End.

In short, Sir or Ms., if my assumptions hold, your son doesn’t believe “his life story” because it isn’t true, it’s incomplete, it tells him nothing worth knowing, he didn’t ask to be in it, it isn’t his story, and it isn’t even about him, let alone “his life.”

Sincerely,
Snurchin

 

*Yes, I’m sure some few women wanted-really-wanted to undergo nine months of life-altering, perhaps life-threatening pregnancy only to give the baby away, but I’ve never met one. We have fewer adoptions now because there’s less pressure on single women to relinquish. Absent any pressure at all, adoption as we know it would surely be vanishingly rare.

And even if one is the exception, who wants to have come from people who would willingly bring a child into the world for the purpose of giving it away? Nobody, not really, not deep down. Nobody.

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68 Comments

Filed under AdoptoLand, General Ignoramitude

68 responses to ““his life story”

  1. You forgot one of the best: “Maybe your son does not believe his life story, because he feels correctly that it is not true. Adoptive parents are told lies too, from parents being told that the baby they adopted was very healthy (which was technically extremely true, but that he was so very healthy especially for a border line viability prematurely born boy was kept a secret), to entire fairytales about the origin of the kids (a “foundling” could be downright abducted). So maybe the life story you can offer him is simply not true.”

    • I didn’t forget that one. I was careful throughout to emphasize that APs may know nothing of their children’s real “life stories.”

      And I don’t consider it “one of the best,” because adoptive parents are in a much better position to insist on the facts than adopted children are. The onus is on them to put their feelings aside long enough to do their homework *before they adopt.*

      In fact, I’ll come out and say it: PAPs should, in almost all cases, do their homework *and then not adopt.* To me, adoption is like porn: There may be a few women in it for the jollies and not because they have no other choice, but since there is no real way for me to tell the difference between the many unwilling and the few, possibly mythical willing, I choose not to watch porn, and I choose not to adopt.

      If APs do everything right and get lied to anyway, that sucks. But birth parents don’t get guarantees. Why should adoptive parents?

      Everyone I know as family lied to me about everything I am all my life. They didn’t mean to hurt me, but the fact is they made their love for me conditional on my accepting that lie. There’s a difference: a big, BIG difference.

      Every AP on planet earth could have chosen not to adopt. I was never allowed to choose not to be adopted.

      • So true Snarkurch, none of us had a choice, but we do have a choice about what to accept about our ‘back story’. There are so many opportunities for falsehood, lies and secrets at every step of the way from our conception onwards until the time we can remember our own living and our own story. I have recently read and got hot under the collar about a comment by an adopter who believed that the adopters’ story is the ‘right story’ and that the adoptee cannot tell the story with truth. It is high time all recognised that truth and adoption do not belong in the same sentence. Great to see you back posting!

  2. Nancy Rodgers

    Snark so happy to see you back, made my morning!
    I would add the old fav “your mother had college potential”, meaning AP your getting a smart kid. What a lovely “adoption story” that is for a poor kid to figure out, my mother ditched me to put on a cap and gown, as bad as “she loved you so much she gave you up”. Of course it’s all BS, something pretty horrific happened to that mother. You start school and get to know other kids, I figured out something was off early on, “my story” had other kids going huh?
    Good point about males and the name situation, another extra layer of hurt added to what we deal with.

    • Thanks, Nancy! It’s good to be back.

      “College potential”? Who doesn’t have that?

      My first mother’s college education was used to match me to my APs. She was of age, she was better-educated than most women were at the time, and she was upper middle-class. She got shamed out of her baby anyway.

      I don’t really have any authority to speak for male adoptees. I hope to get schooled on that subject.

      • I was lucky with that my mother clearly did not, although the made up story was that she was an about to graduate Doctor. Decades later I proved it was all BS and found the woman who was the graduating Doctor – probably a relative as she had the same name and year of birth as my mother. Adoption provides us with strange synchronicities, plenty of lies and much room for misinformation thought to be kind.

  3. Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Adoptees never truly know the story of their conception, birth and adoption. They have only received information. Even after reunion or ‘rematrification’ they can only know what they have been told by their mother and others. We can never know how much of that is true, what has been convenient to tell, inconvenient to tell an therefore omitted or reworked to look pretty. For instance did my mother really think my father would marry her once she was pregnant, was she careless, manipulating or just lying? Maybe it was the truth. I will never know just as no adoptee can ever know the ‘back story’ that happened before they were cognisant and able to remember and express themselves. There is no one story of our adoptions. We so often see adopters imposing their story as if it were the only story, the ‘real’ story and the acceptable story. We make our own lives but will always have that first chapter blank.

  4. Patty Schlossberg

    I was older when adopted, like 7 or 8 but had been “in the system” for the first 6 years of my life since I was separated from my natural parents at 10 months of age. I say separated because my parents allegedly never gave me or my siblings up, we were “taken away” from them by the state. Some of us siblings were adopted as babies, and the rest of us were either in foster care or an orphanage until we were older. I was in a bunch of foster homes, not sure how many, and I only remember the last foster home before being placed for adoption. This didn’t stop my adoptive family from telling the whole truth to me until I started asking direct questions when I hit adolescents. Each adoptive parent told me a different story, and I only learned the names of half my siblings from them until my siblings actually found me. I thought I was one of 4, I was actually one of 8, and we were all living in the same state at the time, (Massachusetts) and some of us were actually only 10 minutes from each other and didn’t even know it!

    And when I met up with my siblings, I learned it was alcholism that caused the seperation, yet when I met my mother, she told one story, my biological aunt told me another, and when I met my father a year later, he had his version. Each story had a very small overlap with 3 different factors otherwise, so I guess the secret will never truly come out as my natural father has since passed on. I wanted my natural parents to sit down with me and explain everything and leave it to the table so I can put even just one of the unanswered questions to rest, alas it was not to happen as my b/father passed on a few years after I met him and before I could make my request.

    You’re right, our life story is a lie, no wonder we have trust issues, who can we believe on anything? I almost lost my husband then boyfriend because he had to work so hard to get me to trust him that he almost gave us. A little voice screamed inside me saying Don’t Blow This One! I finally had to put the cards on the table and explain to him why I had such issues. As an adoptee I feel like I have to explain everything I do, how I feel, why I feel, if I feel, if I don’t feel, and so forth.

    So now with my husband, we have a beautiful daughter of our own, and while I am keeping in touch with my natural sibs where ever possible, I am starting a new family tree and slate with my daughter. No Lies, no deception, no bullshit, and yes she is our own daughter but please realize that if I was left with no choice but to adopt, then I would vow the same vows I have mentioned above. Why keep the cycle of lies going? Who is that going to help?

    • Good for you, Sis! I don’t think I’ve ever “put my adoption cards on the table” for anyone.

      And I don’t think I’ll ever know anymore of my story than I do now.

  5. BabyGirlNelson

    I love you, Snark Urchin, for speaking the truth. Thank you!

  6. Even non adoptees are told untruths, especially if the parents split up, its not only the adoptee who gets lied to. My adoptive parents were told my birth father had emigrated to continue to work with a proffesor. Turns out he was a painter and decorator and comitted suicide 4 years after I was born

  7. Mei-Ling

    I actually wrote a post on this topic a few years ago. Unfortunately I can’t seem to locate it in my archives, but the title sums your post fairly well:

    “It’s my story, but not my narrative.”

    [I’m pretty sure he has senses and a brain and friends whose parents displayed their love by keeping them, not getting rid of them. ]

    This. So much.

  8. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  9. I tried to post a comment from my phone I think unsuccessfully, so I apologize if this posts more than once. I adopted my son, now 11, from foster care when he was an infant. He was removed from his bio mom, who has mental illness, after she left a bite mark on his arm and admitted to hitting him in the stomach.

    He has met and stayed in contact with his younger half-brother, who was removed as an infant and adopted by another couple. His bio mom wrote him a letter giving him permission to contact her when he’s 18. I have told him that she loved him but, due to her problems, wasn’t able to take care of him, the truth as I know it.

    I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for adoptees to reconcile their identities. However, I certainly didn’t “buy” my son, and I’m glad there are other people willing to foster and adopt children who cannot safely remain at home. I just hope that when he is older, my son doesn’t feel the same kind of animosity toward me that you seem to feel toward your adoptive parents.

    • I’m glad your son is in a better place, and I’m glad he’s in touch with family members. I do wish I knew how parents whose adoptees have stories like this are supposed to tell them the truth…but I don’t, and I never claimed I did. (I trust you’re asking these questions of counselors and other qualified professionals.) I only know that, at some point, the truth is what your child is owed. If he doesn’t find it out (somehow, on some level) from you, he may well resent you if he does find it out from someone else first.

      (This is the part where I’m supposed to protest that I love my APs very much. If we were talking feminism, this would be the part where I’m supposed to protest that I do too shave and I don’t hate men. Not going there.)

      • He actually has heard most of what happened to him, not initially from me, but from his cousins (I know, we should have been more careful about talking in front of them when he was a baby). I just tried to impress upon him later that it wasn’t his fault and was because she had problems. In a weird way, I think it might make him feel better to know that his brother was removed too, so it wasn’t just him, if that makes any sense.

        I’m sure you have your reasons for feeling as you do, and I am sorry you had a bad experience.

      • It does make sense that he might feel better not being the only one not kept.

        My last paragraph above was sarcasm. I had/am having a very good adoption experience as these things go. But when I criticize anything about the institution of adoption, someone almost always assumes it must be because I was abused, or had a bad childhood.

      • Duh, I’m a little too literal sometimes, but glad you had a good experience.

  10. Very moving post Thank you very much for sharing this with us.
    Jess

  11. When I was in college, I had a friend who was adopted and seemed to completely accept her “life story” as it was told to her. She would tell anyone who would listen “I was the product of a UMass frat party.” Why she felt she had to tell that story over and over is something I never understood. It was almost as if she had embraced her very own original sin myth. I remember thinking “her APs didn’t do her any favors by telling her the truth.” I can see both sides.

    • I can see the other side, too.

      Embracing and sharing that story sounds like the kind of thing I would have done at that age…in order to convince myself I didn’t care. (I’m not accusing your friend of doing it for that reason; I can’t read her mind.)

      Calling it an “original sin myth” is interesting. I’ve often thought of adoptees’ stories as “origin myths.”

  12. Thank you so much for sharing – I find this post fascinating. As my husband and I are seriously considering adoption due to infertility, I am always interested in the perspective of adopted children. We have talked many times about the problems with not knowing the true conception/birth story as it may relate to the child’s long term physical and mental health, and your post really sheds light on our concerns. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Thank you for reading!

      I’m glad if I could be of help, but I do hope you’re reading other sources. I don’t represent all adoptees, and I certainly can’t claim to represent younger adoptees. Many of their experiences won’t reflect my lily-white, Baby Scoop Era life at all.

      • I am definitely reading multiple adoption blogs, literature, etc. We are doing our homework before we make any type of decision and definitely evaluating what type of adoption makes the most sense for us and for a child (i.e. closed international or open domestic).

  13. As a mother who was lucky enough to adopt my daughter, I struggle all the time with what to share with her, at what age etc. How much is too much? Does she really need to know her birth father is in prison for sexually abusing little girls? I mean, what good will that bit of info do her? I’m afraid it’ll change her, how she feels about herself and many other things I can’t even begin to fathom. It’s so not easy being the AP, we want to do right by our children, and to be honest, I sometimes want to pretend we’re in the 40’s and 50’s and just not tell her, because she is MINE, in my heart, soul and mind. And no “life story” will change that for me, but I fear it may change it for her. But, she does know she is adopted. She’s 8 years old and I’ve told her from an early age, at this point, the basics of her adoption. She’s just started to ask a few questions about her birth mother, and I’ve been as honest as I can with what info I have. I want her to know, but I don’t want it to define her. (She was taken by the state from her birth parents when she was 18 months old, that’s when we became her foster parents. Her adoption was finalized finally when she was 4 years old.)

    • “I struggle all the time with what to share…” –I don’t blame you.

      “Does she really need to know her birth father is in prison for sexually abusing little girls? I mean, what good will that bit of info do her?” –Yes, at some point/I don’t know. I know it’s her reality, but I have no idea when and how she should be told such a thing. I wish, I truly wish I could help, but I can’t. I’m not qualified to give you advice.

      This is the second time a first parent has asked me this sort of question. I don’t think either person meant it as a “gotcha.”

      Would any of my commentors or linked-to bloggers like to suggest ideas or resources?

    • I have no qualifications on this matter, and am only reading this post from a purely interested-but-totally-unqualified standpoint – but just thought of something because of my own history, and thought it might help you (these are all rhetorical questions, absolutely no requirement to answer them).

      Did he abuse her? If so (or if you’re not sure), be very careful when telling her, as she may well hold body memories/pre verbal memories of abuse, and to suddenly have an explanation for those feelings will be incredibly difficult. I am not adopted, but when I got the proof I needed that I had been abused pre-2yo, I was totally overwhelmed for months and unbelievably grateful to my therapist for standing by me through the realisations that all my feelings were grown from truths. I would have suffered very, very hard to have felt this way on my own.

      If he didn’t touch her, be prepared for the “what was wrong with me?” questions. My sibling was not abused by them, and really struggles with why they didnt abuse both of us. Why one but not the other – what was ‘wrong’ with the other? As adults, we can explain these feelings away, but these feelings happen to both of us in a very childlike state so harder to rationalise.

      I think you did an incredible thing. Much love xx

  14. You sound as if you would have preferred to have been aborted as you come over as having a hell of a life.

    • I really haven’t, though. I’ve merely had an adopted life.

      If I’d been aborted, I simply wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t have lost anything or suffered in any way.

      • I understand you are a little bit older, not just 18 or 20, but maybe well into middle age … isn’t it time to let go of a past you never had and try to build some future and most of all live in the now?

      • Isn’t it time you let go of your genealogy and went on with your life? Why are you still calling your mom on Mother’s Day when you know it doesn’t matter who gave birth to you? Shouldn’t you just change your name to a collection of random syllables so you can live in the now?

        Fuck you very much for assuming I both can’t appreciate the present and have never thought about my own future, you patronizing person, you. Please feel free to never comment on my blog again.

      • I am not calling my mom on Mother’s day – she committed suicide when I was 12. My Dad and I have not spoken a decade before he died this year – you see – I LET GO …

      • I apologize for the Mother’s Day crack. But when she died, did you stop being her child? When you cut off contact with your father, did he stop being your father? If I stop talking and thinking about adoption, I will still be adopted, I will still get lots of extra medical tests because I don’t know what “runs in my family,” and I will still feel different from everyone else. Shutting up because it makes you more comfortable does nothing good for me…especially when this is my life and my blog, and you could easily choose to not hear about it by reading something else.

        If I cut off contact with my remaining AP, people would tell me I had a horrible adoption and horrible parents and use me as an example of what ungrateful creatures adoptees grow up to be. I couldn’t “let this go” if I wanted to, and I don’t want to. Don’t tell me to shut up. Don’t tell me what to blog about. I don’t know you and I don’t care about your opinion.

      • I am not telling you to shut up! Far be that from me!! I was posing a question – I was not suggesting it is time to ignore your sadness. Nobody can close the gap you feel in your life. But your anger just keeps it burning.
        I apologize if you think my question was advice. It was just a question. You answered that question with a NO. Your decision. Your life. And yes, YOUR BLOG. I am not attacking you just because I asked a question.

      • I’m glad we understand each other now. Your phrasing confused me. Generally, when someone opens with telling me I sound like I want to have been aborted, they’re not saying they appreciate my opinion and want to hear more of it; they’re generally saying “Bet this’ll shut you up, ungrateful creature.” And generally, when people ask me questions beginning with “isn’t it time you…?” did a thing, it means they’d prefer I did that thing, not that they want my opinion on doing the thing. This is especially usually the case when the person follows up with “I did the thing and I’m fine.”

        I note that you still can’t apologize without criticizing my anger. Again, if you don’t like it, go read something else. This blog is what it is.

  15. Loved this piece. Thanks for sharing.

  16. This is a whole new perspective on adoption for me… I was in a “home for unwed mothers” until my daughter was born 34 years ago, and while I was there I was under HUGE pressure to give her up “for her sake”. I had dropped out of university, had minimal savings, and had no idea how I was going to support us. Keeping her was nuts, but I did it anyway, because I reasoned that nobody has a child for the child’s sake … and I wanted her. I have never regretted that choice, and I gave her a pretty good life … but she felt the lack of a father, and I have sometimes wondered whether it was the best choice for her.

    Most of the other girls who were at the home when I was there did give up their babies. Some gave in to pressure, some just didn’t feel ready to cope. Not one of them did it casually or without pain. But every one of them accepted adoption because they believed their babies would have a better life, and would be loved. So honestly I cannot agree with you telling people “Don’t adopt”. The pain of longing for a child and not being able to have one because your personal biology has let you down must be agonizing. (In fact I know it’s agonizing; I’ve had several friends, over the years, facing that situation.) So yes, it’s a selfish choice, just as keeping (or not keeping) a child when your circumstances are less than ideal is selfish – just as choosing to give birth is selfish – but that doesn’t make it a bad choice, or less loving.

    • Women who want to keep their children should be able to (barring exceptions for things like abuse). Women who don’t want to keep their children should not be forced to raise them. “Not forced to raise them” should not necessarily equal “adoption as it’s currently practiced in the USA.”

      I doubt very many, if any women relinquish “casually or without pain.” How many do you think would do it if we didn’t pressure them? As for those who “didn’t feel ready,” I don’t think their choices should have been “become ready right now OR never see your baby again and [perhaps] never know what happened to him/her.” That’s barbaric. Absent shame or pressure, many of those babies could have been raised by family members or guardians or a foster home until their mother was ready (if she became so). Those options wouldn’t require the severing of family bonds, the shame some first mothers feel, or the manipulation of vulnerable women by an industry that doesn’t care about them. These options also wouldn’t require the adoptee to grow up not knowing who s/he was or where s/he came from.

      I don’t have to tell people not to adopt (and I’m not sure I’ve ever quite come out and said that; maybe I have). If we work for a world in which all women get the support they and their children need, and all adoptions really are a mother’s choice, adoption will all but end itself.

  17. Truth is truth…harsh but real….it doesn’t fade away…just lingers back of your mind….appreciation for letting it out….for the voice…

  18. Hiya! Loved your post…..I haven’t read all the replies, but I would like to mention a book that really helped me as an adopted person, and which I think should be OBLIGATORY reading for all would-be adoptees…if only to hammer home that they are NOT getting a blank canvas to impose their own picture on. The book is called “The Primal Wound, understanding the adopted child.” by Nancy Newton Verrier.
    I wonder what you’d think of my latest blog, A Post for Orphans, Obsessives, Perfectionists and Addicts….? x

    • Have you read Verrier’s sequel, Coming Home To Self?

      Thanks for the invite. I’ll visit your blog…um, soon? I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the recent response to mine at the moment, sorry.

      • No worries! Great that your blog is evoking such responses..And Thank You for telling me of Verrier’s sequel…I’ll look that out……I sort of “know” what she might say, but I sabotage myself constantly, sometimes the learning curve just goes round in circles!

  19. I’m pretty sure you said people shouldn’t adopt: “PAPs should, in almost all cases, do their homework *and then not adopt.*” And your APs could have chosen not to adopt you. But they couldn’t choose for you not to be adopted. If your birth mom chose adoption (even under terrible circumstances), you were going to be adopted by someone.

    Not all of us can do our homework. My daughter’s birth certificate was blank because her birth mom didn’t have ID at the hospital. I could have chosen not to adopt her. I could have adopted another child who had a complete birth certificate so that she’d be able to search someday if she chose. But that wouldn’t have helped my daughter. She’d still be adopted, she’d still have a blank birth certificate.

    This way, at least she has a family who loves her. Not her first family, no. But a family. We don’t tell her *her* story. We don’t know it. We tell our story. The story of how we became a family. Because becoming her mom was a very important event in *my* life. And I celebrate that moment.

    Kid gets to write her own story, starting wherever she wants, but she’ll likely never know the beginning, because it was never written down. Nothing I can do except make the rest of her childhood the best I can.

    You seem to think that APs have some kind of power that we don’t. Yes, society smiles on us in a way that it doesn’t on single moms, especially poor, single moms. But we don’t have the power to choose who places their child and who doesn’t.

    We all need to work to make sure that all women have a full range of choices to deal with unintended pregnancies. We should fight for reproductive rights. We should fight to make sure nobody is too poor to raise a wanted child. We should make sure birth parents can choose open adoption and to make open adoption agreements legally binding. But those are general fights. In specific instances, we have little control. There will always be people with tragic stories, or no story at all. Avoiding adoption isn’t the answer.

    • “In almost all cases” is not “never.” I believe the majority of adopted children need not have been adopted.

      “In almost all cases,” our birth certificates are altered, not left blank. (I didn’t know one legally could be left blank.)

      The power I think you have?

      1) The power not to adopt
      2) The power to demand change.

      No matter how little power you have, it’s more than adoptees have. Consider that. If “avoiding” adoption is not the answer, neither is glorifying or promoting it, which I think our society currently, constantly does.

  20. In a society of extended rather than nuclear families, and utopian “villages” rather than isolated family units, maybe that would be possible. It works that way among the poorer communities in Africa, I do know that; there, it’s not at all unusual for grandparents to raise a second or even third generation of children whose parents work far away. But it seems to me that our “privileged” western culture is dominated largely by fear – of loss, failure, pain – and as a group (not talking about individuals; there are always exceptions) I think our capacity for love without ownership or control is limited.

    Clearly, you have thought about this far more than I have, and from a completely different perspective. I can speak only from the perspective of my limited personal experience (early 80s, white middle class, in South Africa). My decision to keep her really was all about me … I was starting to write about it in detail but here is not the place. Probably I should blog about it one day…:) I had the support of a small number of friends and family members, and the strong disapproval of many others. We made it, and she’s a wonderful young woman, but sometimes it was tough going.

    And as for people being willing to foster … I know they’re out there. But until recently I was responsible for running a dog rescue that depends on fosters, and my experience is that, for every person who is willing to accept some inconvenience and turmoil in order to save a life, there are five who say, “Oh, I couldn’t bear to do it because I would fall in love and it would hurt too much when they leave.” If they say that about a dog that needs help for just a few weeks or maybe a couple months, how much more will they say it about a child who might need them for several years?

  21. I commend you on your patience SnarkUrch, with those who want to tell us how to live the adopted life, patronise us, tell us the details of an adoptee’s life and those who find us fascinating! It really does feel like being on display sometimes!

  22. Forgive me if I misunderstand, but your post seem to suggest that it would be best if there were little or no adoption. What would be your ideas for what to do with children in situations which are dangerous or unsustainable?

    • Being raised by other family members if possible. Guardianship. Fostering. In short, anything that doesn’t require the child to lose his or her identity forever unless losing that identity is necessary to keep the child safe.

      When I say I don’t think most adoptions should happen, I don’t mean to say that no child should ever be raised by people who did not biologically create him or her.

  23. I am new to this site and still trying to figure it out. I started looking through the freshly pressed and yours caught my eye. I, too, was adopted. Thank you for this post. I can relate for sure. I have yet to figure out if what my AP told me was really what she was told or what she made up to tell me. In March 2013 I started learning the truth when my bio half brother found me and another bio half brother who was actually raised by our birth mom. Maybe I shall write about my experience too when I get more familiar with the site. Thanks again.

    • mamawmis, thanks for reading. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have been found and then discover that means there are cracks/holes in your story.

      It’s very simple to start your own blog on wordpress if you decide you want to. The more of our voices get heard, the better, whether or not we agree about everything.

      In the meantime, there are a lot of other adoption blogs to read. Unfortunately, my current “blogroll” is useless in that regard. You might try searching wordpress and elsewhere for “adoptee blogs” and see which ones resonate with you. If you’re looking for community, you might try the Adult Adoptees Advocating For Change forum.

      Best of luck.

  24. I do appreciate your thought that a child should not lose his/her identity, and that that is the defining feature of a good arrangement should the traditional one not be possible. I cringe when I see overseas adoptive children’s names Americanized. They have names!
    I do think, though, that there are still a lot of situations where extended families are not able to adopt. Finding the best way to honestly share information should therefore be the focus, rather than marginalizing adoption altogether.

  25. As an adoptee myself, at the age of 39 I am just finally coming to realize the great dichotomy of my own “life story” and how being an adoptee (which I at one time truly believed had no real bearing on my life) has actually shaped every facet of my life and no detail has been forgotten. I recommend reading “The Primal Wound” if you can find a copy. It will help you understand the trauma your son has experienced and why facing the truth of his life may be too much to bear. And for most adoptees it is. It is a cruel injustice that “for our own good” we were separated from the one person on the planet with which we would have the strongest bond, at the time in our lives when it was most critical we be with her, and given to someone who expects us to accept her as our mother, when she is not. Then, we must grow up treating her as our mother and acting as if our real mother does not exist. We must pretend she isn’t important so that no one gets hurt and we don’t get abandoned again. But, sometimes we can’t, and we do get abandoned and the pain is multiplied.

    I am a mother and I can identify with your pain and your desire for your son to heal. Unfortunately, this will be a long process for him, which he may or may not ever totally complete. You will do him the best good by ACCEPTING where he is and allowing him to have his own story, which is his way of coping with the immense pain that never leaves him. You will have to accept that you are not his “real” mother, although you may love him like he is your real son. Only then can you understand the depth of his pain and truly love him and his real story.

  26. TAO

    Oh Snark,

    I didn’t realize you had been tagged on Freshly Pressed. That would have completely freaked me out, I probably wouldn’t have considered going private…I’m too used to my little world.

    You rocked the aborted comment string…yeah for you – it should be a post all it’s own…

    • Thanks, TAO. It’s been…let’s say disconcerting.

      Maybe I’ll do a “wish you’d been aborted?” post someday. Above, I was simply tickled to be able to quote my own video at someone. (-:

  27. Excellent. My kids were abused/neglected/abandoned in another country. There is no sugar-coating this. And people are cruel: “How much did they [my kids] cost?” etc asked in front of them. It all hurts–every bit of it. There is rage and anger and hurt and longing–I see it all in my young adult son who sits in prison right now, having been unable or unwilling to channel his anger at the life he’s been dealt. I love him passionately and wish I could some how fix that hole in him. I, like most adoptive parents, cringe when someone thoughtlessly asks about his “real” mother in front of me. Tit for tat. As a child he carried a truck load of guilt thinking he “caused” the birth mother to give them up (he didn’t). He also feels guilty for loving me. Adoption is a lifelong disability starting with a total betrayal of trust.

    Thank you for writing about this.

  28. my truth

    yeah, and adoption is “always in the best interest of the child”. NOT!
    Seldom is! It hurts generations. That anger and pain and rage from abandonment (because that is what HAS TO HAPPEN -before- an adoption can take place) can destroy or damage for life, through the following GENERATION/S. But as long as you get to play/claim title to mommy and daddy that makes it ok. Thanks folks for all that “love”. Anything based on lies and coveting and cover-up is not love. Stop promoting child abandonment! That is what you are asking for if you want a mother to lose/give up/make an adoption “plan” /surrender her child to YOU. It makes no difference to the child whether they were ‘left in a dumpster’, left on the steps of a police station, left in a hospital crib, or ‘left’ in the arms of strangers….. it all FEELS like (and for the adoptee IS) abandonment. WHY DO YOU AND HOW CAN YOU CONTINUE TO PROMOTE CHILD ABANDONMENT??? That’s what you are doing when you advertise for a baby/promote adoption to expectant mothers.
    Because you ‘want to, got to’ have a baby/parent? Or because if the adoptee feels abandonment loss, pain and rage you can be the ‘good’ parent/ rescuing parent/”saint” and hold them in your “you owe me” grip?
    Yes! Infertility feels like ‘death’. It’s hard. Lived it for 30+ years. Doesn’t make condoning child abandonment -right. Nor is it right to take someone else’s child to fill your void and to leave the mothers and fathers of those children in a ‘prison’ for life along with their sons and daughters (closed records). Not knowing their children, where they are, how they are. Just read all the stories about parents searching, waiting to hear from or about, please tell us something…whether it is the flight that vanished into thin air, the children that were kidnapped in Mexico, it doesn’t change because the children they lost/surrendered were infants or small children …that longing, that wanting, that waiting is there for many, many parents for decades or life. More importantly that longing, wanting, needing to know and understand is ever present in the adoptee. If you think that heartbreak and longing and the anger that can go with it all is a ‘good thing’, a ‘win-win’ for adoption, I have to question if you have a heart of stone.

    NOVEMBER IS UPON US and all that “oh adoption is so gooey, wonderful, great, so win-win-win, if you love your child throw them away to us” has the tendency………………………………… to help me find my voice.

    Injustice has the tendency to do that.

    Open all records for adoptees no ands, ifs or buts. Instead of making everyone wait for ‘someone to die’. Why should someone be put in the position of ‘someone has to die before you can have this’? Who thinks that’s an ok thing? REALLY?

    once upon a time should have been- a Quillman till falsified(lying) documents came along and said my dad couldn’t be one any more and stole that right from me. Sad. Nah, I may be prevented from my lineage in paperwork…. but not in REALITY.

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