the war on National Adoption Month

the war on National Adoption Month
**Update at the end of this post.
Adoptees are “flipping the script” during National Adoption Month, sharing the other, unattractive side of adoption. It’s their right. I’m not an adoptee and can’t speak for them, but part of me doesn’t like seeing this opportunity of beauty turned into something that’s looked down upon.

Now, some will probably raise hairs at my mention of adoption being an opportunity of beauty, but for some it is. I see our story as beautiful. Sure there have been some really ugly, horrible moments, days, weeks, months, but we’ve come through it, and I’ve experienced such unparalleled joy and contentment. It’s beautiful.

Why is it beautiful? Because I can separate what my children went through, their abuse, neglect, and trauma, from their adoption. What they went through before foster care, I would compare with hell, what they went through while visiting their bio parents while in foster care wasn’t much better,but

now we see new lives, new people emerging. Beauty.

We know their lives wouldn’t be what they are now if we hadn’t adopted them. I’m not tooting my horn, saying I’m the best parent, because I’m not, sometimes I suck. But, this is the truth, their lives are drastically altered in a good way because of adoption. When my son was with his bio dad, he was crying himself to sleep every day as an infant, he wasn’t held, when temperatures were in the teens, he was taken around town in a stroller when it wasn’t necessary (his bio dad had a house). Jeremiah was developmentally delayed, his bio father, having the IQ of a six-year-old had no idea what to do with him and didn’t want to take advice from others. My son was dying, partly on the outside, but mostly on the inside.

At three-months he came to us with a horrible case of cradle cap, his hoodie’s zipper was melted together, and pieces of plastic were adhered to the inside of his hood, grime was stuck between his fingers and toes. At three-months he was still in the fetal position, and it took weeks of stretching exercises to slowly get him to relax.

I cry now when I think of his past, it wrecks me to think about what could have been. I now see a happy boy, despite his Autism, despite what others “think” he should be like because he has this diagnosis. He brings me joy every day. When he tumbles into the living room with his arms full of blankets to “nest” on the couch, I laugh and contentment fills my heart. When he sits on his swing, pumps his legs, and goes high in the air, my cheeks burst with bliss because I never thought he’d be able to do this.

If he hadn’t been adopted, he wouldn’t be.

That’s why “flipping the script” on adoption day is so painful. The world is taking what is often a positive event and turning the tables, focusing on those who don’t feel it was a good thing for them.

For all intents and purposes, I think National Adoption Month was created so people would see the need for adoption (153,000,000 children world-wide need forever homes) and for those who adopted to celebrate their children.

Those who are “flipping the script” aren’t adoptees who are happy and content with their adoption experience, they’re the ones who are angered, feel like something was done to them. The ones who feel they were ripped from their first family, from their country, are hurt by positive adoption language.

They’re blaming “adoption” in itself when in reality it should be the system they were adopted from (one that doesn’t allow them to search for their birth family), or a corrupt system (adopting children out under false pretenses). The adoptive families shouldn’t be blamed, and the good of adoption shouldn’t be attacked either.

The adoptees who aren’t speaking out (and far outnumber those who are calling out adoption) are the ones who are satisfied in life, the ones who accept their adoptive family as their own, ones who’ve found their birth family and either have a good relationship with them or have decided to let it be.

All the adult adoptees I’ve met and know personally are very happy, having been adopted, they aren’t searching for more meaning, and frankly, they’re grateful. I don’t expect my children to be grateful, but what if they are? Is that wrong?

I’m surprised at the negativity surrounding what should be a joyous celebration. Yes, there’s pain in adoption, I won’t deny it’s existence, but there’s so much good too.

I read on a blog post the other day that (in the authors opinion) God hates adoption. They’re reasoning is because “adoption means brokenness.”

There will be brokenness in this world, and adoption is a way to heal the shattered and try to make it right.

I feel really bad for parents who are looking in to adoption and find that first spark of excitement, they’re ignited with enthusiasm to start the process, to bring a foster child, orphan, or infant into their home, then they’re bombarded with how “bad” adoption is. The world is hearing these voices and they’re hearing adoption is negative, causes pain, and isolation.

In reply to the article, Adoptees Like Me “Flip the Script” on the Pro-Adoption Narrative, Renee says, “In my opinion, adoption does too much damage, and it should be a VERY last resort. As an adoptee, I don’t believe adoption serves the best interest of babies/children. No child should have to be legally severed from her family and heritage…”

In response to this, I would say, yes, adoption should be a last resort, but isn’t that what it is? What about the mother who decides she can’t parent her child and chooses adoption? Isn’t that her last resort? What about the children in foster care? Isn’t foster care the last resort, and then if the parent can’t get it together, isn’t adoption the last resort? I’ve heard an adoptee who was adopted from another country say her family was waiting for her back in “her country.” Where was her family when she was in the orphanage? Wasn’t adoption by a foreign couple a last resort? Because I hope we can all agree that an orphanage would not be the best solution.

I don’t want to belittle anyones experience, after all, it’s their own. I can’t speak as an adoptee. Maybe there should be separate months, one for National Adoption Month and a month for adoptees to share their feelings, like an Adoptee Awareness Month.

I don’t want adoption to be wrought with talk about how wrong it is, but the fact is, there is pain surrounding adoption. In most cases it isn’t in the adoption itself that causes pain, but in the events surrounding the adoption. Yet, there’s so much that is beautiful about adoption, and I feel it’s beginning to get lost in the muddle, in the anger, in the “political correctness.” Want to know what’s politically correct?

Most adopted children have a new chance at life. 

*For positive, supportive words from other adoptive parents, read to the end of the comments.

**I appreciate the many professional discussions (posted in the comments below) which have taken place because of this post. I will say that not all #flipthescript voices are angry, and I apologize for saying so. I was basing my comment on the tweets I read when I visited the # on Twitter. However, besides some of the decent comments made below, I’ve received a plethora of hate mail for my views, so I’m not shocked that I felt the movement was angry.
I will not be approving any more comments at this time. One columnist for #flipthescript told me, #getoveryourslef and #notaboutyou. I feel differently, I feel adoption is first about adoptees, but secondly it is about the adoptive parents, they are the ones parenting the children who need a home. Although there are some who fail, there are thousands who do an excellent job.
National Adoption Month, as I thought I had stated clearly, but others seem to miss the point entirely, was created to find adoptive families for the children who need it. When the voices of adoptees sharing their negative (only referring to those negative ones, not all #flipthescript) is the only thing prospective adoptive parents hear, they may be scared from adoption. Hearing things like, you will never be their real family, my family is waiting for me in my country, I never felt at home with my adoptive family, doesn’t make people want to adopt. Those stories can be shared, there are truths that only adoptees can tell us adoptive parents, however a balanced perspective of adoption should be shared, as there are a plethora of both. If you’d like to hear more about adult adoptees views on this matter, see #flipthescript on Twitter.

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner, no spam promise. If you’re on a mobile device, you can do this on the web version. You can also like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest for more helpful information and links. Happy National Adoption Month!

58 responses to “the war on National Adoption Month

  1. The ugly side of adoption is shown on re homing web pages like second chance adoption on facebook where adverts like this are routine
    Brandon just turned 11 and was adopted less than a year ago from Africa. Due to some issues of adapting and some serious health problems in another family member in his adoptive home, he needs a new placement. Please help us share this need by sharing it to your own Facebook page. If you “like” this page (www.facebook.com/secondchanceadoptions) you will receive updates on the kids we are trying to find homes for.

    Here we have a 10 year old child taken from an unnamed african country’s orphanage moved to a country totally different with a new language and he has not adapted enough in UNDER A YEAR so his so called loving parents are trying to rehome him. They don’t go through dcs to do this because this type of adopter wants to adopt another child nor do they want the risk of a child being fostered and having to PAY support for that child so these children are being abandoned and yet are supposed to be grateful to be treated like unwanted puppies.

    • I don’t believe anyone is telling this child to be grateful. I also don’t deny there isn’t an ugly side of adoption. Re-homing is sad and wrong, and I’m sorry you missed my post on it.

  2. The problem for adoptees is the secrecy and lies that go on. I love my parents – the parents who raised me. That has nothing to do with it. Adoption is a roulette wheel for the infant. There’s no guarantee they will be lucky to find adoptive parents who don’t see it as ownership or resent the fact that there is another set of parents, or even that they won’t be abused in the home they are adopted into. I saw that happen a number of times to people my age who were adopted. When you are convincing a woman to relinquish for the betterment of the child, that’s huge. Add in the fact that our records are sealed and we are cut off from our heritage. I saw a poster the other day in the doctor’s office about how much hereditary plays into breast and ovarian cancer, It’s a reminder that we just don’t know. I am fortunate to be in contact with my birthmother and her family, but even that took 10 years because people in the middle were still making decisions about what was “best” for two adults! We are treated as children by the system for our entire lives.

    So yes, #flipthescript, because those who are choosing to adopt a child had better get a realistic vision of what they are getting themselves into, rather than believing the “all you need is love” mantra and making the adoptee feel guilty for any desire they have to understand their heritage and how it happened.

    • I’m glad to hear you love the parents who raised you, for some in #flipthescript, that is not the case. Exactly why I do what I do, helping parents understand that it’s not only love that is needed, but a particular kind of love. And, any child born into any family is spinning that roulette wheel.

  3. I am an adoptee. I am treated as a 46 year old child. I am not against adoption because there will always be at least some children who must be removed from their first families if they are to survive and thrive. But it is also not always a last resort. When my son and his girlfriend found out that she was pregnant at 17, the first thing mentioned to them was adoption and how wonderful adoption is. Secretly, I prayed that they would not choose adoption although I told them I would support them in whatever decision they chose. Single women are encouraged to place their child for adoption regardless of whether or not they are equipped to raise a child. Adoptees speak out because we want people to realize that all adoptions involve pain at some point in that child’s life. No amount of love will make it just go away, and it is not a reflection on your love for them or theirs for you. We want to educate people on what we have learned and on how much we still need to learn. No one ever told my parents “Your daughter will always wonder about ‘the other’. I don’t want you to feel guilty about adopting. I want you to help us educate, to try and understand the basic challenges we face that children in biological families do not, and to help us fight – for basic rights to our own information and against legislation that would allow us to be discriminated against.

    • Thank you for your respectable words, it was interesting to read. Yes, I agree that all adoptions involve pain at some point, however I don’t agree that that no amount of love will make it go away. I know several adult adoptees who don’t feel pain in regards to their adoption or their birth family. Some do, some don’t. You are doing a wonderful job educating the world, you and #flipthescript. I will continue to help adoptive parents with my expertise, and you with yours. My children have the rights to their own information (medical and information on birth families). We come from different places. My daughters birth family has disappeared for years at a time, my sons also, so there is another side.

    • Yes! Thank you for speaking your adoptee truth. Unconditional love cannot solve the problems in adoption. The pain and love exist simultaneously within me. On a larger, societal level, I am saddened that so many first mothers have their children coerced out of their hands. No matter how much love my parents pour onto me, their love cannot solve this systemic injustice that fuels adoption and my drive for reform.

  4. “As I said, there is corruption, no doubt, however there are cases when adoption is needed and IS the best option.”

    No-one is arguing with you. However, don’t we want that to be the case all the time? One can’t just shrug one’s shoulders and say “corruption happens” – better laws and practices are required yet no-one seems willing to do anything about it.

  5. “Thank you for sharing your view. Regarding the post I referred to, I do believe the author said, “God hates adoption.””

    And if you actually read the post and the comments, you would have realised that she is actually saying that God hates that adoption exists.

    If you go to the comments, you will see that Kristiana, the blogger says this:

    “I agree that not all adoption looks alike, and this was more written for friends who have walked the same path I have. I’m sorry the wording put you off- My statement “God hates adoption” and “I hate adoption” is in reference to the fact that adoption exists and the reasons behind it, not the act of adoption.”

    She in fact says elsewhere that she thinks of “adoption as redemption” which sounds to me like she is for adoption. I would say that she used the heading “God hates adoption” to get people’s attention and was presumably hoping that people would realise after reading the article that she didn’t hate adoption – unfortunately, a lot of people got stuck on the heading.

  6. I am an adoptee, and I am mostly happy, well-adjusted, and successful in life. And I still #flipthescript. While there will always be people who would like to see adoption eradicated completely, most of us realize that it will always be necessary. There will always be at least some children who must be removed from their first families if they are to survive and thrive. But it is also not always a last resort. The first thing mentioned to most single pregnant women is adoption, regardless of whether or not they are equipped to raise a child. Social stigma does not make for a last resort. We speak out because we want people to realize that all adoptions involve pain at some point in that child’s life. No amount of love will make it just go away, and it is not a reflection on your love for them or theirs for you. We want to educate people on what we have learned and on how much we still need to learn. No one ever told my parents “Your daughter will always feel different. She will always wonder about ‘the other’. She will raise her children never recognizing her own face in theirs because she never saw her face reflected in another.” I don’t want you to feel guilty about adopting. I want you to help us educate, to try and understand the basic challenges we face that children in biological families do not, and to help us fight – for basic rights to our own information and against legislation that would allow us to be discriminated against. You may not expect your children to be grateful for being adopted, but I have spent my life being told by people how grateful I should be for something I did not ask for and had no actual part in. People would never tell every biological child they meet how grateful they should be that they were born or even kept. It’s demeaning and hurtful. So, actually, if you could just help get people to stop saying that It’d be a good start. It will take everyone – adopters, adoptees, and birth parents – to fix the flaws in our adoption system and make it the best it can be.

  7. Not all adoptions are unicorn farts and rainbows. Trust me. I know.

  8. “”They’re blaming “adoption” in itself when in reality it should be the system they were adopted from (one that doesn’t allow them to search for their birth family), or a corrupt system (adopting children out under false pretenses). The adoptive families shouldn’t be blamed, and the good of adoption shouldn’t be attacked either.””

    Adoption is complicated. It is good and bad. It is loss and gain. You cannot separate the two and live honestly. Adopted parents can live in the good easily. Adoptees can only pretend for so long. You must let us have our voice (and not in a separate month- we are the children of adoption). We are not trying to destroy adoption: we are trying to have a seat at the table; to be heard; to share that adoption is more complex than it has been projected to be. To give insight into best practices.

    But if what we should be complaining about is simply a system that doesn’t allow us to search, or a corrupt system……then I ask- what are you- as an adoptive parent doing to help us? Are you helping fight for adoptee rights in your state? Are you speaking out as an adopted parent to voice about the injustices of adoption? Guess whose voice is the strongest? Yours. So consider using it to help us instead of silence us.

    • I appreciate your respectful comment. You and other adoptees from the #flipthescript movement seem to have a strong voice, I’ve seen great evidence of it yesterday and today. I use my time to help families who’ve adopted and are fostering. I use my time to train nurses on how to care for Autistic people. I also use my time to care for my family. Share your voice. Yes, the system should allow children to search. My children will know who their biological family is and have access to them. The point of NAM is to bring awareness to the need for adoption, and people are being scared from adoption because of comments like the ones I’ve heard the past couple days. I really don’t want to see more children waiting in foster care because families are in fear of adoption.

  9. Just a couple of observations. I note that you mention this blog post:

    “I read on a blog post the other day that (in the authors opinion) God hates adoption. They’re reasoning is because “adoption means brokenness.””

    I read that blog post and it was actually a very pro-adoption piece – the author was actually saying “God hates that adoption has to exist”, she otherwise considered adoption to be a good resource for those children without a home.

    Again, as I’ve said earlier, adoption is a very broad term and my own view on it is that many not-so-good things have been in the name of adoption.

    As for the #flipthescript adoptees making “feeling guilty about adopting”, why would they? If anything, listening to them and others will help people to adopt as ethically as possible. It sounds like you adopted a child that truly needed a home – you say yourself it should be a last resort, it sounds like you adopted as ethically as you possibly could.

    “All the adult adoptees I’ve met and know personally are very happy, having been adopted, they aren’t searching for more meaning, and frankly, they’re grateful. I don’t expect my children to be grateful, but what if they are? Is that wrong?”

    Have you asked those adoptees why they are grateful? They may have many different answers. Just speaking for me, I am grateful for my actual family in the same way that many biological people are grateful for their families. However, I am not sure that I have to be grateful for adoption bringing me into that family. I am one of those people with a great bfamily as well as afamily and thus I don’t play the comparison game. I treat each family on their own merits. I refuse to sell either family down the river.

    One thing I will say is that if anyone asks me now “are you happy to be adopted”, I assume that they are actually asking “do you love your adoptive family and/or are you happy” so I used to just answer “I love my family and I am a happy person”, now I modify it a little and say “I love my adoptive family and I am a happy person but being adopted is more complicated than that”.

    In the past I might have played the “I’m grateful for being adopted” game but things changed. The abstract became real. One can either go back to the illusion or one can discover the truth. My feelings about being adopted may be a lot more ambivalent than they were when I was younger but I now know myself much better and feel more complete as a person. Funnily enough, I never felt incomplete before searching but now that I have in touch with family and know a lot more about everything, I do feel more complete and more “real”. Again, those are just my feelings and others may have other feelings. However, one thing I do know is that I would not want to go back to “not knowing”.

  10. “In response to this, I would say, yes, adoption should be a last resort, but isn’t that what it is? What about the mother who decides she can’t parent her child and chooses adoption? Isn’t that her last resort? What about the children in foster care? Isn’t foster care the last resort, and then if the parent can’t get it together, isn’t adoption the last resort? I’ve heard an adoptee who was adopted from another country say her family was waiting for her back in “her country.” Where was her family when she was in the orphanage? Wasn’t adoption by a foreign couple a last resort? Because I hope we can all agree that an orphanage would not be the best solution.”

    You say “isn’t that what is it is”.

    First of all, I’ll address this statement:

    “I’ve heard an adoptee who was adopted from another country say her family was waiting for her back in “her country.”

    One of the major problems with adoption from African nations in particular (and also from Polynesian nations) is that there is a different concept of adoption (as I mentioned in an earlier comment). In Ethiopia particularly, it has been discovered that many of the biological families thought that their child was going to America to get an education and then thought their child would come back home to them – they didn’t realise that the American famililes were planning on making the children “their own” – as I said in the above comment – Western adoption is unique to the Western world. Other African countries like Uganda are now trying to do their best to create an alternatve care program that doesn’t include international adoption. There is a process that needs to be followed and this isn’t always done. An organisation that I find inspiring is

    https://childsifoundation.wordpress.com/

    because they follow the proper course of action – a lot of people could learn from them.

    Now onto domestic infant adoption. For many online adoptees, this is our reality. For many people wishing to build their families, this is their chosen path and there are often far more people wanting to adopt a newborn than there are women wanting to relinquish them. Thus a different approach is “needed” – the counselling is usually designed to make the expectant mother feel that she is not the best person to be raising her child. One of the best known “options counselling programs” was designed by the NCFA and is based on the findings from “The Missing Piece”:

    http://www.frc.org/content/the-missing-piece-adoption-counseling-in-pregnancy-resource-centers

    (you will see link to PDF at top of page)

    A quote from the link:

    “Counselors must be trained to give women sound reasons that will counter the desires to keep their babies. ”

    Domestic infant adoption counselling in the US is designed to maximise the possibility of an adoption happening. Does that sound like a last resort to you? The “best” way of getting a women to relinquish her newborn is to make her feel that she is not the best option for her child and thus counselling often revolves around making her “see” that. Adoption is often “sold” as the option the child would want. It is almost always presented as being “without consequence” for the child, in fact, quite the opposite. Todays bmoms are told to sacrifice their happiness so that their child can be happy. This in itself can put pressure on a child because if someone has sacrificed their happiness so their child can be happy, well, their child better be happy or else the sacrifice will be for nil.

  11. I am an adult adoptee and an adoptive parent. Only my daughter will get to decide if her adoption experience is good, bad or ugly. I love her and know that who she is will be because of 4 parents and not only 2. What people need to realize is that sometimes it’s the adoptive parents who are neglectful, narcissistic, and abusive…mine were in the midst of an opulent lifestyle, and I get to live the legacy of complex PTSD and dissociative disorder. I say this not because I have to or because other people need to know how angry I am for that little baby who was and is still me, but because it’s true. It sounds like you are indeed a good enough and beyond adoptive mother. I think I am barely good enough because my parents never taught me or showed me what feeling loved was like. I work hard to teach myself what to do and am not successful a lot of the time.

    I was forcefully taken from my then 21-year old mother who got pregnant with me the first time she had sex with my dad the second time he had sex….two very innocent young people doing what felt natural to them. Then the people who continually shamed my mother ripped me from her arms and gave me to people, well sold is more like it who did not take care of me.

    That is my reality and I accept the fact that as an adult it’s my responsibility to figure out how to heal at almost 50 years old. And in spite of all that has been done to me and my soul, I will heal with God’s help and a lot of great mental health professionals.

    And if that makes you uncomfortable, that’s just too bad. All adoptions are not created equal. And yes, I am mad and sad and not one person in my life has once acknowledged my losses because adoption is so damn beautiful and I am such a gift.

  12. “The adoptees who aren’t speaking out (and far outnumber those who are calling out adoption) are the ones who are satisfied in life, the ones who accept their adoptive family as their own, ones who’ve found their birth family and either have a good relationship with them or have decided to let it be.”

    I am satisfied with life, love both my afamily and bfamily and consider both families “my own”. However, I am very glad that the “flip the script” has helped raise awareness that there are other voices in adoption apart from the adoptive parents and adoption industry.

    I will start by saying that one of the main problems in discussing adoption is that people do have different definitions of adoption. For many people, they are using in the broad sense and all types of adoptions are lumped together. However, often when adoptees are talking about adoption, they are specifically talking about the post-war Western adoption – this differs from many of the more traditional adoptions in that Western adoption involves severing the biological ties, whereas traditional/biblical adoptions have usually honoured the fact that a child is of both biological and adoptive family. In Western child, the child is “born to” one family and “as if born to” their new family. Of course, on some levels, eg legal, that can be a good thing – by being “as if born to” the new family, they have the same inheritance rights as those born into that family. Also, one expects also that one is loved as much as if one had been born into the family. However, on other levels, it can cause issues with identity because the child is often also expected to become just like the new family members and their intrinsic self is often not valued in its own right.

    I also would like to answer your question:”In response to this, I would say, yes, adoption should be a last resort, but isn’t that what it is”

    but will do that on another comment – this one is getting a bit long 🙂

  13. Look, i get it. You love your children. You love that adoption brought you to them. I understand.

    I was adopted as an infant. I love my family…, and my bio family. I wish i had the option to celebrate heritage from my birth family.i wish i had access to my adoption file,or the very least my original birth certificate.

    ALL adoptions cause trauma. All involve removing a child from what they know, and thrusting them into a world they dont. I’m thankful i was adopted, but the truth is… My life wouldn’t have been awful without being adopted. I might have worn goodwill clothing instead of name brand items. I might not have gone to preschool…but i would have been loved and held and cherised the same.

    I’m sorry that we adoptees are offending you..,but then again, I’m not. After all, november is the month of the adoptee, not the adopter.

  14. Please do not discount me as a “bitter and angry” adoptee. I love my parents – both my first parents and my adoptive ones. You say you don’t want to belittle adoptees’ experiences because you are not one, but that is exactly what you have done with this piece. I believe adoption should be first and foremost about the children involved. #FlipTheScript was about prioritizing our feelings, experiences, and truths which are so often ignored and discounted. Your disdain to us speaking out suggests that adoptees should have to protect protect their parents’ feelings over their own. You continue to pit adoptees against each other by differentiating between two very polarized images: the happy, grateful adoptee and the bitter angry adoptee. This is simply untrue because adoptees experience a whole range of emotions surrounding their adoptions. Secondly, this is a tactic used to keep adoptees in the down position of mainstream society and ensures that our voices will continue to be ignored. You say, “they blame adoption when in reality it’s the corrupt system. That corruption is part of adoption. The patriarchal structures that ostracize single mothers is part of adoption. The massive difference in wealth between the West and the Global South, determining who has the means to adopt, is part of adoption. The fact that adoption, is so often, not the last resort for children and that there are minimal structures in place supporting family preservation or kinship adoption over international adoption is part of adoption. I think this article has done an exemplary job showing why #FlipTheScript is necessary in order for any substantial change to happen.

  15. So none of you get it! I am an adoptee who had a great adopted mom. But I lost everything when I was adopted. My roots, my heritage…everything. I don’t even have my original birth certificate. Adoption isn’t a Hallmark card. The adoptee starts with pain and loss, and NO ONE acknowledges that. I felt horrible throughout my childhood, and didn’t know why. I assumed that it was because there was something very wrong with me. An easy assumption since my first mother gave me away. Everyone told me that I should be grateful. That I was lucky. But I didn’t feel lucky. I felt sad with no idea why I was sad. My aparents took me to a doctor who put me on anti-depressants. When I tried to commit suicide, I was put into a hospital…but still, I didn’t know what was wrong. It wasn’t until I gave birth to my son, held my flesh and blood for the first time, that I realized that it had something to do with being given up for adoption. And then, by stops and starts, I began to examine that….give myself the language to begin to heal from the original trauma. And yet…I still feel like I have to say…I had a great amom…in case anyone thinks that I am ungrateful. But…ask yourselves, those of you that aren’t adopted…when you are depressed…when you wonder if life is worth living, and you share that with someone, do they ever tell you that you are lucky for having parents? That you should be grateful? Adoption is something that I carry with me every single day of my life. I was hurt by it. I read a book once, about adoption. And in that book, a story was told of a child whose mother died in childbirth. And a few years later, the father of that child re-married a wonderful woman who raised that child as if it were her own. But even with the beautiful love of that woman, the child still cried at times for the loss of it’s mother. And everyone understood the grief that the child had. And there were pictures of the lost mother on the wall, and there was a gravestone to visit and lay flowers by. And there were stories about that first mother, that gave the child comfort. But for an adoptee…who has also lost their first mother as profoundly as if she had died, has no pictures, or stories to give comfort…or even a name to hold on to. And when there are tears, no one understands, and the child is told that they are lucky! And the child begins to feel like there is something wrong with them. Please…adopted parents…please don’t take personally the pain of your child. Please give them the language to express that pain. Please understand that your love may not heal them. Please understand!

  16. ‘Those who are “flipping the script” aren’t adoptees who are happy and content with their adoption experience, they’re the ones who are angered, feel like something was done to them.’

    Hello. I’m one of “those” adoptees. One that you conveniently divided into two camps, content or angry. Only I am not either. I felt both emotions, on occasion, but I cannot be summed up this way. My life continues, and every day of my life, I am adopted. I have a myriad of feelings about this and I always will.

    If you had read more of Flip The Script, you would have discovered that adoptees want to be heard as complex, evolving individuals. Our voices are routinely silenced. We are expected to be content, grateful, and quiet, no matter how our lives have been shaped by adoption.

    Yes, adoption should be a last resort. Most of the time, it is not. Yes, children like yours, who were actually at risk and in foster care, should be adopted or at least cared for away from their biological families. But you have to admit, most adoptees have not had your son’s experience. I was adopted simply because my mother was not married at the time of my birth and in the 1960s, that was an intolerable situation. Even though standards have changed, I am still expected to be grateful for being taken out of that situation, for being separated from my mother (who is and was a perfectly capable parent), for missing out on knowing my brothers and sisters growing up, for being placed in a home with a medically fragile adoptive mother and a violent sociopathic brother.

    When people hear this, they say as a knee-jerk reaction, “Well I’m sorry for your experience, but *I* know an adoptee who….” Yeah, spare me. I know at least a hundred adoptees and there are a hundred stories to go with each one, and none of it justifies glossing over our collective pain.

    Frankly, I’m sick of being told not only how to feel, but *what* I feel. I am in my 50s, but because I am adopted, I am a forever child. And I’d better be grateful about that.

    So no, we will not take a separate month to express our feelings. We are the adoptees. WE have finally found our voice. And we will use it.

    Elle Cuardaigh

  17. The thing you need to understand, is that the majority of adoption IS a good thing if it’s done right. By that I mean, BOTH parents are involved in the adoption process. As well as, if dad says no, the PAP’s (Pre-Adoptive Parents) Stop fighting and hand over the baby. Making sure ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) Is followed to the T, making sure that the child is actually adoptable and the father hasn’t been fraudulantly left out. If an Open Adoption is promised, then the Adoptive parents need to FOLLOW THROUGH and not cut off contact after a year or two or at all. These are the things that leave sour tastes in people’s mouths. Too many bad cases to outweigh the good. Not to mention international adoptions, where the majority of those children are trafficked, it’s just harder to prove.

  18. Thank you for an interesting and insightful piece from the standpoint of an adoptive parent. While I understand your concerns, as an adult adoptee born in the early 60s, when secrecy and lies and black market adoptions were prevalent, I and many of my fellow adoptees, several of whom turned out to be biological cousins (thank God for DNA testing!), are completely in the dark about our natural families.

    We are all speaking up for #flipthescript because our voices need to be heard. So many people are in “the fog”, which is the long-held myth that adoption is a happy ending for all concerned. It truly is not. While your poor son was definitely saved from something much worse, many adoptees, like those you reference in the orphanages, are ripped from their biological families for lack of support that would allow the families to stay together. You may have seen the recent story about the twin girls adopted from Korea, separated at birth, who found each other through a YouTube video.

    There is ( a lof of) money to be made in adoption to this day. Google “Georgia Tann” and you will see a glimpse of what we adoptees are “angry” about. There is loss, a sense of abandonment, inability to attach, etc. And I and most of my fellow adoptees actually did grow up in decent homes. They just were not “our” homes. We were given to strangers and told to call them our family. Some, however, grew up in extremely abusive and narcissistic environments, and they definitely deserve to be angry.

    Please, do us all a favor and get a copy of The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier, PhD. Check out the Adoptee Restoration blog. Check out posts on Lost Daughters. Get informed before you make assumptions about all of us “angry” adoptees. We are angry for a reason. Do you know that none of us even has our original birth certificates? By law, our records are sealed. We are going to great lengths and spending hundreds of dollars on DNA tests, just to find out what is rightfully ours to know–who we are and who our parents are.

    Look at it this way: If someone told you they lost their entire family in a car accident, you would say, Oh, I’m so sorry. If someone told you they were adopted, you would probably say, Oh, that’s so wonderful. But it’s really the same thing. Adoptees LOSE their entire family, heritage, name, identity, whenever this separation takes place. At the very least, adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents need to become better informed. Thank you.

  19. Well said! Thank you for putting a voice to this side. Since reading so much lately about Flipping the Script, it certainly has made me more sensitive to the painful side of adoption…not that I didn’t realize it before. As an adoptive mother and adoption consultant, I do my best to talk to my clients about both sides. Adoption, while rooted in pain in most cases, is a beautiful and needed thing.

  20. I’m not sure what you’ve read out there, but I think you may be mischaracterizing some of the discomfort a lot of adoptees feel with the idea of celebrating adoption. I know that there are some extreme views out there— a small segment of adoptees who passionately feel that adoption is wrong– but I think most of us would agree that adoption is sometimes necessary and most of us would value people like you who decide to adopt.

    I was adopted as an infant, and I’m grateful this was the choice that was made for me. I love the people who adopted me (my parents) dearly. But: my adoptive parents never understood my need to know more about my origins, or my decision to eventually search for my birth parents, and this caused a lot of pain for all of us. My parents insisted their love for me was exactly like their love for their biological child, and were simply unable to acknowledge that my experience being raised as an adoptee wasn’t the same experience I would have had if I’d been their biological child. My parents expected me to see adoption only from their point of view (as a happy joyous thing), and they considered it a deep betrayal for me to have any sympathy for my birth parents, or to desire more knowledge about them.

    I was a child of closed adoption– my birth certificate replaced my first parents’ names with those of my adoptive parents, entirely obliterating their existence. Every time I have to use my birth certificate it feels like a lie– my parents and the country I live in refuse to acknowledge that part of my history and my experience. I’m expected to be grateful (and I am grateful), but also to reject a part of my own identity. This hurts.

    Every child should have the right to know his or her own history; a right to his or her identity… regardless of whether or not an adoption occurred.

    It is a blessing you will be able to answer some of your son’s questions when he is older (I hope that you will share whatever information you have with him, when he asks). It is a blessing too that open adoption (in which adoptive parents and birth parents are known to each other, in which the child can have a relationship with whomever he chooses) are becoming more common, too. Certainly in cases of prior abuse (such as your son’s), such continuing contact would not be appropriate– but the majority of adoptees out there were not abused or unloved by their our parents (so let’s not demonize them as a group).

    I love the idea of a national adoption awareness month– but why allow “awareness” to recognize the multiplicity of perspectives out there, including (most importantly!) adoptees. it’s language like “Celebrate adoption!” that is harmful. Let’s respect families formed through adoption, but also respect the feelings of birth parents and adoptees. For many of adoptees, telling us to “celebrate” adoption is telling us to celebrate abandonment and loss not just of biological ties, but of our histories, of knowledge about ourselves. I can only imagine exhortations to “celebrate adoption!” can feel even worse for birth parents, for whom the decision to relinquish a biological child may well have been the most painful thing they’ve ever done.

    Finally, it’s not necessarily the case that adoptees who don’t speak out are “satisfied with life” while those who do have sour grapes. I love my adoptive family deeply and certainly the life I had with them gave me advantages I wouldn’t have had were I raised by a lower-class teenager. It’s also possible that adoptees who don’t speak out don’t do so because there is so incredibly much pressure from society (and from people like you, too, in your post!) to simply “be grateful” for what we have. Adoptees have a range of emotions and ways of thinking about adoption or their own story– but just because they don’t speak about painful elements of their experience, doesn’t mean that it’s not there. (Similarly– many adoptive parents come to that decision after dealing for years with infertility. I’ve watched others suffer through infertility and am sure that’s a painful experience…. I’m sure they don’t talk about that pain in casual conversation, or with their adoptive children… does that mean the pain never existed/ isn’t there?)

    I truly wish you and your family well.

    • I’m sorry that you received from my post that I don’t want to hear adoptees voices. I still hold true to how I feel about adoption for my family and I also speak for many adoptive families. And, both of my children have open adoptions and my daughter’s bio family disappeared for three years, returned only to disappear again. We have never heard from my sons bio family. So, there are many cases where open adoption does harm. I’m glad to have my children’s bio families history for their future, but it has been painful thus far.

  21. I had a mouthful of cereal when I read that you think adoption is beautiful, luckily I didn’t spread everywhere. I find it laughable because adoption is an experience. Not every experience is beautiful.

    My adoption experience was anything but beautiful. I was adopted by a pedophile. When he wasn’t molesting me he was beating me and telling me that I was worthless and threatening to kill me. I left that adoptive home at 14 years of age. I was lucky to have survived that experience. But the scars of the trauma remain in their anything but beautiful.

    It took me 25 years to find my natural father. He was never told about me. He said if he didn’t known about me he’d raised me himself. But in 1969 and into thousand 14 single fathers have no rights to their children when it comes to adoption. He would’ve been denied that opportunity just like fathers are today. That is anything but beautiful.

    I can’t get my original birth certificate even though my natural mother has adopted me back. Both of my parents want me to have my birth certificate with their information on it. But archaic laws discriminate against adoptees having their own birth information just like everyone else in this country. We are treated differently simply because we were adopted. Birth certificates are supposed to document the birth of a person. I was not born three times.

    So although adoption can be a beautiful experience it certainly wasn’t for me. That’s why I’ve flipped the script. #flipthescript.

  22. I think that you are completely missing a major point of adoption. “For every family formed through adoption, was is torn apart” that kind of pain is real and tangible for the adoptee- your piece completely glosses over that. As for a “War” on adoption? No, we Adoptees are sick of our voices being ignored and marginalized…. we are after all the neat little economic commodity by-product of adoption- adoption changes us forever…for better or worse. I know a lot of adoptive parents would rather if we don’t speak out, just keep quiet… but I and many others REFUSE TO. Obviously you know there are many problems with adoption, but you would rather only focus on the “nicer” aspects… also know as DENIAL.

  23. No. There are so many misunderstandings in this article I don’t know where to begin. if you really want to understand, you should seriously take the time to read what adoptees are saying instead of just deciding there’s some kind of “war” going on. After all, your own children are adoptees, I would think you would want to be listening to adoptee voices.

  24. Hi Tracy,
    The purpose of #FliptheScript is to let adoptees’ speak for themselves about their experiences. Adoptees’ voices are completely left out of the adoption discourse during NAAM. Since adoption is about adoptees’, naturally they should be included in the discussion. The diversity and the complexity of their experiences needs to be shown, talked about and understood. #FliptheScript is not against adoption and it has nothing to do with taking the beauty out of adoption. Rather it probes people to ask…what do adoptees think or feel about their own adoption? It’s not about being angry, grateful, happy or having good or bad experiences. It’s much more complex and nuanced than that.

    • There are many with #flipthescript who are against adoption – I’ve had many negative comments here made against international and domestic adoption. The families (adopted children) I help on this blog have adopted internationally, domestically, and through foster care, and comments saying how wrong it is are not for this blog. I’ve also had many comments telling me how narcissistic I am because I think most of adoption is beautiful. (I am well aware there are horrible experiences and that laws need to be changed.)
      So, as I’ve said other places and here, those are the angry words I was hearing on #flipthescript via Twitter, and other AP’s agree with me because they also felt guilty and shamed.
      I really appreciate what you wrote, thank you.

  25. #flipthescript doesn’t mean just talking about the “other, unattractive side of adoption.” It means acknowledging there are more voices than just those of the adoptive parents and the adoption agencies. It means treating adoptees as though they (we) are legitimate people, not perpetual children, who have a right to access and speak truth, even when it is uncomfortable for others and even when it contradicts the predominant adoption narrative. I say this as both an adoptee and an adoptive mother. The only war here is against disrespect and dismissal of adoptees.

  26. In your entry about Jerry Seinfeld, you responded to a comment thusly: “I really appreciate your input. A person with Autism has far more insight into this than a mother does. I can only speak of how Jerry’s public acknowledgment affects my life with my son.”

    But you apparently believe that adoptees — especially the “unhappy” ones — don’t have more insight into adoption than an adoptive mother does. That’s pretty hypocritical, don’t you think?

    And for the record, National Adoption Month was created to raise awareness of *U.S. children in foster care* in need of permanent homes. It had nothing to do with international adoption and nothing whatsoever to do with adopters celebrating anything. Sure, it’s since been co-opted for those purposes, but that certainly wasn’t its original intent.

  27. As one of the creators of #flipthescript, my first thought reading this was, “she *must* be talking about a different movement.” The very movement for which the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption recently wrote a public statement of support. Flip the Script, like the organization that founded it, takes no stance on adoption whatsoever other than “adoptee voices make adoption better.” As a representative of the entity that maintains this movement, I can tell you that the movement seeks to highlight what adoptees are saying based on the idea that adoptee voices are important. All adoptee voices. Not just the ones that make people comfortable or are the ones we like to hear. We are all co-sharers of the adoption experience.

    There may be adoptees who voice opinions that others did not like while using the hashtag. It doesn’t make #flipthescript about those opinions. It makes #flipthescript about the humanity of those adoptees and therefore their entitlement to compassion, dignity, and respect. There were adoptees who used the hashtag to say they loved adoption. To say their adoptions were necessary (me being one of them). To say that post-adoption support is crucial to supporting adoptive families (me being one of them). These themes themselves aren’t what the hashtag is about either. Rather, it’s about the voices behind them–the human faces and feelings behind them.

    The idea that there are “well-adjusted adoptees” and “not satisfied adoptees” is an oversimplification of the adoption experience that causes shame in anyone whose experiences and emotions can’t fit into the mold others set forth as “acceptable.” As a social worker and adoptee, I long for the day when we are less concerned about whether adoptees love the institution of adoption and more concerned about whether adoptees love themselves. This starts first with members of the adoption community refraining from pathologizing our voices and working to expand *their* own capacity to be loving towards us. All of us. All adoptees matter.

    • For the most part, that is not what I heard, nor what I hear now. I feel your opinions are very different from many others. I have heard many anti-adoption anti-adoptive parents comments.

  28. Tracy, for me as an infant adoptee, #flipthescript is a tool to shed light on the damage done that could have been avoided. In my situation, if giving up a baby wasn’t such an acceptable and accessible option, my parents would have kept me. In my opinion, adopting an older child who has no other options is a whole different issue. But I do think that anytime a child is separated from their birth mother for whatever reason, there will be “pain, and isolation”. I hope our voices begin to open a dialogue so that adoptees don’t feel the need to keep their feeling to themselves until they’re 38.

  29. What your adopted kids have, who they’re becoming, is because you’re taking the time to love, nurture, and encourage them.
    It has nothing to do with adoption, and everything to do with relationship.
    You can love a child without rewriting their history. You can love a child under the name they were born with, without having to change it to your own. You can love a child without falsifying their legal documents and naming yourself as the “parent”.
    We have numerous reasons for flipping the script, but regardless of how “happy” or “beneficial” an adoption may be, it still feels like identity theft, and creates all kinds of challenges because an amended birth certificate is just that – amended. We have roots. We have history. It is extremely painful for us to have our noses rubbed in our losses for one entire month, by people like yourself who LOVE adoption – because you don’t understand everything it has cost us.

    • These are not the types of comments from #flipthescript I was referring to. I fully support the change in laws to allow adoptees the right to their medical records and familial history. My children have it.

  30. I am a “birth” mother who lost a son to adoption in 1968 (the BSE) for the sole reason that I was not married. I have lived with the pain of that decision for 47 years and even though I found my son three years ago and we have a loving relationship now, nothing will ever make up for those lost years. A mother who can’t parent because she’s “too young” or unmarried or still in school or whatever should be offered help to parent her child. I am also the adoptive mother of a black/Vietnamese son who is now 41. I was a “believer” in adoption for over forty years and was committed to it as fervently as anyone could be. But knowing now what both of these sons suffered as a direct result of adoption has made me rethink everything I thought I knew. Yes, when a child is in desperate straits and adoption is the only option, then it can be a life-saver, but I see no reason to make a fetish of it, which is what the adoption industry does. The truth is, adoption should be about the needs of the child, not the desires of adults who want a baby but can’t have one of their own. There are more people wanting to adopt than there are adoptable children. Why else would there be such long waiting periods? The truth is, most people wanting to adopt want babies or toddlers, not kids trapped in foster care. The demand drives the supply, as we are seeing now with the increased numbers of babies taken from families by CPS for the flimsiest of reasons. Emotions run high when it comes to adoption and family and caring for children, as they should. I’m glad you are providing a good home for your son, but never forget that every adoption, even his, is grounded in a tragedy. We need to be honest about the damage adoption has done, respect those who have suffered and need to speak their truth, and not dismiss adult adoptees who have ambivalent (at best) feelings as merely “angry” or “ungrateful.”

  31. Thank you for putting words to how a lot of families built from adoption feel. Sometimes I read these posts, articles or comments and I come away feeling guilty or like I need to defend myself for adopting, like I’m doing something horrible when all we wanted to do was to help. You verbalized it so well. Thank you for speaking out because I know sometimes it feels like you can’t.

  32. I had a hard time reading all of those blogs too! I want to be informed, so I read them all, but wondered why I felt so guilty for wanting to adopt and for feeling so excited about the prospect of one day getting to adopt one of our foster children. We want to love them and raise them in the case that no biological family members can… Does that make us “bad” people? If we celebrate the official day that we become a family, are we horrible insensitive people? Lots of questions… Your blog is the first one I’ve read this month that has anything positive to say… So happy to read it!!!

    • I think some of the words out there do make us feel guilty for wanting something for our children, or for feeling a certain way about adoption and foster care. It’s so saddening that adoptive and foster parents, as well as prospective adoptive families feel this way. I’m am so glad you were happy to read this, it gives me hope.

    • No, you do not need to feel guilty about wanting a family. You went about it through the public system, which is the best way. It’s very important to recognize that most of the “flipthescript” scenarios come from people who were adopted from the private industry which is much different from what you experience!

      It’s like comparing marriage to arranged marriage. One is good, one is unethical. Public adoption is good. Private adoption is unethical.

  33. Awesome!! Our 15-year old daughter is officially ours as of a couple of weeks ago. She still wanted us! LOL I still cry when she reads the adoption decree aloud – “forever adopted”. Forever is a beautiful thing. You are right, beauty is a process and it grows bigger and better every day… congratulations on your family.

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