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From The LGA Submission Page: Why is being an adoptee an angry issue? Why make it seem as if we are always slighted?

Name: Cara
Comment: Why is being an adoptee an angry issue?  Why make it seem as if we are always slighted?

I am a well educated and professional “adoptee” and I do not feel anger.  I do not look upon my adoptive parents poorly, but instead with respect and love.

I remember a “Friends” episode that aired in the heyday of “Friends” where Monica did NOT want to adopt a child because it wouldn’t be “theirs.”  Sure, it was “Friends,” but it was part of the social media at the time and reached a large number of TV viewers.  I was outraged that someone would think about a child in that way and let it limit their actions in a way that may benefit a life.  How could someone not want to adopt?  How could a TV show portray an image that only a child of blood was worthy of love and affection?

My parents were given a choice at time of adoption – in a very broad sense – “perfect” or “imperfect.”  They chose “imperfect” and lo and behold…I arrived…with 6 toes on each foot.  My parents chose adoption.  My adoptive parents chose imperfect.  My adoptive parents are my parents.  I have not had my birth parents come racing to find me.  I was perhaps given up for a reason…maybe a bad reason or a socially forced reason, but that was my birth parent(s) choice, and I can respect that they did what was possibly necessary at the time.

We live in a “democratic” society that is trying to sanction women’s reproductive rights – yet the posts I continue to read on this blog are so negative about adoptive parents.  If we are still part of a government that is trying to limit reproductive rights in a way that may result in more unwanted pregnancies…perhaps adoptees should begin to focus on what can improve the perception of adoption and promote the pluses (and not only the minuses) of adoption so that the public can make educated decisions and see why adoption can be such a fantastic endeavor.  Adoption, as my adoptive parents found out, may not be “perfect” but may still be wonderful and fulfilling.

Make it better for others.  Adoptees need to be heard…but it is counterproductive to make more “Monica’s” because adoptive parents become fearful of an angry or disheartened adoptee.

15 Comments on From The LGA Submission Page: Why is being an adoptee an angry issue? Why make it seem as if we are always slighted?

  1. Mary A. Coyle // July 19, 2012 at 8:59 am // Reply

    Cara, this is a well thought out post. There may be many benefits to a child when adoption is considered. The chance for a child to grow up in a family, I think, is far more beneficial than growing up in a state run institution. I think that some aspects of change in adoption are a wonderful step forward — like open adoption. This gives the child a chance to see where they come from physically, a chance to develop the necessary relationship without fear with their birth families and a chance to feel secure in knowing the story of both sides of their families (birth and adoptive).

    I also think that more consideration of race and family should be used by the agencies seeking placement. If at all possible, I believe a child should be kept with their biological family, then within their country and as a last resort to be adopted internationally. I found it quite amazing to hear on that NPR program that countries are now open to having an open adoption plan for families like the program in the Marshall Islands. I have hope that one day this will be the case here in the U.S. as well as with all other countries.

    I also hope that more care is taken within agencies to stop people being pressured to give up their children, or having children kidnapped or stolen. These types of actions need to be policed more within each country, and here in the U.S. with adoption agencies.

    I think adoption when it is done correctly saves children and give them hope for living within loving families.

    Mary Coyle, adoptive mother

  2. Just as an aside: The assumption that we are angry with our adoptive parents is telling. Biological children are angry with their parents all the time—why is this disallowed the adopted child? How does one “good” experience become the exceptional case that represents the whole?

    The other assumption that adoption is a given, has always existed, and at that for family creation, needs to be challenged, and for obvious reasons. The conditions in our countries of origins—and here I include the “Third World” internal to the USA and other “First World” countries—are a direct function of the class differential that allows for adoption to begin with. The inequality in the world that produces children defined narrowly as “orphans” is not corrected by an institution whose very basis is, in fact, this inequality; whose existence is a function of such inequality. Taking advantage of a power differential to one’s personal advantage does not fix that power differential, no matter what kind of economic class leg up it might give us on the world stage, to the exclusion of our families, communities, and places of birth.

    Personally, this is where my anger comes from: the injustice and violence of an unfair system. If we truly desire to change things for the better, we can certainly improve upon what is basically applying bandaids to a cancer patient. And I am not angry with my adoptive parents; nothing can challenge my love for them and their support for me as I attempt a return to my birthplace. But the days of naive adherence to the savior complex of the U.S. in the post-war period are over. Today’s adoptive parents should know better, and do. Given that they are the class with the luxury and privilege of changing things systemically and they do not, this is a cause for anger if you ask me.

  3. Reblogged this on International Adoption Reader und kommentierte:
    This is a comment I am truly thankful for.
    It is not that I cannot accept diverse attitudes, different opinions and anger. Really, I can. It is just that sometimes, it is such a relief to see the other side of the coin represented as well.

  4. Hi Cara,

    Thank you for your thoughtful feedback.

    I cannot speak for Kevin or Shelise but I personally have never had a gripe specifically against “adoptive parents” as a group. I won’t refrain from voicing realities, such as adoptive parents being power-holders in adoption, or specific movements (i.e. adoptee records closures) that were meant to benefit adoptive parents. But, then again, none of those things can be specifically blamed on an entire group or on an individual parent simply because they adopted. When it comes to various “triad” members as allies for the same causes, sometimes we’re tough on each other. Which, when respectfully done, is necessary.

    As an adoption critic and blogger, I occasionally receive “you don’t like adoptive parents” in response to my work and writing. Not because I actually dislike adoptive parents but because I said something critical about adoption. I think it’s important to talk about this response. “Adoption” and “adoptive parent” are not equally interchangeable synonyms. Adoption is an institution, not a person. As an institution, it impacts just about every vulnerable population in this world that one could imagine. Because of this, we need to be critical about the institution. We need to expose it’s flaws, discuss it’s triumphs, and be realistic about its global impact. We cannot mistake these things for being egregious assaults against parents who have adopted, surrendering parents, or other adoptees themselves.

    Adoption can be a wonderful thing for many waiting children. That being said, it always contains archaic and needless elements. In order to obtain a new home, it should not be necessary to have your original identity amended and sealed and kept away from you. You should not have to lose legal ties to your original families. You should not be threatened with the loss of your tribe or contact with your siblings. Children should not have to surrender these fundamental, basic human rights in order to receive a loving family.

    Adoption itself, whether necessary or not, is an enormous loss. Children and families endure adoption separation on a regular basis globally–often times when adoption should have been a last resort but wasn’t. Economic injustice, corruption, the “isms,” all play a part in adoption and its need for reform.

    I am sure you can understand how I am hesitant to ever blanket adoption as entirely good or entirely bad. I actually don’t do that for any institution. Marriage is not entirely good or entirely bad for all people. Neither is religion, or politics, or education, so on and so forth. I do adoption no greater favors than any other system I am critical of or have had the pleasure of interacting with in my lifetime.

    When adoption fixes its problems, I will not hesitate to sing its praises.

    • “But, then again, none of those things can be specifically blamed on an entire group or on an individual parent simply because they adopted.”

      I think it’s fair, though, to blame the group for taking so little action in regards to issues like access to the original birth certificate and citizenship for all intercountry adoptees. I am continually amazed at how few APs are willing to actually do something to right these injustices. Since we have historically held the lion’s share of the power in adoption, it is our responsibility.

  5. “We live in a “democratic” society that is trying to sanction women’s reproductive rights – yet the posts I continue to read on this blog are so negative about adoptive parents. If we are still part of a government that is trying to limit reproductive rights in a way that may result in more unwanted pregnancies…perhaps adoptees should begin to focus on what can improve the perception of adoption and promote the pluses (and not only the minuses) of adoption so that the public can make educated decisions and see why adoption can be such a fantastic endeavor. Adoption, as my adoptive parents found out, may not be “perfect” but may still be wonderful and fulfilling.”

    Perhaps instead of just accepting of the fact that a portion of the country wishes to deny access to family planning choices and willing take us back to the same societal conditions that existed in the BSE – we should be actively speaking out that adoption is not the solution for denying access to family planning. We have been there and done that already – it harmed many – if we don’t learn from history we are bound to repeat it.

    I would never promote that we go back to forcing women to surrender their babies for adoption because they had no other choice.

  6. Right on, Amanda and Daniel. Not sure there’s much more I can add here.

  7. I gave up on “Friends” before that episode, I think, but it would have irked me too. At the same time, adoption is often portrayed in a ridiculous, oversimplified, or disrespectful way on TV, so I don’t expect “Friends” to explore the issue with any nuance. And honestly, a lot of people feel the way Monica does, or have their doubts anyway. If they have doubts about their ability to parent a child not born to them, they shouldn’t adopt. So, in a way…way to go, Monica?

    I work in adoption advocacy and am knee-deep in another thread about it, so believe me when I say that I’m not “anti-adoption” or “anti-adoptive parent”…but I don’t think anyone here really is, either. I’ve never actually met a totally “anti-adoption” person. Some individual adoptees have individual issues with their adoptive parents, and they should talk about them if they want to, but I think there aren’t many people at LGA or elsewhere that dislike adoptive parents as a group. That would be futile as well as short-sighted.

    Adoptive parents have a great deal of power and agency; they are also the ones stereotypically viewed as “saintly” for adopting. But they aren’t saints; no matter how excellent they are as parents, they are beneficiaries of someone else’s loss. Personally, I believe many adoptive parents are wonderful parents — I am happy to know several and count them as friends. They adopt in a sensitive way, they try to listen to and think about other members of the triad, and it makes them feel humbled and grateful for the opportunity they’ve been given to care for and love a child.

    I don’t think all or even most adoptive parents feel “entitled” to adoption and entitled to a child…but on occasion, some do express sentiments that sound an awful lot like entitlement to me. It’s that failure of empathy, when I hear it expressed on an individual (not group!) basis, that bothers me, personally. And it’s the sort of thing I can see getting angry about, when it happens.

    • desifrau75 // July 21, 2012 at 11:20 am // Reply

      ‘Friends’ is a tv show which is not known for its quality of anything, let alone adoption issues. Actually, Hollywood is pretty tasteless on most things. They are the last things I consider on this issue, especially as an adoptee.

  8. I am a well educated and professional “adoptee” also…how it ties to the above comment, I have no clue. I’ve met people with high IQ who continue to do foolish things and those with average IQ do remarkable things. We are as diverse as any other sub-group. Some adoptees are short- others are tall- some are kind- others are angry…we are a mixed lot. I disagree with some of the comments that were made and thought that the paragraph was poorly written. Upon closer examination, the article spoke against those who thought differently than the author. The author hinted tot eh fact that they could not fathom how anybody could dislike their adoptive parents. Ironically they were upset how a person felt (in friends) about adoption. If you asked me- they began to sound like the angry adoptee- they spoke against those unlike themselves. The truth of the matter is that they inadvertently came across how some of us are actually treated…what if we are the adoptees that experience “parents” who later feels that the child they adopted isn’t theirs? My adopters where mean spirited and abused me. They called me stupid on a daily basis. They neglected me and I suffered a horrible childhood from people who tormented me in many ways. What is wrong in speaking about this? What is wrong in addressing the issues that many adoptees face about race, misconceptions about adoption, lack of understanding from their families or communities? What is wrong about looking for better solutions, to ensure single mothers have the oppertunity to keep their children or train/ give tools to dysfunctional families in keeping their own kids? If a rape victim cries out- speak ill of her/his attacker-people rally to assist. They don’t question the victim or tell them not to speak about the horrific trauma they endured. If an adoptee speaks out negatively in any way they are labeled as angry. I’m not angry but I will speak my mind against those who push me into this stereotype. Whats wrong with those who have a different opinion? Nothing! The rant about the “limit reproductive rights in a way that may result in more unwanted pregnancies” what in carnation does that has to do with angry adoptees? I am all for women’s rights and their choice to contraceptives etc, Are they insinuating that angree adoptees are less liberal? They did not sound smart…the article was filled with red herrings. I do not like my adopters, I will continue to write to limit internation adoption and by no means am I angry about the issue. I am genuinely happy for those who have had a better life than I. I know how bad life can really be…I have met so many who had it even far worse than I had. ALL of us have a version of the truth. I am glad that you have done well. But please Ltake time to listen to some of us with opposing views and maybe you can learn a thing or two…about our versions of truth as we see it.

  9. I am so happy for those individuals that are “seemingly” comfortable with their own personal adoption experience. However, I am greatly concerned when I do not see an empathetic display for the concern and well being of others, especially fellow adoptees and their mothers.

    In my personal experience I have discovered that dissension is common among individuals who are unaffirmed – not their fault, as this is truly a gift given to us by others.

    What I know today is the ability to perceive the facts beyond ones own personal story and opinions are manifested in individuals who have reached maturity\integration. And this growth\maturity is what provides the ability to see the others pain\suffering, which only occurs when we have a deep understanding of our own pain. This does not necessarily mean adoption pain, but the trails of everyday life that brings suffering. This suffering awareness and growth of our own daily trials generally leads to an empathic concern for others.

    You see, it is when we have reached integration of emotions and mind, we can then attune ourselves to others who are suffering and turn empathetically to the emotion of anger in others. Attunement is displayed in people when they reach out and provide comfort and hope for others, rather than a focus on a perceived negativity. Interesting that some see negativity in this blog or other sites, as I see suffering and or justified anger in adoptees who are or becoming integrated and wholly mature.

    Now I have gone on long enough and do not have the time to write my personal adoption story; but briefly, my adoptive parents were phenomenal and my reunion was a disaster. I am not sure about others, but I do not like to be used as an example for a good adoption story, all the while the objectification of the human race is manifested in our truly ill world of the twentieth century. The evils of this world goes beyond our personal infantile adoption stories. It is time for growth and full maturity past our childhood fantasies and individual desires of being cared for and loved. We as a human race are meant to look beyond our own personal narcissistic needs and see the suffering in each other and then to closely scrutinizes adoption practices for what it is. Human trafficking disguised as adoption is not only a crime against humanity, but it is the destruction of basic human rights. It is not natural for a child to not know their mother, to know their mothers love, to have their mother comfort them when they are hurt, ill, or even sad. It is time for society to wake up and realize how unnatural adoption its, and realize what a money pit it is.

    Slavery was one of the causes of the Civil War, and humans were bought and sold. Families were separated, while children were ripped out of their mothers arms to be sold to another. We may think that the end of the war, and the help of Abe Lincoln, we ended slavery. Unfortunately, slavery continues in not only the USA, but all around the world, where once again, babies are torn from their mother, in one way or another, and then used as a commodity which is resulting in a billion dollar business for private and state agencies, as well as others who benefit from this form of child trafficking, child theft, and modern day slavery.

    (FB page – Adoption Trauma)

  10. lynn, could i use what you wrote in an article? I wrote a post about about the correlations of Slavery and Adoption and really liked what you said…thanks

  11. desifrau75 // July 21, 2012 at 11:24 am // Reply

    Good Afternoon All,

    I have had many productive discussions about anger w/my parents and fellow adoptees. While anger is a natural emotion w/in the adoption narrative, I have def. experienced my share regarding adoption and other life aspects. OUR PRIMARY GOAL TO BECOME HEALTHY ADULTS. Believe it or not, IT IS UP TO US TO BECOME THIS WAY. 🙂 Thank you.

  12. Kudos to Lynn and Amanda. I don’t think there’s much more that can be said in reply that other amazing adoptees haven’t covered.

    But I will reiterate some points. I think this notion is really strange: “Adoptees need to be heard…but it is counterproductive to make more “Monica’s” because adoptive parents become fearful of an angry or disheartened adoptee.”

    It’s like: “oh no, don’t scare the adoptive parents away! they will forsake the babies!”

    ^ I do believe all humans on this earth are responsible for caretaking the emotions and wellbeing of those around them to an extent but when that extent includes censoring the critique of the institution of adoption — it’s not really time for caretaking or watching what we say. Much like Lynn said the nature of the beast (how dramatic, right?) goes far beyond our own infantile adoption mommy-never-loved-me stories. There are people profiting at this very moment from the separation of natural mother and child. Please tell me on what day of the week that seems karmically healthy even if we ignore the justified drama of adoptee personal narratives? It’s not my job as an adoptee to make adoptees seem more marketable to prospective parents. It’s my job to create a kinder world through seeking adoption policy/institutional reform that best serves adoptees.

    [ There will always be demand for children. Because a certain segment of the population will always be infertile (until we have viable or legal human cloning) or seek to create a family by non-biological means. And as for possibly creating stigma attached to the adopted child….who better than an intelligent informed well spoken adoptee critic to show the world how wonderful adoption can turn out? informed critics are only negative when you decide that only a uniformly positive outlook betters the world. And that is simply not the truth.]

  13. Brent Snavely // July 24, 2012 at 9:24 am // Reply

    From time-to-time I have experienced happiness, sadness, anger and fear, together with various other emotional gradations, permutations and concatenations. Allowing anyone other than ourselves to “frame” our individual adoptee experience and existence seems, to me, permitting others to erase my self-hood. These days I’m not buying anyone’s sales pitch that I “should” be, feel or do “X, Y or Z” and this position, coupled with my having largely given up on convincing anyone about anything and simply expressing myself, seems to frighten/anger those who believe they have a silver-bullet answer.

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