Thank you, adoptee community

I just want to say “Thank you,” to the adoptee community. Some of them have done an outstanding job bringing to light the ugly underbelly of adoption. But wait: did you know that adoption has an ugly underbelly? Well, it does. I will probably touch on it from time to time.

The reason I want to thank them is that they have helped me understand my own childhood. I’ve read enough from them that I know they don’t like being compared to the kids of divorce. And in a way I get that. The two are not the same. But I have seen enough conceptual similarity to be helped in my own situation as a child of divorce. Here are several ideas I got from them. 

venn diagram
Adoption isn’t divorce/remarriage, but taken from the POV of the child, there is a small amount of conceptual overlap.

#1: On their blogs you may encounter an idea that goes like this: “I don’t know who I look like,” or, “I was raised around people who don’t look like me.”

As a child of divorce I knew who I looked like… but at the same time I understood the discomfort of being raised around people who didn’t look like me (each of my step-families). The ways in which I looked or acted like my dad were indicators that I was an outsider in my mother’s home. Same is true when I was at my dad’s home, but reversed. It is a terrible feeling to live this way, especially when you can’t even articulate it. You are always suppressing half of who you are in order to avoid feeling like an outsider. But the outsider status remains, since 1/2 of who you are has been rejected by the other half.

#2: Adoptees hate being told, “Aren’t you glad you weren’t aborted?” It is very insulting, so I don’t blame them for hating this question. There are important concepts embedded in that question. I explored them here.

And guess what? I can relate to this too. About eight years ago my mother told me that when she found out she was pregnant with me, she and my dad drove to Mexico to get an abortion. The doctor wouldn’t do it though. He said she was too far along with me. It was really strange to hear this information. Part of me was shocked, but in a way it made sense because I was never fully part of the new life she created after leaving my dad when I was three.

And frankly, there have been plenty of times I’ve wished I had died as an infant or in the womb. So yea, that question is a really shitty question. Don’t ever ask it of an adoptee, or of anyone.

#3: You might encounter something that goes like this: “I was treated differently than how my adoptive parents’ treated their biological children.”

Something similar was definitely true in my case, where my half-sister had a childhood that was radically different from mine. And I’m not just making this up–she sees and admits it.

#4: They created a concept called “adoption fog.” Adoption fog is what most people have about adoption. Most believe the false cultural narrative about adoption, that it is only positive (adoption is beautiful, adoption gives life, adoption is better than abortion, adoption is selfless) and never negative. They resist any attempt to bring some of the ugly reality to light. If anybody questions the cultural narrative, they are labeled as having mental issues.

I think there is something similar among the kids of divorce, their parents, and their therapists. But particularly the kids. I will call it “divorce fog.” It is extremely difficult to come to grips with just how hard it is to live a fractured life, living with a split ontology, and living in a perpetually liminal state. Has your therapist ever explored those concepts with you as you struggle to understand your depression and your anger? I really doubt it. But if so, PLEASE contact me as I would LOVE to talk to that person.

I think the divorce fog is doubly impenetrable when external factors make things look OK from the outside. But this life has been a hall of mirrors, and I mean this as more than just a metaphor. In many ways it is far easier to “go along to get along,” and this is partially due to not having a solid conceptual framework to understand our experiences. One of the reasons I started this blog was to flesh out a better conceptual framework. My hope is that this will help kids of divorce recover their voices and have courage to speak openly about what it was like.

#5: They inspired me to start writing in an honest way. I was so impressed with their willingness to be vulnerable and to describe what things were like, without fear of what others would think.

So thank you, adoptees. Some of you had the courage to write the truth about your experiences. You’ve helped not only your fellow adoptees…you’ve helped me too.

Image citation: Shin, Sun-Joo, Lemon, Oliver and Mumma, John, “Diagrams”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2014/entries/diagrams.
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Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I'm writing in order to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I will also discuss problems with other non-triad family structures, since there is a lot of overlap. People often think that better parenting skills will overcome problems in non-triad arrangements. While I agree that parenting skills are important, they cannot overcome the problems I discuss such as fractured ontology and perpetual liminality. I converted to the Catholic faith in 2012, and will discuss Catholic things from time to time as well.

5 thoughts on “Thank you, adoptee community”

  1. Here is one child I didn’t hear about from your post. Not the adopted kid not the step kid but being the child left behind.
    I am one of 14 kids of 13 pregnancies. (one set of twins) . My mother gave up 5 kids . I didn’t know about three just the twins always had a picture on the wall. I wild story went with it. one sibling I remember mom being pregnant with and remembering mom going to have the baby and being excited . I was told the baby died I was maybe 1st or 2nd grade. Then I have no memory of coming home and at 13th during an agreement with my aunt and mom my aunt yelled the truth that mom gave up the baby for adoption it didn’t die. I searched for the baby until she was 47 I found her. in finding the twins I learned of another brother I had no idea about . But the twin did. the last child I found out about it knew nothing and a random post online that was 9 years old lead me to my last brother. Mom met them all before she died.
    the worst Lie was I found out on ancestry that she lied to me about my father I was 58 when I found died out . it was devistating. I believe the adopted kids are better off than the ones the mother keeps. We go through it and get hit in the face and heart by the shrapnel thrown by the learning of secrets lies told all your life by the one woman your supposed to be able to trust.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello, thanks for your comment. I wished for years that I had been adopted instead of living with always feeling like an outsider, doing the back and forth thing between “two homes” and never being fully part of either one. But that changed once I started reading adoptee stories. I realized that I’d be struggling with the same ontological issues that I do now. In my case, adoption would have made that struggle harder. Plus there is no guarantee that my adoptive parents would have stayed together, meaning that I’d be doing the back and forth thing in either case.

      I don’t say this to minimize your pain, and it sounds like you had ontological issues as well, not knowing who your bio dad was until much later in life. I’m mainly writing to express how things worked out for me. But I’m sorry for any pain you felt from the chaos you lived under. I do understand it in my own way. Family-structure chaos is hard to live under, much harder than people realize.

      Please know that you’re welcome to comment here any time. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. I don’t think my mother ever set out to hurt me , she was just trying to find a way out of a horrible situation she always got into and we as children got dragged along for the ride. I feel bad knowing what my kids went through. I was married 5 timessage by 45. 4 by my 28. I loved one. The one I am married to.

        I never knew what love looked like or felt like because I had never experienced it. I hate I put my kids through what my momma did not as much but poor taste in men

        Like

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