How do adoptees feel about Shel Silverstein’s book “The Giving Tree”?

Ahhh… another review about the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

The author of this article mentions, among other things, the fascination of orphan-hood to children who aren’t orphans.
As adoptees, we don’t know our conception and birth truths. We grow up not knowing.

For me, I hated stories and movies of orphans because I grew up knowing that my mother died and that’s how I became adopted by two people who became my parents. The horrible truth actually happened to me. Other kids could hide in their fantasies, relieved that they aren’t orphans after all. But not me.
I never read The Giving Tree until recently. I do not like this book. I look at it from an adult’s perspective. And from an educated adoptee’s perspective.
I see the anguish on the old man’s (the boy) face as he sits down on the tree’s stump. Is he realizing his or the tree’s life as a wasted life? Is he saying, “ What did I do?”
A tree (mother) who gave everything. An unselfish mother or a mother who lacks confidence to say no?
Would a male tree do the same? Would a little girl growing up do the same?
As adoptees, what does this say about our adoptions?
As adoptees, do we see this book differently?
What do mothers of children lost to adoption think of The Giving Tree?
In reading the Comments Section, one stood out:

“I rather thought the point of the story was that we sometimes don’t realize how much the people in our lives love us and appreciate them as we should- but the ones who truly love us continue to love us anyway. i thought it was to teach a child appreciation and awareness.”

To which, I replied:

“Yours is the only response that redeems this book to me. Thank you.”

In retrospect, yes, I suppose The Giving Tree does teach a child appreciation and awareness. That is what my daughter said she felt about this book when she was a child. She read it at summer camp.

Adoptee Suicide


The author of this blog post, Elle Cuardaigh, states: “I never felt my mother abandoned me. I never felt abandoned. But I have felt keenly alone.

Enough to kill myself.”
It is the alone-ness that eats at me. Adoption did not provide for me a better life. Sure, during my childhood, I had it good. But I was raised as an only child. I was alone. Meanwhile, my adoptive parents and all of my extended adoptive family knew I was not alone. I was really the youngest of five children. I was intentionally kept apart from my full blood siblings. And then they found me. And the bickering between me and my adoptive parents began. And me being attacked by the rest of my adoptive family, save but a few. And then the attacks upon me by the very siblings who found me. I was different, not like them, spoiled, they said. I should shut up, do not write about my adoption-reunion. Too bad. I am. Because I stand up for myself, I am alone.
I promised my cousin a few nights ago that I would not kill myself. With a handful of relatives who love me, I realize I am not alone. They know what adoption did to me.

Originally posted on elle cuardaigh:


When L’wren Scott took her own life, those of us in the adoption community said, “Another.”

It was so recent that Charlotte Dawson had done the same:

These two celebrity deaths made us take notice of a recent study, although many of us did not need “proof”:

Adoptees are four times more likely than the non-adopted to attempt suicide. And those who attempt suicide are much more likely to actually die that way.

We are the lucky ones, aren’t we. The fortunate. The chosen. The ones who weren’t aborted, as we are so often reminded. So we’d better be grateful. By the same line of reasoning, we were thrown away. Abandoned. And to even think about “those people” is betrayal to the ones who raised us, our real parents.

So why are we killing ourselves?

L’wren Scott and Charlotte Dawson should have been Successful Adoption poster children…

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Adoption Trauma: Farewell Charlotte Dawson


For many reasons, I’ve been thinking about adoptees and suicide. This dark subject haunts me. I battle depression and suicidal ideation nearly every day. The pain of my life as a bullied adoptee means that I must constantly renew my promise (not to kill myself) to those who love me. Despite the bullying directed at me, there are people who love me. People who would be crushed if I were to complete a suicide attempt.
I made a promise to my cousin a few days ago, that I would not succumb to my thoughts of wanting to die. It’s strange how a call out of the blue can be both sad and uplifting at the same time.
Though I never knew Charlotte Dawson, we had adoption in common. And being mocked, stalked, and bullied on Twitter.

Originally posted on Kim Coull:

As a fellow adoptee my heart goes out to Charlotte Dawson in her tragic passing. She has been on my radar for many years now, since I found out she was adopted at birth and now, here in memoriam, I can again feel her a breath away from my soul.
A lot has been said about the reasons for her suicide and without wanting to butt in as a stranger where I am not welcome, I do feel I have a silent and meaningful connection with her as a fellow adoptee. There are often many reasons behind a suicide and Charlotte had complex, compelling, and overlapping traumas in her life that may have lead to her early death. However, I would also like to say, from my position as an adoptee, that Adoption Trauma is (as Von Coates has also posted on her Facebook page) still grievously overlooked and underappreciated in society today. I…

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VT to MN – Day 8, A Rest Day


Tim is right: He misses his two Moms. It is not slang. It is plural. And I miss all four of my parents. …. Every adoptee has two sets of real parents.

Originally posted on ridinghometofindme:

It’s hard to tell the difference between women’s pajamas and sweatpants.  That’s not something that bothers me really, but it can be useful information to have when someone is walking toward you in a strange city, waving you down saying and saying “Hey!” from across the street to get your attention.  Had I known they were sweatpants I would have been able to take a level of possible crazy off the table and been less nervous about what was coming my way.  I had just given up on finding my Maui Jim sunglasses which disappeared sometime after 9pm last night, so I was hoping that was not an indicator of how the rest of the day would go.

There was nothing at all to be nervous about when Mrs Young came toward me from across the street.  She was from on vacation with her husband from Detroit…

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VT to MN Day 9 – Dad


Tim says to post far and wide, so I am!

Help an adoptee journey home:

Originally posted on ridinghometofindme:

A rest day was exactly what I needed. I actually slept in this morning!  By sleeping in I mean I slept past 7 am, which I have not done since I started this trip.  Joan was a wonderful host again this morning and I can not thank her enough for opening her home to me. 

It was 30 degrees colder today than it has been the previous two days.  it never came close to getting above 60.  it’s a funny temperature zone for me when I am riding.  Generally I would be completely bundled up, but my body has started to acclimate and I am taking the cold better than I normally would.  It’s also a funky temperature range because it’s the middle ground for clothing.  If it were just a little colder my actual cold weather gear would be perfect, but when…

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VT to MN Day 9 pics


Very happy to have hosted adoptee Tim Howard on his bicycle trip from Vermont to Minnesota to meet his blood kin and to raise awareness for Adoptees’ Rights. A joy to have him as a house guest, and a joy to lend a hand to someone who is on a life journey. May you find peace and a greater sense of self when this part of your life’s journey is over.

Originally posted on ridinghometofindme:

Starting point with my very gracious host Joan

Something made me smile, I’m blaming the bacon

10 miles




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40 miles


50 miles


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70 miles

View from camp 75 miles


If you would like to help support me on this journey and support adoptee rights/adoption reform, please donate at

EVERY donation helps

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The Real Philomena: NPR Radio Interview and Commentary

A radio interview with the real woman named Philomena who lost her three year old child to a forced adoption in Ireland. The movie, Philomena, is a fictionalized version of her search for her son.

I am glad that the discussion of intercountry adoption has been slowly turning in favor of examining what adoption means to the natural parents and their lsot children. This is a start. Discussion leads to action.

The movie depicts the result of barbaric behavior from Catholic nuns in intentionally separating a mother from her toddler son – because the mother “sinned” for being pregnant “out of wedlock”. The lesson? Realizing a mother loves her child, with or without marriage.

The further lesson? Bringing out to the open the cruel treatment mothers received in Ireland is not limited to Ireland. It has happened, and still does, all over the world. Babies are stolen and given up in forced adoptions all the time.

This movie, Philomena, quietly invades the viewer’s heart and mind. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? How can we stop it? What are the humane solutions to teen pregnancy? What are the solutions to religious indoctrination that persecuted Philomena way back pver 50 years ago ? How can we educate deeply religious people and institutions as to the damage their social control has had, and still does, on vulnerable mothers and their innocent children?

There has to be a better way. Punishment of mother because she got pregnant before marriage is not the way to go. Removing her child from her caused Philomena a lifetime of pain. Her son, like millions of stolen children, grew up believing his mother didn’t want him.

This should not happen.

Now that you’ve seen the movie, do something. Get busy. We need you to help put a stop to stories like this. Contact American Adoption Congress, Adoption Crossroads, as a start. There are other groups, such as Origins USA. Find a local organization that is set for social and political action.

This is a side note to Mannix Flynn: the questioning has begun. People are starting to ask why this happened. People are asking who should be held accountable for this tragedy.