I was checking my trackers when someone’s search words caught my eye: “adoption reunion resentment”.
Let me make this clear: I will not be the Poster Girl for Bad Reunions. You will have to read my book to know the whole story.
I was lied to be my adoptive parents for the first 18 years of my life. They did not EVER want me to know my own siblings. Siblings that they knew I had! Siblings who lived just a 20 minute drive away! When those siblings called me on the phone and shocked the living hell out of me when I was 18 years old, I was not mad at them. I was in deep, profound, emotional shock! My adoptive parents lied to me and prevented me from having meaningful relationships with my own siblings and my blood cousins, but it was alright for other members of my adoptive family to socialize with my own blood kin!
I was happy to meet my siblings, my niece and nephew, my father, and I was grieving the loss of my dead mother for the first time in my life. Do not for one second label me as against reunions!!!!
My reunion turned sour because I was getting abuse from my adoptive mother who never wanted me to know the truth. I was getting abuse from adoptive relatives who believed I was disloyal to my adoptive parents for accepting a phone call from my own siblings! I was seen as the villain by my many of my adoptive relatives.
A few of my adoptive aunts took me kindly aside to explain what they knew. The point is: if THEY knew, I should have known all along. Not only that, but my natural father was completely unaware that the adoption contract was broken. He put his trust into the couple he chose to adopt me, but he was not told that there would be socializing going on with his deceased wife’s family. If my adoptive father’s family and my deceased mother’s family allowed themselves to socialize, but left my father out of it, then his rights were violated. He was also unaware that rumors were spread about him, rumors that affected how I was treated by my extended adopted family.
In my beginning stages of my reunion, and for decades after, I could not be everything to everyone. I was expected to learn my family history, learn names, dates, go here, go there, finish high school, go to college, and be OKAY. No one was concerned for my emotional or mental health. I was alone, until I went to a support group for adoptees. The group met once a month. Then, I went to an Adoption Forum of Philadelphia Day – long adoption conference. I met authors, natural mothers, and adoptees who felt just like I did. I found friends. Back home, I was criticized for being in a reunion, and ridiculed by natural family and adoptive family for writing Letters to the Editor about adoptees rights. This was in the 1970s.
I have been ridiculed for being an adoption activist, for standing up for what I believe in.
I am not against adoption reunions!!! I am against the lies, the deception of entire family groups, I am against being discriminated against for being an adoptee writing about my life.
My reunion went sour for many, many reasons. Too many for a blog to explain.
Message to adoptive parents: do not ever lie to your adoptees. THAT abuse destroys the parent-child relationship. To prevent an adoptee to live as a “only” child, knowing that there are siblings nearby, is child abuse. Divorced parents would face charges if they did that.
Reunions with blood kin can only work if all people work at it. My father worked at it, but could not handle me going public. He did not understand the politics of me being adopted. He felt guilty for giving me away and I have told him repeatedly that I never blamed him. I have a lovely step mother. My adoptive parents and my natural parents visited with each other. It was hardest on my adoptive mother since she did not want me to ever know my father. And my siblings and I had wonderful times together. I had a hard times adjusting. I was one person. They were many. I was overwhelmed. I was alone in my suffering.
Reunions between families separated by adoption are positive, natural events, that, if handled with respect and dignity and honesty, can and do, work.
Reunions happen with and without open birth and adoption records.
DO NOT pin negativity upon me and blame “bad” reunions on me! Many relationships ebb and flow and some end. It is part of life. Not all families get along even without adoption separation and reunion. It is now nearly 36 years after my initial reunion. There are many relatives that have sustained relationships with me, and many who have not. The younger generations now are asking questions. Adoption, just like marriage, grows and changes as we all grow and age and die.
My adoptive mother is dying. She has faced some difficult issues. She has accepted that the falsified birth certificate must end, and in its place, an adoption certificate must tell the truth.
My natural father read my book as I wrote it, twice, in these last few years. He gave his own input as to what happened. He also answered questions about the relinquishment, and, no, he was never promised confidentiality. He was told by the judge: “you must not interfere with your daughter’s life. She now is the adopted daughter in this new family. When she turns 18, you may find her again.”
Ahh, but single mothers who give up their babies, or rather, who are coerced into giving up their babies, are, and have been, told that they will never see their baby again.
There is so much that is wrong about adoption itself. We need to focus on fixing those issues, which will then fix the reasons why relationships break down. There is much in adoption psychology of the entire family systems that cannot be explained in a blog. Read some adoption psychology books. They apply to family systems, and not just finger-pointing at the adoptee.
Society always must have scapegoats. That’s why illegitimates are called bastards. Cuss words. I resent it. Especially since I am a half orphan who should have been given respect, dignity, and honesty right from the very beginning of my adoption. Too many rumors. Too many untruths. Too much confusion for the adoptee.