Adoptee Psychology, Genetics, the Unnatural Act of Adopting and Questions for Adoptive Parents

Today’s post was inspired by a blog post I read this morning and by an occurrence at a dinner party. Since I’m not feeling particularly “put together” at the moment, this post may be choppy and disjointed.

I’d like to direct my readers to Rhode Island adoptee John Greene’s blog post titled “Adoption and The Adoptees Reality” in which he addresses some points of specific psychology of being adopted. The topic needs to be understood, not just by adoptees, but by adoptive and pre-adoptive parents, especially in the wake of NCFA’s recent call for money donations to “make adoption strong” to fight the anti-adoption community and NPR’s Scott Simon’s two NPR interviews on his recently published memoir on being the adoptive father of two girls from China here (224 comment to date) and here (34 comments to date).

John Greene notes the works of three American adoption researchers: Nancy Verrier (The Primal Wound), Betty Jean Lifton, PhD (Journey of the Adopted Self), and Dr. David Brodzinsky (The Lifelong Journey to Self). It is best to read their works for a more complete study.

John Greene asks the question:

“How does the adopted individual feel about being relinquished?”

I believe that the average pre-adoptive and adoptive parent does not delve into this question, for if they did, they might find the answers disturbing enough to think twice about adoption in a positive light. If adoptive and pre-adoptive parents take a hard look at the realities of adoption, they may not think adoption was such a great and wonderful “thing” they have done, or want to do.

I’ll make a side journey here to what happened at a dinner party I attended last week. A guest, whom I did not know, remarked that so-and-so was adopting another child — from the same birthmother. The assumption from the folks hearing such a comment was the (tired) refrain “how wonderful of you to adopt, again!” At which point I almost spewed the food I was chewing. No one else but my date and the hostess knew that I was adopted and reunited since 1974, but, despite this, the hostess continued blathering on praising adoption while my date and I were wide-eyed. I gulped my food down and stuffed down my feelings. I kept quiet, realizing that no amount of talking would help these clueless people know the true meaning of adoption to the children involved. If I had “opened my mouth” and spoke truthfully about adoption, my comments would have been seen as hostile and a verbal fight would have ensued. So, the only way for me to deal with yet another instance of praise for adoption while ignoring adoptee and natural parent pain was for me to ignore the immediacy of the moment and write about it here.

This is where I beg adoptive and pre-adoptive parents to listen and read what grown adoptees and adoption researchers are saying. Take a long look at the devastating effects of adoption and know what you are doing to your adoptee! You may not intentionally be causing your adoptee harm, but the very fact of being an adoptee sets a person up for emotional and physical trauma.

John Greene explains:

…Is it nature or nurture that composes him/her? Adoptees ponder relentlessly whether their true “self” derives from their nature, the traits and characteristics they are born with; or from nurture as a result of the adoptive environment they are enveloped within. Traditionally the concept of nature or nurture is viewed as if it’s one transitioning into the other, or if one has more influence than the other. I feel these perspectives are the wrong approach. I sense with the adoptee world it’s nature and nurture continually working symbiotically with one another.

…non-adoptees are able to see and learn their biological nature in action from their parents and other genetic family. While the non-adoptees are nurturing and developing/ thriving within their natural environment they are also learning and governed by the family’s biological nature. …this is the element of true balance of nature and nurture an adoptee is deprived of and most likely will never come to have the opportunity to appreciate. It is the adoptee’s elusive biological nature the adoptee subconsciously chases. It is the adoptee’s biological nurture that eludes the adoptee consciously.

Then Greene eloquently states what so many of us adoptees feel but may not be able to verbalize:

Adoption, although genuinely intended to provide a better life, or better nurturing environment, in its raw form, in the scheme of nature itself, is an unnatural act and from the unnatural act the adoptee is presumed to resiliently bounce back.

…the adoptee is resilient but this experience isn’t something they bounce back from, the separation is a “splitting” from their natural biological connection in which they grow away from, meaning they are not intended to return to grow and thrive from their point of origin. Again, the issue isn’t so much about the resiliency of adoptees bouncing back, but more so, that they are torn away from their natural connection in which they aren’t intended to return, leaving them with a mysterious unexplainable feeling of not feeling whole. More specifically, the unexplainable feeling of not feeling whole not only stays with the adoptee it is actually the desire to feel whole, or complete. (identity)

What Greene writes next is so very important:

Technically speaking, adoptees don’t bounce back they are forced to grow in a different direction without a biological connection, away from their true biological nature. Therefore it can be said that when they are separated their nature and nurture are divided as they are forced to enter to live in their new adoptive world now consisting of nurture and unnatural. Their new balance is no longer the black and white of yin and yang representing a true balance of nature and nurture but is now say a white and green yin & yang representing an off kilter version of what the natural self is intended to be as it’s being shaped by a biological force that is unnatural and foreign to the adopted child.

The adoptee struggles for the rest of her/his life to bring the forces of nurture and unnatural together:

…the adoptee spends the greatest and most influential part of their life living within the ‘nurture’ of learning another family’s nature never knowing their true ‘natural’ half of existence, and in most cases never even grazing it.

It is important to note that while the adopted child struggles with this, so does the adopted adult, in more ways than emotional and psychological: cellular changes:

…perhaps it isn’t exclusively the separation itself that results such a reverberating effect upon the adoptee’s life. Perhaps in addition to the adoptee’s bruised psyche it’s the genetic composition in their cells that slowly grows frustrated over time because they are prevented from behaving in the manner of what’s written in their genetic code as a result of following a different family’s unique nature.

I have my own developing thoughts on the cellular changes that take place within the adoptee and am working on that for another post.

For those who want to discredit adoptee pain by claiming their adoptee is as happy as a clam, John Greene also addresses the different levels of adoptee awareness:

…there are three basic classifications of adoptees: 1) Those who have recognized that adoption has impacted their life; 2) Those adoptees who have not recognized that adoption has impacted their life; 3) Adoptees who feel great inner calamity and turmoil but have no idea what these strong feelings are attributed to.

and

…how are adoptees supposed to know how it feels to be a non-adoptee and develop within the normal balance of nature and nurture with biological parents? This is why it can be said an adoptee will never be able to fathom how a non-adoptee feels and vice-versa.

Clearly, adoption predisposes the separated natural child/adopted adult to psychic pain. It is my opinion that adoption IS child/adult adoptee abuse. This is an awful way to cope with life. This is what adoption does to a person.

I consider the emotional, psychological and physical damage to be enough to dissuade anyone from adopting, but if it is concrete evidence you want, that can be found in the actual destruction of the adoptee’s family of origin, and destruction and falsification of the adoptee’s birth certificate. Those are civil rights issues apart from the psychological fallout of the act of adoption. But the proof of the birth certificate fiasco is sealed from most adoptees at the very will and intention of our adoptive parents and the National Council For Adoption.

No, I cannot find one single reason, not one single justification, for child abduction/adoption. Family Preservation, kinshp care must be alternatives to adoption, and Guardianship, yes, as that provides a loving home with the dignified respect due to a person’s birth family, name and sense of self. And don’t get me talking about the evils of Open Adoption.

Knowing just this much, without reading entire books on the subject, my questions to pre-adoptive and adoptive parents are this: why would you intentionally put a child/adult — the very adoptee you so lovingly take as your own — through such a lifelong ordeal?  Adding the complications of race and intercountry adoptions and separations, why would you adopt a child? How could you cause so much pain to another human being?

EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI: INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION CASES

Sent from United Adoptees International:

International Reference Centre for the Rights of Children Deprived of their Family (ISS/IRC)

EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI: INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION CASES

As in every dramatic event that affects a country, the question about the intercountry adoption of children arises again in the Haitian context.

In this regard, ISS / IRC first recalls that, in general, international adoption should not take place in a situation of war or natural disaster, given that these events make it impossible to verify the personal and family situation of children. Any operation to adopt or to evacuate children that are victims of the earthquake to another country must be absolutely avoided, as was the case during the 2004 tsunami.

However, the intercountry adoption situation in Haiti highlights a new problem: what response
should be given to the multiple adoption dossiers which were in the process of being finalised
before the earthquake? As of today, some receiving countries have announced their intention to
‘freeze’ all pending adoptions due to the present incapacity of the Haitian authorities to follow the
required procedures. Yet other receiving countries have already planned to launch evacuation
missions for children as quick as possible and in this situation, ISS/IRC would like to reiterate the following points.

Given the actual state of the country, the transportation of relief supplies of basic necessities is
extremely difficult due to the congestion of different channels of communication and transportation (in particular, the airport at Port au Prince). Mobilising forces in this emergency context should focus on meeting the needs of the greater majority. All initiatives that involve an additional burden to the existing relief efforts should take place later, to give priority to current operations focusing on basic needs.

Regarding the adoption of children, a difference must obviously be made between those who have been declared adoptable and those for whom an adoption order (judgment) has been delivered. For children where matching has occurred and there is an adoption order (judgment), the transfer of these children to their adoptive families could be considered under the following conditions:

  • 1) identification of the child and his/her location is secured by the necessary safeguards,particularly through copies of his/her dossier lodged in the receiving country, personal data is stored appropriately;
  • 2) the psycho-social adoptability of the child (ie ability to be adopted) is re-evaluated,considering the trauma s/he might have suffered (emotional shock, physical injuries, etc.).
  • 3) it is established that the child’s dossier is complete and that the adoption order (judgment) has been delivered;
  • 4) the diplomatic representatives of the concerned receiving countries are able to verify the actual identities, adoption dossiers and alternative care conditions of the children; 5) the Haitian authorities are duly informed and involved in the finalisation of the adoptions in question.

For children who do not meet these conditions, no action should be undertaken at this point to accelerate the adoption procedure. It is important to remember that for sometime, intercountry adoption in Haiti has been subject to numerous serious concerns owing to the lack of guarantees and transparency.

Where the necessary safeguards are not available, intercountry adoption should be suspended until the reinstallation of the administrative and judicial systems in Haiti.

The ISS / IRC, stresses that the abovementioned conditions require time to be fulfilled and they
can not be undertaken in an urgent manner. Moreover, these children are currently experiencing extreme stress so that a sudden shift to a new country and a new family can have a psychological impact that is impossible to measure. According to the Guidelines developed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the evacuation of such children or their temporary placement in families abroad is also traumatic. It is considered as an added disruption to the injury already suffered by the child. In the emergency phase, the efforts of the authorities of affected countries, international organisations and NGOs should focus on providing basic protection to the child (eg: accommodation, food, medical, emotional and psychological attention, education) that is as close as possible to the daily living conditions and any regrouping should be with other familiar children or adults.

Finally, ISS / IRC reminds receiving countries in charge of intercountry adoptions to consult each other as well as UN agencies and NGOs in order to develop a unified approach to this problem in order to avoid conflicting decisions and poor initiatives.

Well aware of the difficulties and suffering that the earthquake has caused, ISS / IRC presents its deepest sympathy to the Haitian community and acknowledges, the difficult situation of parents involved in an ongoing adoption. Nevertheless, we invite various actors involved in intercountry adoption to exercise restraint and reflection in managing the current crisis and avoid giving emotional responses to a sensitive issue such as the adoption of these children.

ISS / IRC January 18, 2009

Quai du Seujet, 32 ▪ 1201 Geneva ▪ Switzerland

Tel : +41 (0)22 906 77 00
▪ Fax: +41 (0)22 906 77 01
▪ E-mail : irc-cir@iss-ssi.org     

*www.iss-ssi.org