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?

Re-Post: NCFA’s Stay At Home Gala 2009

As promised, here are the links to my re-posts on NCFA and their blunders:

Response to NCFA’s “Mutual Consent: Balancing the Birthparent’s Right to Privacy with the Adopted Person’s Desire to Know” – Re-Post

and

Re-Post of Last Year’s Commemoration: Commentary on article “Anti-Adoption Advocates: How Should We Respond?”

 For added pizzazz in light of the recent email from Chuckie and the Gang at NCFA asking for donations to fight the us in the “anti-adoption community”, I hearby re-post from March 7, 2009. Please note that the link has been disabled at the NCFA’s website, but I saved the entire INVITATION just for the fun of it. (Remember those starnge photos on the NCFA website of their pizza party and party games and paper towels and soda pop? My, THAT’s an Adoption GALA!) 

  

Here’s an invitation from the National Council For Adoption (NCFA) —

 

https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/2009StayAtHomeGala.htm

 

SURPRISE! for all we care! Gather with family and friends and share stories, take photos, and celebrate the many ways adoption has changed your life. We’ll join you from our headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia! Gala: $1,000 and higher – With your sponsorship of $1,000 or more, you will receive recognition as a Stay at Home Gala Sponsor on NCFA’s website, a picture frame to commemorate your celebration of adoption, as well as the Stay at Home Gala Adoption Party Sheet, with fun facts about adoption, challenging adoption trivia questions, and a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire to document memories of your family’s adoption story. You will also be able to share your adoption story with us and send us photos from your celebration of adoption. With your permission, we’ll upload them to our website and share your story with our friends on Facebook. You will also receive a tax-deductible receipt for your gift. to celebrate together. Please share this page with your friends and family who share your passion for adoption!! with you in April 2010!
Click here and visit the Stay at Home Gala website

We’re having the Gala at YOUR house this year! That’s right! This year, YOU’RE THE HOST of NCFA’s 2009 Gala!

Like many nonprofits, the economy has presented us with new challenges. So we’re trading the glamour and glitz for a low-cost celebration of adoption at home with our loved ones so that we can use your gift to help more children find permanent families.

We’re inviting you to celebrate adoption with us on April 8, 2009 in the comfort of your own home. Dress up, dress down, dress in your PJs

So how does this work?

Sponsor the Stay at Home

Purchase a “ticket” to the Stay at Home Gala

Purchase a “ticket” at one of the following levels before April 8 or send your gift to NCFA! Your gift will go to help children find permanent families.

The Real Deal Throwdown: $250 and higher – With your gift of $250 or more, you will receive the Stay at Home Gala Adoption Party Sheet, with fun facts about adoption, challenging adoption trivia questions, and a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire to document memories of your family’s adoption story. You will also be able to share your adoption story with us and send us photos from your celebration of adoption. With your permission, we’ll upload them to our website and share your story with our friends on Facebook. You will also receive a tax-deductible receipt for your gift.

We Know How to Party: $100 – With your $100 gift, you will receive the Stay at Home Gala Adoption Party Sheet, with fun facts about adoption, challenging adoption trivia questions, and a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire to document memories of your family’s adoption story. You will also receive a tax-deductible receipt for your gift.

My Head’s Hit the Pillow: $75 – With your $75 gift, you will have “sweet dreams” and receive a tax-deductible receipt.

Invite your friends and family

The more, the merrier! Let’s face it, getting your family together is no easy task. Something tells us your family won’t want to miss an evening of take-out and trivia! Invite your friends and family and spend some serious quality time

Participate in the Stay at Home Gala Online Auction

Kick your bidding skills into high gear and support NCFA by bidding on exceptional items. Bidding starts on March 18 at noon and closes on April 8 at 11:00pm. You will receive an e-mail notice on March 18 with a link to the online auction to start bidding!

Happy celebrating from your friends at NCFA!

P.S. We look forward to celebrating our 30th anniversary

 

 

…. … … … … … …

 

There you have it!

 

Oh, I’m so excited! I’m going to an ADOPTION PARTY!

 

I’ll be wearing my Birthday Suit. But wait, this is an Adoption Party, so I guess I should wear all those body sores my adoptive mom tells me I had all over my tiny body. Yeah, from what I hear, I came into my adoptive home with diaper rash so severe, that, well, it sure must have been awful because that’s all I heard about how I should feel grateful that I was saved.

 

Yeah, I had a nice home while I was growing up. A nice home in the suburbs and everything I ever asked for. I got Women’s size 9 ice skates when I was 10 years old and was told to stuff tissues in the toes so my feet would stay inside. But when I skated on skates that were too big for my feet, I couldn’t skate. Dangerous, don’t you think? But hunting for Christmas trees and chopping down our own made up for skates that didn’t fit me. And all those happy memories I have with cousins, aunts and uncles who nurtured me along with my adoptive parents, those memories are cherished deep in my heart.

 

Here we go! Uncle Frank is driving us over The Peace Bridge into Canada! USA! USA! USA! Wait! CANADA! CANADA! CANADA! We’re in another country now! We’re going to Crystal Beach! …Rolling around the flat back space of a station wagon as a toddler with 4 sister-cousins…playing Combat with little green plastic soldiers and wooden blocks with brother-cousins…Listening to Tom and Gerry before they were Paul and Art with another cousin family…fireworks and picnics…Akron Park…thanks for the memories, ‘cause we were family. Thanks to me dear ole’ Dad, thanks to Mom for her mother-daughter-doll dresses, and thanks for the love. 

 

Okay. We’re all here. Let’s begin our party…

 

Prior to having fun, participants must take part in a solemn Candle Light Vigil for the natural family who suffered some form of tragedy that set in motion events for a newborn or older child to leave that family.

 

We will begin our Candle Light Vigil by writing down the names of the individuals lost to us. If you don’t know the names of your mother and father, then write down “Not applicable”, or “adopted, have no information”.

 

Next, participants will write down the names of siblings we lost because adoption prevented us from having our siblings while growing up. If you don’t know the names of your full or half or step siblings, then write down “Not applicable”, or “adopted, have no information”.

 

Next, we will write down the name of the hospital we were born in, and the town, and the state, or the country. If you don’t know, write, “Don’t Know, my birth information is under state seal.”

 

We will then pass the hat to collect our pieces of paper. We’ll turn out the lights. A single white candle will be lit. We will bow our heads as Enya’s Only Time plays on the CD player. A lone voice will read out loud the names written on the pieces of paper. If a blank paper is handed in, there will be a slight pause. If the words “Not applicable” or “Don’t Know” are written, those words will be read out loud. As our minds are filled with emptiness, or actual names, we will remember from whence we came. If we cannot remember, or we do not consciously know, we will sit quietly and listen. We will pay respects to the past. We will pay respects to our ancestors. This will be a signal to the Universe to send our thoughts to our missing blood-kin. Thus begins our grieving process for who and what we lost.

 

After ten minutes, the house lights go up, CD player turned off. Those sappy emotional floodgates shall be closed, gulped down, turned off, suppressed, ignored, denied, mocked and ridiculed, shamed, humiliated, and passed off as non-existent. We will then be expected to not think about “them” any longer because we have a new family now. Our new family totally negates anything that came before it. Don’t bother to look in the mirror because what you look like doesn’t matter. Don’t bother to play the guitar or sing, don’t bother to pick up a sketch pad and draw life-like renderings; those talents that you feel compelled to do because they come to you so naturally, well, you’d better put away such nonsense. That’s not who you are.

 

As an adoptee, you belong 100% to your adopted, forever family: You will do things our way now. And if we don’t like you, we can send you back. We can even send you anonymous envelopes with little slips of paper inside that read, “We don’t want you, go back to where you came from”, and “I know why your father gave you away — he couldn’t stand the sight of you”, and “You don’t deserve to live for what you’ve done”. We can even send those unmarked envelopes to your church because we are all Catholic in this family. Since you decided to leave the Roman Catholic Faith and join a Liberal Church, well, we have no respect for THAT. So, we can send unmarked envelopes to your church, addressed to you, so your minister can hand you that envelope because someone is really trying to get a hold of you. Inside, there is a photo of my then-husband with a note: “He is a fat pig.” Gee, I wonder, was the sender of this note a bit on the heavy side or a lot on the heavy side? Was this a man or a woman who sent this to my church?

 

Fun Facts of Adoption

Gee, does that mean my adopted family can boast about their family tree, while I can only whimper in the corner? Does that mean that my adopted family can gloat how much Al Junior looks so much like Al Senior, and, wonder of wonders, all the 10 grown kids look the same, too! Wow! Isn’t that cool?

 

Oh, oh, oh! I got one! This is really good! We can all agree that we can spy on the adoptee and not tell her that we’re doing it! Yeah! That sounds like FUN!

 

Oh, oh, oh! I got a better one! When she writes another article in the paper, we can cut it out and save it! When she does something we don’t like, we can send it to her in an unmarked envelope, and, before we seal that envelope, we can write nasty little things in the margins! Yeah! That sounds like REAL Fun! And then, we can, we can, watch her fall apart, dissolve into tears, as she suffers another panic attack! Yeah! This is really fun! Why didn’t the National Council For Adoption think of this DECADES ago!?

 

Oh no, no, no! I got an even better one that no one has thought of before! Let’s go up to her when her father dies and tell her, “You OPENLY declare you have two fathers! Ha! Two fathers! Who ever heard of that? You really are dumb, Joan! Two fathers! Wow! That’s really funny! Who died and left you Queen?”

 

Uhh, my mother died. But that doesn’t matter, does it? She’s dead. But I have a replacement right over here. No, I didn’t have a mother who gave birth to me, why, I was found in the CABBAGE PATCH!

 

challenging adoption trivia questions

Trivia questions? Like, how many adoptees does it take to turn out the lights? Answer: NONE. Adoptees are supposed to kept in the dark! Ha Ha!

 

fill-in-the-blank questionnaire to document memories of your family’s adoption story

The first 18 years of my life were spent in blissful ignorance of the facts of my life purposefully withheld from me by loving adoptive parents who absolutely did not want me to ever know the facts of my life, facts that they knew about me. Fill in the blanks? I’ve spent every day since March 5, 1974, the day I was found by a sister I never knew, trying to fill in the blanks of my life. This is psychological abuse, from which one does not fully recover.

 

My Head’s Hit the Pillow … you will have “sweet dreams”

Oh My Gosh! Does this mean I can go to sleep without seeing those flashbacks, or feel those night terrors, or wonder which person or persons from my adoptive family hates me now? Can I stop taking my anti-anxiety and sleep meds, now? Will this really make me sleep better?

 

Kick your bidding skills into high gear and support NCFA by bidding on exceptional items.

Oh, this must mean, like, have a line-up of little kids standing on a stage, on a platform, like they used to do in the days of the orphanage. Then the kids watch as strangers eye them up one by one.

Which one will they pick? Let’s see. This one’s too tall. This one’s too short. This one feels better in my arms. Let’s take this one, dear! No, wait, I don’t think I want a strange kid in my house. I really want to be pregnant. Let’s forget about adoption. I want a sperm donor. Can we go look at the gorgeous, strong men online and pick the one who will be the umm, umm, the donor, ‘cause really, you’ll be the Dad, dear! What do you mean I can’t get pregnant? My eggs are no good? Oh, but I still can get pregnant! Let’s go look online at the busty blondes with exceptionally high IQs. I want a baby, no matter what it takes! And I’ll love that baby sooo-ooo much! But we can’t ever tell IT where IT came from! No, that’s our secret. Little, itty-bitty baby doesn’t need to know anyway! Gichy-gitchy goo! I love you! No price is too high for my happiness…

 

NCFA: How can you be so unprofessional? Your agency has made a mockery out of us adoptees, and our natural parents, again! When are you gonna grow up and join a civilized society?

~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, born Doris M Sippel, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.