Skip to main content

A Few Thoughts on Helping Your Adoptee

In this day and age, there is no reason not to know who your child's biological parents are. Find them. Keep track of them. Gather information on them and keep it for me. Do NOT make me wait until 18, unless I'm ok with that, or there's no other option. For some of us, by the time we're 18 the damage is done.

Do NOT make me feel guilty for wondering. Do not show me your insecurity at my needs. If my needs and desires cause you pain, reframe your expectations as my parent so that you can emotionally handle what I'm handling. Your guilt and insecurities are a burden I should not have to bear.

Do not treat me any different than your biological children.

Do not expect me to fulfill your need to be a parent. Don't expect me to be the magical, mystical child you "always wanted". I am not a unicorn, I'm not perfect, and I'm not a gift. I am a person with a history and a family wholly unconnected with you. Remember that.

Do not expect me to be like you. Do not blame my malfunctions on the fact that I'm adopted, or I'm not biologically yours. Do not imply that I would have no problems and cause you less grief if I was your biological child. Comments like, "I don't know where [that behavior] came from, but it certainly wasn't me", "I don't know why you do this, it didn't come from my family", "I don't know whose child you are, but you certainly aren't mine", "my own children wouldn't/don't behave this way, that must come from your other family", or any other comments of this ilk are cruel and unacceptable to me. They make me feel small and subhuman. I already don't know where I come from, in many cases, and could do without the reminder.

Do try to understand where I'm coming from. Do comfort me when I'm in pain. Do be honest and open and giving of yourself. I will feel it if your guard is up.

Do understand that I am traumatized. Understand that my emotions are more unregulated than an average child. Do be aware that I live on red alert, always five seconds away from fight, flight, or freeze. Be aware that when you rage at me, it shuts me down.

Do understand that live in constant fear of rejection, and that any kind of rejective behavior affects me deeply. Do reassure me that you will always love me and always come back, and prove the truth of the statement.

Do NOT sugar coat my adoption. Do not try to convince me what a wonderful thing it is that I live with you instead of my parents. Do not fill me with flowery stories about how my biological mother "loved me so much she wanted to give me a better life" unless it's true. Even then, that's not a good reason to give a child away, and even if the birth mother says that, it's usually bullshit. She may even believe it herself, but in many cases coercion is a powerful weapon. Do not tell me adoption is beautiful. It's not. Please don't fill me with industrial lies, I will be disillusioned when I grow up and figure it out. Instead, reassure me that I am loved, and that you will be my mom no matter how many other moms I have. 

Do NOT underestimate what I can handle. My emotional maturity is not the same as a non-Adoptee. I've been through more in my few years most people go through in a lifetime. I understand a hell of a lot more than give me credit for.

Please do not abuse me or be cruel. Please remember that I am more sensitive to my surroundings than you are. Please remember that when I rage and scream at you that I'm frightened and in pain. Please remember that when I push and push and push at you, I'm testing you to see if you'll leave me like everyone else has. Please remember that when I'm being ugly and horrible and making your life miserable, it is because you have made me feel safe enough in your care to feel and show the things I keep hidden.

When I'm making you miserable with my rage and pain, you can be proud of yourself as a parent, because you've given me the safety required to access my pain.

Remember, above all else, no matter what, that I do love you. Please do me the courtesy of loving me in return.

Addendum: I have some things I'd like to add.

One thing to remember. My dreams are not the same as yours. I know you dreamed of being a parent. I dream of my parents. I know you dreamed of this idyllic family life. So do I. Only the faces in the photos in your albums and the photos in my head are not the same.

My adoption was closed, records sealed. I never knew who I was. No one could tell me anything.

Do not lie to me about who or what my birth parents are. If you don't know, say so. If you do, tell me the truth. Don't tell me my mother is an actress in Hollywood if she isn't. That makes me scan every movie and tv show for a face that matches my own.

If she's an addict and a prostitute, tell me so. But do not call her "that woman" or a "junkie whore ". The privilege of badmouthing my biological family belongs to me and me alone. You could call her "biomother", I suppose... when I was a kid I thought of her as "my other mother". Anything that isn't derogatory or trying to place yourself above her. You aren't better than her just because you're raising me and she isn't. Please don't think that way, I can sense the superiority, and it angers me.

Please don't assume I'm trying to play you against your spouse or damage your marriage. Some APs make this assumption and I cannot stress how untrue it is.

I'm not trying to manipulate you When I'm an angel in public and an evil little shit at home. Home is my comfort zone. In public I'm nervous and insecure. I'm not "saving my best for someone else". I'm not comfortable enough with anyone else to slow them my bad side.

This is a most important point. Don't rerelinquish me. (Whatever you call it to sugar coat it in your head; dissolve, dissolution, rehome, "find a more suitable situation", whatever.) It is relinquishment after I've already been thrown away once. [Side note: I don't care how open we are or how close my biomother is to the situation, she gave me away, willingly or not.] Don't relinquish me again, thereby practically cementing the worthlessness into my psyche. If you don't know what it feels like to be given away, you'll never be able to imagine how it feels to be given away twice. Do what you have to for me, including residential treatment for some mes, but don't you dare give up because it's hard. If you do, or you get so caught in the mire of feeling sorry for yourself that you forget how to love me, then you're no better than the biolosers who gave me away. In some cases, you're worse, because those biolosers loved me. Dissolution should NEVER be an option. 

Counselling can be a good thing. Therapy can help. If I don't like my therapist, please take me to someone else. Even if can't verbalize why, it comes back to that, "more in tune with my surroundings" thing. Chances are the reason is a good one, even if I can't explain it.

Don't be threatened by my desire for/relationship  with my bios. That doesn't have anything to do with you, and if we have a sufficient bond our relationship will withstand it just fine. That is an insecurity I really don't need to see in you.

Please for the love of god, don't celebrate 'gotcha day' or ' adoption day'. I wouldn't even think of it if you didn't suggest it, and when I'm young I'm not going understand the sick significance of it (you celebrating the day reunification with my biofamily became impossible, regardless of circumstance)... it's just going to be free ice cream. The damaging significance will probably set in in my teens or later. Spare yourself the possible shit storm.

This one is just personal, something I wish I could have said to my own mother. Feel free to scroll past this.

I loved you. More than anyone. More than dad, he was always so stand offish. I could never figure out why I wasn't good enough for you. I could never figure out what I needed to do to get you to stop being mean to me. I didn't mean to get sick and get hurt. I didn't mean to have the nightmares. You were so much fun sometimes. I just wish for once I could have made you happy. I never really understood what you wanted from me. I never understood why you always assumed I was lying. I lied sometimes... not a lot considering my whole identity was a lie...

If you ever doubted it, don't... I loved you, desperately and fiercely. I tried so hard for twenty years after you threw me away... and I loved you. I wish I didn't, but I do still.

That being said, fuck the dead bitch.

Segue aside, I hope this helps anyone understand anything about their own adoptees... 

None of this is universal. All of it will resonate with someone. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dismissive Language: Tone Policing and Other Damaging Habits

Dismissive tactics are fairly well understood, especially in social justice and debate circles. In the adoption arena, however, these tactics take on a willful blindness and venom which is truly disturbing. Let's explore some of the most commonly used phrases.

"Not all adoptions are the same."
"What if the mother won't parent?"
"Well what do you suggest, then?"
"I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but..."

Really, I could fill a blog with "phrases commonly used to dismiss anyone who has anything negative to say about adoption" but I won't waste my time or yours reiterating that familiar drivel. We all know the phrases. We've all been told we "just had a bad experience".  We all have experience with those that dismiss because they don't like our tone.

Dismiss being the key word. Phrases like "not all...", "what if...", angry, bitter, bad experience, and "can't we all be nice to eac…

Sibling Connection

I was robbed of the connections that belonged to me. The connection to my blood, my biology, and the life I should have had were severed by my mother when she chose to abandon me with my father. She had already taken one sibling from me at that point, my older sister, relinquished at three years old, not too long before I came along. She would go on to take eight more; the six she passed out to her friends as they came out of her, like litter after litter of unwanted kittens, and the two my father kept. He would have kept me, too, had my mother not effectively ostracized him from his family with her habits and then abandoned him with a four month old baby. On her side, eight children scattered to six different families... no chance for connection there.

But with my father's side, I will always feel the missed opportunity. I will always believe there was a chance in the pages somewhere with them that was missed. Part of me will always feel like I blew it with my honesty. You see, I …

Adoptive Parent Fragility

I'm curious, how do you expect to raise an adoptee when you can't even handle talking to one online?

Really. Riddle me this, because I want to know. Let's say, for sake of argument, I put forth the theory that an AP feels more bonded to their adoptee than the adoptee feels to them. I suggest that it's possible that, as most of us do, the adoptee is afraid to share any unhappiness they may feel. That they are subverting that unhappiness to soothe the AP. Adoptees are notorious people pleasers and often do live in terror of displeasing APs. I suggest that, when asked, an adoptee is likely to lie about their detachment, so as not to disappoint the AP and out of fear of rejection.

Some APs take advantage of his level of depth and openness to examine their own families and consider ways ways to solidify their attachments to their adoptees.


Fragile APs will insist they know how their children feel. "MY child is bonded with ME," they'll say. "I can FEEL it.&qu…