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Adoption: Not A Better Life, Just A Different One

Adoption promised me a better life. A promise upon which it did not deliver. For me, and so many adoptees out there, both adult and minor, adoption is a crapshoot that didn't or isn't work(ing) out for us. 

Since it is a common deflection, let's address the crapshoot that is biological family for a moment so we can establish that is not the same set of challenges once and for all. No, we do not choose who we are born to, any more than we are given a choice about being adopted. Yes, the people we are born to can be just as challenging and cruel as an abusive adopter. 

Now consider for a moment, these facts on top of those inherent challenges.

1. The alteration of my identity completed at an age by which I was cognizant of my identity (i.e. Julie means me) and not old enough to understand why I was suddenly surrounded by strangers who called me by some strange name I didn't understand.

2. The alteration of my birth certificate and vital records, and the sealing of the originals. For those of you who don't know, my adoptress is listed on my birth certificate as the woman who gave birth to me. My legal birth certificate is a lie, and the original, accurate certificate sealed in a file I do not have access to.

3. Adoptees are commonly institutionalized in group homes (at rates 30%-40% higher than kept children). These are not healthy environments for traumatized young people.

4. Adopted people are four times as likely to attempt suicide as kept children.

5. Adoptees are over represented in lockup facilities. Adoptees make up only 2-4% of the population as a whole, but make up 35-45% of the population in lockup facilities.

6. Adoptees are often pathologized, especially with diagnoses such as RAD. While a genuine diagnosis, usually applied to the more sociopathic of displaced and traumatized children, it has become disturbingly commonly applied to the adopted child. Instead of describing a child's ability to form healthy attachments, it has become a way to blame adoptees who: act out because of unacknowledged, untreated trauma, and cannot force a biological bond with a nonbiological caregiver.

7. Adoptees do not know where we came from. In most cases, the only people we can be absolutely certain we AREN'T related to are our adoptive families. 

8. Many, I dare assert most, adoptees are intimately aware from very young ages that we don't fit in or really belong where we are. This causes an intense amount of internal discord and dissonance that only displaced children can understand.

These are only a few of the challenges I do not share with kept children, that they cannot really wrap their minds around. So no biological deflections.

No. Adoption promises a better life. That's what it says on the pretty billboards and shiny websites. "Are you in a crisis pregnancy? Choose adoption, the loving option! You can choose a perfect family to give your baby a better life! Come be a birthmother today!" Adoption promised I wouldn't go hungry or live in a broken home. Adoption promised I wouldn't live in poverty or be abused. Adoption promised me good parents that would provide me with a college education. Adoption promised me, all of us, more and better. Promises upon which, for so many of us, it DID NOT DELIVER. And if we were adopted on the promise, and the promise was broken, WHY were we adopted again?

One failure to provide the Better Life we were promised is a failure of adoption itself and the entire system. A thousand happy adoptive families do not excuse or justify the suffering or maltreatment of one single adopted person.

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