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About being different


Herewith a piece I wrote for the HuffPost about being a different family and about the impirtance to acknowledge that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-ligtvoet/adoption-commodification-and-normalcy_b_4848769.html

Replies

Frank, You do realize that by blogging, etc., that you are also profiting from your adoption. 

From your last blog, about people who relinquish their child at a specific moment in time: you write that for many people the situation as a young, uneducated,  under-resourced person is a temporary situation.  Maybe it is, but if you look at statistics for children parented by young, under-educated, resources single women (again speaking statistically) it’s not all roses and sweet dreams for them.  The children in those situations, again statistically, are caught in an environment that will not promote the child’s full potential.  Yes, there are exceptions, but in general, these children are condemned to a life of poverty and not being ready for school. 

How many children end up being in DCFS because they were born to unprepared parents?  How many children are killed by their bio parents?  Too many. 

By advocating against adoption, which is the general tenor I have been reading from, you are doing harm against children who would be better served being adopted. 

Also, you and the anti-adoption movement talk about the resources out there for single, young women.  Are you advocating that they live on the government?  That is a whole other cycle, and the resources from the government are just not enough. 

Also, if a child is raised under stressful, unstable, under-resourced conditions by an unprepared parent, the child suffers developmentally because the architecture of the brain is finished by age 3. Yes, there are exceptions out there but in general, the child will suffer for a life time because a child was kept while in a “temporary situation.”

And, thank goodness for Adoptive Familes, trying to “normalize” adoption—we know we’re not “normal” but it’s nice to know we’re not alone. 

I will say to me gay parents are becoming more of a norm now, so I don’t think it’s fair to say adoption can’t become a norm now either. 

There isn’t just one “norm” out there—norms are culturally and temporally created.

Posted by MamaForTrees on Mar 03, 2014 at 9:31pm

Thanks for your opinion which will be shared by many others. Three things: I am not anti-adoption, I think however adoption should be part of serious child welfare services, which is lacking in the US. (In Holland or Germany for example there are hardly children available for adoption). Criticism on the current system is always read as anti-adoption and that is sad, because change is deperatley needed. Second: I am in no way profittng from our adoption: the HuffPost doesn’t pay me a penny. Any honorarium I received for adoption related stuff I donated. Third: I take my cues from those who lived adoption, the adoptees.

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 03, 2014 at 9:41pm

I have one last question, why don’t you return your children to their birthfamilies if the situation would be so much better for them as your articles suggest?  That mystifies me.  I truly do wonder that as I read your articles. 

What is so wrong with adoption?  We are taught about the triad, about the grief for everyone involved, about how it’s not easy.  Pain never goes away; it takes on new layers as children get older.  We are personally in an open adoption, and we know that it has been hard on the birthfamily, but they also say that it was best for everyone.  They get to see their child having the life they had envisioned.  They are able to get a foothold on life, get out of poverty, which would have been unlikely had they parented.

So does my anecdote give the whole truth about adoption?  Of course not, and I won’t say it is.

Posted by MamaForTrees on Mar 03, 2014 at 9:44pm

You react on another article. Also critical: here it is for those who want to know: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-ligtvoet/adoption-child-welfare-or-business_b_4804779.html
You pose an interesting, yet rather personal question, too personal to answer. This I can say: we are in a wonderful relationship with the birthfamilies of both our kids.

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 03, 2014 at 9:51pm

Thanks Fiona, I fully agree.

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 03, 2014 at 10:09pm

Frank, I don’t necessarily agree with everything you’ve written—and I’d be surprised if you expected everyone to do so—but, MamaForTrees, I also don’t see these posts as anti-adoption. Critical, yes, but since adoption in the US isn’t exactly a perfect institution, a little criticism “from the inside” isn’t a bad thing. It’s through criticism, discussion, and reform, both in personal and organizational approaches, that we can change things for the better for our children, future expectant and prospective adoptive parents, and the birthparents and adoptive parents today.

I also have to say that I think it’s unfair to ask why Frank hasn’t returned his and his partner’s adopted children to their birthfamilies as if this is the only way his point would be made valid. At the risk of putting words in his mouth, we can talk about the impact of adoption broadly while acknowledging that individual cases must be judged and considered on their own merits and circumstances. Yes, the outcomes of those individual cases might change as the cultural norms and ethics shift, but the context in which a specific situation exists is going to be unique. Also, the situations leading to his children’s placement is their story and not ours to gawk at, pour over, and judge. Can’t someone have life experiences that open them up to new ideas and then share their thoughts and perspectives without it being implied that they are a hypocrite?

Posted by kickabout on Mar 03, 2014 at 10:24pm

Well, let me preface this with the fact that I didn’t bother to finish reading all your article - it was too full of fluff and misrepresentation.  As an adoptive mother of 8 children that all came from the foster care system as a result of neglect, poverty and abuse, I KNOW they are better off in my home.  Please don’t attempt to pass judgement on adoption or even adoption reform when you haven’t lived in the shoes of every adoptee out there.  You say you take your cues from adoptees…did you bother to interview adoptees that have moved past the pain and hurt of their birth parent’s shortcomings and are proud of their adoption stories?  The ones that are confident adults thriving in a world that thought they wouldn’t amount to anything?  No…I guess that would not have served the purpose of your article very well…

The fact of the matter is, in MY children’s world, adoption IS normal.  While the rest of the world sees us as abnormal - we chose to celebrate our weirdness and come together with other adoptive families and, together as a collective group are, in fact, “NORMAL adoptive families.”

FYI - I raised one of those happy, healthy thriving adults and am now the proud grandmother of her child.  She attempted contact with her bio-family, and put closure on something that haunted her, and now recognizes that it was NEVER in her best interest to remain with them.

Posted by momkissez on Mar 04, 2014 at 12:25am

AF is not a foster care magazine and the private adoption agencies don’t do - or at least seldom - fostercare adoption. My article was not in the first place about foster care. If you finish my article, I think you will agree with me: I fully subscribe to ‘celebrating weirdness’.

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 04, 2014 at 12:33am
Posted by Lucy2012 on Mar 04, 2014 at 12:59am

Excellent artiicles, Frank!  You hit the nail on the head both times.

I’m about to go to work here in Australia so will reply more when I get home.

Here is how we do it in NSW:

http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docs_menu/parents_carers_and_families/fostering_and_adoption/adoption.html

Posted by catherinenz on Mar 04, 2014 at 3:06am

I think the only way I could disagree with the author more is if he outright called for an end to adoption.

Momkissez hit it on the nose, the article is “too full of fluff and misrepresentation.”

Let’s start with the definition of “normal”: “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.” By that definition, no, adoption is not normal. Neither is being gay, or Muslim, or a tympani player. However, the author seems to define normal as “uncomplicated.” Pregnancy and child birth are often complicated, but no one would argue that they are not normal. Furthermore, if you look at the synonyms for normal, you find “ordinary,” “common,” and “established.” Using these words, adoption is definitely normal.

Adoption and surrogacy *are* just other ways to build a family.  Are they complicated? Yes. Do they come with unique challenges? Yes. But they’re not abnormal.

I totally disagree that AF is about the commodification of children. You cite as one of your examples the results from the Adoption Cost and Timing Survey. Adoption costs money. So does pregnancy and delivering a biological baby. There are web sites that break down the costs of delivery - natural, induced, C-section, etc. Does that mean that birth is commodified? Maybe. Or maybe it means that people have to pay for services in this world, and they have the right to know what they’re going to pay.

I also disagree that adoption brings “sorrow and sadness” for all involved. I could write an entire essay on how much I disagree with that statement and why. Furthermore, no, to be parted with one’s parents is not necessarily traumatizing. Trauma is defined as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” Many adult adoptees report that they do not feel traumatized by being adopted.

Now, just because adoption is normal doesn’t mean that we don’t think or talk about the differences. That’s absurd. Again, essay-level absurd.

To respond to one of the comments above, AF is for all types of adoptive families. They recently devoted most of an issue to foster/adopt.

To respond to the idea that “for many people the situation as a young, uneducated,  under-resourced person is a temporary situation.” - I would say that the opposite is true. For far too many people, being poor and uneducated is a lifelong problem. In fact, it’s a problem that affects generations of people. Then, of course, there’s the fact that not all birthmothers are poor and uneducated, not by a long shot. Way to go with the stereotypes.

Really, this entire article is half-baked. And I’m not talking about the delicious Ben & Jerry’s flavor.

Posted by rredhead on Mar 04, 2014 at 3:09am

I particularly liked what you said here in your previous article:

“Providing social services for the first family to overcome their problems is all about adding time to the equation. Not an adoption plan, but a life plan has to be made. How such a plan should look like depends on the local circumstances, but next to aid for the parent(s) and their extended families in their community and coaching, temporary guardianship, foster care and co-parenting for the child could be part of that plan. Adoption should only become an option when family preservation is just impossible or when the efforts to keep the family together failed. Adoption should not be separate of child welfare services, but part of them.”

I believe the US relies too much on adoption as a safety net and, as a result, is reluctant to provide more services for the working poor - because it is the working poor who are often the ones who end up relinquishing because they fall through the cracks.

It is like being in a circus and being reluctant to improve safety for the trapeze artists because of an attitude of “well if they fall, they’ll be fine, they’ll fall into the safety net”.

Posted by catherinenz on Mar 04, 2014 at 3:31am

I liked both your articles, I agree on many things and I don’t thing is antiadoption to talk openly about our opinions about it. Also I think it says a lot of good things about this magazine that you can advertise your blog

Posted by drayn on Mar 04, 2014 at 4:39am

I am sorry your kids are traumatized and that they are “contagious,” and you caught that from them.  I am sure the kids will love reading that some day.

I am married to an adoptee, we have two adopted kids and I have worked a lot with traumatized people.  I honestly have to say I am a bit concerned for you all.  I am not being snarky but what you convey doesn’t seem “normal” or healthy to me. 


I can guarantee if you met dh, his family, our kids…you could never write such “universal” statements.  We have a self portrait of dd hanging that says, “I love me because I am diffrint.”  Being “diffrint” for some is a cause of celebration and joy.  You may want to expand your horizons and talk to more folks….it could help you learn techniques to heal…or at least give you more context that seems lacking.

Also you do realize that the voluntary adoption rate is like .5 percent.  Poor people by and large parent their kids utilizing the resources…including government and charitable resources…available to them.  The so-called “confiscation” of poor kids is really just propaganda.  Unless you feel you confiscated your own kids…and if so, you need to remedy that.

Posted by mamallama on Mar 04, 2014 at 4:41am

I would be interested to hear from adoptees.

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 04, 2014 at 4:44am

Frank, I am an adoptee and Fiona is a birthmother.

I think those that didn’t get past your first two paragraphs talking about advertising on AFC didn’t see this paragraph of yours:

“It must be said that the contents of Adoptive Families gives a somewhat less commercial, more realistic image of what adoption is. There are articles on language disabilities in adopted kids, about race and racism in transracial adoptions, some interesting personal stories and there is a book list which contains “real” titles like Cris Beam’s To the End of June on our failing foster care system and Kathryn Joyce’s investigation in the corrupt world of international adoption. But in the end, the magazine exudes the same message at its ads, and the commodification shows in its contents. In this issue, there is a chart like you can find in car magazines of the costs of adoption and timing involved per country”

To be fair to AFC, the advertising is even worse on adoption.com - you can’t even look at a post without pop-up ads coming up.

Posted by catherinenz on Mar 04, 2014 at 4:50am

I agree totally with what you say here.

“Providing social services for the first family to overcome their problems is all about adding time to the equation. Not an adoption plan, but a life plan has to be made. How such a plan should look like depends on the local circumstances, but next to aid for the parent(s) and their extended families in their community and coaching, temporary guardianship, foster care and co-parenting for the child could be part of that plan. Adoption should only become an option when family preservation is just impossible or when the efforts to keep the family together failed. Adoption should not be separate of child welfare services, but part of them.”

One major problem with the way things are done in the US is that when it comes to “options counselling” for women with unplanned pregnancies, one of the major providers of that counselling is an adoption organisation so, hardly surprisingly, this popular “options counselling” is rather biased though very cleverly done.  The NCFA being in charge of “options counselling” is like the wolves are in charge of the henhouse.

All I want is for women to get proper counselling and to be able to make their choice about their child’s future in a less compromised manner.  Even the “pro adoption” birthmothers will tell you that they didn’t receive proper pastoral care about their general situation.  Regardless of whether a woman eventually chooses adoption or not, her pastoral care should involve helping her improve her general situation - too many bmothers have said that that didn’t happen for them, they were in the same position when they received their first “options counselling” as they were when they relinquished their child.  Their reasons for considering adoption ended up being their reasons for placing - their agencies didn’t make an effort to address and identify their situation.  It is a bit of a case of “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”.

Not all agencies are like that - there are some good ones out there.  However, stand alone adoption agencies by their very nature can’t help but be biased to some degree however hard they might try.

No-one is saying to ban adoption but just to restructure how it is done.

Posted by catherinenz on Mar 04, 2014 at 5:05am

Do you not have any adopted friends or relatives that you could consult?  Do you think all adoptees are alike?

Posted by mamallama on Mar 04, 2014 at 5:10am

In regards to adoptive familes being “normal”, I don’t think Frank is saying that adoptive families aren’t “normal” - my family is normal smile

What he is trying to say that for the child joining an adoptive family, it is not normal and trying to sell it that way is a bit deceitful.

I have a wonderful family.  However, I was born into one family and raised in another.  My nurture is separate from my nature. 

Now, obviously there are cases where a child can’t remain with their parents - someone on here mentioned adopting from FC.  Adoption is obviously a good resource in that situation.

It is a different kettle of fish re domestic infant adoption - it is more about trying to sell adoption as an option to expectant as if it is just a simple trade-up for a child.  Agencies advertise adoption as if it is about a life of bliss awaiting a child without any side effects at all.  I am a perfectly happy individual but what one realises is when one is “born to” one family and “as if born to” another family, one is juggling different identities - it is hardly surprising that many adoptees don’t want anything to with their origins because it is too confusing - it is much easier to deal with one family, i.e. the family one is raised in.  The post-war form of Western adoption was never designed for the adoptee to ever want to know their original families - it was designed replace the original parents and to get the child to attach to their APs by default by psychologically obliterating the competition.  The architects didn’t seem to trust in the natural bond that happens between a person who raises a child and the child REGARDLESS of other attachments. 

I think parents in open adoption are starting to understand that last sentence and thus an open adoptions with secure APs does go some way to helping a child integrate their two selves but one does need to be careful not to use OA as a hook to reel women in.

Posted by catherinenz on Mar 04, 2014 at 5:21am

Frank, I hate to say it but I did not feel your blog was particularly well written.  I suspect we might agree on many things if you had expressed your thoughts more clearly.

I get that you dislike the commercialization of adoption and I agree.  Yet to consider AFC an example - because they printed a survey of adoption costs is like shooting the messenger if you don’t like the message - a little nuts. They charge almost nothing for a subscription, donate substantial time to keeping up this site that helps so many of us on all sides of the spectrum, and allows respectful discourse, as well as putting energy to tabulating these figures for us all to see the clear picture.

Then there is the long winded thing about not wanting adoption to be considered normal…wanting to embrace difference instead.  Say what?  I think we will be a lot better off when we realize difference IS normal in this country.

Were we to have a policy of putting people before commercial interests, it would strengthen and change a lot of things for the better in this country..health, nutrition, birth control, education, safety, families, and communities among them. This might enable more parents to raise the children they birth…or at least extended families to raise their children.  But pointing the finger only at adoption, is way too narrow to do much good.

There really are only a handful of countries in Europe and elsewhere that do have healthier systems and less adoption because of it.  Most of the US, Africa, Europe, S America and Asia do not have a significant amt of programs in place that support poor, struggling, parents. And many of the programs that do this - taking adoption out of the commercial arena - like the US foster system don’t work particularly well because they are drastically underfunded and not a priority. On the other hand I am, and I suspect most adoptive parents are also, with you in rejoicing when we learn of programs that do support struggling parents.

It is also dangerous to assume all children or even the majority are adopted only because the parents were poor….or lacking in social services.For some this is true. But other parents have died because of AIDS, many were killed in wars, some have no interest in parenting their children, some are mentally ill, some are addicted to drugs, some are violent and otherwise unfit parents, some are in prison, some are too overwhelmed or young to do it etc

I would assume there is some sizeable level of trauma and grief involved for most children who are adoptees, though not necessarily when they are adopted. For many this is a happy and hopeful time. Also…in some cultures birthing children and sending them to another family that has none, is normal.  So would it be to take in babies of other parents who have died. Also it is not that unheard of for children naturally born to a family to feel as if they do not fit in. For children leaving one culture or country for another It would seem there might usually be even more to miss, but then again not always if they leave a hellish situation for a life that is full of potential with a family that they love and that loves them.

I definitely agree that selling parents on giving up their babies because they will have more stuff with someone else as parents is horrific. When I see bio parents who seem to want to keep their child - struggling with the decision to give them up because of the hardships of making a family work..I always root for them to parent and someone to support them in the decision to parent and help them find the resources or a way to do this.

Fortunately much of the stigma and shame of having an illegitimate child (and keeping them) has lessened….and so equally has the stigma and shame of being adopted - enabling more healthy situations of both.

Posted by Happy Camper on Mar 04, 2014 at 7:43am

Catherinenz, thanks very much for your personal and thoughtful comments. I follow many blogs by adoptees and birthmothers, read memoirs from adoptees and study academic stuff on adoption, particularly the outcomes for adoptees. I think I have a pretty realistic idea of what many adoptees experience in their adoption. Let’s say at least that from what I read being adopted is not easy and that it takes far beyond adolescence for many adoptees to find quiet in their identity and get a grasp of their sense of belonging.

What I try to do in my pieces is to think along those adoptee centered lines, knowing that my kids will have for a part the same experiences as you have. Thinking about difference I learned from the French philospher Levinas and the American writer Andrew Solomon, particularly in his book Far From the Tree. Next to that I try to resepct the perspective of the birth mothers, fathers and families. We have to show that respect to model for our kids.

The least important perspective I regard my own, that is the perspective of the adoptive parent. I don’t think people have a right to adopt, are entitled to have children. That we were able to adopt I regard as a wonder and a blessing, that we are able to have their first families close around them and us is another blessing.

I copy a poem by Khalil Gibran, which is called On Children. It reflects pretty precise what I think and feel about having kids and raising them:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

(If you want to listen to it, find on You Tube the a capella Gospel group Sweet Honey in The Rock; you will get tears in yiur eyes, I imagine)

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 04, 2014 at 8:49am

Hi Frank, I am an adoptee and I really, really appreciate your perspective. I am an advocate for adoptee rights and for adoption reform. As an Australian, I see what the commodification of adoption has done in other countries, I see adoption agencies and lawyers making a fortune from “arranging” adoptions and if I am sure of one thing, it is that money corrupts.

I tried to be “normal” for my Mum, I tried to be the precious little girl that she always wanted me to be. I did not discuss my feelings about adoption with her because it was made clear that it was upsetting to her. I don’t think I even recognised the extent of the loss I experienced as a result of adoption until I was in my late 20’s. It was then I saw what I had lost and the expectations that were placed on me to be a particular way - it was not stated but it was always implied.

I personally know many, many adoptees who feel as I do. I have said it over and over again but I think there is much denial in the adoption world - adoptees do not necessarily share their true feelings with those closest to them because they do not wish to hurt anyone. Some adoptive parents are very quick to dismiss adoptees like me because their children could never possibly feel as I do. Ironically, my adoptive mother would have said the exact same thing.

Posted by EriSycamore on Mar 04, 2014 at 11:33am

Thanks EriSycamore for your personal note. I appreciate that very much. I hope all here read your, Fiona’s and catherinenz’ posts. It makes me feel I am on the right track.

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 04, 2014 at 5:24pm

I think this has turned into a great discussion and agree with those who have critiqued my first post on the subject.

I just want to say that it’s not grief-free for the adoptive families, as much as it is absolutely NOT for the children and for the biological families.  If you are careful about selecting your adoption agency, and you know that the birthfamily has received counseling (I think the idea of a non-biased third party is a great one), then you can know that everyone is deciding around the best interest of the child.

Once lives tied are tied through adoption, no one is immune to the grief of others.  I have stayed up at night thinking about my child’s birthfamily; I worry all the time about how my children feel, how they are going to respond to their adoption as they get older.  For one child, we are doing a search for the birthfamily because he needs to know his birthfamily, where he comes from. 

Please don’t write that adoptive families also don’t feel grief, their own, but—more importantly—that of their children and extended families made through adoption.

When we attended adoption classes, (yes, we attended many, and had adult adoptees and birthfamilies who had placed and spoke of their experiences and losses and gains),  we learned about the grief of all parties, about the importance of connections to birthfamilies.

EriSycamore, I am so sorry that you had that experience; adoption professionals have been listening to people who have had your exact experience. 

If you read Adoptive Families, there are always columns about talking to your child about adoption, ways of letting them know that they can talk honestly about their feelings of being adopted. 

Another book that is dog-eared by me is Talking with Young Children about Adoption. 

I think many parents now would expect your feelings and be equipped to handle them.

Adoption has changed a lot in the past decade or so, but it would be nice if there were some kind of regulation out there about expectant parent counseling.

Posted by MamaForTrees on Mar 04, 2014 at 5:32pm

“If you are careful about selecting your adoption agency, and you know that the birthfamily has received counseling (I think the idea of a non-biased third party is a great one), then you can know that everyone is deciding around the best interest of the child.”

I think one of the most difficult things is knowing how to pick a good agency. 

It is good to see that you attended some good adoption classes, Mamatrees - I think good education beforehand is vital.  One thing that many APs have said on another forum and I’ve have heard it said on here is how clueless they were until they came onto the forums and that they learnt more on the forums than from the adoption professionals. 

In regards to adoption advertising and counselling, there should be national guidelines as to what is acceptable.

Posted by catherinenz on Mar 04, 2014 at 6:09pm

Criticism on AF and the adoption industry it more and more seem to represent, is not done in isolation: you have to be in the church to change the church. See how the venerable and oldest agency in New York, Spence Chapin recently changed its ways. That is big news and I hope to read about that in AF.

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 04, 2014 at 8:25pm

Happy to share in this context my latest HuffPost piece on the new proposed international adoption legislation CHIFF. I posted it it also in de blog department.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-ligtvoet/captain-america-does-it-a_b_4887507.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 04, 2014 at 10:52pm

Hi Frank,

I’m an adoptee and I really appreciate your writing. When I read your articles, I feel as though I am reading the perspective of an adoptive parent that truly understands the difficult nature of adoption and how, as a parent, you can help your child to fully understand what being adopted means.

I was adopted from birth and always knew I was adopted. I had no desire to search for my biological family and for many many years I denied that I ever cared to or wanted to know anything about them.

As a baby I was compliant, but as I became older I was filled with anger. The anger was never directed specifically at my adoptive parents until I was in my teens. I wasn’t angry about being adopted. I was just angry in general. I felt like my parents were saying things to me in order to make me angry. Sometimes I still feel like this is true.

A few months ago my adoptive mother gave me an envelope of pictures of my biological mother. For the first time in 24 years I had laid eyes on someone who actually looked like me. It evoked a REAL and STRONG emotional response, one that I could not ignore. After a few days of googling and facebook searching, I finally found her. My bio-family has been open and welcoming to me. They have been kind and supportive. While my bio-mom is not the mother I had fantasized about, I accept her for who she is.

All that being said, I figured I would never be the type of person to feel grief, anxiety, or feelings of emptiness pertaining to my being adopted. Boy was I wrong. Over the last few months I have been battling with emotions that I have never experienced. I am feeling true SORROW over the long period of time in which I was completely (mentally and physically) severed from my biological family. Before all of this, I was very comfortable with my adoption and though similarly to many adoptive parents who I see commenting on forums and articles - With enough love, support, and stability, you can raise your adopted child as if they were your own.

For me at least, this doesn’t ring true anymore. For anyone that is willing to listen… Just because your adopted child seems secure with their adoption now, doesn’t mean it will always be that way. As an adoptive parent, it is your responsibility to be understanding of your child and be a constant in their life. If your child’s opinion changes, do your best to understand why.

It is very upsetting for me, as an adoptee, to not be able to talk with my mother openly about how I feel about my adoption now. It is heart breaking when she sends me stories of other adoptees who are fairing better than I. She makes me feel like I should just forget about my bio-family, because it would be better that way.

This is a conversation that needs to be had. Those struggling with their adoption should not be overlooked. Being adopted is a lifelong struggle and I am only scratching the surface as to what it means for me. You would think there would be more mainstream resources for adoptees… but there just aren’t. There is an abundance of information for adoptive parents, though. You really have to dig if you want to find the adoptees speaking the truth about their feelings. Its not just out in the open.

Again Frank, Thank you. I appreciate your perspective. I appreciate that you listen to what adoptees are saying because sadly, very few adoptive parents actually listen to us. Those who do are often called ‘Anti-adoption’ and I just don’t think that is true in your case.

The current US adoption system needs to see some change, and we will only get there when all members of the triad can join together and learn to understand our differences.

Posted by Jugatsu on Mar 05, 2014 at 12:37am

What a wonderful post! Also well-written. Do you have or will start a blog to which I would subscribe immediately. Keep me posted: It is so important what you write and I hope many here on this page will read this.

Posted by Frank Ligtvoet on Mar 05, 2014 at 12:46am

Jugatsu, Adoptive familes are, or at least I should say in my case, since I can’t speak for all adoptive familes, and I don’t think we can say that anyone’s story represents all others, but I think that many of us are taught to expect your exact emotions, and why open adoptions are the NORM today. 

Children need to know their biological family; you should have had those pictures right away even as a baby. 

There really has been research done into adoptees experiences, which is why just about all domestic adoptions are open. 

International adoptions are changing too, and many adoptive families are actually engaging professionals in the countries of the child’s birth to search for the birthfamily so that the children have that grounding. 

Adoptees are being listened to.  I am.

Posted by MamaForTrees on Mar 05, 2014 at 3:39am

I am happy to see more adoptive parents taking initiative to keep adoptions open. I know progress is being made.

My adoption was supposed to be open, but from my perspective it was not. I think there should be more care taken to ensure that open adoptions stay open, because I know from my own experience that this doesn’t always happen.

Oh how I wish I had those pictures earlier… maybe I wouldn’t feel so troubled now :(

Posted by Jugatsu on Mar 05, 2014 at 5:25am

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