We may have doubted ourselves as there was no real adoption support network for us then. Some of us figured it would be easier to simply not make waves. We are still learning that waves are what make positive changes for other adoptees and for ourselves. Our lone voice, if we dared to speak up in the past, would be diluted or dismissed.
Then something happened – adult adoptees found each other and began to compare notes, bond, and support each other. We now know if we don’t speak out and help one another, nobody is going to do that for us. Things that should not continue on, would.
Nobody knows better than other adoptees what it’s really like. Yes, there is going to be resistance to our truths when it conflicts with others’ desires for our reality to be something different than it is.
Check out the whole post at
In even writing about adoptee abuse we leave ourselves open to more abuse as we are informed that we are ‘wallowing in misery’, grizzling and whining and should get over it. We are somehow viewed as spoiled children complaining about something minor like not getting the right flavour icecream or not being allowed to stay up an extra hour. When we challenge others who define what adoption is for us or tell us what we believe, think or feel, our experience is challenged, contradicted, argued about and we are sometimes told it is not valid, real or true! Stating the obvious, no experience anyone has and describes is open for argument or discussion because it is their experience, only they lived it, know it and are capable of describing it. Others may comment, hopefully in a supportive or useful way, but have no right to contradict or dismiss the experience of another whoever they are and whatever the experience. Can you imagine someone who has been in the army having their in combat experiences discounted, their injuries and PTSD dismissed as nothing and being treated in a patronising way? That shouldn’t need stating, but sadly it does, as some non-adoptees continue to believe that we have no rights to define our lives, our experiences and our views on what needs to happen in our future.
Unfortunately here in Australia some mothers of loss are the worst offenders. When we challenge their statements they cry foul sometimes even getting other adoptees to defend them, side with them and threaten us! If I and my fellow adoptees hadn’t experienced it I wouldn’t believe it could happen, be possible or was even a remote possibility. I have seen it too amongst others mothers of loss who have well rehearsed stories, maybe have even written their books, who blog or are journalists or activists. I have been described as ‘an abusive adoptee’ by a Canadian mother who is smart, intelligent and astute. She took exception to my truth and my challenge, lashed out in a way which was illuminating but sad. It happens and we have to learn when it is a challenge too far. No matter how accommodating they appear to be there comes a point when they appear not to be able to accept the truth of adoption and cannot hear what is being said. It is usually kinder to back away slowly, leave the room and close the door. There is a great deal of scope for mothers to believe they are being blamed for things that were not their fault and over which they had no control at the time. Many aspects of the adopted life are confronting, raw and at the front of what is still taboo, unspoken or only just beginning to be spoken off. We adoptees will need to continue to open up these areas for our own healing, understanding and exploration individually and together, but how we share that, if we share that and where we share that will need careful consideration.
In dealing with non-adoptees, the area is a mine-field; one that is large and full of different types of mines and pit-falls. It could hardly be more complex, because we are dealing with individual views and prejudices, assumptions and expectations, as well as institutional concepts of adoption, well-formed notions of how adoptees are supposed to behave, think, feel and regard adoption. That’s a big bag of stuff to unpack, to confront, to deal with and to correct. No matter how skilful, tactful, diplomatic, firm, assertive, knowledgeable and insistent we are, there will be hurt feelings, challenges that are too hard and concepts that are too large.
We often have to wrestle with what our role is as adult adoptees – are we just people or are we educators – do we want to be educators, activists, writers, bloggers film-makers and truth tellers? It seems we take on those roles because we feel strongly the injustices of adoption and we see the need for the truth to be told. It is hard to undertake truth telling endlessly, perpetually and with continual committment. We need to be easy on ourselves, take breaks, accept the support of fellow adoptees, offer support and take comfort from wherever it comes. We’re in for the long haul and there is far to go in changing ideas and in ensuring change which will get us our civil rights, justice and equality.
We adoptees suffer in utero stress. So many of us have illnesses and disease, some rare, that are caused by stress at the time of the cell differentuation, giving us gastro-intestinal problems during our lifetime. As far as I am aware, no research has been done on this area and it’s about time it was. There are many millions of us now, some in advanced years and it would make an excellent study for some keen researcher and do us some good too hopefully, by giving us some proven facts, some answers and hopefully some solutions and support. It’s about time! It would mean we would have been taken seriously, validated and accepted as in need of special input as the victims of adoption. These days in my rounds of Hospital Departments, doctors’ visits and dealings with medics I make it a point of explaining when a history is taken that I am an adoptee and that I would have suffered stress in utero. I’ve had some interesting reactions, never been dismissed and always listened too respectfully. The more I do it the more confident I become and I notice that my attitude has changed. To my shame I used to be almost apologetic about introducing the subject, crawling out from under, as if I had no right to bother the person with such ideas! Things have changed as I’ve practised. I suggest to you all it is a useful exercise and one which can only benefit us all in the end if we all do it routinely. Time to stop accepting the abuse, time to stop letting others abuse us and time to be aware of not abusing others in how we deal with the challenges, the opportunities and the changes.