Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why adoption hurts (Part I)

[Click here for "Part 2" and here for "Part 3"]

Adoptees must attempt to make sense of a complex, deep matrix of circumstances, emotions and thoughts. It's not easy, not only because it's not easy, but also because most folks don't realize that it's not easy.

There is an assumption that if an adoptee discusses or expresses the "not easy" experiences or feelings regarding his or her adoption that he or she is an ungrateful, angry, bitter, resentful adoptee who fails to recognize how fortunate he or she is to have been adopted by a family who loves him or her.

Do you tell a widow that she is being negative, ungrateful, angry, bitter, resentful if she still tears up or struggles with grief or sorrow over the loss of her first husband even after she has happily remarried? I would hope not.

Although adoptees--similar to a widow who has happily remarried--may have gained a family, you must keep in mind that the only reason they have so-called gained a family is that they first LOST everything. And when I say everything, I mean, everything.

They have lost their original father, mother, grandparents, siblings, extended family. They have lost their language, culture, and country of origin. They have lost any connection whatsoever to their beginnings, to their identity, to the most basic elements of who they are. They have lost any knowledge of what happened and why.

The love and trust that was supposed to be there has been broken and scorched. They have lost the inherent sense of security and stability that is often assumed between a child and a parent.

They have lost what most others take for granted: what it means to be a family.

And contrary to popular assumption, being adopted into a family, whether at six months old or at six years old does not somehow magically sweep away the repercussions of these profound and almost indescribable losses.

The story of adoption is not a fairy tale in which the adoptive parents star as the fairy godmother who can wave a magic wand of love and expect the sorrow and grief to vanish.

It's not that your love is not good enough. It's simply that such pain and loss cannot be instantaneously transformed by love. No doubt, love is always needed. It's just not a miracle drug.

Just as all the love in the world couldn't take away the pain when I flipped off the front of my bike at eight years old and ate asphalt with my chin, similarly, all the love in the world cannot instantaneously wipe away all the wounds that I've sustained since that irrevocable day of relinquishment and loss.

Yet for adoptees there is often a well-intentioned but grossly inaccurate assumption that still persists today that adoption is neutral--that it is without psychological, social or familial repercussions.

I would like to address some of these misinformed assumptions and discuss just a few of the reasons as to why being an adoptee is "not easy" nor without consequence. However, I will do so in a "Part 2" simply to prevent this post from being too long and too saturated.


8 comments:

triona said...

Great post. I look forward to Part 2.

Mei Ling said...

[It's not that your love is not good enough. It's simply that such pain and loss cannot be instantaneously transformed by love.]

Saying adoption is not "good enough" is like saying an adoptive parent's love isn't good enough.

And the whole supposed basis on which adoptive parents, well, adopt - is that because they DO have enough love, they will adopt a child and raise & love that child, and hopefully the child will not experience pain like you and I have, and so on...

Mia_h_n said...

"Although adoptees--similar to a widow who has happily remarried--may have gained a family, you must keep in mind that the only reason they have so-called gained a family is that they first LOST everything." It's a small wonder I can get out of bed in the morning. Perhaps I'm stronger than I think....

Melissa said...

Mia, it's true. You are stronger than you think. I only wish that the general public understood the truth about adoption...

Anonymous said...

i have experiance and it hurts sooo bad you loose everything and no one belives you they think you are the bad child and it feels like no one cares...!

Melissa said...

Anon, you wrote, "i have experiance and it hurts sooo bad you loose everything and no one belives you they think you are the bad child and it feels like no one cares...!"

I hope you are able to get connected with other adoptees, because you are not a "bad child" and you are definitely not alone. There are plenty of other adoptees out there like me who can completely relate to you, who believe you and feel the hurt and loss that you do...

We care. We care very much.

Anonymous said...

Adoption begins when someone makes the decision to have sex without taking responsibility. I don't buy that all adopted children are "stolen" from their birth mothers. I know of many birth mothers who willingly gave their child away. So yes, I can understand why that hurts. The adoptive parents are not to blame. Unless the adoptive parents were abusive or neglectful, they are not the villains here. Good adoptive parents are not to blame for the child's failures in life.

Von said...

Anonymouse what about those who have taken responsibility but have a broken condom,a vasectomy that didn't work or a raped? No I don't buy it either, we know in the adoptee community of many adoptees who were not wanted at birth and not wanted now as adults.All adoption begins with loss and trauma, those effects last for life. Too many adopters get through home studies who should not because they are not up to the specialised job of adoption parenting.They don't accept or understand the initial loss or trauma, they are racist, colour-blind or abusive. Most are victims of the adoption industry, pay huge sums of money for adoptees and may have failed to research adoption thoroughly and the country they adopt from where adoption practises may be corrupt.Adopters have a huge responsibility not to adopt a child who is not really an orphan, to break up a family that could be kept together and to ensure that a child really does need a family in his/her own country not elsewhere. Adoption involves loss of identity, falsification of documents and absence of birth information, sometimes failure to complete nationality procedures.Adopters are directly resp0onsible for those things, adoptees have no choice and mothers have their rights removed or sometimes give them up. I don't understand what you mean by 'the child's failures in life'? Can you please clarify?