The Ridiculous Finality of Adoption

The finality of adoption bothers me intensely! There are many reasons why, but the one thing that I am focused on is that sometimes the nfams can’t deal with a baby at the moment of his/her birth, but later down the road often times they get their lives together and could take care of the children. But they can never get them back.

Why does that have to be the case?

I know the adoptors want a child ‘as if it is their own’. It’s probably the motivating factor that causes adoption to happen at all, but is that really enough to deny the nmom or ndad a chance to get their child back if they get their act together down the road? I wouldn’t even mind if the kid were asked which life they wanted so we could choose the one we are used to or our naturals.

I know adoptors get attached to their adopted kids emotionally, too. Mine didn’t, but for the sake of argument, most do it seems. But what if they went into it knowing they might one day have to return the child and be the ones to be allowed to stay in touch with the child they may even – and I choke to say this since it’s not my case – love. Would they not do it? Would they refuse to adopt if they couldn’t own the child forever during his/her minor years, and automatically force the nparents and extended nfam into second place? Is this why it’s often so hard for reunions to work for both sides with us caught in the middle even as adults? Because the arents are given first place in the first place?

I just think it’s so terribly wrong for us to get a life sentence and for our naturals to get one too. I think it breeds the ownership factor that many of us have to deal with.

I know Foster Homes are used for this sort of thing, and I’m sure if our nparents didn’t want us floating from home to home like that they’d opt for adoption even when they were giving up the chance to ever get us back.

But why is adoption the only choice when a mom/dad wants their child to have a stable home? When as many have attested to, it’s not always a stable home they end up with anyway; people change. And when it’s no longer a stable home, you’re still stuck there thanks to adoption finality even as your nmom or ndad might have real stable homes and want to take you back where you’d be better off, but NOoooo.

In an effort to try to fix the multitude of things wrong with the adoption system, this finality thing that begins with a falsified birth certificate seems a good place to start. Why must there be a falsified birth certificate? Why not just adoption papers and a name change for us – if that makes the social stigma aspect of things better by carrying the surname of the afam. And this would be a name we could change back if we wanted to at some point. And we’d still have our OBC even if we’re not allowed to see it until we are 18 or something. Once we are adults, it seems so wrong to still have to carry the original lie around if we don’t want to. Why must my legal information forever say that I was born to a woman I was not born to? Why should it ever say that at all?

It seems so wrong to have to live your entire life as a made up identity! It just blows my mind!

And it also blows my mind that any sane, non-delusional woman could ever forget that her name as mother on the birth certificate is a lie. This can’t be healthy!

It’s a BIRTH CERTICATE not an adoption record! A fake birth certificate that ties to no records of birth or medical information about the first moments of the child’s life…which actually might be important to the child one day if not just interesting to know ( like non-adoptees are privy to). Oh sure, we often come with versions of our early history prior to adoption, but often times this information turns out to be wrong. Simply put, the system does not care to keep our history pure and honest, period. And from this we are supposed to become honest and honorable citizens: as in, Don’t do as I do, do as I say.

I guess I’m rambling trying to figure out why – other than to get people to adopt a kid under circumstances that allow them to reinvent the child as the quintessential ‘born again’- even after we find our natural parents, we can’t get our name – surname/maiden name- back officially and legally.

It’s interesting that our REAL name according to gov’t standards is the one we were born to. Yet, our legal name is the one they allowed us to have and force us to keep. Why can’t they just ‘unallow’ us our legal name so to have our real name back legally? Why can’t the record of our actual birth ever be legal again? It was once, before it was made illegal.

Perhaps I’m just pissed off that I am stuck with the maiden name of the people I can’t stand, and it suggests I am one of them when I AM NOT! Thank GOD! But why am I not allowed to be seen as who I really come from? This is just the most inane thing! I don’t get it! And I swear, even if my nfam sucked worse than the afam, I’d still rather have my real surname/maiden name than a fake one. It makes me feel fake every day I think about it. I don’t think I’ll ever fell entirely REAL until I can ditch the unreal name legally.

So why? Someone please tell me a reasonable reason why? Not an excuse; a viable reason. Why does adoption have to be the final answer at all, but particularly on paper? Sadly, I think I know the one and only answer to that: it’s so adoption can happen at all.

I will close this rant out by saying that if adoption did not offer opportunities for industries and private entities to benefit financially by engaging in human trafficking and subsequent false identity arrangement that leads to brain-washing of innocent children and basic civil rights violations against them forever, none of the above would be an issue. For if it is really all about providing a home for an unfortunate child…well, I’m not a child anymore so your job is done. Adoption can’t be the final answer once I am an adult and finally, as an adult, have a legal say in my own life.

But it’s not about finding a great home and family for the child, is it? And it’s certainly not about family, as in doing what you can to keep a natural family together by perhaps providing support for the family. Some natural families live together in poverty, and there is a system to help with that; not every child has a pony. It’s about the needy or wanting couple that wants a child that isn’t their blood that they never have to give up after they did all the hard work (minus going through pregnancy and labor), and doing what you can to keep the unnatural family together forever…for an ever growing financial opportunity. And the system was set up to advance this, afterwards IF the child gets a good stable loving home…well, it’s actually irrelevant, isn’t it? Why is our country not ashamed?

Looking For Support

Sometimes it is hard for adoptee to find appropriate support. The most obvious venues may cause more harm than good. A therapist not familiar with adoptee issues can try to treat the symptoms but not the core issues. The first hit on a Google search for adoptee support is often adoption.com, which only allows positive adoption stories. This is even more isolating for an adoptee struggling and in need of help.

I attended a 5-hour Catholic Charities triad support. About 18 people showed up, most were adoptees, about 4 were first mothers, 3 family members supporting an adoptee or first mother.
The people there were very welcoming and compassionate. Having done it alone for so many years, there is nothing quite like being in a room of adoptees that have something so fundamental in common. We were removed from our first mother and did not grow up knowing any biological family.

I went in with an open mind. Talking about adoption to non-adopted people generally makes them uncomfortable. Having over a dozen people who want to talk about it seemed like a good idea. Catholic Charities sponsoring the event made me a little wary. My experience with adoption.com taught me that not all claims of support are actually supportive. Since there are so few of us, I decided to take the opportunity to meet more adoptees. It was not exactly my cup of tea, but at least it was tea? In retrospect it felt more like Kool-Aid. The first thing the moderated did was to pass out a quote having to do with “she loved you so much, she gave you away”. This language is problematic for the adopted child who might who might then associate love with abandonment. Even as a young child, I knew it had more to do with inconvenience and shame than being abandon because I was loved so much. It may have been meant to make first mother feel as though they did the right thing and were justified in relinquishing their babies. The hand out was from the moderator and not the adoptees and I was interested in hearing form adoptees and first mothers.

Each person had a chance to speak. It was odd how adoptees generally prefaced what they were about to say by stating how lucky and grateful they were, like it was part of the culture of the group. They seemed to be trying to pacify everyone else in the triad and not allowed to express their own pain, or any complex emotion having to do with adoption. In their pain and confusion often ended up crying. Adoptees were reminded to understand where the first mothers are coming from and the grief of being infertile but seemed to be encouraged to pretend everything was OK. It felt like we were treated like children, not allowed to show our true feelings and always trying to please others.

I went close to last and said, “I’ve been in reunion for a couple years, but the most surprising thing I’ve learned was how being adopted has affected me.”

Crickets

People looking uncomfortably around the room.

I did not eve say weather it affected me in a good way or bad. Most people seemed to be bracing themselves. It is like no one has heard of such a think and certainly not dared to speak it out loud. I continued, “The book the Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier described many of my behaviors growing up and now still. It helped me so much knowing I was not alone.” The woman next to me started to say she’d like to read it and someone from across the table interrupted her saying, “I read that and I don’t believe it” in a nasty tone, and that was it. I didn’t expect everyone to agree with me, but the hostile reaction was surprising. I sat there for 5 hours trying to be supportive and keep and open mind and that felt like the rejection that I was seeking support for.

It keeps reminding me of this study about children growing up where there is social unrest who have more resilience because they had a clear understanding of the situation. Their parents and teachers told them the trauma they were experiencing shouldn’t be happening. When the children study could participate in social change, they were said to have, “high levels of self-esteem and a deep sense of purpose and control”.

If the trauma is not acknowledged, it is hard to begin healing. Instead, this adoptee community tells them adoption is wonderful and we should be grateful. Not being able to acknowledge that adoption had any affect on my life caused prolonged unnecessary suffering. I felt bad for all these adoptees that came for support, but couldn’t even entertain the notion that any of us were at all affected by adoption. If they were truly fine with their adoptions, they wouldn’t be giving up a Saturday once a month sitting through a 5 hour long meeting.

One person touched on her narcissistic cruel adoptive mother and was met with the same silence. She was the only person that didn’t start with how grateful she was. Not wanting to upset the first mothers in the group by hearing that an adoptee didn’t have a better life, seemed to be the status quo. Being removed from the woman that gave birth to you caused trauma so no matter how great your adoptive parents. We deserve healing; we are not helpless, voiceless children anymore.

What drives my continuing dysfunction

I was adopted over 70 years ago. If this event is affecting me today (and it still has that power) then it must be that I have carried something forward from that time. The event itself was over in a relatively short time.

The point is that today, I am not the victim of someone else’s action that happened so long ago. Today, I am affected by my own deeply rooted beliefs, which I formed back then. Neither my natural-parents nor my adoptive-parents drive my dysfunction. I do.

That is not to say that they didn’t cause the event. Certainly they did and they will always be responsible for that. It would be nice if they and society in general had some compassion for what it is like for adoptees but that seems to be in short supply. The very word adoption hides the issue. The issue is not being taken in by another family; it is being relinquished by our first family.

My favorite saying is “Mind is cause, experience is effect.”  Unfortunately this is true for adoptees, too.

Paul Sunderland, has a very good youtube talk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3pX4C-mtiI ). He talks about adoptees having PTSD. When we have a life threatening event our brain can be rewired. This seems to be especially true for the Limbic System of the brain. It controls our fight, flee, or freeze response. It tries to keep us safe. Since it supports our very survival, it responds quickly and forcefully. The part of our brain that does reasoning and logic is the cerebellum. It takes awhile to analyze, so is not nearly as fast to respond. Our initial response is driven by the limbic system.

When we experienced separation from our mothers it was traumatic. We had no sense of self separate from her. We felt ripped apart and from this trauma we formed a set of beliefs. I suspect that we hold these beliefs in our limbic brain.

Some thoughts:

1   Before we had a concept of self and other, we were ripped apart.

2   Because of 1 we are afraid to trust.

3   Because of 2 we don’t let others be close to us.

4   Because of 3 we are on our own – if we are lucky we find a therapist or spouse that helps us see ourselves. Sometime we let other adoptees see us and that   can help, too.

5   Our trauma occurred preverbal, so the beliefs formed are hard to get at.

I  have uncovered a few of the beliefs that I formed with my adoption trauma.

A    “Feelings hurt. Don’t” 
I shut down my feelings for about 50 years. Recently I heard an interview with Bessel Van der Kolk, who is an expert on trauma. One of the things he said is that trauma often causes a disassociation between body and mind. This felt so validating. I have no memory of trauma, so it is easy for me to minimize the effect it has had on me.

B    “I am a mistake.” 
Toxic shame – not that I made a mistake – I am the mistake.

C    “If you see me then you will throw me away.”
Why I have always been reluctant to let people get close.

D    “I am not lovable.” 
This affects my ability to feel loved. I am handicapped. I may be loved and suspect I am, but it is hard to let it in. This is devastating.

I feel sure there are other beliefs of the same ilk floating around in my subconscious. Even those that I am aware of are still there in a weakened state.

The problem of discovering these beliefs is that they were written in a language without words and the translation does not come easily.

So, as I see it, what drives my continuing dysfunction is me and my beliefs..

A study of WWII vets showed that the memory response over time of vets who had PTSD and those who did not was significantly different.  Those who did not have PTSD moderated their memories over the years. Those with PTSD kept their vivid memory descriptions constant.

We search and search for something to make us whole, or at least stop the pain. We want to fit in somewhere. For some finding our birth families may help, but it seems to me that I don’t really fit there either. There always seems to be a hole, something is missing, we are somehow incomplete. This may be our PTSD frozen memory of being one with our mother. A place we can never go back to.