Adoption Survivor

dealing with it

Archive for October 2008

The Value of the Abused Voice

with 10 comments

Time and again I hear adoptees speaking out about their civil rights beginning with the disclaimer:

I had a happy childhood and am NOT an angry adoptee…but

I guess they fear their voice will be dismissed if there is any hint of dissatisfaction with adoption. So with that line of thinking, a happy adoptee’s voice is more valuable than a dissatisfied adoptee’s voice. Because if you’re dissatisfied that equates to maladjusted and everyone knows maladjusted people can’t form logical conclusions.

Time and again I hear adoptees speaking against the adoption industry and their civil rights being violated explain how their anger is justified anger and the trauma they experienced with their misguided, self-centered adoptive parents are base on reasoned arguments. But at least

it’s not like I was abused or anything

I guess they want to distance themselves from abuse out of fear their voice would be dismissed as being tainted with damage or their judgement clouded with emotion. Because even worse than being maladjusted is being damaged. Everyone knows the damaged person also has damaged mental faculties.

Time and again I have sympathetic adoptive parents AND fellow adoptees excuse away or dismiss things I say because I was also abused. Lots of I’m sorry for you and I hope you find healing and lots of well,

just keep in mind she was abused…

so I guess they are saying, take what she has to say with a grain of salt. Because she doesn’t know what normal is, she can’t know what we’re talking about, she can’t speak about just adoption, and we can only feel pity for her.

But I ask, “Why does my abuse disqualify me from the ability to form rational thoughts about parenting, adoption, and child placement reform?”

In many ways I and my abused adoptees stand in a unique position. Especially those of us who have grown and raised our own children. In my life I have been:

  • separated from my mother
  • severed from my birth country
  • transported to another country
  • assimilated to a country that didn’t accept me
  • deprived by my adoptive mother
  • sexually abused by my adoptive father
  • an at risk teenager
  • a runaway of sorts
  • a teen mother
  • a welfare mother

I’ve also overcome that all and been successful at many things. If I can put myself through college while working and raising two children and get accepted to Yale; If I can analyze logic and backwards engineer programs; If I can draw a concept and turn it into a building to live in; If I can discuss phenomenology and existentialism and aesthetics and yet love diner food; If I can raise incredibly bright, loving, well-adjusted children who are responsible citizens and critical thinkers; If I can take in troubled children and I can be a non-threatening friend to young people; etc., etc., etc., then why am I disqualified from talking about adoption because I was abused?

There are many positives to being abused as well. Being abused has heightened my awareness and recognition of what is beautiful. Being abused has given me a greater appreciation of life and what makes a life worth living. Being abused has given me insight into what a child can live with and what they absolutely can not live without. Being abused has shown me where and how adoptions can fail and the subtle ways in which the best of intentions can decay.

On the contrary, I think this wide spectrum of experiences puts me in a unique position to analyze the process of adoption. This variety of exposure to the many aspects of adoption has been expansive, not limiting. My abandonment was one category. My adoption was another category. My loss of culture was another category. My experiencing racism is another category. My being abused is another category. My being a parent is another category. I can address each category individually AND as a complete ouvre. It IS POSSIBLE to recognize the distinctions and separate them. It IS POSSIBLE to see how they influence one another. It IS POSSIBLE to see what they have in common. Who better to see what they have in common than someone who has experienced them all? There is way more in common than people would care to recognize.

Especially intriguing to me is, what is essential and fundamental to the genesis of ALL OF THE ABOVE. Very few people have been in the position to be able to recognize that. In a strange way, I guess that makes me one of the “lucky” ones. And this blog. This blog is going to be an attempt to put words to what that essential is:

Before the primal wound was DESIRE.

Controlling our desires is a measure of our maturity.

Living with the consequences of acting upon our desires is a measure of our responsibility.

Uncovering the motivation behind our desires is a measure of our wisdom.

Adoption is DESIRE.

Think about that for awhile.

Think about what desire drives people to do.

Think about the quest to satisfy our desires.

Think about how that changes people.

Think about the hidden costs.

Adoption is DESIRE.

Everyone is happy to hold everyone else accountable, but never oneself, because that would mean recognizing how their own desires impact others. All the while everyone claiming it is all about the child’s welfare.

Of course, that’s just what this adoptee thinks, but I was abused –

so it couldn’t possibly mean a thing


Written by girl4708

October 31, 2008 at 5:04 am

Posted in After Abuse

Pushing Culture

with 2 comments

Response to an Amom about her daughter’s culture:

She has NO desire to learn about Korea at this point and takes offense when I suggest anything cultural

yeah, this IS pretty offensive, actually. I was the same way.

You know – there’s ACADEMICS and there is REALITY.
Transracials are acutely aware of inauthenticity. We question the motives behind everything having to do with suggestions related to race and culture. We get tired of having to put up with ignorance of racial issues, especially when they come from our own families.

CULTURE is something you have to LIVE. It’s commonwealth, born of common struggle and overcoming, which is handed down person to person.  YOU can not provide any culture to your child that you do not know yourself, or in a vacuum removed from a cultural environment. It’s impossible/futile.  Attempts to display cultural esoterica will come off as caricature.  Over interest in culture will appear to be the cultural appropriation it probably is.

Pushing culture based on a person’s race is therefore even more offensive. Here’s this impossible thing you should strive for because you’re (insert nationality here) and because you’re not from here…you’re an alien.

Loss of culture is just one more sadness a transracial adoptee has to deal with. But because it seems so out of reach or so inadequate, a lot of us buried the desire to acquaint ourselves with it, resigned ourselves to that, had to reject it to defend ourselves.

If you aren’t near any people of your child’s birth culture, but are truly interested in your child being exposed to their culture so they don’t feel a loss later, then MOVE to some place where their culture is evident in their environment.  It’s a horribly isolating feeling to be the only person of your race where you live, know nothing of that culture, yet bare the burden of representing your entire nation of origin, simply because of the color of your skin.

If you have the good fortune to know any people of your child’s birth culture, THEY can introduce your child to their culture. But it shouldn’t be formally. It has to be real.  S/he has to see/experience how they live and develop their own thirst to learn more. S/he has to like hanging around them.  Culture camp is another thing entirely. It’s not real, but it is at least a bubble. It can whet an appetite.  But it’s just a bubble, and the child will know that too.  They’ll no doubt develop an interest in their culture on their own when they are not feeling the tension over it that they do now.

Yes. That’s right. Tension. That you bring it up creates tension.

Repeatedly the worst disservice adoptive parents do as ignorant racists – that’s right, racists – is contribute to the retardation of the child’s exploration of culture by pushing it. I don’t say this to beat adoptive parents up. I say it in all sincerity that they just don’t know – they’re just being dumb.  Most racism is just sheer ignorance on people’s part.

Odds are, you are an example. If, for instance, you are interested in knitting, your child might take an interest in your interest. Most adoptive parents aren’t TRULY interested in their child’s birth culture except to gather some exotic things and to try and elevate their children’s specialness. As if we need more reasons to justify how different we are.

Am I making myself clear here? Unless you’re going to fully embrace exploring their culture and making it part of daily life and immersing yourself in that culture and that community, then lay off – keep it pressure-free for your kid, and the kid will probably come to the table on their own.  Your job is to provide them an environment with pressure-free access, and to support them when and if they show any interest.

Written by girl4708

October 26, 2008 at 12:32 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with

Why can’t people believe that we do exist?

with 7 comments


A question asked earlier today spoke of those adoptees who were happy with their adoption and who don’t want to search for their birth parents or feel that they are living in a state of loss. Someone remarked, in response to that question: “[I] didn’t go past your first paragraph, because [I] totally disagree. [W]hat normal human being does not want to know where they came from?”

Well, here I am and I know that I’m not alone. I was adopted as an infant and have been with my family since that time. I have a loving mother and father as well as an “egg-head” sister and a “goofball” brother. I love them all unconditionally for who and what they are, my family. It’s been that way for the 45 years of my life thus far.

I’ve never felt any sense of loss over being adopted. As far as I’ve ever know or considered I am of Scottish decent, the same as my family. I’m bald, my (adopted) father is bald. When I had hair it was reddish brown, the same as my (adopted) grandfather on my (adopted) mothers side. I’ve loved camping my whole life while my (adopted) brother and (adopted) sister consider the Banff Springs Hotel as being as close to the great outdoors as they care to get. (I put the word adopted in brackets only for clarity sake)

And most shocking to some, I’ve never felt a need to search for my birth parents.

Why is it that people expect us to believe their stories of pain and suffering over adoption issues but at the same time they deny that some of us are happy and well adjusted in our situations? Those against adoption will rant on and on about all the different ways they feel their rights have been infringed upon which affects their right to be happy. Does trying to deny my happiness and that of others somehow balance things off for those who are unhappy?

  • 9 hours ago

Additional Details

8 hours ago

And for those curious about what I meant by my brother and sisters idea of the great outdoors…. check the link:

7 hours ago

Thanks for the psych analysis Gershom. Next time, can I lay on the couch?I assure you, I am very happy and well adjusted. I’ve got a successful career, a wonderful family and I’m secure in both who and what I am. If you choose to believe otherwise though that is your right.…

My Answer – NOT Chosen Best Answer:

I believe your experience and that you exist.

I also believe my experience and that I exist.

Our truths co-exist.

The vast majority of people I meet get really excited about adoption – it’s one of those things a lot of people entertain doing. I know I did at one point. And then they find out I’m adopted and they get all happy. And then they find out my outcome was not a happy one, and then their first response is to look for ways to continue being excited about adoption. These are some of my closest friends! So my reality gets denied all the time too, Randy, in a very personal way. So I feel ya.

The thing we share, though, is I never thought adoption had anything to do with my unhappiness for the last forty years of my life. Two years ago I may not have painted as sunny a picture as you do, but I wouldn’t have ascribed any of my unhappiness to adoption. And all my life I totally rejected the idea of searching for my birth mother. Had no desire to do so. She was irrelevant. Adoption was not an issue, and even if it was lurking there somewhere, my emotions were so completely compartmentalized I wouldn’t have recognized it.

The thing we don’t share, however, is that back when adoption wasn’t an issue with me, I never would have thought of coming on to a public board defending my adopted status. So those of us who have come to the realization that adoption, actually, had a pretty huge impact on the direction of our lives, wonder why the content adoptees are even here at all, why they are thinking about adoption at all, and why they protest so much. It’s just a curious phenomenon is all. One I don’t understand.

Adoption did not become an issue for me until I had a major major MAJOR crisis in my life. Major enough that my very existence was a tenuous prospect. If that hadn’t had happened, I would probably be carrying on the same way I always had – where the word and the concept of adoption never even entered my thoughts.

Sometimes it takes facing something as big as death to look at the intangible parts of your deepest being that are all intertwined with abandonment, and how adoption complicates and obfuscates that. Previously, identity as a concept didn’t register on my radar either. I mistook it for personality. I’ve got one of those, so I didn’t need to think about it further. But almost dying makes you face the profundities of life. And birth and identity are part of that.

I’m happy for you that you got a good match, that you don’t know any different, that you feel secure, and I for one am totally willing to let you go on feeling that way. I’m just trying to explain how some of those who aren’t willing to let you feel that way might have come to that conclusion.

And, of course you know adoption is a political issue as well. And though our grievances get a little equal time here at Y!A , they get practically zero time in the real world. So a lot of us feel like our voices are being negated by the happy adoptees. Because we’re surrounded by people who want to believe only the good things about adoption, as if it was only all good. The thing people miss is – WE wanted to believe too. We truly did.

Our realities can and do co-exist because our truths are our own. It’s just stupid to fight about it. I see you. Do you see me?

Best Answer – Chosen by Asker

I think what Randy quote from the other question/response says a lot. That the person refused to read more only due to the fact that they didn’t agree with what was being said in the post. That seems rather ignorant to me. You also do have some people who refuse to see things outside their own box. Not just from one one side but both (all) sides.I do have some information in my adoption file if I ever wanted to I am sure I could easily find biofamily if I wanted to. I have my biomothers name and with the internet it makes it so easy to find anyone. However I simple don’t want too. Maybe this fact makes some think I am not normal. The fact is I have never been normal. It’s the strange and un-normal people who are interesting. Seriously what is normal to one is not normal to another. Just check out the National Geographic show Taboo.
  • 3 hours ago
Asker’s Rating:
5 out of 5
Asker’s Comment:
I received a tonne of good answers here but I had to choose one. You captured the meat of my question perfectly. Thank you.I won’t comment on the 17 negative emails I’ve received or the free psych evals other then to say they were read and appreciated for what they were.

Written by girl4708

October 25, 2008 at 6:26 am

Posted in Q&A

Would you have preferred to have remained in an orphanage?

with 4 comments

Q. What if you were one of those children who became an orphan by true means and no other family in your own country was able to adopt you? Would you have preferred to remain in an orphanage in your birth country for your childhood as opposed to being adopted internationally?

A. I have a Korean adoptee friend who was adopted at 9 and fully aware of the impact of her adoption. She preferred growing up with others in a shared circumstance, rather than being isolated in a new and foreign country. She had happiness and solidarity at the orphanage. She had only herself in North America. The isolation of our experience is the hardest part to bear.

Myself, I can not answer what-if questions. My life has been full of tragedy, and if I dwelt upon what-if’s I would be rendered incapacitated to live in this world. I try to address this hand I’ve been dealt with, with as much grace as possible. It is not easy, because I’ve been dealt a particularly lousy hand. I certainly won’t be grateful for being spared from an unknown what-if either.

I often fantasized I was in an orphanage playing with other children as I was growing up. Every adoptive parent means well and likes to think they will be an improvement to their kids lives. However, the parent’s perceptions don’t always match what we kids experience. Despite the higher mandate to provide the disadvantaged child with a better life than it had before, that mandate is poorly understood, implemented and enforced. My parents felt they were good parents, but I will never be grateful. You can read my story here:

I worry about meeting my birth mother and what I will tell her when she asks about my better life she gave me up for. Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. And even if I wasn’t abused, I think I would question whether our culture or our society is really any better than the one I was saved from.

Q. Your adoptive mother obviously provided well for you (it is evident in your writing style, and obvious education). Would you have rathered she not have adopted you?

A. My adoptive father was a music teacher, my mother a housewife. They were educated, but not critical thinkers. My brain has always worked differently than everyone in my household. I drew. They played music. As a child I spoke in metaphors because I thought in metaphor. They could never understand what I was saying because their ability to derive meaning from a metaphor was non-existent. It is a lonely place to be when you are raised by people so radically different than you.

You will find many adoptees are excellent writers. There are so many things we are not free to express as we are growing up, that the words just incubate, waiting for the right time and place to be be born.

I became an at-risk teenager and even ended up in remedial classes. I left home at 17, dropped out of school at one point, though I did graduate. I married what would become an alcoholic, and did not return to school until I was a divorcing welfare mom. I excelled at my university and even got accepted to Yale. Today I reject my degree and choose to live as simply as I can.

There is more to life than success. Filling in the years that were taken from me and erased, searching for the beginning of my story, starving for just one face that reflects me has become a yearning that some days seems to drive all I do. I suppose it is not unlike the yearning of a barren woman. Only my identity was mine to begin with, so I am reclaiming something taken from me. My first three years formed me, don’t you think they didn’t. That experience is like the word you can’t remember, the idea you can almost put your finger on, the deja vu that makes you pause and wonder about other lives. For adoptees, that’s not just speculation. It is the vestiges of an imprint.

I know many of my troubled years were a result of being abused, adopted, inter-country, and transracial. It wasn’t until I reached my forties that the deeper impact and implications of abandonment and adoption reared their ugly head. As I said before, being severed from your identity by international adoption is surgery. On top of the wound of abandonment, which may never heal. Clearly, my life has not been better or any worse than had I stayed in Korea. But I talk to non-abused adoptees, and except for the added complication of abuse, we all are profoundly impacted. I won’t call this damage, though damage is there. I think we’ve just been forced to deal with a lot of things the majority of people have never had to deal with in places the majority of people have never had to walk. You can’t get much more profound than identity.

Coming to America did not bring me any distinct advantages that I can appreciate. Korea, the country of my birth, is an educated nation and now a first world economy. And, as prosperity has increased, so too have the conditions and regard for its women. I am researching my birth country and find many elegant things about it that belie its marginalization I have been taught to think of as a westerner.

I am moving to Korea in February and will establish residency there as I search for my birth family. It is true I probably had more opportunities here. But opportunities do not always equal happiness. I feel, I feel as if my path has been interrupted by adoption. Like it’s taken forty years to find my bearings and find my way back home.

Yes. I’d rather I not been adopted.

Written by girl4708

October 24, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Q&A

Two words: Exit Strategy

with 2 comments

about Vietnam’s Withdrawal from International Adoption

International adoption has a double standard and a double face that few adoptive parents are willing to recognize. International adoption is based on the premise that less privileged societies can not take care of their own. International adoption is based on the premise that greater means = better life = more love. International adoption is full of rationalizations that promote the self-congratulatory nature of rescue and the satisfaction of contributing to a color blind world, which is a fantasy. The truth is with more support services parents in temporary distress would not relinquish their children. The truth is poor families love their children. The truth is people instantly respond to people of a different color than they do people of the same color. The truth is the little cute asian bundle of joy is going to grow up one day and realize all of the above. They may be grateful. They may love you, what choice do they have? But they’re also going to secretly be disturbed.

Potential adoptive parents say they are doing it for the children, but in all honesty, the primary locus for the vast majority of adoptions is centered on the prospective parents’ desires to complete themselves and validate their existence. This is called placing the adults’ needs above the child’s needs, and its manifestation can wreak all manner of havoc and confusion for the child. This desire, this need to have at all costs is something that needs to be deeply explored by prospective parents in terms of its healthiness to both the adoptive parents AND the child they are acquiring.

International adoption, due to the imbalance of nations, has been a ripe field for exploitation by first world countries, with little over-sight and regulation. It is a shameful and barbaric statement about our privilege when we find it unacceptable to accept unethical practices in our own country, but we can find ways to look aside or tolerate unethical practices in other countries, if it is to our benefit.

International adoption has been an experiment. An experiment that started out with good, humanitarian intentions, but that has been subverted, expanded, and capitalized upon until it has become an entitlement. It has taken many decades for the outcomes of international adoption to become evident, and because the practice continues, its constant evolution will always be decades away from clear understanding.

First world countries have been too slow to adopt ethical practices and regulate international adoption. It stands to reason supplying nations have learned from the past few decades of this experiment , have become alarmed, and no longer want to be a part of this exchange when they see the aftermath and feel the shame of exporting their babies and the mismanagement of this process. How would you feel if it were your nation on the supply end?

While I disagree with the sudden and complete withdrawal of these supplying nations and the financial and emotional heartache that can result in receiving nations, I can not fault them for finally stepping up to the plate to take a more responsible role in the welfare of their own citizens. I agree with potential adoptive parents when they say, “what about the children?” who languish in limbo post withdrawal and pre reformed social programming. That is why I believe in a ten year exit strategy instead of sudden withdrawal. However, the same criticisms can be levied on our own, wealthy nation. How can we expect to get international adoption right if we can’t even get it right in our own country? Who can trust us?

All potential adoptive parents should examine themselves thoroughly and, like any good actor ask, “what’s my motivation?” Deep honesty will pay off by eliminating much of the politicizing and polarizing. For, upon examination we should better be able to hold our desires up against what is truly in the best interests of the child. In the case of the international adoptee – it’s culture, it’s heritage, it’s place in society, something they can identify with. Many of these intangibles of when held up against a life with foreign parents with greater means are marginalized. But their value is intangible and beyond measure. International adoption is radical surgery that leaves scars on top of the given adoption scars of abandonment and loss.

And for those potential adoptive parents who absolutely think they are god’s gift to rainbow children as if what they have to offer will make all those costs to the child tolerable, to insure the availability of ethnic children, I would hope that you get in on adoption reform and the ethics bandwagon. Quickly. Otherwise, more and more countries are going to follow the lead of Vietnam, and you will be forced to deal with what you have here at home. You know – those kids who really NEED parents. The ones whose parents have really died. The ones who were abused. The ones whose parents couldn’t cope with their disabilities. The ones languishing in OUR foster homes and group homes. What about them? Did I mention something about double standards before?

I repeat: If you’re smart you’ll get in on adoption reform and support it wholeheartedly. There will be less children available, but their interests will be better looked after. It is better (from your perspective) than having the option cut off completely.

As a product of one of these transracial, intercountry adoptions, the end of international adoption would be a dream come true. I hope the adoption agencies exploiting disadvantaged people on one end and separating you from your money on the other end are exorcised out of existence, and I hope this trend towards domestic preservation continues. I’m going to continue to speak out, as more and more of my fellow adoptees do, about the realities of international adoption from the adoptee’s perspective. Our parents were not so different from you. We are not so different from the children you hope to be adopting. We didn’t ask for this. But despite better conditions, we have had to live the consequences of your decisions, and we’re the ones who are asked to adjust and we’re the ones who have to deal with all of our losses. And we don’t want any other children to have to suffer the added separation of country and culture on top of losing our mothers. We just want you to think deeply and hard about what the hell you’re doing. About your wants and your rationalizations.

Written by girl4708

October 24, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Q&A

Mother of all adoption agencies renigs on promise

leave a comment »

Holt adoption agency promised to contact the person I am searching for, possibly even a sister or twin.

Now they refuse, barring access.

Read my letter to Holt here

Written by girl4708

October 23, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Sage Advice for Adoptive Parents

with one comment

Re: What if? Questions to Adult Adoptees

After reading the heavy traffic that this group generates, I was
wondering if the adoptees would like to share specifics of what was
good and not good, what would have helped, what should have been
avoided, in their upbringings.

Here are Sunny Jo’s perfect answers:


keep b-culture alive in daily life through contact with immigrants from
the child’s b-country who can take the contact beyond ethnic food and
cultural artifacts

make sure contact with b-culture (mentioned above) is introduced early
on so to make the b-culture an equally natural part of life as
the ‘culture’ of the a-family

keep in contact with other a-families

live in diverse areas where your child won’t be the only person of
colour. do NOT believe, however, that ‘anything but white’ is ok, an
adopted korean child won’t necessarily have more in common with a
person of african or arab origin than a white person will.

go on frequent homeland journies back to the b-country, and even
(partially) pay for the child’s first (and/or subsequent) homeland
tours as an adult

involve the entire a-family (parents, siblings etc) in the
adoption/cultural activities, without appropriating and appropriating
it (a difficult tightrope to walk)

read ‘beyond good intentions’ by cheri register

if possible, enter your child into a mentor program which gives him/her
a chance to meet adult adoptees (and/or ‘native’ koreans)

encourage language studies

give back to your child’s country of origin by supporting social
change, e.g. through sponsorship through SOS children’s villages or
other charities

read books, articles, websites, blogs etc written by adult adoptees
(and APs with adult children)

support local adult adoptee orgs (e.g. financially) but accept that
it’s up to the org to let you in to their events or not

love your child like your own, but accept that s/he never will be
fully ‘your own’

allow your child to grieve and be angry

seek professional help if necessary


adopt only one child from the same country, esp. in families with bio

adopt children from totally different countries/culture (e.g. africa
and asia)

accept adoption agency advertising, information and propaganda at face

be possessive, an adopted child will never be ‘yours’ in the same way
as a bio child since the BPs will forever, whether known or not, be
part of your child’s life (and APs can never take their place)

think that food, education and other stuff valued in your culture, will
make up for the losses caused by adoption

ignore or trivialize racism, e.g. by comparing it to injustices you
have suffered

expect your child to be grateful

think you ‘saved’ your child since many adoptees have bio siblings who
stayed with BPs and are doing just fine

feel threatened if your child wants to move back to tyhe b-country as
an adult or young adult

accept any kind of racism or bigotry coming from family, friends,
neighbours or anyone else

accept your child to be treated as an exotic pet, e.g. by strangers who
want to ‘pet the hair’ or ask private questions about the child’s
background etc etc

believe that it was god’s will that your child came to you, b/c that
would automaticly make it god’s will for your child’s BPs to end in the
unfortunate circumstances which led to the abandonment – and no god
worth worshipping should want that on anyone

force your religion, culture etc onto your child since it might
conflict with the child’s original religion or culture. as a family
member the adoptee should ofcourse be part of celebrating holidays like
anyone else, but if the child chooses to opt out of certain regulations
(e.g. dietary regulations which prevents certain foods from the b-
country) then this should be respected

Written by girl4708

October 22, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Posted in Q&A