Adoption Survivor

dealing with it

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Raw Meat

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this was written just prior to a nervous breakdown, about the same time i came out of my adoption fog.

i am an adult survivor of childhood incest, who has grown up and learned to work around the issues (or so i thought) to my own satisfaction, but apparently not to the satisfaction of others. and so i’ve decided to go public and share with you what those implications are so your awareness can make you a better friend to others than my friends have been to me.

there is in this society a gross lack of empathy that produces insensitive statements like, “get over it,” or “speak to the hand,” or “those with baggage need not reply.” and there is also an over-abundance of armchair psychologists with no more credentials than stacks of self-help books ready to point out where you need to improve yourself.

to which i say, unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, you just can’t know how moronic and/or inadequate your recriminations and criticisms are, so i ask:

is it morally right to criticize the actions of a starving person when one is well fed?

I think not.

i am a victim. victimization exists and you don’t get over it. you live with it and pat yourself on the back that you’re not in a morgue somewhere. you are a victim and you will always be a victim and you’re proud you lived through it and nobody can take that away from you. you are a veteran of war and every day that you are not dead, you are a survivor. you are always both. victim AND survivor. you process the world and people differently after a hellish experience and that’s totally understandable. or rather, it should be. but in our world, it’s not allowed. to disclose any trauma makes you a whiner. to show anyone your weaknesses makes you disgusting and pathetic. this is a no-baggage-allowed kind of world. A pathological system where victims are partially to blame for their victimization and whereupon silence is defacto and isolation is perpetuated.

when, as in my case, you are adopted from a foreign country, into a strange world where nobody looks like you, into a family where your siblings resent you for just being present and your unstable mother doesn’t believe in affection so your daily life is spent entirely alone and emotionally neglected, and your father who has more than affection for you molests you in the shower, molests you in your bed, molests you whenever nobody else is around, when mothers and neighbors turn a blind eye and you are always being watched by your perpetrator, when your minister molests you and others try to rape you, that fundamentally affects your approach to the world. when you spend your entire childhood in silence due to threats and manipulation, you can confide in no one and are therefore shut off from normal relations with society / friends, and every minute of every day you carry this huge burden, this secret that will shatter multiple lives that you are the sole keeper of. you never know what it is to be a child.

when you were not allowed to express your needs as a child, during that time in your life when you are all about needs and unable to provide for any of them yourself, and worse yet are hushed and programmed to suppress your own immediate needs or inner needs – that cuts you off from participating in the rest of the world and you must just watch and be subjected to everyone else saying, me, me, me. especially when it’s your parents saying me, me, me, and they use you, a child, as a resource to take care of their own needs. your needs are always less important than everyone else’s needs. you no longer even try to express them. you forget how. you tell yourself you have no needs. you become an island unto oneself.

you learn how to get by. year after year after year after year of never-ending abuse with no options available to you save the potential equal horror of some foster family. you do what you need to do. you learn there is nothing anyone can do to you which can’t be lived through. you learn to participate without being present. you learn this while you are still in diapers. you learn no one is going to save you or take care of you. you have no family. you are the only family you’ll ever have.

this is not something you “get over.” it is something you deal with daily, something you try to improve upon, but you can never get over. it formed you indelibly. this is the message i want to get across to people: incest victims are to be applauded for making it through another year, and not to be pitied over the violation of their bodies, because that was a minor assault compared to the comprehensive restructuring of their lives in order to facilitate that abuse. they are to be sympathized with because they live life without having experienced innocence, without having had a childhood, never knowing how it feels to be care free or loved, and growing up entirely isolated, with no one looking out for their interests. monkeys die in environments like that. and the ones who live are never the same. and you would not say to that poor creature – oh come on, get over it – you’re so pathetic. and it is not something any self-help book or spiritual teaching is going to make go away. it is something that has become part of who you are. it is a parallel world that no one but another incest survivor can understand.

so there you are, like a feral child in a foreign land of well-adjusted people who know how to communicate, who know how to express their own needs, who champion their own needs, and who trample all over you because you are mute. and because you are so handicapped, you get exploited time and time again. and you can’t comprehend how most people who have experienced one tenth the trauma you have can act so inhuman, be so self serving, living so purposelessly, so lacking in integrity, so blindly and without conviction. the human race disappoints so much so you wonder if being isolated and feral isn’t somehow better.

it is not true that you seek out powerless situations. it is more that almost anyone who can express themselves wins out because they are always more powerful, because your voice was taken away from you so you never gained any skill in its use. it is human nature for others to get away with as much as they can. they see your lame struggles to assert yourself as tacit approval for whatever they want. they don’t see that you are trying to form the word “no.” it is a silent scream. it is always at this point that your survival skills kick in to autopilot.

so you win and i’m your puppet. but you can never ever do anything harmful to me, because you can’t reach that deep. you play dead. and you live.

it is also not true that you have no self esteem or that you hate yourself. for to not end up like the infant monkeys that perished for science speaks a lot about self love and preservation. that all incest victims have not killed themselves is amazing. the positive side effect of living all your formative years in an untenable position is an appreciation for all things that do not cause you pain, and the knowledge that you have inner strengths unknown to most people is a source of pride. but the resiliency of children becomes brittle as you age, and you lose hope as each interaction with the rest of the world fails.

what is true is you have no clue how to form relationships. because you never really participated in the world, in fact, you were barred from participating in the world, you don’t understand how people connect with each other or how they communicate or what makes people laugh or what fun is. you can’t relate to them and they can’t relate to you. you have been sentenced to a life of never-ending isolation. you pantomime what others are doing so they can relate to you, but your message is lost on them. and the message is:

you are privileged and so, so lucky. be kind to your fellow man. be kind to wounded animals and abused children. be generous to those who struggle with skills you take for granted. be less self-serving and make the world a better, safer place.

my disappearance was due to a breakdown. an inner rage and grieving for that innocence everyone else knows that i can never know. rage for trying so hard to live an authentic life of integrity and meaning, doing an admirable job, yet ending up empty handed and alone and abandoned by those i love. rage that the only time i allow myself to trust i am betrayed. rage that i am judged so harshly for my social ineptitude. rage that i am criticized for not managing my life the way a normal person would. disappointed in humanity and its lack of integrity. i looked into the abyss of hopelessness and nearly threw myself at its mercy.

but somehow, the part of me that never gives up came to my rescue again. only this time, i go to therapy to learn how to live better amongst the rest of you, because you can’t do it through self help and you can’t leave it to the clueless. and today i choose to end the silence and express myself.

i’ve been reading and reading and reading other people’s stories on the net and it is so apparent that awareness is so lacking in the general population as to the effects of incest on victims as adults. i just thought it was my duty to let people know they’d met one and that they can’t/shouldn’t fit them into the paradigm of what they know. we had to thrive under unique circumstances and our methods are almost hard-wired into us. that we don’t choose to be victimized. that we don’t seek out co-dependent abusive relationships, but that we are more susceptible and vulnerable. that the victimization was so insidious as to affect every aspect of a person’s life, and that the struggle to adapt in a world where everyone else has the requisite tools, but you are lacking them, should be looked upon with charity instead of the disdain that it is. that the rest of my days will be spent debriefing and learning social skills you take for granted.


and to you “no baggage” people, i will NOT get over it. being an arrogant hard-ass does NOT make you stronger than everyone else, and you have no grounds discounting everyone who has issues. because someone who has no issues like yourself but can deliver “get over it” statements obviously has A LOT of issues.

this is my baggage.

i’m proud of what it’s been through, that i survived.

i deserve respect

Written by girl4708

September 21, 2008 at 8:55 am

Posted in After Abuse

Tagged with

Adoptees, were you completely truthful with your adoptive parents?

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Growing up, when you were asked how you “felt” about adoption did you tell the truth? Or if you were asked if you wanted to “find” your parents, were you honest with your adoptive family?

I had wonderful parents and, as a kid, when they wanted to talk or asked how I felt about searching, I didn’t want to hurt their feelings so I told them I had no interest.


The only people to inquire about adoption were strangers upon first meeting me. Because I was sheltered, my parents were always right there. Nobody ever asked me how I “felt” about it. Instead, they framed the questions in such a way that there was no answer I could possibly say except what corroborated their own conclusions.

For example:
“you must feel very lucky such nice people adopted you, don’t you?”
Meanwhile, mommy and daddy are standing right next to me smiling, nodding, and expecting me to nod too.
People were not really asking me how I felt. People were really praising my parents and admonishing me to feel grateful.

With that much pressure and so little interest in what I actually felt, honesty was never really an option.

The truth is, I didn’t know how I felt about adoption.
The truth is, every time that question came up it paralyzed me.
The truth is, I wanted to believe with all my heart adoption was great and wonderful.
Even during all those years I was being abused, I wanted to believe with all my heart adoption was great and wonderful!
The truth is, I had to search for and settle for breadcrumbs and leftovers of affection and it was anything but wonderful.

If I could have verbalized the truth I felt, my truth would have been that having the distinction of being adopted made me feel like the loneliest child on the planet, because I was the only adopted person I’d ever met.
The truth is, I knew no one wanted to know the truth.

As for being asked about looking for my birth parents, the only people who ever asked were new friends. I always felt other people were living out some talk show investigative adventure fantasy through me, and I didn’t want to contribute to that. I didn’t want to be a novelty, a freak or oddball. I already felt odd enough as it was. The truth was I was the odd man out. I was the only person of color I knew.

When I actually did consider searching for a moment, I would look at the sea of white faces around me that I didn’t know and think about the impossibility of finding a Korean face, thousands of miles away, in a sea of black hair and black eyes, in a country I couldn’t remember and couldn’t speak their language, and be sad that I could say, “all asians look alike.” They were all aliens to me. The possibility of finding my mother was absolutely futile and hopeless to me as a child.

Still later, when asked that same question, I would reflect on the many years of abuse I’d put up with and how I’d been abandoned to begin with and think, “families suck.” So finally, as an teenager when people asked me, I would say “i can’t handle one family. How can I handle two? No. I don’t need the heartache.”

It wasn’t until my parents died two years ago that I could finally be truthful publicly about how I feel about adoption. It took over a year to wrestle with a lifetime, over four decades, of being a brave solider and suppressing never being allowed to express how I really felt about adoption.

Today I am forty four. Ask me today and I will tell you how I feel.

Adoption hurts.

Written by girl4708

September 21, 2008 at 8:51 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with

When and if you met/meet your real mom, what did you want to know?

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To her i will ask, “what were the circumstances behind my conception, birth, and relinquishment? I want to know the beginning of my story and be able to tell my children about this history, so they may have a stronger link to their heritage.”

secretly my heart will be bleeding and i will be asking, “why did you put me in the hands of strangers? why did you not do what it takes to keep me? how could you have a happy day in your life after having given away your flesh and blood?

but all of the above is just a fantasy. there is not even a breadcrumb from which to find my mother, much less ask her any questions.

to know you have been abandoned is the worst feeling in the world. i wish i didn’t have to replay this meeting in my head over and over.

i wish this question/pain
didn’t exist/didn’t need to be asked
to/for/by anyone.

Written by girl4708

September 21, 2008 at 8:34 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with

A question for adoptees?

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Hey, I go on the general pregnancy and parenting board which often
brings up questions from the adoption section that I sometimes look in
on. I hope you don’t think I’m butting in, I’m just asking this out of
curiousity, feel free not to answer if it’s too intrusive a quesion!

In my life I’ve only known 3 adoptees (two with the same adoptive
parents, both adults in their 30’s, and the other one is with seperate
adoptive parents and is a teenager). The three people I’ve happened to
know were all adopted as babies, and they’ve grown up always knowing
they were adopted, being fine with the fact they were adopted, and
seeing their adoptive parents no differently to how everybody else sees
their biological parents, and none of the three have ever had any
desire to want to find their birth parents. So I’d always just
(probably ignorantly) assumed this was the case for most adoptees (well
I know a lot do try and seek out their birth parents, but I mean I
assumed that most adoptees grow up feeling happy and natural with their
adoptive parents). However I read a lot of questions and answers on
here from adoptees who appear to be very unhappy in their situations. I
was just wondering, if these people who are unhappy tend to be people
who were adopted at a later age? Or, even if you were adopted shortly
after birth, is it actually very different from growing up in a
household with biological parents? Or is it that teenage adoptees clash
with their parents in the same way non-adoptees clash with theirs, but
put the issues down to having been adopted? (I’m not saying I think
that’s the case at all, I’m just wondering). I always read a lot of
answers, in response to questions saying they’re thinking about giving
their baby up for adoption, from adoptees saying please think twice and
give your child a chance to know its biological parents etc. Do you
feel like you have a hole in your lives not knowing your biological
parents, even if you’ve been with your adoptive parents since birth?

I just want to say I’m sorry if these questions are personal or if they
cause any offence, they’re not intended to be at all, I’m just seeking
to gain knowledge over something I know very little, but I know your
lives are none of my business so only answer if you want to, sorry


i will pick up from a line in the video (posted below)

“i always felt entirely and utterly alone.”

i was adopted a few months prior to my third birthday.
my earliest memory is the plane trip to america.
it was as if someone went into my brain and surgically erased all that i was prior to adoption.

i am told i laughed at cartoons by myself.
but all i remember from the plane ride forward is being terrified.
this terror would be explained away as shyness.
i never in my entire life felt happy or natural with my parents.

nobody knew this.
i kept it to myself.
i was a good, obedient kid.

when asked about biological parents, i would say i had no interest.
because i didn’t. i didn’t harbor those kind of hopes as they were
interferences that would disturb the peace. i had to file that interest
away, lock it up, and throw away the key.

and, quite the contrary, my teenage struggles had to be about
everything BUT adoption. because adoption was a not recognized as an
issue, by me or my parents, then i wasn’t free to subscribe any
conflicts to it or use it as ammunition. i talked about adoption as
little as possible. i wanted the topic to disappear. i worked hard to
make it disappear. i tried so very very hard to accept my situation.

it wasn’t until my own children were leaving home and my parents died
and i didn’t have to think about others first, that i began to
recognize the detached feelings i held within me had something to do
with the disruption of my childhood. that the adoption really was an
issue, and that being abandoned had everything to do with everything.
you ask about a hole in our life? yes. an abyss.

it is more than a hole because you can never verbalize it.
you are just a kid and these feelings are confusing.
you don’t even know this is why you never talk with your parents, why no conversation is real. you just know not to go there.
and in subtle ways, they let you know not to go there.
they let you know they can’t handle the truth of your feelings.
you smile instead.
and be a good girl.

you can never get relief.
because you don’t want your parents to feel rejected.
you don’t want them – anyone- to feel even an ounce of what you feel every day.

you become the guardian of everything that oppresses you.

this feeling? i don’t believe this feeling is age dependent.
i think we all feel that hole – that yearning, that loss. for some like
myself, it takes decades to acknowledge and work through.

Written by girl4708

September 21, 2008 at 8:32 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with

Adoptees: have you mostly gained or lost in being given up and adopted?

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In what ways?

Best Answer – Chosen by Asker

what have i lost?

i’ve lost so much, it’s barely fathomable.

my culture, my history, my identity. i was emotionally deprived and sexually abused. i lost my innocence. i lost my childhood. i was always an alien, being the only minority i knew. because of my abuse, i made choices that affected my entire adult life, not realizing i had more options. i never had a sense of belonging or love. i grieve the loss of my pre-memory mother. i sometimes imagine i can feel her holding me. that is the biggest loss of all.

all the arguments about adoption providing a better life just don’t hold water. my birth country is now a major first world economy. the status of women is increasing as the economy increases. they have excellent schools and high tech jobs.

here in america, i have been a ship without a rudder, sad and extremely isolated – by my looks, by my experiences, by my lack of significant or meaningful connection to anything.

what have i gained?

well, they say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. i almost killed myself, so i must be really strong.

what i have gained is a terrible insight into the mind of a pedophile, the pathology of adopting for the wrong reasons, the perspective of a target of racism, and the glimpse of the american dream from the very bottom. i have conquered all and made myself a success and earned respect. and i have learned that none of that matters.

what matters is how you touch people, one on one.
what matters is knowing you are loved.
and to never, ever, abandon anyone.

so the biggest thing i’ve gained is a value system based on caring for the emotional well-being of others and respecting human dignity.

but if all this pain was the prerequisite to this knowledge i have, then i’d rather have gained nothing. all i really want is to be embraced and cared for and experience one moment of being a child in its mothers unconditionally loving arms.

Asker’s Rating:
5 out of 5
(((almost human)))

Thanks for your honesty.

Written by girl4708

September 21, 2008 at 8:21 am

Posted in Q&A

Tagged with