Adoption, Abuse, and Comments From the Peanut Gallery
I admit it, every time I see an article that includes with the word "adoption", I take a look.
Today's find-worth-a-response was titled, "‘Real Housewife’ on adoption, insecurity". I don't know who the actress/author is; I don't know the show in which she stars; I simply know her adoption-story, and I understand many of her noted adoption issues because the origins are similar to my own.
Unwed and pregnant. Strong religious beliefs. Grandparents/extended family don't want burden of a baby/shame of illegitimacy ruining a "good name".... all ingredients to a bastard's early beginnings.
While it's typically assumed each and every adopted child is placed in a loving and caring home, with loving and caring parents, many published abuse cases indicate living conditions for a chosen adoptee are far less than ideal or pleasant.
According to Danielle's written account, she was taken into a family with little money and she was abused.
Knowing this, two specific comments made about herself make perfect sense to me, an adult adoptee who often asked, "Would things have been really different, had someone different been chosen for me?" Before Danielle explains how being abused influences the way in which we see ourselves and others, she writes,
I’ve been told I look exactly like my mother. I would joke and say, “Exactly how do I look like my mother?” I have never really thought I was attractive. I have always had a nice physique, but I’ve never liked my face. Maybe it’s just hard for me to look in the mirror.
I know for myself, I have always felt insecure (always finding flaw) about my physical appearance and finding my own identity - my true sense of self - has been very difficult. Am I a rejected nobody? Am I worth keeping? Am I a meek coward? Am I an ugly stupid idiot with a sign over my head saying "kick me"? Or am I a strong warrior, willing to endure what I have to endure just so I can get to that next level of comfort and stability? Depending on the day I am having, I am any one of those "things" looking back in the mirror, but I draw comfort knowing no matter what, I am always Me... the one constantly questioning everything.
The second comment that caught my attention was the one made about a mother's rejection.
I believe that being given away by my mother at birth created a major sense of rejection that I have tried to overcome my entire life.
For the longest time, I blamed maternal rejection, (and the sense of abandonment that goes with it), for many of my internal insecurities - the sort that infested/tried to ruin all human relationships. It took me a very long time to separate first-mother rejection/abandonment from Amother rejection/abandonment and then it took me even more time to separate sexual abuse issues from adoption issues. It has taken me many years to grieve, properly. But I have to admit, once I knew what it was I was grieving, all sorts of odd dynamics (insecurities) began to make much more sense. Understanding the root to my my own fears has allowed me take on more personal accountability and improve the personal relationships I choose for myself.
At the age of 41, I can finally see how and where I'm finally maturing and growing. I used to think all people
abandoned "relinquished" by their parents suffered the same sense of loss/grief and profound insecurity as me.... I used to think it was impossible to develop a true sense of confidence and maturity. As I make my way through the grieving process, and cultivate strong healthy relationships with other adults and my own children, I recognize the missing magical ingredient I wish I had when I was a kid/teen/young adult: Sympathetic support that allows anger and allows all sorts of rhetorical questions.... questions I need to ask and answer, myself.
It's easy to get lost without help.
And it's easy to dismiss the need for help and the need to vent when the cries sound like they are coming from a seemingly deranged/confused psycho with a colorful (questionable?) past.
Enter the page that has posted comments to this article written by an adult adoptee. Let's call it Exhibit A, for all to read.
So far, at last look, 23 posts have been made. Twenty-one out of twenty-three remarks are critical and include phrases like "get over yourself", "she's a psycho", "what a mess she is", "boo-hoo", "she has issues", "every family has drama", "pathetic and insane", (the list can continue...). Confirmation it's still not safe to publish a less than happy adoptee experience.
Only one person made a very astute observation:
Okay, I didn't read the whole excerpt, but I am so sick and tired of people saying that they have issues because they were adopted. Or they say I am missing something in my life. I, and my brother, are both adopted. We were our parents the minute we were born. I have never, ever, felt like something was missing or that any issues that came up later in life had anything to do with it. I grew up in a very loving, caring family and I am thankful that the person who gave birth to me, gave me up. I wouldn't have had the great life otherwise. You are who you are because of how you were raised, not because of how you were born.
If we are indeed the products of our nature and our environment, when can the non-hostile dialogue begin?
When can adoptees be free to discuss the damage done by an abusive/dismissive adoptive family?
When can this be done without the name-calling, the character slamming, and the sarcastic boo-hoo remarks?
Abused adoptees deserve more than the typical dismissing and exasperated "I'm so sick and tired...." comments from the Peanut Gallery, especially from fellow-adoptees. News flash -- many of us ungrateful taken-in bastards are sick and tired, too. Sick from the memories and damage done by "new" (pre-screened) family members and tired that few will take the time to listen without launching an attack. Abused adoptees have a grief-filled voice, one that needs to be heard and not dismissed because it does not follow the lucky-duck happy-to-be-an adoptee band wagon. We hurt, and there are many simple, logical, (dare I suggest "good") reasons why we are hurting. All we ask is others take the time to listen to that hurt, that grief, that pain....and not assume life for a given adoptee in Adoptionland is as good or "better" as strong motivated adoption advocates like to push it.
I hope readers remember this next time an angry adoptee decides to open-up and share what's typically kept hidden and private.