Adoption and Parenticide: Seeking Truth and Justice

By Mirah Riben

July 24, 2012 /

Parenticide, the killing of one or both parents, (i.e. parricide, matricide), is the subject of Greek tragedies and myths around the world. But it also happens in real life.

Tucker Cipriano, 19, of Farmington Hills suburb of Detroit, has been charged with the murder of his parents. Robbery to support drug addiction is alleged to have played a role in motivating Cipriano to beat his adoptive father to death with a baseball bat and critically wound his adoptive mother and a brother. He may have been under the influence of drugs at the time of the attack.

No sooner did this case hit the press than outcries resounded from the adoption community because Cipriano was identified as having been adopted. Articles questioned: Does adoption detail belong in a murder story? Why was the fact that the alleged perpetrator was adopted mentioned in the media reports of this crime? Is it necessary and doesn’t it risk casting a net of suspicion on all who are adopted?

The debate over how much fact the media reveals is not about protecting adoptees, despite some adoptees buying into that excuse. It is just one more example using “protection” of those whose lives are touched by adoption as a ploy to justify lies and secrecy, just as is done to keep adoption records sealed from the parties to the adoption. At issue is eliminating bad publicity about adoption that might reduce profits of the mega-billion dollar adoption industry.

The relationship between victim and perpetrator of any crime, or alleged crime, is important, however, because it often goes directly to motivation and is thus a vital and integral piece of the puzzle. Whether perpetrator and victim were dating, married, engaged, separated, divorced all matter. Whether they were siblings, step-siblings or half-siblings makes a difference and should not be omitted in accurate reporting. Whether parent and child were in a guardianship, foster, or adoptive or step parent-child relationship are all germane to the facts of a case. It matters. And it matters whichever one was the victim and whichever the alleged perpetrator.

An adoptee murdering his parents is not an anomaly so rare as to make the adoption aspect of it negligible. Cirpirano’s crime should not be viewed in isolation because it cannot be properly understood on its own. It must be seen as part of a pattern because the fact is that Cirpriano is not the first or only adoptee charged with killing a parent or parents. In fact, he is not the only one so far this year — 2012.

Moses Kamin, 25, of Oakland, CA was also charged this year as an adult in the strangling murders of both of his adoptive parents (also identified as his foster parents). He was allegedly fighting with his father, a PhD psychologist and his mother, a medical professional, over the time he was spending at the Occupy Oakland camp.

The following list of eleven additional adoptee parenticide cases were found through public records:

  • 2006. Brandon Christopher Menard, 26, of California was sentenced to three consecutive sentences of life in prison without parole, plus a term of 25 years to life for shooting his father, shooting and stabbing his mother, and stabbing his 16-year-old sister all to death.
  • 2008. Heather D’Aoust, 14, was charged as an adult after her adoptive mother, Rebecca, died as the result of being hit in the head with a hammer or other blunt object in her home. Heather was reported to have “a history of emotional problems and mental illness.” She reportedly planned to kill everyone in the house, including her sister and her sister’s boyfriend. She was sentenced to 16 years to life.
  • 2007. Aaron Howard, 19, of Ottawa, Canada pleaded guilty in the murder of his adoptive mother who was battered in the head with a lead pipe. He was sentenced to life in prison.
  • 2007. Graham Beange, 20, of Toronto, Canada was charged with the attempted murder after his adoptive father died having been bludgeoned with a hammer.
  • 1997. Patrick Niiranen, from Oregon, beat his adoptive parents to death with a hammer. He was reported as seeking to find his natural mother who he fantasized about. Both physical abuse and cocaine use were also cited as motivation.
  • 1991. Patrick Campbell, 39, from Connecticut. bludgeoned both parents to death. He was sentenced to death.
  • 1991. Matthew Heikklia, 20, Bernards Twp., NJ, used a sawed-off shotgun to kill his adoptive parents. About the time his adoption was finalized, Mrs. Heikkila became pregnant. On the day she was murdered, she had started a letter to her son Joshua in which she complained about Matthew. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
  • 1990. Larry Swartz, 17, from Baltimore, MD. was the subject of the book Sudden Fury, A True Story of Adoption and Murder by Leslie Walker. Larry was sentenced to life in prison for the stabbing deaths of both adoptive parents. It has been reported that when the time came to sentence Swartz, even the judge struggled to fight back the tears.
  • 1987. Daniel Kasten, 19, of New York was charged with shooting his adoptive parents in the head during his sophomore year at the state university in Stony Brook College studying physics and mathematics. His attorneys pleaded he had psychosis and schizophrenia. He had allegedly planned to kill his siblings and grandparents as well.
  • 1985. Jeremy Bamber, 24, from the UK killed his adoptive parents, sister, and her two six-year-old sons. Money was thought to be the motive for this killing spree.
  • 1984. Patrick DeGelleke, 14, of New York was found guilty of setting the fire that killed both of his adoptive parents when he was just 14-years-old.

And then there are adoptees who direct their murderous rage at strangers. The two most recent such cases, of which there are far too many to list, are:

  • 2012. Gabriel Hall, 18, of College Station, Texas is currently facing charges for attacking and killing total strangers. Hall – a straight-A student who attended classes the day after the murder – said it wasn’t rage but rather a “killer instinct” that drove him to it. Gabriel had been adopted from the Philippines at 11 years of age with 3 siblings by a family who had about a dozen adopted kids. His adopters – who were not present at his court appearance – had allegedly “kicked out” three of their adopted children. It is unknown whether any of those sent away were Hall’s siblings by birth.
  • 2007. Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, of New Haven, CT was sentenced to death for the headline grabbing slaughter of a mother and her two daughters, who were also raped, and the torching of their home with them in it. His lawyer attributed the Connecticut massacre that made headlines around the world in part to personal troubles, including learning disabilities, childhood sexual abuse and the revelation at age 14 that he had been adopted as a baby.

The Pain of Separation

We need to remove the rose-colored view of adoption and recognize that every adoption – no matter how necessary and life-saving – begins with a trauma. Whether a child is removed by the state to protect him from danger, or placed by a mother devoid of the resources to properly care for her child, or sold by child traffickers’ falsified documents. Whether a mother is coerced, lied to, defrauded, pressured or “voluntarily” and lovingly believes she is doing what is best for her child, or is being promised an education for her child or an open adoption, it is still a tragedy and a traumatic separation of mother and child.

This separation – even at or very after shortly birth – can leave a wound and a permanent scar. Every adoptee – no matter how loving his adoptive family – wonders why he was placed for adoption and can be left feeling rejected and abandoned to different degrees at different times in their lives. For some their hurt may remain, lessen or intensify. It may get suppressed, ignored, denied or turned into anger. Anger and loss are universally reported feelings that adopted persons deal with in myriad ways depending upon many other factors not the least of which is the person’s coping capabilities and physiological mental health.

B.J. Lifton, adoptee, adoption counselor, author and lecturer, theorized that the adopted child, feeling the deep-seated original rejection, will either increase efforts to please or, as Dr. Marshall Schecter found, may exhibit “testing” behavior. In some cases it is believed adoptee acting out behavior is driven by the belief of having been given away by their first family because they were not “good enough” and a desire to prove them right or have it become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Others attribute acting out behaviors by adoptees to an unconscious desire to emulate what they know or guessed or surmised about their original parents.

Judith and Martin Land, Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child (2011), identify the following, specifically adopted related symptoms: genealogical bewilderment, oppositional defiant disorder, selective mutism, anti-social behavior, primal wound, and other potential effects of adoption on children who are orphaned, fostered, or adopted.

Some adoptees are articulate and self-aware enough write about their feelings, using blogs or forums such as “I am an Angry Adoptee” at to vent their feelings in healthy and acceptable ways. Others act upon them in behavior such as substance abuse, suicide or other acts of violence to themselves or others. Adoption is recognized as a risk factor for suicide and adopted teens and adults are more likely to attempt or succeed than non adopted.

Malinda, blogging at AdoptTalk, expresses it like this:

[A]doptees have reason to be angry, and it is unrelated to how good or bad their adoptive parents parented. It has to do with loss of control, loss of identity, loss of culture, loss of heritage, loss of language, loss of first families, loss, loss, loss. And you can gain, gain, gain — a permanent family, a different culture, a different language, a different heritage, more material goods than you can shake a stick at! — and still feel loss.

The ability to verbalize one’s justifiable anger is healthy. However, often adoptee anger is exacerbated by being told they have no right to feel anything but gratitude. Nina, an adoptee in Northern California, for instance, blogs:

I’m angry about my adoption, but not an angry person in general….. There you are, a bona-fide SOCIAL EXPERIMENT…the subject of books written by experts, the topic of radio call-in shows and newspaper articles and morning television show segments. But nobody ever wants to hear what it’s like to live life as an adoptee. Not if the script doesn’t include the words, ‘happy’ or ‘grateful’.

A New York Times OpEd by self described “functioning” adult says: “Many adoptees have valid reasons for being angry…. It would be a lie for me to say I’m not still angry. I am” but she notes “[t]here is a difference between anger and all-encompassing, blind rage” and explains that she writes about her “painful, anger-inducing experiences.”

Because coping mechanisms and basic genetic emotional strengths and weaknesses vary widely, as well as other heredity factors that might effect mental health, for some adoptees feelings of loss, confusion and anger are basically a non-issue, while others struggle with them in a variety of ways, and a small percent act out, sometimes violently.

David Kirschner, PhD who testifies and consults in many – but not all – trials or sentencings in which an adoptee is charged with murder has done so in three cases of adoptee parenticide in the past twelve months: two in California and one in Oregon.

Recognizing the existence of the extremity to which some take their hurt and anger in order to assist in a criminal defense is not to suggest adoptees are any more likely to commit horrific violent crimes, murder or parenticide than non-adopted persons. Kirschner who uses Adopted Child Syndrome (see below) as a legal defense, is clear that most adoptees are not disturbed and that the syndrome only applies to “a small clinical subgroup.”

Recognizing Adopted Child Syndrome – and adoptee parenticide – is necessary to help not to cast dispersions on any adopted person or to cause any adopted person to be viewed with caution or suspicion of being potentially dangerous, no more so than allowing a defense of battered wife syndrome points a finger at every spouse as an abuser or potential killer.

The negative effects of adoption loss and separation need exposure to truth in an order to help juries understand when adoptees are charged with these crimes. The same transparency is also important to alleviate as much of the pain of adoption as possible by formulating adoption policies and practices to make adoption necessary, humane, honest, open and as child-centered as possible. Adoption practices change over time and have gone from recommendations of secrecy to understanding that adopted children who live with secrets and lies feel that “they” are a dirty little secret. Thus, today, adoptive parents – as well as those who use reproductive assistance – are advised to be honest and open as early as possible, and that it is not just one “telling” but allowing for ongoing conversations and creating an atmosphere that provides for the child to feel comfortable to ask questions as he grows through adolescence and young adulthood. The more we learn from adoptee hindsight, the better we can make the future for children in need of extra-familial placement.

Adopted Child Syndrome

Adopted Child Syndrome is a term coined by Dr. David Kirschner and described in Directions in Child and Adolescent Therapy, 2(6) (1995) and in Dr. Kirschner’s book, Adoption: Uncharted Waters, describes a pattern of maladaptive behavior that may be mistaken for other disorders. The diagnosis is not without controversy, which may be the reason it is not recognized in the American Psychiatric Association‘s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), 4th edition.

Adopted Child Syndrome is not the only diagnosis, however, to describe behavior particular to adopted children. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or Oppositional Defiant Disorder are both recognized in the DSM, though once controversial as well. These diagnoses are usually given to children who have been institutionalized or in multiple placements. They are often the result of unrealistic expectations on the part of adopters and help them terminate the adoption and/or receive financial assistance with medical and boarding costs.

As for those adopted as infants, there is no lack of studies concluding that children who were adopted before the age of six-months fare very well or are unremarkably no differently than children raised with their biological parents. These findings, however, are criticized as being funded by the very industry whose practitioners’ livelihoods depend upon the redistribution of children via adoption.

The recognition of traumatic mental health issues among those who are adopted – at any age – is not new. As early as 1943, Dr. F. Clothier wrote in Mental Hygiene:

Every adopted child at some point in his development, has been deprived of this primitive relationship with his mother. This trauma and the severing of the individual from his racial antecedents lie at the core of what is peculiar to the psychology of the adopted child….[who]is called upon to compensate for the wound left by the loss of the biological mother.

….every child…has a recourse to phantasy when he finds himself frustrated, threatened or incapable of dominating his environment. For the adopted child it is not a phantasy that these parents with whom he lives with are not his parents, it is reality.

For the adopted child, the [fantasy] parents are obviously the unknown lost real parents. His normal ambivalence will make use of this reality situation to focus his love impulses on one set of parents and his hate impulses on another. He finds an easy escape from the frustrations inherent in his home education by assuming the attitude that these, his adoptive parents, are his bad and wicked persecutors, whereas his dimly remembered own or foster parents, from whom he was ‘stolen’ are represented in his phantasy as the good parents to whom he owes his love and allegiance.

Dr. Marshall Schecter is among many child psychologists and those who work with troubled youth in various types of educational institutions and facilities who report the huge over-representation of adopted youth among their clientele – as much as a third of the clinical population in some instances.

Many factors may contribute to this increase in adopted youth in treatment and special education classes. One factor is possible genetic roots or dispositions. Another contributing issue could be as simple as a miss-match in behavior, temperament, coping and attitudinal styles between the child and the family he has been placed with, such as a quiet, introspective child in a family of cheering sports enthusiasts, or a very athletic child in a more intellectual, cerebral family.

What some families might accept as “normal” teen acting out, is sometimes cause for alarm for adoptive parents who might be concerned that the child “inherited” tendencies toward criminality or a predisposition to substance abuse. In blood-families even a trait uncommon to that of the immediate family members may be one that they recognize in the extended family. Along with seeing a child as having Aunt Gertie’s nose, a family might recognize that if Cousin Mike survived getting terrible grades or getting into scrapes with the law, or had great difficulty finding and holding down a job, so too will our child.

Adoptive parents have no such yardstick to measure their child’s behavior by – only fear of the unknown worst-case scenario possibilities. Thus, a teenage girl dressing provocatively may strike more fear in the heart of adoptive parents who either know or assume that the child’s biological mother was promiscuous. It has also been suggested that adoptive families are more comfortable with — and used to seeking the help of — social workers and other professionals and so will more readily seek it again when behaviors arise that others might overlook.

Yet Schecter’s observations mirror those of Clothier. In many of his case studies of adopted children, symptoms related to fantasies and “acting out” regarding the real parents, especially toward their real mother. He also observed outbursts toward the adoptive parents such as defiance based on them not being the child’s “real parents.” Schechter found adopted children to suffer symptoms of depression, feelings of incompleteness, phobic fear of abandonment, anxiety, aloofness and distancing of themselves which made close relationships impossible, and lying and stealing among boys while some girls acted out more seductively.

While we cannot pinpoint one factor as a cause, and the reasons may vary or may be multiple, the result is an over-representation of adoptees in youth facilities which seems to reflect that adoption in one way or another contributes to troubled youth or youth identified as troubled. Either way it points to a problem.


At issue is whether or not there is a correlation or causal factor between adoption and parenticide. Is there a disproportionate number of such acts committed by adopted persons as there is in serial killings, and if so, why? And what, if anything, can be done to lessen the issues that might precipitate such acts of violence? We will never know unless we openly assess the cases.

We do know that adoption is not a win-win for children who loose their roots, heritage, and genealogical connections. Rather it is a trade of one set off that often leaves children growing up with loss and anger. To think of it as win for the child is to whitewash and ignore the unique challenges non-adopted persons do not have to deal with. Because most adopted persons manage to deal with these additional issues and are fine emotionally and behaviorally, we cannot ignore these very real issues of loss, hurt, rejection and anger as contributing factors when an adopted person commits murder, in particular the murder of an adoptive parent. To do so would be a horrific disservice to the over-represented populations of adopted youth and adults in mental health and penal facilities and especially those charged with murder. It is also unfair to all who adopt or are adopted as well as to mothers considering placing a child for adoption.

Is adoption a causal factor in some parenticides? Do adoptees commit more partenticdes than non-adoptees? Paul Mones, an expert on children who kill “puts this statistic at 15 or 20 to 1, adoptees over non-adoptees who commit parenticide. He has represented twelve cases of adoptees who killed one or both parents.” (Journey of the Adopted Self, pg. 103). Kirschner suggests that 15 or 20 to 1, is an understatement, a minimal estimate.

Do we as a nation silence and censor these alarming figures, ignoring the life and death facts because it might offend some who are adopted or do we proceed with intelligent inquiry, analyzing data as we pursue the reasons for racial disparity in crimes and punishment? Do we bury our heads in the sand to “protect” adoptees from the stigma of possibly being wrongly cast as dangerous, or do we recognize the effects of adoption to help families and health care providers to identify youths who are at risk in order to intervene before a tragedy occurs.

We need to face the truth and work to curb it and support its victims – both those injured and killed as well as those facing jail time or the death penalty, as many of the perpetrators are adolescents, some as young as 14.



I think that it is interesting in the case of the Parenticides the methods are interesting, bat, pipe, hammer, knife, strangulation…all things that take a lot of energy and up close and personal contact with the victim; Methods that require the murderer to essentially look their victims in the eye; Methods that suggest a lot of rage.

Rage in the Adoptive Family

I was just reading an article featuring the success of one mega adoptive family, and it was interesting to note the way in which a successful AP often perceives the adoptive mother/child relationship:

“Adopting a child is like two people falling in love with each other. Two strangers meet and they come to find the moment when they feel like they are one. Adoption is the same.”  [From:  ‘Adopting child is like falling in love’, July 25, 2012 ]

I have heard this description before, especially from women who "instantly fall in-love" with the photo of a specific child they are told is eligible for adoption.

It's funny to me how many Amothers, specifically, believe the 'instant attraction' is both immediate and reciprocated by the adoptee.  For many of us, that love and attraction simply does not exist, but most are willing to fake-it, because that's what good adoptees are willing to do to keep the peace (and not cause any more trouble).

I know in my own case, as I got older, I could not stand the natural scent of my AMother.  In my nose and mind, there was something sour and off about her, and her perfume only made it worse... but none of that mattered because I was still forced (and expected) to hug, hold, kiss, and all-too-often, give her full-body massages -- because (according to her) that's what a loving child does for her wonderful ("God-sent"?) mother.

<gag and shudder>

I fully understand rage and angry resentment felt towards an AP. (Repeated episodes of neglect and trauma in the adoptive home can do that to an adoptive parent/child relationship.)

I also totally understand why an adoptee will choose to walk away from an Afamily, and want nothing to do with that group of people, ever again.  (In my mind, keeping away from abusers in denial is the most honorable thing an angry adoptee can do.)

However, I don't understand that line that says it's ok to bludgeon your parents to death.  It's simply not in me to cross that line -- I'd rather hurt  and destroy myself than someone else... it's just how I'm made and developed.  (I wonder if that core basic element shows on my face, or if it can be seen in a childhood photo?)

It's a sad reality that some children will kill their parents... but by no means is this animalistic rage-induced behavior limited to angry adoptees.   So, here I'm left to wonder what a future killer looks like in a childhood photo.... think APs falling in love with a certain image are looking for that in the photos and historical information they receive?

Adoption as a Forced Arranged Marriage

Ewww! I can’t even imagine insisting or cajoling one of my children to massage ANYTHING Ewww, Ewww, Ewww. Funny that you mentioned adoptive parents “instantly falling in love” with their adopted children, because I have an image of adoption, from the child’s perspective as a forced arranged marriage. They are immediately expected to jump in and preform their child duties with No prior building of a reciprocal relationship.


Forced Fit (and future expectations)

I agree that "arranged marriage" is an apt description for the relationship an adoptee and AP are put into.  As a mother to four, myself, I can go as far to say and agree, ALL parent-child relationships require a period of safe and gentle (non-traumatizing) investigation and bonding, and I believe much of what makes bonding and attachment a great success (or failure) has much to to with the biologic senses:  sight, sound, taste and touch. 

In fact, most first-time moms receiving good prenatal care are told bonding takes time.  Love is NOT instant; it grows and develops, and it must be encouraged and nurtured and given top priority.  To think otherwise is to have a very immature view on what love really is.

So, contrary to much publicized pro-adoption-speak,  in some Afamilies, one of two not ideal situations can exist (or co-exist):  A)  The child finds the unfamiliar sounds, sights, touches and smells found in the Ahome/parent both upsetting or disturbing. (That child is in many ways, is unhappy with the arrangement) and/or B) The AP finds the new child in the home to be ugly, smelly, and not at all appealing in any way. (That parent is not happy with the arranged relationship).

Picture THAT happy 'forced marriage' in Adoptionland!

Exactly how free are APs and adoptees when it comes to discussing these facts and realities?

Truth is, most keep this topic-matter on the hushity-hush because it's taboo to burst the romantic bubble that all adopted and adoptive parents are loved and cherished to pieces.

Yes.... instead, let's label the adoptees, with yet another "disorder" or "dysfunction" and blame poor bonding (on the Am's part) on Post Adoption Depression.  .... and let's pretend forced-fits don't have future consequences, like rage, disgust, and brutal abuse, which may be acted-out and exhibited by either party.

<deep sad sigh>


murderous thoughts, revisited

I have a confession, which I will share after a little review.

I had to take the time to slowly re-read (and re-check) Mirah's original post, because after the first two reads, I could not shake the feeling that something was seriously missing in Mirah's choice in terms of which type of adoptee she was going to give voice to in her piece about adoptees who kill.

First, let there be no mistake, I believe Mirah has made many strong contributions for and on behalf of  Team Adoption Critic.  For many years, (decades, really), Mirah has dedicated her life to exposing some of the many ills and wrongs found in Adoptionland.  In fact, I believe much of her passion comes from the fact that she lost her adopted-out daughter a second-time, sadly, to suicide.  Surely, over the years, discovery in Adoptionland for Mirah has not been easy or fun, especially given her own personal history and circumstances. But all members of the triad must remember this simple haunting truth:  for far too many of us,  inspite of massive media-covered pro-adoption speak, much of the behind the rose-colored scenes and view on adoption is in fact, dark, disturbing and in some cases, very unnerving and bloody upsetting.

So, when Mirah decided to branch-out and publish topic material that is centered on adoption issues and angry adoptee behavior, I found (and still find) it very odd that she decided to take the commercially safe route and choose the not-so-angry (and very adoption-friendly) adoptee to help give voice and guide readers into the mind of an angry adoptee.  The choice is quite laughable, really.

I like to believe, since PPL has been in-service for the adoption community, more and more adopters and non-adopters are becoming more curious about the many shades of truth, as it exists in each adoption story.  Maybe it's my own imagination, but I can't help but think, more and more parents want to know the whys and the reasons behind an adoptee's rude disgust, as exampled by the "ungrateful adoptee".  Based on the feedback I get myself, I believe a huge number of modern-day parents want to know and understand what it takes to make an angry adoptee really (and righfully) angry... so angry, that adoptee will kill a parent, or herself, as mentioned in a recent comment about adoptees, depression, and suicide.  

Enter Mirah's chosen voice to represent "the angry adoptee", riddled with identity issues:

I was 14 when he called me into the room: “Honey, come here.  I have something to tell you.”

He then began to tell  the story of how he’d fallen in love with my Vietnamese mother while he was serving in Vietnam.  How I’d been the result of that love and how he’d brought me back under the guise of adoption.  My dad was married to my adoptive mother at the time, so the need for the ruse was obvious, wasn’t it? As for my mother, he told me, she’d been killed by a group of Viet Cong after which he’d taken me to Hoi Duc Anh orphanage in order to begin the adoption process. 

My feelings at that sudden disclosure almost 14 years ago escape me —  but I do know it wasn’t like what you see in the movies.  There were no tearful, joyous declarations of, “Daddy!”  No feelings of resolution.  No closure.

I can’t remember how I felt — only my reaction endures in my memory.  I smiled, tried to comfort him with a hug and left the room.  We didn’t really speak of it again aside from his occasional remarks of how I walked or looked like my mother.  How could I convey my feelings of betrayal at having been lied to?  I didn’t have the tools to process how learning I was Amerasian threw my identity into chaos.  Deeper still, how could I explain that with his sudden confession, he’d just killed all hopes of ever finding my mother?  As an orphan, there had remained a small glint of hope.  Now that was gone.

In silence, I spent the next several years trying to come to terms with what he’d told me.  My mechanism of choice was denial.  I went on with my life trying to not to think of it too much.  It worked better on some days than others but his words and their affects on me were always there.  They manifested themselves in every aspect of my life, directed my choices in ways I’m still trying to understand. 

I finished high school, got married and had children of my own just like everyone else, but I could never rid myself of the sense that my insides had been ripped from beneath my skin.  And then there were the unanswered questions.  What was my mother’s name?  Why did he have no photos of her?  What about other family members still in Vietnam?

[From: NYT's Reclaiming Ownership of My History, hyperlinked reference in M. Riben's "Adoption and Parenticide: Seeking Truth and Justice"]

Given the chosen topic-matter of the article itself, (adoption and parenticide), and the types of sociopathic labels given to adoptees, surely Mirah, with all her experience and contacts, could have featured a timeless story about adoption issues, trauma, and adoptive families, and help readers see the many different meanings behind simple words like "loss", "confusion" and "anger".  Yes, in terms of wounds found in the adoptees, not all primal wounds look or start the same. 

Ah, but disturbing stories about less-than-ideal APs, and the many ways they can and do hurt and stunt an adopted child's growth and development, are not prized published material.  Such stories don't get featured by big-named media --  and when small references are made, all too often the pro-adoption jackals come out and attack the adoptee, through character assasination.  [I cannot count how many times I myself have been criticized and discredited by those who think I'm either crazy or a liar (or both!).]

<futile empty sigh>

I believe selective adoption story-telling maintains the cycle of myth making that has made the adoption industry what it is today.  Promoting half-truths or one-sided stories does nothing to help assist adoptees with core adoption issues.  In fact, mothers who insist on maintaining the most positive image of adoption are only going to ensure mental health programs and assistance given to adoptees  will stay and remain superficial and insufficient to those angry adoptees with the greatest needs.

My confession and plea is simple.  When daring adoption critics choose to remain safe by churning only the shallow waters of old-school adoption issues, (like confusion, anger, and betrayal), we all lose the opportunity to see and appreciate a more revealing glimpse into the mind of a sunken treasure -- a treasure full of confused goodness and brutal honesty that exists in the mind of a bottom-dweller orphan, forced to keep secrets.

Oh, if only more genuinely concerned parents (birth and adoptive, alike) saw and accepted the sad reality that far too many healthy, naturally smart and gifted children, (kids full of great promising potential) are not only forced into an unwanted adopted relationship, but they are forced to accept loss as a part of their steady daily diet.  And in turn, so many of these traumatized children grow up to be grossly limited in their own professions because they lack the polish and confidence that comes with positive encouraging attention.  Many grow up to be profoundly depressed... tortured, internally, beyond belief.

With that, I'd like to appeal to concerned child advocates and adoption critics who are willing to  be brave for the sake of those adoptees who are abused in their adoptive homes, and very angry about that tragic fact.  Published and popular authors need to look beyond the polished confessions written by adopted media darlings who make adoptive parents and adoption aftermath look rather good, in spite of some small minor battles that have to do with feeling abandoned, having (or lacking) confidence and any other personal identity issues that creeps into the mind of the adoptee.

I'd like to share PPL's version of an adoption story that may give others a better understanding as to why an adoptee may want to go on a destructive rampage -- one that can easily cause permanent damage to oneself, or another.

From Almost Human's blog-piece, muderous thoughts:

 she arrives five days before christmas to great fanfare and celebration. much too much celebration in the eyes of the child's three new siblings. the mother dresses the child like a doll, is suddenly social, showing her new charge off to church, friends, and neighbors. spends lots of time making her clothing and training her to fit in with the family. that training, it turns out, was to be seen but not heard. to never complain, to always be grateful, and to keep oneself busy. 

and thus, her happy life in america commenced. it was easy to keep her quiet - she was terrified to say or doanything to upset anyone. it was easy to take care of her - the television kept her attention focused. and soon, now that the novelty had worn thin, her mom fell back into the habit of shutting herself in at home and doing the bare minimum required to keep up the pretense of being a good parent. at the end of a long unfulfilling day of mundane household tasks, chain smoking and devouring romance novels, the mother gladly handed off all parenting duties to the man of the house.

the man of the house was not a man's man by any stretch of the imagination. yet he'd managed to transform his wimpy demeanor into something resembling cool by being a jazz musician and school music teacher. he was the kind of guy who wept openly and considered himself a renaissance man.

yet something was not quite right in that household. the eldest daughter ran away, was in trouble with the law, did drugs, and got pregnant. the eldest son was wound tighter than a drum, extremely reserved and seething with contempt for everyone, especially the new toddler. the youngest son seemed pretty normal and idolized his dad to a possibly disturbing degree. the parents never interacted except behind closed doors. there were no displays of affection in the family. there were no displays of anger in the family. there were simply no displays of any type. there was very little conversation or dialog, despite the father's attempts. there was very little interaction between anyone. it was orderly and sterile.

it was in this repressed environment that the little girl daily counted down the hours, keeping herself busy in total isolation. the people who moved around her were all gray and miserable - there were no hugs, no kisses, no playing - the only bright spot of her day was the homecoming of her dad, who seemed to have a little color left to him. and he doted on her. he took her to cultural events and played her music and sang to her and gave her rides and took an interest in everything she did. he bathed her and tucked her into bed and cared for her and she felt loved.

but this feeling only lasted a brief time. because the music he brought to her life took on a perverted dissonance and became a screeching cacophony crashing down upon her, filling up the empty spaces with painful noise. it became her prison.

the shower was a game where he was the car wash and she was the car, cleaning all her nooks and crannies.  and then the shower became a first anatomy lesson.  she didn't know that an erection was not the normal state of a man's penis.  she knew she felt anxiety and disgust when he made her touch it.  she suspected other little girls did not have to do this to their fathers.  she did not see this on tv when she was learning about normal american families.  he told her not to mention it to mommy, as this might hurt her feelings.  because mommy was abnormally delicate - her feelings got hurt too easily.  it would be her fault if mommy's feelings got hurt.

 the bed time stories dispensed with book reading.  the anatomy lessons continued there.  without shower water.  with saliva.  he never hurt her.  he would kiss her all over and tell her how much he loved her.  she felt like vomiting.  she felt like she was betraying her mother against her will.  she knew mommys and daddys were supposed to love each other.  not daddys and daughters.  she laid there wishing her brother would burst through the door and rescue her.  she wondered why nobody else wanted to tell her bed time stories, why they were all happy to let him be the only one to enter her room at night.  she wished she didn't have her own bedroom.  he told her not to say anything to anybody about their secret.  he told her mommy was unstable and if anyone found out, mommy would find out, and it would destroy her.

 the little girl became more reserved.  she stopped laughing out loud.  she stopped talking to anyone.  she was afraid the secret might slip out and she would destroy another human being.  she would destroy many human beings.  she was responsible for all those lives.  she was about four years old when this started.

 the proud adoptive parents continued to show her off to the world like a precious souvenir, but the novelty had worn off.  they took the little girl to gatherings of other international adoptees and the little girl would watch in horror as the adoptive parents bragged and got into pissing matches about how gifted their children were, or what adorable things they would do, or how assimilated they were.  they tried to get her interested in cultural matters about her birth country, but she could see they didn't really care if it was important to her or not - it was more an embellishment they wanted to appropriate for their souvenir.  the other adoptees seemed to be in various states of being opportunistic and spoiled, or confused, or like her, sad and disgusted and not wanting any part of the circus.

 she got taunted at school for looking different.  and it would literally follow her on her walk home from school.  from the moment she woke 'til the moment she closed her eyes, every human she saw was caucasion.  she felt caucasion.  but she was constantly told by others that she was different.  she looked in the mirror and was shocked to not see a caucasion face staring back at her.  this was her waking life.  at night were the continuing visits by her father.  she dreamed of airplanes arriving in america and she tried to turn the airplane around. it never did.  she was trapped.

What is an angry trapped adoptee to do, when no one believes an AP could ever do or cause harm to a child's mind or body?  Scream?

Then what?  This curious and angry adoptee, who has made several suicide attempts, wants to know.

Pound Pup Legacy