Playing International Adoption Problems: An Adoptee Interview

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Uploaded on Feb 27, 2011

In this eye opening interview, author Peter Dodds who was adopted from an orphanage in Germany, describes harm caused when children are uprooted from their native countries and cultures.

Dodds' opinion includes his POV on the rights of children, (as outlined by the UNCRC), forced adoption, an adoptee's unwillingness to bond to his APs, and how infrequently these critical topics and issues are addressed by the pro ICA community.

In terms of finding "alternative solutions" for children in-care, Dodds responds, "the solution is already in place".  Measures to improve domestic care  ought to come from improved domestic champaigns, supported by large popular charities, like World Vision, and United Nation's Children's Fund.

[Note how many times he is interrupted by the other guest]


More on the history of child placement from Germany can be found here:


"not belonging" v. forced to belong

In the angry-circles, feeling as if one "didn't belong" is a frequent complaint made by the adoptee.  However, unless one is the by-product of a trans-racial adoption,  much of this sentiment-sharing will go dismissed, or under attack, on forums/media pieces that promote adoption. 

Oddly enough, with the advent of "cultural sensitivity" and "awareness" programs in schools and work-places, today's AP seems to think Heritage Camps in local towns, or trips back to the Motherland are all that's needed to help fill one of many gaps ICA produces in the foreign-born adoptee.

Maybe I'm over-sensitive, and over-critical, but I find the Americanized Heritage Camps and touristy trips to popular sending countries very insulting.  Often times, these programs glorify and glamorize certain traditions, (enabling the easy-sale of some ridiculous souvenirs), and still minimize the uglier side to a given government/religious group that was (and still may be) very brutal and hostile to those social groups that did not toe the acceptable line. 

I believe Peter Dodds does a great job introducing the idea that the feelings associated with "not fitting-in" within a certain group can apply to any adoptee... especially if that adoptee comes from another country/culture, and the Afamily chosen for that child is not that warm and tolerant toward others because in-private, the family, as a group, owns a measure of  bigotry, racism, (phobia), and/or a sense of superiority over other religions or nationalities.

I myself grew-up in an Afamily that was split, yet whole.  One half  of the entire family would claim Italians had the best culture and traditions in the world.  The other half of the entire family believed only the white Catholic Irish had real worth in society.  Both sides of my extended Afamily saw white Americans as the superior race/people.  Both groups spoke behind the backs of those not like them, and the worst insult my Afather could say about a person is that person is "unAmerican". 

As one who was born in Canada, with French and Ukrainian blood in me, I didn't quite fit the match made by an adoption agency.  Adoption itself left me with a feeling of shame, but added to that baseline was the feeling that I was ugly and different... "less-than" anyone else in my chosen Afamily, even the ones most relative made fun of.  I always resented being shown over and over again, by various living examples, (like getting less than others), I was not at all an equal or like those around me. 

In my case, what made me "different" was I knew maybe a little more than what I should have known throughout my childhood.  I knew I was the rare healthy adopted white girl, (I was not Asian, or brown, like the only other adoptees I ever saw or knew)  I knew I was not only not wanted by my own family... but I was not wanted by my own country filled with white people.  What was wrong with me, and why did Americans have to "save" me?  Was it true....? Only Americans "could do so much better" than those ["stupid backward"] Canadians we hear about in jokes referring to Canadians)?

I think on some level, every child born outside of the USA and brought into an American adoptive family can identify with what it means to be American, and what it means to be NOT American.  As foreigners, we were born as "less-thans", and as foreigners, we should be grateful our own country-people sent us out  - and away -  to the Great Promised Land, which in many cases, is not nearly as great as one might want to think.

Personally, I liked what Peter had to say; it's good to hear a white man adopted by a white family discuss how inter-country adoption can make one feel like an outsider, even if and when that adopted child has been told how "chosen" that child was, thanks to adoption.  Sometimes, while on the surface, a child looks like he or she "belongs", that child knows deep deep inside, "I will never belong to this group".  [This is how I felt my entire life... "I don't belong with these people".... that is, until I detached myself from my dysfunctional Afamily, and created by own family, following my own rules and traditions.]  I think this not feeling right about the given situation can most definitely affect the way in which the adopted child bonds and attaches to the Afamily, as a whole

For many of us, being chosen in not as great as it may sound at first.  Being chosen by those who act as thought they are doing a child a major favor (by letting them "in") is no party or reason to celebrate.  Many times, the "chosen" Afamily for an adopted child is NOT loving, supportive, and all-accepting when it comes to an adopted child's origins and private beliefs.  As a result, it's easy to see how having no choice is not a reward.  Having no choice is not a gift.  Having to be forced to do something... conform and assimilate... it's not a blessing, especially if you yourself are very much against what is being taught to the next generation. 

The natural consequence to all of this force found in a situation is this:  It's not easy bonding to or loving those you'd never choose for yourself.  In fact, I strongly believe, when forced to do something... like care and love another.... it's quite easy to learn how to resent and hate.

Peter Dodds

He is so bitter -- he can learn German and live in Germany if he wants to. I think he can't accept that his mother gave him away. He states that poverty can easily be solved. Not the case -- and he holds on to the hope that his mother abandoned him because of money problems. It's hard to reconcile that that I was not wanted. My mother was a bad person. It's something that crosses my mind but I'm over it. Can't change the past. Though it is interesting to hear from an educated professional who had RAD. It persists in his life as he comes across so cold and self-possessed!

An adoptee's POV

I'm curious: are you an American adoptee born outside of the USA?

Do you know much in terms of the history of "charity" as it has been used against unwed mothers, by many churches and governments, around the world?
In many cases, ICA became the direct result of bogus "humanitarian" efforts -- efforts that required the sale of children to wanting/"desperate" Americans, all as some sort of bargaining chip for future financial aid, or amnesty. Since the adoptee you find so offensive is from Germany, try not to forget how Germany had to rebuild itself, economically, after WWII.

Sure, as an adult, an adoptee can live where ever he or she wants, within financial reason. But choosing one's living location and situation is not a choice or option for an adopted child to consider. For many of us, being shipped-off and out is an insult and injury that requires grieving and reconciliation... a process that takes time, education, and some additional outside emotional support.

For many of us ICA adoptees, the history of ICA in a given motherland is very distressing!

With that, what is so terribly wrong with an adult adoptee voicing a dislike for the country and family chosen for him? I hear bio-kids complaining about their parents all the time. Why is it when an adoptee voices a similar displeasure or disappointment, that person is labeled as "cold and self-possessed"?

Adoptees's POV

Yes I was left in front of City Hall in Soeul, Korea. I don't consider myself Korean. The location where I was born is of no consequence to me. What is important is that I joined a loving family and had opportunities to reach my full potential. I've been reading this informative site because we are considering IA. Very nervous that we would adopt a child that will resent us. That would be the ultimate heartbreak.


I am glad you find PPL informative. PPL exists because there's an alarming amount of corruption within the adoption industry, and there are far too many adopted children who are not as lucky as you. PPL exists because, sadly, not every child "chosen" for adoption is put in a home where each parent is educated, prepared, and not afraid to be human.

It's my personal wish every PAP took the time to peruse our pages, and review the many cases and critical adoption issues featured in our many archives. I believe the Abuse Archives alone provide ample reason and example WHY an adopted child may grow to resent not only his/her own parents (bio AND adopted), but resent various members of the clergy, the government, and of course, various members of child protection/placement agencies/services.

As an adoptee who worked very hard and learned how to work-through my own anger and resentment, while learning how to parent, with love and not violence, I have the following to offer, with sincerity, not snottiness: There are many reasons why a child (bio or adopted) may resent a parent (bio or adopted). If you are afraid of being resented (by your own child), and consider "resentment from a child" a parent's ultimate heartbreak, do yourself a huge favor, don't have kids. If you are afraid of your child not liking you, or finding fault in your choices and decisions , don't become a parent.


Kerry, once again I agree with everything you've said and applaud you for saying, it, especially your first post above. I'm serious, I think every sentence is insightful and dead-on.

I understand what you are saying about not taking the risk of being an adoptive parent if one can't handle the possibility of being resented. Even non-adopted teenagers typically resent their parents, even non-adopted kids will cry out "I hate you!" to their parents when they are angry, as a parent one has to have thick skin.

But I also think that Suzanne makes a valid statement above when she writes "Very nervous that we would adopt a child that will resent us. That would be the ultimate heartbreak." It's only natural that any parent who truly loves their kids would be heartbroken if the kids resented them for long periods (I mean more than the temporary resentment associated with being punished or not allowed to do something the kid wants to do). This happens in non-adoptive families as well as adoptive and I believe that heartbreak is a legitimate response. It hurts to love and to not be loved in return.

What we cannot forget is that EVERYONE has free will. Not only adoptive parents and people who work in the adoption industry, but adopted people as well. Yes, many adopted people have had it pretty rough. Yes there is a lot to be angry about. Yes, abuse is inexcusable. But for each and every one of us, resentment is in many ways a choice. We all know people who choose to be victims in their mentality. Who prefer to see the whole world as being against them. Who hold on to resentment and blame everyone else for their problems. If someone takes on the task of parenting, they do have to be prepared that their child might ultimately choose that path. They have to do everything they can to prevent their child from wanting to choose that path, but all the same, some people will choose it. And this skews the picture. Just because someone hates the world and hates their parents, it doesn't always mean that the parents are totally at fault. Sometimes the adopted child is so angry at their bio parents and at what happened before they were adopted, that they can't get past their anger to see any good in other people. Some children who lose their parents to illness or death are angry with God and by extension the whole world. So the question is, is it really always everyone else's fault? Or at some point, during the process of growing up and maturing, do we have to choose to let go of the anger, to see the good in others, to acknowledge that people tried to help us and tried to do right by us even if they weren't perfect? I've read enough of your own posts to know that you get what I'm talking about. You have done the very difficult work in your own life of understanding and letting go of your own anger. And you certainly had the right to have that anger. I'm not talking about forgiving and forgetting and pretending evil didn't happen. The person who abused me did an evil thing and to diminish that or not acknowledge that would be wrong.

I have lots of friends with troubled pasts. One thing that has always been interesting to me is how people react to those pasts and move on from them. I have one friend from college who was really horrifically abused. The few things he told me about his childhood were so heartbreaking and awful. But he became such a kind and intelligent and warm and loving adult. Yes he still has issues but I love him so much and he radiates goodness, and a fair amount of happiness mixed with the sadness. Then I had another friend a few years later who also had a bad childhood but nowhere near as bad by objective standards as the first. This second friend had an attitude of victimhood, entitlement and blamed everyone else for his problems. He was cynical, suspicious, and found it difficult to see the good in others. No matter what I did for him he was always suspicious of my motives and assumed the worst. He was also dishonest, took advantage of others, and was violent and cruel. I had to break off the friendship, but initially I was drawn to him because in his pain he reminded me of the first friend. Ultimately one friend fought his demons and grew while the other gave in to them and shrunk. As a parent, friend or anyone who cares for another person, of course it is heartbreaking to see those that we care about go down that second path.

There are many people in my life who I can see choose to be resentful over things that are imaginary. Perceiving slights where none were intended... I know plenty of adults who, rather than stating their needs or desires clearly and straightforwardly, expect others to be mind readers and get angry and insulted when those people don't behave they way they want them to. Being the object of such resentment tears the heart apart. But even being a third party, uninvolved but observing someone I care about forming these negative opinions about someone else for no good reason, is painful, and makes me feel like I'm living in an Alice-in-Wonderland irrational world. When I care about someone, it hurts to see them perpetuate their own pain and suffering needlessly. Children who are full of anger and resentment probably have a good reason for it. They need understanding, support and help. But once we become adults, whether we received help in childhood or not, at what point does it become our own responsibility to choose to see the good in those who love us, and to love them back despite their flaws?

That said, I agree that you are right in your last sentence above. Every child, adopted or not, has to go through the stage where they stop seeing their parent as an always-right superhuman, and start realizing that even their parents are human and fallible. Usually this is accompanied by a stage of anger and resentment that eventually passes with maturity into acceptance and an ability to separate from the parent and see both the good and the bad more objectively. Parents have to understand that this is an important and necessary part of growing up.

I wonder if, in your response to Suzanne, you are saying that if she adopts and her adopted child resents and dislikes her, then it would probably be her own fault for being an unlikeable person, or a bad parent. Or if you are saying that if her adoptive child resents her it will be because there would have been a better alternative for that child than being adopted and the child is aware of that, so the parents are at fault for adopting him. Or if you are saying that she might end up being a very good parent, and love her adopted child very much, but the child will still end up hating her and he is justified in hating her because adoption sucks. In that last case, it seems that due to an unlucky fate of birth - being born to abusive or drug addicted parents, or losing their parents to death, the child is doomed to a lifetime of resentment and anger, because nothing can ever outweigh that initial abandonment by their bio parents, no matter how much they are loved by others afterward.

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