When dysfunctional APs affect the next generation

Today I received a phone call from my oldest who is away at college. She was very upset and in need of some extra support and empathy. The trigger? She received an e-card from my Amother... a Valentine wish, telling her how loved she is by her only known (and living) grandparents. How could this be an issue? Throughout my daughter's life, my Amother never showed a sincere interest in my daughter, or any of the other 3 children I have given birth to. The only time my Am would do something remotely "loving" or "grandmotherly"  for my own children is if she knew she was being watched by other family members, neighbors or friends.  In this particular case, my husband (in denial that some adoption issues do NOT go away, especially if the AP refuses to acknowledge there is a problem) made a call to my AMother, demanding she make an effort to keep in touch with ALL her grandchildren, not just the ones she has through her bio-son.  At first she denied she had a bias, but social networks, like Facebook, make it very clear she's lying.

Since my Amother has always owned a bias against the adopted child in her life, any and all "loving gestures"/"efforts" would always come off as being as sincere and filled with the depth of emotion as one would have when completing an annoying task found on a list of "Things to Do/Prove". My Amother's attempts to get close to me and my children have always been superficial at best, making the possibility to bond and love her, with sincere heart-felt emotion, impossible.

So today, my oldest got the email reminder that she has a "loving" grandmother who has never shown a sincere interest in her life.  In my daughter's mind, this disinterest can be seen and proven in all the photos that feature school, family, social events that "loving" grandma missed, but managed to attended and participated in when the same events involved her bio-grandchildren, of similar age. 

Today my daughter got the reminder that her grandmother is still up to her old tricks - she, as usual, is showing an insincere interest in only one side of the family - and she's only showing an interest because someone must be watching what Super Mother/Grandmother is doing these days to keep in touch with ALL of her grandchildren.  If there's one thing my AMother wants others to think it's this:  she treats both her bio son and her adopted daughter equally, and this equal-treatment extends to all the grandchildren -- each is given the same amount of love, support and interest, which has never been true.

Today my daughter got the reminder that her grandmother is not loving, not when it comes to the children produced by the adopted child. Instead, the grandmother she has, through adoption, is more interested in how she is perceived by others, and how her actions can help preserve her precious reputation.  

During the course of the very long and intense conversation with my daughter, we agreed, there needs to be a support group for those affected by the strange adoption issue that revolves around an adoptive parent's inability to bond with the adoptee.  This issue is made worse when that AP - that parent - CAN showing a very strong loving side.  The bias given towards biology is amazing, and yet there aren't many in or outside the adoption community who are willing to hear how this is a serious adoption issue.  It's an issue that makes the adopted-side of the family appear very angry and spiteful, incapable of love.  After all, it's very difficult having to explain to new friends, (who have loving families and loving extended family members), why a person may hate having contact with a mother/family member created through adoption.  It's very difficult explaining WHY  receiving any contact from an estranged adoptive family member is very upsetting and traumatizing, and triggering, especially when so many assume that person (that role) is in most cases, very loving and accepting.  [When is an adoptive parent ever seen as being less than ideal? ]

Fortunately, my children have me, the outspoken angry adoptee, to talk to and hear their vent.  I understand how such events (like a generic impersonal e-card from phantom grandma) can ruin an entire day, or more, because the insincerity of that gesture is written all over the ecard that asks nothing about the recipient's well-being.  [My daughter has been away from home, doing a stellar (Dean's List) job at a very prestigious college, for 5 months now.  Not once has her "loving/interested" grandmother asked her, via phone, email, or Facebook, "How are you adapting to college-life and being away from home?" Not once has my daughter received the same interest and attention her cousin, a year older, has received from the same grandmother.]

My children are lucky because they have me as I recognize the victim of a toxic relationship has a very strong need to be given the freedom to express the anger and grief that goes with the loss associated with a very dysfunctional/biased adoptive parent.  But how many children of the angry abused/unfavored adoptee have this support-system as a way to deal with the grief that comes with a very unhappy adoption experience?  

It's days and event like this that remind me:  I have a husband who does not understand many of the hard-core adoption issues that come with being adopted by abusive/negligent (unfit) APs, and this makes me realize, what happened to me didn't happen to just me; the dysfunction found in my own Afamily, has touched and affected the next generation, too.    I find allowing poor AP behavior to continue without speaking-up, is NOT OK.... and I wish more outside the abusive adoptive family relationship could see this simple truth:  just because one was able to adopt, that doesn't mean that person is a good fit parent, or loving grandparent to the children of the adoptee.


The affects of the adopted parent on the next generation.

I have discussed the affect my Adult Attachment Disorder has had on my children and our relationship, in the past. Since finding some of my biological family members, developing a relationship with them, and learning the reasons I was adopted, I have been much more capable of feeling "attached" to others. In fact, I am more attached to my biological grandson than his mother (my biological daughter) seems to be. I blame myself for this, because I was not able to establish that attachment with my daughter when she was young.

I only learned of and identified this "Adult Attachment Disorder" about 7 or 8 years ago, thanks to a counselor and this site. I have been trying to make up for what was missing in my relationship with my two daughters ever since. My other daughter is going to have her first child this September, so I will be finding out if her maternal bond has also been affected by our lack of attachment when she was young.

I have been very fortunate to get remarried to a wondeful man 9 years ago, following my divorce, whom I love dearly. He is very aware of my AAD, and has been very supportive of my locating my biological family and the developing relationships with them. He also has 2, now both adult, daughters. The oldest daughter has 2 children that I call my grandsons, but I am unable to feel anything for any of them, even today. I am quick to criticize them, but defend everything my own children or grandson do. I don't know if this is normal, or if it is as a result of my finding feelings for, and attachment with, my biological family so late in life. I don't want it to create a wedge in my relationship with my husband. I try to care about his family, and I think I show it most of the time, but it's not real. I do it for my husband. I have never been good at being something I'm not.

Please share any thoughts on these topics. I would also appreciate any suggestions, also.

attatchment, bonding, and loyalty

Great response, because you cover some things I myself have left-out.  [It's hard to post about a topic that is simple, and yet so friggen complex...]

I am more attached to my biological grandson than his mother (my biological daughter) seems to be. I blame myself for this, because I was not able to establish that attachment with my daughter when she was young.

I can easily understand how this would work.  My own Am told me it was easier to love her grandchildren than it was to love her kids.  I think much of that has to do with the fact that real responsibility is not needed with grandchildren.  Real responsibility is WORK, and with it, there comes a measure of resentment.  The very real stress of mothering and parenting is HUGE.  The responsibility does not end.  And I think, on some level as adoptees, we recognize there was a failure in our lives -- one... no...TWO... parents (at least) FAILED to provide for a child.  [That child, being Us].  I think it's easy for an adoptee as a parent to feel like a failure with that first generation.  There's just so much fucking learning and WORK!  How can anyone truly enjoy parenting, with so many ghosts, fears, and guilt?

Re: marital relationships, and beyond

I myself struggle with the labeling of attachement disorders.  I know I CAN attach and bond with others -- but that bond and trust, for me, is based on a measure of trust.  [Will that person be there when I am angry, mad, and hurting?  Will that person leave or lose interest once I stop serving?  Does this person know what it's like to have no roots..no family?]

I married a self-serving person who, to this day, does not know the first-thing about adoption and adoption issues.  After 20+ yrs of marriage, he still does not want to hear how my adoption has hurt and damanged me

Almost 10 yrs ago I met a man who not only knew a thing or two about adoption - and adoption issues -- but he understood/still understands my inability to relate to family-situations like a Normal Person.  This second man has been my life-source and inspiration, even if, at many times, he does not understand my love/hate relationship with many people, including myself and my own role in my own family.

It's hard to care about other people, especially if leaving another can be so easy and if there is no blood or sex relationship ... and yet it's also so hard to put feelings in moderation.  I have learned, in my case, there is love, there is hate, and then there is apathy.  Worst category to be in is Apathy.  [The opposite of love is NOT hate, it's apathy -- in order to love or hate, there needs to be a passion... in order to feel apathy?  There is nothing...]

If you feel a sense of competetion, (with SO's offspring), that tells me you feel a sense of passion... and ownership.  That says love to me.  It may be warped...it may be sick and unreasonable, demented, even, but it's SOMETHING.  And for people like us to feel SOMETHING... well, that's huge and great.  It says you ARE a Mom... and you own a sense of attachment with a twist of preference and loyalty.

In my book, that's good stuff.

That's really good stuff. 

Putting it into perspective.

This is why I love this site! Kerry, you have such wisdom, and a unique way of putting feelings into words. You are also very direct and truthful. I know exactly where to go when I need help sorting things out. Thanks for being here whenever I need you!


you're too kind.  But the many voices in my mind thank you.


Makes the case for proper and better screening of PAPs/APs all the more important.

ps- Kerry and Niels: I too am with the above poster thanking you. You both deserve a million thanks from all the people that you help and give insight to. Your dedication goes beyond the call the duty. A great big shout out for all to hear!

Screening is not enough

Sure, good careful screening of PAPs is critical, but I think in order for adoptees to learn how to love and bond with others, there needs to be more teaching within the Ahome, too.

I think all too often adoption agencies believe, because a person is willing to take in another person's child, that person is going to be a good role-model and parent.  These placement agencies forget, many times the Afamily gets broken by and through every-day occurrences like 2 working parents, divorce or the extreme use of punishment/discipline, as exampled in many of our abuse case-pages.  Family breakdown can happen in less obvious ways, too;  the Afamily can break-down simply because there is parental dissatisfaction felt within the home.  (How often does a child fail to meet the desires and expectations of a parent, adoptive or not?)

I believe, If anyone is going to be more sensitive to family-breaking dynamics, it's going to be the child who has been taken away and given a new home... and promised a better more stable loving future.  In some cases, the Ahome IS an improvement, but in many cases, the long-term dysfunction can be equally bad, or even worse, depending on each adoptive parent's family history.... and how the children were treated by the parents.

In other words, I believe there is extra pressure on APs to be exceptionally good parents...and this begins with an expectional special mother...one who will not fail the child who has been failed before. Adoption agencies not teaching this need for the child are failing their adoptees.

You see, I think on some basic cellular level, the adoptee is already expecting a breakdown in the mother-child relationship.  Unless that AMother is among the most patient self-less women in the world, that relationship, by nature cannot be trusted.  Just because an AMother was a good mom for the first few weeks, months or years, that does not mean that Amother met the needs of the adoptee.  It takes more than a maternity-leave or 5 or 10 or even 20 years for an adoptee to learn how to truly love and trust the role of a good "forever" parent.  

If the adoptee is not taught by long-term example, (a parent-figure should never give-up on parenting, no matter how hard or difficult parenting can be or get), how is that adoptee going to learn how to be a good always-present/available parent to his or her own children?  How is that adoptee going to learn it's best NOT to leave, and turn-off, when times get tough?

Sure, many of us adult adoptees have endured the act of parenthood, and some of us have even been pretty good at being a present loving parent, but I must say, based on my own experience, parenting my own kids has raised far too many ghosts and triggers for my own good.  The job of always-availablemothering has rendered me more tired and exhausted, and depressed, more so than any other job I have had because as I do for my own kids, I am so often reminded of my own parents...my own mothers, and all that I did not have, for myself.  Because of this constant "reminder" dynamic, I am often feeling like a huge failure to my myself and my own kids.  I may have never left my kids, but boy can I count how many times I wish I did!!  How does a woman with children not feel awful about herself when she thinks and feels this?

And so I look to my own mothering role-model:  What do I know about being a mother, other than, when times get tough, mothers (and fathers) give up and leave, for good?  Is it possible to be be a good mom and NOT feel so depressed and exhausted, and digusted, all the time?  Why is it so easy to leave, and yet so damn hard to stay, and feel love?

It's a hard battle for many of us not given the gift of a loving always-present-when-most-needed mommy:  mothering like one was never mothered before is HARD.  It's physically and emotionally debilitating... and very few people NOT let-go by first-parents are able to appreciate just how deep the abandoning mother-wound can be.

Mothering, good quality mothering, for decades at a time, is a lot of thankless work.  PAPs need to know just how long and thankless good mothering WILL be.... and how much it really matters... and hurts, for generations, if it is not offered and provided, properly.  

Prospective adoptive parent

I came to this site accidentally and now, I'm not sure if I am pleased or saddened . I am not an adpotee but rather a prospective adoptive mom. Reading the posts on your site makes me think that there's no way for me or any other prospective adoptive parent be a good parent in the eyes of the adopted child - especially as we are looking to adopt an older child (8-17) from the state foster care system. If the child has bonded with the foster parents then I would be taking him or her away from that - how would I know? We have the time, willingness and financial means to adopt but now maybe we shouldn't. We know it will be tough at times and have no expectation of a perfect family - they don't exist . But good relationships do exist and that is really our focus. Both my husband and I are firm believers in taking people as they are. Everyone is different and quirky and that's a good thing. We're up for therapy, counseling or anything else that would help us be good parents but it doesn't seem like that will be enough. Any thoughts?

A couple of things...

Hi Stephanie, thank you for your post and your invitation to discuss what makes a good AP.

I can understand how a PAP who has put some serious thought into adption can find PPL a bit... discouraging and depressing.

We feature really sad and depressing circumstances and situations for a reason. We maintain this focus not to discourage the right people from getting involved in child-centric family services; we maintain this focus because we believe those within the adoption industry - and out - ought to see what it is so many children in-care (waiting for their "Forever Families") are facing.

Just yesterday one of the mot horrific abuse cases I have read in a while was posted. See: http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/56730

After reading what that child has been through... one has to seriously think: What will become of the boy who was brainwashed into thinking pedophelia is normal? How many are fit and trained to take good care of that one single child? [.... and how many in the US care-system are very much like him?]

It scares me knowing some agencies will take a child like that, and try to insist the profoundly abused and scarred child is adoptable. It scares me knowing some agencies will try to pawn-off very traumatized children onto unsuspecting PAPs with zero-training... because for each adoption, there comes an enormous "fee for service". And it scares me knowing some agencies would send a child like that to live with another abusive parent-figure.... because with each adoption-process there comes a list of requirements that require outsourced review and recommendation... and payment.

Personally, I think a good AP is one who understands his or her own limits. I think a good AP is one who has taken the time to learn about the effects of stress and trauma on a child's growth and development, (and ability to learn) -- well before any foster/adoptable child is introduced to him/her.  [I wrote more on this, here.] Finally, I think a good AP needs to be better, stronger, and more forgiving than a bio-parent. That's just my own POV.

Conversely, I think a bad AP is one who simply doesn't THINK about what adoption means to a child, or what it is that child REALLY needs. A bad AP, for instance, is one who breaks the toddler's legs and arm because the little girl was being an annoying brat during potty training. See what I mean? [Our abuse archives feature a lot of poor adoptive parent training and planning.]

I think if you want to be a good AP, you need to demand the agency you choose will prepare and train you. A good PAP will demand the agency that will be used will educate ALL family-members involved in the child's care for the myriad of medical and emotional issues each adopted child has to face. Last but not least, a good PAP will understand and respect the need for long-term post-placement monitoring.

Like I said, I believe the AP must be better, stronger and more forgiving than a bio-parent. I think the good AP understands this is just how it has to be, for the adoptee.

DING DING DING we have a winnah

Personally, I think a good AP is one who understands his or her own limits.

Omg! this cannot be stressed enough - not just for APs but all P's.

A long time ago, I was in a conversation with my GF who asked me, somewhat hostilely why I think AP's adopt. I told her, honestly I don't know - particularly in cases where the children end up abused, kicked out, killed, sent back, used in porn rings, etc. There can be a million reasons and motivations, all in combination/permutation with each other, and often some quite self-serving and narcissistic. She is a bioparent (not of adoptees - she has 2 kids with an ex husband.) I then asked her why she thinks bio parents have children when they don't have to, answering my own question with the idea that there are also many multiple motivations for doing so. It was probably not the best response at that moment -- and happened long before we started going out -- but only to say that "in the best interests of the child" are probably the 7 most heinously-abused words in the English language.

not so simple

I then asked her why she thinks bio parents have children when they don't have to, answering my own question with the idea that there are also many multiple motivations for doing so

The assumption being made here is like adoption, pregnancy is a choice.

Sometimes unexpected/unplanned pregnancies take place.

I for one gave birth to unexpected twins.  It was a Planned Pregnancy, with an unexpected stow-away.  It happens.

Meanwhile, for the life of me, I cannot think of an example where an adoption can be "an accident".

"Choice" in the sense of...

I spoke of it as a choice since for a generation now we haven't lived in a society that forces women to carry children to term, and generally imo values reproductive freedom over complusory childbirth or in the case of the PRC, one-child/forced abortion policy.

In my view -- and speaking in a US context -- there are tons and tons of communities who hold as a religious, ethical, or cultural principle that a woman must bear a child if she ends up pregnant. Individual women agree with it, live by it, and/or have whatever complicated, situational relationship to that idea that may arise. I feel that is their absolute right - thank god tmk only the PRC government actively takes away that right.

And yeah, certainly no one forces anyone to adopt, ever. It's never unplanned, and boy howdy we never hear the end of it, from some Aparents :/

My point was more that this notion that people adopt basically out of selfless motives is a fallacy and propaganda. FTR, I don't think bio parents have kids out of those motivess, either -  even moreso in the cases where the "choice" so-called really isn't one, after all. It is a different decision-making set.

Going O/T

Sadly, there is no generation not touched by forced pregnancy or reproductive exploitation

Just yesterday, in Ohio,  the pro-life/pro-adoption camp claimed forced pregnancy is best, for all involved. 

Clearly these advocates who oppose the right to choose have never been adopted and abused.

Pound Pup Legacy