I will do my best to share from a place of grace because a lot is on the line here, but I also refuse to sugarcoat things to make them comfortable for anyone who reads this article. Hopefully, I can reach a middle ground that relays the message yet shares what is at stake in an upfront way.
The lives of adopted individuals are in a crisis, and there is no time to wait in sharing this truth or to ponder on those who might take this article as a slap in the face or offensive.
First things first, this article is for anyone who knows and loves an adopted individual and for those who can step into their shoes to try to gain a level of understanding that adoption might not be all you have known it to be.
Do you have the emotional and mental capacity to do that?
Are you open-minded and can see that other perspectives are entirely possible?
If the answer is “YES,” Please continue.
If you can’t do that, don’t bother reading any further.
Your time will be wasted.
This information is for those who want to learn and those who can see beyond their own level of experience, knowledge, and understanding.
My entire life, I’ve been silenced, shut down, and ridiculed by non-adopted individuals, and I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of seeing my fellow adoptees treated this way, and I can’t help but wonder if people understand the depts of their words and actions? Do they know their responses to us sharing feelings could be a life or death response from the adoptee?
Adoptees are DYING!
I can’t help but give some of these people the benefit of the doubt that it’s not just adopted people they treat this way, but all people because they never learned the actual value of acknowledging someone’s feelings, sitting with others in their sadness, and also having empathy for others and trying to understand their viewpoints. I have learned the hard way, this is a gift, and not everyone has it.
I have recently seen an adoptee share a meme (see below) on a social media post, and a long-time friend & family member decided to post a comment on the meme. This is what they said, “I don’t get it. Would you have rather grown up in an orphanage or foster care?” This reminds me of all the times we get, “Would you rather have been aborted?” or the infamous “You should be thankful you were adopted!”
I couldn’t help but jump in and go to the defense of this young lady, who is a fellow adoptee, because his comment struck a chord with me. Even when the meme said, “Adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide – Listen before its too late,” and he still didn’t have the common sense that it was OBVIOUS that the adoptee shared this for very valid and legit reasons. Gaslighting her into feeling bad about sharing it was an awful thing to do. Talk about insensitive and offensive to the adoptee experience, yet how many adoptees experience this daily?
If we emerge from the fog and start sharing our feelings, we are always in fear someone will jump on us or tell us we’re ungrateful, and it can and does cause us to shrink back from sharing our truth.
My point in sharing here is that you have no idea what it feels like to be an adoptee if you aren’t adopted. You don’t have a clue about the complexities that we carry around with us daily. You have two choices. To listen and try to learn from us OR you can turn the other way and ignore us like we’re the ungrateful adoptees the world says we are. BUT YOU WILL NOT continue to gaslight us and minimize our pain and suffering when it takes us our whole lives to get to a space where we feel confident enough to share our feelings.
I know so many adoptees who have been on the edge of taking their own lives at various times in their lives. I am one of those adoptees. But, unfortunately, one friend or a family member can say something that literally can and will and has sent an adoptee over the edge of taking their own life, and there is no coming back. It happens all the time!
It blows me away that even when this meme says what it says, this individual had to insert his ignorant and self-serving comment without ever asking the adoptee, “Hey, I’m wondering if you can help me understand this better? I would love to learn from you!”
I wrote an article back in 2014 – Just Listen, That is All. But if you want to do the world a favor, try to LEARN something new while you listen to adoptees share their experiences. It truly is a humbling thing when we come to a place in life where we acknowledge and accept that we don’t know everything and we can learn a lot of things from other people.
If you have made it this far and are a friend or family member of an adopted person, thank you for reading. I would like to invite you not to comment when an adoptee shares feelings unless it’s coming from a place of support and understanding. What would you do if your comment was the breaking point for that person, and it was the last straw for them to feel once again invalidated, unheard and unacknowledged? You would have to live with that for the rest of your life, and there is no bringing that adoptee back.
Like the meme says, LISTEN BEFORE ITS TOO LATE!
How hard is it?
TOO HARD FOR SOME PEOPLE!
National Adoption Awareness Month is coming up, and so is Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th, and a lot of adoptees will be sharing feelings, thoughts, and emotions during these times. I invite everyone reading to try to understand the WHYS better when adoptees share how they are feeling.
It costs nothing to be a kind and empathetic human being.
I am thankful you are here for the adoptees who have made it this far because I want to invite you to cut these insensitive and harmful people out of your life. You do not need anyone in your life who tries to shut you down, silence you, and minimize your legitimate feelings. I encourage you to block, ban and delete anyone who can’t create space for you to share your story and emotions. Those are not your people, and it might be hard but do it anyway. You deserve to have people in your life who are understanding and empathetic for you and all that you carry. Allowing harmful people in your life will not serve you well in the long run.
Family or not, they have to go.
Put yourself first, and set firm boundaries.
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*The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova