“Well, Joan is a close friend of mine from church, and she adopted two daughters from overseas in the 1980s, and they don’t seem to have any of the issues you are speaking about. On the contrary, they seem pretty thankful and happy that they are adopted.”
I can’t even express how many times I’ve heard this in my life from people who likely mean well. But, unfortunately, it’s usually when I share something that is not in alignment with the popular narrative of how adoption is viewed, and/or I share some of the heartache and pain many adoptees (including myself) experience in their journey.
Before every adoption takes place, the separation from one’s biological mother is a traumatic experience, and it goes unrecognized most of the time. But, unfortunately, this is sometimes the most significant trauma of the adopted person’s life, and it can and does impact us for our entire lifetimes. So, how can an adoptee heal when our trauma is celebrated worldwide?
Once adopted, those layers only add to the layer of trauma from maternal separation from our biological mothers. I feel confident in sharing that I genuinely think most people have no idea about the impacts of maternal separation and how the complexities can echo in the adopted individual’s life for years to come. It not only impacts the adoptee’s life for years to come, but it impacts future generations as well. But once you know the truth, you can’t unknow the truth. Of course, you can choose to ignore it, but that has long-term consequences for the adopted individuals in your life.
When someone knows of a “well-rounded” adoptee, they feel the need to speak up and share that they know ONE adoptee who doesn’t have any issues with being adopted. I look at this type of comment as a silencer statement. In other words, when someone says this to an adoptee or about an adoptee, they know I feel their knowledge sharing is meant to trump whatever painful piece to the adoptee experience I am sharing.
I will be candid. I can’t speak for all adoptees, but I can say that by building relationships with hundreds, if not thousands of adoptees worldwide for 10+ years, I have yet to meet an adopted adult who has ZERO issues with being adopted. They are why I keep writing and why I keep sharing, it’s for them.
Most of the time, when I communicate with adoptees, they share that they have never let their adoptive parents or family know how they truly feel because the risk is too consequential. However, we also have to consider that if the adopted person is a child or someone who’s not “out of the fog,” the information shared on their behalf isn’t necessarily accurate. Children can’t tap into sharing feelings about separation trauma, and they don’t know how to articulate feelings they are having that are so complex. They need the adults in their life to help them, but that is an impossible feat as long as all the adults in their life are convinced “Little Johnny and Jane are fine, just fine with being adopted.”
Adults in contact with the adopted child are responsible for researching separation trauma and coming to a space of acceptance that it exists. This is the ONLY way the adopted child will express feelings of grief, loss, and sadness. I have said for many years that every adoptive parent should become a specialist in how to help children process grief, and I recommend the grief recovery method. Why? Because the sooner we start to process the grief from all of the loss of our biological connections and history, the sooner we begin to heal. The only way this will happen is if every adoptive parent chooses to step out of denial that maybe “Johnny and Jane aren’t fine, just fine.” I completely recognize how difficult this might be as a parent; however, if you want to save your adopted child’s life, you will start to learn more about helping them grieve before it’s too late. Trust me when I tell you, I know so many adoptees who have spent their lives just wanting to DIE because they don’t have a way to process the pain; the world won’t listen. They think dying would be easier than living with the neverending doom of sadness that separation trauma, compacted by adoption trauma, brings.
One of the first things I recommend is that all parties do extensive research on how important the bond is between a biological mother and her child. Then, read, read and read more. Look up attachment disruption and learn as much as you can. This has helped me understand what I lost and what has always been missing from my life.
Without this knowledge, I would have never known. One of the books that helped me understand how impactful the bond between a mother and a baby is Babies Remember Birth by David Chamberlain.
Searching the internet, you can find many articles about attachment disruption and the consequences that follow that have lifelong implications. For example, read The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier.
But, let me also share, you cannot guarantee that a child will attach and bond with the adoptive mother. I know hundreds of adoptees who have never bonded with their adoptive mothers, and the mother wound x2 causes immeasurable damage to the adopted person and lasts a lifetime.
We must recognize that the separation trauma exists, whether the adopted person “seems like they are fine, just fine” or not. Unfortunately, one of the most horrendous things that the adoption agencies and adoption officials have done is normalize maternal separation as if the trauma of this life-altering event doesn’t even exist. Not only are they ignoring it exists, but they aren’t providing the adoptive parents with resources on how to navigate the waters. It’s honestly offensive and monstrous because these agencies and adoption officials are often familiar with these dynamics. Still, they choose to turn a blind eye because they profit from separating mothers and babies.
For all those who continue to share the narrative that “My Friend Has an Adopted Child, and They Don’t Have Any Issues With Being Adopted,” I ask you to please get to know more adult adoptees. (not adopted children)
Please attempt to sit down with them and listen to their stories. Consider that your friend’s adopted child likely wouldn’t tell their adoptive parents how they feel. Ponder that a child can’t usually find the complex language that aligns with the multi-faceted layers of the adoptee experience. Think about the very nature of them being adopted and how it is celebrated worldwide. How could they tap into real feelings when they have been conditioned to be grateful they were adopted?
And how many adoptees do you know that seem to have no issues with it? One or two, you say? Well, I suggest you try to hear the stories from anywhere from five to ten adoptees, and then let’s see if you have the same opinions. As I already shared, I’ve gotten to know adoptees personally all over the world, and not one of them has said they are “fine, just fine” with being adopted.
It’s not even as much about the one adoptee who’s “fine just fine” with being adopted as society at large does not know how to acknowledge and accept the fact that they have been sold an award-winning LIE when it comes to adoption. That’s where people get uncomfortable.
Well, let me make a declaration for 2022 and share that we’re tired of hearing you say, “your friend adopted a child, and they are fine, just fine.” It minimizes the real adoptee experience, and let’s be completely honest. You have no idea what that adoptee feels, so please stop saying these things to adoptees you meet in life. It’s harmful, and it’s hurtful. If you insist on speaking for adoptees, at least consider putting in the work and sitting down and having a real heart to heart and hearing the absolute truth from an adult adoptee and not just one or two. Talk to many. Learn to be comfortable with difficult conversations. Then and maybe then will you have a truthful opinion that might be valid to share?
Thank you for reading.
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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
22 thoughts on “My Friend Has an Adopted Child, and They Don’t Have Any Issues With Being Adopted”
You express what so many adopted people cannot express — feelings and thoughts put into words. Excellent writing!
Thank you so much, I have a running list of topics to write about. I hear this stupid comment so much, I thought it was worthy to write about it. I am so sick of hearing this! UGGH!
Very well stated. As a 73 year old adoptee this resonates with me. The sister who found me, also an adoptee, doesn’t even understand the trauma she’s been living with. When I was a child I recall putting my arm around the leg of a man who had come to help my “dad”. I realize now that I was looking for the nurturing connection that I was not getting in my home. After being found, at 32 years old, I was angry at my birth mother and now I know why.
Thank you so much for sharing here with me, and for having a chance to read the article.
It’s so wild to know that so many adoptees go to their graves and never make the connections you are speaking about. We now know, that adoption and relinquishment trauma can and do impact every areas of our lives. I think so much about the forgotten adoptees, who never had the knowledge, resources, tools or connections with other adoptees to be able to heal from these areas.
I can so relate to that experience on looking for a nurturing connection, it is so deep to the core of our being. I can so relate to that anger, I have been processing that for 47 years, but now at this stage of my life and all the work towards healing, my anger seems to have subsided a bit (anger can be healthy if used in a beneficial way) and my tears have dried up for the most part. But I will always be impacted by adoption, but I am able to find joy in life, outside of that. I am so glad that at 73, you are here sharing pieces of your story. Thank you for that! ❤
I was adopted from a Catholic home for unwed mothers. I have such sorrow and heartache from being adopted. I tried to destroy myself as a teen.
TI am so sorry, I so get what you mean and where you are coming from. Adoption is hard and messy. I am thinking of you!!! How old are you now? ❤
As a parent waiting to adopt I did my homework. I read everything I could find on adoption trauma, bonding/attachment disorder, available treatment options, techniques to help a traumatized child deal with the pain and issues etc. It left me totally unprepared for the happy well adjusted baby I brought home. My teenage child is rocking life and while I still continue provide opportunities to share her feelings, I am starting to relax a bit. Lets not forget, every child is unique.
I think it’s wonderful you did the work, researched and learned as much as possible before adopting. I’m sure that’s been a great service to her along the way, and also makes you more prepared than most if anything should arise. I’m so happy to hear she’s rocking at life, and hopefully she will continue to do that. Keep reading and learning and being a source of light and truth to other adoptive parents. You might be the one person that shifts things in their perspective and in return add truth to the dialogue that might never surface otherwise. My hope is more adoptive parents follow your footsteps to learn, and help understand relinquishment trauma, as well as adoption trauma. You are so right, every child is unique and every adoption story is so complicated. 🤍
Hi Pam, Two moms are not easy to have…. Both assumed Id be AOK with the “adoption plan”. I guess in the end they both lose out on my true self – which is tragically sad for all three of us. In order for me to be free I had to grieve them both even though they are both alive. Its the toughest thing I ever had to do to be me. Jennifer Vroon
Many hugs to you!
Is this your submission?
Yes it is my submission
You hit the nail on the head I the feeling of not noing where you come from neverfitted in not noing where you are going tock me to this day to get some sort of peace had one person that believed in me I drank at a early age before I was 16 I was dependent on alchol smoking at the age of 5 I found out my mum lived 10 miles away from me I thought she just abandoned me I was wrong it was in the 60s she was 15 wen she had me she got put in a home the nuns of Nazareth nnnsaneemore
You nailed it. I will be 65 this 4th of July. People, in general, do not understand adoption. I have had a life of it, believe me.
Thank you for your amazing information
You are more than welcome! XOXO P
My life as an adoptee was great or so I thought until my dad (one who adopted me but always considered him my dad) retired from the Navy after 30 years and we ended up moving back to my Mom’s home town where her family lived. Up until then my dad had been transferred quite a bit and we moved alot. I loved the world traveling. My parents had always told me if I ever wanted to search for birth family they would help me. It wasn’t a conversation we never had. It was an open and honest one. I had no desire to search. I felt very happy UNTIL we moved here to PA. That is when for the first time in my 16 years I ever felt that I don’t belong in this family. My Aunt would always treat me different than the other cousins saying you’re not like so and so. I listened to this for many many years. I never told anyone. Not even my mom or dad. One time my mom heard her say this to me. Grabbed my hand. Went home. She called her brother after she asked me how long have comments like this have been going on. I told her years. Told her brother (my uncle). It caused problems. From that moment on I just felt like I didn’t belong. Fast forward. My mom died in 1985. Dad died in 1987. Searched for birth family 20+ years after they died. Searched for health reasons. Turned out to be more. Found that I have four 100% blood sisters and brothers. Birth Mother died in 2006 . Birth dad died in 2010. I was a secret that was to stay a secret. No one knew about me. Well except the Aunt that hid my bm in her house while she was pregnant with me. She admitted everything to me. Fast forward again. No one on my birth mothers side want to meet me. They want nothing to do with me. Said that if Verna (my bm) wanted them to know about me she would have told them. So, once again I am not wanted. My birth fathers side has been welcoming for the most part. I still don’t feel like there is anywhere I really belonged. So, I did really think I was fine until being adopted got thrown in my face and I was treated different.
This is so sad. I am heartbroken for you. I can totally see how things would seem great, and this would cause a great shift in things. So much hurt and rejection. It takes a lot to process all of this, and to heal. And sometimes, complete healing isn’t always possible because the wounds are just too deep.
But the good part is, once we learn to acknowledge the pain, and welcome it we learn to sit with it and process it. Sharing it (like you have here) also helps. And in time, it does get easier. For me, the key was to accept the pain was here to stay, and allow it to visit when it comes, instead of run from it. We might be sitting with it for a lifetime, but the reality is that the adoptee experience can and does impact us in that way.
Sending you lots of love, hugs and sunshine. You aren’t alone! ❤
Thanks so much for this piece. As an adoptee who feels so divided from all those who don’t understand, the validation is so necessary. My adopted sisters who are biological to our parents deny all aspects of me being adopted and now in reunion with my bio mom and family. It’s a subject my adult daughter seems to stay away from as well. It’s hard. And it’s not normal. They just don’t understand so they avoid the topic.
Thank you so much for chiming in and sharing your thoughts here. I am so glad it was a validating article for you. This is why I keep writing, I know how important it is that we experience that layer! 🙂
I am so sorry for the level of denial you experience from all those around you. That is so harmful and sad. I can relate to it on many levels. I was adopted into a home with a sister who was also adopted (from another family) and we have no relationship at all, however when we did are our entire lives growing up we never once spoke about our feelings about being adopted. We’ve never spoke about finding our biological families, the heartache, the pain or anything! it’s so wild to me. And of course the split between all the families and us having to walk the tight rope of balancing both sides is just exhausting.
You are so right, it’s so not normal. Nothing about adoption is normal, but one things for sure is that our feelings are normal for a not normal situation! If I stand to gain anything in life from sharing my journey, I hope that my fellow adoptees get that piece. They are normal, it’s adoption that’s not normal! ❤ Hugs to you!
I first heard of all this this year. I am sorry so many adult adoptees are struggling. It is truly sad to hear. I feel bad for them. I, myself, am a 50yr adult adoptee and I have yet to feel these feelings /trauma people have spoken about. I stop, many times, and think about what it is people are saying and I just don’t feel that anger and sadness. I think what makes me angry and sad is when it is said that the trauma is there and some adult adoptees are ignoring it. I honestly would rather NOT feel anger and deep trauma as a result of being taken away from my bio mother. Knowing what I know now, I am glad I got placed with my adoptive family. I am the exception to this trauma you speak of. I suggest you don’t speak for all adult adoptees because we all don’t feel that way.
Thanks for reading and for chiming in. I’m so glad you aren’t one of the adoptees who feels like the separation from your biological mother was a traumatic experience. You do realize and understand that this separation is totally different than the connection to our adoptive families, right? They are two totally different things. It’s perfectly okay to be happy you were adopted, and also feel happy you were separated from your biological mother, depending on your circumstances.
The reality is, you might not feel the trauma of separation in your day to day life, however it very well could be stored in your pre-verbal subconscious memory. Do you really think that a newborn baby has no reaction when they are separated from their biological mothers at the beginning of life? If you do the research, and seek to gain information outside of your own experience you will see that experts believe separation from our biological mothers is a traumatic event, even if you don’t feel it at this current stage of your life, or ever for that matter.
The truth is that we all respond to this traumatic experience in different ways. Some adoptees are impacted by it greatly, and some (like you) are not. But to say it doesn’t exist is inaccurate.
It’s also important to acknowledge that Relinquishment Trauma and Adoption Trauma are totally different things. I share details in this article. Might be helpful to you.
Also, I state clearly in this article I don’t speak for all adoptees. See below.
“I can’t speak for all adoptees, but I can say that by building relationships with hundreds, if not thousands of adoptees worldwide for 10+ years, I have yet to meet an adopted adult who has ZERO issues with being adopted. They are why I keep writing and why I keep sharing, it’s for them.”
Another article I wrote “She just had a bad adoption experience” also might be helpful. Here’s the link.
Essentially, you coming here to share your wonderful adoption story, doesn’t waver on the fact that more often than not, your fellow adoptees don’t have the same experience you do. How many adoptees have you sat down with and gotten to know by hearing their stories? As I’ve shared throughout my website, I’ve heard hundreds and without a shadow of a doubt they feel relinquishment has traumatized them. Sometimes, if we can look beyond our own experiences, we can see other’s experiences as a piece of the puzzle, even when they differ from our own.
I think most adoptees would say they would rather NOT feel traumatized or angry about relinquishment from our biological mothers, if we had a switch to flip! But because we are all different individuals, we all navigate and process things differently.
And lastly, I’m not spending over a decade of my life writing about my experience to help you, the adoptee with the perfect story. It’s to be a lifeline to the other ones, the adoptees who are on the verge of suicide who to looking for validation. While I totally respect your input and thoughts, when you feel like you are glad you were adopted and have no issues with it, I’m not even sure what lead you to my website, article or to comment other than highlighting- “I had a better experience than you! Not all adoptees feel like you.”
I have a hard time understanding your point, other than one I have clearly stated. I don’t speak for all adoptees, I leave room for you and your experience but it would be kind if you also left room for your fellow adoptees who have had a real life altering struggle with relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma.
Thanks for your time! – Pamela