“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