Friday, May 10, 2013

A Rant from an Adoptee

It's Friiiiiday!

Is anyone there?  I know on the weekends the blogosphere becomes the field the day after the carnival ends... Not quite as fun as you remember it being, full of rotten caramel apples and scary carnies.

A little something horrifying in the spirit of a carnival:

(Taken from this gem of an article: 38 Baby Shower Cakes Made from Nightmares)

Seeing as how it's probably pretty quiet, here, apart from sharing the cake that I will absolutely be taking with me to the next party I'm invited to (note I said party, and not necessarily baby shower) I would like to take this opportunity to vent a little.

Today I went to the gym with the fabulous glitter shitting gay husband known as Mr. T, and we followed that up with eating at a restaurant called "More Than Waffles".  (Not just waffles, ya'll.. More than waffles).  Over our surprisingly waffleless plates we got into a discussion about adoption, as this is one of the options Mr. T and his husband are considering in the not-so-distant future.  I was mostly piping in about how if I were a birthmom, I would totes be hunting down the liberal gay dudes in a sea of heterosexual white couples.

Yesterday I was directed via Twitter (talk about an online carnival) to a lovely, informative article about adoption on an adoption website.. Coming home today, adoption on the brain, I perused the website again and came across an article that made me squirm a little bit.

The jist:  it's written by an adoptee, and it discusses the trauma that all adoptees experience from being adopted.  How we all experience a fear of abandonment, have rejection issues, and will spend our childhoods overcompensating by either acting out or blending in.  The writer is an adoptee, he has some research to back his statements up, and while I'm not in agreement with everything that he said he delivers it in a kindhearted, open way.

I'm an adoptee, ya'll.  I am surprisingly uninformed about how many adoption websites, articles, etc. there are.  One of these days I'll write about my adoption story and meeting my birthparents, but frankly I keep forgetting that it's interesting to anyone - that's how much of a non-issue it is for me.  Perusing around the interwebs today and seeing how much stuff there is on the subject is a bit like overhearing someone talking about you... what you hear is either going to make you feel wonderful or shitty, not a whole lot of room in between.

Apart from my very strong feelings about telling adopted children they are adopted in a positive way, before they're even old enough to understand what that means (please, pretty please with sugar on top) I usually don't have too many loud opinions about it. Am I stoked about being the subject of many horror movies and the idea that being an orphan gives me an interesting edge from birth?  Yes. I don't feel like I need to talk about it all the time, and I also don't have any problem talking about it whenever it comes up.  I'm totes in the middle, ya'll.

The article made me squirm a bit (I feel like it may accidentally send the message 'you're signing up for a problem child!') but some of the comments made me full on clench my fists.

Particularly one from a birthmother... Now, she must have had a very terrible experience, but she says that 90% of adoptions are 'unnecessary', that adoption agencies are money-grubbers who work only with the interests of their 'infertile clients', and that there are no tests or hoops to weed out alcoholics or pedophiles most of the time. (Cause you know, if you're a pedophile, quickest route to a child is adoption!  So simple!)

(Taken from this gem of an article that made me pee my pants).

Cue head exploding.

I am in a particularly unique position to respond to this, because I am both an adult adoptee and an infertile.

First, I know a million adopted people, none of whom - regardless of whether their adoptive parents ended up divorcing, or if they grew up wishing to find their birth parents - think of their adoption as 'unnecessary'.  That is... insulting.

Second, as an infertile I resent the picture that I'm some sort of subfertile asshat whose desire is to hire a fancy attorney to coax an unwilling baby from a saintly fertiles arms.  I feel I can safely speak for the infertile community in saying that by the time you're looking to adopt, you've jumped through plenty of hoops and are absolutely at the mercy of everyone else involved - power is not something that you have.  (And sidenote - my Mom was perfectly fertile, she chose to adopt thankyouverymuch).

Considering I'm adopted and I've gone through years of infertility treatments, I think I have been asked a few more times than the average bear - in timid ways and in accusatory ways - 'why don't I just adopt'.  For the record, the idea of having someone genetically related to me that I see every day, seems like science fiction.  I want to experience it.  Rare is the adoptee who adopts, an unadopted person can say to themselves 'I had genetic siblings and parents - genetics don't mean anything'.  I know that, I do, but I would like to experience it - and that's not even really a point that needs to be made. Having been adopted and raised by the most loving people on the planet, and having been an infertile, my feeling is that everyone has a right to build their family in the way that they see fit, and if they end up adopting, they need to come to it naturally and be super stoked about it.

I resent the implication that I am in some way 'defective'.  That they did a study about people like me, and have reached the conclusion that I have 100% either spent my life behaving badly or behaving too kindly.  I think we can all agree here that I'm a bit of a grab bag just like any other human being on the planet.

No one has 'studied' me.  No one has sat down and asked me about my adoption experience and compiled it for scientific data.  And until someone does talk to every single adoptee on the planet, I have to say that I find most 'statistics' about what I'm 'like' to be about as useful as reading my horoscope.  Sure, some capricorns are going to find it wildly insightful and applicable, others are going to find it to be a giant hunk of horseshit.  It's one fat generalization about a huge group of people who happen to have been born in similar conditions.

So I just wanted to state very clearly for any women who have adopted, are thinking about adopting or have it on the 'someday' backburner - you are no more likely to get a defective human being by adopting than you would by giving birth to your 'own'.

I am so sick - so sick! - of reading things all over the internet about how if you adopt a child, if you end up with an autistic child, if you don't breastfeed your child (which by the way is insulting to adoptees), if you don't chew through the cord at a water birth, that you're just going to be royally fucked with this tragic mess of a human being.

I'm adopted.  I'm married to an autistic person.  No one breast fed me.  To the question of whether or not I'll be making you all shampoo out of my future placenta, put me down for no.  If you're signing onto motherhood in hopes that you're going to make a perfect person, you're in for a world of surprises.  Show me a person who's not a little weird, who has no damage, and I'll show you someone who can't be trusted.  Serial killers are usually the beige people smiling all the time, kids.

That all being said - if you adopt are you going to have someone with rejection issues?

Yes.  It's icky to even write that, but from my experience, yes you are.

Every adoption story is different.  One day I'll find the right words to maybe explain it on here, but I can say as an adoptee that children most definitely, in utero, come out with a sense of whether they were wanted or unwanted. (I was wanted - my birthmom was just unable to mother me.  I know adoptees who have the same feeling, and I know adoptees who have known since birth that they would not be welcomed should they go looking their birthmother up.  It differs).

Being adopted is being the perfect experiment in the genetics vs. environment debate.  From my experience, the answer 60% of the time is environment, 30% of the time both, and 10% genetics.

I am extremely uncomfortable with any website - regardless of studies to back it up, regardless of whether it's authored by 10 thousand psychologists or 10 thousand carnies - who make any generalizations about all adoptees.  Again, I know a gajillion of them and they are all different.

The only general conclusions I have reached about adoptees is that yes, we'll all have some degree of a rejection issue, some tiny some huge.  We're born out of some kind of loss.  (And I'm even anxious to write that just as my experience, because I'm sure there's a person out there who doesn't have any rejection issue.. I just haven't met them).

All that means is that we need that hug for a few seconds longer, we need to be reminded sometimes when someone declines something of us that it's not a rejection of who we are as people.  That's it.  That's the issue.

But fuck me... there are plenty of unadopted adults who have that.  There are plenty of unadopted adults who have been rejected by their biological parents.  There are plenty of unadopted adults who act crazy rebellious as teenagers, who have to lock and unlock their door three times before they can leave their house, who have to look at their toilet paper after they wipe, who are incapable of being nice to anyone who serves them, etc. etc. etc.  At least with adoption, you'll know from the get-go what 'problem' it is that you're signing up for.

If what you're looking for is a perfect human, you don't want to be a Mom, you want to be God.  And that's all there is to it.

PS - on an unrelated note, lookie lookie!  I'm on BlogHer!  INTERNET FAMOUS.


  1. First that cake is cra cra, and I would love to be at the party were you brought that!!!
    Second I read the article. Hmmmmmm I'm so confused at what his point is. Don't all children go through the same type of thing. Don't all babies cry, don't all children kick and scream and throw tantrums. And as for one takes themselves more serious then a teenager. Didn't we all as teenagers at one point thought of susicide. Sadly I think most us do or did, but how many really went through with it, I knew 2 and they weren't adopted. As far as abandonment issues I think it's the same...we lose friends and family through death, or maybe they just leave, same with relationships. If they didn't I be divorced already from my high school boyfriend. But I think we all have somewhat abandonment issues somewhere, and to say it's only adoptive children is absurd.
    Third what if adoption did not exist. There is a reason why mothers know now is not the right time, or I can't do this. I think giving up a child is such a courageous thing, and shows nothing but absolute love that child.
    Fourth I grew up with friends who were adopted. They didn't walk the halls looking like they were going to commit suicide. They didn't walk the halls joining every club in school. We have friends here who have adopted through foster care, some babies some children. They seem as normal as our friends who gave birth to their children. I don't see a difference, nor do they.
    Fifth Jonathan and I plan on adopting our next child. Part of it we don't want to do anymore treatments, and I don't see us conceiving naturally. I don't even want to try, I want to actual have a normal sex life for once. We both feel this intense need to give another child a good life. Being pregnant has made this feeling even stronger. I know we will love the crap out of a child we adopt just as we will our birth child. To me and to him there is no difference.

    1. Exactly.. I have such an issue really honing in on a point with the original article... The only one I got from it (and maybe I'm taking it too personally or missed it altogether) is that as an adoptee I'm supposed to have some grand revelation about how all my life woes are from that initial separation... and how if I haven't had it yet I just don't 'get it'.

      Rejection issues, sure. The rest of what I would say were my life woes? NO. My parents SAVED me.

      And badasssss that you feel the call to adopt! I am going to be SO EXCITED. I mean about both kids, YES, but you know... SO EXCITED to welcome you to the delightful adoption club.

  2. I like you :) Just saying, love your attitude and your posts.

    You have a really great and unique perspective, and I'm glad you're open and sharing about it.

    And I totally agree with your about statistics! In some cases they result it self fulfilling prophesies, so that makes it even worse. Statistics are so easily skewed though, and they aren't the whole picture. Not in the least!

    1. I LIKE YOU! Seriously. We should be facebook friends and maybe on occasion inappropriately make out.

      I am SO skeptical of psychological statistics. I mean, the people who put them together are usually experts, put their all into it and care about the subject but holy shit.. I really think it ends up being like an eerily accurate horoscope where even if it's true for a lot of people, it's just a generalization in the end that's going to be horseshit for a lot of people.

  3. Focusing on what's really important in this post ... if you like that cake, you should check out cakewrecks dot com. For example,

    1. You cut to the core of me, Elizabeth... You cut to the core. This is clearly what I will be entertaining myself with for the next hour and a half.

  4. I read a different article on adoption recently, and also made the mistake of reading the comments. I was too angry to blog about it, and pretty uninformed about the adoption system so I would have just been talking out of my ass. Not that that stops me most of the time. Anyway, should you be interested in further head-exploding ridiculousness, may I direct you to:

    1. One, I love Nia Vardalos. Yes please.

      Two, for some inexplicable reason my computer won't load the comments... I'm gonna keep tryin. I'm ascared!

      I never had a clue - a clue! - that there were this many anti-adoption people lurking about on the interwebs... I would venture to say that in real life that's the minority but holy shit.. Really makes me want to find someplace online that collects ALL forms of adoption stories... you know? Honest ones? I guess maybe when you had a bombass adoption experience as an adoptee you don't really feel compelled to share it with the world but holy gawd I'm gonna start.

  5. I love this! I have a few friends who are adopted and who are all normal. And we have friends who have adopted a little girl from Russia who is the most well adjusted person you could imagine. She plopped herself down on my knee and told me about how her parents had met each other before they met her and asked her if I had met my baby yet. For her adoption is normal because that's how she is raised.

    1. YESSS. I resent the idea that we all have to be ill-adjusted and if we're not, we haven't done enough soul searching! BULL SHIT. I've done plenty of soul searching on the subject and I still feel good about it. I definitely have the traditional rejection issues, but there's not an adult on the planet who doesn't have some kind of 'issue'.

      Just drives me bananas when the reason for not adopting is the fear of getting an 'imperfect' child. Again, being infertile I totally think people should hit the adoption route when and if they're ready, but if THAT'S the reason you're not doing it.. Nononono. No such thing as a perfect kid no matter how you have it.

  6. Before we started looking into adoption, I had not idea how many "anti-adoption" people were out there. And this statement makes me crazy:

    "Particularly one from a birthmother... Now, she must have had a very terrible experience, but she says that 90% of adoptions are 'unnecessary', that adoption agencies are money-grubbers who work only with the interests of their 'infertile clients', and that there are no tests or hoops to weed out alcoholics or pedophiles most of the time."

    First of all, I have had to jump through a lot of hoops. I had state and federal criminal background check and a number of classes and interviews with a social worker. I've had to answer more questions about parenting than anyone who just wakes up one morning and decides that since they're married and have a house, they should just start trying for a baby.

    And number two, we met with a number of adoption agencies and every single agency we met with strongly recommended or required an open adoption. As long as the birth mother is willing and interested, we are committing to letters and pictures and a visit once a year. I am totally all for this as long as all parties are comfortable with it and it's in the best interests of the child. But if all the agencies cared about was their "infertile clients" this would not be something they were recommending.

    1. I have had 31 years of being adopted, and I had no idea there were even anti-adoption people! I'm a little... flabbergasted.

      I've written about being adopted on here a couple of times, but honestly just doing the *slightest* reading about adoption online the last couple of days, and I'm so disappointed in the skewed presentation of it.

      I would like to think that I wouldn't be as ignorant or as angry as some of these people, even if I weren't adopted or if I wasn't infertile.. But my gawd. Infertility is not a problem of the rich and self indulgent (FUCK no), I can't even begin to FATHOM how some people are presenting adopting as a 'self-involved' choice (WHAT?!) and at one point in the comments on the article someone even went so far as to try to convince an adoptee who wanted to adopt that that wasn't the right thing to do...

      No one has any business telling anyone how or when or with what method to start their family. EVER. (Except maybe the Duggards.. I've had a few fantasies about giving them my opinion, but other than that.. lol)

      And hoops! My gawd.. The hoops my Mom went through before getting me were heartbreaking. I'm reaching the point where I'm losing faith that there are very many fertile people who have the slightest comprehension of what infertile people go through.

  7. Why oh why did I click on that cake link!

    Okay so my mom explained to my brother quite well that they were told they couldn't have kids and he basically grew in her heart just not in her womb. Then she looks at me and tells me I was an accident and not really wanted. Gee thanks Mom! Mind you they adopted my brother first then "accidentally" made me. LOL.

    My brother is my brother. I love him and hate him like a true sibling.

    1. Ha! I did not know you had an adopted brother... LOVE that description. ;)

      You clicked on that cake link because it is the BEST. THING. EVER.

  8. Thank you for this post! I am an adoptive parent in waiting. I have always wanted to adopt. Ever since I was young.

    It just turns out that I am infertile too...I had no idea that I was and yes, even though my desire to adopt is strong...the infertility has thrown me for a loop...okay it has pretty much kicked the crap out of me and keeps kicking me while I am down but...that's another story.

    In researching adoption I have come across some pretty crazy and hurtful website calling infertiles vultures and "drinking the adoption agencies kool-aid" etc...reading that threw me for a loop too...okay it kicked the crap out of me but it won't keep me down...

    1. Oh man... There is so much stuff available online to kick the crap out of anybody with infertility it is mind boggling. Why oh why internet can't you be full of cat videos and Michael Shannon reading things?

      Yeah I really don't know how I would feel if I hadn't been in some way or another on both sides of the fence.. But yeah, the depictions of adoptees and of infertiles.. Of anyone who didn't get pregnant their first try and then ride off into the sunset.. There's a lot of disappointing junk out there.

  9. Thank you for sharing this. :) I've just come across your blog and your post is very insightful and helpful as an infertile woman contemplating adoption.

  10. I think that most adoptees (and probably even birthmoms) who had perfectly pleasant experiences just don't write about it on the internet, so what you are left with is the crazies. I can't believe there are so many anti-adoption people out there. I am sure there are shady agencies and birthmoms who have been "convinced" to give up their baby when maybe they were on the fence, but that's the norm. Why do people think that, if they don't like something or want to do something, then that thing should just exist? So annoying.

    On another note, I am totally going to throw a party and invite you just so you can bring that cake with you.

    1. Um, I mean that's NOT the norm.
      Also, NOT exist.
      Is my keyboard against the word NOT today?

    2. There's absolutely, I'm sure, total incidents of shadiness still today but you made the point perfectly - just because you wouldn't personally do something doesn't mean it shouldn't exist. Come here and let me poke your belly.

  11. Great points all around! My mom was adopted and I know she doesn't have any desire to meet or look up her birth parents. I haven't heard of her ever feeling abandoned, in fact, she thanks her birth parents for the life they gave her by giving her up for adoption. I think it's ridiculous to lump all people into one and say everyone feels or acts this way.

    1. It's weird.. I have yet to meet an adoptee who was on the fence about meeting their birthparents (I'm sure they exist, just not from my experience). It's either yup, totally have to the curiosity is too much, or nope absolutely not, no desire.

  12. I just found your blog through Kharini @ My Fertility Blog and I'm so glad I did! Love your writing style, so you've been added to the VIP list (I mean my blog list).

    What a unique perspective you're able to give. I love that you pointed out how your mom adopted you because she wanted to and not because she was infertile and it was her last hope at being a mother. Just goes to show that despite what most people in this world might think, it is not the obligation of infertile people alone to save the children and that people actually do it as their first choice. I think it's an amazing opportunity, and I do hope to do it myself one day (hopefully in addition to having my own children).

    My mom was adopted at 6 months old along with one of her older brothers, and she always said it was the BEST thing that ever happened to her. She never felt abandoned....more like THANKFUL she was saved from her crazy ass alcoholic parents who had 6 children living in an abandoned box car on a train track. Yep, that really happened. Thank God for adoption!

    1. Hey girl heyyyyy! I'm a VIP. WOOT WOOT.

      Yeah from the infertile perspective... It would seem a lot of people are in the "why don't you just adopt!" camp and a lot of people are in the "you shouldn't adopt that will make you a vulture!" camp, apparently. Damned if you do damned if you don't.

      Yes, THANKFUL. I am THANKFUL. Even adoptees that I know who have far worse rejection issues than I do are THANKFUL.

  13. Wow that article bothered me in so many ways. First, as a child psychologist, I have to completely disagree with the huge generalizations he is making. As you pointed out, there are so many factors which influence the way adoption impacts a child. It is not a simple equation of adoption=trauma. What the hell? Adoption is often the best opportunity for many children and many families. And the outcomes are so varied that research has been unable to make clear statements regarding psychological outcomes OR psychological treatment. All we do know is that age can be a factor (the older the adoption, the hard it can be on the child), the child's own innate characteristics impact the outcome, and the way in which the adoptive parents handle the situation in relation to the child. But even THAT is not clear cut. Second, as a consumer of research, I can't believe that he made so many huge blanket statements with no references or cited sources at all. Is he basing this all off of his own experience? Sorry, dude, just because you wrote a book doesn't make you knowledgeable. Or special. Finally, on a personal level, my two closest cousins (more like sisters) are adopted, and I think that it was the best thing that could have happened to both of them, especially considering their early experiences and their current positive functioning. /endrant

    1. OH and um...that cake????? Ha.

    2. THANK YOU. There are so many freaking factors that go into looking at a person and trying to figure out why they are the way that they are... And when you throw in adoption, there's age, there's how they were talked to about it, etc. etc. etc. Too many variables to lump us (other than possibly some degree of rejection issue) just waaaay too many variables. I don't like being lumped.

  14. Ah, undiscovered country. Love Google alerts.
    I think you would easily label me "anti-adoption", possible call me a loon or whatever, assume I was a nut job and my experience was awful. I kind of that would be incorrect on all counts, but hey, I'm biased.

    I also have to say, that there are many more people like know.. folks think adoption should be avoided if at all possible... and our numbers grow every day. Anyway, I jut wanted to say that the whole "unnecessary part" of adoption.. while you don't like stats, you might find these numbers interesting.. or perhaps more rant fodder;

    And then just perhaps a tiny bit of insight on WHY people like us feel the way we do:

    Anyway, just thought perhaps it would help some "get" the "other side". We're really not that crazy.

    1. Thanks for the articles!

      Okay so I am not a birthmom. I'm not. I'm just adopted, and I've just been going through infertility treatments forever.

      And I am *completely* aware that there are a lot of women who feel pressured into putting their child up for adoption and I am FULL ON in support of women who find themselves pregnant getting way, way, way more help and options if what they want is to parent. Whatever a pregnant lady wants to do about being pregnant, there's not one part of me that thinks we shouldn't have more support/options. (I'm about as tree-hugging a CA liberal as you'll find).

      My birthmom who I have a relationship with was an 8th grader when she had me, and the only child of an alcoholic single Mom. She absolutely wanted to be my Mom, but there's no part of me now that thinks "I would've been better off if she had had a lot more help and kept me". I'm glad I have the kind of relationship I have with her now, and I'm SO glad that I have my Mom. I'm not defective, missing anything, the downside of a big business trying to get something from both parties. That's just MY story and I know there are a looooooot of different kinds of stories.

      And as an infertile person.. Some of the articles I've seen the last few days (again, didn't really have too much of an idea of this particular opinion until a few days ago, I'm learning) paint me in such a horrible light I can't even really fathom it. If I choose to adopt I'm a vulture. I'm a rich person with rich person problems who is taking advantage of the poor. I'm the evil stepmother in Snow White trying to suck the youth and femininity out of the unsuspecting. I have power. (When really, this is as about as powerless as I've ever felt and I'm not even looking into adoption, yet).

      So my point isn't that it's an invalid opinion. There's obviously a lot of adoptees and birthmoms and people in general who are going to think adoption is a shitstorm. (And I'm learning about it.. I disagree with it, but I'm learning about it).

      I just don't like that there are people (some articles - again I found this one after reading one that was honest and brutal but still lovely) lumping me into a for sure category. You know what I mean? Making statements about my adoption and my story based on others.

      I know there are birthmoms who got coerced, and I'm sure there are adoptees who have been royally messed up (I haven't met them, but they're obviously out there) as a result of it. I'm sure there are less than stellar people who are adoption, obviously (just like there are less than stellar people having babies in general). It's just SO DANGEROUS to say about any group of people involved in anything in terms of reproduction or family building "THEY'RE ALL LIKE THIS".

    2. And sweet baby Jesus how did I google alert you? I'm unfamiliar with most internet witchcraft. I just managed to figure out twitter.. sort of. ;)

    3. And PPSSSSS (I am functioning on less caffeine than usual) I in NO WAY would want to lump you into the category of 'obviously she has a horrible story'. My entire point is that it's awful to assume ANYTHING about ANYONE involved in an adoption unless they tell you what happened to them/how they feel about it specifically. (Which is why I don't like being lumped into a category of what happens to adoptees - no one's interviewing me or anyone I know for this which is why using words like "all" or "most" is alarming to me).

      The woman I'm referring to who made the comments that bothered me said her story was awful, and then made suggestions to people based on it.

  15. Adoption can be a negative thing, but also it can be positive. I also understand there are many people in society who are angry about their adoption and feel they were "stolen" from their "real" parents. They lash out constantly at a group they call "infertiles". In the first place, its a mistake for them to believe only infertile people adopt. Many, many people who already have biological children will add to their family through adoption. Adoption is NOT a last choice or last resort for many people just because they can't have their own naturally. In fact, I know tons of families with four and five bio children, who adopted one or two more to add to their family. The anti adoption movement has stigmatized infertiles as out to steal other womens' children. This is false and incredibly wrong. Many people who are infertile have choices available to them, other than adoption: fertility drugs, IUI, IVF. There are all kinds of medical procedures now and IVF success rates improve steadily every year. Other infertile couples eventually decide to remain childfree. If it weren't for the anti adoption movement pointing the finger of blame at infertiles, I might actually feel sorry for some of these adoptees who are so angry about their adoption. But I don't, because I don't feel their bitterness gives them a right to attack a group of people who may or may not be contributing to the "problem", as they see it.