Dear World {From an Adoptee}

by - 9:13 AM

My sister and I with our beloved Grandpa Charlie. 

Dear World,

I am an adult adoptee. What does this mean? It means I was adopted as a child, and now I'm an adult.

Before I start getting into the guts of this letter, I'm going to tell you a few things. My parents (adoptive parents) are just my parents. I have never called them my adoptive parents. They are my "real" parents. This letter in NO way is an attack on them, but I will follow up on that at the end.

This is my story and my experience, and I urge you to hear me. I am (for the first time here) sharing very publicly my pain. I am doing this to teach, so someone can learn from my experiences, not for sympathy or to play the victim card. I am not a victim. I am many many things, but victim I am not. There are certain details I am opting to omit at this point, but may come out with them at a later time.

I was born April 12th 1987. This was at the end of the era of totally closed adoptions. So what does that mean? Well, I was born at a maternity home where my birth mother signed away all of her parental rights and knew nothing past that point. She didn't know where I went nor did she have any rights to visit or call or see photos or updates. My parents brought me home April 23rd. They had no information on my birth family, short of a tiny questionnaire which laid out some very basic information about family background, but without names or identifying information.

According to all legal documents I was "Baby girl Doe". My parents named me "Claire" after a relative and because my mom liked that name.

I remained legally Baby Girl Doe until the adoption was finalized in October of 1987.

I don't remember being told about adoption. It is just a fact of my life and my parents did an excellent job of just making it part of normal conversation, just as a mother would tell her child of being brought home from the hospital, I was brought home from Gladney.

My parents would have said I experienced no loss. How could I? I had no conscious memories of separation, I never KNEW my birth mother, and they always made sure to paint her in the most positive light they could. The most common?

"She loved you enough to give you a better life. She couldn't take care of you because she was too young, but she loved you."

What they were unaware of, was just how much that "positive light" set into motion the abandonment issues that would haunt me for years to come.

I had this vague notion even at a very young age that love was obviously not enough. If "love" caused my birth mother to walk away no questions asked, then wouldn't my parents inevitably leave me too?

I was the PERFECT small child; my parents will tell you this.

On the outside I was calm, respectful, obedient, charming, and any other positive attribute you could think of to describe a perfectly well behaved child.

On the inside I was desperate to maintain this status of being "good" because if I was just good enough, they wouldn't leave me or send me back.

Any changes in stability caused me to internally freak out.

We moved from our childhood home when I was 10. Moving is pretty normal, right?

Well it set off all these internal alarms that change meant they may not want me anymore.

Please know that my parents were exceptionally loving, I had a stay at home mom, and they never once EVER implied that they would ever send me back or leave me. This was all something I had come to the conclusion of in my mind.

Around the time I turned 11, my mom went to work part time. That's when my behaviors started to set in.

I began to develop this theory that if they were going to send me away, then it needed to be on my terms, so I was just going to act as bad as I could until they eventually did it. All while internally I was so desperate for the constant reassurance that they would not. It was a CONSTANT push and pull going on.

See how complex that is?

This went on for years and I did everything from smoking cigarettes to doing drugs to participating in promiscuous behavior to eventually running away.

When I was 14 I was sent to a private group home; giving me exactly what my behavior dictated would happen.

I don't blame my parents at all for sending me to a group home. I was absolutely out of control.

In private adoption, especially back then, parents were not really given training on how to deal with these things as their children aged. Everything was painted as very sunshine and unicorns and perfect. They brought in model adoptees and birth parents who would perpetuate this.

I found my birth mother when I was 18. Today, I'm not getting into that story, but I will share that another day. Finding my birth mother, however, ending up causing significantly more heartache and trauma than I care to think about.

Even today, talking to my parents about adoption is very complicated. My mom regularly says "Let's just leave the past in the past, Claire." because it's uncomfortable. It's not an enjoyable thing to talk about.

As I stated, this is not an attack on my parents in any way shape or form. My parents were not well trained, they had no resources or support to navigate these things when they came up, and my sister (who is also adopted) didn't have near the difficulty coping as I did. Adoption loss affects every person differently.

Going through life and not really knowing where you come from or feeling unwanted and abandoned, it changes you. It makes you question who YOU are. There's a primal need just to KNOW.

There's this mindset in the public that any adoptee who speaks up about pain is bitter and angry. This is problematic.

If an adult spoke up about the pain of being a child of divorce, nobody would paint that person as "messed up", but they would absolutely think about how divorce can negatively impact the life of a child.

Adoption is painted as this beautiful, wonderful, easy thing.

It's just not.

It's complicated, messy, painful. An adoptee's life begins with trauma and loss, even if adopted at birth.

There are studies that prove that attachment begins in utero, and that separation even at BIRTH can cause significant lifelong issues.

Adoptees are 4x more likely than their peers to commit suicide. 

Long term, adoptees are more likely to have issues developing meaningful relationships, more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and more likely to be unable to maintain stability.

These aren't the things you hear about when you hear about adoption through agencies and the media. You hear about the wonderful-ness of giving a poor orphaned child a family.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am NOT against adoption. We are a licensed foster and adoptive home. Adoption can ABSOLUTELY be a beautiful answer to a tragedy.

But it's not all sunshine and roses.

And this notion that anytime an adoptee stands up and says "Hey- these are some big issues. Let's talk about them!" they are angry, or surely came from an abusive adoptive home, that they are bitter- it's just WRONG.

We aren't sharing our painful truth and putting ourselves out there to project bitterness. We do it because we care VERY DEEPLY about the millions of children all over the world being adopted.

We want to save them some of the pain.

We want to save their very lives.

Don't look at me and hear my story and think that I am angry- I am not.

Don't look at me and hear my story and think that I am bitter- I am not.

Don't look at me and hear my story and think that I am against adoption- I am not.

Don't look at me and hear my story and think that I am still just an adopted child and not an adult- I am not.

Don't look at me and hear my story and think that I am resentful of my family- I am not.

Hear my story and say "What can I do to help end adoptee suicide? What can I do to make sure that adoptive parents are better trained in attachment and abandonment? What can I do to cause reform among agencies that puts the sole focus on the CHILD instead of the adoptive family?"

When you hear me- think those things.

As always, leave me some comment love. 

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