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5 Infuriating Things Non-Adoptees Say To Adoptees

This was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

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his article is written for every adoptee who has ever dared to express anything that could be remotely perceived as being negative about their adoption experience!

1. I wish I was adopted!

This irks me to no end, and I am never quite sure how to respond to such a facile comment. I feel like saying: Oh really? Tell me exactly what part of being adopted do you love so much? Is it the part where you are not allowed your original birth certificate? Or is it the bit where you had illegitimate stamped all over your paperwork and you were issued a new identity? Or is it the illogical aspect whereby you are not legally related to any of your kin? Perhaps it’s the bit about being separated from your mother at birth and then placed in a nursery for six weeks without being nurtured? Is it the part that you never knew why your mother abandoned you and you felt that rejection so keenly as a young girl that it made you ache inside? Or is it the part whereby you will spend years searching strangers faces to see if they look like you?

Do tell me.

2. I know an adoptee, and they are very happy.

This pearl of wisdom is dished out to adoptees all over the world. I know this because I speak to so many of them on Twitter and Facebook. This comment is designed to shut us down! It is passive-aggressive, and it is dismissive, and quite frankly it is wearisome. I am, in the main, a happy person. However, that does not negate my experiences as a function of being adopted.

This might come as a surprise, but just because you know one adoptee does not make you an expert! Adoptees who dare to speak out are shut down so quickly by such responses that it makes it very difficult to continue to speak out. I belong to a marginalized group and we continue to be treated as perpetual children without a voice.

3. I am sorry you had a bad experience.

This little beauty goes hand in glove with all the other points here. What I hear loud and clear is that “You are an anomaly!” This is designed to once again make us feel that our experiences are not shared by other adoptees. I am here to tell you that adoption has been a traumatic experience for many adoptees! How do I know? Because I speak to adoptees regularly (some even message me in private for fear of speaking out publicly) and they thank me for writing and sharing because it normalizes them. I grew up feeling so isolated and I thought I was an anomaly. I didn’t realize until the last few years that other adoptees struggled as well.

Let me state once again for the record that I love my adoptive family and they love me. My experience of adoption was bad but that’s because of adoption itself not because I don’t love or I didn’t feel loved. I just hated being adopted and I was traumatized by it. This is well understood in research but rarely discussed and understood by mainstream – it’s time this changed. You only need type “adoption trauma” into any search engine and you will find articles, adoptee blogs and books on this. For example, Dear Adoption hosts letters written by adoptees and I commend this to you. Who better to educate you on adoption than adoptees, right?

4. You don’t speak for all adoptees.

No I don’t, and each adoptee has their own voice; however, how many of you listen to understand? How many times are our voices oppressed or silenced? There are so many opinions and agenda’s in adoption that it is difficult to separate propaganda (e.g., politics of abortion or the billion-dollar adoption industry) vs. the authentic adoptee voice. I hope that when you read pieces on adoption you start demanding the voice of the dissenting adoptee! Adoptees are the only ones who can tell you how it feels and our voices should be embraced.

5. Why are you so angry? You should be grateful!

The irony is that this is the one comment that makes me feel angry! Just because I express negative emotions about being adopted does not necessarily make me an angry adoptee! What makes me angry is reductive labels from people who have no idea about what it’s like to be adopted. And, if I did feel anger then wouldn’t I be justified? As other adoptees have so eloquently expressed, adoption is built on the destruction of our first family. This means that I am legally severed from all my kin. My relationship to my biological families (parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, etc.) is not recognized in law. I have faced lifelong discrimination simply because I was adopted. Why should I be grateful for this? If adoptees are angry or ungrateful then they have every right to be! Here is a link to another adoptee activists page. She asked one question and received 50 responses by other adoptees. She took ownership of the “angry adoptee label” and asked adoptees what made them angry. It’s a worthwhile read.

In sum, just because I express negative emotions and speak out about the injustices (as a function of being adopted) does not mean I live my life in anger. That said, if an adoptee wants to classify themselves as “angry” then that is their prerogative and I support them! But you non-adoptees, NO, you don’t get to call me or any other adoptee angry, so please, respectfully, STFU.

Once again, I thank my adoptive family for embracing my voice and for supporting me as I speak out about issues.