Fighting Fires

"If you play with fire, you are gonna get burned"  ~Author Unknown

The brown haired boy stood proudly on the playground and announced to the crowd of new school mates that his father was a fireman.

“My Daddy is a fireman”, the boy said
“No he is not!” said another boy.
“Yes, he is!”, said the first
“NO! YOUR DADDY IS NOT A FIREMAN!”, screamed the disbeliever.
“You don’t even know my Daddy” said the brown hair proud boy. He took his toys, hung his head low and walked away.

Maybe it’s me, but given that situation, I would tend to believe the child until I had proof otherwise. It’s his reality. It’s his Daddy. Why would I doubt him?

I take this same approach to adoption trauma but find myself consistently amazed by those who don’t.

I am most intrigued by those who have had happy adoption experiences who insist that the negative experiences of others simply can’t or don’t exist. What is with that? Is it a matter of positive outweighing the negative?

Do these people really truly believe that there are no negative sides to adoption or are they just that frightened to admit it or their own pain?  I don’t know. But like the little boy fighting for his fireman daddy, I am not going to insist their happiness doesn’t exist simply because my experience was the reverse.

If we fight a war, and 100 people are NOT killed, does that negate the hundreds that were? Do we look the other way and jump for joy at the few who were spared and ignore those that were killed? Or do we mourn them and work towards a more peaceful world where war doesn’t have to be?

Hundreds, thousands of people died in the attack on theTwin Towers (even friends of mine) but many survived. Do we ignore those that died, those that suffered losses, simply because some survived?  Do we ignore terrorism simply because some people traipsed across the Brooklyn Bridge and lived to see another day?

I have two members of my immediate family who suffered the loss of siblings at a very young age. Both members have told me of their own survivor guilt. They felt bad that they survived and their sibling was taken. One of those family members can openly discuss that loss and the grief, the other cannot. It simply didn’t happen. It’s fine. They are fine. It’s no big deal. They seem to suggest you could kill off another member of the family and they would be fine. It’s okay, really. 

Is this what SOME happy adoptee experiences are rooted in? Survivor guilt?  When faced with the horrors of adoption, do they have to pull down the pompoms because it makes they feel better about their own experience? Or are they in denial? Are there thoughts buried so deeply and they are so painful its easier to stay on the surface and do the adoption cheers than to descend into the levels of hell? More importantly, if they are truly so happy and wonderful, why do they demand so loudly and harshly that they are happy and adoption is wonderful? Who are they trying to convince?

I am not against adoption in theory. There will always be the need for someone to care for the child of another. I am very much against name changing, closed records, coercion, intimidation, baby brokering, stigmatizing single, unwed mothers, maternity homes, coveting they neighbors child, adoption as the cure for infertility, illegal practices, adoption being promoted in our public schools, and yeah, individuals who disregard the adoption pain of others simply because they didn’t experience it. What?

The car crash on the mountain involved 7 cars and 20 drivers and passengers. Two of the cars exploded upon impact. Three adjacent cars and passengers caught in the accident caught fire. The passengers escape the cars but not the fires. Several dropped to the ground and began to roll to extinguish the flames. Still others ran frantically around screaming, their hair and clothing engulfed in flames.

Passengers from the remaining two cars survived unscathed. They simply backed up their cars and drove away. After all, since they were not affected, the accident didn’t happen. They didn’t see it. No need to call the authorities. Nothing happened. They were FINE.

What a good day for them. 

14 Thoughts.

  1. My sense is that adoptees who have had a good family experience in being adopted aren’t really speaking out to say so. They are just going about their lives because it didn’t feel like that big of a deal. This is where I will mention that I really pushed for reunion for my son. Some people would have termed him a “happy adoptee,” although that term sounds ridiculous to me. Well-adjusted, happy, ambitious, kind. He has always been very close to my husband and me and talks about adoption didn’t seem to hold much interest for him. A few times he told me that I talked about it too much, but I kept on communicating because I wanted him to feel comfortable with the subject. He balked at the idea of meeting his first mother, but I told him he owed it to her to at least meet her. Did I feel threatened or replaced by that? Of course not. Nothing can replace my role in his life and all mothers, no matter biological or adoptive, need to feel secure in their roles. One type of mother is not better or more valid than another. That is where some adoptive parents get into ridiculous thinking.

  2. Meredith – Forgive me for editing your comment. AGain, when you make assumption that clash with what I know to be true about my daughter or her family, I feel protective of them both. No offense intended to you. Just me protecting my daughter. As stated, there is much I dont write at of respect for their privacy. When people assume or misconstrue my statements and they risk offending my daughter, her adopters, etc. I feel the needed to clarify, delete or edit. My daughter does not read here. She and I believe her parents have/do but they have never announced themselves to me or her and as such we are a bit anxiety laden at their intent.

  3. I sometimes wonder if the more vehement “happy adoptees” are actually just showing an adoptee issue in that their internal fear of being abandoned is making them want to appear like “everything is great so please love me.” probably not all, but I bet there are a few out there like that.
    Also, the term “happy adoptee” is too black and white. I am happy with the parents I got and my life but I am not happy with the system or lack of information. It’s almost like in the pie chart that is adoptees, there is a tiny sliver designated as happy. If you have made, thought or listened to a statment that might be construed as the possiblitity that you could have some doubt about some part of perfection that is adoption; then you are an angry adoptee.

  4. Wraith – I completely agree. You can like your parents and still dislike the system that got you there.
    If I were to meet my daughter and be embraced by her and her family, would I suddenly change my opinoin on the wrong doings in adoption? Um no. They are indepedent of each other.People seem to miss that. They assume, falsely, that if I object to adoption I am objecting to my daughter and her family.
    And isnt it interesting that moms like me who highlight the injustices, work for change, are categorized as bitter and angry? As if I am supposed to be HAPPY about losing my daughter? Huh?

  5. Suz, Awesome post. Sometimes I think that they are trying to convince themselves. My brother is a “happy” adoptee. He smoked pot for 6 years, still lives at home at 25, has never had a serious realtionship but his adoption doesn’t affect his life. Ahem. BULLSHIT! I don’t believe that. He has seen the paperwork where his mother checked the box of everything she took during pregnancy. (I don’t believe it was forged since he has lived with the consequences of her choices for his whole life.) He also has read the line that reads, “9 possiblities for father.” How does that NOT affect someone? Maybe he chooses not to talk about it. In his case, adoption was probably the best thing to happen to him because he got parents that understood his challenges and helped him to succeed.
    Also, I 100% agree with Wraith. I would consider myself happy but most outsiders with limited knowledge of adoption would probably disagree. Much love, Rebecca

  6. Dear Suz,
    I’ve been a reader for some time now and so many of your posts have moved me – almost to the point where any comment on my part would have been inadequate!, but this one especially resonated with me.
    I think one of the many reasons it took me so long to finally feel where I could talk about anything other than the “Rah-Rah-I-Was-Adopted” cheer, was because I learned very early on that people stopped listening when I did. Not my parents, but everyone else. They just couldn’t go there for whatever reason because it made them feel too uncomfortable. So I retreated, and after awhile, that desire to talk about it became so deeply embedded under layers and layers of so much superfluous crud and adoption rhetoric that even I bought into what I was eventually saying, because hey – people were more than willing to listen, admire and adore the bright, chipper , “We want our daughter to turn out just like you” aspect of adoption.
    I SO get what your last story so poignantly reveals. Often I see that people don’t want to get involved unless they can identify and measure a tangible, personal impact on THEIR life. I guess I’ve just never understood that mentality.
    Sorry this was so long. Just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated this post and how much I respect your voice.

  7. My adoptive mom was really good about reunion.
    But as I posted on Kim’s blog the other day I would rather eat glass then talk with her about my real experiences as an adoptee.
    I hate hate hate hate hate hate ,and it even really annoys me, I could be accused of DISLIKING adoptive mothers talking FOR their adoptees.
    You are invested in a belief system, my mother can’t speak for me any more than I can speak for her.
    I know how she was with me, I know she believed I had a right to know where I came from and was selfless in this.
    I actively protect her from my deep feelings.
    Please let the adoptees speak for themselves, and don’t assume that the ones who aren’t speaking up are doing it out of contentment.
    GAH
    al;kjgfa;sljga’sl’poata’;seto!!

  8. joy – was this directed at me?
    Please let the adoptees speak for themselves, and don’t assume that the ones who aren’t speaking up are doing it out of contentment.
    because if it was, i should state i certainly agree with you and was not intended to speak for adoptees. i was in fact, objecting to those who do. your dislike for those who speak for adoptees is equivalent to mine for those who tell moms like me we shouldnt be bitter or angry. whhaaat?

  9. Oh no Suz never,
    It is how I felt after reading some of the comments here, you are very sensitive and respectful about it.

  10. Another GREAT post Suz.
    And you are so very right – along with Wraith, Paula, Rebecca & Joy.
    NO-ONE should talk for an adoptee.
    And while I’m on the same page –
    NO-ONE should talk for a mother who lost a child to adoption.
    and
    NO-ONE should talk for an adoptive mother.
    We here on the blogosphere have our own voices – and write about things from our own points of view.
    But we should NEVER talk on other’s behalf.
    It’s taken me so very long to find my own voice – I have little energy left for speaking FOR others.
    Suz – your blog has helped me in so many ways. Thank you for being here.
    Hugs, C. xxx

  11. yep this is it… perfect!
    “I am not against adoption in theory. There will always be the need for someone to care for the child of another. I am very much against name changing, closed records, coercion, intimidation, baby brokering, stigmatizing single, unwed mothers, maternity homes, coveting they neighbors child, adoption as the cure for infertility, illegal practices, adoption being promoted in our public schools, and yeah, individuals who disregard the adoption pain of others simply because they didn’t experience it. What?”

  12. Thank you for this post. You make excellent points. The “happy” adoptees do exist I know of at least two of them personally.
    One man, seems to have no curiousity about his adoption or his identity, loves his parents and is satisfied and successful in life. He does have a pleaser type attitude tho.
    The other, is my daughters adoptive mother.
    She has had an insatiable need to adopt kids after having three of her own. She now has 6 kids, 3 adopted and 3 bio. I’ve often asked her, arent you curious about your history? Do you think the reason you took my child from me has something to do with your own trauma?
    No trauma she tells me emphatically. And “You wanted us to have her.”I wonder why she hasnt sent the photos she promised. I wonder why the open adoption agreement was never honored. Since adoption is so great..
    helloooo, *Ann* Queen of DENIAL .. *sigh*

  13. “I think one of the many reasons it took me so long to finally feel where I could talk about anything other than the “Rah-Rah-I-Was-Adopted” cheer, was because I learned very early on that people stopped listening when I did.”
    Did that ever hit home like a ton of bricks. People were always so quick to cut me off with their preposterous platitudes and preconceptions about adoption, that after a while you just suck it in. If no one’s going to listen, what good was talking?

Comments are closed.