Since you asked

So I've recently been asked, I'm told sincerely, how I am impacted by being adopted and I've since been mulling over a response. I found the context in which I was asked this question a little strange as well as off topic, to my train of thought anyway, so I felt uncomfortable answering in the space where the question originated. It was asked in an environment where the attitudes toward adopted persons who do not feel negatively affected are hostile, judgemental, dismissive, and insulting plus such a question would be difficult to answer in the limited space of a comment for someone as long-winded as I can be.

So here I am answering in my own little space of the internet. Within my answer it is not my intent to insult anyone or claim that my perspective is right or better, it's simply that, my perspective, my experience, my life. I wouldn't say being adopted has had a huge impact on me, not in comparison to other significant events in my life. The mother/daughter relationship I've experienced and the ramifications of that, the birth of my son, the deaths of my younger brother and my father have all had a much more profound impact on me than anything to do with being adopted has. That said, there have been a few isolated incidents because of it as well as ongoing experiences I have had and am having that wouldn't have occurred or be occuring had I not been given up at birth.

There are a couple of things that stand out from my past. As a child coming to the realization that I didn't come from a nurse that had babies for those who couldn't was huge. The discussion about this with my mom (it started out with me crying and accusing my mom of having lied to me) was provoked by classmates that I'd told I was adopted who had pointed out, not very kindly, that meant my sister wasn't my real sister. This realization was where I first started to think about my biological mother, worry that she was well, and develop the desire to let her know that I was ok. I never once felt she'd abandoned me or that there was something wrong with me that she didn't want me. I just assumed that some "jerk" had gotten her pregnant and her evil parents had forced her to give me away. None of this ended up being accurate but it's what I always thought.

Another was as a teen telling a boyfriend if I were to ever find myself pregnant I'd have an abortion. I clearly remember him asking how I could do something like that having been adopted. That my biological mom could have aborted me but didn't. Although I know this train of thought makes anti adoption peeps crazy it is very common thought and had an impact on me. Now that I'm a grown woman I realize the abortion option in 1963 wasn't all that available so as a result wasn't likely to have happened but I am still glad to be alive and not aborted. I love my life.

Another way being adopted had an impact on me was sexually. I was determined from a very young age to never get pregnant when I didn't want to so abstained (from intercourse) until my early twenties. Hard to believe sports fans, but it's true. I've had friends from school to this day say they'd never have thought that but rather assumed the opposite. I had lots of boyfriends, they just weren't gettin' any...of "that" anyway.

I have never experienced feeling like I didn't belong when it came to my family, immediate or extended. I always felt that my mom and dad, sister and brother were just that. My family. I've never felt that my lack of interest in searching made me the good child or that it was for my parents, to save them the anguish or hurt feelings. I was all for my sister searching when she did and chastised my mom when she got her nose out of joint here and there (just recently watched home video of my family meeting my sister's bio mom and her partner, haha man what a gong show). In my recent connection with my bio mom I took flack from my mom about not wanting to share my bio mom's name. This was not the only thing that my mom did that annoyed me or hurt my feelings in navigating my way through this but none of that is actually adoption related, it's because of the type of person my mom is.

Being blood related really doesn't mean very much to me. It's actual relationships, connections through family that are important to me. I am as much my grandma's granddaughter as any of my cousins. My parent's ancestral history is as much mine as it is my brother's, who is biological to my parents. Although I am not related genetically, I am related by being a part of the family, my father's daughter, my mother's daughter, just as my son is a part of the family history even though he isn't related by blood. Actually as far as my son goes, my family is and always has been far more influential, important, prominent in my son's life than his blood relatives on his dad's side just by being more present, more involved, more like family. I am related by blood to others but neither my son nor I know them and they aren't as important to me as the people I know and love. This is not to say they couldn't be but to date, they are not, I don't even know them. I'm getting to know my bio mom but to say that she is someone that feels like family to me would be a huge stretch, one that I am not willing to conjure up for the sake of fitting in with those who claim a mystical mother/child connection without real interaction and history. She is the person who gave birth to me which in itself is meaningful, but I don't know her, just as she doesn't really know me. Don't get me wrong, it would have been very cool to have discovered this amazing, perfect, mother figure that many dream of but no, she's just a very nice, active, seemingly intelligent woman who seems family oriented, that I'm getting to know. She's just a person, like me, living her life as fully as she can, trying to be a good human being while still having fun.

Another impact being adopted has had on me is the freedom I have to be myself. The less desirable qualities of my family are not mine to be inherited whereas the good qualities are there for me to emulate and admire if choose to do so. That may seem frivolous to some but to me it's been a big deal.

I've been sitting on this post for a bit and I'm not completely sure I've covered all the ways adoption has impacted me but perhaps that can be accomplished in the comments. I do want to get this out there as it's been a while now since I was asked, sincerely, just how I am impacted by being adopted.


  1. I am so with you on the biology thing. I have a really hard time wrapping my head around any way of thinking that has at its base biological connection. Connection is about interaction and history and what you do, not what genes you have.

  2. Damn. It is seriously AWESOME to read of an adoptee who isn't defined by being adopted! It is seriously so refreshing. Being adopted is apart of us...but not that one thing that determines everything.

    I am going to come back and read this after some sleep. I just had to say I really really identified and liked this post, a LOT!

  3. Thanks for commenting Broadsnark and ritehere.

    For sure being adopted is a part of me, a big part really, but yeah, it's not even close to the thing that determines everything. As far as the biology/genetic connection, I've seen way too many "real" families fall apart over far less than my family has been though to buy into that myth.

  4. Eh, I do think genetics/biology plays a part in families.

    (I know, for the people commenting this, this is "giving" biology the power to rule us, which is why we like calling it a myth otherwise mothers wouldn't kill/abuse their own children)

    But I also think genetics/biology can be "ruined" (destroyed) by outside factors. Not so much us directly as living, human beings, but the factors which play into shaping who we are. (After all, we are living, biological creatures)

    If you take a situation where a mother is abusing her child, hm, I can see easily that biology would be considered a myth in this situation. After all, if biology is So Darn Important, then why the hell is she inflicting harm on her child?

    Because biology doesn't matter? Because she sees her child as an object rather than a human being? Because genetics don't mean shit during pregnancy?

    This is just my opinion, of course - I've been thinking about what you've said to me through e-mails, Campbell, and I can actually understand what you mean when you say biology/bonding is a myth. If a mother is abusing her own child, there is no bond. It doesn't exist because parents kill their own child(ren), hurt and neglect their own child(ren).

    So biology and genetics can't have anything to do with a parental relationship because that would have to be a blanket statement - but it didn't stop those children from being killed/abused, so it doesn't/can't exist. It can't have anything to do with a parental relationship because there are far too many dysfunctional families and too many parents who truly do not care/love their children.

    So if I've got this right - a mother loving her child just because of pregnancy is considered a myth because it doesn't always happen? Because then that would need to apply to *every* single pregnancy?

    If that is the reasoning you've been trying to explain, then what I've thought of is this:

    Biology is important. Biology does not trump all. Biology does not define us, but it does make up a crucial part of us. It should not determine our relationships with people (yet it does, how strange is that...)

    Is it "safe" to assume the majority of families have nothing to do with biology/genetic connection? Is it "safe" to say that since not all mothers love their children, we should just disregard biology/genetics since we'll never know any statistics about every single mother/child family out there?

    In the case of a mother abusing her child, I think that biology still matters. But it's been affected by other factors. If a mother is abusing her child, is it because of drugs, alcohol, etc? Is it because she herself was a child?

    To be clear, I don't make excuses for mothers who abuse their children. I still stand by my (naive?) opinion that biology/genetics does factor into the mother/child relationship.


    In cases like these, where obviously biology/genetics doesn't mean squat because A MOTHER IS HURTING HER OWN CHILD, I would say that biology matters - but NOT strong enough to withstand whatever illness or outside factor[s] has affected the mother so much that she wants to seek physical harm onto her own child.

    Actually, this kind of makes me wonder if these types of mothers would even care if their children were removed from them.

    Or if the type of mother who just neglects her own child would fight for that child to not be removed from the home situation.

  5. "Connection is about interaction and history and what you do, not what genes you have."

    Must it be about either-or?

    Why not both?

  6. I was just talking about this today Mei Ling. Biology does of course matter, but no, by itself it's not enough and what kind of damage occurs if people think it is enough, or everything. It would be so simple if we could rely on genetic connections to produce loving, healthy relationships, parental or otherwise but as you say, with outside influences (combined with personal agendas and ego) it takes far more. A good parent/child relationship takes effort and dedication, "because I'm your mother/father/grandparents/sibling" just doesn't cut it.

  7. "Biology does of course matter, but no, by itself it's not enough and what kind of damage occurs if people think it is enough, or everything"

    Which makes me wonder, if a mother is being verbally abused by her own adult child, then why continue to support that child?

    If biology doesn't matter, or shouldn't, a parent shouldn't "let" their adult child "control" their emotions like that, then why does the parent bother to maintain connections with the adult child?

    Do you think biology plays into this at all? (The reason why the parent hasn't "given up/let go" of their adult child)

  8. It went something like this... yes, I believe biology can play into that just as guilt, history, low self esteem, loyalty, commitment, responsibility, concern about what others will think, love, or all of that plus combined can play into a parent not letting go of their adult child.

  9. For someone who isn't very affected by her adoption, you sure like to talk about it a lot.
    And you sure get mad easily when other people have the audacity to disagree with you or share a differing opinion.

  10. Who are you Lisa (I could wager a guess) and who am I mad at? People disagree with me all the time and it doesn't make mad. Thanks for contributing zero to the conversation.

  11. This is my first time here. I found the link over at the fmf. I must say that I really enjoyed reading your words. You sound like you're an emotionally well-adjusted individual who has taken charge of her life. I do have several friends and relatives who were adopted and share many of your views. Thanks for sharing your story.


  12. Hi Gail

    Yeah I left the link instead of trying to answer Lorraine over on fmf. Thanks for commenting : )

  13. Thank you for this post. I am trying very hard as an adoptive mother to read with an open mind the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of all adoptees to get a better understanding of where my girls are right now and will be someday. The thing that struck me in this post was when you said that you didn't share your bio mom's name with your adopted mom. I got to thinking that I would be hurt my girls decided that. But then I realized that it is their right. And I need to respect that. Thank you for putting your thoughts out there and for helping me see possible futures so that I can respond in the best way.

  14. mrkmommy..I'm glad you picked up on that. I didn't share it to protect both mothers actually. To protect my bio mom's privacy and to protect my mom from blowing my bio mom's privacy. It was up to my mom to decide whether she wanted to understand or not, be hurt or not. To be honest, it was my hope she's be pleased to know that I value confidentiality when I've promised it to someone, you know?

    Of course I would share it if my bio mom was open about me, if there was no secret. Maybe some day : )

  15. I think this post was so positive. I completely agree with you when you said "being blood related really doesn't mean very much to me. It's actual relationships, connections through family that are important to me." And I really identified with the way you think about your biological mother as another person trying to live her life. I'd like to think that I feel this way about my kids' parents. Thanks for being so open!

  16. The thing I was going to say that is similar to what Lisa wrote was that for someone who says they were not really effected by adoption, you sure do talk about it a lot. You have been deeply effected just not in the same way many other adopted people are effected. Your passionate about adoption issues you simply cannot deny that. So its effected you because you get annoyed hearing other adoptees bitch and moan and speak on your behalf and you felt like someone had to pipe up and balance things out a bit. Her point was to hurt and embarrass you by pointing out what does look like hypocracy; ie you saying you were not impacted by adoption and the fact that you actually have an adoption blog - maybe you did not intend to blog about adoption but you do and its a GREAT blog.
    So having been on the receiving end of both, what I can only describe as your Irish, and also having had really good helpful conversations with you, I wish you would have given a more better answer to Lisa than "shut up you suck" again you did not say that its just how i interpreted it.
    She's not wrong about the mad thing either, she chose the wrong word but you have to remember you devoted an entire post once in response to some stuff on another blog being not only the dumbest thing you ever heard someone say about adoption but like the dumbest thing you ever heard someone say about anything ever ever ever. Thats not actually what you said but that is how I felt when I was reading it. It did not make me want to hurt you back or be rude to you. When I wrote in I was nice to you which may be why you did not tell me what I have to say is irrellevant you actually talked to me. I would have liked to see you give a good answer, its a point worth addressing and there is a good answer. You would just have to write it and then she would just have to listen and not be a bitch.

    Or not, I'm just throwing out ideas. back to my corner.

  17. Great observations Marilynn, thanks. Had Lisa's intent not been to hurt and embarrass me, as you say, I would have taken the time to actually have talked to her. Don't worry too much though, I doubt she's all that interested.

  18. Oh no you are wrong there. I am very interested in why you are so bent on shaming and ridiculing those who hold a differing opinion.
    I am also fascinated by the fact that you see yourself as some kind of victim to the adoptees that hold a differing opinion when what I've seen going around is you on the attack, not them.
    You go on and on about how happy and stable and wonderful you are but you get defensive and angry when someone has an opinion or experience about adoption that is different from yours.
    People seem to touch your anger button very easily and unintentionally. It doesn't take much to get you going.
    And as far as shaming and embarrassing you, I doubt that anyone could ever do that. That was not my intent regardless.
    But I think you know that or you would have answered Marilynn when she asked the same questions I did.

  19. Lisa - actually, Campbell doesn't do that. She and I have had very argumentative discussions and expressed VERY strong opinions from opposite sides of the coin, and she never "slammed" me.

  20. Lisa WTF is your problem. Man you know how to spout the words...shaming, ridiculing,...I'm surprised "dismisses and disrespects" wasn't in there too, not that you people ever show much respect to your Targets du Jour.

    News flash: it's ok to disagree with someone and ok to vent. It isn't a personal attack on you. Campbell was asked a question. Here comes your favorite phrase: get over it.

  21. Thanks Mei Ling, I appreciate that

  22. I agree with Mei Ling, I have seen Campbell have her own opinion and express it freely. I have seen her not back down from a debate. Since is merely having a differing opinion or life view being “bent on shaming and ridiculing”?

    We all blog and comment because we all feel we have a unique perspective on things. What a boring world we would live in if everyone thought and acted exactly like us. And how narcissistic would one have to be to think they should?

    Back to the subject, I have family who I am biologically related to and family I am not. I am living proof that mothers don’t necessarily have a protective bound to their children, and that one doesn’t have to be biologically related to a child to love and raise them.
    – thank god or I would have been really screwed!

  23. Also agreeing with Sunday and Mei Ling on this, I have not seen Campbell shaming or dismissing anyone, just disagreeing sometimes on some issues. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem is not with Campbell but with those who take any disagreement as insult and dismissal and use it as a license to attack.

  24. @ anon

    Right back at you--wtf is your problem? I don't even know who Lisa is, she is not one of "you people" what a mischaracterization.

    I personally have no problem with Campbell's point of view. She often comes after me but usually it is just a misunderstanding of what I wrote. Campbell has every right to her personal point of view. I am quite comfortable with it.

    As far as I know, Campbell is not-anti access, that would irritate me but how she sees best to deal with her own familial situation would be the only responsible thing for her to do.

    Good Lord get over me!

  25. I published your comment because anon linked to you Joy. It's a gross exaggeration to say I "often come after" you. I will though speak out if I see something said I feel is misrepresenting another's words...or if you're calling other adoptees Baby Toms.

  26. Well Joy, as far as I have seen I have never seen Campbell posting comments about YOU "sucking dick" around blog land. (If she did and I missed it let me know and I will get with her about how immature I think that is.) But I HAVE seen comments like that made about Campbell by name in conversations that she wasn't involved in. I think she has every right to feel attacked by someone who makes those kind of statements.

  27. I will change it then to, "Campbell has come after me before"

    That is fine. I was thinking more when you were on at me about my own abrother and his behaviors. But yeah, the BabyToms thing too, I didn't have a problem with that. I call some people Baby Toms, you don't like it. Fair enough.

  28. Joy, you put it out there on fmf that your abrother was very compliant. You went on to say that he has had difficulties in his relationships and understanding other people as an older person and that you think in large part because he is in so much denial about his adoption issues that it blunts his reasoning on other issues. I asked if this was due to the fact he had a primal wound or because he was in denial about having one. I still believe the question was relevant in light of the many primal wound discussions I've witnessed where you and others claim it doesn't cause adopted persons to have difficulty in relationships. You went on to point out that you weren't that simple of a thinker as well as several other thinly veiled insults.

    If my question felt to you like I was coming after you, my apologies, I guess I can see how you could get away with the accusation. It's difficult to summon up much remorse though when I think back over the many things I've seen you write that, in my opinion, far more resemble "going after people" than me asking you that question.

    Sunday, lol, rest assured you did not miss me saying anything like that about anyone around the blogosphere.

  29. Sunday, to be perfectly fair, it was "Jake" and not "Joy" who accused Campbell of sucking adoptive-parent dick. Nonetheless, the taste left in the mouth over certain kinds of comments is . . . unmistakable.

  30. If Campbell said she felt attacked by me Sunday, I missed it. Jess is right, you are misquoting me. I am not sure why you feel compelled to school me on things that I didn't say.

    I felt Campbell, and perhaps I misread you, that you were personalizing something I said about my abrother who is someone I know v. well irl and someone you have never laid eyes on. I felt like you were putting words in my mouth regarding the primal wound and whatnot and personalizing something that had nothing to do with you. I didn't use the word primal wound, I don't even think of it as theory but rather a book.

    While I am not aware of Campbell making disparging remarks about my conversations with adoptive parents, people certainly have:

    *I never called this author a piece of sh1t either. Not my style. Just goes to show how easy it is to misunderstand people. Such is life, sometimes you just gotta let it go.


  31. Joy if I were quoting you I would have used quotation marks and attributed it to YOU. I was pointing out the kind of juvenile crap going on around the blogosphere involving Campbell and those who have decided that since she doesn’t walk in lockstep she is fair game and ok to attack. It was a commentary about the “mean girl’ culture I have seen emerge over the past few months. I can unquestionably see how misunderstanding happen… A LOT. I said I would school Campbell if SHE were making comments like that, because I would expect more from her than that.


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