Honesty is such a lonely word

I just read a blog post about a mother telling an adoptee acquaintance how it was for her when she gave her child up for adoption. This particular mother's experience sounds horrible and she seems to be the kind of woman who wants a mother/child type relationship after reuniting with her adopted, now adult, child.

I've come away thinking about that adoptee and how he may be processing the info imparted to him. I came away wondering if this mother also spoke of the mothers who were not coerced or drugged, the mothers who didn't want their baby, the mothers who have no desire to know or have a parent/child relationship with their adopted out, now adult kids. The mothers who put it all behind them and went on with their lives.

This particular adoptee has to date not searched. He will be affected by this new knowledge, in what manner is anyone's guess, but it will have an effect. If the mother who shared her experience only shared her own and made no mention of the various other scenarios that exist, I think she may have done this adoptee a disservice.

Ever since I've started blogging my way of talking about being adopted has changed. I still talk about it, about myself, but I also talk about all the other people I've learned about. If I share how I feel about something, something like the Primal Wound theory or open records or access to OBC's, I will always add that not everyone feels the way I do. If I talk about my family and how my adoption worked out, I make sure and add that that's not the case for everyone, that it's literally a crap shoot. Some adoptees end up with horrible families, adoption isn't a guarantee that we won't be like everyone else.

I think as adoptees we have a responsibility to be honest and open about what we know if we decide to talk about our experience. I think parents have that same responsibility. 

I think we set each other up for failure when we withhold information.


  1. True, fact and opinion are not the same thing. This is a 2nd grade concept, but there are many adults who don't seem to understand the difference. Every person is different, every first family is different and every adoptive family is different. Therefore, by definition, one person's experience is not another's. There is a wide range of experiences and opinion in any situation (not just adoption) and to put your opinion out there as fact is irresponsible and ego-centric.

    Kris (Google is not letting me comment under my sign in for some reason so that is why I am now "Anonymous"!)

  2. Every story is unique. Nobody's story invalidates anyone else's story, no matter how different, unless that person starts speaking for all adoptees or surrendering mothers.

    My story is for me and my son, and he is the only adoptee I have to answer to. It does not insult me personally that some mothers really did not want to raise a child, even though I did. It does not insult me that some adoptees feel very differently than my son about their own lives. I don't know about all adoptees or all mothers and do not pretend to.

    Yet so many mothers and adoptees take offense and strike back at anyone with a different opinion or different story, and are so sure they know the Right way for us all to feel.

  3. That's something that I've always struggled with - thinking that my experience describes everyone else's. Because I'm aware of it, I want to think that means there's hope for me.

  4. I agree.

    Problem is, if you withhold information you are going to hurt someone. If you don't withold information, there is still that chance you will see them in pain. As most people know, particularly in adoption, pain is uncomfortable to witness.

    For some, it may seem the better idea is to keep that info private rather than taking any risk. :/

    You can't hurt about something you don't know.*

    *Well, I suppose you can, but the *depth* of hurt changes depending on the variables of the info given

  5. It's too bad how so many experiences are denied because they are somehow seen to hurt others or because they don't fit the mold of how that particular member of the triad ought to feel. We have heard about adoptees expressing sadness and loss who are not heard by their adoptive parents or community and who are blogged about as difficult or damaged children; we have also seen adoptees who are adjusted told they are "in denial" or told to simply "go away" from forums that only want to hear the negative because contrary experience or disagreement about specific issues somehow invalidates another person's pain. It's counterproductive and prevents some of the central issues in adoption reform from ever getting on the public radar.

  6. Yes, the mother may have done the person who was adopted a disservice. I remember when I first started reading adoption blogs I thought I would become better informed about adoption and how people who are adopted are affected. Instead, I found myself drowning in a pool of inaccurate and misleading information. Part of the problem was related to all the generalizing that occurred on various blogs. I encountered numerous instances of statements such as “All adoptees (or Adoptees) are …. (fill in the blank here – damaged, wounded, traumatized for life etc.)“ or “We (meaning all adoptees) are ……) When I was in grad school, I remember a professor cautioning us about the dangers in generalizing and committing the fallacy known as hasty generalization. Your post today serves as a good reminder of this.

  7. I'm fine with people telling their story so long as they make it clear that it is theirs alone and not attempt to generalize. There is no such thing as a universal experience. The trouble with 'universalizers' is that they only hear what they want to hear. They also have a tendency to try and recruit others others into marching along to the beat of their drum, and when met with resistance, to resort to (sometimes subtle and sometimes not-so) pressure tactics including using that much over-worked term "denial" to justify why their overtures have not been welcomed. It can be very annoying to have it assumed that denial is a “defense” against the unbearable when in fact one simply hasn't had the same experience - even if there are parallels.

  8. Damn I get some fine comments. Thank you.

  9. I think that when we give each other permission to own our experiences, it shows a great level of respect and trust. Dismissing someone's point of view breeds contempt all the way around.

  10. I don't know about this... If I have a dog and I love my dog and I'm telling someone else about my dog, do I have to tell them that not everyone else feels the same way about dogs so they don't go out and buy one based on my experience?

    Everything I say to another person is from my own perspective. I perceive the world in my own way, and nobody else will perceive things the exact same way. I don't put a disclaimer in every conversation I have because that's just not practical. I can see a mother talking about her experience. It's not her responsibility to education about all adoption issues.

    While I 100% agree that you have to consider all different sides, and making generalizations is BAD, I'd would say that it's up to the adoptee to figure out the other side of it, not the first mother.

    That's just my take on it. I think that a person should be able to share their own experiences without putting a disclaimer on them. It's a casual conversation after all (or at least that's what I'm assuming).

    Though I guess it would matter if she told him that ALL first mothers feel this way. That would be a different situation. But if she's merely saying I feel this way, then no disclaimer needed.

  11. Thanks Jenn. I get what you're saying and I certainly don't feel the need for a disclaimer every time I talk about how I feel about something. When it comes to adoption however, I just feel a responsibility to not mislead anyone, especially an adopted person who hasn't searched. For me it would just feel wrong to give the impression that my experience is the norm when there is no norm.

  12. "The truth is horrifying. I could see it on his face. I live it so I relay these instances as fact, he had to digest it. . . . Those of us who are out of the fog need to make it our mission to educate each other."

    That was zealotry, not "perspective". We don't even know what the guy's face was conveying--probably horror at being trapped by a missionary.

  13. "There is no norm". How true! There are similarities, differences, synchronicity and disparity, but there is no one Official Story for adoptees or mothers who surrendered,nor adoptive parents. We each need to be able to tell our own stories and listen to very different stories of others with openness and respect. Telling a different story or having a different belief is not the the same as silencing or dismissing anyone else. People should have a right to disagree without being threatened or publicly shamed.

    Pretty much we can agree on some things, disagree on others. Insisting on an adoption orthodoxy of story, feeling, and belief is not the way to foster honest dialogue.

  14. Jenn, I agree with you, but in the post Campbell is referring to the mohter states "I then shared with him the truth about adoption from a mothers perspective and shared some un-named stories of how mothers lost their child to adoption. I relayed stories of drugging, withholding support (financial and emotional by family members and social programs), the physical restraint, threats and abduction. The truth is horrifying. I could see it on his face. I live it so I relay these instances as fact, he had to digest it."
    My reading of that is this mother suggests HER truth is THE truth about adoption.

    I am certain this mother is in agony. But it is her story, and perhaps similar to first mother of the adoptee to whom she spoke, and perhaps not even close.


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