Friday, July 25, 2008

What is an adoptee?

8 things you may not know about an adoptee from someone who is an adoptee:
1. An adoptee is someone who was adopted.

2. Adoptee's, in most cases, are the only ones in the adoption triangle-birth parents, child, adoptive parents - who did not have a choice.

3. An adoptee has lost and must grieve the loss of their birth parents, especially their birth mother, at some point in their life no matter the circumstances and "great life" they now have.

4. Being adopted does not mean the adopted person wants to be reminded of this by being known as the "adopted" child. It does mean that the adoptee wants the option to talk about their adoption and should be given it in their own terms. My sister is noticeably different than me and whenever we are together and the subject of relations and looks comes up - which is often - my sister has always replied one of us is adopted - And the subject is always dropped!

5. The right to know about their adoption should always be given freely and without fear of the child pushing away. People ask me, often, when they should tell their children about their adoption; I believe it shouldn't have to be "told" in one sit down family meeting - but given to them bit by bit as they grow older. Start with photos, tell them about your desire to have children, and how you became a family. Then, they'll never have to guess.

6. An adoptee may feel insecure at times about their place among a family that may not seem like them in look or personality. It isn't their fault and the parents should do everything they can to make sure that all their children feel "loved" the same. Someone asked a friend of mine who adopted and has had children by birth, if she could "love" her adopted child as much as the two she gave birth too- her answer was a resounding Yes! I remember having these insecure feelings - but I also remember, my parents doing all they could to make sure that I didn't feel this way for long.

7. There is a second reality that an adoptee experiences and that is the curiosity of what if I wasn't adopted, what would I be like, would I have a better life, what if my mom would have kept me... It's a natural curiosity and one I had until I met my birth father and birth mother's family a couple of years ago; when my second reality came crashing down - a story for another post. You can never know as a parent of an adopted child what that second reality is like, unless you create an openness with your child that you are not afraid to hear what they think or feel about these questions. Accepting the adoptee's feelings, doesn't mean that they will love you less.

8. An adopted child can have a deep and loving appreciation for their adoptive parents. There are distinguishing meanings between the word mommy and the word mother. I understand my birth mother's reasons for relinquishing her rights as a mom and she will always have that special place in my heart as a champion for my life happiness. My mom, my adoptive mom, is the only person I have or will ever call mommy.

Adoption is a part of my life. It is never in the back of my mind - it is always in the front; whether it be my own adoption, my children's adoption, or answering other people questions about adoption. Are you adopted? Are you a birth mother? Adopted Parent? Do you know someone who is adopted? Either way, what are your feelings on this post - would you add anything or change anything?

If you are looking for information and understanding about adoptee's, the book Journey to the adopted self is an exceptional read. I read this book when I was about 26 and it changed the way I felt about my adoption.

Your thoughts?


Melinda said...

Wow, Michelle, this was so beautifuly put! Jason always tells me to keep adoption open for one more child but I don't know if it will ever happen. We have soooo many friends who have adopted from other countries and should really read this. You should write a book about it!

Bren's Life said...

Thank you so much Michelle for this perspective.. It makes me wonder am I too open about my kids being adopted? I really don't like that people will assume the girls aren't ours because of their color & then want to know everything.
I can't even imagine there ever being a difference between a child I delivered & a child I adopted. I love my kids with all my heart & am so thankful to their birth moms for having them..
I would love to hear more of your story...

Jennfer said...

This was an important post to write Michelle. I'm glad you wrote it.
Love ya sis

SuzanSayz said...

Hi Michelle, My name is Susan. I have been blogging buddies with your sister Jennifer for a while. Your comment on one of her posts caught my attention, and so here I am.
I was a birth mother. I got pregnant when I was sixteen. I'm 51 now so obviously this was quite a while ago. I loved my baby so incredibly MUCH right from the second I knew I was carrying her.
I did not want to give her up at all, but my alternative was to keep her and to then know what she would have missed out on. I am LDS so it was quite shameful for my parents. Although, that didn't stop my parents. They actually wanted me to have the baby and let them raise her. There was NO WAY IN HELL I would have allowed that. The main reason I had gotten pregnant was that I felt so unloved and rejected by my mother that I was looking for love and acceptance wearever I could. So I knew that I could not keep her. I went through the whole pregnancy knowing I could not keep her and wanting so badly to never have to let her go. I think this was the first time in my young life that I had ever experienced that all consuming completely selfless love for someone. Giving her up for adoption was and still is the most loving and selfless thing I have ever done in my whole life.
And it was made even harder by how I was treated by the people at the hospital. I had been living with my aunt and uncle in Provo Utah during my pregnancy. When I went to the hospital to give birth I was treated so coldly. And afterward they were even worse. I was not allowed to see or hold her until I had signed the adoption papers promising to give her up. And then they let me hold her for maybe three minutes and then they grabbed her from me and told me I couldn't see her ever again. I was so intimidated I just went along with everything. I was the candy bar wrapper that they threw away after they had the candy bar. I wish I knew then what I know now I would have never let them treat me that way. There is NOT a CHANCE that I would have ever changed my mind. I loved her too much to subject her to the life she would have had with me. I just wanted to spend enough time with her to have memories of her. I have never once regretted giving her up. And believe me that is not to say that I didn't mourn her. I have absolutely no idea how to even start trying to find her. I have had to block out so much of it to stop the pain that I don't even remember any more what her exact birthday would be. It kind of hurts that she is now well into her thirtys and as far as I know she has never tried to find me. I would love to see her, but she is the one that would have to contact me because I could never do anything to make her uncomfortable. When I was younger I was really afraid of what her adoptive parents might have told her about me. For some reason I always feared that they would tell her things like ; Your birth mother was just a filthy little tramp that did not want you. I realize that, that is probably so far from the truth, but it has always been a worry to me that she would even for one moment think that I gave her up because I didn't want her. I have a really good life now. I've been married for over 31 years to a wonderful man. We have five beautiful children I have 5 beautiful grand daughters And I am content. I hope this view from the other side brings you comfort. I hope that your birth mother loved you as much as I loved my sweet little baby. Sorry to write a novel, it just is such a personal subject for me.

Amanda said...

Beautifully written. Adoption has changed so much in the past 20, even 10 years, but these feelings are all things that people, mainly adoptees still need to work through.

I think it's great you have so much insight to pass along to your girls.

Adoption is a bittersweet thing, but it can change lives for the better.

I don't know many birth moms who would wonder 'what if'..because they know that no matter how hard it is to say goodbye at that moment, you have to do what is best for that child's life.

dani said...

this is a beautiful, informative post, michelle... i never knew any of these things and grew up with 4 girls who were adopted...

Teri Brown said...

Susansayz, when I found my daughter I first had contact with her adoptive father. He told me that they had looked for me but didn't know where to find me. I always felt like you, that I shouldn't look for her. I felt like I would be interfering in her life. Since then, I realize that the majority of adoptees, especially the women, want to find their birth mothers. They just don't know where or how to look. If you register with the ISRR, you might find that she has registered and is looking to find you. You have nothing to lose by registering. It is the largest non-profit private registration in the world. It is at

I was quite surprised myself to discover that my daughter had wanted to meet me. She was 21 when I found her and she said from the moment she gave birth to her first child she wanted to know her heritage and she always needed to know her medical history. I never would have looked for her if it had not been for a wrong number but it was meant to be.

I hope you will register and then if she wants to find you, she'll know where to look.

All my best,
Teri Brown

Marie said...

You will obviously be very able to empathize with any feelings your daughters have concerning their adoption and have the ablity to help them. I am sure you are a better mom becasue of it.

Dirk's little brother is adopted and he feels the same about him as any of his natural siblings. I was talking to him about adoption once and he is fully confidant that he would love an adopted child the same as one of his birth children because he feels it for his brother.

charity said...

Beautiful...I want to share this with everyone! I love how eloquent you are!