Bitter medicine.

For me, these adoptee groups are like taking spoonfuls of bitter medicine.  The sharing I do with other adoptees, the reflections of my past, and all the things that I have learned has healed me.  Adoption is as varied as shoes, apples or the variety of labels of medication on the shelves of the local Walgreens.  We all have a different brand/flavor/outlook of what it means to be adopted.  Some people view adoption as something wonderful.  They were saved.  They lived great lives and they are vibrant humans because of adoption.  I hear this story mostly from those who were adopted when they were infants, never had an interest in their heritage, or lived with great families.  They had empathetic parents.  They went to culture camp.  They had great lives.  They lived the American dream and they can’t understand why other adoptees are so bitter and negative about the whole process.

For others, being adopted means that you are the dented and discarded items you find on sale in the back of the store… in short, your damaged goods.  You learned that you were rejected, unwanted, and thrown away.  The wounds these words inflict cuts deeper than any knife could.  Comments like: Oh you’re adopted… you must be so lucky… your parents are so wonderful… infuriates us, hurts us, and ignores who we are.  Did I have a choice in this?  Or was I thrust in this hell hole without having any choice on the matter?  What if our parents were evil?  We were made of a different mold than the first group.  Some of us were beaten, scolded, and called names by the people who were entrusted to take care of us.  Nobody was our advocate.  We were told that we somehow contributed to the pain and suffering to those who tormented us.  We lived a life of pain, guilt and shame and when we speak out other view us as bitter.

I crack open another bottle of medicine and let the gooey disgusting truth flow out from my haunted past and unto the pages in face book, e-mails, and online blogs.  Let this medicine heal.  Gulp.  Take another swallow of the bitter truth.

What do you think?  Are we adoptees really this divided?  Do these forums help us?  Are we allowed to express ourselves without ridicule from our own peers?  Do you think I have the right dosage or high on prescriptions?

8 thoughts on “Bitter medicine.

  1. Adoption is different for sll at different times.This years happy adoptee may be next years angry adoptee.Forums can help as long as there is o judgement, criticism or invalidation.We need to support each other, whatever our story.

    • For some reason there seems to be a divide between adoptees who has had a GOOD experience vs. adoptees who had BAD experiences. It’s almost similar to the divide among Christians and Non-Christians, Republicans and Democrats. Warning: If you are from a ‘good’ adoptive home then please refrain from reading further because you will be offended and I do not want to make you upset today! My theory is: Adoptees (brought up in ‘good’ households) are still ‘brain washed’ by their Adopted Parents belief systems. They are in a world of ‘compliance’ and ‘denial’ and don’t think for themselves, but rather listen to the myths and stereotypes by the ‘narrow minded’ ‘old school’ and ‘antiquated’ thought processes of Adoption. The adoptees who experienced a ‘bad’ adoption actually take the time to ‘think’. They are in a world of ‘awareness’, ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ and wanting to make changes. They are compassionate to the underdog and caring to social services because they want to see good come out of their own ‘bad’ experience. The ‘good’ adoptee sees nothing wrong and will continue the baby trade practice (called international adoption) with blind eyes. The ‘bad’ adoptee will say something about the injustices and want to make changes to protect the ‘original’ family from feeling shame and guilt. The ‘good’ adoptee will see nothing wrong and tell the ‘bad’ adoptee that he or she is just ‘angry’ and must be ‘grateful’ for the opportunity that ‘bad’ adoptee has. Yes, so to answer your question, we, adoptees are ‘divided’ and I am glad I am a ‘bad’ adoptee!

  2. It’s been about only a year since I first started taking my medicine and acknowledging the adoptee part of me. My reasons and beliefs arise from not having many adoptee friends, however the “trans-cultural” aspects have created a cultural window in which I climb in and climb out of my “birth culture”.

    As for the gap between happy and angry adoptees, life experiences among them must be examined as broad as possible and the socio-economics and demographics of where they are raised.

    Supporting what Gravatar21 stated about the gap, both sides may subconsciously say to themselves, “Well his/her situation is not like mine.”

  3. Gravatar21, I have found that reading up on writers from colonized societies (Fanon, Memmi, etc.) goes a long way to explain this mindset, the deference to the colonizer and his ways and mores is very similar, and explains this dichotomy very well.

    I have been in contact with so many adoptees not just from Lebanon and I am now wondering if the “wish for return” to one’s birth country is also shaped by the prejudices for or against a given country and its culture?

    Meaning, How are certain countries and cultures seen in the dominant culture? How “easy” then for an adoptee to make that first step? I guess I’m wondering whether certain prejudices in the West concerning Hispanic immigrants, or Arabs and Muslims, for example might help shape whether one is a “happy” or “angry” adoptee….

    Personally, I think the “happy” adoptees are in denial. Because I remember this stage as I lived it, and it certainly seems to precede the “lifting of the fog” in every case I know.

  4. I think the prejudices that the dominant culture holds to the adoptees ‘homeland’ or ‘roots’ plays a big part if the adoptee is ‘happy’ and ‘grateful’ or ‘angry’. Once they expand their horizons from their adoptive parents and experience the world and other thought processes other then their own will they discover a different kind…a new kind, a personal growth of their own self discovery. Once their own self expands via having their own children, going to college or travelling we will then start seeing a shift in their thinking. Hopefully we will see a shift, if not then I think they are ignorant and closed minded and unaware and it’s sad that they tell us to be ‘grateful’….grateful for what? for ‘what ifs?’

    • People always want to label us! why can’t we be humans like everyone else? All the idiotic questions, generalizations on how you were reared, how your feelings are- why you are grateful, angry etc… sometimes makes me feel sick!

  5. I once wrote a really lengthy reply to this post, but my cat killed my computer and I lost it. However, I’m glad a few weeks went by because I’ve changed since then.

    Lately I’ve been meeting more and more adoptees in person and feeling better and better about the prognosis for recovering from this bitter medicine, as you call it. It seems that more and more “happy” labeled adoptees are questioning some fundamental issues that give even them pause. And, it also seems that a few “angry” adoptees like myself can find peace and have our views regarded as now reasonable.

    You know, I think in all honesty we all label each other, and I think that’s human nature. I label. I am labeled. And yes, all of us happy and angry adoptees will probably ’til the end of time be thrown in together as a lesser desirable option to what society deems a fit family, as the not actual offspring but cobbled-together defective family.

    And you know, I am angry and also I am grateful. And I have met bitter adoptees and I refuse to squander what remains of my life holding onto things that make me feel bad. I can do that and still be angry about issues that concern me. I can be all these things and people can and will label me what they want.

    But the in-fighting…the fighting is stupid and ugly and immature. I think it’s up to the person joining groups (hopefully this one excluded, because we are not supposed to attack other adoptees here) and forums (and I think of this more as a roundtable discussion than a forum) to bear some of the responsibility for choosing to participate, if they raise their voice. To do so often smacks of you’re wrong and I’m right, no matter which side you may be on. Defense can really sound like an accusation so many times. And I think there would a lot less fighting if we all recognized each other as equally valid.

    And I also think those groups and forums do not represent adoptees. We are a self-identified, mostly hiding, disparate population, each generation being orphaned for different reasons under different circumstances in varying states of isolation or integration, and we stick our foot in the scalding waters of the adoptee community only during our discovery phase, which will hit each adoptee at a different phase or phases of their life. Rarely does the adoptee live there for long.

    I think if we stopped looking at the on-line adoptee community as a battle to change each other, then we would all feel less criticized. I think if we instead just shared our own narratives and our own experiences and respected everyone enough to let them consider and make their own conclusions, then many more hearts and minds would be united in mutual sympathy. We have to be the change we want to see.

    I think diversity in that transitional meeting space is important. I think your presence there is important. But you should always take a break or leave if it harms you.

  6. I am more and more of the opinion that the infighting as you are referring to it is a willful function of our acculturation, since it is found in just about any resistant group within the dominant culture. By willful I mean to say that it is built in that resistance should self-destruct in this matter. Similarly, there is just as much other equivalent gravity pulling us apart as pulling us together: ethnicity, country of origin, classism, etc.

    Along these lines, much of the infighting I see has to do with perceived weakness—there are the “weak”, the “complainers”, the “whiners”, and then there are the “strong”, the “advocates”, the “in-your-face” types.

    In true binary-minded fashion, by ascribing to this without acknowledging time as a factor, or a spectrum from one side to the other, or any gray area, or the ability to grow and change, we simply ape the competitive one-up-manship of our environment. We use the tools of our acculturation against ourselves. In doing so, we do the work of those who would wish us ill.

    I think the answer lies in seeing ourselves as willfully dispossessed; this puts us in a different realm, bridging naturally to other groups—immigrants, former slaves, refugees, etc.—that we would otherwise not find common cause with. This includes for us transracial/transnational adoptees thinking of the “internal Third World” that many domestic adoptees are taken from, based on the same incriminating factors of economic and political inequality as what we suffered; domestic adoptees and transracial adoptees share more than separates them in this regard.

    I mean to say that there are two aspects of it for me: The personal, looking inward, and the economical/political, looking outward. These have to balance somehow. If not, then everyone retreats to their “camp”….

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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