Adoptees are Dying, but Adoption Agencies Continue to Neglect Our Cries
While the world markets adoption as a win-win for all, Adult Adoptees are left for dead by the Adoption Agencies pleading to love, support and respect them every step of the way.
Ultimately, I believe in a perfect world; Adoption wouldn't exist. All babies and children would enter safe and loving homes with their biological families, and all mothers would have a deep, long-lasting maternal instinct to parent their children. The coercive tactics to lure mothers to relinquish their babies would be nonexistent. Instead, people would pour into keeping mothers and babies together, and at all cost Family Preservation would trump adoption separation. But sadly, that's not the world we live in when it comes to Adoption.
While the world markets adoption as a win-win for all, Adult Adoptees are left for dead by the adoption agencies pleading to love, support and respect them every step of the way.
Adoption Agencies proclaim they are determined to provide a positive experience for all and to empower those who are part of the adoption "triad."
Still, these commitments have yet to be fulfilled for those adopted children who grow up and reach adulthood. This presents many unjust dilemmas for all adoptees who grow up with no resources for the lifelong issues that can come from separating from our biological connections and the trauma at the root of this separation.
I am still looking for an adoption agency that will answer the call to a conversation about the layers of the adoptee experience after the Adoptee grows up and who provides post-adoptee-related resources for the Adoptee once they reach adulthood.
In my research on private adoption agency websites, I mainly see resources for Birth Mothers and Adoptive Families; nothing is explicitly listed for Adult Adoptees. Even when the website says, "A center for connection, a center for support," adult adoptees are left out of the equation, time and time again.
Let's take a moment, to be honest. There is nothing "equal" about the experience of adoptees and that of our Birth Mothers and Adoptive Parents. Most of us didn't choose anything, and we didn't sign any paperwork. This monumental decision was made for us that would impact our lives forever. Yet, even well into our adult lives, we're still silenced and significantly impacted by this decision in every area of our lives.
This means adoptees included in the "triad" are not equal, especially when the Adoption Agencies who promise to provide support epically fail. Therefore, not only are Adoptees owed an apology, but we deserve better.
We lost the most, at no fault of our own, and are almost always denied the right to share our grievances. Instead, we're told to be thankful, grateful, and glad someone took us in when our biological parents didn't want us!
As a result, not only do adoptees have a life-altering traumatic experience from the separation of their biological mothers, but we continue to be the invisible, voiceless piece to the adoption constellation. We've been silenced, shut down, and dismissed by the world.
Adoption Agencies are at the top (along with APs) of the list for failing adult adoptees. I have personal feelings about agencies, but I will save those thoughts for another article. So instead, this article is to spark dialogue on why Adoption Agencies have the door slammed in Adult Adoptee's faces and why they continue to leave us for dead.
Our grief and loss are swept under the rug as if it doesn't exist. If that wasn't enough, we are expected to forget all about our beginnings as if they don't signify anything. Instead, we are designated a new identity and expected to align with these falsehoods for the rest of our lives without ever having a say.
These Adoption Agencies might provide resources for Birth Mothers and Adoptive Parents. Still, the adoptee experience hosts countless layers distinctive to each Adoptee that symbolize their experiences are very different from those of our Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents.
Now that we have some adoptee-centric resources available for the adult adoptee community, it's time we have some difficult conversations with the Adoption Agencies to help promote and support these resources.
But there's an issue with this happening.
Adoption Agencies refuse to acknowledge separation trauma publicly and provide a space of resources on their websites as a point of reference for adult adoptees who are hurting.
They would have done this by now if they wanted to do this.
Suppose adoption agencies promote answering God's calling and doing what's in the child's best interest. Yet, in the same arena, they fail to acknowledge that before every Adoption takes place, the Adoptee experiences separation trauma first. This could be the most significant loss of their life by the loss of their biological mother. By sweeping this trauma under the rug, they are doing a grave injustice to Adoptees, Adoptive Parents, and Birth Parents.
"Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful" - The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE.
Adoptees are dying by the day because their pain is too great to carry—abandonment, rejection, grief, loss, complex PTSD, and substance use disorder all plague adoptees. As a result, prisons, jails, mental health, and treatment facilities are over-populated with adoptees, who are 4x more likely to die by suicide than non-adopted people.
I have devoted well over a decade of my life to creating resources for this marginalized community and elevating adoptee voices to step in the gap for the adoptees who are hanging on by a thread and for those who are no longer with us.
The Adoption Agencies should understand, along with our Adoptive Parents, that Adoption doesn't erase the reality that all adoptees lose deeply before Adoption. Adoption happens AFTER the separation, and it's expected to remove our reality. Adoption doesn't remove our history. It doesn't, and it can't. The concept it does is harmful and damaging to adoptees everywhere.
Consider Reading: The Vital Contrast Between Relinquishment Trauma, Separation Trauma, and Adoption Trauma and Why We Should Consider the Difference.
We need Adoption Agencies to step out of nonacceptance and better understand how Adoption impacts adoptees when they grow up. We don't stay babies forever. We eventually grow up!
You can only pretend for so long.
Even in abusive and horrifying situations when separation is necessary, we still lose our biological mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, ethnicity, medical history, culture, ancestral heirlooms, memories, the right to grieve, and the comfort of knowing our truth because we fight every step of the way trying to find out who we are and where we come from.
Some of us experience a double rejection when we find our biological parents, which is heart-shattering. Some adoptees don't connect well or feel bonded to their adoptive families, and we spend our entire lives never feeling like we belong.
Adoptees adopted internationally or interracially have unique experiences vastly different from typical "Adoption Resources." Consequently, they need transracial and transnational Adoptee Resources.
Consider Reading: 100 Heartfelt Transracial Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption
Therefore, resources for Birth Mothers and Adoptive Parents differ enormously from those created for Adult Adoptees. Considering the alarming statistics of adoptees and suicide, I don't think I'm asking too much. I don't think the adoptee community I have come to know and love is asking too much.
Consider Reading: 100 Heartfelt Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption
At the very least, we deserve a conversation with Adoption Agencies rooted in their willingness to gain a deeper understanding of the adoptee experience so they can educate Adoptive Parents more appropriately.
We deserve a space on every Adoption Agency website that lists resources for us, by us, and we deserve our pain to be acknowledged and validated by those who claim to have our best interest at heart, the Adoption Agencies. Post Adoption Support only lists Birth Mothers and Adoptive Families but what about the Adoptees?
In 2015, I was in a desperate space in my adoptee journey. I needed to connect with other adoptees because I had a lifetime of failed therapy attempts, only finding myself therapying the therapist repeatedly. I knew if I could connect with other adoptees who speak the same language, we could offer support and connection with one another.
After researching, I couldn't find anything in my area, so I contacted the highest-rated adoption agency in the state to seek some resources for Adult Adoptees. Of all the people in the world who should have resources for Adult Adoptees, the adoption agencies should. After all, they claim to support Birth Parents, Adoptive Parents, and Adopted Children, and the "triad." But where is the support for Adopted Adults?
Consider Reading: Adult Adoptee Recommended Resources
Once again, I spoke to the founder of the Adoption Agency, letting me know that they had absolutely zero resources for Adult Adoptees. However, they sent me a link to a Craigslist Add in 2012 where an adoptee sought other Adoptees to create a support group in the area. She had no idea that was my ad from 2012.
This was when I knew Adult Adoptees had been left for dead by Adoption Agencies.
Two weeks ago, I reached out to several Adoption Agencies in Lexington, KY, where I live, in hopes of conversing about Adoption from the Adult Adoptee perspective and sharing some life-saving resources for Adult Adoptees with them. Sadly, not one of them granted me as little as a conversation.
The wall is up, and they refuse to take it down. This is a disaster for Adoptees worldwide.
Often, Adoptive Parents are left in the dark about parenting children with such complex emotions and trauma. I have repeatedly heard that after the Adoption is complete, Agencies turn a blind eye to Adoptive Parents, just like they do for Adult Adoptees. While they aren't the group I advocate for, I have heard their stories of unpreparedness to parent a child on such a delicate path and a traumatic-filled beginning.
Adoptive Mom Casondra Radford says in her article- "When you thought Adoption meant forever. Trauma rears its ugly head, and you're not prepared. You ask for support from the agency, but your child is no longer their responsibility. You seek out professional services to no avail."
I can only help but wonder how many Adoptive Parents feel ill-prepared to navigate parenting with a child riddled with separation trauma. Could the agencies have done more? I assume so because of how they have disregarded adoptees that reach adulthood.
My purpose in bringing this topic to light is rooted in all the adoptees who died by suicide and those whose pain is so great they can't see past it. I bring these issues to light in hopes they will spark transformation.
Please research Adoptee Remembrance Day - October 30th.
Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of crimes against adoptees by adoptive parents, an action that current media does not recognize. It also allows us to publicly mourn and honor the lives of our brothers and sisters who we have lost and might otherwise be forgotten. It raises awareness about adoptee suicide, highlighting a complex topic. Through these actions, we express love and respect for the adoptee community. Adoptee Remembrance Day reminds others that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends, and lovers. Adoptee Remembrance Day allows our allies to step forward with us, memorializing those who have died too soon. It also recognizes the loss all adopted people experience before they're adopted.
Consider reading: Sara's Story.
Still, being truthful about our adoption experiences is challenging when only positive stories are allowed. Have you ever noticed how Adoption Agencies rarely have Adult Adoptee perspectives (who are out of the fog) in selling their services on websites and social media?
There are reasons for this. But, if we are being honest, there is never going to be a positive experience when ANY CHILD is separated from their biological mother. This experience is always rooted in heartbreak, trauma, and loss for the mother and child, regardless of the reason for the separation. To be forced to make this reality into a "positive spin" to fit the narrative of the Adoption Agencies is impossible!
Therefore, you rarely see or hear ADULT ADOPTEE VOICES who are out of the fog on these agencies' websites or social media accounts.
However, the best way for them to learn about the adult adoptee experience is to connect with and have conversations with adult adoptees themselves. Therefore, after reading this, I hope that Adoption Agencies want to add Adopted Adults to the topic of conversations when they are promoting Adoption.
Thankfully, Adoptees are starting to step up and create adoptee-centric resources; however, Adoption Agencies continue to slam the door in our faces and claim they are extending God's love and peace wherever we are in our journeys.
It feels like they have left Adult Adoptees for dead even when they are profiting enormously off adoptees for a living, working for a multi-billion dollar unregulated industry. They refuse to offer an ear of understanding or space on their website dedicated to providing resources for adult adoptees.
Times are changing for Adult Adoptees.
Slowly, some adoptive parents are opening up to listening to adult adoptees. Adult Adoptees are raising their voices and sharing their stories, and we are standing up for our fundamental human rights to know who we are and where we come from. Legislation is changing; laws are slowly shifting to open records.
In the meantime, adoptees are still dying, and I would like to know what Adoption Agencies will do about it. Now, we need the Adoption Agencies to do the right thing, listen to adult adoptees, and consider acknowledging the realities of Adoption from the Adult Adoptees' perspective. Consider opening the door to communication with Adult Adoptees in the trenches doing the work to advocate for the community that's been in the dark for too long.
Our lives don't begin with being adopted, and they don't end after we are adopted. We have families before adoption; we grow up and never become unadopted. Therefore, adoptees hold incredibly valuable experiences, and they deserve to be validated and heard.
Everything can't stay the same forever.
I invite all Adoption Agencies to consider adding a space on their website dedicated to providing resources explicitly designed for Adult Adoptees by Adult Adoptees. If you would like suggestions, please get in touch with me directly at: email@example.com.
It's time we build a bridge of connection with Adoption Agencies and slowly remove the barriers they have put into play that separate and silence Adult Adoptees. It's time to grow and progress toward a better understanding the adoption experience from the adult adoptee's perspective.
Please share this article with as many adoption agencies and advocates as possible. That one share could change an adoptee’s life forever.
Q & A
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
No matter what part of the Adoption Constellation you are a part of, what has your experience been with Adoption Agencies?
What do you think needs to change?
Have you contacted them directly? How did that experience go?
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Understanding is Love,
Pamela A. Karanova
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Here are some of the writing pieces I’m the proudest of:
The Vital Contrast Between Relinquishment Trauma, Separation Trauma, and Adoption Trauma and Why We Should Consider the Difference by Pamela A. Karanova
Still Grieving Adoptee Losses, What My Adoptive Parents Could Have Done Differently. by Pamela A. Karanova
Considering Adoption? What Adoptees Want You to Know by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide
I’m Adopted: You Can’t Take My Pain Away, Please Stop Trying by Pamela A. Karanova
100 Heartfelt Transracial Adoptee Quotes that Honor the Truth of Adoption – 100 Transracial Adoptees come together to share feelings on how adoption has impacted them by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide.
Adoptees, Why Are You So Angry? Over 100 Adoptees Share Heartfelt Feelings by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide
How Adoptees Feel About Birthdays by Pamela Karanova
I Highly Recommend
Not My Adoptee, Yes Your Adoptee! by Sara Easterly
The Link Among the Brain, the Gut, Adoption, and Trauma by Maureen McCauley
5 Hard Truths About Adoption that Adoptive Parents don’t want to Hear by Louisa
Reckoning with The Primal Wound Documentary with a 10% off coupon code (25 available) “adopteesconnect”
ASK ME ANYTHING COLUMN
Each month, all subscribers receive an “Ask Me Anything” newsletter — which will answer one or two adoptee-related questions from paid subscribers. Think: What adoptee healing tools have been the most valuable to you? How have you navigated the grief and loss process? What made you want to search for your biological family? How was your reunion once you searched? Do you regret searching?
Here are the two most recent questions:
When Speaking to Adoptive Parents About Adoption
Ways to Better Understand and Support Adopted Teens
Would you happen to have a question for me? If you leave them in the comment section, I will consider answering them in my Ask Me Anything Column or email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org