The Destruction, Deception & Deceitfulness in Protecting Adoptees from Our Truth
The idea of keeping our past a secret from us, as if our information is classified as a top-secret, is a massive disgrace and detriment to adoptees everywhere.
There's a lot of secrecy, lies, and half-truths at the root of virtually every adoption today. But, unfortunately, I often see it proposed in the name of "protection & preservation" and doing what's in the adopted child's best interest.
In my networking with adult adoptees, by hearing hundreds of adoptee stories worldwide for well over a decade, I am learning that when someone is adopted, no matter what the age, it's usually not a pretty story about WHY the adoption took place, to begin with.
I have yet to learn of one adoptee story with a cheerful, amazing pre-story before their adoption. Adoption is rooted in separation trauma, grief, loss, abandonment, rejection, complex PTSD, and more. The reasons adoptees are stolen for adoption, relinquished for adoption, and separated from their biological families for adoption usually aren't joyful stories.
Adoptees carry wounds that run so deep, not only from the separation from our biological mothers, but we experience identity issues and psychological wounds that impact us significantly throughout our lives.
In Battling With Shadows: The Implicit Trauma of Adoption by Robert Hafetz, he writes:
"Adoptees experience a traumatic loss at the very beginning of their lives; one must keep in mind that on the day of birth, a newborn has spent the past nine months in a shared existence with the mother. At birth, an infant cannot be aware of its individuality, and, in effect, they share the same psychology. The mother is a profound part of the infant's self. When premature maternal separation occurs, the infant has no means to cope and will be overwhelmed by this traumatic experience. To learn and develop, the human mind 'at birth' is capable of recording memory and processing emotion. Consequently, the trauma memory will be recorded as an emotion."
Despite the widespread belief that newborn babies are blank slates, we have a narrative before adoption. Every adoptee deserves to know it, no matter how devasting, heartbreaking or upsetting it might be to learn.
Often, adoptees' wounds are carried internally deep inside our subconscious memories. We try to find our truth in attempts to heal our wounds, but there is one monumental problem.
How does an adoptee heal from secrecy, lies & half-truths?
Please consider watching: Adoption, DNA, and the impact on a concealed life by Ruth Monning.
The gatekeepers of secrecy in adoption are our adoptive parents, who deny our truth by holding it hostage to protect us from learning the reality of our "disheartening" pasts. They think they are doing us a favor because what parent doesn't want to protect their kids (adopted or not) from any pain in life?
Deception is rooted in our very own government, withholding our information with laws being implemented that forbid us to have a right to our very own original birth certificates. We can’t let Birth Mothers off the hook. They are also the queens of secrecy!
So naturally, they might think this is the right thing to do, so they take what they know about our birth parents and pre-life before adoption, lock it up and throw away the key, all in the name of shielding us from our painful beginnings. I But, genuinely believe in my heart of hearts; they believe they are doing the "right thing."
I get it, I am a mom, and I will do anything to protect my kids from harm.
However, in adoption, things are different.
Let me not forget that I’m not letting Birth Mothers off the hook! They are also gatekeepers in secrecy in adoption. I can’t even express how many adoptees are lied to by our birth mothers! They might have good intentions, but secrets and lies are never okay!
We can't assume that protecting an adoptee from their truth won't cause more long-term harm than good. So while intentions of keeping our history confidential might be pure, I am here to tell you that the long-term consequences of not knowing who we are and where we come from cause destruction to the core of our beings.
This destruction is rooted in deception, and deceitfulness has lifelong implications for the adopted person and can and does create a lifelong situation that is too heavy to carry. Therefore, the idea of keeping our past a secret from us, as if our information is classified as a top-secret, is a massive disgrace and detriment to adoptees everywhere.
Here's why - Our healing process is hindered because we need to know what we are healing from.
Genealogical bewilderment is a substantial piece of the adoptee's journey that causes a significant amount of confusion and constant uncertainty for the adoptee.
The term "genealogical bewilderment" was coined in 1964 by psychologist H. J. Sants, a colleague of Wellisch, referring to the plight of children with uncertain, little, or no knowledge of one or both of their natural parents. Sants argued that genealogical bewilderment constituted a large part of the additional stress adoptees experienced that is not experienced by children raised by their natural parents.
I have had countless people tell me in my lifetime that the devil [ I am not a believer, but you might be] is the author of confusion. If we're being transparent, mystification is at the root of almost every adoptee's story from the adoptee's perspective. So many live in constant uncertainty, questioning everything and dying inside, needing the truth.
Adoption is diabolical, wicked, and cruel when infiltrated with secrecy, lies, and half-truths. Hiding someone's truth from them is an evil feat, and I can share that I believe without a shadow of a doubt that if adoption were indeed from God, it wouldn't be penetrated with secrecy, lies, and half-truths.
Our stories are riddled with distrust and concealment of our identity. The world wants to keep us from knowing who we are and where we come from and uphold anonymity for the nameless and faceless mother and father we are dying to see. We are consumed with grief, sorrow, distress, trauma, loss, abandonment, misplacement, rejection, and inhumane treatment from the world that only leaves room for our thankfulness.
Even in learning the rawness, heartbreak, and shock of our truth, we might carry a covering of disbelief for a time as we unravel the perplexities of our reality. Yet, we deserve the puzzle pieces to our history, and anything less than 100% of the truth can and will stall our healing.
MENTAL HEALTH & MEDICAL HISTORY SECRECY
I was one of the adoptees in deep agony, dying inside, not knowing who I was or where I came from. But I was always searching and would never give up on finding my people.
When searching for my birth parents alone, I discovered they were both alcoholics. I suffered from substance abuse disorder to alcohol for 27 years as an escape from processing relinquishment trauma and my adoption story. Alcohol made me not feel, but I had no idea I was destined to struggle with alcohol because my truth was a secret from myself.
I SUFFERED, AND I SUFFERED GREATLY, AS ALL ADOPTEES DO!
Once I found my truth, I wanted to ensure I didn’t die like my birth parents, who both died as raging alcoholics. The reality that my truth was hidden from me was an evil thing to do. THEY WATCHED ME IN AGONY AND DID NOTHING BUT CO-SIGN FOR THE SECRECY! Learning this piece of my story helped me accept that my relationship with alcohol needed to change!
I can only imagine how different my life would have been if I had known the truth from the beginning. But, unfortunately, 27 years of alcohol dependency stole a lot from my life, and adoption secrecy, relinquishment trauma, and lifelong grief & loss are the root of my pain.
Every adoptee should have access to our medical history and mental health history. We should all know the origins of our beginnings. Under no exception should this information be kept secret, but it is! So tell me how adoption isn’t diabolical. No matter how complex or challenging the truth is, it will always be better than living a lie.
UNCOVERING MY TRUTH SAVED MY LIFE!
If adoptive parents have the slightest problem with this, they must not adopt a child. It doesn't matter if our birth mothers are homeless, on drugs, has 18 more kids, and are addicted to crack cocaine. We still deserve to know the truth and to have it delivered at age-appropriate times in the most delicate way possible.
And we must never forget ALL PEOPLE CAN CHANGE.
Let's also acknowledge that the adopted child grows up, and everything kept secret will eventually come to light. Luke 8:17 Therefore, I encourage all adoptive parents to get on the right side of wrong and be honest, transparent, and forthcoming with any information about the truth they hold for the adoptee. The word TRUTH is in the bible hundreds of times. If that isn't enough to tell you the truth matters, I don't know what is!
As an adoptive parent, you have a massive role in your adoptee's healing or stalling. Hold our hands and help us learn our truth. Living a lie in the name of protection will backfire, and sadly the adoptee you failed to help learn the truth and your relationship will be at risk. When our healing is stalled, we can't grieve because we don't know what we're grieving from. We can't process our pain because we don't know what we lost. We can't move forward with life because we have a gaping open wound that impacts every area of our lives.
HEALING CAN'T HAPPEN WHEN WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE ARE HEALING FROM.
Please support all adoptees in healing from the truth, no matter how hard and painful. If you have the keys to healing, aka the truth, please don't hold us hostage from our healing. Adoptees are perishing by suicide at alarming rates and are over-represented in prisons, jails, and mental health and treatment facilities.
In the name of protection, please stop withholding our truth. We must do better because if we know better, we do better.
Q & A
Adoptees, How had your medical history being hidden from you hurt you the most?
How has living a lie made you feel? Do you feel learning the truth saved your life?
Have you felt tormented not knowing your truth?
Could your adoptive parents have been more forthcoming with your truth, and if so, how would that have changed your life?
If you found your birth parents, what medical history would have helped you along the trajectory of your life?
Please drop your comments below!
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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:
Adult Adoptee & Adoption Advocates Recommended Resources
When Your Biggest Blessing Invalidates My Greatest Trauma by Pamela A. Karanova
Before a month celebrating adoption, a day to recognize adoptees’ trauma by Religion News Service
The Perplexity of Forced Bonding in Adoption - An Adoptees Perspective by Pamela A. Karanova
Why Love Isn’t Enough or A House Full of Stuff - An Adoptees Perspective by Pamela A. Karanova
Considering Adoption? What Adoptees Want You to Know by Pamela A. Karanova & Adoptees Worldwide
How Adoptees Feel About Birthdays by Pamela Karanova
I Highly Recommend
Adoptee Centric Therapist Directory – Grow Beyond Words
Adoption: Adverse Childhood Experience Explained by Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker
Dear Adoptive Parents: An “Angry Adoptee” Gets Vulnerable – The Pain Behind the Rage by Mila at Lost Daughters
Does Adoption Really Equal Trauma? by Maureen McCauley
The Truth About Adoption – An Adoptee’s Perspective by Stephanie Drenka
5 Infuriating Things Non-Adoptees Say to Adoptees by Angela Barra
Assume All Adopted Children Have Trauma by Musings of the Lame
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
Do you 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