When Families Swap the Adoptables
As the weakest link in the Adoption Constellation, Adoptees are treated like pawns in a round of chess, a competition we never consented to play.
Adoptees continue to be the invisible, voiceless piece to the adoption constellation, and we’ve been silenced, shut down, and dismissed by the world. Our grief and loss are swept under the rug as if it doesn’t exist, and we’re tired of it. We’re reclaiming what was taken, and our voices are becoming louder for the next generation of adoptees. It’s time to remove the rose-colored glasses and start having hard conversations about adoption.
Over the last few years, I've come to an interesting realization by noticing many families relinquishing a child for adoption and then turning around and adopting new babies into the same families. It's almost like a chess game; the adoptee is the pawn being forced to play along for a game we never consented to play. Yet, no one thinks of the lifelong implications of these life-altering decisions made for adoptees.
Several years ago, I became friends with an adoptee whose adoptive mother was also a biological mother. I was astonished and couldn't help but step into this situation on a deeper level.
I immediately was able to put myself in the shoes of the relinquished adoptee and feel what they would feel if they learned they weren't good enough to keep. Yet, their biological mother went out of their way to adopt not one but two babies via adoption?
So she relinquished a baby for adoption, then adopted two new ones?
Rage flairs up thinking about this!
Yes, you read that right.
In my adoptive family, on my maternal side, I had an adopted aunt who had no support for an unplanned pregnancy (baby scoop era) when she was young, so her parents forced her to surrender her baby for adoption.
Unfortunately, her parents (my adopted grandparents) were more concerned with what the neighbors would think, so my Aunt had her baby stolen from her. She didn't want to give her baby away, but she had no choice.
The same grandparents supported my adoptive mom (my Aunt's bio-sister) in adopting two daughters and pitched in to purchase the financial fees for my adopted sister and me!
So they forced one daughter to give her newborn away, and then they helped pay for their other daughter to adopt two children?
I am pissed at the thought of this! My poor Aunt, and how devastating this must have been for her on top of her stolen baby!
Yes, you read that right.
My paternal adoptive side (adopted dad) had a younger sister who relinquished a baby for adoption. Approximately a year later, my adoptive dad decided to adopt two daughters, paid cash, and became a parent.
So, within approx. A year, one person in the family gives a baby away, and another person in the family adopts two babies from an outside source.
There was an extended period where I wondered if my Aunt was my biological mother because I couldn't fathom this family giving a baby away and turning around and adopting another one and then another!
I can only imagine how the relinquished adoptee felt not only being relinquished but learning the same family that relinquished her PURPOSELY set forth to adopt not one but two babies from other families.
Total mind fuck.
Yes, you read that right.
My biological mother got pregnant with me by a married man, kept it a secret, and relinquished me for adoption in 1974. My birth mother was 27 years old when she had me.
Her daughter, my half-biological sister, who is four years older than me, also became pregnant and relinquished a son for adoption, just like her (our) biological mother did.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!
Yes, you read that right.
I know someone personally who had an awful relationship with her biological mother. She wasn't adopted, but her mother went and adopted a daughter internationally to replace the daughter with whom she had a strained relationship.
WHY ARE ADOPTEES BEING TREATED LIKE PAWNS in a game we didn't agree to play? So many of us feel we are commodities, adopted to fill our adopters' voids, wants, and needs. We've moved around at everyone else's convenience as if we aren't living human beings with feelings.
Giving babies away and adopting new ones into the same family is widespread, at least in my families. I say families because this has impacted my adoptive family on my maternal and paternal adoptive sides. I know what it feels like to be given up for adoption by my biological mother and kept a secret from my biological father.
But I don't know what it feels like to be given away by a family that turned around and adopted another child into the same family I was given away from. I can't help but put myself in the shoes of the adoptee whose biological mother gave them away, and then later in life, she adopted two kids and kept them. Or how the adoptee feels knowing the same family that gave them away replaced them with a stranger's child. WTF!
How many of my fellow adoptees have had this happen?
Something about this hits me in a tough place. Adoption is a game for the individuals who decide to play, and the adoptees are just pawns to be moved around at others' disposal. But we haven't signed any paperwork or agreed to play the game. Other's made these choices for us, and now adoptees are paying the life sentence for a game we never agreed to play.
I can only wonder what life would have been like in the baby scoop era, and even currently, if we didn't dress up separation trauma and call it adoption.
I wonder what would happen if everyone stopped using the word of God to separate mothers and babies. What if everyone stopped referring to adoptees as blessings and gifts and that adoption is God's will? What if everyone starts our conversations with the truth that a life-altering traumatic experience happens FIRST before any adoption occurs?
WHAT IF ADOPTION AGENCIES ARE HONEST ABOUT THE REALITIES OF ADOPTION?
What if they decided to listen to adult adoptees and gain as much wisdom and understanding about the adoption experience so they can educate adoptive parents appropriately? What if a simple conversation with an adult adoptee could change everything? I contacted three local adoption agencies, and they all shut the door in my face. I will be writing about this soon!
What if adoptive parents research separation trauma and make friends with adult adoptees FIRST before deciding to adopt? Adult adoptees hold the keys to understanding what it feels like to be adopted, and we have endless knowledge to share based on invaluable lived experiences.
What would happen if we started supporting single parents more and had the heart to HELP THEM keep their babies? Instead of assuming they can't parent because they don't have the financial means or shaming them because they aren't married, LET'S HELP THEM.
What if we took adoption off the table altogether and emphasized a highlight on family preservation? I can only dream of the day there are no adoptees to adopt because women are encouraged to do whatever they need to keep their babies.
The reality is that every time a child is removed from their biological mother, a trauma occurs. This trauma has lifelong implications; for most of us, the wound is too big to heal. Unfortunately, this is the reality that the adoption agencies won't tell you.
My heart goes out to all adoptees, but I am highlighting all the adoptees in this article who were given away, only to learn they were replaced with another child being adopted into the family that gave them away. OUCH.
Relinquishment and adoption hurt all by themselves, and to add this piece to the experience is another layer of hurt that some adoptees have to unpack. But, unfortunately, this is one of the layers to the adoptee experience that no one wants to discuss.
Adoptees are tired of being pawns, puppets, and commodities and being forced to play a game we didn't agree to play. I dream of a world without adoption, but adoption isn't going anywhere because it’s a multi-billion dollar unregulated industry.
I will continue to advocate for family preservation FIRST. In my heart of hearts, I know that families are meant to stay together, and I will always put focus on this. However, if that is impossible, I would like to support guardianship over adoption, so the adoptee’s legal name and history aren’t hidden or kept a secret.
Until then, adult adoptees with lived experiences will continue to share the realities of how adoption has made them feel. Together, our once-silenced voices will get louder and louder. Being silenced our entire lives creates a larger-than-life comeback. But we aren’t going anywhere, and this is only the beginning.
Q & A
Adoptees, have you ever felt like you were a commodity or a pawn in your adoption experience?
Have you been adopted into a home that relinquished an adoptee for adoption?
Have you been relinquished for adoption only for an adoptee to be adopted into the same family you have been relinquished from?
How has this made you feel?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
Whether you’re a free or a paid subscriber, I’m excited to have you as part of
The Real Adoptea Moxie Community, and thank you for supporting my work!
Understanding is Love,
Pamela A. Karanova
Real Adoptea Moxie is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Here are some of the writing pieces I’m the proudest of:
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
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:
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