The Adopted Thread

Evie

Mod
Hi all, I thought I'd put this in the fireplace rather than general poly discussions because here perhaps we can tell our adoption stories, for anyone who wants to.
 

Evie

Mod
I was adopted at 10 days old, which was the minimum legal age in NZ at the time. It was an anonymous handover, I went from one family to the other...abruptly, I believe. It was technically an open adoption, but that meant that Social Welfare passed letters between my birthmother and my parents, they didn't have each other's contact details. So when someone, perhaps a change of case manager, at Social Welfare told each family that the other no longer wanted contact, they were believed. They were also blatantly lying. It was through pure fluke (and admittedly, a small country) that my birthmother and my parents got back in contact when I was 7. I won't say exactly how because this is, of course, searchable, but I still have the letter that my birthmother wrote to get back in contact once she found out who could pass it on.

I grew up always knowing I was adopted and being told that it was an open adoption and I would meet my birthmother when I was old enough. I didn't realise until later that that was an absolute wish to the universe rather than solid fact, at least until I was 7. I met her when I was 10 and my first half sister was a handful of months old. You'd kinda hope that would be the happy ending, but they were actually about to leave for overseas and so it felt to me like losing her all over again.

But we stayed in touch, and I watched my half sisters grow up a visit at a time. They moved back to NZ when I was a late teen but by then I was pretty busy with my own life as 18-24s are. In the interim, I'd met a lot of my cousins, and my grandparents, and often felt just like one of the family. That's admittedly waned since my grandmother died and I felt strangely like an outsider at her funeral.

In 2015, I was deeply lost in my professional life, zero career and an abandoned doctorate, as well as depression over where I was physically living (cold climate away from all my friends), I transferred to the North Island while Adam was in the South Island and moved in with my birthmother as an adult boarder. I'd joined the board by then so you can read my blog from there, but spoiler alert, it was her that then pointed me towards teaching in 2017. In so many ways, she finished raising me, I just happened to be mid 30s at the time.

It's strange though, we're not parent and child because that space is already very securely taken by my Mum and Dad. I HATE it when people who know about the biological connection call my birthmother my mum. My brain is like, "no, that title is taken, for my Mum, the one who got me at 10 days old and did her absolute best from then until now." My birthmother is my birthmother, and although she has been an amazing landlord, mentor (and colleague), friend and family member, she's not Mum. It's different and I don't appreciate the interchanging of the term as if it isn't a title or name.

So, how has it affected me? Well, I have some abandonment issues, although I've mostly got them in check. Honestly, I really didn't actually have major issues with my adoption until a therapist I had when I was going though a major depressive episode when I was 22, brought it up. I had actually been given a narrative that felt good to me until then, but she did a type of regression therapy that poked at that 10 day old that had that first set of ties cut. I guess that's why I found it quite confronting last year to find my birthmother's photo album of me in that first 10 days with all my aunts taking turns to hold me, as well as my middle name back then, something that no-one had ever thought to tell me. I mentioned that in my blog, too. It's weird discovering at 42 a name you were given at birth.

So, my adoption story is ongoing. It's entering a new phase this year with my change of job away from working literally 3 classroom doors down from my birthmother, but I've come to realise that the story won't end. This is (some of) it until now.

This is obviously just a snippet, and if anyone wants to ask more, I invite you to PM me. I also might share more if I feel it would be of benefit to the board, but I created this thread not just for me.

I encourage anyone who wants to to share their adoption story around the fireplace.
 
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PinkPig

Active member
Thank you for sharing your story, Evie.

I am not adopted and can not imagine how that feels. I do have one poly partner (who is much more poly than me) who is adopted. Their story is not mine to share, but it is easy to see why they have had insecure attachments in the past, given their story.

I think it would be really interesting to see how the rate of poly who are adopted compares to the rate among monos.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I didn't know you were adopted ... I think at least one other member is adopted, but I'm not stating their username here as I don't know whether they want to engage in this thread.
 

Evie

Mod
Oh, a few people have already identified themselves over on my blog when we were talking about it over there, I just thought it would be a nice to have a fireplace thread for all to post on unreservedly.
 

icesong

Moderator
Staff member
I will totally come back and tell more of my story later, just not in an “extensive writing” mode right this second. Thank you for starting the post though.
 

icesong

Moderator
Staff member
OK, so I said I'd come back and here I am. This is a ridiculous story on some levels, so buckle up - though on the upside, ya'll at least are getting it all in one fell swoop instead of the bits and pieces that I've gotten it in throughout my life.

Let's see, where to begin? I was a very premature baby - something like 2 months early - and was the second child of my birth parents, though my older brother died at 5 months old, before I was even conceived. My younger sister followed 13 months later. The story I grew up with was that my birth parents weren't financially or emotionally able to take care of a medically fragile kid, so my birth father's parents, my adoptive parents, offered to take me (and would have taken my sister as well, had my adopted mother been healthier).

I found out later that that's one version of the story; the other version my sister apparently grew up with is that my adoptive parents lied to my birth parents saying the adoption was going to be a legal formality for insurance reasons and they could reverse it in the future, something that my adoptive parents had no intention of allowing to happen.

Unfortunately for me, this whole thing was a very frying pan vs fire situation - my adoptive parents were more financially stable, it is true... but they hated each other and were not particularly emotionally available to me so it wasn't exactly a healthy situation. I did have some contact with my next in age sister and occasionally with my birth father, though I wasn't even told my youngest sister existed - she went with my birth mother to California when my birth parents split. (Side note, in a weird quirk of technology and modern life, I'm FB friends with my birth mother but have never actually had a conversation with her, and am FB friends with my birth father but mostly avoid him).

In my early twenties my youngest sister reached out on FB and we (the three sisters) all talk occasionally now, along with various half sisters that we've found along the way - my birth father is... a particularly non-ethical flair of non monogamous, is perhaps the best word for it. Which is a weird thing to ponder, in comparison with my own life... especially since for a while he was apparently in some sort of D/s flavored poly unicorn/ triad situation which ended spectacularly badly all over social media. Whee.

I have always wondered what the trauma of losing my mother before I remember her did to me emotionally, and I know that my adoptive parents terrible relationship was a pretty spectacularly bad model for adult relating. Still, I don't necessarily blame being poly now on any of this...
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
I'm adopted. Closed adoption in 1961. I know that it messed me up. I've never known a world without massive loss and trauma. It's a tremendously impactful way to begin life and remains largely under-studied and misunderstood. The state of California still does not allow adult adoptees to have their real birth certificates unless we petition the court and show extreme need. I've never seen mine, let alone own it. There's a radical group that I appreciate called Bastard Nation. They do a lot of legal work and activism, advocating that adult adoptees have the same access to our history that everyone else enjoys. Many adult adoptees have no legal right to that. And that's just the legal stuff. The emotional toll is mind blowing.

I'm so appreciating this thread. I'm reading you all and will join in with more later. ❤️
 
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Evie

Mod
I looked into getting a copy of my original birth certificate after I found out my middle name, just so I had it for myself, but I would have to have it ordered through a specialist therapist. I rolled my eyes and keep my money in my pocket.

I didn't include it in my first post, because it's its own story, but I also have had contact with my birthfather (who isn't on the birth certificate anyway).
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
If you hadn't guessed by now, I'm radically against the whole premise of closed adoption and I have my doubts about the success of adoption in general, so if you're upset by my experience of it, don't read what I have to say. It's nothing unusual if you go on adult adoptee forums, but if you're not used to hearing from this perspective - well, here's your trigger warning.

My experience of never having possessed, seen or even held my own birth certificate has been a foundational sense that I didn't actually exist. I didn't recognize this as such until my mid 30s when I started talking with other adult adoptees and began my search for my birth families. I think that unless you've been cut off from all humanity this way, it's rather hard to imagine how it feels to be a person who sprung from nowhere, belonging to nobody except for the people who you've been placed with. It has nothing to do with how great the adoptive family is, it has to do with the very premise of adoption wherein the original families are literally erased. I walked around being told who I was, being told it all didn't matter, being told where I belonged, being told that whatever I might be feeling just was not true. It's the making of insanity for a child.

I wonder if open adoption remedied some of this? My belief is that closed adoption is basically human trafficking. I searched for and found my birth mother when I was 35. She and I know and love each other to this day. Since then, I have met many birth mothers and not a one gave away her child willingly - they were all essentially conscripted by social forces. The deplorable trauma of losing one's healthy and living child for social reasons, the real experiences of birth mothers in closed adoptions, have been totally erased from the mainstream adoption narrative. It's criminal.

There's more and more showing up on youtube about the realities adoption trauma.

One helpful thing to know is that there's a massive connection between adoption and addiction. Adoptees live our lives basically gaslit to varying degrees and many of us deal with it by trying to escape. In my experience, the counseling community remains woefully undereducated about the effects of adoption on adoptees and birth parents. It's not even a "problem category" if you go searching on counseling websites for a therapist. The social gaslighting continues to this day.
 

Tinwen

Active member

Evie

Mod
That I'm adopted was never a secret. My "birth" story was always that my parents had picked me out.
I had a similar, "we chose you" and I imagined a room full of cots like you see on hospital TV shows, and them picking me out of a group 😅

For many years, maybe until even that day last year I found my birth album, I really felt like my life began when I was 10 days old. I mean, I'd been told I lived at the hospital for the first ten days and cared for by nurses. I guess they didn't even tell my parents that my birth family was there during that time.

Talk about breaking bonding that would have already started!
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
I'd been told I lived at the hospital for the first ten days and cared for by nurses.
Same, same, same!

When i found my birth mother, I asked about my real birth story and of course it was so different. I was literally ripped from her arms on the birthing table and then cared for by various people until my adoptive parents picked me out from that row of cots (had to laugh - that was my image as well.) When I had my own children, I began to understand how emotionally cruel and damaging all of that would have been for my birth mother and for me, the newborn. It explains why I wrestle with life long abandonment terror despite all of the work I've done to find peace. My real origin story is losing one person after another, having begun life in turmoil and being told again and again that it didn't matter because I had no memory of it. Like a puppy.

That's the ruse of the adoption narrative - that the adoptive parents' love can make up for what was lost, or worse - that nothing was lost because the birth parents were so lacking and incapable and unsuitable. Adoptees are routinely told that what we feel is not correct or doesn't even exist, that the love of our new and better families renders everything we've gone through extinct. But the truth is that no matter how wonderful (or not so wonderful) the adoptive situation, the fact remains that we are trauma survivors. We've been through what people experience in wars. Yet our pain is usually suffered in isolation. We don't even benefit from the community of a shared experience like survivors of war. We suffer an original abandonment in isolation and then are repeatedly abandoned, again and again, by well meaning friends and family who communicate to us that our experience of the world is incorrect because so many other people love us.
 
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icesong

Moderator
Staff member
Did y’all get the “you were chosen - or rescued! - and therefore you have to be grateful and thus docile/compliant” narrative from your adoptive families too? I’m not sure whether that’s a universal guilt trip or one that’s unique to my particular flavor of life story.
 

icesong

Moderator
Staff member
When I had my own children, I began to understand how emotionally cruel and damaging all of that would have been for my birth mother and for me, the newborn.
I literally was sitting in my hospital room, the day after my son was born, and the only thing I could think about was how the hell my mother was ever able to give me up. Especially having lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome less than a year earlier.
 

Evie

Mod
My parents are honestly great. I didn't get any kind of behaviour expectations directly connected to adoption. Adoption was still quite common here in the late 70s, open and closed and I'm guessing that adoptive parents were also told what to say and do with this child that was suddenly entered their lives. My parents didn't get much warning as apparently they weren't my birth mother's first choice, but she found out pretty late in the day that her first choice actually wanted a closed adoption so she vetoed. Why she was ever given them as a match is evidence of a truly broken system. And that my parents were not told that I had her and her family with me in that first 10 days...well, adoption laws and policies were cruel.

And I know my adoption really messed up my birth mother.

But I'm also really glad I was able to be my parents' daughter (except for how difficult I was). They couldn't have their own children. My biggest failing is that I never gave my mother her so much desired grandchildren, (and I was their only child) but she's never berated me for it, not once.

My decision to be child free has a LOT of reasons behind it, but one of the early ones is that I never wanted an unplanned pregnancy. That is a direct consequence from my adoption.
 
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