Adoptees Deserve the Truth No Matter What

No. Matter. What.

That’s the absolute answer to the question, “Should all adoptees have the truth of their origin, no matter the circumstance?" 

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I am still very much in search mode. There is an active search going on with a team of people who are committed to help me search for my natural father. In fact, we are closer to the resolution of this search than ever before and have bona fide leads that are DNA matches.

I am cognizant of the fact that many people believe in some circumstances, it’s best that a person not know the truth. 

Or that when the truth is revealed and the person's father or mother ends up to be a rapist, abuser, criminal -- or even someone related to their other parent. (cases of incest) it's understandable that the truth was not revealed to them.

And I believe that’s bull.

In my book Worthy to Be Found, I shared that I don’t care if it’s revealed that my father is Jimmy Hoffa or a serial killer.  That wouldn’t matter one whit to me as far as my emotional health.

Nor would it change my mind at all, that the information should have been disclosed to me when I asked for it.

I know who I am.
I just don’t know who or where I come from.

But I do deserve to know, no matter how tragic the facts end up to be.

I have never doubted that my history may be ugly.
But an ugly truth is better than a pretty lie.

Some people have asked me if I will believe the withholding of information was justified in the end, if something horrific about my father is revealed.


Everybody deserves to know where they come from.

It really is as black and white, cut and dry, and simple as that.

Some things in adoption are very complicated.

This isn’t one of those things.

When People Desperately NEED You to Say Adoption is Beautiful

I had a friend.

The loss of the friendship makes me sad and at the same time, not so.

Reason being: I believe in living in reality. 

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Is friendship worth it if it requires you to depart from reality?

My ex-friend, Linda*, is adopted.

Linda has often remarked that she's, "sooooo glad she was adopted." Emphasis on the word was. She doesn't consider herself an "adoptee" and bristles at the word. Although adoptee is the proper term for anyone who is adopted, never mind the facts.

She does not see the loss and grief side of adoption -- for any adoptee, not just herself -- and believes there is no need for reform nor equal rights for adoptees.

I can handle being friends with someone who believes the polar opposite of what I do about something, but not to the degree where they dismiss me, or try to silence me on the issue. 

Part of Linda's jubilation about adoption is that her first family by and large are not Christians, and by being adopted, she ended up not only being raised by Christians, but by a pastor and his wife. She speaks often of the spiritual heritage she would not have had without adoption.

For all the spiritual heritage she received and the emphasis on "truth" that we are raised in Christianity believe is so important -- it was interesting to me how unimportant living in truth became to her, once reunited. She  reunited with her natural family in middle age, after they sought her and found her. She would never have searched, being so steeped in what is known as adoption loyalty. Once her first family found her and requested a reunion, she agreed but it had to be kept a secret from her adoptive parents. To this day, as far as I know, her adoptive parents have no idea she is reunited. Evidently "the truth" would hurt them too much.  Never mind that the God they serve could help them...

Over the past few years that I've been writing about adoption and sharing a desire for equal rights and reform, Linda and I grew apart. She could not accept my views on this issue. I shared with her that she had as much right to share her story and her view as I do mine -- that neither should be prevented from sharing openly. But it became clear over time, sharing my view as I do here on this blog and around other mutual friends was not something acceptable to her. Especially because some of those mutual friends were listening closely, and share my views.

So often I'd remark to my husband Larry that Linda was "the poster child for post adoption issues" though she found the term "post adoption issues", puzzling, and laughable -- particularly for an adult.

Last spring, it finally hit me why my Linda was especially vehemently opposed to my emergence from the fog and subsequent sharing about it.

It was an absolute epiphany when I put more than just two and two together and realized that she is not only an adoptee...she is a first mother. (A birth mother as some more commonly say, although I choose to use other terminology.) So in other words, there is a double whammy here. She is an adoptee, AND a first mom.

I came to this realization after putting bits and pieces of many conversations together that I had with Linda, her husband, children and much more.

So much makes sense now.

She NEEDS all of this to be nothing beautiful. To find it as anything but unicorns and rainbows would send her emotional house of cards tumbling that she so carefully stacked, just to survive all these years.

Even all the many facebook posts underscoring over and over and over again ad nauseum that she is, "the mother to three amazing children," make sense now. I am not sure if it's to convince others as much as it is to continue convincing herself that she only has three children when she really has four.

Linda is like so many others in our lives who by their personal experience desperately need us to say that adoption as a whole is nothing but beautiful. That there is no downside, or need for change.

Because to say otherwise is to topple their carefully emotionally crafted world where they don't have to face reality.

Whether it's the pain of relinquishing a child...

Or having been the child relinquished...

Or dealing with infertility for umpteen years before adopting...

There are people whose painful life experiences are submerged  and it is required for those who surround them to either say everything is beautiful or shut up, so as to not topple their carefully constructed world.

It didn't make sense to me for the longest time as to why Linda desperately needed me to say everything was bliss or shut up.

But now I know why.

For me to share any story otherwise was to open up an emotional Pandora's box. In doing so, the tape that runs in her mind of her sacrificial gift of the  little boy or girl that was relinquished back in the 80's would take on an entirely different spin than she is ready for. Than she may ever be ready for.

And I'm not willing to go back into a fog. 
I'm not willing to be quiet.

 Sometimes people desperately need us to call beautiful what is broken, so they can continue holding their fragments together as long as they can.

Your losses can really rack up in the friendship department when you are simply done with living fake and calling what desperately needs to be fixed nothing but beautiful.  

*not her real name

Secrets and Lies of the Adoption Constellation

Let's imagine together.

Imagine with me, something I can’t fathom happening in my wildest dreams. 

What if my husband cheated on me?

For those who don't know my husband, Larry...let me introduce you. 

He's a man of his word, a person of integrity and a great husband and father. I am so blessed to be married to a person regarded by many, including me, as an integral man of God.  He's sexy in a black suit, too.

But imagine for a moment that none of that was true.

Picture Larry...spinning a web of secrets and lies. 

I imagine many of my friends and family would say, “What a jerk!” 

I know for a fact that if Larry did this, many if not most of our friends and family would encourage me to leave, or to kick him out – particularly if he wasn’t willing to come clean with everything, and turn completely from his deceitful ways.

I can hear them now: “You don’t need this, or deserve it, Deanna…” 

Turn the tables and it would be the same with me. If I ever cheated on him, dear sweet Lord baby Jesus, help me! Everyone would believe I had gone off the deep end. And,they’d be right. “Larry is such an amazing guy…" they'd say.   Our circle of family and friends would be devastated.  If I did not live honestly – I would probably lose everything…the greatest loss being my husband.

Either way, whichever of us followed the path of secrets and lies --  people would think there was absolutely no excuse. 

I believe many of our friends and family would forgive and have grace on us, but only if we were totally honest and lived in truth in the days ahead.
 If Larry cheated on me, do you think ANYONE, anyone at all, would say things like:

“You know Deanna, you just have to understand the times…”

"Deanna, can I just encourage you to have some compassion on Larry?  Try to consider where he was coming from with all this..."

“You have to understand the pressure he was under…”  

“Larry has his reasons…”

“Sometimes, people withhold the truth for your benefit..." 

"We don't know why some people conceal the truth, but we have to try to understand them..." 

"Larry is probably reacting out of shame, fear, and a lot of things you aren't aware of. Try to put yourself in his shoes..."

NO, no, no, no, a thousand times no!!!

This would NEVER happen.

If anyone heard people say these kinds of things in response to a spouse spinning a web of secrets and lies they'd think they were crazy!

With almost everything in life, people view secrets and lies as wrong and completely unacceptable.

So then...

Why is there a different set of rules when it comes to what adoptees face? 

Why are adoptees asked to be flexible, to show compassion, to try to understand a secret or a lie?

Why are we expected to show nothing but understanding when faced with this type of behavior and people refuse to give us the truth about our history?

How ludicrous is is that the adoptee is always expected to adapt while the lie-teller is just expected to be understood?

Adoption is the only place where we not only accept secrets and lies, we glorify them. It is situational ethics run off a cliff, not just run amok. We often hear the accolades about people making these God honoring, life-giving, and redeeming decisions.   Then why does it feel so hurtful?

If something is a secret or a lie, it’s just plain wrong.   

It feels hurtful because, it is.

A lie is a lie is a lie is a lie.

Adoptees shouldn't be admonished to muster up compassion to make people who spin the web of lies feel better about their on-going decision to live a life of deception. I can hear it now. Some would say, "It's not so much a life of deception,'s a life of pain...try to understand..."

There they go again............ [head desk]

Adoptees who face this...if it makes you feel any better just shake your finger back at this lady right here and tell her how you feel. Go ahead, you know you want to.

The Adoptee Survival Guide
An Interview With Lynn Grubb

Today I have the privilege of interviewing the one, the only, the amazing...Lynn Grubb! She is an inspiration to me in so many ways. This week her new book, Adoptee Survival Guide released and is already one of the "hot new releases" on Amazon! It is available on both Kindle and in paperback. I am incredibly honored to be one of the authors included in this book, and so thankful that Lynn had the vision for this project and the tenacity to compile and edit it.

And without further's our interview.

Deanna: Lynn, what gave you the idea for the Adoptee Survival Guide?

Lynn: I was at church one day reading a Lutheran magazine about a woman who was a full-time caregiver for her very ill husband.  She wrote an article about taking care of oneself when caring for others.  She talked about the difficulties that one faced, such as not being able to have any time for yourself and the feelings that come along with being a full-time caregiver.  She later published a book with the words “survival guide” in the title, and the idea hit me like a bolt of lightning.  I definitely believe this was God-driven and had God revealed to me the amount of work this project actually was going to be, He knew that this may not have come to fruition.  But it truly was a labor of love.

Deanna: Yes, it was an amazing labor of love and none of it would be possible without your vision and hard work bringing it together. What are your hopes and dreams for the book?

Lynn: My hopes and dreams for the book are twofold: 

First and foremost, I want this book to be seen as a supportive tool for other adoptees.  In my home state of Ohio, original birth certificates will be opening this month on March 20th for adoptees born between 1964 and 1996.  I imagine many adoptees will not know where to turn to for support once they are holding their original mother’s name in their hand.  Some people do not want to air their personal thoughts in public at a live support group, but most people will buy a book for support.  Some people might want to peek inside other people’s adoption reunions before taking the plunge themselves. My biggest hope is that any adopted person who picks up this book feels less alone in whatever aspect of adoption they struggle with.    

I hope to educate those working within the adoption profession, in addition to helping the general public gain awareness that adoption issues are complex – not cookie cutter like we have been primed to believe when you watch television during National Adoption Month in November.  Adoptee voices have long been missing from the mainstream.  I would like to see that change and for adoptee voices to be seen as “expert” over the non-adopted.  I would also like to encourage other adoptees to “come out of the closet” so to speak if they feel so inclined.

Deanna: Those are amazing goals that I wholeheartedly support.  Your efforts are so important. How did the contributors of the anthology come together to partner with you on this?

Lynn: Again, I will say that this has been God-driven from the get-go.  I kid you not when I say I posted one time on my Facebook asking for contributors and people came out of the woodwork.  There were quite a few who wanted to originally participate but could not find the time to sit down and write an essay, but as soon as one dropped out, another was there to replace them. 

 I asked a few specific people to write about specific areas of adoption that I knew was their expertise, but all of the writers had permission to write what was on their hearts.   Each contributor has their own unique strengths.  A few of them helped me edit, one coached me along, one came up with the idea for the chapter sections, and another was my confidante.  Each one I consider a friend.  I truly felt like throughout this project we built our own support group within the private writer’s Facebook room. 

As I mention in the book, Amanda H.L. Woolston and the other Lost Daughters were the springboard for my even dreaming that this project could become a reality.  Amanda’s essay at the end blows me away and ties up the book nicely.

Deanna: I just have to say, the private writer's Facebook room became so valued to me over the time of this project. I met new friends and gained support during this project, and hopefully gave others support they needed too. I treasure these connections and relationships! So, what has the response been to the book so far, from those who have contributed?

Lynn: All have been very supportive in telling friends and family about their contributions.  They have good reason to be proud of themselves and I am proud of them.  There are quite a few that are first-time published authors and I remember how exciting that was when I was published in my first adoption anthology.

Deanna: Me too. It's such an amazing collaborative. So, were there any surprises along the way in creating and coordinating this wonderful effort?

Lynn: My favorite surprise was early in the project  I Googled “toxic mother adoptee date rape” one day and Rayne Wolfe’s name popped up on my screen.  I know it seems like an odd thing to Google, but her story with her birth mother is similar to my own which then led me to her book, Toxic Mom Toolkit (great book, by the way).  I went to her blog and realized that our stories were so similar.  I contacted her on a whim and asked her if she would want to contribute, fully expecting to hear no.  She cheerfully jumped right on board and was my behind-the-scenes cheerleader throughout the stages of the book.  Her story in the anthology brings tears to my eyes every time I read it, because she focuses on the love of her adoptive father.

Something similar happened when I read The Tangled Red Thread by Elle Cuardaigh.  I wrote to her telling her how much I loved her funeral crashing chapter (actually the whole book is one of my top five favorite adoption memoirs) and she also gladly jumped on board in addition to helping me during a few crisis that occurred during formatting.

Deanna: Well, we have this in common too. We are both fans of Rayne Wolfe's work, and I too have appreciated The Tangled Thread. Great insights from both of those authors. What are you most excited about concerning the book?

Lynn: I really am excited about the adoptee community coming together and supporting one another. I am so proud to be a small part of that.

Deanna: I actually think you're a big part! Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about this project?

Lynn: One of the things I think is really exciting about this anthology and I hope to see future anthologies cover this topic in even more detail, are the stories of people who are taking the plunge into genetic genealogy/DNA testing.  This new technology has opened up quickly and is helping people find family members every day.  Gaye Sherman Tannenbaum gives a nice overview in The Adoptee Survival Guide as to what you can expect if you decide to test.  The cost is only $99.00 at all three major testing companies.  My own essay as well as Sophi Fletcher’s talks about our experiences with these genetic genealogy databases.  Quite an adventure!

Deanna: Yes, an amazing adventure! And, thank God for DNA testing!  It's a God-given gift.

Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Lynn. You are so appreciated.

I would encourage everyone who hasn't done so already to get their copy of the Adoptee Survival Guide, today.  Do so at this link.

Are You Using Instant Therapy Spray?

While I was on vacation, I spotted this gag gift in a store and it brought a hearty chuckle.

As funny as it was to see this “instant therapy spray”, it reminded me of how many broken or even traumatized people think they can become whole without help.

Just like crash diets don’t work, neither does suppression, pasting on a smile, or living in denial.

“Stopping by to talk to the pastor” doesn’t work either.  I’ve been a minister for 28 years and although I have the utmost respect for pastors, they aren’t the same as therapists. Pastors give biblical counsel, not therapy – unless they are also licensed professional therapists. I know a few pastors who have that training and licensing, but most don’t.   

For all the memes on Facebook that say, “Sometimes all the therapy you need is talking to your best friend,” sometimes you do need more. If you are dealing with trauma, significant loss and grief, it helps tremendously to have a person trained in figuring out the solution to your emotional pain. 

 I have opened up completely to close friends over the years. And as insightful and intelligent and anointed as those friends are – not one of them had training in detachment issues or were able to recognize or help me with that.

I thank God every day that I found Melissa Richards and Restoration Counseling. I wouldn’t be at the place I’m at today without that help.

Instant therapy spray or the equivalent would have never sufficed.

Thank God for help.

*By the way, in addition to her Tampa office, Melissa has now opened a Miami office. If you are in the south Florida area and are interested in a therapist who understands and is trained in post-adoption issues, give Restoration Counseling a call. I receive no kick-back for this. I simply pass the info along because she really helped me and if you live in Tampa or Miami, maybe she can help you too.

When Adoptive Family Members Say They Support Your Search But Really Don't

Decades ago, I made it known that I was searching for my natural family. At the time, all of my adoptive  family with whom I had a conversation about it  said they were supportive.  In some cases, that was true. In others, it was not.

I heard: "I support you all the way" or "I support you 100%."

Regarding my search, they did appear to support me. As time went on, I realized that as long as I was searching for strangers who I would one day refer to as acquaintances, or friends – all was fine. But the moment I actually called them family, the support stopped. One adoptive family member in particular reiterated whether passive aggressively or outright, their "exclusive" position in my life. 

I’ve discovered, some are alright with you searching, as long as you don’t find family. As long as you don't find someone who is a motherfather, sister or brother…it’s okay. As long as your natural family referred to by their first names,  all is well. But as soon as you start referring to these folks as your family, as mom or dad -- or Lord forbid you start inviting them to your significant family events (birthdays, etc.) or sharing holidays -- look the heck out! Even Chuck Norris would be afraid.

My little sister, Kim, has just announced to the world that she is searching for her natural family. 

I can't help but wonder...has anything changed?

I am anticipating the future for her, and truly supportive of her in this by every definition possible. I will pray my guts out that she finds her natural family and they are receptive to her. 

She is already getting the declarations of support.  I am hopeful things will be different for her, regarding some adoptive family members. But I can’t help but wonder…do these declarations of support only extend to her search for acquaintances or new "friends"? Or is this "support" unqualified, 100% support for however she decides to relate and interact with her natural family? Will there be that same support from everyone when she may decide to refer to two individuals on the planet as, “Mom”? Will the declaration of support change if it means that things like Christmas or birthdays now involve people who were never there before, or (gasp!) the adoptive family has to actually learn to share???

My prayer is that this declared support is not just lip service, but truly without limitations. I hope she has freedom to call the shots without being called to task on anything or being asked to bend to someone else's desires. It’s her search, and her reunion to live out. I hope to God she can walk this journey in an atmosphere of true support and not one tainted by the insecurities and jealousies so often present when adoptees find family.
[Deanna drops the mic.]

*I received Kim's blessing prior to publishing this blog post. She loved it and also gave me the photos to post with it.

Somebody Took a DNA Test...

Generations are affected by adoption.

Not just the adoptee.

Not just the natural mother.

All the generations to come are impacted.

A lot is said about the need for adoptees to be grateful.

I am so very grateful...

for a son who is willing to take a DNA test that will assist the search team in isolating matches.

Thank you, Jordan.