April 12, 2013

Adult Adoptee Abuse...
What Is It and How Should We Respond?

Let’s say a person has encountered a trauma in life. 
Pick a trauma, any trauma. 

After their experience, they attempt to share.

Processing their feelings is important.

They long to talk about it. 
Even though they are scared.

Helping others, even sparing them of the same pain is a goal.
Speaking about it publicly takes courage. 

They may lose more than they’ve already lost.

The hurt may be greater for a while.
Yet they take a brave step and lend their voice.

Many don't believe their trauma is real. 

Instead of  listening and making an effort to understand, people who have not been through this experience (or even some who have been through the same experience, but appear unaffected)  swiftly move in to ask them to be quiet. 

Photo Credit: S.Mash, Creative Commons

 Others speak up and say, “Hold on, it wasn’t like that! You didn’t go through that…” 

Some give demands that they be silent.
Still others delete their words.

Others would simply dismiss them. 

There are those who say, "If you continue to talk about this, our relationship is over." 

How would this behavior be classified?  

I recently became aware of adult adoptee abuse from a few of my Lost Daughters sisters. We were discussing feedback that some adult adoptees get when sharing our experiences and the need for reform. 

People can be sensitive and even threatened by what we share, and it can go beyond personal discomfort to a request or even a demand to stop. 

Photo Credit: MisterAitch, Creative Commons

My friend Julie J. had something I thought was really insightful to say about this and I asked her if I could share it here. She graciously agreed. 

Julie J. says:
“This is a form of pressure that adoptees have experienced for decades. They were expected to be quiet about adoption (unless it was to glorify adoption of course), keep the status quo, put aside their own needs in order to meet someone else's (usually an AP's) purposes.

In the past, adoptees were isolated in their realization of truth, surrounded only by other, perhaps otherwise-trustworthy adults all claiming things about adoption that we suspected in our hearts to not be true, or certainly not the complete truth, or even our own truth.

They all desperately wanted us to go along with their program, and many of us did try, to our own detriment. We may have doubted ourselves as there was no real adoption support network for us then. Some of us figured it would be easier to simply not make waves. We are still learning that waves are what make positive changes for other adoptees and for ourselves. Our lone voice, if we dared to speak up in the past, would be diluted or dismissed.

Then something happened - adult adoptees found each other and began to compare notes, bond, and support each other. We now know if we don't speak out and help one another, nobody is going to do that for us. Things that should not continue on, would.

Nobody knows better than other adoptees what it's really like. Yes, there is going to be resistance to our truths when it conflicts with others' desires for our reality to be something different than it is.

Those who feel they have the most at stake to lose in adoption becoming more honest, healthy, and transparent for adoptees, are typically the AP's who do not have healthy definitions and expectations of adoption in the first place. Those are the types of people who believe it is really all about THEMSELVES and not about the CHILD first. Those are the types who can be expected to resist and deny adoptee rights and adoptee truths, even when spoken straight from the adoptee's mouths.”
Why are some people so quick to judge what comes out of the mouth of the one who actually has the experience? This is puzzling. Every time I hear someone say, "No, it's not like that..." I want to say, "And you know this because...???" 

Each of us owns our experience. No one can take our story.

It’s been said, “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” 

Is this true for everyone but adult adoptees?  There are those with arguments who pressure us when we share our narrative.

But some of us have gotten insanely brave.

We're willing to lose a lot in exchange for living truth.

We're courageous enough to take it to to the stage, to TV and radio and internet and in person support groups and beyond!

We're brave enough to take it to church.

Now, a question...have you experienced adult adoptee abuse? How did you respond?