Double Whammy Adoptees

Knowing that your mother gave you up for adoption is enough to grapple with on it’s own. When you face the situation of being adopted into a dysfunctional home on top of moving forward from relinquishment and adoption, there is a another level of difficulty. I call this difficulty the “double whammy.”


As if you didn’t already have enough to overcome with losing your entire first family in a single day, you are faced with the obstacle of navigating the challenges of being adopted into a dysfunctional home.  Some adoptees face more than dysfunction -- they face abuse. My heart breaks for those adoptees.  

Facing the double whammy is like the difference between a single and double amputation, with twice the work necessary to heal. In the midst of it all, as you grow up – you are admonished to be give thanks that all of this has happened to you.

There are many people are speaking out about adoption reform who were not placed into dysfunctional or abusive homes. There’s a myth out there that all of the adoptees who speak out about the need for change in adoption “must have had an adoption that didn’t work out.” That is false. There are many adoptees speaking about the need for reform who were placed in healthy adoptive homes. And unfortunately some were not so blessed, lucky or whatever you personally want to call it.

I am one of the adoptees who faced the double whammy. 
 
I now live what I would describe as an overcoming, healthy life. I had a lot of outside help (counseling) to recover and move forward. And for that, I am very thankful. I would have never survived or thrived without that assistance. And I know without a doubt, I would not be healthy today had I not physically moved away.

If I were not adopted and my adoptive family was my natural family, I would still have been faced with huge challenges to overcome.  That isn’t to say that there weren’t good parts, or redeeming qualities within the journey. For sure, there were. I’m glad for those. And some of them still exist. But those positive parts don’t negate the painful parts which were not only reality, they were huge.   

I quip that my adoptive home can be characterized as “Pentecostal Jerry Springer.”  Seriously, it has that much intrigue flat our mental sickness if you were to hear the entire story. I’m surprised Dr. Phil, Jerry Springer or Montel Williams haven’t called yet. I am not even kidding a bit that it wouldn’t shock me. And sadly even though I am at mid-life some of that chaos continues and I try as much as possible to not harmonize with it.

My parents’ marriage crumbled in dysfunction and divorce. I realize millions of homes break apart, and it’s nothing rare in today’s world. "What's the big deal?" some wonder. For starters, for an adoptee the divorce of your adoptive parents is a loss of greater magnitude being that you already lost so much. When this happens to an adoptee, they face the loss of not one but two family units.   

In my case, it was beyond the breakup of a marriage.  Our home was rocked by multiple family secrets, untreated mental illness, co-dependency, and more. Perhaps what drove me to frustration most in the past (before I got help) was the way many extended family or friends characterized our home as ideal. My sister once had someone tell her our family was “like the Brady Bunch.” To say she was stunned was an understatement. Those who make that kind of judgment have absolutely no idea what really occurred and in some cases still happens. And most have never had the decency to actually ask my sister or myself for that information and are content to believe one side without knowing all of the facts.

Despite all that, by the grace of God I have created the life I dreamed of.  I am blessed to have a marriage of 28 years and counting. Spiritually and emotionally healthy children. A functional family! Doing something meaningful with my life and helping others. Following God’s plan for my life. Impacting other people in a positive way.

I’ve noticed that many if not most adoptees who face the double whammy aren’t able to come to this place of peace or wholeness in their lives, forever tied to dysfunction. And my heart goes out to them. I understand first-hand how hard it is! But I’m here to say that it’s possible. It will require taking courageous steps to break free.    

For most of these double whammy adoptees, peace and wholeness will require a total restructuring to develop a healthy life and family of their own. Sadly, some may have to put a significant space between themselves and the particular family members who are dysfunctional  and refuse to change -- in order to develop a healthy life of their own – the one God intends them to have.

Many of these adoptees face ridicule when they set boundaries.They are chastised that they must put up with whatever treatment one or more of their adoptive parents dish out, because “they gave you a home,” and “they changed your diapers,” and so many other well worn clichés. If someone does actually take time to hear their side of it (and they are brave enough to share it) they will probably receive admonishments about forgiveness. This is especially true of a Christian family. Without a doubt forgiveness is important, however it doesn't always mean trust, or a high level of contact with the one forgiven.  For one's own physical, spiritual and emotional health -- sometimes limited or even no contact is necessary. You can still forgive and do that.

Every child deserves a safe and loving home. It’s not something they should ever have to earn or face a guilt trip once they are adults, over the fact that someone changed their diapers. Every baby needs and deserves a diaper change. I wish the world would lay off of this well worn cliché about diapers that we are all so tired of.   

Upon developing and implementing new standards in their lives, many double whammy adoptees are faced with family members who try to discredit them. Sadly, an adoptive parent would have to practically kill them for many people to agree with separating themselves from the dysfunction.  

 Take the Rosie O’Donnell case, for example. Her adoptive daughter Chelsea just turned 18 years old and has separated herself from her. The entire world can see what a basket case Rosie is. She recently declared to the world that she wanted to smear menstrual blood on people's faces.  But that doesn’t matter. She’s an adoptive mom. And all that matters for most of the world out there regarding her being an adoptive mom is that her kids rise up and call her blessed despite the fact that she’s crazy. Menstrual blood be darned! She changed her kids diapers, don’t you know???

Most of the world feels sorry for Rosie that Chelsea walked away and said, “Enough!” and refused to subject herself to the dysfunction any more.  The comment threads on stories about the situation are rife with admonitions that Chelsea just needs to be grateful. That she is a brat who needs to come to her senses which to these folks means, back to Rosie. “Poor Rosie” is heard over and over again. What about “poor Chelsea”? Does anyone see that this girl has been subjected to a mentally ill mother for the past 18 years? A mentally ill mother that for some reason still has many fans in the world? 

In typical gaslighting fashion, Rosie accused Chelsea of being the one who is mentally ill. Many people are inclined to believe Rosie because after all, what kind of adopted child distances themselves from one or both of their adoptive parents? 

Maybe one who is tired of their dysfunction and wants to live a healthy, overcoming life.    

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