Abuse, Neglect…. and Adoption?

August 26, 2006 at 6:07 pm 9 comments

I blog too much about conversations on adoptee groups and listservs and I will attempt to grab my inspiration from other sources for now on. Starting…. after this post!

Hot, hot, hot is the topic of the welfare of children! So, when a few adoptees on an Adoptee/AP group said that children would be better off being raised in an orphanage (or dead!) than an adoptive home… all heck broke. I have to admit, I was hurt. Deep down in the pit of my stomach was a death. I took it personal…. when I should know better.

Then, in response, there was the following reply to one of those hurt (and hurtful, maybe?) adoptees….

I am not an adoptee, but always wish I was, still do. But since I am not, as the adoptees here say, I can never “get” what it is like to be one. However, just as adoptees can say this with absolute certainty, so I can say with absolute certainty that you can never “get” what it was like to grow up in poverty, in filthy hovels, parental (if you can call them parents) rejection, daily beatings with belts, branches, pipes, no food, no “new” school clothes and shoes, and even household furnishings obtained from what was referred to by the people in town as the “city dump”, shunned and ridiculed because of this by kids in school, being left alone in the dark as a toddler and young child, sexually abused, hungry, afraid, and, yes, abandoned, until they came back — I couldn’t know when, hours or sometimes days, while I remained frozen in place, behind the curtains, looking out the window for them, afraid to move, soiling my clothes, or the monsters in the room would get me. When I was 11 I was infected with a staph skin infection, then developed hepatitis A (we lived in quite unclean conditions and I don’t ever remember being bathed). I became very ill, and was hidden away in an upstairs room, left to die, not treated, not even given food or water. My aunt saved me, came to visit my mother one day, asked for me, searched, found me, horrified, called an ambulance. I spent a month in the hospital, parents never came to see me. I remember the look of disgust on my mother’s face when I came home. It was only then that I realized the enormity of what she had tried to do, angry that she was fooled.

I was unwanted, a burden, a drain, resented and hated, living in fear, neglected, starved, a wisp of a child, still with scars from the beatings. Do I wish I had been adopted — YES, it was my childhood fantasy, my beautiful alternate universe. Just as you say that poverty and homelessness would have been better than being adopted, I say, with just as much certainty, that adoption would have been better than the childhood I had. And it makes me realize that, from my point of view, sometimes it IS better for children to be given up for adoption, and if adopted by loving families, wherever in the world, their lives will be immeasurably improved. I would have LOVED to have left behind my country, where I was treated so shoddily, been taken away, as far as possible, and embrace a new place, even a new culture, where I was given even the basics of Maslow’s needs, let alone a family who loved me, wanted me, provided for me and cared about my future. But back then, in the US, there were no social programs to help kids, teachers looked away from the red welts on my arms and legs, my dirty clothes, just as perhaps there are lacking social programs to help kids in countries that are not in the “Great West” today. Poverty breeds discontent, and unfortunately, discontent sometimes breeds abuse and neglect of children.

I thought this post was incredibly brave. I read it twice… inspired equally as much the second time around at how this woman dare expose herself so willingly to such a “hostile” crowd. I am in awe and humbled. It got me thinking. For sure, there are some adoptees who share this experience. Adoptees who are abused and neglected in their birth homes and in their foster homes and in their adoptive homes. Abuse is a disease infecting children no matter their biological status in a home. It is appalling.

I wonder… and I just cannot wrap my head around the answer that feels correct. I wonder why, when the victim of the abuse is adopted, that the world, the society, the very victim his/herself chalks it all up to “because she/he/I am/is/was adopted.” Why is that the reason? And why… is the discussion then that adoption is not in the best interest of children? Should we also question if being raised by biological parents is in the best interest of children? I think, both or neither must be asked. Each question alone leads to no answers for the children/victim.

Abuse is abuse. Neglect is neglect. And a biological parent is no less likely to abuse than an adoptive parent… in my opinion. (Anyone know if there are actual studies on this?)

Let’s stop talking about an adoption ban and let’s start talking about protecting children from their parents… no matter how they become one.


Entry filed under: Adoption.

Sista, Sista Going Home…

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mama ByAdoption  |  August 26, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    Wow, Julia, I love the new blog look!

    And this was a powerful post. Thanks for the reminder. One of our adoptions was of a child who suffered some of these same things. And I never doubt for a second that this child isn’t better off with us. It gets harder to feel certain about that, however, when abuse isn’t part of the picture.

  • 2. Journeywoman  |  August 27, 2006 at 12:16 am

    Were you in our car three days ago? Your third to last paragraph is almost exactly what my husband (an adult adoptee, though not Korean) said to me.

    Excellent post–and I also like the new look.

  • 3. Papa2hapa  |  August 27, 2006 at 8:10 am

    Julia, as always, the answer is a difficult one. I always wonder why it takes so much effort to adopt and to try to make sure the parents are good, but that anybody can just “pop” a kid out without any interviews asking them, “how will you take care of this child?”

    Maybe all parents should be required to go through background checks, interviews, and information sessions.

  • 4. MaggieJay  |  August 27, 2006 at 10:42 am

    Delurking for the first time… Hello Julia. I love your blog. You discuss international adoption so beautifully ~ the good and the bad, but not black and white. My husband and I are in the process of adopting a little girl from China and I feel that we have so much to learn from you and other interntioonal, adult adoptees. Would you mind if I posted a link to your blog on mine?

  • 5. Marla  |  August 27, 2006 at 3:59 pm

    After working in the foster care system for a few years I can understand where this person is coming from. And, yes, s/he is brave in more ways than one.

  • 6. MaggieJay  |  August 27, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Julia ~ I’m delurking to say hello and that I love your blog. You describe international adoption so eloquently, the good and bad, but not black and white. My husband and I are waiting to adopt from China and I feel we have so much to learn from you and others like you. This post really touched me, as I’ve also read some blogs by people who are against international adoption, but I don’t think it is that simple. This post shows that clearly.

    I’m wondering if I can post a link on my blog to yours?
    ~ Maggie

  • 7. Margie  |  August 28, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    So many questions here, all difficult to answer. I’m glad you posted both the comment from the list and your thoughts on it.

    Nothing is easy in adoption. And no experience should be invalidated by another. Thanks so much for saying that so well.

  • 8. Ryan  |  August 30, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    Julia… this is my first time reading your blog, and your entries are so throught provoking. Thanks for your insight,


  • 9. Sunny Jo  |  September 7, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    this is sunny jo from K@W. i guess the difference between abused adoptees and abused bio kids, is that greater society sanctions and supports adoption by screening APs, in some countries providing financial assistance to APs and in every other way saying that the selected minority of adults who are actually approved as APs, are especially fit to provide a child with what it needs. all adoptees have separations in their baggage and for that reason have ‘special needs’. i therefore believe that when adoptees are abused, it’s not only the AP who fails, but the entire society around (social workers, politicians etc) who fails as well. and the consequences might be more severe for adoptees since there are limits to how heavy a burden a child can carry.

    and for the record, i am blessed with wonderful APs, as opposed to the horrible BPs who gave birth to me (who i have no contact with anymore). so i know that living with BPs is no guarantee for a ‘good’ life. still, i believe that it is a more serious offence that an adoptee is being abused simply because it could have been prevented in ways which are not possible with bio kids.


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Julia’s Jam

It’s just not that black & white. Not because I am taking a stand against. Just because, the issues I face are somewhere in the grey area and to weed through them, I blog. I blog. ~

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