Adoption Serious

December 12, 2007 at 2:03 pm 19 comments

Recently, a women named Rebecca commented on my blog. I was pretty touched by her comment, because something so rare seems to be happening with her. She is thinking seriously about adoption BEFORE she adopts. That’s kind of amazing these days. Not many people do that. It seems to me that many, many adoptive parents go into adoption to fulfill a need. I don’t think, by any means, that this is a “wrong” reason to adopt, but so many seem to dive in head-first without even taking a deep inhale. I wish more people would inhale first — they could really use that oxygen after their are over their heads in water – once the “baby” is “home.”

There is a potentially good example of above mentioned adoption strategy in the news recently ( ) with a diplomat from the Netherlands who has recently “disrupted” his adoption of a Korean “baby” he adopted at age 3 months (she is now 7 or 8 years old). I don’t pretend to know what the circumstances are involving this “disruption.” The articles (and diplomat himself) are only stating that the “adoption went wrong.” The articles also mention that this couple was infertile at time of the adoption and have since birthed two children that they are not placing for adoption. Readers of such articles are lead to make some assumptions of this couple and it has thus enraged the Korean adoptee community. I can’t blame them. These kinds of stories burn adoptees who often struggle with issues relating to “blood connections” and how essential this is to a true and pure parent/child connection. The feeling of original rejection sits somewhere within our being. In some it sits at the front row and for some, it’s somewhere in the nose-bleed section. For me, it’s jumped around … from middle center to jumping right up on the stage. Some nerve! A secondary rejection seems unbearable to most adoptees. To me, I know that it is bearable, survivable, and in some cases, essential.

Although the article hurts me and I feel for that little girl, there is a different, very unreasonable response that I had. I feel also for the adoptive parents – the rejectees, if you will. I don’t think it is so hard to guess that they probably got special treatment when they adopted. My parents did. My parents had the funds (and then some) and they have the social connections (and then some) and they were able to move through the process in a matter of just a couple of months at the most. They got a young baby girl (exactly what they ordered) faster than what most mail orders took during that period (this was before you could “shop” for babies online!). They were beneficiaries of a wronged system. They were ignorant. Not to parenting or what a baby would involve (they had a biological daughter already and knew that parenting is no cake walk), but to how adoption would feel…. for me and for them. They were sucked into the agency infomercials and convinced that this would be the solution to their secondary infertility. Like the newest Benzoyl Peroxide cream shows promise to the 13 year old with acne, adding me to their mostly happy family seemed like a logical and reasonable solution – heck, at the very least, it was worth a try.

My parents were good at the motions of parenthood. They provided for me in a generous fashion. They showered me with gifts, hugs, and kisses. They educated me and always made sure that my belly was full. I never missed an essential doctor or dentist appointment. I was enrolled in enriching activities and summer camps. Yet, when my father told me last year, “It’s not that you are a bad daughter, Julia. You are a very good daughter. You just never were my daughter.” I was not surprised. I always knew he felt this way, although he tried to never show it. And although I am and always will be my mother’s solution to her painful infertility ordeal, I know that she also feels this way. I am what they needed – child number two – but I am not what they wanted. After years of denial and societal pressure to remain committed to me, the truth comes out. Only, the truth doesn’t hurt nearly as one would expect, because, well… I always knew where I stood in their lives.

I don’t know what the solution is for this 7 year old girl. I don’t know how important it was for me to remain in a stable home – moving through the motions that every nice and good family models. Or if it would have been a good idea to endure a second rejection in the hope to find a true and honest familia connection. I just know that her story is not rare. She’s not alone. And that is the truly sad part of this ordeal. That is the true heartbreak and the real tragedy of the adoption system.


Entry filed under: Adoption, Me.

If I could sing… Let’s be honest and such.

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Coco  |  December 12, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    This is a very true and compassionate commentary on this little girl’s tragic situation.

    My heart still breaks that you have personal experiences that gave you these stunning insights, however.

  • 2. JR  |  December 12, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    This post made me so sad. You presented a very thoughtful look at this situation without making assumptions and name-calling which I find very difficult for most people to do.

    I think your assessment of the adoptive parents is very accurate.

  • 3. colleen  |  December 12, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Your post has made me incredibly sad for you and for your parents. It has also made me angry and scared. Angry, of course, that life can be so unfair sometimes. And scared because I have an 18 month old adopted daughter (and 2 biological sons) and I will probably spend the next 2 months analyzing my every move wondering about my true feelings. I think this is a post that should be read by EVERY PAP.

  • 4. dawn  |  December 13, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Oh I’m so sorry. Newsweek has a story about disruptions running this week, too. Adoption really needs to stop being painted as a cure for infertility.

  • 5. joy21  |  December 13, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    yes, yes, yes, I have hesitated to speak on this, but I feel much of what you described here, I am shocked that people are so schocked.

  • 6. Emily  |  December 13, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Here from Coco. I have a friend whose parents had to disrupt the adoption of her sister when they were teens. She was not a “good” daughter — she had been a crack baby and she stole and lied and it was awful. I know how terrible it was for the whole family to break up like that, but far be it from me to pass judgement.

    Beautiful post.

  • 7. Sara_2  |  December 13, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    Julia, this post is so sad to me in many different ways.

    I am sure, if you say this, that it is the truth now. But – not that I ever doubt your sincerity any more than I would doubt the beauty of how you express yourself – but still maybe it is not the only truth? Maybe there were moments when something else was true?

    I found your blog just a little while before you found out about being sick. I remember back then, you were tired and you had told your mother about it; you posted about your mother telling you to be careful because of some things that ran in the family, that she forgot you were adopted when she spoke. And you posted that you were glad that she forgot.

    I cannot of course know your truth, or your several truths. But partly, I want this not to be the only truth because as an adoptive parent I do not think I feel this way. I hope many adoptive parents do not feel this.

    I certainly think it would be horrible to wake up and decide that my daughter is fake and less and not permanent and just not quite the thing. I cannot imagine it. I do not think any psychiatric issue or horrible behavior she could come up with would make me think this. I have a lurid imagination and can easily come up with horrifying scenarios – but I do not think any of them would make me feel that she was not my daughter.

    I agree with the person above who says that all prospective adoptive parents should read this. My impression is most agencies sweep their prospective clients along and maybe even encouraging families to examine their reasons for adopting would be a significant prevention for this sort of thing.

    Thank you so much for this post. I am so sorry that you have had the life experiences that let you write it.

  • 8. Susan  |  December 14, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Julia, I gasped out loud when I read your father’s words. How incredibly … devastating. But as you said, strangely validating as well, because they spoke a previously unspoken truth.

    This post is so generous and thoughtful and painful and true.

  • […] Resist Racism discusses it here and here. Ungrateful Little Bastard has a thorough listing of documents on the story. Harlow’s Monkey wrote a brilliant response, as usual. And Julia’s post is compassionate, insightful, and devastating. […]

  • 10. Michelle  |  December 15, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Julia, I agree that it is not a big deal for an adoptive parent or any adoptive family member to state the obvious. My adoptive brother (who is ten years older than me) said a few months ago that he always saw me as “different.” Then he paused, laughed and said, “That’s because you are different from us!” We both laughed and I felt a great sense of relief. It was like….ok, no more pretending!

    When adoptive parents try to make an adoptee feel like there is no difference between the adoptee and a bio child, it can magnify the sense of unreality – adoptees know they’re different – that’s the the way it is when one is not raised with their own mother, father and family.

    I understand what your father meant when he said that.

  • 11. Sue  |  December 15, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    They were beneficiaries of a wronged system.

    So true and this is what makes we adoptive parents so hard to hold accountable.

    You’re right, the more research done in advance, the better for the child. I just wish that was MANDATED, rather than done by choice and passion. People simply do not know how much they do not know until they are in over their heads.

  • 12. Cavatica  |  December 15, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    You have a beautiful blog that I found early in our adoption process and it has always made me think. You have a way of bringing out such important issues, without criticizing. This is so important for APs to understand. Thank you for telling it so we can hear it. We just came home with our daughter and I will keep reading you.

  • 13. Mo  |  December 16, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    As always, I read your blog to make sure that I stay grounded. I have no frame of reference so I won’t insult you by saying that I know how you feel. I wish that there was some kind of fool proof method to make sure that everyone who decides to adopt does it for the right reason. As an adoptee who has always been very secure about where I belong in the world, I am constantly reminding myself that my son may feel differently.

    Keep writing and I’ll keep listening.

  • 14. LH  |  December 16, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Beautiful and sad post, all in one. All I can say is this: I’m trying. Really, really trying to do the right things and say the right things and not make my daughter feel different but not deny the differences, either. It’s so complicated! And yes, I’m AM one of those APs who did not think long and hard about the implications of adoption and its relation to my daughter, the adoptee. I wish I had. I should have been reading and listening and reading some more pre-adoption, but instead I was gobbling up anything I could on the history of my daughter’s birth country. I have much regret over this.

  • 15. Brooke  |  December 19, 2007 at 10:01 am

    OMG Julia! I am so sorry your father said that to you. What a horrible thing to say!

  • 16. Kahlan  |  December 20, 2007 at 8:00 am

    What a downright horrid thing for your father to say.

  • 17. Rebecca  |  December 21, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I appreciated reading this entry and to learn of what you had felt in response to my comment. Honestly, it helped me to feel not so alone in this process of really thinking through the issue of adoption and also other creative ways of creating a family. I feel like the more I think about it the more complex it becomes. I feel like I can empathize with many infertile women who really want children (as I am one). I have also been trying my best to put myself in the shoes of adoptees and I have been wondering if the system could have been created in such a way (or changed) to make it more geared toward the welfare of the kids then necessarily the needs of the birth parents, adopting parents, agencies, or countries. I don’t know what the solution is, but it has kept me pondering. Of course it leaves me in even more of a complicated place of having to weigh ultimately values, principles, and my desires. This is not an easy thing to do, I am finding. It is blogs like yours that have really helped me to think more deeply, so keep writing. 🙂

  • 18. Grace  |  January 22, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    There is a Korean word “jung.” I don’t think there the equivalent in Engish. It roughly means “affection,” or “love borne of familiarity.” I think we Americans define love too narrowly. Whether romantic love (I must be swept off my fee) or filial love (I must be the apple of their eyes.) Ironically, Koreans, so hung up on bloodlines and social formulae, have a broader understanding of love. Love is dedication. Love is responsibility. Love is respecting. With the converses being true.

    I am a Korean immigrant, who adopted a Korean boy. Do I love him as one I birthed? I will never know; myself being one of those that chose adoption due to infertility. But I suspect that it feels different, no matter how loudly some parents will shout to the contrary. I will contend that different should not be better or worse. Just different. As our love for our brother, and sister, and friend, and husband are all different.

    I agree with Sara_2, that I wouldn’t be surprised if your mother does in fact love you very much. Differently. But that should be ok. I think the pressure to love exactly is stifling and damaging.

    The fact that your father feels that way? I think he is damaged by his past, as you allude elsewhere. It’s not that you are adopted, per se, or that you were “foreign,” per se. Pardon me, but, I believe it is because he is an unhealthy person, unable to form a most basic human bond. There may not be an English equivalent to “jung,” but I believe it lurks in every (healthy) human heart.

  • 19. Margie  |  May 15, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Just me, acknowledging.

    Damn. It is all so, so hard.


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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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