Posted in Blogging, adoptee, adoption

Adoption: the trauma and the beauty

With Po Po prior to my relinquishment (Circa 1985)

So, I’m going to be vulnerable and share some thoughts on here that I’ve been sharing in the adoptee community on TikTok. Sharing and also learning about.

For anyone who isn’t aware, and I’m sure most of you are, I’m adopted.

– My adoption story is a good one, I would even hesitate to say I feel pretty blessed. And I am grateful for the life I have.

– I adore and love my parents, they know this, I know this and the people who matter know this.

– I have learned relatively recently that maternal separation of a baby from its mother is trauma, it alters the development of their brain and impacts their lives in ways that can be hidden but can manifest in a myriad of ways especially in our mental world. Therefore adoption is trauma. (It does make sense though since separation anxiety can affect children even when they are older ie the age range that I work with, 0-5 years of age). (Hofer, M. A. (2006). Psychobiological Roots of Early Attachment. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(2), 8488. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2006.00412.x)

– My parents, looking back on my upbringing, seemed very trauma informed and understood the need to try and keep me abreast of my culture and always be honest with me as far as they could about where I came from and why.

– I was adopted internationally at a time when they were closed adoptions here in Australia. Now, at least as far as Western Australian legislation goes (and I believe for the rest of the country), adoption is open for both domestic and international systems. It is illegal to have closed adoptions in Australia (cf US adoption industry which I’ll mention in a moment)

– adoption is now considered a last resort option for safe external care (besides foster care) in Australia. Kinship care, community kinship care and permanent legal guardianship are the preferred options and the rates of adoption have decreased in Australia from the early 70s to now. It has decreased 98% from approx 9500 to only 208 adoptions in 2021. And international adoptions dropped 76% – 66 – 16 (I’m not sure this is adoption rates or actual numbers of adoptions, but that’s a staggering decrease and pretty significant) (Source: Accessed 5 May, 2023)

– on adopteetok on TikTok the majority of the conversation is between adoptees and first mothers from the US, and the story is quite different and tragically so.

– in the US, the adoption industry is a US$24 billion for profit industry which basically amounts to child trafficking. There is high demand for new born infants to supply the adoption industry even though there are thousands of eligible older children to adopt in the foster care system (though the actual goal of foster care should always be reunification with their families which is another issue altogether).

– The US can not get the UN rights of a child ratified in their country because of their adoption system. In many states adoptees cannot access their original birth certificate (I have mine) (not the adoption birth certificate which has the adoptive parents’ name on them, but the actual original certificate). And cannot access medical history of their bio families.

– all of this discourse has made me realise that adoption isn’t the dream that the media portrays. I’m one of the lucky ones who has and is grateful for my adoption, my adoptive family, my parents. But so many adoptees haven’t had it as easy as I have. Some of the stories I’ve heard on tiktok are truly heartbreaking.

– I’m also realising that my relinquishment by my birth mother (and subsequent time in the orphanage) both made a mark on the person I have become. (That trauma I mentioned), and it explains a lot.

The way I react to situations, the way I’m hesitant to reach out for help, the way I fear rejection from others… and yes, I’m coming to the realisation that is exactly one of my fears – though I used to think it was just fear of what people would think of me, but it’s actually fear of rejection because of what they perceive… the way I will put on different masks in different situations…

I am in no way complaining about these things, just learning more about myself which I know will help me be able to overcome those things by the grace of God. Having them out in the open is a good thing.

I want to end this post with two main thoughts.

1. Adoption in view of building a family is not a good thing – yes, it built my family and I am grateful for that fact. But, first and foremost it should be a child welfare tool and really there are other options out there that are preferable to adoption.

2. I am wholly grateful to my family and for the life I lead now. I am thankful for my adoption and that is okay. I am also willing to listen and stand up for those who believe that adoption is not the good that it should be, and the adoption industry, especially in the US, needs to be completely overhauled (as well as all the other forms of child welfare resources). As well as having more resources for families in crises, which is the main reason children are relinquished in the first place.

Anyway, thanks for attending my TEDTalk on adoption.

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