When scrolling through social media, watching the morning news, or scanning over newspaper articles, stories of adoption are scattered throughout. They present an uplifting story of heroism and bravery; a story of an otherwise doomed individual who is scooped up by a savior in hopes of giving them a better life.
This isn’t adoption.
Adoption is abandonment.
Adoption would not exist without it. There is always a loss before a gain.
This fact of adoption is often forgotten, ignored or shamed. People do not want to hear a story of adoption that entails pain. It doesn’t make for a feel good story, and it doesn’t leave people feeling inspired.
But feel good doesn’t mean truth.
The adoptee always experiences abandonment. They suffer the loss of their birth family no matter what age the adoption took place. Those in the foster care system experience it every time they are shifted from home to home. Many adult adoptees have experienced it when they have been turned away from a relationship with their first families when in reunion. Some have experienced the abandonment and rejection from their own adoptive families, having been completely shut off from a relationship with them.
Adoption leaves adoptees with a life time struggle of dealing with the lasting effects that abandonment has on our psyche:
It makes you feel “un-keepable,” not worthy of someone’s time or love. It helps you build walls that even you feel like you can’t tear down. It is the best friend of anxiety and depression, complementing them with the feeling of fear of intimacy, hesitancy towards accomplishing hopes and dreams. It speaks a lie that no one will ever truly stick around, no matter how often they tell you they will never leave. It eats away at self-confidence and self-esteem, convincing you that you are never going to be good enough.
This is adoption.
This is what adoption does.
Adoption is not a greeting card; a story of pure beauty and joy. Adoption is a book with tattered and torn pages, a story of struggle and redemption, abandonment and complex emotions.
Put the greeting card back on the shelf and pick up the tattered book. Read, listen and accept. Hear the pain amongst the growth, acknowledge the loss. Remember the adoptee when a story pops up on Instagram. Remember the abandonment a child experiences when their story is splattered across the television screen. Remember that although there may be beauty and inspiration, there most certainly is pain.
Because this is adoption.