Assembling Self

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Dark Side of Adoption

Over Cast - Adoption Depression

A gloomy gray surrounds my soul and covers hope from which life grows.
With murky tints in hues of black and darkened tones where colors lack.
I know no sun or sky of blue eternal night my only view.
In shades of doubt my heart beats on where I exist but don't belong.
Lost chances and unrealized dreams paint the landscape that I see.
Defeating endeavors to escape the desolate hours that are my fate.
Upon the surface all is well most never see my private hell.
I struggle daily to survive and squelch the anger deep inside.
I try before it is too late to douse these fires of raging hate.
That burn eternal flames that kill my hope, my prayers, my very will.
Can't seem to win or too succeed exiled from life that others lead.
I wrestle with the endless doubt that I will find my way back out.
Where one day I will hope to find a peaceful and unburdened mind.
This blog is not about the dark side of the adoption industry really, although I could go on and on forever about it.  This is part of the story about my personal experience with the dark side of adoption and being ill with no family medical history.  I long ago quit hiding and making excuses for things I have done in reaction to what I have known.  All in hopes, that other adoptees may realize and understand what is happening to them, that the nonadopted world can understand what it is that we need, and we can change the sytem of adoption as it has dysfunctionally operated in the dark for too long.  These stories that are kept deep inside me need their voice if I am ever to truly be free of them.

I was adopted at two weeks, where I was before that remains a mystery.  Most say it does not matter.  I was "chosen" and "wanted" and I should be "grateful".  But first, I was unchosen.  Most nonadopted persons don't know that this "chosen" term comes with many strings attached.  Those, of fitting the adoptive family mold, of being what you are expected to be not who you are, and finally of fulfilling the desires and dreams of others.  I was not unique and celebrated as a person, I was never accepted, I was not a genetic match instead the exact opposite, and I was an outright disappointment.

Although I lined my room with ribbons, trophies, and medals from an early age at almost every group and competition I entered in, and made good grades and was never in trouble at school, I was never good enough.  Perfect was expected in everything, anything less was failure. And then, I got sick.  It was such a huge inconvenience for my adoptive parents.  They were after all, dealing with health problems with their own biological child.  That came first and foremost while my health issues were dismissed, ignored, and determined faking it for attention.

I remember around age fifteen passing out in the bathroom more than once, calling out to my mother for help and being told to get up and go to school and quit being dramatic.  Once, I woke up on the floor after losing consciousness to being nudged HARD by my adoptive mother's foot and yelled at to get up and clean up the mess I had made and get to school.  It was then I realized I had fallen into my little sister's training potty and had tipped it over spilling urine all over the floor and onto myself.  Soaked in piss I got up and cleaned myself, and the mess up of course, and went to school.  Because, being at school was far better than being at home.  I was safe from the emotional, mental, and physical abuse from this woman, and my adoptive father who believed per my adoptive mother, I was a horrible child and deserved everything I got.  I grew to love school more and more.

I ended up in the nurse's office at school several times over the course of the next few months.  I remember calling my adoptive mother from school asking to come home as I was not feeling well.  She came and got me but when I got home I was punished.  There was no caring or love.  No understanding or concern at all.  There was only chastising for pulling my adoptive mother away from her woman's golf league.  I had taken away her only morning that was "hers".  I began to learn to say, and ask for nothing.

Unfortunately, my dwindling health began to take a toll on my grades and class attendence.  I couldn't keep up especially after a very competitive season of gymnastics.  I was depleted and fatigued to the point I was unable to function.  Fortunately, my teachers who were angry and unaware of my health problems called me out and I went before each of them.  My gym teachers wanted to know why after gymnastics was over I had quit going to gym.  Physical education was always one of my favorite classes.  I finally broke down and told them of my physical ailments and my inability to stop bleeding, female trouble, and the fatigue and weakness I was feeling.  They asked why my adoptive parents didn't do something about it.  I relayed the facts.  I told them and that they thought that I was faking it.

I remember confiding in a friend at school who told me she had had the same problems.  Her parents had taken her to the doctor who had put her on birth control pills to regulate her hormones that were off balance.  Still afraid to tell my adoptive parents, I remember the extra birth control pills in the cabinet that were my adoptive mothers.  There was an extra pack with pills missing.  I took a few here and there and it immediately stopped the health issues I was having.  But, then my adoptive mother realized there were pills missing and I was confronted by both parents.  They were outraged and this must be because I was having sex and was a slut or a whore and this is where my problems stemmed from.  I told them about my friend and her diagnosis, and once again, I was called a liar...amongst other names.  They did finally take me to the doctor where he determined I did have, the same health issue as my friend, and was also very anemic and prescribed iron and yes, birth control pills!  My adoptive parents never did give me an apology.

I remember attending my junior prom which happened to fall the night, and early am with after prom festitivites and breakfast, before my state flute solo music competition. I was exhausted and really not concerned about how well I would do. Still on an emotional high from the previous night I went and played. I did not get a one rating, instead I received a two. My adoptive mother snidely and hatefully commented "You just didn't try hard enough".  I was one of the few soloists from school who had even made it to the state level.  Still, not good enough.  I think at that point in time I stopped caring what they thought of me at all.  I was in a no win situation anyway.

My health problems never went away instead they multiplied over the years as I got older.  My adoptive parents told me if I lived my life according to the word of God I would not be ill. It was implied that I was a sinner and being punished by the almighty for not going to church and tithing. So, I did my best to assume the role of a good christian. I was baptized and joined my husband's church and on a regular basis attended services, the required three times per week. Still, nothing about my health changed. Nothing about the attitude of my adoptive parents toward me changed either.  I was still an unworthy embarrassment to them, and their God.

So if being "good" doesn't work and healing doesn't come, and there is no sympathy or support from your family, what do you do? You become bad. It's much so easier. And if you surround yourself with bad people then you don't have to worry.  No one expects much of you and the pressure to conform, obey, and excel is gone.

You are sick and in pain year after year.  What do you do?  If doctors can't find answers you find the best way you can to escape.  Escaping became my life.  This portion I am not proud of.  But now, I understand why I did what I did.  I escaped in men, alcohol, drugs, pills, and acting out to get attention.  The rest of the time I spent isolated, in bed, and sick.  I hated the ball and chain that was my way of life, that of drinking or drugging and being supported by men that were as dysfunctional as I was.  But, being numb was better than living in physical and emotional pain.  Because, why would anyone "good" want me?  I was obviously damaged, unredeemable, and unworthy of love.

Thankfully, I had surgery and got better somewhat.  I returned to school.  I took Developmental Child Psychology to try and complete my degree in education.  I got an adoptive parent as a marriage counselor in my late thirties at the same time which gave me the ability to deal in healthy ways with what had happened to me.  She understood and validated my problems and issues.  She "got it".  I had abandonment rejection issues, detachment disorder, anger, self loathing, and a whole scope of problems that I needed to work on.  And work on them I did.  I joined adoption support groups, I workshopped, attended conferences, adoption seminars, and listened to the stories of others, especially, adoptees who were abused.

People say that the birth of their children is the greatest thing that ever happened to them.  No disrespect to my children meant, but finding the adoption community has turned my life around so I could be a better person and parent.  It has given me a reason to heal, and to change, and to help others.  After all, it has been the birth of me.


  1. Oh, Karen....this just makes me so sad. "I began to learn to say and ask for nothing."

    Yes. I totally get that.

  2. Linda but there is good news! Because of hanging out with you guys over the years I now DO ask for, and require GOOD treatment. Anything else is unacceptable! And, less is more. I no longer have to please the masses an can instead please those who deserve to have me in their lives. THAT my good friend, is worth millions...see I won the lottery in finding you guys. :) Oh, a few good dirty martinis too...old dog...old tricks..hard to change everything ya know? Thanks

  3. I wish that all of the women/girls believing the lies that adoption is the best choice for their unexpected pregnancy could read this post.

    I don't even have the words to write the thoughts I had reading this post. It makes me sick, as a mother who gave her son up for adoption.

    It makes me mad that society still believes in the rainbows & sunshine of adoption, instead of this reality.

    I'm so glad that you have found a reason and a way to heal, change, and help others.

  4. Susie I try and use my story not for sympathy, but as a statement and proof that the system of adoption needs to DRASTICALLY change. I couldn't change my circumstances, but I can for others. And, I'll never give up trying to do just that. I didn't want to guilt my natural mother into contact, I wanted to be accepted for being her child. But, with all of the secrecy and lies involved in adoption, that is never going to happen unless we can change the process and bring adoption out into openness and honesty. The work we have before is monumental, but not impossible if we continue to tell our stories and open the eyes, minds, and hearts of those who don't know the obstacles we face, the issues that plague us, and the need we all have, to get the government and the profits out of adoption where it has no "business" being.

  5. Way to go!Thanks for telling us your story and hope life keeps getting better, well, more like more manageable for adoptees hey?

  6. YEP Von very true. I found a quote, and promptly stole it today from another adoptee. “Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.” William Shakespeare

  7. I hung on every word while reading this...thank you.

  8. TY Peach. I no longer have to bear the pain in silence, alone. With our voices and experiences joined our power to facilitate change is multiplied.