Assembling Self

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Damaged Adoptees

Damaged people come mostly in two forms, victims and survivors.  I am glad to have made it from the first into the second category.   Adoption can and does damage people that is a fact no arguments on that will be heard by me I know better, WAY better.  I am not here to stand in judgment, only in experience.

I am adopted.  I don't know who I really am, or where I came from.  Without bonding to my adoptive family I have always felt a loner, an orphan, and a misfit. It's a pain I would never wish upon anyone.   So, I try to be the cohesive glue within the adoptee community to bring people together, and a voice for the under dog who hasn't found theirs yet.

I was semi-shocked yesterday when I was told I was an angry person living a “Defeatist life”.  Now, when it comes to adoption I am used to being judged, condemned, and labeled by those who have no real or true understanding of who I am and what happened to me because of adoption, but not usually by others adoptees.  That tends to sting more as I can usually chalk nonadopted person's judgment into the same category as I do of those who just haven't worn or lived in our shoes.  They simple can't know.  What is sad is some damaged adoptees never get better, recover, or even realize there is anything wrong with them.  We call this “the fog”.

As adoptees, we can have certain weaknesses, triggers, and issues we struggle with that differ from non-adopted people.  I have been lucky to have received a good deal of counseling, therapy and help through adoption support groups online and offline, workshops, conferences, and seminars.  I love to be able to give back to others the compassion, unconditional acceptance, and healing they want and need.  I was given the best by the best and can't stand those who are struggling in the dark grasping for something to hang on to that makes sense, and for a little light to shine on their situations.  Adoption can be a crazy mixed up mess of confusion coupled with the world giving you all kinds of unsolicited advice and unrequested input without understanding ANY of it.  It can and will drive you nearly crazy whether you let it or not.

Unfortunately, some adoptees will continue down the path of life holding tight to defense mechanisms, anger, and making everyone around them suffer along with them.  They blame, judge, and alienate people and when confronted turn the tables and make themselves out to be victims.  It is defeating to those who have a hard time reaching out to others and frustrating for those of us who are trying to help people to do so.   But, I also know this comes with speaking out about adoption not only to the world, but to other adoptees as well.  I've also gotten caught up and dragged into playing the blame and shame game and it's not fun and there are no real winners.  It's not a matter of who is right or who is wrong it's about respect for others, their experiences, and knowing no matter how much you know you never really know it all.

Let me say this loud and clear there is NOTHING wrong with being wrong.  I was wrong yesterday, I'll be wrong today, and I'll be wrong again tomorrow.  That is the human condition, and that is human nature.  I learned long ago that holding tight to being constantly right was exhausting and that no one person is right all the time.  And if you are wrong, your world will not crumble.   It can be very scary for adoptees to even fathom there is anything wrong or to truly look at the personal monsters and demons that lurk within adoption issues.  It has been unmapped territory in the past and for far too long.  We can become lost, alone, and frightened not knowing the path to find where we belong and fit in in the world.  It has been uncharted water, deep water, sometimes frightening and dark.  It can suck us down, or drag us out of the reach of help like a bad rip tide, and nearly drown us in over whelming emotion, despair, and defeat.

I want to help other adoptees find their own personal coping tools and mechanisms.  I want others to not spend years wasting time and life in addiction, anger, pain, and lashing out, and suffering as I did.  I want to know that at the end of my own life, I knew I had accomplished as much of that as I could.


  1. Great post Karen and so very true.Some still in denial who will not acknowedge they are victims and could be survivors.To be a survivor is not to need to criticise, bully, deny and trash the stories of others.Some are so good at pressing the buttons we occasionally get dragged in - today is another day, we do our best and press on to a new future so very different from the one we might have imagined some years ago.Von x

  2. The problem with our society is so many people have drunk the "positive thinking" koolaid. Sure, it's a great thing to have positive thoughts, but it is NOT a great thing to have them 100 percent of the time (that is called denial), and it is NOT a great thing to attack another person when their real feelings make you uncomfortable. I'm sorry someone did that to you - it's not deserved, and the person judging your thoughts and feelings needs a hard lesson in EMPATHY and also in NOT BEING A HYPOCRITE because I'm sure they've felt bad about an issue or an incident in their life too.

  3. I hate when I let people who are obviously in the dark as far as how they communicate and function with others push my buttons. Especially adoptees, because I feel we all have had enough emotional turmoil to deal with we don't need to be going at one another. But, there comes a time when you have to stand up, speak out, and stay your ground. It's going to happen, but hopefully next time I'll be able to shake it off more quickly and save my time and energy for those who want, need, and deserve it. Thank you both. :)

  4. There are times to stand up and not put up with the BS, it happens.

  5. People do what they need to do to get through the day, and the attackers usually are low on insight. I am sorry that someone threw down the "bitter" and "defeatist" cards at your feet. Sounds like they cannot confront their own demons, and that's their own battle, you're right. But it sucks when they drag you down with them.

    I get so triggered by adoptees who are 100% happy and by first moms who seem never to think about how their kids feel when they deny them, over and over, that I've blocked certain people and certain arenas of discussion out of my life. It helps.

    As Von said, there are times to stand up and say enough to the BS, and there are times when you can just avoid the BS altogether. And yes, we do have our own fish to fry and don't need to be fighting one another, that's for certain.

    Sorry you had such a difficult day. Love you.

  6. Thank you K. It's sad to know someone you would have liked to have tried to help is stuck in the "always right" mode and can't conceive how with their abrasive angry judgmental attitude is not helping others with insight and instead it's just plain mean. But, that can't be their fault cause there is nothing wrong with "them" it has to be that we are causing their reaction to us. Oh I was also called "poor" as opposed to the "highly successful" person 'they' are too which is just so below the belt it reflects more on them than it ever could on me. Another day I'm glad to just be me and to be surrounded by great friends like you, love you much. :)

  7. Hi all.. it is a difficult line to tread between having empathy for my birth daugher and trying not to react to button pushing. I feel that the reason for the button pushing is that on some level the person wants someone to call them on it and it could be a road to healing for them. I have just addressed this issue with my birth daughter today who I don't hear from for months, then she emails me saying she is not very happy and doesn't have much money etc. I respond in a positive supporting way but don't offer money and I get no response. Till the next time I get the hello email and feel obligated to respond. It hurts. I don't instigate contact now because last year she wrote a nasty email to me full of character attacks because I was trying to make an appointment to skype her and said our relationship was important. It took me 12 months and therapy to get over it. No more.. life is too short I just want positive supportive people in my life.