Narratives By Adults Who Have Been Adopted


Narrative, consumption doodleI subscribe to them via my blog reader and, quite frankly, they aren’t always the “feel good” kind of reading. But I believe they are necessary and relevant. I’m speaking of blogs and blog posts written by adults who have been adopted.

Here are a few that I read: 

The Declassified Adoptee

Yoon’s Blur

Once Was Von

The event of having been adopted and all that it encompasses lasts a lifetime. Inherent issues in adoption, often not recognized and/or addressed, are still the same: loss, rejection, guilt and shame, grief, identity, intimacy, mastery/control. There are many adults who have been adopted who still struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives, deeply impacted by the loss of birth family, history and culture. And, sometimes, by the veil of secrecy.

Many have found their voices and are speaking up. They write to heal, to purge, to teach, to advocate for a better “system” than is currently in place. They write for openness and ethical practice. They write to refute adoption and adoption-related stereotypes, like unwantedness and gratefulness, and stigmas against adoption and birthmothers. For those of you who have adopted transracially, they also write on the issues of race, ethnicity and differences.

There are lessons for adoptive parents to take to heart and incorporate in parenting and supporting their child, being proactively open about their child’s unique story—painful truths and all, and encouraging frank discussion in sensitive and age-appropriate language.

In fairness, there are reasonably as many adults who have been adopted that are well-adjusted, most likely due to supportive and open parents, who intuitively offered their child “more” by:

  • Being aware that their child was dealing with more than childhood “ages and stages”
  • Understanding that what their child was going through, accepting that their child had legitimate reasons for feeling as they did and telling their child
  • Educating their child on how understand their emotions and encouraging them to express them
  • Embracing the process of healing by giving their child permission to talk and express their feelings and be mad at his/her adoptive parents, if need be
  • Advocating for their child in every social setting

Parents who have adopted can learn a lot by reading these posts and “listening” to the genuine voices. They can learn of how an adoptee feels when silenced—shame, confused, alienated, angry—and what they felt they needed to be “whole.” These adults have lived through what your child is heading into. The have history and can often provide great insights about what worked and didn’t for them. Adoptive parents should “listen” and thoughtfully consider what these adults are saying, why and examine how they parent their child.

Parents: Do you already read blogs and posts written by adults who have been adopted? If so, do you feel they offer you, as an adoptive parent, insight into parenting the child who had been adopted? What are your feelings about the perspectives you read?

~ Photo by Inha Leex Hale

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda March 29, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Hi Judy,

Thanks for mentioning my blog.

I might have misread but it seems as though Von, Melissa, and I were mentioned in contrast to adoptees who are “well-adjusted,” which leaves me to believe that because of voicing the issues and complexities in the adopted experience that I am not perceived as being “well-adjusted.” I apologize if I am misinterpreting that.

I have parents who did all of the things you listed as best they could. People may feel that I hold the opinions that I do simply because my parents could have done something differently or better. But complexities and ambivalence can still arise regardless, for one example, as I’ve often written about, the closed adoption system and lack of information about my life pre-adoption–something my parents couldn’t help.

Also, I am a well-adjusted individual. Well-adjusted, for everyone else, tends to mean that a person is happy, successful in what they do, and is an active member of society. I feel like it means something entirely different when discussing an adopted individual. To others, it doesn’t matter how happy or successful I am, I am not “well-adjusted” unless my opinions on adoption are 100% positive and ambivalence free. I don’t feel this is fair. All events in life are full of ups and downs. Grief and happiness are parts of every big event in life. Pointing out ambivalence or ethical problems in adoption makes me no less “well adjusted” than anyone else.


Judy March 30, 2011 at 9:43 am

Hi Amanda,

Your blog, as well as Von’s and Melissa’s, are a few of the large number that I read. You all post more often, which is why I linked you to this post. As I wrote to Von, your voices need to be heard. I feel you (and many others) express and share a wide range of insight and perspective. Parents need to hear the more about the issues and complexities inherent in adoption. Thanks for commenting.



Von March 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Brooke the blogs we write as adult, or in my case, senior adoptees are essential for us too, for telling our stories and telling it like it is.So many non-adoptees still follow and believe the myths of adoption because they do not know how it really is to be an adoptee.Sometimes perhaps they do not want to know and then we are called ‘haters’ because we won’t perpetuate those myths.
It is such a hopeful sign to see adopters and non-adoptees changing their views when they have taken on a very tough task, which is not helped any by lack of truthful information.
Adoptees are often critical of the absence of adoptee blogs, insight, and input on adopters blogs, websites, training and in the advice of ‘experts’.I know that some of you, who have the courage to read blogs, do, but it is very few who actually become followers and show adoptee blogs on their blog rolls.
Thanks for the inclusion blog is not one of the easiest to read and can be confronting and tough going, but it is the truth. When you’re not used to hearing the truth of adoption, that can be hard.
“In fairness, there are reasonably as many adults who have been adopted that are well-adjusted” raises a few points.One of those is very pedantic and is the use of the word ‘that’ instead of ‘who’. It does matter because the former implies and object, the second a real person! The question raised by the comment is not one that can be done justice to in this space and it’s not my blog! I will run with it on my own blog if I may.
I am always happy to blog on specific topics and questions if anyone wants to email me of post a comment or message me on FaceBook where I am Von Coates.


Judy March 30, 2011 at 9:43 am

Hi Von,

I appreciate you sharing here, and your insight. Your voice needs to be heard. Many adoptive parents do want to know what it is like to have been adopted.



Brooke Randolph March 25, 2011 at 5:09 am

Thanks for the reminder, Judy. Although I enjoy reading excerpts from each of these when highlighted by TongguMomma, I hadn’t added to my blog roll. I think about the hurt and loss a child has/is experiencing and the adult he/she will become daily. Some days we all just want more “feel good” when the work and “haters” are getting us down, yet if helping children heal is truly my priority (it is – and my passion), these blogs are essential.


Judy March 30, 2011 at 10:08 am

They are essential. Thanks for commenting, Brooke.



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