Sunday, March 11, 2007

How To Make A 'Happy Adoptee'

From reading around the blogs of late - I have come to realize a couple of key 'ingredients' to make a more well adjusted, happy-within-oneself, more-love-for everyone, type of adoptee.

There are always going to be variations to the recipe - and not every adoptee will 'come out' looking and feeling the same (that's the fun of being 'unique') - but in my observations, there are a few important 'how to' instructions that should come with every adoptee ever handed out.

STEP 1. It must always be remembered, no matter how selfish you really want to be, that it is ALWAYS - and MUST ALWAYS - BE ABOUT THE ADOPTEE. This really is the big one people - or the recipe will fail from the outset - and you will end up with one of those 'ungrateful' adoptees no matter which way you look at it.

STEP 2. ALL information about the adoptees biological family must be kept and passed on to said adoptee - at birth. It would be advantageous to acquire as much information as possible about the adoptees first family including photos - AND if some open communication can occur between both families - the rate of success for a 'happy adoptee' is infinitely greater in the long run. The adoptee should not have to 'ask' for said information. It is part of their being - it is WHO THEY ARE. If you feel the need to keep said information from the adoptee you are heading for disaster. This is information about WHO the adoptee is. It does not 'belong' to you - it 'belongs' to the adoptee. If you do not honour the adoptees first family - you do not honour who your adoptee is. If the adoptee doesn't have to actually 'search' - much pain and heartache - and FEAR OF REJECTION - is kept to an absolute minimum. Please, if you question this point, always refer back to STEP 1.

STEP 3. Remember at all times that adoption is an UNNATURAL ACT. As such, there are dramatic and painful reasons behind that adoption. First/biological/birth mothers and fathers need to have counselling to work through the loss that they feel from losing their child. And adoptive mothers and fathers need to have counselling to work through the loss that they feel from not being able to parent a biological child of their own. (which more often than not - is the reason behind most adoptions) If this counselling does occur on both sides - the likelihood of said adoptee needing years and years of HEAVY & INTENSE counselling will be kept to a minimum - and the saved money can be used for more exciting things! Again, if you feel the need to question this point - refer to STEP 1.

STEP 4. VALIDATION of the adoptees many losses must be at the forefront of your mind. The adoptee has lost the mother that he/she grew inside of; the adoptee has lost those that look exactly like him/her (mirroring from the same gene pool is so very important); the adoptee has possibly lost future brothers and sisters who share the same genetic make-up; the adoptee has lost their entire genetic heritage; the adoptee has lost the part of themselves that makes up who they really are. AND THE ADOPTEE NEEDS TO TALK ABOUT SUCH LOSSES WHENEVER THE NEED ARISES. Sure, we could argue all day about the whole 'Nature Versus Nurture' debate - but if you really have an issue with this - please refer back to STEP 1. Validation for an adoptees losses and feelings means that they can grow into caring adults who will then be able to validate other people's feelings of pain. Parents need to practice what they preach - or they are all just hypocrite's at the end of the day. Acknowledge the adoptees losses - instead of just trying to 'shield' them from the pain. We all are going to encounter pain. Let's be able to work through it, feel it - and then have the know-how to move on from it. We don't forget it - it's always there - but we can move in a forward direction if it is validated all along. If you have a problem with this - refer to STEP 1.

STEP 5. Allow adoptees to have the opportunity to love ALL their parents - without questions - and not feel guilt for any of the love they want to give. This isn't a competition here people. Let them love who they want to love. Let them feel that they can talk about that love - and allow the adoptee to grow. Forcing your views on them will only make them close-down and then you will only see the adoptee that YOU want to see. Adoptees become very clever at showing you what only YOU want to see. Allow the adoptee to be true to his/her self - and their true love for you will show through. This in turn will allow the adoptee to have real relationships with everyone in their lives. The adoptee will then ultimately have far more respect for who you are - and thus strengthen your relationship for all time. If you wish to question this point - please refer to STEP 1.

STEP 6. Forgiveness - to yourself, to each other, to all. Everyone makes mistakes - or errors in judgment - especially when sometimes not all the facts are on the table. It takes a strong character to admit to a mistake - and an even stronger one to forgive. Understanding that views and feelings change is also vital. But with forgiveness - healing can then occur. If you can adhere to this step - the adoptee will then learn the true meaning of forgiveness - a lesson worth learning. Any probs - refer to Step 1.

STEP 7. LOVE - UNCONDITIONALLY. No matter what. The adoptee had no choice in his/her conception. The adoptee had no choice in his/her adoption. The adoptee needs to be loved - just for being who they are. This in turn gives the adoptee the choice to love themselves - unconditionally - and in turn this will help them to grow. Just in case you've forgotten - always refer to Step 1.

This list is by no means exhaustive. But for now I am exhausted from compiling it - and living without it - EVERYDAY.

If you can try to live by these steps - as often as is humanly possible - you have a very good chance of helping a young adoptee grow into the man/woman you had always hoped them to be.
For ultimately - this should be your soul purpose in child-rearing - to raise a child that you will be proud to have in your life, and be proud to call your son or your daughter - with NO prefixes* anywhere to be seen.

* adoptive / birth / biological etc.


Blogger AnotherAmy said...

F-ing unbelievable insight.

11/3/07, 4:39 pm  
Blogger elizabeth said...

Preaching to the choir here.

But so many people don't get this.

Being a parent is a CHOICE.

Being abandoned and adopted isn't.

11/3/07, 5:59 pm  
Anonymous away2me said...

(Sorry this comment got so long, it started out as, "I agree" then I got carried away!)

Step #1. Totally, agree, couldn't possibly agree more and have written those words time and time again to other adoptive couples, to hopeful adoptive couples and everyone who asks me about adoption. Our son is the most important person in the world. His feelings come before anything, including our own insecurities, desires, fears, gratifications, anything.

We have already covered most of Step #2, we have photo albums and continue to receive photos from the natural family, creating a current history. This will be given, discussed and we will encourage him to view the information at age appropriate levels. He won't have to ask for this info. One of the things I asked for of his natural mom was a letter to him, explaining her reasons for choosing adoption. She kept putting off writing the letter and I would encourage her to write it and finally she did when he was about 4 months old. I'm so thankful he'll have this letter. He'll also be able to contact her, but this letter is an important piece of his history.

Step 3.... I have a few issues with your wording...adoption is not unnatural it happens all the time in nature. It is not ideal in anyway, but unnatural, No.

Step 4. Totally agree.

Step 5. Just got done blogging about that myself. I've come a long way in my thinking about natural families, about adoption and a multitude of other things. Sometimes I have to forgive myself for the ignorance that I expressed early on. We are all maturing and learning, no matter what age we are. Hopefully once we learn something we share that with others.

Step 6. I've written those same words, verbatim. Everyone in the triad has a choice except the most important triad member. I can only hope the decisions the four of us (natural parents & hubby and I) have made and will continue to make, will help our son become a man who will be happy (and so much more than just happy). He's only 10 1/2-months now, but every moment of our lives we think about how we can make him the man we hope he will be, happy, healthy kind, compassionate, successful, etc. That is every parent's job. It is a shame so many choose not to put their priorities in order.

12/3/07, 1:02 am  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Great post.

12/3/07, 2:04 am  
Anonymous Jessie said...

Wow, this is amazing! I really think there needs to be books writtin with this stuff in it. Advice from actual adoptees. Great, awesome post! Couldn't have said it better myself.

12/3/07, 2:59 am  
Anonymous bijou said...

Possum, great post. This should be required reading for all adopters. don't claim to have the answer to the nature vs. nurture debate, but adoption cannot be considered "natural" ....

12/3/07, 8:08 am  
Blogger cloudscome said...

I just found you from Paragraphein's blog. This is a fantastic post. I need to remember all of these points, especially the first #4, 5, 6, and of course #1! Thank you.

my other blog:

12/3/07, 12:41 pm  
Blogger someaussiegirl said...

Thanks, Poss.
I read this yesterday and agreed so much with the idea of recognising an adoptee's losses.
As much as I say I have gained a culture, gained a loving family, gained so much...there are still those losses in the back of my mind, haunting me even when I try to block them out.
Sometimes I get this explosive anger inside. I had a two hour chat with my mum on the phone only the other day. I bawled my eyes out because this anger goes further back than I can remember and I think is so deeply connected with my adoption. I told her that I didn't know what to do.
I am still struggling to find answers about how to reconcile the Aussie me and the ADOPTED me.
I spent time with a close friend and her 7 month old baby lately and the baby girl has the separation anxiety most infants have for the first few months of their lives.
I realised then that the distress I must have felt being ripped away from my bio mother at birth, then settling in with a foster mother until 5 months old, being ripped away from her and being put on a plane with someone else and arriving in Australia and meeting my adoptive wonder I feel so angry and upset inside sometimes.
I am just so lucky my parents supported just about everything on your list.
I wish there was a handbook for adoptees as they travel through life feeling "different".

I have come to a time in my life where I need to really face up to my demons. It's so hard. That line between denial and defending the Aussie me.
Reading your blogs and some of the other adoptees/adopters' blogs has opened my eyes and now I feel I can't go backwards. It is scary and it hurts, but I know I have to move forward and find myself.
(wow that became longer than I thought it would...almost a blog entry on its own!)

12/3/07, 12:51 pm  
Blogger Ungrateful Little Bastard said...


Are you amazing or what?

12/3/07, 12:53 pm  
Blogger angel said...


Fantastic writing.

When I was reading this, I couldn't stop thinking about my Dad. The last time I discussed adoption with him, and my desire to search (a few years ago), we had a falling out.

After a bit of time passed, and because this topic has not been brought up since, all was forgotten. But it started to make me feel angry at my Dad.

I'm going to visit him in two weeks and will broach the topic again. Regardless of his beliefs, he needs to understand that mine are just as important and not fob them off.

Great food for thought.

12/3/07, 2:29 pm  
Blogger angel said...

Oh, and this quote...

"Adoptees become very clever at showing you what only YOU want to see".

I totally agree with you, Poss!
It's scary when you start to dissect these things, how much of oneself you find is so affected by adoption, and on such a subconscious level.

oh wow.

12/3/07, 2:33 pm  
Anonymous mia said...

Fan-gigan-tastic-a-licous WRITING!!!

Invented just for you!

13/3/07, 5:20 am  
Blogger juliaNY07 said...

write a book.

13/3/07, 5:31 am  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Possum, This is an outstanding list. I wish that you hadn't experienced the hurt that brought you such widsome. Lacking #4 really messed me up for a long time. Loved this post. Very proud of you. Huge hugs, Rebecca

13/3/07, 12:59 pm  
Anonymous Paula O. said...

Possum - Amen!! Amazing post. Am sending big hugs of thanks your way. Thank you, my friend.

13/3/07, 2:47 pm  
Blogger Possum said...

Amy - thank you so much for the link to this post - and thank you for you support - it means a lot.

Elizabeth - you're right - so very very right.

Away2me - I'm so relieved that you have been thinking about these things, deeply, for your wee adoptee. The unnatural part - well perhaps we can agree to disagree on the wording. In most cases, IMHO, if the mother is given enough emotional and monetary support - the mother can 'mother' the child herself - thereby reducing the need for adoption. Society has made adoption to appear to be 'natural' and accepted - when really it is a solution that in many cases is not warranted - and is so often regretted in the many years that follow. Children grow inside of their mothers for 9 months - then want to be with there mothers from that day forth. At times this can not happen - thereafter - all involved are going to have major emotional baggage to deal with. My point - which is EXTREMELY important with this step - is that this baggage needs to be discussed with a professional - and NOT dumped, either explicitly or otherwise, onto the adoptee - at ANY time in their lives. The adoptee is already dealing with enough crap - REJECTION and LOSS OF IDENTITY - just to start with. Deal with your stuff - then let the adoptee come to you with their 'stuff' when they're ready. Remembering that it may take many years for the adoptee to gain enough skills to be able to actually identify their own losses. (I know personally many adoptees that are only 'coming out of the fog' in their early 20's - see the comment by 'SomeAussieGirl" above.) Just be their for your adoptee - and never judge them for what they are feeling. Let them just BE.

13/3/07, 4:31 pm  
Blogger Possum said...

Jessica - thank you - I really appreciate you dropping in and commenting.

Jessie - you are right - there does need to be a book. I think that a collaborative book would be great - with many adoptees contributing - so that we can't be fobbed off as being too angry etc - the more that contribute - the more 'real' that it becomes.

Bijou - I'm with you on the 'natural' bit. Babies instinctably know who their real mothers are straight after birth. If they can't stay with them - they are wounded for life. Adoption has just been labeled 'acceptable' by society - mostly by the ones that gain from it - the adoption agencies and the adoptive parents.

***please know - I'm not slinging mud on adoptive parents here - I'm just stating my opinion - if mothers are given emotional and monetary support - THEY CAN USUALLY MOTHER THEIR OWN CHILDREN***

Cloudsome - thank you for dropping in - and I thank you - like 'away2me'- for making yourself aware of issues that your adoptee may face - and trying hard to be proactive - rather than hiding your head in the sand!! Your adoptee will love and respect you more for your honesty and integrity in the long run.

SomeAussieGirl - I'm so sorry that you're starting to 'come out of the fog' - it's extremely painful when it happens - but it has to happen sooner of later. As I said in my comment on your blog - get a good psych to talk to. And I'm here whenever you need. I'm so relieved for you that you have supportive parents - that will be a huge help. Take care sweetie.

Theresa - I can't take all the credit. I have such great inspiration from so many of you amazing adoptees. (see the blog-links people!!) Without all of you - I would have never found my voice - or my sense of humour at my own crankiness!!!!!

Alex - I'm sorry that you're not getting any validation from you Dad - I know too well how much that hurts. Feelings and needs being ignored is probably the worst. (I must blog about something that happened to me recently.....another day) Take care of you.

Mia - thank you so much. You're another one that inspires me to YELL out sometimes!! In a good way - of course!!!

Julia - you may be on to something there!!! Thanks for stopping in Miss J. (miss you)

Rebecca - thank you also. I would be a sad wee adoptee without you!! And thank you for linking to this post - you honour me - "I'm not worthy.....I'm not worthy"!!! Thank you.

Paula - thank you also for your words. They mean a lot - both here - and in your blog. Your voice is a very powerful one - as you are an adoptee AND an adoptive mother. You know instinctively what is best for your wee adoptee - as you've lived it. But also - writing your words - really helps so many - as are the words of many others visiting here - as it talks about the TRUTH - not the fiction - of adoption. Thank you for being here!!

13/3/07, 5:01 pm  
Blogger Possum said...

Julia - just had to also say - as my reply to you was very short - that you are one of the biggest inspirations for finding my voice. You have been there when I have wept when I have tried to reach out to my first mum - and she has ignored my pleas. You have been such a very great friend. I miss you HEAPS - and can't wait to come and visit you in New York. I hope it will be soon.
Biggest hugs gorgeous girl.
Poss. xx

13/3/07, 5:12 pm  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Excellent advise Poss and perhaps all you adoptees can get together to publish some of this "good stuff" on helping others understand/support adoptees. Cudos and hugs!

13/3/07, 6:47 pm  
Blogger ani said...

I also love!!!!! this part, how true is this,

some things are just right in front of us, arent they.

"Adoptees become very clever at showing you what only YOU want to see".

Great post, Possum!!!


14/3/07, 12:55 am  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Poss, I had to let you know that under Google Blogsearch and the word "adoptee" this post is #1! Way to get the truth out there. Hugs, Rebecca

15/3/07, 4:18 pm  
Blogger Possum said...

Leroy - thanks for your words of support. It's a pleasure to see you as always.

Ani - thank you also for popping in. I have learnt so much from so many adoptees here in blogging-land. They are my inspiration - and they help me to find my voice.

Rebecca - too funny. It's my moment of fame!!!!! (better enjoy it while it lasts!!!)

Hugs, Poss. xx

15/3/07, 11:48 pm  
Blogger Andie D. said...

Holy shit - you nailed it.

If only.

17/3/07, 4:11 pm  
Blogger abebech said...

Thanks so much for this great list, and for your comment on Mia's (and here). I know it isn't easy, but it is so so important for the youngest adoptees that you are doing this (I promise).

18/3/07, 12:10 am  
Blogger Possum said...

Andie D - wow - thank you - both for stopping by and for your comment. It means a lot.

Abebech - thank you also for your comment. I do so hope that I will make some kind of difference. I weep for all the adoptees - both young and old - that have had to feel this pain. All adoptees feel pain - but if the extent of that pain can be kept to a minimum - all the better. I thank you for reading - and for taking the time to comment.

18/3/07, 12:42 am  
Blogger Julie said...

Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes YESSSSSSS!!!

Deftly done, Possum. Thank you!!!

20/3/07, 8:26 am  
Blogger Michelle said...

Thank you for this post!!!! I will hold it near and dear to my heart. I can only hope that more aparents find this post and take it to heart!

27/3/07, 11:59 am  
Blogger Gershom said...

way late, but i wanted to say awesome!!! awesome awesome!!!

28/5/07, 11:03 am  
Blogger Meg said...

Thank you. I agree with you but being a birthmother myself I have to say I'm sorry you feel abandoned and then adopted. I realize that's how a lot of adoptees see things. At the time I didn't see what I was doing as abandonment. I really was trying to do what was in the best interest of my child. So from one birthmother to an adoptee I say sorry. Please forgive us, we know not what we do and I hope that you are loved as much as I love the child I placed for adoption.

10/11/10, 11:31 am  

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