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Adoption Revelations

It has been four months since I kicked off my blog. I have discovered an adoptee community I did not know existed. I have listened to adoptee stories, fascinated that I could relate on a level I haven't previously been able to with non-adoptees. It has been inspiring, depressing, and at times just downright difficult. My biggest takeaway from the last few months is that every player in the adoption triad, the adoptee, birth family, and adoptive family has the right to tell their story. However, having that right should not negate anyone's experience.

Social media has taken me on a roller coaster ride where I have been introduced to subcategories of adoptees.

  • Transracial adoptees, a high percentage, are BIPOC and placed in white families sharing their experiences growing up in families and communities with no one whose skin color reflected their own.

  • International adoptees are taken from their culture and immersed in a home resembling or incorporating nothing of their homeland.

  • Foster system adoptees who spent years hoping to be reunited with their birth family only to be adopted into another family.

  • Late discovery adoptees did not find out they were adopted until later in life, usually by accident or DNA testing. I can imagine the mental toll on a person after discovering the story they believe their whole life was missing the Preface.

Along with the community of adoptees, there are adoptive parent communities where the main narrative I have come across is the praise for adopters. They are cast as selfless saviors who swoop in and save the poor children. The post highlights the business aspects of adoption, such as the cost, process length, and potential parents advertising on social media to birth mothers looking for a baby to adopt. Reading these entries, I do not see how anyone can say adoption is not a lucrative business nor that it is adoptive parent-centered.

I had never felt so much like a commodity until the Roe vs. Wade decision leaked and how adoption has been hailed as the solution to abortion by Pro-Lifers. The birth mother in these discussions is overlooked. There is no concern about the woman who carried the child, which in my opinion, leads to a stressful pregnancy that any doctor will tell you is not good. The child is overlooked except as an entity that can be "saved" by those unable to have children.

A birth mother goes through the same postpartum stages as a mother who keeps their child.

My breasts were engorged and painful because although I gave birth, there was no child to nurse with the milk that was being produced. If I expressed it hoping to alleviate some of the pain, that only encouraged more production. My uterus continued to contract as it began shrinking to its previous size. I had a perineum tear that required me to soak frequently to relieve the pain. My hair which had grown thick for the past 9 months, began to thin. Add to that the emotional pain of guilt, regret, and hopelessness. A birth mother is more than a vessel; reading articles or hearing how great adoption is for adoptive parents with no mention to the birth parent is disheartening.

The reality is that adoption is seldom the first choice for couples. It is not until infertility issues are discovered that adoption enters the conversation. I have learned that most adoptees were not chosen but next in line. A couple may get a call stating a child is available, and a decision is made in that instance. Not based on the child but on the opportunity presented. If a prospective couple passes on a child, how long do they have to wait until another opportunity arises? Or maybe it is a scenario where the birth mother changes her mind and decides to keep the child. That decision causes the prospective adoptive parents to become disappointed and desperate, possibly leading to hasty decisions in the future.

These same people who are looking to adopt will be the ones who question adoptees' experiences if it does not meet the narrative they have been told or sold. During the leaked Roe vs. Wade uprising, adoptees pushed back on adoption being the answer as many had suggested and what was plainly stated in the leaked documents. Numerous posts have asked adoptees; If they would rather have been aborted? Or one reply to an adoptee sharing her experience was that this prospective adoptive parent was now afraid of adoption because they didn't "want to get a child that, who despite their best efforts, were ungrateful." The same person ended the post with "I feel sorry for whoever adopted you."

Such a hateful sentiment, and I hope that person seriously rethinks adoption because until they can surrender to adoption being about the child, they will subconsciously act in a way that the adopted child owes them something for being "saved" from an uncertain future.


Raising any child, biological or adopted, is not for the feign at heart. There will be moments of pure joy and moments of agony. That is parenthood. Parenthood is loving the whole child. Not just the parts that you feel you directly developed. Nature is powerful, and many adoptees see that in mannerisms when they meet their birth family. Nurture is influential as well. My adoptive parents loved me, and I have my mother's independence, tenacity, and my father's levity and work ethic.

The most challenging part of adoption for me was the secrecy surrounding my existence. There was an innate feeling that I did not have the right to know where I came from and that my curiosity would only be seen as ungrateful. My adoptive family never voiced this. However, because there were no open conversations, a falsified birth certificate as if my adoptive parents gave birth to me, and information I was unable to retrieve without a court order or payment for non-identifying information; I did not think I was supposed to know or inquire.

There are good adoption stories out there. I consider mine to be one. Meeting my birth mother and siblings and learning how they had existed the 46 years before meeting me was difficult. They struggled with domestic violence and stability. My birth mother placed me for adoption for these reasons. My identity was traded for my security. I have no idea who I would be if I grew up with my birth family. I grieve that possibility but also feel fulfilled that I was raised by a family that never made me feel like an outsider.

For any adoptive or prospective adoptive parent, I hope you educate yourself on the adoption triad (birth parent, child, adoptive parent). I believe if adoptive parents understood the entire process of adoption, they would see things differently. They would be connected in a way to adoption that may help them understand how to support their adopted child better and how to be a better parent. I suggest the youtube podcast Three Sides to Every Adoption hosted by a birth mother, an adoptee, and an adoptive mother as one resource.

Adoption Revelations:

  • Every adoptee, birth family, and adoptive family has the right to tell their story.

  • The adoption triad must be understood and empathized with from all perspectives if the child is to be the beneficiary.

  • Adoptive parents need to accept the inherent duality of adoption. For them to expand their family, their adopted child had to lose one.

  • An adoptive mother's joy may be a birth mother's agony.

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Mary Ellen Gambutti
Mary Ellen Gambutti

Excellent! You cover many aspects of adoption in succinct and meaningful way. Thank you.

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