Dear Adoption, Do You Still Think You Own Me?
I am the faceless girl—the head-banger from crib 22, biting her own wrists for hours on end, as she sat in a diaper overloaded with day-old shit. “Failure to thrive, but pretty,”—and so a goldmine for you. A sexual predator’s dream come true. And even better, my eyes were so green they almost looked blue in the light.
My new family paid good money for me, so how could I not think of myself as an object? A thing to be bought, sold, owned, returned, exchanged, and eventually discarded after I was broken.
Adoption, even at 33 years of age, I still don’t really know what to make of you. You are too complex to unravel, and I resent each moment I must spend trying to peel you apart—layer by layer, in order to find the inner peace of a pre-trauma self that doesn’t even exist. After all, you were not a path that I chose. You were a lifetime sentence imposed upon me for a crime I did not commit. A legal contract that binds me—but one I never actually entered. Permanent exile from the land of my heritage, from the natural attachment and love found between mother and child, which fosters normal development. You even changed my brain chemistry.
Adoption, you chipped away at the finite width of my lifespan. So many hours were spent at your door, wading so deep in your grief that I almost drowned on my own tears. I picked myself up, when I had the strength, but always found myself falling again, without any internalized unconditional love on which I could stand. I fell through life, when others around me stood proud.
Adoption, you’ve forced me into alternating between being an activist and suffering from some bizarre form of Stockholm syndrome, not yet recognized by the DSM. You held a figurative gun to my head each day, forcing me to choose between loyalty to my true self, and loyalty to the version of me that my adopted clan required. It was the price of admittance.
You gave me an imitation of family as long as I conformed. When I did not conform, you offered no sanctuary, and so I spent my time raging inwardly, in what felt like a life of captivity. I was a good pretender, but I was very unhappy and so I rattled my cage–tore my dolls to shreds, and ran away a few times, but always came back to you for lack of anywhere better to go, your Lolita.
I wasn’t really running away though, because I was actually trying to get back to my real home.
Adoption, you provided me with the finest education available—so much knowledge thrust upon a beautiful brain. Yet, I could not even hear my own thoughts clearly over the loud and constant wailing of my heart.
You gave me wounds upon wounds…so many bruises and scars that I don’t even remember the natural color of my skin.
Adoption, I’ve described your violence over and over again—tired myself out, trying to educate people about you. Most people couldn’t imagine losing their mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and grandparents on the same day—yet, you expect us to glorify this experience and even celebrate it with “gotcha days.” When we don’t—we’re ungrateful.
Adoption, I used to want to silence every word you said to me. You brought me so much pain. Yet, I don’t want to lend credence to the myth that I’m in any way a better person because of you. I don’t know the person I would have been without you, because she never got the chance to exist.
You murdered the girl I would have been, and sold admission tickets to her funeral.
You pressed your hand into my mother’s womb with smiles and unkept promises for a better future, as you pulled me from beneath her living skin and hurried me out the door to sleep in the cold arms of a corpse. I was a living child, raised by the dead.
All the bitterness I swallowed eventually distended my stomach. All the forced smiles I fashioned, eventually remade my face. You changed my very anatomy.
You made me fearful that every single person I love will eventually leave me and left me no choice but to fight for myself, because no one else was willing. In the battle, I became strong. I broke through your barriers, shattered the shackles which bound me to the grave, and every time I speak about the truth of what you are, I find my freedom anew.
You are the worst of capitalism because your profits are gleaned by destroying lives. You wear the cloak of human rights, but beneath that shallow veneer—you wear the shroud of crooked industry.
You strip so many of us of our identities without remorse, and steal from others the very ideals you claim to espouse.
You won’t even let me have my original birth certificate, holding it hostage, like a final bill of sale. Adoption, do you still think you own me?
Even though you have bought me and sold me.
Even though your name is scored across my very heart, I do not belong to you.
You see, I am a child no longer, and I am not just one face, but many.
We are rising up against you. Arm in arm, we are tearing down your walls, demanding equal rights.
You do not own me…and I, along with those who stand with us, will see to it, that you do not own the future.
Julian Kelly is an adoptee, and well-known American singer/songwriter. Her first album “The Family Reject” sold thousands of copies world-wide. Julian has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including “On the Air with Sir”– the host of BET’s 106& Park, The Lizzy T Show in Canada, and has been featured on the cover of All Indie Magazine, just to name a few. She is also the subject and director of the adoption documentary, “Almost Family” in which she details her search for members of her biological family. Julian has won numerous accolades for her stage performances and was the recipient of a Presidential accolade in 2001. She is the proud owner of Elevation Prints LLC, and strongly advocates open access to original birth certificates, as well as equal rights and monetary transparency within the adoption industry. She is also the founder of the newly formed online Facebook organization, Adoptee Liberation Front. Read sound&Track Mag’s recent interview with Julian here. For more on Julian, find her on Facebook and read her blog.
This was like reading braille made of nails. Thank you for your strong voice and heart.
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It makes my heart bleed to read Julian’s account. Any mother would want to add her to their chicks but Julian cannot be enticed. She wants her mother and father and the blood tribe from which she originates. She can’t accept anything else… but what if there was no one home? It is a cruel prospect.
Manodella, are you trying to say that “any mother” who “would want to add her to her chicks” could make up for the loss of her blood relatives, her cultural heritage, her family history, and her medical history?
How would you feel, if I would decide to falsify your birth certificate, annihilate your bonds to all your family, give you another name than your true one, replace your ethnicity with my own? Put your health at risk by stealing your medical history?
Because this is what adoption does to people. It’s not about giving needy orphans a home, or “adding them to your chicks” as many of these “orphans” aren’t really orphans. And if they are, there are far more humane ways of taking care of them – guardianship for example – that respect their true identities rather than oppressing them.
Adoption is not about love. It’s about power. It’s about profit. And even the most loving adoptive parents are caught in a system that views human being as (market) commodities.
To detect the difference between loving and selfish adoptive parents is easy: The former encourage and support the adoptee in finding their original parents and families, as they respect the dignity of the adoptee. They want them to thrive. For them, an adoptee is a fellow human being. They are guardians of the child. The latter discourage any attempt of the adoptee to find out where they truly come from and who they truly are. They want them to be humble and obedient. For them, an adoptee is not a fellow human being. They are commodities designed to satisfy their own selfish “needs” and thus obliged to do so. They want to own the child.
The problem for such people is that they can’t control other human beings forever. Unfortunately, children grow up and might commit the ultimate sin: starting to have a will of their own. And then they meet other dissenting adoptees. Their numbers are growing and they voice their indignation, just like every other civil rights movement does. They gain momentum and join forces with other uprooted human beings. One day, adoption will be torn down and be replaced with more humane alternatives, such as family preservation and guardianship. That’s a great lesson from history: You can’t oppress human beings forever. It might take ages, but free will and dissent is built in our DNA.
And there’s nothing the selfish brand of adoption “parents” can do about it. Except for adopting dogs instead, of course.
Please, do not allow the future to own ‘adoption’ in any form…
Your words will be heard by millions of law and public policy makers around the world..
Be Well, Be Safe, and Speak aggressively with persistence.
Thank you for this ❤
hope you find your inner peace thank you
Wow Julian, I love your words, and totally relate.. I am ‘adopted and my name is Julie-Anne, I’m from Sydney, still looking for my maternal history xo. Bless you, you said the words exactly perfect in how I feel
I have personally adopted and been on sideline of another. As such I can empathize with the dissertation on Adoption; however I wish I had the vocabulary and smart to defend Adoption at least in some instances. A prime example of taking the “bad with the good” or vise versus.
Reblogged this on elle cuardaigh.
On Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 11:10 AM, dearadoption.com wrote:
> ellecuardaigh commented: “Reblogged this on elle cuardaigh.” >
I die every day wondering where my kids are. I’m balling right now. Please don’t stop fighting, fighting for yourself means u are fighting for my 4 kids too, and the family they were torn from. I have lost a lot of faith in God even though I have tried to stay strong. Thank u for standing up against the system. I’m so sorry for what u have had to go through. I believe in u.
Great post and well written. 🙂
“Adoption, you’ve forced me into alternating between being an activist and suffering from some bizarre form of Stockholm syndrome, not yet recognized by the DSM. You held a figurative gun to my head each day, forcing me to choose between loyalty to my true self, and loyalty to the version of me that my adopted clan required. It was the price of admittance.” So true. Excellent essay. Know that we adoptees CAN recover from the effects of relinquishment and closed adoption, it just takes years and a boatload of work. I found the 12-steps of Al-anon/AA very helpful because they provide a STRUCTURE for recovery that isn’t a merry-go-round, but everyone has their own path to follow. Boatloads of love to you, xxxxx
One of the most beautiful honest things I’ve had the pleasure to read. Thank you ❤️
“Adoption, you provided me with the finest education available—so much knowledge thrust upon a beautiful brain. Yet, I could not even hear my own thoughts clearly over the loud and constant wailing of my heart.”
This line just hit me like a brick. Even though my adopted situation did not involve parents with enough $ to send me to college, it describes my entire high school experience in one sentence.
Thank you so much for sharing! I for one stand with you to shout it from the roof tops!
Thank you for this article. It relates deeply what it is like as the diaspora from your blood. Close but yet so far