gallery Dear Adoption, Do Not Tell Me How I Feel


Dear Adoption, Do Not Tell Me How I Feel

Dear Adoption, I need you to hear me – without interrupting or forming a response before I finish. I am adopted, not you. I have experienced it, not you. My entire existence has been shaped by the construct of adoption, leaving me incapable of imagining my life otherwise. You cannot imagine, so for once, just shut up and listen.

Dear Adoption, do not tell me how I feel. When I say anything concerning my families or my feelings toward them – or adoption in general – do not contradict me as if you know better. As if you have any idea the complex emotions and psychological mindfuck adoption creates. As if you have any basis of knowledge on the subject. You don’t.

Dear Adoption, you have no idea the harm you did, in the name of A Better Life. You cannot know, so do not impose on me your opinions and expect me to take them as my own, like I had to when I was given a false birth certificate and forced to declare it as fact. Do not pretend you have a clue what it feels like to swear you are one thing when you are genetically another.

You do not know my pain, Adoption, because you cannot admit you are the cause of it. You want to think you saved me – that I would have been an abortion statistic without you, that my mother and I would have lived on the streets unless you came along. You are full of yourself, Adoption. So self-absorbed that when I – the product that makes you exist attempt to share my reality, my truth, you immediately shut me down. You cannot handle that the perpetual child I am in your eyes does anything except sing your praises.

You shame me. You silence me. You attempt to control the narrative. You lie. You pout. You tell me it hurts you that I could state anything other than how happy I am. You lecture me that my “real” parents are the ones who raised me, that biology is meaningless, that I was better off being adopted no matter the actual circumstances. You say I should feel blessed and chosen. But you don’t stop there, Dear Adoption. You tell me how I actually feel.

When I say I feel I don’t belong anywhere, you say I feel lucky to be adopted.

When I say I consider myself a commodity, you say I actually feel like a gift.

When I say I long to connect with my birth family, you say “those people” mean nothing to me.

When I say I miss my original mother, you say I have abandonment issues.

When I say I mourn my bio-father, you say I cannot grieve someone I never met.

When I say I carry great pain, you say you wish you were adopted.

Dear Adoption, do not presume to understand the magnitude of what you’ve done or, worse, to explain it to me. The psychological warfare you wage only focuses my anger where it belongs: at you. You cannot control me with your talk of “God’s plan” and you cannot make me parrot your platitudes. Thousands of us have found our voice and we will not be silenced. Because, Dear Adoption, someday you will be on the wrong side of history – like slavery – and no amount of gaslighting you do now will change that.

Using a nom de plume, adoptee Elle Cuardaigh lives her secret life as a writer in the Pacific North West while simultaneously juggling the responsibilities of being mother, daughter, and sister to many. Her book,”The Tangled Red Thread” is a true account of one woman’s life, existing as not one, but two people: one born and one adopted, and enduring the reality of not completely belonging in either world. Read Elle’s most viewed post on Adoptee Suicide and find her on Twitter.


  1. Reblogged this on FORBIDDEN FAMILY and commented:
    As I reblog this by Elle Caurdaigh on Dear Adoption, I must tell you, my readers, that Elle’s words could be my own. Every single word resonates with me.

    There are only three lines that describe a situation that do not match my feelings because these don’t match my life:

    “When I say I long to connect with my birth family, you say “those people” mean nothing to me.
    When I say I miss my original mother, you say I have abandonment issues.
    When I say I mourn my bio-father, you say I cannot grieve someone I never met.”

    Because I was found by my natural family so very long ago, these statements don’t exactly match up. For me, I was already in reunion (since 1974) when so many of my adoptive family, and so many strangers, told me that “those people mean nothing to me.”

    For me, my natural mother died, for real. I spent the first 6 weeks of my life in an incubator. So yes, my abandonment issues are very real, felt on an instinctual, pre-verbal level.

    For me, I never met my mother because she died. I only know of her from those 7 months (yes, only 7, not 9) while I grew inside her. And yes, I can, and I do, grieve for someone I have never met.

    For me, I met my natural father and had an on-again, off-again relationship with him. Ours was a complicated father-daughter relationship. While many people love to blame him for “giving me away,” I never held that against him. How many times have heard from adopters that I SHOULD hate him for what he did to me?

    Dear Adoption and Dear Adopters: Stop telling me how I SHOULD feel and how I SHOULD behave. You were never adopted.

    One last thought on one last quote from Elle:

    “You do not know my pain, Adoption, because you cannot admit you are the cause of it. You want to think you saved me – that I would have been an abortion statistic without you, that my mother and I would have lived on the streets unless you came along.”

    For me, I would not have been an abortion statistic because abortion was not on anyone’s mind at the time my mother was pregnant with me. She was dying, Adoption! My married mother wanted to stay alive to raise her five children with her husband! How dare you, Adoption, assume that every single adopted person was “conceived in sin.” I am an orphan, Adoption, conceived in love. I would not have lived on the streets because I already had a home, a family, a name, and a birth certificate before you came along.

    Thank you, Elle, for putting into words what so many of us have been feeling for so long.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That was educating to read. Yesterday I was on social media and a picture of a man showed up on my newsfeed with a sign giving the year and date he was born. My apathetic thought was, “Why does it matter? They’re not in your life.”

    And to be honest, I’m not even sure why I mentally reacted that way. I was able to quickly acknowledge that I don’t have a right to tell him what’s important, but it’s so interesting how quick people and institutions are to react apathetically to others’ circumstances in the name of being right. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Way to go! This is the best-est ever post! The last paragraph ought to be plastered on billboards everywhere in big, bold print! (The whole thing really but I know it wouldn’t fit. Maybe they could “Burma Shave” it down the highway.)

    So, dear adoption, you have never, ever grieved someone you have never met? Adoption you are either heartless, a full-blown narcissist, or are filled with the most egregious deceit! Perhaps all three?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anything positive about being adopted? I am mother of two children I have adopted. I will respect and honor all their feelings. I love them with all my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Angela,

      There are children who have been fortunate to have been entered into an environment where the adults did and do love them, but for too many that never happened, and most of us know things no child should be introduced to. And for us there is nothing positive about being adopted, except that for many of us it made us strong and willing to fight for our rights.

      Even if you are the best person in the world, you share no DNA with your charges and they have lost their identity at the stroke of a judge’s pen; they have been separated from family beyond whoever were the parents who relinquished them-siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, a culture, a religion, maybe even a language and little way to retrieve what has been taken from them. Our gnomes connect us with those who provided the DNA which makes up that genome-it guides our lives in every facet- every thing we do or how we look or even how we approach life is due to those genes. And no court can make us someone we are not, and no surrogate can be anything but a surrogate. I you have natural children or will in the future, they will not be siblings to the two you have brought into what I sincerely is a loving home. But loving is not the same as being a mother… anyone can love just as anyone can hate.

      Here are some important points for you to consider: Have you asked the court to change the children’s names? If so, why? Does their birth certificate give their birth name and the names of their birth parents? If not, why not? Do these children know they are adopted? If not, why not? If they are not aware of an adoptive state, when do you intend to tell them? As you ponder these questions, remember that those children have equal rights to their happiness, their liberty, THEIR life, the same as you do or as I have or as anyone else does-constitutional, civil and human rights. Most of all they have the rights to their own identity and to know their own family. By the way, were the two children international? old enough to know they had a life before you? fostered? institutionalized? abused physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally? hospitalized? abandoned? t

      While you are considering the above, let me tell you about my second cousin who became matched with me and his first cousin -my paternal uncle-via a DNA match-twice by two separate labs. He like me is an adoptee but his circumstances were far better than my own. Far, far better. He had a wonderful life —- EXCEPT, in mid-life he needed to find out who he really was…. who his mother and father are/were., if he has siblings, .. he know knows who his grandparents are (paternal) and I am helping him with the rest of it… But the court who handled the original adoption was in a sealed document state from a closed adoption. He can petition the court for access to the birth certificate-but not the adoption file-but he hasn’t the names of the mother or the father … not to mention that if he was not born in that state, there will be no certificate. for him to retrieve in that state. Of course my cousin has a birth certificate-an adoptee birth certificate with his court appointed name and the names of the couple to whom he was ‘given’. You have your own -unadulterated certificate with the original birth information. What makes you think you are entitled to that information that is denied to the two children you took in?

      How much love and respect is there in legally kidnapping a child or children? They had no say in the matter … How much love an respect is there to steal an identity? And they are no more yours than the son of my loins is mine. Children aren’t property! We are caretakers, protectors and guardians to help them to prepare for an independent life. They are NOT ours. They are in our care for a short time

      If you think you are some saviour or angel or lady bountiful, think again! And I hope that you haven’t or intend to tell these two children that they are ‘ special’, that ‘god wanted you to have them’, that your mother couldn’t take care of you so she gave you away so the you’d have a better life… God doesn’t inflict suffering on innocent children, and many, many adoptees are abandoned by those who did not want them …

      And no single person should be allowed to adopt… children need a father and a mother-not two women or two men and not one woman or one man.

      Honor? I wonder … And don’t forget, your two charges will be able to search for their lost family via DNA … a cousin match will pop up with the name of someone who has enough information to help[ solve the mystery of who these children really are. For their sake, I hope you prove that love you say you bear them to help them find themselves and their rightful inheritance.

      As the proverb goes -The truth will always come out, and the other that says ..Father along we’ll know all about it,

      One adoptee’s response to your inquiry. Salaam, Paix, Shalom, Peace and love to your two adoptees

      Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Angelica,

      I would like you to compare two institutions: Adoption and Divorce. Both are legal. Both are secondary to the ideals of birth and marriage. Both alter the reality of parents and children. But only divorce is considered trauma. There are support groups for “children of divorce” and plenty of therapists who will retire on this subject alone, and that is accepted in society. It is acknowledged to be traumatic, no matter the circumstances.

      Divorce can be a mercy. It was for me. It was necessary to my survival at the time. And I am now better for it. But that did not take away the pain it inflicted upon my children. It didn’t soothe my then six-year-old daughter when she sobbed, “Why can’t you and Daddy *just be happy*?” I could not explain to her that Daddy had sold his soul to drugs, and if I didn’t get out I would die. I couldn’t explain that I was doing it not just for me, but for her, and even for her father – because if I didn’t leave he would never possibly get clean.

      So I had a valid reason for divorce. That didn’t make it “positive”. It was not “happy” or something people congratulated me on, although nearly everyone understood it was necessary. We didn’t have a “Screwya Day” (as an alterative to “Gotcha Day” in adoption) to celebrate the date of finalization. I never expected my kids to say they were happy or grateful for their new lives. It was a major upheaval that we all had to work through.

      And yet we expect people to be *happy* they were adopted. Even if they *were* taken from a bad situation, just as my children were “rescued” from the dysfunctional and volitile situation they were in, it is not something to celebrate, or champion, or promote. It is either a second-best scenario or it is an outright appropriation of children.

      Some have not-too-subtly suggested to me that if I do not tout adoption as beautiful and good, then I did not love my adoptive parents. Or I had a “bad experience”. This is so they can disregard my views as an anomaly. I’m “bitter” and therefore my opinions are baseless. Now imagine if divorce was as celebrated as adoption. Imagine telling your best friend, grieving over the demise of their parents’ marriage, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience. But I know lots of people whose parents divorced, and they’re just fine with it.” This is what happens to adoptees. All.The.Time. We are told we are lucky and should be grateful. If anyone suggested to my children that they were lucky their parents divorced and should be grateful, I would have decked them.

      Divorce can be a mercy. It can be necessary. It is the same with adoption. It can be necessary to separate a child from their origins. That doesn’t make it positive – that makes it traumatic.

      Respectfully, Elle Cuardaigh

      Liked by 2 people

    • I read this comment 4 years after. How is the adoption? I know this advice is probably late but please be open with your kids about thier ancestry. Be a mother guide and help them build healthy relationships and boundaries. When making decisions about them, always stop and ask, is this something that is best for them or best for you? Always choose them first. They will never feel 100% complete but with your help they can feel attached to this world. I like the whole Indegious way where they adopted other tribes often but never changed who they were. A member of a Bear tribe is a Bear even if taken in by an Eagle tribe. That connection isn’t something you can erase ever, so please help them know themselves and their history. As weird as it may sound, I promise they will have an amazing relationship with you because of that honesty and trust. I hope things are going well ❤️


  5. Dear Elle,

    Thank you for representing the Adoptees of which I am one. I was one when I was abandoned and possibly neglected for the first year. For years I questioned why my parents had a second child because something didn’t quite feel right. Before I met my Brother when I was nearly 4 I longed for Brothers which is strange when I look back now. As I grew up I questioned who I looked like. Like any child I asked the time I was born and was told by my mother she didn’t remember My growing up was definitely spackled with tales of strangeness which i accepted tgenbut question now. When I was 25 I was TOLD and I felt like I was hit in the face with a cold wet fish – I had lived a LIE. I could have died in Surgery a few years prior because I didn’t know my truth. I was told they didn’t think it mattered to tell me but had to because of my Brothers heartattach which I thought I’d have too. Weird – why didn’t they tell me that earlier whenmy mother started having heart issues. For 20 years I felt guilty about wanting to search and find my biological roots – “I can’t because I’ll hurt my families feelings. I have to be grateful and searching shows I’m not grateful”. At this point I’ve searched. I found my mothers side. I’ve found halfmy truth. I’ve discovered why I married who I did. Being an Adoptee isn’t always a bed of roses – sometimes it’s thousands of dollars worth of therapy to deal with the trauma that comes with it. Looking forward to a happier journey.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for writing this, I am a first mother, in 1990 I joined a search and support group, mainly adoptees, I was shocked at hearing what adult adoptees said.. NOT because I thought or judged what they were saying, but because I was told, (when I “surrendered” my infant son for adoption) that he did not need me, that he wouldn’t know anything about me, that I was replaceable, that he was a “blank slate” NONE of this was true, however I was and still am grateful that I learned from these adult adoptees that they were LIED to as well, and it’s worse being lied to as an infant, young child.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That is my hope…..that adoption as it now exists will one day be regarded as what it is….LEGALIZED SLAVERY, complete with ownership papers. And how do most of those ownership papers begin? “IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD….”

    Stop telling me I wouldn’t feel this way if I had gotten “what most adoptive parents are.” (Good people)

    That I only feel this way becaujse I was abused. I would be happy and love adoption.

    That it was for my own good.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was the adopted child to a wonderful couple with an adopted father and infertile Mother. My dear father knew I would want to know and remembered my birth mother’s name to tell me when I grew up. What I found at 24, was my birth mother had died when I was 17, but I had 4 living birth siblings at the time one of which was given up for adoption as well. I’ve been so blessed to have them part of my life feel the same about theses siblings as I do with the adopted siblings. My birth father was never willing to establish a relationship with me, he died last years and it was his loss as I think I was his only child.
    My daughter has died and the babies father has abandoned him. I have been maintaining visits with his half siblings so he will always know them, and hope to adopt him. His birth father’s family shows no interest in him. Adoption sometimes has to happen, and I know he will feel even more understood than I did, having faced such similar challenges related to adoption.

    Liked by 1 person

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