gallery Dear Adoption, You Lied to Me

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Dear Adoption, You Lied to Me

3 days old / I was placed in foster care. I was born premature; my birth mother left the hospital a few days later. Her visits at the hospital were sporadic and then non-existent. She abandoned me. Two weeks later my foster parents got a call about me; one family of many who wanted me. My foster parents came to the hospital to see me everyday; they held me, did skin to skin, and fed me. As I grew healthy and stronger the hospital released me after many weeks in the NICU.

17 months old / The people I was attached to and called mommy and daddy were my legal parents. They renamed me. I was no longer a foster child. My adoptive name meant something to them; it meant light, hope, and strength. They’d waited a long time for this; becoming parents. Their family was filled in the courtroom. They promised to treat me as their own; as if they gave birth to me. They would cherish and hold onto me. I had the same rights as a biological child. Adoption is forever. I had my forever family. Adoption promised me forever.

The first few years / My adoptive family was amazing.  I don’t remember feeling out of place or different. Adoption meant I was a part of their family. We were a real family; a forever family. They took me places a kid could only dream of. They celebrated my adoption day and the day they met me with a big party every year. I was happy. I don’t remember an unhappy moment when I was younger.

I got older / I started having feelings and more questions. My adoption was never kept from me. I did wonder why other kids were with their birth families and I wasn’t. My adoptive parents would say my birth parents couldn’t care for me; they weren’t doing good things. When I asked questions they said I wasn’t old enough to understand; all that mattered is the now, not the past. I was upset. It felt like they were keeping things from me. My adoption was closed. I had no contact with my birth family. In foster care adoption, this is common. We didn’t talk about my “other family”. To my adoptive parents, my birth parents were an egg and sperm donor. “Being a real mom and dad” meant raising kids and cherishing them. I was with my adoptive family since I was a baby, so they couldn’t grasp why I had so many questions or felt sad. They didn’t understand why I wanted to know my birth family or why I was crying over being adopted. God chose me for them. I didn’t remember life before them. They were the only mom and dad I knew. My birth parents did not want to be parents. They said they’d give me my full file at 18 years old which didn’t help me come to terms with how I was feeling. I knew asking questions about my birth family made them upset because of their reaction. I learned my feelings didn’t matter. Waiting until 18 felt too long when I wanted to know right then. I started to notice they didn’t celebrate my birthday the way they celebrated my adoption day. When we celebrated my adoption day, we had a huge party and I would get a ton of gifts. My adoptive parents were happy on this day. My adoption day to my adoptive family was my birthday. My actual birthday didn’t mean much to them. There wasn’t a huge celebration like my adoption day. This made me feel my actual birth didn’t matter to them. The only day that mattered was when they adopted me; my life didn’t begin until I came to them.

10 years old / I was suspended from school for throwing a chair at another child. My adoptive mom drove me home; I was being punished and I couldn’t do anything fun. I shouted back at her that she couldn’t punish me because she wasn’t my real mom. My real mom wouldn’t punish me. She was angry and punished me more. When my adoptive father came home I got more punishment and was forced to apologize for hurting my adoptive mom’s feelings. Both told me how much they loved me and that they were my real parents and the only parents I had. They asked how I would feel if they told people I wasn’t their real daughter. After that, things between my adoptive parents and I got worse. I started acting out more as a cry for help. I felt abandoned and unloved. I didn’t choose adoption and didn’t choose to be born. I couldn’t love my birth parents or ask about them because my adoptive parents didn’t want me to. I couldn’t be sad or angry at adoption because my adoptive parents were happy. My adoptive parents told me they were my real and only parents. My birth parents were nothing. I couldn’t have answers to my questions or know my own story because they didn’t want to talk about it. I couldn’t be sad or cry because they thought babies didn’t go through trauma. The myth in adoption is if you get a child at birth they will have zero issues and will only see you as mom and dad. My acting out and having feelings wasn’t something my adoptive parents thought I would go through because I was with them since I was a baby. When I started asking questions and having issues, it shocked them; they thought something was wrong with me and I wasn’t bonded with them. I thought if I acted out enough my adoptive parents wouldn’t want me since my birth family didn’t want me. I was testing them. I wanted them to understand me. I had to walk on eggshells with my adoptive family. I wasn’t entitled to my own feelings. I had to be careful with what I said and did because they might get rid of me like my birth family did.

14 years old / I was pulled out of class. A lady showed up and took me to her office. I was confused and didn’t want to go. I sat in her office for 7 hours. I asked when I could go home. I was told I wouldn’t be going home that day. I was going to a foster home. I was in shock. I was devastated. I cried. I fought. I tried to call my adoptive mom and dad. The people I called mommy and daddy and knew as my mom and dad for my whole life. They didn’t answer. 14 years after I was adopted I was back in foster care. A few months after I entered foster care, there was a meeting. My adoptive parents, caseworker, and therapist were all there. While looking right at me, my adoptive father told me they couldn’t be my parents anymore. It would be best not to contact them and not call them mom and dad, so I could bond with a new adoptive family. I begged my adoptive parents to take me home. They said there would be another family who could take care of me; God has another family out there to raise me. They couldn’t take care of me any longer; they did all they could do for me. My behaviors in their home were unacceptable and they couldn’t deal with me anymore. I tried to apologize for being bad and told them I did love them. They left me there sobbing. I was hurt and confused. I didn’t understand; why was I here? Why would the people who promised to give me forever give me away? What did I do so bad to go into foster care again and be forgotten about again? Adoption is seen as forever. It’s supposed to be forever. So why wasn’t my adoption forever?

14 years old to 18 years old / I was advertised on a public photo site, also known as a Photo-Listing, trying to find another adoptive family. I was a teenager. Nobody wants teenagers. I was no longer that helpless, cute, tiny baby everyone wanted and lined up for. I was no longer a blank slate infant many people hope for when adopting younger kids. People didn’t cry over teenage me spending weeks sleeping on the floor; they only cried when newborn me spent two weeks without a visitor. I didn’t stay in one foster home for too long. I was abandoned repeatedly; moving from foster “home” to foster “home”. I didn’t trust anyone. I was unwanted. I didn’t understand what I could’ve done to deserve this kind of life. My birth family did not want me and my adoptive family only wanted me the first 14 years of my life. I aged out of foster care broken, beaten, and with suicidal thoughts. I thought everything was my fault.

Adoption is a broken promise. I came with limitations and an expiration date. Forever is not forever. Forever is a lie. Don’t promote and promise forever when it’s not forever. My whole life has been a lie. My adoption is a lie. My forever is a lie. Adoption failed me and lied to me. My adoptive family lied to me. The courts lied to me. Adoption is a lie. Adoption, you lied to me.

Jennifer D. is currently working on her master’s degree in education. She enjoys cycling, gardening, volunteering, traveling, and working with children. Being a Girl Scout leader and inspiring youth is one of her biggest passions in life. She was placed in foster care as a newborn and adopted by her foster parents when she was 17 months old. Her adoption was disrupted when she was 14. Jennifer spent 4 years in foster care before aging out of the system when she turned 18. She reconnected with her birth family and changed her adoptive name back to her birth name. 

16 comments

  1. Such a heart breaking turn of events. I was adopted at birth with my twin sister. Very grateful we went separated. Our A-mom was unhelpful when due to health issues I needed to find birth relatives. My B-mom denied contact with me and I needed a judge to get medical history. Took eight years to work through all the barriers till I obtained a full background. Now I have a half bro and sis to love. The bonus to struggling relationships with all the parent groups. Take care.

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  2. YOU ARE BRAVE. I connect with much of what you said and I’m so amazed at your experience. You’ve persevered through so much. Fellow teacher/adoptee here— Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  3. Reblogged this on Gazelle's Scirocco Winds and commented:
    Jennifer D’s narrative is tragic and a compelling indictment against both the false values of a system called adoption and its sister system called foster care. These two, coupled with the adopters obsessive compulsive habits to play the mine! give! take1 return! mind and physical games that too many of us know to well.
    Jennifer simply says that all lied to her… but it goes much further than that… Jennifer was BETRAYED by the very country who is bound by its own constitution to protect and defend her. (BTW her foster-adopters didn’t disrupt the adoption, they revoked and dissolved it. In effect, her so-called loving ‘parents’ returned her like one returns an item they no longer want.. she was stamped in big block letters RETURN TO SENDER (the latter being the court and state of the adoption)
    At least Jennifer has been able to reunite with her birth parents and with the DNA they each share with one another. No court has the power to change what God/Allah intended… DNA is undisolvable … being a long chain from millennia ago to far into the future …

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  4. My mind just can’t compute the horror of this – I am devastated for Jennifer, and feel so disillusioned by the adoption culture, particularly in the US. I am an adoptive parent, and will never know the trauma and loss my child experiences, but can’t begin to even fathom the notion that my child – my own child – can be given ‘back’. I am preparing myself for the questions I know he will ask, and am so grateful to those who share their stories on this forum so that I can prepare to be supportive and not selfish when that time comes. I am scared because he is my everything, but the fear of losing him because of my own selfish need to protect my ‘mother status’ is worse. Thanks to this blog, I have had my eyes opened to the reality of the adoption trauma, how disadvantaged many people can be by it and by the singular narrative repeated by the adoption system, and I’ll hopefully learn to listen out more sensitively to what my child, who is still learning about himself, is really asking of me. I realise I have no right to motherhood simply because I have a child. He has a right to personhood first, and I will keep remembering that as we find our path forward.

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  5. My A-mom threatened this action when I was a preteen but didn’t follow through. I was adopted at 18months from an orphanage in South Korea and distance was probably what prevented her. It sounds as if you’ve managed to work through your experiences and emerge stronger. That is the best revenge.

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  6. I am an adoptive parent. The people who adopted her never should have adopted. Forever means just that. My daughter cries and yearns for her birth father. He died before she could meet him. I cried with her when I told her.

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  7. Im an adoptive parent of twins and I have a lot of worries about when my girls ask me questions. I dont know if you are suppose to be completely honest from the get go or give them more details as they get older and can understand what it means? I have thought about it a lot and dont want my girls to have to wonder where they came from, but I also hurt for the history of their bio mom and what that means to them. We do have a good relationship with their bio dads mom and they visit so that makes me hopeful for that side of things. This story just absolutely is heartbreaking. Kids are hard, they do things to push their limits, if my parents would have given up on me, they didnt have an alternative like giving me back. Total crap… Forever is forever.

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    • My adopted son is 14 now. I have tried to give him any information he wanted, but in an age appropriate way. I think the most important thing is show comfort with the questions and be willing to answer them, so they will keep asking–and even bring up their birth family yourself, so they know you are completely comfortable talking about them. My son told me once he thinks about his birth family every day. I had NO idea this was the case until he said this, but I have never forgotten it.. My son got upset one day at an outdoor movie we were attending. We had to leave and he continued to cry after we got home–he was probably about 9 or 10 when this happened, so not like toddler crying. I kept asking him what was wrong, but he couldn’t tell me. It was Mother’s Day weekend, so finally I asked him if this was about his birth mother. He said it was. I don’t remember the entire conversation, but I told him we could get her a card and mail it an address i had that might have been hers. He said OK and stopped crying, but the next day didn’t want to send the card. Nothing like that has happened again. He’s a super happy kid, so far without even the normal teen stuff everyone expects to see (although I never had much of that with any of my kids. I’ve had good relationships with all of them. He’s my youngest of 4, the oldest was also adopted, but as a teen. She was my 4th child, joined the family last 🙂 Enjoy your twins and believe what everyone says about how fast they grow!

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  8. This resonates with me big time! I was adopted around the age of three or so and was placed back in to foster care at age thirteen and from there went from children’s home to children home until I aged out of the system. My adoptive parents were alcoholics (I don’t know if they were when I was initially adopted) and there was physical and mental abuse, in their marriage towards each other, and towards me, but never to their biological son. The abuse towards me was primarily from my adoptive mother. The system really failed me, although in fairness, my adoptive mother was excellent at portraying me in a poor light and denied all accusations. I’m so sorry that you endured such a tremendous loss twice. Thank you for bringing this to light because people tend to assume that adoption is always a happy ending.

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  9. I don’t understand the giving back, but we have heard one side of the story. Adopted parents should ha e been open and honest with her no matter how bad they didn’t like it. Kids sometimes need to find out about bio parents for themselves so they can find closure. This is a sad story and it might would have turned out different if there was comuncation.

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  10. I am beyond words. I don’t comprehend how a family could do this to you, and nothing anyone could say here can ease any pain you have felt. I cannot understand disputed adoptions. A finalized adoption means you have stood before a judge and sworn to treat this child as your own birth child. In all honesty, I have worked way harder for my adopted kids, simply because they needed me to. How the legal system allowed this to happen, I cannot fathom. My hat is off to you for your perseverance!

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  11. This is horrific. There is a serious problem in the adoption world with people adopting for the wrong reasons or not understanding what adoption means. Two of my children were born to me, two are adopted, one as a teen, the other as a newborn. They are all mine. The youngest, the one adopted as a newborn, was left at a fire station by his birth mother, so we have no connection to his birth family, although I do have some information that would make it possible for him to find his birth mother. I have offered many times over the years to help him do this and just this week offered to do DNA testing on him to help him find siblings (he is 14). He has refused so far, but I hope he understands that I want what is best for him and am completely ok with him feeling connected to his birth family (and I don’t even know what his adoption day is–we celebrate his birthday). My daughter, who was adopted at 16, already had connections to her birth family,although her foster parents had kept her from them. One of the first things she did after moving in with me was reconnect with them. She is 29 now and I am very much her mom (and grandmother to her children. Adoptive parents need to understand that their adopted children have another set of parents and an entire family that is a part of them, whether the adoptive parents acknowledge them or not. Letting adopted children know that it is okay and expected for them to feel connected to their birth family will deepen the relationship with the adoptive parents.

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  12. We’re in the process of adopting two older boys from foster care and we have regular contact with their birth family. I know it’s not always possible, but I think it’s so much better for the kids when it is possible. I also make it a point to stay in touch with my other son’s birth family who we adopted via domestic adoption.

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