Mama Carrie Makes

Truthy Tuesday, Adoption Stigma


I am so tired of the trope that all adopted persons are damaged, other, not like us.

This rant follows an evening of Law & Order: SVU. I started the episode halfway through, after the revelation that the adopted child had orchestrated the murder of her younger sister, the biological child of her adoptive parents.  The adoptee had been abused by her bio dad, and was taken away as a pre-teen and then adopted by this family. She was portrayed as a sociopath, describing herself as dead already.

I have no doubt that childhood abuse can break people, can create a blackness so deep that the real person never emerges. But adoption is often shorthand for damaged, rejected, defective.  How messed up do you have to be for your parents to give you away?

I know that SVU is all about the broken people, but this trope pops up all over.  Saying ‘you’re adopted’ is an insult children throw at each other.

Then of course one throwaway line from The Avengers that sucked all the air out of the theater for me.  Everyone else laughed.  Because, of course, right? Loki is adopted, of course he’s filled with murderous rage.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of this.  I have only just begun to acknowledge and process how it makes me feel to be so unique, so other.

I was discussing adoption with KidMakes, we were talking about Phineas and Ferb, a wonderful cartoon about a blended family and how these kids spend their Summer Days.  Phineas’ American mom has married Ferb’s British dad and they all live together in Suburbs, USA.  KidMakes felt that this meant that Ferb was not Phineas’ real brother.  When I explained how my brother and I have different bio parents, she felt that meant we were not really family either.

And that’s what I feel most often about adoption, a sense of unreality. Like I am pretending to be a part of my adoptive family, or my chosen family.  That because I do not have blood ties I am not real. That because I do not know my original mother I instead sprouted like a Cabbage Patch Kid and was plucked from the ground by my Aparents. Because I do not know my source, that source could be anything.

My adult brain knows that this is silliness.  My child heart is not so sure.

More to come.


*What do you know with your brain that your heart refuses to believe?


Author: mamacarriemakes

Wife, mother, friend, crafter/artist, rad fattie, nerd, administrative superstar, adoptee, caregiver, humanist, tattooed nose-ring bearer.

6 thoughts on “Truthy Tuesday, Adoption Stigma

  1. Thanks I do not watch much network TV or go to the movies and now that point makes me happier.
    I placed my child in 77 and found him just over 3 yrs. ago.
    It is what troubles me the most about him
    He is a poor adoptee
    No one loves him etc. etc
    I beat myself up for 32 years and allowed others to do so as well
    Finally after meeting him I see the us and him as well
    I have had to step back into the shadows so I can live
    a happy life finally just knowing he is healthy, beautiful,well liked(most never knew his plight of not having a REAL family who loved him)
    He is an artist like US
    He is angry I can hardly wait till he finds real gratitude for the wonderful life he received from me for first life then I did good choosing a family in a book I was handed. I asked God to protect him and watch over him and he did. I am sure of this. It was not until my Dad passed away that we found each other 3 months in fact. Maybe a favor was called in not really sure or if the pain of losing another important male in my life was just to much.

    So I will sit back and continue to learn who to love myself as much as I always loved him. My son. I did not give him up because I did not love him I did because I loved him more than life and wanted him to have a complete family like I had.

    Thanks for your post. It hit home!

    • Thank you for reading and commenting. I have mixed feelings about your comment but decided to approve it. I understand that you wanted to give him a ‘complete’ family like you had, but how complete could it be without you? His heart was broken at birth, I can understand he might still have some baggage. I’m having a hard time choosing words because I do not want to attack you, but my empathy lies with the adoptee, always.
      I know placing cannot have been easy for you, nor the intervening years. I don’t wish pain on anyone, and I hope you find that love for yourself.

  2. I know a lot of moms with little kids but not one showers affection on their child like my friend who adopted her little girl. No child was ever more wanted. No child has ever been more appreciated. I can’t imagine her ever NOT knowing that. I hope I can always be sensitive to the whole family’s feelings regarding the circumstances of her birth. Thank you for making me aware.

    • Thank you for commenting.
      I know that many, perhaps most, adopters desperately want their children. But for an adoption to be possible, the child’s original family must be broken.
      Not to say that adoption shouldn’t happen (though the industry could use some serious reform), just that it’s hard to exist with these two truths overlapping. That my original mother gave me away (relinquished me) and my adopters took me in.
      I would ask you to be especially sensitive to the adoptee’s feelings about her birth and adoption. Often it’s hard to speak honestly with anyone about how it feels because you don’t want to hurt your adoptive parents…

      • I will try to always keep it in mind. Thank you for such honesty.

      • I am glad you OK’d the flip side.

        When I placed him I thought it was the best choice for MY CHILD.

        Abortion though was the latest and greatest offered back then and so many went that way.
        It is not like that so much these days.

        I would have had to marry a young man with no real job we both worked at factories, and live on Welfare.

        I had two adopted cousins that were adored by my Aunt and Uncle.

        I wanted my child, I just was not willing to screw him up so I could carry him around proving to the world that we loved KETCHUP Sandwiches..

        My heart goes out to this wonderful man who was raised with the best of everything. He wanted for nothing except me, as they went on to have their own little girl a few yrs later and sat him down and explained to him that she was theirs and he was Chosen which he was not I picked them from a book of people I was told could NEVER have a baby of their owm. Mine was a white child which was rare back then a like I said most chose to hit the cities to abort their babies, they too carry hurt and pain.

        I am to blame for him feeling left behind and not wanted but that is actually not the truth. I loved him and wanted him but saw no way to provide for him all that he would need besides a loving
        Mother. I carried him for 9 months and ate right he weighed 9lbs 8 oz and I had him completely natural and never had another child, I surly paid for my sins

        You do not have to understand. Just wanted a bit of the other side to be heard as there is always two sides to the story isn’t there.

        Mother.. I was young. and did not have all the answers