Wednesday, May 30, 2007


It was something Elizabeth said. About not thinking of her a-arents as her parents. Not because they didn't try or that she's angry at them. She's not. Just because it didn't work out.

And the lights went off.

Just because my first mother decided to give me away, just because some social worker picked out one set of strangers over another, just because the couple who would eventually "get me" wanted a baby when one was available, doesn't mean that I'm stuck with the burden of thinking of these people as my parents.

If they'd ACTED like parents, now that would be something else.

My a-parents were totally incapable of unconditional love. They NEEDED a baby. They wanted a girl to grow up and keep them company and take care of them when they got old. They were self-centered.

I am not obliged to LOVE them.

They aren't my parents.

I am a product of social engineering. Too bad it didn't work out better. But what can you expect? Without blood ties, without empathy or understanding or real love, is it any surprise? Any relationship that depends on NEEDS instead of LOVE is doomed to fail.

Some lady I can't remember waved her wand over the paperwork, but that doesn't mean I have to continue following orders 40-some years later.

Thank you, Elizabeth.

Thinking about things THIS way helps to emotionally distance myself from my narcissistic adoptive dad.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Whine Away. Or Not.

Another blogging adoptee got me thinking. She's annoyed by adoptees who don't like adoption or their a-parents or adoptees who blame adoption for ruining their lives.

While I have whined and complained aplenty, I don't think it ruined my life.

The social worker did that by placing me with an undereducated, self-absorbed couple incapable of acting like parents, adoptive or otherwise.

Just kidding!

Sort of.

Today I am happy. Mostly. Despite my bad placement, I have been 100% financially independent since the age of 17. I've taken responsibility for my education and my life and blame no one. That said, it would be shallow not to explore the enormous impact that Closed Adoption, especially as practiced by the wrong sort of people (ignorant) can have on a human life.

Whether we like it or not, some of us were part of a social experiment. A part of history. We must try to make sense of it as best we can. For those who fared well, tell us why. What made it work for you. For those of us who fared badly, why? What made it a failure? I see these blogs as not simply confessional and therapeutic, but as an aggregator of adoption experiences across a broad spectrum...from wonderful to good to the opposite end of bad to miserable.

One of the most fascinating things to learn is that so many of us adoptees, including those who were placed with empathetic, capable and loving a-parents, also share many of the same adoptee issues. People pleasing seems to be a big one.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Don't Try THIS at Home!

Faults are thick
where love is thin

Don't ask me who first said this. Saw it on one of those church billboards.

Then, I was struck by Joy's most recent comment. Yesterday, I was unglued because I found out my NAD (narcissistic a-dad) was bad mouthing me to his psychologist. Joy mentioned "traumatic attachment disorder" as discussed by fellow adoptee Julie Rist (I love those two). So I looked it up. That, plus reread some articles on adoption and attachment (or is reattachment more appropriate?).

Anyway, there's a WHOLE lot written on getting babies to attach to their adoptive parents and there's much written about kids who didn't/couldn't attach and the horror show that follows.

What does it look like when that child who failed to attach is all grown up?

Read my blog, folks. I think she looks like ME.

Yes, I have all the usual adoptee related issues PLUS. Like I couldn't trust them. Ever. Because all they ever did was lie to me. And when they weren't lying, they were controlling or withholding.

The only thing that bound us together as a family was, first, brainwashing followed by loads of guilt.

Anyway, if you're an adoptive parent with a young child or a prospective adoptive parent, do NOT try this at home or you're gonna end up with someone like me: A-failed-to-attach-adult-daughter-or-son:

--Do not tell her she is chosen or picked or special

--Do not call her mother bad names

--Do not withhold information about her first family or forget important details about them

--Do not cry or have a temper tantrum if she asks about her first family

--Do not pretend to third parties she is your biological child

--Do not call her ungrateful if she acts like a typical teenager who wants a little independence

--Do not use terms like "rescue" because that's about YOU...not her

--Do not make adoption about YOU

--Do not minimize her losses and discourage her from discussing adoption on her terms

Well, I can go on and on, couldn't I?

But I won't.

My fingers are cramping up.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Just got off the phone w/my narcissistic a-dad's psychologist.

He told me my NAD (narcissistic a-dad) was complaining - bitterly - that I never came to visit and instead visited my in-laws.

Untrue. Hard to know if he's lying. Again. For pity. Or maybe it's the dementia and he can't remember. Even in the old days, NAD used to lie lie lie about all sorts of things, mostly to get what he wanted or to make others look bad and position himself as a victim.

He...the withholder of information about my adoption particulars. He...the person who told me I was Jewish (wrong) and who was so ashamed of my status as an adoptee he lied about it to everybody and made me lie, too.

Why do I care?

What happened to my hard-achieved emotional detachment?

Really, it was probably more about NAD'S misery at being stuck in an assisted living facility and getting old in such an awful way than it was about ME. Aiming for perspective and emotional detachment. I DESPERATELY want and need to do. It's survival. But it's like trying to finish a race wearing a wool sweater. The sweater being the old adoptee people-pleasing-can't-stand-disapproval-doormat-inner-me that resurfaces with certain TRIGGERS and suddenly, I'm sputtering and sinking fast and people are standing by the dock, scratching their heads saying, "Why's she wearing that to go swimming?"

Friday, May 11, 2007

Narcissism and Adoption

In a recent comment, fellow adoptee and newbie blogger (welcome!) Mary Ann said she'd always wondered what role adoption played in parents with NPD.

Well, Mary Ann. I think adoption PLAYS INTO the hands of prospective a-parents with NPD. Maybe their efforts to find a narcissistic supply source have been thwarted elsewhere. Maybe their spouse won't cooperate or being a celebrity just isn't enough or maybe their "friends" have caught on and fled the scene. Maybe everybody with an ounce of sense has abandoned them.

But a child can't flee. It doesn't know better.

Mary Ann asked an important question.

Not just because we're trying to make sense of our lives but, it seems to me, that there's a lot of self-centeredness going on in adoptions today.

Just look at what some prospective a-parents and a-parents say, on the record, for all to hear. A stream of noxious justification and self-promotion about rescuing children and giving them a better life in the U.S. of A. A throwback to the days of Loring Brace's orphan trains and the reckless child placement practices of his making...when poor (as in no money) biological families were intentionally broken up in order to "save" the children. Today, it's orphan planes and a sense of entitlement to foreign babies often cloaked in the language of martrys.

Sure, there's TALK about the love and time and money spent on these abandoned children, but sometimes, the apparent lack of EMPATHY for the inner world of these children is troubling.

But back to Mary Ann's question. Narcissism and adoption.

Well, here goes.

Imagine a voracious beast of some sort. My favorite is the vampire. Send it a baby who grows into a child desperate to please and you've just fed the beast. The vampire will continue to feed off the child, stunting its growth, holding it back, making it impossible to leave the vampiric nest in a natural way. No, the teen or the young adult must take drastic action to escape. In my case, escaping to college 450 miles away. Then, because that wasn't far enough, took a job even further away.

This kind of adoptive parent does not want a child. It wants an audience. It wants attention. It does not want to love and raise the child. It wants to be loved. It wants to control, not parent.
Because a narcissist is incapable of being a parent. It can't be in tune with their child. It can't put their interests first.

As if being adopted wasn't hard enough.

I think we can't help asking: "How did I end up with her?" (or him) and "Which idiot is responsible for sticking me there?" and "What would my life have been like if they'd placed me with nice, caring people instead?" (better!!!) and "What would I think of adoption if I hadn't had such loser a-parents?"

But I don't think I answered the question. Not really. It just seems to me that quite a few of us ended up with at least one narcissistic (parasitic) parent and that there's still a disturbing number of self-centered a-parents still getting babies except, this time, they've wrapped their disfigured egos in fancy Martyr Cloaks.

Monday, May 07, 2007

What Adoptive Parents REALLY Think???

Now that I'm the mother of two teenage daughters and all THAT means, I think back to my adoptive mother and feel almost sorry for her.

Adoption was the elephant in the room. The idea that I was born to someone else was so loathesome that she threatened to divorce my a-dad if he ever raised the issue. She went to her grave never having discussed it with her closest friends.

But she must have been terrified.

I KNOW she was. When I became less compliant, more rebellious, the more tense our relationship. What WASN'T discussed hung over our heads like a dark cloud. Every instance of typical teenage separation was seen as a personal rejection. If I closed my door, I was closing it against HER. If I wanted to hang out with friends, I didn't want to be with HER. If I came home late from a date, I was a slut destined for pregnancy and ruin.

Here's the "let's be honest" part.

When my girls act up, I don't carry the extra baggage of wondering about such unknowns as genetic predispositions. When I toss and turn at night, that's ONE thing I don't think of. I WOULD if I were dealing with a teenager I didn't give birth to. In fact, I think it's NATURAL to do so. How could one not? I'd wonder, was her mother temperamental like that? Did her mother have extreme PMS, too? When did her mother begin to acquire abstract thought? At 15 or was she a late bloomer?

I have a map. It's not always reliable and often, the roads I thought were leading somewhere are misleading, dead ends. But I HAVE a map. I think raising an adoptive child/teenager must be like driving without one. You don't always NEED a map to navigate, you've got personal experience to rely upon, but it IS nice to have one in the glove compartment just in case.

Sometimes I wonder...what DOES an adoptive parent think of when the child-rearing gets tough? Secretly. At night.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's Knowing Where You're From

NPR's All Things Considered ran a lovely commentary by Laura Lorson about The Kentucy Derby. She's a native Louisvillan and talked about what the Derby means to her. It ended with, "It's about knowing where you're from."

Do you know how many pieces/stories end this way?

The template looks something like this:

a) Introduce significant historical event or place
b) Sprinkle memorable details of its quirkiness/uniqueness
c) Describe impact of such event/place on your life/development
d) End with, "It's about knowing where you're from/who you are/your place in the world.

In no way am I picking on Lorson's commentary or criticizing it as formulaic. I greatly enjoyed it. Just pointing out the very basic human desire for connectedness to a sense of place, a people. That we are part of a tribe, a culture. That in our blood we wear funny hats during a Spring ritual of horse racing or, mmmm, still crave Menudo on Sunday mornings even if we know it's filled with tripe.

We just want to know where we come from, folks.

It's that simple.

We just want what you (the non-adopted) have.