Free Form Responses: Natural Mother Perceptions in Closed Adoption

The voices of approximately 140 mothers. Unedited.

We are listening.

“Forced Closed adoption was an horrific experience , that I’ve never been able to get over and I think it, as well as surrogacy should be banned. People who are buying babies via surrogacy are doing the same thing. They’re taking advantage of poorer or less fortunate people so they can get a baby. They don’t care 2 hoots about the mother, she is disposable in their eyes, and they are making babies a commodity”

“I think closed adoptions can be cruel. I fell in love and got pregnant and my punishment was that I was supposed to never have the opportunity to know my child. Fortunately i was able to find my son on the internet and our reunion has allowed me to finally heal.”

“My daughter took her own life 10 years after I found her!”

“Made me feel worthless.”

“I live riddled with guilt, for what I did.”

“It ruined my life, it’s inhumane”

“Everlasting guilt and shame even though my daughter had a wonderful family, or so she says.”

“Destroyed the life that I should have been entitled too.”

“never should happen”

“Closed adoption is an insidious practice that harms mothers and children. Reunion unfortunately doesn’t restore what is lost, but instead turns a closed adoption into an open adoption (and we all know that has its own set of challenges). Closed adoption has caused a grief in me that I would not wish on my worst enemy. I suffer from the trauma of having been abandoned/neglected/cast aside by my parents and having my motherhood invalidated by them and by society. They have tried to apologize, but it’s too late. I am in reunion and am able to see what happened through the eyes of a grown woman who has experienced life. The sorrow of understanding now that I was taken advantage of by my parents, (they knew I felt so guilty and that I wanted to make everything “right”) and the adoption agency, (they used my maternal instincts against me) is somedays overwhelming. Some days I can think of nothing else except the horror of this tragedy and I wonder what the remainder of my life will be like. I was a dean’s list college student — intelligent, creative, hardworking, responsible (except in that I allowed myself to be seduced), kind and compassionate. I was treated like a criminal by my parents who pretended afterwards that it never happened. After I came home from the hospital, my father flippantly said, “Time heals all wounds.” Yeah, right. Not when your child is still alive and you have absolutely no closure. The wounds compound and the pain increases. And not only was I never given any resources to parent, but I was also not informed of the possible repercussions of adoption for my child and myself. I know now that there were studies done back in the 1970’s. If only we had had the internet in the early 1980’s. I only wanted to protect him, but instead I aborted myself as mother. I turned myself into the anomaly, when in fact, it was this couple that was an anomaly, (because they could not have their own children). If only somebody had said to me, “Your baby needs YOU. Protecting him means holding him close and raising him yourself. He will suffer from genetic bewilderment and issues of abandonment forever.” It was just assumed that the PAP’s were going to be better for him than I would have been. I truly believed that I was so shameful, so bad, that he would never even give me a thought his whole life. In reunion, I learned the truth. How can anybody predict that a child will have a better life with parents different from his natural ones, with people who are absolute strangers? I chose to carry my child to term even though abortion was legal and even though I knew my parents would be vicious in their judgment/treatment of me. My maternal instinct was strong — I took my prenatal vitamins (my child was touched when he learned of this. How sad that this news was a surprise to him.), I didn’t smoke or drink. I ate healthy. I wanted to protect him from any harm. This is the proof that I was a good mother, but nobody wanted to acknowledge it. So sad that I was too young and too clueless to have been able to acknowledge this myself. And by they way, the adoptive father smoked in front of my baby. The adoptive mother has (severe) mental illness in the family and once one of her relatives threatened her with a weapon while my baby was in the room, in her arms. Better life? Yeah, right. Because of my experience with closed adoption, I am unequivocally opposed to adoption, in any form. It goes against nature and is misogynistic, and is therefore not in the best interest of the child. Maybe someday I will have the courage to speak out without fear, but the shackles of shames are strong. First there was the shame over getting pregnant “out of wedlock,” but now it’s the shame of being duped into giving away my child to adoption and by doing so, putting a complete stranger into a power position over my child and allow her to claim the title “mother.” How can anybody understand the pressure woman like me were under. If you’ve only experienced “approved of” pregnancies in your life, you can never imagine in a million years how a woman can hand her baby over to a social worker, never to see him again. I loved him, but yes, I was afraid of becoming a mother. Everybody jumped on that in order to encourage adoption, and I also “chose” adoption because I didn’t know the full truth of it. Now I know that just about every woman is nervous about becoming a mother for the first time! That’s why they publish books about it, to help woman. Nobody told me that it’s a learning process. Because my circumstances were not ideal, the discussion was simply closed. Closed adoption has made me the anomaly, the freak, the weirdo that nobody understands. I guess I’m the fool who got suckered into becoming just another cog in the machinery of the billion-dollar adoption industry. The bible says, “the first will be last, and the last will be first.” God is my vindicator. I’ve read the bible from Genesis to Revelation and I know that God never answered a barren woman’s prayers for a child by giving her the child of another woman. I have to believe that God will vindicate me, so that I can be present for my family. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts. As you know, it is very rare indeed that the voices of women like me are given an outlet. The world loves to drink the kool-aid.”

“Totally affected my life, I have major trust issues. Adoption was part of the Forced Adoption era in Australia. Hospital file marked BFA upon registering at maternity hospital because I was unwed.”

“Losing my daughter in 1983 destroyed me. Adoption was supposed “to solve the problem” and then I could go on with my life. The opposite happened. I spent years abusing alcohol, in bad relationships and felt completely worthless. I mean, what kind of person lets others talk her into relinquishing her baby, never to be seen again? I could never forgive myself. I could never tell anyone because my SHAME was relinquishing my own baby. Not knowing where she was or being able to see her was barbaric and cruel beyond words.”

“Without having to parent any children myself, I was able to straighten out my own life. I brought harm to my other kid’s lives and becaue of that, we don’t have a relationship now. I feel I made the best decision.”

“It is the worst feeling of unknown. Is he alive? Dead? Happy? Healthy? Just horrible !!”
“It’s a lifelong sadness”

“The not knowing whether your child is alive or dead well or sick is a hard burden to bear, the psychological effect on both myself & my son at 6 weeks old, due to relinquishing was evident when we reunited when he was 19 yrs old at his request after he searched. It affected both of us equally, today we have after 20yrs healed the gap.”

“Regarding revocation period: I don’t recall being counseled on this but thought that I could revoke at any time. When I tried to revoke on day 5, I was told he was already with his new family and that I would have to go to court to prove I would be a better parent than his new married, successful parents. I asked where I would need to go to court to do that and was told they couldn’t tell me because that would be considered identifying information. I believe my parents and boyfriend at the time (who I later married and remain married to) were lovingly trying to do what was best for me, but they were coerced as much or more than me. Closed adoption stole my confidence and held me back from my full potential career wise and in parenting subsequent children. Adoption is the greatest sadness of my life. Even with a wonderful reunion, our family will never be what it should have been.”

“it’s a fucked up system where society abandons mothers – no animal sacrifices a child willingly, finding out the impacts of adoption on those adopted are almost as bad as being judged not being good enough to parent”

“It affected my entire life,nothing felt worth doing,ever.I gave my son away I will never forgive myself.”

“I became a woman, a childless mother who never told anyone for 12 years. I mother left before I signed.”

“Pug a hole in my soul that will always be there”

“It is awful amd unnatural. Everyone loses. It is not in the childs best interest. Its misogynistic”

“I have never gotten over this. The older I get the more details I am remembering. It just keeps getting harder and harder. I have suffered from depression all of my life due to this tragedy in my life!”

“Was not easy, but given the options at the time, it was the best option for my baby, I thought.”

“Bad system.”

“Closed adoption is a worst case scenario, but it is soldiers to young girls as a viable, healthy and necessary decision. It is a tremendous and terrible loss, and rather than help a girl, it tears an entire family apart for generations.”

“I felt robbed of my child. I needed financial support to raise him. I was only a year away from graduation. I did graduate and got a job within months.”

“Although I have had the best possible outcome (reunion with a wonderful and generous adopted family) there are days that are still painful. Despite a good relationship with my beautiful daughter and I now have a an amazing granddaughter. We are both in the process of healing.”

“Wish I was older when she was born and raise her”

“Closed adoption should NEVER be allowed unless the child is in danger. It is cruel to close the doors to the child knowing everything about themselves and for the 1st mother to know her child is safe. (mine wasn’t safe – she was neglected, physically and sexually abused by her A-parents and the A-mother’s extended family.”

“Ruined my life. I struggle everyday. Like I have a split mind. It’s worst now that she has closed me out again. I finacial paid for her college and so MUCH more yet closed adoption did it’s damage!!!”

“It’s not been a positive influence in my life.”

“All of my long term relationships 4 of them have ended on my child’s birthday”
“Everyone told me it was the right thing to do. But no one told me they would all shame me later. Before they said it was “selfless”, but after they said “what kind of a woman would do that?” They purposely didn’t look for the father so that he wouldn’t have any rights. No one wanted to know that I was raped.”

“Despite a good reunion of twenty-eight years, I still suffer grief and flashbacks on a daily basis. I feel that I am a tortured soul because of the loss of my daughter, and will never recover. While she allows me the privilege of being in her life and being a grandmother to her children, I never feel truly authentic. I wish I had been stronger and more defiant all those years ago.”

“I don’t know if my life would have been better or worse had I kept my child, but it would have been my choice. Adoption wasn’t.”

“I had no understanding of the life-long ramifications adoption would have on myself, my family or my baby. I was very ill-informed and thought I was doing the “best thing” for everyone. It is wrong to erase a child’s identity and I believe adoption should be the very last resort”

“I didn’t have an adoption plan when I was in the maternity home; the SW knew I didn’t plan to relinquish. My plan at that time was foster care until I could reclaim my son.”
“My drug of choice was sexual promiscuity”

“It has been torture. I was young and did not understand that I might never see my son again, and that I was no longer legally his mother. It has been a form of psychological and emotional torture from which I do not believe I can ever recover. And this suffering is ignored or derided by society and, most painfully of all, by some adoptees.”

“it really made me feel bad about myself my dirty ,little secret”

“Every aspect of my life has suffered!”

“Totally changed my life path. I wanted to,travel, but nothing has happened, just do not believe I am worth it.”

“It affected my child much more than it did me”

“It has devastated my life.”

“I believe it has contributed overall to mental illness and depression in my life and overall life failure.”

“Closed adoption is extremely cruel. It was needed to keep all the ‘lies’ in tact. Closed adoption only benefits the agencies and people who want other women’s children.”

“i regretted it every day”

“Reunion was a Tsunomi. I’m surprised I made it through. Today we are rock solid.”

“It seems impossible to live an authentic life with this secret. All my family knows & they feel the loss too, but they don’t bring it up so as not to hurt me. I rarely tell anyone because I would have to explain that he isn’t ready for reunion still after 19 years, so they just feel sorry for me or usually make some other kind of remark that I find hurtful.”

“it has destroyed me and my daughter”

“I’ll never know what I might have been and done in my life, had I not lost my first child. The experience changed who I was and stunted my maturation at the moment of loss.”

“There is, and will always be, an physical aching in my heart. I have never stopped missing my son. I have always and will always love him, as only a mother can. Letting my baby go was and is hard. Respecting his decision for no contact was, and still is emotionally as heart wrenching as the last time I held him.”

“There is no part of myself that has not been affected by adoption. I would say it is extremely traumatic and no one is ever the same after such trauma. I lost my child and any ability to have a that bond with him. It is a pain that never lessens with time. It will be with me until the day I die.”

“In failed reunions we continue to struggle”

“PTSD for myself & My Beloved Man whom is an adoptee…I see how tragically it has affected his life & I pray my Son is okay”

“Loosing my little girl, being shamed by my family and rejected by bdad affected every part of my life going forward. I wish I had never lost my babe….or, myself.”

“It left a hole in my heart that won’t mend”

“Hindsight it has affected my relationships both personal and romantic. It has affected my self esteem.”

“No matter what bad things may happen to me now I seem to have no trouble over coming those problems. I realize that the worse thing that could ever happen to me had already happened when I allowed myself to place my child for adoption. Only the loss of my husband and other children would be that bad. Or the loss of my newly reunited son.”

“It was hell not knowing anything. I found my son after he was of age and we met. He has never responded to me again, which is awful. But it is so much better at least knowing that he is alive and well. It also saddens me that my daughter (born 10 years later) feels rejected and is hurt by that. I may be wrong, but I feel that his rejection of us is a sign that he did suffer the primal wound, which is deeply sad. And, lastly, I struggle with having grandchildren that I can only watch from afar and have no claim to. It amplifies the loss. I will cry forever.”

“The guilt of placing my child is still overwhelming to me. The fact that everything was done illegally and my child was actually bought and taken out of the United States illegally just adds to my sadness and guilt. I learned that the attorney was a baby broker from my child when we were reunited 5 years ago.”

“It altered the entire path of my adult life. It became my main cause and focus of my life until I successfully participated in opening sealed records in my province.”

“Yes! My first son hates me— if I died tomorrow it would not matter to him in the slightest!! Nor to his adoptive parents!! I mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to my child!! His adoptive parents took the love that I had for my child and twisted it into something black, and rotten!! They raised my son to be a pompous ass. He looks down on me, and treats me with utter disdain!! I wish I’d never heard of adoption– let alone closed adoption!!”

“it ruined my self confidence.my self worth”

“It just really sucks”

“It took decades before I could hold an infant. I never felt I was able to be a good parent so never had another child. No one told me how traumatizing this would be for both me and my daughter. Now that we are in reunion we are both becoming whole again.”
“Couldn’t be around other children. Wouldn’t attend baby showers, very jealous of my sister having kids. Reunion hasn’t helped much.”

“it was brutal”

“It has negatively impacted relationships with my family of origin. My raised kids are affected by the loss. I hate adoption and think family preservation is a better option. Mothers should have real options, not be coerced.”

“Adoption destroys families”

“I believe it is not a solution to infertility, and an excuse to not help heal the family unit, or figure out why a girl finds herself in that position in the first place. We, as society, should rally around the parents and repair the ‘village’. In hind sight, I can see that the fact that I was abused sexually as a young child led to the many choices I made that led to pregnancy when I wasn’t able to parent.”

“It has been the singularly most horrible thing I have ever been through. It has affected my ability to manage my emotions, feel worthy, and be true to myself.”

“It has completely affected who I am today. Some good and some bad. We are in reunion now so my answers may have been different had I filled this out pre-reunion.”

“It affected my entire life, and was the worst thing that ever happened to my lost child and I.”

“It has raped my soul and I can see that it will never mend.”

“It left me for 40yrs full of anguish as to my child’s well being /fate.A form of living hell”

“The most horrendous event in my life and hers; within 10 years I was a “single-again” divorced mother anyway. It almost destroyed me and her as it turns out. Wasn’t the best for anyone, least of all my daughter/child.”

“Kids belong with their natural parents”

“I buried my thoughts and feelings and post reunion have suffered from more depression and anxiety”

“Ruined my life.”

“It should be abolished. All adoption should.”

“I didn’t know it would be a life sentence.”

“I find it hard, 32 years later, to live with the resentment my son holds for me because I gave him up. His A-mom got pregnant later and shoved him to the side but there was good people there to help him develop. He said I gave up too easy”

“It is something that will affect me for the rest of my life”

“It hurts. I wish I’d died instead.”

“I regularly have dreams where people are indifferent to me and will not help me in the slightest way. I attribute this to adoption. Have struggled with vague health issues since than. Made me realize how expendable I am to society. Realized adoptive mother always puts her needs ahead of his. His job is to reassure and please her. I can’t give up replaying it all over and over looking for where I missed the opportunity to keep him. It shook my self confidence in being able to solve problems. I feel shame and grief for letting him down. Had reunion but he dropped me after his adoptive mother got cancer. She tried to undermine the reunion with not only me but his siblings. The adoptive father said something to me a year or so after the reunion that indicated they wished I was dead. I was not the hero after all who put my baby’s needs first. I was actually a sucker who let him down. The first two weeks after his birth I felt as if I had descended into Hell. Than I just went on auto pilot. It has gotten harder over the years. I think I am actually getting some acceptance or maybe it is just resignation. It has made me hang on to things way longer than I should have because I don’t want to be wrong again. I have felt at times I deserved to die when I realize what adopteea go through. I have worked through that though.”

“The full effects of closed adoption weren’t manifest until decades later, when I found my son and experienced all the grief that had built up over the years. I will never be reconciled to what happened, the lack of support I received from my parents, and the absence of concern for my feelings or desires. Everyone was kind, but nevertheless I was forced to give up my son.”

“Ruined my life”

“Totally devastated me and changed the entire course of my life”

“It has Always hung over my life like a big dark shadow of sadness, people have commented that since reunion the sadness is now gone… However I don’t feel it truly is gone… There are still times I struggle with what I lost and will never get back.”

“It has affected my entire life as well as my other children’s lives, and has deeply affected my ability to maintain close relationships.”

“I learned compassion and how to cope with a life changing mistake”

“Closed adoption for the mother sucks!”

“find a way to keep your baby–it has to be better for both of you in the long run.”

“Horrible depression suicidal thoughts and attempts sabotage relationships. My son ended up taking his life due to not feeling like he belonged anywhere”

“Both my surviving twin son and myself suffer shocking abandonment issues”

“Life-shattering.”

“Many questions did not offer enough choice and i selected indifferent but meant my feelings change over time.”

“Horrible experience, felt bad about it and really, reunion doesn’t help but made me feel worse.”

“Was like a big black hole, felt totally broken for whole time until found him. Still hurts even after reunion!”

“I have a problem with authority figures and I am an angry person now.”

“It greatly impacted my life outcome, my health, my mental health, my relationships, for the worse”

“It is the single worst ever – My neighbour just doused herself in gasoline and set herself on fire – she is dead in 2016 – that is what it feels like”

“Self worth shredded.”

“It left me broken and worsened as the years went on. It nearly killed me.”

“It occupied a great deal of my time, energies, thoughts and more that could have been spent on my subsequent children or personal pursuits.”

“closed adoption is a lifelong negative experience.”

“It has caused great pain, depression and regret; I have had to struggle against being overprotective with my subsequent children; has affected marital relationships from time to time, and has branded the importance of family – especially the mother/child bond- into my being. Children first, then other relatives (including husband), then friends…..”

“Yes, I felt a sense of responsibility to the a parents. Almost like my child was their child and I was responsible for their happiness.”

“ruined my life, my child will have nothing to do with me, even after meeting, i will probably commit suicide, it has made me mentally ill and an addict.”

“Counseling was horrible!! Felt like I was not told of other options or allowed to ask to meet the parents. Upset cuz it is not easy or free to start looking!”

“I feel I was misled and I was naive. I was told she would still be my child. Almost as if the adoption was temporary and when she was old enough she would come back to me and be my child. Obviously that is not true.”

“I do not trust doctors as i later discovered that my ob/gyn was a freind & colleague of the potential adoptive parents and was advising me to disregard my maternal insticts all the while she was working to get a baby for her friends. I have also had terrible flashback episodes while in hospital for infertility surgeries.”

“It depends on what the birth parents want. I didn’t want to be a part of the children’s lives. I wanted to keep doing what I was doing. They would’ve gotten in my way.”

“It was the saddest event I’ve ever experienced. Even sadder than the loss of my own mother when I was a child. The only trauma it is comparable to is kidnapping. Your child is gone and you have no idea of where or whether she’s dead or alive. My sisters keenly felt this loss as well.”

“It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. My mother was murdered when I was 11 and I was the only one in the house who wasn’t shot and still adoption was worse. It’s haunted me for 35 years and is a persistent horror. I found my girls when they were teens and we have a great relationship now. It’s very complex and they both struggle with issues related to their adoptions.”

“Closed adoption affects me every single day.”

“It has destroyed my life.”

“In hindsight I would never have done it”

“It colored my entire life. Even more than the loss of my next child who was stillborn”
“I wish it had never happened.”

“We were not advised of our rights. My son sat in foster care for 10 months without me being told because there were no Catholic families.”

“It stole my life.”

“The adoption has not only affected my everyday life and who I am as a person but it has affected my other biological children. If I knew then what I know now, I never would have given my child up. The idea of a better life was a myth.”

“It is a living hell. Death would have been more peaceful.”

“adoptions should not happen”

“It affected every aspect of my life – negatively”

“The adoption not only affected me but all my relationships. It changed who I am, it affected who and when I married and affected my other children. It has done nothing but damage to so many people. There are not enough words to express the cruelty of leaving a mother to wonder for decades whether or not her child is alive or dead, well or sick, cared for or abused. Some people liken the grief of closed adoption to a death of a child but to me it was just like a kidnapping. When she was born, she was whisked away, wrapped in a blanket so I couldn’t see or hear her. They wouldn’t even tell me the gender of the baby I had just delivered. I found out accidentally when a nurse came around getting consent signatures for circumcision. The hospital staff was also cruel, including the doctor who delivered my baby. I was treated like a criminal. No mother should have to experience that.”

“Every minute of every day I long for my child – she has been renamed, she has been brain washed by the adoptive parents and she is unwilling to emotionally relate to her first/natural mother and her two half siblings”

“One mistake ruined my life. The lies I was told… I will never forgive.”

“Closed adoption is the worst thing that ever happened to me. It is torture to wonder if your child is dead or alive, if your child needs you.”

“I killed my soul”

Current Survey:  Intercountry Adoption Survey

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Results In: Natural/Birth Mom Perceptions in Closed Adoption

 

 

The survey was entitled “Natural/Birth Mom Perceptions in Closed Adoption.” A link to the survey (through Survey Monkey) was shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and this blog over a 2-week timeframe: October 11-October 25, 2017. In all, there were 226 respondents. Of those, 19 were removed due to parameter filters. One respondent was manually removed for revealing private names and locations. In its final form, there were 206 respondents.

The parameters were that 1) The respondent must be 18 or older 2) The respondent must have placed at least 1 child in a Closed Adoption at birth or within 1 year from birth 3) The respondent was not related to the adoptive family 4) The child placed for adoption was not removed by Child Protective Services.

There will be an additional post to follow that will display the 146 free-form responses from the respondents. A link to the survey results will be posted at the end of this post. Unlike our previous posts, there will not be a link provided to the next survey here. It will be provided in the free-from response post that is to come later this week. Our next survey will be for Adult Adoptee Perceptions in International Adoption. It will be released the first week of November, 2017. For more information in regards to upcoming surveys, please follow us here, or on our “Adoption Surveys” Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts.

Margin of error calculator (provided by Survey Monkey)
Unknown

Summary

Questions 1, 2, 3, and 81 were required in order to set the parameters for the survey, as stated above. The remaining 90 questions were optional. There were 19 questions skipped by 1% (2) of the respondents. There were no questions skipped by more than 4 respondents. There were 24 questions that offered an “other” comment box. There were a total of 471 “other” comments. They were all taken into account and will be referenced as they relate.

Background

  • 93% (192) of respondents placed only 1 child into a Closed Adoption
  • 2% (5) of respondents placed 2 or more children into a Closed Adoption due to multiples; twins, triplets, etc
  • 4% (9) of respondents placed 2 or more children into a Closed Adoption at separate events (different dates)
  • 92% (191) placed their first child into a Closed Adoption
  • 65% (134) of respondents placed a child into a Closed Adoption when they were between the ages of 15-19 years old
  • 30% (63) of respondents placed a child into a Closed Adoption when they were between the ages of 20-25 years old

whyRespondents placed a child into a Closed Adoption equally between 2 decades; the 1960s and 1970s (31%, 64). Those decades were closely followed by the 1980s (27%, 56). Respondents were asked to check all that applied as to why they placed a child into a Closed Adoption. There were six answers that received a majority: being unwed (69%, 144), having no social support (65%, 135), financial instability (59%, 123), coercion/threatened (51%, 106), age factor (48%, 100), and societal pressure (43%, 90). There were 51 (24%) free-form responses that included reasons such as self-doubt, “Poor self-esteem, felt I would “damage” my child if I kept her” as well as industry grooming, “groomed to believe I was just a vessel, not my son’s mother, and that adopters were his ‘real parents’ . I was told this repeatedly during my pregnancy.” It was also mentioned often that respondents didn’t know they could choose another option, “I didn’t know I could legally keep her.”

Adoption agencies facilitated the majority of adoptions with 43% (88) of cases. The remainder were spread out equally among diverse options that included private attorneys, maternity homes, social workers, and charitable organizations. An option not given, but mentioned frequently in the “other” comment section was medical staff, “A doctor at a hospital in Rochester, Ny who had arranged many adoptions in the 80’s.”

  • 36% (74) of respondents lived in a maternity home during their pregnancies
  • 7% (16) lived in “wage homes” during their pregnancies
  • 82% (169) were American citizens at the time of adoption. Other respondents were citizens of Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Norway.
  • 94% (194) said their child was adopted into the same country as where they were a citizen
  • 18% (39) were taken to another state/province/country to deliver their child
  • 6% (14) of respondents are also adoptees
  • 3% (7) have had a child(ren) removed by Child Protective Services in addition to the child(ren) placed into a Closed Adoption

Pregnancy

familyRespondents were asked about support from those around them when it came to an adoption plan; family, the child’s father, and their friends. In regards to family, the most frequent answer (39%, 80) was that family “coerced/threatened” the respondent into an adoption plan. It was closely followed by family support of an adoption plan (29%, 61). There were 3 options that garnered nearly equal response in regards to how the child’s father responded to an adoption plan; (24% 51)  he supported, (24% 50) he was indifferent, and (22% 47) he did not know that he was the father of the child. Abandonment was an option not given, but offered in the “other” comment section, “He left me.” When it came to friends of the respondents, the majority did not know there was a pregnancy (43% 88), “I had no friends with whom I shared my predicament.”

If a respondent was advised not to tell the father of the child of her pregnancy, it was most frequently suggested by the adoption facilitator (8% 17), “My agency was ALL too happy to instruct me to not put him on the birth certificate ( unknown) so they ONLY had to post a notice in the legal section and NOT inform him. As an adult, attorney in NYC, he could have upset their little plan!”

  • 2% (6) of adoption facilitators gave resources for parenting
  • 17% (36) of respondents received financial assistance during their pregnancy by the adoption facilitator
  • 33% (69) were referred to as a “birth” mother prior to placement
  • 6% (13) received legal counsel prior to placement
  • 3% (8) believe that the adoption of their child was “God’s Will”
  • 10% (22) were informed of their rights prior to placement
  • 70% (145) were not asked directly if they wanted to parent
  • 7% (16) signed a pre-birth consent papers

If a respondent was made to feel “selfish” if they expressed a desire to parent it was done so by the respondent’s family (45% 93) and the adoption facilitator (43% 90) in most cases. An option not provided, but frequently mentioned in the comment section was medical staff, “By a nurse at the hospital, I was told to stop breast feeding because my son was going to be adopted.” There were comments that the respondents were made to feel “selfish” by society, “By society in general and overall.”

 

If a respondent was told that adoption was “God’s Will”, it was mostly said by the adoption facilitator (17% 35), their own family (14% 30), or their religious leader (12% 26). If an adoption was intended to be a secret, it was most often done so by the respondent’s family (64% 133). The adoption has remained a secret in 7% (15) of cases, “It was a secret until reunion. I was told to forget about it and never mention it again!” If a respondent was “shamed” during pregnancy, that too was most often done so by the respondent’s family (62% 129).

shame

The overwhelming majority of respondents were told their child would have a “better” life through Closed Adoption and they were most often told this by the adoption facilitator (72% 150) and their families (63% 130). Respondents commented that it was a societal belief as well, “All of society believed that – my employer, my Social Worker and health care team all said so.”

Labor and Delivery

  • 21% (44) of respondents said the adoption facilitator and/or its representative was present at the hospital/birthing center at birth
  • 11% (24)  said the adoption facilitator and/or its representative was present in the delivery room at birth
  • 32% (67) signed TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) papers in the hospital/birthing center before discharge
  • 2% (6) said they never signed TPR papers at all

The time of signing TPR papers after birth widely varied. It was evenly distributed over various options. The most frequent response was that the respondent did not remember (20% 42) how much time passed after birth when papers were signed.

  • 63% (128) of respondents wanted to back out of the adoption plan after birth
  • 73% (149) felt pressured to sign TPR papers
  • 15% (32) were under the influence of pain medication when they signed TPR papers
  • 63% (129) were unaware that they had a right to revoke their decision to place their child in a Closed Adoption
  • 4% (10) said they were not allowed revocation upon signature
  • 0.49% (1) respondent said that the revocation time a mother has should be shorter
  • 19% (39) said they were threatened by adoption facilitators with legal action after expressing a desire to back out of adoption
  • 87% (179) said they felt “obligated” to place their child for adoption.
  • 16% (33) experienced infertility after placing a child in Closed Adoption

After birth, there were various ways of interaction between the respondent and the child. The majority of respondents had an opportunity to hold their child (54% 112). Some respondents were not allowed to either see or hold their child after birth (18% 38). One respondent commented, “I was told that I could [hold child] but that it would be better for everyone if I didn’t. They told me it would be too hard on me.” Another respondent commented, “I was not allowed to see or hold my child but I threw a fit and got to hold her for 10 minutes.”

The majority of respondents were either told to “move on” or “get over” the child that was placed in a Closed Adoption. Most were told either by their family (61% 127) or the adoption facilitator (50% 103). Other sources that expected respondents to “get over” or “move on” from the loss of their child were friends, religious leaders, the child’s father, social workers, medical staff, future husbands, and society in general. Only 7% of respondents said they have been able to “move on” or “get over” the child that was placed in a Closed Adoption. Comments included, “NO. I will never be able to “get over” it. It was so traumatic and it plagues me even more as I get older because of the unfairness of it all. It’s damaged my whole life and my self esteem is absolutely zero.” Another commented in regards to “getting over” Closed Adoption, “I thought I had but after reuniting with my child I learned I had blocked a lot of the emotions and memories and am finally working on healing from it.” And another respondent said, “I shut down and denied my true feelings of loss and regret for many years. I realize now that I will be dealing with these feelings for the rest of my life.”

It was asked if respondents had discovered the identity of their relinquished child when they were a minor and if they secretly monitored the child’s well-being. There were 11% (23) of respondents who said they did and another 11% (23) who said they attempted to discover their child’s identity, but they were unsuccessful. One respondent said, “I was told within months who adopted him. The man worked in one of the two grocery store [sic] and he was a good man so I prayed for the best outcome.”

Mental Health

counselThere were many questions on the survey that touched on mental health in relation to Closed Adoption. The first section dealt with counseling before and after placement.

  • 24% (49) of adoption facilitators offered adoption counseling prior to placement
  • 21% (45) of respondents received adoption counseling prior to placement
  • 10% (22) of adoption facilitators offered adoption counseling after placement
  • 10% (21) of respondents received adoption counseling after placement
  • 6% (13) of respondents said that their experiences with counseling were helpful

Respondents were asked about how they adjusted to their lives after adoption. In the first year of placement, 75% (153) said that their adjustment was “extremely difficult.” Another 19% (40) said that their adjustment was “difficult.” It was asked of respondents how they adjusted over time and 68% (140) said it has “gotten more difficult” whereas 24% (50) said it has “gotten easier.”

  • 5% (12) of respondents said that Closed Adoption has “worked well” for them
  • 66% (138) said they suffer with insomnia
  • 80% (166) said they suffer with depression
  • 58% (120) said they developed PTSD or another mental disorder following placement
  • 40% (83) have received therapy directly related to Closed Adoption
  • 40% (84) have considered or attempted suicide in direct relation to Closed Adoption
  • 55% (115) said they have suffered amnesia in regards to adoption details
  • 31% (65) struggled with substance abuse at some point after placement

One question asked respondents if they have ever struggled with the idea of who they became versus who they might have been without Closed Adoption. The majority 87% (179) answered that they have struggled. Respondents were asked if Closed Adoption affected their sense of self-worth. There were 6% (13) who said their self-worth was affected in a positive way whereas 84% (173) said their self-worth was affected in a negative way.

worth

Life After Closed Adoption

overallRespondents were asked how they would describe their overall feeling about Closed Adoption. Two options garnered the majority of responses; anger (46% 96) and sadness (36% 76). They were followed by confusion (3% 7), peaceful (2% 5), indifference (2% 5), grateful (0.97% 2), and happiness (0%). Additional comments included, “pathological grief; chronic post traumatic stress, suicidal; rage.” Another stated, “All of the above. Was my only child.” A few additional comments were, “Mixed emotions – changes over time”, “Like walking dead”, and “It’s more than anger, it’s more like rage.” Some respondents have come to different conclusions on adoption in general with one respondent saying, “There are things that should be changed but I am not totally against it” and another, “I don’t support adoption for the most part now.” Respondents were asked what they would consider themselves in regards to adoption; for or against. The majority identified themselves as anti-adoption at 77% (157), followed by pro-adoption at 9% (20) and indifferent at 12% (25).

  • 68% (142) of respondents think of their child placed in Closed Adoption on a daily basis
  • 12% (25) think of their child placed in Closed Adoption on an hourly basis
  • 58% (120) said their immediate family was affected for the worst after Closed Adoption
  • 5% (12) said their immediate family was affected for the best after Closed Adoption
  • 83% (171) find adoption anniversary days triggering
  • 95% (196) would not recommend Closed Adoption to an expectant mother
  • 91% (187) regret that their child was placed for adoption
  • 2% (5) of respondents would describe Closed Adoption as an “empowering” choice

The subject of abortion was briefly touched on. The respondents identified themselves as pro-choice (65% 134), pro-life (29% 61), or indifferent (4% 10). Of all respondents, 33% (68) have had an abortion in addition to placing a child in a Closed Adoption. The respondents were then asked which decision, abortion or Closed Adoption, they have been more at peace with. 54 respondents stated they have been more at peace with their decision to abort over their decision to place in a Closed Adoption. There are 2% (5) of respondents who have adopted a baby in a Closed Adoption and 9% (19) would or have considered adopting a baby in a Closed Adoption.

obcThe topic of adoptees’ original birth certificates was covered. It was asked if the respondents were made aware that their child’s birth certificate would either be altered and/or sealed, 55% (113) answered that they were not informed of this policy. Another 17% (36) do not remember being told that their child’s original birth certificate would be altered and/or sealed. In regards to adoptees having a right to their original birth certificate, 99% (204) of the respondents were in favor.

Respondents were asked various questions about their family life after Closed Adoption. In 22% (46) of cases, respondents never had any other children. It was asked if the children parented by the respondents had suffered the absence of their sibling that had been adopted, and 47% (97) of respondents said “yes”. Another 4% (10) parented children do not know that they have a sibling who was adopted. The majority of respondents (62% 128) believe that Closed Adoption affected their parenting style with their other children.

Respondents were also asked about their professional success after Closed Adoption. The majority (46% 95) said that they were professionally successful in spite of Closed Adoption. There were 2% (6) who said they were professionally successful because of adoption. One respondent commented,”I went on to graduate and have a career, but I can never say that this was because of or in spite of adoption. I could have achieved these things with my child, it just would have been a different path (part-time college rather than full-time, for example).”

  • 94% (192) of respondents wish they had parented the child they placed in a Closed Adoption
  • 90% (187) have looked for their child in stranger’s faces
  • 96% (197) have hoped for reunion with their child placed in Closed Adoption
  • 83% (173) have been in reunion with their child placed in Closed Adoption
  • 6% (14) are presently in search for their child placed in Closed Adoption
  • 1% (4) have chosen not to search for their child placed in Closed Adoption at this time
  • 2% (6) have not felt they have the right to search for their child placed in Closed Adoption
  • 89% (182) believe their personal relationships have suffered due to their adoption experience
  • 66% (136) believe their relationships have suffered with those they felt coerced/threatened them into relinquishment

In closing, respondents were asked if they thought Closed Adoption was the best arrangement for families or if there was a better arrangement. They were asked to check all options that applied or offer additional commentary. In order of response, “Preserving a biological family” received the majority with 86% (177). It was followed by Guardianship 40% (83), Kinship Adoption 34% (71), Open Adoption 22% (47), Foster Care 5% (12), and Closed Adoption 1% (3). Additional commentary included, “Depends on the situation. There is no one right way. It was probably best for me at the time.” Another commented, “Supporting young pregnant women through temporary periods of crisis and teaching them to parent is the best solution for everyone.” Another, “Each situation is Unique closed adoption could be best but….Who may be the judge/ decision makers?¿!¡” And lastly, “Anything is better than closed adoption. kinship adoption, open adoption, temporary foster care, guardianship…but best is to support parent and child together.”

better option

Upcoming Surveys

We would like to thank the respondents who shared their experience with us. Adoption Surveys knows that stories of Adoption can be emotional and it takes incredible courage to share such sensitive and vulnerable information. We thank you.

If you found this post to be interesting or informative, please feel free to share it. Also, please follow us for upcoming surveys. We can be found under the name “Adoption Surveys” on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in addition to this blog.

Our upcoming survey for November, 2017 is for Adult Adoptee Perceptions in International Adoption. A link will be shared on the next post which will include the free-form responses from the Natural/Birth Mom Perceptions in Closed Adoption.

A link to the results for the Natural/Birth Mom Perceptions in Closed Adoption can be found here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-5NS5QCQY8/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adoptee Perceptions in a Closed Adoption: Free Form Responses (Part 2)

(Part 2) Again, we thank you and we hear you.

It gave me a better life.

“A profound spence of displacement and not belonging get.!lack of sense of self.”

“Whole life hinged on rejection”

“It has affected me so much more in my early adulthood”

fear of intimacy, heightened watchfulness, lack of belonging

“I am stripped of my right as an adult to access my own birth certificate. I am stripped of my right to register with my tribe. I am stripped of my right to know my heritage. I am sentenced to lifelong punishment for which I am expected to be grateful, due to the crime of being born.”

“It sucks”

“When I had my own children, the connection to them was overwhelming compared to my feelings for adoptive mother and father”

“Not knowing where I came from has been a huge hardship on my psyche and life.
You haven’t got enough time!”

“I have recently found my birth family after matching to people on Ancestry. I was not actively searching but had received the dna kit as a gift. I was first matched to members of my birth father’s side. A half sibling encouraged me to get my original birth certificate. I did and found siblings, a grandmother and my birthmother. I also found out that the story that was told to my adoptive parents wasn’t true. My birth father was actually married and my mother didn’t remember his name. Now the siblings on my dad’s side really don’t want a relationship with me which is hurtful because they seemed very excited. This has called feelings of guilt and shame that I never had before. I also have “survivor’s guilt” because the siblings on my mother’s side have stated that I was lucky to have been given up for adoption because our mother wasn’t an attentive parent. It has been awesome that they were so excited that I found them. I wouldn’t have looked except that I was encouraged to by the other siblings on the dad’s side. I don’t think I really thought I would ever match anyone on Ancestry. I didn’t consider the implications and am now in counseling to deal with some of the post-reunion grief. I am not sure that I am better off knowing what I know now. My adoptive parents were great but my adopted sister was abusive and cruel to me. I just really wanted awesome siblings so I am sad that some of them aren’t interested in me.”

“Lack of identity”

I don’t know who I am – or if my birthday is even real

“I feel I lost rights to know who I am, where I come from, and my identity because my name was changed at time of adoption”

“I wish closed adoptions did not exist.”

“We have no rights, no proper treatment or understanding, and we didn’t chose this. It is life altering and full of grief to live this way. Yet, I had a wonderful adoptive family
it made me insecure nothing is stable”

My adoption traumatized my mother and myself. It affected the lives of many people. Lost time, years, opportunities to meet family. I have immense sorrow about many aspects of my adoption. Adoption should only ever be used as a last resort.”

“I always felt like an outsider and an impostor”

“It has a much more profound on life than people realize. I believe it is a major reason I struggle with virtually every area of life.”

“I’m reunited with dad’s side. not mom’s. I bet if it wasn’t closed my mom would have loved to know her 3 grandkids (my kids). but impossible for her, as she kept the secret so long”

“I would have liked to have found out earlier as an adult that I was adopted and could have found more answers and met biological relatives.”

“When finding my birthmother, I was not allowed pertinent information unless my adoptive parents were present. They were very upset. I never went against their wishes but as a young married woman, I needed info prior to becoming pregnant. My father has ddress ince past away and my adoptive mother is now close with my birthmother. If this was not a closed adoption, things would have been much better for all parties.”

“It did not affect me however I believe every adoptee should have their complete file at age 21 if so desired. I also believe if minor child has life threating health issue birth family should be notified if transplant etc would help heal.”

“Just that its awful. And the emotional rollercoaster will never end.”

Just not able to know where I am from

“I never felt like I fit in anywhere until, at the age of 50, I met my biological family. I am so much more like my bio family, not only in looks, but even in so many personality traits that most people think are socialized rather than genetic.”

“There are not enough checks on the child once the paperwork has been signed. I was abused in every way and pretty much treated like a slave. I had nobody to talk too. So I am now emotionally dysfunctional.”

The only way I was able to give closure to my sadness about being adopted was when I found my biological family.

“it ruined any chance I ever had at a nomal life, the adopters were mean and abusive
It has affected every part of my life.”

“It makes you feel as though you are not a complete person because you don’t know your complete story. When even your birth certificate is “forged” it’s hard to have a true sense of self. Being denied the right to your own information once reaching adulthood is adding insult to injury.”

“Closed adoption is one of the cruelest and inhumane practices in the world. Adoption does not change DNA. It does not change medical health or even relatives. Searching is difficult, “conditions” (genetic anomolies) are rampant. Closed adoption, secrets and lies damned near destroyed my health and my life.”

i am a lost child. discarded. it hurts.

“Difficult to trust anyone”

“Yes but cant express it all in this text box! Survey was thorough enough that am satisfied my adoption experience/feelings were expressed.”

“Abandonment issues, feelings of not being worthy or good enough…can’t shake those feelings despite what my brain says.”

“I am so angry that there continue to be closed adoptions knowing what we now know. I am also angry that society believes adoption is wonderful and thinks we are “bad” if we speak out against adoption.”

overwhelming rejection

“made me ill, poor, and alone”

“Huge abandonment , depression, I think closed adoption is ok however i thing that if you bio parent was raped, or addict than that has lasting affect on a child.”

“Walking down the street and seeing someone that looks identical to you would be an issue. Having my birth children marry their cousin and have children is another concern.”

“It’s taken away easy access to finding my siblings”

Dehumanizing aspect of not having access to my original birth certificate and medical history has been difficult and lots of emotions have surfaced since reuniting with my birth parents.

“I see the need to possibly protect a minor child but once we are legal adults we should have the right to access out our records to find out who we are, where we came from, and any potential health risks associated within the bloodline!”

“I’m not happy with the state of New York because I am not allowed access to my OBC as per state law”

“The best interests of the child are not a consideration. Not learning of my adoption until 43 years, my entire life up to that time was a lie. I have no history or identity or country, sense of place. Infertile couples are so for reasons, evolution speaks of survival of the fittest, they are not sound. The life of an adoptee is struggle. Babies are born to their mother and that intimate connection should never be destroyed by satisfying someone else’s need to have and feel joyous about taking another women’s baby. ”

I just want my mom.”

“I hate the secrecy regarding MYSELF. If anyone should know the full details of me, it should be ME”

“It prevented me from knowing the whole story of who I am.”

“I am blessed. Birth parents had 9 other children.”

“At 49 abandonment issues continue throughout my life. I was connected with my bio father, but am still wanting to find my bio mom. Now that both adoptive parents have passed, the little girl in me feels ‘abandoned’ by two sets of parents. I wish I could find my birth mother – I have her name, but no luck in finding her.”

It was fine while growing up but think adoptees are entitled to ALL information as adults should they want it. I found my birthparents on my own & am still denied original birth certificate from my state ??

“I could write a book. Or three. How much text fits here? I guess we will find out. I wrote this before my 30th birthday. I will be 32 in January. 30 years ago tomorrow, an amazing being was born. But this being wouldn’t be treated as a person. Forever this being would struggle to find a place in this world where they didn’t feel as though they were considered to be more than property, a number, a file, beneficiary, a statistic, a guinea pig, a paycheck, a tax write off. Very few people allowed to this being to feel as though they truly are, indeed, an actual person. 30 years ago, come tomorrow this being was cut from the uterus of a 16 year old girl. This being must have known they were going to be given up, because the being didn’t want to leave. The being was then placed in a crib for 43 days in a facility for babies waiting for adoption under the care of Catholic Family services. Over those 43 days the babies around me were picked up, one by one by new buyers. The being was left alone, the being dont know how long, until the day of my adoption. A family of three was called, “Hello potential mom, we have a baby here and you’re next on the list. It is the last baby in our facility. If you are still wanting to adopt, you are next in line for this baby. It is a girl.” They set up an appointment. The family missed the appointment. The next day they they came to pick up the being. Now the being is a daughter all of a sudden. One and a half months old. Better late that never, I suppose… Family loved daughter. Daughter was a good daughter that loved singing. Daughter loved learning, reading, and talking about everything to everyone. When daughter was three, home with daddy watching sesame street, daddy came downstairs without asking “what are we learning?”. Daddy left later without getting up. People carried daddy away on a stretcher. Daughter didn’t do well after that. Neither did daughters family. Her brother didn’t speak much. Son and daughter went to stay with aunty. Daughter doesn’t remember this part she only found this out later when aunt tried to make her feel guilty about it 26 years later. For the next 8 years she went from school to school. For the next 5 years after that, she went from facility to facility, doctor to doctor, psychiatrist to psychiatrist, ER to ER, palm-full of medication to fist-full, therapist to therapist. She couldn’t be who they wanted to be. She tried. She hurt. She was tired of being hurt. Tired of hurting. Tired of letting people down over, and over, and over. She had left before. But this time she wasn’t coming back without the parent’s word that she wouldn’t be sent away again. So she traveled and would visit every year for a manor holiday and leave again. She was called a runner. She was called worthless. She was called stupid. She was called wild. She was happy. She still wasn’t treated as a person though. Now she felt like a person, ready to take on the world. But she was called dirty. She was called whore. She was called addict. She was called criminal. She wasn’t any of these things. She was a wanderer. She was a student of life and the real world. She was a seeker of all known things. She was on an adventure. A hard, grueling quest to find herself amidst the pain and harshness of the world. It was not easy. Death would visit more than once, taking away her friends, looming over her every second. She lost 16 friends to drugs in one year. She lost 3 to random street murder. She lost more… And more… She left the street life for the real wild life. Seemingly safer among the trees, creeks, mountains, lakes, and small forest creatures. The rain cleansed her. The stars reminded her of her greatness, and her insignificance. The dead would warm her heart in memory, and the dead pine warmed her skin. She felt real. Small. But real. During this wandering she was abused. Abused by men, abused by passersbies, abused by systems, abused by police, abused mentally, physically, emotionally. She was strong. Very strong. She is strong.”

“Found both birth parents (not living together). Adoptive parents supportive and grateful. Bio-mom is wonderful and now a part of family. Bio-dad is a bit of a jerk and doesn’t want contact.”

“It’s created a “pseudo” me and I feel like there is a road not traveled, a life not lived. I grieve mostly for the little girl who never was more than for the loss of my biological family. I’m sad she never had a chance to live my other life. I also realize I am one of the lucky ones to have been adopted into the family I was; for all of our struggles, they are the only people who have never walked away from me. My heart breaks for those children who weren’t as fortunate as I am.”

“I am always sad and hypervigilant”

First let me add to the question about feeling comfortable with my family. I did feel quite comfortable with my immediate family. But when with the large extended family as a child, I felt different. My personality was very different than the rest. I was totally accepted, but I did feel different. When I went to summer camp which was a religious/cultural camp of which I was raised, but was not my blood line, I never felt I totally fit in.( I didn’t look any different , so I fit in, just didn’t feel like I did). As I grew up I had some medical issues, and I always had to take the extra medical tests as I had no family history. Same was true for my children, one if which has hhad a rough childhood medically, and she only has half her medical history. It really woiukd have been nice to know some history, it may have helped find some answers, or made testing a little more bearable. And now that I’m older, and states are opening things up, I’m still waiting, and I still have a daughter with med issues that knowing some answers would be nice. Me too for that fact, but I’ve all but given up”

My adoptive mom was the most loving person I’ve ever met. No matter how loving she was, she couldn’t fill the hole in my heart where my real mom belonged.”

“Negatively. Avoid at all costs. I hate it.”

“I have absolutely no idea who I am. My life has been so screwed up. I feel as if I was thrown away coz I’m not good enough. I’m 58 years old and just now realizing why I’m so messed up in the head. I feel like a complete screw up. No self-esteem at all. It’s so not fair to not have no way to get my medical history.”

“Loss”

I was robbed of everything God had intended for me and for my life.

“Poor choice of spouse/trust issues”

Adoption has ruined my life. I would rather have been aborted.”

“I do strongly believe that adoptees have every right to know who they are and to have their original birth certificate. I don’t think any legislator has the right to stand in the way of an adoptee having that.”

“My feelings and attitude towards adoption drastically changed after my parents gave me all of the information they had on my adoption (it included identifying information). I wasn’t able to adequately show this in the answer options provided. It was like a new volume began in my life. In general though, my childhood was a very happy one and I very rarely thought about the fact that I was adopted or about my biological mother or anything related to adoption. I had some feeling of gratitude towards my parents, but not overwhelmingly so. I was interested in adopting as a child and into young adulthood. That feeling subsided with the birth of my children. And it’s totally gone now.”

“Nothing but Pain! I had the perfect fairy tale during childhood that I just had to make it to 18 and find my bfam. I found bmom and it’s been a wreck. Finding bdad has been great. Still have pain from loss, rejection, second rejection, what might have been, etc etc etc. I will never be ‘normal ‘ and feel that adoption has effected every part of my life”

“Biological families should be preserved”

“Not close to bio family….never fit in, just recently found both of my bio parents and all of my questions have been answered and i’ve never been happier in my life!!!!! Finally got the unconditional love I always wanted from my bio Dad, bio mom has dementia and lives in a nursing home and we will never be close but I have my answers and medical history and im grateful”

“As an Adoptee I have never found real love …”

“Adoption was not presented as a negative nor was it held over my head that I should be greatful. We did believe in God so me ending up with my adoptive family was viewed as part of His plan. As I said earlier- adoptee rights are not recognized nor is the pain felt by all members of the adoption triad. We all suffer loss. I like to think that all of these years later, adoption info is more open. When I was born- in 1947- it’s what unwed Mother’s did. A societal dictum.”

“It’s not ok to not be able to find out who you are and who your biological parents were. I always wanted to find out, but it was discouraged. I was forced to feel guilty to ask about my adoption.”

I feel blessed that I was adopted into a loving family.”

“The not knowing of what was the real reason for adoption and the not knowing what my birth family looked like. I would also say not knowing my medical history.”

“My B-Mom was only 15 when she had me, my adoptive Mom was in her late 20’s. I think in this situation a closed adoption was best”

I missed my mom and longed for her my entire life.

“I feel like a release of information when requested. When of age. Giving an adoptee the option to find out more. Possibly encouraging bio parents to give enough information to satisfy curiosity.”

“I’ve spent my 30s doing the kind of identity formation I was denied in my teens. I often feel broken because of that.”

“Made me very aware of people’s feelings towards me. Even in a 6th sense way
Didn’t realize till I was an adult why my relationships were always a mess.”

“I spent 70 years wondering who I was and who I looked like. In August I found a maternal relative who is the stepdaughter of my mat bio half brother. She sent me my story, pictures of g grand, grands, g uncles, etc…I resemble my grandfather the most and look at his picture plus my g uncles because I really do look like them. It is so healing to finally be able to know who I look like, am like..I now see them in me..we are one and the same..Yay for DNA”

“I have known I was adopted as long as I can remember, which I think is the healthiest approach. My adoptive parents are still alive and I choose to make no deliberate attempt to contact any biological family while they are alive. Even when they are gone, I am really of two minds when it comes to contacting biological family, especially if they may not be aware of me. I would like to know health histories for the sake of my child, but i do not want to disrupt anyone else’s life. I am curious to know if my biological family has anyone with a personality like mine or similar characteristics, but if I never find out I am ok with that. I am and always have been comfortable with my identity and my adoptive family is my family.”

“Thank you for asking the questions. Every chance we have to express ourselves is healing.”

“It’s not the ideal way to go about adoption, it leaves a person with questions that those not impacted by closed adoptions really can’t hope to fully understand. I got lucky, my adoptive parents handled talking about adoption fairly well but it’s still had a significant impact on my self-identity and I know I have self esteem and trust issues stemming from adoption. That being said, I still support adoption as a concept and I think, with work, the system could be significantly improved. That starts with people talking more openly about adoption, making it less taboo”

“We should have accessibility to our family medical history.”

“It has colored and directly or indirectly influenced every aspect of my life. Living as a secret creates a lifetime of shame.”

Even though I yearned to know my real identity, I think in my situation that a closed adoption was best. My birthmother would have ruined my life

“It is not a healthy way to be brought up. I does no good for anyone involved. We are human beings not secrets or mistakes!”

“I feel different, like I never fit in, anywhere”

“It was good when I was younger but now I am in my second reunion, I can see it affected me more than I might have realised.”

Biological mother was contacted, did not want a relationship, had held the secret from her husband and other children.

“It gave me the feeling that I was never “enough.” I was in foster care until I was 5 years old and was placed in foster care when I was 6-12 months old. Being Native american I was considered “unadoptable” because I was “biracial” in the 1960’s.”

“I just have a sense of loss for not knowing my genetic connection to my birth family
It’s part of my story. It has affected me just as every other event, experience, decision of my life has affected me. I don’t know any other way any more than someone who is not adopted or was in an open adoption can know about closed adoption. You can only live the life you have.”

“located bf at 35, mother deceased, father unknown, several siblings, still close to sibs
It really is the basis of who I am. It’s my passion to talk about adoption and to write about it and to listen to all sides. Although I am having a hard time with friends who literally bought babies to fulfill their dreams and visions. I’m still clearing out pain but I feel much better than I ever have, now that I’ve connected with both biological sides of the family.”

“I believe my aMom is a narcissist and tho I didn’t endure obvious abuse I’ve endured the psychological abuse that any narcissist inflicts on a child. I also believe there may be a disproportionate amount of Narc aMoms out there”

“There was no place to go to get answers to my questions, doctor that delivered/arranged adoption really knew very little about birthmom. My parents told me all they knew. They did meet my birthmom after we were reunited.”

I always wanted to know and i think if it was open sure it would have been hard on my adoptive parents but it would have been a benefit to me

“Information about me was withheld, including the fact that I have a half brother less than two years younger than me. Birth mom was allowed to lie about who was my birth father for a quarter of a century without consequence to her. My adoptive parents should have been informed of the fact that I had a brother, and while there wasn’t a real reason for them to adopt him, we could have been in contact. We had that right and the decision should not have been made for us. I didn’t even know I had a brother until my 40s even though my birth mother was in my life for 20 years prior, and a maternal and paternal first cousin are best friends.”

“It robbed me of my identity, my ethnicity, my religion, my family, my birth records, my self esteem, my sense of security, hole in my soul. And I had an amazing loving set of adoptive parents who would very good to me and I loved them deeply……but the overwhelming grief and loss of my birth family existed simultaneously which is completely NATURAL.”

“I’m a huge, hot mess.

“Struggle in personal relationships, but that could be down to how I was raised too.
Despite my seeming to be well-adjusted, I know that closed adoption has affected me in myriad negative ways. I cannot change any of this, but searching/finding/raising awareness/activism have all helped ease the pain. Thank you for listening.”

“Daily triggers”

“It has negativity effected most aspects in my life.”

“I grew up knowingly that i was adopted. My birthmom and birth father visited me u untill i was 5 and both adoptive and birth parents agreed that it would be best not to see me anymore as I was getting older and didnt want to confuse me. Then at 16 my biological brother searched for me and found me then i met all of my biological family and till today I have a good relationship with my biological family but my adoptive family is my real family..They are my heart”

“Feels very disjointed. Especially now that I have met my bio-family. Bio-mom rejected me but I have met cousins.”

“Best decision my birth mother ever made”

“I was a terrified child, screaming so much I broke my eardrums a total of 6 x’s before I was 2! I was the one chased home, but didn’t know I was adopted until 11. I attribute it to the wallflower I felt I was, and always scared. Adad was more insecure than me, and was a cause for much turmoil in our lives- mostly from teen years, on. The problem I had with the survey is in regards to the use of “minor”, as I was 11 when I first understood I was adopted…I think most of my adad’s issues came out AFTER I was told…So, I was a minor for many of the questions, but if phrased “pre-disclosure” vs a minor, that would have made my answers more accurate.”

Insurmountable fear of abandonment and loneliness.

“Adoptee should have access to health information, information why the adoption took place, nationality, etc. Fear of the unknown is worse than not knowing anything.
Low self esteem. Constant doubt”

“i placed a child for open adoption as a teen. my own adoptive parents gae me back to the state, sayng i was a difficult child, after having their own biological children. i found my natural parents through dna, and my biological mother was also lied to by the adoption agency. she died thinking i knew who she was and wanted no contact, but it was a closed adoption and i had only non-ID info.”

“Having my name changed bothered me. Nuns lied about ethnic background told Aparents I was Irish and German (matching A parent nationalities). Agency records confirmed by DNA have me as Italian and Slovak. Closed adoption with the focus on family building makes a child a commodity to build the family or give the infertile couple a kid. I LOVE my A parents and I’m left with this belief.”

“It’s unfair.”

“It is a form of slavery”

“It affects every thread of my being. It always has, I’ve just really realized it in the last year.”

“It skewed my thought process and led me to place my daughter in closed adoption, which I regret.”

All of my non- ID was false. I spent millions of hours and thousands of dollars searching with it. Hours of my life thrown away needlessly.

“As a child I always was made to feel special. And I believed it. Even as an adult I feel like I am special because I was adopted. My biological family found me 10 years ago. I wasn’t looking for them. It has been a bumpy road.”

“In every possible aspect of my life. It IS who I am.”

“I loved my adoptive family very much. I just wish I knew my medical history or if I had siblings.”

“It robbed me of part of my soul”

I has created a hole inside that might never be filled due to all my biological information being sealed so I can’t access it and know exactly who I am

“I had fantastic adoptive parents so I was lucky because I’ve heard stories of how traumatic other adoptees lives were”

“Too many unanswered questions.”

“My adoptive parents were told I was of Italian and French descent. When I sent for my non-identifying info from the state at the age of 50, I found out that my mother was Italian and my father Iranian. I saw a stranger in the mirror it was so traumatic. My ethnicity was sanitized to make me more marketable as though who I really am was somehow undesirable.”

“I don’t feel it has “affected” me. It was the fact of my life. My parents were great. I knew I was adopted from the time I was a baby. My friends knew. It was never an issue one way or the other. It is my “normal”!”

“My existence is treated as a castaway, someone who doesn’t matter, has no right to know where I came from. Feel like a fish out of water.”

Abandonment issues all my life, low self esteem. Feeling out of place all the time and trust issues in relationships

“After 58 yrs I found my bio family but both bio mom and dad had passed away. So I still feel a little empty inside even though I have a biological sister with these same parents.
I don`t think closed adoption is bad, but the child should have access to their info when they want it and should not have to fight the government for it.”

“Growing up in a closed adoption has had a dark under current that has rippled throughout my being my whole life. Growing up, I was told never to talk about it. Yet, when we would see distant family they would ask, “Which one is yours?”. My father would point out my brother and say, “He’s our real child”. Growing up, I felt as if I could never be enough, these feelings became core beliefs that echoed through my life. When I first started menstruating my mom made a point of telling me to stay away from guys because I did not want your end up like the woman who gave me away. I went onto search for my bio parents and found my mom-she was deceased from a hereditary type of cerebral aneurysm. She died at 46. I have a relationship with one of her daughters (1/2 sib), all of her children suffer from some sort of mental illness. Stories from my birthmother’s siblings and friends paint her as such a warm and loving person. They all mention when something changed in her. It was at the time of my birth. Not one of them knew about me. I was the big secret. My heart goes out to the women who were forced to give up their babies and told never to speak about it again. They not only gave up their babies, they gave up a part of themselves. Many of them were not able to go on and have ” happy lives”. So, for me I see closed adoption as a big negative all the way around.
Having true biological and medical information would have made the experience better!
Feelings of disconnection from others. I’d rather be understood than loved.”

Loss of cultural and ethnic background

“It was wonderful”

“The shame is the worst. I am shameful to my biological family. It makes me feel awful and is unfair because I am a good person and have done nothing to be ashamed of in my life. I am also disappointed in my mother that she had not dealt with what she had done. It is poison. She has derailed my life the past 2 years and that makes me very”

“It has affected me in all aspects of my life. I just wished I could be normal.”

Want to know my medical history and exactly what happened and know who my bio family is

“I feel like I don’t know why I am. Always playing a role. I think my life will probably end this way. There’s no way for me to find out who I really am.”

“I mourn my loss of self, no family history”

Very early on, I internalized the message that there must be something wrong with me. I have intense feelings of shame and inadequacy. I feel guilty for taking up space and struggle to believe I deserve anything good. I’ve always felt unlovable and unforgivable.
After my parents died I was able to locate my bio parents thru DNA. My bio mother has died but married my bio father. I have 6 full siblings and although we’ve only been in reunion less than 2 years we all have a very good relationship. I have been very lucky
I believe not talking about being adopted after the first discussion and almost pretending it was not real is debilitating. The “silence” lead to so many feelings, including but not limited to embarrassment and insecurities. The fear of hurting AP was overwhelming.

“My entire life would have been different.”

“It has effected every part of my life”

“Gave me abandonment issues and made me more of a people pleaser, and a feeling of not being good enough”

“Closed adoption made me feel like less than a human being because I had no knowledge of my biological Origins. This was harmful because some information would have been comforting even if I was not in a relationship with bio family before 18 it would have been better to be given the option of the knowledge after 18”

stolen from my mother, robbed of my heritage

“It sucks”

“While now medical information is more thoroughly taken, My adopted parents there was “nothing significant” medically was in my background. I feel the agencies and states should reconsider how they treat adopted children and their records. Our records are part of our history and we should be entitled to get copies as adults. I searched and found my birth mother and have a copy of my original birth certificate, yet Catholic Charities, the agency I was adopted from and Massachusetts still will not allow any access to my adoption records as they are sealed. I think at a certain point, say after 50 years, records should be unsealed What has always bothered me, is the attitude of agencies and states who feel those adopted in a closed adoption have no right to their past. .”

“too much to say and not enough time. thank you.”

“Closed adoption made me feel that if my adoptive parents had biological children they were have been much better than me and my sibling. It also made me very lonely for a family I did not know.”

“the not knowing of my Birth Family members, time is precious”

“My entire life was destroyed for others’ desires. Closed adoption (adoption period) isn’t about children AT ALL. It’s about infertiles who feel entitled to parent and irresponsible assholes who want a life more than they care about their child’s feelings. We’re treated like second class citizens, forever minors in the eyes of the law, who should simply be glad we “weren’t left in a dumpster.” Fuck adoption.”

I often feel like I’m a mistake and never good enough to be loved.”

“Left me feeling incomplete.”

“I was very blessed to be raised in a better, more stable home but having no records meant years of no medical health history to use.”

“It’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing! Luckily For me DNA has bypassed man’s misguided and evil laws.”

“I’ve never fit in well w my adoptive family, and now don’t w my newly found birthfamily”

“It still breaks my heart”

“I felt lied to all my life”

“I was a 2 day old infant, yet evidently quite aware that “this woman” is not my mother. So, I rejected her. My adoptive mom couldn’t handle that, so grew to hate me. I was not given a better life at all. Was abused by mother and brother until 17 when I left. Open adoption only has a different set of struggles (and some of the same). ”’Tis no better in some adoptees “given that (open) gift. Adoption is a man-made construct that does not work well. There are way better ideas for children who need parents. Stop creating children for parents who want them.”

It’s sadly more of a money generating business. Another form of “human trafficking” in a sense

“It feels very lonely”

“My life has never been complete. Lost soul”

“There was no accountability. They were horrible parents, who let horrible things happen by my grandmother. Not to mention having no idea who I really am.”

“It’s all I’ve known. I actually searched and found my birthparents recently (I’m 48)”

destroyed me

“Made me very curious about the world, about people, about what pushed people to make specific choices.”

“Being a secret made me feel shameful.”

“There should be questions pertaining to reunion”

“Being adopted sucks”

“It’s a lifetime of discovering feelings about your own identity. Makes life hard
I needed to know the truth of where I came from, not a fairy tale story about being chosen. The doctor who did my mother’s hysterectomy ‘found’ a woman of similar age and background for her to fulfill her need for a child.”

I walked through 43 years of my life feeling isolated and confused. I was told I should be happy someone wanted me, when the only thing I wanted to know was who was my mother and why did she give me up. We are reunited now and it has been the best year of my life.

“My adoptive brother and I were severely abused. I left “home” at 15 and began searching. I despise that adoption promises “a better life” when it’s a total crap shoot, just like bio. And maybe even scarier than bio, because I think ppl who adopt have all kinds of issues (infertility grief, narcissism, self-superiority, lack of morals, etc.). Seriously, what kind of person thinks buying a child is ethical or even OK?”

“Catholic Charities lied for so many years as I was trying to find my BM that I missed getting to meet her she passed away in 2007. But I did get another half brother!!!”

Feeling of loss and anxiety about abandonment

“Retarded emotional growth and almost constant fear of being abandoned by pretty much everyone.”

“It was only as I aged that I had a strong desire to know who I looked like and my genealogy and ethnicity.”

“Never really felt like I truly belonged anywhere”

“It has profoundly affected most of my life.”

“Feeling that I don’t really belong anywhere and wishing I had the unconditional love that my children and grandchildren were raised with!”

ptsd

“Have always had questions about medical history, family resemblance.,why was given up, etc etc etc”

“It destroyed my life. I have rebuilt it on top of ruins, but still.”

Deep trauma and grief.

“Found out from someone outside the family at 12. Was relieved I wasn’t related to them. But also always had a feeling I didn’t belong. I am totally against adoption period. I am not a car you sell then just sign the title over and Bam! I no longer belong to original owners. That’s what adoption feels like. I also HATE my real parents for putting me up for adoption, no matter the bs excuse they would use for doing it. My only reason for wanting to find a family member is for much needed medical history, and to know my roots. It is infuriating to go to the Dr and have to answer I don’t know to all questions about medical family history. Adoption should be illegal, period. The only way it should be is a child being place within the family. Then only legal guardianship. I know of a little girl who was adopted at three. The losers who adopted her changed her name. Then she got smacked in her face when she said her name was her original name not the new and improved name given to her by the adopters. Adoption is wrong on every level.”

“I feel as I do not belong anywhere. I feel stolen away from my biological father. He tried to raise me but was told he was too young (he was 23). Of course I did not find this out until I was in reunion. He passed away before I could meet him. My birth aunt (birthmom’s side) is vile and has made me out to be a trouble maker so after a year relationship on that side, the relationship is severed. I HATE talking to non-adopted people because they do not understand and they all have the attitude that I should be grateful I wasn’t aborted. Being aborted would have been easier.”

“Have access to more info when your older”

“Made me feel lucky I was adopted by wonderful parents that lives me very much.
We have a right to know! family history, medical history! And general info about ourselves!”

“It hasn’t affected me at all. My adoptive parents were great people, and I always felt completely loved and supported.”

“I was robbed, of both my real family and a normal life.”

It has affected every aspect of my life, and I think about it almost every day. It has led to a loss so deep words are inadequate to describe it. My feelings of deep shame stemming from the secrecy of my origins will never leave me.

“of all the people involved in my adoption…I am the ONLY one still living…and I’m almost 70 yrs old…I don’t think my non Ident records should be unavailable to me or be so hard to get…the time for secrets is over.. I already know a lot about my bio family but I want ALL the infor in those files”

“It made me feel like a bastard, as my rights are not important. I should have access to my medical history as an undeniable right, along with my “real” birth certificate. Adoption agencies should not be allowed to charge outrageous fees “for location services” when they had no foresight in understanding that my needs are not that of an infant. All other US citizens have the right to their original birth certificate. I am bound by a contract I never signed, and while I am grateful for my adoptive family, I am still angry about how the process works against me as an adult.”

“Caused an undue amount of emotional stress that could have been avoided with a semi-open adoption”

“Laws are outdated . Anyone over 18 should be allowed access to all info about themselves. Closed or not!”

“I wish my birth mother had left me a letter.”

“I do not attach to people, except my children and husband, and have no problem walking away from people and never looking back. I don’t maintain friendships because adoption made me so fiercely independent.”

“Failure to bond with close family while freely attaching to strangers has always. When an issue for me.”

I had fantastic adoptive parents. I still wish I wasn’t adopted. My birth mother rejected me after the reunion. My birth father was excited to meet me. I continued a relationship with him for 12 years until he passed away.

“its been very difficult not knowing who or where I came from. Only through AncestryDNA did I find out who my birth family is, finally after 57 years!!!
made me question my self worth”

“I was ill prepared for how consuming search and reunion would be, before my 14 year search was concluded and I only had “one family” I had a more complete sense of belonging. A year into reunion, I question more than ever with which family I “belong to”.

“Don’t do it, the effects are lifetime. I’m almost 40 and finally dealing with them. It fucking sucks.”

“For me being adopted is more than loosing a birth parent. It is loosing part of who you are biologically and emotionally. I was not able to put words to this until I was an adult and connected with the words that other’s had spoken. I wish my adoptive parents saw my grief for what is was and not rejection. I wish I had known my biological family even if it was just a picture, name or letter. It would have been comforting to see if there were any similarities to myself. I wish when I had gone through things as a teen, my parents would have participated in family counseling with someone who specialized in adoption issues.”

“I will spend my life fighting closed adoption.”

“I am glad that I was adopted. But I wish it had been open.”

Knowing the awful truth about my biological parents was better than not knowing anything at all. Every human being deserves to know the identity of their birth parents.
Fear of many things, realationships, trust, failure. Always had a deep sense of grief.
I would not have wanted to know my biological family as a minor, but I think as an adult, I should have had the right to know

“It has been a roller coaster”

“I’ve had a great experience as an adoptee; I have 2 adopted children (kinship adoption of adopted family member). I also have 3 biological children. Adoption was a choice I made because my experience was so great. While I want access to my original records, I don’t want my birth family to have open access. I do feel both sides are entitled to the right to maintain privacy.”

“Inability to have a relationship”

“I feel unseen trying to understand and articulate my own feelings is difficult. The lack of validation by anyone not adopted is is excruciating and an extra annoyance that the presumed result of rainbows and happy conclusion is a bubble hard to penetrate without seeming negative and ungrateful.”

“set me up for accepting abuse and victimization because others had control over my life.”

“Closed adoption is now impossible due to at home DNA testing”

“I could write volumes. I’m completing this on my phone.”

Feel guilty that I had a better life than my biological siblings

“Awesome experience”

“Closed adoption always made me feel different in my “own” family. I knew my adoptive parents wanted me to be a happy child, so that’s what I gave them. Closed adoption taught me it wasn’t ok to be myself, it taught me how to lie like an expert. It taught me that I couldn’t trust my own feelings and ultimately set me up for failure as an adult.
I feel I don’t belong anywhere.”

Best thing that could ever happened to me.”

“It has shaped the core of my being. I will never know who I would have been otherwise- for better or for worse”

‘I just want to know where I come from. Who do I get this or that from. Who do I look like.’

“I hated the secrecy, lies and not knowing for so many years.”

“Insecurity”

“Adoptees are a discriminated against populous that is supressed by nearly everyone. I am yet to find a non-adoptee who does not think we should be grateful and that we do not have the legal right to know who our parents are.”

Every area of my life. 3 divorces because I can’t connect to people. Loss of closeness to adopted family because there’s “something missing” always searching for something to make me feel like I belong, perfectionism, feeling not good enough despite many successes. I could go on and on

I’m in reunion and don’t belong anywhere.”

“When a child is born into a bio family they have hundreds of biological connections. When you have an adopted family you have zero connections.”

“Yes, it is very traumatic.”

“I will always wonder if I am hurting my birth parents by not knowing them. What if they changed their mind and want to know me? I fear I will never know.”

“TRAUMA, with no pre-TRAUMA personality to reference and no genetic mirroring to reference. It’s a life of “let’s play pretend” you feel like chattel always and having a “sense of belonging” is near impossible”

This has created a drive inside of me to always pursue truth. My relationship with Jesus Christ is heightened and strengthened due to this undying pursuit for Truth.

“Lies. Felt like I was kidnapped-not allowed out of suburb-met my bio family and they are everywhere-nice, normal, educated, successful, classy people who generally want nothing to do with me.”

“Severely abused verbally, physically, and sexually by extended Adoptive relatives without accountability. Repeatedly told I was trash and unwanted. Turned out not to be true at all.”

“Been very difficult at times -my father passed away when I was 12 so I feel like I got a bad deal twice ! I believe I should have access to at least my medical history and heritage minimally- my adoptive brothers daughter was misdiagnosed at the age of 10 due to unknowing diabetes runs in his family – she almost died at the time and has since passed away at the age of 26 -”

“The separation and secrecy is trauma.”

“THEY NEED TO BE OUTLAWED!!”

just because the adoptive parents are in the church does NOT make them suitable parents. sexually abused from age 6, mentally and physically abused from 1 year…. These charitable organisations should NOT have the power to allow adoption, and adoption should NOT be offered as an option for unplanned pregnancy, its barbaric, old fashioned, and plain wrong

“I have felt that I had the right to know where I came from, and I was denied that as a child of a closed adoption. Very traumatizing.”

“It made Reunion with my biological family difficult in both practical and psychological ways, but luckily I found both my biological parents and three half siblings. We have a good relationship but I missed out on decades of time with them. Closed adoption made me feel guilty for a long time about searching. Glad I got over it. Meeting fellow adoptees in search helped. I love both my adoptive sister and my bio siblings and my bio parents and memory of late adoptive parents. My adoptive sister is in favor of closed adoption. She has hang up about it. My birth mother struggles with depression, but with TLC she is improving. I wish we could all be one big happy family.”

“I believe, as an adult now, that it is my right to read all records pertaining to my adoption!”

“I was sold. Mother abandoned me (with encouragement) to people who sold me to strangers. My parents were engaged; she was encouraged (by those who profitted) to disappear me to have a white wedding.”

I struggled tremendously with racial identity.”

“I don’t trust easily. I hate secrets and lies. Adoption destroyed both my mother’s and my psyches”

“It’s been hard but tomorrow is another day”

“Even though my birth families excepted me, some still wanted to ‘hide’ me. I’m not one to be hid.”

“Closed adoption has kept me from having relationships with biologically related people.”

“It has given me major anxiety, low self esteem, and relationship issues.”

“It hurts to this day and I’m 49. I feel like I was lied to my whole life, I trust no one but my grown children, abandonment issues. I feel as if I’m not good enough for anybody and I will live out my life alone.”

“Closed adoption is only harmful.”

I have been used

“I think adoption regardless is painful and beautiful. It’s a mix of emotions. It’s very personal and feels very isolating.”

“Stress and anxiety about not knowing about my bio and all the mental health issues and the hard part”

“Many years of addressing my ‘trust’ issues, a lack of being able to attach to others, picking abusive romantic interests earlier in life, fear of abandonment, looking for “long lost relatives” in every new social situation, feeling distant from adoptive family, feeling like there was no one like me on the planet, feeling alone. Feeling frustrated that not one single non-adopted person understands my feelings and my experience. (You guys really should have made this box bigger to type in)”

I have awesome aparents. They raised me as their own. Gave me all the love and guidance a child needed. But, I still struggle with not feeling whole and no matter how much my aparents loved me, I felt unworthy.

“Lifelong heartbreak, insomnia, anxiety”

“I grew up in the shadow of a loss I couldn’t begin to understand. I spent my 20s lost in boys and booze trying to figure out why I wasn’t but healed yet. My closed adoption has been an ongoing source of pain and loss for me.”

I’m unaffected! You are either ‘born’ into a family or ‘adopted’ does it really matter, we’re given our family, either by birth or adoption, we have no choice, can anyone really blame their adoption on mental disorders? I had wonderful family, I really don’t think, they’d of been any better if they were blood.”

“It stole my life my identity and my sense of self worth”

“I have terrible self esteem”

“I feel like because of closed adoption I had no idea who I was. At 40 I am just starting to put the pieces of me together.”

“I don’t feel 100% comfortable with my adoptive parents because I’m not like them and yet I don’t feel 100% comfortable with my bio-dad’s family, who have embraced me, either. It’s like being in limbo for life.”

“I have found my biological grandparents and it’s very nice to have that connection as my grandmother and I are very similar”

“adoption should be abolished. Humanity can care for children that need it without exploiting them.”

“Inability to trust others including adoptive parents”

It provided my amom the ability to hide the fact I was adopted until I found out at 14.

“It’s been awful”

“I’m very grateful for adoption and being placed into the best family. I have always been curious about my biological mother but feel it would hurt my parents feelings if i ever got involved with her. My parents feel they are my true parents and the ones who love and raised me.”

“It should be illegal. Gave me abandonment issues, eating disorders, identity confusion”

I am a loner. Hard to TRUST

“Made me feel unimportant I have no self esteem , made horrible choices in my life because of adoption maybe if I had received counseling it might have helped in my life
It haunts me every minute of everyday.”

No I have been blessed and have been given a wonderful life.

“Loss of heritage, loss of mirror, inability to connect talents and abilities, stunted personal character growth”

“Never felt grounded because I didn’t have proper roots.”

“Secrets are toxic.”

“Closed adoption rendered me a “mental cripple” from which I now believe I can never fully recover from. My life has been unnecessarily difficult as direct result of being adopted.”

“Identity loss”

“Closed Adoption sentenced me to years of searching. I consider those years as being stolen from me.”

Don’t underestimate the difficulties after reunion; something ‘you’ve always wanted’ but it’s so difficult, having 4 parents. Loyalty and confusion are huge problems. I’m not bonded to anybody and feel insecure about my place in the world.

“Closed adoption has been I believe my number 1 reason for never gaining confidence of who I am as a person. I believe my life would have been so dramatically different if I knew my birth family from childhood on.”

“It has made me feel completely rootless and as if I don’t truly belong anywhere. I am not “really” a part of my “adoptive” family and I am not “really” a part of my biological family. Watching my biological mother successfully and happily raise my younger siblings and comparing it to my own childhood has created a hole in my heart that I don’t think I will ever recover from. The fact that I was a sacrificial goat so that she could lead a white picket fence life has made me feel completely worthless. College, marriage, financial stability all sounds good on paper until you actually are the broken child who was sacrificed in order to have these things. Although I love my husband and daughter and I love my career and friends, I truly wish that she had chosen abortion if she wasn’t going to keep me.”

It affected every part of my life from day one and still does. It affects me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

“I always felt out of place. Having children now and seeing how they are exactly like me makes me wish I had known my birth parents. I’m always wondering what they look like. Are they like me. When I meet people who have similar personality traits to me I wonder if I’m related to them. I love my adoptive parents. But I will forever wonder how different my life would have been had I never been adopted or at least had known my biological parents growing up.”

“Overall negative opinion of closed adoption.”

“I did DNA and found family but since I was 68 mom was dead. Very mad at CA, petitioned 3x for OBC and can’t get it. I have 3 sisters I could have known, and they wished they’d been adopted too! It sucked! Still does!”

“It’s sad and I wish I could have some closure on it.”

“I have BPD and attachment disorders, ocd, add, major depression, GAD and social anxiety”

Low level depression/ anxiety… loneliness/ jealousy/ anger… inabilty to connect with normal feelings until my loss was validated… low confidence/ lack if roots/ feeling not human. Incredible fear and loneliness and sadness continues when I had my kids to raise without knowing my lineage. Feel like a frontier woman. Abandonment issues- angry but not knowing why can ruin a marriage. Loss of voice for fear of offending anyone.

“Now that we are thinking about having kids, I am having a hard time thinking I’ll be a good mom because I had 2 moms who didn’t want me. I wasn’t my adopted mothers first “choice” and my birth mom didnt want me.”

“It changed who I was supposed to be.”

“In the adoption circle of friends and acquaintences that I’m familiar a high percentage of adoptive mothers seem to be narcissistic. My own mother is horribly narcissistic and has done significant emotional damage to myself and the 4 boys that were her own biological children. Prospective parents need to be better vetted. If you’re willing to be on a waiting list for 5 years? Maybe your concern/motive isn’t to help a child. Maybe to help “the mother/family”. One doesn’t need to wait years if they simply want to help a child. My adoptive mother was also adopted. I feel as though my emotional disconnect is times 2. She’s horrifically broken and incapable of truly connecting to anyone. Being relinquished at birth is obviously emotionally traumatizing. Then to placed onto a family where the mother is already incapable of connection? Horrific! It took me 50 years to figure out how I truly felt about adoption. I was so caught up in trying to convince everyone how wonderful my life was and how happy and lucky I was. Turns out I was truly trying to convince myself. “The lady doth protest too much – me thinks”. If my life WAS wonderful, than MAYBE the trade off was worth it.”

“It is mortifying and cruel.”

I was sexually abused by their bio-son…very early on

“I have maternal feelings for my bio mother and I often hear other adoptees feel the same.”

“It has made me very unsure of myself even as an adult”

“closed adoption is wrong and should never be practiced”

“It’s been very hard to identify myself as a person, not knowing fully where I came from. I recently met my birth mother (when I was 36) and some of my birth siblings. It has been so good for me.”

“Social chameleon abilities that I do not want. Great when it’s a group of people who need a positive member in a group but so painful when the group needs a negative.
God did not intend children to be ripped away from their parents. I think babies suffer PTSD but until recently it was never acknowledged. I’m an advocate for education and unity in the Adoption Triad. I now know my biological family but it’s bittersweet and even though they are my “real” family, I still feel not quite a part of them. It also impacted my birth parents life immensely. Both suffered either outwardly or inwardly over the years. Denial, depression, numb, hidden secrets. But God is restoring all of us.”

“Hurt”

It’s Identity Theft.
“I FEEL LIKE THE LIFE I SHOULD HAVE LIVED WAS STOLEN FROM ME.”

“Have always felt lost not sure where I belong. Making lasting friendships have been hard. A bit of a loner. Happily married but still missing some key connections.”

“Closed adoption feels like cruel and unusual treatment.”

I have identity issues. Trouble defining authentic self.

“It’s a burden only others who are adopted would understand”

“I have no sense of self and am just a shell, a chameleon that reflect what others want.”

“It’s a sad, empty way to live. (Thank you for this survey).”

Lack of trust. I was placed twice, the first family returned me, thinking I might be biracial. I find it very hard to trust people, and think the issues of being separated from my mother and placed in several homes before being adopted caused this.

“I think a closed adoption is better than a fully open adoption but I think the biological family needs to be talked about/acknowledged more. I think adoption is a sad traumatic event that should be avoided at all costs but in some instances may be necessary. I think there needs to be more adoptee support and more awareness of adoptees lifelong trauma.”

“Life sucked”

“As a result of closed adoption, I am passionate about honesty, openness and humility. I still have difficulty with abandonment and rejection challenges even at 50 yo. Found my B.M. but she is ambivelant & struggles with her own story. It is difficult for her to not see me as a threat. I found my Paternal, bio-family but they protect the identity of my B.F. Adult children have the right to family history. Sperm is not to be disgarded like other bodily fluids. It it life producing. Men and women need to take responsibility for their actions.”

“It has affected me in every way. I claim nothing. I belong to nothing. I float. I try to be what others want.”

“Being placed in a closed adoption has affected the way I attach to people, as in I find it hard. I have found out I “lost” my bio mother when she left the hospital, and then I was in a receiving home for 4 months and then “lost” that mother. I don’t feel I ever bonded with my adoptive mother. I shut down easily when things get very emotional or in close relationships where love should be expressed. I feel uncomfortable expressing emotions or letting others know how I feel.”

“It was a good thing for me… But there is no right or wrong answer to this. Too many variables to consider”

“My life was stolen. I will never feel whole. Closed adoption is the worst possible solution.”

“It resulted in such bad trauma I became one of the best ER/trauma nurses in the country.”

“It’s left me with huge emotional issues and I’m pleased in UK it no longer goes on as the norm”

“Adoption will always affect an adoptee in one emotional way or another. I think the best way for an adoptee to live a full and happy life, is through closed adoption. An open adoption could be confusing for the child, and I’m sure upsetting for the biological and adoptive parents. An open adoption would not give the chance for either parties to heal.
It’s complicated but think being prevented from knowing info about yourself is wrong, frustrating, unfair”

“Who am I really”

“when i was very young it was best for me … the only thing i knew is that | I was happy not to be related to my adopted family … they were confusing religious people …. what would have been netter for me to have been fostered and kept my own name at least i would have had that.”

“I learned that I cannot trust anyone. Ever.”

“To hard to explain”

Every aspect of closed adoption is wrapped in lies. It allows unfettered abuse and neglect, with a reminder that no one is ever coming to check on you.

I often feel like a living ,breathing, walking abortion

“50 years later I still feel like I was thrown out like a piece of trash.”

“It was a huge mystery for 45 years. Thank goodness for DNA!
Re: #7 — I was not in foster care, however I was in an infant home for three months before being adopted. Re: #17 — I was treated better than my sibling by our adoptive father, but worse than my sibling by our adoptive mother. Re: #26 — emotional abuse stemmed from my adoptive mother’s mental illness. You should ask about parental illness–physical or mental–and alcoholism/addiction in addition to abuse. I know of cases, including my own, in which children probably should not have been placed in the adoptive home or should have been closely monitored due to illnesses/addictions that should have been discovered prior to the adoption taking place. Finally, just a general comment about the survey — some of the questions, such as the ones I commented on here, really require multiple answers or a place to explain unusual circumstances. Thank you for doing this! Everything we can do to inform about how adoption actually is helps!”

“Everyone should have the right to know there roots.”

“Too much reliance on authority (no belief in myself), magical thinking.”

Had I not found my birth family, I’d have NO family, because I got kicked out of my adoptive family for not toeing the line.”

“Until I found my birth mother, I felt like a huge part of my identity was missing. She told me everything about her family and what she knew about my bio dad. But then lied to me about telling my half sibs about me. Then cut off contact with me after 5 years, telling her children not to contact me either because it “hurt her too much”.”

“Closed adoption has defined who I am, and run my entire life for the last 35 years. I would never wish it on anyone.”

“Only that some of the above questions might have had different answers if I had therapy as a child/adult. I believe I have/had ADD and some PTSD, anxiety and lack of confidence related to adoption (plus a limited involvement adopted dad), and therapy might have unveiled that. My understanding is that therapy wasn’t as accepted at the time or known as well as it is today, so that is why it wasn’t pursued. Now, I struggle with feeling a need to go, but have a layer of mostly self-imposed barriers that have prevented me from doing so.”

“Didn’t consider medical records until pregnant.”

“i have always wanted to know for medical reasons and to know if i have siblings/other relatives”

“It’s affected me for the rest of my life. I find that at the age of 30, I still don’t know who I am or where I belong. I have a voice that no one wants to listen to.”

I think I have some great qualities because of what I’ve had to deal with in life, but overall I think closed adoption is terribly damaging for children, families, and society.
The concept of truth and justice is radically important to me. I think that being an adopted person has helped me empathize with social justice work. Maintaining your family of birth is an unspoken privilege.”

I believe that I have had a better life because of my adoption and that right where I am is where I was supposed to be.”

“Broken trust, fractured identity”

“I have always had trust issues. My adoptive mother was verbally abusive and neglected some basic needs. She had a gambling problem which contributed to the situation. I grew closer to my adoptive father, and then she made us feel guilty about that so he then pushed me away. I moved out of the house 3 weeks after graduation- never went back. I moved 2 1/2 hours away 2 years later to distance my self even more. She died 8 years ago, and I honestly didn’t even cry. I found my birth mother when I was in my 20’s and we have a very superficial relationship- talk maybe once a year. I have recently been reunited with her son and we have become somewhat close. He told me that I was lucky she gave me up- he had a very difficult childhood too. I went through a time of depression after my adoptive mom died, and realized with therapy that I was not mourning her, but the fact that I would never have a real “mother daughter” relationship with anyone. I also know that I spent my first 6 weeks in hospitals, then adoption agencies before finally going home. I truly believe that I missed out on the chance to bond with anyone in that time. When I had my son, I literally spent every single minute with him in his first 2 months, because I never wanted him to feel that way.
At 38, I am just realizing the impact and importance of my adoption… Mental and physical health issues, trauma and abuse by adoptive sibling, and a sense of loss have brought me to explore my experience and learn about others
I only found out who my birth parents were thru dna testing at 47 years old. If I had known earlier and received counselling earlier for rejection issues it would have been easier”

I don’t know who I am

“I am forever grateful for the choices made on my behalf.”

“Lonely just never got close with any relatives. Lots of friends just always wanted family.
Abandonment issues have been a common theme throughout my life. I attribute this to my closed adoption.”

“Adoption sucks”

“In poor physical and mental health, 20 years of therapy, several lawsuits from siblings who did not want me to have the inheritance my biological and adopted fathers left for me. My adopted sister tried to kill me when she found out I would actually receive some inheritance (but less than hers). Several days later, I miscarried. Huge abandonment and relationship issues, inability to concentrate. I ended my career early because the trauma of my adoption was too great to continue effectively in my career.”

“Feeling of a loss of liberty”

“Criminal and inhumane. It is dehumanizing and it degrades a person. Should be illegal to keep a persons original identity a secret. It is a permanent injury that you can only try your beat to live with while everyone who supposed yo care about you treat you like your feelings and experience are not important. Adoption should be called invalidation.
It effects me every day! I was denied my medical history. If I would have had it, I could have been screened for the cancer I ended up having”

“It leaves a hole in your mind, body and soul to fester.”

I believe in it. My adoptive parents were horrible but so are many birth parents.”

“The lack of ability to get ANY information past a certain point is incredibly frustrating and depressing. I feel like it invalidates my right to know and makes me feel like I’m a very well kept secret. I understand that it’s difficult for the parent to give up a child. Much like the death of a loved one we want to forget, but I’m still here and I am a person that has rights.”

“It violates the adoptees personal boundaries from day one. Anyone whose life details are shrouded in secrecy will believe there is something inherently wrong with them. It has made me an adoptee rights activist. Closed adoption is a violation of a childs human and civil rights. It should be abolished.”

I feel each Adult Adoptee has a right to their Birth Rights like any other normal person.”

“Leaves a sense of shame that has permeated my entire life – has wrecked relationships – my adoptive parents lied to me when I was 18 – my first mother tried to find me and my AP lied to her and to me”

Destroyed my life and that of my mother.”

“I am always left with who I could have been, vs who I was allowed to be”

“I hated that I asked all the time and my aparents would look me in the face a day that I was theirs. I knew in my heart I wasn’t. The whole extended family knew but nobody would tell me.”

“I hated not knowing, but I love my adoptee tribe and the support I receive and ways I can give to them.”

“Major abandonment issues, zero self worth growing up”

“I’m 54 it’s ruined my life.”

I have serious trust and abandonment issues.

Adoptee Perceptions in a Closed Adoption: Free Form Responses (Part 1)

When we created Adoption Surveys we promised our respondents that their voices would be heard. Never did we anticipate the number of free form responses at the end of our most recent published survey, Adoptee Perceptions in a Closed Adoption. There were 792. After considering the best way to share we concluded that a two part blog post would be necessary. These are the voices of adopted people. There were two responses which I removed because it included personal information, but the rest are unedited words. We thank each of you for sharing your truth.

These are the responses to Q.87 – Is there anything you would like to add about how Closed Adoption has affected you?

I have felt alone for all of my life. I never feel like I fit in. Others around me always include me, it’s just the feeling inside.”

“I think people wanting to adopt need to be check d to make sure they are adopting for the right reasons and that they can not expect the child to be like them. I also think the adoptive mother needs to be made sure she is maternal (most important)”

“An overall sadness, longing, and feeling different than everyone. I do consider myself a happy person and I love my adoptive family but I do with my biological parents kept me
Closed adoption left me wandering who I was, felt different, had a lot to do with me wanting children, which I had two, first child born when I was 29 years old.I thought this would help me not feel so alone, and I would have someone else, born of me. In my thirties it all got to much for me, I needed to find out who I was. Eventually found my birth mothers family, and I heard their story, they all had been hurt and affected by closed adoption that took place. My birth mother after having me , just disappeared, was on the missing persons register/ police, she did not return home until she was 50 years old. My birth mother died at 51, poor health. I also learn’t she had married and had a son, but for what ever reason, that ended badly, because at her funeral they did not attend. So I learnt that Closed Adoption, didn’t only cause changes in my life, it affected others.”

My adoptive parents were always my mom and dad has far back as my memory goes. This would be like asking a non adoptive person how it has affected them.”

“Closed adoption is no good. No good!”

“It was the routine way of adoption back then so there were no other options for my birthmother.”

“It’s awful especially after losing adoptive parents. I’m still young and I want to see who I came from and possibly have a relationship with my biological parents.”

I feel like I belong nowhere. Even now, I feel like I have no family, and I am married with adult children of my own. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.
It’s not fair to the child that is put up.

“While I have struggled with being an adoptee my entire life, I do believe it has its place in society. There will always be families that cannot support a child for whatever reason. And if a woman has to carry a child but wants to use adoption as an option, she should be given the right. I believe adoptee laws need to be changed and work more in favor of adoptees. Everyone deserves to know where they come from.”

“Staying with the biological family is always first prize and we should work hard to support you guys struggling mom’s / families so that’s an option. If that doesn’t work closed adoption is the next best thing if done with the child’s best interest.”

“It is a travesty of immense proportions to deliberately seperate infant from mother and then remove/alter name for the desire of others. It is a form of systematic child abuse perpetrated by the government and religious bodies. It is no different to human trafficking from the perception and experience of the mother and child.”

I have severe abandonment issues. I am diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety, and I am on meds for both. I have had panic attacks. I haven’t been able to trust others; thus, I am single. During my childhood, I experienced physical, verbal, emotional, mental & sexual abuse.

“Tremendous fear of, and anticipating rejection. Feeling of not belonging with anyone, even my biological family.”

“The unknown my whole life left me with daily anxiety”

“Ruined my life”

“They should investigate adoptive parents more thoroughly. As my adopted mother was verbally and physically abused all her first 18 years of life. She never physically abided me. But she verbally abused me until I most of my life until I moved over 6000kms away. They should have never have been able to adopt. Although my adoptive father was a saint!! And I’m happy to have had him in my life.”

It makes me feel as though my life is made up and not real.”

“I constantly question ‘why’ and feel like saying ‘I’m adopted’ is akin to saying ‘I have cancer’ or something equally negative”

“Always felt left out, abnormal”

“Any religious organization should be banned from participating or administering any adoptions.”

“Curiosity on background and ethnics”

“I checked Ancestry DNA and found my half brother. They knew nothing of me and want nothing to do with me”

“Felt out of place many times regardless of place.”

Depression, ADD, Anxiety, passion, compassion for helping others

“Made relationships impossible, no trust. Trickle down effect with my daughter and also bio family. Unable to have healthy relationship with them.. birth mom shut down emotionally. At 50 I found Bfamily.. healed me and destroyed me at same time. Adoption has affected every aspect of my life. Abused.. ran away at 15. What a nightmare.
I have had to really realize who I am as a person without knowing my true identity and figuring out how I make an identity for myself.”

I have no soul of my own

“Not enough info on biological family. Not knowing who I looked like, where my roots were, other family members. Sometimes felt like I was from outer space”

“I will never understand why I can’t know where I come from.”

“After meeting my birth parents, so glad I was adopted.”

“I feel insecure. Parents and bio family did not want me. Extended adoptive family not open to us. Taught to keep secret due to negative responses adoptive parents received before I was old enough to know. Now every time someone does not want to be with me for any reason even legit reasons, I feel what is wrong with me. They do not want to be with me like my real mom, dad grandparents etc.”

“I am fortunate to have had the best adoptive family who never kept the truth from me and never spoke badly of my birth parents. I am grateful as I realize this is not the experience every adoptee has. I am fortunate to have found my birth mother and her family and to have been accepted by them wholeheartedly. I resent my suspected birth father for denying me in utero and as an infant and again when I contacted him when I was 42 for never accepting his responsibility for me or for the situation he left my birth mother in. I wish there were no need for adoption but I understand there is and it seems in a huge percentage of instances, it’s due to a man being incapable of taking personal responsibility”

“Need to allow relationship if siblings”

“It has added an extra often invisible layer of struggle to the already difficult task of being born a human being.
Closed adoptions should only be allowed if the biological parents are child abusers, the baby was abandoned with no information about them or if the parents are in jail. No other reasons are good enough for closed adoptions”

“PTSD, anxiety, depression. My issues with abandonment have led to very unhealthy romantic relationships, which I think is an important thing to ask about as well. I also think you should ask about how adoptive parents approach the subject of adoptees having their own children.”

I am biracial. I was adopted in 1962 when racial tension was high. My racial mix was withheld from my A-family so I lived my life having no connection to ethnicity or culture. The secrecy caused so much confusion and pain.

“Even in a successful and happy reunion it has haunted me. I think my husband put it best when he told me after meeting my first parents that he thought things would get easier for me, that I would be less angry. We were both surprised that I wasn’t. Reunion, no matter how wonderful, can’t take away the pain, grief, and psychological damage caused by years (48 in my case) of living under a closed adoption.”

I never felt complete or like I fit in my whole life.”

“It produces only sadness, poor self worth, feelings of abandonment and loss – lack of true information and lack of contact with bio family is only detrimental”

“The lies between the agency(ies) and adoptive parents regarding the birth family
all the classic symptoms of adoption trauma applied to me. until I joined an adoptee support group in my 40s , I thought there was just something inherently defective about me. I had such fear of abandonment and felt so displaced that it drove many poor choices in my 20’s and 30s.”

“Strong feelings of self doubt, lack of confidence, and feelings of inadequacy.”

“Hard for me to believe people, even when they are truthful”

“The not knowing of the circumstances as to why me they both had other kids got together and had one child”

“Intermittent feelings of rejection and inadequacy through whole life
I am a late discovery adopte. I was a closed adoption. Before I knew my son was adopted by me , He has an open adoption, with him knowing bio mom , aunts and brothers and sisters. I feel like I should have had the same thing”

“It affects all aspects of life.”

“It has affected every part of my life. I trust no one but my children. I have a hard time expressing love except to my children.”

“Feeling as though you don’t belong is a terrible feeling”

I met my bio family 20 yrs ago. I feel that closed adoption simply drags out the natural process of identity and self knowledge. It is unfortunate that I had to wait until my 30s to find genetic mirrors.”

“It made me angry for a few yrs. when I found out that I had no right to my O.B.C. nor my medical history. My birth parents never said I shouldn’t have any of that information. The government of my state decided that for us. How absurd!”

“Definitely think adoptee’s should have rights to information about bio family. I have dealt with abandonment issues, trust issues due to being adopted.”

I crave being accepted and loved, but I push everyone away before they can push me away.”

“overall its frustrating and a big question mark hanging over my entire existence… And now my son as well who doesn’t know anything about his mother’s biological background or Origins from her side”

“No information about birth family given. Think i should have the right to know about them and contact info if I wish”

“Any negative feelings I have is just surrounding how difficult it was to get information once I was 18. I feel that is where most of my frustration was.”

“Closed adoption causes a deep wound, even with wonderful, loving, understanding adoptive parents.”

“I have life-long depression starting from about 4yrs old (now 41yrs old) with an attachment disorder as well. Wish to freaking HELL I didn’t have to deal with these issues. Wouldn’t have had to if I’d been allowed to stay! My half=brother who did get to stay is WAY more balanced and “normal” than me! It frustrates the crap out of me knowing I didn’t have to live with this and apparently have no choice but to pass that trauma on to my own daughter. It sucks arse!!!”

I consider myself lucky to have been adopted by a loving family and do not regret anything.”

“It’s not all bad. Closed adoption does have it’s place”

“Adoption has been great for me. I have met my birth siblings, all three of whom were already around when I was born and put up for adoption. They are nice people, each with 30+ year marriages (their mother had a combination of bad luck and bad choices in that area). They all agree that while their mother was loving and fun and a really good person, they struggled a lot. So they acknowledge that, since I grew up in a loving family and one that was financially secure and had a father in the home, I got the lucky end of things. I always was grateful. I was relieved, though, to have come from really great people, because before searching, there was a little trepidation as to what I would find. But having my records would help regarding my birth father. Although my birth mother passed in 2000, he is still alive and literally lives ten minutes away. Though DNA proves he is my father on both his father’s and mother’s families, he just either isn’t convinced or won’t admit it. Having those records would prove it to him.”

“Felt like I lived a lie growing up not knowing. Now I struggle to find the truth about the beginning of my story.”

It stole my childhood joy.

“There is NO circumstances where closed adoption is appropriate.”

“My bio mother had the right to not inform or put bio father’s name on birth certificate. This resulted in me not knowing or meeting my bio father and 4 sisters until I was 39. He would have raised me. I would have been raised with family and not people just trying to keep up with the Jones.”

“In getting my original BC I found out an uncle was listed as my BF. Confusing. Also my BM was a prostitute. All stories that were unknown.”

“Extremely conflicted about the whole thing. Loved my adoptive father, lost him at eighteen. Adoptive mother never seemed too understand me.”

“Its made it so I don’t trust any one and feel lost”

“Closed adoption has made me feel not in control of my own life and too accommodating of others’ desires.”

I will die never seeing my mother’s face

“Not knowing medical health has been hardest. Also not knowing your roots and who you are is painful.”

“As an adult I would like my health history, genetic history, and social history. My children and grandchildren would also like to know”

“I definitely get pretty angry that the adoption agency people know more about my history than I, myself know. I also don’t like that they want to charge hundreds just for me to get non id info ..which might not even be accurate. That isn’t right at all
Found out at age 15. Feelings of betrayal and that my life was a lie, total loss of identity then and now at age 32, even after being 2 years post reunion with bio family. Reunions don’t always fix the emptyness, often they make you question what you missed and who you might be had circumstances been different.”

“Always felt I didn’t belong , confused about who I am”

“I’m still unpacking it.”

“We also adopted a child. She is a safe haven baby, so her adoption is closed and will most likely remain closed”

It allowed by adoptive parents to lie to me for 41 years

“I believe the unknowns that come with closed adoption creates anxiety, stress & insecurities that would not have been there if adoption were open or not have taken place”

“thislittleboy.blogspot.com is my story. Thank you”

“It is the ultimate cruelty and abuse of children.”

“It has not allowed either me or my brother to know who we are.”

Makes you feel like you’re a dirty little secret.

“It has left a lot of questions, especially as I age and have health concerns”

“Best thing that ever happened to me”

“It his my true identity, where I came from, who I looked like..a life long void til reunion.
It has destroyed my life. I’ll never know what might have been outside of being adopted.”

I think about it every single day

“I was adopted at a young age. I was adopted by a great family. 3 biological kids, 5 adopted and 1 as an 18 yr old came to live with us. There were slso Foreign exchange students who lived with us. I call our family tge United Nations because we are all from different races. I love my family!”

“I felt like a “commodity” when I was denied additional info because “they had a contract with my mother.”

“I never felt like a real person until I reunited with my bio mom when I was 29 and she showed me a picture of herself pregnant with me and told me the story of my birth. Up until that point, I never realized that I’d felt like an alien my entire life. For me, it finally validated my existence.”

“It did keep me from making bio relationships that have a better chance of lasting a lifetime. My adoptive relationship have not lasted. When parents die, you find some family friends have no interest in you. And some bio don’t either. Adoptees are truly between a rock and a hard place. The best kind of adoption is open but directed by the child, within reason. The end result should be that the child has relationships that last their life time. We focus too much on the first 18 years, and not on the last 60.
Search and reunion led me to a dagnosis thay answered so many questions about my life! Fetal Alcohol Syndrome”

“Now that I have lost my adoptive family as well, I feel dangerously disconnected. It’s hard to feel like you matter”

Left me fearing abandonment my entire life

“Secrets and lies harm us”

“I’m thankful to my adoptive parents and love them tremendously; however I’m against closed adoption- if one must relinquish it should be open. Also, birth mothers need more support , my birth mom was broken after being forced to give me up. There needs to be more education on what happens to the baby being placed and what happens to the birth mom!”

“It’s insulting. We need an Ammendment to the US Constitution about a Right to Identity.
At the age of 49, I’m in therapy again because my abandonment trauma runs deep. I’ve dealt with severe anxiety and depression for years and years. I’m triggered by many things. I’m an empath, a highly sensitive person, and gave an overwhelming urge to rescue people and animals. I don’t feel I really fit in either of my families. Closed adoption is wrong, period (except maybe in cases where all bio fam are dangerous/a true threat to child).”

“Anxiety, fear of rejection, lack of confidence”

“Unknown”

Low self esteem…no identity, feeling ashamed of who you are

“Like most surveys, this is incomplete and doesn’t offer enough ways to leave relevant feedback. Need more “other” categories. For example, while I don’t buy the “God’s Plan” nonsense, obviously on a Soul Level I did make this choice beforehand / prebirth. Also, no questions on reunion, acceptance or lack thereof, scapegoating, life post-parents, sibling relationships, etc. etc. There is always so much more to the story.”

“The secrecy created shame and stigma. It took me years to own my identity as an adoptee”

“I feel like an outsider with no cultural connections. As an adult I feel anger toward my BM for rejecting my attempt to contact. I feel Loss at not knowing my 1/2 siblings.
damaging to our very bodies”

“anxiety, depression”

“Closed adoption is fine if when the adoptee can access health records and meet biological parents if they are agreeable. I just don’t look like anyone. Even my children don’t resemble me!”

“My older brother was adopted, then me, then my sister was conceived… we always joked that she was an accident. My brother told me we were adopted, but it was no big deal to our family.”

“In an open adoption you have pictures and a face. You can get questions answered.”

“Closed adoption was just cruel punishment. The only reason I see it is necessary would be if the parent was a terrible criminal!”

It cut me off from my story. Grief and loss are my constant companions.

“Always a question of who is my family”

“I don’t believe in it, but I had a a good experience with very loving adoptive parents.
I still don’t know who my father is and probably never will”

“Compared with my half siblings that were raised by my biological family, I had a better life with more opportunities.”

Secretly marginalized racially. No community even within adoption to feel as if I belong. Left disconnected and working hard at feeling I truly matter. It’s not a self esteem issue. It’s rather a factual issue of not belonging to a community, not being valued as a significant member of either birth or adopted family. So grateful I have a husband that loves me.

“Not sure if mine was closed or really what that means.”

I am only recently in contact with my birth father. It is a struggle for both of us.
It messed up my connections to my kin FOREVER. You can never go back and get what you never got. It’s gone….that connection to your people.”

“It catalyzed an interest in politics, and people whose voices go unheard, and how persons are commodified; and how sweet it is to find one’s real mother.”

“I never knew there was any other way to adopt when I was a minor.”

“A life of lies and lack of perspective. Continued bad relationships, self esteem issues, mental health issues. Trauma.”

“Low self esteem, under achievement, shame/lack of confidence, never been married die to fear of intimacy, lack of trust of women, never had children due to my fear of marriage”

Really missed my birth parents

“Im not sure there are any parts if my life closed adoption havent affected
Did not give me a better life. I feel like a scape goat. It almost ruined me
Closed Adoption should be illegal!”

“Alienation especially as a child. Grief and pain on my New Years Eve Birthday and holidays. Shock upon the emotions after having my children. A fantasy world about my bio family that no one I was raised imagined because “You are ours”. No health history provided by the Adoption Agency that was pertinent when a congenital heart condition was diagnosed, I was advised to inform all of my biological family because it can go undiagnosed and result in sudden death. An in depth genetic work-up on one of my 5 children and I did not have a family medical history. Finding my biological family and being shunned by the paternal side of my family. It was very difficult to get access to my supposedly lost adoption file and I suspect that was partly due to record documentation that I was given barbiturates to calm me for 3 months. My adoptive parents brought me home, changed my name and I began to withdraw from the medication cold turkey. I learned this at 54 years old after a lifetime of all my relatives sharing that I was inconsolable as an infant.”

The shroud of secrecy creates a culture of shame for all parties involved

“Sad, unhealthy, can’t bond, confused, just wish I’d never been born.”
“It has made me sad and angry about the misinformation and lack of information I experienced as a child/teen, and has occasioned a feeling of abandonment when my adoptive father rejected my and my adopted siblings after our mother died.”

“I suffered mental abuse from extended adopted family told I didn’t belong. Adopted mother complained that if she knew I would be so much trouble she never would have adopted me. I suffered from separation anxiety as a child and an adult. Bio family found at age 70. Its a wonderful feeling to finally know who I am! Records must be unsealed, and OBC must be made available to all adoptees.”

“I have depression and have since being young. My (adoptive) mum had depression. I always felt like a doll, like I was never seen, told I was loved and special but never felt it which was confusing. Recently discovered they adopted a baby girl before me which the birth parents wanted back, so they were given me as a replacement. I’ve suffered bad health, and always felt a disappointment, not what they wanted. I struggle to maintain relationships, always feel wrong. But if I try to talk to anyone about it, ‘it’s in the past’ and I should get over it”

“It has undermined my adoptive family in both subtle and blatant ways – giving a pervasive message that none of us would stick like glue if the truth be known. Fear and silences ran like a river thru our family … .”

Being relinquished by my biological parents caused me psychological pain for which I will never recover from as being cut off from your biological roots causes an endless search for identity. Closed adoption is inhumane and is definitely not in the best interest of any child!

“I believe that medical information should have been included in my adoption. It was really hard to grow up not knowing any basic medical information.
As an adult i have struggled with my relationships out of fear of rejection. I feel unwanted,unlovable.”

“Truth is often hard to deal with – however secrets are worse. I feel very strongly that every child should know their own truth of who their bio parents & family are. Not knowing this information is not knowing parts of yourself. It leaves one with a mystery. If there was no mystery then we’d be like everybody else. We could focus on other things like non-adoptees. Even if knowing the truth is hurtful we don’t have to make up things in our heads to fill in the blanks. The brain wants to fill in the blanks & there needs to be answers to that – honest answers. I feel a lot of my own life would’ve been very different if I didn’t have these concerns on my mind all the time as a kid.”

“It is a very mixed bag of emotions. I’m unable to locate my bio dad because he is listed on my bc as “alleged”. That is very frustrating, a) because it was allowed and b) because he exists and I can’t research alleged.”

“In every possible way”

“It was a strange and confusing time but ultimately it was a God send.”

“A lot of pain and loss”

It’s important for an adoptee to know their story

“it is a daily issue in my life – it has a negative effect”

“I think adoption can be a good thing. I do think more attention needs to be paid to mourning the biological family.”

“things like getting my ancestry.com results throws me into a tailspin of obsession over finding out more”

“I would like to have a medical history and it appears I will not have much of one
I struggle with the feeling of loss especially about not growing up with my biological siblings. But I also struggle with loneliness and the feeling that no one on either side understands the deep feelings of loss.”

“I truly have mixed feelings. My older biological half sister was abused by her stepfather ..if I had been there I would have too .. but I was abused by my adoptive brother ..so…
I do not think about my adoption, to be honest. As a teenager I acted out but dont most? I never ever related it to my adoption. I am a happy, mentally healthy adult with a family. Not an “adopted family” I just simply have a Mom and Dad and Sister (as well as my own family…husband and 3 children) I dont understand when adoptees are so angry
Just always wondering (at least until I found my birth family) who I was and where I came from. Who did my own children look like?”

“Overly empathetic, which is exhausting. Too eager to please.”

It’s a maddening experience. As I’ve gotten older I’ve felt more anger and shame because I understood the situation better. I was not placed into a loving home. I was placed into a home for status to make my adopted mother feel good about herself.
Interesting as this was the first time I actually saw questions and feelings that I have experienced in a written format. I must say that it has evoked quite a few feelings within me.

“As a minor, I was always the wild one, never felt right. Lack trust of others, abandoned. Finally learned my issues are universal. Finally self acceptance empowered understanding adoption has nothing to do with child’s needs.”

“Closed adoption left me with so many unanswered questions. I didn’t bond well with my adopted family, always wondering about my biological family and feeling isolated and alone. Even though I was fortunate enough to find my biological family, I’m still a bit of a loner.”

“Spent my whole life feeling as I didn’t belong to anyone. My bio mom found me and yet again has abandoned me as an adult..its just sadness to me”

“Not being able to know anything sucked”

The not knowing why was the hardest. I was told a lie my whole life and felt shame as who I am because of how I was conceived. I feel if abortion had been legal I definitely wouldn’t be here. Many days I wish she’d had one.

“It is a part of every part of my life. No medical history to go by, no information about heritage, nothing…”

“Abandoned, no one with my genes that I know makes me feel alone”

“I have a lot of trouble forming and keeping relationships.”

“More understanding of the struggles of others”

“Just no knowledge of everything.”

“I always had a longing to know where I came from and meet my biological parents and siblings”

“i wish my BM would talk to me. i wish she’d tell me my BD’s name.”

“Can’t recommend it.”

I love my Adoptive family very much – but knowing my birth family has been a wonderful experience!

“Found my bio-parents in my thirties – happy to have filled in the gaps and happy for my children to know all of their families and correct history.”

“New York wants to make it more difficult to procure OBC. Very sad.
I am an emotional recluse. I never feel true happiness. There is always sadness close by to ruin any joy I have.”

“self harm, anxiety, and lack of medical info.”

I am native American and deprived my native status because my birth certificate is sealed

“It’s a double edged sword on one hand I am extremely proud and love my a family but part of me will always mourn what I lost & what & who I may of been”

“It is cruel….. It’s like I was kidnapped by the state”

“Has completely fucked me up specific to relationships. I don’t let anyone get too close to me. Two failed marriages and many relationships.”

“I was told by a neighbor/friend when I was around 8-9 yrs old that I was adopted. This was extremely damaging to me, I assumed this was a very bad thing and was traumatized by thinking I could be sent back.”

“I struggle with the anger of not having access to my original birth certificate, even though I am almost 60 years old and all of the principals involved are deceased, except for me. There are no “secrets” to protect. I also have had issues with depression most of my adult life and a strong sense of not belonging.”

“I think I have some issues that I never realized were adoption related. I’m 67 and only now just realized why I did some of the things in the past.”

“My adoptive parents are deceased and my one adopted sibling and I are not close. I was given information that prior to my birth when my biological mom was 34, she had another child that was a normal, healthy birth. More than likely my biological mother is deceased, but knowing that I could possibly have a sibling who is still Living encourages me to keep searching!!!!Also, since I have 3 children of my own, I would like some genetic information to pass on to them and for my own benefit.”
“Closed adoption played a huge role in my life. It has caused me a lot of pain and struggle in regards to wanting to know my roots”

“I reached out through my state appointed social worker to my biological mother. The certified letters that were sent on my behalf were left unanswered; it hurts! Social worker was able to locate bio mother on social media and mentioned that it looked like she had other children (younger.) No knowledge of biological father. Left feeling like there is a major part of my life/lineage that I will never know; hole in my heart.
I feel like my life was stolen, however I want to do everything I can to advocate for family preservation”

“It affects me every day. I am isolated. I have rescued pets .. two cats and two dogs who are my kids. In my life I’ve learned that my pets are the only things that could let ever love me unconditionally. Pretty pathetic. I would like to hear from other adoptees from the state of Idaho who were also adopted by Rita Phelps Hoene. She was my father’s first cousin that did all the adoptions in our family and I heard from an adoptee on your site one day that we connected that she did basically bona fide child trading according to the child’s race. I have always wanted to sue the state of Idaho for what they did to myself and to the other adoptees in the 50s 60s 70s and 80s. I would also like to hear if you’ve known of any other people that I’ve been in the same similar situation where a family member was the state worker who adopted out children to family members
I’m still healing from it. I could write a book. As a doula I attended an open adoption birth and it was the most beautiful birth I have ever witnessed, both mothers were there. Very different than mine and very good to witness, healing”

“Because of it being closed I lost out on possibly ever knowing who bio father was and also $ for me and my children as I believe we are a decent amount Native American”

“Finding BM never told anyone and it remains a secret is hard. My life has been an open book and everyone knows my adoption status. Hard to understand but respectful
I feel like it’s unfair and cruel to remove a baby from her mother and giving her to strangers. It’s traumatizing and the whole original birth certificate thing whereby you don’t even know your original name is something you would do to a newborn puppy, not a human. It’s sickening.”

I have abandonment and trust issues.”

“I feel every human has the innate right to knpw who the are. No court or person should have the right to keep that secret. I have found my biological family and they’re wonderful people. My biggest struggle was not knowing who I am where I came from what my lineage is and what my health history is. Closed adoption makes adoptees into a dirty little secret. It is a stigma that is placed on the child that comes with guilt, shame, forced to be grateful, abandonment and many more issues. Until I knew the truth that my birth family was searching for me, I had my own story of self lies. Regardless of who my birth family was, we all have the right to know good or bad be the outcome.”

“I’ve always felt like I never fit in outside of my family. I had a wonderful childhood growing up but I always questioned where I was from and I still have a sense of not belonging anywhere to this day”

“Everyone deserves to know where they come from. I’ve always known who I am, but did not always know my origins. Finding my birthparents was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”

“I credit my parents with making my adoption a non-issue. We’re family. How that came to be in unimportant. The only adoption issue I’ve ever had is problems getting a passport. It is maddening! Give me my original birth certificate!!”

“I believe it has affected every single personal relationship I have ever had or ever will have.”

“Closed adoption is an unintended experiment by unwilling participants. The stats speak for themselves. It’s not good for the adoptee. I particularly believe that adoption in any form should not be allowed by the very religious. The very basis of their belief is toxic to the child and is a form of abuse. ”

I think it shaped my whole life, in ways good and bad.”

“Shame was placed on me because of my adoption. My closed adoption was covered in lies.”

“It stunted my emotional growth for many years.”

“I have been reunited with both birth parents at different points in my life. That is what complicated my adoption story.”

my adopted parents were not suitable parents i feel they lacked adequate education on adoption

“A lot depends on the child, but generally the adoptees need more emotional support.
My adoption has underscored for me the cruelty of laws that bar adoptees from getting information that is rightly theirs, as well as the hypocrisy of a society that holds up adoption as a good thing while shaming those involved.”

“It severely affected my treatment when numerous health problems began to crop up. I never had a family medical history or knew what to expect with health concerns down the line.”

“I feel that it has not done me any favor. I have missed out on so many relationships and tradition. It is not best to assume the biological relationships are bad simply because the mother had an unexpected pregnancy”

It’s important for me to know me. My genetic make and real medical information.
Shame, confusion, and anger. A sense of not knowing who I am and where I belong.
I has made me unwilling to have my own children

“It’s so difficult to get my medical history. I am a human being with rights. I deserve to know instead of taking months or even years to open my case. I have rights to them.
It has given me permanent anxiety and abandonment issues”
“You grow up constantly yearning to know more, but it’s a dead end. You then must conjure up made up “stories” to fill in gaps of your life. Hate not knowing medical history. Other info, as well, but really felt like second class citizen, filling out doctor questions of family illnesses, even before they finally added “unknown” box to check. Rights of birth parents are much more important than mine in society’s view point. We don’t matter and still considered Bastards.”

“In reunion, dodged a couple of large bullets. Glad to know my bios now at 50 than younger.”

It has caused unnecessary emotional trauma not only to myself, but to my birth mother. It is a failed social experiment of epic proportions and should take place only in the most extreme circumstances (i.e. the biological family being a threat to the child.)

“It was hard to get any information and hard to get my original birth certificate but I did it. They gave it to me since I am in a relationship with my bio family”

“My adoption experience has overall been extremely positive. I love my adopted parents and consider them to be my ‘real’ parents, and other than a deep curiosity about my biological family I haven’t really struggled with my sense of identity where adoption is concerned. I understand my experience is different from other adoptees/I don’t aim to speak for anyone other than myself.”

“i feel discriminated against. Every other human being can have their birth certificate and many adoptees cannot even see it. And I wish I didnt have 34 years of wondering about my birth family, and having no answers. I wish I could have met my birth mother earlier so that I would have more than 2 years to get to know her before she died.
It made me feel I had no beginning, that I was never born. I cannot adequately describe how that has affected me.”

“It has been emotionally devastating in so many ways . . . not knowing my ethnicity specifically haunted me most of my life”

“It allowed lies (I was told my bio parents were dead and they were not) and caused much wasted time for me wondering my story, stress that I would die young like them.
Found birth parents anyhow.”

No but i accidentally put no to getting original birth certificate when i meant to click yes, adoptees should access them.”

“Curious as to who my biological parents are and “where I come from” has always frustrated me. I have always wanted to know. It has been an issue not knowing any medical history, especially when I had my own child. My biological son now has the same issues. Because I don’t know my medical history, he has to go through extra testing for any medical issue to rule out inherited medical problems that may have skipped my generation. Also, because I don’t know what/who I am with respect to ancestry/origin, he too is missing half of his own ancestry/origin. And the unknown just keeps going from one generation to the next.”

“Never felt I knew who I really was and who I was supposed to become. The love I received was not enough for me.”

“It is hurtful and frustrating to navigate. There’s no mental support and it is traumatic. People don’t see a loss at all and just ignore your cries and medicate or try to medicate it away.”

“When I said earlier it is complicated, that has been my experience so far. It is definitely the onion of emotional layers that I continue to work through. Wasn’t able in the the questionnaire to completely say that considering the circumstances of my adoption, I am grateful that I was adopted. I have met my Birth Mother, who I care and respect, but I do know that I was not suppose to have been raised by her. My extended adoptive family and my Dad, to a lesser degree, has a blood is thicker than water mentality and that was, at times, a difficult situation to be around. Thanks for this survey.”

“It is the foundation of the problems in my life. It never ends.”

“Both my parents were mentally ill. How could I , as a 9 month old baby , been given to this couple?? My adoptive father was often violent or quiet and sullen. On occasion he was normal and friendly. My mom was totally wacked. I was in years of therapy to help my deal with her abuse. But on a positive side, she bought me books and art supplies so she encouraged me in that way , but it was ALWAYS followed up with abuse.
My adoptive parents’ attitude, it not being an open subject, and their insecurity and hostility around my search, were the worst things. Also, a lack of health info and aptitude info has been a burden.”

Thank god I was reunited or I’d be dead from addiction or suicide.”

“Closed or not I still found my biological mother and father”

“Angered that officials truly believe I should shut up and be grateful.”

“Depression, anxiety, detachment issues”

“So many lies. So much secrecy and restriction from information made adoption much more painful especially as an adult.”

“Closed adoption stole the life, parents, and siblings I should have had and placed me with an abusive, narcissistic infertile woman and an apathetic man. I wondered my whole life who I was. I am only now starting to build a relationship with the man who should have been my father. I’ve never felt connected to anyone the way I do with my Pops and my brother. I feel grounded for the first time in my life. Closed adoption set me adrift, like a ship with no anchor or kite with no string.”

“Unable to form relationships”

Closed adoption treats you like an eternal child no matter how old you become you are still considered the “adopted child” who can’t be trusted with their own biological information or birth certificates.”

“It has hugely effected my life and the lives of my husband and children. Closed adoption was a social experiment that failed.”

“it affected my entire life, but I wasn’t aware it was the cause of so much anger and behaviors until I was nearly 40. I miss my biological mother without even knowing her. But I also hate her for choosing herself over me. I don’t even know anything about her.
Separation from one’s identify impacts everything. The secrets and lies make trusting anyone in the circle nearly impossible. And my first mother’s trauma is profound.”

“Reunion doesn’t magically ease the longing or the suffering”

“Low self esteem, depression, fear of loss”

I just don’t like the idea of not being able to know who I am and where I come from.
It is one of the worse imaginable things to do to a child. It leads to a life of never knowing the answers to basic questions. It leads to feelings of abandonment, depression, anxiety, never fitting in, unable to form attachments with people, and overall emotional distress. I hate it. I feel like a slave that was bought and sold.

“Never felt like I fit anywhere. Felt abandoned.”

“It has permeated my life”

“It’s caused me a lot of problems and there was no support there. I have had to take the full responsibility for it through my own commitment to getting well and therapy. Not very fair I think you would agree”

“Being am adopted person has, in all seriousness, completely fucked up my life. I hate APs. All people who adopt an infant are selfish, horrible people. No exceptions
I believe the separation itself and being in foster care affected me the most. My foster mom told my birthmother that I would comfort myself when I cried by sucking my thumb, rather than relying on her to calm me down. I’m a very independent person and I think that’s where it stemmed from. There was a moment before I was adopted that I was reunited with my birthmother. She told me that I reacted to her voice in a way that said, “Oh, there you are!””

It’s a nightmare but it never goes away.

“It is a lie all around. Lies and secrets are just not healthy.”

“absence of medical history has grave repercussions”

“In the end the main issue I found was Closed adoption allowed my adopted family to close themselves off and raise me as if I was a biological child, disregarding my additional needs as a child and causing a lot of damage to be made. Not every family that participants in closed adoptions do harm, but it’s much easier to find and correct bad adoption behaviors if it’s open between the community as a whole”

I would rather have been aborted than placed in a closed adoption. Adoption can be a loving, wonderful, healthy thing, but only if the people involved don’t pretend that a) adoptive families are the same as biological–they can be wonderful healthy environments but only with eyes open, and b) people recognize that just as many pathological things happen within adoptive families as biological–verbal, psychological, physical abuse”

“I think this statement by New Zealander Joss Shawyer (Death by Adoption, 2004) says it all. When it happens I hope Americans don’t dismiss it with a no-big-deal attitude. “But unlike everywhere else, it is apparent that what drives North American adoption is the money made by the baby brokers that traffic in human beings. They buy and sell infants and children. They import and export, just as the original slave traders did. Misery and mental illness are their environmental side products. One day there will be a reckoning. As North American adoption records open – and it is inevitable that they will open – the truth about adoption law and practice in America will find it’s way the public arena. In the future the mothers of all the children forcibly taken for adoption will have their day in court. It is also entirely probable that the Administration of the United States will finally be forced to offer up a public apology to the hundreds of thousands of American mothers whose children have been redistributed for the purpose of appeasing the right wing faction, that ‘moral majority’ that is actually a minority, but with a power base far in excess of their actual numbers.”

“I shut down my feeling (disassociated) for 50 years. The physical implications was that my hands peeled. When I defogged and began to feel – my hands stopped peeling. As children we only know what we have experienced – so that is normal – and yet it was anything but normal.”

“It sucks”

“Every human being should have the right to know where he or she came from — origins, medical history, ancestry.”

“It’s affected every part of my psyche. Just turned 51 and just now feel like I’m becoming an adult in my own and no longer care to hold back.”

Not having checks in place leaves adopted child open for abuse, the system has failed so many of us

“I never felt I lived up to my a-parents expectations. Felt like I had to or they’d get rid of me. No one would talk about it. It was secretive.”

“Took me until age 45 to get original birth certificate, in reunion parents are in 70’s”

I was lucky to have loving parents and loving birth parents.

“Closed adoption was positive for me. I think it would have been much more confusing to have an open adoption.”

“Keeps me in a state of perpetual childhood being told that I cannot have access to my birth records – perpetual anger over the injustice”

“Prior to my reunion with my natural family I had no idea the extent to which being an adoptee effected my life. My mainly cultural/social standards I was high achieving, lived a life of privilege, and had a “good life.” However, I have always had issues with self doubt, insecurity, and believing I was not worthy/lovable. From what I know now I would link these issues directly to the fact that I was adopted and the trauma of being separated from my mother at birth.”

“It has been extremely difficult”

I was raised by a wonderful family

“my birth parents did not want contact when I approached them. Closed adoption has worked well apart from that.”

“Well, it’s more like how it has not affected me.”

“It’s made me question my entire life but there’s no way to get any answers. Basic stuff like nationality and medical history that everyone knows about themselves I have to pay hundreds of dollars to try to find out through DNA testing. It’s not right.”

I feel irrelevant because my origins were denied. I was a dirty little secret.

“Low self esteem and feeling no one would like the real me”

“Brutal mental anguish, emotional retardation, hyper situational awareness. The only time I had peace was when I was alone”

“Concern regarding genetically inherited medical issues”

“I have panic attacks and believe that adoption caused them”

“Created life long frustration at not being able to access any genetic/family history, medical concerns/history, many roadblocks in trying to find out my paternal roots, and much pain in knowing that my biological mom has outwardly rejected me as an adult….that no other biological family member knows of my existence. Intense fears of rejection as an adult…my adoption and my adoptive home life was very traumatic”

Eating disorder, depression & anxiety, spending addiction

“I am never sure that people will not leave”

“It hurt my feeling especially when I write in to the agency by my birth mother didn’t.”

Why didn’t she love me?

“I am late discovery. The secrecy was awful, that everyone knew but me. Betrayal.
Meeting my birth mother only to be rejected again a few years later was a mistake. I should never have opened my heart to that woman. My parents are the people who raised me period.”

“Experiencing discovery when I had three young children I didn’t process things much. I swept them under the carpet. Now with children grown I am processing my history and discovering how much it has effected so much of my life even though I didn’t know.”

“I’ve always been unhappy with the secrets and pretense, and the fact that people with no skin in the game made such important decisions on my behalf.”

“I never had a sense of belonging, either with my adoptive parents or my childhood friends. I was obese as a child. It was also difficult to establish my identity because I had no idea where I came from & my adoptive family was nothing like me at all. We never made sense to each other, we still don’t to this day. I never experienced unconditional love until I had my own children, and it took several months for me to learn how to give unconditional love to my first child. I can’t say that I loved her before she was born, I fell in love with her when she was about 4 months old.”

I was happy with closed adoption as a child but now as an adult and have my own children I feel I have the right to know about my heritage and biomedical information for me and my children.

“it would have been nice to meet them before my birth mother passed away”

“Made me a people pleaser”

“I’ve been happy in my life. I have a hard time with open adoption. I feel like it would make it harder for all parties to move on. The adoptive parents might feel like they aren’t ever the “real” patents. And the mother who’s given up her child might have a hard time letting go & moving on. It’s just very foreign to me.”

“I would like to know if I had siblings. I get told often that I look like someone they know. Makes me wonder.”

“Made relationships harder, trust issues, never feel loved.”

“My bio mom updated my medical history when I was 16 but it was never sent to me. I discovered it at 46 when I requested my Non-ID again. Seems horrible that it was not sent on to us.”

I like who I am. I don’t know if adoption changed that or not. I do know I feel a sense of incompleteness as I have been denied access to my OBC and have not found my biological family.

“You feel like a prisoner till your of legal age and then there is no help to get your legal identity till law change. Also the absolute disparity adopted children have leads to suicide. I survived that it had to be 50% at least based on my analysis of those I knew in high school whom were adopted. MOst Males seem to be able to afford at a younger age the means to find quicker their biological family’s. erasing a persons biological and health history is modern slavery and evil. NO one should be subjected to such grief and lack of history.”

“As a child, my adoptive parents were very open about my adoption and told most people about it. Sometimes, as a child, I wished they wouldn’t say anything to others because I felt like people outside our family would then view our relationship differently.
Unable to obtain medical records”

“Close adoption ruined my birth mother’s life. It silenced me and caused me to develop drug and alcohol issues that have changed who I am – and stunted my potential in the world. I do not believe I would have experienced this if I was raised by my mother. Growing up I didn’t understand or appreciate my natural talents and abilities. I could not relate to them and consequently things I was good at – naturally very good at – were confusing to me and I had no confidence to develop these talents, even when it was clear that I was very good at ballet, swimming, acting, writing. I was alone without encouragement or support for my abilities from either of my adoptive parents so as a child and teenager these things were lost to me – until I found my way to the theatre and then to university as a very mature aged student (47). I wasn’t promiscuous but I have had huge problems in relationships – with neediness/staying in relationships that were not right for me – or were abusive – was habitual, often making extremely bad choices and trying to make these choices work no matter how bad I felt – each ending very destructively – repetitively. My adoptive mother was an alcoholic and a prescription drug user – she suffered from debilitating Tourettes syndrome which was the cause of her drug and alcohol dependence. I began stealing alcohol at about 14 and Valium and started smoking pot at about 15. I did this while Dad was having a 11 yr long affair with the woman he eventually married. Fortunately, after finishing my theatre training I fell in love and married a wonderful man. However, his large Catholic Italian family needed to know everything about me and us and they interfered with our marriage – judging me – and without a sound ego I felt unworthy, unfit, unprepared to be married – I couldn’t stand up to them confidently – I felt not good enough for another family who seemed to find me deficient. I left my husband not long after I met my mother – who had been a dancer with a great career before she had me. I then went overseas to study further in London without my husband and I know now that I had a second adolescence – an awakening to what I had lost – to who I was and could have been/wanted to become. What I knew innately about myself was ‘discovered’ through reunion with my mother. While I was beginning to know my mother/my ‘self’ I was hurting even more, numbing myself all the time and I had affairs while away from my husband. We divorced while I was living in NYC where I had found work opportunities but as soon as that happened I realised I had lost again and this time I lost the first and only relationship I had ever had that I COULD trust. I lived with enormous regret, pain and anxiety when I realised I didn’t know how to love him – or myself. I also know now that while I was in this fog of finding myself I was more abusive to myself that ever – drug and alcohol use accompanied more bad relationships. I also know that I missed out on nurturing the relationship with my mother because neither of us could face the past and speak of our separate lives without each other. We were in communication for 18 yrs but she died about 12months after asking me to leave her alone ‘for a while’. I know now that she felt/thought our relationship was untenable – her loss, guilt and trauma were so great she could never accept our relationship and could not ever speak of her experience, or of her feelings after our reunion. It is only through university study and my own personal family history research that I have learned what she went through at the time of my birth and why she could not speak of her experience. Closed adoption should not exist in the 21st century and yet policy makers and prospective adopters continue to drive the ‘market’ – ignorance and arrogance – the ‘rescuer’ mentality makes these people blind to research and to adoptees and mothers voices. It is time that adoptees and mothers were heard and that research is no longer pushed underground to allow the objectives of politicians and infertile/wealthy ‘couples’ to override the lived experience of trauma, grief and irretrievable loss. Adoptees are still considered ‘ungrateful’ for having our feelings and our voices are still suppressed – rejected by those who WANT to adopt. We are now having to fight for our experiences to have meaning – for the right to know our lineal history – for the right to be reinstated into lineal history via govt records. Closed adoption should not continue – Guardianship allows children without agency to be protected when necessary. Guardianship provides babies and children whose mothers/families are in crisis the support they need to keep their family together – wherever possible ‘in the best interest of the child’. No more falsification of records – no altering of children’s identities and robbing them of connection to their birth families for the sake of their ‘adopters’. End Closed Adoption – End all ‘adoption of children’ GUARDIANSHIP NOW!!! Thank you for this research survey. THIS IS WHAT IS NEEDED TO STOP THE ADOPTION INDUSTRY”

Blessed me. Also made me feel disconnected in a way.

“Unknown family medical history is unfair. I have issues with intimate relationships-abandonment issues. I either love to deeply, or not at all- no middle ground.I can cut people off and never look back.”

“I was and still am loved and accepted, but always felt like there was something missing.”

“Adoption doesnt guarantee a better life, just a different one.”

“I have not been as successful in life as may have been. Constantly battle the need to search know…felt pressured to give my own child up at age 18 from adoptive patents “to save face”

I really have no issues with my adoption being closed. As a matter of fact I think that it was a good thing for me.

“At no time should medical history be withheld from an adoptee.”

“Not being able to get the information as an adult is infurriating . It adds to the thought process of not being wanted . One should not have to spend large amounts of money for DNA tests or court fees just to find out the family background.”

“Society does not understand how adoption can affect us. It is seen as a happy thing, a wonderful thing, and to ever say a negative word about it brings anger and disbelief from people who think you should be grateful. It is difficult for me to see acquaintances who have adopted children and feel happy for them- because I know their children have suffered trauma that they will likely never be allowed to talk about or heal”

“I feel it has ruined my life. My life has been wasted with sadness loss and bereavement. It changed how I perceived the world at an elemental level. I understand now why I have the behaviours I do and I have struggled to cope with it all and am still struggling and despite have 4 years psychological help I feel abandoned by the health service”
“As a young person, I could not have handled knowing the full story or identities of my biological parents. It was appropriate to shield me from it until I was an adult. Nothing I have learned since has weakened my bond with my adoptive family.”

“While there are disadvantages to being adopted (the not knowing, some abandonment issues), they far outweigh the disadvantages of being raised by someone not ready to be a parent. I believe in adoption being closed during childhood, but open after age 21. I was found by my birthmother at 18–too young for me. Relationship with her has not worked, because nothing is ever enough for her–she is obsessive. Have fantastic relationship now with my birthfather which has benefitted both of us. It has been challenging to navigate at times, but worth the effort. I do feel, though, that knowing him as a child would have been confusing–and that he may not yet have been ready to be a consistent presence in my life. Adulthood was the right time for me–and him.”

I was adopted by an abusive family. If my childhood was happier, maybe then it wouldn’t be so bad

“closed adoption is wrong. sealing of obc’s and restriction of information is psychologically damaging.”

“I have had health issues from childhood, including psoriasis, food intolerance’s and IBS, that I believe the trauma/stress of adoption contributed to them developing. I have extremely weary about getting into serious relationships – don’t want to take the risk of being left. Feel I have to be ‘perfect’ all the time. I strongly believe in the Primal Wound theory.”

“Closed adoption is wrong. Changing birth certificates is wrong. Hiding a child’s heritage is wrong. Creating conditions where people can hide their children’s origins is wrong.
My adoption was great with loving adoptive parents. I’ve been very lonely since they passed away. I struggle with what it is that I feel about my biological parents.
I just felt scared of who I was supposed to be”

“If adoption records had been open or open after I turned 18 or 21 years old, I would have searched sooner for my birth parents. When I found my mothers sister, and my siblings, I was 58 years old, my birth mother past away three years before I found my birth family.”

I love my family. I’m grateful to my birth parents for letting me go, and my parents for giving a great life. Having a closed adoption seems less complicated, and less confusing. Curiosity is very real though. I believe in adoption and wish more women took advantage of placing their babies instead of abortion.

“Abandonment issues, people pleaser always try so hard to make people love me. Always wondered who I looked like. Felt out of place.”

“Deliberately obscuring a person’s connection to their heritage is deracination and an injustice.”

“Constant wondering about why I was given away. I would rather have just known the answer why. Now that I found out 2 years ago a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I talk to my birth mother monthly and I have a half brother I text daily.”

“Closed adoption is horrible and mean… my right to make a choice as an adult was taken away from me as an infant and I had to fight to get my own birth certificate. It shouldn’t be that way”

I feel like my mental health wasn’t destroyed at birth. I never had a chance to be a whole person.”

“I wish my closed adoption had gotten!given more information about what birthparenta were like, as in likes and hobbies and such.”

“It made me feel unlovable. I knew I was a second choice. I feel like an alien. I resemble no one. I can’t have friends or lovers because I am so disconnected, and everyone leaves anyway.”

“Anxiety”

“I know both bioparents but still no right to OBC. DNA rocks!”

“Every person should be allowed access to their genetics”

It feels lonely. I miss my now deceased birth mother and find it is harder than ever to relate to my adoptive family.”

“I was truly blessed by my adoptive parents! Although it took me a long time to decide to search for birth family it only too 101/2 months with AncestryDNA. I am trilled to know who my birth parents are and their true story of why they chose life!”

“Discovering I was adopted at 59yrs old destroyed my trust in everyone”

As an adult my adoptive mother told me she hated me and told my brother she rescued him

 

Results In: Adult Adoptee Perceptions in Closed Adoption

The survey was entitled “Adult Adoptee Perceptions in Closed Adoption.” A link to the survey (through Survey Monkey) was shared on Facebook, Twitter, and this blog over a 2-week timeframe: September 26-October 10, 2017. In all, there were 1526 respondents. Of those, 227 were removed when parameter filters were saved because they did not meet the parameters set for the survey. One respondent was manually removed for revealing private names and locations. In its final form, there were 1298 respondents.

The parameters were that 1) The respondent must be 18 or older. 2) The respondent must have been placed for adoption within 1 year from birth. 3) The respondent was not biologically related to the adoptive family. 4) It was a “Domestic” adoption meaning the respondent was placed and adopted within the same country. 5) The adoptive family was only given non-identifying information about the biological parent(s) and there was no contact between adoptive and biological families until the respondent was of a majority age.

In the past, free-form responses have been shared at the end of each summary. An exception will be made for this particular summary. There were 792 free-form responses at the end of the survey. Adoption Surveys prides itself in being a platform for those with lived adoption experiences. A separate blog will be posted in order to fully dignify and share these responses.

A link to the survey will be posted at the end of this summary; as well as a link to our current open survey. We encourage you to follow us here at the blog as well as our Adoption Surveys Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Please share our current open surveys in order for those affected by adoption to have a collective voice.

Margin of error calculator (provided by Survey Monkey)
Unknown

 

Summary

Questions 1-5 were required in order to set the parameters, as stated above. The remaining 81 questions were optional. There were 3 questions that were skipped by at least 1%(13) of the respondents: questions 69, 82, and 83. There was no question skipped by more than 17 respondents.

There were 20 questions that offered an “other” comment box. There were a total of 1851 “other” comments. They were all taken into account and will be referenced as they relate.

Beginnings

  • 44% (582) of respondents were adopted between 1961-1970 accounting for the largest segment of population
  • 3% (42) of respondents were adopted in 1950 or prior, accounting for the smallest segment of population
  • 46% (607) of respondents lived in foster care prior to adoption
  • Of the 607 respondents who lived in foster care, 519 answered they were in foster care anywhere from 0-6 months.
  • 74%, (966) of respondents were received into their adoptive homes within 0-3 months
  • 6% (82) of respondents were in a transracial adoption
  • 88% (1,145) of respondents were adopted in the United States
  • New Zealand was not given as an option for native country, but accounted for the majority of the 1% (20) who commented in the “other” section

It was asked of the respondents what entity managed their adoption. Adoption agencies accounted for the majority answer with 36% (469). Private attorney was next with 15% (199). Charitable organizations came in third with 12% (162), but the majority of those who answered in the “other” comment section (129 respondents) referenced “Catholic Charities”. It is possible that if these responses were added to the “Charity Organization” option, it could equal or exceed those of private attorney. An option that was not given, but frequently mentioned in the comment section was “medical staff/doctor”. One respondent commented, “My adoptive moms father. He was a doctor and delivered me.”

The adoptive family structure consisted of a married mother and father who remained married throughout the respondent’s childhood in 80% (1,044) of incidents. Divorce during childhood was experienced in the lives of 14% (188) of respondents. Two respondents answered they were raised in a home with a gay/lesbian couple who remained together throughout the respondent’s childhood. 4% (60) of respondents answered in the “other” section. Death of an adoptive parent during childhood was not a given option, but was the most given answer in the “other” section. In one incident, a respondent lost both adoptive parents in childhood to death, “mother and father passed away.”

In regards to siblings, 20% (268) of respondents were raised as an only child. If there were siblings in the home, the option that received the majority response (45%, 593) was that their sibling(s) were adopted as well. The remainder of respondents reported mixtures that consisted of the adoptive family’s biological children, step-siblings, and/or foster care siblings.

In regards to being told about adoption, the majority (70%, 911) of respondents were told by their adoptive parents at the age of 5 or before.  4% (59) of respondents were not told by their adoptive parents. In 8% (115)  of incidents, adoption was revealed by a source outside of the respondent’s adoptive parents. Eight (.62%) respondents were told they were adopted by their adoptive parents at or after the age of 19.

Family Life

  • 63% (830) of respondents spoke “freely” of adoption in their homes
  • 3% (41) of respondents did not know that they were adopted as minors
  • 21% (280) of respondents said the topic of adoption was “forbidden” in their adoptive home
  • 53% (697) of respondents were comfortable talking about their adoption as a minor

In regards to discussing the biological families of the respondents, 17% (228) reported that their adoptive families spoke well of them, 9% (117) did not speak well of them, 53% (694) did not speak of biological families at all, and 19% (256) spoke of biological families but not in good or bad ways.

Respondents reported strikingly different interests from their adoptive families in 68% (882) of incidents. Their adoptive families encouraged their interests according to 52% (683) of respondents.

  • 4% (56) of respondents reported they were treated better than their siblings
  • 19% (254) of respondents reported they were treated worse than their siblings
  • 56% (731) of respondents reported they were treated equally in comparison to their siblings
  • 63% (823) of respondents reported they do not feel like they belong/”fit in” with their adoptive families
  • 44% (574) of respondents answered there was either physical and/or verbal abuse in their adoptive family’s home
  • As a minor, 47% (613) of respondents answered that they felt more comfortable in the homes of their friends
  • As a minor, 59% (775) of respondents did or considered running away from their adoptive family’s home
  • 60% (783) of respondents reported they were encouraged to be “grateful” for being adopted

In regards to reasons (given by the respondent’s adoptive family) as to why the respondent was placed for adoption, there were a multitude of answers. The respondent was allowed to check all that applied and comment additional reasons in the “other” section. There was a three-way tie at 48% (629/630) with biological mother being unwed, young, and a general “better” life. The reasons with the least responses included abortion alternative (2% 38) and safety concern (1% 24). There were 144 (11%) free-from comments that included a diverse list; biological parents wanted to continue education, biological parents had too many other children, extra-marital affairs, race, rape, post-partum depression, biological parent was disabled, and biological parent was unfit among others.

Many respondents discovered the reason(s) they were given weren’t accurate. One respondent commented, “I was told my parents were finishing a degree in university. It is not true.” Another said, “I was told my mother died during child birth, which I found out later was a lie.”

Other reasons given included, “My mother was a slut. That is what I was told.” Another stated, “Father was a priest.” For others, either the subject was not discussed (12% 165) or the reason was unknown (13% 170).

There were as many diverse reasons given to respondents as to why their adoptive family’s adopted them. Respondents were also given the opportunity to check all options that applied as well as add comments if needed. Infertility received the most responses with 71% (930). The option with the second most responses was that the respondent was not given a reason at all with 13% (170). There were 149 (11%) free-form responses that included a multitude of reasons; adoptive family had a genetic disease they did not want to pass on, the respondent was simply “wanted/chosen”, vasectomy, they were adopted by the foster family, adoptive mother had a fear of pregnancy, and adoptive family had suffered stillborns/death of biological children. The responses also included more detailed stories of infertility and gender specifics (options provided).

apreason

Some of the more outstanding reasons included the following:

  • “I was purchased, like an animal, to support adoptive father in old age.”
  • “To keep my dad out of Vietman[sic]”
  • “Save their own pathetic marriage”
  • “God’s plan for them, but not as a “calling.” (A divine “calling” often has a hint of “burden” attached).”
  • “Older sister wanted a baby brother”
  • “My adoptive mother was a drunk . The church thought it might keep her sober”
  • “My father believed my mother would be happier and stop drinking”
  • “Their friends were adopting too.”
  • “My dad was quadriplegic”
  • “My adoptive mother (at a later age) said I was a “pay off” for my adoptive father’s affair … a way for him to show his re-commitment to her.”

In regards to respondents being in contact with their adoptive families today, 52% (681) said that they are in contact and 28% (373) said their adoptive parents have passed away. 12% (160) are not in contact with their adoptive parents and there were 84 (6%) free-form responses that spoke of “strained” relationships or contact with one parent and not the other. A number of comments referenced contact with biological family, so it isn’t clear if it was an error in presentation or misreading on the part of the respondent.

Outside of Family Life

Respondents were asked if they physically resembled their adoptive families and 65% (849) said they did not. When respondents were in public, they stated that their physical appearance in comparison to their adoptive families would be mentioned often (18% 237) or on occasion (41% 533). In the “other” comment section (2% 35), respondents stated that if their appearance wasn’t commented on directly, they did receive stares and/or behind the back comments, “No one commented out loud but I was always aware of the stares and double-takes. I’m very pale, blonde, blue eyes; my adoptive family is very dark.”

Some adoptive parents would introduce the respondent as the “adopted” child, “My mother would point out to others that I was adopted.” Another respondent said, “My adopted dad would say doesn’t she look just like me at times when introducing me…he would do it kiddingly..he was proud of me.”

Aside from public comments about physical appearance, the respondents were asked if the public would comment about their adoption directly. “No” received the most responses with 42% (555), and 11% (150) of respondents stated that no one knew that they were adopted.

Mental Health

Respondents were asked a number of questions about mental health. Counselingsupport and emotional support with adoption issues involved a large portion of the survey. As a minor, 3% (49) of respondents said they did receive adoption-specific counseling. As adults, 30% (399) of respondents have received adoption-specific counseling.  As a minor, 71% (928) of respondents did not think they received appropriate emotional support with being adopted.

  • 81% (1,052) of respondents said they have struggled with abandonment issues in relation to adoption
  • 37% (484) of respondents said they have considered or attempted suicide in relation to adoption
  • 56% (729) of respondents have been placed on anti-depressants at some point in their lives
  • 29% (384) of respondents have struggled with drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • 9% (124) of respondents have received treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • 52% (681) of respondents said at some point in their lives, they have led a promiscuous lifestyle
  • 36% (475) of respondents have had an eating disorder
  • 42% (544) of respondents have experienced frequent nightmares and/or terrors
  • 4% (57) of respondents were placed in juvenile detention centers as minors
  • 1% (17) of respondents have been sentenced to at least one prison term

Respondents were asked if they have been diagnosed with a mental disorder and/or mental illness. 37% (480) of respondents stated that they have and an additional 4% (53) responded in the “other” section and gave specific diagnoses including: Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, and ADD. Separate questions were asked specifically about an ADD or (C)PTSD diagnosis. 14% (190) of respondents have been diagnosed with ADD and 20% (263) of respondents have been diagnosed with C-PTSD or PTSD.

  • 53% (698) of respondents said they have excelled in either sports and/or academia
  • 29% (379) of respondents have attained a Bachelor’s Degree
  • 19% (379) of respondents have attained a Master’s Degree
  • 3% (44) of respondents have received their Doctorate

education

Search

Respondents were asked if they have attempted to search for their biological families, in which 93% (1,210) said that they have searched. This question did not account for respondents that may have been found by their biological family prior to search.

  • 38% (499) of respondents began to search for biological family between the ages of 19-30
  • 5% (75) of respondents said they have not searched
  • 39% (515) of respondents said their search was initiated by a feeling that there was a “missing piece” in their life

whysearch

 

Aside from many options provided for why a search was initiated, there were 105 (8%) free-form responses. There were a multitude of reasons given including States opening access to Original Birth Certificates, adoptive parent encouragement, impending deaths, DNA availability, mental breakdowns, adoptive parent disownment, 9/11, and need for a passport.

One respondent stated, “After reading birth parents stories from that time era.. It was eye opening. It never occurred to me how different things were back then and that my bio parents may not have even had a choice about giving me up for adoption. That made me want to find out more about my history.” Another commented, “Adding adopted children to our family.” One respondent commented, “Found out that I could get non-identifying info from an adoption agency when our first grandchild was given for adoption. At that time of her ‘release’, I had stuffed my feelings of my own way down deep, so thought it was fine to give her up. It didn’t take long …like just a few weeks after her birth to finally allow myself since my being ‘given up’ to big time surface.”

Other commenters elaborated on their “missing piece” feelings, “Missing piece always felt even though was raised in a loving home. Medical issues occurred where course of treatment required medical history” and lastly, “It was part of my core that I needed to find my mother.”

  • 35% (462) of respondents answered that their adoptive families have or would have encouraged their search for biological family
  • 24% (312) of respondents answered that their adoptive families have or would have discouraged their search for biological family
  • 40% (531) of respondents said they have searched in secrecy in order to not offend their adoptive family
  • 46% (603) of respondents said they have searched openly

Search for biological family elicited a number of free-form responses (16% 220). In regards to adoptive family responses to the respondent’s search, many carried similar themes such as waiting for the death of their adoptive parents, respondents were threatened with removal from the adoptive family’s will, mixed family reactions, disownment, and adoptive family saying they would support a search until it transpired.

“I did not tell them but they were told by a non-family member. They did not speak to me for two-years after they found out,” said one respondent. Another said, “I would have been beaten by my adoptive father, had he been alive.” Other comments included, “They didn’t understand the need”, “My mother was very supportive of me searching, my father was not in favor of it”, and “They were scared for me to be rejected again and use drugs to escape the pain.” secret

Other comments included:

  • “When I was pregnant with my first child I asked my mother if she knew anything about my biological parents and she responded with a slap in my face and told me I was selfish and ungrateful.”
  • “I believe they would have been deeply hurt. I have met my biological mother and I have not told my adopted father. My adopted mother passed away over 25 years ago.”
  • “Strong willed adoptee raised by passive AM [adoptive mother]. Didn’t argue with searching because I made clear I’d leave at 18 without contact if searching wasn’t supported.”
  • “My mom’s amazing with it. I actively avoid my dad who wants to be worshipped…”
  • “They removed me from their will, and said they wished they had never gotten me.”

In adoption, standard practice has been to alter and/or seal the original birth certificate of the adoptee and replace it with an amended birth certificate showing the adoptive parents as those who gave birth to the adoptee. In the past, most governments would “seal” the original birth certificate indefinitely. In recent years, governments have begun to open access to these records.

  • 31% (408) of respondents have accessed their Original Birth Certificate (OBC)
  • 42% (552) of respondents responded that they wish to access their OBC, but the government will not provide it
  • 99% (1,286) of respondents said they believe adoptees should have the right to access their Original Birth Certificate

obc

Adoption on a Personal Level

  • 52% (678) of respondents fantasized often about their biological family as minors
  • 33% (436) of respondents fantasized occasionally about their biological family as minors
  • 74% (968) of respondents thought about adoption often as a minor
  • 86% (1,127) of respondents think about adoption often as adults
  • 80% (1,046) of respondents have looked for their physical features in crowds
  • 71% (923) of respondents desired Genetic Mirrors as minors
  • 82% (1,054) of respondents believe that Genetic Mirroring is important for children to have
  • 120 of respondents consider themselves “Late Discovery Adoptees”, of those 81 did not suspect that they were adopted
  • “Betrayal” received the most (27) cited feeling when a respondent learned of their adoption status later in life
  • 27% (355) of respondents said they were “bullied” for being adopted
  • 19% (257) of respondents said they were used as an example by their adoptive family to promote adoption
  • 32% (425) of respondents answered that adoption anniversaries are “triggering” for them
  • 52% (678) of respondents answered that they do not enjoy the retelling of their adoption story
  • 48% (630) of respondents have been angry towards their biological family for placing them for adoption
  • 69% (896) of respondents have felt the need to mourn the loss of their biological family
  • 78% (1,015) of respondents have struggled with feelings over who they are versus who they might have been if raised by their biological family
  • 35% (465) of respondents said that adoption was explained by their adoptive family as “God’s Plan” for their life
  • 28% (364) of respondents believe that adoption was “God’s Plan” for their life

Adoption in the Big Picture

The remaining questions revolved around how the respondents viewed Closed Adoption  in general, from overall feelings to recommendations in practice.

  • 79% (1,031) of respondents answered they would not consider adopting a child in a Closed Adoption
  • 87% (1,130) of respondents answered they would not consider (or would not have considered) placing a child for adoption
  • 3% (43) of respondents have placed a child for adoption
  • 61% (792) of respondents consider themselves pro-choice in regards to abortion
  • 20% (267) of respondents would recommend Closed Adoption to others

Respondents were asked if they would consider themselves pro-adoption, anti-adoption, indifferent, or something other. Responses were pro 33% (438), anti 30% (388), indifferent 19% (247), and other 16% (219) respectively. Common “other” responses included a need for adoption reform, adoption education, dissolution of Closed Adoptions, attempts to preserve biological families, and adoption used only as a last resort after attempts to preserve a biological family.

Comments included, “Realist, communicate the potential difficulties of adoption and help members of the triad become better at listening to each other”, “I believe children in foster care should be adopted and biological families should be preserved and supported if possible”, and “I believe in changing many adoption laws and practices and that we should do everything we can to support parents to keep their children and in bio family placement whenever possible.”

Respondents were asked if Closed Adoption offered them a “better” life. “Yes” received 13% (177) of responses, “No” received 39% (512), and “Impossible to Say” received 44% (570).  Other comments received 2% (34) with the majority of responses stating that they had a “different” life, but not necessarily a “better” life. Respondents were also asked if Closed Adoption was the best arrangement for children or if there were better arrangements. They were asked to check all options that applied. Open Adoption received the most responses with 61% (789) closely followed by Preserving a Biological Family with 57% (732) of responses. Additional suggestions included taking profit out of adoption, supporting single parents, mandatory medical records, better sex education, and stewardship.

Respondents were asked what their overall feeling about adoption was as minors and as adults.

As minors, the most frequent responses were:

  • Confusion 22% (292)
  • Sadness 18% (238)
  • Indifference 13% (177)

As adults, the most frequent responses were:

  • Sadness 24% (315)
  • Anger 17% (221)
  • Grateful 15% (202)

adultover

In conclusion, respondents were asked if there was anything they would like to add about how Closed Adoption had affected their lives. There were 792 responses and in order to dignify the efforts of these respondents, a separate blog will be posted to address them. It will be posted soon.

The survey can be seen in full at Survey Monkey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-QJ2WDYT98/

Thank you to all respondents. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. If you find this survey of interest, please feel free to share it on social media.

Our current survey is for Natural/Birth Mothers in Closed Adoption. It will run through the end of October, 2017. Please share the link with anyone it may apply to:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ClosedMom

Follow us at Adoption Surveys on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results In: Natural/Birth Mom Perceptions in Open Adoption

The survey was entitled “Natural/Birth Mom Perceptions in Open Adoption.” The parameters were that 1) the respondents must have entered into Open Adoptions at the birth or shortly after the birth of their child and 2) they were not biologically related to the adoptive family.

A link to the survey was shared on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress over a 2 week timeframe between September 9-September 25, 2017. In all, there were 78 respondents. After filtering out the respondents that did not meet the parameters, 67 remained. The following is a summary of those responses. A link to the survey will be posted at the end. Also, please follow us here, and on Twitter and Facebook for more surveys. Please scroll to the end for more information on our next survey. Facebook address: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1571159579602138/

Questions 2 and 3 were required in order to set the parameters: Open Adoption and non-related adoptive family. The remaining questions were optional.

67 respondents entered into Open Adoptions from the birth or shortly after birth of their child with non-related adoptive families.

Here is an overview of the results:

  • 5% of mothers have placed more than 1 child. There was no accounting in regards to this being due to multiples and/or separate events.
  • 2% of mothers placed when they were 14 years old or younger
  • 44% of mothers placed when they were 15-19 years old
  • 37% of mothers placed when they were 20-25 years old
  • 100% of respondents placed after 1980

Age

whyThere were a variety of reasons as to why mothers placed their child for adoption. The most frequent answer was due to financial struggles in 68% of cases. It was followed by Coerced/Threatened at 56%, Unwed at 47%, and Age at 34%. A general “lack of support” was mentioned in the “other” comment section, “No family willing to support either financially or emotionally.” Another mother responded, “illegal alien and no family to help.”

The responses were rounded out with conceived by rape at 11%, homeless at 10%, abortion alternative at 10%, “God’s will” at 7%, did not want to parent at 5%, and Addiction at 0%.

Mothers answered questions about who in their lives supported an adoption plan including family, friends, and the child’s father.

In regards to family, the most prevalent response at 28% was that they were the ones who coerced/threatened mothers into placing. In 20% of cases, the respondent families did not support an adoption plan. A common response in the “other” comments section was that their pregnancy was hidden from family, “No one except the father knew about my pregnancy. He was also the one who coerced me.” Another responded, “They didn’t know I was pregnant and told them after my son was placed.”

In regards to friends, the most prevalent response at 44% was that they were indifferent to an adoption plan. It was closely followed by friends who supported an adoption plan at 35%. Again, secrecy of the respondent’s pregnancy was mentioned in the “other” comments section, “Didn’t tell them, I isolated myself while pregnant. I believe I was depressed.”

In regards to the child’s father, the answers were diverse and evenly dispersed. The father being supportive of an adoption plan was the most common response at 25% closely followed by the father coercing/threatening adoption at 17%.

  • 4% of respondents answered that adoption facilitators advised the respondent not to tell the child’s father of an adoption plan
  • 68% of adoptions were facilitated by an agency
  • 25% of adoptions were facilitated by a private attorney
  • 61% of respondents chose the adoptive family
  • 67% of adoptions occurred after a physical meeting between the expectant mother and prospective adoptive families
  • 8% of respondents received living expenses from an agency/attorney
  • 8% of respondents received living expenses from the eventual adoptive parents
  • 6% of respondents received a “lump sum” of money after signing TPR (Termination of Parental Rights)

44% of respondents answered that the agency/attorney offered adoption counseling.  42% of respondents answered that they received adoption counseling prior to placement.

At birth, the adoptive family was present in the hospital delivery room in 20% of incidents. They were in the hospital waiting room in 19% of incidents. The adoption agent/attorney was present in the hospital delivery room in 1% and waiting room in 11% of incidents.

When it came to signing TPR (Termination of Parental Rights), 37% of respondents signed while recovering from childbirth in the hospital. There were various and evenly dispersed responses as to when TPR was signed after birth. The most common responses at 23% were respondents who signed between 23-48 hours after birth and respondents who signed 11 days or more after birth. They were closely followed by 16% at 24 hours or less, 13% of respondents did not remember, 11% at 4-10 days, and 10% at 49-72 hours.

  • 71% of respondents wanted to back out of the adoption decision after birth
  • 74% of respondents felt pressured to sign TPR papers
  • 30% of respondents were under the influence of pain medications when TPR was signed
  • 37% of respondents signed in a State with no revocation period
  • 20% of respondents were threatened with legal action after expressing a desire to back out of the adoption
  • 76% of respondents believe that their state does not have fair revocation laws
  • 80% of respondents wished for a longer revocation timeframe
  • 67% of respondents discussed the terms of an Open Adoption with the adoptive family prior to placement
  • 55% of agency/attorneys did not explain in detail what the respondent should expect in an Open Adoption
  • 3% of respondents were taken to another State in order to deliver
  • 7% of respondents spent the end of their pregnancies in a maternity home

In regards to Open Adoption, there were various terms agreed upon. The most prevalent terms included an “evolving” relationship in 26%, physical visitation in 22%, and contact through media in 20% of adoptions. In 50% of adoptions, they would close entirely at one point. In 57% of adoptions, they would close entirely or become more closed over the years. There were a number of comments to explain in detail, “It was more open with frequent visits until the child was 5 and then visits ended.” Another responded, “closed after two or three years, slightly reopened at 13 years per my inquiry, but only given a letter & pictures twice, after that no contact until I initiated when my son was 19.”

who closedIf an Open Adoption closed, it most frequently occurred between the child’s 4th and 7th birthdays at 23%. If an Open Adoption closed, it was closed by the adoptive family in all but 1 incident. An additional respondent commented, “agreement of APs and my family.” The most prevalent way an Open Adoption was closed was through silence; Unspoken 36%. One respondent commented, “adoptive parents simply stopped communicating.”

  • 49% of respondents have developed a relationship with their child outside of the adoptive family
  • 55% of respondents can contact their child any time they desire

Respondents said it was difficult adjusting to being a natural/birth mother in the first year after placement in 92% of incidents. Adjustment over time has gotten harder for 73% of respondents. Open Adoption has not worked well for 76% of respondents.

  • 71% of respondents think of their child daily
  • 22% of respondents think of their child hourly
  • 67% of respondents answered their immediate family has been affected for the worst
  • 87% of respondents find adoption anniversary days triggering
  • 80% of respondents placed their first child for adoption

think

  • 71% of respondents suffer with insomnia
  • 37% of respondents have auto-immune diseases
  • 81% of respondents suffer with depression
  • 46% of respondents have received counseling directly related to adoption after placement
  • 78% of respondents developed PTSD or other mental disorders after placement
  • 56% of respondents have considered or attempted suicide directly related to adoption

ptsd

Respondents were asked what their overall feeling was about Open Adoption. There were various answers, but Anger was the most prevalent at 46%. It was followed by Sadness at 19% and Confusion at 11%. The remaining responses were in single digits. Some responses included, “Happy and grateful at the amazing family we all gained through this adoption” and another respondent, “I feel like I got hijacked[sic] with lies.” When asked if they would recommend Open Adoption to an expectant mother, 81% said they would not.

  • 20% of respondents feel their family and the adoptive family have blended into one
  • 37% of respondents perceive that their child has suffered in Open Adoption

There were various responses about the perceived adjustment of their child in Open Adoption. “She suffered and didn’t know about me.” Another respondent stated, “Adjusted is too vague a term. She’s well adjusted but hurts.” Two other respondents added, “He has told me many times that he wishes i jad[sic] just aborted him than send him to live with strangers.” And, “He has difficulties but also support to talk about them from all his parents including me.”

  • 5% of respondents said agencies/attorneys provided them with resources to parent their child
  • 73% of respondents said agencies/attorneys made the respondent feel “selfish” if parenting was chosen
  • 84% of respondents said agencies/attorneys referred to them as “birth mother” prior to placement
  • 81% of respondents said they were called “selfless”, “brave”, or a similar term by an agency/attorney
  • 10% of respondents would consider adoption to be an empowering choice
  • 7% of respondents believe that God used them as a vessel to create another family
  • 7% of respondents believe that Open Adoption was “God’s plan” for their child
  • 4% of respondents would consider placing another child in an Open Adoption

The majority of respondents are in the United States with 91%. The remaining respondents are located in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. In 86% of adoptions, the child was placed with an American adoptive family.

In 61% of adoptions, the respondent answered that the adoptive family did not abide by the Open Adoption Agreement or closed it altogether. In 33% of adoptions, the respondent answered that the adoptive family abided by the Open Adoption Agreement and/or went above and beyond expectations. Legally-binding Open Adoption contracts were in place for 12% of respondents. Legal action to enforce an Open Adoption contract has occurred in 3% of adoptions. There was a desire to take legal action in 44% of adoptions, but the Open Adoption was not a legally-binding contract. In regards to these desires, comments included, “No, I knew that the cost of trying (both financially and to the relationship) would be enormous and that I was unlikely to be successful.” Another respondent, “I didn’t have a legally binding contract… and my son is depressed an anxious. I didnt[sic] want to make it worse.” And another, “I wanted to get her back but was terrified that if I lost I would never see her again.”

In regards to abortion, 60% of respondents consider themselves pro-choice. Of the 67 respondents, 16 answered that they have previously had abortions. Of those, 14 stated that abortion was a decision that they have “been more at peace with.” Two stated that they have “been more at peace with” adoption.

There are 22 respondents who do not have other children. Of the 45 respondents that parented other children, 33 said that the children have suffered with the adoption of their sibling.

  • 7% of respondents would consider themselves pro-adoption
  • 59% of respondents were not aware that their child’s Original Birth Certificate would be altered and/or sealed
  • 86% of respondents believe their contact with their child has been too little
  • 89% of respondents wish they would have parented the child they placed for adoption
  • 88% of respondents regret that their child was placed for adoption
  • 16% of respondents received legal counsel before placement

The following are a sample of free-form responses that respondents were given as an option to offer a final statement. Please take the time to go to the survey link and read through each comment. The respondents took great time and effort to complete the survey and tell some of their own story. There were 38 free-form responses in total, and unfortunately space does not permit to post them all. The survey can be found here:

Natural/Birth Mom Perceptions in Open Adoption Results

Address: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-6MFFB39V8/

Responses:

“I think it is the greatest thing in the world! He is getting old enough to where he is understand where he came from. I am his “aunt” and I love every minute of it. His mother is my best friend, and I have gained so much love and family from this experience! I am married now, but I have considered being an unpaid surrogate for them since they are still unable to have children of their own. When an open adoption is done well, you don’t lose a child, you only gain more family. ”

“It ruined my life.”

“My daughter is nearly 20. It has taken me all this time to “get on with my life” as I was told to do. The impact to my self and my parented children has been profound. I can not speak for my daughter, but I do not suspect that she’s adjusted particularly well either. I was a young woman, taken advantage of by adults with resources I didn’t have, whose only goal was to exploit me and my child. They seem to have gotten away with it entirely. I’ve made a conscious choice not to let them take any more of my life from me now that I’m almost 40, I am “moving on”.

“It has coloured every aspect of my life.”

“Private adoptions should be abolished”

“I did not realize I was surrendering my grandchildren as well . I feel like the adopted mom competes with me and a have no chance . It is harder now than that my child is an adult with many issues because of my choice years ago .”

“After placing my child for open adoption, I did regret it several times over the last 6 years. However, I am extremely happy for choosing the family that I picked. I am extremely grateful for being able to be a part of my child’s life. I’m happy that I was able to give the parents a chance to raise a daughter, provide her with everything I knew I wouldn’t have been able to provide. I have two kept children, unfortunately, only my oldest son lives with me and knows of his little sister. Though I wish that were different too. I am happy she is with the family I chose and has been raised to be such a great and smart child. I cannot express how grateful I am to the parents for allowing my son, my husband and myself to be a part of her life.”

“My views about adoption have changed since I had my son. I do not feel it is as great as society makes it out to be. I think often times (and in my case) there was a lot of pressure to place from family, the maternity home and the agency. I hope I never have to place again because it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I really wish I would have done things differently and were able to parent.”

 

“Adoption is too permanent a choice for often temporary issues. I went on to make triple the income of the adoptive parents. And they don’t tell you not only place your baby, but your baby’s baby (future grandchild) will also call someone else Grandma. I love my relationship with my now 18 year old daughter, but there was a lot of loss and she’s clinging to her birth family right now as she tries to figure out who she is as a person.”
“The single regret of my life. I will be 50 this year.”
“I was told the it wasn’t healthy for me to reach out to him as he grew up.”
“Adoption has destroyed the person I was to be, and instead I suffer as my baby was taken from me. Feels like he was kidnapped.”
“I believe that open adoption is a bait-and-switch scam. It’s dangled in front of a woman in a crisis pregnancy to tempt her into believing that she can have some meaningful contact with her child and at the same time being fed lies that this is the best decision for her child. No one tells a new mother that the contract is not legally binding and that she’ll have no recourse if the adoptive parents choose to close the adoption. I often wonder if open adoption isn’t more hurtful than a closed adoption because open adoption keeps hopes alive, only to crush and reopen them time and again. At least in a closed adoption the boundaries are set and so are the expectations.”

“Losing my son to adoption destroyed my life and myself for a period of time. It has gotten easier- by which I mean, I am less suicidal as well as very focused and busy parenting my 2nd child. I still struggle with the adoption and strongly regret it. Having an “open” adoption (they write me 2x a year) does nothing to make me feel better and is incredibly painful, not comforting, although he seems to be a happy kid.”

“Even though I’ve had the best possible adoption experience and my son’s adoptive family are wonderful, both my son and I have suffered grief, depression, and mental issues that are likely to be lifelong.”
***

 

Results In: Adult Adoptee Perceptions in Open Adoption

The survey was entitled “Adult Adoptee Perceptions in Open Adoption.” The parameters were that the respondent must be 18 years or older and raised in an open adoption from birth or an adoption that became open shortly after.

A link to the survey was shared on Facebook and Twitter over a 2 week timeframe between September 2nd- September 15th. In all, there were 35 respondents. Of those, 7 indicated that they were not raised in open adoptions. After filtering out the respondents that did not meet the parameters, 28 remained. The following is a summary of those responses. A link to the survey will be posted at the end. Also, please follow us here and on Facebook for more surveys.

Questions 1 and 2 were required in order to set the parameters; age and openness. The remaining questions were optional and occasionally some were skipped by 1 or 2 respondents.

  • 86% of respondents were told they were adopted before the age of 5.
  • The initial terms included visitations with the birth family in 44% of adoptions.
  • The majority of respondents were born after 1981.
  • 77% of respondents were raised in homes with a married mother and father who have remained married into their adulthood.

As the years progressed 22% of the adoptions became more open, 25% became more closed, and 18% closed entirely. The remaining adoptions stayed the same as the initial terms.

If the adoption closed entirely, 30% of the time it was initiated by the adoptive family, 15% by the birth family, and 23% by the adoptee. One respondent commented, “I closed it for 2 years because my pain was to[sic] much to deal with at a young age.” In other cases, the closing was mutual between families.

Closed 1

59% of the respondents have contact today with their birth families and 70% have contact with their adoptive families. In some cases, contact is limited to one family member or only between adoptive and birth mothers.

There were a number of reasons given as to why the respondent was placed for adoption. There were discrepancies between what reasons the adoptive family gave to the respondent and the reasons the birth family gave to the respondent. Adoptive families were more likely to tell the respondent their birth mother was young, poor, unwed, and did not want to parent. They were also more likely to tell the respondent they were “unwanted”, adoption was chosen as an abortion alternative, there were safety concerns, or their adoption was “God’s Will”.

Birth families were more likely to tell the respondent that a general “better life” was desired for them; “Birth mother couldn’t give me the life she wanted for me.” They also were more likely to say that persuasion and/or coercion were involved in placement; “Forced/coerced adoption. Birth mother wanted to parent.” In some cases, no reason was given by birth families.

  • 92% of respondents were not adopted into a family with their half or full siblings.
  • 46% struggled with jealousy towards their birth family’s kept siblings.
  • 53% of respondents with siblings did not have direct contact with their siblings.
  • 22% of respondents were in transracial adoptions.
  • 33% of respondents could directly contact their birth family.
  • 29% of adoptive families encouraged contact between the respondent and their birth family.
  • 14% of respondents felt like their adoptive and birth families blended into one family.
  • 51% of respondents have felt torn between two families.
  • 70% of respondents felt their birth family’s involvement was too little in their life.

 

  • 70% of respondents struggled with identity issues.
  • 77% struggled with feelings of abandonment.
  • 25% were placed on anti-depressants as minors.
  • 65% committed self-destructive behaviors.
  • 55% considered or attempted suicide.
  • 33% of respondents said their Open Adoption was beneficial for them.
  • For Open Adoption in general, 42% of respondents said it could be a benefit to children.

Arrangements 1When asked if other arrangements could benefit a child more than Open Adoption, preserving a birth family garnered 42% of responses, followed by kinship adoption, indifferent, and Open Adoption all tied at 11%. Comments ranged from, “It depends entirely on the situation. There is no hard and fast rule” to “The most important thing would be to preserve the original family, but if this isn’t possible, kinship adoption or guardianship may be possibilities depending on how they’re handled.”

As minors, 18% of respondents received counseling directly related to adoption. As adults, 55% of respondents have received counseling directly related to adoption. 59% of respondents did not feel that they received appropriate emotional support in navigating Open Adoption.

 

  • 73% of respondents would recommend Open Adoption to others.
  • 50% would consider adopting a child through Open Adoption, while 50% would not consider it.
  • Religion was used as a means to explain the respondent’s adoption in 29% of cases.
  • 11% of respondents believe that adoption was God’s plan for their life.
  • 65% of respondents consider themselves pro-choice, while 34% consider themselves pro-life.
  • 38% of respondents consider themselves pro-adoption, while 42% do not consider themselves pro-adoption, and 19% are indifferent.
  • 74% of respondents would not consider placing their own child in an Open Adoption.
  • 66% of respondents do not believe abortion to be a preferable alternative to adoption.

 

  • 77% of respondents daydreamed about their birth families as minors.
  • 44% enjoy hearing the story of their adoption retold.
  • 46% find adoption anniversary days triggering for them.
  • As minors, 66% of respondents thought about adoption often.
  • As adults, 74% of respondents think about adoption often.

Respondents were asked if they felt their lives turned out “better” than it would have with their birth families. 33% of respondents said “yes”, followed by 22% saying “no”, and 22% “indifferent”. Respondents commented with, “I’m more successful than my kept siblings, but I have a lot more emotional issues .” Another said, “Based on what I can gather, it would have been similar socioeconomically.” It was explained by one respondent, “This is a tough answer to question[sic], and one that I ask myself often. It’s not helpful to think of my adoption in this way: my present life is what it is now, and nothing will change it. The adoption most negatively affected my childhood — not my adulthood.”

Feelings 1And finally, respondents were asked what their overall feeling today is about Open Adoption. The responses varied with Happy 7%, Anger 11%, Indifference 19%, Sadness 15%, Grateful 7%, Confusion 23%, and Peaceful 0%. Responses included, “Anger, a deep grief, I feel like I have to be someone that I’m not in my adoptive family.” Another said, “I think it’s by far the best way to do it but mine was completely mishandled.” Other responses included, “It is what it is” and “My open adoption was terminated by age 5.”

 

 

 

The following are free-form responses that respondents were given as an option to offer a final statement.

“My birth mother has severe mental illness which I did not discover until I was older. I would not have closed contact with my birth family if this were not an issue. Most contact during my childhood was through my biological grandparents.”

“While I recognize the economic advantages from being adopted versus being raised by my birth mother, my adoptive father was emotionally and occasionally physically abusive. I suspect from our interactions that my birth mother has her own emotional issues, I was the 4th of 5 children she had and the only one adopted out. As a child I may have fantasized occasionally about life if she had kept me, but as an adult I think it would have just been a different set of problems than what I faced. My adoptive father grew up in a closed adoption and only found the truth after his adoptive mother passed. I am grateful that my adoptive parents were open with me about my situation and it never seemed like a big deal to me as a child.”

“My bio mother was slowly limited from calling and sending things. And I was told she just wasn’t calling or sending things. I’m not sure what the truth is, but I’m not super supportive of adoption. I do think Open Adoption is better than Closed Adoption.”

“Adoption was positive. Had I not been adopted, I would likely be in an unstable abusive family that couldn’t take care of me.”

“Adoption is a gift of trauma that keeps on giving. No one understood my life, perspective, and feelings while I was growing up. No one understood me or helped me, and so in a lot of ways I ‘failed to thrive.’ I’m currently pursuing my MA, and I’m still trying to overcome the trauma and neglect. Through adoption I was given many things, but I haven’t been able to grasp them due to emotional challenges.”

“It’s a great idea and, I think, helps ward against fantasies of birth family at the same time as grounding a child. In my case, it was mismanaged and causes more damage/pain. However, saying that, I actively want to adopt and would be positive about open adoption. My parents were just too threatened by the whole thing.”

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions that it is automatically better. I knew it was my Nom (what we call her) & sibs repeatedly leaving. She didn’t only leave me when she relinquished. She did everytime we said good-by at the end of a visit, call, or letter.It took its toll & abandonment issues to a new level.”
“Adoption has killed me…when I was born my identity was taken from me. My mom was taken from me. My dad was taken from me. My last name was taken from me. Even my social security number was taken from me. Everything. I was forced to believe it was gods plan. But god wouldn’t want family’s torn apart, kids crying st night because they don’t fit in with their “families” adoption sucks.”
“I think open adoption is more honest than closed adoption. However, it can be really hard on the adoptee. I would have loved to be able to bond with my mother when i was younger, although we did engage with each other some, we were got a chance to bond”
“Open adoption is a form of emotional violence. I was neither here nor there and constantly reminded from a very early age. Guilt was constant as I longed for one family when with the other. Sadness was constant as I missed my birth siblings. Jealousy, depression and anger were constants as my emotions spun out of control. Finally, numbness set in as I finally accepted my fate in open adoption”
“Still too many secrets, too confusing, and can close at any time”

“I’m now an adoptive mother and I believe my own experience has made it easier for my own children. It’s a very open topic in our home and while my children are not able to have contact with their birth parents yet (adopted through foster care), I believe it is much easier for them to come to me about their concerns and feelings because they know I understand what it’s like. It took a very long time for my birth mother and I to have a good relationship (over 20 years) but we have now and I will never regret finding her, even though I was very young at the time.”

“The whole adoption thing bugs me more as the years go by and I’m left with hardly any family at all, and my children don’t have as much family as they should have. My adoptive father doesn’t care about me/us at all. My amom cared for me, but was to weak to leave him and take me with her.”

“I think, for some families/individuals, Open Adoption can be a good thing. My situtation was not average — I grew up exposed to domestic violence in my adoptive family. There were some very traumatic events early in my life. When I turned 18, I met my birth mother and her children for the first time, and lived with them during my first two years of college. This was a mistake, but was a decision made out of genuine curiosity. We thought it would work, but it didn’t. I think, if anything, children who are raised in an open adoption situation should be communicated with from an early age on what that means for them, their adoptive family, and their birth family. I would have preferred to be given my birth mother’s contact information when I was at an appropriate age and been given the choice as to whether to make contact or not. Growing up, it felt like none of the decisions pertaining to my well-being were ever my choice, and this is something that has proven to be a challenge in my last decade as an independent adult.”

***

Adoption Surveys thanks the respondents who took the time to complete the survey. Our hope is to give those affected by adoption a voice.

The link to the survey results can be found here: Adult Adoptee Perceptions in Open Adoption

address if broken link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-8S7MYQDL8/

***

There is currently a survey for Natural/Birth Moms in Open Adoption. If you are a mom who fits the parameters or knows someone who does, please direct them to:

Natural/Birth Mom Perceptions in Open Adoption

address: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OpenAdoptionMom

(It will be closing sometime in September 2017 TBA)

***

Follow us on Facebook for more surveys on adoption in the future.

Adoption Surveys

If the link is broken: https://m.facebook.com/groups/1571159579602138/