Monday, May 12, 2014

Adoption Illusions and Stockholm Syndrome

By Trace A. DeMeyer
 
"...I’ve been thinking about this concept for a long time. Adopters, when it comes right down to it, count on Stockholm Syndrome. Children who don’t succumb are labelled RAD.
Whenever I encounter an infertile woman so desperate to be a mother that she’ll bring home a stranger’s baby and force it to live in her fantasy, I always secretly wonder what she would do if she were single and desperate to be married.
Would she drag some strange man home and force him to watch the Notebook and cuddle? And if she did, would society think it was beautiful and precious?  Or would they think she was delusional and dangerous?  Rhetorical question, of course.  But why? Why is what is clearly a crime between adults viewed in such an overwhelmingly positive way when one of the parties is a child?..."  - Renee Musgrove 
 
This comment by Renee has been in my head for over a year and I finally did research on Stockholm Syndrome!
 
What was legally thrust upon us as adoptees is an illusion/fantasy, right?  From babyhood, we are supposed to pretend these are our only parents -- years pass and if they raised us, they ARE our parents. They are the only people we know that intimately so we call them mom and dad. We don't know anything else. Of course, years pass...
 
Then one day you wake up and think, "What about my ancestry, what about my medical history?" and you start to feel despondent since you can't ask your "parents" since you found out they get upset when you ask about your identity (We chose you, you're ours...) -- and even if you do ask, too often they know absolutely nothing. Why is that?
 
Eventually you realize that you are really not "their" child. You're not related in any physical sense or biology.  Then the adoptee realizes and finds out quickly enough that lawmakers (and your adoptive parents) are on the side of secrecy - that they don't want you to know who you are and they DEMAND privacy for the mother who created you.  REALLY?

On my other blog, I wrote about the ADOPTION EXPERIMENT and then my friend Cully Ray did a guest post about Stockholm Syndrome: which is when you are abducted and start to identify with your captors.
 
Cully wrote:
As do Stockholm Syndrome victims, these Adoptees have great difficulty identifying and expressing their feelings, tragically some are unable to go on with their lives.
Some of the effects that are seen in adoptees and foster children who are objectified by their adoptive parents, foster care givers, and/or communities and peers are:

* Denial of actions by the adoptive parents or foster caregivers that make the child feel inadequate or physically hurt.
* Co-dependency
* Substance abuse
* Minimizing their feelings – self-sacrifice
* Disassociation with the idea of natural family or parent-child relationships
* Failure to make realistic relationships in both personal and professional life
* Internalizing – blame and guilt for things they have/had no control over
* Over achieving – fear of not being “good enough”
* Anger/Rage/Overwhelming depression often triggered by birthdays or celebrations
* Suicide

No matter how much I write and think about this - we come back to the lawmakers still demanding sealed adoptions and secrecy again and again. What about you? Do you think they are delusional?

I will be back and posting more in June... Trace



10 comments:

  1. o.k. I'll chime in. So I'm a caucasian adoptive parent to a Vietnamese daughter. Vietnamese adoption clause states that if a child is openly relinquished, 1 biological family member must be present at the adoption ceremony. I saw this as such a blessing. I was able to take as much video and photographs as humanly possible in that short amount of time of my adoptive daughter with her biological mother. And this clause also allowed her bio-mom a chance to look me in the eye and tell me her hopes for her daughter.
    The moms story was a familiar one. She was quite young, lived in a very remote village that was prone to sex-trafficking from Chinese men, was living with her parents and 3 sisters. She asked them if they could raise the baby but they replied that they did not have the funds to feed another family member. So the mother relinquished her to the orphanage.
    This being said, we are not the type that hides her history (she is 6yo now). She is OBVIOUSLY not biologically of us as we are caucasian. She talks, even at her young age, about how she misses her birth mother (she was 8 months old when we adopted, was in the orphanage from day 5). When she does this she either asks to see the photographs or watch the videos or simply asks to be told the story. I do this with pleasure. I love that there is not a gaping black hole of disconnect. And I know when she is older and wants to reach out to her birth family, we will be there to support her endeavor (I have an address and phone number her birth mother wrote down in a journal I keep for my daughter).
    We are raising her with as much openness as we have. We celebrate and teach her the ways of Vietnamese culture. We will (as this was a request of her birth mother) have her learn her native tongue as well.
    So I ask, because you and I have followed each other on Twitter for quite some time and I am always interested in what you have to say on the topic, what would you have one do in this situation? Is ALL adoption bad to you? If a young mother has no financial way of raising a child and gives said child up, would you rather that child sit in an orphanage? Or are you talking primarily about the atrocities on Indian Child Removals only?
    I totally agree with you by the way, given a perfect world, for a child of ANY culture, to be taken away from said culture is a travesty. And those ripped from families willingly and ABLE to care for that child is nothing short of trafficking/kidnapping.(I followed the Ronnie Brown story and was completely dumbfounded at the outcome.) But what do you say to the multitude of children born and given up for legitimate not-able-to-care-for-them reasons?
    I have lived in the adoption world for 5 years. I have many friends who have adopted both children in the system born to Meth addicts who refused help over and over again and whose children had to live the system, via foster care, for years while bureaucrats dot their i's or adopted over seas where shabby orphanages are teaming with babies given up for the plethora of reasons anyone could imagine.
    I have no ideas of grandure, I am not trying to pull one over on my adoptive daughter and I will certainly not be stopping her from exploring whom she is and where she originated from. I just ask, is all adoption evil? or is your topic header referring only to broken Tribal Adoption agreements and those (who I have yet to meet a family who has done this) choosing to lie and misguide their adoptive child into believing they are biologically theirs?

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  2. Side note, to emphasize your point: (as if i wasn't long winded enough) I was having a weekend with 3 friends of mine. They are all councilors or therapists in some capacity. One friend, who works in a school system and over sees a group of school councilors, said she had an interesting thing happen.
    She was noticing a gaggle of girls that would frequent the councilors office almost daily. Each week a different drama. She decided to take the most "frequent flyers" as she called them, and put them in a weekly group. This group would get together every week and hash stuff out, communally. there were 13 girls in the group, after a couple weeks my friend realized that 9 of the 13 were adopted! they were all young teens, hormonal enough, but also dealing with the question that anyone not with their biological family would ask: "Why was I given up." My friend then broke the group into two to start tackling this exact topic. I know the day will come in our house and We are doing all we can to pave the way for her to deal with that realization. terrifying none the less...

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    Replies
    1. If you've been reading this blog awhile Marci, you know the signs ahead. (I lived them and write them.) But honestly I spent more years in the fog than alive. It's not easy to be adopted. But with your knowledge and advocacy, your daughter will have your help. That is more than I had.... <3

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  3. Marci, I'm very glad you wrote! OK, I want you to BE your daughter. Try it often. Imagine her feelings. Try it. How will you keep her emotions in check because she's very young now? How can you explain her own mother lived in a Third World and was not able to keep her? What kind of world doesn't help mothers keep their own child? How does that make you feel - being her? Does it hurt? Does it hurt so much you can't even find words? (Do you feel rejected?)
    Yes, adoption is what happened. It's not evil, it's a human invention.
    I want you to imagine YOU are adopted to Vietnam - a foreign culture. What kinds of adjustments would you make to adapt as a child? You are living in a sea of brown faces and you are white. Do you feel odd, out of place?
    I am in no way judging you here. I know you will do everything you can to make her feel a part of America but also Vietnam. I know you will build that bridge with her. You are her mother. And you can empathize.
    What we expect of adoptees is nothing short of miraculous. We expect adoptees to accept and adapt to a new world and new parents.
    If you want your daughter to thrive, as you are doing, give her truth and love and the knowledge she will meet her other mother someday. She will have to overcome the orphanage experience, being abandoned, living in a strange land, and that's alot. Some adoptees never do thrive.
    Be her and live her experience. What would you do if you were her?

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  4. Trace, I actually reject the Stockholm Syndrome because that is related adults like Patty Hearst who then become one with the captors. in other words she had a different life, then because of captivity associated herself with her captors. Adoptees never had a different life and as such it cannot be called Stockholm. They grew up and loved a actual life which was tainted by adoption, the majority of whom had no idea of the trauma they had endured by removal, stress whilst in their bio mothers and yes even different language. This undefined or not remembered trauma does affect how we have evolved and lived our lives. And yes i agree eventually we all or most of us try to learn about our original family often with complete failure because unlike Patty Hearst we had no relationship we could remember. Unlike first nations people or indigenous australians we who are not, have very little to bond us to original family and yes very little to bond us to the adoptive family, especially extended. in my personal view the term Stockholm Syndrome has been primarily used by some mothers to explain why their now adult children do not wish to have a deep and meaningful relationship so the desire to find and place blame on this means they have to find a way to blame the adoptive parents and implying brainwashing is a easy way of doing it. An Australian mother who falsely claims that adoptees stole the federal apology was very free and easy with this term to put down adult adoptees who stood up for themselves. She still today calls her sons late a/parents captors even though this man is a successful surgeon with his own life. I just hate to place tags on adoptees as every experience is so different

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  5. ;) One of the greatest piece of advice I was ever given along this journey is this:

    You can support, feed, clothe, nurture, council, love, cuddle, teach, bond, etc. but you (as an adoptive parent) can NEVER take away the fact that your adoptive child was, for whatever the reason, not raised by their biological parent so DO NOT try to heal this part of them because you can not. DO NOT try to mask or glaze over that fact. because this is one part of their history you can not fix.

    It's a fine thread to needle. As a care-giver of ANY kind, we have an inert need to heal others pain. I was told that this is one pain I will never be able to heal and it is for each and every adoptee to deal with in their own way. I live by that advice. I honor and respect her need to grieve and long for her biological family and will continue to support her in any endeavor she chooses (in regards to connecting with her bio-family). I don't try to put a bandaid on this wound as it is hers and hers alone to embrace. To either let it define her or let it be part of her makeup that empowers her is her choice, not mine. I will never be able to "fix" her being adopted, i will never be able to "fix" her family not being financially viable. But I will do everything in my power to teach her the fact that she has a family whom is abundantly grateful and overwhelmingly fulfilled by her being apart of it, as well as, a family that loved her enough to make the ultimate sacrifice ensuring a more viable life for her. We have always taught her that she is loved by those close and far while also allowing her to grieve and ask questions when it strikes her.
    We thankfully live in a melting pot of a community and have a Large Vietnamese adoption camp near by where she can bond with other adoptees and be immersed in her culture even more. We also plan to travel back to Vietnam in a couple years, reach out to her birth family (though culturally her birth mother may not respond as she was very young, if she marries she may not divulge that she has ever had a child. Though we are hoping that will not be the case) and explore her country.

    Thanks for the dialogue woman. as always, with abundant respect~

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    Replies
    1. I'm curious why the mother is not adopted along with the child?

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  6. Good point, Mugs. Stockholm Syndrome applies when you are an adult abductee who have a memory of home, family. How this applies to adoptees who have difficulty with their adoptive parents is not the same thing. Mothers who lost children to adoption could twist it around and blame the adoptive parents.
    In Marci's case, she's balancing expectation with the truth of her daughter's early life in an orphange and how she was put up for adoption willingly.
    Some of the adult adoptees I know do remember their lives and parents before adoption. They recall their life prior to being placed with non-Indians parents.
    Indeed every experience is unique and I am hopeful that adoptive parents are seeing the light in their expectation of their adopted child who need to find their balance and manage this two world experience.

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    Replies
    1. I too see the similarity that Stockholm syndrome has with adoption. It truly is about survival, and one has to identify with the captors to do that.

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    2. Thanks Scott for reading and your comment. I agree with you completely, whether it was an adoption that was coerced or willing. The child is the one we need to be concerned about. Closed adoption doesn't allow us adoptees to know any truth of our own ancestry, or medical history or our own families. That has to be addressed once and for all.

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