The Anonymous Adoptee

26, Wife/Mother, Transracial Adoptee, Nonfiction Writer, Editor

The History of Adoption

in the United States If you know anything about our government and its operations, you know that the church (specifically the Catholic Church) has been involved in adoption practices throughout the 1940s and into the early 1970s before Roe v. Wade. They are also responsible for the invention of birth control, fun fact. What you probably didn't know was that the practice began in the 1850s, with the first formal adoption law being put into place in Massachusetts in 1851, which allowed a judge to take away a parent's rights if they were deemed unfit to be parents, and was enacted in part because of the work done by a Reverand who went by the name Charles Loring Brace, who is 1853, founded the Children's Aid Society in New York City. A Little Bit of Context: Before the 1850s Before this, adoption was informal and usually used between more prominent families to secure wealth via property and other desirable assets for the period. They were like arranged marriages in that they generally benefited both parties. It's not hard to imagine scenarios where the daughter of a prominent wealthy family gave birth to an illegitimate child that her parents forced her to relinquish to save face and protect the family name and remain in good standings with society; in other words, to avoid what today we might call, “a PR nightmare.” So in retrospect, the first adoption law in Massachusetts seems like a significant step forward (and let's be honest, the fact that the birthplace of any form of adoption law has me saying, “Okay, Massachusetts, good for you, girl,” in my head because I'm vaguely aware of the petition at a Massachusetts public school to, and I quote, “bring back slavery,” and like, no?) and in a lot of ways it was, but to say there weren't negative consequences that could be born out of this was obvious.

A Historical Example of Mob Mentality and How it Relates to Adoption

For starters, the earliest example (and one that, right off the top of my head, I know that everyone, young and old, is guaranteed to understand) I can think to use to explain “mob mentality” would be the Salem Witch Trials (and yes I promise this has a point), because some people began to accuse their friends and neighbors of witchcraft out of revenge for some act committed against them (either real or imagined). Is your friend's business doing better than yours? Witchcraft. If your neighbor produced higher yields than you this season? Witcraft. Too many successful births? Witchcraft. Did your neighbor get offered a top position in the church over you? Well, indeed, it must be witchcraft. With that example fresh in your brain, it becomes pretty easy to spot the potential issues. Parents relied on children during this time to help their mothers on the farm and to do housework and other menial jobs required by the period. If parents lost their children (especially if they were older and unable to do the manual labor required), it could leave them destitute with no food and no money or ability to pay their way. If there is as much government corruption as today, you can probably bet that judges held their coffers wide open so the wealthy and influential business people could fill them. Once again, tipping the odds in favor of the rich. The Church's Motto The church, much like Reverand Charles Loring Brace, has always said that it is their duty as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ to help the homeless, widowed, and poor, to be an advocate for children born into such circumstances, and to compel the sinner to rise from their misfortune, repent for their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and accept him into their lives and hearts. It began with orphanages for children whose parents were unfit or died and eventually morphed into “Magdalene Asylums” or “Mother and Baby” homes. Then throughout the 19th Century and into the first half of the 20th Century, many of these institutions were run by religious organizations. Their primary focus was providing education and healthcare services to communities. Later this turned into institutions for unwed mothers. It allowed women and girls who became pregnant out of wedlock or (in the most unfortunate scenario) were molested or raped. Unfortunately, during this period, society generally believed that in these horrific cases that it was the fault of the woman and not the man who had assaulted or raped her. Women were accused of tempting men, promoting this behavior, and deserved whatever happened to them. This attitude towards victims of sexual assault highlights a problematic societal mindset.

The (Forced) Relinquishment of Illegitimate Children In the years before Roe v. Wade

(If you don't know, the court precedent set stated that a woman has a right to privacy and to make informed medical decisions regarding her reproductive health without interference from the government or any other party) it was social suicide to be considered sleazy or uncouth. It could hurt her prospects of marriage, and this was especially important because, at this time, women did not aspire to have careers or do anything outside of the home other than teaching or caregiving. From the 1940s through the mid to late 1960s, society expected women to be good, god-fearing women who cared for their husbands and gave them many children. A woman's ultimate goal was to be a homemaker. Raise polite, happy, and successful children who become well-rounded adults who don't get in trouble and attend Church every Sunday. Any woman who strayed from the mold forged by the church and affirmed by society, their family name and personal reputation would be in ruins—severely damaging any fruitful marriage prospects. In the book, The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler talks about the lengths some women and their family members went to save not only themselves and their reputation as parents but also to protect their daughters from being shunned in the community, making her fate all but inevitable. The idea of a family member, a mother, a father, or even a brother coercing their daughter or sister (sometimes even forcefully, giving them only one of two options: relinquish their children or be selfish and condemn the child to a life of poverty and shame (great options, right? Dark, I know) probably seems unthinkable. At this time, however, this was the reality. Right around this time, the Catholic Church saw a rise in demand for those “Mother and Baby” homes; because of this demand, many institutions began accepting only women who were unwed and pregnant and were permitted to stay until their babies were born. Then they were sent home (often coming from nearby towns far enough away from their hometowns that they wouldn't be spotted by anyone they knew) with vague, empty promises that their notes, letters, mementos, and photos they wanted their children to have eventually, would be saved and documented for when they were older. Contact between the birth mothers, their babies, or even the families adopting their children was little to nonexistent. Adoptive families during this period were also encouraged not to mention the adoption to their children (except in the cases of transracial adoption, but even then, as a transracial adoptee, I've heard some crazy things said to me that felt kind of insulting. So if the parents of these children were also encouraged to do the same, it wouldn't be surprising to me) and if they couldn't, they usually opt for something along the lines of, “They didn't want you because (insert drugs or alcohol or promiscuity here), and we (the adoptive family) wanted you because we (insert the reason of infertility or charity or loneliness/sense of duty here) and were more equipped to care for you than your birth mother was,” (at least this is the thing I have not only heard the most in my house but other adoptees have also cited as frequently hearing, either by their family members or friends).

The Girls Who Went Away

Often, pregnancy would befall young women who still attended school. These young women didn't have access to sex education in their schools. Most of the time, these lessons were faith-based and centered around abstinence and purity. Their teachers didn't teach them about the risks of sex (or sex at all), and sometimes these young women had naive, childlike assumptions about sex based on what their parents told them about the subject (often minimal, if at all) in their homes. Some birth mothers were so fearful of their parent's reactions that they engaged in risky behavior like drinking, drugs, and smoking to cause a miscarriage. Others attempted to will it away, denying the obvious until it was no longer possible. As you can imagine, some girls were denounced by their parents and left to fend for themselves on the street. Others had no other option but to go to their church leaders to secure a bed in one of these homes for unwed mothers (as mentioned earlier, usually several towns over), isolating them from the support of their friends and family while simultaneously protecting their reputation), tell her school that she'll be taking a leave of absence for either medical procedures, sick family members, or any excuse that would explain their absence for months at a time. If these girls were exposed by school staff or any community member with any authority to be pregnant out of wedlock, the school also had the right to kick them out, citing that their child posed the risk of corrupting other girls to sin similarly and, therefore barred from attending the school. Most of the time, the cover-up was unsuccessful, and even though it wasn't expressly said out loud, people often assumed that the reason they weren't around was that they had sinned against the Lord, and this was their punishment for consummating with the other sex. Induce Automatic Pearl-Clutching Here When these women came home from these homes, everyone around them was inclined to pretend that the whole ordeal had never happened, and parents had the idea that their daughter's life would continue as usual. Women who have openly discussed the trauma they experienced relinquishing their babies have cited that upon their return, they felt different from everyone around them. Some women, to cope with the pain of giving up a child that everyone around either didn't know existed or pretended not to know existed, engaged in even riskier behaviors than the ones that had led them there in the first place. Engaging in even more unprotected sex, drinking in excessive amounts, being promiscuous, and even going so far as to start taking hard drugs or becoming obsessed with the way they look. Some women immersed themselves in ensuring everything returned to normal while secretly feeling like some part of them had died the minute the baby had left their arms but could not speak about it. Some women never did.

The Condition and Staff of the Homes for Unwed Mothers

The last thing we have to talk about is the staff of these facilities along with their conditions. As much as I would like to denounce every single one of these institutions based solely on their purpose, not all of these homes had deplorable conditions and unkind staff. Some women described their experiences (apart from the circumstances that led them there) as relatively positive. They said that the nurses showed them kindness and understanding that wasn't always present throughout this practice. At other homes, the conditions weren't excellent, and they operated almost like a prison. The women described their time in these homes as lonely, isolating, and often scary experiences. The prenatal checkups and other routine appointments were described as invasive, with the doctor or nurse not explaining what they were doing and why. This was also true if there were complications during birth; the women were sedated and never told what was happening to them, further making the experience even more traumatizing than it needed to be. When it was time for relinquishment, the mothers got no time with their children. Some staff did feel bad enough to allow them time with their children, but most of the time, nurses were trained to remain as detached as possible. Some even go so far as to guilt the more reluctant women to give their children away. Telling them that they're dooming their children to a life of poverty, meaning the birth mothers were sluts and didn't deserve to have children; some were kinder, but the practice was just as manipulative. The more considerate nurses would only pretend to care, not using as forceful language but asking questions like, “How are you going to take off this child?” “Where would you live?” “Your parents would disown you, and then what will you do?” These methods worked. Nurses would then take the children of these unwed mothers to live with other well-off families. As much as we like to vilify birth mothers, I think it's essential for us as adoptees to understand the pain and damage that this practice (when not done correctly or with all parties involved in mind) can cause. Once we begin to process our adoption loss and grief, we tend to become angry at our adoptive parents and birth parents. Still, it's important to remember that they're also victims of this institution. We can't process our loss without understanding that everyone kind of loses uniquely. Birth mothers miss out on raising their children; adoptive parents will never look at their child's face and see one that resembles theirs, and adoptees will never experience the mother-daughter bond that is so crucial to the growth of a healthy and well-rounded child. Instead, it leaves the adoptee feeling empty and lonely, with abandonment looming over their shoulders as they struggle to find home. Everyone loses, and it's my personal goal to spread awareness about the topic since no one else seems to be doing so. I want to provide you, the adoptee, a safe place to discuss these feelings. I don't want you to feel like you're judged for being angry or shameful, or hurt because you have every right to feel these feelings. You deserve a place to express them.

The Perfect Opportunity

My mom and I were having one of our weekly phone conversations, and the subject of Lyla and schools came up, but it wasn't any of my concerns. Basically, to me, they were fake ones born out of a lack of understanding for people who are different from what they are. Naturally, this conversation led right to the beautiful bathroom debate, and an opinion I'm sure my mom got from Fox News quickly came out of her mouth. I've tried to do this piece a million different ways, but maybe this conversation gave me the perfect opportunity to debunk a few things that my other work wouldn't discuss. Especially as a parent, I feel a personal responsibility to make sure I'm very clear about my positions regarding transgender people being able to use the bathroom they feel the most comfortable in. I've long held the view that everyone should respect and treat each other as they want to be treated. I do not take kindly to individuals who bully others. It's essential to create a safe and inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and supported. I also don't think it's right to make someone else's time harder for no real reason. I want to be clear that I won't talk about the controversy surrounding transgender children or whatever. My personal opinion is its none of my business, and apart from intersex individuals and the misconceptions that were present in the past, I cannot reliably confirm how many children are receiving gender reassignment surgery as a part of their gender-affirming care; I can almost say for sure that this isn't happening in mass numbers. (We can discuss Jazz at a later date. That, I think, is something very different, and to be honest, I'm pretty shocked “I Am Jazz” is allowed to be aired on TV) It's not a cheap or accessible option for most transgender adults, and I can't see a lot of parents or doctors (not famous ones because those aren't representative of regular transgender people) willing to sign off on or operate on a child. I just have no idea what they would even gain from having a reputation for doing so unless you wanted to be labeled a scumbag and one who mutilates children. Another point I made to my mother is that our government didn't legalize gay marriage across all 50 states until 2013, and we did the same thing we are doing to transgender people to gay people between the first four years of Obama's second term. We even had an honest conversation about whether or not to allow gay men to use the men's bathroom because of the fear that they would “rape little boys” like, we did that shit. We weren't even talking about men who were born as women. We were straight-up talking about men who are just attracted to other men. I asked my mom if she realized the absurdity of such a conversation even taking place now. She conceded (I'll add here that my mom has always been supportive of the gays, especially when she was just getting over her divorce, my mom went to drag shows nonstop and even introduced a few to my dad and I, even though my parents had been separated, so she harbors no ill will towards them, which I figured would be my most substantial leverage in this touchy conversation). I then told my mom I thought this discussion was also dumb and not worth having. Among the other various and lengthy points I made, the main one was that if it were a pervert in a wig pretending to be transgender, it would be obvious, and since we now lock the front doors of schools. We have hired more security to monitor them; I would hope that a strange person loitering by the bathroom would be immediately spotted by school staff. Of course, my mother cited the disproven case of the man who assaulted a little girl in a school bathroom. However, Fox News failed to mention that the little girl knew the man and had either lied and said he was her uncle when he was her neighbor or was her uncle; I can't remember which but either way, the point is the little girl knew the man who had assaulted her. I was not some strange man lurking by a bathroom, and if you want to get technical, it has been statistically proven that most victims of rape know their abuser. Therefore, it is crucial to educate and raise awareness of consent and healthy relationships. The only point I conceded was that there did need to be an honest conversation about children being incredibly vulnerable to foreign influence, and that makes the discussion around social transitioning a remarkably prescient one and potentially an uncomfortable one. It requires the acknowledgment of the transgender community that some of the people in their community are hostile towards those who have detransitioned or have changed their minds in the midst of socially transitioning. Detransitioning can be a difficult and lonely journey as support is limited. It is essential to seek out qualified professionals who can provide guidance and understanding. But it's also super important that they have the permission of their community. The whole goal of the transgender movement was to celebrate self-exploration and promote the joys of self-discovery and being who you are. Yet when it comes to detransitioning, exploring something, and then realizing it isn't for you. That should be perfectly acceptable, especially for children. I believe that it's the responsibility of the transgender community to help convey and communicate this message. If they don't, I can see why some parents may be reluctant to allow their children to transition socially. It could ruin their social lives if they end up changing their mind. And to claim their fear is unfounded is to deny how impressionable children are in their true nature, especially when peers are involved. I told my mom that the lack of acknowledgment from the transgender community when parents address their concerns is generally why there is so much confusion and hostility between the two parties. I then hit her with the story of all stories. The proverbial, nai-in-the-coffin that was going to drive my point home. I told her that there was a girl in my school who was transitioning to a man. He was 16, his mom was supportive, and he received hormone therapy. I told her that not only did none of the students give a shit, but none of the parents, teachers, or staff cared. Lakota went so far as to allow him to use her preferred bathroom AND have the name he wanted on his school identification card. No one ever said a word. It was simply accepted and respected, just as it should be. My mom kind of stumbled over her words and ultimately wanted to change the topic, a thing I was more than happy to oblige because all I needed was for her to think about how dumb that fear was in practice, like in day-to-day life. I even mentioned that the friend that always accompanied me to the gay club was also transitioning to be a man and even worked with an ex-boyfriend of mine at Tire Discounters. That's how I met him., through my ex. My mom claimed not to remember, and we quickly switched to gossiping about my ex. I don't claim to know all of the answers, and I'm just saying that you shouldn't get your information from idiots like Matt Walsh (who's fucking 36), Tucker Carlson, and Ben Shapiro. All they do is spread lies and hate to further the religious agendas they fake believe in for money. They hide under the guise of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion to take those rights away from others whose views their faith permits them to hate. This kind of behavior goes against the very spirit of democracy and diversity. Every individual has the right to express their beliefs without promoting animosity. Discuss...

That Missing 'Thing' You've Never Had the Words For...

Adoption is like your biological parents, the adoption agency, your adoptive parents, and your therapist playing a game of Hot Potato but with a person (me or you). Then when you're 18, everyone realizes that they no longer have to play; the players then put the potato back in a cool, dry storage area until they need it for cooking. Once the pantry door shuts, all of the identities you've ever had, the different hats you've tried to don, come poking through just like the buds on a potato. Next time that potato is needed, those buds that begin to sprout upon your skin, will be severed in an attempt to make you appear to be like any other potato. and then you'll be sliced and diced in whatever form the players agree upon. All defective or undesirable parts are thrown away for quality control.
I was in bed when the anxiety attacks were in full swing at 2 am (just before the sleep paralysis). I longed to go home despite being in my bed in the apartment with my husband. I shared with our daughter, and I realized how much I feel like a potato; the deeper I thought about it, the more I felt like a potato was 100% perfect to describe myself as an adoptee. The potato is a dull, do-nothing vegetable, and I am a boring, do-nothing person. A person can cook a potato in many different ways, and it can be served and eaten differently even though (at the end of the day) it's still just a bland potato; I, too, can be presented and digested in a variety of ways and I too, at the end of the day am just a useless potato. When you leave a potato alone for too long in a cool, dry place, buds begin to sprout and protrude through the dry skin of the vegetable, whose exterior is in dire need of a touch-up. Much like myself, if left alone in a dark and empty room for too long, I emerge with as many identities as spores on a potato. A person has no choice but to remove them, lest they take on their own life and morph into a less savory personality.
All jokes aside, I know it feels like everything you touch either is burned, leaves a scar, or turns to ash. I know that when things go wrong, you not only blame yourself, but you also have a terrible habit of thinking you deserve this somehow. I know you feel lost or, as one anonymous adoptee described, “perpetually wandering.” I often say to myself, “I just want to go home,” knowing I don't have one. When I was uncomfortable at a sleepover and wanted to “go home,” I was keenly aware that I felt the same whether at 'home' or at a friend's house.
An adoptee in her twenties that attended an adoption support group asked, “When does it go away?” As she began to sob those loud, heartbreaking sobs, the ones that would bring a tear to the eyes of even the toughest of individuals. Others nodded vigorously in agreement as if this were the end all be all of the questions. It's the million-dollar question we have all asked ourselves in all manner of situations and circumstances that causes the confidence in making complex decisions or trying new things to bend and bend and bend until it snaps, breaks, and leaves us stuck in the same place we were trying to get out of: “When does 'it' go away?” It doesn't. I'm so sorry. I know you thought that at some point it gets better or that one day you'll wake up and you won't care. Let me tell you from experience this line of thinking has the exact opposite effect. However, I didn't make this blog to be a doomer-boomer and tell you all of the things that are wrong with the world (or what's wrong with adoption) and then offer you no solutions or no alternative coping strategies because, no, telling yourself you're a “bad bitch” and “everyone wants you” while twerking in the mirror drunk at 2 am only to collapse onto the floor an hour later ugly crying about how “no one wants you,” Is NOT a healthy coping strategy. I'm astonished that this is some of yall's definition of 'self-care' (I can assure you that's not what that is). I can, however, offer you language. I know it doesn't seem to be much, but let me tell you how great that feeling was when there was language, literal words, for 'that missing thing you never had the words for' this feeling that keeps you stuck, unsure, unmotivated, inadequate, worthless, a burden, a mistake, a defect, an embarrassment, a disappointment, a fraud; that 'thing' that has no name, the experience that you have only felt, has a name; and has had a word, because (contrary to what you believe) you are by no means alone in this particular struggle. You seek this word: Grief. You are experiencing a unique kind of grief that sociologists, social workers, and developmentaliasts are only beginning to understand. This grief, researchers say, is only felt when the attachment to the biological mother has been disrupted or eliminated. Adoption is part of a more extensive study researching a phenomenon between mothers, their offspring, and a chemical called oxytocin. The chemical released during childbirth is called oxytocin. It is a hormone that plays a critical role in delivery by causing the uterus to contract and facilitating the release of breast milk. Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone” because of its role in social bonding and trust (It is also involved in sexual reproduction and stress reduction). How are you, as an adoptee, expected to function normally when in the womb you were not only being prepared for the same environment as your biological mother, but you're also searching for familiarity and comfort before you can even recognize the faces of others. You didn't have the opportunity to form a secure attachment, and (most likely) no adoption agency or hospital, or social worker gave either set of parents the proper resources or information to cultivate that secure attachment between an adoptee and their adoptive family. None of this is our fault. We are a product of a faulty governmental system with outdated research, resources, and technology. Things are changing, and we can make our voices and concerns heard because they need to be. You are valid. Your feelings are valid, and you're suffering from adoption loss, and grieving the pain of your adoption loss is a lifelong process that takes time and support to heal correctly. It is essential to seek therapy and find a community that understands adoption grief. Now that you have a name for what you're feeling, we can do something about it to alleviate the pain and grief of adoption loss and pave the way for the adoptees that come after us. We owe it to ourselves and future adoptees because, as you know, adoption can be a complex and emotional journey, but it's also full of love, hope, and resilience.


Has anyone noticed the increasing number of adoption and foster care commercials on TV (adoption commercials in particular)? As someone who is old enough to remember them as a rarity at, like, 2 am on a news channel if you kept the TV on for background noise, it's harder to ignore when the appearance of one occurs at the start of every local news commercial break.

I'll be honest, as a child seeing them, I always kind of found them unsettling. I wasn't sure why, but I'd watch them and laugh at how much of a caricature it was of my life. What white people think adoption is, The kids, ugh, the kids on these commercials too that feel obligated to lie to please the people who were so gracious enough to open their home to you like the Little Orphan Annie. *insert eye-roll here*

I saw one last night, not too long after the Nuggets game, and when I was uploading an article to Medium, I added “#adoption,” and there were 137 people who followed that tag. I also added “#adoptee.” wanna know how many people follow that tag? Seven. That tells me 130 people are looking to adopt a child or are already adoptive parents. Seven adoptees, the people who are the ones being given to another family, are being vastly underrepresented. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of State, there were approximately 4,059 international adoptions by U.S. citizens in 2019. It's not clear how many adoptees are currently living in the United States overall. Still, according to Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, an estimated 1.5 million adopted children live in the United States; how is it that on a platform that boasts 60 million monthly active readers, only 7 follow the hashtag “adoption?”

It clicked for me why I found the commercials so unsettling. The overly optimistic commercials fail to convey the difficulty of adopting a child, especially one that is in the foster care system and is older or is of a different race than the adoptive parents. What's funny is even as I write this, AI has suggested my following sentence be:Adoption agencies often provide resources to help families overcome these barriers,” when in fact, they kind of don't. They only ever end up benefiting the parents. Adoption records are beginning to open up to those who even have such records. However, “non-identifying” information is still the “go-to” for most states, including the state I was born in (Missouri) and the state I live in (Ohio).

The problem is that these agencies can offer all the help they want; it won't matter. It won't matter until we change the stigma around adoption. Adoptees need a safe place to speak about the pain of their adoption loss and grief without feeling guilty or shameful for feeling the way they do. We won't open up about our experiences because we don't want to make our adoptive parents feel bad when we ask questions. We don't want them to feel like they're being replaced. Frequently, even wanting to know where we come from makes us feel guilty because we shouldn't want to know. After all, they aren't the ones who raised us. The entire existence of an adoptee is a contradiction. Contradictions between feelings, belonging, and identity are everyday struggles.

These commercials are unsettling because they do not accurately portray the pain that all parties feel during the adoption process. Ann Fessler addresses this directly in her book, “The Girls Who Went Away,” when she says, quote: “Adoption is, by its very nature, a painful process, one that brings into sharp relief the loss felt by all parties involved: the adoptive parents who long for a child; the birth mother who may never forget the child she gave away; and the adoptee who, even in the most secure and loving home, feels the sting of being separated from their biological roots.” Fessler makes a compelling point here, prompting us to think about the adoptive parent's loss in all of this, seeing as they will never look into their child's face and see themselves reflected in them. Some adoptive mothers will never know what it feels like to carry a baby in their stomachs, to feel the baby kick and move and squirm, or experience food cravings or hormones, they'll never know the pain of birth, nor will they have any advice to offer when their adopted children consider becoming parents and having children of their own.

This kind of loss is devastating for all parties. The overly optimistic and cheerful tone represented in pro-adoption commercials frustrates me because it just doesn't accurately reflect the reality of being an adoptee. If it did, outsiders wouldn't feel comfortable saying “be grateful” when a disagreement occurs between parent and child. People wouldn't say to you as an adoptee, “Oh, I'm so sorry,” when you tell them you're adopted, and “Oh, how wonderful of you” when your adoptive mom tells them.

Look, I'm not claiming that this is some easy thing to navigate, but an honest conversation needs to be had here because judging by the quantity of these commercials, the fact that they're government funded, and aired on prime-time television, I'd wager all of the GOP's abortion bans are backfiring, because if this doesn't scream “propaganda,” I'm not sure what does.

I don't know what the path forward is. Banning abortion isn't the solution; if anything, that would exacerbate the issue, and using adoption as an alternative to abortion also isn't the move; I don't know that I believe adoption is a viable solution anymore because I'm not sure there is a way to mitigate the potential damage that adoption can have. Whatever route is taken, we need to put the needs of children first. We can all agree that a lot of time and energy has been put into helping both sets of parents cope with their grief and loss while the child's mental health and development essentially went ignored. This needs to change before we start telling prospective parents how great it is to be an adoptive parent and what it means to parent a child dealing with adoption loss and grief.

When is the 'Right Time' to Tell Me About My Birth Family, and Who Ultimately Should Decide That?

I was thinking about my book, and I was wrestling with where to start. I began asking myself if I should start with the day I first got the courage to ask my mom about my birth mother when I was eight and was given (what I thought) was a breadcrumb towards my identity, in the form of a name. Her name is my birth mother's name. Or if I should start with the moment my adoption questions couldn't be avoided by my parents any longer, and as luck would have it, I was graduating high school in a week, and I was already eighteen.

The reason they couldn't avoid it was that, at the time, I had been dating a guy for four years, and he was adopted. That summer, he was preparing to meet his birth family, and his adoptive parents were so supportive it made me resent my mom a little; I felt like, “Why aren't you acting like they are ?” I would have these random feelings like this pop up a lot, like, “What are you so afraid of, and how is that my problem.” I felt so guilty for even thinking like this, even though in the back of my head, I'd always known I had a right to be angry; I just wasn't confident enough yet to stand by my anger.

Anyways, when I thought about at what age I received the information about my birth family, it seemed so cliched. I was also annoyed that adoption history or adoption stories, whatever your preferred name, are beholden to the unspoken (and antiquated) list of 'I'll tell you when you're ready' speeches that occur when parents are too lazy to answer a complex question, explain a complicated (and often nuanced) situation or explore an uncomfortable topic to avoid a potentially awkward conversation. It makes me angry that my questions haven't been answered but ignored. Then to add insult to injury, it's somehow gotten into the public consciousness that any potentially life-altering event or family secret needs to be hidden from those deemed too fragile to hear it. Still, at the same time, those same people have cautioned you since the age of eight that “you're going to be very fertile because your mom was very fertile,” as if an eight-year-old can't figure out what's being implied with the utterance of that statement. Yet, I can't know or talk to my birth family until I'm 'old enough to make that decision for myself,' my adoptive parents would say. (I do feel the hints of a larger conversation about at what age, logistically, children are aware of what they're doing and the potential consequences in such circumstances where 'right' and 'wrong' are applicable, but that's a discussion for another day, in another article, for an entirely different blog.)

Look, I'll be honest; I don't really have any answers for you or any concrete strategy for how to cope with it. I'm unsure if adoptees read my blog or relate to my typed words. I just know I started this blog because I was frustrated by the paywalls and lack of free support from people who know how to deal with this kind of thing. All of the significant adoption resources, sure, some offer message boards kind of but even then, you're barred from sharing any personal information or even the non-identifying information that we, as adoptees, are legally entitled to receive through the county in which we were born, are locked behind a subscription. And to me, I'm being exploited by companies who claim to help 'reunite families' or whatever for monetary gain. Our vulnerabilities and insecurities are openly being preyed upon. It's similar to being slapped in the face and punched in the gut. They're saying,

“Oh, I'm so sorry your mother abandoned you, you don't deserve that kind of treatment, and I promise you are not alone. I can help you.....if you pay me an upfront fee of $1,000, regardless of whether I locate your biological family members or not...” As her voice fades into the background, the longer this cell phone pitch continues, you're most likely paying a dollar a minute because it's fucking 2008. It's patronizing, and haven't we been patronized enough? Between the 'be grateful' suggestions, the looks of pity that are received, and the number of times you have felt obligated to launch into an explanation of your origins just to justify your existence at whatever event, ceremony, or family gathering you go to, having to pay or jump through hoops to get access to essential information and god forbid a forum or chat board that isn't Reddit, 4Chan, Facebook, or any half-assed government website that looks like it was done by the same people who created AIM (AOL Instant Messenger, in case you aren't 4 million years old) in 2004.

Whether we are 'ready' for the information or not, we all look for it. I cannot be the only one searching for these resources or support groups. There needs to be a place for us to go where we don't feel like our adoptive parents are going to be able to find what we've said and what we've written and, by default, deepen the guilt and shame we feel when given the freedom to explore who we are, where we come from, and what conclusions we make based on the information available to us.

You aren't alone. I can't wait to see what the Anonymous Adoptee will turn into, and I hope my experiment will be fruitful in helping other adoptees. Hopefully, your path will be shorter, less painful, and lead to more healing than mine.


“Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew” by: Sherrie EldRidge

1. I Suffered a Profound Loss Before I Was Adopted. You Are Not Responsible.

2. I Need to Be Taught that I Have Special Needs Arising from Adoption Loss, of Which I Need Not Be Ashamed.

3. If I Don't Grieve My Loss, My Ability to Receive Love from You and Others Will Be Hindered.

4. My Unresolved Grief May Surface in Anger Toward You.

5. I Need Your Help in Grieving My Loss. Teach Me How to Get in Touch with My Feelings About My Adoption and Then Validate Them.

6. Just Because I Don't Talk About My Birth Family Doesn't Mean I Don't think About Them.

7. I Want You to Take the Initiative in Opening Conversations About My Birth Family.

8. I Need to Know the Truth About My Conception, Birth, and Family History, No Matter How Painful the Details May Be.

9. I Am Afraid I Was 'Given Away' by My Birth Mother Because I Was a Bad Baby. I Need You to Help Me Dump My Toxic Shame.

10. I Am Afraid You Will Abandon Me.

11. I May Appear More 'Whole' Than I Actually Am. I Need Your Help to Uncover the Parts of Myself That I Keep Hidden So I Can Integrate All the Elements of My Identity.

12. I Need to Gain a Sense of Personal Power.

13. Please Don't Say I Look or Act Just Like You to Acknowledge and Celebrate Our Differences.

14. Let Me Be My Own Person...but Don't Let Me Cut Myself Off from You.

15. Please Respect My Privacy Regarding My Adoption. Don't Tell Other People Without My Consent.

16. Birthdays May Be Difficult for Me.

17. Not Knowing My Full Medical History Can Be Distressing at Times.

18. I Am Afraid I Will Be Too Much for You to Handle.

19. When I Act Out My Fears in Obnoxious Ways, Please Hang in There with Me, and Respond Wisely.

20. Even If I Decide to Search for My Birth Family, I Will Always Want You to Be My Parents.


Raceless by: Georgina Lawton a Book Review

Raceless tells the story of Georgina Lawton, the author, and starts with her father's death, which leads her to uncover a family secret about her racial identity, prompting a journey of self-discovery. With her brown skin and kinky hair, along with being raised in what the book describes as a “sleepy” English Suburb in the UK, she was bound to stand out, and not always for flattering reasons. With her exploration into her identity, Lawton finds herself on one whirlwind of a journey that entails everything from uncovering her mother's secret to finding the right hair products and embracing her curls. It details her journey from start to finish, cataloging the grief, anger, resentment, love, healing, acceptance, forgiveness, pain, hurt, confusion, and disillusionment that comes with self-discovery.

As someone who aims to advocate for adoptees or, at the very least, a helpful resource to those who are experiencing adoption grief and are having issues coming to terms with their adoption loss, this book, in my opinion, should be read by all transracial adoptees. I'm not going to discourage this book from adoptees in general from reading this book because, regardless, the story is a good one; however, Lawton's mother is her biological mother, so for that reason, I don't think it will serve as validation for your feelings as much, if at all, as the book was for me. I related heavily to the discrimination and alienation that she received from her white peers, and like me, it only became evident to her as she got older. She described experiences of being fetishized by men, her mother's refusal to acknowledge race in her house, and the lack of preparedness she felt when facing discrimination; like me, it had never occurred to her that the treatment she was receiving was due to her skin color.

This was the first book I read when I started my adoption journey in earnest in 2020. Since it isn't about adoption (and you won't find the title listed alongside any adoption books at the library), I'd say this was me tentatively “dipping a toe” in the proverbial waters of self-exploration. A thing I haven't had the freedom to do until adulthood. This book hardened my resolve for honest answers and accountability from the people around me. I'd recommend this for a transracial adoptee just beginning their journey. It's less threatening. It's not a long book, and I promise it will help you gain the confidence you need to address your adoption grief and loss. It's a necessary part of the healing process to move forward with your life and enjoy Ais a whole community of people you don't even know exists yet, but they all feel like you, and I do. You don't have to wander looking for a home anymore. You are safe.


The Anonymous Adoptee About

Who is the Anonymous Adoptee anyway? If you have found this content, I assume you're an adoptee whose searching either in secret or is currently keeping your dissatisfaction with life a secret because you, as an adoptee, probably feel like you can't talk to those closest to you for fear that the inquiries into where you came from will be misinterpreted. The likelihood that someone gets offended is all but a guarantee. If that's the case, then you are the Anonymous Adoptee.

My name (or at least the one you will come to know me by) is Aria Solena. I've made this blog intending to create a place for adoptees to connect and share our experiences without fear of being judged. Also, a space free of outside influences like adoptive and birth parents can make working through these things even more difficult by adding shame and guilt to the equation where none needs to be.

I'm an adoptee who's half-black with white parents. I grew up in the deeply conservative state of Ohio, with a Republican Super Majority, seeing as both the State House and State Senate of Ohio are run by Republicans. Take it from me when I say I know what you're going through. Even if you found this by accident, and it just so happens that you're an adoptee who has dealt/is dealing with their adoption loss, you can still help someone else who is coping with their adoption loss and grief. Whether through support groups or simply listening, your empathy can make a difference.

In the long term, I hope to fill this blog with personal stories, support groups, discussion boards, political action plans, and resources for those who are dealing with anxiety, depression, and anger; along with book recommendations and resources for your adoptive parents to help them understand who you are and why knowing where you come from is a natural human desire, shouldn't be taken offense to, and why it's healthy for you to help form an identity, sense of self, and find out where it is that you belong.

I know you have been a nomad, wandering from place to place, searching for answers no one wants to give you, and then blaming yourself when you ultimately come up short. That stops with this blog. In the meantime, check out The Anonymous Adoptee (well, what's there) and any article or essay under the pen name “Aria Solena,” and stay tuned. I can't wait to see where this blog takes us.


What Are Emotions?

The types of emotions we experience daily are so vast that psychologists are still developing theories about them and how our behaviors, choices, perceptions, and actions influence our feelings at any moment. In the 1970s, a psychologist by the name of Paul Eckmen was able to analyze the vast array of emotions that are felt by people from all walks of life and even within different cultures. He eventually narrowed it down to six emotions he felt were universally experienced. Originally there were only six emotions; as time passed and studies into human behavior became increasingly sought after, he expanded the list to include four additional universal emotions as well; the list is as follows: 1. Happiness 2. Sadness 3. Disgust 4. Fear 5. Surprise 6. Anger 7. Pride 8. Shame 9. Embarrassment 10. Excitement Another psychologist that was instrumental in our understanding of emotions was Robert Plutchik; his theory involved a “wheel of emotions” that was similar in practice to that of the color wheel, implying that both colors and emotions can be combined (much like the primary colors) to form a feeling. For example, joy and trust can be connected to create love. Despite Plutchik’s theory, in 2017, a study was conducted. One eventually published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that there are twenty-seven varying classifications of emotions. Researchers found that emotions are felt along a gradient and have numerous combinations. A study that Jeanne Tsai did at Stanford University shows that most people have the desire to “feel more positive than negative.” Still, the emotions that lead to a positive emotional state can vary between cultures. For example, according to Tsai’s APS article, the positive emotions that “European Americans typically preferred [were] excitement and elation,” during Chinese populations “preferred calm and relaxation more.” As with any theory, there are many, even though Eckman’s approach is the most cited. The number of universal emotions widely accepted as truth by most (if not all) researchers is that there are twenty-seven categories of emotion. A few holdouts believe there are even fewer than six (ten if you add the other four), going as far as to say there are as few as three. I disagree with that sentiment, and I’m more inclined to believe there are ten. It’s a reasonable enough number for it to be universal and experienced by all human beings in all cultures; twenty-seven, on the other hand, seems like too many to be universally shared by every human being, seeing as all people describe emotions in various ways that are also why I do enjoy “the color wheel” theory and like to imagine feeling as that fluid and interchangeable with each other.

What is the difference between feelings and emotions?

Emotions are a temporary state, and they establish our initial attitude towards reality, warn us of immediate dangers, and ready us for action. They ensure our survival in the short term. For example, an unexpected death in the family, a close friend who was in a bad car wreck, or our first reaction to a sister marrying that guy we think is a douchebag, our initial reactions to things such as these. They also can be either conscious or subconscious. Emotions can be extremely intense, but (and I’ll repeat it because of their importance) they are temporary. Examples of emotions include: • Joy • Fear • Enthusiasm • Anger • Lust • Sadness Feelings dictate how to live our lives, and they create the foundations of our long-term attitudes toward our reality. Senses warn us of dangers that we predict, which is why anxiousness is said to exist within humans in the first place; as a survival tactic. Only in modern society is anxiety considered a mental disorder. Feelings ensure the long-term survival of the self, and while they may be underlying, unlike emotions, they can be sustained over long periods. Some examples of feelings include the following: • Happiness • Worry • Contentment • Bitterness • Love • Depression I pretty much envision feelings aligning with personal values because that shapes your perception of the world and how you choose to interact with it over time. I think emotions are short-term and can be experienced either consciously or subconsciously. If you’re still confused, I’ll leave you with a near-perfect explanation that makes this essay obsolete. Like I could have quickly just taken a few quotes from her and called it a day, and avoided confusing anyone in the first place (which is understandable, especially given the complexity of the subject), do not fret for Karla McLaren, author of The Language of Emotions, has come up with the perfect way to describe the differences in one explanation that’s only one sentence, she describes it as follows: “An emotion is a physiological experience (or state of awareness) that gives you information about the world, and a feeling is your conscious awareness of the emotion itself. Emotions are always true (about something), but they’re not always right.”
Feelings result from our emotions, which are our immediate reactions to external stimuli, helping to preserve the sense of self both in the mind and body. If we begin to understand our emotions and the feelings that shape our worldview, we can start to understand ourselves and other people better. We can develop compassion and understanding for people we don’t necessarily agree with, people outside of our regular social circles, and even form new connections and make new friends, expanding our social capital. By fighting for mutual causes despite core differences in values, we can build a better society for our children and for generations to come. All we must do is try.


“The Rise of Divorce, the Death of Religion, and the Lies of the Church”

This article was originally going to be about communication. Still, during my research, I became aware of the church's antiquated view of masculinity and what it means to be a man according to old-fashioned thinking.

It's somewhat amusing that the catalyst for this opinion piece came from watching an Instagram or Facebook live of Blueface and his girlfriend (whose name I'm not bothering to look up, as I don't want men to send her numerous amounts of unwanted hate. This isn't really about either of them anyway). In this particular live, she asked him to get off innumerable times before throwing vases at him to force him off live.

You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with the church?” Bear with me; there is a method to my madness. As I watched the video, my counseling training kicked in, and I began asking essential questions like, “What were they fighting about initially before the video started?” “Why didn't he just be the bigger person and get off live?” “Why did she want him to get off live?” and “What are his justifications for staying on?” Blueface said (albeit after telling the commenter that they were the problem insert eye-roll here) the most common male excuse when they cause a woman to act irrationally and then torment them by pretending they're calm, cool, and collected because “look at how she's acting, I don't act like that.” They should have said, “I'm not acting like that right now,” but I digress. He said, “Oh, so because I'm gaslighting her, that means it's okay for her to act like that? Nah, YOU'RE the problem,” as he pointed a defiant finger at the camera. Then my husband said, “Exactly...” and I rolled my eyes.

The problem with this is that no one is right or wrong here. I've said this to my husband and others thousands of times, and it still shocks me that it's such a complex concept to grasp. Men's avoidance of emotions is why women leave their passionless and loveless marriages. Women don't need men to survive anymore, so the men they decide to date have to be able to give them more in the intimacy department because they are no longer forced to settle for men who are only financially secure. Society is rapidly moving away from gender roles that have defined relationships in the past, and women need more from men.

Once I began thinking along those lines, I wondered why men have chosen to believe that the sexual freedom women have now (what men would prefer to call promiscuity) compared to previous generations, women being gold diggers and not wanting to work, and the lack of religiosity (especially on this last point because most men that tout this as an excuse are the ones least likely to live according to the rules of the Bible) are the core issues plaguing men and their ability to have successful marriages or relationships.

Then I asked the question that ultimately led me to the title of this piece: “Who is perpetuating this antiquated view of masculinity in a social climate that is calling for change vociferously?” The answer is the church. The church is what is perpetuating this lie, and that's the actual cause of the rise in divorce rates. Their refusal to allow for diversity within the church is causing people to become disaffected by its rigid gender roles and stereotypes. How it becomes mainstream is how I got here, it all comes full circle. Blueface is just as much of a victim as the rest of us.  Albeit with an audience that the average man typically doesn’t have. 

My point is it doesn’t start with Blueface. He’s not the ultra-religious man that I’m referring to. However, I notice that men in his age range have adopted a more modern form of conservatism that still serves the church's goals but also allows men to camouflage their abuse of women in the name of equality. It trickles down from church leaders, those church leaders (who often have investments outside of the church that allows them to perform as lobbyists for not only the church but also whatever corporations they’ve invested in or represent that’s allowing them to accumulate the wealth that they have) who donate to political action committee’s (PACs) who lobby conservative politicians to vote in favor of legislation that seeks to serve corporations and protect investors rather than serve the American people. Then there are people like Ron Desantis, J.D. Vance, Josh Hawley, Lauren Bobert, and Matt Gaetz, who are representative of the new generation of conservatives but are also young enough to know that the church’s core message needs to be translated into a way that’s relatable to young people searching for a person or thing to point to as the cause of their problems. Presented with an opportunity to capitalize on all of the money that Donald Trump was creating for Republicans of all shapes and sizes, they seized the moment and profited hugely. They distorted the message and made it attractive to the thousands of men who feel they’re being left behind and scrutinized while trying to come to terms with the fact that the “American Dream” wasn’t what they’d thought it’d be.

Anyways, the generation of people that were born right before mine, “Gen X,” came about during the initial introduction of tech; the only real difference between Gen X and Millennials is that Gen X cares a little less about the well-being of others. My parents are boomers, and these are the boomers' children, (that’s what makes me a weirdo outlier, I had parents that were boomers, not parents who were Gen X, while most of my friends' parents were going from their late 20s into their early to late 30s, my parents were 20 years older and were way slower in hopping on the technology chain in the early 2000s), they’re more tech-savvy and business-oriented, more of that cutthroat kind of behavior you see mirrored in reality TV shows, dramas, and of course movies like the Wolf of Wal street (or was that originally a book? Who cares, not the point) during that era. Millennials are more socially aware and are a little bit more conscious of the difficulties that plague modern society daily. Think of them as the “on-the-ground” fighters. They know how difficult it is to survive, so they call for policy change. At the same time, Gen X seems to have adopted the mindset that instead of changing the inequality and believing that we can have a more diverse society, to accept things as if there isn’t an ability to change things like there isn’t a point to protesting or demonstrating, and just decided to adapt to the system by whatever means necessary. These are the Ron Desantis and Josh Hawley’s of the world. 

Gen X isn’t completely crippled by technology and modernization as the boomers, and it makes them the ideal candidates to eventually replace the current GOP and use language attractive to Millennials and Gen Z. The next tier in this are people like Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk, Steven Crowder, Tim Poole, Peter Thiel, Blair White, Tomi Lahren, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingram, Kelly Ann Conway, and friends all come into play. They’re a hodge podge of “News” (I feel like I don’t have to tell you why that’s in quotes) Anchors, TV Show Hosts, Political Pundits and Commentators, and YouTube influencers that take the already attractive message and then claim it is under attack by whatever “woke” organization that’s seeking equality that day, whether it be transgender people, the gays, feminists, anti-racists, Antifa, black people, Mexicans, and any other minority group whose being harmed by our outdated system of government. They’re the ones that spread the message, incite the Twitter mobs, and blame the proverbial “other” to initiate the small portions of society that are disillusioned with change (changes, mind you, that have been in the process of changing for, fuck, at least a decade or more) and believe that any rights gained by any other disaffected group of people, means rights that they’re in danger of losing (obviously, this is a false assumption). 

So after the Matt Walsh’s and Ben Shapiro’s, and Candace Owens’s of the world have successfully achieved brainwashing their audience, we get to people like Blueface, who hear these money-hungry scumbags do things like victim blame women who have been sexually assaulted (for example, Christine Blase Ford) and then listen to people on the left tout equality for women and then you wonder why he thinks it’s okay to gaslight and beat up his girlfriend on Facebook Live, it’s also why a bunch of losers on the internet are encouraging it and taking the disgusting stance that he’s right. Blueface is just the result of another fucked up corporate game to attempt to divide and conquer, and we are letting them win, and it’s gross. We can do better than this. We can do better than this by simply raising the bar a little bit. Like in the South Park Episode where James Cameron attempts to find the societal bar we have let drop so low, and Kyle says, 

“How did this happen? How did we let the bar get SO low?!” he asks Tolkein as Cartman and Honey Boo Boo are “Sgetti” wrestling on mobility scooters in the background. 

We need to ask ourselves, how the fuck did WE let the bar get so low?