Tell Me Your Story: Of a Broken Home

For every positive adoption story, there is an equally tragic one. It’s true. We can’t hide from it; we can’t push it under the rug. There are hurt feelings, broken hearts, and painful memories. Whether we are adopted or not, children all need roots. We all need something to anchor us in an unsure, scary world. What happens when the very people who are meant to love and protect you, turn on you? Where do you go, and who do you run to?

We can’t pretend that every adoption is a fairytale, because it is not. Adopted children are not spared from dysfunction or abuse, but they are expected to feel gratitude towards the very people who are abusing them. By listening to the stories of others, we start important discussions. We validate the experiences of others in hopes that it raises awareness and puts an end to abusive parenting, no matter the situation. I invited Renee to read my blog to see if she was interested in contributing, and the following is her response to my story to the About section. In her own words, Renee explains to me her adoption experience:


The underlying assumptions (myths) that adoption is inherently positive and that adoptees’ lives are improved by adoption are my biggest problem with the whole adoption and gratitude trope.

Perhaps your life did improve via adoption. Perhaps you were “rescued.” I have no idea whether that’s true or not, and neither do you, of course, because you’ll never know who you would have become if you’d grown up with your kin–or a different adoptive family, for that matter. But even if adoption was beautiful for you, it was not for me and many, MANY other adoptees I know.

I was a pretty, healthy, active infant. When my mother relinquished me, there were lists and lists and more lists of hopeful adopters waiting to score a baby. My adoptive parents ended up with me because of timing. No other reason. They just happened to be at the top of a list of married couples willing to write a fat check for a newborn. If they hadn’t adopted me, another couple would have. They were lined up around the block. That’s reality.


Also reality: I was never in any danger from my natural mom. She was never unfit or incapable. She was (and is) a bright, charming, especially successful woman who probably would have made a wonderful mom if she’d been given the chance. She was not an incubator, cooking up a child for my poor, infertile adoptive parents. I didn’t grow in the wrong woman. No child does. And I think that’s an awful thing to tell a person. Bottom line: If God does intend all children as gifts, He clearly has indicated by nature where He wants each child to be.

And for the record, not every child ends up with a life that warrants gratitude. Neither my older brother (also adopted) nor I deserved the life of physical and emotional abuse we endured at the hands of our adoptive parents. We didn’t deserve to be neglected, we didn’t deserve to be terrorized, and we didn’t deserve to be beaten within an inch of our lives on an almost daily basis. No child deserves that. But loads of adoptees live it. I know just as many adoptees who were abused by their adopters as adoptees who weren’t. And we’re not grateful. Nor should we be.

8 Replies to “Tell Me Your Story: Of a Broken Home”

  1. This is an absolutely tragedy. I will never understand why people will choose to have children or bring children into their home, when all they’re going to do is abuse and terrorize them…


  2. “What happens when the very people who are meant to love and protect you, turn on you? Where do you go, and who do you run to?”

    I’ve spent many years trying to figure out the answer to your question. I never want anyone, regardless if they are adopted or not, to ever feel the way I did for a long time.

    Sometimes, we are forced to find our inner strength and remarkable courage when we least expect it. My choice to walk away from years of an extremely verbal and a emotionally abusive adoptive mother came at such a high cost. Looking back, I believe my stepfather that I had loved dearly could have taken a gun and shot me and it would have hurt less, when he shockingly became so cold, demanding and mean-spirited towards me.

    I believe those confusing feelings of more loss, betrayal and abandonment issues are only intensified for as adoptees. One of these days, I will able to put it into words how I managed to not give up on life and still working on trying to reclaim my self-worth. My hope is the painful chapters of my life story will help another “friend” not feel so alone through the difficult struggles. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JoAnne, please continue to share your story. We adoptees need each other. I’m sure there is someone out there who is hurting who needs to read your words. They need to hear that that you didn’t give up. Thank you for sharing this.


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