In the world of adoption, the adoption triad includes the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee. The adoption triad forms a triangle, with the adoptee at the top, at the center of it all. Sometimes, as an adoptee, it doesn’t feel like adoption is for us, or like we are at the center. It doesn’t always feel like the adoption system is set up to benefit the adopted child. 

I was adopted in 1997. At that time, adoption resources were limited, the internet was new, and people were less likely to share their stories. One of the main resources at the time was The Primal Wound, by Nancy Verrier. This resource was new and not as widely accepted as it is today. 

The Primal Wound is a book written by an adoptive mother and therapist. She has one biological daughter and one adopted daughter. She began to notice vast differences in their behavior and approach to the world as she raised them. This brought her to believe that adoption makes a difference in a child. This idea was revolutionary at the time given that most adoptions were kept secret, not discussed, and brushed under the rug. 

Nancy rocked the adoption boat when releasing The Primal Wound and changed the adoption community for the good. If you are part of an adoption triad or are touched by adoption in any way, reading The Primal Wound is an absolute must.

The couple I was placed with, whom my birth mother chose, were hopeful adoptive parents. They had their fair share of hardships in regards to growing their family. After years of struggle, they turned to adoption. My adoptive mother’s mom was adopted as an infant, so my adoptive mother felt familiar with adoption. 

My adoption in 1997 was modeled exactly after my grandmother’s adoption in 1938. The only issue was that adoptions in 1938 were full of secrecy, lies, and denial. I did have the pleasure of interviewing my grandmother about her perspective on adoption. 

All of these things, and my grandmother’s adoption experience, led my parents to go down the route of secrecy. I did not know I was adopted as a child. I only found out at the age of 8 due to a series of events that finally led to my bravery to ask the right questions. Once I came out and asked “Am I adopted?” They couldn’t keep up with the secrecy, and they told me. Despite now knowing of my adoption, they still held the door shut on any further questions about my biology or my beginnings in the world. Secrecy was the name of the game, and I was far too much of a people-pleaser to investigate further.

Unfortunately, I am not the only adoptee on the planet to experience this. Up until fairly recently, closed adoption was the standard. In fact, oftentimes birth mothers were told after their children were born “just forget it ever happened!” But can a mother truly forget her child? Thankfully, over the years and through a lot of trial and error, open adoption (and just being open with adopted children generally), is what is expected and accepted in adoptions. 

So who is the secrecy for? Sometimes it is for the birth parent. Women, and sometimes men, were shamed for having children out of marriage, but also shamed for placing the baby for adoption. I know from my story that my birth mom kept me a secret from the majority of the people in her life. There is far too much shame surrounding mothers making the right choice for themselves and their babies. 

I think the main reason that adoption information is withheld from the adoptee is for the emotions of the adoptive parents. Or at least in my story that seemed to be the case.

Adoption is for the adoptee. The practice is for a child. It is all about what is best for the adoptee. Is keeping heritage and biology from someone for their betterment? I understand that some adoption stories are difficult; but, as a parent, I know that there is always a way to tell a child something in an age-appropriate way. There is always room to be open with our children. This is especially true in adoption and for adopted kids. If you have read The Primal Wound, you will see the negative effects that secrecy in adoption has on the children.

In order to truly put the adoptee at the center of it all, we have to be honest with our adoptees and ourselves. The circumstances that create adopted families can be horrible and tragic. Loss and grief accompany all adoptions. Every single adoption, no matter how happy, is born of loss. One family has to lose a baby in order for another to gain one. Adoptees not only need to know their story and their heritage, they have a right to it. Adoption can be a beautiful experience for all parties involved. 
Knowing that I have gained multiple things from both my adoptive and my biological family is an incredible gift. I have double the love, talents, and gifts. I have double the family! Adoptees should be celebrated in their uniqueness and the amazing ways that we came to be with our families. If everything is a secret, we are taught to be ashamed and sad in regards to our story. Adoption can be a good thing, but we have to treat it as such and not be ashamed of it. Don’t make your adoptee carry the weight of your burdens. That goes to both adoptive parents and biological parents. Tell them their story, tell them the wonderful things they get from both families! Celebrate adoption as a family. Celebrate being members of the triad together.