If We Silence Adoptees, Who is Adoption For?

If it were your first time on the internet, one thing you might find is that humans seem nearly obsessed with how we value the lived experiences of other humans. We are the only species that makes decisions solely based on the reviews of others within our species. Need a good vacation spot? Read a review. Want to move to another town? Read a review. What graduate school should you apply to? Read a review. Is that a good restaurant, photographer, book, nanny, dentist, vehicle, surgery, employer, so on, and so on? Read a review.

As a species, we want to be informed.

If one were to look into adopting a child through an international or domestic adoption, it would seem that the lived experiences of those who were adopted would be the most valued and sought after, right? The ones that could inform us best at what we might be getting ourselves into, right?

Absolutely wrong.

The most valued lived experience in adoption does not belong to the adoptee; the person who actually lives the adoption experience.

In adoption, there are reviews for which agency or attorney to use. Or which country is the most affordable with the quickest process. Or what social media site has the best fundraising results.

But there is no forum dedicated to the very experience with which all the other reviews ultimately lead to: the life of an adoptee. The very one that adoption is for.

So when an adoptee takes the time to be vulnerable, honest, and passionate about their lived experience with you, can I ask one thing on their behalf?


and do not


that adoptee

I would have given anything for an adoptee’s review on their lived experience 20 years ago. The only reviews I received were those of adoption agents and adoptive parents. Please do not squander the wealth of information that adoptees can provide. You never know when you may unexpectedly need it. Many of us from days past were not granted access to these valuable insights. They are gold. Treat them as such.

Many do not want the adoptee voice to be the prominent voice in adoption (or any voice at all). Sometimes, those types of reviews may be bad for the adoption business. But the business transaction of adoption is a brief moment in time. The lived experience of adoption lasts a lifetime. Who would have the stronger claim to opinion? Who should have the stronger claim to opinion?

Adoptees are not 2-dimensional automatons that come in only “grateful” or “angry” modes. You cannot guarantee the outcome for any model that you receive because they are indeed humans- amazing, beautiful, and worthy humans. Each living their own experience through this institution called adoption. An institution that might get better reviews if humans became more concerned with the voice of those actually living the experience. Rather, we concern ourselves with the reviews comprising of the means by which we interact within the institution. We concern ourselves with the most impersonal minutiae of a very personal experience.

Of course, I have selfish reasons in asking that you respect the voices of adoptees. I write this for my daughter.

My daughter has never known anything outside of a lived adoption experience. She is the expert. It is her life for better or worse- my regrets or not. I see day-in and day-out how adoptees are invalidated, minimized, and silenced. I shudder at the thought that my daughter may be on the receiving end one day. That day may come when she writes the review of her lived adoption experience, in the hopes of helping another human, and in return she will get #notall-ed by someone too delicate for her honesty. She may be dismissed as an “angry” model and her review will be figuratively and literally deleted from existence. An entire lived experience, silenced.

If we silence adoptees, who is adoption for?

I’ll say it again,

If we silence adoptees, who is adoption for?

It takes incredible courage for adoptees to share their experiences…their lives with us. One day, I hope that it is their reviews…their voices…that are sought after first rather than not at all.

Isn’t that a beautiful future?

Those who started life without a voice one day becoming the most valuable voice of all.

I love you, H. 

Speak your truth- grateful, angry, or anywhere in between.




12 thoughts on “If We Silence Adoptees, Who is Adoption For?

  1. Beautifully written! I myself am adopted and I one thousand percent agree with what you are saying. It is important for our voice to be heard.


    1. I want to understand my daughter better. And I have found the voices of adoptees incredibly helpful. It grieves me every time I see someone’s discomfort shut down an adoptee. It isn’t productive for families who need invaluable insight. Thank you. I hope I didn’t come across “speaking for” adoptees. I just dread the day my own child is treated so poorly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As an adoptee, amen and thank you. It *always* comes from insecure adoptive parents or prospective adoptive parents and I often wonder how they’ll feel in 12 or 15 years when someone talks to their beloved child like they’ve talked to me and other adoptees. By talking down to, #NotAll and being incredibly rude and patronizing they’ve given permission for others to talk to their adoptees like that in a few years.

    Liked by 1 person

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