It Could Have Been Them

I was talking to an adoptee friend last week and we were trying to understand why sometimes birth siblings who are found by adoptees do not choose to embrace their new-found adoptee kin.

Sometimes it can be the attitude of the birth parent themselves.  I have noticed a pattern if the birth parent is still in hiding, denial or doesn't want to own up to creating a child, this can affect how the "kept" siblings feel about the adoptee.  (See my friend, Laura Dennis', post about the rejection of her siblings). 

So I posed the question to my friend . . . ."Why do you think it's so hard for the kept siblings to acknowledge our existence and to befriend us?

She quoted her wise aunt as saying,

"Because it could have been them"

That thought got me thinking.  Maybe there is some truth in that statement.

They could have been born first (or last).

They could have been the sibling who was given away, but instead were "chosen" to be raised.

They could be the one who was lied to and found their adoption papers when sorting through their deceased mother's Will.

They could be the one begging relatives for scraps of information.

They could be the one attempting to access "secret" records, being told that the adoption agency social worker has more right to read their file than they do.

They could have been the victim of an unethical attorney who was only looking to make a buck.

They could be the one spending thousands of dollars on search fees and DNA tests.

Maybe the thinking goes like this, "If she was given away, all it would take for me would be to be born at the wrong time or to have the wrong father."

Oh, but adoption is so wonderful, isn't it?

You got parents. We got parents.  Everybody should be fine, right?

Many siblings embrace their adopted-out sibling with open arms.  For my many adoptee friends who have a special bond with a birth sibling, I am happy for you.

I have to wonder, though, about all those birth siblings currently rejecting the adoptee in their lives:

how can you in good conscience reject someone who came from the same womb as you? Who, by one change in circumstance, would have grown up by your side, maybe even shared the same bedroom? 

If adoption is all rainbows and lollipops, why are so many people threatened by the adoptee returning to their roots?

Moses did it.

Kunta Kinte never forgot and neither did Simba's father when he told him to "Remember who you are".

Maybe we aren't special enough.  Maybe it boils down to not being in the club.  The kept children get to be members of a special club because they got to stay with mom or dad.  They can tell themselves that mom or dad would have never done that to them.

Or maybe it is survivor's guilt.  They feel guilty because they were kept and do not want to tip toe around our feelings of rejection, or their secret jealousy that we got out and thrived.

I could speculate all day but, I guess in the end, I will never know since I am not one of them.


  1. My raised daughter told her sister lost to adoption when we found her, "You were the lucky one." They're now sisters-BFF, raised daughter regularly hangs out at adopters' home for holidays and visits, and I don't get a mother's day or birthday card from either of them. I have so many adoptees tell me, "I wish you were my mother," and I always respond, "Yeah, so do my kids!"

  2. What I am trying to remember is that they have lived and experienced their own unique things with the parent we share (the dad I share with my sister left her mother in divorce). My sister and her temperament seem to be very resilient. Our dad has been divorced twice and is remarried. It is the context of her life to have people come and go and have family blended. On the other hand, our dad has been geographically separated from her and has an oppressive current wife. If her temperament was different she could have rejected me, not wanting to share her dad with one more person.

    I will soon approach my biological half brother who is 3 months younger than I am (and boy, is that a long story). Our dad also separated himself from his mother, so he may operate in an "abandoned" context..I don't know him so I just don't know. Interestingly enough he was legally adopted by his mother's new wife as a young boy. So we were both lost to our biological father in very different ways. My brother and I are both 47...I need to prepare myself that it could go either way. My dad has not seen my brother since he was 18, and my brother sees our dad through his own lens. It just might be too painful to have a relationship with me in any context...and I have to try to understand that it is not a personal rejection of me but a rejection born of his own pain. It may still hurt a lot...and I don't want to hurt him. But, I am here in the world.

  3. i meant new husband!

  4. Isn't it amazing how much and how deeply we adoptees empathize and indentify with another adoptee's pain? Thank you, Lynn, SO much for this post. I cherish you!

    1. I cherish your honesty and strength, Laura:) I know what this rejection feels like too!! Hugs:)

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi Ree! Thank you for sharing your story with me. I'm sorry about the outcome with your a-family. I see you deleted your comment, but I did read it by email.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Narcissism and Adoption -- Very Likely Bedfellows

Common Traits of Adoptees

When Your Adoption Reunion Goes Bust (Hold on to the Good)