About halfway through a survey I like to give a glimpse into how the results are forming. This allows everyone to get a little excited and also helps to gather more participants which usually yields more well-rounded results. It seems I am having a more difficult time with getting participants for this survey than I did for my birthmother survey. This could be for any number of reasons but let me speculate. First, I am not an adoptee and am not privy to belonging to adoptee groups. Therefore, word of mouth is slower. Second, dare I ask the question? Are adoptees just innately ingrained to be silent and not stir the boat? Surely this doesn’t apply to all of them as we saw with #flipthescript. I can’t help but wonder, though. Especially after reading some of the answers.
I tried very hard to make a well-rounded survey with as many options as possible for answers. I’ve had some great suggestions in the comments but I cannot change the choices midway through. I want to thank everyone who did give suggestions and apologize for not thinking of those choices sooner. I promise to make the next one better. So, without further ado, here are some initial results.
QUALIFIERS AND GENERAL INFORMATION
I made all questions (except the one open-ended question at the end) mandatory so that I didn’t end up with mixed results or people who only completed some of the survey. So far there are 169 participants and fully completed surveys.
The majority of participants were born between the years 1960 and 1989 with the decade of the 60’s winning out slightly.
Most people who responded were not of more than one race but about 16% were. Some, sadly, did not know if they were or not.
Most people were also the same race as their adoptive parents with 20% not being of the same race. And, again, some did not know.
Of the people who were adopted by parents of a different race than they were, about one-third answered that it had never been an issue for them. That leaves two-thirds with issues ranging from slight to severe because of it.
Of adoptees that were of a different race than the parents who raised them, about 68% said that their heritage and culture was not taught to them within their adoptive family and they were not exposed to others that shared that same culture and heritage.
The majority of participants were adopted at birth or within the first year with the majority having been adopted at birth or within the first month after birth.
Thankfully, most adoptees said they learned the identifying information about their birth parents after the age of 18. However, that leaves about one-fourth not knowing and does not take into consideration how long after age 18 they had to wait for identifying information.
The majority responded that they have always known they were adopted (great!) but about one-fourth of all participants did not find out they were adopted until age 5 or older with some not discovering until after age 35.
Of those who did not know, since birth, that they were adopted, the majority say their adoptive parents revealed it to them.
In regards to how adoption was talked about in their homes, growing up, all answers were almost equal in the number of responses showing a wide variety of degrees of positive and open or negative and closed. However, 43% of participants said it was not talked about, at all, in their homes.
Over half of the participants said their birth parents were never talked about. The rest of the choices, about varying ways the birth parents were talked about (positive or negative) and how often were pretty even in choices.
IN REGARDS TO REUNION
Approximately 61% of all participants are in reunion with some member of their birth family.
The rest are not in reunion yet or were in reunion but are not anymore.
Of those in reunion, most say it is going at least “good.” Only 2 participants said it was going horrible and they were about to end it.
For those NOT in reunion, 78% are passively or actively searching.
For those who have searched and found birth parents, the majority say that one or both birth parents eventually (or right away) welcomed the relationship. Approximately three-quarters.
For those who have searched and found birth parents, 19% say they were a secret to some or most of the birth family.
EMOTIONAL HEALTH IN REGARDS TO ADOPTION
The majority of people do not consider themselves either lucky or blessed to be adopted. They have no feelings either way. An equal amount of people feel blessed, lucky, unlucky or cursed to have been adopted.
Over three-quarters of the participants admitted to fantasizing a lot or some about their birth parents.
Almost 87% of participants admitted to have some kind of emotional or psychological issues directly related to adoption. Some minor, some severe. The majority being somewhere in the middle.
Almost three-quarters admitted to having thought about suicide or attempting suicide, the majority (by a slight lead) having only thought about it once or twice, one-quarter having seriously thought about it, and 18% having actually attempted it. Compare this to the statistics in the United States of under 1% of the general population attempts suicide.(1)(2)
Of those adoptees who were told their birth parents loved them so much that they gave them up for adoption, more than three-quarters are conflicted about this.
Most adoptees are in a support group of one form or another (awesome).
Over three-quarters of participants don’t feel they are in control over their own lives sometimes or a lot.
Over half are involved in reform movements.
Almost all feel that all records should be unsealed and given to adoptees with no names redacted.
Over 80% feel birth certificates should not be changed.
THEIR OWN VOICES, THEIR OWN WORDS
I will share with you a few of the voices of adoptees. I asked if there was anything else they’d like to say. I have not edited anything including spelling or grammar.
“I am frustrated by the lack of understanding by the general public. If you read the comments on any fluff adoption piece, it is FULL of incorrect thinking and idioms. Why don’t people want to think critically of adoption? They say what they’ve been taught to say, but I’m so sick of it.”
“My adoptive parents always told me that both my birth parents made the hardest choice they will ever make by giving me up – they always respected that and made sure I did as well. I am in full search mode, have a possible…recently took dna and paid the “fees” to the local agency in order to confirm the possibles or start over. Whatever my birth parents situation at time of my birth I will always give them respect knowing she carried me for nine months yet felt for whatever reason she couldn’t raise me and entrusted the agency to find me a wonderful family – which, they did.”
“As an adoptee from the Baby Scoop Era, born in the late 60s, I was “taken in” by a family that wanted the novelty and attention of having another baby in the house and to look good in the eyes of their Catholic church for rescuing a homeless bastard. I was the only adopted kid in the home and the mother was a basket case. The father thought I might help her out of her psychosis. I think many of us were used as pawns like this, tools to help fix other major issues going on in the households, and since there were so many of us and it was easy to get one, why not. Because when you think about it, why else would some strange family want to take in another family’s reject baby? They had to have massive issues or avoidance behaviors themselves to even consider it. Raising a stranger’s baby and pretending it’s yours? That is totally fucked up when you truly think about it.”
“All adoptees are not the same. We should not be treated as if we were all the same. There are some adoptees who have extreme mental disorders and some who have PTSD and others with mild depression, etc. Some adoptees are stable and seemingly unaffected by their adoptions. Adoptees comprise people of all ages and all nationalities and both sexes. There is no one person out of this group who can be the poster child/adult for our group. What we all do need is our basic human rights returned to us. The govt., Federal or State and lawyers or social workers should not be making laws and/or life choices for us. If there must be laws, then let representatives from our group be involved in making these laws. Expect for some of us to fight for our rights – just as there were some African Americans who fought for their civil rights back in the 60’s. We will over come. Some day.”
“Lies and deceit have no place in the world of adoption. Secrecy is wrong. We exist and are people and should be treated with the equality afforded to everyone else who was not adopted. We are given a different life but it is not necessarily better, We are not lucky, we are generally not angry just weary of not being heard.”
“Being in reunion, and knowing the circumstances that led to my adoption, I can see that I am likely off with my life as it played out (birthdad was an addict and was abusive towards birthmom). But it hurts to know that I grew up apart from my birthmom’s family and my brother. I am so glad to know them now, but I mourn 40 years of separation and of feeling slightly our of place in my adoptive family. Adoption is much more complicated than most people want to believe.”
“Both adotive parents and adoptees should have to have some sort of therapy during their chil rearing and growing up years. I feel that I could have used that as well as my adoptive parents. You’re not really given the tools to raise a child that is not genetically yours and that may have issues that come along with adoption trauma.”
“If you didn’t allow Adoptive parents to rename (First name) the child (if they already have a name) I think that would bring a sense of worth of their own identity. No need to rename the child as if the past didn’t excist. I kept my name, and I’ve always been grateful for that.”
Want your voice included? Please consider participating in my adoptee survey which can be found here: Adoptee Survey