COERCION& THREATS: Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt someone; INTIMIDATION: Making someone afraid by using looks, actions and gestures; EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Putting someone down , making someone feel bad about themselves, calling them names, making them think they are crazy, playing mind games, humiliating them, making them feel guilty; ISOLATION: Controlling what someone does, who they see and talk to, what they read and where they go, limiting their outside involvement, using jealousy to justify actions; MINIMIZING, DENYING, & BLAMING: Making light of the abuse and not taking concerns about it seriously, saying the abuse didn’t happen, shifting responsibility for abusive behavior saying they caused it; USING CHILDREN: Making someone feel guilty about the children by telling them they are bad parents or by telling them the children need a two-parent home, threatening to hurt the children, using the children to relay messages, using visitation to harass them, threatening to take the children away.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about power and relationships. Mainly because of the power my granddaughters adoptive parents have over us, our daughter and our granddaughter. I felt very powerless when they found this blog and appeared to scour it for information. Typically, these kinds of subjects come up in abusive relationships in marital situations, but this experience really brought to light how adoptees and first families can be subject to abuses of power in relationships with adoptive parents.
I came across a document online that outlined abusive behavior. It jumped out at me that some of these behaviors were part of adoption relationships. I’ve copied part of it below and was amazed how much of it was applicable to the relationships in the adoption triad.
These are all examples of abuse taken directly from a diagram explaining abusive behavior in an intimate relationship. As I said, they can also be applied to what often goes on in an adoption situation either against the adopted child or the biological parent. These actions are used to establish power and control over the child or the relinquishing parent. If they don’t “toe the line” they can be sanctioned in various ways. The child may be threatened with, or actually experience, a withdrawal of the APâ€™s love. The first parent or family may have any visitation they have with the child revoked and the adoption closed. You can look at any adoption forum and see that these things happen all the time. It seems especially prevalent that the adoptive parents withhold love or approval from their adopted child, and try to control an adopted child completely even when the are legally considered an adult. This is particularly heartbreaking as the child has already had rejection as one of their first life experiences.
When considering relinquishing a child these things should be considered. Is it actually in a child’s best interests to possibly put them in a situation like this? I can say without a doubt my granddaughter would have been better off with us than in the present situation. What we’ve done by giving her to her great uncle has altered her life in more ways than we will ever even be able to comprehend. That is what we should have considered when helping our daughter make her decision to give her child up to adoption.
Adoptees voices need to be heard. The good and the bad stories need to be heard. I recently read a blog post comparing the adoptee rights movement to the civil rights movement of African Americans. The post pointed out that you wouldn’t want non-adoptees fighting for adoptee rights. It requires adoptees first and foremost. You wouldn’t have Caucasians speaking for African American civil rights. You wouldn’t have Caucasians telling about the experiences of being African American. Why would you listen to a “counselor” or a non-adoptee tell you about what it means to be adopted. You should be especially suspicious if it’s all “rainbows and butterflies”.
You should look at all of the pros and cons of adoption, but I think it is most important to listen to the adoptee’s story. They are the ones most effected by adoption. They are the ones with the smallest voice, yet they should have the loudest.