There are seven million adult adoptees in the United States.
I am one.
Out of those seven million, many are suffering abuse from their adoptive or foster families.
I was one.
This is my story…a story of pain unearthed.
Because of childhood and teenage abuse, I’ve navigated my way through what I will name the “triple bind.”
The Triple Bind for Abused Adoptees and Foster Kids, Teens, and Adults
My triple bind consists of these thoughts and circumstances:
- How can I tell the secrets of my adoptive home when they are the hands that feed me? And, after all, if they didn’t feed me, who would? They would probably send me away.
- How can I speak to adoptive parents honestly and not be judged as an angry adoptee?
- How, as a Christ-follower, can I honor parents who were abusive? Will God get really ticked at me for “not giving a good report?” What in heck does “honoring” really mean?
I share, not to cast a bad light on my parents, but to shed light on secrets many adoptees and foster kids, teens, and adults, bear. I share to shed truth on secrets long kept. I share for the good of my fellow adoptees.
Please know that I did whatever I could to be a loyal and loving daughter. I gave my parents birthday parties until their dying days. I cleaned their house. After my mom died, I visited Dad weekly, cleaned his house and baked a fresh apple pie. I desperately wanted to have a close father-daughter relationship.
Sadly, it never happened.
The Fishbowl of Abuse
As an innocent young woman, I didn’t know what it meant when my dad asked me to sit on the laps of his friends. The pornographic magazines that filled baskets in their bathroom, living room, and dresser drawers seemed ordinary.
I knew nothing else.
This was the fishbowl I grew up in, thinking this was what loving parents do.
A couple of years ago, a wise counselor shed a huge floodlight on this.
The True Meaning of Honoring
Honoring your parents means telling the truth about them.
I want to shout that out.
I’ve never heard it before…and it is so incredibly freeing.
My soul can take a deep breath.
You mean I don’t have to carry THAT secret anymore?
Your logical mind may be thinking:
- What if they’re dead?
- What does it matter, anyway?
- I’ve already forgiven them…isn’t that enough?
- I was only in that foster home for a few months. I think I’ve forgotten about it.
- What if I tell the truth to DCS? Will they label me a problem, even more so than they have already?
- If I tell my foster mom, she may think I am damaged goods and send me away.
I believe the step after forgiveness is telling the truth about abuse.
What Adopted and Fostered People Can Do About Past or Present Abuse
- Get into Counseling. Unravel your fears. For years, I was terrified of men and didn’t know why. Now, I know. I highly recommend New Life Ministries, led by Steve Arterburn. Here is the link: http://newlife.com/
- Find a Safe Place to Share. Of course, it may not be like yours truly, posting it on the internet. I post this knowing the risks. I post it for you, fellow adoptees. Check your location for support groups that deal with this issue. Check 12-Step groups. I used to be in one called “Survivors of Sexual Abuse.”
- Affirm your Worth. When and if flashbacks occur, if you fall on your face before God asking for mercy, remember who you are in His eyes.
- Be Bold. Throw out the false guilt and tell someone you trust, or a group you trust, about the abuse you suffered, as well as the after-effects.
- You’re Not a Target. If your parents have abused you, you may think you are worthy only of abuse in dating relationships and marriage. Not true. You are a precious person who has been deeply wounded.
- Tell DCS. Or, the social worker on your case.