NOT a feel good podcast about being adopted
We’re the not-so-feel-good show about adoption (coming out of the fog)
We are 3 people with 3 very different experiences of being adopted. In this podcast we deconstruct the romanticism holding up the adoption industry and expose the lies, abuse, and pain that get silenced. We’re here to unwrap the shiny bow around adoption and speak our truths as adoptees. In doing so, we explain what it means and what it feels like to “come out of the fog”.
WARNING: This is NOT a feel good podcast about adoption.
A little bit about our adoption backgrounds:
What we discussed
(00:00) Not-so-feel-good show about adoption
(02:38) Our 3 adoption backgrounds
(07:24) Coming out of the fog: what it means for adoptees OR Adoption: expectation vs. reality
(10:31) Favoring their biological child
(12:57) “They purchased me, I had to be perfect”
(15:16) Misconceptions about adoptees OR No, not all adoptees are orphans OR Myths about adoptees OR Capitalism and adoption
(19:55) Is it possible to bond with your adoptive parents? OR Adoptive parents: is bonding possible?
(25:28) What’s this show about? Who is it for?
Lia 00:00:05 Hey everybody. Welcome to Adoptees Crossing Lines, the not so feel Good podcast. If you're looking for something that's grateful adoptees, this isn't the one for you, go ahead and keep scrolling and looking for another podcast that's not where we're about over here. I'm so glad that we were able to make this happen. Thank you both for being a part of this. I'll let y'all introduce yourselves and maybe talk a little bit about like what it is that drew you to this, why you decided to be a part of it.
Dr. Noelle 00:00:32 I wanna say thank you, Li, for creating this space. First and foremost, definitely not a grateful adoptee. I actually kind of think that my adoption experience was pretty awful. And what I came to realize is that I was not the only one growing up, being the only adoptee that I knew. I always thought that there was something wrong with me because I wasn't having this magical experience being adopted. And as I got older, and when I moved into adoption reunion and started joining support groups, I was astounded at how many adoptees had had experiences like mine and that all three of us can sit in a room together. Having three completely different families and still have so much in common around the trauma from our adoption is pretty heavy to me.
Lia 00:01:18 Yeah, I resonate with a lot of that. Tosha, what about you?
Tosha 00:01:21 Oh, I echo all of that and thank you for this opportunity. One day I was just scrolling through adoptee Twitter and I saw the Who wants to start a podcast and was I ready at that time? I thought I was, therapy wise, I was very nervous starting this. This is to be the first time that I've kind of really publicly come out and shared my story on this big of a platform. But over the months and meetings that we've met together, I've gotten more and more comfortable. My nerves are still eating me up right now, but this is still part of the therapy and this is great. I'm happy to be here. Am I happy about being adopted? Absolutely not. Am I grateful? Absolutely not. And I cannot wait until we delve into that and speak more deeply on our processes and our experiences being adoptees.
Lia 00:02:04 Most definitely. Yeah. I'm really excited that I met and found both of y'all. I was halfway kidding when I put the tweet out there about who wants to start an adoptee podcast. It's something that I've always wanted to do, but I didn't know what it looked like and I knew I didn't wanna do it by myself. I wanted to bring in other folks. So again, super grateful that I was able to connect with y'all and that you decided to come on this crazy journey with me and we'll see what becomes of it. But so far we've seen quite a bit of interest in folks wanting to hear about this. Like we're not the only ones out there who have this experience. And I think that's the interesting thing about adoption is that it's a shared experience, but it's also a really unique experience. Like none of our stories are going to be the same.
Lia 00:02:48 Now I just wanna take some time to introduce myself and allow my co-host to introduce themselves as well. My name's Lia. I am a black, same race, domestic adoptee. I was not adopted at birth, actually spent time in foster care before I was adopted. So I have the unique privilege and perspective of having experience within the foster care system and experience as an adoptee. And for me, the whole reason that I kind of came into the picture is that my adoptive parents struggled with infertility. They had a child and lost the child and decided that they didn't want to experience that. And so they decided to look into adoption. And then I came into the picture after kind of bouncing around in different foster homes and things like that. I live in Orlando and my foster mom lived in Orlando up until recently. She passed away. She fostered over like 300 plus kids. She really was an incredible, incredible woman. Shout out to Miss Loretta. I miss her very dearly. That's a little bit about my adoption and kind of my experience. I also have a sister who is my adoptive parent's, biological child, so I grew up with her and I have bios, siblings that I met that we'll get into later on down the line. This is just a teaser, don't wanna give it all away. I'll let Noelle introduce herself next.
Dr. Noelle 00:04:18 Thank you so much. So I am Dr. Noelle Chaddock and I am a transracial adoptee. So I am a black American and I was adopted by a white family, which meant that I lived in a situation where I didn't see other black people until I was in middle to high school and still didn't have deep relationships with people of color. Well into my thirties. My adoptive family, my adoptive parents divorced when I was three. That plays a really big role in the trauma that I talk about in my adoption. I was raised by an adoptive mother who was mentally ill. I was raised with her biological daughter and then two boys who were also adopted who were substantially younger, 13 and 20 years younger than me. I spent the first four to five months of my life somewhere. We don't actually know where we think Catholic charities, but there is no documentation or history as to where I was before my adoptive parents picked me up. And so I have met my biological mother and my biological father is dead.
Lia 00:05:34 Thank you, Noelle. I will pass it off to Tosha.
Tosha 00:05:38 All right. Hello everyone again. My name is Tosha. I am a same race, African American domestic adoptee. I was adopted at birth due to fertility issues. I also have siblings. I have a brother ahead of me and three below me. I am. You can can say I'm in reunion. I have not met them physically yet. Plan to do that next year, get into more of that later. I grew up not knowing a whole lot of adoptees. I knew a brother and sister pair and that was about it. I was told very early between like six and eight, I cannot remember the exact age. It was young. It's a bit of a blur, and I just kind of internalized the word being that young, not really knowing quite what that meant. I was told I was given up because my brother ahead of me had some health issues and concerns.
Tosha 00:06:25 Come to find out that wasn't the case. As with being an adoptee, a lot of information doesn't come out clear. Over time, people forget things. My bio mother is unfortunately on drugs and there's very few moments of when she's able to provide information. I have spoken with her, I have not met her. I have not heard any word if she's still here or not. I have no clue. I do speak with my bio dad from time to time. That's relationship that was completely unexpected. So I'll delve into that more as well. But for the most part, that is my experience. I do speak to, I call them my parents, my adoptive parents that has its challenges, being an adoptee, being out the fog. But I guess that's all I share right now. We have so much that goes into our experiences and as you all heard, we are three different people that are adoptees that have completely total different experiences. I have actually yet to meet anyone with an identical experience. So with that, I'll hand it back off to you, Lia.
Lia 00:07:23 Yeah, you brought up some really good points that I actually want to touch on some more. So you talked about coming out of the fog and you talked a little bit about secrecy. So for our listeners who don't know what coming outta the fog is, it's essentially this experience where you start to realize that maybe you're not so grateful that you are adopted and you start to become very disillusioned and you start to really explore what adoption looks like for you and not from this perspective of what society and what the world wants it to be, right? Because so much of what we see about adoption is it's this beautiful thing and you have your forever family, but then they don't talk about how they rehome folks. I remember I read an article a couple of years ago about this little boy, I believe he was of Asian descent, and he got adopted by this white family.
Lia 00:08:14 I think he had some intellectual disabilities, and they decided that that was too much for them for whatever reason, and they decided to rehome him. I hate that that happens. I hate that that happens. And I hate that those stories aren't told because it happens more often than we realized. So I wanna talk more about what each of our experiences looked like coming out of the fog. So for me, I think I kind of was always on the fence, like once I kind of got into adulthood. But I think sort of what Tosha alluded to earlier, I just didn't speak very publicly about it. I spoke to like my friends and things like that, folks that I was close with. But to do something like this is very like, you know, it's very open, it's very vulnerable. You dunno what kind of responses you're gonna get.
Lia 00:09:03 And so I don't think I really got to that point until like 20 19, 20 20. And I think 2020 really revved it up. It had a lot to do with the pandemic. I think we had so much time, especially at the beginning of the pandemic when we were in lockdown, we had so much time to just think. And I remember looking for community and when I started to look for community, what I found was there were so many spaces for adoptive parents, but there just weren't spaces for adoptees. So I started looking on Facebook and I ended up finding some groups and then I learned about coming out of the fog. I had never heard of it and started to meet other folks, started to make community in that way and then eventually found community on Twitter, you know? And so that's kind of like what my coming out of the fog experience.
Lia 00:09:50 And I think I just began to realize or started to feel like I was like a backup option, right? Because I feel like if infertility and if my brother had survived, I wouldn't be in the picture because a lot of people wanna have kids of their own, right? And there are people who like say that they wanna adopt outright, but a lot of people wanna have kids of their own. And then when that doesn't work out, then they look to adoption. But I think a lot of times folks don't take the time they need to heal and then that gets projected onto their adopted child. But yeah, I would love to hear more about each of y'all's experience with coming outta the fog.
Dr. Noelle 00:10:28 Wow, that all resonates with me so much. So I have an interesting relationship to the fog because I was a transracial adoptee because I was black and my family was white. I always knew I was adopted and I always felt displaced. I always felt like I didn't belong to anyone. My adoptive parents also suffered from fertility issues and were pregnant with their daughter when they picked me up from the adoption agency. So I was raised with their daughter who is nine months younger than me. And we were often raised as if we were the same age twins until we got into probably fourth or fifth grade where the favoritism was just exponential favoring her over me. The fog for me really was around thinking I had a bad adoption, that not all adoption was bad. And I'm not sure that I'm ready to make a unilateral statement about whether adoption is good or bad.
Dr. Noelle 00:11:30 I will say that I have met adoptees who have fabulous adoptive families who will also tell you about the trauma of adoption. So maybe that's where I sit, right? Adoption is traumatic, but I thought it was specific to me that I was doing something wrong, that there was something wrong with my family. And coming out of the fog was realizing that there were all of these other adoptees out there with wildly different experiences who also were talking about having similar occurrences in their lives as feelings of displacement, these feelings of not being wanted the way that we trauma bond and the like. So I for the longest time said I did not want to meet my biological family. I had it in my head that my biological mother was a bad person, that she had given me up and that she did not want me and I'm still working through her story.
Dr. Noelle 00:12:25 So I'm not saying that that is or is not true. But part of the adoption fog was that I was not supposed to want her. I was not supposed to have this deep desire to know who my mother was and I did. So I felt guilty. So coming out of the fog was about giving myself permission to go on the reunion journey, find my biological relatives and build relationships with them and that that was my right to do that. And I'm thankful to the adoptee community for getting me to a place where I could allow myself the things I needed to heal.
Tosha 00:12:57 Oh, so many shared experiences in that, oh goodness, my coming out of the fog is more so reclaiming my own life. I looked at adoption as transactional. I don't know why, but I did. Like I was a product, they purchased me. I had to be perfect. So me being in the fog was me being patty perfection at all times, being scared to mess up. That was from grades to behavior, to being a yes person, all of that. So when I came out of the fog, I just started doing more research and letting go of the guilt of that cuz I felt bad because the secrecy of adoption, who actually knew in the family can I talk to them about it. So coming outta the fog is my freedom to choose myself and to learn about my history and to talk more freely about adoption, to challenge thoughts about it, all the positives, you are a gift, you are the chosen one.
Tosha 00:13:55 Literally being given books saying God made you special and things of that nature. I call it a bit of brainwashing if you will because once you're kind of in that coming out of the fog, it can be very conflicting. It can be very confusing. When you identified as this for so long, like I was raised as an only child but always knew I had an older brother. That is so confusing. And then having more siblings later and like Noel said, some of the different feelings with siblings and you as well, Lia. The fact that we all have siblings and then feeling like, well I was the only one adopted in mine. Everyone else. My dad took care of my older brother, my three sisters, they were in and out of foster care. But I always felt why me? So when I got out the fog, I was able to see clearly let go of some of those feelings.
Tosha 00:14:41 Yes, I'm still working through those feelings and it's grateful to be on the other side. Have I made up my opinions about how I feel about adoption? No, I'm still there. Sometimes it's based on a mood, what's happening. I don't have a solution. I don't think adoptees are the ones to have to make up that solution. I don't know where to go with all of that. <laugh> most of the time. But coming outta the fog, it was literally a weight lifted. Being able to free myself and not feel guilty to want to know more about myself.
Lia 00:15:10 Yeah, I resonated with so much of what both of y'all said. Thank you so much for just sharing more of that. There's a lot of common misconceptions about adoption or myths and I get really tired of hearing them. One of the most common ones that I hear is that people think that all adoptees are orphans, that they just don't have parents. I happen to be an orphan. Both of my biological parents are dead. But as both of you shared, both of your adoptive parents aren't dead. So what are some of the other myths or misconceptions that y'all have heard or that you're tired of hearing? Like why do you think that these things exist?
Dr. Noelle 00:15:50 Well, capitalism, <laugh> is the answer. <laugh>, we are a commodity. We are a product. We are sold on a particular kind of market. And the biggest myth for me that feeds into that being marketable, right, is this idea of being grateful that we should be grateful that someone wanted us. And some of our stories, they didn't actually want us, they wanted a baby, they probably wanted their own baby and they got us instead. And for many of us, we never fit. And so there is nothing to be grateful for. But I was told my entire life that I should be grateful somebody wanted me. And I think that that is a terrible, terrible thing to tell a child.
Tosha 00:16:33 I agree. And it is capitalism and I've been stuck on that for a very long time. Part of the coming outta the fog is taking that aspect and looking at it that way, that it is transactional. They did go somewhere, money was involved and that's what leads to wanting to be perfect. So it's sold that way. They go to adoption agency, you're gonna get this great baby. And that right there, they forget that we grow up to become children. Young adults and adults. You know, when it's your biological child, I guess maybe you don't think you have that option, but going back to what Lia said, you know you get a baby and it doesn't turn out the way you want it to. And that whole rehoming thing, which is terrible. But yeah, they've wrapped this bow around adoption and I think that also is to help adoptive parents or prospective parents to make them not feel any type of way to give them a little bit of a savior complex. This is a good thing that you're doing. Even if they have any preconceived notions. Since the adoption agency is the seller, they have to sell the product and make it all nice and in a bow and all of that. That's what also leads to open, closed, semi-open. We can get into all that stuff later, but there's just so much there and growing up and having to be that perfect product takes a lot of layers, letting that stuff go.
Dr. Noelle 00:17:47 I spent a good portion of my childhood, I'd say in elementary school being terrified because the person that I was raised with, their daughter would tell me whenever she was mad at me that she was going to get my receipts and give me back. And what I realized when I was coming out of the fog was as they actually had receipts, there are receipts, money exchanges, hands for us. I kind of always thought of that as a threat and I always thought she was being mean. But when I realized that there are actual receipts somewhere, it's heartbreaking.
Tosha 00:18:18 It is. I definitely thought that if I acted up that I would be sent back because I came from adoption agency so I was like, oh well if I'm not perfect they'll just send me back and just get another baby and try again or whatever they choose to do. But that pressure of being perfect and being fearful, like sometimes that fear was debilitating. Like you could feel it physically like I would be up late at night in school making sure I had the best grades and all of that. And finally in college I was able to let it go. I was able to accept a c, I was like an A and B student or straight A's because I had to be perfect. And I did not know when I expired. I did not know if I could ever be sent back at 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 a teenager. You don't know these things because you spend a lot of that up in your head and you make up things to cope or you make up things just to be like, okay, well I don't have anyone else to talk to so I must have to be perfect. And then you don't wanna talk to them about it because you wanna appear like you are a perfect product to them. That you have no damages, no malfunctions, no deformities, anything of that nature.
Lia 00:19:18 Yeah, I think Noelle, you brought this up about you don't know whether adoption is good or bad, you're sitting with that. But what you can say is that adoption is trauma. And I certainly agree with that. I think a lot of people miss the fact that adoption is literal separation from your biological family, right? Animals like puppies, they can't be separated for a certain number of weeks. But a child can be born and taken away from their mother as soon as they come out of the womb. And for some reason that's okay, that's acceptable. But you formed a bond with your mother, like there was something that was there. And I think I wanted to ask y'all, do you think that it's possible for adoptive parents to actually form a bond with their adoptive children? You know when babies are born naturally, they do skin to skin and all of that stuff and there's just inherently a biological connection. Do you think that that's possible if you're adopted? If it's possible to truly form a connection?
Dr. Noelle 00:20:20 I have a lot of adoptive parents in my world, people that I love very much who have adopted children. And I have seen adoption done better than mine was. I will say that. So my adoption was done poorly. My adoptive life was tragic at best. And so not all adoptions look like that. What I will say is the more open I see folks be to the realities of trauma caused by adoption, the better bond they tend to have with their children. I think part of the reason my adoptive mother and I did not bond aside from her severe mental health issues is that I spent that four to five months swaddled in a crib somewhere with a bottle propped for me. So one of the stories she would tell is when they first got me, they could not hold me. So all she'd ever wanted was her own baby to hold in love and she got a baby that could not be held.
Dr. Noelle 00:21:16 They would have to lay me on their lap and hold the bottle so that I was facing them. They couldn't hold me up in their arms. So I think hopefully gone or the days where we do that kind of damage to children, we see adoptive parents right there in the delivery room. So the babies are held right away, but the more open that they are to the realities of the trauma of adoption, which my adoptive mother was not, she did not want to hear about it. I would see a black woman in the street and I'd say is that my mother and I can remember her having some very strong reactions to my need for my biological mother.
Tosha 00:21:55 I would say in my experience, I think they did a pretty decent job on their end might be a factor that my dad was also adopted. So maybe that helped. I'm not sure. What I can tell you is that I always fell out of place always. I can be in a room full of a million people and I'm gonna feel lonely. Cause I always knew that I was adopted. So wherever I was, I'm like I really shouldn't be here. Had I not been adopted, I would not be here. So I think they tried from the outside, nobody would know. That could have been some secrecy layers there as well. I'm not sure. My parents from the military, so no one in the family would've known, they would've never seen her pregnant. We were always away. In fact, we left the country six months after I was born.
Tosha 00:22:40 My dad left first. So that left me and my mother time to bond. There's still a lot of unanswered questions, questions I just haven't gotten ready to ask them. So I don't even know how soon they got me out of the hos. I know it's adopted at birth. I don't know when exactly they picked me up, whether it was from the hospital, whether I was dropped off, just haven't gone there yet. But because everyone is different, I would like to believe, and also from what you guys have shared, that there are some experiences where the bonding is good and they do try cuz they know that skin to skin stuff, you know, all of that things. But back when we were adopted, I'm not sure how that worked. I know I cried a lot. I was told that they thought I was colicky at one time.
Tosha 00:23:20 I wouldn't eat the bottle. They took me to the doctor, they didn't find anything wrong with me. Probably should have said I was adopted <laugh>. And they just said her weight is fine. Eventually she'll start drinking the milk. So I had nutrition issues going on. Maybe that was my body's reaction to the separation. Cause as you said, Lia, we are in their stomachs for nine months, or you know, could be eight months and some change if there's any issues. But there is bonding, they're talking to us, we're in there, they're rubbing stomachs, they bond. So we feel that separation and coming out of them going to someone else, that separation, I don't care what the adoptive parents try to do, I think it's felt. And that is where some of the initial trauma starts. So again, it depends on the adoptive parents.
Lia 00:24:03 Yeah, most certainly. I think I never really was able to really bond with my mom for reasons that we'll kind of get into later. But there were some additional traumas that just made it so difficult. And even now I am no contact with my adoptive mom. That was really tough to do, right? Because my bio mom is no longer here. My bio mom died when she was 28 years old. I'm 28 for context. And even that is like hard to sit with sometimes when I turn 29, at that point I will have outlived my mother. That is such a weird experience to have to go through. And yeah, like birthdays, I know birthdays are weird for a lot of adoptees, especially like those who were adopted at birth. It's typically not a joyous occasion. There's a lot of mixed feelings and things like that. But yeah, I don't know.
Lia 00:24:56 My experience was just, we just never bonded. But I watched my adoptive mom bond really well with my sister, their biological child. And that was always tough and just like, it always felt like there was favoritism. And to go back to Tosha's point about just like perfectionism and all of that, like I struggled so much with that. I still struggle with that now. I deal with a lot of anxiety and just wanting everything to be right and wanting it to be done a certain way so that it can be accepted. And all the different things. Abandonment, all the different things that come with being adopted. What are some things that you're hoping to get out of this podcast? Who are you hoping this reaches? What are you hoping this podcast does for folks?
Tosha 00:25:37 I hope this reaches adoptees, adoptive parents, bio parent, and anyone who's ever had an interest. I simply asked some of my close friends what they knew about adoption. They only know my experience. They don't know the different types and the little intricate parts about it, the process, things like that. I also hope to get out of this. So just growing in the community, I hope to get to a point where, yes, we're sharing our experiences, but also learning things and growing in the community, learning about some activism and getting into like the different laws and just how it's different, different states. And even across the pond in the Twitter adopted community, there's a heavy UK presence. It's just interesting that as Americans, we have experience. All races are gonna have different experiences, but the different laws and the barriers to getting information and things like that. So my goal with this podcast is just to get more worried about adoption out there. Because I saw on Twitter air where someone's like, oh, I wish I was adopted, things like that. I wanna get rid of <laugh> comments like that. I wanna get rid of feeling like we have to be grateful for our experiences. And I wanna get rid of the notion that adoption is a good thing.
Dr. Noelle 00:26:49 Yeah, I mean adoption might be a necessary thing, but I don't know that it's a good thing, right? Something tragic has happened if someone is being adopted, and I think it should be addressed in that way. I want this to reach everybody. I want people to start understanding what adoption is. So I went to Woman King yesterday and you know, I'm sitting there watching this movie, strong black women, and don't, you know, in the middle of it is an adoptee storyline. Nobody warns us about this crap ever. And it was a woman who had been raped, who gave up the baby at birth, and then they were reunited by accident. And the number of times that that has happened in a movie or a book, and no one ever thinks that that's gonna have some sort of concussive result and somebody's life. I mean, I was just stunned out of the film.
Dr. Noelle 00:27:44 I could not get back in the film because it became about that mother and daughter. For me, I would like everybody to listen to our podcast. I'd like everybody to get to a place where they were better stewards for adoptees. We have this entire population of people who do not have the same rights as other people in the United States. So I'm old enough to be a closed adoption, fully closed adoption. So I know my biological mother and I still do not have the right to my original birth certificate. But anywhere in the country, if you tried to go somewhere without a birth certificate, you couldn't do it. But for adoptees, it's okay for us to have a forged instrument. So things like that, I want people to be more aware. I want people to be more careful. Like Tosha suggesting when they make jokes about, oh well I'm just gonna give him up for adoption or I'm gonna sell him, what are you saying? Let's stop doing that. Yeah,
Lia 00:28:39 Similar to Noel, I'm hoping that this reaches everyone. I think that folks need to know more about adoption, what the experience is like so that we can dispel some of these myths. Talk about our experiences and the parts that are often looked over, the parts that aren't so commercialized or marketed, things like that. I'm also hoping to build a community because I think there are a lot of adoptees out there who are seeking community but don't know where to look because again, it's so capitalism and it's just so commercialized, commodified, and marketed to adoptive parents because they're the ones who have the money. So I'm hoping to create a space for us by us really to just have a safe space where we can come together and be our authentic selves and not have to worry about being harmed or things like that. So I'm really excited to see where this podcast goes and as we continue to grow and build to see what becomes of it.
Lia 00:29:39 I know we all have big dreams, plans, and, and visions for what this is gonna become and absolutely believe that they will all come to pass. But before we sign off here, I wanna encourage y'all to follow us on our social media platform. So we're on Twitter at Adoptees Crossing, we're on Instagram at adoptees crossing lines, and we're on TikTok as adoptees crossing lines as well. So be sure to follow us there. Be sure to share our content like we are hoping to do an episode every two weeks or twice a month. So be on the lookout for that. We'll be on all major streaming platforms that you can think of. Shout out to. Sure. For these mics, y'all, I know y'all hear this sound, so we're really enjoying using these mics in their product. And shout out to Riverside fm. That's what we're using to record our podcast. And shout out to Buzz Sprout. They're a distribution platform. Thanks so much to all the folks who are involved with recording this podcast.