Adoptees Crossing Lines

An Open Letter to the People who Bought Me

February 09, 2023 Dr. Noelle, Tosha, Lia Season 1 Episode 7
Adoptees Crossing Lines
An Open Letter to the People who Bought Me
Show Notes Transcript
An open letter to the people who bought me

Yesterday I decided to text my adoptive parents that they failed me as parents, it was the first time I ever confronted them. I talk about how they responded in this episode and open up about being sexually assaulted as a child…then gaslighted. This was never my burden to carry, but they always blamed me. They used religion as a guise to avoid responsibility. Instead of risking the possibility of ruining their image, they chose to definitely ruin my life. 

This episode is an open letter to my adoptive parents, the people who bought me. 

“Shame dies when we tell our story”

What we discussed 

(00:00) What happened yesterday OR What I texted my adoptive parents OR Telling my adoptive parents they failed me

(01:52) No one believed I was sexually assaulted OR Being sexually assaulted was MY fault???! 

(06:45) They were EDUCATORS 

(08:06) Should child protective services be abolished? OR Abolishing child protective services? OR Why I’m an abolitionist 

(09:42) Olivia Atkocaitis’ story 

(11:02) How the police failed me before I was born OR The police system is not broken. 

(14:22) My parents were cowards OR I’m relieved he died 

(17:38) Standing up to my parents for the first time 

(20:15) How they responded

(25:36) Why I sent the text

(28:39) Own your story 


Olivia Atkocaitis’ Story on NBC 

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Special thanks to Samuel Oyedele for editing our podcast, support his work on Instagram or e-mail him at 

Hey, so I am coming to you with a special episode. A solo episode. This is Lia here and Um. The reason for this episode is because of some events that occurred this week in my personal life. So I've talked about before on the show How I am, no contact with my mom and I still speak to my you know adopted dad and things like that. Um, but over the past couple of months, our relationship has become kind of strained as I just continued to heal more and I really start to see things for what they are and not what I wanted them to be right, because I think for a really long time I was looking for somebody to rescue me out of this dire situation that I was in and nobody ever came to rescue me And so yesterday I decided that I was going to rescue myself right, so I sent this text to my both of my adopted parents in a group text last night around 7pm and basically in the text I just told them that they failed me as parents. 

So a little bit of context here, my adoptive parents, Um, when I was like ten years old, they found out that my adopted mom's dad had been molesting me for years, so it all came to the light and the way that it went down was absolutely horrific, right like, they put me into a room with this man and my mom and all of her siblings and began to interrogate me about what happened Right and then I remember my aunt asking me like well, how Cam. you never cried or screamed as if that would have validated what happened to me right. Never mind the fact that I just told you that this man was molesting me and you're now going to put me in a room with him sitting across for me at ten years old. Like where is the protection? In that? Where is the love? Where is the care? Here's the concern. it's not there. right.  Their entire response was an act of self preservation and act of protecting their image. Right, they chose to protect themselves. They chose to protect an abuser over protecting a ten year old child, not only a ten year old child, but a ten year old child that they adopted that they went out of their way to bring into their home to Rescue from a bad situation, only to then turn around and treat me poorly. It makes no sense at all, but so that happened right and not only did that happen, but they still. they still allowed him to come over after they knew about what happened, and while he was still coming over, he was still continue To assault me. And so at this point we've gone from like you're dramatizing me by putting me in the room with him To now we've gone to like child endangerment. We've gone to neglect like you're intentionally putting me back into harm's way, knowing this information that you know, and just continuing to live your life as if your child didn't just tell you this right. And so I carried that for a really long time. I carried it for eighteen years. I carried like all of the shame, all of the betrayal, like all of the different feelings that came in all of the different effects that came as a result of not only the abuse happening, but the response to the abuse right like there's There's research out there that says like if one adult believes a child about their abuse like they Better outcomes right. and so like, I didn't have an adult in my corner Like No, no one wanted to be an adult. No one wanted to be mature enough. No one wanted to protect me. They all chose to protect themselves instead of protecting me and I for a really long time, just tried to like, explain it away, or I tried to be like Pathetic, or I tried to be understanding, like, especially like as a child, and like after, like after it happened, it was like I was trying to like console my parents when really it should have been like the other way around. Um, and so I spent a lot of time like just trying to excuse away what happened And it wasn't until like the past couple of years that I really began to understand that there's absolutely nothing to excuse. It's a very black and white issue like There's no room for great areas. There's no room for confusion, right you? Your child comes to you and tells you that this is happening. You have you have two choices to make. Your choices are continue to allow it to happen, or to put a stop to it. Those are your two options right, And you know I'd like to believe that most parents choose the option of making sure it never happens again. but I don't know like I can't really speak to that right, because that wasn't Experience. My experience was that they chose to allow it to continue to happen, and they continued to put me into harm's way. Not only did they continue to put me into harm's way, they created this whole like narrative, especially my mom, about what a like, bad and rebellious child I was. 

But the irony of it all is like, First of all, both my parents are educators. And so you have A certain level of training and understanding when it comes to children. Um, and you, by this point they have been educators for ten plus years, So you're not new to this. You're true to this, and you chose to ignore all of that, Like the level of cognitive distance that had to take place in order for you to respond in such a way is really beyond my comprehension. Like I can't. I can't fathom it. And so it was easier to create this narrative about what kind of child I was right. So I became this rebellious bad child and I remember my mom telling like one of my friends, parents like you don't want your kid hanging around Lea like she's a bad influence. Like who says that about their kid? You know, and like it wasn't that I was a bad inluence, it was that I experienced a very deep unsettling trauma that you did nothing about, and so as a ten year old child from ten to eighteen, I'm trying to figure out how to cope with this. like on my own right, and like, Yes, I went to like therapy. Um, Yes, like child protective services got involved, but ultimately like none of that amounted to anything right, Like they closed the case, Um. So they closed the case and that was like the end of it. There wasn't really any justice from. you know, child protective services, and you know anything like that, Right and I? I don't think I've shared this before on on this show, but I'm an abolitionist, and so I do not believe that any of these systems should should exist, So I think that there are better ways that things can be done, and I think a large part of why I feel the way I feel is because so many of these systems have failed me personally, and I have seen these systems fail so many other people, And I taught for a couple of years right, and as a teacher, you are a mandated reporter, so you get thrown into the system like into being part of the system, whether you want to be or not right. 

And so I just, I have seen too much and I've experienced too much to believe in these systems. They failed too many people. too many kids have been placed into the wrong homes, too many kids have been abused, too many kids have died and like it's it's time that we speak up about it right. I don't know if anybody has Bee, Keeping up with the story of Olivia, the adopted who is suing her adopted parents. Right, She was in a very abusive situation and a lot of people. I think people who are not a part of the who aren't adopted are genuinely shocked by what's happening, but I think a lot of us adopted. We're not shocked by this right, because maybe we didn't experience abuse to that magnitude, But we experience some level of abuse and again, Adoption is inherently traumatic. Whether you want to admit that or not, you are separating a child from their family right. That's that's traumatic for the mom, and it's dramatic for for the child for the baby, and you're expecting them to just come into this family and just mesh in Blind. And everything is supposed to be amazing, Right and it's like What kind of sense does that make you're placing? You know a stranger with a stranger like it's not. It's not going. It's not going to always work. you know, Um, but there were multiple. There were multiple systems that failed me right, like child protective services, D. C. F. like they failed me Right, like my parents failed me. The police failed me, right. The police failed. Um way before I got into the system, right because my mom was incarcerated right and we all know that folks who have criminal records when they get out and they try to re integrate like there's such a high recidivism rate, Right, and that's because when folks try to re integrate into society, there are so many barriers. There are so many things that you cannot do Because you have a background right when you're flying out a job application Like that's one of the main questions like that they ask right and they're going to run a background check, so it keeps so many people from being able to integrate successfully back into society, And so folks have to figure out other ways to take care of themselves, But then they're punished for the ways that they try to take care of themselves. But they were already pun She by this system once before. So it's just it's this vicious cycle that never ends and you know black and brown folks are disproportionately affected. Like how do? black people only make up thirteen percent of the population? but we are over represented within. like our jails and prisons make it makes sense like you can't. 

So it's started like well before I even came into the picture Right And so because my mom had these experiences, they took her kids from her right, they took all five of her kids, and we got separated right. Some of us were raised by grandparents. some of us went to foster care. Some of us were eventually adopted right. And it all it all goes back to what it ultimately honestly boils down to, is that like my mom was a poor black Man, and America hates poor people, and not only does America hate poor people, but I think Malcom said it best that the most disrespected person in America is a black woman, And because of this, my mom experience so many of these hardships, you know, Like my mom had an eighth grade education and my mom was adopted to, So it was Like she was already coming into this world with her own trauma and trying to navigate that and trying to figure out like how to survive, And you know all of these different things. Um, so yeah, I, just these systems are, they're not broken. They're working exactly as they're intended to. A lot of times people like to say that they're broken, but they're not broken. This is exactly what they intend Did for the system to do, and they're affecting exactly who they wanted them to effect. Um, but yeah, so so all of these people failed me along the way, but I think that my parents were the biggest failures because they were the closest to the situation and had the most power to change the situation to make a difference. You protect me right because the thing, the thing about it is Before they knew the abuse was happening like I can't. I can't fault them for that right. Sure that we're like signs that I think we're missed and ignored. Um, but I can't fault them for that right. But after they find out about it and then they choose to continue to just like live in blissful ignorance. Yeah, like that's just straight up wrong, and once again like there's no level of explanation And like there's no dancing around the truth, There's no ignoring the elephant in the room like you did what you did, you know. And yeah, so so like I was saying, I just, I just carried that for so long and tried to you know, maintain their image right because they were so concerned about maintaining their image and so like, some of that rubbed off on to me because I felt bad right, but I felt bad because of the way that they conditioned. But there was really no reason for me to feel bad about what happened to me. Um, I was an innocent child and I wasn't protected And so I sent this text to both of my adopted parents. Um, in a group text, basically telling them that you failed me. You failed me. You didn't protect me. It deeply affected me and I am so glad that this man is not here. Any. Okay, Um, When I was in eighth grade, my adopted mom's dad got brain cancer and it was like late in the game. There really wasn't much that they could do And he was like all into, like natural stuff, And like you know, that's the route he decided to go And then it got to the point where like you know, he was home and it was hospital and all this stuff And eventually he died. I was junior in high school and I remember my dad telling me that like he died, And I just remember like not feeling anything, because for me like that was relief. that was like a breath of fresh air because I no longer had to deal with this man any more like he could no longer hurt me, Right, because because my adopted parents were cowards and unwilling to Rotect me like I had to protect myself. And so him dying was the ultimate protection because nobody else was going to do it And it's really sad that his death brought me more protection than my own parents. 

And yeah, so so I sent this text to them and it was like the first time that I've ever really stood up to Parents And obviously they weren't prepared for it Right because it's not like my usual demeanor. It's not usually like what I do. I'm very conflict, avoid ant, and I think a lot of that has to do with like my childhood and things like that. But so so, I'm sure it came out of left field to them. But it was something that I was carrying for a really long time, and I was tired of carrying it because the fact of the matter it is is that it was never my burden to Arry. It was. it was my parents burden to carry, but they were Too afraid to carry the burden and potentially ruin this image that they had created in the public eye, and so, instead of potentionally ruining that, they just chose to ruin a child's life, and I just I can't. I can't get past that like I can't get past grown folks making conscious decisions when they have the power and the authority when they have way more knowledge and awareness. A fully developed brain like you, all ere in your thirties or forties, or whatever, At this point, like a fully developed brain, and and could not find, And two neurons to connect to think. maybe I shouldn't have this man around my child, And I think that It's an egregious thing to do. It really is it really is. And so yeah, here I am today telling this story because I think it's an important story to tell, and no longer will I hide behind Like no longer will I live in this pretend world with this elephant in the room acting as if this didn't happen. I'm not doing it any more. I have no interest in protecting either one of my adopted parents. If they didn't want these stories to be told, then they should have behaved better, because the fact of the matter is the truth is the truth, and that is all I am doing is I am telling the truth, and For them to not only respond in that way at the time of the incident, but for them to respond in the way they did to this message that I sent Um last night, The response that I got, so my adopted dad did not respond, which is not a surprise to me. He has always been like avoidant about it, which is like, No response is still a response. But my mom, she's going to say her piece right. And so what she did was she? Her response was not even her own words. It was an image that she Und on Google. A blurry image at that, couldn't be bothered to find a quality image. and It was an image that had a prayer for forgiveness. Right now. I grew up in a very very religious family, very very religious, and I, I struggle with that because I think a lot of people, a lot of Christians hide behind this God that they serve this God that they believe in, and use that as an excuse for their abuse instead of taking accountability right. So her whole thing was that you know I needed to forgive and I needed to Stop talking about it and all of these different things, But you don't get to decide how I heal. You don't get to decide what my journey looks like. Like I told my parents, you made your decision. You made your choice many many years ago, right so you don't get to tell me what to do as a result of the decisions that you made right. And I think it's really inter. And when people choose to use religion as a guy's instead of taking accountability, Right Because all she sent was this picture. That's it. nothing of her own words. And then the next morning she sent another picture. that was another prayer. And I just find it to be very cowardly that you are one you're unable to even like, use your own words to respond to it. right. Um, Had like eighteen years to think about this, and like this is the best that you came up with and right and what that does is by her sending me these images about prayer and forgiveness. What that does again is put, the burden is, puts the burden on me. Right. It's now my responsibility to Um. it's my responsibility to do the work and forgive them.

So with this prayer that my mom sent to me, she put the burden right back on to me too, Do this act of forgiveness. Instead of saying I'm sorry, we messed up, We made a mistake, We failed you. there were so many things that could have been said. it did not have to be this deep, long drawn out response. It could have been two words. I'm sorry, Like some level of accountability, but there is some deep, deep, deep disconnect, cognitive discnants, lack of care, lack of love, pride, and so many other things that I probably don't have words for that prevents either one of them from taking Any sort of accountability right, and I think like if they were to take accountability then they would be bad parents, and a lot of the image that they portray to the community would crumble Because how are you taking care of everybody else outside of your home? But you're not taking care of your own home. That sick is really sick. So that's that's where the conversation ended. I decided not to respond because I didn't feel like she was worth a response. I feel like it was just going to be this back and forth thing about gas lighting, which is like what my mom does. She tries to make me think that I don't know what happened or she tries to use semantics to twist things, and I'm not doing it like I've come too far. Are I've healed too much. The reason that this text even came about is because of therapy. like I've done a lot of work in therapy to work through this sexual trauma. because like I said, it's deeply affected me and I still have quite a bit of work to do, But part of that work was acknowledging my parents role In the midst of all this, My family's role in the midst of all this right because my parents weren't the only culporates like there were so many other people who were guilty. Um, there were so many other people who knew what was going on and decided not to speak up about it right because it was their dad or their uncle, or whoever, this abusive man, the sick perverted man, this rapist, whoever he was to them, they just Would rather preserve and protect that relationship and I, I don't think I have any other words, other than to say That I hope that both of my parents are happy. I hope they're happy with the choices that they're made. I hope they're happy with the trauma that they inflicted upon me. I hope they're happy with the depression and the anxiety that I deal with day in and day out. I hope that they're happy. I hope that I hope that it was worth it. I hope that it was worth Protecting their image to essentially ruin a child's life. I really do. I really hope that it was worth it. and at the end of the day like they have to sit with that, they have to deal with that right. like I have my own journey to go on. But There was nothing that I did wrong in this situation. All I did was do what my parents told me to do, and that was if anyone ever inappropriately touched me, to tell them right only for you, only for me to do what you said and then for you to not do anything like. how confusing is that right? How confusing is that to a child? Um, so yeah, I just I think I think it's important that we tell these Stories and that we bring these things to the light, right. I believe that shame dies when stories are told, because the weight of it can no longer be hidden. Right and there's no more secrecy, There's no more deception. there's no more lies. Everything is out in the open, everything is out in the air. You know, and there's there's nothing wrong with that. Perfectly okay to tell your story in To any adopts who may be listening who resonate with this. I encourage you to own your story. I encourage you to do what you need to do to take care of you. Don't wait as long as I did do what you need to do to take care of you right, because at the end of the day you're all you got. You know what I'm saying, like I was waiting for somebody to rescue me for so long. Like because I was, I was a kid, and like somebody should have saved me from that situation, but nobody did And so unfortunately I had to save myself as an adult, Right, I had to go back and save the ten year old version of Lea, and the ten year old version of me is now safe, right, She's no longer in danger. She's no longer in harm's way. She has seen, she has heard she is loved. She is safe. She has people who care about her people who love her people who want the best for her people who would Go to bed for her people who would protect her. She has plenty of those now, right and I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful for the people who do show up. the people who do protect me, the people who do love me, The people who do see me right because I think at the core of my story is the fact that I wasn't seen. I wasn't seen by my adoptive parents. I wasn't seen by these various Tims. I wasn't seen by any extended family like nobody saw me, and It was really damaging like I'm still like working through that. Like the other day I had a friend tell me that they saw me and I almost like burst into tears because it's not often that like, it's only an adulthood that I am starting to feel scene. And so it feels very like foreign and unfamiliar to have these Experiences and to any adoptive parents out there. Protect your children. Please. please protect your children. Don't cause them like a lifetime of trauma. Don't do it. don't do it. and for any perspective adoptive parents out there Focus, Focus on keeping that child with their family right. I know, I know you want your own family, but you're not entitled to somebody else's child, And if you must, Guardianship is the better solution, in my opinion, And this is for a later episode, But Protect your kids like, I feel like it's a very simple thing to do that a lot of parents get, but a lot of parents also don't get. That's why we see these stories. That's why kids are harmed because people choose not to protect their kids, And I don't think that people like that. I should have access to children. I don't think that they should be allowed to Adopt children or anything like that, and I think sometimes life has a way of making that decision for you, but people try to override that and they choose to adopt, And I think that's what happened in my case. I think that's what happened in my case. Um, but yeah, thanks for thanks for listening to this special episode. Um, we are super grateful for all the support that we have gotten since since the launch of this episode we have listeners in fifteen countries. We are just growing, and so many great things are on the horizon, but none of it would be possible without our listeners, so thank you so much.