Adoptee survival guideI recently read Adoptee Survival Guide by Lynn Grubb. This collection opens a window into the actual experiences of adoptees who are now adults. Each shares their personal truth and offers insight into how we can support adoptees as their parents, partners and peers. Much of their message is painful to hear because it shines a light on the dark underbelly of adoption that is grounded in loss, grief and pain. Truth is often difficult to confront and it is important that we acknowledge and deal with it. Living with or in a lie is far more detrimental for all.

The message this book delivers is clear: Tell the truth; share it with respect and compassion; honor the reality of adoption—not only the benefits, but also the co-existing grief, loss, pain, identity confusion and ambivalence. While it may be tempting to hold back difficult information or to skew the truth through omission or actual untruths, the damage such falsehoods generates are devastating to the parent/child relationship.

Although these stories belong to adoptees who were placed before open adoption and the inauguration of healthier adoption practices, they provide an invaluable window into the adoptee experience through the lens of individuals who actually live/d it. The authors write from the heart to reveal how their adoptive families succeeded and/or fell short in supporting them through childhood and as adults. Parents often unwittingly missed the mark in providing the support their children needed. Sometimes parents undervalue the differences/unique talents which their child brought to the family tree and longed instead, for their child to be the embodiment of parental fantasies.

Adoptee Survival Guide presents parents a chance to learn what adoptees need. The changes in adoption practice may be different from much of the experienced referenced in these stories, however, the message is fundamentally constant: accept your child for who she is; validate her truth; respect her biological family and understand that you are not in competition with them.


akaDanFor an additional insight from a younger adult adoptee check out (a korean adoptee.) He has a website as well as a series of videos documenting his homeland visit and reconnection with his birth family. This video series offers an authentic and raw insight into his experience. Prior to being adopted from Korea, he was well cared for as an infant, with a loving foster mother in Korea. He was adopted by a loving, supportive family in the United States, who were there for him during his journey toward meeting his adoptive family. Still he struggles with emotional conflicts, identity issues, mourns the loss of what-might-have-been. As the twin placed for adoption while his siblings were not he faces why-me questions.

Rap music provided him an outlet for his turmoil. (And coincidentally, is a passion shared by his twin that his parents raised.) His videos witness “acceptance” of the life he had and the life he had lost, and even though he does not know how the future will enfold, he believes it will include all “the above” that makes him who he is.

Both Adoptee Survival Guide and Dan’s work offer an honest and raw look into adoption as a lived experience. There is hard won wisdom here.