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Ready, Set, Go! The Adoptee Paradigm Shift–A Conversation with Deanna Doss Shrodes

by Laura on April 24th, 2013

Ohhh Laura, you and your jargon. What do you mean by an Adoptee Paradigm Shift? Seriously.

Get it? Is the symbolism obvious enough? Adoptee paradigm shift = adoptee centered.

Okay everyone, safety first. … Please make sure your thinking cap is on tight. Hold firmly to your seat … Because there is about to be an Adoptee Paradigm Shift up. in. here.

Deanna Doss Shrodes is not unique to this blog. Most who read The Lost Daughters or her adoption blog, Adoptee Restoration, will know what a sassy writing style kind, honest heart she has. Plus she’s super smart.

She and I have already discussed Shaking the Adoption Fog out of Adoptees and Shaking the Adoption Fog out of Non-Adoptees. Today, we’re doing the same blog conversation, with Expat Adoptee Mommy as Part 1, and Deanna’s Part 2 post at Adoptee Restoration.

You may be wondering how this mind-blowing Adoptee Paradigm Shift came about … well, Deanna sat down to read Adopted Reality one morning, and finished it in that very. same. sitting. … peppering me with questions and comments throughout.

The more we chatted, the more realized just how strongly we feel that not only must adoptees take responsibility for their pain, truths and experiences, so must their loved ones accept and trust their adoptee. That, my friends is only a fraction of the Adoptee Paradigm shift. Read on, and you’ll understand what I mean.

Descent into madness

Laura– The memoir begins with the somewhat confusing story of my descent into madness. Honestly, I purposefully wrote it from the perspective of being an unwitting but somewhat willing participant in the delusion. What was your experience reading it? (Aside from confusion)

Deanna — I was rather fascinated by the descent into madness. I have never known anyone who experienced that and came back from it, particularly as healthy as you are today. The story absolutely draws you in, and I felt as though I could hear yours and [your brother] Jami’s conversation in my head when you were telling him about the Illuminati and he believed your every word and said he would pack a bag and spend the night in the woods.

Laura — I know, right? It was a crazy time. We were all paranoid following the terror attacks on 9/11; some more than others. <<points to self>>

The fact that Jami believed me and supported me (and was a little paranoid himself) is so heartening for me. Truly, my family–both biological and adoptive–rallied together to try to help me from thousands of miles away.

It’s my opinion that it was this very breakdown that put my birth mom and my adoptive mom on the same “side” if you will. The collective goal of trying to help their daughter regain her sanity, well, it helps one put aside past hurts.

Today, moms in open adoptions are also trying to navigate their continuing reunion. Aside from an adoptee’s nervous breakdown, do you have any thoughts as to how moms can be supportive of their adoptee, as opposed to at odds with each other?

Deanna — Yes, I do. My thought is–let them completely make the decisions without interference or pressure. At the time of our adoptions we were powerless and others made all the decisions for us. As adults, we should be calling the shots but often the mothers, both original and adopted, are still trying to steer us along in the direction they want us to go or even outright trying to tell us how it’s going to be. I believe this is one of the most painful thing many adult adoptees face — continually being treated like a child.

The nature of memoir and truth-telling

Hi. My name is Laura. I’m an adult adoptee.

Laura — This begs the question: whose truth are we telling in memoir? Some readers have commented that they have a hard time believing Adopted Reality is really a true story. This also goes to your recent post on Adoptee Restoration about trauma, abuse and openness–sometimes when we tell our own truth, others who have not experienced it think they can question the validity of the survivor’s experience.

Deanna — Well, I had no trouble believing Adopted Reality was a true story. First because you are my friend and I know the genuineness of your life on a daily basis. Second, everything you write about in the book can be proven. From the article in the Washington Post to hospital records that show the details of your breakdown, it’s all right there. Some people don’t want to believe because…well, they don’t want to believe. Our truths make people uncomfortable at times. It creates a place where they have to accept a new paradigm and they are not ready for that. Their loss.

Whose truth are we telling? Ours. That’s the point. We have grown up and we now have the chance to speak. All along, they never counted on that. But here we are.

The Adoptee Paradigm Shift

Laura — Ah ha, to learn certain truths requires one to “accept a new paradigm.”

This makes me think about a recent conversation I had with writer and therapist Corie Skolnick about adoption fog and why people are resistant to reunion. Her theory is that people in general are change resistant.

Accepting someone else’s truth–when it’s been a secret for so long–requires a paradigm shift, an Adoptee Paradigm Shift. Here: relative-who-is-resistant-to-reunion, let me just shift your paradigm, please, just a little? I promise it won’t hurt.

Well, that’s not entirely true, I have to correct myself. I can think of a number of situations in which accepting someone else’s truth–specifically an adoptee’s truth/coming out of the adoption closet/admitting to trauma, grief and loss–would mean having to accept responsibility.

The paradigm shift means personal responsibility, and that’s maybe even more difficult. If everything just stays in the closet, than no one has to take responsibility for their actions. What are your thoughts?

Deanna — I absolutely agree. Warning: I’m about to make a lot of people mad. What’s new?  What is staying in the closet? It’s hiding. Self preservation. I believe we all have to take personal responsibility for our actions no matter where we fall in the adoption equation–original parent, adoptive parent or adoptee.

I have to personally take responsibility for my issues as an adoptee and get help where I need it. It’s incumbent on us to take personal responsibility for our actions even when things happen to us that we don’t ask for. I have heard people say that because of the trauma many first mothers went through, they do not have to take responsibility now. Wrong. We have a responsibility to do right by others, even if it is uncomfortable for us. Experiencing tragedy doesn’t give us a pass to treat people any way we want to. Particularly a child one has carried!

My personal view is pretty simple and easily understood: live honestly, and do the right thing. Micah 6:8 says it in a nutshell: “O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

We have all been through some painful circumstances in life, right? Sometimes even abusive ones. Even so, do what is right. Right is right. It transcends what is just right for one person. Some things that are right are also uncomfortable. The realities of adoption are not always pleasant. In fact, I think most of the realities concerning it are not. But living in wholeness for ourselves and goodness towards others requires that we go there.  Okay, bring on the hate mail.

*  *  *  *  *


But wait! We’re not done yet! Head over to Deanna’s Adoptee Restoration to read Part 2, which coverst adoptee resilience, post-adoption issues and the price we pay for standing in our truth. It’s good stuff … click here to read Part 2!

“Ball” by Salvatore Vuono from; Deanna’s photo courtesy of Deanna.


From → Adoption, Expat Mommy

  1. I admire you greatly, Laura for speaking your truth, even though I'm sure this book was no easy task. I hope to read it very soon.

    • Laura permalink

      Cool, thanks! I'm really looking forward to your reaction, I always love to hear what other adoptees think of it :)

  2. Excellent!!!! Great post with so many truths.

  3. Lee H. permalink

    I need to add Orfan and Adopted Reality to my growing list! I loved both blog posts…

  4. That is the most beautiful act in this world that only few people dare to do for the sake of others. I really want to admire you for sharing such kind deed and god ma help you with this act that you have been doing.

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