The Adoptee Voice and Visibility Framework

How Adoptees Can Find Meaning and Fulfillment in Their Lives

Shane Bouel
Reclaimers
10 min readMay 10, 2023

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The Adoptee Voice and Visibility Framework How Adoptees Can Find Meaning and Fulfillment in Their Lives

The theoretical framework mentioned in this article is focused on Adoptee voice and visibility. It seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of the unique experiences of adoptees and the impact of adoption on their lives. The framework highlights the importance of adoptees’ perspectives in adoption discourse and aims to promote their visibility and agency. Through this framework, adoptees can be empowered to tell their stories, participate in advocacy efforts, and shape policies related to adoption.

It’s imperative that we develop a theoretical, philosophical framework that acknowledges the ways in which adoption as a social construct operates as a form of oppression that shapes adoptees’ experiences and identities. Drawing on the work of critical race theorists, we can explore how systems of power and oppression shape individuals’ experiences based on their racial identity, and apply this understanding to the experiences of adoptees who often face systemic barriers and discrimination based on their adoptee identity.

Adoptees have historically been excluded from discussions of adoption, with their experiences and perspectives marginalised or ignored. We must therefore prioritize adoptee voices and centre their experiences in our discussions of adoption.

Another important aspect of this framework would be to explore ways in which adoptees can resist and challenge these structures of power to create more authentic and empowering narratives for themselves. This could involve developing strategies for advocating for adoptee rights and challenging discriminatory practices, as well as creating spaces for adoptees to connect with each other and share their experiences.

Ultimately, the goal of this theoretical framework would be to empower adoptees to assert their own narratives and experiences, and to challenge the systemic barriers and discrimination that have historically silenced and marginalised them. By drawing on critical race theory and other frameworks that explore the intersection of power and identity, we can develop a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which adoption shapes adoptees’ experiences, and work towards a more just and equitable society for all adoptees.

Theoretical Framework (AVVF):

  1. Esotericism: This aspect of the framework emphasises the idea that adoptees have a deeper connection to their inner selves and the universe around them and that this connection can be harnessed to uncover hidden truths about their adoption experience. This involves exploring the spiritual and metaphysical dimensions of their identity, and understanding how their adoptee status has shaped their sense of self and purpose in life.
  2. Existentialism: This aspect of the framework emphasises the idea that adoptees are constantly confronting the question of their existence and the meaning of their lives. Adoptees are faced with the reality that their biological origins are unknown or severed, which can lead to feelings of disconnection, alienation, and anxiety. Adoptees must confront these existential questions head-on and find meaning in their lives despite the uncertainty and ambiguity of their identity/identities.
  3. Social Acceptance: This aspect of the framework emphasises the importance of social acceptance and acknowledgment of adoptees’ experiences. Adoptees often face stigma, discrimination, and marginalization due to their adoptee status. This can lead to feelings of shame, self-doubt, and isolation. Adoptees need social acceptance and acknowledgment in order to feel validated and empowered in their fully resolved integrated identity/identities.
  4. Truth: This aspect of the framework emphasises the importance of uncovering the truth about adoptees’ experiences. Adoptees often face secrecy, lies, and misinformation surrounding their adoption, which can lead to a sense of betrayal and a lack of trust in others. Adoptees need to seek out the truth about their adoption experience in order to reconcile their past, understand their present, and plan for their future.
  5. Social Constructs: This aspect of the framework emphasises the ways in which social constructs can be damaging to adoptees’ experiences. Adoption is a social construct that operates within a larger system of power and oppression. Adoptees are often marginalized within this system and face barriers to social acceptance and empowerment. This framework encourages adoptees to challenge these social constructs and to create new, more empowering narratives for themselves.

This theoretical framework incorporates esotericism, existentialism, social acceptance, truth, and the impact of social constructs on adoptees’ experiences. By acknowledging and exploring these aspects of the adoptee experience, adoptees can uncover hidden truths, find meaning and purpose in their lives, and challenge the social structures that limit their potential. It is important for society to recognise the unique challenges and experiences of adoptees, and to provide support and acceptance to help them thrive.

1. Esotericism:

Esotericism, as a component of this theoretical framework, recognises the spiritual and metaphysical dimensions of the adoptee experience. It suggests that adoptees have a unique connection to their inner selves and the universe around them, which can be harnessed to gain deeper insights into their adoption journey.

This aspect of the framework acknowledges that adoption is not just a social or legal construct, but also has spiritual and emotional implications. Adoptees may feel a sense of disconnection or fragmentation from their true selves due to the trauma of separation and loss, but through exploring esoteric principles and practices, they can reconnect with their inner selves and uncover hidden truths about their adoption experience.

Esotericism also encourages adoptees to explore their connection to the universe and the greater cosmic order. This can involve practices such as meditation, visualization, and energy work, which can help adoptees tap into their intuition and gain a deeper understanding of their purpose in life. By connecting with their inner selves and the universe, adoptees can develop a greater sense of empowerment and agency, and move towards a more authentic and fulfilling life path.

Overall, the esoteric component of this framework recognises that adoption is not just a physical or legal event, but also has profound spiritual and metaphysical implications. By exploring these dimensions of their identity, adoptees can gain a deeper understanding of their adoption experience and move towards greater authenticity and self-realization.

2. Existentialism:

Existentialism is a philosophical framework that emphasises individual existence, freedom, and choice. Within the context of adoptee experiences, existentialism highlights the unique challenges that adoptees face in terms of their identity and sense of purpose. Adoptees must confront the reality that they may not know their biological origins or have a clear understanding of where they come from. This can lead to feelings of disconnection and alienation, as well as a sense of existential anxiety about the meaning of their lives.

In order to navigate these challenges, adoptees must confront their existential questions head-on and find meaning in their lives despite the uncertainty and ambiguity of their identity. This involves embracing the freedom and choice that comes with existence, and recognizing that they have the power to shape their own lives and create their own sense of purpose. Adoptees must also confront the reality that their existence may be shaped by societal norms and expectations surrounding adoption, and must actively work to challenge and redefine these constructs in order to find a sense of authenticity and agency in their lives.

3. Social Acceptance:

The aspect of social acceptance in this theoretical framework highlights the importance of acknowledging and accepting adoptees’ experiences as valid and valuable. Adoptees often face challenges in society due to the stigma associated with being adopted, including feelings of shame, rejection, and isolation. It is important for adoptees to be able to openly discuss their experiences and have their feelings and perspectives heard and understood.

Social acceptance can come from a variety of sources, including family, friends, and broader societal institutions. Adoptees need support from their families in processing their feelings about their adoption and understanding their identity. Friends can provide a sense of belonging and understanding that may be missing in other areas of their lives. Institutions like schools and workplaces can also play a role in fostering a culture of acceptance and understanding.

Acknowledgment and acceptance of adoptees’ experiences can also take the form of broader societal change. Adoptees may benefit from increased representation in media, policy changes that address the unique challenges they face, and a greater understanding of the complexities of adoption as a social institution. Ultimately, social acceptance can help adoptees feel more empowered and secure in their identities, allowing them to fully explore and embrace their inner selves.

4. Truth:

The aspect of truth in this framework recognises the importance of adoptees understanding their own experiences and origins. Adoptees often have limited or false information about their biological families, and the adoption process itself can be shrouded in secrecy and misinformation. The search for truth involves confronting any deceit, secrecy, or misinformation surrounding an adoptee’s adoption experience, and seeking out accurate and honest information about their origins and family history.

This search for truth is not just about uncovering factual information, but also about understanding the emotional and psychological impact of the adoption experience on the adoptee. Adoptees may need to confront difficult emotions and come to terms with any trauma or loss associated with their adoption experience. The pursuit of truth also involves challenging any social constructs or cultural narratives that contribute to the marginalization of adoptees and advocating for greater acceptance and understanding of the adoptee experience.

Ultimately, the search for truth is about empowering adoptees to take ownership of their own narrative and to create a sense of self that is grounded in truth and authenticity. By acknowledging and understanding the truth of their own experiences, adoptees can find a sense of purpose, belonging, and meaning in their lives.

5. Social Constructs:

Social constructs refer to the social norms, values, and beliefs that shape our understanding of the world and our place in it. In the context of adoptees, adoption is a social construct that has a significant impact on their experiences and identities. This aspect of the framework emphasises that these social constructs can be damaging to adoptees and can perpetuate systemic barriers to social acceptance and empowerment.

For example, the social construct of the family may be exclusionary for adoptees who do not fit into traditional definitions of what a family should be. Adoptees may also face stigmatization and discrimination due to their adoptee status, which can lead to a sense of otherness and isolation.

This framework encourages adoptees to challenge these social constructs and to create new, more empowering narratives for themselves. By recognizing the damaging effects of social constructs, adoptees can work to deconstruct these narratives and create new ones that better reflect their experiences and identities. This may involve advocating for changes in adoption policies, challenging stereotypes and stigmatization, and promoting greater social acceptance and acknowledgment of adoptees’ experiences.

Even in situations where there is intentional efforts to coerce individuals through social and biological means, the truth of adoptees’ experiences may still come to light.

So why do social structures such as slavery, segregation, and forced assimilation share commonalities with adoption practices throughout history?

Social structures like Slavery, Segregation, Apartheid, Feudalism, Communism and Forced Assimilation all share commonalities with Adoption and its practices because they all involve the systemic control and manipulation of individuals and groups to maintain power dynamics.

Adoption has been used as a tool for cultural erasure and assimilation by separating children from their birth families and communities and placing them with families of different cultures, languages, and traditions. This can result in the loss of language, cultural practices, and identity for adoptees, and perpetuate a dominant culture’s superiority over minority cultures.

How has adoption been used as a tool for cultural erasure and assimilation, and what can be done to challenge and dismantle these oppressive systems?

To challenge and dismantle these oppressive systems, it is essential to recognise and centre the voices and experiences of adoptees and their birth families. Adoptees should have access to their birth records and cultural heritage, and their stories and perspectives should be respected and valued. Adoptive families should also be educated about the importance of maintaining connections with their child’s birth culture and community.

Additionally, adoption policies and practices should be reformed to prioritise keeping families together whenever possible and providing support to families in crisis. This includes addressing the root causes of family separation, such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and systemic discrimination. By taking these steps, we can work towards a more just and equitable society for all.

Self-Directed Questions:

  1. What are your thoughts and beliefs about adoption?
  2. Have you ever made assumptions or stereotypes about adoptees or adoption?
  3. Have you ever used language that undermines the validity of adoptees’ experiences or identities?
  4. Have you ever dismissed or minimised the trauma and loss that adoptees may experience?
  5. Have you ever questioned or challenged adoptees’ relationships with their birth families?
  6. Have you ever imposed your own beliefs or values onto adoptees or their birth families?
  7. Have you ever engaged in behaviours that prioritise the adoptive parent’s desires and needs over the well-being of the adoptee?
  8. Have you ever participated in the perpetuation of cultural erasure or assimilation through adoption practices?
  9. Have you ever prioritised the convenience and ease of adoption over the best interests of the adoptee and their birth family?
  10. Have you ever failed to acknowledge or address the power dynamics and inequalities that exist within adoption systems?

These questions are intended to prompt self-reflection and awareness of one’s own unconscious involvement in oppressive adoption practices. It is important to recognise and challenge these harmful beliefs and behaviours in order to create a more just and equitable world for adoptees and their families.

In conclusion

The theoretical framework discussed in this article sheds light on how difficult, nuanced, exhausting, isolating, and life-shattering adoption can be. From an existentialist perspective, it is evident that the lack of social care and love is a significant issue, and adoption amplifies this problem. The social mystification and illusion of the Self for adoptees are socially created, causing additional, complex layers of abandonment that need to be addressed.

Unfortunately, society does not provide a clear path out of these riddles, making it a challenging journey for adoptees and non-adoptees alike. The solution lies in engaging with pain, reality, loss, and grief, leading to acceptance and rooted sadness. Gradually, abandonment becomes habitable, and the Self becomes authentic and conscious. However, this is not a simple process, and the human emotional pain of not being seen and held in mind will always be a part of it until a full and comprehensive understanding is achieved by all, including you.

When will Adoption be seen as an oppressive system outside of those who directly experience it?

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Shane Bouel
Reclaimers

Using creativity to lift standards of ethics & morality by questioning half-truths and denouncing the conservancy of inhumane ideologies.