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Dear Abby delivers assvice about adoption

Dear Abby’s Asinine Advice on Adoption Flops Again

Dear Abby: Your Ignorance is Showing

Recent assvice—asinine advice— from Dear Abby goes against  current best practices, which aim to be more adoptee-oriented than they have been in the past.

"Dear Really Mom"...

..starts Abby.  Here is her asinine advice, along with my numbered points of commentary:

First address this with your daughter. Explain that when her bio mom gave birth to her, she was unable to keep her, so she gave her to you to raise. Tell Opal you love her1, she fills your heart with joy every day2 and that you, unlike her bio mom3, will be there for her every day of your life.

Then, tell the woman who gave up4 your daughter that you had planned to tell Opal about the adoption when she was a little older5, that she bungled the situation and that, for the foreseeable future, you want her to stay away and not further traumatize Opal.6

How did Dear Abby bungle it? Let us count the ways

Related to the notations above, here is evidence that Dear Abby is out of her element.

  1. Abby’s 20th century thinking is outdated and wrong. Love doesn’t erase loss—they co-exist.

    (More: Angela Tucker’s You Should Be Grateful“)

  2. Abby puts adoptees in service to their parents and completely misses that her response should be about what Opal feels, not based on what her parents feel).

    (More: Adoptee Voices e-zine)

  3. Badmouthing Opal’s first mom will not make Opal feel better. It will make identity formation and integration more difficult.

    (More: any of the adoptee-centered and adoptee-led webinars by Adoption Unfiltered)

  4. Well hello, 1960s.

  5. Wrong wrong wrong. Abby should outsource adoption advice-giving to others who know this is wrong and why.

    (More: Why do we still suck at adoption telling?)

  6. Abby should try listening to adoptees on this and all other adoption matters before spouting off. She has me wondering if her judgmentalness about birth parents is from antiquated notions about them, or about unresolved issues somewhere in her own history.

    (More: our book Adoption Unfiltered and our accompanying podcast)

Dear Abby didn't answer the question asked

Abby didn’t really address the letter writer’s question on how to attend to Opal’s clinginess after bio mom claimed to be the real mom. Dare I guess that this is because Abby doesn’t yet understand the importance of centering the adoptee, nor how to go about doing so?

How about find an adoption-nuanced therapist? How about learn what Opal may be feeling from adult adoptees who have processed such situations? How about not using paradigms and language that further split the adoptee between their two families?

Possible Outsourcees

From a previous post, I’m including a short list of adoptees who are also therapists and coaches. I bet any of them would be available to respond to future letter writers about adoption in an adoptee-oriented way.

Your Turn

Dear reader: how would you respond to the letter writer?

DEAR ABBY: We adopted our daughter, “Opal,” at the age of 2. She is 6 now. Opal lived with us off and on as a newborn, but by age 1, she lived permanently with us. We live in a small community, so everyone knows everyone. Opal lived with her biological mom prior to adoption.

We tried to allow interaction between them with certain rules in place. However, Opal was recently permitted to spend two hours with her biological mother at a party for a sibling. Opal asked to come back home, so she was dropped off. I later found out her bio mom told her she gave birth to her so SHE is her REAL mother.

We never hid the adoption from Opal. We speak about it in a way that isn’t negative or hurtful. Since this happened, Opal has reverted to being clingy and wakes up with that conversation on her mind. How do I address this with her bio mom and with our daughter? — REALLY MOM IN KENTUCKY

More Assvice Countering

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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2 Responses

  1. Oh, GROSS. And also, I really love the term “assvice.” I think I’ve said that before, but amazing term! Um, why does Dear Abby make Opal sound like a present? “She gave her to you to raise?” I love how you footnoted problematic (not nearly a strong enough word) pieces with responses. Do you ever write to Abby about her assvice? Because you did great. I love that you gave specific resources and focused on CENTERING THE ADOPTEE. And most of all, outsource advice to a knowledgeable human. I feel like Abby took the question asked into a time machine that wasn’t even what I think the “really mom” meant, even though as I type “really mom,” that’s pretty passive-aggressive (aggressive-aggressive?) and entering the circle with nanny nanny boo-boo type attitude. Ugh. I defer to those who know better than me to try to do better at the advice, but I love your breakdown! Booo, Abby. Booooo.

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