Tag Archives: closed adoption

Living in the Ghost Kingdom with Playwright Maggie Gallant

It’s the week of Halloween, the time of year when we love to scare ourselves. Who hasn’t had a run-in with a ghost this time of year? Or even been one?

People in adoption live with ghosts year ’round. Not the kind that cause physical harm, but those that affect our psyches. These ghosts can be so omnipresent — and therefore powerful — that we can’t afford to even acknowledge them.

Betty Jean Lifton, PhD, a renowned psychologist and adoptee, called this the Ghost Kingdom of adoption. Her idea has resurged since the hit NBC series This Is Us featured it on Episode 513 as the backdrop to exploring the inner life and identity of adoptee Randall Pearson.

I’m pleased to present a guest post that further explores the Ghost Kingdom, by playwright and adoptee Maggie Gallant. Maggie’s new play, which delves into the Ghost Kingdom, is called Betwixt & Between, and it premiers in early November at the Adoption Knowledge Affiliates (AKA) 2021 Conference. You can witness the premier! Tickets to Maggie’s event can be found here. I’ve got mine, and I hope to “see” you there.

More details on Maggie after this fascinating essay about her Ghost Kingdom — and the Ghost Kingdoms of her parents.

My Ghost Kingdom

“The ghosts who trail everyone in the adoption triad make up a shadow cast of characters. These ghosts are too dangerous to be allowed into consciousness. Instead they are dissociated, consigned to a spectral place I call the Ghost Kingdom. It is not located on a map, but in the geography of the mind.”

— Betty Jean Lifton, PhD, 1994

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Hate to Break it to You: As of Now There’s No Such Thing as Closed Adoption

Actually, I love breaking that to you. Truth and transparency will always be better in the long run than shame and secrecy. How could it be otherwise? How could we be more afraid of the truth than of lies?

At least truth is… you know… true.

Earlier this week The Adopted Ones (TAO) highlighted an article about adoptees who use DNA testing to scratch the itch of wanting to know their ancestry — like so many people do. Genealogy has been called America’s fastest growing hobby.

TAO is reacting to an article about how DNA testing is changing the world of adoption, which she found on an adoption agency site. She chose not to link to it, and neither will I. This agency isn’t unique and it isn’t the problem. It’s just indicative of the problem, so pitchforks won’t help. But perhaps you can get the gist from these screenshots.

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How to Avoid Being Gobsmacked by your 18 Year-Old Adoptee

I’ve long advocated for openness in adoption for the sake of the adopted person, the baby/toddler/tween/teen/adult who is gradually building their identity, their relationships, and their patterns for how they will move through the world.

But, as an advice column in Slate shows, openness can also save the adoptive parents from a world of hurt. Namely, of being gobsmacked by their son’s/daughter’s “sudden” interest in birth parents.

The Either/Or mindset that we inherited from the Closed Adoption Era is so strong and so prevalent. As a result of it, some parents cling to the hope that, to their child, they are the only parents. As if to confirm their bias, they assume that if the son/daughter isn’t talking about birth parents, that they aren’t thinking about them.

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