Leave My Family Tree Alone

You can find value in Theresa’s posts on ANY given day, she gives a real world, no nonsense POV that smacks you but good. I will admit that that stories she Diggs are usually highly triggering but I read them because it really does no good at all to bury ones head in the sand.

A while back Theresa did a Digg (or is that dugg) on something printed in the Humboldt Beacon entitled Grafting on to the Family Tree. It was written by Paul Rodrigues in response to a straight forward plea for open records written by Mara Rigge entitled Adoptees Discriminated Against. I can’t seem to get Rodgrigues’ response out of my mind. As a matter of fact the more I thought about it the more angry I became.

Rodrigues comments; “Both of them had questions about their roots as it pertained to their adoptive family, and I explained to them that they were grafted onto the family tree, and like a branch that is grafted onto a living tree, it is just as much a part of the tree as one that had grown naturally.

On the surface it’s easy to see why Rodrigues’ response would be triggering but I had to dig (no pun) deeper than the surface to figure out why it bothered me SO much. Then it came to me. This superimposed work of fiction by Mr. Rodrigues epitomizes EVERYTHING that ends up imparting irreparable damage on adoptees . To suggest that an adoptee is simply grafted onto the adoptive family tree is both completely dismissive and entirely disrespectful not only to his children but to each and every adoptee out there.

I wish it worked this way Mr. Rodrigues, I really do. But the fact of the matter is you simply cannot create fact out of fiction. The only way you can effectively assist in working through the unique issues your children WILL face by being adopted is by acknowledging truth and fully supporting them in that very personal journey of self discovery. You do them NO favors by forcing them into a designer pair of rose colored glasses in place of real, honest, roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty….work.

I know as parents we want to protect our children from ever feeling sadness or pain. Unfortunately adoption NATURALLY comes with some measure of both. It’s OK, really. Far better to acknowledge it than force your children to pretend everything about being adopted is perfect. Speaking from experience I can tell you that pretending things are as they are not puts FAR more pressure on your kids than allowing them to acknowledge reality and work through the resulting emotions.

I know PLENTY of adoptive parents who work tirelessly to understand the many nuances of raising an adopted child (just take a look at but a few over to the right listed in my AP links). They try, they fail and then they TRY AGAIN. Just as so many of us adoptees do as we work our way through the labyrinth of the unknown that IS our historical identity. And what our place is in it. You ask too much of us when you suggest we live in a land of make-believe where ones true biological history can be grafted elsewhere. Closet dwelling biological families would do well to grasp this too.

I remember my visit to Ellis Island which I blogged about way back in o6′. This is a place where the blood of our ancestors seeps from the walls constructed in their honor. I ask you Mr. Rodrigues; what honor is there in a lie? The truth may not be a pretty or comfortable place to visit but that is exactly where you will find your children’s dignity.

So as for this whole grafting idea? You are definitely barking up the wrong tree.



Filed under Adoptee Family, Adoption Schmoption, Adoptive Family, Natural Family

28 responses to “Leave My Family Tree Alone

  1. Awesome post, Mia! I google shared it!!

  2. Thanks Dawn, you are definitely someone I hope adoptive parents such as Paul will read. I often think about the workshop you gave in Pittsburgh (awesome) and how many out there would benefit from your openness. I know a lot already do, myself included.

  3. I think getting through to Paul or Ola might be like communicating with a tree, but for all the open-minded people out there who love justice and equality, your blog response to family tree grafting is excellent!!!!

    Thanks a bunch, Mia!

  4. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

  5. You are very welcome Mara. I hope all who read here click your name link and sign the petition. I did!

    Thanks T. xoxo

  6. ola

    Hi Mia, great blog. Great points on your blog, but I want to respond to this:

    “To suggest that an adoptee is simply grafted onto the adoptive family tree is both completely dismissive and entirely disrespectful not only to his children but to each and every adoptee out there”.

    Let me make a couple points in how I interpreted the letter responding to Mara’s, becuase I believe that we agree more than we disagree.

    First, I interpreted the adoptive parent’s response to their children’s issue was with regards to how his children fit into the adoptive family.

    I do not believe that in affirming to his children that they are part of the family that he is denying that the kids have birth parents.

    It seems that the way you (and others) have read the letter have interepreted it to mean that the adoptive parent has denied the roots of his children, that of his biological family, while I didn’t see that at all.

    It seems that both of us have made assumptions about the letter writer and his intentions with his family tree analogy.

    As it is a letter to the editor, and not a full blown article, it is hard to see whether his children’s “issues” were with how they fit into the adoptive family or if they with their biological orgins.


    When you can only respond to valid points with insults, you have effectively lost the argument.

    You have contradicted yourself a couple of times, and refuse to aknowledge that you brought up the whole family tree analogy, yet you refuse to respond to those points with anything but insults.

    “Wa Wa Wa Wa Wa” ? More like you are putting your hands over your ears and refusing to hear what is being said.

    It is unfortunate that we can’t have a real conversation, Mara, because you either change the subject or ignore it altogether when asked legitimate questions or presented with valid points.

    One other thing. I do not know who my biological father is, so it is not as if I do not appreciate what it is like not to know one’s full history. It’s just that I did not read the letter writer’s family tree analogy (which, again, was brought up in the first letter by Mara), to be a repudiation of his childerens’ birth parents.

    I understand the angst of not knowing the medical history of one half of my biological family, but it has never been something that has been a big issue for me. I don’t know why, but it has never mattered that much to me. I do, however agree with you, and believe that records should be open to those who desire to know their biological history. That’s why I think we probably agree more than we disagree (if we even disagree at all 🙂 )

  7. Hi theory is also quite flawed.
    You can graft a plant all you want but it doesn’t change anything really.
    My neighbor has a tree that is grafted. A few branches of plum were grafted onto an old apricot tree about 50 years ago. Funny thing is, the tree doesn’t produce apricots or pluots or apriplums or any other hybrid.
    It produces plums. Plums. Plums.
    Just plums.
    And they are delicious.

  8. ola

    So what does this guy do, issycat, with regards to his kids, tell them they are not part of their family?

  9. Good to see you Issy! xoxo

    Ola I get that Paul is trying to make his children feel a part of something bigger than themselves, part of the family in a deeper, more meaningful way. I’m not questioning his motives here. What I am saying is that what he proposes (regardless of intention) doesn’t work. You can say something flowery and pretty it up all you want to but that doesn’t make it reality. Regardless of how much you WANT it to be true.

    Take my adoptive grandmother for instance. She died before I was adopted. I never had the opportunity to meet her and thus do not have any emotional connection to her other than the fact that she is my amom’s mother. From what I’ve been told she was a pretty amazing woman. I honor and respect her memory but the fact remains that I have no blood connection to her what so ever. No matter how much I may “want to” I can’t own that blood connection.

    I am not suggesting here that an adoptee can’t be made to feel that they are a part of their adoptive family unit. My brother is my brother, my dad my dad etc… What I AM saying is that the buck stops at pretending we share DNA because we don’t. I am NOT part of their family tree and never will be. The FACT IS my true heritage is and always will be growing on the branch of another tree. The same is true for my children and their children and so on.

    Look, all we want, all we have ever wanted, is for society to allow us to stop pretending and simply tell it like it IS. This grafting business is a prime example of the lengths adoptees are expected to go to to fit in. We are tired of being shape shifters and fixers, of burying our feelings for the sake of others. We are tired of trying to be something we’re not. Mostly we are tired of being ignored by the bulk of society when we continually tell you how damaging and absolutely exhausting it is having to live in the land of make believe.

    Maybe you can try and understand why so many of us are less than cordial when we talk about it. This uphill climb we are forced to make to simply be who we are would make anybody testy.

  10. What’s wrong with being a plum and living on an apricot tree. I like apricots and I like plums but an apricot I am not an there is no pretending otherwise no matter whose tree I’m living on.
    Don’t try to turn me into an apricot just because I live here. The arpicot tree is great, you know. It’s nice to have it here to give me support but…
    I’M A PLUM!
    And I’m pretty tasty just the way I am.

    That’s all I’m saying.

  11. Sorry for the typos.

    But you know, I’m really liking this grafted tree analogy.

    It’s grown on me.
    Get it?
    Grown on me.

    Lolololol. 🙂

  12. LOL You are one tasty plum Issy. It’s good you aren’t ungrateful or bitter because if you were you would shrivel up and become a prune. Keep laughing!

    I’m still a squirrel pretending to be a dog living in a nut tree;


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  16. Such a good post are you ok with me reposting it?
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  17. Ps I take it Ola was not adopted, certainly has not grasped the issues of living someone elses life, pretending to be someone we’re not and playing ‘the adoption story’.You just can’t argue with people who tell it like it is from their own truth and the life they been made to live, by doing that you deny once again who they are and what they’ve experienced.No go Ola.

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