Something that really bothers me is when people say to adoptees, “Stop playing the victim” or “I’m an adoptee too, but I refuse to ‘play the victim’,” simply because the adoptee dares to say adoption hurts, adoption is trauma.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think they understand what “playing the victim” really means.
Playing the victim is a manipulative effort to get what you want out of someone, or get out of things you don’t want to do. It’s a fabrication in order to gain attention, or justify abuse. Yes, sometimes it’s a misguided coping strategy (meaning maybe you don’t intend or realize you are doing it), but even then it’s a way to manipulate your environment so that you don’t have to take responsibility for your actions or the things you need to do in your state in life.
None of which is what I see when the average adoptee on the internet is accused of playing the victim. In fact, most of the adoptees I know have awesome, successful lives, myself included. They might just happen to feel like crap while they are living that American Dream. (See also Paul Sunderland’s video on how his adopted clients were testing off the charts depressed while appearing perfectly normal.)
Saying “I have psychological damage because I was adopted and raised a certain way,” or “Adoption is a traumatic experience for any child,” is simply a statement of cause and effect. A truth. It’s like saying “I have cancer because I smoked 3 packs a day,” or “I broke my arm and it hurts a lot.” No one tells those people they are “playing the victim.” Smoking = cancer. Arm broken = pain. Adoption = trauma, and for many people complex developmental trauma = psychological damage as adults = physical and emotional pain. It just *is*. Saying what is true is not playing the victim.
People come on to an adoptee blog, forum, or Facebook page centered on adoptees who are healing — and so since adoption and it’s consequences are the subject of the page, of course we are going to be talking about that — and then somehow extrapolate that those 10 minutes we took to post about our pain are Our Whole Lives. It is assumed must always be whining to others that our life sucks, taking on Victim as our identity. Others of us take more then ten minutes, maybe researching and writing about adoption for hours a a day even. ( *ahem* My excuse: old habits die hard, I have a degree in the effect of biology on psychology, this stuff fascinates me) …but I do it to help others, to tell truths, to be strong, to make a difference, which is the exact opposite of “playing the victim.”
Accusing someone of playing the victim is a shaming way to shut down discourse because you don’t like what someone is saying. So really, the people who say these things to us are the ones being manipulative, not us. We are simply expressing fact.
Maybe if people would ACTUALLY LISTEN, we wouldn’t have to keep saying it.