Gaslighting and Adoption

Based on this article about gaslighting.

“Gaslighting” is a term for a very unhealthy event (or series of events) to be the recipient of: according to wikipedia it’s ” a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.” It is so damaging because it messes with your trust in yourself and your trust in reality.

I find gaslighting inherent in the closed adoption system (the only one I can speak about with any experience).

According to the article:

Gaslighting doesn’t have to be deliberate. 

Adoptive parents don’t typically set out to be emotionally unhealthy towards their children, but if “gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality” then the whole idea of a closed adoption IS gaslighting.  My reality was overwritten – my birth certificate was changed, my name was changed, I now have to call two strangers my parents. If one or more adoptive parents are not open to hearing the child’s feelings on the matter, this is made all the worse.

Glamour Gaslighting 

This is where the gaslighter showers you with special attention, but never actually gives you what you need. They put you on a pedestal, but then they are not there, in fact they may get angry at you, when you need a shoulder to cry on.

I see this so much in some adoptive parents and the whole of society in general.  The adopted child walks on water, is such a gift, is the answer to prayer, is soooooooo wonderful….until they complain that adoption HURTS. Then we get comments like “you’re a whiny self centered hag who should be thankful you weren’t a coat-hanger abortion.” (OK, so that is a compilation of three different actual comments said to an adoptee I know, but you get the idea).

It is normal for adoptees to become people pleasers, because they don’t want to be left again, but that leaves them (us) very susceptible to gaslighting in any form.


4 thoughts on “Gaslighting and Adoption

  1. Agree 100%. Also a closed adoption survivor here. In my case had the additional drama of being adopted by a parent with Borderline Personality Disorder. (laugh with me here)
    Just found your blog while googling what the heck is going on with this guy I’ve been seeing. Does it ever get easier to spot? Wishing you well.


    • I’m so sorry it took me months to approve your comment – my life took a busy/crazy turn and I fell away from this blog for awhile.

      My parents also had trouble with being borderline/narcissistic (I haven’t quite figured out exactly where on the spectrum they fall), so I understand your extra burden in that respect. I was definitely outright gaslighted and messed with emotionally on top of the normal “adoption problems.” I’m sorry you had to go through that as well. Hopefully armed with more information it will be easier to spot!


      • I too am a closed adoption adoptee. I was neglected and then adandoned by a Borderline Personality Disorder by the age of one. i was then adopted by an older couple of equal age. One had been an orphan. At least one was a dry drunk. I loved my Dad to the moon and back. My mom did the unimaginable and when she died I was guilty for years. I was told I was adopted when I was 25 and many people like my mom figure that was OK. They just don’t realize the mental torment I endured trying to figure out whether I belonged or not while dealing with the family Narcissists and later the relationship I married myself into. I hope one day they take better precautions with children that are adopted and realize that each of us may come with our own ingrained Traumas.


      • I’m so sorry you had to go through all that. I too hope that some day the powers that be can figure out what borderline/narcs look like because it seems rampant in adoption.


It's lovely to have you here. Please keep comments respectful of the adoptees who read here. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

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