Why Adoptees Kill Their Adopters — (Children’s Aid News)

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Children’s Aid News

June 20, 2007

There has been a deliberate effort to debunk the notion that adoption itself has so burdened some adoptees that they are at risk of becoming killers by virtue of their adoptive status. When an adoptee murders his adopter, contributory factors such as drug use or rebellion against parental authority are often mistaken for the root cause of what may be the adoptee’s single act of violence. Eric Harris had been prescribed Luvox, a Prozac-like drug, prior to the Littleton (Colorado) school shootings. Such drugs sometimes prescribed to adoptees commonly produce manic psychoses, aggression, and other behavioral abnormalities in children and may be the proximate cause triggering violence. But when an adoptee commits parricide, the trigger or proximate cause can be extremely subtle while the root cause, which is often overlooked, goes back to the moment the child was transformed into an adoptee. Some adoption supporters have advanced the theory that there must be mental illness in their biological parents which somehow predisposes their children to become criminals.

It is believed that adoptees are overrepresented in the numbers of children who kill their adopters. They, as well as adoptees who become “substitute” or “serial” killers, may have been physically, sexually and/or emotionally abused as children. But according to David Kirschner, Ph.D., a forensic psychologist who studied “hundreds of adoptees” in over 25 years of his private practice, all of his subjects reportedly exhibit antisocial Adopted Child Syndrome (ACS) behaviors to varying degrees, including (1) conflict with authority, such as truancy; (2) preoccupation with fantasizing; (3) pathological lying; (4) stealing; (5) running away; (6) underachievement; (7) lack of impulse control, from sexual acting out or promiscuity to sex offenses; (8) firesetting or arousal from fire. Their personalities are characterized by impulsivity, low frustration tolerance, manipulativeness, deceptive charm, shallowness of attachment. There is also an absence of normal guilt or anxiety about one’s deeds. However, Dr. Kirschner also refers to ACS as an “extreme form of adoption- related psychopathology.”

Adopters are more likely to be frustrated by a child who cannot attach to his substitute caretakers simply because they are not like him, physically or in personality. While adopters may be no more or less skilled in parenting than biological parents, adopters may be overly concerned about acceptance and as a result, may be too permissive or too strict, in either case imposing unreasonable expectations on a child who may eventually rebel.

Adopted children are hospitalized for psychiatric disorders ten times more frequently than other children. [and therefore can be assumed to be consuming more psych drugs than other youths – SSRI Ed]. This is largely attributed to feelings of rejection and an incomplete sense of identity. It leaves the adoptee not only more vulnerable to other basic factors (such as child abuse) but also more violently reactive. Extreme examples include David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”) and Kenneth Bianchi (“The Hillside Strangler”). Nevertheless, adoption records continue to be sealed in most areas of North America. — Trailer at end of movie, Natural Enemy, starring Donald Sutherland, produced in Montreal, Canada, aired 1/29/97 on HBO in the United States by October Films, NY

While the movie Natural Enemy was a fictional dramatization about a male adoptee who seeks revenge upon his mother, the portrayal of an adoptee who has deep seated anger, and feelings of being unwanted and unloved, is, to varying degrees, the reality for most American adoptees. For many, the answers to “Who am I?” and “Who are my parents?” and “Why was I given up for adoption?” are as important as breathing. Others just as adamantly deny having normal curiosity about their pre-adoption existence, afraid of being perceived as less than a “well adjusted adoptees” and to avoid a second rejection … by their adopters.

Furthermore, the compulsion of these adoptees to kill was specifically directed at their adopters and appears to have been satisfied upon committing the murder. At least, they express no desire nor inclination to kill anyone else. As a fictional serial murder suspect explained (on Law and Order). “I’m not a serial killer. I killed my mother. I only had one mother.”

When adoptees kill, rarely is the fact of their adoption ever considered at trial. Most convictions result from plea bargains that endeavor to punish rather than to analyze, profile and discover ways to treat or even prevent similar circumstances which triggered in murder. Perhaps it’s because doing so would pit the professionals against those who espouse adoption is a “quick fix” for a variety of social ills, despite that officials resists collecting and publishing data on adoptees’ outcomes. Adoption professionals are not unaware of negative outcomes, they either dismiss it as an aberration or blame the adoptee or his genes.