Fellow adoptee Suzan Pleva tells you her adoption story, in her own words. Suzan has become a strong voice in the adoptee community, advocating for change and fighting for adoptee rights. You will understand why when you read her story…
“My name is Suzan. I was originally named Susan. I am an adult Biracial Adoptee. I was born on August 6th, 1983 into an all-white affluent large Catholic family- where I was the only ethnic person. To this day, I am still trying to figure out where I was actually born. I have two separate documents, stating that I was born on the exact same date & time, at two different hospitals. Both of these hospitals are about an hour away from each other and are in the metro-Detroit, Michigan area- located just under an hour from Downtown Detroit, Michigan.
There are still a lot of issues and mysteries around ‘why’ I was adopted. I can definitely say this, I absolutely have my own theories. I’ve been told several different lies, stories throughout my life from, the people that adopted me. The main thing that I do know, is the female who adopted me is infertile and psychologically unhealthy- and an extremely abusive person. This couple who adopted me could not bear children of their own, and I’ve been told several times that they ‘decided to create a family through adoption’. This couple fostered several different children over the years and adopted three of us.
I am the youngest of three siblings. We were all adopted from different families. My adoptive sister and brother are only 6 months apart in age, and I am 4 years younger than them. Out of the three us, I was what I call, ‘the targeted child’. It was a very rough burden to constantly take on, especially because I had no idea why the abuse was happening to me, and I was constantly being reprimanded for questioning it. I suffered, psychological, mental, physical, sexual, financial, and racial abuse on a regular basis, all while being isolated from seeking help to get safety and away from it.
The people that adopted me are ‘upstanding’ citizens, very sociable people, seem to have things together, are active members of their church, socialize with the affluent and elite’s of society. On the outside, all looked well. I grew up on a private all-sports lake, in a nice home, dinner was on the table every night at 6:00 pm when the male adopter got home from work where there was a family dinner that the adopter female made. To give you an example of the actuality and reality of the situation is….. the bank owns these peoples house. It was definitely a life of living inside of the impaired duality of two different worlds. From the outside looking in, all looked well. In all actuality, it was a living ‘smoke and mirrors’ nightmare. As a child, trying to figure out what the hell was happening was very scary and confusing, because there was no explanation for the fact that my gut told me that something just ‘wasn’t right’.
I’ve never blamed my adoptive brother and sister for the mistreatment and abuse I faced, much of it came from them. I honestly think that they never knew better, and probably never will know better, because they were raised and conditioned to think that the way I was treated was ‘normal’, and that I was ‘overreacting’, and/or ‘being too sensitive’. Now, in my adult years, looking back on things, feeling terrorized from being chased around the house by a person with a pair of scissors in a stabbing motion screaming at me ‘you dumb fuck*** nigg** you’d better not close your eyes to sleep at night’, and then being physically attacked when I couldn’t run away any longer is NOT ‘over-reacting’, or ‘being too sensitive’. That’s just blatantly being abused, and being terrorized. But it was forced on me to mask it all to the outside world, and pretend that I was ‘so grateful’ for these ‘wonderful’ people that adopted me and ‘gave me a better life’.
Just only two years ago, when I was 33 years old, I came to learn that the people that adopted me didn’t actually adopt me until I was 3 years old. Before this, I was their foster child for three years, since infancy. Before that, I had only one other home that I was in up until the age of one-month-old. The more I come to learn what happened with my real family, and how I came to be in the people’s home that adopted me, the more I understand why I never felt connected to the people that adopted me. It all just felt so forced and fabricated. I can distinctly remember having the gut thought and feeling at age 11 about the female adopter, “you are not my Mother, this is not my real family”. But I knew that I had to continue to put on the barrage and play the part for survival purposes.
In December of 2017, I came to learn that my real Mother went ‘mysteriously missing’ in the year 1986, just 3 years after she gave birth to me. Right around the time that this had happened, I came to learn that the people that adopted me had petitioned to officially adopt me so that I would no longer be a ‘foster child’ of theirs, but legally adopted. I also came to learn, that my real family, my birth uncle and Aunt (My real Mother’s brother and sister) weren’t aware of my existence until they were informed by the state of the petition of my adoption in 1986. At this time when they were informed of my existence in 1986, my real family went to court to try to fight to get me back. They lost to the courts. The court’s apparent reasoning for why I could not be with my real family, was because they claimed that I had formed a ‘bond’ with the people that petitioned to adopt me due to being in their home for 3 years. I’ll tell you right now, I have never formed a bond with the people that adopted me.
Coming to learn this in my adult years, especially dealing with the trauma that I have faced due to the constant and ongoing abuse I endured at the hands of the people that adopted me, learning this information has been very traumatic knowing that this could have been prevented but wasn’t. Knowing and learning that I could’ve been with my real family, but was denied this right, has been a very sad thing to think about.
The lady that adopted me is definitely an extremely abusive person, and I was the target of her abuse. You wouldn’t know it by looking at and talking to this person.
I started researching my real family, and the truth when I was 26 years old. I tried to get support from the people who adopted me in the beginning for a couple of years, but they would constantly tell me I was ‘ungrateful for all they’ve done for me’, and I would immediately be re-routed to THEIR family history, in which there is none of my biology. I specifically remember bringing my laptop with my Ancestry DNA results into the kitchen where the male and female adopter was sitting at the kitchen table to show them. I was very excited. They both blatantly ignored what I was saying and showing them, and the male adopter took my laptop, closed out the tab of the DNA results, and immediately pulled up his family history and began lecturing me on how THIS was my family history and heritage. At that point, I knew, not to share anything else with these people about my search and my journey. There was another time, where I had finally found my biological Uncle. I brought this to the female adopters attention. She immediately pulled out her little personal phone book and said to me, “well why didn’t you just ask me for his phone number? I’ve got it right here”. I had asked these adopters many times over about my real family, and if they had any information. The adopters blatantly lied to me about this. It was gaslighting at it’s finest.
Along my journey of finding and learning about my real, biological family, and history- I was able to find bits and pieces, clues if you will, to my story along the way. The full-on truth didn’t actually come to light until I was age 33 when the facts and paperwork started being obtained. I had blocked out the memories of the abuse from the people that adopted me because I was subconsciously protecting myself from the trauma and damage it would cause. I honestly believe my body and mind became so tired of the forced denial I was in, that my instincts finally kicked in. I decided to speak out and tell the truth about the abuse, isolation, and constant poor treatment I dealt with at the hands of the female abuser adopter and her enabling, co-dependent husband, to the public. I knew it was time for me to say goodbye to that part of my life and leave those unhealthy people in the past, move on to bigger and better things.
What I didn’t realize at the time was, I had exposed an abuser to the public, and the abuser wasn’t just going to go away after being exposed. This is when the retaliation against me began.
The people that adopted me began stalking me and harassing me in a very aggressive manner, to the point that it was absolutely terrorizing. I’ve been dealing with this for two years. My career, reputation, relationships, personal information, have all been violated by the people that adopted me because I spoke out about the abuse I suffered at their hands. I knew full well, that narcissistic abuse and being isolated by it is extremely dangerous. One of the hardest things to get away from and escape from in abuse, in my opinion, is the isolation that the abuser forces you into. The abuser makes a concerted effort to strip you of your support system, and weaken the quality of your words, by making others believe that you are not telling the truth. That’s when I decided I needed to find a new and proper support system, as I learned that the people I thought were my support system, were not. They were only ‘supportive’, if I was playing the role of ‘Suzie Sunshine’, and didn’t tell the truth about what happened to me. They were only there if I kept the lies about what happened to me intact. I was finished with that lifestyle. I was now onto a lifestyle of honesty.
I moved, changed cities, changed my phone number. I had to break ties and communication with anyone and everyone I had ever known in my life, as I realized that the people that I was isolated by, and surrounded with were extremely unhealthy, as they were condoning the abuse, as I was being shamed for speaking the truth about what happened to me. I was constantly told that I was ‘overreacting’ or ‘lying’ when I would try to understand or talk about the abuse that was happening to me. I now realize, that abuse is abuse, and it is wrong to try to silence and villainize an overcoming victim of it.
This is when I began my journey of prevention of abuse in adoption. This is when I began learning the truth about the laws and facts of adoption. It’s when I began to really ponder how the societal norm sees adoption, and how the general public tends to view an Adoptee’s experience. It’s when I learned about how high the Adoptee suicide rate was. It’s also when I realized how important my role is in advocating for my community of Adoptee’s and Adoptee rights.
I now stand, after all of the nightmares that I endured after speaking out about what happened to me, very proud of my strength, knowing that I have a very bright future ahead of me. I am an Adoptee, and I always seek out ways to accomplish what I’m fighting for, and that’s the honest truth. I was finally able to legally protect myself from the people that adopted me who were stalking and harassing me for the past two years, because I gained the courage to realize that there is no shame in telling the truth and that when you are being stalked and harassed, it’s very important to have the courage to use the words stalking, harassment, as this is exactly what happened to me.
I find it extremely important to keep working to inform the society about the truths in all that is adoption. I work very hard to inform the general public about the importance of preventing unnecessary adoption. I stand strong on the fundamental reason of why adoption was created, which is to provide homes to children who are actually in need of them. Adoption was not created to provide children to people who want one. Humans are not commodities, humans are not objects to be owned. Humans have fundamental civil rights for a reason. Above all, throughout my journey, I’ve learned what healthy, caring, genuinely loving people are because I lived 3 decades being surrounded by what it is not, all while being told it was the real thing.
I’ve got a lot of life ahead of me, and I’m so happy to know that I no longer have to live my life under the bog of shame, and humiliation of adoption. As an Adult Adoptee, I finally have my community, and fellows who understand me, who know and have had the same experiences that I have. I am now finally surrounding myself with people who get me, and I am no longer isolated. It’s a journey that is unraveling, and happening ‘slowly but surely’, and I look forward to the next of what’s to come.
One of the biggest challenges that I’ve come to face and realize is when sharing my experiences, and opinions, there are always those who impose their words of stating, “Not All”, or being told that I am “bitter or angry”. When a person hears of another’s journey, and it is not a happy tale, it’s important that people keep the mindset of respect, and honor those who have suffered a lot. It gets daunting, as an Adoptee, to hear a person try to tell me what my position on adoption should be if they are not an adopted person.
I always state it like this- “A non-adopted person trying to tell an Adoptee about adoption and how they should think about it is like a person who’s never flown a plane before, walking into an airport filled with expert pilots, and trying to tell them how to fly planes”. I’d really like to get that out to the masses because if a person thinks in this mind frame, there would be a LOT of plane crashes. Just leave the informing up to the expert pilots. They are the ones flying planes on a regular basis and know the reality of what being a pilot is. Just like Adoptee’s, we are the ones that have lived every second of adoption hold the most powerful voice in adoption, yet society suppresses this fact and tends to silence our powerful voices. It’s time to change this narrative. The world would be a much better place if more people listened to the experts. The experts are the Adoptees.
My voice will continue to be heard, and I will continue to speak. I encourage any Adoptee to speak their mind, speak about their experiences. Even the smallest amount of sharing your experience can help someone that you may not know is learning from you.
This is my story, my take on things.”
– Suzan, originally named Susan Marie –
Born in the United States
Adopted in the United States
To connect with Suzan and to see her work, please follow the links below. Suzan is a strong advocate and fighter for adoptee rights. She is also a first mother of loss, the other side of the adoption triad and adoption narrative that gets pushed to the side and silenced time and time again.
SUZAN’S WEBSITE: (featuring fellow adoptee’s stories also) www.proudofwhoiam.me
SUZAN’S TWITTER: www.twitter.com/soproudofwhoiam
SUZAN’S FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/soproudofwhoiam
SUZAN’S INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/soproudofwhoiam
SUZAN’S GO FUND ME: www.gofundme.com/proudofwhoiam