I am not your little orphan Annie.

By Michelle Riess

In May 1982, the film Annie was released in the United States. Annie, which takes place in New York City in the 1930s, is the story of a 10-year-old girl named Annie (Aileen Quinn) who lives in an orphanage due to the death of her parents but ends up being adopted by billionaire Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney). The film is based on the 1977 musical of the same name.

Aileen Quinn as Annie (1982)

The 1982 film, and the casting process for the role of Annie, were advertised extensively and my adoptive parents pushed it on me emphatically. This post isn’t intended to be a critique of the film, but to demonstrate the impact unrealistic adoption stories, like Annie, can have on the overall adoption narrative; and how that perpetuates the “savior” mindset in some adoptive parents — as it certainly did in mine.

At the time of Annie’s release in 1982, I was five years old, and my adoptive parents made Annie a big part of my life that year. As this website discusses, I did not know that I was adopted until 2017, at age 40, when I accidentally discovered the truth after doing an Ancestry DNA test. (Related: Could you secretly be adopted and not know?)

As a child, I had mixed emotions about Annie. I liked the music and, of course, Annie’s dog, Sandy. But some parts of the movie made me feel sad and anxious despite reassurances from my adoptive parents that it was a happy movie. “Look at everything Annie has now” was the basic message they repeated to me anytime I felt uncomfortable, as though money alone can, and should, sufficiently replace the loss of an adopted child’s entire biological family, siblings, cousins, grandparents, ethnic identity, culture, language, personal identity, life until that point, etc. It just does not work that way, but I was a young child being actively manipulated, so I innocently believed whatever they told me.

Michelle Riess Christina Gellura Adoption Annie 1982
June 1982 ad in a local newspaper for the movie Annie (Courier Post)

And it wasn’t just the film. We saw stage productions of Annie. I had all the Annie books and records. I was given virtually every Annie toy & item known to existence — the dollhouse, the car, the dolls, bags, clothes, even the official Annie wig, and dress. You name it, I probably had it.

I was Annie for Halloween that year, too. I didn’t ask to be Annie for Halloween, but it was selected for me that year by my adoptive parents. Originally, my adoptive mother wanted me to be the raggedy orphan version of Annie (of course she did!) but she had a very difficult time finding the right kind of boots that Annie wore in the orphanage (because my costume had to be perfect.) Instead, I was the much more polished version of Annie after she is “rescued” by Daddy Warbucks (like pictured below.) I wore my official red & white Annie dress, official Annie wig, and black tap shoes. I even had a little gold heart locket just like Annie’s, because, of course I did.

Final scenes of the 1982 movie Annie include this elaborate party celebrating the acquisition of Annie

In November 1982, Annie was released on VHS. I vividly remember my adoptive father taking me to the local video store (that’s how we watched movies at home in 1982 – lol!) and him begging to purchase one of their copies of Annie on VHS. I remember the store being resistant to selling it to him, but ultimately he succeeded. It was the first movie we owned for our new VHS player, and they made such a big deal about it to me; so much so that I still have that VHS tape in my possession today because it feels almost criminal to get rid of it despite the feelings I have towards it now.

Naturally, my birthday party that year was also Annie themed — again selected by my adoptive parents. I mean, doesn’t every child who doesn’t know they are adopted as part of an illegal adoption ring dream of having an Annie-themed birthday party??? (…crickets…)

My Annie-themed birthday party took place at my adoptive parents’ home on Saturday, December 4, 1982. My actual birthday is November 30, but they waited until that weekend to have the party.

Annie Adoption Michelle Riess Christina Gellura
An elaborate Annie-themed birthday party for a child who would never be told that she is adopted.

In 2017, after my accidental adoption discovery, I learned that December 4th is a monumental day in my life. This day is sometimes referred to as Gotcha Day by adoptive parents, but I am uncomfortable with that term and its darker implications; especially considering the incredibly unethical circumstances of my adoption — and, of course, my 40-years-too-late discovery.

December 4th, as it turns out, is the day that my mother, Hollie, reluctantly handed newborn me to the adoptive parents after being lied to by them about their backgrounds & intentions, being lied to by her own Ob/Gyn who was entrusted with her medical care, and being lied to by the attorney the adoptive parents paid to find them a healthy, white newborn. (Related: newspaper articles about my adoption trial)

This is the same attorney who arranged my adoption despite knowing it was 100% illegal for him to do so. The same adoptive parents who used fake first & last names and provided false background information about themselves so my biological family would approve them for the adoption, but also so they could never find them (or me) in the future. The same adoptive parents who did not even tell their own families they were planning to adopt until I was already in their home. The same adoptive parents who promised (verbally & in writing) they would tell me about my adoption as a young child, but knew they never really would. The same adoptive parents who had to testify in the eventual trial against their own attorney about my illegally arranged adoption — and their willingness to participate in & conceal it. The same attorney who very obviously appears to have lied under oath repeatedly during his court testimony.

I do not feel adopted; I feel like stolen goods taken during the course of an elaborate heist. If you have any questions left in your mind about why the term “Gotcha Day” bothers me so much, just read the last two paragraphs again until it starts to make sense… (Related: The Problems With Gotcha Day, written by an adoptive parent)

Surely the significance of this particular date was a detail not missed by my adoptive parents while planning my Annie-themed birthday party that year on December 4th — my “gotcha day.” It just oozes with ickiness and puts their grandiose sense of entitlement on center stage.

My Annie-themed party was quite elaborate for 1982 home birthday party standards. Today, kids’ parties are out of control, but in 1982, my party was about as good as it got for the average middle-class/upper-middle-class child’s birthday party. There were all sorts of officially branded Annie decorations: plates, cups, tablecloths, napkins, centerpieces, and a banner. There was a custom-made Annie cake. I don’t remember what food we had, but knowing my adoptive parents it was probably extensive. They hired a magician and a clown. They played the Annie soundtrack. They played the movie on the tv in the background, which may not seem like a big deal now, but many families at this time didn’t own VHS players, let alone movies just released on VHS. I wore a red and white velvet dress with white tights and black shoes that gave off obvious Annie vibes; I’m honestly surprised they didn’t make me wear the Annie wig too. (lol!) I’m sure there were plenty of other details I overlooked in all of the excitement of the day — but you can get the idea.

Michelle at her Annie-themed 6th birthday party

Some people who don’t know a lot about my story may read about this party and think “how wonderful” or even “how loved” I must have been for them to plan such a nice party for me. I can assure you “love” had nothing to do with the organization of this party. This party, like most of the events my adoptive parents hosted over the years, was a performance — and a heavily photographed one (like all of their parties, holidays, & fancy dinners were.) It was my adoptive parents showing off to the other parents in our wealthy town, building their façade (because they had much to hide), and making a spectacle of me in the process. I don’t think anyone — adopted or biological — would appreciate looking back on all of this knowing the truth behind it. While I’m sure I was happy to get so many presents that day, in reality, the only ones who truly benefited from this performance were my adoptive parents’ egos.

Michelle with a bird from the magician at her Annie-themed birthday party in 1982

I am certain my adoptive parents were trying to recreate the feeling of the final scenes of the 1982 film, where they celebrate the acquisition of “little orphan Annie.” During these final scenes of the film, there is an epic celebration at Daddy Warbucks’ mansion where Annie and Daddy Warbucks eventually perform the song “I Don’t Need Anything But You” while tap dancing in front of President Roosevelt.

While our house certainly was not Daddy Warbucks’ mansion, it was a beautiful, large house in a very nice town in southern New Jersey in the suburbs of Philadelphia. It was about as close to Daddy Warbucks’ mansion as any middle-class child (or adult) in 1982 could imagine. If it hadn’t been December, they probably would have had elephant rides and fireworks in the yard just like in the movie. Had it not been for his historic Latin American trip that week, I’m certain President Ronald Reagan would have been there too. (lol!)

As I look at the party photos now as an adult who knows she is adopted, but especially after being lied to about it for four decades, I cringe uncomfortably. I just don’t know what my adoptive parents were thinking on so many levels; it’s honestly impossible for me to relate to most of the choices they made as parents. This party, for example, made a mockery of my adoption, my personal experiences as an adopted child (even as one who didn’t know she was adopted because they knew), and especially the great sacrifices my mother, Hollie, made on that same day six years earlier. I look at the little girl in the party photos and she doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on or what is coming her way in the future. It’s just sad. (Related: Gaslighting by a Parent)

Michelle with the magician at her 6th birthday party on December 4, 1982

If I had known I was adopted and I chose to watch Annie and talk about adoption openly with my adoptive parents, that would have been a completely different situation.

If I had known I was adopted and I chose an Annie-themed birthday party on my gotcha day, (or to dress up as Annie on Halloween) that would have been a very different situation.

That was never the case though; my adoptive parents made sure I never had that opportunity. For forty years, they crafted a web of lies with made-up facts & stories intended to answer questions that would ultimately reveal I was adopted if they had told me the truth.

Michelle, age 11, after her black hair was bleached & dyed to match the adoptive mother's hair (pictured)
Michelle after her dark hair was bleached & dyed to match the adoptive mother’s red hair (pictured)

Over the years, we traveled a lot. If there is one thing I appreciate most from the life I had with my adoptive parents, it was their ravenous appetite for very expensive travel. We went on dozens & dozens of cruises and extravagant vacations all over the world. We traveled so much that in the early 1990s, my adoptive father decided to open a travel agency as a side business. He had a small agency that he ran out of his primary business office with two branches: the generic cruise/tour branch and the exclusively gay travel branch. In my early 20s, I sometimes helped out with the generic travel business because I enjoyed traveling so much, though my adoptive father was solely responsible for the gay travel branch. By the time I was 14 years old, I had been to five continents, sailed on over two dozen cruises, saw a volcanic eruption in Hawaii, and stood inside King Tut’s tomb — something many adults will never achieve in their entire lifetime. I loved to travel, though the problems that plagued my home life also traveled with us.

On many of the cruises we sailed on, there was a passenger talent show. When I was young, my adoptive parents would often suggest a duet between my adoptive father and me singing “I Don’t Need Anything But You” from Annie. I always declined to participate and thankfully they never forced me to do it, but just the fact that it was suggested on multiple occasions is stomach-turning. Again, at that time I had no idea that I was adopted, and they knew everything. To suggest a duet from Annie, where Daddy Warbucks “saves” this young girl strongly suggests this is how they saw themselves in relation to me. Their behaviors and attitudes toward me over the years also support this.

I mean really — out of all the songs in the world we could have performed together, why suggest that song, (and only ever that song) especially since I did not know the significance? It’s sickening.

Michelle with her adoptive parents on a cruise in the 1980s

One time when I was quite young, probably not too long after Annie was released, my adoptive mother was getting ready to go out and while sitting at her makeup mirror, she made a fantasy comment about my adoptive father being Daddy Warbucks and her being Grace Farrell — the beautiful young secretary of Daddy Warbucks portrayed by the amazing Ann Reinking. She was referencing a scene from the film where Grace Farrell and Annie are singing & dancing while getting ready for a night at Radio City Music Hall. I understood her reference to the film, but little five-year-old me did not agree at all. I remember responding to her very matter-of-factly with something like “I think you’re more like Miss Hannigan,” the mean, drunk woman who ran the orphanage where Annie lived. I was completely serious. Obviously, she did not like hearing that and slapped me across the face. That is the first time I can recall her hitting me across the face, though certainly not the last. The thing is, what I said was so accurate — she even looked and acted like Miss Hannigan a bit, especially the drinking (no offense to the very lovely & talented Carol Burnett!) She had a very similar reaction when I called her “Mommie Dearest” one time after a particularly harsh physical punishment (who, ironically, also had an adopted daughter named ‘Christina.’)

Miss Hannigan–the mean red-headed drunk that ran the orphanage where Annie lived.

Growing up, my adoptive mother’s mother lived with us. She moved in with my adoptive parents shortly after they were married in the early 1970s, and remained in their home until she died in 1999. I felt close to my adoptive grandmother, or as close as I was able to feel to family members considering the incredibly dysfunctional environment I lived in. She never hit me, never physically or emotionally abused me, and despite her somewhat hardened outer shell, I could tell she loved me. I also loved her; I still do. I called her Yia Yia, the Greek word for Grandmother.

Over the years, Yia Yia suffered from some debilitating medical conditions, and eventually, was unable to walk, stand, or even care for herself. By the time I was 15 years old, she needed a lot of help with her activities of daily living. My adoptive mother did not work outside of the home at any point after I was adopted yet somehow, as a teenager, it became my responsibility to be my adoptive grandmother’s caregiver. My adoptive mother did nothing towards her own mother’s care, other than maybe bringing her a glass of water or throwing a frozen meal in the microwave for her from time to time. This is not an exaggeration. Even as a teenager, I always thought it was so strange that my adoptive mother was home all day, but always claimed that she “couldn’t” help her own mother — yet a CHILD (me) was fully expected to. I loved my adoptive grandmother, so at the time, even though it was extremely difficult, I couldn’t allow her to be neglected, so I always did what I was told to do. It was honestly terrible, and not something a minor should ever be forced to do; especially when there are fully capable adult family members who are not already helping. (i.e., my adoptive mother.)

Some of the things that I was required to do for my adoptive grandmother — as a minor and young woman — included: dressing her, bathing her (full body, including breasts & genitals), feeding her, transferring her to/from the wheelchair, transferring her to/from the recliner, transferring her to/from the bed, and transferring her to/from the toilet. I did everything from wiping her to changing her soiled diapers — and she suffered from severe gastrointestinal issues that frequently resulted in her accidentally soiling herself. There were times when the diarrhea was so severe that it came out of the back and/or sides of the diaper and I sometimes had to cut her out of her nightgown to avoid getting feces everywhere. These diaper blowout situations, which happened regularly, were particularly difficult to deal with, especially without anyone helping me. I also co-managed her multiple medications and glucose monitoring (finger sticks) with my adoptive father. This is the kind of care I provided to my adoptive mother’s mother as a minor for at least five days per week, while my adoptive mother sat nearby with her feet up, drinking, smoking, and watching television.

Michelle as a teenager caring for her adoptive grandmother

During my last year two years of high school, my adoptive grandmother attended an adult daycare program so my adoptive mother could have “a break” during the day… (seriously!) Now, for the sake of fairness, I want to give my adoptive mother some credit. She wasn’t always sitting around smoking, drinking, and doing nothing. She was obsessive about keeping the house clean and organized, and like everything else in her life, she went to extremes about it. If there was a crumb on the floor, it could throw her into an instant rage depending on how much she had to drink and what kind of mood she was in. She was also an excellent chef (her parents owned a restaurant) but strangely, she never tried to teach me anything about cooking and would actually make me leave our very large kitchen when she was preparing anything because she would claim I was “in the way”. By this time, she also didn’t cook dinner for her own mother anymore, even when she was already preparing dinner for me and my adoptive father. Her mother was given frozen microwave meals instead. My adoptive mother’s life was very, very comfortable; she didn’t work, she was given whatever she asked for, and she had hours to herself every day in that beautiful large home with an inground pool & hot tub, and full bar. But, regardless, she claimed she “needed a break” during the day and so, per her orders, my adoptive grandmother was sent off to adult daycare. She would do housework, watch television, smoke, drink, and sometimes drive to local stores to get the things she needed (usually cigarettes, gin, clothes, etc.) Though she didn’t drive much, when she did, she was frequently intoxicated at varying levels. Her continuously dented and scraped car was clear evidence of her impairment while driving, but still, my adoptive father apparently didn’t see anything wrong with it. She would even drive into the sides of the garage door frame when she got home and he still didn’t see any reason to take away her keys. He continuously enabled her in so many ways, and never questioned her, even when safety was clearly an issue. Thankfully, she never caused a crash.

My adoptive grandmother returned home from adult daycare shortly after I was dismissed from school every weekday afternoon. As a result, I was required to come straight home from school every day so I would be there to greet the adult daycare bus when it arrived at our house. I would then push her wheelchair up a folding ramp into the house and start her afternoon routine, which always began with an urgent visit to the bathroom. Often she already had an accident in her diaper by the time she arrived home, which was solely my job to deal with. When my adoptive father returned home from work in the evenings, most of these responsibilities transferred to him. My adoptive mother also did not help him with her own mother’s care when it was his turn. At some point, my adoptive parents hired an aide to help out on some weekday mornings. There was usually no outside help over the weekend, except when she was much closer to her death.

When we were traveling, as we frequently did, my adoptive parents would temporarily admit her to a nursing home for the duration of our itinerary. I always felt guilty when we would go away on luxurious vacations, often for two weeks or more, and even over the Christmas & New Years holidays, and she was sent off to a crappy nursing home all by herself. It just felt so cold and cruel — and this was her own mother! But my adoptive mother was a narcissist, and all that mattered was what she wanted, her happiness, her comfort, her image, and that everyone else compiled — or there would be hell to pay.

Many people throw around the term “narcissist” too freely these days to describe the difficult people in their lives, but that is not the case here. Even though she was never officially diagnosed (because she refused to go to doctors; she always said she didn’t “believe” in doctors, which actually contributed to her early death at age 64) looking at all of the evidence now, it is quite clear that she probably had Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or at least some type of Cluster B Personality Disorder.) Reading the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for NPD is like reading an illustrated description of my adoptive mother where virtually every box is checked off. Even one of my therapists since my discovery in 2017 acknowledged that a Cluster B Personality Disorder (or combination) was very likely her diagnosis based on the things I experienced in her care, my adoptive parents’ truly bizarre relationship, and even the unethical circumstances of my adoption. Unfortunately, since she is deceased, there will never be an official diagnosis regarding her mental health; but my experiences with her for 33 years speak volumes and strongly support this type of diagnosis. (Related: Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers)

Scene from the 1981 film Mommie Dearest

When I was away at college, my adoptive grandmother’s health began to decline, and she required more intensive care at home. As a result, she was no longer able to attend the adult daycare program and was home alone all day with my adoptive mother. Even now, it is difficult for me to think about how my adoptive mother must have treated her and spoken to her during that time. It breaks my heart to think about my adoptive grandmother trapped there, unable to help herself or escape while laying in her soiled diaper for nearly an entire day — every day.

During this time, my adoptive mother openly continued not helping with her own mother’s care, and instead, made my adoptive father come home from work every day during his lunch break to care for her. The rest of the day, my adoptive grandmother was placed in a recliner or in bed wearing a diaper. I wasn’t there, so I cannot say exactly what my adoptive mother did or did not do, but based on the years I spent caring for her, my adoptive mother rarely helped, even during times when it was very obvious that I was struggling and needed assistance (ex. diarrhea diaper blowouts.) That’s why I say it is very difficult for me to imagine her doing anything more than giving her some water and making a very basic sandwich for her at best. She was physically capable of doing all of the tasks that I did for her mother, but she vehemently refused, and my adoptive father just accepted it.

When I would come home from college during this period, my adoptive grandmother would frequently have screaming and crying outbursts, which were always described to me by my adoptive parents as “problems with her medication.” I now wonder if there was more going on that caused her to have these episodes… She would yell things like “I’m going to call the newspapers and tell them what you’ve done!” or “Help!” repeatedly, or even her heartbreaking mantra, “Mom!” — which she would often chant over & over again as a way of soothing herself, I believe. As a young person, I used to just laugh these episodes off because I was scared and didn’t know what else to do; I wish I could have been more supportive of her (emotionally) during that time, but I had so many issues that I wasn’t able to deal with and didn’t have the capacity for it at that time. A part of me feels like I failed her, though I know it wasn’t my fault. It’s heartbreaking; what a terrible way to live.

Throughout my college years, my adoptive mother frequently reminded me of the burden I had “selfishly” placed upon my adoptive father by going away to school — financially and because of the responsibility of my adoptive grandmother’s care. This, along with some other serious issues with my adoptive parents at that time, placed an inhumane level of stress, fear, shame, and guilt upon my shoulders when I should have been preparing for my future, but wasn’t able to. Eventually, I did return to their home out of guilt to resume my adoptive grandmother’s care until she died in 1999.

I always felt it was so cruel of them to force me to be a caregiver for my adoptive grandmother, especially since my adoptive mother didn’t participate in any of it. This was very heavy work, dirty work, physical work, and emotionally draining work that you would expect to see trained and paid professionals performing in a hospital or medical facility — but never by a minor. This is so far beyond a minor “helping out” with family chores and responsibilities in an age-appropriate way; it is abuse. (Related: the Parentification of Children)

Looking back on all of this, especially as a parent, I am completely disgusted and outraged by their behaviors and “parenting” choices. They openly robbed me of so much of my youth, while they hid in plain sight from public scrutiny behind all of the gifts, vacations, experiences, material wealth, parties, a big house, etc. It was all a charade. I think back to this time in my life, and honestly, I’m not sure how I made it through in one piece. As a mother, I feel so incredibly sad for that young woman and everything she went through completely alone while everyone on the outside believed she was living a beautiful life; while in reality, she was too fearful and ashamed to ask for help. Honestly, at that time in my life, I’m not sure if I even believed I was worthy of help which is heartbreaking. I wish I could go back in time and rescue my younger self and show her the motherly love, safety, and respect my own three children feel every day. I would tell her that she is beautiful, funny, creative, and talented in so many ways, and to always follow her heart and her passions. I know that young woman, who had the potential to do anything she wanted in life, would have gone so far if she had been in the right environment — just like her three sisters have. (Related: Hidden abuse amongst affluent families)

Michelle “celebrating” her birthday at home just days after her adoptive mother briefly strangled her

In 2017, after I accidentally discovered that I am adopted, a lot of things in my life began to make perfect sense, including everything I’ve written about in this post.

I came to the realization that I wasn’t REALLY a daughter to her; I was there to serve her ever-evolving needs in life, to tend to her ego, and to legitimize her in the eyes of the people in their lives. Adopting me wasn’t about being a parent; it was all about playing a character and making it seem like we were a “normal” family to everyone on the outside. I cannot express this strongly enough — we were not a “normal” family, not in any context. The layers & levels of dysfunction, lies, abuse, and toxicity that existed within that family dynamic are honestly horrifying to think about. No child should have ever been placed in that home. Had my adoptive parents followed the legal route for adopting a child, I strongly suspect they would not have been approved, primarily due to my adoptive mother’s serious issues that any qualified home study would have detected. Obviously, there was no home study or any type of pre-placement investigation made with my adoption; it was simply an exchange of money and lies.

I wholeheartedly believe my adoptive parents actually thought they “saved” me from a destitute life they believed I would have as the child of two unmarried teenagers. They fully believed in the adoption narrative, just like everything they saw in Annie, and absolutely considered themselves to be my saviors. In my adoptive mother’s mind, I owed them for saving me and she made sure I paid them back for every penny — with my youth, and now even with my adulthood. The ironic thing is my biological parents, Hollie and Rick, (I now just refer to them as ‘my parents’) raised three smart, successful, and kind daughters despite being young parents. It is very obvious that my three younger sisters were very loved, well cared for, and treated with respect and dignity as children, and as adults. I cannot say the same about my adoptive parents. Over the years, my adoptive mother always took the opportunity to remind me “how lucky” I was to be living there. I know in my heart she meant it, and that she did not really love me the way a mother is supposed to love her children. I have the severe psychological wounds and the cigarette burn scars on my body to remind me of that fact every day.

The reality of the situation, looking back now, is that I would give up everything I had growing up for the opportunity to remain within my biological family; or at least to have the knowledge that they existed from the safety of a different adoptive family that was actually qualified to raise an adopted child. There is no question in my mind; no amount of money, travel, toys, clothes, fancy things, and experiences can ever replace the love, and the relationship, between a loving mother and her child. That was all I ever needed. Nothing more.

I was not your Annie.

You did not save me.

You destroyed me.


“By ignoring the complex reality of adoption, we are also corroborating a sentimental narrative that drives a billion-dollar, for-profit adoption industry whose sole purpose has been successfully shifted in modern American history from finding homes for children who legitimately need them, to supplying hopeful prospective parents with kids to call their own.” –Liz Latty (read more)

P.S. Learn more about adoptee rights here: adopteerightslaw.com

Updated 5/13/23

Am I adopted? How to find out if you’re adopted. I think I might be adopted. Am I adopted quiz. Clues you are adopted. Red flags adoption. Adoption. What if I’m adopted? I think I’m adopted. Adoptee. Late discovery adoptee. Adoption disclosure. What if I am adopted but don’t know. I am adopted. Adopted but doesn’t know. IDA. Christina Gellura. Adoption fraud. Late discovery adoptee. Michelle Riess.


  1. As another late discovery adopted person I am disgusted by this. They should be ashamed but theyre probably not. Probably just think to themselves what a nice party we gave her she should be greatful. sickening.

    1. Author

      Julia, you are probably correct. I think it is difficult for some adopters to really see beyond what adoption means to them and not really take into consideration the long-term impacts adoption can have on the child. And they don’t care to learn. It’s very unfortunate.

  2. I am so sorry this happened to you. I think they did all of this for themselves. I hate to throw around the term “narcissism” but truly this sounds like narcissistic abuse. They treated you like an object to fulfill some weird fantasy of theirs. It’s creepy and weird and so wrong.
    I am also a late discovery adoptee. I know about the lies and half truths and delusional behavior. I stand with you in solidarity!

    1. Author

      Lori, as always, thank you for your support! I know you understand. Love, Michelle

  3. I’m also an LDA. I did love Annie as a child, and very much identified with her yearning. My adoptive mother and I had the matching lockets, and it makes my skin crawl now. I was 34 when I found out that the malicious narcissists who raised me, who promised “I brought you into this world and I can take you out” were much worse people than I realised.

    The image that echoes for me is when I was 11 I discovered Santa wasn’t real after being mocked at school. I confronted my Mom. She slapped me and told me I ruined Christmas forever. It was such an over reaction and I realize now a part of their fantasy world. Even once we were adults she would insist we “talk to Santa”.

    1. Author

      Kate, sometimes I think you and I were raised by the same mother. LOL! You, more so than any other LDA I’ve met over the years, truly understands the kinds of nonsense I experienced. Thank you for always being supportive. Love, Michelle

  4. Also Late Discovery Adoptee 59, although in my case not adopted into a comfortable upper middle class home, my first bed in the adopters home was in a drawer in a chest of draws
    – I found your story intriging as it was disturbing also in many ways relatable in it’s dellusion
    – I have said often that I was an unwilling actor in someone elses pantomime, my adopters were the directors and the adoption legislation the script writer – although I am a male, the movie I remember being coerced to watch and questioned about was “The Bad Seed” I am not sure of the purpose of having watch this was, just seems a strange movie about adoption, lies, deceit & murder to coerce an adoptive child of 8 or 9 to watch. Like you adoption did not enhance my life for 59 years it destroyed it as it had from the first day of separation from my mother, the erasure of my identity, the dellusional replacement identity that followed, an existence of an inner knowing that all was not right with the world, my world, the ultimate disclosure at 59 via DNA, the ultimate deception exposed, the realisation that I had been played the fool over and over, yes the embarrasment of that, the cringing at the constant expression of we love you, yes so much that they withheld my truths, my human rights to know who I am, denied to me for life, for my children and granchildren and beyond – this is not just a crime against us adoption is a crime against humanity, it is human trafficking and in many cases kidnapping & then human trafficking – all involved in child removal and adoption should hang their heads in shame – we are no longer children, yet we are perpectually treated as children for life – reminds me of the saying “don’t pick on children or drunks, cause children grow up and drunks grow sober”, we are now grown up and for the best part sober, we are a force to be reconned with, together in our grief and distorted lives, our lived experiences we are a powerfull force to dismantle this cruelest of industries that benefit from child then adult misery disquised as savourism – the veritable wolf in sheeps clothing that continues to retell, reinforced the false narrative of adoption rainbows & unicorns

    1. Author

      Peter, I am just realizing that my response to you has disappeared. I am so sorry! Thank you so much for sharing your story here. You are a late discovery adoptee ICON and I am so grateful for all of your insight and work to spread awareness. Thank you! -Michelle

  5. Michelle,
    I can’t believe that they forced the “grateful” Annie Theme on you! The poor little orphan that had to scrub floors and was rescued by the wealthy Daddy Warbucks. I’m sure they thought of themselves as your “rescuers” It was all about THEM!!! I still don’t understand how their relatives and friends could stand by knowing you had no idea that you were adopted, and witness things like this. It’s not normal… They thought it was ok? I know they didn’t see most of their Families (for this reason) but some close family or friends must have noticed this was not the humane! If only one person had spoken up back then.. I’ll add that to my never ending “If Only” list, it makes me want to scream and vomit all at once… I love you my sweet daughter! I am so proud of you and your strength and resilience through this journey.
    Love, Mom ❤️

    1. Author

      Thank you Mom! I replied to this months ago but it looks like it was deleted or never went through somehow. There are so many things I wish could have been different in my life. Having a relationship with all of you, either by remaining within the family, or by having an open adoption, is my #1 wish. It’s so sad but I am grateful to know the truth now. Love, Michelle xoxo

  6. Adoption is always portrayed as “saving” a child or doing them a favor. You become the adoptive parents living doll.
    I am an LDA as well. I think of many of my life choices-they were all decided for me. Any individual idea I made only led to discipline, arguments and or threats. So I started keeping plans/thoughts and decisions to myself. Even with those well into adulthood, I was haunted by reactions from adoptive mother.
    Adoption is traumatic for the child and celebrated by others. Finding out later in life-further trauma, disappointment, anger, sadness, a permanent hole that LDA’s must re-fill themselves and it’s not an easy task. Yet, we are told to be grateful and thankful for the deception of the trauma. I cannot compare this trauma to other types without it being taken out of context. I can say it has me questioning everything from my youth, past and current relationships, truthfulness, inner strength or lack there of and how I am towards my own children. This is now a journey for me and my fellow LDAS-it is not a movie. Our reality every single day.

    1. Author

      Thank you for sharing some of your story with me here. I agree with everything that you’ve written here. Take care! -Michelle

      1. Michelle..Hollie and Family..I am so glad you found each other Cousins!! Hope to see you all soon! We are in North Myrtle SC..2 miles from beach. If you ever head this way…you have a great spot to stay! Cousin Debbie

  7. Thank you for posting your story. It is horrifying and I am so sorry it happened to you.

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