Thursday, September 3, 2015

An Adoptee Perspective on Rosie O'Donnell and Chelsea

Chelsea, left, with adoptive mom Rosie O'Donnell

Last week, on internet news, I came across the story of Rosie O'Donnell's adopted daughter, Chelsea, going to live with her birthmother. Only it wasn't really a story. It was more a statement:
Rosie O’Donnell’s adopted daughter Chelsea, who went missing earlier this month, turned 18 this week and left home once again, this time to go live with her birth mother.

There is a lot written in between the lines.
"Chelsea...turned 18 this week...  Chelsea's birth mother (picked Chelsea up), the day she turned 18 and is legally an adult... 
At 18, you're an adult. It's the first time you're legally allowed to figure out your family connections to your bithfamilies without the adoptive family's consent.  

"Chelsea, who went missing earlier this month...left home once again..." 
The implication is that Chelsea must not be happy in her adoptive home, she must be searching for something her adoptive family can't give her.
But is that so wrong?


My birth sister Abby, my birthmother Kate and myself at 18

I sought out my birth family when I turned 18. I'm not the only adoptee I know who did the same.

Eighteen is a magical number for adoptees, especially those of us from closed adoptions. It's the age you're allowed to find out your identity. That's what I thought anyway. It turned out, that you're not magically endowed with all the knowledge of who you are and who your parents are and what that all means once you're 18. Instead, at 18, you're given the key to unlock the door. At 18, you have legal authority over your own life. No one gets to tell you what to do anymore. No one gets to tell you what to think. No one can control you.

So if you were an adoptee and turned 18, what would you do?

Of course you would go live with your birthmother. I did. I was 22, and I had just graduated from college and my birthmother invited me to stay with her. How could I resist? You get to see who you could have been. You get to live the life you would have had. You get to understand  more of who you are.

The biggest difference is not that Chelsea is famous whereas I am not. No, what separates us is that my adoptive parents supported me. They supported me emotionally and financially during that time I went to live with my birthmother. It was my safety rope. If I fell, they would catch me.

The internet news says that Rosie cut Chelsea off. It seems such an amazing act of spite. To me, 18 is like Bambi getting his feet under him for the first time, wobbly but determined. You want to find your bearing, but you haven't built up the strength yet. That's why you need the strength of your adoptive parents to support you. Living with your birthparents, understanding who you are and where you come from is not a betrayal. It's an act of trying to stand on your own legs. And it's hard to do that if you don't know what you are, who you come from, where you belong.


to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to mothertone


Thoughts? Reflections? Opinions?

Please comment!


  1. As a Father who is so much a dad, I lost a daughter to the policies of a nation built on the demand for adoption to feel the voids in barren womans's lives. No heed is given for original family when these predators are supported. 18 years before you can be with your own kind please.....this is a crime....this is cruel. I raised her younger sister on my own of barely nine months. I have cried for this child I lost, I cry for her now, Adoption is cruel. I am three years in union now. So much loss created is a shameful testament to the insanity that is adoption & public perception.

  2. You have put words to the same feelings I had about this story. Rosie held that girl hostage and medicated her when she didn't submit to her pretend life. The picture at the top of Chelsea bristling away from Rosie is very telling. Yet, she's known in the media as the "mentally ill" girl who ran away from her loving adoptive home. Give me a break!

    1. I believe Rosie labelled Chelsea "mentally ill" to discredit anything she might reveal.

  3. I have to acknowledge the body language in the me it pretty much says everything.....the arm of ownership seems threatening even to me.....the child leaning away shoulders hunched with that half grimace pretending to smile for the camera/ all adds up to a very rocky childhood :(

  4. Well said!

    Check out what Rosie said about Chelsea and her relationship to her when she was just a baby: