Aspie with Attitude

Sure, I'm just another Southern Recovering Alcoholic NPR- and Sweet-Tea Addicted Comic Mom with Asperger's in the SFV, but I can tell you now that I don't necessarily fit the stereotype.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gary Coleman, Adoptee. Surprised?

As with so many other Gen-Xers, I grew up watching "Different Strokes." I felt close to Kimberly, and figured that both she, and the actress who played her, Dana Plato, whose birthdate is very close to mine, had lives that I would only ever envy. Then came the 90s, and Plato became a real person with real problems. She died around Mother's Day, supposedly of suicide, leaving a son who, 11 years later, would kill himself around Mother's Day. As is the case with far too many stories like this one, adoption may well have been the seed for the destruction that followed. Turns out, Dana Michelle Plato's real mom was a 16-year-old with an 18-month-old at Dana's time of birth. Dana lucked out in adoptionspeak by getting herself hooked up with a couple who had no children of their own. Dana's adopters may well have been nice folks, but even nice folks cannot wipe away the pain of adoption.

The actress who won the hearts of so many with her portrayal of Kimberly lost custody of her own son to his father, but she seemed to influence her son enough that he desired to die as she did. Dana Plato also flirted with lesbianism, another trait I've noticed among adoptees. There is something about losing family members that really seems to screw people over sexually. I may write more about the sexuality stuff later. In this case, however, the pain of adoption spanned generations.

As I was reading about Gary Coleman's untimely death today, I read that he was also an adoptee, taken in by two people who were genetic strangers to him. Some of us adoptees handle the rejection by our natural families better than others, at least on the outside, but we all have a pain that will never go away: the rejection by our mothers. I'm not sure why I am here and Dana Plato is not, but it may have something to do with the fact that I wasn't on a sitcom as a child. Not for lack of wanting to be on one, mind you, did I miss out on child sitcomhood. There's an enormous amount of pressure on child stars and I'm now quite thankful that the opportunity wasn't presented to me when I was ten or so. Molly Ringwald's done okay for herself, but Dana Plato and Gary Coleman had the extra albatross of adoption on their backs, of being separated from their natural parents and given to genetic strangers. The adoption brainwashed will tell you this kind of thing doesn't matter. We adoptees, deep in our broken hearts, know better.

It's not a fabulous thing for most children to be thrust into the spotlight at such a young age, as both Plato and Coleman were, but it's even worse if that spotlight is preceded by separation from a child's natural parents. What really gets me about both Plato and Coleman is that the adopters were both called "parents" by the media. Fortunately, Plato's real mom is mentioned in Wikipedia, but nothing about Coleman's mom or dad seems to be in any obituary that I've read. I can't help but wonder if his mom is out there somewhere, watching all that is going on. Perhaps she feels ashamed and afraid to speak up.

Like many male adoptees, Coleman seemed to take out his angst on women. He hit a woman in 1999 and he and his wife seemed to have many violent arguments, according to what I've read. He also sued his adopters at one point, claiming they had defrauded him. It's so very sad that this kind of thing happens and that child sitcom stars so very often end up with crappy adulthoods. However, when you add the pain and lies of adoption to a childhood sitcom career, the results are so very often disastrous.

An interesting note is that Coleman had some kind of autoimmune disease that affected his kidneys; my own mother has an autoimmune disease and I remember a female adoptee that I grew up with who died of leukemia at 7. Many moms who've lost a child to adoption died of cancer. What I'd like to find out is if the pain and trauma of losing a parent or child to adoption so affects our bodies that we are more susceptible to certain diseases. I've never heard of this kind of thing being studied, but I'd sure like to know what truly unbiased researchers would find out about the effects of adoption trauma on those of us who are separated.

1 comment:

Robin said...

Not surprised and very sad. I always thought that he and Dana Plato were such tragic figures. What is it about this world that we can covet kids, exploit them, pressure them and use them for emotional and other satisfactions and yet adoption is such a wonderful thing? $ick.