An adoptee may seem to be happy about preparations for a big birthday party and then inexplicably sabotage the event or go into a deep funk and not enjoy themselves.
In The Primal Wound, author and therapist, natural and adoptive mother, Nancy Newton Verrier, explains the phenomena which is more common that people not touched by adoption in their families might suspect. She writes –
There seems to be a memory built into the psyche and cells,
an “anniversary” reaction (often also felt by the natural mother),
that sends many adoptees into despair around their birthdays.
For adoptees, birthdays commemorate an experience of loss and sorrow.
So adoptive parents and other siblings within the family unit need to be sensitive to what an adopted child may be feeling around the event of a birthday – even children who were adopted shortly after birth.
Ms Verrier goes on to note –
It simply is not possible to sever the tie with the natural mother
and replace her with another primary caregiver – no matter how
warm, caring and motivated she may be – without psychological
consequences for the child (and the mother).
Though an infant or child can attached to another caregiver,
the quality of that attachment will be different from that with the
natural mother and bonding with such a caregiver may be difficult
or even impossible for the adoptee.
It is entirely possible that even an adoptee that was adopted within the first three years of their life will not be conscious of this. They may be as mystified as the adoptive parents about their reaction to their birthday celebration.