It is quite common for an adoptee to be sad on their birthday, even when they can’t understand why. It has been noted by therapists that adoptees often sabotage their own birthday parties, even when they were looking forward to them.
Each of my parents were with their original mothers for months before they were taken away and given to other people to raise through adoption.
Consider what a birthday means to an adoptee.
An adoptee often cannot help but think of the woman who gave birth to them on their birthday. Many hope that the mother is also thinking of them on that date.
A child who was adopted may have a hard time understanding why they are so inconsolably sad at a time when they should be happy. Tears, emptiness, fear and despair might seem a bit over the top to observers. Maybe they could consider the symbolic meaning of that day to an adoptee.
A pre-verbal child will experience bewilderment at the sudden absence of their original mother. They have become attuned to the sound of her voice, the smell of her body and the way she touches them (unless removed from her at birth, when only the sound of being in her womb is left in their deepest memories).
A child adopted as an infant may lack conscious memories of their loss and so can’t make sense of it. A reunion with the original mother can make the birthday triggered emotional wound worse.
If the original mother was unwed, there were no excited visitors or phone calls of congratulations. No one was there taking sweet or silly photos of those first days. All of these an adoptee has lost from their earliest days.
If healing is able to occur, then the hurt and anger that take over an adoptee’s emotions around the time of their birthday may lessen. If not, then it will only be the passing of time that changes the focus and makes possible the ability to move forward again.