Using Detachment To Make Space

Adoption trauma refers to the shock and pain of being permanently and abruptly separated from biological family members and can affect both the birth parent and the child who is being adopted, given the circumstances of the separation. We now know that a child’s attachment to her mother starts in the womb, so even a child adopted at birth can experience severe attachment disruption later on in life. A friend was recently expounding on attachment and it seemed like some worthy thoughts to put in this blog.

She writes – Had a conversation recently with a loved one about loss, trauma, wounds, living in a bubble where the sense of belonging is not clear. When we lose loved ones, for example, due to death or breakups, when we are rejected, or misunderstandings separate you from people who are important to you – places where there is lack of warmth, lack of connection, a kind of coldness and cruelty that is hard to put in words and if you do put into words, you look weak – it is embarrassing, humiliating – further you go into the wound, building a fence around you made of loss, confusion, distorted or loss in sense of purpose, aloneness, pain, trauma, rejection, grief, loss of control. You can create narratives that preach positivity and strength but the heart is wounded, the heart has a stab pain, bleeding your life away, whispers in your inner ear of why you are not good enough – if only you were this or that..then maybe it would be alright. What can you do? A silent rage covers the wound, like a thin skin to help you function. A fight for your life that feel a fight in a dark room with no light in sight.

Then the idea “don’t be attached” sounds like more abuse, more alone, squeezing the heart tighter, as if trying to end what you are, your life. “Don’t be attached” feels like more of a stab. Abandoning yourself, your hopes. Hearing the word detachment can feel shattering. ..that as bad as you feel, now, don’t be attached.

Don’t be attached doesn’t mean withdraw from love, hope, from what you care or cared about. Particularly not withdrawing from the part of you that hurts. Not being attached is to draw closer to the hurt parts, abandoned parts, wounded parts. Not being attached is separating your self from the *story*, situations, to change the focus from the situation to the wounds to learn from them what you need to, to take time to transform into a newer version of yourself that has yet to be embraced and has navigated billions of hurts and disappointments, sometimes flat out rejections and absolute betrayals and abandonments, some that go very deep. The deep wound can cause even the lightest slights to feel exaggerated. We become sensitive to how the wind is blowing. We haven’t embraced our pain fully enough to heal. Everything that brings that pain to the surface or creates those feelings, it is a chance to embrace the wounded part, look at it, reason through, let others off the hook for a time, look at yourself, the wound, be alone with yourself, giving yourself time to heal. Otherwise, we might not sense when we are in relationships with people that abandon, hurt, reject – – because we haven’t yet developed a healthy one with the wounds we carry – using that as proof over and again that we are not worthy of more or pursue it, or even how…where.

Detachment is a short term method to make space to see yourself differently, to tend to your wounds properly, to love yourself rightly, to see things thorough and to come to terms once and for all – help yourself, gently, so we can evolve beyond the wounds.

**I do also consider there possibly being a radical process to detachment. A leap – as if off a cliff into a void, another world – where if you could do it – as if die to what you are – you would open to a world you had no idea is there, that you have only been seeing your thoughts and hardly reflecting anything at all but those thoughts – not reality. I imagine a Remembering, a rejoining with something exciting and pure. Personally, I find the idea and concept curious, the thought intriguing, and at times dwell on getting beyond idea and thoughts and wonder if there is another world..maybe a real world, reflected from a free conscience, a surprise, beyond *your* mind.

She ends it with this advice – Think about that then turn and say something silly and reveal your human flaws and personal prejudices. Even though your mind is there, inching in miles toward a leap.

Often It Isn’t Intentional

Short again on time today. Seems to happen too often in this holiday season. Learned about a new “adoptee related” Facebook page today – The Healing Adoptee. Sharing some wise insight from there today.

There are lots of ways that humans experience loss. Most humans are allowed to grieve those losses. Those of us on the adoptee side of adoption have generally not been allowed to grieve the loss that we experienced in infancy and childhood.

Ungrieved loss causes trauma. When a person experiences trauma they develop coping mechanisms which generally are not healthy. One of these coping mechanisms is deflection. When we hear something that we don’t like the idea of (our self) having done (that) we will think, “No, I didn’t do that.” I know that I don’t like hearing that I hurt somebody else because it causes a loss to my sense of self respect, and how I want to present myself to the world at large.

When we use deflection immediately upon hearing that we caused somebody else pain it causes that person more pain, And then they lose respect for us. Me personally, I prefer to be respected by other people. Therefore when I was told recently, that I caused someone pain I took a few deep breaths and accepted that my words had been hurtful to that person, whether I intended those words to hurt or not. Having decided to use a coping skill of deep breathing instead of a coping mechanism, deflection, I saved my self-respect by not continuing to hurt the person that I had been having the conversation with.

I apologized for unintentionally using unhelpful coping mechanisms in my conversation with her. It would be nice to see the online adoptee circles benefit from taking a moment to stop when we feel as though someone else’s pain is triggering our grief, take some deep breath, recenter and move forward with the intention of being gentle with one another, by not maintaining the use of the deflection coping mechanisms.

Beyond Cruel

Sometimes it is unbelievable –

Would it be good or bad to acknowledge to the young adoptees or the natural mom the day they got separated? Not a celebration at all, but like acknowledge a death date? I don’t think either one is consciously aware of the date, but I know their bodies remember. We have done nothing throughout the years, but we are in a much better place with the natural mom now and the children are older, and just wondering if reminding them would be cruel or like recognizing the elephant in the room.

Some replies –

Would YOU want to be forcefully reminded of your relinquishment/choice to relinquish every year?? No. This seems cruel to think of and remember. 

Seems an odd thing celebrate. I lost 4 kids to child protective services. I have two of those I am now able to parent and am in reunion with the 2 oldest, who are now mature. No one among any of us has ever mentioned the date they were taken, or the last good bye visit date etc and I certainly do not know it, People don’t tend to want to remember/celebrate negative events. If someone dies, you may remember their birthdate openly but not the death of their date (other than perhaps privately in the sorrow of your heart – definitely not as a celebration). My daughter had our reunion date tattooed on her arm, Find something positive to celebrate, if you must.

Being forced to surrender my newborn was the worst, most traumatic day of my life. I have C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) in part because of the experience. The last thing I would want is some sort of remembrance or it made into an occasion.

I remember that day as if a national tragedy occurred (for me and my child it was). I remember the last day I held him, I remember the day the adoptive parents cut contact. Now it is a season of deep depression and sorrow every single year when it rolls around.

Beyond cruel. Borderline evil. This is the damned problem with y’all (y’all being adopters). Y’all are so out of touch and lack a drop of understanding of anyone else. It was a happy day for you. You got to steal someone’s child, erase their identity and claim to be their mom. You aren’t, btw. They have a mom. It’s not you. But what on earth would make you think they want to be reminded of the day their family was permanently destroyed and that some random stranger decided they were now mom?

You’re trying to make the mom acknowledge the date too ? Its a very traumatic time for both and referring to it as a time of their bonding death is just …..I’m not sure I have words in my vocabulary for what that is. It’s like you’re saying they are dead to each other now and you would like to remind them both of that.

Have this information written down for the children because they may want to have that information some day, if they have an interest in piecing together what happened to them. That is all. If you happen to see that the kids or their mother is struggling around this time give them space for their grief. I’m not sure that poking this wound would be beneficial for anyone – however well intended.

It got through and she said –  I will back off. I will definitely not be bringing it up.

Being forced to surrender my newborn was the worst, most traumatic day of my life. I have CPTSD in part because of the experience. The last thing I would want is some sort of remembrance or it made into an occasion.

What Is And Is Not

My nearly 6 year old (in my care since she was 6 months of age, came to us from foster care) emotionally shared the other day that she’s embarrassed being seen with my husband and I at school drop off/pick up because she’s aware it’s making her different from the other children who have their birth parents pick them up and how she wishes her Mum could come to pick up sometimes (her Mum passed away tragically two years ago so it’s literally impossible).

There is no real clear physical difference between us – so it’s really just that she knows we aren’t her birth parents and she grieves what could have been. I told her I understood why she feels sad about that, that it makes sense she’d love her Mum to come and that I’m really sorry I can’t make that happen. I also pointed out other children wouldn’t know (for the most part) that we aren’t her birth parents because we’ve been private about her story (however, she recently shared with her class that she had scattered her Mums ashes). There are other kids who could be in the same situation as her and she wouldn’t know.

She’s really dislikes having a different surname than us because “you’re my parents and you’re my family, so why can’t I have the same name?”, even though we’ve never made an issue of it and we tell her how much we love her name and that families don’t require the same last names as each other. She has been asking for the last few weeks, can she please change her surname to our surname at school/extra curricular activities. She’s started calling herself and her little sister (who is her biological sister but also has a different surname, not the same as hers) *their names* with our surname.

One of my big hesitancies is the future her, looking back on her work/awards and seeing a name she might not identify with anymore and being upset we allowed her to use a different name. We are foster parents who became guardians but we specifically didn’t pursue adoption because of what we learned about the feelings of adult adoptees.

One suggestion was to hyphenate her surname with the guardian’s surname, not legally but just on paper, so she can see you are listening to her feelings, without changing anything legally. The guardian liked the suggestion – that way she doesn’t have to feel like it has to be one way or the other, either this part of my family or that part of my family. The guardian said “I definitely have no intention of changing her name legally, that’s something she can navigate once she’s an adult. But just socially, maybe hyphenating could be the solution.

Another suggested – could you explain to her that the surname was one of her first gifts from her mother ? Explain to her that there are some kids whose moms have gotten remarried and her kids don’t share her new last name. And even though it isn’t the same situation as she is in because her mom is no longer here like the other kids, it is similar with the last name situation. The reply was – I did try telling her how kids have different last names to their Mum’s sometimes because of marriage and such but she was like “but you and Dad have the same last name so that’s not the same thing.”

One answers from experience – This is tricky. I was given the choice to keep my last name or change it, and I kept it. There were so many times in school when I wished I just had the same last name as my adoptive family. It would have erased so many questions I didn’t want to answer. I’m 42 now and I’m 100% glad I kept it. I didn’t even fully let it go when I got married. On the other hand, my biological sister was all too happy to shed that last name when she got married (at 8 years older than me, she was 18 when we went to our adoptive family. So I don’t think changing to her last name was ever brought up). Our last name came from the guy who abused us. All that to say, I don’t think there is a concrete right or wrong answer here. *I* would say keep her last name but see if the school will just call her by yours, sort of like a nick-name? My sister on the other hand would say let her change it. Hugs to you as you try to navigate this.

Another shares – I have two last names and I say them proudly. Would she be willing to make a final decision after a bit more contemplation? Have her practice saying and writing the new name combo – you can call her anything for now. She might find just being able to say her new name and know that maybe one day she will legally be both names. The guardian answers –  I’ve responded to her saying “let’s keep chatting and thinking about it, so we make the best decision for you” and she seems okay with it thus far.

Another opinion was – I would honor her desire and let her change her name. I think you can do that and let her know if she ever changes her mind and wants to change it back, you’ll support her no questions asked. Or if it’s possible to change it with school and such without doing the full legal piece, maybe that could be a good compromise. I was under guardianship as well until adulthood, and I always struggled as a child with feeling like I didn’t truly belong and the uncertainty about where I’d spend the entirety of my childhood was deeply unsettling. I was under familial guardianship, so I was with family, but I just always felt like I was an add on, not a core part of the family. To this day, it’s something I still feel in my core when I’m with my family and I’m 37. I can understand why having a different name could exacerbate that feeling for her. Part of it is just inescapably that our childhood was different and more traumatic than those around us and even the best support systems simply cannot undo that. And that’s hard to understand as a kid and it leaves lasting changes to one’s brain. And for me at least, the uncertainty about whether I’d be able to finish out a school year, let alone all of K-12 in the home I was in, was always hanging over me. It just didn’t feel permanent (though it did turn out to be). There are SO few things that are in our control when we are kids, and the lack of control over any aspect of our lives can be overwhelming.

A school staff member noted that – our school has “legal” name and “preferred” name. “Preferred ” name can be changed at any time without any documentation, it shows up on attendance and display but all legal documents show their legal names. She even adds that – I did this as a child until I was legally able to make the decision to formally change my name.

 

Almost Aborted ?

This story got my attention – LINK>My Family Oversimplified My Brother’s Adoption Story by Carrie McKean in The Atlantic. She writes –

My brother arrived in my life like the rain always did: after fervent prayer and petitioning. With the matter-of-factness of a child suddenly convinced of her cosmic power, I greeted God with a new request: “Can I have a little brother or sister?” True story from this blog author – before our sons were conceived, I prayed for my husband to want children. The rest is obvious (though I never told him about those prayers).

Then, our old family doctor in a neighboring town, a man familiar with my mom’s longing for another baby, asked if my parents would like to adopt a newborn boy. It was to be a private, closed adoption, as requested by the infant’s birth mother, who faced an unexpected pregnancy in a rigidly conservative and nosy town.

In truth, I don’t think my parents ever knew much about the circumstances leading to my brother’s adoption. They never met William’s mother, so the doctor was the only narrator, which left plenty of room to fill in the story’s gaps with details that suited them.  

At a local crisis-pregnancy-center fundraising event, when her brother was already a teenager, her father called her brother up to the stage and announced – “His birth mom wanted to get an abortion, but the doctor wouldn’t do it.” It was the perfect fairy tale for the occasion, featuring a thwarted villain, clear protagonists, and a satisfying resolution. She writes that she joined in the applause. We were the heroes. We’d saved him. We would save them all, if we could.

She admits that – For most of my adulthood, I haven’t thought much about the fact that my brother was adopted. But in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade being overturned, I find myself considering his entry into my life yet again. Watching the gleeful moods of many in the pro-life community post-Roe, I see glimpses of my past. Believing that your brother was “almost aborted” has a way of crystallizing one’s convictions. Growing up in a conservative evangelical community, I was taught that morality was black-and-white. It was an orderly worldview with no room for messy complications; those were hidden behind closed doors. 

She goes on to share – People like me were “single-issue voters,” and the voter guide in my church bulletin told me which politicians were pro-life. Just like so many within the pro-life movement today, we were blinded by our convictions to the uniquely complicating circumstances and considerations in each unwanted pregnancy. 

In the middle of the extremes of a polarized country, the majority of Americans believe that at the least, abortion should be legal in some circumstances and illegal in others. Many lawmakers seem more interested in pleasing a vocal base than they are in having nuanced and thoughtful policy discussions. No person should be reduced to a political pawn. When it comes to aborted or not – we can’t objectively weigh the life we have against the one we don’t. Even in my case, I can’t weigh what my life might have been like had I been given up for adoption because I was not.

Regarding her brother’s adoption, she recognizes regarding his birth mother that – It is possible that adoption was her Plan A, despite the story we grew up hearing. Or maybe she wanted to keep her baby, but her parents pressured her into a different decision. In my own family, my mother pressured my sister to give up my niece. My youngest sister was always going to give my nephew up for adoption. Both were true of the birth mothers in my own family.

The story’s author says – These days, considering that my brother’s mother might have bravely endured a set of circumstances she never wanted because she had no other choice sends my emotions spinning wildly. I move through anger, indignation, and sorrow for the circumstances she faced, for the personal agency she might have been denied, for the losses my brother and she have always had to live with, for the persistent grief that comes from severing a primal relationship. But the spinning can stop in only one place: gratitude for the abortion she did not receive, for the brother that I have. For the family that we’ve made.

Adoption tends to run in families – I know it has in my family – abundantly. The author adopted her youngest daughter. At the age of 10, this girl has begun to grapple more and more with the fact that she doesn’t look like the rest of her family. Her adoptive mother notes – “For weeks, she’d been dissecting our family tree and figuring out how everyone fit together.”

One day this daughter said to the author’s adopted brother – “You’re not my real uncle,” she said, keeping her voice falsely nonchalant and tossing her head so that her long black hair fell to cover half her face. “Because you’re not my mom’s real brother.” He quickly glanced up and caught the author’s eye. They both heard what she was saying between the lines about herself and her place in their family. The author realized that her brother knew better than she ever could, what this daughter was feeling, so she stayed quiet and let him respond. 

“Hey,” his voice softened as he leaned over to gently bump her shoulder with his. She didn’t budge. He playfully kicked her cheetah-print Converse with his mud-caked work boot and she finally looked up to catch his eye. “I’m here, aren’t I? Doesn’t get more real than that.” I looked up at the sky and blinked back tears. His voice, gentled by his West Texas drawl and infinitely tender heart, landed like rain on the brittle places.

Of course, as this girl matures, there will be more questions. It is good that there is another adoptee in the family that she will grow up close to as those questions demand answers.

Abandonment is a Perception

Perception matters. As we go through our own “adult” stuff and often have to make hard choices, we are not always aware of how our children are perceiving what we had to do. My marriage at 19 ended in divorce after the birth of our daughter a few years later. Eventually, I then left my daughter with her paternal grandmother (about the age of 3), but she eventually ended up with her dad and a step-mother. I made attempts to stay in contact and reassure her always that it never was about her directly but my own problems. Fortunately, we are close today as adults raising children (my grandchildren and two sons I have now from a subsequent marriage who’s ages are close to that of my grandchildren). I have faced that as a child her perception was understandably about having been abandoned, even though it was never my intention to never to have her under my own roof again during her childhood.

Today, I read about a woman with somewhat similar concerns. She left her child’s father when her daughter was only a year and a half old. She gave her mother legal guardianship of her daughter as she was going through a really rough time in her life. It’s shameful and it’s tough to face these kinds of reality. Finally, this woman met someone with whom she has been able to create a whole and loving family with her daughter and a subsequent baby brother from her new relationship. This daughter is now 9 years old and there are understandably “issues”.

Her daughter has ADHD and a fiery personality. Also some mood and behavioral problems exasperated by her abandonment trauma. She tends to be self-centered (normal) and melodramatic (from me). She can be very mean and unforgiving at times. She easily gets stuck on feelings of being left out or forgotten, even while we’re actively spending time with her.

One response suggested – Behavior is communication. Give each other grace. You are not the choices you made.

Another offered a perspective which I find valid – She has emotions that she is shoving down because she does not know how to deal with them. A huge part of healing childhood trauma is to grieve the losses that caused the trauma. For her, it was not having you or her father in her life for those years. My suggestion is that you start working on grieving your losses, and be open and honest with her about it (age appropriately). Let her see that you are in denial, angry, bargaining, sad, and finally accepting of what happened. That will give her permission to explore those feelings that she has inside of herself. I would also suggest a trauma/grief informed counselor. 

You were part of your daughter’s wounding, you can play a major part in her healing too. It all starts with the parent healing as an adult. Learning what triggers us, so we can be the calm, consistent adults that our kids need because our calm becomes their calm, our ability to regulate our emotions becomes their ability.

More than one recommended LINK> Trust Based Relational Intervention – which I have seen and mentioned before. TBRI is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI is connection.

Someone else suggested mediation. Sometimes a safe person who’s not her parent can help her better understand/hear what you may be trying to communicate (and vice versa). And her suggestion came from personal experience – “I’ve had mediations done with both my and my mother’s therapist, and each time seemed to help shed some light on new aspects of a topic being discussed with our respective therapists.”

And an acknowledgement that I also understand personally – The mere fact that you care so deeply, is absolutely everything. DO NOT ever give up on that. Parenting is so hard, even without the added guilt you carry. All you can do is wake up and do the best you can do for that day.

Finally this from someone who’s been there (and hits me in the guilt place for I have done this too) – I wish my mom had owned her hand in my trauma WITHOUT excuses or trying to push blame onto others. I wish she would have validated my experiences. I wish she would have created and protected a safe space for me to understand and unpack all of the feelings and thoughts I had, preferably with a therapist. I wish she would have spent time one on one with me doing things I cared about, getting to know me deeper. I wish she wouldn’t have told me how hard XYZ was for her, I didn’t care, it wasn’t a competition, I was the helpless child. Even if my mom’s choices were between bad and worse, she was an adult who had brought me with her to that point. I wanted a mom who wanted to BE my mom.

She added – Your bit you wrote about your daughter feeling left out or forgotten hit me like a ton of bricks. That feeling is something I am working on to this day. I felt so out of place with my mom, stepdad, and new baby brother. I knew I was forgettable and honestly with a new baby – replaceable. They felt like a whole little family and I was just the chump she had to come back and get so I could tag along. (blogger’s note – though I never was able to bring my daughter back into my own life fulltime – we did have visits – I did go on to have 2 sons who I have been raising. This caused me to consider how that might feel to her – even though she is an adult with children of her own.)

One more – Focus on being your best self today and in the future. That’s how you can make it up to them, they’re often incredibly wise about this stuff. This way of thinking encourages you to reach a point of acceptance and decide… everyone’s alive, healthy, and you can’t change the past. I think that’s what I would say to my own parents, just sin no more and I don’t want to dwell in the past. (Though there may be times when the wounds bubble back up.)

My own last insight – life is messy, complicated and sometimes very very difficult. We can only acknowledge where we have failed but instead of continually beating ourselves up over that – move forward with being the best person we have managed to be at this time.

Utterly Disgusting Attitude

This adoptive mother thinks she has it all figured out but adoptees and many biological mothers are NOT buying it. This is why open adoptions close and is used as a marketing tool. This comment is very disrespectful towards birth moms. Many do think about their children. They grieve. They feel loss too. Keeping birth parents away will not prevent the child from feelings of abandonment.

From the adoptive mother – I kinda feel like some groups in the adoption triad lean towards having relationships with biological relatives. Not every time though. I felt in our situation, it is toxic. So I joined several groups… I honestly don’t think it’s the best decision in like 90 percent of these situations. It seems like everyone wants to sugar coat the biological parents. The fact is they couldn’t/didn’t want to get their crap together for their children…. We did!!! I decided to do some research and joined groups that I didn’t fit in…Like I am in a “I regret my adoption, birth parents group” and “Adoptees who didn’t find out they were adopted until they were adults” and even a “I regret my abortion group.” I think it’s the best thing I have ever done and it has truly been an eye opener to see ALL sides. I joined the abortion group after seeing several women in the “I regret my adoption” group say that, because their ADULT biological children didn’t want anything to do with them, they wish they had just aborted them.

Anyway, I’ve come to understand a few things. My adopted daughter will not have any type of relationship with her biological mom, because that is when trauma happens. They are too young to understand why someone can’t be around, so they feel unloved. My daughter knows she’s adopted but doesn’t know what it means. She’s 4 years old. I am telling her things like her name changed to our name, she wasn’t in my belly. I won’t lie ever to her. I keep a record of why she doesn’t get to see her biological mom (her dad passed away).

When she is old enough to be told the 100 percent truth, it will not be a shock, and like I said I will never lie to her. If I feel like the time isn’t right for a question she asks, I’ll just say that I will tell her that part when she’s a little older. Most adoptee’s end up hating their biological parents the most…. Then, they are mad that they were lied to by their adoptive parents….and they do want to know some history, and they like to have their old records (I made sure I have my daughter’s original birth certificate and social security card). I had to change her social security number because someone in her biological family was using her old number…

Most adoptees are mad at their adoptive parents for sharing pictures with the biological parents. Most wish they weren’t lied to but had the chance to have a stable childhood, where they didn’t even know they were abandoned…. They wish they had the chance to grow up in a healthy environment, instead of the adoptive parents taking care and caring so much about the biological parents who abandoned them. Adoptive parents feel guilty but shouldn’t… it isn’t the adoptive parents fault that the biological parents don’t want to be there. We cannot force them and popping in and out isn’t healthy. There needs to be boundaries. Most adoptive parents are empaths (that’s what brought them to adoption), we almost feel the birth parents pain of losing a child, but the fact is, most of the birth parents aren’t even thinking of these kids 99.9 percent of the time and have never been empaths or they would have taken care of their children.

I’ll never make my daughter feel unloved by anyone!! She won’t have to deal with all of the adults problems in her childhood, she will have a happy one!! So that’s my plan… lol

Anyway, good luck! Go join some groups. Several groups. They are all different and definitely seek all sides of each group. Every situation is different and just never make ANY person feel like someone doesn’t love them or they weren’t wanted. Keeping that biological family away in most cases insures that they WONT feel abandoned. We all want what’s best for OUR kids and all we can do is our best.

A few thoughts from the “other” side – “well, doesn’t she have it all figured out ?”

Being abandoned, makes us feel abandoned. Adult adoptees who found out later in life, prove this. They say they always felt like they didn’t belong, like they weren’t loved or couldn’t feel loved, even when it was shown – like a big piece of them was missing. It didn’t matter that nobody bothered to tell them there was a piece missing, they knew it.

And the empath stuff – I just CAN NOT. I feel like she read somewhere that adoptive mothers lean toward narcissism, and she’s just trying to say the opposite and have that take hold as a public opinion. This lady seems like a piece of work. I feel bad for her adoptee, because it’s sounds like mommy has it all figured out how to just side step her child’s experience of being traumatized at all. I’m honestly in awe of this person’s audacity. Just wow.

Recognize Your Worth

Many adoptees don’t even realize that they are carrying unhealed trauma with them throughout their lives. Because for infants who were adopted, this trauma occurred during a per-verbal stage of their lives, they lacked words to describe what their emotions were saying to them. Both of my parents were adopted when they were less than one year old. My mom was adopted after having been placed temporarily in Porter Leath orphanage as my desperate maternal grandmother tried mightily to find a way to support the two of them with Georgia Tann circling them like a vulture. My dad was adopted after the Salvation Army coerced my paternal grandmother into relinquishing him. So both of my parents were carrying unhealed trauma throughout their lives.

The various ways people anesthetize themselves . . . is a wail from the deep. I once listened to Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss on cd. I gained a lot of insight into my own compulsive eating experiences listening to her. I see how clothing our bodies in excess weight is a protective device. Both of my parents were more or less overweight their entire lives. I am told that my father was still breastfeeding with his original mother when he was taken for adoption. My mother struggled with her body image due to an adoptive mother who was obsessed by eating and weight issues. I have one memorable experience of that with my adoptive grandmother when she took me to England and embarrassed me dining at The Dorchester in London when I reached for a warm dinner role. I didn’t talk to her for almost 24 hours but gave it up in favor of not ruining our whole experience there together.

Your Blogger at The Dorchester

My mom was passive and secretive about eating. Some of that behavior certainly filtered down to me. My dad struggled with some drunken experiences, one that I didn’t even learn about until after he died, when my sister and I found a letter from him about spending a night in jail for DWI and praying not to lose his job and family over it. But after he was “saved”, he didn’t stop drinking – though he was never a violent alcoholic – and able to work even double shifts and nights at an oil refinery.

Joel Chambers writes about The Lifelong Challenges of Adoptees at the LINK> Search Angels website – Adoptees face more traumas, and more challenges, than many other people, and it affects their lives in ways that we are just beginning to understand. He has also written a post, speaking at great length about how addiction, in all of its various forms, is all too common among adoptees. These have experiences such as grief and loss, self-esteem and identity issues, substance abuse and addiction, mental health, and challenges to the types of relationships that they can form with their adoptive families. Adoptees also deal with feelings of grief, separation, and loss for their biological parents and birth families, even if they never knew them. 

A healing I didn’t even know I needed started in the Autumn of 2017, when I began learning what my parents never knew – who my original grandparents were. Then, it was only natural that I really begin learning about this thing called adoption. My daughter once said to me – “it seems like you are on a mission.” True, guilty as charged.

One Story For Today

New Orleans – 2005 – Katrina

Quick take – from an adoptee of a closed adoption: This is complicated. It’s painful, it’s bittersweet. I am thankful for the outcome of a very shitty situations. I am NOT thankful all 3 parties involved suffered in various was. I AM thankful for a good childhood and for love. It DOESN’T remove the grief and pain.

BACKSTORY/ CONTEXT: I was adopted at 2 weeks old, in a closed adoption. My family never hid it. We would have a small cake every year. They would ALWAYS tell me how much my birth mother loved me. They would tell me how thankful they are to have me as a daughter. They never made me feel bad for asking questions they couldn’t always answer or verbalizing thoughts about her and her situation. which I did, ALOT. Lol Our extended family didn’t treat me differently. Of course, my parents and I had our very rough moments. No one’s perfect.

I still had emotional problems, which I found out later in life were related to adoption trauma. It was hard. It had permeated every aspect of my existence. Its confusing and painful, It still hurts.

Katrina hit 8-9 months before I could legally search for her. I was distraught for the people but for personal reasons too… The hospital I was born in, the agency. The city, my only tangible connection to her was UTTERLY DESTROYED. Were my files lost?? Did she still live there? Was she ok? Was she trapped on a roof? Is she dead? It was maddening to know answers may have been swept away in raging flood waters. I had waited my Whole Life for them.

I’ve since reconnected my my birth mom and learned the circumstances that lead to her giving me up. And OMG it tears me up inside knowing what she went through, why she didn’t keep me. All the pain and trauma she experienced. SO MUCH TRAUMA. It breaks my heart. I have ALOT OF ANGER about her treatment by many people.

Knowing that my adopted parents struggled to start a family and for 15 years they watched their siblings and friends have So Many Kids makes me sad.

I grieve the loss of biological connection. So much about how I am now makes much more sense. I talk like my birth mom. Have similar random things in life that we and my birth family share. Mu adoptive parents tried their best but didn’t really have the understanding or tools to deal with the sad things.

It is true that some adoptive parents are utter nightmares and should never have been parents.

I am thankful for WHO I ended up with. That my birth mom’s huge gamble of relinquishing her daughter for a better life worked just like she hoped. I am SO appreciative to have 3 parents who love me.

A lot of adoptive parents play the saint, throw it in their kid’s face. Feel entitled to being what THEY willingly and actively went in search of becoming. That behavior is NOT ok.

Blogger’s note – I feel guilty for lucking out (that I didn’t end up adopted when my unwed, teenage mother turned up pregnant because in my family adoption was so very normal – both parents were adoptees, so their parents were all adoptive parents). At this point in my own adoption discovery journey, I never really hope to hear that other adoptees had good experiences but I am thankful when they have had a good experience. But that’s not why I am here. I’m mostly here to deal with the hard topics and help reform continue to emerge. When the story I come across is a happy story, I’m glad to not be only a downer.

As humans, we ALL seek validation. It’s natural. With that said, tread carefully when you learn someone was adopted. Maybe let them give you THEIR perspective first before you ask what could be uncomfortable questions.

Like A Sick Joke

Some adoptive parents want to celebrate what is generally a sad day for most adoptees. I read this comment from one adoptee – People are just out of touch with reality. Why would an adoptive parent send treats to school, so their adopted child can celebrate “Gotcha Day,” even after the child has beg them not to ?

From a mother who surrendered a child to adoption and also adopted one – This poor child. I never use that term with my daughter and honestly that is because I know the pain and trauma of being coerced into giving my baby away. In my home, we acknowledge the pain and trauma of adoption, the reasoning behind her adoption (ours was private with acquaintances) and I’m happy to give her compassion and hugs and a lot of love. I also am happy that the people who adopted my daughter never celebrated the “gotcha” day. That would be extremely painful for me as well.

On a website titled LINK> Considering Adoption, I found an article titled The Controversy of ‘Gotcha Day’.

How do you feel right now after seeing “Happy Gotcha Day” in my blog photo ? The debate is contentious, and it can get heated.  Reactions vary wildly across the adoption community. For some, the language is highly problematic. For others, the entire concept is an issue. Still others have only good feelings about “gotcha day” and celebrate it annually with their children.

The goal in my blog today, is not to ignite a fiery debate, but rather to share a better understanding of the positions some hold. Gotcha Day is believed to be a celebration of the day a family adopted a child. Some families decide to mark this anniversary on the day of placement; others celebrate on the day the adoption was finalized in court. The name of this day and even the existence of the celebration has become a point of controversy for several different reasons. Let’s look at the most common positions.

The language we use when we discuss adoption must be sensitive and respectful. We’re talking about an adoptive family, the original mother and the adoptee. We have to choose our words carefully to ensure we respect the full dignity and autonomy of everyone involved in the process. Language that commodifies the adoption process is a problem. Adoption is not buying children. Children are not the product.

“The most basic aspect of it — its name — is also the disturbing aspect of it… There is also the fact that G-Day, like re-homing, has its origins in the pet rescue lexicon because it implies caught or trapped. Is this really what we want to model?” ~ author Mirah Riben

The other side of every adoption story is that an adoptee “lost everything” connected to their family of origin. From Sophie, who was born in China and adopted by an American family when she was 5 years old: “It’s been said that adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where everyone expects the victims be grateful and appreciative… Gotcha day feels like a day of fake smiles if we don’t acknowledge that it’s also about loss, not just gain.” Having a celebration intentionally denies that loss.

Adoption is acknowledged to involve loss at some level for every adoptee. The felt impact is understandably different for each. There are often confusing questions about heritage and identity for many adoptees. It is important to allow space for both any joy in general and any felt loss when it comes to an adoptee’s day of having become adopted.

Every person is inherently, and without qualification, deserving of respect. Each member of the adoption triad is living a unique story. Each has their own struggles and challenges.

One adoptee shares – I hate the phrase gotcha day. It feels patronizing and inhumane. It’s also not ok if the child is embarrassed or doesn’t want to. My adoptive parents celebrated my Adoption Birthday. Kids were jealous of me that I had 2 birthdays. I just laughed and rolled my eyes – No one wants to be adopted. I enjoyed my 2 “birthdays” and knew that other people really didn’t understand. Gotcha days and whether the adoptee consents are huge issues.

Another adoptee admits – I HATE “Gotcha-day” if you want to celebrate the day you became a family, I think that’s great, but should be family, you should discuss adoption and how the process went (similar to a mom who tells her child about their birth). It should not be a day to praise these “wonderful” people for taking in this child that “no one wanted”. And it sure as hell shouldn’t be gotcha day. That’s what they say at the animal shelter !!!

Yet another said bluntly – I was forced to have this. It embarrassed me and I hated it.