I Think It Will Always Be Sad

When it would take so little, we fail them. Today’s adoption story of one such event.

I was born on September 5th. I was adopted on January 14th, after my First Mom changed her mind back toward the adoption. I was a private domestic adoption. She was young, she was in need of help that would have been so easy to give ! Literally all she would have needed was financial and childcare help! Yet the only help she was given was pressure to give me away to my adoptive parents.

I am sad for her that it happened. I am guiltily glad for me that it happened. But I am sad for EVERYONE that it happened the way it did. If given the choice, I WOULD choose my adoptive family. But I wish my adoptive parents would have known they could have adopted me without severing all physical and name ties to my birth family. So I’m having to come to terms with the fact that even though my adoptive Mom did everything “right” as far as an open adoption was in the 90s, it wasn’t right enough.

I’m having to come to terms with the fact that my First Mom has a right and a reason to all the anger that she has carried for so long that I brushed off because I didn’t understand. I feel guilty now for how much my words over the years have probably hurt her. Showing frustration with my birth name for example, because my adoptive parents kept it but never used it – so its been a hassle my whole life.

Now I think of my son and how he already knows his name and how it would be getting unofficially changed soon if he was me. And then my son, my son, my son. He was born on September 3rd and the idea that in two weeks I would be handing him over to strangers is breaking my heart.

Before having him “4 months” didn’t seem like a long time at all. It seemed like a blip. But these 4 months have been PACKED with bonding and memories and moments. Part of me wonders now if those 4 months were actually better for me and lessened the trauma somewhat? Or perhaps they made it worse?

I know there’s no baseline, so there’s no way to know BUT I see how happy and stable and easy going my son is and I tend to think that these 4 months with him have laid a solid foundation that at least he has had security and a bond with the woman who carried him for 9 months.

SO I tend to think that I am grateful for those 4 months I had with my First Mom. I wish I could tell her that without her brushing me off and not wanting to discuss the hard things. I wish I could tell my adoptive Mom that for all good intentions and overall desire to honor my First Mom, she was still wrong about so many things and has the potential now to at least help educate others.

Most of all I wish that I could stop thinking about how much my son knows me and my husband and his Grandmas already and how he 100% recognizes and prefers us to anyone else.

Tainted Love

I heard this old song from the 70s and immediately, I thought of current events, our president and his supporters since the election was called in favor of the opponent. However, as the lyrics kept playing in my head, the words of so many adoptees who’s perspectives I have read for the last 3 years started forming themselves into the truth of this situation.

The sad truth is that no matter how much love an adoptive parent has to give the adopted child there will always be something tainted about it. Not that the adoptive parent could do anything to prevent that or that their love is not genuine and heartfelt.

An adoptee begins with a serious strike of perceived abandonment at the start of their relationship with the adoptive parent. It matters not the reason really – it is a fact. The parent who gave birth to them isn’t there. This happens as well in divorce when the two parents that were one entity for the child split apart. I know that one. Coming of age in the early 70s, I bought into the idea of male/female equality and that extended itself in my own perspective to the two parents. Either one was equal to the other. In a divorce, it really didn’t matter which parent raised the child, both were equally the parent. And it is true as far as it goes.

Since learning about adoption trauma and the impact of mother loss, I have had to accept that it really wasn’t the same. Not that I can change the way things came out but I do understand the errors in my own thinking at the time. I remember clearly explaining to my daughter regarding the divorce – you still have a mother who loves you and you still have a father who loves you but we won’t all be living together anymore. That was true as well. What I didn’t conceive of at the time was that she would not grow up with me but with him. And decades later, come to find out, it wasn’t the good situation that I thought it was but I was never told until very recently.

So, back to adoption. Fact is, an adoptive parent is never going to be the same as the parents the child was born to. There are many issues. There is the feeling that if the adoptee doesn’t live up to the adoptive parents expectations, they could send the child back. While that may sound like a far-fetched worry, it actually happens and causes what are called second-chance adoptions. So there is an insecurity and people-pleasing aspect to being an adoptee.

If the parents actually have biological children AND adopt, there are differences in the parental response to the children, even if that is NOT the intention of the adoptive parents. It has been explained as – your house is on fire and you can’t save ALL of your children. Which would you chose ? Your biological/genetic child or the one you adopted ? Sadly, the answer is obvious excluding issues that preclude a choice at all.

And I have read more times than I would like to admit to that adoptees can be difficult to love and tolerate. They act out. They often do not understand themselves why they behave that way. These are deep seated psychological issues. It is always recommended that a trauma/adoption informed therapist be employed to salvage a truly destructive and dangerous situation. Yes, it gets that bad sometimes.

Now you know why those words “tainted love” inspired me to write today’s blog.

Just Don’t

But you will.  You believe you won’t make all the mistakes the others have made.  You believe you know a better way.

Don’t be one of THOSE adoptive parents or hopeful adoptive parents who think they know better and their kid won’t be like those angry adoptees, the thousands upon thousands that have struggled with adoption. You don’t even KNOW what to teach them as an adoptive parent.

You do not raise adopted children like you raise biological children and that has nothing to do with love.

An adoptee said to his adoptive mother, “It doesn’t matter how loving and good your parents are and it doesn’t matter that you have a wonderful home….at times it isn’t enough and I am still very unhappy!” When you hear this from your adopted child, it will break your heart. Adopted kids are going to have pain and there isn’t anything an adoptive parent can do to erase it. Understanding that this is the reality is very painful!

You can’t erase the sadness lurking where you can’t reach it.

It would be better if you didn’t adopt but if you already have, the path forward is complicated.

So, if you already did it, then create a home where your adopted children know they can feel however they need to feel and that they know you’ll be there to listen, love, and support them through it.

Whatever your adopted child feels is the reality, don’t dismiss it. Your feelings are yours to deal with.

The trauma of adoption doesn’t stop existing because you want it to. If you think you can love that trauma away, as an adoptive parent you still have a lot to learn.

Love is not enough, good intentions are not enough. No amount of love or honesty can resolve the deep challenges an adoptee faces from being isolated from their biological identity.