Lament and Repentance

From an adoptive parent’s perspective –

We became foster parents to “help the whole family” and adopted our son (met him at 5 weeks in the NICU, brought him home at 6 weeks, adopted him at 2 years). He was our 8th placement- some families we were able to be helpful towards more than others, I can see my failures or ignorance too.

We have kept a private Facebook page to keep biological parents updated with pictures and an ability to message. Some family members have a recent relationship with our son, and I feel like we have all gained family. BUT, the biological parents aren’t safe (actively using drugs).

I hear you adoptee’s. I hear how you hate adoption. I hear your lack of control, choice, autonomy. Hating that your name was changed, lost culture, lost history, lack of belonging, desire for real change in the system and legislation. I hear you. Your feelings are valid and real. Thank you for sharing with us and allowing us to learn and gain understanding and mourn with you.

As an adoptive parent, I sit in lament and repentance – over my ignorance (even after lots of books and trainings), my savior/rescuer habits and mentality, my selfishness and self centered ness. And I’m just sad with you, and sad with my child.

My question…What were things said to you/done/moments of clarity or understanding that helped you bond and attach to your adoptive parents? I understand it’s a journey and a process, but I still want emotional health and intelligence for my teen.

PS – have been in therapy with an adoption specialist for 3 years.

From an adoptee in response –

Do you have any idea how hard it is to love yourself as an adoptee ? F*** your bonding. Kids will bond to others when their brain says it’s safe. And some don’t at all. At the end of the day, the child may never naturally attach to you but that isn’t saying they won’t naturally attach to others. Trying to have those children identify non-biologicals as being the traditional family roles, when they do not actually fit (mom, dad, etc) is not helping make the kids feel like part of your family. It’s an attempt to replace the family they already have. It’s easier for you but it’s harmful for them. Look into support groups for kids of addicts. Keep learning more about active addiction and what is a threat and what is not. Actively support and promote a bond with the original parents, while teaching your adoptee boundaries and healthy coping.

No Win Situation

An unwed mother is pregnant with her 2nd child, due in early February, and the dad has no plans to be involved. She has a 5-year-old that she had the same heartfelt struggle with making this decision. She has spent almost every day of his life, wondering if he would’ve been better off if she’d just put him up for adoption. That is what she wanted to before his dad stepped in and said he wanted to keep him. She has limited to no support from her family and friends.

Where she is now . . . “The only consensus I managed to come to is that I’d be traumatizing my baby if I put it for adoption, but if I don’t have support, I’m going to ruin the baby anyway. So many of those adoptees have such a jaded, negative view of their birth families for putting them up for adoption, but they also resent their adoptive families for ‘stealing’ them, so I’m right back to square one of no matter what I choose, I’m evil and ruining my baby’s life.”

From an adoptee – I’m an adoptee of a closed adoption. A DNA test for Ancestry revealed my birth parents. If I were you, I wouldn’t adopt and as an adoptee, I regret being adopted. I don’t necessarily think my birth parents ruined my life by not keeping me because I don’t know what my life would have been with them. Having another baby won’t ruin your life. It won’t ruin your son’s. You can get your mental health back either way, because either way it’s going to take work and probably therapy. I just wouldn’t make the decision out of fear that you’re not capable because I think that’s when we get into decisions we regret.

So often, when unwed expectant mothers come into my all things adoption group seeking insight, it is almost universal that they don’t feel capable of parenting. It is most likely true in all of these cases that those who do decide to parent still have a difficult and challenging situation to navigate. With some mothers, the group goes the extra mile to supply things the mother will need once she has her baby, if she decides to parent. These women often come back when the baby is older saying how grateful they are to have been encouraged to keep their babies.

This group also sometimes helps a parent who has become embroiled in a custody situation where adoptive or foster parents want to keep the baby they managed to get. The legal process is daunting, fraught with challenges and no certainty of being won. Better to at least give parenting a try. Worst case, there is always the option to surrender to adoption . . .

My favorite saying in life is from the Lemony Snicket movie – A Series of Unfortunate Events. I can’t find what I remember anywhere but it comes down to no matter how dark or bad things look, there is always a way out of that situation. It has often inspired me to hold the line until I see the way has proven to be so . . .

Baudelaire Kids from Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events

It Will Take A Lot

I often wonder if I will ever run out of things related to adoption to write about here but everyday I seem to find something and so, until I can’t seem to do that anymore, I suppose I’ll persist. Today’s inspiration comes from this admission from an adoptive mother –

After adopting our daughter and experiencing some pretty clear effects of her being separated from her mom, I have changed my mindset on adoption. While I know realistically that there will always be a need of some sort for a program to care for relinquished children, I don’t believe in the current system and think it needs a complete overhaul.

She admits – I did not do enough research before we went through the process and relied too heavily on the agency to provide me information. Now I realize their bias, pursuit of financial gain, etc. I did everything wrong – did a gender reveal, had a baby shower, did a GoFundMe, ick ick ick. After placement, I could just FEEL that my baby needed more than I was giving.

I also know that a woman who is struggling with fertility issues that desperately wants to start a family is going to be mighty difficult to dissuade – the flood of savior stories and toxic positivity that is shoved in hopeful adoptive parents’ faces is overwhelming. And despite all of the very valid points that have been made by those who know repeatedly, it will take a lot of education and dedication to overcome the propaganda and the emotional response a woman experiences in order to make a decision that is best for the child and not for her own desires.

So what to share with a woman who is struggling with fertility issues, who desperately wants to start a family ? I often see the very first suggestion is therapy to reconcile her infertility issues and realize that adoption is never a replacement for a natural born child.

Read The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier. I have read it myself and I still see it turn up recommended as the very best possible perspective into adoption trauma from a woman who is both an adoptive and a biological mother as well as a therapist to adoptees and their families. She has tons of insight about all of it.

It is very important to listen to adoptee voices. Here is an analogy – We would never do open heart surgery without an expert surgeon who performs that surgery every day. While a patient (adoptive parent) is part of that process, they are not the ones (adoptees) who know what it feels like to walk in those shoes. A hopeful adoptive parent is inherently biased against hearing any truth about the pitfalls of adoption. They often only listen to the voices of other adoptive parents who have benefitted from adopting. You will rarely hear these discussing the risks, only the positive aspects of adopting a child into their life.

It is important to explain what a for profit enterprise adoption is. The coercion of birth mothers, our society’s lack of focus on family preservation, the option of being a foster parent who strives for family reunification over fostering simply to adopt, explain the guardianship option, share the loss of identity and anything else that a mature adoptee knows about it all.

Remaining connected to those genetic mirrors that the child’s original family is of vital importance. There is occasionally a need for long term care, when the parents could not or would not parent their child(ren), and the extended family members were unwilling or unable to be a placement resource for those children. Adoption is much more nuanced than most people realize and many adoptees feel negatively about their adoptions. Many who choose to be foster parents are actually trying to help and actively trying to support families in crisis to reunify. That said, the training and support is abysmal. 

Issues Change With The Times

Original birth certificates and name changes have been an issue for adult adoptees. Many adoptees still can not acquire their original birth certificates. My parents were adopted in the 1930s. In adulthood, both learned the names they were born as but nothing about their original families. I do have my mom’s original birth certificate which was very helpful as all she knew about her birth parents’ names was Mr and Mrs JC Moore (which reveals very little). I never could get my dad’s original birth certificate because California is one of those states that won’t release it without a court order. I did learn his birth mother’s name thanks to a handwritten note on a letter concerning the changed birth certificate in the state of Texas that his adoptive mother wrote down. Turns out she was unwed.

We still have new members come into my all things adoption group with questions pre-adoption about how to handle the birth certificate for pre-school children and name changes. In today’s modern society, most are over thinking what a more open and progressive society have made a moot point. While conservatives and evangelicals may not like these changes to marriage and family units, the changed nature of society is a positive development for adoptees.

Divorce, remarriage, blended families, single mothers and same sex partnerships, to name just a few of the complicating factors, have resulted in what once might have been a legal issue with schools and medical records, no longer matter regarding the child’s name. What does still matter is identity and true family origins. Keeping the original birth certificate intact still matters. Not sealing adoption records matters. Today, an adoption decree is all the legal documentation an adoptive parent needs to establish their responsibility to the child. A birth certificate and the child’s name no longer need to be changed. Some adoption agencies and social workers, perhaps even some legal authorities may still try to make changes a requirement but in reality, there is no longer a basis to do that.

There is one issue that did come up that could matter. That is where violence or some kind of public notoriety could follow a child throughout their life. One adoptive mother with just such an issue shared that she was able to get mentions of these events, where the child is also mentioned, removed from public access. She asked the kid’s attorney, the judge, assistant district attorney and the district attorney to send letters to the news outlets that covered the original story. They did that and it worked for this family. So, with some help, even news coverage can be buried. That said, as the child matures, they are still to be fully informed in an age appropriate way about these circumstances and if necessary, with the help of a trauma informed therapist. Never hide the truth from the child who it concerns.

One other adoptive parent of an older child mentioned that their child legally changed their name for reasons of their own. In their experience, the name change did not cause any problem with passport and Real ID, and even the change of gender did not cause a problem either. All that was needed was the proper documentation about these changes and they simply followed the rules related to those changes.

ADHD And Struggling

Design and Illustrations by Maya Chastain

I found much of this discussion helpful and so I am sharing it for today’s blog.

The original comment –

My 17 year old son adopted from foster care at 15, after 8 years in care. 2 failed adoptive placements before and he was living in residential treatment for 15 months before he transitioned to my home. He’s been with me for 2 years in total. He has not had contact with any biological family in 5+ years and did not have consistent care givers for the first 7 years of his life. He expresses hate towards his biological family and will not discuss with me.

He’s dealing with depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Although I believe the depression is very long term, today is the first day he has ever said it out loud. He had actively denied it previously. I also deal with depression and the sentiment he described of feeling like nothing even matters is something I’m very familiar with. He’s been let down so many times and I often tell him he’s had a very normal reaction to abnormal circumstances. He is so afraid to hope. He is in weekly therapy and working with psychiatrist. I feel like tonight him acknowledging his depression was a really big step forward. I am trying to help him navigate depression and be more hopeful. He is incredibly intelligent and capable and could really pursue so many opportunities and be well supported in whatever he chooses. He’s sabotaging himself instead. He is an older teenager navigating the transition to adulthood. Thank you for sharing any thoughts.

Response from an Adoptee with Depression and ADHD –

Just to translate some of what you’re saying here and how it may come across. You may not say these things out loud but “could really pursue so many opportunities and be well supported” tells me you probably imply these things:

“You could do so much more if you’d just apply yourself.”

*I’m never going to be good enough*

“Why are you struggling with something this basic”

*I’m stupid and can’t do basic things*

“You self-sabotage a lot”

*Push past burnout and ignore self-care*

My support network lets me move at my own pace. Also learning that I can’t brute force my way past ADHD by being “Intelligent” has helped.

No one really figures shit out until their 20s. Heck – I didn’t figure out anything until my 30s. Gen Z just has more pressure because you can’t live off the salary from an entry level job anymore.

The original commenter replied –

I definitely think this is something I’m struggling with and I appreciate your translation. I think what’s hard for me is that he is 17 but in many way operating as someone much younger. However he has the expectation the he be treated like every other 17 year old. We are fighting regularly because I won’t let him get a driver’s permit or I set structures around bedtime and Internet and he wants freedom. I’m very comfortable trying to meet him where he is and help him grow at whatever rate he grows. But he wants adult freedom and responsibility – he’s simply not ready for and it feels negligent on my part to just give him that because of his age. So I’m trying to help him set meaningful goals for himself, so that he can work towards the things he says he wants but it seems that his depression is a major barrier to working towards those goals.

I’m not rushing him to figure it out or trying to prescribe specific goals. I’m trying to support him in doing what he says he wants to do and having the freedom he wants to have. As a single parent, I’d love for him to have a driver’s license, just as much as he wants it. But how do I help him be ready for that, when the depression he’s experiencing seems to suck any motivation to do the work ?

Response from an Adoptee with Depression and ADHD –

Why can’t he have a learner’s, if you don’t mind me asking ?

People with ADHD (and often undiagnosed co-morbidities) struggle with being infantilized.

You’re talking about controlling bed time when ADHD can come with delayed circadian rhythm and insomnia.

Yes – ADHD often means you have issues keeping up with organizational skills, goal management, emotional regulation and peer relationships. That doesn’t mean you treat that person like a young child. In an environment where controlled exploration is allowed, you develop coping skills.

ADHD – ESPECIALLY as a teenager – means you’re fighting yourself for control of a brain that seems constantly against you. Emotions are hard to regulate. Your rewards system is fucked. Object permanence is a myth. Time is an abstract concept I’ve yet to grasp.

How can you expect a 17 year old to be motivated to control things that are hard and wield an intangible reward like “opportunities,” if he can’t have any control over what’s in front of him that matters.

“Opportunities” offers no tangible reward. My ADHD/PTSD/Depression brain looks at basic chores and goes, “I don’t get why that matters.”

I’m an adult. With therapy and support, I’ve found ways around that. But I also found it after I started having my own boundaries and stopped infantilizing myself.

Meaningful goals don’t work with ADHD. They just put things behind a glass wall you’ll never break. You get frustrated and give up easier.

You need to give him simple goals he can succeed at to build self confidence.

Don’t make freedom a “reward”. It breeds resentment. Work with him to set personal boundaries and schedules. Those won’t look like what works for a neurotypical.

I like “How to ADHD” for life hacks. I also really recommend Domestic Blisters but she’s more aimed at 20 somethings. Catieosaurus is great. She does talk about sexual health on occasion but nothing a 17 year old with Google hasn’t seen.

A Lifelong Sorrow

Birth Mothers matter to me. There are 4 women close to me who gave their baby up for adoption. Both of my genetic grandmothers and both of my sisters. Therefore, when I was at the VeryWellMind site yesterday, another article caught my attention. >LINK Putting A Child Up For Adoption Impacts Mental Health, Stigma Doesn’t Help by Sarah Fielding.

The story reveals that when Janice Wright was 16 years old, she became pregnant, and her fiancé dumped her. The most significant struggle she faced came from the lack of mental health care provided to explore her feelings and prepare her for the difficult process. After she gave birth, the doctor who suggested adoption to her loaded her up with a three-week supply of pain pills to help her ‘numb’ her way back to life afterward. Wow.

Without a person in their corner, birth parents can feel even more traumatized by the process. Such was the case for Wright, who felt incredibly alone after putting her child up for adoption. “I had to bear it alone because no one wanted to talk about it,” she explains. “Maybe friends and family were afraid to bring it up, and no one talked about it.”

Both of my grandmothers had some months (6-8 months) with their first born before they lost them to adoption. My maternal grandmother never had anymore children. My paternal grandmother went on to have 3 more. My sisters lost their babies almost immediately. I believe my youngest sister had a bit more time (days, weeks?) with hers than my middle sister did.

Dr Bethany Cook, a psychologist, an adopted child herself and author of For What It’s Worth – A Perspective on How to Thrive and Survive Parenting Ages 0 – 2, notes that “Contemplating putting your child up for adoption is a very traumatic experience regardless of whether or not you believe the choice you’re making is the right one.” She adds, “An individual may feel anxious, sad, fear, confusion, frustration, happiness, and even relief. Many times there are people in your life trying to influence your decision one way or another creating even more angst and dilemmas. Along with natural hormones influencing mood and thoughts, it’s typical for an individual to go back and forth about their decision several times throughout the pregnancy. Even after the adoption has gone through, some biological parents still struggle with their decision.”

Whether made as a teenager or as an adult, unlike many other decisions, adoption is forever and can feel incredibly overwhelming in its finality. The all things adoption community I belong to often refers to this as a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.” They encourage unmarried expectant mothers to at least try to parent their child before taking the irrevocable step. >LINK Saving Our Sisters is an organization devoted to supporting and encouraging that choice. I didn’t know about them when my own sisters were going through this. It was years before I knew the sister closest in age to me had given up her daughter. However, I was the only family member aware of my youngest sister’s choice and was alongside her during her decision making process. Unfortunately, I didn’t know then, what I know now.

Each birth mother’s circumstance is different and so, the decision is incredibly personal and unique to the individual. Here’s another story – Kira Bracken, who put her child up for adoption in January 2019. “The fact I have an open adoption helps for me to know when he has questions, I can answer them,” she says. However, turning again to the vast experience in my all things adoption group, it has been proven time and again, that the intention to have an “open adoption” all too often fails and this intention turns out not to be legally binding.

After unexpectedly becoming pregnant, Kira felt that the compounding factors of being a single mom to a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, recently leaving a marriage, and her mother’s passing of cancer, led to her decision to place her child into an adoption. Bracken felt sad and grieved the life she and the child could have had, “You lose the right to be the mom they turn to when they are sad or get hurt, just the everyday life things.”

Bracken attributes the stigma she felt for giving her child up for adoption to a lack of understanding. “Adoption is so complex and happens for a multitude of reasons. Birth moms go back and forth constantly until they sign those papers on whether this is what they want to do. It’s not an easy decision, and I wish people would stop acting like it was and that one answer fits all scenarios,” she says. “We beat ourselves up enough for the both of us, so instead of criticizing our choice, be there as a friend to help in whatever way we need.”

“The best thing you can do is be a non-judging, validating place they can turn to vent and process their conflicted feelings without fear of filtering what or how they share their core emotions,” says Cook. This includes validating their feelings, listening to them when they’re upset, and providing regular support. A therapist can also help some people sort through their emotions long-term. 

The Problem With Surrogacy

The question was posed – I have a friend who cannot carry a baby to term. She produces eggs just fine, and a friend of ours who is like a sister to her offered to be a surrogate for free for her. There is no power dynamic at play and they’ve been non biological “sisters” their entire lives. Is this still problematic and should I try to talk them both out of it?

The answer is simple. Ever since I came to understand about in-utero bonding and mother child separation trauma, I have been against surrogacy. I know that there are many couples who chose this. In fact, among my in-laws, this was chosen for similar reasons.

A few more thoughts – from a mother – I grew my children in my body. I didn’t grow them to give them to someone else. Yes, I work, but at the end of the day, they know who mom is. Not some confusing arrangement of mom and “not really mom but kind of mom.” My children did not suffer separation trauma at birth. THAT is the difference.

Follow-up question – I know a lot of working mothers who aren’t constantly around their children, may I ask how is this different? Answer – Take some time to research the primal wound (there is a good book on this by Nancy Newton Verrier). It is not about being around a child constantly. It is that in those moments where we, as a species, reach out to our mother for comfort and nurture, we know on a primal level who that is, and it is the person who carried us and birthed us. That’s why separation after birth trauma exists for adoptees, children who were put into the system at birth and orphans. They may have a mother figure, but it is not who birthed them.

Read up on why surrogacy contracts exist and the numbers of people whose relationships break apart because of surrogacy and jealousy. Even sisters. Then what? The baby is away from who the baby thinks is mother.

The best we can do is chose not to incubate babies for other people as this will traumatize them. A fact proven by MRI is that babies separated from their mothers due to the need for them to be placed in the NICU, as well as in adoption and in surrogacy, will suffer brain changes. The difference with the NICU example, is that the parents aren’t deliberately causing that brain change. It is due to a medical necessity.

Clueless response – Every one gets separated from the body in which they grew, so I’m not understanding. Answer – Technically yes, when you are born, you are no longer physically connected to the body of person who carried while you grew. But then that person doesn’t generally go away – except in cases like adoption, surrogacy, etc.

Argument continues because the two women in question are “like sisters.” Response – They are “like sisters”, not actual family. You can be like whatever. Doesn’t change blood. That said, the child deserves their mother – ACTUAL mother. Who would be on the birth certificate? The egg donor or the birth parent? A child deserves to know their biology and this is just messy.

Another thing to consider is that their “inseparable” relationship may change drastically after the baby is born. It’s pretty common for infertile APs (or infertile people who use surrogates) to develop an awful case of fragility once they have that baby in their arms. It’s in fact the main reason that the vast majority of “open adoptions” close within the first 5 years.

One last point because this has a lot of comments but I think this is worth sharing – How would your friend feel is this pregnancy killed her “sister”? Or if her “sister” had to terminate to keep herself alive? What if her “sister” carries to term, but has lifelong affects on her health that diminish her quality of life? No one should be using another person’s body like this. Pregnancy is not some magical, easy thing. It can be incredibly hard on a person’s body. It can kill people or leave them disabled for life.

Finally, just some background on why the question was asked – The “sister” is insisting. She says her experience being pregnant was “magical” and that she would be pregnant all the time if she could (but she’s also done growing her family, as she doesn’t want to raise any more of her own kids). She said it would “be an honor” to be able to be the person to help her sister grow her family, too. They’re both in their early 30s. I know they’ve spoke about her health being #1 priority during pregnancy and they’re both pro-choice.

We hang out as a group often and I am simply an observer in their conversations about it, as I do not want to speak on things of which I’m ill informed. I asked this question because I want to have some valuable knowledge about the subject the next time we get together, instead of just sitting there listening to something go down that could possible end up being catastrophic. So far, they’re completely on the same page. We all love each other very much and wouldn’t want anything negative to happen to the others. If that means an abortion needs to happen, then she is okay with that.

One last thought – You cannot make life long promises that the “sister” will remain in this child’s life. I had a family member who did this with her best friend. After a lifetime of friendship, they have not spoken since the baby was born. And if their friendship ends, the child will always wonder why they were handed off, like it was nothing. I suggest that you not support your “friends” baby swap. Traumatizing an infant should outweigh any of their selfish wants. Advise to your friend who can’t carry to term to get therapy and deal with it.

>Link< worth reading – “I was an altruistic surrogate and am now against ALL surrogacy.”

Pregnancy Is Triggering

I have often seen adoptees mention how becoming pregnant or becoming a mother had surprising effects on their emotions and experiences. Here’s one story for today –

I’m 28 weeks pregnant and just need some support, anything you have to say will help. When I think about explaining the different ways families are created I get pretty upset inside. Introducing adoption and what that entails seems like a huge battle and I’m not understanding why, I grew up knowing I was adopted before I even knew what adoption meant. Is it possible I have a fear of passing on adoption trauma to my child ? Also my adoptive dad called me and explained he just hadn’t thought about me being adopted and what it must feel like to be going through this pregnancy, now at 28 weeks. As much as I value the validation, it almost felt like a blow, like “oh thanks, glad you are able to forget about it, while I sit here and it seems to be ruling my train of thoughts lately.” Then there is my adoptive mom, and well, she’s just too old to have any good conversation about it, but she’s been very defensive lately anytime adoption comes up. I’ll tell ya, I knew pregnancy would bring a lot to the surface, but I did not expect to not be able to articulate my thoughts and feelings. Even when I’m writing In my journal, I feel blank, and tired. Definitely not handling it in the most positive way, most of the time, and I’m finding my self stuffing down my feelings. Almost reverting back to ?

One comment – One thing i hear a lot of people say as they are doing the “normal” selfless mom thing, taking care of baby and all that (good nutrition, getting stable, etc), is that they are feeling so hurt, that they could do this for their kid but their moms didn’t “get it together” for them, when they were babies. Experiencing triggers around one’s own pregnancy is super common.

Another one shares – One night when my son was about 2 3 weeks old, he was inconsolable. I looked down at his face and realized when I was his age, I was crying in a crib, alone. That realization was devastating.

And this – I hear you and feel your stress. Breathe deeply and try to relax. Sure you are thinking about what adoption meant to your life and how it affected so many things, many more than you ever realized because now you have a small, vulnerable and completely dependent on you human being growing inside you. At various points of the day, you will try to forget all of this, but then you will be reminded by your work-in-progress with a kick or rollover… and guess what: all of the emotions will become even stronger as you get closer to due date. The worries and so much more. Be kind to you and let yourself cry, if you need to — once you meet your baby, this stuff will stay just below the surface (most likely) but you will also have a biological person who needs you and adores you and you won’t understand how anyone could ever willingly give such a precious beauty away to someone else to keep. Don’t stuff down your feelings – don’t be too hard on yourself (your hormones are doing enough of that crap – you don’t need to assist them!).

More – Being pregnant and having my daughter brought up a lot of feelings like this too. Finally understanding how messed up and abusive my family was, especially my mom. Realizing that I couldn’t imagine treating my daughter the way I was treated. Everything felt so fresh and raw, and I was experiencing triggers left and right, having breakdowns all the time. Therapy and meds helped a lot, but I know those things aren’t accessible and/or helpful for everyone. I might suggest doing some kind of mindfulness exercises, when you find yourself sinking into those feelings, affirmations about the choices you’re making and how they’re different from the things you experienced. Other than that, I don’t really have advice, just solidarity. Everybody talks about how having a child makes them appreciate their own parents so much more, but nobody ever tells you how it can bring your childhood trauma to the surface. I’m sorry you’re part of that second group. I’m sure you will be a wonderful mama.

Another from experience – My pregnancies undid all my pro-adoption programming. I thought a lot about the importance of genes, bonding, familial traits, and family lineages. Pregnancy is an emotional time, even more so with the additional layers of adoption. Take care of yourself and give yourself permission to process your feelings. 

Clearly, though every person is different and every adoptee has had different kinds of experiences, the stories are many and on some level rather universal. HUGS if you are an adoptee and pregnant or have recently given birth.

It Happens

It is surprising how often this happens and it is never intended but . . .

First the question, then the answers –

So a couple adopts a child because they believe they will never be able to have a biological, genetic child. Then, surprise – the adoptive parents actually discover they have conceived. What effects do their having an adopted and then a biological child have on that first child who was adopted ? Question for adoptees, is there anything that your adoptive parents could have done to make it better for you ? Is there anything they did specifically that was harmful to you in relation to the new sibling ?

Responses –

[1] The short one – I have two brothers that are biological to my adoptive parents. This effects me everyday. I ask birth mom, why me ? I wonder what might have changed her so that she could have been a better mother to me ?

[2] The longer, more detailed perspective – Stop pretending biological and non-biological children are the same. Educate yourselves and take the burden off the child. I was adopted as an infant. My adoptive mother became pregnant 5 months after my adoption was finalized. My “sister” was always the much preferred, longed-for first choice. With her birth, I was superseded. I will admit that I was “a difficult child” (due to an un-recognized infant trauma. My “sister” was easy (with her natural parent/child connection). I grew up with a front row seat view of what a healthy, biological connection looks like. The way human evolution intended it to be.

What my adoptive parents did do right was treat us outwardly and monetarily the same. We both had the same opportunities and resources. What was chronically neglected were my unseen needs, which were instead passed off as troublesome personality traits. So, although my adoptive parents KNEW I had “problems,” they did nothing to address those. What I wish they had done is what they would have done if their biological daughter was chronically ill: move heaven and earth to help her and thoroughly educate themselves on her issues.

I wish they had understood the different needs of a non-biological child and not burden themselves with the expectation I would ‘heal’ simply through therapy, while they themselves did nothing. Instead I wish they would have proactively learned how to be effective, gentle, therapeutic caregivers to a child living with early grief and loss among genetic strangers. I wish they would have gone the extra mile for me that my “sister” did not need from them.

Letting Go of Expectations is Liberating

Today I offer you a not uncommon adoptee challenge –

For so many of us, birthdays suck. And I’m realizing it doesn’t get easier with age. So many complicated emotions. For me this is the day I was born and the day I was separated from my birth mom. I‘m not resentful for the choice she made, she’s a wonderful human.

I think it has to do with expectations that birthdays are supposed to be happy. I never want to be the center of attention but if someone overlooks me, or my feelings, I get super sad. It feels like a rejection thing. I might prefer celebrating my adoption day… but that would be difficult to explain.. to people who could never comprehend.

I’m sick of crying every single birthday (and having to hide it) and faking it for the rest of the day. I’m (hopefully) going to have at least 50 more of these and I don’t want to look back hating every single one and dreading the next. Therapy is great (I’ve had awesome therapists for over 7 years) but certain topics like these don’t feel solvable in therapy. I wish I could talk to others that understand from life experience.

An inspirational message from Agape that I listened to yesterday focused on Expectations and how to make peace with them. You can watch the July 3rd 9am Service HERE (fast forward to the 37 minute point, if you want to only listen to her message).