April 8, 2013

What Does Adoptee Resilience Mean?

Some friends have been relentlessly encouraging me to be good to myself,  so I gave myself permission to put housework aside and  read the book Adopted Reality, by my good friend, Laura Dennis, this past Saturday.   

Curling up under my down comforter leaning against a bunch of pillows, I read it in it’s entirety. Alternating between laughing and crying, I couldn’t help but come face to face with Laura’s resilience again and again.

(If you want to put off your chores and do something much more fun, you too can read the  new and updated 2nd edition of Adopted Reality as it is now available FREE on pre-release at Story Cartel.) 

I’m sure it’s not the last time I’ll blog about her book, but for starters I’d just like to talk about the resiliency aspect.

Laura Dennis is a walking miracle.   


Photo Credit: a_whisper_of_unremitting_demand
I have gotten to know her at a deep level since we both serve as Lost Daughters bloggers and more than that have become really good friends. Not content to contain ourselves to writing, we thank God for majicJack, which enables us to talk for free anytime from Serbia to Tampa!   We’ve been there for each other through some colossal challenges. I know what she has faced and I’m telling you, the fact that she has two degrees, AND is a professionally trained dancer critically acclaimed for her work in the Washington Post, (read about that in the book!), AND became a sales director for a biotech start up, AND is a wonderful mother, AND has overcome and still overcomes serious health challenges day to day is nothing short of amazing. 

Laura Dennis is the real deal, my friends. A quintessential resilient adoptee, she is all that she presents herself to be, and more.  

Resiliency in adoptees is something we hear about a lot. I see it firsthand. So many of my adopted peers have amazing survival instinct, and are super achievers. I stand in awe of the people I rub cyber shoulders with in the adoptee community every day. Time and again when I reference their accomplishments,  I hear things like, “It’s not my adoption that brought it about.  I achieved in spite of, not because of.” 

On one hand, some adoptees get justifiably upset about those who contend that babies are so “resilient” they are not affected by their relinquishment and adoption. Believing this was of little consequence, our parents were encouraged to bring us home and raise us as any other child. They were reassured that out of the ordinary issues wouldn't be a factor. Well, we know how that went.

While I don’t subscribe to the blank slate or babies-are-unaffected-because-they-are-resilient theory, I do believe many adoptees have special resilience. Just not the kind many of the "experts" of yesteryear thought.

While I don’t believe we had the resiliency so as to not be affected, I do believe a great majority of us developed the resiliency to survive and thrive. 

To survive, we have to be resilient. Some of our fellow adoptees weren't resilient, and they aren’t here anymore. They chose to leave, before their time.  

To thrive, we have to be super resilient. We choose to not just stay here, but to rise above. 

Rising above doesn’t mean to turn a blind eye.
Rising above is looking the truth in the eye.
It takes courage to do that.

Rising above is taking an honest look at things and then choosing to put ourselves in position to thrive.

When we began, our position was entirely dictated by others but now we have the choice to place ourselves where we want to be.

For me part of resilience is being determined to choose the place I live from rather than letting someone else choose it for me. This and many other things factor into resilience.

As an adoptee, what does resilience mean to you?