February 28, 2014

Happy Traumaversary!
Complex Trauma Recovery: One Year Later

One year ago today, Thursday, February 28, 2013 – I experienced one of the traumas that contributed to the complex trauma, and significant loss  I experienced throughout my life, and entered therapy for.

Last year on this day, I was overcome with such grief, it was all I could do to get out of bed in the mornings and brush my teeth. I've got a rhyming anointing... 

What a difference a year makes!

 “Happy” traumaversary? 

Am I crazy? 

According to my therapist, no. 

Not at all. 
Not the least little bit. 
In fact, she says–I'm doing amaaaaaaazing

Eight months after beginning therapy, our time together came to a close because I was doing too well to come back anymore.

So...why do I say, “Happy traumaversary”? Because after all I’ve been through, there's so much to be happy about! 

I’m not just limping along or barely getting by.

Even though no one else in the situation changed, unless you count dying I’ve changed.

February 26, 2014

Adoptee Activists: When the Personal Becomes the Political
Guest Post: Karen Caffrey, LPC, JD

Like so many of us (all of us?) who follow along here at Adoptee Restoration, I have been deeply affected by Deanna’s ongoing story and the multitude of other personal stories, comments and posts that regularly appear.  This is a place for feeling, for sharing and for healing.  Most of what I read here feels deeply, achingly personal. 

And there is so much sharing and healing to be done.  So many suppressed feelings to be expressed.  So much shame to be cleansed.  So much rage to be screamed, tears to be shed, and doubt to be validated.

Today, however, I found myself wondering how many of us are actively involved in the politics of adoptee rights.  How and when does each of us arrive at the place where we stand up and take action?  The kind of civic, grassroots lobbying action that changes the discriminatory laws that got us into this mess in the first place?   

I can say that my own journey between the personal and political has been a back and forth affair.  Personally, I searched for and reunited with my birth family as a teenager.  Then I became a lawyer and practiced law for a decade, before becoming a psychotherapist.  As part of my second career, I developed a specialty in counseling adoptees and birth parents. I developed a whole new awareness of the world of adoption and adoptee rights. 

By the mid 90s I became politicized.  I became a co-leader of the adoptee rights movement in my home state of Connecticut.  I dove into our group completely. 

We organized! We wrote letters! We got a bill introduced in the Judiciary Committee!  We printed buttons and collated packages of information.  We drove up to the Capitol.  We testified with our hearts on our sleeves. 

And we lost.  We were defeated by an open vote of the Judiciary Committee.

My government had told me, in no uncertain terms, that I did not have the right to my identity.  I did not have the right.

I was crushed. Devastated.  I was 38 years old.

February 24, 2014

The DNA Results Are In

 "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11
So if it's still ugly...maybe it's not time. ~ Deanna

The results are in. 

They came Friday.

I didn't post anything online until now, as I needed the weekend to process. (Something I'm still doing.)

“M” and I weren’t a match.  

I know. It's crazy, right?

Everyone immediately thought it just had to be a mistake.

Believing that DNA doesn't lie, just one thing I love about it, I was ready to use the tools I've acquired, to move forward from another disappointment.

But everyone else who has worked on the search said, it wasn't time to do that yet. They believed we needed to dig deeper.

And "M's" family was and still is willing to dig deeper. (Nobody wants to give up.)

So, we kept digging.

I called the DNA testing company to discuss the results.

February 19, 2014

Who Are the Strangers?

When I prepared to make the trip to knock on the door of my natural mom, (unbeknownst to her), to see her for the first time as an adult -- there were those who volunteered to accompany me, including my husband. 

I declined. 

Although my husband went to Virginia with me, he didn’t go to her door with me, nor was he in the room when we had our first conversation as adults. 

I realize all adoptees aren't the same.
And many may feel different about this issue.

For me...reuniting was a sacred moment.

The first moments weren’t something to share, even with my husband. 

(Although I adore my husband, consider the fact that if it weren’t for my natural mom, I wouldn’t even be here on the planet to have a husband, in the first place.)   

Judy and I started out together in 1966 and I wanted our reunion to be the same – unencumbered by anyone else who may want to insert themselves into the moment that was ours, alone.

“But you were meeting with a stranger…” some say. “I would think you would have wanted someone familiar with you, just in case…”


February 17, 2014

Trauma Survivors and Thrivers
(Life After the Veil Has Lifted)

My friend Raina* just encountered a trauma in her life…for the very first time.  

(To preserve her privacy, I am not sharing any of the details whatsoever, including what type of trauma. I share only non-identifying parts of our conversation to illustrate the point of this post.)

As we talked over coffee , with tears streaming down her face, Raina  shared that up until this point in her life she has led a relatively uneventful life.  Even a sheltered life...

Luckily, she has encountered nothing tragic, to speak of. There were little bumps in the road here and there. At times she'd deal with work or parenting stresses like we all face. But never in her life has she experienced ANYTHING like what she’s going through now.  At mid-life she suddenly faces a traumatic event that has shaken her world to it's absolute core. 

Raina is a very strong woman of faith, but I can tell she is forever changed by what she has just experienced.

Eyes filled with tears, Raina took a few shallow breaths and voice breaking, looked at me and said, “This is how you felt when you went through the situation with your natural mom…isn’t it?” 

February 14, 2014

When Adoption and Valentines and Forgiveness Collide

Taking my jacket and heels off was the first thing I did after walking in the door late last night. After a meeting lasting most of the day yesterday and an unexpected hospital visit on the other side of town, I couldn't get my jammies on soon enough. In short order, I began leafing through the snail mail and noticed a big red envelope on top. It contained a card addressed to me.

Nobody sends me valentines except my husband it’s this red hot monogamy thing we have going on,  and I wondered why he would be mailing a card to the house instead of just laying it on my pillow and saving us 49 cents. My frugal self and my romantic self often duke it out over things like this. 

I opened the card to find this handwritten note inside:

February 12, 2014

This Adoptive Parent Made Me Cry

When I started Adoptee Restoration, I was concerned about how some of my friends would react  – particularly the ones who are adoptive parents. (AP's) I thought for sure some would take me off of their Christmas card list.

I never desire to hurt anyone by what I write -- ever! And, especially not long term friends I have developed a great love for over the years. At the same time, I knew God was calling me to write on this subject. My heart went through a tug of war over how much to bare my soul on the issues.

Although the response has varied, I have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction. It has brought me closer to quite a number of my AP friends, instead of further away. With open hearts and conversations we can build a bridge rather than a wall.

Yesterday, I received this letter from a long time friend, who is an  AP with young children in a closed adoption.  She reads my posts here faithfully and sometimes asks me questions privately in follow up. I was so overwhelmed to receive this letter from her last night, it brought me to tears. I asked if I could share it and right away, she said yes. 

(Names besides mine are changed.)

February 10, 2014

Adoptee Marriage and the Value of Learning to "Press Pause"

Do you feel the freedom to enjoy your relationship with your spouse   while still working through issues?

Last night Larry and I invited a bunch of married couples from the church over to our home. We had dinner together and then moved into the living room where Larry and I opened our hearts to them and shared encouragement about some things that have kept our marriage strong for 26 years and counting.

Larry & Me..."pressing pause"

Larry spoke of the importance of what he calls, “pressing pause.” There are times we feel our problems in life are so overwhelming, we can’t enjoy our partner or our marriage in general. Life feels overwhelming, and we shut down. He says it’s important to “press pause” on the issues once in a while and remember to enjoy our spouse.

Let me break this down for you as to how we can apply this as adoptees.  I have faced all of these and more and had to learn to speak truth to myself. 

February 7, 2014

The Mother-Wound and Food Issues

I threw two eggs away this week. 

This was a major victory. Throw your hands in the air, wave 'em like you just don't...............oh never mind. I want you to care.


The two eggs in the trash really have do have something to do with adoption.  

My husband cooks breakfast for me, a lot. Sometimes he even brings it to me in bed. Yeah, he’s a keeper. I’m not talking about  a cup of coffee and a Pop-Tart.  He makes a lot of different things, but most times it will be eggs my favorite way (over easy, cooked just right), toast, bacon, hash browns and coffee. 

Yes, he seriously makes all that.  

I don’t even have to “do” anything for him to make breakfast. He just does it. He calls it, “tending to me.” No, he doesn’t have a brother.   

I would post a picture of him cooking breakfast but he's normally half dressed while doing so. Here's a recent photo of him preaching. Picture him screaming something like, "There's a miracle in this house, right now!"

Okay, so one morning this week he made breakfast and I proceeded to dip the crispy bacon in the egg yolks, savoring it alternately with the toast. Then I nibbled on the hash browns, drank the entire coffee let's not get foolish, here and threw the eggs and remaining hash browns away in the garbage.

Him:[puzzled]  “Were the eggs okay, babe? Is something wrong?”
Me: “Everything was perfect. Thank you so much…”

So what’s the significance of this?

I don’t remember a time that I haven't struggled with emotional eating.

According to my adoptive mother, I was already eating insatiably when they brought me home from the Children’s Home Society.

February 5, 2014

Ask A Therapist: How is Trauma Part of Adoption?
An Interview With Corie Skolnick

Today it's my delight to introduce Corie Skolnick,   author of the book, Orfan. Many readers here will already know Corie and be familiar with her work as a licensed therapist, professor and author. In addition to Orfan, Corie was most recently a contributor to Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age.  

For those who aren't acquainted with the awesomeness that is Corie, it's a my pleasure to introduce you. 

There are a zillion things we could pick Corie's brain about but today, I'd like to focus on trauma as it relates to adoption. Let's get started... 

Deanna: Corie, one of the things I find challenging as an adoptee is the surprised reaction of non-adoptees when they hear the word, “trauma” associated with adoption. A number of those people read my blog, if for no other reason than shock and awe that this is even a discussion. Can you please explain for the many people out there who have no idea why adoption and trauma are in the same sentence, why that is???

Corie: You and I accept the basic fundamental belief that the separation of an infant from its mother (or child from its parents) is a traumatic event. It is one that has long lasting negative consequences for all aspects of the child’s development.  But your question acknowledges the fact that not everyone accepts that assertion.

For a very long time this was an assertion largely dependent on theory over absolute provable scientific fact, so our understanding of how experienced traumatic events impact normal human development was quite limited to idiosyncratic observation and self report. Today this assertion rests on decades of reliable and measurable research data that declares unequivocally, a child’s development is impacted by the “trauma” that is separation. People who reject this now scientifically provable fact are like the legions who, for centuries, denied that the earth was round. 

February 3, 2014

Adoptee Restoration Goes to Africa!

Many of you read My Story this past summer.

And you cried at times. 
And you rejoiced at others.
And you related.

Before I started this blog…
I shared parts of my story in another place. 

Today, I want to tell you about this place and how I ended up there.  

In 2007, while wrestling with several decisions, God spoke to me in the quietness of my heart. He gave me direction to say no to various  opportunities that had been presented to me at the time, and focus on writing. He said He would  “take me to the nations from my laptop.”  I had no idea how He planned to do that. But I knew it was His voice.  I obeyed that instruction, and waited to see what would happen.

In the next month,  a missionary from Brazil who I had never met before came to our church to share.  He said that God gave him a message for me.  “Go home and pack your bags!" he said.  "You’re going to the nations, and the purpose will be to speak to women!” I thought, “Okay God, here I am." I have to confess, I didn't pack my bags that night.