March 31, 2014

2 Requirements for Adoptee Breakthrough

Expressing feelings of pain or grief  is something adoptees aren’t supposed to do in regard to our adoptions.  Early on, we understand our job description well. It basically consists of two words:

Be grateful.

We are not to vocalize any feelings of loss or grief, one reason being that it may be perceived as speaking against what is proclaimed as a heroic choice.   

Adoptees are told by the people in our lives (and many times people who aren’t even in our lives and have no idea of our personal circumstances) that our natural mother made a heroic choice -- the greatest choice- the most unselfish choice. We are assured that what she displayed in giving us up, was true love.

As children this left many of us perplexed. 

Many of us heard our adoptive parents say over and over again how much they loved us. Since giving your child up apparently represents the best choice – the heroic choice – did this mean our adoptive parents were going to leave us too?  Would they end up making a "heroic choice?"

Many adoptees live in fear of this their entire childhood. They just don’t say anything about it.
Dr. Marshall Schechter, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and nationally recognized expert on adoption says:

    "Adoptees suffer from a fear of loss. They see loss all over the place. Even those adopted in infancy feel the loss…if it happened once, it can happen again."
In current P.C.  adoption language people often say, “Your mother didn’t leave you. She made an adoption plan.” adoptees are left to wonder…”So, true love is when your mother makes a plan to separate from you?”

Although it’s unpopular to share our struggles, here are two things I’ve noticed:

1)  We have to feel it to heal it.

2) We have to speak to it to break through it. 

Regarding #1,  many adoptees, particularly Christian ones, resist feeling the pain of this significant loss and fully dealing with it because it seems at the least inappropriate and at the worst, ungodly. This is because of how we are trained to think. It’s something known as spiritual bypass.

In my own experience as well as observing a lot of other suppressed (or what is known as in-the-fog) adoptees…the affects of this don’t go away, they just show up in other ways in your life.  Some are a walking post-adoption issue in ways including but not limited to: overachiever, underachiever, control freak, can’t maintain relationships, addictions, anxiety, workaholism, perfectionism, approval addiction, etc.

Label is as you will. If it’s  going to heal, you have to allow yourself to feel.
Regarding #2, speaking it aloud takes away the power it once had over you. There’s something to be said for speaking the truth out loud.  

Speaking it around other adoptees or a therapist who understands and validates takes it to a whole new level, and you are on your way to breakthrough.

You don’t have to be bound by fear, or pain anymore.

*Photo courtesy of