Adoption's Side Affects and Me at 40

This is exactly what happened to me. 

There were some people in my world who whispered about insanity. Even before my natural mom died and I melted down. I was already in a downward emotional spiral because a few years earlier I had come out of the fog.  One person who whispered about my insanity was a close friend. Unfortunately I had written proof staring me right in the face where she said to another close friend that I had "gone off the deep end." Game over. With friends like that, who needs an enemy? At least my temporary insanity  helped me figure out who my real friends were.

When I fully came out of the fog, as it’s called in adoptee-world, I was in my forties. I had never known a grief so deep. By many people’s standards, I had the world by the tail and was successful at most everything I did. At the same time, there I was on my side curled up into a ball blubbering to God with snot running down my face, begging him to take me out of this world. I would go back and forth between praying for him to take me to repenting for asking him to and thinking of how painful that would be for my kids and saying, "I'm sorry God, I'm sorry I ever said that. Please just take this pain away." To add insult to injury, when you do come out of the fog and you go public about it (out of the closet, so to speak) it gets worse for a while. 

Right now, like the rest of the world,  I’m enamored with the show This is Us. There is no doubt who my favorite character is. It’s Randall. Like many adoptees, I totally get Randall. The only aspect I don’t share with him is that of being a transracial adoptee. But all the rest concerning his adoption, I get. And the episode where he melted down in the corner? It was like watching my life back when I was emerging from the fog. 

Success in life is no guarantee that an adoptee will be unscathed when it comes to post-adoption issues. Millions of adoptees are wildly successful, and deeply in pain at the same time. They are honor students, valedictorians, doctors, lawyers, pastors, teachers, moms and dads. And they are running hard to escape the pain. The first time I was in counseling, my therapist said, "What are you running so hard from, Deanna?" At the time I didn't realize why I was running. I just knew I needed to. It would be a while before I understood my need to run.

What’s so horrible about coming all the way out of the fog and fully feeling for the first time is that you have no frame of reference to know that things will get any better. So it feels utterly hopeless at the time. You know that time can never turn back. You will always be relinquished and adopted. There’s no going back to fix what hurts.  Even if you believe in miracles. Even if you know Jesus. 

I would have crazy thoughts like, “If someone cut my head off right now, Jesus wouldn’t just pop it back on."  (Even though he did put Malchus' ear back on in the Bible, he’s probably not going to do it for me.) And so I would think about the fact that Jesus allowed my first mom to give me up. He allowed a couple to adopt me whose marriage would break down in dysfunction and divorce. He allowed my first mom to take my father's name to her grave. He wasn't going to fix the mother and father wound in my soul by taking it all away. He was obviously requiring me to bear it. The decision was final. And I would have to figure out a way through the intense feelings of grief.

I didn’t want to bear it at all and was just mad that I had to, so for a while I just laid on my side and hugged a pillow while hot tears ran down my face and I cried so hard I shook the bed.  The sheets were soaked as the rage drained out. It felt like hell and a bit of relief all at the same time.
As I read this quote by Anne Heffron the thing that I think most is of all the parents who think they are okay because their child or teen is so well adjusted and successful. 

I was that person.

And I went through pain so great that it is only by the grace of God that I am still here. 

I am glad some people who knew what they were doing held me through that. There was no one in my world prior to the time I came out of the fog who would have known what to do or how to help me. Most of the people who surrounded me would have probably just given me a chat about being grateful. And honestly, one of them probably would have found me somewhere, and read the note I left behind to say goodbye to everyone. And maybe one of the saddest parts of all is that no one would have really known why. They would have just whispered about "the enemy getting in" and "Satan taking me out" which would have been true, BUT not the whole truth.  Christians are reaaaaaaaaaaaally reluctant to blame anything on adoption.

My hope is that every adoptee finds a safe space to process things when they come out of the fog. Finding trustworthy people to talk to is essential. People who will do no assuming and hours of listening. People who, if they are not adopted, will refrain from telling you anything about how you should feel.  Or giving you a speech about thankfulness.

If you are an adoptive parent reading this, please lose every speck of smugness that your child will never face any of this. Please resist spiritual bypass at all costs. Please listen more than you talk. Please remember, it's not about you.

To the person who is reading this and is just coming out of the fog…you are not alone, and you’re not crazy. I’m saving space for you. 

If you find yourself in that painful place of intense waves of grief so high you don't think you can go on...please, know there is help. There is life on the other side of this. 

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide!

Two things are turning the adoption industry upside down and taking away the grip of control they once had on adoptees:

1) Social Media
2) DNA Testing

I for one could not be more grateful for both of these tools. Back when I started my maternal search, neither of these options were available. Now, they are both key to a search.  As time goes on, DNA testing is making archaic laws with sealed records obsolete. In time, a person will be able to find whatever they want, without ever having to get their records unsealed.   

Even with these two great tools, the resolution of my paternal search may happen too late to meet my natural father. He will probably be dead and may already be so. BUT, I firmly believe the information about my paternal family will be known in my lifetime. I hold on to hope that I will be able to connect with paternal relatives.

I have hope not only because I believe in God, but because the number of people who are DNA testing is exploding. The numbers are vastly beyond what anyone expected. Ancestry DNA alone doubled within a year and the same results are expected again. A friend of mine who is a DNA expert tells me that within the next few years they are predicting that everyone who tests will be guaranteed to have at least second cousin results right away, due to the number of people testing and the expected number of people in the DNA bank. That is a great improvement from when I tested for the first time in 2013.

I have tested at Ancestry DNA, 23 and Me, Family Tree DNA, My Heritage, and GedMatch. Since I took my first test, I have had amazing results. I have had close matches and secrets revealed that would never have been, had I not tested. Unfortunately those secrets revealed were just more on the maternal family side, although I always welcome a relative on either side. Nevertheless, it was information revealed that never would have been had DNA testing not been available. I was able to help a relative I never knew I had and give her the information she has always longed for.
DNA tests give adoptees their power back. I encourage every person I know, not just adoptees, to DNA test. I explain to them that not only will they find out more of their history, but they will help so many more people as they do.

My husband just tested with Ancestry and before he got his results I told him that no matter what came back, he needed to be prepared to help people who may be seeking the truth about their origins. I explained that no matter how difficult the information may be to digest that presents itself, he needed to do the right thing and give people their information. With what secrets I do know about in his family, I expected there were probably more that we didn't know about.  As I expected, a match came that was a result of a family secret. He was able to help someone figure out who their father is. And he has a new cousin he didn’t know about before he DNA tested.  It is so rewarding to help people and put to rest the restlessness in their soul that is present when they don't know who and where they come from. 
Christmas is approaching and now is a great time to give your friends and family DNA tests as a gift.  All of the companies usually have sales at this time. People will be more inclined to test if it’s provided for them. My prayer is that more people than ever get DNA tests for Christmas and that about eight weeks after Christmas, millions of people will get the gift of truth as they start the new year. 

Note: Whenever I write a post on DNA, people ask me a lot of questions I'm not prepared to answer. (I'm not an expert.) I highly recommend Richard Hill and his work. Check out the DNA Testing Advisor website and Facebook page, and read Richard's books. He is a wealth of information about DNA testing and has helped me personally. Also, once you DNA test, be sure to join the group DNA Detectives on facebook. 

With the help of DNA testing, friends and advisors, anything is possible!