Have you ever had trouble understanding the sentiments and perspective of another person whose life has been touched by adoption (first parents, adoptive/foster parents, adoptees and foster kids)?
Or, have you ever sat in an adoption support group and felt your heart racing, your anger surfacing, and your blood boiling?
I certainly have.
For years on my adoption journey, I could only listen to stories of fellow adoptees.
I couldn’t hear, nor did I want to hear about the pain of others. I had enough of my own…thank you very much.
For example, I used to fantasize that my first mother thought about me on my birthday. When I reunited with her nearly 20 years ago, I discovered she didn’t have a clue about my birthday.
Later, after working through the majority of my adoption issues, I became aware of how all parents involved in adoption feel.
Having read everything available, I learned that issues for each person touched by adoption are common even though circumstances are different.
Here are some of the common threads that run through the tapestry of adoption.
COMMON THREADS FOR EVERYONE TOUCHED BY ADOPTION
- Brain-changing trauma.
- Loss deeper than the ocean.
- Grief that shattered a heart to smithereens.
- Shame that erased our self worth.
- Joy that made struggles worth it.
- Guilt that followed like a watch dog.
- Rejection that forced us to our knees.
- Euphoria that sprung from hope .
- Abandonment that made us hate goodbyes.
- A life sentence of anger.
In the years that followed, while studying about first moms and their particular pain, I realized that my first mom didn’t intentionally forget my birthday. Instead, she was too traumatized by her untimely pregnancy and delivery to remember the date.
With this realization came the desire to “look her in the eyes” and forgive.
Not only does our pain cause us to be oblivious to the trauma of others touched by adoption, but it also twists our understanding of what others touched by adoption may say.
For example, when my first mother screamed, “You don’t know how hard it is to give up a baby…I have thought of you every day of my life,” she was verbalizing her pain.
My adoptee pain interpreted those words as, “Because she said it was hard to give me up, she must have loved me!”
I responded, “That’s the best news I’ve ever heard…I thought you forgot about me.”
Her pain translated my words as, “Now, you’re happy that I’m sad.”
Even though interpretations were twisted, basic love was there.
We all need to work hard at understanding and having humble compassion for those who have been touched by adoption in a different way that us.
Exposure to the feelings and beliefs of all touched by adoption is essential if we are to come to terms with our own adoption experience…whether we are first parents, adoptive/foster parents, or adoptees.
And so, the steps to healing are:
- Admitting your pain and inability to hear another’s pain
- Being aware of the common threads in the tapestry of adoption
- Forgiving yourself and others
- Begin connecting with others in the adoption triad.