Do Adoptees and Foster Kids Have A Right to Be Angry?
Hell, yes, we’re angry.
Excuse my French…I’m just a veteran adoptee, finally free from adoptee anger’s choking grip, and ready to hunt bear.
As you might have surmised from the opening statement, this will not be a feel-good read. No warm fuzzies or heart-shaped emojis. No steaming bedtime tea and cookies.
This is a wake-up, hope-drenched, revolutionary strategy for healing the unwanted adversarial relationships between adoptees and mamas.
Okay, here we go.
Stick with me, okay?
Hold on tight, grip the saddle, and prepare for discomfort.
Adoptees Have the Right to Be Angry
We adoptees and foster kids have every right to be angry. (from now forward, I’ll simplify the addressee both adopted and foster kid by “adoptee.”)
We’ve been kicked around, abandoned, lied to, judged, misunderstood, labeled, shamed, pitied, abused, misrepresented, ignored, shunned, marginalized, orphaned and sent away with our few belongings in a black trash bag.
Up until now, our anger was the hot potato in the arena of adoption.
No one dared talk about it because the solution wasn’t in site.
Adoption agencies hide our anger in the bushes, hoping that eager, naive, prospective parents won’t find it. After all, they’d lose clients and reputation, but most of all, money.
Truth be told, adoptive and foster parents, are probably terrified of adoptee anger, for they can’t spank it away, teach it away, woo it away, or love it away.
For adoptees, we fear our tiger-like anger originates from a hidden character flaw, possibly from a missing generation. If we hear others talking about “the bad gene,” we wonder if it’s us.
Our anger can’t be separated from the frail, cell-based, DNA-informed, providentially-placed essence of who we are.
And, without either desiring it, unresolved adoptee anger binds mamas and kids together, in a seemingly impossible situation.
However, each must learn to navigate individually, with the common goal of healing from our own part in an un-invited, adversarial relationship.
And, so, we are on a common journey through what we’ll call “the river of rage.”
Our Common Journey
There’s a river of rage rushing through our adoptee veins,
like freight trains.
Even though the raging river never stops, we adoptees aren’t aware of it because we’ve secured our Bose earbuds.
We’re far from understanding or even caring why our mamas say the raging river’s rip tide is sucking them under.
But, truth be known, it obliterates their trails, washes out bridges, and tosses dead logs to the bottom for them to slip on.
During times of drought, the raging river may appear dried up and mamas might have the courage to wade into it’s shallow waters.
But, then suddenly, it splashes them in the face, blocking their view of what lies around the bend—a huge waterfall, which can only be survived by treading water.
Gradually, if we adoptees get motivated to remove the ear buds, we’ll realize we’re in the raging river along with our mamas.
Our Common Challenge
So, what’s the answer?
We need to focus on the other bank. The bank of hope that the adversarial relationship can be healed. That there’s a way we’ll be able to digest truth, not only in our heads but in our hearts.
For mamas, the other bank is believing that trying harder is not the answer and that you are enough for your child.
This focus will be your savior when faith disappears, like a morning mist. On days when you believe you can’t go on. On days when you wonder if you made a mistake adopting your child.
And, what about adoptees and foster kids?
Focusing on the other bank, we’ll adhere to the fact that we can successfully process our loss, grief, and anger.
But first, let’s talk turkey about our real enemy.
Our Common Reality
I lived a lifetime believing my adoptive mom was my enemy.
If not, why would I strut off, half-cocked to high school, wondering why she was crying puppy-dog tears? Why would her presence feel like long fingernails over a blackboard?
And, God knows how much she wanted to be a good mom for this beloved baby whom she’d waited a lifetime for.
Mom had no way of knowing the newborn me, who was angry as a spitfire at my first mom. Newborn me wondered why she kicked me to the side of the road and went on merrily.
It’s not difficult imagining what must have gone through mom’s head and heart when hearing my pre-adoption traumas of rejection in the womb, birth mother disappearance at birth, and ten days without human touch in an incubator.
If it were me, I’ve would have said, “I can parent a baby well, but a special needs baby?
Could she handle giving a frail 5-pound baby girl a bath? What if the baby slipped from her grip? How could get the failure-to thrive status be removed when I refused to eat?
It’s important here that we understand the real enemy in our mama/child relationship.
Our Common Enemy
The real enemy is not adoptee anger, for anger is a gift from God and must be managed.
Misplaced adoptee anger is our common enemy.
Misplaced anger seeks to devour the relationship, to chew it up and spit it out. It’s from hell, not God. It’s from Satan, the arch enemy of God.
It loves lies and deception, such as:
- Your mother is such a loser.
- You should have been able to stay with your first mom.
- Your life is a mistake.
- Why not end it all now?
- There’s something wrong with you.
You see, fellow adoptee, on the day you were born, Satan was there, saying, “I will destroy you no matter what.”
It was then that God said, “Oh, no you won’t. She’s mine.”
So, mamas and adoptees, focus on the other bank.