Confessions of An Angry Adoptee

While the hubs and I were waiting for youngest daughter to arrive at the restaurant, i suddenly saw her and enter.

I stood enthusiastically and waved.

My hand went up so fast that it careened over a glass of water, throwing it a foot from the table, and spreading underneath the chairs and onto the menus.

Of course, it was no big deal….we all laughed about it.

But, that incident reminded me of my anger, which can be forceful, spewing itself in damaging ways over every person I love.

We feel emotions more intensely than many non-adopted humans, for we have pre-adoption traumas that affect us right down to the cellular level.

But, isn’t anger supposed to be a good thing?

Yes!  Our emotions are a gift, meant to help us.

But, anger can become toxic if not processed.

Anger Can Be Connected to Another Emotion

Anger is often connected to another emotion, such as sadness or fear.

Sadness leads to depression, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Insomnia took over and for five nights I was wide awake. Walking and exercising didn’t help. It was hell.

Everything that came out of my mouth were words of condemnation—at myself. I couldn’t stop myself.

When I was 47, I was hospitalized for depression. The depression was chemical and I was helpless to overcome it. I couldn’t even talk. I spent ten nights and days in the hospital’s lock-down unit.

Never, ever will I forget my husband and adult daughter going through those doors at the end of the day.

I ran after them and learned that the doors were locked.

The orderlies, dressed in professional whites, stood stone-faced.

In desperation, I ran to the nearest sofa and curled up in a ball.

Is it ever hard telling all this. This is the first time I’ve ever shared these details. I do so in hopes it may speak to you if you are depressed.

Because I lost touch with reality, I was given strong anti-psychotic drugs that made me feel like a space cadet.

So, I spent ten nights in lock down, with way-out people. A schizo patient took off her clothes every night and ran circles around the unit.

Why was I put with all these crazy people?

All I needed was a good night’s sleep.

The meds the nurses gave before bed didn’t work.

Finally, I let out a scream.

Nurses came running.

A strong shot enabled me to drift off to sleep.

In the nine days that followed, humiliating group experiences filled my days.

Why, oh why, would they require me and others to play with building blocks?

A man who sat next to me owned a prosperous car dealership in Indianapolis.

Depression can befriend anyone.

Anger Can Kill

While in the lockdown unit, I passed the rooms of patients who were on IVs.

When I asked what was wrong with them, the nurse said that they were suffering from depression.

Say what?

Isn’t depression just being sad? Isn’t it something everyone gets over?

No, depression can take your life.

How awful.

Did that mean my life was in danger?

What was causing this?

I had to know.

How sobering to read these stats:

    • Emotional issues may place us at risk for developing heart problems (American Heart Association)
    • Anger precedes and can actually trigger a heart attack
    • People who harbor their anger are twice as likely to have a heart attack, die. (Circulation, May 2000)

There was not a clue at the end of the ten-day stint what the cause of my depression.

The only thing I could concentrate on was: “one foot in front of the other.”

Leaving the hospital, I was determined to find out the cause through weekly counseling.

My personal experience with depression makes me passionate to pass this vital information on to you, fellow adoptees.

Anger Can Be Assessed

We’ve got to make self care a priority, which requires making an anger assessment. Not for anyone else, which is usually our focus.

It’s time to take care of ourselves.

Here are some symptoms of anger.

How many can you identify with?

    • My cup is half empty most of the time
    • Others are intimidated in my presence
    • That bottle of wine isn’t enough to numb my pain
    • I use drugs to escape my problems
    • I smoke like a smokestack
    • I  feel guilty all the time and constantly apologize
    • I’m can’t lose weight and I’ve had it with diets
    • I’m out of control and don’t know what to do
    • My anxiety, especially in social situations, cripples me
    • I have physical symptoms, but docs don’t give diagnosis
    • It’s impossible to get to sleep and stay asleep
    • It feels good to cut myself
    • I am a people pleaser
    • I am loyal to a fault
    • I’ve had several speeding tickets
    • I use inappropriate humor
    • I am sarcastic
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Conflicts in primary relationships
    • Anorexia or bulimic
    • Chronically late to important functions
    • My temper flares easily

Anger Can Numb

Months after beginning counseling, questions about my adoption surfaced.

Who was my birth mother?

Would she ever want to meet me?

Where in heck were these questions coming from?

Was I totally losing it?

Guilt flooded me for voicing such curiosities.  After all, it wasn’t all supposed to be a secret?

And, no, my mom hadn’t hid things from me.

I was told about my adoption as a young child, along with enticing facts about the people involved in the saga. The doc who delivered me stopped by every week after my homecoming to check on me and there was a soldier who walked by our house everyday, peering in the windows from a distance.

If someone said my anger  stemmed from my losing my birth mother at relinquishment, I would have blown them off, like dandelion fuzz.

How crazy is that?

I didn’t even know her.

Just hearing that suggestion was incredibly irritating.

Maybe this is where you’re at…and if so, let me assure you that it’s a good place to be.

The pot has been stirred for the revelation of your incredible life purpose.

Someday, all this will make sense.

I promise.

Just be willing to work with me, okay?

We’ll talk about that in the next blog.

Stay with me?!

Sign up…right hand corner.

The Best News for Adopted and Foster Kids This Easter

How to Answer Your Child's Questions

The innermost fear of many adopted humans—Is my life a mistake?

This is the deepest, darkest shame possible and none of your children would admit it to you.

Trust me, MOST adoptees struggle with this question.

What is needed for the questioning child?

A spiritual answer.

For me, God settled my heart with Scriptures, telling me the truth about my life.

Here are a few gems:

1.God’s heart was the place of our conception. Our lives began, not at conception, not at birth, not on adoption day, but in eternity past-in the very heart of God Himself. He is our Creator!Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” Ephesians 1:4-6: “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to His pleasure and will-to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.”

2. God is the only One who gives life-not birth mothers, as many believe. Birth mothers give the gift of birth and we are very thankful for their gift, but God receives the glory for all life. He is Life!
John 1:3-4: “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

Psalm 139:13: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Esther 9:6b: “You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You.”

3. God originated adoption, but human adoption and spiritual adoption are not the same.He wants to adopt us!
Ephesians 1: 4-5: “In love He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ.”

 

4. God says we are all orphans because of our sin (not loving God with our whole heart and soul, every minute of every day). We will be orphans for eternity without Him! Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

I John 1:10: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

5. God provided a way when there was no way for us to enter His family. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin by His death!
John 3: 16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

6. God requires personal trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross to enter His family.

He invites us!
Romans 10: 9-11: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”

7. God knocks on human hearts, wanting to adopt us. He has a divine appointment with you. It is not by chance that you are reading this!
Revelation 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

If God is knocking on your heart’s door, you can pray this simple prayer: “Jesus, I realize that my sin has separated me from You and that I will be an orphan for eternity without You. Thank You that for paying the price for my sin when You shed your blood and died on the cross for me. It’s hard to believe that if I were the only person in the world, You would have come for me, but I take Your great love by faith. Please cleanse me from sin and fill me with your Holy Spirit. I take Your gift of my adoption into your forever family by faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”

8. God validates the emotional realities of abandonment. He doesn’t tell us to bite the bullet and go on as if nothing happened. He is compassionate!
Ezekiel 16: 4-7: “On the day you were born, you were dumped out into a field and left to die, unwanted.”

9. God comes to us in our abandonment. He is our Helper!
Ezekiel 16: 4-7: “But I came by and saw you lying there, covered with your own blood.”

10. God calls us to Life and declares His opinion of us. He values us!
Ezekiel 16: 7 “…and I said, ‘Live! Thrive, like a plant in the field!’ And you did! You grew up and became…a jewel among jewels.”

11. God planned who our biological and adoptive parents would be. He is Lord!
Psalm 139:16: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

12. God’s love is deeper than any rejection life can throw at you! He engraved our names on His hands!
Isaiah 49: 15-16: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will never forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

13. God experienced rejection. He will walk with us if we are rejected! John 1:11: “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”

14. God holds unanswered adoption questions in His loving hands. He is trust worthy! Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

15. God offers adoptees an awesome legacy. He wants to be our Father! Psalm 68:5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.”

16. God promises to hear even the faintest cry of the orphan. He is sensitive!
Exodus 22:22-24: “Do not take advantage of a widow or orphan. If you do, and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.”

17. God preserves the orphan’s life. He is our Protector! Jeremiah 49:11: “Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives.”

18. God has a unique plan for the orphan in human history. He is Sovereign! Esther 2:15: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

19. God thinks highly of those who help orphans. He considers it worship!
James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

20. God gladdens the orphan’s heart with the bounty of Providence. He is our Provider! Deuteronomy 24: 17a, 19: “Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice…” When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

21. God opposes unjust laws concerning the fatherless. He is our Advocate!
Isaiah 10:1-2: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and rob my oppressed people of justice, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”

22. God cares tenderly for birth mothers. He is close to the broken hearted!
Genesis 21: 16b-19: “And as she (Hagar) sat there nearby, she began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.”

23. God wants us to offer our broken lives to Him. He sings over us when we do!
II Chronicles 29:29: “And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also, with trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by King David of Israel.”

24. God told Abraham to let go of contentious birth relatives. He wants us to press on! Genesis 21:11: “The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said, ‘Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maid servant into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

© 2019 Sherrie Eldridge. No reproduction without permission.

 

How Often Do Adoptees Think About Their Birth Parents?

Do I Dare Tell My Parents This?

I have yet to meet an adoptee who can honestly claim to have never thought about his or her birth mother, especially on birthdays. In fact, a survey of more than 100 adoptees from the All-Adoptee Online group (all-adoptees@yahoogroups.com) confirm that many think of their birth mothers daily.

It’s no wonder. Just think about how intimately we were united with the woman who gave us birth! What a connection we had for at least nine months. An inseparable bond. As inseparable as tea from hot water. As inseparable as a bud from the stem of a flower. As inseparable as the ocean from the sand.

Renowned author John Bowlby says that the mother is the hub of life.1

Author and physician Peter Nathananielz says that much of the way our bodies work is molded and solidified during our time in the womb and that there are critical periods during prenatal development when our cells and organs decide how they will behave for the rest of our lives.2 Just think…at the very moment of conception, our entire genetic code was established that determined our sex and the color of our hair and eyes. At three weeks we had a beating heart, and at forty days detectable brain waves.

Perhaps even more fascinating is a phenomenon that goes on between a mother and her unborn child that absolutely boggled my mind when I learned about it.

Our First Conversations with Her

Who do you think was the first person with whom you had a conversation?

Would you believe it was your birth mother?

And where and when do you think it might have happened?

This is the mind-boggling part —in the womb!

Dr. Thomas Verny says that during the last three months of pregnancy, and especially the last two, we are mature enough physically and intellectually to send and receive fairly sophisticated messages to and from our mothers. Our mothers set the pace, provide the cues, and actually mold our responses.3

What messages did we get from our birth mothers? I believe it all depended on her attitude toward us. If we heard, “I love you and am so glad you’re a part of me. I will do all that I can to help you develop into the person you were created to be. I can’t wait to see you. I will welcome you into the world in a way more wonderful than you can possibly imagine,” our response was certainly positive. We would have thrived on it. “Oh, Mommy,” our little pre-verbal minds might have “said,” “I love you so much and I can’t wait to be born so that I can suckle at your breasts and be held in your arms.”

On the other hand, what if we heard, “I don’t want you. I don’t even like you. In fact, I think of you as an ‘it,’ and frankly, I can’t wait to get rid of you. I wish I could”?

Our little minds may have responded like this: “All alone. All alone. Hurts so bad. No one will ever take care of me. I must ‘buck up’ and be strong so I can survive. Be strong. Be strong. Tense up. Be on guard so I won’t be tortured like this again.”

This kind of message to us would be unimaginably painful. Author Judith Viorst likens it to being doused with oil and set on fire.4  But it’s a subconscious pain. Dr. Arthur Janov says that this kind of pain is “not like a pinch where we yell ‘ouch,’ shake our fingers, and in a few minutes get over it. Instead, it’s like being pinched so hard you cannot feel it, so that the pain goes on forever because it is continually being processed below the level of conscious awareness. It doesn’t mean it is not there doing its damage — it just means that it is too much to feel.”5

Some of us can identify with those negative conversations, and many of them are still playing in our heads even though they were communicated so many years ago. Some of us feel at a primal level that we need her love and welcoming attitude in order to survive.

I know for a fact that I didn’t have my birth mother’s love from day one, yet by grace, I am a survivor. As my husband always says, “From some people you learn what to do and from others you learn what not to do.” Out of the rejection communicated to me from my mother when I was yet unborn eventually came the awareness that I was forever wanted by someone. Marvelous and miraculous things occurred while I was in the womb, being knit together cell by cell, bone by bone, and tissue by tissue.

Whatever the case, whether conversations with our birth mothers were positive or painful, prenatal experiences are encoded in our bodies, souls, and spirits, resulting in questions and thoughts that pop into our minds, often unexpectedly, throughout our lives.

Our First Thoughts About Her

Folks who aren’t adopted are often amazed at how early some of us think about our birth mothers, especially when I tell the story about the adopted girl who asked her mom prior to her third birthday party if her “lady” was coming. The mother asked what lady she was talking about. Her daughter answered, “The lady I grew inside. It’s my birthday, isn’t it?”7

Cheri Freeman thought about her origins at an early age also. She told herself stories at age three or four about how her birth parents missed her and how happy they would be to finally meet her.

Joe Soll, C.S.W., psychotherapist and author of Adoption Healing: A Path to Recovery, says that from the moment he knew he was adopted at age four, there has never been a day that he hasn’t thought about his birth mom.

Frieda Moore found comfort when hurting by imagining her birth mother coming to find and rescue her, taking her home to live with her forever.

Pam Hasegawa, a fifty-nine-year-old adoptee advocate, says that when she had the lead in a play, she remembers thinking, “If she could only see me now! Would she be proud of me?”

Where did those positive attitudes come from? Could they have begun in the womb?

And what about those of us who have negative attitudes?

Laurie, even as a young child, worried that her birth mother must be struggling and depressed. Others of us didn’t begin to think about our birth mothers until we hit puberty and shot up to six feet tall even though both our adoptive parents were short.

Shirley Reynolds says that when she became a teen, she realized that she looked much different than her adoptive family. This propelled her into a fantasy world where her mother would be dark-haired and petite, like Shirley. And of course, she would be beautiful!

Some adoptees claim to never think about their birth mothers.

Sally says that she feels guilty because she doesn’t think about hers, knowing that so many other adoptees do.

Sally is not alone.

Many don’t think about their birth mothers for various reasons, but the predominant reason is usually shame. Shame is that awful feeling, not that we have done something wrong, but that something is inherently wrong with us as a person.

How about hearing your adoptive mother talk derogatively about the twenty-one-year-old down the street who was unmarried and pregnant, raving about how much shame she brought to her family? Connie Dawson heard this message at the tender age of ten as her mother delivered a veiled message that Connie herself was shameful and shouldn’t be “bad,” like her birth mother was.

Or how about Sue who struggles with a haunting belief that something dreadful must lurk within her, which if found out by her adoptive parents, would cause them to bolt from her?

Her Lifelong Impact

Whether positive or negative, and whether we like it or not, our birth mothers are a forever part of us. How we choose to respond to that reality will deeply influence the course of our lives.

Author Louise Kaplan says that in the death of a parent (which I believe can be likened to adoption separation), the dialogue between parent and child continues within the child and that the child remains attached in profound ways to that dialogue throughout life.8

When my dad died, one of his friends said to me, “You never lose your parents. They are always a part of you.” In my grief, I was rather skeptical, but since that time I have found it to be true. For instance, after every meal, Dad, in a mischievous way, picked up the unused silverware saying, “This one’s clean!” We’d all laugh and say, “Yeah, Dad!” Over the years it became an endearing behavior, and in the years since his death, whenever I pick up clean silverware after a meal, I think of him and smile.

What About Our Birth Fathers?

We have examined a very important part of our existence —our birth mothers. But what about our birth fathers? Did they have no influence?

Last time I checked the books on reproduction, it takes two to make a baby.

Thoughts About Our Birth Parents Are Innate

When I was almost finished with the final draft of this book I talked with a reunited birth father who adored his daughter but who had been rejected by her. His heart was breaking as he wept while telling me that he would do anything to have a meaningful father-daughter relationship.

Do many birth fathers feel the same way? Would they want a relationship with us if they had an opportunity? Do they feel the loss of us to the same degree that birth mothers usually do? As we do?

As I’ve said, I believe that adoption can be likened to a big door. Over the top of the door is written “Birth Mother,” for our thoughts about her usually come first. It is often after we have gone through the adoption door that we find the words “Birth Father” written on the other side.

Ron Hilliard, of Palm Beach Heights, Florida, focused mainly on his birth mother and blocked out thoughts of his birth father because his father didn’t want to marry his mother and also urged her to have an abortion. Ron’s search for his birth mother ended in a cemetery and he is now looking at the back of the adoption door and wondering who his father is—and who he is as a result. This curiosity is being fueled by the fact that Ron has a fraternal twin brother who resembles his birth mother’s photos, while Ron doesn’t. This makes him wonder who he does resemble.

Some of us see the words “birth father” first on the adoption door.

Richard Curtis says that the loss of his birth father was the first loss of a male figure in his life, followed by the loss of his adoptive father when he was only five years old. As a result, Richard had no male role models and was left with what he terms a “father hunger” that he believes many adoptees experience. Like Ron, Richard’s search for his birth father ended at a tombstone. However, after finding people who knew his father prior to his death, Richard can see that many of the choices and behaviors he has made in life closely parallel his birth father’s.

Crystal speaks of father hunger by calling it a “void” that colors her relationships with men and keeps her longing for a daddy even though she is forty years old. A friend recently asked her what she would do if she ever found him. To Crystal the answer was simple —“I’d quit my job, move in with him, and have him take care of me.” She then added, “I am joking… but not really.”

When our curiosity is aroused, our speculations about him increase. What kind of a person was/is he? Did he refuse any responsibility and abandon our birth mother, as in the case of Laurie? Out of deep hurt, she says she prejudged him as a jerk because he chose not to marry her mom or encourage her to keep her baby. She is actually happy that she doesn’t have to know him.

To Issie, her birth father is a non-issue. A few years ago she thought briefly about trying to locate him, but her fear of rejection was too strong. In addition, she has no proof, short of DNA, of who her father is.

Then there’s the nasty subject of incest. Sheila says that her birth father is her mother’s stepdad. She’s glad he died before she met her birth family because she doesn’t know how she would react to him. She’s accepted that he’s a part of her, yet she can’t comprehend his deplorable actions.

Dawn Saphir, twenty-seven, born in Seoul, Korea, and adopted at six months of age by a Caucasian family, says that based on what she’s learned of Korean culture at the time of her birth, she doesn’t have a lot of positive feelings about who her birth father may have been.

Some of our birth fathers may be completely ignorant of the fact that we even exist.

How might our lives have been different had they been informed?

Karen says that she feels a great tenderness for the father who never knew about her. “He never had the chance to ‘give me up,’” she explains. “He never had the chance to know he was a father.”

Renee says that she had the amazing experience of finding her birth father recently and that the hardest part was discovering that he never even knew her birth mother was pregnant.

As I finish this section, I am reminded of my own birth father. Even as I write, he doesn’t seem real, for I have never met him, nor do I have any hope of meeting him because my birth mother refuses to reveal his identity. I know, however, that he is a forever part of me because I am always searching for him, even on an unconscious level. For me, this searching didn’t really begin until after I met my birth mother.

The only things my birth mother has told me about my father are that he was “a very nice man” and that he was tall and had red hair. I never knew where my oldest daughter, Lisa, got her beautiful red hair, but now I do. When I look at her, I often wonder about him.

Not long ago I sat next to an attractive elderly gentleman on a plane. Guess what my first thought was? I wonder if he could be my dad.

I had a dad in the growing-up years that loved me dearly and whom I dearly loved. But I also have another dad out there somewhere who may not even know I exist. I long to know him. I long to look into his eyes and have him wrap his arms around me.

Our Dual Identity

If we were created from the very fiber of our birth parents’ physical and emotional beings, don’t you think our need to think about them would be innate? If we had primal conversations with our mother in the womb, wouldn’t you say it is natural for us to think about her as we are growing up and growing old? And if our birth father’s DNA helped determine the color of our hair and eyes, wouldn’t you say that he is just as much a part of us as our mother and it is normal to want a relationship with him?

Wherever we are in the spectrum of perceptions about our birth parents, we must rest assured that our thoughts are normal. They are part of the fiber of our being. Part of the package of being adopted. It’s all about our identity… our dual identity.  Most of all, it’s about establishing an unshakeable identity by integrating all the parts of who we are.

So what must we do for ourselves? What healthy choice must we make to move closer toward who we were created toward an unshakeable identity?

OUR CHOICE

To give ourselves permission to think about and discuss openly our birth parents, especially to our adoptive parents.

Giving ourselves permission to let natural thoughts surface reminds me of when I am getting sick. I feel nausea and the urge to toss my cookies. I hate that more than anything, so I concentrate on something else so that I won’t. But when I finally let myself think about the possibility, up comes my lunch, followed by an incredible feeling of relief. A similar sensation often results when we allow ourselves to freely think about our birth parents. The urge to do so is really unstoppable.

Copyright. This is a chapter from 20 LIFE-TRANSFORMING CHOICES ADOPTEES NEED TO MAKE book. Order here: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Transforming-Choices-Adoptees-Need-Second/dp/1849057745/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=httpwwwsherri-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=VIS57OKN6TFQ5FOO&creativeASIN=1849057745