The Monkey on the Adoptee's Back is Fear of Rejection

I AM TERRIFIED OF REJECTION Online Adoptee Bible Study

Fear of rejection is like a monkey on the backs of many adopted kids, teens, and adults. Most tend to see rejection when none was intended. The turning around instead of being face to face. An unanswered text. Being stood up for a date with a first parent.

Is this a permanent disability? Will adopted kids ever get over it? Can they throw the monkey off their back?

Only with hard personal work can we heal.  However, healing doesn’t mean that the tendency goes away. No. It means that we aren’t triggered by it anymore.

It is possible! I’m writing a book about it right now.

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So, on to our friend, Moses.

The Story of Moses 

Exodus 3 

Since God had seen every part of Moses, he fully expected God’s bar of justice to come down on him hard. It seemed certain to Moses that God would declare him guilty for killing the Egyptian and therefore worthy only of rejection. 

This fear of rejection came from the primal wound of separation from Moses’ birth mother. No matter how loving the adoption plan, the disappearance of the birth mother translates to the baby as rejection. The infant carries this into all of life’s relationships. Moses’ fear of rejection also came from guilt—true guilt, for Moses truly had sinned when he murdered the Egyptian. In fact, he pursued a sinful lifestyle because he hadn’t loved God with his whole being every moment of every day. 

Much to Moses’ surprise, God revealed a specific plan for his life. A plan that would relieve the suffering of the Israelites and give them freedom. “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt” (v. 10). 

Could it be? Could it really be that God could and would use me to help accomplish his will?” Moses may have said to himself. 

All of a sudden Moses’ mind flooded with fear. 

Have you ever wondered if the reason your birth mother relinquished you was because 

you were a bad baby? Explain. 

How Moses Saw God 

Moses may have thought that God was “the big fly swatter in the sky,” knocking you down whenever you do wrong.” Moses had an incredibly guilty conscience. More than anything, he needed forgiveness for his sins. Moses couldn’t provide it for himself. If it were possible, he would have done it long ago. He had come into the presence of Jehovah-Jireh, which means, “The Lord will provide.” It is a testimony to God’s deliverance from sin. What Moses didn’t know was that God required that the blood of an unblemished lamb be shed for the forgiveness of sins. The sinner would slay the lamb, take it to the high priest, who would then take it into the tabernacle and ask forgiveness from God. Years after Moses died, God himself, in the Person of his Son, became the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1: 29)! 

How You See God

Please refer to the list of Names for Jesus in Scripture in Appendix B and list three to five names for God that stand out to you. It will be encouraging to look back when finished with the workbook and see how your perception has grown!

You can record your words here:


Learning about Adoption 

Robert S. McGee, Pat Springle and Jim Craddock write in Your Parents and You, “For better or for worse, parents represent God to their children. A child’s emotional and spiritual foundations are to be provided by them. Most of all, parents are to model the love and strength of God to their children. They are responsible for portraying his reliability, his unconditional love, his acceptance and his purposeful discipline.” 

Putting My Feelings and Needs Into Words 

  1. Do you “read” rejection into circumstances and relationships when there is none intended? (Example: a closed door for a part in a play, an unanswered telephone call or letter, your mail icon on your computer indicates you have no mail.) Name specific circumstances when this has occurred. 

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  1. What would you feel like if you, like Moses, met God personally? Would you feel guilty or peaceful? Why? 

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  1. Do you ever reject others before they can reject you? If so, give examples.

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Writing a Letter TO and FROM My Birth Mother 

  • Write a letter TO your birth mother about your fear of rejection, if you struggle with this. If not, write her about what was meaningful to you in this chapter. 
  • Write a letter FROM your birth mother, expressing feelings and thoughts you believe she may want to convey to you. 

 Letters TO and FROM My Birth Mother



Digging Deep for Answers to my Adoption Questions 

  1. Read John 1:11. Who in this verse experienced rejection from family? How does this make you feel? 

  1. What is the antidote to the fear of rejection and the need to be perfect? See I John 4:18.

  1. Where can you find this antidote? See Jeremiah 31:3.

  1. Read Isaiah 41:9-10. What is the message adoptees need to hear when afraid of rejection?

  1. What is the “take away” from this chapter? How will your life change?

Thoughts, Insights, Goals and Prayers 


A close companion of the fear of rejection is a struggle with self-esteem. We will cover that topic next. 

 

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I Wonder If God Expects Me to Be Perfect

“I Push Myself to Be Perfect” Online Adoptee Bible Study

The Scripture Base for Moses’ Life

Exodus 3:4-6

 4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Story of Moses 

“Since this God knows my nationality and my name, what else does he know about me?” Moses might have thought. “Does he know that I killed an Egyptian and buried him in the sand? I have done all I could do to make up for that. I have tried to live a good life. I have literally driven myself to be the best shepherd, father and husband possible.” 

This was the perfection Moses sought and this was the “persona” he projected to everyone he knew. However, in spite of all his efforts, Moses had a pervasive feeling that he was never doing well enough or being good enough. This was the part of his personality he guarded with his life. This was the real Moses. The accompanying emotions were so intense that he felt like running away. Rage. Resentment. Fear. Anxiety. 

  1. Do you think Moses was aware that he behaved in ways that weren’t in line with who he really was? That he acted the opposite of how he felt on the inside? 

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  1. Do you think Moses thought he had to be perfect before God would accept him and use him? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

How Moses Saw God 

Moses was getting to know God as El-Roi–the God who sees all. He had yet to learn that the God that sees all looks through a lens of mercy. 

How You See God

Please refer to the list of Names for Jesus in Scripture in Appendix B and list three to five names for God that stand out to you. It will be encouraging to look back when finished with the workbook and see how your perception has grown!

You can record your words here:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How Other Adoptees Feel 

Check the statements with which you agree and explain why you checked them on the lines that follow: 

  • I have mile-high walls of defenses. 
  • I try to do everything perfectly so that others won’t reject me. 
  • My repressed emotions are so powerful that whenever I get close to accessing them in therapy, I shut down. 
  • Others have trouble “reading me.” 
  • I am the greatest actor/actress in the world. 
  • I became super-wife, super-mom and super-woman to keep my pain at bay. 
  • I have gone through life at the speed of a shining bullet. 
  • I ought to do better. 
  • I am never pleased with myself. 
  • I followed the path of “the good adopted son.” 
  • I need to know that God has a plan for my life—that I have a role to play in history. 

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Learning about Adoption 

What are Super You and Real You? Super You is a false idealized image you think you have to be in order to be loved and accepted. Super You is an imaginary picture of yourself. Since you have been programmed to believe that no one will love you if he gets to know the real you, you strive to become Super You, to gain love and acceptance. This distortion extends even to God, who is Absolute Perfection, who demands perfection, and to whom you must somehow present only your good side. You must let God see only Super You, not Real You.”

–Healing for Damaged Emotions by David Seamands

While inside I struggled, outside I strained to present a status-quo face. I wore J. Crew, cooked nutritious meals, went to Mommy and Me, clenched my teeth, and tried to keep it together. I was living what Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls ‘the grinning depression.’

“Many Hands: An Adoptee’s Healing Journey,” 

in Roots & Wings magazine by Marcy Axness

I was an NFL player, tough and mean, built up like a marble statue, cavalier and confident, a man’s man. I guess I was those things, but at the same time, of course, I was still the boy who would cry himself to sleep over the tragic ending of a book.

A Man and His Mother: An ADOPTED Son’s Search 

by Tim Green, Fox-TV Sports host and best-selling author

Putting my Feelings and Needs into Words 

  1. Do you think God loves imperfect people? Why or why not? 

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  1. Do you condemn yourself for no reason? Explain. 

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  1. Are you willing to ask God if he has a special plan for your life?

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  1. Do you dread condemnation from God? If so, for what?

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  1. Do you compare yourself to others? If so, who and when? 

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  1. Do you project an “I-have-it-all-together” image to others, yet feel depressed inwardly? Explain. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 
  1. List some of the ways you project yourself as having it “all together.”

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  1. Are you depressed on the inside but grinning on the outside? 

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Writing a Letter TO and FROM My Birth Mother 

  • Write a letter TO your birth mother about your need to be perfect. 
  • Write a letter FROM your birth mother as she discovers your need to hide your true feelings. 
  •  

My Birth Mother

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Digging Deep for Answers to My Adoption Questions 

  1. What does God desire from you? See Psalm 51:6 for your answer. 

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  1. What does the Bible say about comparing ourselves to others? See II Corinthians 10:12-13, 17-18. 

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  1. Read Romans 5:8. When did God show his love for you the very most? 

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  1. With your left hand, draw of picture of Real You and Super You.
  1. What life-transforming truth have you learned this week and how will it make a difference in the days ahead? 

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Thoughts, Insights, Goals and Prayers 

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As adoptees, we may succeed at times by presenting a confident, picture-perfect life to others. However, beneath the veneer of perfectionism is a strong fear of rejection. We will talk about that next. 

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