Who can even guess what the upcoming Christmas and Hanukah family celebrations will be like? If the gathering is virtual, it takes much pressure off adopted children. They can feel safe from being overstimulated. No matter whether virtual or physical. many adopted kids have a rough time.
I’ve written these questions for you to share with them prior to gatherings. The questions are designed to show you how they may be struggling. When you read it together, the adopted child realizes you know how he/she feels and empathy flows between you. Openness about hard truths is always best!
- Do you feel like you don’t belong in your family?
This is the concept of fitting in, but you can’t. You feel like a square peg in a round hole? Of course you don’t fit in. It gets back to DNA. It’s as simple as that–different biologies from your adoptive family. Different is not a bad thing, but good. You are definitely your own person. So, when you feel out of place, remember you’re not alone. Here’s a challenge: consider the seven million fellow adoptees in the U.S. feel the same way. Consider us your peeps at family gatherings?
- Do family gatherings make you hyper, like non-stop talking and activity?
When I was a teen, I punched by fist through the upper section of Mom’s fridge. This was during a party with friends at our home. I don’t know what happened after that, but it was a high stress time, nonetheless. At that point in my life, I hated my adoptive Mom. Her presence felt like scraping long fingernails over a blackboard. I didn’t show my anger directly. Instead, I scratched messages on their fine furniture. Would you believe my parents didn’t throw the fine furniture away?
- Do you ever believe that you’re weird?
When I had lunch with two fellow-adoptee friends who are very healthy, I asked them, “Do you still feel weird?” Smiles, nodding affirmation, and trying to laugh at ourselves. It truly is possible to laugh at ourselves and make an awesome life with healthy choices.
- When you gather for large family gatherings, do you feel sad or mixed up inside?
Everyone else is happy on Christmas, right? And, they expect that you should be also. However, when you see your adoptive adoptive family members connect with one another in meaningful ways, you wonder if life would have been beautiful if you were with your first family and that you weren’t adopted. Their happiness is a reminder of all you lost prior to adoption.
My Gift for Fellow-Adoptees–YOU ARE NORMAL! “If you identified with all of the above, rest assured that it’s normal. YOU are normal. When I considered writing this letter to you, I saw the word “NORMAL” overwriting all the experiences listed.
What Adoptees Can Do
- Get a tablet and start writing your story.
- Keep telling yourself that the horrific trauma has passed and that you’re safe now. ”That was then, this is now.”
- Call a fellow adoptee friend during the holiday and use this letter informally while talking.
- Write to me! I’d love to hear how the holiday celebrations go for you–you can respond at the end of this letter. I love each one of you more than words can express.
What Adoptive Parents Can Do
- Take good care of yourselves!
- Watch podcast from Mighty Oaks Foundation Show @mightyoaksprograms.org: The name of the podcast is I AM SECOND. It is the story of Chad Robichaux, a Marine who suffered severe PTSD. When I heard his story, I thought of adoptive parents who have PTSD from living in a war zone. I literally had to stop the car and listen…it is so compelling. It will illustrate what hard work recovery is, but also give hope that recovery is possible.
What First Parents Can Do
- Read Lysa Terquest’s book: FORGIVING WHAT WE CAN’T FORGET: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create A Life That’s Beautiful Again. https://tinyurl.com/yarnv3yp