Why I’m “Pro-Adoption”

I am 100% pro-adoption. In order to communicate this, I’m using two words: relinquishment and adoption. When the First Mother signs off parenting rights, the term “relinquished” is apropos. This word refers to pre-adoption pain and trauma. However, when your child is placed, this is adoption, and it is positive, for it provides a forever home for an orphaned child. Of course, there are bad actors amongst adoptive and foster parents. But, adoption itself is positive. Adoption doesn’t mean a certain set of societal professions arrange it, but instead, it means that the homeless child is legally placed in a home where parenting is provided. For example, the adoption can be a lawyer(s) arranging the legalities, family members stepping up to parent, or foster parents adopting through DCS.

Yes, the existing systems are filled with brokenness and fraud, but do we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater? Some encourage completely doing away with adoption. Really? Do away with the homes orphaned kids receive? They say that it’s the “painful part” of adoption they want to eliminate, but can we eliminate the realities of life itself?

Some advocate eliminating adoption, but are they understanding what that really means? Do they have any idea how that thought might impact those that entered their family through adoption. Are they not chipping away at the tender self worth of many adoptees? This concerns me.

What must be understood is that there is a difference between adoption and relinquishment. Dr. Ron Nydam was the first to pioneer this understanding decades ago. Newer generations must embrace it.

Here are some definitions:

  1. Adoption: 

Define: The action or fact of legally taking another’s child and bringing it up as one’s own, or the fact of being adopted.

Synonyms: assumption, assuming, taking on, acquiring, acquisition, affecting, affectation, espousal, advocacy, promotion, appropriation, arrogation, selection, choosing, choice, voting in, election, electing, naming, nominating, nomination, designation, designating, appointment, appointing

  1. Relinquishment:

Define: Voluntarily cease to keep or claim; give up.

Synonyms: renounce, give up, part with, give away, hand over, turn over, lay down, let go of, waive, resign, abdicate, yield, cede, surrender, leave, resign from, stand down from, bow out of, walk out of, retire from, give up, depart from, vacate, pull out of, abandon, abdicate
discontinue, stop, cease, give up, drop, desist from.

Personally, I am grateful that I was adopted. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be here. There are many other adoptees that would agree. When I look at adoption, I remember that in the midst of the brokenness and evil is God’s promise to “work all things together for the good of those who love Him and live according to His plan.” We all groan in the brokenness but have much to look forward to–our Heavenly Home with Jesus.


Adoptees Suffer Phantom Pain

Adoptive and foster parents, would you consider the possibility of phantom pain in regard to your adopted child’s relinquishment wound? A great example of an amputee with phantom pain is Amy Purdy, the Olympian whose legs were amputated from the knees down. The location of pain for an amputee is the body, brain, and spirit. The amputee’s pain feels like shooting, stabbing, cramping, pins and needles. Just recently, Amy underwent another surgery and vividly describes the reality of phantom pain that feels like it’s coming from her lower legs. It’s like they’re still there. Imagine yourselves approaching Amy? What would you say? Would you ask if she could still feel them, even though they’re gone?  What questions would you ask?

Like Amy or wartime amputees, your child lost a living part of herself–the living, DNA connection to the beloved First Mother and Father. First Mother was the Sun and the Moon. The First Father was the safe Home we always would long for. Even though we’re mad as hell at them for going on with life without parenting us, we still love them. The adopted child’s pain shoots like pins and needles on birthdays, entering new situations, and feelings of not belonging in the adoptive family.

Even though adopted or foster children may not act like they miss the First Mother or Father, somewhere, deep down, they do.  It is there, parents, even though you can’t witness its presence or influence. Many adopted children believe the First Mother and Father are still there, living  in a castle far away. These fantasies may serve as transitional objects, just like a binky or little blanket. They help the adoptee stay connected with the First Mother, who then stays alive inside that fantasy. (Please check out my book: FOREVER FINGERPRINTS: An Amazing Discovery for Adopted Children. (https://www.amazon.com/Forever-Fingerprints-Amazing-Discovery-Children/dp/0972624430)

Take a deep breath, parents. What if you shared the concepts from this post about adoptee phantom pain with your adopted/foster child? Not right now, but when the time seems opportune? Would you be too scared to share? Would you be able to self-regulate into new awareness of your child’s relinquishment pain?Would you be tongue tied? Remember, that your child is already suffering, even though he may not realize it or speak about it. Your child suffered this amputation long before you laid eyes on her. You see, most of us adoptees literally ache for reunion with First Parents, if only we could see their faces, maybe we wouldn’t feel adopted anymore, or maybe all life’s issues would disappear?

I am going to make this bold statement and you are welcome to disagree. ALL adopted and foster children have amputee pain, even though it may not seem so for many decades. Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. helps us to understand how shutting down in the present comes about in his epic book, THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. He states, “…trauma is expressed not only in fight or flight but also as shutting down and failing to engage in the present.”

Your child is delicate and defensive. Is it any wonder? If you’d suffered amputation, you would be, too. Yes, you may have suffered the loss of unborn babies and infertility…but this different, and even if you did suffer those losses, we expect you’ll do your own work before you meet us. That’s the least we can ask of you.

Parents, I’d like to propose these ideas for recognizing your child’s amputee pain:

  1. Remember your child suffered amputation before you ever entered the scene.
  2. The First Parents are much alive in your child’s brain, soul, and body.
  3. Your child is defensive because the pain is unapproachable. 
  4. Your child is a hero for living with such pain.
  5. Bring a rose in honor of your child’s First Parents when child is feeling the pain.

When you meet adoptees, we’ve just come from a funeral. (Credit: Rebecca Vahle)…And you want to celebrate?

Please don’t?

Using Anger to Overcome Life's Obstacles

What Made Me A Kick-Ass Adoptee

Adoptees and foster kids have every right to be angry. We’ve been kicked around, abandoned, misrepresented, ignored, shunned, marginalized, orphaned, and sent away with few belongings in a black trash bag. 

Hell yes, adoptees are angry! Excuse my French…I’m just a veteran adoptee, finally free from anger’s choking grip, and ready to hunt bear on behalf of my fellow adoptees and foster kids who believe that their anger might be a life sentence.

Up until now, most adoptees have believed there’s no hope for resolving overwhelming and uncontrollable anger issues. They accept “I’m just an angry person” misbelief.  Many adoption agencies hid the topic of our anger, hoping eager, naive, prospective parents won’t find out about it before homecoming day. Truth be told, the majority of adoptive and foster parents are terrified of adoptee anger, for they can’t spank it away, teach it away, woo it away, or love it away. It’s no wonder adoptees haven’t learned to find freedom from anger issues. The solution wasn’t in sight.

However, I’ve found the solution and am leading the pack toward freedom for anyone that wants to follow. Stick with me, okay? Hold on tight, grip the saddle, and prepare for a ride you never knew existed. As you might have surmised, this will not be a feel-good read. No warm fuzzies or heart shaped emojis. No steaming bedtime tea and cookies. 

What I’d like to share today? Anger is a gift, not a curse.

For parents: Validating anger helps your child develop deeper self-awareness.

And…adoptee anger must be validated. Parents, jump in here…ask your child about the following anger items:

  1. I have a right to be angry.
  2. We’re all angry because we’re all hurt.
  3. It’s not our fault.
  4. My first family kicked me to the side of the road and went on with life.
  5. My parents don’t “get it.”
  6. Crude comments are true expressions of my identity.
  7. My non-adopted friends aren’t as angry as me.
  8. I don’t belong in either family–first or adoptive.
  9. I’m not aware of my anger most of the time, but others are.
  10. Will i ever get control of my anger?
  11. Is there any hope for me? 

Write to me here, fellow adoptees!


The Unwanted Adversarial Relationship

How One Adoptee Got Triggered

Specific present-day circumstances can trigger my profound wound of losing Elizabeth, my first Mom. What I’m about to share is personal and I’m asking that you’ll read with mercy and grace. I hope this post will be helpful to both adoptive parents and fellow adoptees who struggle with abandonment and rejection issues. Perhaps, for these, the flow of painful memories might be uncontrollable. And, these painful memories become triggers that cause a meltdown or shut down.

While vacationing in Florida, my husband, adult daughter, and I stopped at a sketchy CVS for a pit stop. I was the one in need, so the other two said they’d wait in the car. “I’ll be right back, ” I said while rushing off. I ran in, did my business and rushed out to the car, expecting to resume our  journey of errands together. But, she I returned, there was no one there. My heart raced as I visually surveyed the parking lot. Maybe I was looking in the wrong car for them? Maybe they’d decided to resume errands and would come back to pick me up? So, I stood alone on the porch of CVS and waited. I started holding my breath. Maybe I should look in our rental car again? I did. It was empty. I felt numb from head to foot. I didn’t see my options. I could have texted, but I didn’t have my phone. Even if I had, the thought wouldn’t enter my mind.  Then, one more entrance into CVS. It would be safer there than standing outside.

Suddenly, my husband peeked at me from an aisle cap. His smile was downright irritating. He smiled, which really ticked me off. Why would he be smiling at such a distressing moment? Then, I screamed, “ Where were you? I thought you forgot about me!”  Both husband and daughter called out: ”I will never forget about you,” as they rushed to my side for an embrace. Needless to say, I was emotionally absent after this, even though we made a stop at TJs and Homegoods. Later, I asked how they perceived the event. My husband said that I appeared angry. Perhaps so, but I didn’t feel angry.  I felt abandoned, forgotten, and left behind.  It’s taken me weeks to process this. At the time, I couldn’t remember anything.

This is living proof that my adoption is a lifelong journey. Healing from my past doesn’t mean that the slate of past memories will be wiped clean. Instead, it means that I can walk through present day triggers and not be emotionally devastated. I can also see life through restored lenses, which is pure joy.

Types of Adoptee Triggers

So, for the parents reading this, here is what triggered me. Because adoptees are unique, everyone’s triggers will conform to the trauma they’ve endured. 

  1. Strange Places

Healing from my past doesn’t mean that the slate of memories will be wiped clean. Instead, it means that I can walk past present day triggers and not be emotionally devastated. This is a common trigger for adopted kids of all ages. New school, geographical move, new homeroom.

  1.  DNA Expectations

As a newborn, my DNA was wired to expect that my first Mom would be happy to see my face. I was looking forward to nursing at her breasts. Most people, adopted or not, find this relationship with the mother to be foundational for life. We were created to have biological mothers.

  1. Sudden Absence of Loved One

Newborn Sherrie’s biological mom gave orders that she didn’t want to see my face or know my sex. Thus, she was whisked away, never to be contacted for 47 years. She disappeared, just like my husband and daughter did on the Florida vacation.

  1. No Way to Find Loved One

On the Florida vacation, I couldn’t find my husband and daughter, no matter how hard I seemingly tried. After my birth, my brain and body began to search for my first Mom. It took 47 years to find her, but I did.

What Parents Can Do

  1. Don’t try to fix your kids when they’re experiencing a trigger. You can’t. Be respectfully quiet and listen.
  2. Don’t touch. We’re in so much pain when we get triggered that we’ll push you away.
  3. Regulate yourself.
  4. Continually practice self-care.
  5. Read: THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE–Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel Vanderkolk, M.D. (Order here: https://amzn.to/3nXUPRI)

Identifying With Fellow Adoptee Anne With An “E”

Being an adopted person is quite an adventure. Just ask Anne of Green Gables, or Anne with An E and her adoptive parents. I have been meaning to write a blog post about them for months. Whenever I have spare time, I slip away and watch the main character, Anne, authentically played by Amybeth McNutty, live life as an adoptee with her adoptive parents. There are many similarities between Anne and myself. Anne’s past was painful because her parents died prematurely and she was placed in a horrible orphanage, where she was teased and abused. Fortunately, she was adopted nine years later.

Most adoptive parents will identify with the challenges of raising an adopted child. The mother and father were brother and sister and childless. They made typical mistakes, but their challenges were magnified because of no backstory, no parental training or education, and no awareness that parenting an adopted child is taxing, to say the least. Anne really got on their nerves in the beginning, with her hyper-excitement and boldness in relationships.

I was much like Anne today. Much to my husband’s dismay, I bought a beautiful flowering plant with vivid red blossoms. There were already nice spring plants on our porch, but this one would be a show stopper. When I carried it through the front door from the car, my emotions were sky high. I felt like I was floating. I said to husband, “This is going to be so beautiful on our porch! I have wanted a plant like this all my life.” Did you catch the enthusiasm? Did you see what was seemingly exaggeration? Let it be known that I wasn’t exaggerating. I was revealing my true heart. Whenever anyone gifts me or whenever I’m appreciated for who I am, I am so full of joy that it seems I must burst. Yes, this is because I am a child of trauma, but yes, this is who I am as adopted person. Perhaps the level of my emotion correlates with the depth of my painful past? So, my husband, who’s had 55 years living with an adopted person, gently said, “Well, I’m glad you got what you’ve always wanted.” He loves me for who I am.

Characteristics of Anne of Green Gables

I’m going to provide some characteristics of Anne and perhaps adoptive parents can use as talking points to draw children in.

  1. Large Fantasy Life: Anne was able to dream dreams like crazy. She envisioned her outdoor hut in the woods where she and her friends would congregate. Also, when she found her adoptive mom’s wedding veil tucked neatly in a drawer, she quickly removed it and put it on her head, dreaming that someday she would be a bride. This is characteristic for children of trauma-it’s the way they can live in the present without thinking about the painful past. But, in the long run, this fantasy life, with work, can transform into a rare imagination that is sometimes manifested in art and writing. A resource for you is my children’s book FOREVER FINGERPRINTS: AN AMAZING DISCOVERY FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN. Find it at my author page: https://amzn.to/32PDctB
  2. Highly Excitable: Whatever Anne said, usually had an exclamation point after it. That’s where I identify with her! Exclaiming that my new plant on the porch fulfilled my dream of a lifetime was rather exaggerated. Sometimes, certain relatives make fun of me, I guess because they consider me a drama queen. But, I’m not. It’s just how I was wired from eternity past. Just call me “Sherrie with an S!”
  3. Advocate for the Hurting. Anne would go to any length to make sure the truth was told or that the hurting one got helped. She felt this was her calling in life. This is so me. For example, when the emergency crew came with blinking lights to our neighbor across the street, every single neighbor stood on their porches and watched. Quickly, I ran to their driveway to ask if I could help. I then reported to the watching neighbors what I’d been told.
  4. Insecure with Friendships: After Anne was adopted, the kids at school treated her like a wild card, mocking her gorgeous red hair. In the midst of this, she and another lovely young girl became friends. But, Anne had to make sure they were friends by drawing blood from a poke and mixing together. In her mind, that would assure her that she wouldn’t be abandoned by this friend, like she was by her parents when she was placed in the orphanage. On a personal note, I usually feel friendless. My husband corrects me by saying, “But you have so many friends.” But, I often wonder if feeling lonely is common for fellow adoptees.
  5. Loved Everyone, Including Those on the Fringes. She was loving to all people, even those that might seem scary or ugly to others. I remember when she met a salesman on the way to her hut in the woods. It didn’t matter that his gray beard almost covered his face, that his clothes were disheveled, or that he had everything from pain killers to tarot cards in his his backpack. Anne talked with him respectfully and and used your money to buy a heart-shaped pin. Of course her parents about had a cow when they found out.
  6. Deep Desire to Find First Family: The majority of adoptees I know want to know the truth about why they were placed for adoption. That’s because of shame: “Was I too small, did I cry too much? Was I too ugly? Did my parents really die before I was adopted?” How I identified with Anne as she combed through dusty records to find clues and how deeply disappointed she was when a seemingly open door closed in her face. When I was searching, I went to the hospital where I was born and asked the secretary for medical records. She refused: “Do we have an adoptee here?” For years I battled, even hiring a lawyer who found that she had no right to do this. Yes, state laws sealed my original birth certificate, but not my medical files. This experience makes me wonder in the back of my mind if there was something really awful about my late first mother and I. After I get done writing another book, I may revisit this. Agree?

So, remember friends, when you text or see me next, call me “Sherrie with an E!”

Dissolving Adoptee Resistance

Now, onto suggestions for dissolving adoptee resistance or rejection about watching the TV series together:

  1. Share your excitement first-and gently: “I’ve been watching Anne of Green Gables for a few weeks and I love it because Anne was adopted.”
  2. Let time pass. Adoptees are super sensitive when people aren’t authentic. This will build a wall instead of an open door.
  3. Share Why: “I love watching Anne of Green Gables because she reminds me in many ways of you.” If child asks why, share one of the characteristic of Anne from the above list.
  4. Ask: Perhaps something like this: “When Anne of Green Gables thought about her first family, I thought about you. Do you ever think about them?” Of course, your child will say an adamant no. This the secret of many adoptees. Part of our fantasy life is about finding our first family who lives in a castle in a faraway land. (For illustration of this, check out the main character of my children’s book: FOREVER FINGERPRINTS: AN AMAZING DISCOVERY FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN.) The art in this book is remarkable and you could use it to show how Anne might feel). Another excellent children’s book for this is FRANKIES CORNER, by Pam Kroskie and Marcie Kealthy.
  5. Signal Okayness: “I’m so glad that your first parent’s made you. They’re a part of who you are. If it were me, I’d think about them lots. I’d wonder if they look like me, sound like me, and move around like me. It’s okay to think about them often. I hope you do.
  6. Resources: Anne with An E DVD Series: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Season-1-2/dp/B07MWFYKHN/ref=pd_sbs_2?pd_rd_w=aAgPQ&pf_rd_p=98101395-b70f-4a52-af63-8fac2c513e02&pf_rd_r=ZMEAXS6NRQT6GZX0K42X&pd_rd_r=8f813426-8a87-40da-959b-5625fc91f8be&pd_rd_wg=1DSdj&pd_rd_i=B07MWFYKHN&psc
  7. Resource: Netflix Anne with An E. https://www.netflix.com/title/80136311