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:
I have a right to be angry.
We’re all angry because we’re all hurt.
It’s not our fault.
My first family kicked me to the side of the road and went on with life.
My parents don’t “get it.”
Crude comments are true expressions of my identity.
My non-adopted friends aren’t as angry as me.
I don’t belong in either family–first or adoptive.
I’m not aware of my anger most of the time, but others are.
Many adopted children and adults struggle with anger, and to most, it seems uncontrollable. Others wonder if there’s something wrong with them, for their friends don’t have such a problem with rage.
The Scripture Base for Moses’ Life
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.
The Story of Moses
Moses is now an adult, quite a puzzling adult, to others as well as himself. Word had it that as a child he had a short fuse. Temper tantrums in the palace were common, accompanied by deep hostility toward Hatshepsut, his adoptive mother. From where did this anger come? And why was his adoptive mother usually the target? One day Moses’ anger hit an all-time high when he saw an Egyptian brutally abusing a Hebrew slave. As he watched the man being ruthlessly kicked and beaten, he snuck up from behind and grabbed the Egyptian by the neck. He began punching him mercilessly, first in the face, then in the stomach. Within seconds, the Egyptian was dead. The other Hebrew man who was there fled as Moses looked frantically from left to right, to see if anyone else had witnessed the murder. He fell to the ground, and with sweat running from his brow, he furiously shoveled huge handfuls of sand to make a hole big enough to bury the body. The following day, he intervened in yet another dispute– this time between two Hebrew men. “What are you arguing about? Can I help?” he might have asked. When one of them asked if he was a self-appointed judge like he had been the day before, adrenaline pumped through Moses’ veins as he headed toward the backside of the desert. Perhaps there he would be safe from his life crime-stained life. Perhaps there he could begin life anew.
What do you think motivated Moses to become so involved in the two disputes?
Those who are wounded wound others. Moses was wounded profoundly when he lost his birth family, his heritage and his history. In the years to come, he would come to know Jehovah-rophe, the Healer of life’s sicknesses and sorrows. Exodus 15: 26b says, “…for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
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!
Anger, the other side of depression, is always waiting to be tapped in the adoptee. Anger that adoptees have built up over the years can erupt as uncontrollable rage. There is the unexpressed anger that they are adopted; anger that they are different; anger that they are powerless to know their origins; anger that they cannot express their real feelings in a family climate of denial. When this anger is allowed to build in a child over the years, it will eventually surface as aggression—stealing, setting fires, destroying property—and if left unresolved, as violence.
—Journey of the Adopted Self, by Betty Jean Lifton
What are adoptees angry about? Lots of things. They’re angry with people like me because we gave them away. They need an explanation or an apology. Of course they can’t get one because we’re nowhere to be found, which frustrates them and makes them mad as hell. Some are also angry because we sent them away from their ‘kind,’ abandoning them to an environment in which they suffer chronic, cumulative and vast feelings of unacceptability. They’re angry with people like you (adoptive parents) because they can’t explore the subject of adoption openly. Why? Because it makes you cringe. They’re also angry because you don’t understand how they feel, or worse, denigrate their feelings because you can’t relate to them…They are also angry because people in general treat adopted people differently: school teachers type-cast them, health-care professionals treat them as medical risks, outsiders consider them inferior by assuming that they are the spawn of people who came ‘from the other side of the tracks.
—“The Angry Adoptee” article in Quest:
The Newsletter for KinQuest, by Carol Kimissaroff
“Anger is a response to separation…”
—Separation, Anxiety and Anger, by John Bowlby
“It’s easier to be mad than sad.” Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D.
Putting my Feelings and Needs into Words
Do you see anger as a significant problem in your life? Do others? Explain.
Read Ephesians 4:26-27… “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” What happens when we don’t deal with anger on a daily basis?
Read Matthew 12:20… “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.” What is God’s promise to those who are depressed? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What does God promise to those who are depressed? See Psalm 18:28…“You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”
If we don’t deal with the anger resulting from the original adoption wound that we discussed in chapter one, it comes to the surface when we least expect it. Keeping it submerged beneath our consciousness is like trying to keep a beach ball submerged under water. It is impossible! Sooner or later, it pops up! If we keep anger submerged, it turns into depression. Sometimes serious depression. In order to manage painful emotions, many of us fantasize about our birth families. That is a way of escape. We will talk about that next.
“Me Enojo Fácilmente y Lastimo A Otros” Éxodo 2
La Historia de Moisés
Ahora Moisés es un adulto. Un adulto inquieto. Inquietando a otros al mismo tiempo.
Decían que cuando era niño se enojaba fácilmente. Eran comunes los berrinches en el palacio acompañados por una profunda hostilidad hacia a Hatshepsut, su madre adoptiva.
¿De donde venía este enojo? ¿Y porqué era el choque con su madre adoptiva?
Un día el enojo de Moisés llegó a su máximo cuando el vio a un Egipcio abusando brutalmente de un esclavo Hebreo. Al ver que el hombre era cruelmente pateado y golpeado se acercó silenciosamente por atrás y tomó al egipcio por el cuello. Empezó a golpearlo sin piedad, primero en la cara y luego en el estomago. En segundos el egipcio murió. El hombre Hebreo que estaba allí se fugó mientras que Moisés frenéticamente volteaba al lado izquierdo y a la derecha para ver si había algún testigo del asesinato. Cayó al suelo y con el sudor corriendo por su frente, furiosamente movió con sus manos grandes cantidades de tierra para hacer un hoyo suficiente grande para enterrar el cuerpo.
Al día siguiente, el intervino en otro disputa – esta vez entre dos hombres Hebreos. “¿De que estén discutiendo? ¿Puedo ayudar?” Pudo haber preguntado.
Cuando uno de ellos le preguntó si el se había autonombrado juez como el día anterior, la adrenalina corrió como nunca por la venas de Moisés. Con los dientes apretados y su cuerpo endurecido, huyó lo más rápido que se pudo hacia el lado opuesto del desierto.
Quizás allí el lograría salvar su vida, su vida manchado de crimen. Quizás allí podría empezar una vida nueva.
¿Que piensas que motivó a Moisés estar involucrado en estas dos disputas? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
¿Qué cree que estaba pensando cuando corrió a otro lado del desierto? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
Como Moisés Vio a Dios
Los que están heridos lastiman a otros. Moisés estaba lastimado profundamente cuando perdió a su familia de nacimiento, su herencia y su historia. En los años por venir, el conocería a Jehová-rophe, el Sanador de la enfermedades y sufrimientos de la vida. Éxodo 15:26b dice,…”Yo soy el Señor, que les devuelve la salud.”
Como Sienten Otros Hijos Adoptivos
Estoy enojado con mi madre de nacimiento – ella me puso en los brazos de un extraño cuando yo no tenía palabra en el asunto.
Mi enojo sale en momentos muy extraños.
Estoy enojado con Dios por relacionar mi vida con la adopción. ¿Porque Elme escogió para sufrir así?
Estoy enojado cuando los otros me tratan como un niño – como los oficialesde los hospitales cuando pido una copia de mi acta de nacimiento. Me hablanen una voz condescendiente, “Ay cariño, ¿eres un hijo adoptivo?”.
Estoy enojado porque mis padres de nacimiento me abandonaron.
Estoy enojado porque no puedo tener un acta de nacimiento “normal”. Tengoque tener una corregida que quita cualquier mención de mi historia.
No puedo entender la idea que ella (mi madre de nacimiento) esta viva y queesta haciendo su vida sin mí.
Necesito saber que me está permitido estar enojado con Dios sobre miadopción y que El acepta mi enojo y es Suficiente Grande para manejarlo.
Necesito saber tener enojo quiere decir que estoy empezando a sanar. La partede mí que estaba apagada esta empezando a vivir.
1. Subraya las frases de arriba con las que te identificas. Escribe los pensamientos que te surgen sobre lo que has subrayada.
“El enojo, el otro lado de la depresión, siempre está esperando golpear al hijo adoptivo. El enojo que los hijos adoptivos han acumulado a través de los años puede hacer erupción en una furia incontrolable. Hay un enojo que no expresado por ser hijos adoptivos; enojo porque que son diferentes; enojo por la impotencia acerca de conocer sus origines; enojo por no poder expresar sus sentimientos reales en una ambiente familiar de negación. Cuando se permite que este enojo se acumule en un niño a través de los años, eventualmente sale como agresión – robando, causando incendios, destrucción de propiedad – y si se deja sin resolver, como violencia,” escribe Betty Jean Lifton, Jornada del Ser Adoptivo.
Carol Kimissaroff, en un articulo llamado “Los Hijos Adoptivos Enojados” que aparece en Quest: The Newsletter for KinQuest, dice: “¿De que están enojados los hijos adoptivos? De muchas cosas. Están enojados con gente como yo porque los abandonamos. Ellos necesitan una explicación o una disculpa. Por supuesto no pueden tener ni la explicación ni la disculpa porque no nos pueden encontrar, y esto les frustra y les hace enojar. Algunos de ellos también están enojados porque los mandamos lejos de su “gente”, abandonándolos en un ambiente en que se sufren grandes sentimientos de inaceptabilidad que son crónicos y acumulativos. Están enojados con gente como ustedes (padres adoptivos) porque ellos no pueden explorar el tema de adopción abiertamente. ¿Por qué? Porque a ustedes los hace titubear. También están enojados porque ustedes no entienden como se sienten ellos, o peor, denigrar sus sentamientos porque ustedes no asocian éstos pensamientos. Están enojados porque la gente en general trata diferente a los hijos adoptivos… los maestros los estereotipa, los profesionales en el cuidado de la salud los tratan como un riesgo médico, otros los consideren inferiores asumiendo que ellos son el engendro de gente que viene “del otro lado de las vías”
John Bowlby dice en Separación, Ansiedad y Enojo, “El enojo es una respuesta a la separación.”
Poniendo Mis Sentimientos y Necesidades en Palabras
¿Ves al enojo como un problema significativo en tu vida? ¿Otras personas? Explicar.________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
¿Qué tipo de situaciones provocan tu enojo? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Cuándo estabas creciendo, hacías berrinches? ¿A que edad? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Puedes reconocer cuando estas enojado? ¿Tienes síntomas físicos (manos sudadas, latidos rápidos de corazón, boca seca, etc.)? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Te permitieron expresar tu enojo en tu casa adoptiva? __________________________________________________________________
¿Cómo reaccionaron tus padres cuando expresaste enojo? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Alguna vez alguien te ha dado permiso para estar enojado? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
Haz una “lista de enojos.” __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Has experimentado depresión (el lado opuesto del enojo)? ¿Cuándo? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Qué es lo que haces cuando estas deprimido? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Alguna vez alguien ha celebrado tu enojo sabiendo que es un paso necesario en el proceso de saneamiento? ¿Quién? ¿Cuándo? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Qué es lo que haces cuando estas enojado? ¿Después que estas enojado? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Cuales son algunas maneras saludables para manejar tu enojo?______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
¿Cuáles son algunas opciones para manejar depresión?______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Escribiendo Una Carta a Mi Madre de Nacimiento
Si estas conciente de algún enojo hacia tu madre de nacimiento por darte en adopción, escribe una carta PARA ella expresando tu enojo. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
Escribe una carta DE tu madre de nacimiento imaginando lo que ella puede decir en respuesta a tu carta. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
Profundizando a Fondo para las Respuestas a mis Preguntas Sobre Adopción.
1. Lee Efesios 4:26. ¿Qué dice Dios sobre el enojo? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
Escribe Efesios 4:26 en tus propios palabras. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
Lee Efesios 4: 26-27. ¿Que es los que pasa cuando no tratamos con el enojo diariamente?______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Lee Mateo 12:20. ¿Cuál es la promesa de Dios para los que están deprimidos? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Cuál es la promesa de Dios para los que están deprimidos según el Salmo 18:28? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Qué aprendió Job cuando el sintió que estaba en la oscuridad? Ver Job 12:22. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
¿Qué es lo que te llevas al completar esta capitulo? ¿Cómo va a cambiar tu vida? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
Si no manejamos el enojo que resultó de la herida original de la adopción que hablamos en el primer capitulo, entonces el enojo surgirá cuando menos lo esperamos. Dejándolo sumergido en nuestras consciencias es como tratar que una pelota llena de aire se quede sumergida en el agua. ¡Es imposible! ¡Tarde o temprano sale! Si dejamos sumergido el enojo, se vuelve depresión. Algunas veces depresión muy seria. Tratando de manejar emociones dolorosas, muchos de nosotros tenemos fantasías acerca de nuestras familias de nacimiento. Es una manera de escapar. Vamos hablar sobre esto en el siguiente capitulo.
I’m going to ask you to do something in regard to your adopted child’s anger that will likely seem crazy, but hang tight…it will make sense after you read the prescription for helping your child process misplaced anger and find healing from pre-adoption loss.
First, think about your reaction to your child’s outbursts, rages, and rejections. Do these scare you? Do you wonder if you’re doing something wrong as a mom? Do you feel helpless and hopeless about how to deal with it?
You’re not alone.
Let’s take a close look at the world of adoption literature for the last few decades and give accolades to Nancy Verrier for her best-seller, THE PRIMAL WOUND. If your adopted child is a teen or adult, he/she may carry the dog-eared book around for quick reference. Why? It’s a validation of not being crazy and proof that actual words can be wrapped around the deeper-than-death loss.
Ms. Verrier’s proposition states that if adoptees are validated concerning their loss, they will heal. That discovery came 20 years ago, yet the majority of adoptees who’ve read it are still stuck and unaware that healing from un-grieved adoption loss is a possibility.
Ms. Verrier took the adoption community a long way in the journey toward adoptee healing by teaching us the value of validation. She validated the wound, but there’s another validation that must follow on the heels of wound validation–the validation of adoptee anger.
Did you just gasp? Did you wonder if you misread what I just stated about validating your child’s anger? Did you look inside and question if you’d ever have the energy to withstand that additional pressure?
Those reactions are understandable. You may perceive I’m asking you to have an unexpected cream pie thrown in your face in addition to being rejected. No way.
Understand What Your Validation Says To Your Child
First, I’m asking you to understand what validation of your child’s anger means to him. For starters, it means this to many adoptees:
You’ve heard my cry.
You won’t leave me in my pain.
You are for me.
You’ve been traumatized…I am so sorry you had to experience that.
You won’t abandon me in a crisis.
Let me add here that your child is likely confused about his/her anger, for it seemingly can’t be controlled. It explodes without invitation, like a bomb.
Your child may think that “they are their anger.” They may conclude, “I’m just an angry person.” Or, they may wonder if it’s a character defect passed down from unknown biological generations, or even a spiritual generational curse.
Validate “Flung” Anger
What I’m asking you to do is validate your child’s anger even when it’s flung directly at you. In order to accomplish this, you must be self-regulated, and a gifted adoption-competent therapist can help you develop that skill.
Back to your child’s healing…for healing to occur from Nancy Verrier’s famous primal wound, a scab must form, which gradually becomes like a crusty umbrella protecting the wound.
Let’s agree that the scab for the primal wound is anger–a God-given emotion to protect and warn us that something needs attention. Does this concept not clarify the next step after validation of the wound?
When your child is healing, the scab will itch, but don’t let it get pulled off. In other words, your child may want to short-circuit your healthy validation of anger by throwing more rejection or or slipping into relapse. If this happens, don’t give up.
Another function of the scab is to create such an atmosphere for new growth. The scabby umbrella makes new skin feel safe and nurtured. This occurs where the wound once was.
As you incorporate your knowledge of the healing process, you’ll also need to provide regulating statements for your child. By regulating, I mean that you’ll validate the flung anger but then help your child bridge emotionally from the past hurt to his present-day reality. It’s basically teaching “that was then, but this is now.”
Keep in mind as you help your child regulate his/her emotions that usually the core emotion is fear. The majority of adoptees look at life through a lens of fear. Fear of abandonment. Fear of rejection. Fear of being invisible. Fear of being thrown away.
Now, I’d like you to buckle your seatbelts and read some anger statements that my research proved true of many adoptees.
Hell, yes I’m angry. I have a right to be.
It’s not my fault.
My first mom kicked me to the side of the road and went on with life.
You are a loser.
Next, let’s turn the angry accusations into validation and regulation.
Turn Angry Accusations into Validating and Regulating Statements
The old axiom that “practice makes perfect” applies here. I’ve concocted these examples to help you practice your validations and regulating statements:
I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE ANGRY.
Yes, you certainly do have a right to be angry. You have experienced the greatest loss anyone ever could–the loss of your first parents in the parenting role. This all happened before I ever saw you and I want you to know that I understand and am here for you whenever you want to be angry about it.
2. IT’S NOT MY FAULT.
Of course, losing your first parents in the parenting role is not your fault. You had absolutely no “say” in the decision. You were an innocent child and your voice couldn’t even be heard. No wonder you’re angry about that. Remember though, that my voice for you will now will always be for the best possible outcome.
Moms, be sure to not tell your child that he/she was placed for adoption because the first mother loved her. Remember that your child, no matter how fancy the adoption ceremony and no matter the age of your child, sees the disappearance of the first mom as rejection, pure and simple.
To equate the first mother’s decision with love confuses your child about the possibility of even knowing what love is or how to receive it from others, including you.
3. MY FIRST MOM KICKED ME TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD AND WENT ON WITH LIFE.
I can’t imagine what that felt like for you. Do you actually see her kicking you to the roadside? Where is the road? What does it look like? And, how did you respond when you were kicked to the side? Did you scream? Did you curl up in a ball? I just can’t fathom what you felt then. Right now, though, there is no road or anyone that will kick you to the side of the road. In fact, I’m at the side of your road now and I’m you’re number one cheerleader. I will never, ever abandon you.
4. YOU ARE A LOSER.
I know that is what you’re seeing. You see me as the mom you didn’t want, for all your body wanted was to be close to the mom you lost. I can’t imagine how mixed up inside you must be that I’m now your mom. I want to assure you that as your mom, I am willing for you to think I’m a loser if that will help you let go of that confusion and anger. Know that I will always love you no matter what you call me.
Moms, please know that when your child calls you a loser, he/she is really saying, “I am a loser.” That hatred is basically toward self.
When your child flings rejecting, hateful, and angry statements at you, imagine putting on a yellow rain slicker–your yellow rain slicker.
When the hurtful remarks come like pelting rain, they will have no power to hurt you. They will roll off you, like raindrops.
And so, looking back over the decades of adoption literature, thank you, Ms. Verrier for validation of the adoptee wound, but moms and adopted kids are moving on now–toward creating new growth beneath the scab of anger.
We now know that the secret ingredient for reversing misplaced anger is validation of “flung anger.”
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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.
Isn’t depression just being sad? Isn’t it something everyone gets over?
No, depression can take your life.
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
Ifeel 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
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.
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’tfind 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 theraging 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.”