What Scared My Adoptive Parents

How sad I am that on homecoming day at ten days of age, Retha (Mom) and Mike (Dad) momentarily lost their confidence, giving in to fear. When Mike handed tiny me to Retha, I arched my back and screamed bloody murder. I’ve since learned that whenever a baby arches it’s back, it means it is in a lot of pain. Not only was there the pain of being unwanted and unplanned, but the pain of inexplicable loss that kept me from eating. I’m sure the nurses were good, but how often was I touched during those first ten days? To this day, I startle when someone touches me unexpectedly. Actually, this mound of newborn suffering  created in me a cry print, which is akin to a fingerprint. It expresses the unique need of the one who is crying. Mine was,  “I lost my mama whom I loved with all my heart. Where is she? Where did she go? I’m going to die without her.”

Who can even imagine how Retha felt? Perhaps, like a bucket of ice water was thrown on her? She probably shook in shock, like anyone when something unfathomable happened. Where was Mike? Was he holding her close? Knowing him for a lifetime, he was probably running for the back bedroom. And, there Retha was. All alone. No one to help her, no one who had the presence of mind to hold her close, even my grandmother. It would be easy for her to read rejection into my screams. “Maybe my baby doesn’t like me, or maybe I’m not suited to be this baby’s Mom. If I were, Sherrie would have snuggled into my welcoming arms immediately. She would have known my inexplicable love for her.  But, this instance is proof that I am not enough to meet my child’s needs.”  

Note that this unpleasant moment didn’t have a permanent effect on me, but it sure made for a challenging homecoming day. 

Best wishes to you as you interpret your child’s cry print. I encourage you to check out a special FB page dedicated to these challenging dynamics. Look for WHAT PARENTS CAN DO WHEN ADOPTED KIDS REJECT LOVE.

Sherrie Eldridge

 

 


I Want My Adoptive Parents to Addreess my Birth Family Curiosities

Many Adopted Kids Want Parents to Address Their Curiosities About Birth Family

Imagine a tortoise–the kind you see in the zoo. With a huge, rough shell for a home and a head that rarely sees the full light of day, he waddles a few steps closer to his desired destination.

With all due respect, many of us adoptees are a lot like the tortoise. Our heads pop out only occasionally to see if it’s okay to assert ourselves, to ask questions and express feelings about our past. Is it okay to ask the hospital where I was born for my medical records? Is it okay to ask for non-identifying information about my birth mother and birth father? Is it okay to say that I’m curious about them and might like to meet them some day? Is it okay to be angry about my birth mother’s decision to relinquish? Is it okay to search for my birth family? Is it okay to seek out other birth relatives if my birth mother rejects me at our reunion?

These are a few of the questions that haunt many adoptees. Remember the story in chapter one about the young adoptee, who after hearing her mother make a casual reference to her birth mother, sheepishly asked, “Is it all right to talk about that?” That’s a good example of a tortoise-like remark! In spite of all the advantages this young adoptee had, her hesitancy and fear remained.

Why is that? you may be wondering. Why is it so difficult for most adoptees to believe that it is permissible to talk about the birth family? Why is it that they hold back, frozen in fear, curious, yet ambivalent at the same time about knowing more?

I believe the main reason many adoptees hold back is that they perceive themselves as victims, unable to assert themselves effectively. Consider these comments and behaviors from Talking with Young Children About Adoption by Drs. Susan Fisher and Mary Watkins:

  • A three-year-old pretends that she is a nursing baby piglet. She has her adoptive mother ask pig-mother if piglet can live at her house. Pig-mother says yes. When at adoptive mother’s pretend house, child has adoptive mother “squish” her. Child runs back to pig-mother, who protects her.
  • A six-year-old asks, “What did she (the birth mother) say when she saw me? Did she kiss me? Only you should have kissed me because you’re my parents.”

It’s important for parents to be aware of the adoptee’s unconscious tendency toward this victimy mindset, but also her need for compassion, for the adopted child literally was a victim. 

Nancy Verrier, in The Primal Wound, says, “The feeling of being a victim is not just a fantasy, but a reality. Being abandoned often leaves one with a permanent feeling of being at the mercy of others.”

Understanding a Victim’s Mindset

There are three aspects to a victim’s mindset: innocence, defenselessness, and helplessness. They are evident in the adoptee’s perceptions after birth and onward, before healing has occurred.

Innocence 

It wasn’t the adoptee’s fault that her birth mother got pregnant. It wasn’t her fault that the birth mother, for whatever reason, couldn’t parent. The child didn’t deserve losing a family at birth. She was the innocent party in it all. 

In spite of their innocence, however, many adoptees carry a false burden of guilt, much like children of divorce. They may silently wonder:

  • Did I do something to make my other mommy mad at me and give me away?  
  • I think she (the birth mother) didn’t like me.
  • Was there something bad about my birth daddy?

Defenselessness 

The adoptee was powerless at relinquishment. She had no way of protecting herself from further wounding. She may reenact those feelings of defenselessness through play from a young age. Fishers and Wakins, in Talking with Young Children About Adoption observed:

  • A three-year-old enacts someone trying to take a baby kitten away from its mother and the mother objects.
  • A little girl plays out a scene in which a wicked woman takes a child away from her good mother. She has the girl say to the wicked lady, whom she has her mother play, “If it hadn’t been for you, I would be with my real mother.” The child then confides to her adoptive mother, “Yeah, if it hadn’t been for you, I would still be with her. You came and took me away.”
  • A child asks, “Where is my real dad? Why don’t you know where he is? I don’t want him to find me…he’d take me away…I’d get kidnapped by him.”

Helplessness 

Even though there were probably people there to tend to your child when she was born, even though you may have been in the delivery room to welcome her, the transfer away from the birth mother and into your arms was traumatic for her to some degree.

In order to get some idea of the helplessness your child may experience, imagine yourself boarding a plane for Europe. When  you finally arrive, your excitement level is at an all-time high. How wonderful it is going to be! As the days pass by, it is wonderful…just about every aspect of it.  The food. The hotels. The dusty country backroads.

But in the midst of it all,  there is something wrenching in your gut. You can’t really describe it except to say that the very things that are so wonderful are producing a peculiar sense of helplessness within you. Everything around you is so different. The people. The food. The language. Your body is beginning to feel the effects of the time change. The people speak another language. You struggle to connect…to speak with the foreigners, to read the menus, but you can’t.  What is so wonderful is producing feelings of helplessness.

This subconscious sense of helplessness may continue for many adoptees throughout life.

I am aware of the fact that these are pretty hard words to digest, but if you are to be in tune with the unspoken needs of your child to talk about his birth family, then you must be aware of some of the complex and even scary thoughts and feelings he may keep hidden.

You see, there is a mixture of feelings about the birth mother in your adoptee’s heart. Fantasy. Anger. Victimization. Love. You can be a powerful resource in helping him identify and process these conflicting feelings–or you can be a major obstacle. What determines your role as a facilitator or a hurdle is your willingness and skill in drawing your child into productive conversation about her birth family and her complex feelings about them. Let’s take a look at how you can equip yourself for this crucial task.

Getting Ready to Talk

What comes to mind when you think about initiating a conversation with your child about his birth family? Do you feel defensive, like the birth family is the enemy to be avoided at all  costs? Do you feel sad, and does your lip begin to quiver at the thought of their possible presence in your child’s life? Do you fear your child will love them more than he loves you?

If so, this section is especially for you.Kids are experts at reading body language. You can’t pull the wool over their eyes. If you are upset about something and trying to hide it, they will sense it.

In order to converse with your child productively about the issues closest to his heart, you must first develop a healthy attitude about the impact of adoption on the family system. Sociologist and author H. David Kirk, in Shared Fate,  suggests five common attitudes adoptive parents tend to hold about how adoption impacts the family:

1) Insistence: All problems are due to adoption. There is a great deal of emphasis between biological and adopted children: the “bad seed.”

2) Assumption: Parents have a romanticized view of adoption and expect the adoptee to have only positive feelings about adoption.

3) Acknowledgment: Adoption is seen as one of the factors in family problems. Family members have special sensitivities about adoption.

4) Rejection: Parents admit, “Yes, there’s a difference, but…” (want to forget it). They forget that the child feels the difference and needs permission to voice his feelings.

5) Denial: Parents have not told children about adoption. There is a big secret in the family.

Of course, acknowledgment is the most healthy attitude. We can’t blame all family problems on adoption, but it is important to help the adoptee see what part adoption plays in the fabric of his life.  

There are certain things you can do to prepare yourself for drawing your child into a productive conversation about his birth family.

Face Your Greatest Fear

The first thing you as an adoptive parent must do is face your greatest fear, which is being rejected by your child. You may envision your child reuniting with his birth parents someday and then wanting nothing more to do with you. If so, you would return to that lonely place of barrenness once again. 

The truth is, what is likely to happen at reunion is just the opposite of what you fear. (We will discuss this in detail in the last chapter of the book.) Nevertheless, you may feel flooded with a torrent of emotions you never knew existed. Jealously and envy.  Anger…even rage.  A sense of betrayal by the one you held closest to your heart over the years. 

The empathetic ear of a friend, professional counselor, or an adoption support group can help you through these tough times. That person should be someone who has already faced and worked through her own pain and is not afraid of yours. When you have come through to the other side, you will be able to be truly in tune emotionally with your child.

Give Permission for Open Dialogue

Parents must remember that adoptees need permission repeatedly to talk about the birth family. It is like their “permission button” is broken; your words can go in one ear and out the other.

Adoptive mom Kathy Giles believes that this continual permission-giving is a signal to the adoptee that her myriad questions and feelings are okay. She says, “I find adoptees sense the ‘okay-ness’ of wanting to know about their birth parents from their adoptive parents. The parents must signal that they understand, empathize, and will, in fact, help make it possible for their children to connect with their first set of parents. To adoptive parents, I say, don’t kid yourself, saying ‘I wouldn’t want to know.’ Ask instead, ‘What would/will my child want and need?'”

Foster a Non-Competitive Spirit

The third pre-requisite is that there be a non-competitive spirit between the adoptive and birth parents. This may be the most difficult task for adoptive parents, for they must accept without reservation that they are not the child’s only parents. 

I know these are painful words. Many adoptive parents would like a clean slate…a new beginning. However, your child does have two sets of parents–biological and adoptive. This is her reality, whether you choose to accept or acknowledge it. There is a special place within the adoptee’s heart reserved just for the birth mother and birth father. If adoptive parents try to fill both roles, the adoptee may erect a tall barrier of resentment to keep her fantasies and thoughts of them alive.

Let your child know that you think about his or her birth parents also. This brings her out of her secret fantasy world into reality: She does have birth parents, and you acknowledge that fact. Allow the birth family, if they desire, to send gifts to the child, and keep them updated on the child’s progress. 

Be Confident in Your Role

One of the most important things you as adoptive parents can do for your child is to be comfortable and non-defensive when he talks about his birth family. Your child needs a settled confidence emanating from you when the topic of the birth family is brought up. 

Step into your role with confidence, knowing that you have a unique and vital position and influence in this child’s life. No, you didn’t give him birth. You don’t share the same blood. But you are giving him something that no one else can. You are a gift to your child, just as he is a gift to you.

I expressed my gratitude for my adoptive parents in a letter I imagined God writing to them. 

Dear Retha and Mike,

One of my children needs a home–a mother and father who will love her and provide for her.

I know how much you wanted to have children. I know the tears and anguish you have experienced. But the only way I could make a place for this child in your home was through the open door of your infertility. 

I am loaning her to you for while to take care of. Do the best you know how to do, for she is precious to me.

Someday, when you are gone, I will be her mother and father. She will  learn to trust me and depend on me as she did on you.

Thank you for being willing to love my daughter and give her a home on earth.

Love,

God

Fisher and Watkins describe how a four-year-old child verbalized his feelings about both sets of parents: He said to a friend, “The way I see adoption is like this. Somebody has the baby but can’t keep the baby and goes ‘Wah, wah, wah, good-bye, baby,’ and somebody who can’t get a baby in her tummy says, ‘Goody goody…hello, baby.”

I would challenge you to help your child find a way to express her feelings for both her birth and adoptive parents. Perhaps she could draw a picture or compose a poem. Or she could write a play about adoption and then perform it for you. If she has access to a photograph of her birth parents, consider buying her a photo frame with two openings–one for the adoptive family and one for the birth family. Encourage your child to take on one of these projects and set aside special time when she can share it with you.

In open adoptions, the birth parents are graciously invited by the adoptive parents to share in this nurturing role, thus, the support and love base for the child is doubled. This is ideal. Adoptive mother Kathy Giles, experiencing an open adoption, said, “As their mother, why would I ever want to keep ‘good things’ from their lives? Why would I want to ‘protect’ them from people who had selflessly planned a life for them in another family and relinquished the right to parent them? I wouldn’t! Who among us says, ‘Sorry, I don’t need any additional people in my life who love me.” Or, ‘No more love needed here.’ 

“Furthermore, the golden rule applies. If I were the one adopted, how would I feel? Would I want to know my first mother and father? Would I want to know who I look like? Would I want to know where my talents, gifts, and inclinations came from? Would I want to know why they relinquished me? Would I want to understand that relinquishment of ‘parental rights’ was not the relinquishment of love, concern and interest. YES! All of that would be important to me if I were the adopted child.”

What Parents Can Do

When you understand the fears and ambivalence your child may have when it comes to discussing his birth family, you will be much more effective in drawing out his hidden thoughts at strategic times.I believe that conversations about the birth family should be initiated at times of pleasure and celebration and at times of stress or vulnerability. 

Positive times for initiating might include the following.

  • The child’s birthday. “I wonder if your birth mom/dad are thinking about you.”
  • Mothers’ Day/Fathers’ Day. “I wonder what your birth mom/dad is doing today.”
  • Nighttime prayers. “Let’s remember your birth family in our prayers.”
  • Child’s accomplishments. “Your birth parents would be proud of you just like we are.”
  • Physical features. “I wonder if your birth mom has curly hair like you.”
  • Spontaneously. Whenever your heart wells with gratitude to the birth family. “I’m so glad they gave you to us!”

Conversations about the birth family might also be initiated during vulnerable times like these.

  • Physical exam. “It must be a bummer not knowing your full birth history.”
  • Beginning college. “I’ll bet your adoption issues make saying good-bye extra difficult.”
  • After an acting-out episode. “Have you been thinking about your birth family lately?”
  • Family tree assignments in school. (The adoptee’s family tree is very complex and will not conform to the usual configuration.) You might say to the child, “With your permission and approval, I will talk to your teacher and ask if you (or we) can make a special family tree that will include both sides of your family.”
  • After the child has been teased by a peer because he’s adopted. “I know it’s hard to be singled out because of your adoption, but remember we love you and so does your birth family.”

Part of the reason that your child wants you to take the initiative in opening conversations about the birth family is that he has a need to know the truth about his conception, birth and family history, no matter how painful the details may be. The next chapter will prepare you for the challenge of sharing the whole truth in a healing way.


Will My Birth Family Reject Me...Again?

I’M NERVOUS ABOUT FINDING BIRTH RELATIVES. Online Adoptee Bible Study

The Story of Moses 

Exodus 4 

Like many adoptees, Moses probably experienced a tremendous amount of anxiety prior to his reunion with his birth brother, Aaron. “What will I say?” “How will I act?” “Will I laugh or cry?” he may have wondered. 

As with all adoption reunions, there is joy as well as pain, blessing as well as a sense of loss. Moses’ reunion with Aaron was probably no exception. 

As he crossed the desert and neared the mountain of God, how his heart must have skipped! Flashbacks of his traumatic adoption day may have occurred or warm memories of his big brother taking care of him when he was a small child. 

As he neared the mountain of God, a tall, slim figure gradually came into view. 

“Moses!” Aaron shouted, running toward him, arms outstretched. 

“It’s so wonderful to see you!” they echoed, kissing one another, first on one cheek and then the other. 

“Do you remember when we used to play together when you were little?” Aaron might have asked as they sat by the fireside that evening. “How are mother and father?” Moses probably said. “Are they still living?” 

As they talked, Moses experienced feelings he had never known before. Feelings of completeness. Of peace. Of connection. 

“Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform” (v. 27-28). 

Following this sweet time of fellowship with his long-lost brother, Moses returned to his father-in-law, Jethro, expressing his desire to return to Egypt to see if his people, the Israelites (which included his birth family) were still alive. 

One can’t help but wonder if a dual-theme began at this point in Moses’ life, where his life calling became intricately woven together with his adoption experiences. Not only was he to fulfill the divine command by demanding that Pharaoh release the Israelites, but in a personal, adoption-related way, he was about to face his cruel adoptive grandfather, Pharaoh. 

What terror must have filled his heart! He was being stretched reluctantly into a leadership role that would require that he face his greatest fears—rejection by Pharaoh and rejection by the people he would be leading, 

God warned that when Aaron demanded release of the Israelites, Pharaoh would refuse to listen ten times. The result would be specific plagues upon the Egyptians. Water would change into blood. Frogs. Gnats. Flies. The livestock would be plagued. Boils. Hail. Locusts. Darkness. The Passover. The death of the firstborn. 

Moses watched as Aaron spoke to Pharaoh eight times, but on the ninth confrontation, during the plague of darkness, Moses spoke alone before Pharaoh. 

How interesting. It is often in our darkest hours that we embrace God’s strength and grace. Moses was proving that those with the deepest fears have the greatest capacity for faith. Finally, he was living out his life calling! 

  1. Do you think the initial conversation between Aaron and Moses was spontaneous, or did it feel a little awkward? Explain.

  1. How do you think Moses turned his fears into faith? 

  1. How do you think it felt for Moses to hold his own flesh-and-blood relative in his arms and to see someone who probably resembled him physically?

How Moses Saw God 

Moses was getting to know God as Jehovah-Rohi, his Shepherd. Like a shepherd, God would feed and lead Moses as he led the people of Israel. “I will be with you,” God said earlier. What music that must have been to Moses’ ears! He took this promise by faith and thus was able to step confidently into his life purpose. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40: 11). 

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 most agree and explain why on the lines that follow: 

  • When I found out my birth mother’s name and phone number, I was terrified. 
  • I need a break from adoption stuff. I am overwhelmed. 
  • I often wonder if my birth parents are alive. 
  • I am afraid to tell my adoptive parents about my desire to search. 
  • I am afraid that I might seem disloyal to my adoptive parents and I don’t want to hurt them. 
  • I know my adoptive parents would be so upset by my desire to search that I would have to “protect” them…. take care of them emotionally. 
  • The closer I get to the feelings surrounding my past, the faster I run from them. 
  • I don’t know what I would do if I were rejected at my reunion. I am afraid it would destroy me. 
  • I need someone to “hold my feet to the fire” so that I won’t avoid my past. 
  • I need to prepare myself for possible opposition and rejection at reunion. 
  • I need to be reminded often that no matter what the outcome of my search, I will grow. 


  1. How do you feel when you realize that other adoptees have feelings similar to yours? 

  1. How have significant people in your life reacted when you expressed the desire to search for your birth family? 

  1. If you haven’t expressed a desire to reunite, how do you imagine they would respond? Check whatever applies from the following: 
  • Why open THAT can of worms? 
  • That is such an important piece of your life. I understand why you would want to search for your birth family. 
  • I always thought there would be a time for this. Go for it! 
  • Let by-gones be by-gones. 
  • You’re asking for trouble. 
  • You know who you are in Christ…that is all you need to know. 
  • A quivering lip. 
  • I will support you in every way possible. 

Learning about Adoption 

Jayne Schooler writes in Searching for A Past: The Adopted Adult’s Unique Process of Finding Identity, “Denial or rejection stands as the greatest fear for any adopted person who makes the decision to search. Rejection is an opposing response to a shaky, uncertain extended hand. Rejection is the dashing of hope to embrace and be embraced, to love and to be loved by the one person who has existed only within the deep recesses of the heart.” 

  1. Have you forced yourself not to think about your birth family (denial) as well as a possible reunion with them? If so, how? 

  1. How would you deal with the pain if your birth relative rejected you? Have you counted the cost?

  1. What are some practical ways in which you could prepare yourself for a possible search?

Putting my Feelings and Needs into Words 

  1. How do you think it would feel to hear your birth mother’s voice for the first time? 

  1. With your left hand, draw the faces of your birth mother and you. (On your day of birth as well as now). 
  1. Have you learned the art of being gentle with yourself while contemplating reunion—to rest when you feel overwhelmed? What do you do to calm yourself? If you don’t know how to take care of yourself, what are some first steps? 

  1. Do you ever feel guilt when contemplating a reunion, fearing God may not approve? If so, explain.

  1. What are your needs as you contemplate reunion or facing repressed thoughts and emotions about your birth family? 

  1. What do you believe a reunion with birth relatives would do for you? What would you hope to have, if anything, after the reunion that you don’t have now?

  1. How do you feel when you realize that other adoptees have similar feelings?

Writing Letters TO and FROM My Birth Mother, 

My Adoptive Mother, and God 

  • Write a letter TO your birth mother, telling her your feelings about meeting her. 
  • Write a letter FROM your birth mother, expressing how she would respond to your letter. 
  • Write a letter TO your adoptive mother, expressing your desires (if you have them) about reunion with your birth relatives. If you have no desire to meet them, tell her why. 
  • Write a letter FROM your adoptive mother, expressing how you imagine her feelings would be about a possible reunion. Then write what you believe she would tell you after you disclose your desire. 
  • Write a letter TO God, telling him how you feel about facing your greatest fear. 
  • Write a letter FROM God, expressing his thoughts toward you at this time. 

I Shouldn't Tell Mom How Often I Think About My First Mom

I SOMETIMES FANTASIZE ABOUT MY BIRTH MOTHER. Online Adoptee Bible Study

Because tomorrow is Mother’s Day, this chapter is extremely applicable. Mother’s Day can be challenging for adoptees and foster kids. Perhaps this chapter will give you as parents a tool to talk about feelings and perspectives.

I realize the popular term now for birth mother is first mother, so apologies sent. This workbook was published back in the day:-)

The Scripture Base for Moses’ Life

Exodus 2:16-23

16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock. 

 18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?” 

 19 They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 

 20 “And where is he?” Reuel asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.” 

 21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.” 

 23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. 

The Story of Moses 

On his way to the backside of the desert to a place called Midian, Moses met and then married a woman named Zipporah. She bore him a son, and Moses named him Gershom, which means, “I have become an alien in a foreign land” (v. 22). 

In this new life as a married man and father, Moses became a shepherd for his father-in-law, Jethro. Needless to say, it was a cultural shock going from a pampered life in a palace to tending sheep in the hills of Midian. 

While tending sheep, he could slip away into a state of fantasy. At times he would imagine himself being rescued and loved by a strong, compassionate person. At other times, he envisioned himself as a member of a happy family gathered around the fireside, laughing and singing. 

Sooner or later, however, the euphoria from the fantasies turned into disappointment, frustration and anger. Even though the happy family and nurturing person were within sight through fantasy, they were just out of reach in real life. 

Moses had no idea that he was subconsciously grieving for the family he lost at adoption. One evening when Moses was deep in thought, bright orange flames illuminated the sky. For the first time in his life, his attention was drawn away from the fantasy to a power greater than his pain.

How Moses Saw God 

Moses probably knew only about dead Egyptian gods that he had been taught about in his adoptive home. He had no idea that there was a living God who was drawing him into a personal relationship. He had come face to face with Jehovah-Shammah, the God who makes his presence real and felt. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and him with me” (Revelation 3:20b). 

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 

My Fantasy

The non-identifying information fact sheet tells me,

as I scan it for the millionth time

for the answers to my questions,

that reading, golf, and water-skiing

were their hobbies.

The irony of it,

for they are mine as well.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to share just one

sun-soaked afternoon on the lake

with my knight in shining armor,

and the woman whose face I search for in a crowd? 

–Amy van der Vleit, adoptee

I was growing without a foundation—a tree without roots. I felt alienated and as I grew, so did my need to know. I often envisioned my biological father as a princely figure, a charming knight in shining armor who could solve any problem I ever had. As I continued through life, I pushed these thoughts to the back of my consciousness, yet still he found his way into my dreams. In one particularly vivid dream, we were in a peaceful green meadow with tall grass and multi-colored flowers. This is what I envision heaven to be. He was on one side of a small wooden fence, I on the other. I could not distinguish the features on his face, but he was tall and blonde, like an angel.

–Tammy Kling, adoptee 

I never thought I would meet him first. I thought it would be her, the beautiful phantom Barbie doll who stole my hidden fantasies and my darkest nightmares. But in the end, it was my biological father who became real first—the shadowy, formless life-giver whom I, as an adopted child, rarely thought of. My defenses wrote him off as a classic gun-and-run teenage father. I assumed he simply would have farmed me out to grandmothers or aunts for raising, had he nabbed custody.

–Tamara Kerrill , adoptee

I have had difficulty bringing my birth mother down to earth. I have loved her and hated her, but she has always lived above the clouds. Everyone’s mother initially resides with the gods, but she usually comes down to earth when the weather clears. Repression has a way of keeping the weather inclement. Also, one more reluctantly leaves a goddess if he has never lived with her…we search more for our image of the person we have lost than for the actual person.

–Second Choice autobiography by Robert Anderson, M.D., adoptee 

“I always liked TV shows oriented toward the ideal family. In fact, I got obsessed with them. I was looking for loving, caring parents that I made up in my mind. I fantasized about my birth mother. She lived in a brick home, but had no face.”

–Greg Ebert, adoptee

Check the statements which are most meaningful to you and explain why on the lines that follow: 

  • I need to be able to verbalize my fantasies. 
  • My deepest fantasy is to be held in my birth mother’s arms. 
  • I don’t know if I have adoption fantasies. 
  • I have always feared that my birth mother would be a bag lady. 
  • I need to learn that fantasy is a normal aspect of an adoptee’s emotional life. 
  • I need to know that I need not feel guilty for having adoption fantasies, for without them, the pain would have been unbearable. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Learning about Adoption 

Adopted children spend an exorbitant amount of psychic time in fantasy. They may seem to be sitting quietly in their rooms, or just looking out the window, when really they are deep in the Ghost Kingdom imagining scenarios that might have been or still might be…These fantasies are not just the passing fancies with which most people empower themselves at various periods of their lives but actual reality for the adoptee’s inner, secret self. They are the mother replacement: the comfort zone that the mother did not provide. They serve the function of the surrogate rag doll that experiential monkeys are given after their real mother has been taken away. They are also a form of grieving, of conjuring up the lost mother, in the same way that children grieving for lost parents are known to conjure up their ghosts. Adoptee fantasies serve a different purpose from those of the non-adopted: they are an attempt to repair one’s broken life-narrative, to dream it along.

–Journey of the Adopted Self by Betty Jean Lifton

Putting My Feelings and Needs into Words 

  1. Have you idealized certain men or women (mentors, teachers, priests, rabbis, pastors, parents of friends)? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 
  2. What are your expectations for yourself and for others?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. Do you have any repetitive nightmares? If so, describe. 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. Do people tend to disappoint you? When? How? 

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  1. Are you ever so deep in thought that you miss turns while you are driving? If so, describe. 

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  1. Is there anyone with whom you feel comfortable sharing your fantasies? If not, who would be a possibility? 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. Many adoptees say that their deepest fantasy is to be held in their birth mothers’ arms. Do you identify with this? If so, how do you think it would be? If not, what is your deepest adoption fantasy? 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. Draw a picture with your left hand of what you think it would be like to have never been adopted and to have grown up with your birth family. Then explain it to the person you are working through this workbook with, if you feel comfortable doing so. 

Writing a Letter TO and FROM my Birth Mother

  • Write a letter TO your birth mother, describing fantasies (dreams) about what she is like.
  • Write a letter of response FROM your birth mother, revealing what you think her deepest fantasies would be about you and how you think she would respond to your fantasies about her.

 Letters TO and FROM My Birth Mother

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Digging Deep for Answers to my Adoption Questions 

  1. Read Philippians 4:19…”And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” What does God promise to do with the gaping hole in your heart that causes you to fantasize? 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. What does God promise will happen if you trust him to heal you from the need to have adoption fantasies? See Psalm 22:5…”To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. How will your life change this week as a result of working through this chapter? 

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Thoughts, Insights, Goals and Prayers 

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As adoptees, we need not be ashamed of the adoption fantasies we have entertained about the perfect family or parent. They were God’s gift to keep us safe from unbearable pain until we were ready to deal with the grief.

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CAPITULO

CUATRO

“Algunas Veces Tengo Fantasías Sobre mi Familia de Nacimiento”

Éxodo 2
La Historia de Moisés

Durante su jornada en el desierto hacia un lugar llamado Madián, Moisés conoció y luego se casó con una mujer llamado Séfora. Ella le dio un hijo y Moisés lo llamo Guersón, que quiere decir “Soy un extranjero en tierra extraña.”

En su nueva vida como hombre casado y padre, Moisés trabajó como pastor para su suegro, Jetro. Sin embargo era un cambio cultural en su vida, de ser un hombre rico en un palacio a la de un pastor cuidando ovejas en las colinas de Madián.

Mientras Moisés estaba cuidando ovejas, podía pasar el rato en un estado de fantasía. Algunas veces, se imaginaba a el mismo siendo rescatado y amado por una persona fuerte y compasiva. Otras veces, el se veía a si mismo como miembro de una familia feliz reunida alrededor de una fogata, riendo y cantando.

Tarde o temprano, entonces, ésta euforia acerca de las fantasías se volvió en engaño, frustración y enojo. Aún cuando ésta familia feliz y la persona que lo crió estaban vistos el la fantasía, estaban fuera de su alcance en la vida real.

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Moisés no tenia idea que inconscientemente estaba de luto por la familia que el perdió en por su adopción.

Una noche cuando Moisés estaba pensando profundamente, una llama de color naranja brillante ilumino el cielo. Por primera vez en su vida, su atención cambió de la fantasía hacia un poder más grande que su dolor.

Como Moisés Vio a Dios

Probablemente Moisés sabia solamente de los dioses Egipcios muertos que le enseñaron en su hogar adoptivo. El no tenia idea que había un Dios vivo quien lo estaba llamando a una relación personal. El llegó cara a cara con Jehová-Shammah, El Dios que hace su presencia real y que se siente. “Si alguno oye mi voz y abre la puerta, entraré, y comeré con él, y él conmigo.” (Apocalipsis 3:20b).

Como Sienten Otros Hijos Adoptivos

Mi Fantasía Amy van der Vleit

La hoja de hechos no identificados me dice, Mientras la escaneo por la millonésima vez Por la respuestas a mis preguntas, Que leer, jugar golf y esquiar en el agua Eran sus pasatiempos.
La ironía de esto,
Es que también son mis pasatiempos ¿No sería hermoso a compartirpage41image1646614429

solamente una
Tarde llena del sol sobre un lago Con mi caballero y su armadura brillante Y la mujer a quien busco su cara Entre las multitudes?

“Yo estaba creciendo sin cimiento – un árbol sin raíces. Me sentí enajenado y mientras crecía, también creció mi necesidad a saber. Frecuentemente tengo visiones de mi padre biológico como un príncipe, un caballero encantador con su armadura brillante, quien resolvería cualquier problema que yo pudiera tener. Al continuar con mi vida, fui empujando estos pensamientos al fondo de mi consciencia, sin embargo, el encontró su camino en mis sueños. En un sueño particularmente intenso, estábamos en una pradera verde, llena de paz con pasto alto y flores de muchos colores. Así es como yo imagino al Paraíso. El estaba de un lado de una cerca de madera y yo del otro lado. Yo no pude distinguir los facciones de su cara pero el era alto y rubio, como un ángel.”

-Tammy Kling
“Yo nunca pensé que lo conocería a el primero. Pensé que iba a ser a ella, a la hermosa fantasma muñeca Barbie que robó mis fantasías escondidas y mis pesadillas más obscuras. Pero al final, era mi padre biológico quien se hizo real. La vivificante sombra, sin forma en quien yo, como un hijo adoptivo, raramente pensaba. Mis defensas lo clasifican como un clásico padre adolescente irresponsable. Si hubiera tenido custodia de

mi, me hubiera regalado a sus abuelos o tías para criarme.”

-Tamara Kerrill

Robert Anderson, MD, en su autobiografía, Segunda Elección escribe, “Yo siempre he tenido dificultades para colocar a mi madre de nacimiento con sus pies en la tierra. La he amado y odiado, pero ella siempre ha vivido arriba de las nubes. La madre de cada uno vive inicialmente con los dioses, pero ella normalmente baja a la tierra cuando el clima es bueno. La represión actúa de una manera para mantener siempre un clima inclemente. También, uno no esta dispuesto a dejar a una diosa si nunca ha vivido con ella…buscamos mas por una imagen de la persona que hemos perdido que por la persona actual”.

“Siempre me gustaron los programas del televisión orientado a la familia ideal. De hecho, me obsesioné con ellos. Siempre buscando unos padres amorosos y cariñosos que fabriqué en mi mente. Yo tenía fantasías sobre mi madre de nacimiento. Ella vivía en una casa de ladrillos, pero no tenia cara.”

-Greg Ebert

  • Necesito poder verbalizar mis fantasías.
  • Mi fantasía mas profundo es de estar en los brazos de mI madre denacimiento.
  • No se si tengo fantasías de adopción.
  • Siempre he tenido el miedo que mi madre de nacimiento sea una mujerque viva en la calle.

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• Necesito aprender que la fantasía es un aspecto normal de la vida emocional de un hijo adoptivo.

• Necesito saber que no me necesito sentir culpable por tener fantasías sobre la adopción, porque sin ellas, el dolor sería insoportable.

1. ¿Con cuales de los frases de arriba te identificas y porque?

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

Aprendiendo Sobre la Adopción

Betty Jean Lifton, en su libro Jornada del Ser Adoptivo, escribe, “Hijos adoptivos gasten un cantidad exorbitante de tiempo psíquico en la fantasía. Puede parecer que están quietos sentados en su cuarto o solamente viendo por la ventana, cuando realmente están profundamente en su Reino Fantasma imaginando escenarios que pudieron haber o todavía pueden ser. Estas fantasías no son solamente ideales pasajeros en los cuales la gente se fortifica en varios periodos de su vida, son la realidad actual para el ser interno y secreto del hijo adoptivo. Estas fantasías son el emplazamiento de su madre: la zona confortable que la madre no le dió. Tienen la función de la muñeca de trapos que dan a los changos en experimentos después que les han quitado a sus madres reales. También son una forma de duelo, de conjurar a la madre perdida. En la misma manera que hijos en luto por sus padres perdidos conjuran a sus fantasmas. Las fantasías de hijos adoptivos tienen un propósito diferente que las de los hijos que no son adoptivos: Las fantasías de los hijos adoptivos son un intento de reparar la narrativa de su vida interrumpida, para hacerlas un sueño.

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Poniendo Mis Sentimientos y Necesidades en Palabras

1.

2.

1.

2.

3.

4.

¿Has idealizado ciertos hombres o mujeres? (guías, maestros, sacerdotes, Rabinos, pastores, padres de amigos)

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

¿Cuáles son tus expectativas para a ti mismo y para los demás? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________

¿Tienes algunas pesadillas repetidas? Si es así, descríbelas. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________

¿La gente tienda a desilusionarte? ¿Cuándo? ¿Cómo? __________________________________________________________________

¿Algunas veces estás pensando tan profundamente que equivocas el lugar donde dar la vuelta cuando estas manejando un coche? Si es así descríbelo. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________

¿Hay alguien con quien te sientes cómodo para compartir tus fantasías? Si no, ¿quien sería una posibilidad? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________

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  1. Muchos hijos adoptivos dicen que su fantasía mas profunda es estar en los brazos de su madre. ¿Te identificas con esto? Si es así, ¿Cómo piensas que sería? Si no ¿Cuál es tu fantasía mas profunda acerca de la adopción? __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
  2. Haz un dibujo con tu mano izquierda de como piensas que sería el hecho de nunca haber sido adoptado y de haber crecido con tu familia de nacimiento. Después explícalo a la persona con quien estas trabajando en esta manual, solamente si te sientes cómodo.

Escribiendo Una Carta a Mi Madre de Nacimiento

1. Escribe una carta PARA tu madre de nacimiento, describiendo tus fantasías (Sueños) sobre como es ella.

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

2. Escribe una carta de respuesta DE tu madre de nacimiento revelando lo que piensas que serían sus fantasías mas profundas acerca de ti y como piensas que ella contestaría a tus fantasías acerca de ella. ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________

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Profundizando a Fondo para las Respuestas a mis Preguntas Sobre Adopción.

1. Lee Filipenses 4:19 ¿Qué es lo que Dios promete hacer con ese hoyo adentro de tu corazón que te causa fantasear? ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________

2. ¿Qué es lo que Dios promete que pasará si tienes fe en que El te sanará de la necesidad de tener fantasías sobre la adopción? Ver Salmo 22:5

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________

3. ¿Cómo va a cambiar tu vida ésta semana como resultado de completar éste capitulo?

________________________________________________________________

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Pensamientos, Percepciones, Metas y

Oraciones

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Como hijos adoptivos, no necesitamos tener vergüenza de las fantasías que hemos tenido sobre la adopción y de la familia o padre perfecto. Ellos eran un regalo de Dios para salvarnos de un dolor insoportable hasta que estuvimos listos a enfrentarlos. Porque hemos gastados tiempo en la fantasía, podemos estar confundidos sobre nuestra identidad. Vamos hablar acerca de esto en el siguiente capitulo.

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How Can Adoptees Grow In Self Awareness?

Who’s That Little Girl, Anyway?

Imagine being given an assignment to find someone you’ve never met, but someone with whom you have an unknown connection. 

The person you’re searching for is a female toddler who lives in a bungalow on a prestigious, tree-lined street. She’ll be sitting on the porch steps alone. 

 “Who’s that little girl, anyway?” you may ask yourself. Why am I searching for her?

There are mysteries surrounding this child that you must solve, even if it takes decades. 

Mysteries such as the soldier who walked by her house daily, peering in, like he’s searching for someone. Or, the superintendent of records who kept her hospital records sealed permanently.

There is much shame and pain that this child endured before being adopted. When you solve the mysteries, her life will transform from being nameless to shameless. 

Beneath the complexities surrounding her birth were threads of the divine that were always present, but not visible. Always in the details, but no one would remember. Always faithful, but not obvious.

Don’t worry, my friend. You’ll know this child the moment you see her. She’ll be donned in a pink collared dress, a ruffled bonnet, well-worn white high-top leather shoes, and saggy lace stockings. 

The clincher is that she’ll be holding her rag doll close to her heart. Embed that scene in your long-term memory, for the doll is the key for unlocking the message of comfort that you’ll communicate when the child becomes an adult.

You must be aware that she’s not the biological child of her parents, Retha and Mike, who adopted her ten days after birth. You must also know that she was a failure-to- thrive baby with special emotional and physical needs, such as sensory and learning issues.  

Early in life, her parents told her she was adopted.  As an adult, this child remembered hearing her story for the first time on the dark green French-knotted couch in the living room. 

Sharon was the name they chose, with the middle name of Lee, after her adoptive grandmother named Leah.  Little did her parents know that this  Biblical name would take on significance later in life.

Leah was a bucksome, high-spirited social worker for the county, who single-handedly operated the County Children’s home. Abandoned and abused children hoped to find refuge there.  

No one could have ever imagined that the friendships Sharon experienced in this County Children’s Home would prepare her for her life’s work in the field of adoption and foster care. 

Could That Little Girl Be My Patient?

When a county physician contacted Leah about the possibility of helping a distraught pregnant woman named Marjorie, she agreed. 

Apparently, the woman needed shelter in a local birth mother’s home until her delivery three months later.

Marjorie wanted nothing more than to put the unplanned pregnancy behind her. This certainly would be a closed chapter and a wise move toward saving her marriage. If her husband found out she was carrying a baby that wasn’t his, he’d insist on abortion.   

The next day, Leah consulted with the physician and Marjorie, a beautiful, dark-haired woman in her early twenties. Within 30 short minutes, she claimed rape by a stranger, and refused to reveal the man’s identity. 

There would be absolutely no contact with the baby after delivery- no verbal comunication of the baby’s sex and total privacy about her hospital stay. 

When labor began, Marjorie contacted Leah and the physician, who met her at the hospital. After the last push, Marjorie was drugged and wheeled away, never to be reminded of her baby again, or so she thought.

The daughter she left behind felt something warm dripping on her newborn chest. Something wet. Something comforting. Something sacred. It was the physician’s tears.

No one would know this until many years later when the physician’s granddaughter revealed that he wept at the birth of every baby he delivered, and that he was an orphan himself.

Years later, the baby, now grown, would write about those tears.

Warm tears landed on my newborn body, like a spring rain. 

 I wanted to feel them forever.

To my once-orphaned delivery doctor, life was something to be celebrated, to shed happy tears over.

I couldn’t wait to feel his tears again.

What was it about those tears that soaked into my soul?

Were they saturated with hope and comfort? Were they bright lights at the end of the traumatic tunnel of living my first nine months of life in the womb of a mother who fantasized abortion? Or, were they seeds, planted in secret to produce a great harvest later in life?

Whatever it was, I wanted more.

Orphan doctor held me up, gazed into my big brown eyes, and smiled.

My five-pound body relaxed in his big, soft hands, like a hammock on a summer’s day. I wanted to stay there forever and gaze at the clouds.

But then, the nurse bent close to the orphan-doctor’s ear and whispered something.  

Orphan doctor’s eyes pooled with tears, again.

What did she whisper?

Was there something wrong with me?

Was I ugly?

Was I too little?

Is that why she suddenly whisked me off to a dimly-lit room where pleading and  plaintiff  newborn cries hovered, like smog in LA?

Where were those large, gentle hands that first touched my five-pound body?

Where were the warm tears that celebrated my life and birth?

Where was the orphan doctor, who welcomed me to planet earth with tears?

Then, the nurse shoved me into a box of glass. I kicked and screamed bloody murder.  

I cried and cried, but the sounds bounced back, like ping pong balls.

Where is the orphan doctor?

Why doesn’t he come?

And, so I give up and go inside. It’s safe there.

Thus, the orphan doctor wouldn’t appear again in the hospital, but stopped by every week for a year to see how Baby Sharon was doing.

Could That Little Girl Be My Granddaughter?

After saying goodbye to Marjorie at the hospital, Leah wondered, “Who’s that little girl, anyway?” Who’s this precious little life that hasn’t even been given a name?  

There was something about this newborn that convinced Leah she was going to be her grandmother. Her dark hair, her olive skin, her tinyness, her need for a family and a forever home. 

The scene of the attending nurse wrapping the newborn in soft blankets and placing her in an incubator stressed Leah. And, when the nurse placed a sign that said, “Baby X”, she couldn’t hold the tears back.

Retha and Mike lived just a block from the hospital, so she drove her big black Buick onto their gravel driveway and eagerly knocked at the front door. As usual, she could see them run to meet her through the three little door windows.

With bated breath, she relayed the story about the precious newborn that needed parents and a home.

Retha and Mike said yes. 

Could That Little Girl  Be Me?

Now, I’m going to reveal my total weirdness to you. It may sound way out to you, and that’s fine. It may have innuendos of “inner child” work which I’ve deemed ridiculous for years. Or, it may help you to see the healing process of one adopted adult.

You see, friend, right there in my closet when choosing clothes for the day, I saw something strange. There was a mother and daughter standing off to my left. The mother wasn’t moving, but the pathetic-looking child next to her couldn’t stop wiping the never-ending snot from her nose.

Drawing my chin to my chest and breathing deeply,  I concluded, “What an ugly kid. I’m sure glad she’s not in my life.” 

Then, I tried to process the weird experience. Could  the mom be my mom? Nope, no resemblance. Okay, was I the mom? Not a chance, for, my two daughters were never disheveled.

Oh, no.

Does that mean I’m that disgusting child? Could I really be that child?

And then, just like a megaphone, I heard, “Will you parent her?”

How repugnant. I felt nothing but aversion for this child. and even if she were the Moses of modern day floating in a basket on the Nile, I’d let the alligators eat her for lunch.

But, could this be my calling to parent this child? If it’s my calling, I don’t want it, nor her.

And, who exactly is this child?

I am.

 Deep inside, I am.

And the rag doll? 

Why am I holding it close to my heart?

Because the rag dolly got left behind.

She needs a new mommy and I will be her mommy. 

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Suggested Resource: 20 LIFE-TRANSFORMING CHOICES ADOPTEES NEED TO MAKE: https://sherrieeldridgeadoption.blog/shop

Adoptees Can Choose
Quite often, because of trauma, adoptees see themselves as victims. They need to learn to make choices that lead away from victimy thinking and onto their life purpose.