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

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

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:

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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. 

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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?

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

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  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

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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? 

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  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.”

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  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?

____________________________________________________________

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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.

______________________________________________________________

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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

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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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Who’s That Little Girl, Anyway?

How Can Adoptees Grow In Self Awareness?

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.

The Power of An Adoptive Mom’s Non-Abandoning Heart

How Adoptive Moms Can Prevent Fears of Abandonment in their Kids With Their Non-Abandoning Heart

Looking back on my life as an adopted person, I am certain that my Mom gifted me with a non-abandoning heart:

  • I will do everything possible to connect with my child
  • I will still love her even when she rejects me
  • I will love unconditionally, knowing her back story
  • I will love her even though I am afraid
  • I will love her by telling her the truth about her backstory.
  • I will keep loving her even though I receive no love in return.
  • I will go to my grave knowing I’ve done my absolute best for her.

That rare gift of a non-abandoning heart can be illustrated by this story about a forest ranger who was surveying the results of a forest fire in California. 

All the mighty redwoods were but an ash heap. 

Kicking his way through the ashes, he came upon a mysterious clump, which he kicked to the side. Immediately, baby chicks scurried out from their dead mama’s body.

What a mom she was to those scurrying chicks…and what a mom my mom was to me…her scurrying chick.

What Moms Can Do

  1. Place A Bandaid

Place a bandaid over your heart. No one will know it is there but you. Every time you see the bandaid, remember your profound wound and speak a few affirmations over yourself:

  • I am deeply loved.
  • I am this child’s mom and no one can ever take my place.
  • Even though my child can’t receive my love, it won’t be lost.
  • I am more than enough to meet my child’s need for a good mom.

  1. Envision Your Survivor Scar

Enjoy these quotes about scars:

  • Every scar tells a story–a story that you survived.
  • Scars are like battle wounds–they show off what you’ve been through and how strong you are.
  • Scars are proof of healing.
  • Every scar I have makes me who I am.
  1. Good Books. Audio versions ideal:
  • Book: WISE ADOPTIVE PARENTING: When Kids Struggle to Adopt Their Parents, by Ronald J. Nydam. Ron is my friend, colleague, therapist, pastor, and author. He’s worked with adoptive families for years and is savvy about the disconnect between kids and parents.
  • Book:  KEEP THE DOORS OPEN: Lessons Learned from A Year of Foster Parenting, 2019, by Kristin Berry. Moms, you will love this irresistible book by my friend, Kristin Berry. Her writing is engaging and powerful. You’ll end up edified. Available in audio.
  • Web Site: Confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com. You won’t believe the plethora of services they have for adoptive and foster parents. Best I’ve seen.
  • Book: 20 THINGS ADOPTED KIDS WISH…A Daily Devotional for Adoptive Parents, by Sherrie Eldridge. Available on Kindle.

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Validating The Profound Wound of Adoptive Moms

Validation of The Adoptive Mom's Profound Wound

Moms, when you considered adopting, you wanted nothing more than to become a safe haven of love for your child, but instead, without either you nor your child desiring it, unresolved adoptee anger bonded you together in a seemingly impossible situation.

It was that way for my mom and me. She wanted to pour love into me from day one when my maternal grandmother brought me home on adoption day. After Dad held me and declared that “you were so tiny, I could hold you in the palm of one hand,” he handed me off to mom.

Immediately, my ten-day old body arched and cried bloody murder. I’m sure mom was aghast. How could she pour love into this defiant child? She had no idea that I was trying to communicate in the only way I knew that I just lost the love of my life–my birth mom. 

It’s likely that you’ve heard no one talk about this tumultuous, anger-driven relationship between many moms and adopted kids. Without pointing a finger, consider being an adoption agency professional arranging an adoption. Would you not put the upcoming adoption in jeopardy if you shared the possibility of an adversarial relationship between mom and child? And, how could you comfort naive parents who are now experiencing it in real time? 

What message have adoptive and foster parents received? Because there was likely no affirmation of the possibility of this kind of relationship developing, parents were terrified of adoptee anger, for they can’t spank it away, teach it away, woo it away, or love it away. 

And, adoptees fear their tiger-like anger originates from a hidden character flaw, possibly from a missing generation. If they hear others talking about “the bad gene,” they’re secretly paranoid.

This transparency is new territory,  just being plowed as you read this book. I’m  an old adoptee, finally free from anger’s choking grip, and ready to announce that this painful situation between moms and kids is not impossible to heal. 

As you may know, I’m a veteran in the world of adoption and as an author, I thought I’d written every book I ever wanted to. However, radical things began happening in my life that seem worthy to share. 

Alien thoughts flooded my mind, but at the same time, the last two years have been almost like waking up from surgery, where you vaguely hear the recovery room nurse’s voice in the distance. 

Maybe my brain chemistry changed. You hear all these things in adoption circles about how the brain is damaged by trauma, and yet can heal. So I rummaged through all my books about the brain..in vain.

Let me give examples of the unexplainable thought reversals. 

Junk Became Treasure

One day I thought about mom’s wedding rings. Why? I carried them for 53 years without a thought, from geographical move to geographical move, and considered them pieces of junk. Tarnished beyond belief, with all the diamonds missing, I wondered why I hadn’t thrown them away.

However, now I quickly pawed through my messy and overcrowded jewelry box to see if they were still there. Oh, my goodness, they were, lying beneath my custom jewelry.

Why would I be searching for my late mom’s wedding rings when we had a tumultuous relationship? And, yet, the thoughts kept coming. What was it like on the evening that Mom and Dad were engaged?  Did Dad get down on his knee to propose? And, was she the blushing, soon-to-be bride, dreaming of a house, children, and happiness forever? 

With hands shaking, I put the rings on my tarnished rings on my finger and ran into my husband Bob’s office to show them off, like a kid. Just a month ago, while eating pizza at our favorite restaurant, he pulled out a small box. He’d gotten them refurbished without my knowledge. I wear them to this day.

Not only did my junk become treasure, but my painful memories became pleasant.

Painful Memories Became Pleasant

As I shared earlier, the relationship between mom and me was stressful beyond belief for most of my growing up years. Being in her presence was like running long, manicured fingernails over a black board.

But suddenly, is this turn of events inside me, the negativity disappeared and I saw mom’s care for me in a new light. I could smell her best-in-town apple pie, feel her hands gently rubbing oil on my asthmatic chest, and see her carry for Dinny Dinwit, my cat.

The change in memories went all the way back to adoption day.  When the caseworker brought me through the front door, she couldn’t help but fall in love. It was at that moment that one of her rarest gifts surfaced—her non-abandoning heart.

She would reverse the script of abandonment to one of safety and belonging. She would love this baby with every fiber of her being.

And so, over the span of a lifetime, mom gifted me, even though I didn’t realize it until it was too late.

Mom dropped over dead of a heart attack when I was only 36. Because she and dad were in Florida, we rushed to Dad’s side. I’ll never forget how they loaded her casket into the jet three days later.

Mom gifted me with the non-abandoning heart over the years by living by these legacy markers:

  • I will do everything possible to connect with my child
  • I will still love her even when she rejects me
  • I will love unconditionally, knowing her back story
  • I will love her even though I am afraid
  • I will love her by telling her the truth about her back story.
  • I will keep loving her even though I receive no love in return.
  • I will go to my grave knowing I’ve done my absolute best for her.

That rare gift of a non-abandoning heart can be illustrated by this story about a forest ranger who was surveying the results of a forest fire in California. 

All the mighty redwoods were but an ash heap.  Kicking his way through the ashes, he came upon a mysterious clump, which he kicked to the side. Immediately, baby chicks scurried out from their dead mama’s body.

What a mom she was. She refused to leave her offspring even though fire raged around her.  She accomplished her life’s mission and legacy of gifting her babies with a non-abandoning heart.

What a mom she was to those scurrying chicks…and what a mom my mom was to me.

And so, moms, I offer the truths that brought me freedom, not claiming exclusive rights or guaranteed positive outcomes, but simply with the hope that you will be encouraged to press on.

This post is a wake-up, hope-drenched, revolutionary strategy for healing the adversarial relationships between adoptees and moms. 

Without a doubt, your level of fatigue is off the charts and I don’t want you to feel like these 20 strategies are one more thing you must do. Far from it. Read a few pages, or even just one, even if you have to seclude yourself from screaming kids in the bathroom.

I promise to meet you there but I must warn you that this book will not be a feel-good read. No warm fuzzies or heart-shaped emojis. No steaming bedtime tea and cookies. After all, you’re desperate for hope, right? And, I’m desperate to give it.

Let’s lay the historical groundwork from the world of adoption that will enable us to be thrilled about participating in such pioneering work with your adopted child. 

Adoptees love the seminal work of  Nancy Verrier in her best-selling book THE PRIMAL WOUND: Understanding the Adopted Child. Verrier’s wisdom teaches that without acknowledging and validating deep wounds, healing can’t begin. 

Since publication more than twenty years ago, many adoptees have dog-eared it’s pages, quoted it, and carried it around, like a security blanket. 

And, rightly so. This indeed, is the adoptee’s “aha book.” In essence, it says, “Yes, it hurts like hell to lose your first family. Yes, you have a right to be angry. Yes, your cry is  heard.”

However, twenty years later, many adoptees are stuck in the validation phase of healing. The majority are stuck in tumultuous relationships, rage, and passive hate. We don’t know if there’s any next steps that we may take to be free of our painful past.

The majority of people in the world of adoption give kudos to Ms. Verrier, including me. But, it’s time to move on toward healing for your adopted child and your relationship with him/her. 

It’s time for you to have your own “aha book,” don’t you think? Time to have your deep wounds validated, time to bring you into contact with other moms with similar experiences, and time to gain hope that your child can heal from the adversarial relationship with you….which by the way, you don’t deserve. But, we’ll talk more about those dynamics in next posts.

Validating the Profound Mom Wound 

Not only must you understand the depth of your child’s wound, but also your own. Rejection from your own beloved child hurts. I don’t pretend to understand, but I do know what it feels like to be rejected by your first mom. 

Not only did she send me away after birth, not wanting to know anything about me, but she rejected me twenty years ago when we were reunited. What began as a fairy-tale reunion ended in gut-wrenching rejection.

When I think about you and your challenging calling as a mom, I remember the story of little Jessica McClure, who fell headlong down an abandoned well shaft in Midland, Texas.  The shaft was only eight inches in diameter and twenty-two feet deep. 

Can you imagine how Jessica’s parents must have reacted? Maybe they couldn’t eat, or refused to? Maybe they slept outside by the excavation site? Maybe out-of-control emotions drove them to a huge dose of valium, or several swigs of whisky?

Finally, after fifteen hours, a highly-trained worker gained access into the shaft, untangled Jessica,  and put her in the arms of her waiting parents, who sobbed uncontrollably, as did a vigilant country. 

Is this not reminiscent of your story too, moms? Your child fell into a deep hole when she lost her first family. You can barely stand to think about what was happening in that hole. If only you could take her place in the hole. You’d gladly offer.

Just like Jessican’s parents, the incredibly frustrating part is that you can’t do anything to help your child. She’s inaccessible. She’s “lost” to you. 

Could it be that this a place in your heart that’s so humbled by your child’s pre-adoption suffering that produces such helplessness that you don’t know quite where to turn or what to do with yourselves? Could this be your primal wound?

Just like Jessica’s hours in the shaft, your child suffered prior to adoption. It may be the orphanage workers who tied her down with ropes onto her bed because she was a “wiggly one.” It may be the suffering of a toddler fried in hot oil by his mother. Or, the pre-birth suffering inflicted by a drug-addicted mom.

Even though many moms may know the particulars of their child’s pre-adoption sufferings, there is still that deep agony in your hearts for the unknown-to-you trauma your child experienced. The part that may shut off access to your child’s heart.

After all, what would they say about the accident to a young child? Would they act like it never happened and that everything was fine now that they had her home again? Would they ask her directly what it was like to hardly be able to breathe in that dark hole? 

Those thoughts have likely entered your mind also. How can I connect meaningfully with such a wounded child?

Thus, we’ve thanked Verrier for her contribution to adoption literature, we’ve verbalized your profound wound as a mom, and now we must push on to the exciting part–the next steps. Next blog!

I love you, moms, and am in your corner.

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The Deadly Secret of Adoptive and Foster Moms

What Adoptive Moms Can Do Instead of Cracking UP

What do many adoptive and foster moms suffer intensely from that they keep secret? What causes them to push themselves to the hilt, unable to think of anything but caring for their child while never caring for themselves?

The answer is Compassion Fatigue, which is a state of extreme distress and preoccupation with the suffering of their adopted children. It is now being called a secondary trauma stress disorder.

This is no small thing. A friend once said that her physician warned that she’d die if she didn’t start taking care of herself.

The first thing that comes to mind when I read the words “Compassion Fatigue” is PTSD–the horrific psychological trauma soldiers experience during and after battle. Adoptive and foster moms aren’t on duty overseas, but they’re at home, battling for the welfare of their adopted and foster kids. They’d do anything for those kids, including being rejected repeatedly by them. They just want their children to thrive, discover, and enjoy the life purpose for which they were created.

Is it really any wonder that adoptive moms suffer from Compassion Fatigue? Research proves that adoptive parents invest more time and financial resources in their children compared to biological parents. The study, by sociologists at Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Connecticut, found that two-parent adoptive parents not only spend more money on their children, but they invest more time, such as reading to them, talking with their children about their problems or eating meals together.  Society often tells people that adoption isn’t normal,” said IUB Professor Brian Powell, who focuses on the sociology of the family. “When people make the decision that they want to have children and then use unusual means to have them, they compensate for the barriers.”   https://www.asanet.org/galleries/default-file/Feb07ASRAdoption.pdf.

With this is mind, with the raw reality being exposed, let’s take a close look at Compassion Fatigue, and then learn something new that may encourage beyond belief. You will also be able to take a test to see where you’re at in dealing with Compassion Fatigue.

What Really Causes Compassion Fatigue

What causes compassion fatigue is a boldfaced lie that the enemy of mom souls relentlessly whispers, “You are not enough. Not enough as a mom. Not enough to meet the needs of your adopted child.”

I know for a fact that my Mom (Retha) believed the lie. How could she not have upon learning that her daughter was a failure to thrive baby? How could she not have upon watching her best friend who was a nurse, bathe her baby? How many nights did she cry herself to sleep, wondering why she couldn’t me to eat formula? How many nights did she weep over my loose life style?

This is partly a spiritual battle, moms. If the enemy of your soul can keep you in fear that you’re not enough, discouragement is sure to follow.

Please read this illustration about discouragement: It was advertised that the devil was going to put up his tools for sale. On the day of the sale, the tools were placed for public inspection, each being marked with its sale price. They were a treacherous lot of implements–hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride. Laying apart from the rest was a harmless looking tool, very well worn but priced extremely high. What is the name of this tool, asked one of the shoppers. Ah, said the devil, that is discouragement.

When asked why he priced it so high, he said, “Oh, because it’s more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get into a man’s heart with that, and when I’m inside, I can make him do whatever I choose. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, but few people know it belongs to me.

The devil’s price for discouragement was so high that it was never sold… and, discouragement is still his tool today.

Please note that I’m not saying you have a spiritual problem–I’m saying that lies are often aimed at the most vulnerable part of you–your mothering.

What Characterizes Compassion Fatigue

 When a mom is suffering compassion fatigue, she can’t stop trying to help her child. It’s like banging her head against a brick wall. It hurts, but she can’t stop. This is called repetition compulsion.

This mom may say, “If I try again, surely my child will respond.” And so, these moms operate out of fear. What if I can’t meet my child’s needs? Will he/she have to be sent away to residential care? What if my child keeps lying at school? Will she ever be able to graduate? What if my child is so miserable that he kills himself? What if my daughter won’t quit cutting?

My mom sat up til the wee hours of the night, waiting for me to return from “sketchy” dates. I can still see her slumping in the chair when I pushed the front door open, trying to hide wrinkled clothes. Perhaps she thought, “If I am here when she comes home one more time, maybe she’ll stop parking with her boyfriend and doing the unmentionable on county roads.”

In addition, moms may feel like a gerbil on a wheel, relentlessly spinning and going nowhere. Try, try, try, with no response. In fact, the child may regress. The baby keeps arching, the lying child delights in covering up and screams hateful words, and the sleeping-around teen now smokes marijuana. 

What Compounds Compassion Fatigue

What intensifies compassion fatigue is judgmental outsiders. They have not a clue of what moms is endure.

It’s the school counselor who declares the adopted child acts just fine at school. It’s the religious lady who gossips to other worshippers that the father has no problems parenting. It’s the goody-two-shoe fellow adoptive parent who says her kids never act like that.

It is shame that forces moms to not share their pain with anyone. There must be something wrong with me. I’m a mess of a mom.

And, with all this pressure, what is a mom to do?

The sad fact is that she isolates herself, usually with no support whatsoever.

This breaks my heart, moms. I have created a FB page just for you where you can encourage one another. @adoptedkidsrejectlove, or What Parents Can Do When Adopted Kids Reject Their Love.

What Calms Compassion Fatigue

  1. Learning About Your Child’s Longterm Memories

So, if a mom is being constantly rejected by her child, if all her efforts to help are like pouring into a bucket with a hole, she wonders if the foundation she’s trying to lay will ever set.

My backstory is that I had absolutely no warm memories of mom, nor of almost anything she did for me…until her dying day. Whenever I shared the process of how healing occurred for me, moms would ask, and rightly so, “What is it that made the change? How can I know that my son or daughter will have what you got?”

Even though mom didn’t understand what I’m about to share, she must have kept on. laying a foundation for me. What she didn’t know about, nor did I until recently, is that memories can be lost. Those are called long-term memories. They’re like a lost glove. You still own it, but you can’t use it.

Let’s get heady for a moment? Let’s discuss how long-term memories are made in your child’s brain. Longterm memories are like the hard drive on your computer. These memories have an actual physical presence in the brain–in the hippocampus. 

When a new long-term memory is being made, neurons make physical connections and synapses with each other, and encode information. For example, as a child, the smell of mom’s apple pie was encoded in my brain repeatedly, with each apple pie.

So, moms, take heart that your loving deeds are not lost. Your child’s brain makes them into memories and embeds them for further use. Is that not comforting?

Reflecting on my relationship with Mom, I can now smell her essence, like a fine, expensive perfume. Even though the bottle is empty, I can still distinguish the fine fragrance.

 If I would have been handed the full bottle of perfume as a kid or teen, I’d either grab it and throw it to the ground, stomp on it while screaming, or plug my nose and run in the opposite direction.

Was I just a character-flawed kid? Were the genes stacked against me? Was there no hope for me to someday be able to cherish the fragrance of the perfume?

Of course not. I was one kid whose brain was telling her to move and attack, to rage, and to shut the world out completely.

The second thing that will surely calm Compassion Fatigue is self-care–the thing you need the most, but usually ignore.

2. Practicing Self-Care (Honoring Yourself)

Moms, think years ahead to the day that your child will say goodbye and go off to college, marriage, or total independence.

Imagine him jumping into the car in trashy clothes, pulling out of the driveway, and non-chalantly waving goodbye. What words would you say? “Bye…take good care of yourself….I love you?”

How can you ever expect and hope that your child will take care of himself? Where is he going to master the skills of self-care? Are they even on his radar screen? And, what about the “love you” part? How can he love others when he can’t love you, when he absolutely rejects love?

It is entirely possible for self-care and love to be on his radar screen because self-care can be modeled by you in the midst of the chaos and brokenness. And, your loving mom actions will show him how to love others.

As important as it is to make sure you are learning about what your child will need from you, it is equally important to tune in to your own heart; learn to recognize your needs; take time to honor yourself.

 What Moms Can Do

  1. Rest! Can someone help you take a “mental health day?” A spouse or friend? I do this often and I stay in bed and watch something that I’ve loved, like Call the MidWife tv program.

2. Go on a Mom Retreat. What an incredible experience to be with those who parent in the trenches, like you, and with speakers that know where you’re at and what ministers most to you.

3. Asses the level of your compassion fatigue: Symptoms of Compassion fatigue are listed here by @stress.org (The American Institute of Stress):

– Affects many dimensions of your well-being

– Nervous system arousal (Sleep disturbance)

– Emotional intensity increases

– Cognitive ability decreases

– Behavior and judgment impaired

– Isolation and loss of morale

– Depression and PTSD (potentiate)

– Loss of self-worth and emotional modulation

– Identity, worldview, and spirituality impacted

– Beliefs and psychological needs-safety, trust, esteem, intimacy, and control

– Loss of hope and meaning=existential despair

– Anger toward perpetrators or causal even

4. Take a bubble bath.

5. Find an adoption-competent therapist. Check with Center for Adoption Support, or Heather Talbot Forbes.

6. Identify a sport that you really like and sign up for a class.

BTW–I can not only smell Mom’s best-in-town apple pie, but I can make a mean one myself.

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