Confessions of An Angry Adoptee

While the hubs and I were waiting for youngest daughter to arrive at the restaurant, i suddenly saw her and enter.

I stood enthusiastically and waved.

My hand went up so fast that it careened over a glass of water, throwing it a foot from the table, and spreading underneath the chairs and onto the menus.

Of course, it was no big deal….we all laughed about it.

But, that incident reminded me of my anger, which can be forceful, spewing itself in damaging ways over every person I love.

We feel emotions more intensely than many non-adopted humans, for we have pre-adoption traumas that affect us right down to the cellular level.

But, isn’t anger supposed to be a good thing?

Yes!  Our emotions are a gift, meant to help us.

But, anger can become toxic if not processed.

Anger Can Be Connected to Another Emotion

Anger is often connected to another emotion, such as sadness or fear.

Sadness leads to depression, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Insomnia took over and for five nights I was wide awake. Walking and exercising didn’t help. It was hell.

Everything that came out of my mouth were words of condemnation—at myself. I couldn’t stop myself.

When I was 47, I was hospitalized for depression. The depression was chemical and I was helpless to overcome it. I couldn’t even talk. I spent ten nights and days in the hospital’s lock-down unit.

Never, ever will I forget my husband and adult daughter going through those doors at the end of the day.

I ran after them and learned that the doors were locked.

The orderlies, dressed in professional whites, stood stone-faced.

In desperation, I ran to the nearest sofa and curled up in a ball.

Is it ever hard telling all this. This is the first time I’ve ever shared these details. I do so in hopes it may speak to you if you are depressed.

Because I lost touch with reality, I was given strong anti-psychotic drugs that made me feel like a space cadet.

So, I spent ten nights in lock down, with way-out people. A schizo patient took off her clothes every night and ran circles around the unit.

Why was I put with all these crazy people?

All I needed was a good night’s sleep.

The meds the nurses gave before bed didn’t work.

Finally, I let out a scream.

Nurses came running.

A strong shot enabled me to drift off to sleep.

In the nine days that followed, humiliating group experiences filled my days.

Why, oh why, would they require me and others to play with building blocks?

A man who sat next to me owned a prosperous car dealership in Indianapolis.

Depression can befriend anyone.

Anger Can Kill

While in the lockdown unit, I passed the rooms of patients who were on IVs.

When I asked what was wrong with them, the nurse said that they were suffering from depression.

Say what?

Isn’t depression just being sad? Isn’t it something everyone gets over?

No, depression can take your life.

How awful.

Did that mean my life was in danger?

What was causing this?

I had to know.

How sobering to read these stats:

    • Emotional issues may place us at risk for developing heart problems (American Heart Association)
    • Anger precedes and can actually trigger a heart attack
    • People who harbor their anger are twice as likely to have a heart attack, die. (Circulation, May 2000)

There was not a clue at the end of the ten-day stint what the cause of my depression.

The only thing I could concentrate on was: “one foot in front of the other.”

Leaving the hospital, I was determined to find out the cause through weekly counseling.

My personal experience with depression makes me passionate to pass this vital information on to you, fellow adoptees.

Anger Can Be Assessed

We’ve got to make self care a priority, which requires making an anger assessment. Not for anyone else, which is usually our focus.

It’s time to take care of ourselves.

Here are some symptoms of anger.

How many can you identify with?

    • My cup is half empty most of the time
    • Others are intimidated in my presence
    • That bottle of wine isn’t enough to numb my pain
    • I use drugs to escape my problems
    • I smoke like a smokestack
    • I  feel guilty all the time and constantly apologize
    • I’m can’t lose weight and I’ve had it with diets
    • I’m out of control and don’t know what to do
    • My anxiety, especially in social situations, cripples me
    • I have physical symptoms, but docs don’t give diagnosis
    • It’s impossible to get to sleep and stay asleep
    • It feels good to cut myself
    • I am a people pleaser
    • I am loyal to a fault
    • I’ve had several speeding tickets
    • I use inappropriate humor
    • I am sarcastic
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Conflicts in primary relationships
    • Anorexia or bulimic
    • Chronically late to important functions
    • My temper flares easily

Anger Can Numb

Months after beginning counseling, questions about my adoption surfaced.

Who was my birth mother?

Would she ever want to meet me?

Where in heck were these questions coming from?

Was I totally losing it?

Guilt flooded me for voicing such curiosities.  After all, it wasn’t all supposed to be a secret?

And, no, my mom hadn’t hid things from me.

I was told about my adoption as a young child, along with enticing facts about the people involved in the saga. The doc who delivered me stopped by every week after my homecoming to check on me and there was a soldier who walked by our house everyday, peering in the windows from a distance.

If someone said my anger  stemmed from my losing my birth mother at relinquishment, I would have blown them off, like dandelion fuzz.

How crazy is that?

I didn’t even know her.

Just hearing that suggestion was incredibly irritating.

Maybe this is where you’re at…and if so, let me assure you that it’s a good place to be.

The pot has been stirred for the revelation of your incredible life purpose.

Someday, all this will make sense.

I promise.

Just be willing to work with me, okay?

We’ll talk about that in the next blog.

Stay with me?!

Sign up…right hand corner.

Why Some Adoptees Are Angry and Others Aren’t

Say What? You're Not Angry?

Imagine a five-year old whose parents were wiped out in a car wreck. She’s just attended their funeral and then witnessed their coffins lowered six feet into the ground.

If you were to strike up a conversation with this child as her aunt takes her hand and leads her to the car, what do you believe the child would say?

Would she throw a fit and resist your appearance and voice, or would she compliantly go to the car, with a fake smile?

Just like the little girl, we adoptees either resist those we are placed with, or comply with their expectations in order to avoid further rejection.

Those Who Struggle with Anger/Depression

The majority of adoptees I know struggle with anger/depression issues. I like to use the word “misplaced” because I believe most adoptee anger is misplaced.

It’s primarily against the first mom for going on in life without us, but since she’s not present in at least the parenting role, that anger targets the mom that is nearby, the mom who is parenting.

Those in this category have no trouble acknowledging the anger challenges of being adopted. This includes me, who until the past year couldn’t understand why I emitted anger from my presence, like a leaky car pipe.

Those Who Live A Life of Flashy Denial

But then, there are those adoptees and foster kids and parents who live a life of flashy denial.

Whenever I write about adoptee anger, they come out of the woodwork. They believe it their duty to tell me they’ve never been angry…especially at their moms. After all, their love is flawless.

When they hear about other adoptees getting into deep straits with anger or depression, they thank God Almighty that they’re not like that.

Frankly, I want to erase their messages.

I’ve met many denial freaks like this in the past. As time passes, new tides come in and suddenly adoption is a salient issue.

For those adoptees who admit their neediness, along with me, there is something we can do to move forward toward healing.

I believe the ugly thoughts that come from such brokenness must be validated. This will increase self-awareness and enable us to eventually grow up.

First, consider the adoptee’s or foster child’s relationship with the adoptive mother. These poor moms want nothing more than to be that haven of love for their children who experienced pre-placement trauma, or for some difficult reason, have been removed from their original home.

I think out of every person involved in adoption, the adoptive and foster moms are the individuals I admire the most.

Oh, I know we’re to not have favorites, but I can’t help myself.

They’re in a war they never chose, in a place they don’t belong, and in an ocean that is life-defying.

Suppose her child says, “You’re such a loser, mom. Why should I ever listen to you?”

First, this mom can see through her child’s eyes and understand what her statement really means. “My daughter is trying to tell me that she thinks about herself as a loser. It is really self-hatred.”

Then, she can anchor herself with truth-soaked affirmations:

  • God loves me dearly.
  • He has every day of my life planned, including this one.
  • He is here with me in the messiness of helping my child heal.
  • God has called me to parent this child.

Last, she would be willing to reflect the adoptee thought back, “I hear that you see me as a loser mom. I think being a loser mom entitles me to love you, right?”

So, the adoptee hears and is validated.

Then, I would encourage the mom to say, “And, even though it hurts to be a loser mom, I will always love you.”

Parents, I realize you’ve not been taught to do this, but I believe it is essential for your child’s development, for emotional intelligence.

I wish my mom would have given me this kind of truth.

I love you all and am cheering you on.

When I never kept curfews and kept mom waiting up for hours, I wish she would have told me how exhausted she was.

Tell me your response to this post? What do you agree with, disagree with?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Adoptees and Foster Kids Need to Know About Anger

What Has MisPlaced Anger Told You?

Never did I imagine writing a book about adoptee anger, for it was such an integral part of me, like tea is to water.

As a baby, I certainly wasn’t aware of it, but my adoptive mom (Retha) was.

All she knew was that my stiffened body refused her warm touch and whenever she tried feeding me formula, I arched and cried bloody murder.

Looking back after all these decades, I believe Retha translated my behavior as, “I knew I couldn’t do this. I might have done alright with a normal baby, but a special needs baby? I don’t have what it takes to be her mother.”

In the only way my newborn self could communicate, I was saying, “I’m hurting so incredibly bad. Don’t touch me, or I’ll die. I can’t take any more pain. And, besides, you are a stranger to me. I want my first mom.”

So,Retha thought this was normal and so did I.

Can you see why our relationship was challenging?

Of course you can.

Thus, the confusing, fear-based, loss-based mother/child relationship began.

The Mother/Child Dance Begins

It was like a dance. Retha led with fear and I responded with anger.”

Mom was not in touch with who she really was, her authentic self. Oh, the real her would peek through the clouds once in a while, but for the most part, she was operating out of fear and inadequacy.

How I wish someone would have told her that she was providentially chosen to be my mom and that she’d be given all resources to meet my needs.

However, even if someone would have told her that, she wouldn’t have been able to receive it.

And for my part in the dance, I believed that this raucous anger was a part of me. I never questioned it, but just tried to conquer it with self-help books and prayers.

Neither worked.

Two Kinds of Anger

What I didn’t know is that for the adoptee, there are two kinds of anger—real, God-given anger for when we’re in danger. It’s the proverbial red light on the dashboard, alerting us to the fact that something needs attention.

The other kind of anger is mis-placed anger, which runs rampant in adoptee and foster kid hearts.

It’s based on lies we’ve come to believe and never question…after all, it’s just part of us, right?

No, not right.

Misplaced adoptee anger is our enemy.

But, we don’t know it’s our enemy, nor do we question the beliefs it’s built on. We just accept it with all it’s lies.

It’s not the real us, fellow adoptees.

Misplaced anger stunts growth, cripples with fear, and binds with bone-chilling shame.

For adoptees, it communicates:

    • Your life is a mistake, you know? Don’t tell anyone this.
    • Your birth mother didn’t care squat about you.
    • Your adoptive parents don’t know much and never “get it.”

For Rethas:

    • God never wanted you to be a mother. That’s why you couldn’t have “your own” kids.
    • There’s no way on God’s green earth that you’ve be able to successfully parent this child.
    • Screw it. I’m so hurt that it’s not worth keeping on loving this angry child.

How I wish someone would have taught me about this earlier, for I’m now in my 70s and just learning it.

What a difference it would have made to both mom and me. But, it is what it is.

The Source of Misplaced Anger

This portion is so critical to our understanding of healthy anger and misplaced anger that I’m going to share what I’ve learned about how to be free from it’s effects.

What I’m going to share is the spiritual dimension to all relationships.

Fellow adoptee, on the day you were born, your attending physician and nurse and bio mom weren’t the only ones in the room.

The enemy of your soul was also there and was whispering lies that you wouldn’t be able to recognize as lies.

That enemy was saying this about you. “I’m going to kill her, one way or another. I know the impact she could have on her world and I don’t want her to ever succeed at that.”

It was then that Jesus said, “This child is mine. I will never abandon or forsake her. My blood flows through her veins.”

And so, both moms and kids have a common enemy—the arch enemy…Satan.

If this is off your radar screen, will you please just set this piece of information aside…it’s okay.

And, so Retha and I began the mother/daughter dance on the wrong foot and for subsequent decades, danced to the drum beat of misplaced anger.