What Adoptees Need To Get Unstuck

This is another favorite article from the Jewels News Archives by Connie Dawson, Ph.D., L.P.C.

“So, deal with it!”

This is the frequent admonishment of my older son. I’ve not always liked hearing it, especially when I was deep in the heart of my helplessness and whining.

Now, I pose this issue to those of us most affected by adoption.

When are we going to get our hats on straight?

How are we going to deal with it?

Adoption will always be a fact of life. Some parents should never have children because they don’t know how to live humanely and decently themselves, much less have those skills to rear children. Some parents got pregnant and thought it was better for them to have someone else do the rearing… and some had little choice.

Some couples should get pregnant and can’t.

It’s anything but a perfect world.

The important lessons seem often to be the ones that cause the most pain.The things that happen we should pay really good attention to are the ones that offer us an opportunity to learn the truth of unconditional love and about the illusions we hold about control. I think the stronger the lessons, the more power there is in the learning.

I’ve often said that all parties to adoption experience a break of an implied contract with God, a break in the natural order of things. Bodies were made to make babies. A baby was meant to be cared for by the woman and man who gave it life. Women who give birth are meant to keep the child close by.

During a conversation with the well-known adoptee and birthmother a few years ago, I was relieved to hear the words her mentor had given her. “You have suffered an irreparable wound.”

A burden lifted from my shoulders and in all my therapy no one had told me that I couldn’t wrap this one up meet and tidy… couldn’t fix it.

Oh, yes, I could lay gangplanks over the deepest part so I wouldn’t be swallowed up by its resources. I could cauterize the edges to heal the rawness. But I couldn’t fix it if f ixing means I take care of it and it goes away.

It doesn’t go away, Neither does it have to be the ball and chain around my ankle. It doesn’t have to make me feel I should apologize for being who and what I am. It doesn’t mean my life purpose is to protect others from their lessons. It only means I’ll take care of my own. And I will accept that this wound will continue to instruct me for the rest of my life.

A case in point: A birth mother was quoted in a newspaper article in a distant town. She was responding to a question about how she felt about finding the son she relinquished, only to have him say she didn’t want he didn’t when contact. If a reunited adoptee is expected to fix his mother’s pain, the future of their relationship is not right. She has to do that for herself.

I am willing to arbitrarily say that un-grieved infertility and denying that creating a family by means of adoption is different from creating a family by birth will keep adoptive parents from developing a deeper level of trust and closeness with our children. Trust will be highly correlated with their own healing.

Adoptees who blame everyone for the pain they feel, give away their power. They are held captive by the very ones they resent, as though they can’t change unless someone else makes the first move, take responsibility. As adults, we are free to do that whenever we are ready to feel more powerful.

When we don’t deal with and accept responsibility for our own pain, it is bound to be visited upon others. Unfinished business creeps up in the most unexpected places and in opportune times.

The prognosis for all of us looks clearer and brighter as we learn to attend our own fields.

We reap what we sow.

Adoption just IS.

What separates us from one another is how we handle it.


Sherrie’s and Lauren’s Help for Adopted and Foster Teens

So, I know parents are asking how they can help their kids through this challenge. One way is to use my Twelve Steps for Adopted Teens Workbook. This was created years ago with a teen who had just come out of residential care.

12 Steps for Adopted Teens

  1. I admit that I am overwhelmed by the feeling that something inside doesn’t feel right.
  2. I realize that only Someone stronger than me can help the mixed-up feelings go away.
  3. I ask God to take care of me and help me learn how to trust him.
  4. I look deep in my heart and discover how I have hurt God, others, and myself.
  5. I tell God and the person that I trust exactly how I have hurt others.
  6. I ask God to take away how bad I feel about hurting him and others.
  7. I asked God how I can become his child.
  8. I make a list of everyone I have hurt and need to apologize to.
  9. I go to the people I have heard and say I am sorry, unless it would hurt them or someone else.
  10. I keep track of every day of how I hurt others and ask themRight a way to forgive me.
  11. I try everyday get to know God by reading the Bible, praying, ending with other Christians.
  12. I reach out to those that are still hurting and live daily is Jesus

Twelve Promises for Teens

  1. Adoption is filled with pain as well as pleasure and a part of my life I cannot change.
  2. Feeling sad about losing my birth family is normal.
  3. Taking care of myself when I feel sad or like something inside isn’t right means that I am growing in self-esteem.
  4. Taking responsibility for strong emotions means I am learning to be accountable to God and others.
  5. Choosing to admit that I want to hurt myself is not a sign of weakness, but strength.
  6. God will never abandon me even when my emotions tell me something else.
  7. God loves every part of me–even the parts I cannot see.
  8. Honesty frees me up to be all God created me to be.
  9. Only God can create a life. My life is no mistake. I am his creation.
  10. God has a special plan for my life in human history that no one else can fill.
  11. Evidence that I am doing what God wants is that I am filled with joy.
  12. Reaching out to others who are hurting blesses me as well as them.

Two Prayers that Connect Teens with God

Dear God,
Please help me accept the things I can’t change, courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen!

Creative Project for Teens

Create 3 collages showing:

  1. Your painful past
  2. Your growth
  3. Your promising future