Adopted Children and Feelings of Abandonment
To all of you who are adopted….I understand! I have been there…I have walked in your shoes…I have experienced the conflicting emotions…I understand!
We are members of an exclusive club and yet we never applied for membership. We share a commonality with millions of others we have never met. No matter the color of our skin, our age, our sexual orientation or our religion, we have a bond. We are kindred spirits and as such we will always understand at least a little bit about each other.
We are the throwaway kids, harsh words for sure and yet most adopted children at one time or another will feel that way. In today’s world we would be called the recycled children and as such we are living, breathing poster children for the Green Revolution. Why buy new when used is oh so practical?
The questions we have are many; the feelings we have are often unresolved. Whereas giving birth is considered the ultimate act of love, we are the walking, talking examples of love taking a detour, that life does not always follow a script and that there is often a gigantic distance between wishing and reality.
Welcome to the world of the adopted children of the world, the castaways, the abandoned, the unwanted and the unplanned for. Stated in such a way it all sounds rather bleak doesn’t it? And yet it is often the best thing possible for adoption has meant happiness, contentment and a sense of love and belonging for millions who would otherwise have had no hope at all.
Despite the success stories, no matter the many out there who have acclimated to their situation and who have flourished, there is one link that most if not all share: at one time and possibly still all adopted children feel abandoned by their birth parents. It is as natural as breathing for an adopted child and it is a feeling that must be faced, discussed and dealt with.
I understand. I am one of you. Please, read on and let us now deal with this issue.
Perhaps I am the best to write this article because I am one of the success stories. I am an adopted child who had a wonderful life because of adoption and because of that fact I have no hidden agenda or deep feelings of bitterness. I am simply an adopted child who knows that what I say is true.
I have told my story several times in the past but for those who haven’t read it I was adopted at the age of nine months from Catholic Services in Tacoma, Washington. Before my adoption I had shuttled between several foster homes; for whatever reason (maybe I cried too much) and at the time of my adoption I was blind. When my adopted parents, Dale and Evelyn Holland, finally did adopt me they were told that I had “Failure To Thrive Syndrome,” a fairly common occurrence where a baby does not develop all senses because of the lack of nurturing. Within one month of being adopted and receiving proper nurturing I had my sight and my life in the seeing world commenced.
I was raised in a very loving manner and had an extremely happy childhood. No adopted child could ask for a better home to grow up in; I really was quite fortunate and I will forever be grateful to my parents for loving me the way they did. I was told about my adoption at a very young age; in fact, I simply don’t remember it so I will assume that it was handled in the most loving of ways. It seems I have always known that I was adopted and I really do not recall “the talk.” That fact alone speaks volumes about the way my parents handled what could have been a traumatic situation.
I never spoke to my parents about the feelings of abandonment; to do so would have hurt my mother and there was no reason for me to do that. It really has only been in the last couple of years that I have discussed this issue with anyone. It is one of those nagging, annoying thoughts that sit in the back of your brain and will occasionally surface, bringing with it feelings of inadequacy and a belief, whether valid or not, that you are unlovable. What else could a child feel? All that is known for a fact is that your birth mother gave you up at birth. Although there quite possibly (and probably) are very valid reasons for her doing so there is still a sense of failure and of not being worthy of love.
My Kindle book on adoption
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A Plethora of Possible Reasons
Logically it is very easy to understand why a woman would give up her child at birth. Back in 1948 this was quite common but it was never spoken about. Young women became pregnant, the fact was hushed up and their parents or their minister often encouraged them to give the child up so that it could have a better chance at happiness.
In some cases the birth parents were physically unable to care for a baby. Many times they had no support or could not afford to raise a baby. Rape, incest, fear, too young and on and on we go.
The reasons for pregnancy were many and varied, as they are today, and in the case of a closed adoption the chances of finding out the reason for that adoption are very slim. Here is a point that I believe is very important to understand and internalize: it really is not important why the birth mother gave up the child. What possible difference can it make? It happened, for whatever reason, and no matter the reason it had nothing to do with being unlovable. Children placed in the adoption system are every bit as lovable as normally born children; circumstances were such that the birth mother either couldn’t or wouldn’t care for her child. That is a fact that has no bearing on what kind of child it is. Again, logically I believe most children understand that fact.
But emotions are quite often not logical.
Talk, Talk and Talk Some More
Today I understand all of this and I understand my emotions regarding this matter, but growing up there was always that thousand pound gorilla lurking in the dark recesses of my brain. I think there are several things that need to be understood by adopted children and adopted parents.
First, these feelings of abandonment are very real and very valid. Adopted parents should not feel hurt by them nor should they feel threatened. Adopted children need to understand that it is perfectly natural to feel that way and there should be no guilt associated with it nor should there be any feelings of inadequacy.
Secondly, communicating these feelings is very necessary. I heard a wise man once say that we are only as sick as the number of our secrets. It is okay to feel these feelings and it is okay to voice them. In fact by voicing them they lose their control over you and isn’t that a lovely thought?
Adopted parents and adopted children need to discuss this matter; let the boogie man out of the closet and expose him for what he is, namely very natural feelings that will die a natural death in time. Secrets and suppressed feelings help no one. I have known adopted parents who hid the adoption from their child and in my humble opinion it is wrong to do so. I have known adopted parents who would tell their child of the adoption but kept it a secret from everyone else and again, in my humble opinion it is wrong to do so. Treating an adoption as a secret is to brand it as something wrong; the same can be said for refusing to discuss feelings regarding an adoption.
Yes it is a wonderful life
We are not castaways! We are not the abandoned! We are not throwaways nor are we recycled. What are we? We are human beings who have been given a chance to thrive in a better environment. We are human beings who have been given the chance to be loved. We are special and unique and what we do with this second chance is entirely up to us. I, for one, will continue to thrive because my adopted parents refused even for one second to treat me as anything other than their birth child. I will continue to thrive because my birth parents, for whatever reason, chose to give me a chance at a better life.
I no longer pay attention to that thousand pound gorilla; in exposing him I took away his power. By recognizing him and talking about him I gave myself power.
I really am a very lucky adopted child! My eye-sight has been fine since I was adopted and today I see nothing but beauty, hope and love!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
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