I was born in Iowa in August of 1974. At that moment when I found out I was adopted back in 1979, I wish my adoptive mom would have sat down with me and opened the conversations about what adoption REALLY meant. I was around 5 years old.
Instead, I got something like this.
Me: Mommy, I grew in your tummy like the baby in the lady’s belly on television?
Adoptive Mom: No, you grew in another lady’s belly. She loved you so much, she gave you to me to raise because she wanted you to have a better life. It was a dream come true for me to become a mommy. I couldn’t have children of my own. I will always love her for that because she’s given me the greatest gift of my life.
Me: Who is she?
Adoptive Mom: I don’t know who she is. You were adopted. If you want to know who she is, we will have to wait until we get enough money for an attorney to get the sealed records opened. Right now, we don’t have enough money. I just know she loved you so much and wanted you to have a better life.
Me: Where is she?
Adoptive Mom: I don’t know where she is.
Me 1980: Who is She?
Me 1981: Where is She?
Me 1982: Who Is She?
Me 1983: Where is She?
Me 1984: Who is She?
Me 1985-1994: Every Single Year – Who is she? Where is She?
Every Single Year
Adoptive Mom: I don’t know who she is or where she is. You were adopted. If you want to know who she is, we will have to wait until we get enough money for an attorney to get the sealed records opened. Right now, we don’t have enough money.
At 21 Years Old in 1995 I said to my adoptive mom, “WHO IS MY BIRTH MOTHER? WHERE IS SHE?’ It was like a broken record.
Adoptive Mom: Well, there’s something I want to tell you. When your dad and I signed the paperwork for you to be adopted, the doctors accidentally gave us the wrong paperwork. We saw your birth mothers name, and the street she lived on. If you call your dad, he might remember the information.
I remember this exact moment, because I immediately became enraged and the anger that took over, is something that’s hard for me to process. I’m just telling you THE TRUTH because once I found out she lied to me my entire life, I have never looked at her like a mother again. EVER! Yes, for the record I have forgiven her, but we had an estranged relationship until she died and I don’t regret it for a minute. I can’t have people in my life who lie to me, for any reason at all. Hopefully this will help adoptive parents understand, lying and deception under any circumstances is never okay.
What kind of mother lies to their child repeatedly? I have had to unpack this, and there are many layers and dynamics to it but this layer (along with all the layers of adoption) of the onion has impacted me greatly my entire life.
I was adopted in 1974 and things were different then. I’m certain my adoptive parents were told to not talk about it, to sweep it under the rug and act as if me being adopted didn’t exist. So many adoptive parents weren’t given the correct tools to use so they knew how to navigate these complex dynamics of the adoptee experience.
Looking back, how I wish things were handled?
Today I believe in my heart of hearts, my adoptive parents didn’t have a CLUE of what they were doing. I don’t think adoption agencies or adoption attorneys are preparing adoptive parents for the TRUTH, and how to navigate it as making money trumps everything in that arena.
I think the deception regarding lying to me my whole life is a way my adoptive mom was able to stall me from finding my truth. But let me just tell you, there were consequences for that. I never trusted her again, and I’ve always felt like she adopted me for her needs, not mine. This has impacted every area of my life, still to this day! I was a pawn to fulfill her void because she couldn’t have children of her own. I would like to encourage anyone dealing with infertility issues, please seek help on your own. Don’t make your adopted child fill your void.
I wish more conversations were opened at that moment I found out I was adopted in 1979 and moving forward.
I wish our conversation would have went like this.
Me: Mommy, Did I come out of your belly like the lady on the television?
Adoptive Mom: No honey, you came out of another lady’s belly. She was unable to take care of you, so she decided to have someone else parent you and that someone else was your dad and me. No, she loved you and gave you away. No, you were my biggest gift because I couldn’t parent or have kids of my own!
Me: Who is she? Where is she?
Adoptive Mom: Because you were adopted, when you are old enough, we will do everything in our power to help you try to find her. Helping your adopted child search and find their biological parents means everything! Support us!
Me: I want to find her now.
Adoptive Mom: We can’t find her until you are 18, but it’s okay to be sad you lost her. It’s okay to love her and want to find her. You lost the most important woman of your life, and it’s okay to feel sad for losing her. Would you like to talk about it? How are you feeling about this? Open these conversations and never stop!
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
No one has ever asked me how it feels to be adopted!
Me: Weeping, my grieving starts at 5 years old because I have every reason to be sad for losing the woman who carried me in her belly for 9 months and who brought me into the world. Regardless of whose dreams she made come true to be parents. Regardless of how much LOVE she thought I was going to have in this “BETTER LIFE” I was promised. Regardless of how happy my adoptive parents were to be parents, and their dreams coming true, I still deserved the right to grieve my losses as soon as I discovered them.
The catch is, I was 5 years old. I didn’t know how to do this. I needed my adoptive parents to step in and open the dialog and put ME AND MY LOSSES FIRST. I needed them to set their dream come true to be parents on the shelf and BE REAL WITH ME!
Yes, this is possible at 5 years old. At age appropriate times it is possible to share the TRUTH with adopted children. If you can’t do this, you have no business being an adoptive parent. Period!
I would give anything if someone in my life would have sat me down and said “It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be mad. it’s okay to feel hurt, and broken, and lost. If I was you, I would feel that way too after losing so much!
But that never happened so at 45 years old, I have been going through the grieving process for 7 years now, all alone.
What did I lose?
My Birth Mother.
My Birth Father.
My maternal and paternal grandparents.
My siblings on both sides.
Memories from all the above.
My medical history.
My peace of mind, taken by always searching for clues to my family.
My childhood, taken because I was searching my entire life.
I lost how to regulate emotions, because these are the biggest emotions I’ve ever had, and I had to keep them secret so my adoptive parents wouldn’t get hurt. This was a HUGE internal war within me. It almost killed me. Not to mention, as a child I can’t articulate how I’m feeling, and I don’t have the words to describe it.
I needed help, and I didn’t get it although I’ve been in therapy my entire life since I was 5 years old, and the THERAPIST COULDN’T EVEN HELP ME! Adoption was never talked about, and it was the ROOT issue!
Abuse of substances for 27 years took away my pain, but only temporarily. A lot happened in 27 years.
Today, I’m doing for myself what my adoptive parents and Adoption Culture didn’t do for me. I’m allowing myself the space to grieve my adoptee losses, whatever that looks like for me. Usually I run off in nature, and I cry there because Mother Nature doesn’t have an ulterior motive behind her role in my life. She want’s nothing from me. I write here on my website. I share my feelings in my Adoptees Connect group. I have ways to process, but I’ve had to figure this out alone, after a lifetime of pain.
So, I seek Mother Nature the most, as no one in this world seems to understand that adoptee grief is something I will process for the rest of my life. It never goes away. Just like grief from someone loses their mom in childbirth, or someone losing both their parents in a car wreck.
The difference is, those people are given the gift and privilege of being able to grieve their losses as soon as they happen and usually throughout the duration of their lives, it’s normal to coach them through the grief process.
Not for adoptees.
We are stripped of that privledge but that doesn’ t mean we aren’t grieving on the inside.
We must grieve in silence, and for many of us, it kills us. I’ve attempted suicide multiple times as a adopted teen, and have contemplated suicide many times as an adult due to my adoption trauma. Mix grief, loss, abandonment, rejection, C-PTSD and the internal confliction I experience daily, it’s a miracle I’m alive and I feel the same for all adoptees who make it out alive. We also live in an Adoption Culture society that celebrates our losses and tries to talk down upon us for feeling anything less than “thankful” or “happy” about our experiences.
I’m just telling you; adoptees are dying out here and there is something adoptive parents and Adoption Culture can do about it. If you know all of this, you can’t unknow it and you can’t say someone out there didn’t share it. If you have adopted a child, please understand that this child can and will have lifelong difficulties that will need ongoing care. Please know that we never outgrow being adopted. Yes, adoption is complicated and it’s messy. No one story fits all. We know this.
But please understand that being adopted is with us FOREVER. The sooner we can start grieving our losses, the sooner we start to heal. Please understand that NO AMOUNT OF LOVE IN THIS WORLD CAN REPLACE THE LOSS I have always felt by losing my biological parents, and all the losses that come with that. Please understand no ivy league college, a brand-new car at 16 years old, or a huge house on a hill can take away these losses. We should be allowed to grieve as early as possible, at age appropriate times and this is life or death for us.
If any adoptive parents might be reading, please allow these conversations to be opened at age appropriately times. Please seek therapy on how to do this. Please don’t ignore this. Please understand no matter how much of a blessing you feel adoption is, it doesn’t change the fact that we experienced a trauma the moment we lost our birth mothers, and that trauma is compacted by pretending it’s not there by adoption being celebrated. I’m sharing here what I wish was done differently based on my experience.
I will be grieving these losses for the rest of my life, but I can’t help but wonder how my life might have been different if I would have started grieving at the moment I found out I was adopted. Please don’t let Adoption Culture deceive you, because I’m here to tell you if you ignore the grief and loss process for your adopted child, you will be sorry you did.
Please don’t mistaken this article as I’m sitting in sadness, depressed, angry or mad at the world. I was in that space for most of my life, because I couldn’t grieve my losses. But today, becaue I’ve allowed myself the space to do this, I’m healing daily and I have actually been able to find love in my life. Love for myself, love for life itself, love for others, love for all things around me. It’s almost impossible to get to the space I am, without grieving my losses. Today I enjoy life. Today I welcome my sadness when it comes, I embrace it and I invite it to stay awhile. I sit with it, I talk with it, and I process it. Then I let it go, until it circles back around again. Procesing adoptee grief is a lifelong journey. The sooner we embrace it and stop running from it, the sooner we start to heal.
If you’ve made it this far, I commend you.
Adopted Adults are the KEY to learning what should have been done, or what could be done differently. If you’re an adoptive parent, and you have any questions for the adult adoptee community, visit How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? on Facebook. This platform was designed for you in mind.
Adoptees, What are some ways you have been able to grieve your losses? What age did you start this process? Did anyone ever encourage you to do this growing up? Have you been alone in this process?
Adoptive Parents, where are you at with this topic? Did the agencies or attorneys give you information on how to proceed with this topic? Have you been able to open these conversations? If yes, what has that looked like for you? If no, what are you waiting for?
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38 thoughts on “Still Grieving Adoptee Losses, What My Adoptive Parents Could Have Done Differently”
I can so relate. Adopted in 1970. Started grieving on my own too at age 42 and still going layer by layer. Not much therapy but some. People don’t get it and don’t want to either. We need each-other. The invalidation and the complexity combined are soul crushing- each year is harder and accumulative in a way too. Yet I have found my heart is strong and my heart is healing and I feel joy again and am not afraid of those feelings as I used to be. Shame… aloneness… confusion… loss…. fear….. sad…. angry… rage… huge feelings that linger and grow until all the way acknowledged. Movies and songs and singing and art and support groups online have helped. I wish you all the best- you are so not alone.
Hi Jennifer, So sorry for your loss, and the fact you have started to grieve on your own at 42 is heartbreaking. I try to remind myself, at least when I leave this world, I will have been able to go through this process, so I can actually see some years of JOY. Until this process has started, I honestly didn’t understand what was wrong with me! I was just sad A LOT! You are so right, we do need each other. This is really the main reason I keep sharing, to validate the experiences of my fellow adoptees who are still stuck. That was me for soooooooooo long! I’m so glad you’ve been able to acknowledge those feelings like me, and process them and move through them. Sometimes I still get sad, that so much time at enjoying life has been lost, because I was stuck for so long, but I can’t change it. I can only LIVE IT UP every single moment I have left! HUGS to you and TY for sharing! It always helps to know I’m not alone! ❤ Love, Love. P.K.
Therapy – ha! You must have a therapist who either is an adoptee or is adoption-informed. A run of the mill therapist is no good whatsoever. I went through four. Don’t get me wrong. They were well meaning. They just didn’t get it.
Every history should include the question of adoption and every therapist should read the current literature about the grief that children (even in uterus) can experience. Five years ago I immersed myself in it. I was determined to heal despite having met my birth mother and having a 14 year great relationship with her.
I can also recommend using The Grief Recovery Method Handbook. It’s available on Amazon. It’s written so you can use the Method alone. You don’t have to be in a Support Group.
Hi Donna, Yes, the therapy is a tough topic for me. I was 5 years old seeing my first therapist so I couldn’t advocate for an ADOPTEE competent therapist. Even growing up it was still the same. I didn’t even know at the time what was wrong. I just knew the therapist was supposed to help, but without ever acknowledging ADOPTION, I never got help. All the way up to my current years of therapy.
I’m 100% with you on all of the above! Do you have any recommended resources that stand out to you? I’ve done a lot of research myself, but I know I have a lot to learn! Every bit has helped me understand better and it’s def helped me heal as well. 🙂
Out of your previous suggestion to me, I’ve started learning more about the Grief Recovery Method, completed the workbook and I’m working toward becoming a certified specialist in the next few months. I hope to learn more, so I can share it with other adoptees. The GRIEF part of my journey has been a HUGE piece to healing and wholeness. I think so many adoptees are still stuck in it, like I was for most of my life. Learning about It has helped me greatly so THANK YOU for that suggestion! So appreciated! ❤
I really appreciated this, I was in therapy for a couple years and we never ever talked about my adoption, it’s like it wasn’t a valid reason for me to have therapy but not keeping a clean room was. To this day I don’t think I’ve learned how to grieve my adoption, it doesn’t seem to even bother my other two adopted sister’s at all. It’s like no big deal to them, I’m overreacting because I’m the baby of us three. We were adopted from 3 different families not a drop of blood between us. But they seem fine with it, so why does it bother me do much? Thank you for allowing us into your pain.
I was “ok” for years. Then at 50 I searched and found my bio family. I cried for hours. I cried driving in the car and walking through the grocery store. The tears I could not control them. I had to run to the bathroom at work and cry. Just because the seem ok now does not mean they won’t later.
I can so understand this. It’s like the feelings come like a wave in the form of a tsunami! Up and down, over and over.
Much of this pattern was what helped me realize I was dealing with unresolved GRIEF, vs the fact that I was just ANGRY AND CRAZY as the world tries to label us.
So many adoptees are still stuck, and that’s why I keep sharing. I’m not stuck anymore, but I was for 43+ years and I’m 45 now! It’s only been 2 years since processing the grief, that I’ve started to see beauty in life. Until I started the grief process, I was sitting in sadness that I couldn’t even undersand myself.
Adoption is SO BIG. I don’t think non adoptees have any clue how this impacts us for our entire lifetime. The great news is, things are changing little by little. ((((HUGS!!!!!!))))) You aren’t alone!
Hi Mandy, I’m honored to share my experiences in hopes to validate the experiences of my fellow adoptees. So many of us have felt so along for far too long.
Learning how to grieve this adoptee journey is so tough! I honestly had no clue what I was doing either. I remember about 6 years ago, I went about an hour from my house, I took a chair, paper and pen, and I sat in the woods by myself and wrote letters to my birth parents and my adoptive parents. I was sobbing, slanging snot everywhere! LOL But the whole point was to tell them how I feel, and how being adoped has impacted me and feel the feelings as they come. I had no direction at all, it just seemed right to do as no one on either side, has ever asked me how adoption has impacted me. I never gave them the letters, it was just a healing exercise. BUT I WILL NEVER FORGET it as part of my process. I think it will be differnet for many of us, I’ve also written A LOT here on my webstie about my feelings, as a way to process. It’s helped greatly as well.
I have an adopted sister as well, and YOU WOULD NEVER BELIEVE we have never ONCE in 45 years had a conversation about BEING ADOPTED! It’s a clear line between us, and for some reason although we were raised in the same crazy house, we have never talked about it TOGETHER. She sees things very differently than I do, and our views are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I let go, moved far away to recover, and she stayed and has never let go. I can so relate to having different views! I really don’t know why that happens, other than we are all VERY DIFFERENT PEOPLE. It’s interesting to say the least. I always say from a scale of 1-10 with 1 being an adoptee who had little to no issues with being adopted, and 10 being an adoptee that had MAJOR issues with being adopted, I am at a 1000! I have always hated it with everything in me, and it’s caused me the most pain in my entire life. Even more so than some brutally abusive encounters. Isn’t that insane? I think it all goes back to the primal wound. It’s something so many try to duplicate, but no one can truly replace a mother! I know not eveyrone agrees, but this is my story and its based on my experiences. Please know you aren’t alone in feeling the way you do! Nothing is normal about adoption! What’s normal is the way we feel about it! It’s an unnatral act!
I’m the baby too so I can relate to that also. The more we connect, (adoptees) the more clear things become and the more empowered we become. HUGS TO YOU! YOU AREN’T ALONE! ❤
This 💯. I was adopted by my father. But I still felt this completely. My parents sat me down when I was in 4-5th grade and dropped a bomb. And then have continued to lie to me my entire life. I’m now 42 years old and I will still find things out. I will never trust my mother.
But now I’m an adoptive mother of two beautiful girls. And we have extremely open relationships with my oldest birth father. Not her birth mother at this time. Hopefully that will change in the future. And with my youngest birth parents. All come and stay with us as often as possible and we call and FaceTime at least a couple times a week if not daily. We call ourselves the reverse Brady Bunch. And it’s such a beautiful relationship.
Thank you for sharing Andrea! Love this!
Hi Pamela, Thank you for sharing your story and experiences. I have often wondered if we adoptees of the early 70’s shared the same experiences, pretend, ignore, secrets and lies.
I found out I was adopted when I was 5. My DR. asked Mom if allergies ran in my family. I can still remember mom answering “we don’t know Sean is adopted”…. I remember immediately being thrown into the abyss. I do not recall Talking with mom or dad about adoption and what it meant. I do remember the urge to talk with my friend. I reflect on those moments 43 years later and what I was feeling was validated, it finally all made sense.
I recall trying and prying for answers from my parents, to which mom sent away for information from the state. The answers I received back was that my birth mom was very young, and that my father had died in Vietnam. While I was in Foster care I was prescribed “tranquilizers”, as I was very “hyperactive”……
I never got along with my Mom; she is a very insecure woman, unable to drive 8 blocks to the Grocery store. She is a verbally abusive woman, with lessons of corporal punishment from the 1880s. She stopped hitting me when I was 13 years old, when I finally allowed myself to duck, rather than accept her punishment. She missed me and broke her hand on the wall.
I struggled with Substance abuse and a few suicide attempts as well. Seeking answers, rather than addictive substances to fill the hole I started searching for my biological family when I was 23. Attending Adoptees in search of meetings, which lead me to adoptee counselling – therapy (this was my first time experiencing any type of counselling).
Long story short, I found my Birth mother and two older brothers, when i was 25. I was not prepared for the story I found. We were a family, often living with our grandmother. When I was 1.5, I was placed into foster care, as a means to temporary financial support. One year later I was relinquished. I was adopted at the age of 3.5. My brothers were given to their father, who later placed them up for adoption at the ages of 7 & 9. Their adoptive experience was considerably worse than mine.
Years later, the four of us struggled to reunite. Ultimately we went our separate ways. I became depressed and drank suicidally. Finally my father checked me into a treatment facility. I put the “adoptees mask back on, stuffed my feelings down deep and went on with life.
I tried to maintain a relationship with my Birth Mom, and Brothers, which was from a distance for years. Life with A-parents was excruciating, but I stuffed those feelings as well. Every time I tried to talk with my A-father, his response would be the same in regards to my A-Mom, “just keep your damn mouth shut”. So I did….
Finally one day I sent a letter to my A-mom (and her birth daughter). The letter was titled the olive branch, describing boundaries that must be observed moving forward. I expected my children to be treated and supported in the same way my nephews were treated. My wife would also be treated with the same respect. The responses I received was arguing and gnashing of teeth. Excuses of “I am too old for this ”, or excuses for my vicious sister that “she is going through menopause, which may last 35 years”……..
All of this affected my relationships, including my marriage. Finally I withdrew and tried to carry on as I always have. I kept having the gnawing urge to begin a DNA ancestry, thinking I could find my father’s family. Yet I stuffed these urges down, as I was afraid of upsetting “everyone”.
Finally last fall I dove in, searching and researching. Clawing my through the DNA from 4th and 5th cousins. I had one 2nd cousin that did not know his birth fathers last name, only his first. I continued on searching, until one day a new 2nd cousin appeared. This cousin did not match the other surnames, until I researched the Fatherless 2nd cousin. When the stories all told, from my 23 chromosomes, I matched and found my father from 23 DNA cousins!!!
What I found was a father that was the most likely person, though he had passed away, three years prior. He left behind a daughter, born in 1969, and a Son Born in 1971, I was born in 1970…… The name of this father did not match then name on my OBC. I asked my B-mom, to which she grabbed me by face and said I tell you the truth, your father is who I say he was….. So I dove back in and found the man named on my OBC, he did not respond to my requests for communication. So, with no other angle to research, I then sent my potential NEW siblings a letter, describing us a closely related.
My New siblings responded very positively, with my sister taking a DNA test to confirm that we are in fact siblings. I pleaded with my B-mom to please tell me how she knew my Father (that was married at the time). I received a 16 page letter that took her 3 weeks to write, the letter clearly displays that my B-mom is not a healthy woman. She never admitted anything specific about knowing my father. The essence of the letter was another relinquishment to me and my brothers (to which neither Brother had spoken to mom in years). I shared the letter with my brothers, to which left them with no surprises. My brothers and I have since been able to build on our relationships individually.
Now back to A-mom….. When I started my DNA ancestry, I invited my A-mom and dad into the project, to help me build our shared adoptive family tree. I was met with lies from A-mom that she never received the email invites, when I pressed her over the phone; I was met with little to no participation.
Last May, I went to tell my A-parents the good news that I had found my Paternal family. Mom was antsy the entire time, always moving around the room, until I finally made her sit on the coach with Dad and I as I shared pictures of my paternal family. I described the wonder and amazement of my paternal family and our shared interests. This was met with spiteful arguments from A-mom, telling me I was not being truthful in my observations.
A-mom then got up from the coach, moving across the room and told me that she thought my father was ___….. The name she mentioned was actually the father of my Maternal Brothers. Why didn’t she tell me this when I started to look for my family 24 years earlier? She then told me that I was a sick little boy, requiring DR visits. This was a one year period of visitations, prior to my adoption. So my soon to be adoptive parents took me to the DR, who weaned me off of the tranquilizers (I had been taking them for 1.5 years). During the DR visits it was also discovered that I was being subject to “unspeakable abuse”. The DR asked for my social care workers phone number, and I was quickly removed from the foster care home, placed as a foster child with my future adoptive parents for one year, prior to my adoption.
I was jettisoned back into the Abyss…. Why did my A-mom and Dad never tell me this news before? Why did she choose to tell me this on the night of my joyful news…. I have not spoken with A-parents since that night. However, A-mom has positioned herself closely with my Oldest Son and Grandchildren. My A-mom told my Son that I am being disrespectful to them (silence is disrespectful…?). She then went onto tell my Son all of the news she told me, including the abuse… I make no excuses for my actions or past actions. I refuse to be a victim, therefore I was not going to tell my children any of this news, yet my A-mom tells my son what she should have told me years ago, for what other than Personal Gain?
All of this created more of a chasm, to which I remained quiet as I refuse to be manipulated into a fight. Yet, My A-mom spoke so poorly of myself and wife in front my grandchild, enough so that he Became upset enough to start crying. Enough was enough; I called my A-parents, to which they did not answer. I left a message that I wanted to come over for a talk. A-mom called later that evening to say that had company, and that they had more company (all of which is “family”), she said she would call me when she doesn’t have company. This was two weeks ago, still no call…. My A-parents have since left on a 3 week vacation, and still no call…..
I do believe I am just about done; you cannot make peace with someone that values you as merely a “thing”. Nancy Verriers book – the primal wound, has helped me immensely. I am now at the point of a third relinquishment and I am beginning to make peace with it.
Yes, we Adoptees shall learn and grieve and celebrate and grieve some more throughout our lives. I am thankful for your story as I can relate to it. I did not intend to respond at such depth, however as I began to type, it all came forth. I have learned to embrace these moments as it is very therapeutic. I no longer wear that damn mask; at 48 I am finally learning how to be me.
Hi Sean, So very sorry for my delay in responding, I read your post when it came through and it made my heart very sad. One more adoptee with such a sad, devastating and heartbreaking story! And we share so many parallels. I wanted to make sure when I did reply, I had time to share what I wanted to share. Apologies again!
When I drew the line was when I started seeing my a mom manipulate my kids. That was it. I packed up a 22 foot uhaul and moved across the country. Like you, I tried to set boundaries and it didn’t work at all! Most of them were very simple, “please put all your pill containers away so the kids don’t see them laying around” or “Please don’t cry in front of my kids” and I swear to you the very few times I let her visit AFTER I tried to set the boundaries it was like the devil showed up at my door step. After this, I had to cut her out of my life 100% and haven’t regretted it.
It’s so sad that we are forced to be in the middle of these 2 lives, yet both are important but we have to keep them both separate from the other. Don’t they understand how bad this hurts us and how negatively it impacts us? I remember finding what I thought was my biological brother (a whole different story) and my adoptive mom was jealous my kids and I were going to have our first thanksgiving with biological family and she started making comments like, “Maybe next year we can all be together for Thanksgiving”. HA! My response was, “Sorry but I’ve missed out on EVERY SINGLE HOLIDAY WITH BIOLOGICAL FAMILY and I will NOT miss anymore! You had your time!” And she looked at me with evil in her eyes. Heaven forbid we be able to celebrate WITH our A FAMILY that we found our bio families, and even then sometimes the disappointment isn’t a cause for celebration but we still have to keep it separate. I commend you for TRYING to talk to your adoptive parents and I’m so sorry they didn’t receive what you we’re sharing due to their own insecurities!
I love the primal wound as well, and there are a host of other books around that are such great ones for us to read. Look up Betty Jean Lifton, as well as the other Nancy Newton Verrier book called “Coming home to self” the adoptee grows up! It’s great as well!
No worries on responding in depth! Sometimes when it comes, it just comes! So glad you were able to share here! It’s so freeing and healing when we have that space!!! So proud of you for taking the mask off, and standing up for yourself and your family! Just yesterday I emailed a letter to the only a family I still had minimal relationships with, basically severing ties as they feel it’s appropriate to have a relationship, and gloat all over social media and in my face with a family member that sexually abused me when I was a child, who has turned into a huge pedophile. I had two request, Please DO NOT contact my children about this matter, they are all adults but they don’t need brought in the middle and DO NOT INCLUDE ME IN ANY OBITUARIES as the PEDOPHILE is NO FAMILY OF MINE and I don’t want to be tied to him, or them in any way, shape or fashion!
Oh Joy! Adoption is such a wonderful thing! I have to laugh or I will cry! ❤ HUGS! Stay strong my friend! You deserve far more than what was ever given to you and I'm sorry for that.
Thank you for this.
I have a 6 year old child by open adoption who has been with us since birth. We visit with birth mom about twice yearly, staying together for a couple days, as well as keep in touch with some other birth family. My kiddo has always known that he is adopted, has the mirrors, medical history, can ask the questions… and there’s still grief. Adoption is so complex, such pain and joy mixed together.
Looking at other stories, it seems that 5 and 6 years old is the time that people begin to realize their loss. This fits with the anger I have been noticing in my kiddo recently.
Reading your stories helped me confirm that a counselor specializing in adoption is important, as well as spending more time talking about loss and sadness. I also feel I need to be public with this, correcting the often spoken “gift/luck” conceptions spoken in front of or to my child.
Again, thank you for your insights.
So sorry for delay!
Thank you so much for sharing here! Like Sean, I am touched by your response as an adoptive parent. This is exactly why I keep sharing, because I know there are adoptive parents out there like you who truly are wanting to learn. It’s rare these days, but it’s increasing over the last few years. You are on the right track, and thank you for tuning into the voice of adopted adults, as we’re the experts here and have a wealth of information to share. (((HUGS)))) as I know you more than likely weren’t prepared for these difficult waters. But hopefully what you learn you can share with other adoptive parents and be an advocate for your kiddos, in a way that acknowledges the depth of the adoptee experience. XOXO
Annelies Sizelove, I am so deeply touched by your response as an adoptive Mother. It is comforting to see active adoptive parents putting in the selfless efforts to understand their child. It gives me great hope for the future adoption communities. Furthermore it reaffirms to me that we Adoptees should continue to share our experiences as it is helpful for those that come behind us. Which is not something I generally do, I am typically hesitant to mention that I am an Adoptee.
What a blessing it is for your child to have such a caring selfless parent. It cannot be easy to engage with Birth parents and the potential emotions that experience brings to the surface. God bless you and you’re Family. Thank you for sharing; it is heartwarming for this Adoptee hear. 🙂
I recognize that it can be so hard to tell your adoption story. Thank you for doing so. We are learning. I feel we are better prepared now than in the 70’s, thanks in part to adopted people sharing their stories. I wonder what we will learn as children of open adoptions grow. I wonder what I am saying or not saying that is unintentionally hurtful towards my kiddo or b-mom.
I’m very uncomfortable with the “selfless parent” idea. I definitely had a need fulfilled by adoption. It was a needs meets needs situation, and we felt our kiddo would be healthier if he could have an open adoption.
Blessings on you all as you grieve, rage, love and talk. Thank you for sharing.
Just a quick piece of advice, I’ve shared for some of the other responses here. The platform http://www.facebook.com/askanadoptee is a platform that was created for adoptive parents or any non adoptees to go ask adoptees questions anonymously. Visit and ask away! The adoptees there are all willing to share experiences and input. I will share, they speak the hard core truth and sometimes it can be hard to read but most adoptive parents appreciate the truth even when it hurts, which is why they ask questions in this platform. Just so you know its out there. You can also share in any adoption groups or platforms you are a part of. HUGS!
I thought her response was amazing as well! ❤
I’m so happy I found your blog! As I read your story, I couldn’t believe how much it was like mine. I was born in 1968, I believe my adoption was final a little before I was 3. My A-parents never hid the fact that I was adopted, actually it was a very common word in my household. Little did they know the pain that very common word caused. I was always wondering going to school, could my teacher be my Mom? Going to the store, could the cashier be my Mom. I spent my life wondering. I think when my A-Dad passed away when I was 9, I know think alot of that grief that I felt was more for being adopted and having to try and fill two voids in my A-Mom’s life. Filling the void of her losing the love of her life and pulling her right out of the bottle. At 9, I was the parent for more than a year. That was a rough year. Going through counseling we never discussed my adoption event though I had the repeated urge to discuss. That wasn’t important, what was important was discussing my loss of my A-Dad. I wasn’t I grieving the loss of him and my B-Mom??? Moving forward into my teenage years, I pushed the envelope, and now I understand why. I promised myself at the age of 17, I would do everything in my power to find out all that I could about my “past” life. I’d find my B-parents, if it was the last thing I did. Ah the coming of age of the internet has been the most wonderful tool in my life!!!!! I am thankful for it every day. I’m even more thankful for the day my State open up our adoption records!!! Can I just saw when I received that packet, the amount of overwhelming feels I had…..scared, anxious, nervous, relief, but in the back of my mind, I knew the search was just beginning. I’m happy to say in this search I’ve located my B-brother, which he was also adopted and amazingly enough we grow up in neighboring cities. How crazy is that? But his A-family has welcomed me and my family with open arms. His A-sister told me that I was his missing puzzle piece. Man that took my breathe away and I carry that phrase with me everyday! Because he was too my missing puzzle piece. Although we live across the country and we don’t see each other daily….I love my brother! Unfortunately, I will never meet my B-Mom, she passed away before I was able to locate her. But her husbands wife, sent me a beautiful box of some of her things, which was truly amazing!!!!!!!!! As for my B-Father, I’ve tried to reach out, numerous letters, cards, etc. they continue to go unanswered. I’m in reunion with 2 of my 3rd cousins, I’ve met my step great uncle and soon will meet his daughter. I’ve met some cousins through my DNA searches. Everyone I’ve met has been amazing and welcoming!!!! I know I’m keeping my hopes alive that one day my B-father will want to have a conversation with me. All I need is one conversation. I believe I’m owed that. My B-Aunt was good enough to send me pictures of my Mom, name my father and point me in his direction and since then wants NOTHING to do with me. I’ve found out a lot of my B-family’s history. I think what i struggle with the most, is, did they truly think by giving us away, there would never come a day that we’d come looking? There were so many complications with the adoption process back then. I think all they knew to do was lie and hope their lies would never catch up. I really hope that over the years and hearing from Adoptees, things need to change. Thank you again so much for your story! Reading everyone’s post on here, we do need each other. Only we understand each other!!!!
Thank you. I’m an adoptive parent. We adopted our daughter at birth. We’d had a failed adoption a few moths earlier (his mother decided to keep him which I looked at positively after initial disappointment) The agency contacted us when our child was born and said the mom terminated her rights at birth. The attorney took a picture of her, she’s looking in the camera and smiling shyly and later also allowed him to take pics of her 3 children. I have no info on the father or why the birth mom terminated rights and requested a closed adoption. I do wonder how to talk to our child (now 7). We’ve told the mother’s name. I haven’t shown her the pictures or discussed the siblings but I want to do that immediately the more I’m learning. Can you help? Even though the birth mom wanted no contact, I can’t help but wonder why she allowed the attorney to take her picture and picture of her kids. How do I explain to mine that she has siblings the mother kept? She knows she’s adopted and we talk about how she might have gotten this or that aspect of her from her first mom, etc. but I don’t know what else to say and when it’s age appropriate to show pics and discuss siblings (she complains a lot that she doesn’t have anyone to play with — we have another daughter but their interests are opposite—and she’s asked us to adopt a homeless child — ) I just want to manage this as best I can because I now respect the loss process and grieving that she will be going through. Thanks for this!!
Hi Kim, Thank you so much for reaching out and for tuning in to ask such sensitive questions. So appreciated. I apologize for the delay, as sometimes it takes a while to respond due to my schedule.
I would suggest sharing the picture as soon as possible. It will create a connection for the child to the woman who gave birth to her, her mother. I can share from experience there wasn’t one day I didn’t wonder what my biological mom looked like, where she was or who she was. If I would have been able to see her face via a picture, it would have eased some of the mental and emotional inner turmoil and torment I experienced on a daily basis for my entire life until I saw her face. Please share the picture as soon as possible, even frame it and put it by your daughters bed. If you say evening prayers, pray for her mother. Open up the topic of discussion for this biological mom to be talked about. ESPECIALLY, sensitive topics that are hard, like her being sad she’s not with her biological mom, and sad she doesn’t know her or get to spend time with her. This is the side that those who are 100% supporting adoption don’t know, or if they do they won’t tell you. This is the hard stuff that comes along with adopting a child. If you bypass the grief and loss process, it will come out in other ways as your daughter gets older. Because trust me, she lives with it on the inside, and she needs her adoptive parents to open up these difficult conversations so she can start to tap into putting words to the feelings she’s having inside. With her being 7, I think she’s old enough to get the picture and to start putting feelings to the reality of losing her birth mother and her birth father. Even when he’s not listed and no one supposedly knows who he is, he still takes up a space in her heart and I can guarantee she is wondering about him too. She deserves the space to grieve her losses, and each year as she gets older the conversations can be more in depth. Basics at this age would be appropriate.
I suggest you formulate a question similar as the one you have asked me here, and you visit http://www.facebook.com/askanadoptee as it’s set up for adoptive parents and others in the adoption arena, but instead of get one adoptee opinion, you will get many. You remain anonymous so it’s safe but the adoptees will be bluntly truthful, but I would hope that’s what you want and it sounds like you do. Truth and transparency is so very critical, at age appropriate times. I would have given anything if someone would have sat down with me and said, “It’s okay you lost your mom and dad, it’s okay to be sad about it, can we cry together?” Feel free to reach out to me personally via email. Would be happy to stay in touch, offer support or guidance when I can! I commend you for reading, and asking such a valuable question and for being open to receive the information shared. That;s HUGE!
Hi there. We have two little children. Our older little boy is still in foster care awaiting adoption finalization. Our youngest is fully adopted. We have scant info on our Eldest little one’s parents, and our youngest little one was abandoned at birth. They are both still very young – 2&3 yrs old. How will we proceed with conversations about birth parents when the time arises for these conversations.
So glad you reached out! I think personally around 5 years old is appropriate to start these conversations, and of course age appropriate topics. I learned I was adopted at 5 and my whole world changed. I very much understood things were different from that moment forward. No matter what, never paint a negative picture of the birth parents, under any circumstances because the children will internalize this and start to feel bad about themselves. Not that you would, just saying. I had an adoptive mom say one time, “Johnny is so angry at his birth mother, he wants nothing to do with her”. The way she said it, almost like she was gloating over it, but if things are explained in a way that can guide the children to be able to share complex feelings, at age appropriate times I think it’s highly beneficial. We have to start talking about the realities of the losses adoptees experience. It might be hard for someone who isn’t adopted to grasp the level of those losses, but that would be a great question for our platform http://www.facebook.com/askanadoptee as many adoptees will chime in, and the question is asked anonymously. I highly recommend posing any and all questions you have and asking this page, as many adoptee voices is better than just one. I’m always happy to share, but I feel the more suggestions you receive the better.
Due to the fact you don’t know much about the bio families, I could hang onto every single clue you do have and even do your best to try to get more information. Start a box, or a envelope, notebook, some way to start documenting details. If you want to push your adopted child away, you will make this a taboo topic, so they feel they have to gather this information around you, and then they feel pressured to not share it with you. If you want to be as close to them as ever, you open up topics encouraging them to search when they are ready, ONLY IF THEY ARE READY, and you will do everything in your power to help them. No secrets, but there are ways you can share things about the parents if you learn of them, if the things aren’t happy or positive you can say “Your mom and dad we’re sick, but we’re hoping they get better” vs. “Your parents were drug addicts that couldn’t take care of you”… These are just examples. If you can’t keep their original names in tact, please keep them on file for them when they are older and want to search.
Open up topics that are difficult so they can start grieving early on. 5 years old isn’t too young to draw a picture for your biological mom, because you love her and miss her. It;s not too early to start identifying feelings that go with sadness these children might feel, but as adoptive parents they will not be able to find this language on their own. That’s why its so critical for you to open up these conversations. It really is life or death, and in the long run it will make you all closer. So glad you asked and thank you for commenting! Sorry for delay.
Def take advantage of the “Ask an Adoptee” platform. It’s been a HUGE help and resources for anyone who wants input from those who have the most valuable experience in the adoption arena and thats adult adoptees. We’ve lived it. Many of us are happy to share if it helps our fellow adoptees, and others as well.
As a fellow adoptee, I relate to this so much. Thank you for sharing xoxo
Thank you so much. I was adopted in 1959, and I agree with your whole story. I am so sad that we have to fight the world to just have our grief.
Talk about trama. At 6 years old my A-parents took me to visit the children’s home where they adopted me. All I remember was the sheer terror and nausea as they literally dragged me by the arm up the steps annoyed that I was embarrassing them with my tantrum. I literally believed in the depths of my soul that they were tricking me and were going to leave me there. Or when I overheard my A-mom say “well, of course we know that adopted kids dont turn out very well…..” or when she raged at me saying “why cant you be DIFFERENT?” Or when I told my A-mom that the neighbor guy had molested me and I got the “stop annoying me” look , but nothing else. Or, at age 50, having spent decades thinking and acting like I was too stupid to get a college degree, finding college acceptance letters that they had hidden from me. And trauma after trauma until feelings are foreign, emotions an enigma and mistrust my mantra. But, I’m lucky and should be grateful because what if I hadn’t been adopted……..?
There is much to be learned from all of these personal accounts! Some excellent advice from the heart of someone who cares. Validation of loss is so important. An adopted person feels loss and a first mother feels loss. The feelings grow when we are not allowed to speak of it. Verbal and nonverbal communication from others tells us they don’t want to hear about it. Grief buried alive never dies.
You so eloquently said everything I feel. I was born in 1968 and purposefully deceived even though I asked until I found out at age 50. I found out by DNA. I found my birth father when he was terminally ill and only got to
spend 4 days with him before be died. He didnt know I existed. I was robbed of having him for a father.
My bio mom had died 18 months before I found out. I look so much like her and my middle daughter looks and acts just like her according to my bio half brother. I was robbed of having her for a mother.
I was an only child and pretended I had 2 brothers. As children do I named I called them by pretend names. I even had their names right. I was robbed of 50 years of relationships with my brothers, Jeff and Justin.
My adopted father died the same day as my bio dad, 16 hrs apart. My adopted mom is still alive but belabors under the illusion none of this happened. After 50 yrs of lies, she lives in the delusion. I was robbed of the truth.
I always had a feeling on my birthday that my real family was thinking about me and were coming for me. Even though I was never told I was adopted. When I met my bio grandmother she told me that she would call my bio mom on my birthday every year and wish me well wherever I was. I was robbed of my grandparents, aunts, siblings and family.
Ive always had a dark side, dreamed of ways to kill myself. Ive always ran away. I never stay in one place for long. I was robbed of my mental health.
My daughter is talking about adopting a child, I was not enthusiastic. She says “Mom, dont you think if I adopted a baby it wouldn’t be mine?” Honestly, no. It would be robbed.