One of my favorite books…

11 Apr
I have so much praise for this book that looks at all sides and is inclusive of all.  The way it explains the different phases an adoptee may go through and the triggers that can happen along the way.  How the natural brain developmental stages work in relation to understanding adoption to different stressors, losses, and yes, simply different phases of life.  I thank the authors for putting it down in plain words that anyone can understand.

Being Adopted The Lifelong Search for Self

Authors: David M. Brodzinsky, Ph. D. Marshall D. Schechter, M.D. & Robin Marantz Henig
Quote taken from pages 11 – 12 from the Introduction: The Loss of Adoption
Grieving almost always follows loss.  It has many emotional and behavioral manifestations: shock, anger, depression, despair, helplessness, hopelessness.  Grief can be blocked or it can be prolonged, but usually it is a normal and adaptive response to the experience of loss. For children adopted late, the loss can be traumatic and overt, placing great stress on the child.  But for children adopted at birth, there is still loss involved.  It is less traumatic, less overt, but it can shape the child’s entire personality.  Adoptees who are placed in the first days or weeks of life grieve not only for the parents they never knew, but for the other aspects of themselves that have been lost through adoption: the loss of origins, of a completed sense of self, of a genealogical continuity.  Adoptees might feel a loss too of their sense of stability in their relationship with the adoptive parents; if one set of parents can relinquish them, they might think, then why can’t another? The loss for early placed adoptees, though, is generally not acute or traumatic, nor is it usually consciously experienced until the age five or so.  It emerges gradually, as the child’s cognitive understanding of adoption begins to unfold.  And it can lead to subtle behavioral changes in childhood that seem at first glance to have nothing whatever to do with loss and grieving. Sometimes grieving becomes a significant factor in adoptee’s life; sometimes it doesn’t.  Some adoptees are overwhelmed with feelings of alienation and disconnection.  Others, for reasons we still don’t fully understand, have no such feelings, and are instead intensely grateful for having been given the safe and loving homes their adoptive parents made for them. We can’t predict which adoptee will feel incomplete or abandoned and which will feel cherished, which will choose to emphasize the “lost” nature of adoption and which will dwell only on the “found”.  But we can say that both types of reactions are understandable, common, and usually part of a healthy adaptation – and that they can exist, at different points along the life span, in the same individual.
I am fascinated by this book and find myself reaching for it again and again.  The best part of the book is that it really explains how we get to where we are today, from where we were previously, life stages.  How lived experiences trigger reflections and reassessment all through life whether we process it in the moment, or through the lens of remembered experiences, or both.
It is not a book that assigns labels and does not dismiss or negate any feelings or say any feeling is bad or right.  It does not try to correct assumptions of the adoptee – it simply explains what feelings they have heard and the why…it is refreshing after reading websites and blogs where we are labeled and patted on the head and referenced as mal-adjusted, angsty and any number of other terms used in degratory manner…
Getting back to the book – I found the Mid-Life  part especially interesting as it pertains to what happened to me most recently.  It talks about two general types of individuals – those who are internally controlled and who take charge deliberately, and those who feel externally controlled who believe things happen to them.  I never allowed being adopted to be a focal point in my life for any length of time, yes, it would come to the forefront time after time throughout my life, but I would put it away each time when I decided enough was enough, and I had to get back to life. 
The birth of my son made me all to aware of the reality of being adopted, when holding him for the first time I realized that he was my kin and the overwhelming feelings that brought – the very first person I had ever met who I was related too, words themselves are too sterile to even begin to describe the feelings. 
The subsequent passing of my son was all-consuming and the blackness of loss seemed like there would be no ending to it.  Looking back I can hardly recall actual events that happened in the first year and can only view that period of time through a haze of painful flashes of memory, surviving but not surviving, wishing above all else I could just be with him again.  But over time I again compartmentalized those feelings like my adoptee feelings and I found a place deep inside of me for those feelings to hide away – and I carried on, put on a smile and kept it firmly planted on my face – only allowing those feelings to escape when certain dates or events would bring them forward, and then putting them away again.  A cycle I am ultimately familiar with.  And yet what I remember clearly was my internal voice chanting one of my mantra’s that goes something like this – everyone leaves but I am a survivor and can survive anything.  Looking back now, I know that mantra or something similar has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, even as a child I remember chanting it with tears streaming down my face – it was there to move me forward – if that is not an indication of adoption loss then I really don’t know what could be considered valid proof…
Page 151 – Mid-Life…
A good many adoptees consider the stress of adoption to be something they cannot change would be better off ignoring so they can get on with their lives.  These people reveal little inner turmoil about being adopted; they have either suppressed or denied or minimized the significance of adoption in their own lives…
Denial or avoidance is a highly adaptive strategy when faced with something that cannot be changed and can be compartmentalized and continue on…
But neither do we want to portray these people in denial as being assured of happy lives just because they repress or suppress any interest in adoption or in their origins.  This is simply a coping style, and for many it works – at least until the phone call from a birth mother or the uncovering of a genetic illness makes denial no longer possible.
And that is when the walls finally crashed for good about the total impact being adopted has had on my entire life.  When all the losses in my life suddenly became too much for me to ever deny the reality that my life started with a loss – the initial loss of my mother and that never went away, ever, and now I was impacted forever by my genetic history and a disease that will most likely be the cause of my death.
All the denial has crumbled because of the loss of my health and subsequently losing my ability to work…and the anger that has evolved over the fact that my genetic history was denied to me simply because I was adopted…and the knowledge having that genetic history could have changed or at least mitigated the impact on me…yah…I’m done denying that being adopted has always caused a lot of pain in my life, and that it started at day one and will end when I am gone. 

Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Adoption


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9 responses to “One of my favorite books…

  1. Von

    April 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    It’s such a useful book, so much the better I think, for once, for being written by objective non-adoptees! I return to it time and time again as you do. This is a terrific post, may I link please?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The adopted ones

    April 11, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Of course Von – you don’t need to ask…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda

    April 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Love this book!


  4. The adopted ones

    April 11, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks for commenting Amanda and so happy to hear your wonderful news about your beautiful son – all the best wishes possible.


  5. cb

    April 12, 2011 at 5:51 am

    I look forward to reading the full book one day, I have only read one photocopied chapter so far.


  6. shadowtheadoptee

    April 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I swear we are twins. Thank you for sharing this. I haven’t read the book. Excellent post.


  7. Peach

    April 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Just found your blog and am so glad I did. What an excellent post…thanks for writing! My heart aches for you. I have struggled with getting medical/birth records also and the emotions it causes. Especially when we really need it. Bless you.


  8. The adopted ones

    April 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Peach – welcome, I have read your blog for years…


  9. Kara

    April 15, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Wonderful book. I have felt validated by it, over and over again. David is really smart.



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