Everyone will be challenged by losses in their lifetime, some more than others. How we cope, adjust, is uniquely based on our personality, learned coping skills, lived experiences, and our support system. I’m ever thankful for the many adoptee communities that abound today, they are making a difference for many who were alone, who wondered if it was just them that felt that way, or couldn’t figure out why they reacted to things differently. Adoptees finding their communities is beautiful to behold. What is still lacking is an understanding from some (perhaps even many) in the other two sectors in adoption, as well as adoption professionals, even if it is better, it is not good enough, and in some ways deeply lacking.
I check in from time to time on a few FB adoption pages that are public pages, and on one, the following question was asked anonymously, seeking an answer that her child could accept:
“Why did she give me away?”
Some tried to provide ways to answer that could help, but a couple of the answers bother me more every time something triggers my brain to think about them. Once I think about them I start silently screaming NO – don’t tell them that.
“Because she loved you.”
“because she knew how much we needed and wanted you! And that makes her very special person!”
There is no pat answer to that question, how could there be, and I can’t imagine being the adult trying to answer it, but the above aren’t good answers. But let’s be real here, some of the reasons first moms state for why they chose adoption wouldn’t have been any more comforting to me as a little one (perhaps other adoptees either)than those comments quoted above, yet they are part of the narrative today. Perhaps choosing adoption so you can finish your education is a good idea for that expectant mother, but translate that to a child as to a valid reason you weren’t kept, when being told to eat your vegetables because it will make you grow big and strong fails every time, and that’s a blip compared to being adopted and why you needed to be adopted and the emotions surrounding that event.
There has to be a good reason why you weren’t parented, and even then, it’s still hard to accept, even if you accept the why, and many of us do, I think. But that’s just half the equation. Yesterday, a casual statement was made (that I can’t find now) about how an adopted child learns to understand and accept why they were adopted and goes on to live a happy life no repercussions at all. It left me pondering on how easy it is for others to assume it’s no big deal to be adopted – a simple conversation when their little and it’s over and done. We can and do accept when there’s a good reason and it becomes our norm, but it’s also something that changed our entire life trajectory and involves deep emotions and ties lost. Acceptance and feelings about it – aren’t necessarily in sync with the other, nor do they need to be. It’s not once and done even for the most accepting adoptees, they’ll process it over their lifetime too. If you question that, look at the adoptees in their 80’s who’ve lived full lives, yet still want to know who they were born to be, and why, the unanswered questions (or unsatisfactory reasons) stay with you. Pat answers (trite answers) as to the why don’t work, reasons that appear to either tell you that you weren’t as important as X don’t either, because your parents are supposed to love you so much they’re willing to fight for you, run into traffic to save you, not to give you away.
“Rejection: Feelings of rejection can be felt by some adoptees, as they struggle to make sense of their relinquishment. Regardless of whatever logical explanations they have been given, some can still feel abandoned. After all, they see other families who have made other choices in which children were not placed. If poverty was an issue, they might ask, why couldn’t the parents find a way to make it work and parent their child, like so many other families do? Children who were unable to live with the birth parents because of addiction issues might feel their parents chose the addiction over them. The feeling of rejection can become especially difficult if there are other birth children still living in the home; the adoptee can’t help but question, “Why me? Why wasn’t I worth keeping?””
The above quote is from this article: Post-Adoption Services: Acknowledging and Dealing with Loss. Please read the entire article, mull on it, try to walk in your child’s shoes and see how would you feel. If your adoption service provider did not require you to learn about the possible ways your child may feel about being adopted, reasons for those feelings, then they did you a grave disservice and you should write them a letter. That goes for both adoptive and first parents – they hold themselves as the professional in this area, tell them when they’ve failed.