Ask an Adoptee…

So here I am again, it’s been a while. Life has been crazy, but while taking my little hiatus I thought of something that I would really like to do- ask an adoptee. It’s going to be probably one post a week where I answer a question from someone else that is posed to an adoptee. This question could literally be anything. If you or anyone you know has any questions, you can email them to me at adopteethoughts@gmail.com

Now, without further ado, let’s get into the first Ask an Adoptee post!

 

Question: What can I do to help my AD 17 get rid of her anger and see that she can have a great future if she wants it?

 

Okay, first off I just wanna acknowledge how happy I am that you’re willing to even ask such questions. When adoptive parents desire to learn more and really strive to figure out more and more about their adopted child it just fills my heart.

 

Now, as an adopted child myself, and only about four years older than your daughter, I can say that I totally understand the anger she’s feeling. I don’t know the exact circumstances of her situation prior to coming into your home, but I think that regardless a lot of adoptees feel angry. I’m not sure if you understand the anger or not so I’ll just try to explain anyways.

 

For me, I’ve always felt angry in one way or another. At times I’ve felt angry at my birth mother for giving me up in the first place been though I know that was the best decision she could have made for me. I’ve felt angry feeling like there’s no one out there that understands me and the things that I go through. And quite honestly anger isn’t even always explained.

 

As far as getting over the anger, I’m not entirely sure that that ever really happens. Dealing with all of the emotions that come with being adopted is a lifelong process. She may not always have such intense anger, but if she does seem to get over it for now, it could resurface again. I think the best thing that you can do for her is to keep an open line of communication, but not in any sort of pushy way. You could always encourage her to reach out to some sort of support group or something. I know that one of the biggest things in my life has been able to talk to someone that knows exactly what I’m feeling and can 100% relate to me. It’s nice to talk to people in general, but having someone that truly understands is so comforting.

 

Aside from talking to people who have also been adopted, seeing a therapist has been huge in my life. Just in general being 17 isn’t always that great and therapy could help regardless of the anger. But having someone whose job is literally to listen to me for an hour is a great feeling. Just in general I think seeing someone could be beneficial for literally everyone. In addition to that, just knowing I could talk to my mom about anything, even my bio family was extremely important for me. It took me a while to feel comfortable doing it, but once I did it totally changed my life. Also a practical for her if she doesn’t already is journaling. I cannot advocate enough for that.

 

If she is living in a healthy, supportive home, she will get over it and I’m sure she knows deep down that she can have a great future. Unfortunately, sometimes these feelings can make you feel stuck and almost alienated from the world. That then in turn can make you feel like you’re going nowhere fast. I think it depends a lot on her circumstances, if she’s generally motivated, what exactly she’s angry about at the moment, etc.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure how long it takes for anger to dissipate; if ever. So with that, I’m not really sure if there is anything you personally could do to “help her get over” the anger because that is really something that has to come from her on her own. But what you can do is encourage her to vocalize how she’s feeling and giving her different outlets for these emotions. I think that channeling these feelings into different things will bring out the source of what she’s feeling as well as help it subside, as she is able to deal with each issue. The most important thing is for her to know not to brush things under the rug. I have done that countless times and it truly only makes things worse and makes you feel alone.

Sorry if this wasn’t specific enough, but if you are ever interested in talking more in depth I would totally be willing to do that.

 

xoxo, Lauren

You Don’t Have to Tell Everyone Everything (or anything for that matter)

What I’ve come to realize over the years is that I truly don’t have to tell everyone everything. And even then, I don’t have to tell them anything.

I used to think that if someone asked me a question, no matter how personal, I was obligated to answer them. That however, is simply not true. It has only been within the last year that I’ve actually come to realize this and in turn put it into practice. I used to hate  when people asked me personal questions regarding adoption and I did not feel even remotely comfortable answering. Sometimes I think that people don’t reaaaally think before they ask questions. In some situations, a question that they find totally fine can actually come off as offensive or insensitive.

Realize that you do not owe anyone anything in terms of your personal experience. You should be able to share that information with whomever you’re comfortable with whenever you are ready. Don’t feel pressured by anyone, no matter who they are.

Also, I used to think that I had to tell anyone that asked me something everything. But no. I can tell different people different things and as little or as much as I choose. I really don’t know why it’s taken nearly my entire life to realize this because it’s so liberating, but here I am ahah. Your life is just that; YOURS. SO, don’t feel like you have to have your story written across your forehead for all to read. Feel like you can talk to people, but only share sensitive things with safe people and guard yourself with an appropriate amount of caution. Worry about yourself more than how that one person may react.

 

xoxo, Lauren

Why are MOST adoptees so angry at their adopters?

I was online recently, on an adoptee support group I am now a part of, and I came across this post- someone asking “Why are MOST adoptees so angry at their adopters if they are traumatized and the trauma takes place due to the primal wound and being taken from one’s first mother?” Now, I found this quite interesting. Being a part of this group means that this individual is indeed an adoptee. That being said, I didn’t really understand their question, and needless to say I didn’t answer their post. However, I haven’t stopped thinking about the nature of this post because quite honestly, it bothered me somewhat. Maybe it wasn’t intended this way, but it came off as kind of rude and I found it to be off-putting. So, that being said, I’ve decided to give my take on this question. Here goes….

 

Well, first of all, I would not say that MOST adoptees are angry at their adopters. There is without a doubt a very good amount of adoptees out there who probably are angry because they may not have been adopted into a great family life. However, there is a great majority of amazing stories of adoptees who have fantastic lives and are extremely grateful for their adoptive families. I for one am one of those that are extremely grateful so I cannot relate to those angry towards their adopters, but I definitely get that that is a possibility.

 

I also believe it is entirely possible to be angry at ones adopters because of the sheer fact that sometimes you could feel that your adopters took you away from that “first mother.” Someone may not always feel that way, but it’s definitely a possibility at some points during one’s journey through figuring your feelings out regarding this part of your life. Anger is a normal part of grief, and grief is exactly what adoptees go through.

 

Now, it is true that we as adoptees are traumatized because indeed we are taken from our “first mother.” This has been known and referred to as the “primal wound.” Whether or not you choose to accept this term or not is totally up to you, and perhaps not everyone experiences it, but I personally have and accept it. (here is a picture of it in case anyone is interested in reading the book, I personally think it’s worth a read)

primal-wound-cover

But, I believe that you can be traumatized by this experience and then still be angry at your adopters if they are not great, or for other reasons. I don’t see why these two have to be or should be independent of one another. I think it is entirely possible to have both feelings, maybe not at the same time, but still.

 

In conclusion, I think both feelings are real and can occur together. Grief is something that adoptees definitely experience and both of these emotions and feelings are part of the grieving process. And that is exactly what this is- a process. To be honest, I believe trying to sort out all of these feelings and such, is a lifelong process. So really, who’s to say what makes sense and what doesn’t? Everyone’s journey and process is different. Let’s respect that.

 

xo, Lauren

Don’t Be Offended That I Don’t Trust You

trust-2

To anyone I know now, or will meet in the future, we could be great friends. You may think we are the best of friends and feel that you could tell me anything. But, I want you to know that that does not necessarily mean I feel the same way. I promise you it’s not personal (most of the time) and you did not offend me in any way. Don’t feel insecure and think that I must really not want to be your friend and that you feel closer to me than I feel to you- that’s more than likely not true.

 

I promise you it’s probably not you. This is one of those times where “it’s not you, it’s me” actually applies. It really is me. My life circumstances have made me extremely cautious. I am very unlikely to trust anyone. There are very few people I actually trust.

 

Being adopted, almost immediately when my life began, I was predisposed to distrust. The one person you are supposed to be able to rely on is suddenly ripped away from you when you’ve built a relationship and bond with them for the past nine months. That is a defining moment in life. Okay, so what now? It’s almost as if as a baby I was like “okay well my number one person didn’t stick around, so I guess I cant trust anyone to truly love me, take care of me, or be there for me.” I didn’t realize I felt this way until more recently in my life (I’m almost 21 years old now), but looking back it was SO evident. I push people away or simply keep them at a distance. I truly, completely, trust virtually no one. I hope that one day that will change, but for now that’s who I am. I’m actively working on it so as not to completely isolate myself, but this is real. There’s nothing you can do to make me trust you more, it has to be something that I come to on my own.

 

Trust was broken very early on in my life and it may take a lifetime to rebuild it. So, don’t be offended if I don’t completely trust you. I want to, I just….can’t.

 

xo, Lauren

Don’t Tell Me I Should Just Be Grateful

This is something that has bothered me for a really long time now. I do not understand why people constantly think this. When I’ve seen people express feelings of sadness, grief, or anger, etc. regarding being adopted, I have subsequently seen others who clearly don’t understand the feelings and therefore almost criticize the hurting adoptee.

 

OKAY. WHY? No No, I’m serious, Why? If someone could give me an explanation for that that would be great….

 

Now, let me explain why it is that these comments bother me.

 

I don’t appreciate it when people assume that because I have negative feelings sometimes about being adopted, that that means I’m not grateful. Yeah I do have emotional issues surrounding those circumstances, but that doesn’t mean I am any less grateful for the amazing family I have now. I know that people can think that me having those feelings could be hurtful to my family, but I know for me in my family, they are totally okay with me expressing my emotions. They don’t make me feel that I should just pretend I’m okay when I’m not. But they also understand that because I’m upset, doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for them. Since when does sadness equal ingratitude? It just really bothers me. It makes me feel like that I and other adoptees alike, are not allowed to have real, raw feelings about our own lives. This is not something that I particularly like to talk about so the fact that I’m feeling oppressed for even remotely expressing or having those feelings is quite honestly insulting. I just truly, truly, don’t understand why people need to comment at all. Like, if you don’t understand, then why do you feel the need to criticize?

 

Adoptees have very real grief and that is perfectly normal and okay. I love my family more than I could ever express, but I still have I guess, negative feelings in the realm of being adopted. I think it is completely acceptable to have those feelings of sadness, anger, and everything else that comes along with it. I don’t know if other people can relate to this, but for me, this is something that has bothered me for a long time. I feel very passionately about this and I want people to know that feelings don’t mean you are not grateful for the new life you have been given. I’m sure there are some people out there who do not have a great adoptive situation and therefore are actually not grateful. I would never dismiss that. I am only speaking from my own experience.

 

Please just don’t tell me that I should be grateful. That is probably one of the most hurtful and honestly, ignorant things someone could say. I know that people just genuinely may not understand, but if you don’t, then please don’t say things that are really offensive. This kind of thing is a journey that includes very difficult emotions. Adoptees can feel like it’s difficult to share or have feelings in general, never mind if people are literally calling them ungrateful. So please don’t call me ungrateful for being a real person with real emotions. Thanks.

 

xo, Lauren

What are you sorry for?

It never ceases to surprise me when I’m talking to someone and I mention I’m adopted and their reaction is, “oh I’m sorry.” Uh what? What are you sorry for? Nothing was offensive? Well actually, now you’ve just made this incredibly uncomfortable and your assumption that being adopted is something you should apologize to me for, has actually backfired on you and now I am slightly offended. It truly is almost laughable to me when this is the response I receive. It quite honestly used to make me mad, but at this point I’ve sort of just learned to shrug it off and chalk it up to that people simply do not know how to respond appropriately to that topic. It is somewhat surprising to me however, that in this day in age people still have such a response. I don’t want people to tell me they’re sorry; I want to share with them my life and in turn hear theirs. Being adopted is probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Sure it has caused some bumps in the road for me and I’m sure it will cause more as I continue in life, but that doesn’t mean I wish it had never happened. I have no clue where my life would be had I not been taken into this amazing family. So please, don’t apologize. There is nothing for anyone to be sorry for. I love my life. 

xo,Lauren

Triggers for the Adoptee

“You should be grateful you were adopted.”

Newsflash- we are grateful. BUT being grateful doesn’t mean forgetting. Just because I’m grateful for my adoptive parents and what they’ve done for me doesn’t mean that all the pain and things I’ve had to deal with just disappear. Believe me, I totally wish it worked like that. It’s unrealistic for people to expect adoptees to simply be grateful. For me, I don’t understand how in people’s minds having typical adoptee emotions equals ingratitude. I will never get that. Honestly, if someone could explain that logic to me, that’d be greatly appreciated. It’s just frustrating when you’re expressing these feelings of pain and grief to someone and they seem annoyed because “you should be grateful for your parents, they’re great parents.” YES my parents are great, (I know not everyone’s adoptive parents are) but no matter how great they are, doesn’t take away the emotional scarring. And I don’t know when having real feelings became the definition of ungrateful.

 

“Your mom’s not your real mom.”

WOAH WOAH WOAH. Pause right there. Care to explain to me what the definition of a “real” mom is? Because if you mean she’s not my biological mom, then you’re completely accurate. However, biological does not equal real. My adoptive mom is very much real. She is a living, breathing human being. True she did not give birth to me, but last I checked, giving birth is not the deciding factor on if you’re a mom or not. It’s kind of ignorant for people to say that to an adoptee. I mean, how are you supposed to respond to that? You really don’t… I know that my mom is my mom and she is as real as it gets. She provides me with everything I need and more, loves me unconditionally, and supports me in all that I do. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a mom to me. She didn’t need to go through pregnancy and birth to become a mom. She took an untraditional route to motherhood, but she embraced it and it really doesn’t matter what path you take to get to that point.

 

“Do you know anything about your family?”

This is a question that I probably get asked most frequently when the subject of me being adopted comes up. It isn’t so much of an offensive question as it just stirs up a lot of emotion for me most of the time. For me, this can be an extremely sensitive subject. I know that for some people, talking about their story can generally be an easier thing for them than others. There are times where I feel empowered and times where, well, I don’t. Some people really just know more about their biological families than others do and that can be a very difficult topic. It is extremely hard when you don’t know information about your family. I mean, they’re YOUR FAMILY for cryin’ out loud. It’s the unknown that can be the worst.

 

Medical Questions:

Along the same lines as the previous trigger, when you go to the doctors for something and to try to figure out what’s wrong they ask you about your family history, and you got nothing. There is nothing more frustrating especially because you are also trying to figure out what could be wrong along with remembering that you really don’t have any medical information on your biological family.

Ancestry Projects:

And right along with medical questions we have ancestry projects. These provoke the same kind of unknown frustration and stream of emotions.

 

Birthdays & Holidays:

Birthdays and holidays drive me nuts and they always have. I was never sure why I hated my birthday or why I always seemed slightly sad around holidays despite the fact that I love them. I realized only recently that it was because I felt that something was missing. Now I know that it was because I felt that my biological family should be there to celebrate these things with me, but they aren’t. But, realizing that now I hope I can move on from that.

These are just some of the things that for me have triggered a lot of emotion, but that doesnt mean it happens for every adoptee out there.

xo, Lauren