Friday, January 20, 2017

Support For Some

By a female 1960's  Baby Scoop Era domestic adoptee who has searched and is in reunion.

Sometimes it is hard for adoptee to find appropriate support. The most obvious venues may cause more harm than good. A therapist not familiar with adoptee issues can try to treat the symptoms but not the core issues. The first hit on a Google search for adoptee support is often, which only allows positive adoption stories. This is even more isolating for an adoptee struggling and in need of help.

I attended a 5-hour Catholic Charities triad support. About 18 people showed up, most were adoptees, about 4 were first mothers, 3 family members supporting an adoptee or first mother.
The people there were very welcoming and compassionate. Having done it alone for so many years, there is nothing quite like being in a room of adoptees that have something so fundamental in common. We were removed from our first mother and did not grow up knowing any biological family.

I went in with an open mind. Talking about adoption to non-adopted people generally makes them uncomfortable. Having over a dozen people who want to talk about it seemed like a good idea. Catholic Charities sponsoring the event made me a little wary. My experience with taught me that not all claims of support are actually supportive. Since there are so few of us, I decided to take the opportunity to meet more adoptees. It was not exactly my cup of tea, but at least it was tea? In retrospect it felt more like Kool-Aid. The first thing the moderated did was to pass out a quote having to do with “she loved you so much, she gave you away”. This language is problematic for the adopted child who might who might then associate love with abandonment. Even as a young child, I knew it had more to do with inconvenience and shame than being abandon because I was loved so much. It may have been meant to make first mother feel as though they did the right thing and were justified in relinquishing their babies. The hand out was from the moderator and not the adoptees and I was interested in hearing form adoptees and first mothers.

Each person had a chance to speak. It was odd how adoptees generally prefaced what they were about to say by stating how lucky and grateful they were, like it was part of the culture of the group. They seemed to be trying to pacify everyone else in the triad and not allowed to express their own pain, or any complex emotion having to do with adoption. In their pain and confusion often ended up crying. Adoptees were reminded to understand where the first mothers are coming from and the grief of being infertile but seemed to be encouraged to pretend everything was OK. It felt like we were treated like children, not allowed to show our true feelings and always trying to please others.

I went close to last and said, “I’ve been in reunion for a couple years, but the most surprising thing I’ve learned was how being adopted has affected me.”
People looking uncomfortably around the room.

I did not eve say weather it affected me in a good way or bad. Most people seemed to be bracing themselves. It is like no one has heard of such a think and certainly not dared to speak it out loud. I continued, “The book the Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier described many of my behaviors growing up and now still. It helped me so much knowing I was not alone.” The woman next to me started to say she’d like to read it and someone from across the table interrupted her saying, “I read that and I don’t believe it” in a nasty tone, and that was it. I didn’t expect everyone to agree with me, but the hostile reaction was surprising. I sat there for 5 hours trying to be supportive and keep and open mind and that felt like the rejection that I was seeking support for.

It keeps reminding me of this study about children growing up where there is social unrest who have more resilience because they had a clear understanding of the situation. Their parents and teachers told them the trauma they were experiencing shouldn’t be happening. When the children study could participate in social change, they were said to have, “high levels of self-esteem and a deep sense of purpose and control”.

If the trauma is not acknowledged, it is hard to begin healing. Instead, this adoptee community tells them adoption is wonderful and we should be grateful. Not being able to acknowledge that adoption had any affect on my life caused prolonged unnecessary suffering. I felt bad for all these adoptees that came for support, but couldn’t even entertain the notion that any of us were at all affected by adoption. If they were truly fine with their adoptions, they wouldn’t be giving up a Saturday once a month sitting through a 5 hour long meeting.
One person touched on her narcissistic cruel adoptive mother and was met with the same silence. She was the only person that didn’t start with how grateful she was. Not wanting to upset the first mothers in the group by hearing that an adoptee didn’t have a better life, seemed to be the status quo. Being removed from the woman that gave birth to you caused trauma so no matter how great your adoptive parents. We deserve healing; we are not helpless, voiceless children anymore.


  1. Thank you for your honesty.I just found my birth mother; rather unexpectedly. I did a DNA test with Ancestry and was convinced to hire a genealogist. Within 6 days, I found my mother! It was something I had fantasized about all my life,yet I was still caught off guard. It's been a roller coaster ride, to say the least. Right now, I wish I'd never met her. She's a wonderful person, but I feel nothing for her and I am BEYOND overwhelmed. My adoptive mother,97 years old, cannot handle this and we don't discuss my birth mother at all. I feel abandoned...AGAIN!

    1. Hi Karen,
      It is often overwhelming, especially at first. With time things can change. Many of us despite the difficulties are glad to finally know our truth.
      I hope you join us in the forum section where there is a lot more discussion.

    2. Karen, please join our support forum at to get support from fellow adoptees.

  2. I think my son is just now discovering that reunion will not heal the original pain.I am going to send him the Primal Wound and the link to this group.Thank you for honest thoughts.Much love to you.

    1. Please do. Reunion has a way of making one examine the primal wound weather they like to or not. But pretending your first chapter doesn't exist is very detrimental to an adoptee.

  3. For years, my second wife could not understand why I kept talking about the pain I felt deep inside, and where it came from. Although adopted, counselors had been convinced - and convinced me - that it was the result of childhood trauma/PTSD/chemical imbalance/etc.etc. My official search began at the conclusion of my first marriage around 1991 (oddly enough, when Dr. Verrier's book came out). After a two hour INTENSE wailing session over the primal pain, the adoption subject was placed back in its cocoon, too intense to be addressed. Again and again the effects reared their damaging heads, affecting my life, my loves, and my self-worth.
    Finally, on December 16th, my wife took a chance, and asked me, "WITHOUT THINKING, tell me where the pain comes from." Out blurted "My adoption."
    Last night I started reading "Primal Wound", and, like the 70s Roberta Flack song, I see me on each page and in each passage.
    I've already cried, frowned, smiled, and sighed into my hands more than I can count. My wife has changed my birthday to December 16th (I am now born again again again!).
    I hope to be a very active member of this group, and hope to find - and give - the support so needed for the relinquished ones.

    1. We are looking forward to having you! I'm glad your wife is understanding. It is hard to comprehend if you were not relinquished. The disconnect between the common view of adoption and what is experienced in your head causes even more problems.