"Abandonment" is one such word. It is powerfully meaningful to some adoptees and much less so for others. I fall into the second category.
Though my feelings about my adoption are not 100% positive, I don't tend to perceive myself as having been abandoned by my first mother. I tend to view adoption as something that happened to us -- to both my birth mother and myself -- rather than as something she did to me. It was the baby scoop era and powerful social forces were in play. My first mother, as an unmarried pregnant teen in small-town Maine, was relatively powerless. In my particular story, the more powerful player was my biological grandmother, but even she was swept along by strong social currents. In order to move beyond the mores of her time, she would have needed to be a remarkable woman. Can I blame her for being merely ordinary?
"Separation" is a word that, for me, has more significance than "abandonment." Simply put, I consider myself to have been separated for much of my life from something vital to my well-being: knowledge of and connection to my biological roots. "Identity" is also a big word for me.
All of that said, I can look back over my history of relationships and notice that for much of my life I tended to seek out partners who were unlikely to stick around. Was I reenacting a scenario of abandonment, working through my unresolved adoption issues through my adult relationships? Maybe. Though stability is one of the defining factors of my adoptive upbringing (my a-parents have been married for more than 50 years and still live in the house I grew up in, with my childhood bedroom more-or-less preserved for me when I return home), I have a hard time expecting that anything will last. I have been at the same job for almost 20 years and have never received anything but positive reviews, but there is a part of me that never stops expecting to be let go at any moment. Adoption-related insecurity? Maybe.
The thing with adoption is that it can be difficult to tease out which parts are adoption-related and which parts are just life. Impermanence is part of living; the only constant, it has been said, is change. Few of us (adopted or not) make it to adulthood without some form of damage. All of this is true. But it's also not too surprising that a person whose first experience in life was one of separation would experience ripple effects from that event.
I'd love to hear from other adoptees (and other members of the triad, for that matter) on the subject of abandonment. Is the word one that resonates for you, or not?