Sunday, November 25, 2012


I met a therapist who had been invited to work with a group of adoptees.... He seemed puzzled. He said that the adoptees in his group, and the ones he has begun to see in private practice, seemed traumatized. They do not shed their symptoms like his other patients. Their trauma seemed deeper, as if it were very early—almost cellular. — Betty Jean Lifton, Journey of the Adopted Self 
Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful. — The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE
This thing that happened to me, that shaped my life from my earliest breaths, is no small thing. Nor is it something I can easily shake. As Lifton goes on to explain, "the adoptee who experienced separation and loss early in life, usually at birth, has no previous self—no pre-traumatic self—from which to draw strength. And so we may well ask: How do adoptees heal?"

Good question. For me, the quest for healing and wholeness is ongoing process. I sometimes say that adoption healing is something I "get" to do again and again. I work through one layer only to discover another.

I have met people, in real life and online, who truly grok the complexity and difficulty of my adoptee experience. I have also encountered many who don't. I suffer not so much from a lack of understanding from people close to me as from the discrepancy between my personal experience of adoption and the way it is held in the broader culture. I struggle, in part, because the very thing that has caused me pain is publicly celebrated by others as beautiful.


  1. very nicely said, especially for something that can be so hard to articulate.

  2. Your last line says it all. Until the day both sides of adoption are shown there will be no resolution.

  3. Rebecca...i can totally identify with your post. Sometimes I wish I had an interior pause button so I could just set aside this "healing" for a while. But the thoughts just keep coming and so few people can seem to grasp what I am going through. Nine months ago I would have told you that my life was virtually without pain. It is incredible how we adopted people adopt these strong coping mechanisms that work so well until one day they don't work at all.

  4. Thanks everyone for your comments. Julie, I can so relate to what you wrote. In my 20s I thought I was fine -- no adoption issues at all -- then one day the grief and mourning came at me out of nowhere. Completely knocked me flat. I was not fine at all.

  5. my most hated slogan, "adoption is the loving option", The mother is told this. Mothers do not usually choose to surrender their child to adoption unless they have no means to keep the child. To love that child is to support the mother. If you look back in history you will see that society once did.

  6. Maybe you could write about that...I am wondering when I am going to start to feel markedly better and for longer periods of time...I just realized that it is a mistake to look for a timetable, for me to be "healed". I know I am never going to be fully healed but look to a day when I can feel less traumatized more often.


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