(first published Jan 2007)
I am currently in the middle of Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by Brodzinsky, Schechter, and Henig. In the next few posts I’m going to jot down quotes from the book and my reactions to them, mostly for my own recollection later. The book has chapters covering stages from infancy to late adulthood, but I’m going to focus on early adulthood and middle age, since that is what I am going through now (there, I said it again. Middle age. Yikes!) Hopefully I’m not officially middle aged yet, I’ll turn 38 next month. 🙂
So without further ado, and hopefully just enough quoting to NOT get me in trouble with copyright laws, here are my thoughts on this book. I fear much of it is going to be a quote and then me going, “Yeah, that is exactly how I feel!” over and over, lol. You’ve been warned. 🙂
Dialectical thinking may be especially helpful for the adult who is adopted.
The adoptee lives with incongruities:
- He has an amended birth certificate that says he was born to his adoptive
parents, yet he knows he was born to another set of parents
- He was told as part of his adoption story that he was relinquished because
his birth mother loved him, yet he knows that when HE loves someone he wants to
be near that person, not far away.
- He was told how much his adoptive parents wanted him, yet he knows the other
side of his adoptions story is that his birth mother apparently did not want
These incongruities are often difficult for the school age child or
adolescent to accept. But the mature adult , who has developed a dialectical
approach, is more likely to find a way to resolve these apparent paradoxes.
I agree with this – in theory. It makes sense, and I believe it was true for a certain time in my twenties, and even earlier (I’ve always been a deep thinker, lol). I understood it, mentally. Yet, especially now that I have had my own children, I don’t “get it,” emotionally. I think that is what is crippling me right now.
For the adoptee, there is another task of integration as well [they had
been talking about integrating the various “selves” of a person, the career
“self,” the parent “self” etc]. The adult adoptee must incorporate his identity
as an adoptee into his broader sense of self, so that the notion of being
adopted takes its rightful place in his life. Sometimes the adoptee has so
little background information that the question “Who am I?” seems all but
In an attempt to consolidate his identity, the adult adoptee tries to use his past as a springboard to understand his own future. If he has no information about his past, he begins to feel physically cut off from a part of himself.”
Some of the examples they give really resonate with me – like a hole inside myself, like an amputation, like a cereal box without ingredients, part of me is missing. I have this feeling of being “cut off at the knees.” Maybe it’s because I have no roots? I don’t know. Overall, I think I most often feel “unreal” or “fake” and I think they talk about that more later so I won’t get into it.
I’ll stop here and continue in the next post, hopefully in a day or two.