Chapter 4

Sheri Eldridge has shared Chapter 4 of her book Twenty Life Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make on her Facebook page.

Find it here.

I like her take on the mixed feelings and things people *shouldn’t* say to adoptees. Not sure I agree with her take on “Moses” or the part about “How can one help an adoptee feel like she belongs?”  To me, both things she mentions are lies.  To each his own, though!

An article on The Primal Wound

(first published Sept 2007)

I have not read the book, The Primal Wound yet (it’s around here somewhere!) – here is an article on the theory behind it:

Quantum Parenting: In Appreciation of The Primal Wound

I found this passage to be particularly true for me:

Throughout our childhoods, although this deep knowing [that our mother is not the woman who carried us in her womb] prods us down deep, telling us that the emperor is naked, we come to embrace, out of our existential survival instinct, the position that the emperor is fully clothed, because that’s what everyone else is saying, everyone upon whom we depend. We gradually become alienated from our own inner knowing, which leads to a hollowness inside, a hollowness that can’t be filled by the noisy details of our lives, our school plays, our swim meets, our slumber parties, and 20 years later, our own kids’ soccer games, our promotions, our exciting plans for the new house, our baby on the way. The hollowness just feels more hollow when none of these blessings can seem to fill us up.

and I loved this:

Dr. Wendy McCord, a therapist specializing in pre- and perinatal issues, suggests that there are things adoptive parents can do to acknowledge and allow an adopted infant’s loss, hurt, and anger, and thereby begin a healing process. [Contact this author for further information.] These are simple, concrete things which, while perhaps challenging of parents’ idealized vision of the adoptive experience, will begin to establish an atmosphere of trust for their child. This trust leads to the kind of intimacy which, more than any piece of paper, decrees them as that child’s “real parents.” For parents who act not out of their own needs and insecurities, but rather out of a truly respectful, supportive commitment to child’s needs, those are real parents. And that is real love.

Being Adopted (the book) – Part 2

(first posted Jan 2007)

More on Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by Brodzinsky, Schechter, and Henig.

The book goes on to talk about intimacy. Intimacy, they say, hinges on a strong sense of identity, which adoptees can often lack. Some people run from relationships to remain “in control” – to leave before they get left. I personally don’t do that. But I *do* doubt dh’s and friends commitment to me – for no good reason, mind you. The only reason I believe my dh is committed to our relationship is his high moral character. He is a prince among men, and he wouldn’t do that. BUT, even as I say that, I keep thinking, “Surely *something* I might do would send him over the edge…or times will change, you’ll see.” Sigh. He deserves a wife with his head on much straighter than mine! LOL

Here’s something else I have a loooong way to go on:

Intimacy requires an ability to trust, to take the chance that your partner will not reject you or your feelings and ideas.(emphasis mine)

Dh will tell you – I rarely put an idea out there without it starting a fight. I say something, then get very defenisve about it. I tend to be a chameleon too – saying, “whatever you want is fine, I don’t care” Even when I really DO care. Especially when I really do care – if it’s a big deal I tend to hide it even more (hide being a relative term, I think it comes out in anxiety and arguments) because if he knew the REAL me, the one who HAS ideas and thoughts and feelings, I think he wouldn’t really like me anymore. I can couch it in all the “dying to self” talk I want – as in “I’m being a good Catholic about this and not caring about what *I* want” but really I do care a whole lot about what I want, and just deny others the benefit of being able to know my true thoughts and feelings. My friends will tell you too – I tend to make friends with “talkers” so I can just nod and smile and ask them questions and not get into what I think/want/feel. Everyone in my book club laughs (good naturedly – these are my best friends) that I am always so quiet there. 🙂 But talking at book club meetings means giving an OPINION that someone else might disagree with. Oh the horrors! LOL

On to parenting…

By the bearing and raising of children, people in a
sense renurture themselves. Parenting provides an opportunity to revisit
old issues in a new context, perhaps to undo the mistakes that have been made by
their own parents as they make decisions about how they will raise thier
children.

I never thought about it this way. I’ve been tending to parent with an underlying “lack” philosophy – how can I give what I never got? When I could be trying harder to give EXACTLY what I never got so that my children can grow up “normal” LOL and I can experience an unconditionally loving relationship – if only from the parent side.

Having children brings up many issues – your lack of a past history is now not only YOUR problem but your children’s problem. With my children seeing so many specialists, do you know how many times in one year I have to say, “I don’t know my children’s family history on my side, I’m adopted.” It gets old. Fast. You also worry about what kind of genetic mix your kids are getting. It’s scary to have a “blank” on one side. It sounds horrible, but I get excited when I figure out that some things are in part DH’s genetic “malfunctionings” and not my own or not only my own – like my oldest’s eye drifting problem. Many of dh’s relatives had the same thing! Ha! I’m not the cause of all problems! 🙂

The book quotes a woman who said she was “surprised” at her “sense of jealousy” regarding her daughter. She resented the fact that her daughter had a biological mother who loved and kept her. Another woman went through a bad postpartum depression because of this. I wonder if my postpartum depressions have had anything to do with this? I don’t know. But I do know, I feel terrible terrible jealousy (or is it envy?) of my children sometimes. I keep thinking, “I would NEVER do that to my parents (i.e. disobey, not do what they ask, backtalk, etc). Who in the world do they think they are? They are SO LUCKY to have parents who would keep them if they do that.” I’m sure my parents *would* have kept me if I did that, but I never had the emotional freedom to try, I was too terrified that if I screwed up I’d be abandoned again. My adoptive parents did do too much “emotional abandonment” when I screwed up for my tastes though – i.e. not speaking to me for days if I got a bad grade or decided to go to a friends house for a holiday (when they had said it was OK, but apparently it was NOT OK). I knew if I wanted safety in lovingness, I had to tread a fine line. Later in the chapter the authors state:

For the adoptee, both envy and jealousy are inevitable, pervasive, and sometimes painful aspects of life with which he must contend throughout the life
cycle.

To that I say, yes… and OH GOODY. 😦

The book has a section on searching, which I will skip for now other than to type this quote – for my own personal memory jog. 🙂

Even those searchers who have failed to find a happy ending tend to be satisfied
with the process of searching itself. The activated search provides and
important psychological function for some people: it allows them to gain control
over forces over which they previously had no control.

(i.e. being given up, barred from getting information, etc) Right now, I don’t think I want to search. My father would just die if he knew I was, and I don’t want to hurt them. I also don’t want to open a can of worms. What if my birth mother doesn’t want me – or worse, what if she is some horrible person or a really needy person that would never leave me alone??

One adoptee said they felt unreal, like a fictional character, the product of a writer’s imagination (searching is supposed to help remedy this, which is why it is showing up here). I definitely agree with this. I feal fake, unreal, dropped from the sky, inhuman (not in a moral way – just not like “other humans” who have biological relatives, lol). I wish the book would talk about how to fix this OTHER than searching.

That is the end of the chapter on young adulthood. Next is middle age (forties and fifties) – I haven’t read that one yet. 🙂

Being Adopted (the book) – Part 1

(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
    him

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
unanswerable…

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.