Tag Archives: loss

Feeling Different

Today’s post is from John, an adopted adult who shares his views and feelings…

When reading the stories of other adoptees, I often feel that I am odd or unusual. Going for a walkTheir stories talk of a yearning to find out their roots, or of feeling a sense of loss or anger. Yet, I have never had a deep longing to discover my roots nor I have ever felt a sense of loss or anger. I have always just accepted my adoption as a fact of life and feel secure in my identity as my adoptive parents’ son.

I have met my birth mother. She gave me up voluntarily and clearly loved and cared for me. I wanted to let her know that things had turned out well. We do get on and I do see our similarities but, for me, there is not the deep connection others sometimes speak of.

I often wonder what makes my story different from so many others.

I was given up voluntarily by a loving, responsible birth mother who cared for me in the womb and for the first week of my life. I believe that I was given up because of her love for me. I am sure that she would not have given me up had she not felt it was in my best interests. I was also adopted as a month and a half old baby into a well matched, loving home by parents who were utterly devoted to me and who told from me from an early age that I was adopted. I cannot remember not knowing. I also look very like my adoptive parents so I could easily hide that I was adopted if I wished. I did have difficult times in my teenage years but I don’t believe these were any more difficult than any other teenager trying to find their place in the world.

I have been reading the Primal Wound. As an adopted person, I do not particularly recognise myself in it but I do believe what it says is true of other adopters. I see much of what it says in the experience of my sister. She has felt a deep sense of loss and anger which she has had to work through over many years.

Clearly, there is something subtly different in my sister’s experience of adoption and my own experience. We have both enjoyed a similar upbringing and much of what I describe above about myself is true of her yet her emotional response to her adoption is completely different to my own. I have my theories on why this is. From reading the Primal Wound and from considering my own experience and my sister’s experience, I believe that first few days after birth are critical. I was cared for by my birth mother for a week after my birth. She was not.

This is why it is so important to hear from adoptees. Each adoptee has their own, distinctive story of adoption. We need to hear their story to understand why one adoptee has one experience of adoption and another a different experience so that we can use this information to improve the experiences of the adoptees of tomorrow.

We must give adoptees the space to share their story. It will be in this patchwork of adoptee experiences that answers can be found that can help the adoptees of the future.

Managing Loss

Today one mum shares a story of loss…..

We adopted our son around a year ago, when he was 11 months old. During the introduction weeks he was the happy, smiley boy we had been promised, securely attached enough to his foster mum that he would happily leave her, knowing that he would be returned safely home to her and his foster brother.

It all changed when he started to realise that he was not going to return home.

Of course, because of his age, there was no way of explaining to him what was happening so we watched ‘our son’ suffer with chronic diarrhoea, become whingey and incredibly upset and it was, for us extraordinarily difficult that he did not want to be settled by us ‘his parents’, what he wanted was his mummy!

It was extremely hard because, we knew, logically, that what had happened to him, being adopted, was for the best, but as a mother I simply wanted to give him back to his foster mum because that was, at the time, what would stop him from being so sad. For a while, people kept telling us that he was so settled with us, because his smiles returned, but I still felt that inside he was suffering.

He became attached to me and would panic when I left him, which broke my heart; because he had been a little boy who was happy to share his time and laughter with others, but he didn’t trust that I would not do what his previous mum had done to him.

This is not, as it seems a sad story though, he settled happily with his new mum, dad, big sister and old dog and settled incredibly well into nursery, when I returned to work, part time. He is, in himself, a great advertisement for adoption as he is a funny, cheeky, almost 2 year old, who people instantly adore.

ManagingLossWe did recently, however, lose our beloved dog. She was aged 14 when we adopted our little boy, but he instantly loved the enormous bundle of fluff that she was. She was a little disturbed when we adopted him, as our 5 year old little girl was beyond crashing into her with her doll and pushchair by that time, but we taught him to treat her gently and with respect. We unfortunately had to have her put to sleep one night, and similarly as with the adoption, we could not explain to him, as we could our little girl.

At first he didn’t really notice, as she was often out for a walk or staying with grandparents. His behaviour then seemed to change. He became whiney and cross and his behaviour deteriorated. I was at the end of my tether, by the end of the week, as I am sure other people with toddlers can understand.

It was only then, however, that I sat back and realised that I had lived through this behaviour before. He was experiencing a painful loss and was again lashing out, through his inability to express and comprehend his grief.

I don’t really know whether he experiences loss in a more dramatic way, due to his memories of his first loss – the adoption (he was taken away from his birth parents immediately). I am hoping that he will not experience any more losses for a while now, although we are moving house this week, which I fear will unsettle him too. Hopefully as he gets older, he will be able to discuss and express his grief and we can support him more easily through any difficult situation. I wanted to share with others that, whilst I am incredibly glad I adopted my son, how difficult watching him suffer was. Other people felt that it would be easy adopting a baby as babies don’t understand what is going on around them, but it was for precisely that reason that it was hard.