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GRIEF + GRATITUDE

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  • Ferera Swan

Adoption Assumptions, Realities, and Takeaways: Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month

ASSUMPTION: My adopted child is well-adjusted and happy, not showing any signs of trauma. What matters most is that they know they are loved and in a safe home. If we do our nest as parents, they won't experience adoption trauma.

REALITY: Adoptees grow up without having any language for how we truly feel about adoption because the trauma of relinquishment is preverbal. Before we can process our trauma, we're given a whole new identity and expected to be grateful for our loss.


TAKEAWAY: Being adopted into a wonderful, loving, safe, and financially stable home will not, does not, and cannot undo the trauma of maternal and family separation. If your focus is on what you can provide, you're thinking about the wrong person.

If you ask any of my adoptive family members what I was like as a kid, they’ll all tell you that I was the silliest, most energetic, cheerful girl who had the loudest laugh—and that the jokes and quirks were nonstop.

I tried to cut myself with a small X-Acto when I was 10.

I never told anyone (not even any of my therapists—the shame was that deep) until an adoption-informed therapist helped me identify the deep-rooted pain that I’d eventually learn to live with. Adoptive parents:

Just because trauma is not detectable on the surface does not mean it’s not there. Adoptees (especially younger) also may or may not even be aware of it. It is your responsibility to find appropriate mental health support and meet their behavioral challenges with empathy and compassion. Listen and learn from adopted adults. Many of them can also recommend resources. If you think adoptees who publicly share any of these incredibly difficult realities for attention, you’re completely misinformed (you’re also an asshole)—clearly, most of us grow up suffering in secret until we just can’t afford to be silent anymore.

Many of us don’t make it.

It’s suicide prevention & awareness month, and I’ll be sharing ‘assumptions, realities, and takeaways’ on social media as well as in the form of blog posts. Please listen.


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