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  • Ferera Swan

Heartbroken Infants


For an infant, there is no greater pain than losing the first person they've ever known, needed, or loved. When life begins with heartbreak, grief is for a lifetime. 

Adoptees are often challenged to defend our perspectives on adoption.  Our very lived experiences are often deemed invalid by those who have never lived a day of adoption in their life.  Those who have either benefited from or have an interest in the multi-billion-dollar industry will jump at any chance to tell any adoptee speaking out that their views are “wrong”, and the ones who attempt to shut our conversations down are the same people who will claim that adoption is for us.

​It’s a vicious cycle most adult adoptees can’t seem to avoid when confronting adoption truths.


I don’t think most people realize that “understanding the circumstances surrounding our adoption, being grateful for our families, and focusing on the now” have actually nothing to do with what it means to process trauma in a healthy way.  In fact, these kinds of communications are a dismissal of our grief and a reinforcement of our trauma—and people wonder why so many adoptees come off as “angry". Not only have we lost our mother, we're now challenged to explain all the mechanics of how it can possibly still affect us just as profoundly as adults—even when the research on maternal separation is crystal clear.


In general, the public tends to reduce this experience to mere “emotions” or “feelings” adoptees have about adoption when a significant part of our trauma also involves what happens on a biological, neurological, and developmental level as a result of this separation. If emotions are biological reactions, it would only make sense for adopted people to carry such intense emotions surrounding their separation, relinquishment, and adoption. Whether one is acutely aware that the grief they carry is directly related to trauma depends on each individual, but the active relationship between biology and emotion exists in all human beings.


Adoptees are heartbroken infants housed inside of adult bodies. 


And just because most people can't authentically fathom our kind of loss doesn’t mean our trauma isn’t real or valid. Instead of attempting to compare our loss with other things (nothing compares to losing your mother) or listing all the reasons why you think we should be grateful (that’s not what grief has ever been about), please have the courage to listen to what we have to say.