"Take up room. Embrace your talents. It's okay to think you're beautiful."
I was removed from my mother at birth and placed with strangers before I was placed a second time with more strangers a handful of months later, who then became my adoptive family.
Yes, this has had a significant traumatic impact on me — my mental & emotional development, body, health, psyche, and life — all of which I was unaware of until a handful of years ago.
Healing is a journey that one chooses to be on; not one everyone is willing to explore.
When it comes to the complex experience of adoption (and reunion), too many assumptions are made where questions should be asked, but I’ve learned not everyone is genuinely curious; judgment is easier for some.
That’s okay though — this is my journey, and they’ve got stuff to figure out on theirs.
There are plenty more, of course, but I wanted to highlight a small handful of these from my personal adoptee experience:
I never knew my birth mom or family so I “don’t remember” the events.
Research shows that bonding occurs before birth for an infant, and the separation from its natural mother - relinquishment trauma - is the worst thing a human being can experience; the affects of this primal wound remain with the adoptee throughout their lifetime, regardless of their “adoption experience.”
I am ungrateful for the life I’ve been blessed with because I choose to look deeper into my adoption, origin, history, trauma, and subsequent challenges.
Grief & trauma have never been about gratitude. I can love my family and grieve my birth family at the same time.
I can hold both simultaneously, because it's healthy and necessary, and still embrace my journey. It's in the integration of both where I believe true healing can happen.
Babies don’t remember their mothers.
Yes, they do. My body not only remembered instantly, but had an overwhelming reaction to mine the moment we hugged.
I’m a victim of my circumstances surrounding adoption.
Finding your voice takes courage, and learning to use it takes vulnerability.
I am no victim, but a warrior.
This isn’t just about adoptee stories, but everyone’s story — we all have one, and every story matters.
The dismissal of another person’s pain is the denial of our own.
’Primal Wound’ by Nancy Verrier
‘Adoption Healing, A Path To Recovery’ by Joe Soll
Some people believe trauma only happens to certain people. We have all experienced trauma at some point or another. Just different forms of it.
Grief and healing look like different things for different people.
As an adult adoptee who’s been ‘out of the fog’ for some time, those two things have been quite the maze to navigate. Just when I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on where I’m at, something finally breaks through the surface that I didn’t even realize I was desperately seeking to understand.
When it comes up, fear is relentless, even physically paralyzing for me. I can only say a handful of words: “I’m scared. I’m scared.”
My husband is the the most supportive, loving man in the universe, but he hasn’t always known what to do or say when I‘m in that state.
I haven’t always known what was happening when I’ve been in that state.
It’s kind of hard to express needs let alone explain them when the trauma of relinquishment is preverbal.
Realizing that, in that non-verbal, traumatized, infant state, I had been approaching him as if he is my birth mother and/or the negligent foster care caretaker has been so clarifying and significant in my healing process.
This is, at its core, abandonment/relinquishment re-enactment on so many different levels in both the body and mind.
In that state, I literally cannot tell him what I need sometimes, but I’m learning.
We’re learning how to provide lightning-speed relief for the other.
We’re learning each other more and more every day.
It’s important to be aware of how prolonged distress is really, really hard on the body, and those working with trauma know that timing is everything.
Figure out what works — touch, voice, words, no words, etc.
I’m right here. I love you. I’ve got you. You are safe now.
Practice it. No one is perfect (there will be drops!) so work on repair speed.
It sounds like a lot, and that’s because it is, but we all deserve to heal.
We’re all worth it.
At the root of fear and rage is pain.
For adoptees, it is the devastating, excruciating trauma of relinquishment: the primal wound of being separated from our mother. Research shows that this separation is the worst thing a human being can experience. I actually didn’t learn that until this year.
I’m here. I’m in one piece, even though it doesn’t always feel like it. I may be in a shit load of pain, but I only know how to love fiercely and I’m learning how to soak in all the love my husband pours into me daily.
I’m healing just as fiercely, and
I’m embracing my journey as a proud adoptee — aka, warrior.♥️
I'm not a huge drinker. I enjoy spending time with friends, and occasionally, that involves going out, maybe trying a new restaurant, and catching up. Even if I've seen you a thousand times, I'll still have social anxiety, so a cocktail will be ordered as soon as I sit down.
The problem is, you can't tell I'm about to explode. I'm an introvert, but you'd only believe that wholeheartedly if you knew me really well. As an adoptee, I've spent a good part of my life people-pleasing, which, in my world, just means fear of abandonment in action. And as an introvert, I absolutely dread small-talk, so mastering social skills means only one thing: a genuine effort to connect; one of the most terrifying things in all existence.
I should've named this post "How To Take An Un-Reunified Adoptee To A Bar" instead. This year marks a decade since I met my birth mother in 2008. I'll be honest. There's not a day that goes by where I don't wonder if I'll finally see that e-mail from her in my inbox, and then hating myself for it. It's truly a complex battle between abandoned baby vs. adult self - and quite the balancing act. I had a friend lightheartedly ask me once, "Why don't you just let her go?" I felt that gut punch for months (she's my birth mother), but I don't know what's worse: living unawarely or being in denial. Feeling pain as a result of trauma has never been a matter of choice; the only choice here is the validation of its existence.
Before I get too off topic, I'll say this. To be fair, I understand not everyone will understand another's grief (after all, each of us are wired differently with different backgrounds, experiences, etc.), but maybe the most painful emotion to experience as a human being, is the dismissal of our pain by others.
As an adoptee, this pain cuts deep into my core wound of relinquishment - the trauma volcano that has been erupting inside of my body since before I was born.
Only within the last few years have I begun to come out of what's known as 'adoption fog', and while my heart and life have changed in the best, most healthiest ways possible, I've also been introduced to a new kind of pain that grabs you by the heart, and then sets you free...over, and over, and over again.
So, about drinks. If you’re out with an adoptee who is navigating grief, awakening, learning love; and you want to be supportive yet you’re not sure how to help, please know this:
Telling our stories is like a baby learning how to speak for the very first time. Be patient with our grief. Finding your voice takes courage; learning how to use it takes vulnerability.
Artist | Singer-Songwriter | Composer