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.♥️
Growing up, the fact that I was adopted wasn't really something that was discussed. I've been blessed with an amazing family that I am eternally grateful for. I was a happy, care-free kid full of energy and entertainment. There was this part of me, though, that I couldn't quite put my finger on; something painful that was always there. Underneath my upbeat personality were feelings of anxiety, sadness, emptiness. Grief.
Research studies show that the removal of an infant from its biological mother is intensely traumatic for the baby, and the excruciating affects remain in their physiology throughout their life. Following this separation, I was placed in a foster home where care was negligent, an environment void of my birth mother's touch, voice, or scent . . . things a baby needs when they first enter the world. These traumatic events created a psychological blueprint that remains with me to this day, and the post-traumatic symptoms I've experienced manifest themselves in different ways, affecting every area of my life.
Adoptees often carry around with them a painful sense of rejection that heavily affects their self esteem, causing them to constantly question their worth; the feeling that they're at fault always present, regardless of the background story for why an adoption took place. For me, the trauma of abandonment and post-traumatic stress became a state of mind and body with which I operated out of on a daily basis.
Open conversations within family can ease painful, confusing emotions and help adopted children feel validated and unconditionally loved regardless of their difference in biology and/or ethnicity. Avoiding the topic can exacerbate feelings of shame, intensifying the idea that there is something 'wrong' with them and that they will always experience rejection in life. Those unfamiliar with an adoptee's world might say: "Well, at least you were adopted into a family, so why can't you just be happy and thankful for that?"
If it were really that simple, research studies and statistics wouldn't reveal adoptees being four more times likely to commit suicide than children living with their biological families.
In reality, adoption is truly a unique landscape. Understanding its complexities can help children in foster care and adoptive parents build a more secure attachment, learn how to approach sensitive issues, and encourage a deeper understanding of our emotional brain development.
It was after learning I was adopted at age 10 that I began to write music. What I was unable to express with words, I conveyed through song. When I didn't know how to articulate what I was processing - I found my voice, my comfort, through music. When nothing else could, sitting at the piano soothed me.
My adolescent years are a blur of drifting in and out of depression, anger, obsessive-compulsive behavior and low self-esteem; day after day, fighting relentless anxiety in my body . . . I watched other people enjoy their families, friendships and relationships. More than anything, I wanted to have that, too - but at the time, I simply did not know how to attach to others in a healthy way. Over and over, I re-enacted abandonment and, conversely, I would abandon.
I saw my first therapist at 14, and continue to go to this day. It's my favorite day of the week. It took years to find effective, quality therapy that was a good fit for me (there are all kinds out there), but without it and/or music, in all honesty, I don't know where I'd be. Therapy is kind of like building a puzzle. Piece by piece, your original 'framework' starts to come into view . . . you can see where edits were made along the way, and why. You begin looking at a bigger picture, and more and more, you make sense. Coming to terms with the root of my pain has given me understanding, more compassion for others, and hope. The daily journey of healing and therapy continues, and while at times challenging, it's been life-changing.
As a result of these experiences, I'd always felt hesitant to really pursue my dreams wholeheartedly . . . but I experienced a huge realization recently that has not only given me new perspective on purpose and what that means for each and every one of us, but has literally broken down walls I've kept up between my heart and what's always been waiting on the other side. I believe we all have unique gifts to spread real love in this world; and by doing so, we can heal our own hearts in the process.
Artist | Singer-Songwriter | Composer