February 20, 2018

Emotional Issues After Adoption

Emotional Issues After AdoptionIn my series of Adoption: Let’s Be Honest, I want to address the emotional issues after adoption. There are many and they, of course, vary by child and family. But there are some commonalities that can be looked at. Namely, their emotions surrounding their parents, both birth and adopted.

My 5 kids each feel differently about their birth and adopted parents. My oldest does not want to know why or how he came to be in our home, just glad to be here. Nor will he discuss any emotions surrounding his birth parents. We are enough for him!  #2 has always had a birth mom hole this size of Texas and once even accused me of stealing her (if so, can I return her? ;). #3 is a man of few words, just the facts. But his tender heart aches at times when he ponders his value since being abused as an infant. #4 longs to return to his roots and is sure his mother is waiting at the door for his imminent return. He is the first to hug me and the love and fear in his eyes are palatable. #5, he is an enigma. Hates me, adopted mom, and longs for a relationship with his maternal grandma who rocked him the 3 months that his prematurity caused him to be in NICU. It can and is a rollercoaster ride of emotion that most times these kids can’t even explain what they are feeling in any way other than withdrawal or anger. The fact is they DO have emotional issues after adoption.

I am part of several adoption support groups, some that help this mama understand and cope with the reactive attachment disorder issues that are part of all our lives. One brave girl blogs. Her emotional issues run deep and have manifested themselves in schizophrenia which she is amazingly honest about. Below is part of one of her recent blogs that explains the inner workings of an adopted child. Please be warned that this information may be hard to read. Please do not judge her. These are her feelings and they are valid.

 Though, for months, Becca and Bailey told me over and over that I needed to face the reality that my mom was wretched and didn’t want me it took a stranger to make me see the truth, to face the cold hard facts, and accept that she is not and never will be ready to be a  mom. I wrote a post a few months ago about love and how my mom loved me, through men, the only way she knew how. Like many adopted/foster kids I struggle with the idea that my mom was messed up, couldn’t love, and didn’t want me. I conjured up a cover for her lack of love and motherly nature and excused her behavior as her way of displaying affection. It was too upsetting, and still is, to think that someone is so incapable of giving something that is of our nature, making me feel invaluable and unwanted. That is what was holding me back: holding on to the idea that maybe one day she will come around and be that mother I never had. Dr Martin was quick to put any and all “pity” toward my mom to a halt and encourage, or rather force, me to admit that my mom didn’t love me, she didn’t want me, she hated me {and she did, she isn’t afraid to admit it}, that I was living in a cloud of hope that would only be crushed over and over causing me more anger and heartache. Facing these realities became more comforting than unsettling, more satisfying than disabling, and more encouraging than spiteful. Facing these realities made the girls, and the voices, realize that my mom isn’t in control and that just because she didn’t want me doesn’t mean that I’m invaluable, but working together I could be more valuable. Even so, it’s a hard reality to face knowing that I will never have that motherly bond, the mommy to lift me up when I fall, to braid my hair when I’m sleepy, to snuggle me when I’m down, but it’s so worth it knowing this because that false hope no longer exists and the chaos is now a mere concert crowd. Read total blog here.

The energy the emotion takes to understand something that happened to them when they were unable to fully process it is staggering.

The other side of the coin is what emotional issues after adoption do these young lovelies have for their adopted family. A healing RAD adult has given us a glimpse into this in the following eye opening video.

His insight on “just didn’t care” about his adopted mom, was freeing for me. It wasn’t anything she did, didn’t do or said. It just was from the adoption hole in his heart. That little bit of information stopped me from continually beating myself up over not doing it just right! Plus it enlightened me on why my kids are closer to my husband. I am glad they let him in. It makes me feel that they are not so lonely.

On the heels of dealing with birth/adopted family emotions, comes the ever nagging and sometimes dreaded question of can I meet my birth parents. We told our kiddos, like the mom below, that when they were 18 and emotionally mature enough, we would help them search. #1 – no thanks! #2 – sign me up now. And blew out of our home at 16 and into her birth mom’s home for a year. It was a hard year on both of them. Reality never matches those Disney movie dreams. #3 – if he ran into them, he’d say hi! #4 – has an ongoing relationship with paternal grandmother (our choice at adoption) and has met maternal grandparents and sibling. Still longs to meet birth mom, but was warned by grandparents against it. #5 well he doesn’t really care about the parents, just grandma. Good thing, because I last heard parents were residents compliments of the state prison system.  This is another great adopted mom’s story.

Our oldest son rarely asked any questions compared to our youngest son who always wanted answers and promises to find his birth mom when he came of the legal age of 18. When “A” turned 18, he was still in high school. I got a phone call one day from a mediator who was representing A’s bio-mom. She asked to speak to my son who was still in school and asked when she could return the call to talk with him. When she called back, she ask “A” if he was willing to accept a letter from his biological mother. He answered “yes”. A week later, a letter came in the mail and he read it then handed it to me. In the letter, his mother addressed him by the name she had given to him at birth. (let me note that “A” chose on his own to chnage his first name when he was adopted. We did not change it.) His birth-mom expressed her love for him and explained to him how she never wanted to lose him and how the DCS tricked her into giving up her parental rights and she didn’t do anything wrong. She wanted to meet him.

Knowing that part of this letter was a lie, I asked my son if he planned to write her back and he said yes. I told him that if he did, I wanted him to read his adoption papers first and understand why he was placed in foster care before writing her back. I placed a copy of the paperwork in his room and it was there for 2 weeks before he decided he didn’t want to read them or write his bio-mother back. I asked him why? And he said he was afraid she’d find out where he lived. Even after I assured him she would not find out, he said no, he changed his mind.

Our youngest son, S, on the other hand, was a totally different story and one that I wish I could go back and re-play a different way knowing what I know now. He turned 18 in January and he was a senior in high school. A few weeks after that he asked me if I would find his bio-mother. I replied that I would as I had always promised him growing up and it was then that I began my search. Little did I now that within a couple weeks, I would find her and she was only 35 miles away. I called a number and left a message with the wrong person but that person knew her and relayed the message and she called me one afternoon. Yes, I was excited. I found her. We made plans to meet that very afternoon in a neighboring city at a local restaurant. S was in school and I was about to pick him up in a couple hours. I called my husband at work and told him of the plans. He got off work early to go along.

As he got into my van at school, he knew by the look on my face that “something” was up. I told him of the news and he was ecstatic! What took place the next few weeks, I would have never imagined. We met his birth-mom, “C”, and my son’s 2 younger half-sisters that afternoon. She told my son the same lies as my oldest son’s mom told him. She was tricked and she “knew” who his birth-father was. In the DCS notes, she was only 15 at the time and had no idea who out of 5 men that it was. This proved to be true later in the next couple years.

He went home with them to meet his birth-mom’s boyfriend and see where they lived then they brought him home that evening. What took place within minutes of walking in the house stuck me like a knife in the back. I felt betrayed. He asked me if he could show his “mom” his bedroom. I said “you mean “C”? I thought that was my worse nightmare but no! He couldn’t get enough of the new family. I can understand it to a point but I figured visiting every weekend would be enough. Well, this proved not to be true. This new family was totally opposite of ours. (Of course!) Believe it or not, in less than 2 weeks after meeting his birth-mom, he quit school and moved out of our house and in with her!!! Quitting school meant he would not be going into the Navy that he had enlisted in as he would no longer be getting a diploma. I think this was the worst time of my life. I felt so rejected and hurt. I know my son still loved me but he had this need to fill a place inside himself that only this woman could fill, whether I believed she was appropriate or not. I cried all the time and became depressed.

Well, that was 6 years ago and a lot has gone on since. He still has a relationship with his birth-mom but he now knows her true colors. She lied to him so many times, his head was spinning. And I always wondered why he had a problem with lying. Do you suppose it’s hereditary? Please read full story.

I once had a fellow adoptive mother tell me that they all return to their roots. She was having a bad day! But the emotional issues after adoption are real. We can’t look the other way, oh please don’t because you will get hit in the back. We can’t wish or mostly we can’t love them away. You have to teach them to express themselves in a healthy way, be honest about their history as they can handle it maturely, and not take their feelings personally. If all that fails (and some days it will) go have a big chocolate bar behind closed doors with a box of tissues. Tomorrow is always a new day!

About the author: By

Julie is an awesome parent (along with her husband Matt) to five adopted kiddos and the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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  1. Thank you for using an excerpt of my blog to help describe this “journey”… Also, I would like to politely correct you in the fact that I do not have schizophrenia, I have DID. 🙂 That’s what the voices and girls are! 🙂 I just have never gone into depth about either, thus leading people to believe it’s schizo. Thanks again for following along in my journey!

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