If you are adopted, it is likely the experience has been one of the most significant influences in your life. While the adoption experience is very positive for many adoptees, especially adoptees who feel loved, accepted and supported by their adoptive families, the inevitable losses that are part of the adoption process can carry a heavy toll. Even with a loving and sensitive family, these losses can fuel life-long anxieties in adoptees, especially about identity and belonging. If you are an adoptee and reading this, it is likely you understand these experiences personally.
Being adopted can influence a person throughout their lives. It is common for these influences to appear – or reappear – throughout childhood and adulthood, especially in the experiences of the transition to adulthood, bonding and attachment, pregnancy and childbirth, parenthood and loss, such as when a child leaves home and or a parent dies. Feelings of loss, grief and abandonment, conflicts with identity and poor self-esteem can manifest in anxiety or depression or difficulties with family, partners and friends.
Adopted adults considering search and reunion with their birth families will often experience many complex feelings including excitement and fear. If you considering this process you might be asking yourself: What will I find? Will I be accepted or rejected? How will my search and reunion with my birth family impact my relationships with my adoptive family? What if I learn something about my birth parent or family that upsets me? What if I do not like him, her or them?
If you are struggling with issues related or possibly related to your adoption experience, speaking with a therapist familiar with adoption could be especially helpful. As the daughter of an adoptee and an adoptee myself, I am very familiar with adoption and would welcome the opportunity to assist you.
If you are in the preliminary stages of exploring the impact of your adoption experience, the following books may also be helpful.
Resources for Adoptees:
Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues
An anthology edited by Laura Dennis
The Primal Wound and Coming Home to Self
Lost And Found: The Adoption Experience
Betty Jean Lifton, Ph.D.
For the Records: Restoring a Right to Adult Adoptees
Marilyn Freundlich, The Evan B. Donaldson Institute.