Counselling for adult adoptees
the pain of separation
Being separated from your birth parents(mother) is a loss that all adoptees share in common. The impact of this varies from person to person. You may experience this as an ongoing pain and emptiness, or you may experience this as a curiosity about your biological parents and a need to contact them. Your experience with your adoptive family will shape the way this loss has developed in your life. Many adult adoptees experience difficulties forming intimate relationships, dealing with emotional stress, and feelings of confusion about identity.
Here are examples of feelings and experiences you may have as an adoptee:
- Adoptees may feel grief about the loss of their birth family;
- Adoptees may feel anger at their birth families, adoptive families, or the adoption system;
- Adoptee may have questions about identity and self (particularly at times of life transitions such as adolescence, marriage, or the birth of their own child(ren);
- Adoptees may have ongoing feelings of not belonging;
- Adoptees may feel shame about disclosing their needs or feelings about being adopted;
- Adoptees may have a need to know more about their origins, and to access their adoption records;
- Adoptees may want to search for and have contact with their birth family; and
- Adoptees may feel guilt based on a belief that their need to search for birth family conflicts with their connection with their adoptive family.
The way forward.
As adoptees issues of power can be particularly problematic. Power is connected to self knowledge and responsibility. You may have spent your life trying to figure out what others wanted from you and adapting to that. What can happen is the external cues keep changing and your sense of self keeps trying to adapt to fit others. You end up feeling powerless to get it right and disconnected from yourself. Developing a relationship to your self is key to feeling empowered. At your core you may not believe your existence matters to anyone. Power is also based on having an impact. It is important that you check out that you matter to others. Learn to be realistic about what you can and can not control.
Power is about respect. You are not powerful if you treat others badly or allow them to treat you badly.
Relationships and connections to others can be very difficult for adoptees. Many of you may fear connections with others. Keeping your distance from others may be one of the effects of separation trauma. We all need relationships and connection to others, all relationships take work.
When you struggle with feelings that you don't matter to those around you this can often result in intense power struggles and emotional roller coasters. Control, mistrust, disrespect and irresponsibility can plague relationships for the adult adoptee.
Being focused on others needs rather than your own can make it difficult to be yourself in intimate relationships. You may find yourself feeling that even those you are most intimate with do not really know you.
These are just a few of the relationship issues that can come up for the adult adoptee.
In counselling with me:
We will take the time to explore these issues and provide a space for you to develop self knowledge and awareness. For a fuller description of what therapy can provide read about therapy.
Useful resource is Nancy Verrier's books; The Primal Wound and Coming Home to Self.
- 608-402 W. Pender St, (Homer/Pender)
- Suite 223, 1628 West 1st Avenue (near Fir)