An Adoptive Parent's Perspective

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One Part of the Adoption Triad

Guest Author: CANUCK (forum nickname)

There has been a lot of information made available about the post-adoption feelings of adoptees and birth parents in adoptions that haven't turned out to be as positive as all would hope; however, I've found very little information about what it means to be an adoptive parent in these situations – what it can feel like - even though we are a very important part of the triad. I am talking about normal, kind, loving parents who fully expected some adoption issues and thought they were prepared for those issues. I acknowledge that there are some abusive adoptive and foster parents, but this is not about them.

Recently, because three years ago our then-30 year old adopted child (daughter) cut all ties with us, and because a friend who was adopted told me about this adoption site, I started following discussions on the Adult Adoptee Forum.

I was overwhelmed at the feelings of distance, anger, lack of connection, and even hate that some adoptees feel towards their adoptive parents. I am very glad I found the group as I have learned much. It is obvious to me that, in some cases, we adoptive parents are in a no-win situation from the beginning, as our children may be unable to connect with us no matter how hard they try, or how hard we try.

Here is my story:

We adopted her in 1970 – she was 12 days old (she had been taken from her birth mother at four days so she was eight days without a mother's nurturing). At that time, we dealt with a very kind, caring social worker who made every effort to make sure our reasons were the right ones for wanting to adopt. We were told that you take the baby home, treat her as if she was your birth child - with love and kindness and acceptance - and things would work out well. It was also suggested that it was best if she knew from the very beginning that she had been adopted.

The day we were told she had been born, I remember the feelings of joy – much the same as when my birth children were born. My heart ached for the child's birth mother. I felt her pain and often thought of her on special occasions over the years as our daughter was growing up. I always knew that someday I would try to locate her and let her know that our daughter was okay and, hopefully, help them meet each other if that was what they wanted. Never did I feel any anger, or fear of her. Nor did I feel threatened at the thought of them meeting.

Her father and I enjoyed her so much. She was Daddy's girl from the very beginning, and she and I had a great time. As she grew older, we found she was very quiet and shy. When she was invited to a birthday party she would always sit off to the side and watch. Never would she join in. I would push her to join, and would do all sorts of things to help her socialize with her contemporaries. She kept herself away from other children at school as well, and usually had one friend. Rarely did she show interest in belonging to a group.

As she grew older, she was very close to her dad. She and I had some issues, which I thought were mother-daughter issues. I brought up her having been adopted quite often – asked her if she had any questions, asked her if she wanted to talk to me about her feelings. She would shrug and say "no."

How I wish I knew then what I know now, as I would have had the tools to possibly help her deal with what I now believe were feelings of abandonment and lack of connection to us. We were 40 when we adopted her, and I often wondered if our age might have something to do with our problems, although we made sure we lived in an area where there were children her own age, and all our neighborhood friends were 20 years younger than we were. It honestly never occurred to us that it was adoption-related. We thought it was personality-related.

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• Attachment Issues
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