Are you struggling every day & wonder if it started with your adoption experience?
Adoptees: Do you feel alone inside--even around people you love? Do you wonder about the life that could have been? Does a part of you feel inherently bad?
First parents: Do you secretly cringe when you see children playing & wonder about the child you placed for adoption? Do you want to reach out, but don't know how to do it?
Adoptive parents: Do you wake up at night worrying about your child's happiness, reliving every moment--every decision you made--and wondering if you did the right thing?
Adoption is Complicated
Living in an adoption as a birth parent, adoptive parent, or adoptee is not an easy path. Adoption involves pain from separation and loss. It also creates family ties between strangers who are often brought together through struggle and attachment trauma. Adoptive families are both the same and also very different from most families. For example, most people never have to question their place in their family. Family is just something they take for granted. However, for those involved in adoptions, it can be more complicated.
All members of the "adoption triad" (adoptee, adoptive parent, and birth parent) tend to struggle with feelings of "Am I enough?" They struggle with feelings of inadequacy and have strong opposite emotions that clash. For example, an adoptee might feel love and gratitude towards their first parent. At the same time, they also feel betrayed and angry at the relinquishment. An adoptive parent might feel immense gratitude towards the birth parent for the gift of adoption. In the next breath, they are overwhelmed with jealousy of the special bond between an adoptee and their first parent. These opposite feelings can be hard to feel all at once. And once you start avoiding, numbing, or shaming yourself for a feeling, all kinds of problems can pop up. Problems like bad relationships, anxiety, depression, acting out, body and eating issues, just to name a few.
The Feelings can Be Overwhelming
In the beginning of most adoptions, both pre-adoptive parents and birth parents are faced with an unwanted pregnancy or infertility. In both cases, they often feel their bodies have let them down. They feel like they have no good choices and the life they once imagined is gone. There's the red tape and the dreaded wait for pre-adoptive parents. Birth parents face the risk of giving your child over to a family you do not know-not to mention facing the act of separation from a child they have nurtured and grown for 9 months. This is a terrible choice to have to make. Right from the start, you are taking this huge leap of faith while linking yourself to strangers forever.
As an adoptee grows, friends and family--even strangers--will ask all kinds of questions that you may or may not be prepared to answer. There are just so many myths and assumptions out there. And adoption does not come with a road map or even many clear examples of how to do it right. In fact, what might be "right" for one family would never work for another. Jealousy and misunderstandings are common. This often leads to people pulling back or burning bridges. All of this adds to the original pain of the relinquishment.
What Adoption Therapy Can Do For You
Adoption therapy helps you to heal from the pain. Together, we work to create the relationships you want between yourself and the rest of the adoption triad (adoptee, adoptive parent, birth parent). Even though there is no blueprint for what adoption is supposed to look like, you can still create something that feels connected and right. Even in a closed adoption, this can be possible. Most of my clients find that ultimately adoption has made their lives better in ways they never could have imagined.
In our sessions, we will address your needs, worries, and fears. As an adoptive parent of two and a therapist who has worked with adoption issues from the beginning, I have seen all kinds of adoption experiences. Open adoptions, reunions, closed adoptions, international adoptions, foster care...you name it; I've seen it. I understand the special dynamics that this brings to your life--positive and negative. In order to let in joy to your life, you have to get alright with the pain. You don't have to be alone with these feelings. Adoption therapy can help you navigate your grief and feel stronger in the end. It can help you to feel more secure and improve your relationships with others in the triad and beyond. It can help just to know that someone else out there "gets it".
If your adoption experience feels bad, it doesn't have to stay that way! Consider adoption therapy to help you find a better path.
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