Yes All Adoptees Feel A Sense Of Loss

Joy’s post got me thinking about this…..

I do agree that all adoptees must feel a loss.  I too don’t why so many adoptive parents either completely dismiss this or just don’t want to focus on it.

I wonder if it has something to do with the way grief itself works.  You know the whole stages of mourning thing.  Anybody who has lost someone knows that grieving is a strange thing.  First you are consumed, then it comes and goes.  When you’ve lost somebody you do get to the point that you can function, you don’t think about all the time, life does go on to a degree.  You appear to be normal, observers would tend to think that you are getting over it, whatever that means.  But at any moment grief can grab you and it’s like you’ve just lost that person.  That’s normal, it’s the way it works.  Eventually you just get better at hiding it.  And by doing that sometimes you can even convince yourself that you are over it.

But everyone who has ever lost anybody knows, you never really get over it.  Pretending that you have only makes it worse.  That grief is going to come back and bite you in the ass at some point.  

Infants can’t express their grief.  I’m certain that they can feel it and process it to some degree.  I wonder if the time between experiencing the loss and being able to express that loss brings many adoptees to the point that they can appear to be functioning normally.  Combine that with the message that everything is as it should be, and you’ve got a real problem.

Think of it this way, you’d never tell a person who had lost a close family member that everything is as it should be two years after their loss.  You know that in their world, as good as it may be, they will still miss someone.  You know they miss these people on holidays, you know they think about them on birthdays and anniversaries of their deaths.  Most of us do the same thing.  Once we reach a certain age, it’s something that we all sadly share.  

So why would you deny that an adoptee feels a loss?  Think that  one can replace the ones that you have lost?  I’m sure that you have lost someone.  You have other relatives, other friends, but none of them are that relative or friend.  Things will never be the same without them.  The ones lost to you are unique.  So are the ones that the adoptee has lost.  As an adoptive parent you may fulfill a role, you may do it well, but you are not that person the adoptee lost.  They, and you, are unique.  

Loss doesn’t always show. Can you tell immediately if someone that you meet parents are living, can you tell that they are widowed?  Would it be much harder to ever know if society told them that they had lost nothing?


26 thoughts on “Yes All Adoptees Feel A Sense Of Loss

  1. You put this so well, Addie. The sense of loss or missing a piece of yourself (after all, an infant is lterally attached to and part of his mother) becomes “normal” after a while to a person who has been separated from his or her mother as a baby . We really do not know a different way of being. To a certain extent that sense of grief and loss is comfortable to us. It is part and parcel of who we are, though until we have language and perspective (often when we have our own children) we can not fully grasp the reason we feel different, out of sync or disconnected. That gap in time between the loss and the child or adult being able to verbally express it may be key to why it is so difficult for adoptive parents to “get it.”

  2. [But everyone who has ever lost anybody knows, you never really get over it. Pretending that you have only makes it worse. That grief is going to come back and bite you in the ass at some point.]

    It is REALLY interesting how you put that, Addie.

    I had a best male friend a while ago. We were really close friends, and then I decided to start dating him because my feelings extended beyond friendship.

    We lasted about ten months, and I slowly realized it wasn’t going to work. It just wasn’t. We weren’t becoming closer on an intimate level. So I called him and said, “This isn’t working. Maybe we can remain friends instead?”

    And so we did. And when I told my mom about that, she said, “Well, look at it this way. You haven’t lost anything. You never became ‘closer’ to him and you can still be best friends.”

    What I didn’t realize is that she was wrong. It was going to be different, it would change, and it hurt like hell those first few days. But because my mom insisted that nothing would change and after all I could still be “best friends”… the friendship aspect was intertwined with the risk of dating. I put the friendship at risk with the dating. And I didn’t realize how much of a risk that was.

    So when she told me I’d still be able to remain friends with him, I believed her, and when it happened I told myself I was being silly. I was being unappreciative that I still had him as a friend. I needed to get over it and accept that this was the way things had been. I told myself that MANY times over the course of 2 years, blaming myself for allowing these feelings to have even occurred. That was not a good sign and it “came back” to bite me in the ass.

    Just a few days ago I was up till late in the night, thinking about him and wondering what his life was like now… wondering how much he’d changed. And then the pain, the sadness, the guilt overwhelmed me and I had to ramble about it on LiveJournal. I didn’t normally think about him during any of the holidays, except maybe Halloween because that’s when his bday was. But I couldn’t understand why it was still affecting me nearly 3 years later.

    It’s because I denied it in the beginning, thinking I was wrong to feel sad or that I’d lost something. I wasn’t really validated in my sadness and so it got buried. I wasn’t “really” told it was okay to be sad until nearly 2 years had passed.

    And once I realized that I had been denying my own pain about that relationship… I felt SO much better.

    The same goes for adoption.

  3. Pingback: Invalidating Happiness? « The Original Heping

  4. “Move on with your life”
    (Karate chop) Even though I feel angry that I was told to move on with my life and forget
    my baby…..

    Relief is but a karate chop away………

    They have chops for adoptees too!!

  5. I remember lamb chop. Really I don’t care what people say anymore about what someone is supposed to feel or not feel. Thankfully I have developed a thick skin and see that is someone is horrible it’s really about them not about me. If someone wants to see my situation in a one dimensional way then go for it, knock yourself out, chase your tail, it doesn’t make what I experienced different, it really has nothing to do with me. The same goes for people who have adopted and are writing stuff on the internet about what adopted people are supposed to feel or not feel.

    Really who cares?

    So here goes:
    (Karate Chop) Even though i have been thoroughly pissed off at the abuse slung at me on the internet i now forgive myself for my response and those for their stupid ignorance.
    (Karate Chop again) I am now totally at peace with everything and have no resentments at all.
    (Third Karate Chop) in fact I am very happy and well balanced and never feel sad about what happened.
    (Fourth Karate Chop) Oh yeah, I just forgot that everything is my fault and so I deserve to be sad but have karate chopped it all way so now face new dilemma……

  6. Oh Kim, I’ve just read her blog. Better late than never, I suppose.
    OTOH, probably, in this case, better never. Blech. I feel sick.
    Really, how dare she?
    What a revolting idiot.
    And look at her.

  7. No karate chop then Kippa?

    She doesn’t look happy to me in the photo, I think if you are going to sell the concept of no more adoption pain then you ought to have a photo of yourself looking very jolly indeed.

    Addie, I do take in your post too, I know I seem flippant, it’s my way of coping with the loss but it’s not how I see your loss so I apologize for my tone. Of course adopted people feel loss, I never realized how much. I just want adoptions to be phased out for that reason alone, it’s child abuse and it should not be allowed to continue. It’s something that I have to live with, knowing that by “saving” my daughter I was hurting her. She needed to be saved, I just wish I could have been saved with her too. What we need to do is to see that if we want adoption phased out then we need to embrace the mothers too, help them, not abandon the mothers and shame them into letting other people raise their children. It’s horrible.

  8. I leave the karate chopping to you, Kim.
    You do it with such inimitable style :-), I would never presume.
    I think I’ll just resort to my granny’s old meat grinder.

    Indeed yes. Her snake oil needs more jollity.
    A goodly dollop of the merciless kind.

  9. Kim, no worries. You know I speak in generalities here, I was addressing AP attitudes from a adoptee perspective. I was more trying to get to the folks that have the kids in their possession presently. I by no means meant to minimize what first moms go through.

    Oh and maybe that snake oil lady needs a sock puppet to make her appear a bit happier.

    Kippa, I always loved Lambchop too. The curly mouthed “you are full of shit” expression cracked me up.

  10. I didn’t get the impression you were minimizing anyone’s feelings Addie.

    Karate Chop – Oh now I don’t know what i want to chop away….I should have though before commenting…. Really I just wanted to do a karate chop!

    I think being too jolly can work against you in therapy too, you need to have the look of being sort of relaxed and not shocked by anything and seem to have all the answers but never tell them.

    I recently had a peek at Toonia’s blog and she didn’t vote for Obama….

    HAPPY NEW YEAR. Pug hurt her leg but she’s going to be ok, she’s snoring with a bone in her mouth. I think everyone should have a pug, that’s the best therapy, the only therapy that works.

  11. Toonia didn’t vote for Obama?
    Get outa here! Color me totally totally bushwacked.

    Happy New Year to you too.
    Pug Therapy Rules. OK?

  12. Toonia doesn’t like Obama…..that’s a pity for her because he’s president!! She also wrote how great adoption is for everyone because otherwise she wouldn’t have a child and she really enjoys that so bad luck to everyone else. You know it would be like someone saying to her that it’s great that her ad-mother has cancer because then she will die and someone else can enjoy having the organs that she will be able to donate. Of course I would never say that and don’t think for a minute that I think that’s ok but that’s basically what her comments sound like to me so I just make this one to give an example…oh long sentences.


    Pugs are the best.

  13. Toonia believes Obama is the devil.

    She is also deficient in the Normal Response to Human Situations Department.
    It definitely goes beyond Stupid. I struggle to think of her as a unfortunate phenomena, not necessarily representative of anything other than herself.
    Unfortunately I don’t always succeed.

    Yes, Happy New Year Addie.
    To you too, Kim.
    And to all.

  14. MAN it’s good to laugh again. Flower didn’t vote for Obama?!?!?!….LOLOL. I think Kim has patience of gold. I can’t go there. Although I now have a sick desire to, like rubber necking at an accident.

    As for the loss created by adoption; it’s a bittersweet day when you wake up and realize nobody can pretend your loss away anymore. Do you remember that day? Devastating and freeing all at once.

    Happy New Year!

  15. p.s. if you do go and read her blog even though I said not to, the numerous unpleasant comments were TWO very POLITE comments.
    When did two comments become numerous? Is that because they are more than one?

    Anyway, don’t go there and do not make any comments because she doesn’t want to read anything that disagrees with her.

    I’m going to take a break now, Addie you know where to find me, please come looking. Happy New Year again, bye for now
    lots of love

  16. Wonder which adoptee is going there and posting “nasty?” comments to her blog. I didn’t notice anything particularly nasty there. If anything, she’s getting all awesomeness and rainbows. :\

  17. Wow, you guys were really having some fun at my expense here!

    It must feel great to know that you are morally superior and just plain brighter than people you’ve never even met before!

    You *may* not care at all whether you had your facts straight in this discussion (after all, that kind of spoils the fun) and if that’s the case, just quit reading.

    If you DO care, I wanted to point out that:

    The site I referred to as “angry” was this one:

    The reason that there are no “nasty” comments on my blog is because I deleted them. As the blog author, I can do that. But you probably know that since you’re so smart.

    The reason that I deleted them is that the purpose of my blog is to communicate with friends and family and people that care about me, NOT to educate the public or engage in heated discussions with strangers. My older kids read my blog, and I don’t want them reading an exchange between commenters that tell me I am “unethical” and that I should be ashamed of myself, and the ensuing comments that my friends would make in my defense. Maybe that makes me weak in your eyes, but whatever. You can have whatever name-calling debates you want on your blog and let your kids and parents read them, but I choose not to.

    The reason that we visited our son’s birthmother is because she wanted us to. She actually wanted us to come more often, but we couldn’t do that, so we visited them three times. I think it was reassuring to her to get to know the people who would be parenting her baby. It seems strange to me that you seem so certain that a mentally sound, healthy woman can’t make the decision to have someone else parent her baby, and that that woman shouldn’t be allowed to have a relationship with the couple she has chosen before the baby is born.

    I don’t get that, but I’m not going to call you names or laugh at you.

    A suggestion, though: Try to grow some compassion and understand that when you mock people (especially when you get your facts wrong) it’s hurtful and reflects badly on yourselves.

  18. If you were so smart you’d also know how to make your blog private. You are just after affirmation, like always.

    Sorry it’s not working out.

    I bid you peace.

  19. Wow, you really are angry and mean! Pretty funny that you call yourself that. Ha ha!

    FWIW, I did have a private blog but readers repeatedly encountered problems signing in, so I made it public. But I guess it’s not surprising that you assumed I didn’t know how to do that.

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