Adoptee Counselling and Psychotherapy

My Adoptee Journey: From Longing to Healing

online adoptee therapy

Welcome to Adoptee Alliance, a safe place dedicated to the healing of adoption wounds. In this space, we acknowledge that every adoptee journey involves separation from our biological families, and no matter the reason, no matter our age at the time of separation, this has impacts that last throughout our lifespan.

Discovering My Identity: What My Adoptee Journey Taught Me About My Lifelong Search for Belonging.

My name is Steve, and this is the story of my adoptee journey. I do not remember ever being told I was adopted, but I have always known; it was not hidden from me like so many others. I do not remember being told not to ask about it either, but I have always known it was not a safe topic in my family. It must have been made clear to me very early on that my family of origin was not to be spoken of. I am a same-race, Canadian, domestic adoptee; I cannot imagine the additional challenges that interracial and transnational adoptees face considering how much difficulty I had fitting in. My adoptive parents had 2 biological children; one older and one younger, so I am in a somewhat unique situation where I can compare the bonds that I have to the ones my genetically related family members share.

My life was fine; I was not abused, but I was different than the rest of my family and was treated differently. My home was safe, I was cared for, but I didnā€™t feel cared about.

I left home while I was still in high school and have been looking for a place to call home ever since.

I have lived in the streets, I have had trouble with the law, I have moved from city to city, relationship to relationship, job to job my whole life. I tend to be successful at whatever I put my mind to, but after a period of time, I tend to sabotage my success and look for change. I feel like my life has been an endless search for contentment.

At times I have sought out therapy for my behaviours and have not had success. Not one therapist, counsellor, or psychologist has ever suggested that my story of relinquishment and adoption may have ongoing impacts; it just never came up. I stumbled on that all on my own.

Seeking Clues to My Past: Discovering My Origin Story

Like most adoptees, I have wondered about my roots on and off throughout my life. I do not look like my adoptive family, but there apparently are people in the world I do look like because every now and then someone will tell me that I look just like so and so and ask me if I have a brother. I have wondered if I have a twin and if my biological parents were rich and famous. When people ask me about my nationality I do not know how to answer. I have wondered why I am the only one in my family with no baby picture. My childhood scrapbook begins at age two. While my siblings know all the particulars of their births, my origin story involved being delivered by a stork, being found in a cabbage patch, or being purchased at a baby store (I envision a Sears catalog full of babies).

I was born in the 1960s during the baby scoop era; my records were sealed. Prior to the internet, there was no way for a minor to even begin to search. In the 1990s as the internet began to take shape, chatrooms and forums emerged but they did not provide me with any leads. In 2001 my father died, and I found my adoption order in his desk; an order that included my original name. In 2005 I hired a private investigator who located and contacted my birth mother. Like most adoptees I speak to, I was not searching for a mother; I was seeking information. I wanted to know my nationality, and maybe any cool stories about my ancestors. I wanted to know which flag I should be flying during the world cup, and I wanted to know about any medical issues I should be concerned with. I was not preoccupied with why or how I was relinquished, but I did want to know if I had siblings (and I wanted to confirm that none of the girls I had dated throughout my life were my siblings).

This is an introductory post; I will go into more detail about specific parts of my story in future entries, but for now, I will remain general. In short, I had two wonderful long conversations with my birth mother over the telephone. Like many other adoptees, I was surprised by how natural and comfortable this connection was. In fact, after our first conversation, I was concerned that she was just going to show up at my door. We talked about our lives and our families, she expressed remorse that I assured her was unnecessary, and she seemed more interested in me than anyone I had ever met.

Rejection, Discovery, and the Power of Shared Experiences: Navigating the Emotional Adoptee Journey

She told me that her husband forbade her to speak with me, and she cut off contact.

However, she also told me that after relinquishing me she went on to get married and have four other children who had no idea that I existed. She indicated that her husband feared that if those children found out about me, they would feel they had been lied to all their lives and that it would destroy their family. She told me that her husband forbade her to speak with me, and she cut off contact.

I cannot describe the devastating impact this had on me; I was gutted. And I was surprised by my reaction because I was not even looking for a relationship, so to be hurt so deeply did not make sense to me. I started reaching out for help, trying to figure out why this rejection by a total stranger wreaked such havoc on my emotions. I began researching adoption reunion and rejection. I started reading all the books and listening to podcasts and discovered that there is this huge community of adoptees who share my experiences and my feelings. I learned that even though every adopteeā€™s experience is unique to them, my life of running from place to place, relationship to relationship and job to job, of feeling disconnected, was COMMON! I learned that my struggles were shared by tens of thousands of others with whom the only common denominator I shared was our status as adoptees.

I also learned that these experiences are disenfranchised; societal expectations are that adoptees should be grateful, and that expressions of grief or longing are to be suppressed. I have learned that my adoption records were sealed to protect people like my birth mother from monsters like me, monsters who have the audacity to wonder who they are and where they come from.

Healing Wounds on the Adoptee Journey: Exploring the Profound Effects of Adoption Trauma and Transformational Growth

I studied; I learned about prenatal bonding, perinatal bonding, mirror neurons, attachment theory, developmental stages, and family dynamics. I learned, above all, that separation of an infant from their biological mother is trauma, plain and simple.

I went back to university and got a social work degree, followed by a masterā€™s degree, and then went on to specialize in complex and developmental trauma, because I learned that the first trauma leads to a chain of events that carries on throughout the lifespan. All the behaviours I exhibited can be directly linked to my origin story. More importantly, I learned that I am not defective; I developed strategies as an infant to protect myself from trauma, and those strategies impacted every interaction I have ever had. I learned that those strategies saved my life at one time, but they no longer were serving me, and I learned how to change them.

I created Adoptee Alliance to share what I have learned and to offer support and counselling to adults affected by adoption. You are not broken; in fact, you have superpowers, and I want to support you to learn to build stronger relationships with yourself and the world around you and create a wonderful life where you feel a strong sense of connection and belonging.

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