While their lives often become beautiful testimonies of the value of a saved life, many adoptees struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, and loss. These emotions become compounded when the place they should feel most accepted is where they are the most embarrassed, as many consider taboo to discuss the truth that their mother did not give birth to them. Many adoptees suffer from the knowledge that someone chose not to parent them and that no one is allowed to talk about it. Often, it haunts them the notion that something about their character caused them to be given away. While it may seem easier to continue keeping secrets, no healing can take place in silence, and you will be more frustrated than peaceful in the long run. Many adoptees find that talking about their fears is the only way to find freedom from them, connection to others, and hope for the future.
Although it is easy to harbor anger toward those who want to hush the truth about your adoption, remember that they also may be dealing with feelings of shame and inadequacy—being that the reason for it to be a taboo topic—so their unwillingness to be vulnerable may have little to do with their perception of your worth. In extending grace, you will find yourself freer, as forgiveness benefits you more than anyone else.
Whether you are getting support from friends, a faith group, or an online support system, it is important to share your deepest feelings of deficiency with people who can support you so that the healing can begin and break the taboo. Have others to help you acknowledge your worth, and assure you that your value is not connected with the circumstances of your upbringing. It is almost impossible to fight these painful emotions in isolation, and a strong personal connection with others can destroy the power that your fears have over you.
Get Professional Support
There are many skilled therapists who specialize in adoption-related issues. They can offer you valuable insights into your losses and feelings of responsibility and can help you look ahead to the future. Therapists are professionally obligated to keep your confidence, so there is no risk of them leaking your secrets with those you would rather not share.
Find Helpful Resources
Books, podcasts, and online videos can help bring great affirmation and wisdom to those seeking closure. They can also enable you to become more educated and useful to those dealing with similar concerns. If you are a busy professional, listening to audiobooks in the car or while you are waiting for appointments can be an excellent use of your time. Be sure to choose authors who bring you a sense of hope, rather than those who make you feel more guilty or self-pitying.
While the past is over, the future offers new possibilities every day. The unique nuances of your upbringing may make you more expressive, sensitive, and vulnerable, and these qualities can enhance your creative, personal, and professional life. There is a purpose for your pain, and you will find it as you continue to make the decision that your fears cannot hinder the person you were meant to become.
Rebekah Yahoves is a writer, mother, and music teacher from Long Island. In 2016, she adopted three school-aged siblings from Poland at the same time. When she isn’t constructing casseroles or tuning violins, Rebekah likes to go on tea binges and read.