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Thread for adults who were adopted and need support

(115 Posts)
Slippersmum Sat 27-Jun-15 15:36:23

I always worry about posting for support on this thread as really I see it as somewhere for people who are going through the adoption process to chat and gain support from each other. I just wondered if there are any adults out there who were adopted and have things they would like to share? Really do not want to upset any adopters going through the process.

mintysmum Sat 27-Jun-15 22:42:19

Hi slippers I'm happy to chat about being adopted. I don't think the adopters on here mind it at all, I've always had very warm responses from people on here so I thinks it open to everyone affected by adoption.
I was adopted as a baby and always knew. I have a very open, loving adoptive family but have still had issues with it all over the years. I go up and down, with it being on my mind very little sometimes and overwhelmingly at others.

What's going on for you at the moment?

Ikeatears Sat 27-Jun-15 22:45:24

Adopted adult here too - not much time now but marking place for later.

Slippersmum Sun 28-Jun-15 14:05:02

Hi to both of you. I just didn't want to upset anyone who is going through adoption stress etc at the mo. I am like you up and down with it all really. At the moment I have not heard from my birth mum for about 3 months and I do find that hard to deal with then I wonder am I being over sensitive. How long ago did you trace your birth family

SirSpamalot Sun 28-Jun-15 20:29:42

Adopter here.

Please feel free to share and seek support here, this is an area for anyone affected by adoption and you'll receive a warm welcome.

Hels20 Sun 28-Jun-15 22:15:46

Adopter here. Please post. I always find it interesting hearing things from what might be my child's perspective one day. i am conscious that things aren't necessarily simple for my DS and it helps to read about people who have been adopted and who are now adults.

mintysmum Tue 30-Jun-15 21:34:06

Hi again slippers.
I totally get that feeling when you don't hear and you wonder is it you, something wrong in the connection, is it them or is it in actual fact normal. It does your head in.
I had this for the 20 years that I 'knew' my bm for - seriously 20 years of not knowing what was going on. I look back and realise it was all she could give. She died last year and what I feel most sad about was that I couldn't seem to accept her for what she could give. I was always confused and always felt I was in the wrong.

It's so hard forming a new relationship with your bm. How much contact have you had slippers? Over what sort of timeframe?

Slippersmum Wed 01-Jul-15 17:01:23

That is so spot on minty. Accepting someone for who they are! It's been almost 30 years but for the first decade I was too young really. It's only since I have had my own family. Our contact has gone up and down really but my birth brother (full) died 2 years ago and since that things have become very complicated. That phrase you used accepting people how do you do that you really have nailed it on the head for me. I have this image of what I want them to be and they never will be. Am I going to spend my whole life feeling something missing or can I somehow move passed it?

mintysmum Thu 02-Jul-15 22:15:05

I think you have to accept an unfulfilled relationship for what it is. Accept the confusion, the lack of understanding of one another, the lack of reliability. Just accept that the damage to that relationship was completely outside of your (our) control, that decisions were taken that led to lack of contact during key childhood years and that not all damage can be undone. Not all people are capable of moving past trauma to a welcoming, loving relationship.
I say that now because after my bm died I cried so much I felt my head would explode. I realised some days later, after walking through treacle, that I was grieving for an impossible relationship.
Questions that previously haunted me of whether my bm did or didn't love me, were replaced by a realisation that any love she might/did feel for me as a baby was forced out of her, she was made to block it out, forget her babies and there were two of us given away, once that's happened who knows how the person copes? And if there's any way back? We had no chance as a mother daughter relationship. When we met for the first time we didn't even hug, no emotion explicitly anyway.
Can you accept things as they stand and gain anything positive from your relationship with your bm? Really hard if she is grieving for her son and maybe that leading to her behaviour changing?

Slippersmum Fri 03-Jul-15 07:49:08

Thanks. Were you grieving for the relationship that never was? Sometimes I think I should just stop any kind of contact as it feels like she keeps hurting me over and over again and it's hard to cope with. If I were free from her I would grieve but then carry on but I don't think it would work that way. When my sibling died I was pulled right into the family helped plan the funeral etc then after a few months nothing I keep thinking what a terrible time she is going through and making allowances then I think to myself I have been doing that for her my whole life.

Kewcumber Fri 03-Jul-15 11:11:36

I'm an adopter not an adoptee but I have a difficult relationship with my father who walked out when I was an adult and disappeared dropping our previously close relationship like the proverbial hot brick (presumably in favour of his new woman).

When he finally resurfaced (after about 2 years) he completely ignored me, his behaviour was truly awful - not calling or finding out how I was when I was in hospital having a biopsy done for cancer, ignoring my letter to say I was adopting DS.

This went on for ten years.

I have relatively recently reconnected with him and am taking things very cautiously but he seems to be fine with DS and has stuck to our agreed meetings about quarterly.

I was very angry with him and very conflicted about how I felt and seeing him again and had some counselling. The counselor (not unreasonably) asked me ideally what I would like from our relationship now.

It took me a while to think it through but eventually what I said to her was "What I want is the father I deserve not the one I've got"

She found this a tad unhelpful! grin

But bizarrely it really helped something click in my own head. That I did deserve better and the fact that I wasn't going to get it wasn't my fault - it was just the way he is. I have emotionally disengaged from him, I now see him, have a pleasant enough relationship with him but it really isn't a parental one (to me). I can't fix him, I can't make him behave in the way that I think he should, I do deserve better but I have made peace with that fact and it doesn't rock my emotional stability anymore.

Mind you it's taken over 12 years to reach this point of calm acceptance with a functioning though somewhat emotionally unsatisfying relationship so don;t be tough on yourself about how conflicted you feel or how up and down you feel or in fact anything you feel. There really isn't a blueprint for how to deal with this kind of situation.

Hope you don;t mind me sticking my oar in.

mintysmum Sun 05-Jul-15 19:49:11

Really interesting to hear your perspective Kew. Lots of relationships can be complex and lead to unmet expectations so it helps to hear how other people deal with it.
Slippers - I think it's hard to grieve for a relationship that still offers some glimpse of hope. I was able to grieve only after my bm died, up until then I felt confused and I suppose hopeful it would improve.
Have you thought about writing to express your uncertainty over your relationship? I did this in an email with my BF after he went quiet, I'm sure they're totally different situations so this may not be relavent or you may have tried it but I was really open that my relationship with him was important to me but I didn't know how to read the gaps in contact and it would help to know if he preferred a less frequent type of contact or if he was just busy or if I'd upset him in any way? He came back quickly with an explanation but it took me considerable courage to type all that.

I hadn't had that openness with my bm and I wonder if that's why things never improved. But I think I was too scared she'd just not reply which would have left me feeling awful, rejected again I suppose. I was more vulnerable with her as she was so unemotional, I really couldn't read her whereas with my BF he was emotional from the start and I knew he cared about me - easier to be open about your emotions when you feel confident of getting a positive response. Much harder when you have massive doubts. But maybe more needed. I wondered about getting an intermediary involved, like a close friend or partner?

furrylittlecreatures Mon 06-Jul-15 13:18:19

I am in a similar situation. Big gaps in contact with my bm. I admire you for writing a letter expressing how you feel. I am so shut down emotionally now after all the years of pain. I guess I don't want to be hurt anymore so I just can't put myself out there anymore.

Thanks for starting this thread OP

Lagodiatitlan Mon 06-Jul-15 14:06:24

NC for this, but I am a regular on MN.
This thread struck a chord as I try to avoid thinking about my adoption as it still makes me really angry! I was adopted as an infant in the 60s. My birth mother was single and Irish but in a relationship with my BF whom she married before my adoption was finalised. Both were stable and employed and went on to have more children together. The only reason I did not grow up with my birth family was the RC church who made life impossible for families with children born out of wedlock. My BM came to England to have me under the auspices of the RC church - who then placed me with an infertile RC British family who had already "rescued" other Irish children. No attempt to match any of us to the adoptive parents other than ensuring they were RC. All went well until adolescence when we the adoptees began to develop our own personalities. A couple of us were clever and went off to Uni much against the wishes of our adoptive parents who saw us as cookoos in the nest.. Two others developed mental health problems with alcohol, and substance abuse problems. Only one really "fitted in". But it was difficult growing up in that environment- and being expected to be grateful for having been rescued! Even now, I have to deal with the family problems of the dysfuntional siblings whose own children are involved with drugs and alcohol and regularly cause problems for my elderly adoptive parents. I made contact with my birth family some years ago and they are happy, well balanced, and share interests and values with me, my DH and DCs. I have no doubt that I would have been happier and more settled growing up with them!
My adoptive parents were let down as they had no idea what they were taking on and received no help once the adoptions were finalised. My BPs lived with the guilt of having "given the baby away" and I ended up in a dysfuntional family - and still feel guilty about having recontacted my Birth family and not feeling grateful!

Kewcumber Mon 06-Jul-15 18:26:28

And in a nutshell Lago that post is why I am very sharp with anyone who who calls by (adopted) DS "lucky" as has happened.

It isn't "lucky" to be unable to live with your birth family in safety and prosperity and no child should be expected to be grateful for what everyone else expects as their right.

Fortunately my DS is well trained enough if anyone says it to him now "My mum says she is the lucky one"

Don't get me wrong - at 9 he thinks I am the bees knees (I am aware this only has a year or two left to run!) and am all in favour of children spontaneously feeling lucky to have their family whether by birth or adoption but I hate hate hate the expectation that adopted children should feel lucky for being rescued.

Adopted children should be allowed to feel every bit as irritated and resentful of their adoptive parents as every other child.

furrylittlecreatures Tue 07-Jul-15 16:56:23

My parents always said they 'chose me because I was special'. Special felt to me like different, couple that with not being allowed to tell anyone I was adopted and I felt like it was something to be ashamed of, a secret. A feeling that has on some level followed me into adulthood.

mintysmum Wed 08-Jul-15 09:45:42

That's really sad Lago. Especially to be left feeling you would have fitted really well with your birth family. A lot was done in those days as a kind of experiment that cannot be undone now.
Sad for you furry that you still feel the burden of secrecy.

Kewcumber Wed 08-Jul-15 13:51:55

Furry - I think it was commonplace for people to think the right thing to do was say that their adoptive child was "special" or "chosen" and very often people were discouraged from talking about the adoption and there are lifelong ramifications to a child of that secrecy.

Thankfully the advice is different now so hopefully other children don't go through what you did. Though outside of adoption you wouldn't believe how many people still ask if I tell him he was "special" because he was "chosen".

Lagodiatitlan Wed 08-Jul-15 16:58:02

Yes, much has changed over the years and adoption now is very different to what it was 50 years ago. I think then it was seen as a solution to the twin problems of infertility and immorality!
I can still remember my adoptive grandmother commenting, when one of my adoptive siblings (under 16 at the time) was found to be in a sexual relationship with a much older man that "bad blood will out". No suggestion that she was a child being sexually exploited and that the man should have been locked up.
Adoptive parents were led to believe that nuture was everything and that genetics counted for nothing - a 1960s myth long since debunked. They were given no support once the children were placed - and in the case of my adoptive parents, they simply could not cope with the explosive cocktail they received.
The secrecy that furry describes was also there and continues to this day. When people remark how much like my adoptive father I look, I still never know what to say. I do not want to embarrass him by pointing out at this late stage in his life that I was not his birth child.
A further ongoing absurdity is that I have to pretend to my BM that all was sweetness and light as she still feels guilty about handing me over - despite the fact that I completely get that it was a different world.
But what is clear is that these things have ramifications across the generations. I have never left been able to leave my DCs alone with two of their adoptive aunts and uncles because I do not believe they would be safe with them. Nor do I encourage them to mix with some of their adoptive cousins for the same reasons. My adoptive parents are variously frightened of/depressed by some of our extended family members and their behaviour. Could happen in a birth family too I suppose - but less likely.
Apologies for the length of this. I have never written this down before. Quite cathartic!

mintysmum Wed 08-Jul-15 19:21:17

It is so cathartic, really helpful to write things down anonymously.

I understand that need to protect everyone in the equation - I opened up to my BF at one point and told him a few of my less positive feelings as a teenager about being adopted - can't quite remember exactly which ones but things like not fitting in with cousins who weren't adopted and a strong one for me was me not feeling I had the same "rights" to my adoptive grandparents as my non-adopted cousins had - I felt guilty when my grandparents spent time with me, almost guilty when they left exactly the same amount of money to each of their 7 grandchildren as though I wasn't quite entitled to it. I felt guilty for crying at their funerals as though I had no right to feel the same grief, that my grief ought to be lesser than my cousins grief.

I felt a relief saying these things to my BF and was saying them in a matter of fact way - but I didn't realise the impact they would have on him - he said maybe it would be better if adopted babies were never told they were adopted. That hurt me so deeply. I was so staggered that he could think that was a solution, I got a bit annoyed and upset and we agreed not to talk about it anymore. It was awful but I realise now he was feeling guilty that I'd had those experiences so maybe I shouldn't have been so open? Aaahh what a mess it can all be!

mintysmum Wed 08-Jul-15 22:08:32

I have just remembered something about the 'being chosen' and 'special' comments applied to adopted babies.

I was told that too and I just didn't get it. From a very early age I used to think it was rubbish but I couldn't quite articulate why I thought that I just knew deep down that it was an insincere comment. That was confirmed for me when I was about 15 and I saw the letter written to my adoptive parents by the adoption agency informing them that they had a baby girl 'available'. The letter says something along the lines of 'we have a baby girl available with fair hair and blue eyes. Her mother is unmarried and unable to provide a loving, stable home etc. It then says 'please attend our offices next Tuesday at 1030am to see the baby. If you like her you can take her home with you'. That was it, that blunt. It sort of reads as though if you fancy this baby, fine take her, if not we'll sort another one out for you! Strange how it reads, and very far away from chosen, special. I have never got my head round the wording of that little typed letter on A5 paper.
Has anyone else seen the letter written about them as a baby? I've seen my brothers letter too and I was similar. I suppose there must have been some degree of assessment prior to being approved as adopters or maybe as in Lagos situation being a particular religious denomination was enough.
I must admit I do find it hard when people I know who are adopting find the assessment process too long and intrusive. I feel the only thing preventing unsafe adoptions is the assessment process and we need to do everything to ensure it is thorough and careful as so much is at stake.

Kewcumber Wed 08-Jul-15 22:24:19

I don;t think the assessment process is too long and intrusive minty just long and intrusive which isn't quite the same thing and personally I didn't resent it at all. People used to get cross on my behalf banging on about how any 16 year old could get themselves pregnant without a home study. I would point out that that may be true but in the case of adoption the child was already in the care of the state and the state owed that child a responsibility to do the very best that they possibly can for that child.

My aunt was adopted as was a friend who is also an adoptive parent - they joke that the assessment process in those days involved a reference from the vicar and the home study checked your linen closet and asked you whether you wanted a boy or a girl. So somewhat cursory I guess.

Lagodiatitlan Thu 09-Jul-15 12:27:46

The story about the adoption agency ringing up and saying we have a little girl/boy available now if you want one is exactly what my adoptive mother described. Apparently in my case I was supposed to go to another family but they were going on holiday and did not want to shift their dates, so they got another baby a month or so later. My adoptive mother always told me that she and the agency believed that God decided these things - so that was OK then! No need to attempt to match further. My BM told me the nuns at the home had told her I was going to a doctor and his wife who had a labrador and lived in a lovely old house in the countryside and that she had always kept that image in her mind. I know that at least one of my adoptive siblings BMs was told exactly the same thing - so I suspect the nuns told all their mothers the same story.
I think the emphasis on proper assessment now is absolutely correct. And I have nothing but admiration for todays adopters who go into the whole process with their eyes open, knowing that their DCs may be arriving after months/years of abuse or neglect and that that legacy will live on. My adoptive mother once asked whether I would consider taking one of my adoptive nephews if my adoptive sister could not cope with him. Fortunately it has not yet come to that, but I am not sure what the answer would be.

furrylittlecreatures Fri 10-Jul-15 17:18:34

I lived in a convent mother and baby home for 18 months. I watched Philomena and noticed they said they were only allowed contact for an hour a day with their children. I don't know what I thought my life was like but not like that I guess. How would that have affected me I wonder? Anyone else found out much about their time in mother and baby homes? If it happened, I don't know. I read a letter about me. Very cold and clinical. I didn't cry very much, the times I ate and slept etc and that was it. It could have applied to any child. My adoptive parents were given just that and I was handed over.

AcrossthePond55 Fri 10-Jul-15 17:34:58

My story is a bit different. I was a 'private' adoption (between BM and parents, no agency) in the mid-50s US. My parents married late and had already adopted my brother. They wanted another child and were told (at 31 and 39) that they were 'too old' to adopt.

My mother was talking to a neighbour about their disappointment. This neighbour had a friend who was a nurse at the local charity hospital. This friend had recently told neighbour about a woman who had given birth and was putting the child (me) up for adoption. Long story short, this was relayed to my mum who went to my birth mother's home and asked if she would allow them to adopt me. After meetings and discussions and lawyers, obviously she consented.

My BM was married and her DH was in jail. I was the product of a brief affair. She made the right decision as she intended to resume her life with her DH when she was released. I've never wanted nor felt any need to contact her. Why disrupt her life? I do have 1/2 siblings that I'd be more interested in meeting. But I think my overall feeling is that I don't want to rock the boat. I know of just as many reunion horror stories as I do lovely ones.

I think it's been easier for me because, as a private adoption, my parents knew my 'story' and were able to tell me about my BM (what she looked like, ethnic heritage, etc). Also, my life has been wonderful, a loving large family including adopted cousins and an adopted aunt-by-marriage so being adopted wasn't 'odd' or 'strange' in our family. I've never felt 'different' or that I 'didn't really belong'.

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