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Adult Adoptee Looking for Support

(54 Posts)
Humsta Mon 11-Apr-16 20:36:23

I've seen some old threads on this topic but they seem inactive so hopefully a new one will stimulate some advice.

I am a 39 year old adoptee who has two children and is generally seen as successful in life. I have meet both my biological parents, with different consequences and sadly both my adoptive parents have died, one when I was 19 and the other when I was 30.

Most of the time I feel I'm an independent adult but every so often I seem to have phases of negativity centering around relationships and expecting too much from people/feeling dissapointed by them. Having reached this age I'd like to try and get these emotional issues resolved as I feel I can get angry with my other half and children far too quickly and that I'd be a better person if I could put these feelings in a box once and for all, or at least develop better coping mechanisms.

I have a relationship with my birth mother but my feelings have changed towards her over the years as I've had my own family, from feeling total forgiveness to getting more resentful that she really doesn't seem to realise the impact she's had on my life. I have spoken to her about it in the past but think ultimately I've expected her to be my mother, and as life goes on I realise she never really will be and at best is a friend. I know this is better than nothing but it's hard reconciling what I thought our relationship would be (her spending her life trying to make it up to me) compared to what it actually is (She's very nice when I call but ultimately gets on with her own life and I could not hear from her for weeks/months at a time). I know she doesn't owe me anything and I must have been someone she let go of along time ago but basically I don't want this shite dragging me down emotionally anymore., life's too short!

I'm looking for a counsellor but feel unless they are really experienced in adoption it could take a long time to get nowhere. Does anyone recommend anyone or know of any groups in the UK where I could find support, perhaps even give it to others in a similar situation to me?

Any thoughts appreciated :-)

Italiangreyhound Tue 12-Apr-16 00:36:06

Really sorry I cannot help but if you contact the adoption services, either in the town you now live or (if not too far away) the place you were born or where you were adopted, this would be a start.

you could also try

I've no idea the feelings you have had about all this or how this has impacted you, or why you were adopted. Our son joined us by adoption 2 years ago. I know one day he will need to face all this and I hope he will get the right support.

As far as your birth mum goes I think you probably need to reconcile yourself to the fact the relationship is what it is. If you had not lost your adoptive parents this may not have been such an issue for you, would you think? I think your counsellor could explore with you about the loss of your adoptive parents, you were very young to lose one and still quite young to lose the other.

I lost my dad when I was 39 and my mum this year (at 51). I think losing one at 19 must have been very dramatic for you, was it your mum or dad? Don't say if you don't wish to.

Hope you find the help you need.

Humsta Tue 12-Apr-16 21:33:55

Hi Italiangreyhound, thanks for your input.

I was adopted around 1-4 (I'm not entirely sure although I have a paper trail somewhere), basically it involved some foster care first, my biological mother looked after me for a while but wasn't emotionally mature or committed enough to be responsible (she was 19).

I never had a great relationship with my adopted mum, her and my adopted father had two boys before me and were all white, I'm mixed race so it was never a question that I was different :-) it was my mother who died first and I think you're right, there's probably as many issued tied to my loss of her and the fact that I moved out of home very young and our relationship was fraught to say the least.

Once she passed I had the opportunity to become quite close to my dad and I truly miss his support everyday in my life as a father and a friend, he was probably the only other family member (other than my husband) who I could talk to about the adoption without awkwardness and the feeling that I should just be grateful that someone wanted me and stop making a big deal out of something that happened so long ago (not that anyone's said that to me but I put it on myself).

Anyway what more is there to say? Nothing and everything I guess. I've just started reading the Primal Wound and I think that's going to give a lot of understanding to me, whether that will be enough I don't know but it's a step in thr right direction. If you haven't read it (have you?) I recommend you do for your son and your own understanding. It's a great thing you've done/are doing but I think the more realistic you can be about the complex emotions etc involved for everyone the more chance you have of giving him the true support he needs and therefore making your relationship with him the best it can be.

Italiangreyhound Tue 12-Apr-16 22:38:52

Thanks Humsta it doesn;t feel like a great thing, it was just we wanted another child! He is sometimes quite hard work and at times I feel bad I cannot be a better mum, but I also know we share a lot of love, a lot of normal things and normal times. He is getting some theraplay to help him process emotions. Sometimes people say he is just like any other little boy and maybe he is, but he does get very upset very easily.

Any tips you can offer, please do.

I am so sorry you lost your dad after getting closer to him.

I guess counselling would really help, and even the fact you looked different to your family, that may be something to come to terms with. I do think this is something that is understood much better now than it once was.

I hope you will work through all this, please do share if it helps. Please do private message me if you wish to, I don't always remember to check in here.

All the best.

jellyfishschool Wed 13-Apr-16 21:25:26

Hello, I was adopted and around the same age and situation as you. I got to know my natural mother when I was in my late teens and really struggled for a few years, but we now have a pretty good relationship. For a couple of years while at university I distanced myself, but she wanted a relationship and I realised that I loved and missed her and that I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face to stay away, and since then it has been fine mostly. My adoption was not a great success because we were such different people, but they did the best they could and I have no angst about it, and hope very much they don't either. I found that when I met my birth family I felt as though I had arrived home, and although some of what I found was a bit of a shock I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity. Even small things like finding out about genealogy helped a great deal, and brought happiness as I had always felt an affinity with a particular culture and I found out that half the family had come from that culture! I found at university that many, many of my fellow students had had difficult circumstances while growing up and it helped me stop feeling so "special" (not in a good way!) and different, and realising that I could choose to get over it and move on was freeing.

Since then there have been times when I have reacted to something in a way that surprised me, and I realised that it was probably my childhood affecting me. But I feel lucky that I had time and space to get over things when I was quite young, before I had any responsibilities. I was lucky also that when I wanted contact with my birth family they wanted the same thing. I have a good career and have always been driven and have wondered if that was just me or the past driving me on! It took me a while to settle down too, and I reckon that that was to do with the past.

Counselling didn't work for me, probably because I had trust issues at the time and felt uncomfortable confiding in someone with whom there was no reciprocal relationship. I have always been able to talk with close friends and dh, as much as I have wanted to, which isn't much anymore! I read books which helped, and found just living life to the full has helped.

Humsta Wed 13-Apr-16 22:20:24

Thanks Jellyfishschool. I'm glad you've achieved a lot in life - more power to you. I think one of my issues is I've only ever talked to non-adopted people about how I feel, perhaps they haven't know their father for example, but I've come to realise that only other adoptees can truly get where I'm coming from. I do know another person who was adopted in a different situation to me and I've just begun talking to her which is like a little life line.

By and large I enjoy life and make the most of it and I have serious doubts about whether I would ever even slightly open up to a counsellor (regression therapy sounds good mind you). I just want to feel like my past isn't something that still makes me over react emotionally - in private - when actually it's just normal life situations that get thrown at everyone.

jellyfishschool Thu 14-Apr-16 17:57:04

Ho ho, not sure I have achieved all that much! But the same to you in any event, being successful even if you don't feel it!

Regression therapy sounds very interesting! Another therapy I read about which I liked the sound of was to do with writing down everything in an objective factual way as apparently that enables the brain to compartmentalise and process. It is used for adult survivors of any kind of trauma.

From reading stories on here, every adoption is so different, with different stressors. I would find it useful if there was a place to go and unload and share on here though, where people could go as and when.

Humsta Thu 14-Apr-16 18:39:52

I 100% agree. Whilst searching online (I admit I haven't spoken to my GP or anyone in social care) I found no where for myself as an adult adoptee to go - except a slightly out there American site which I didn't really feel fitted the bill. Maybe - and this is a bit maybe - I will look into how easy it is to set up a site exactly like you think you'd need to be a professional (and by that I mean in adoption not website creation) as in what if people posted who were for example suicidal and needed more than the site could offer. Maybe I should get therapy myself before offering it to others smile

jellyfishschool Thu 14-Apr-16 20:31:42

Or maybe our very own section on Mumsnet?! Or did you want something independent?

The advantage of mumsnet is that there are other sections in here which may be helpful for someone who was really struggling.

I can see the appeal of both/either, actually. And I don't know re the suicidal thing. I am as tough as old boots as are most people I know, personally (like attracts like and all that) so i really don't know.

Humsta Thu 14-Apr-16 22:20:24

I'd be happy with this site (much less work), potentially does it exclude men though? I guess not. Do they keep an eye on threads or should I contact them directly...can you see I view you as all knowing?!

Humsta Thu 14-Apr-16 22:31:26

I bit the bullet and emailed mumsnet - I'll post if I get anything worthwhile back.

Kewcumber Fri 15-Apr-16 09:57:59

There's been lots of talk over the years about splitting the adoption section on MN but the basic problem which happens when you split a lot of the more niche boards is that there is a core of people who use the board a lot and the subsection tend to become a bit dead with not enough traffic to keep threads going.

For example as an adoptive parent I would occasionally answer a post from a birth parent or an adopted adult if I thought I had something of use to say but if there was a section specifically for adopted adults I would stay clear of it. Just because I would assume that it was only for adopted adults and anything for more general comments would have been posted in the main adoption section.

Of course this may be what you want but you only have to look at the long running thread on adult adoptees to see that there isn't a regular enough hardcore group of people to keep it going constantly.

jellyfishschool Fri 15-Apr-16 10:18:49

I have a feeling that there will be adult adoptees who would quite like their own board but who don't visit this board very much, because it is (from what I have seen) primarily people adopting or wanting to adopt. It might be worth starting a thread in relationships or even aibu to see if there are others out there who'd like it?

You are right about men, though, I hadn't thought of that. I suppose it might be something they'd find if they googled. I am not sure how many men use mumsnet!

Humsta Fri 15-Apr-16 15:33:48

I do see your point Kewcumber but I thought I'd add this as I really feel it could be positive for me but I don't really know how many people would regularly be interested.

Certainly in my life I could go months without adoption crossing my mind and then something will trigger a thought or feeling and then it's all I can think about...until I get over it! Until the next time :-)

Kewcumber Fri 15-Apr-16 22:02:12

Don't get me wrong -I'm not trying to put you off and have no problem with the idea. I'm hardly Queen on MN so what I say isn't the rule.

Good luck - I hope you get the support you want. If you don;t get far with a dedicated adoptees board do start posting more about adult life as an adoptee under MN adoption ... if you build it they will come!

Humsta Fri 15-Apr-16 23:31:05

Good tip Kewcumber - thanks 👍🏽

Italiangreyhound Sat 16-Apr-16 00:33:07

Re therapy, it may be worth looking into Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing or Parks Inner Child Therapy. Both of these may cover childhood trauma, and in the case of Parks (Penny Parks) was herself an abused child. BUT the therapy can work for people who have been affected by any number of things, apparently, so may be worth just reading up on before deciding what kind of therapy you would like to pursue.

Lagodiatitlan Mon 18-Apr-16 12:03:01

I would be interested in an adult adoptee board.

The fact that adults are included on a starting a family board just re-inforces the idea that we are - despite our advancing age - somehow forever children. Even ex-life sentence prisoners are eventually rehabilitated. Not us. Forever infantilised.

Kewcumber Mon 18-Apr-16 12:30:07

It's a fair point Lago I tell DS he was adopted not is - that it's a one off event like a birth, that it isn't a perpetual state of being. I'm not quite sure though that I'm being totally honest with him - it bothers me because I'd like it to be true but in all honesty it's really up to him how he feels about it and he may also not be able to get away from society's fascination with adoption as being "other".

Humsta Mon 18-Apr-16 12:33:45

Lagodiatitlan thank you. Could I ask you to copy and paste that into the thread below so that mumsnet see it, your input is appreciated.

Humsta Mon 18-Apr-16 12:35:37

Kewcumber when you say adoption being other, do you mean not important, as in done and dusted so get over it?

FuckedOffMum Mon 18-Apr-16 13:39:49

The inclusion of adoption in 'Becoming a Parent' is something that has been discussed several times because the majority of long standing posters here aren't adopting they have adopted, and as a result are posting about adoptive parenting etc. rather than how to become one via adoption. In addition to that there are a number of birth parents who also post here who obviously aren't covered by the topic area name. It's certainly not a representation of MNHQ's infantilisation of adoptees!

Following previous discussions it's always been felt that there aren't sufficient posters from any element of the adoption triangle to sustain a division of the current board (there was a discussion recently about birth families having their own section), and adoption is fairly special in that each group is in a position to help and support the others so having everyone combined in one board facilitates this. Nor are there sufficient posts to warrant a division for becoming a parent via adoption board and an adoptive parenting board. I guess it's just one of the minor issues with the forum set up. I know that I post mostly on the general parenting boards because whilst I have adopted DC, their adoption is just a bit part in our lives and so I tend to post here only when I require adoption specific advice, I'm guessing most other posters are the same which is partly why this board tends to be quite quiet.

However, if the adult adoptees no longer want to be part of the adoption topic then I personally have no issue with it, although I do think it's sad that this board would no longer cover all three groups.

FuckedOffMum Mon 18-Apr-16 13:41:23

I suspect Kew means 'other' as in not normal/usual/natural from the perception of people not in the adoption triangle. I certainly don't think she would ever suggest that adoption is something that's done and dusted with and should be got over.

Kewcumber Mon 18-Apr-16 13:56:58

Yes FuckedOff has it. That's what I mean. People are endlessly fascinated by what they see as the differentness of adoption.

jellyfishschool Mon 18-Apr-16 14:34:33

I agree about the infantalisation, so much so that I stopped telling people I was adopted in my late teens and only started again in my late 30s, at which point I had carved out a successful career and was most definitely not an infant!

I only speak for myself here, but I would most definitely say I am adopted, not I was adopted. For a start legally my parents are my adopted parents, still, and my dc's grandparents are my adopted parents, even though we are in touch with both families.

I would like a dedicated adoptee section because I think that adopters' experience of adoption is generally quite different from that of adoptees' experience (though childhood which is brief and into and throughout their adult lives), but again I only speak for myself here.

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