About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Adoptee's Impossible Task Of Identifying Feelings


Adoptee's Impossible Task Of Identifying Feelings

The Eight Core Issues In Adopted Child's attempts at constructing their true self by acknowledging real and unpleasant feelings:

#1. Loss:
      What, who, when, why & How Adoptee's loss...
      Loss of maternal and paternal families, siblings,
      ancestry, heredity,. Loss of the true self in the
      attempt to fit the "adopted child's role".

#2. Rejection:
      We are rejected, we are ignored by our family           extended, maternal, paternal and Adoptive               family, peers, community, society & ourselves.
      We adoptees reject ourselves and reject the
      the boyfriend, friend and anyone we trusted
      before they will reject us to save face., As they
      will eventually dump us because we are not
      worthy...deep down inside we are not accepted.

#3. Shame:
      Adoptee's are born as the proof of shame.
      The constant humiliating of the adopted child
      by the adoptive mother's need for public                   attention & recognition for adopting a child. The
      "savior" for adopting a child reinforces the shame
      and humiliation that the adopted child feels each
      time the adoptive mother re-tells that the child is
      adopted she receives gratification, ego boosting.

#4. Guilt:
       Adoptee's are punished and manipulated as a
       tool of Guilt by adoptive parent programming.
       Making the adopted child feel guilty is a common
       and psychologically manipulating cruelty by
       selfish adoptive parents. Making adopted child
       responsible for the parent's well-being a tactic
       to retain control and domination over adoptees.

#5.  Grief:
       The grief that plagues adopted child & adult              adoptee is not allowed to be acknowledged,
       spoken or discussed. Adoptee's must hold-in
       their grief and pretend that the overwhelming            feeling of pain & suffering does not exist.

#6.  Identity:
       The adopted child's identity is erased, hidden
       and changed for the purpose of concealing the          truth of the child's authentic identity and the
       identity of the child's biological parents. The
       adopted child is expected to lie about who he
       really is and pretend to be child of the adopter.

#7.  Intimacy:
       The adopted child/adult adoptee has extreme
       difficulty at pretending to care, pretending to
       connect to others and acting like they are some
       how bonded to other human beings. Attachment
       Failure and primal attachment severing by child        relinquishment at birth is the contributing factor.

#8. Mastery-Control:
      The child development pyramid my Erickson
      is not accomplished as normal biologically raised
      children meet this standard. The overbearing,
      controlling and dominating adoptive parent
      creates in the adopted child a fear based                   childhood environment where the child                     experiences and is conditioned, to being confined       controlled, suffocating & prison type of master
      and servant relationship. Normal childhood               freedom, play and exploration is non-existent
      in the adopted child's narcissistic structural
      environment created by the confident lacking
      or narcissistic personality disordered adoptive           mother.


The Eight great Fallacies Of Adoption


The Eight Great Fallacies of Adoption

                                             Image result for adopted-child-ANGER

              The Eight Great Fallacies of Adoption
                  Anne D. Slagle, Adoptee

Adoption is one of those subjects that everyone thinks they know something about – and has an opinion on. Unfortunately, many of these opinions are wrong, since most people are not adopted, and have no first-hand experience of the adoption process or the effects it has on the families involved in adoption. There are many fallacies concerning adoption – some of them may surprise you!
One: Adoptive parents make better parents than ordinary people because they wanted a child so badly and went to so much trouble to get one. Actually, adoptive parents are no better and no worse than any other parent. The idea that just wanting a child makes anyone into a good parent is shallow. It’s the amount of time, thought, love and labor that goes into raising a child that distinguishes the good parents from the poor ones. Most parents, adopted or not, do their honest best for the children they care for. To expect parents to be extra good at parenting simply because they adopted is to burden them with impossible standards to live up to, and this can place a strain on the relationships in the family. They may, in fact, feel unsure of themselves, because they had to go to so much trouble to get a child. They may also transfer a portion of these unrealistic expectations to the child.
Two: Happy adoptees, who are completed satisfied with their parents and home will never want to search for their birth kin, only the unhappy and maladjusted will feel a need to search.The reverse is true. Dr. William Reynolds found that there was no correlation between satisfaction with the adoptive relationships and a desire to search. Searching indicates no more than a strong desire for knowledge on the part of the searcher – it is not an indication of rejection of the adoptive family. In fact, the adoptee who feels secure and wanted in his family may search for the truth of his past, knowing that he sill lose nothing in the process and may gain a great deal. The unhappy adoptee may not care to risk his precarious relationships with his family and decide not to search.
Furthermore, since all adoptees are curious from time to time, to one degree or another, to believe this fallacy is to believe that all adoptees are unhappy about being adopted, or dissatisfied with their families – a clear insult to every adopting couple in the country, and to all adoptees as well.
Three: Adoptees who search are looking for fantasy, the "perfect parents" who will love and cherish them, and they will inevitably be cruelly disappointed when they meet with reality. This is the natural conclusion of Fallacy No. Two; since adoptees are dissatisfied with what they have, they must be looking for the impossible dream. Truthfully, the one thing that adoptees who search are NOT looking for is fairy tales! They are tired of fantasizing, wondering, thinking; they are seeking the truth. Of course, they hope that wheat they find will be pleasant, but they know very well that it could end in disappointment. If they were looking for a dream, they wouldn’t need to search at all – dreams are easy to come by.
Four: A searching adoptee poses a real threat to the security and anonymity of the birthparent(s). To believe this one, you must also believe that people who have been raised as adopted children are all incompetent, insensitive, immature idiots who could not be taught by parents or anyone else to care about the rights and feelings of others. This is a belief that indicates a deep lack of faith in adoption and the families that adoption creates. What people do not seem to realize is that an adoptee has no reason to be so thoughtless and inconsiderate. How much information could an adoptee get from a shocked, angry or frightened birthparent? The adoptees must be careful, for their own sake, as well for the sake of the birthparent.
Five: An adoptee belongs to his or her new family forever – and owes them something more than the ordinary offspring owes his family. Correction: an adoptee will be a part of the people who love him forever, but belonging is a term used for property. An adoptee owes his or her parents nothing more and nothing less than any son or daughter actually born to them. To insist otherwise is to put the adopted into a special class. It is to transform adoption into a charitable institution, and to make the children who are "benefited" by this service into objects of charity. It is actually a self-pitying plea for gratitude, not an honest recognition of the human relationships that have grown over the years.
Actually, it was the parents who asked to be allowed to adopt, not the child who was asking for the gift of a family. The parents wanted to have the pleasure of watching a young life grow, much as any other parents would. They did not (we hope!) adopt as a social statement, or as a "good deed," and they have benefited from the relationship as much as the child. Adoptive parents cannot and should not expect more than ordinary parents are allowed by custom or law to expect, for they are, after all, just ordinary parents, too!
Six: Sealed records protect the birthmother from intrusion into her life by the child she relinquished for adoption. Sealed records protect no one, least of all the birthparent. Sealed off from any knowledge of the child she relinquished, ignorant of conditions in the adoptive home, unable to get the slightest information from the placing agency, she cannot know if the son or daughter is curious about her, or if the grown adoptee is searching.
Everyday, thousands upon thousands of adult adoptees are searching in this country for the evidence of their births and ancestry. And they are finding, in spite of sealed records, uncooperative agencies and courts and discouragement on every side. With no way to communicate with the birthmother, they hesitantly, tentatively reach toward her. At any moment, the telephone or the mailman can shatter the birthmother’s illusion that sealed records are her protection.
Most birthmothers did not want this protection, did not ask for it, and are delighted when their grown son or daughter seeks them out. There are very few birthmothers who did not give up their child with grief and regret. Most of them would have preferred to keep their child, if that had been possible at the time.
Sealed records, whatever you may have heard about them, were actually designed to keep the adoptive parents happy – free from the worry that someone would take their hard-won child away from them.
Seven: Adoptees are better off not knowing that they are adopted. They will never need to search, and will not grow up feeling "different." This fallacy offers an illusion of kindness – but is actually the most cruel of them all. The truth is that a secret cannot be kept forever. The adopted always finds out, sooner or later. And even when they are unaware of their status as an adopted member of the family, they do frequently feel "different" without knowing why. When they do find out, often by accident, they discover at once that nothing they have believed or been taught is true – and that the people they have trusted all their lives have been systematically lying to them. It is a shattering discovery that rips their world to shreds.
Adoptive parents need to armor their child against this kind of harm by being honest about adoption. It is better for the adoptee to hear the truth from the ones he trusts and so be able to accept it comfortably. It is also without a doubt better to learn about adoption when young, especially when the child is allowed to continue to ask for and get answers to questions as he grows.
Eight: An adoptee is bound to honor the agreement of adoption and to never challenge the wisdom of the sealed records, he has a right only to the information that others are willing to give. Bound by what? Why should an adoptee be required to honor an agreement he never saw, never read, and never agreed to? As a slave was obligated to look after his master’s property (himself), so the adoptee is asked to keep promises made by others on his behalf. In most states, an adoptee is not even permitted to see the records of an event that has profoundly changed his life.
Where ordinary parents know and expect that they will see their minor child grown into independent adults, capable of making decisions and managing their own lives, adoptive parents seem to requite that the control they have over their children should extend over the child’s entire life. No matter how old that "child" becomes, he will never be old enough to decide for himself how much he wants to know and never will he be old enough to be trusted with the entire truth.
As one adoptee said, "I will honor any contract or agreement that I myself have read, understood and signed. But I did not and will not agree to lose my rights through an agreement signed by others years ago on my account."
Too many of our states still carry on their books, laws that reflect these antique attitudes toward adoption and adoptees. It’s high time that a fresh breath of common sense should blow the cobwebs off these laws so people can see them for what they are – monuments to insecurity and fear.

Anne D. Slagle, adoptee
Adoptees Liberty Movement Association



Monday, March 30, 2015

Daughters of Unloving Mothers, Unloved Adopted Daughters


Daughters of Unloving Mothers,
                            ......Unloved Adopted Daughters

The article is based on the normal biologically tied mother-daughter offspring relationship. Which makes the outline for cause and effect more noticeable in the stranger to stranger-er child adoption quagmire, that our society denies and suggests that the child adoption relationship is a normal, common and everyday "rainbows and unicorns". The unloved adopted daughter's emotional foundation was built by separation trauma, the prolonged suffering from the trauma and the later rejection from the secondary caregiver, the indifferent adoptive mother's harsh and cold treatment of her adopted infant tells the adopted infant that they do not deserve attention, that they do not deserve the adoptive mother's attention, that the adopted child is a burden and not worthy or significant as an individual.


Daughters of Unloving Mothers: 7 Common Wounds

Taking stock is often the first step in healing. By Peg Streep 

In the years since I researched and wrote Mean Mothers, I’ve talked to women about our shared experiences.  Every woman’s story is different, of course; perhaps the greatest commonality is the discovery that each of us is not alone, that we are not the only girls or women on the planet to have had mothers who can’t or won’t love them.   The taboos about “dissing” our mothers and the myths of motherhood which portray all mothers as loving isolate unloved daughters, and that discovery lifts part of the hurt and the burden but not at all of it.  This catalogue of what can happen to a daughter who grows up without a mother’s love and support is derived from anecdote, not a scientific survey; it’s not meant to be inclusive either.   And again, I write not as a psychologist or therapist, but as a fellow traveler.
 Why these wounds are common is amply explained by attachment theory, first proposed by Mary Ainsworth but expanded by the work of Mary Main and many others.
In infancy and childhood, a daughter catches the first glimpse of herself in the mirror that is her mother’s face.  If her mother is loving and attuned, the baby is securely attached; she learns both that she is loved and loveable.  That sense of being loveable —worthy of affection and attention, of being seen and heard —becomes the bedrock on which her earliest sense of self is built, and provides the energy for its growth.
(The adopted child experiences no biological mirroring from her biological mother, as the adopted child's foundation is based in rejection, separation trauma, and despair.)
 The daughter of an unloving mother —one who is emotionally distant, withholding, or inconsistent, or even hypercritical or cruel—learns different lessons about the world and herself.  The underlying problem, of course, is how dependent a human infant is on her mother for nurturance and survival, and the circumscribed nature of her world.  What results is insecure attachment, characterized as either “ambivalent” (the child doesn’t know whether the good mommy or the bad one will show up) or “avoidant” (the daughter wants her mother’s love but is afraid of the consequences of seeking it).  Ambivalent attachment teaches a child that the world of relationship is unreliable; avoidant attachment sets up a terrible conflict between the child’s needs both for her mother’s love and for protection against her mother’s emotional or physical abuse.
 Early attachments form the internal templates or mental representations we have about how relationships work in the world.  Without therapy or intervention, these mental representations tend to be relatively stable. 
The key thing here is that the daughter’s need for her mother’s love is primal and a driving force, and that need isn’t diminished by its unavailability.  That need coexists with the terrible and damaging understanding that the one person who is supposed to love you without condition doesn’t.  The struggle to heal and cope is a mighty one, affecting many, if not all parts, of the self, but especially in the area of relationship. 
The work of Cindy Hazan and Philip Shaver (and, later, others) showed that early childhood attachments were highly predictive of adult romantic relationships, as well as friendships.  It won’t surprise you that the most common wounds are those to the self and the area of emotional connection.
The point of looking at these wounds isn’t to bemoan them or throw up our hands in despair at the mother-love cards we were dealt but to become conscious and aware of them.  Consciousness is the first step in an unloved daughter’s healing.  All too often, we simply accept these behaviors in ourselves without knowing their point of origin.
           1. Lack of confidence
The unloved daughter doesn’t know that she is loveable or worthy of attention; she may have grown up feeling ignored or unheard or criticized at every turn.  The voice in her head is that of her mother’s, telling her what she isn’t (smart, beautiful, kind, loving, worthy).  Her accomplishments and talents will continue to be undermined by that internalized maternal voice, unless there is some kind of intervention.  Daughters sometimes talk about feeling that they are “fooling people” and express fear that they’ll be “found out” when they enjoy success in the world.
           2. Lack of trust
“I always wonder,” one woman confides, “why someone wants to be my friend.  I can’t help myself from thinking whether there’s some kind of hidden agenda, you know, and I’ve learned in therapy that that has everything to do with my mother.”   These trust issues emanate from that sense that relationships are fundamentally unreliable, and flow over into both friendships and romantic relationships.  As reported by Hazan and Shaver in their work, the ambivalently attached daughter needs constant validation that trust is warranted and, in their words, these people “experienced love as involving obsession, a desire for reciprocation and union, emotional highs and lows, and extreme sexual attraction and jealousy.”  Trust and the inability to set boundaries are, as it happens, closely connected.
           3. Difficulty setting boundaries
Many daughters, caught between their need for their mother’s attention and its absence, report that they become “pleasers” in adult relationships or are unable to set other boundaries which make for healthy and emotionally sustaining relationships.  A number of unloved daughters report problems with maintaining close female friendships, which are complicated by issues of trust (“How do I know she’s really my friend?”), not being able to say ‘no’ (“Somehow, I always end up being a doormat, doing too much, and I get used or disappointed in the end”), or wanting a relationship so intense that the other person backs off.   Insecurely attached daughters often end up creating scenarios that are more like the “Goldilocks and Three Bears” story than not —never quite right but, somehow, either too “hot” or too “cold.” 
This is often true in romantic relationships as well.  Kim Bartholomew’s work helpfully further divides those who are avoidantly attached into two categories— “fearful” and “dismissive.”  Both share the same avoidance of intimacy but for different reasons.  The “fearful” actively seek close relationships but are afraid of intimacy on all levels; they are intensely vulnerable, and tend to be clingy and dependent.  The “dismissives” are armored and detached, perhaps defensively; their avoidance is more straightforward.  Alas, both types aren’t able to get the kind of emotional connection that could move them closer to healing.
           4.  Difficulty seeing the self accurately
One woman shares what she has finally learned in therapy: “When I was a child, my mother held me back by focusing on my flaws, never my accomplishments.   After college, I had a number of jobs but, at every one, my bosses complained that I wasn’t pushing hard enough to try to grow.  It was only then that I realized that I was limiting myself, adopting my mother’s view of me in the world.”   Much of this has to do with internalizing all you were told growing up, and these distortions in how we see ourselves may extend into every domain, including your looks.   (I personally have scoured photos of my teenage years, looking for the girl my own mother called “fat.”  She also called me “unloveable” which, alas, isn’t as easy to verify or dispute in a picture.  That took years.)  Other daughters report feeling surprised when they succeed at something, as well as being hesitant to try something new so as to reduce the possibility of failure.  This isn’t just a question of low self-esteem but something more profound.           
           5.  Making avoidance the default position
Lacking confidence or feeling fearful sometimes puts the unloved daughter in a defensive crouch so that she’s avoiding being hurt by a bad connection rather than being motivated by the possibility of finding a stable and loving one.  These women, on the surface, may act as though they want to be in a relationship but, on a deeper though less conscious level, they are really motivated more by avoidance.  The work of Hazan, Shaver, and Bartholomew bears this out.  Unfortunately, avoidance —whether triggered by fear, mistrust or something else —actively prevents the unloved daughter from finding the kind of loving and supportive relationships she’s always sought.
           6.  Being overly sensitive
An unloved daughter may be sensitive to slights, real and imagined; a random comment may carry the weight of her childhood experience without her even being aware of it.  “I’ve had to really focus on my reactions or, better put, over-reactions,” says one woman, now in her forties.  “Sometimes, I mistake what’s meant as banter as something else and I end up worrying it to death until I shake myself and realize the person really meant nothing by it.”  Having a mother who’s unattuned also means that unloved daughters often have trouble managing emotions; they tend to overthink and ruminate as well.
           7.  Replicating the Mother bond in relationships
Alas, we tend to be drawn to what we know —those situations which, while they make us unhappy in the end, are nonetheless “comfortable” because they are familiar to us.  While securely attached individuals tend to go out into the world seeking people who have similar histories of attachment, unluckily, so do the ambivalently and avoidantly attached.  This sometimes has the effect of unwittingly replicating the maternal relationship.  “I married my mother, for sure,” one woman says, “He was on the surface completely different from my mother but, in the end, he treated me much the same way, the same seesaw of not knowing how he would be with me.  Like my mother, he was indifferent and attentive by turns, horribly critical or vaguely supportive.” She ended up divorcing both her husband and her mother.
 This list in mind, the day a daughter takes stock of her wounds is the first day of her healing, and her journey towards new self-awareness and possibility.

How Attachment Impacts Brain Development In Adopted Children


How Attachment Relationships Impact Brain development in Adopted Children

How Attachment Relationships Impact Brain Development
As a prospective adoptive parent, the extent of my understanding of attachment could be found in a single line in Webster's: the bond felt between two people. I was dimly aware of dire stories of adopted children who were not able to bond, but the anecdotal information was overwhelmingly on the side of children bonding easily to their new parents. My sense was that attachment would happen intuitively, easily, and inevitably.
Ten years later, as the parent of one well attached child and one insecurely attached child, I have a much more complete understanding of the attachment process, the subtle signs of attachment problems, and the repercussions of attachment disorders. I've learned first hand that many adopted children indeed struggle with forming secure attachments, despite the best and most loving intentions of their parents. And I've seen how parents regularly miss the signs of impaired attachment, even as their children struggle with emotional, social, and learning issues.
While adoptive parents might be attentive to signs that a child is bonding, bonding is only a piece of the attachment profile. The red flags indicating attachment problems are often missed because they are subtle, counterintuitive or masquerade as typical development. For instance, it is extremely common for  newly adopted infants and children to experience sleep problems, which are usually expressions of insecurity, grief, terror, or lack of control. Sleep issues in adopted children are best addressed by making extra efforts to reassure, whether by co-sleeping or otherwise meeting emotional needs. And yet parents routinely let children cry it out alone in the interest of fostering independence, often at the advice of friends, pediatricians or social workers. This advice might make sense for the securely attached but for those elsewhere on the attachment continuum it can impede attachment and generate further emotional difficulties.
Our children require extra sensitivity in evaluating their behaviors. In many ways they are not like the general population of non-adopted children and addressing behavior requires a different set of strategies. Certain maladaptive traits are over-represented in adopted children. In addition to sleep issues, our children commonly exhibit issues around food and eating, hoarding or difficulty with sharing, anxiety, emotional hyper-reactivity, hypervigilence, hyperactivity, problems with memory, concentration or attention, and fears of abandonment. Yet to address these issues without considering the critical element of attachment history is to miss what is central in their etiology. 
I believe that adoptive parents need a more informed understanding of attachment, especially those who assume that attachment just happens more or less naturally. Sometimes what comes naturally, instead, are maladaptive responses, crystallized during a period of critical brain development and traumatic experience. Adopted children come to us with largely unknown, often difficult histories that can impact their emotional health, cognition, social competence, and ability to form healthy and happy relationships throughout their lifetimes. We need to understand this, recognize that these problems stem from a time before we were in the picture, and learn strategies to help our children develop into secure, emotionally healthy people.
So what IS attachment? At its most basic, it is the child's primary bond to her first caregiver, which becomes the template for all future relationships. But it is also a critical internal system for dealing with stress. Typically the foundation for this system is laid through the formation of attachment during the first year of life. Most adopted children today come to us as older infants or children without secure attachment histories, via institutional care or multiple disruptions in caregivers. This means that most of them experienced ruptures in the attachment process or never had the opportunity to form secure attachments or, by extension, an effective stress regulation system.
Can secure attachment, and a healthy stress regulation system, be formed after an insecure attachment history? Yes, but there are also ways in which early experience can derail their development, no matter how competent and loving the care afterwards. To understand this, it's necessary to look at how the infant brain develops.
At birth, the brain and central nervous system are very immature, a kind of primitive armature to be fleshed out by subsequent experience. Experience is what organizes the complex set of systems that are the brain and central nervous system. Many of the newborn's internal systems do not automatically self regulate, and one of the primary developmental tasks is to begin the regulation of these systems. This is accomplished through an emotionally attuned, committed caregiver who consistently responds to signals from the infant. 
Initially, the states of the infant are as simple as being stressed or not stressed, expressed through crying when hungry, wet, tired, or startled, or calm when all is well. When an infant is stressed, there is a corresponding physiological response: stress hormones are released in her system, heartbeat races, muscles tense, breathing accelerates. If a caregiver doesn't respond quickly, stress escalates until the infant becomes overwhelmed as she is not instinctively able to regulate her stress to tolerable levels. By responding soothingly, the caregiver helps to bring the infant back into equilibrium.
What is happening neurobiologically in this exchange is that the infant's dysregulated state starts aligning with the caregiver's regulated state. With repetition, calming communication both verbal and nonverbal (soothing sounds, gentle touch, loving looks and body language) activates neural firings that become imprinted in the infant's brain. The firing neurons of the infant start mirroring the neural patterns of the caregiver. In this way, over time the caregiver effectively downloads her own stress regulation system into the infant's developing brain. 
In optimal situations, emotionally attuned caregivers positively shape the stress regulation system of infants. But if the caregiving is inconsistent, neglectful, or abusive, the infant is left to fend for herself in a totally dysregulated state of growing stress, which can have devastating long term emotional, neurological and physiological impact. Often the only relief from this overwhelming and unendurable state is an emotional numbing and withdrawal called dissociation. Dissociation in infants is a key predictor of future Post Traumatic Stress in children. 
Healthy stress regulation systems prepare children to meet a range of challenging and stressful events without becoming overwhelmed. Over a lifetime, emotionally healthy individuals draw on this internalized system to tolerate both normal daily stress and larger, more catastrophic stress. The ability to moderate stress to tolerable levels is key to emotional health and resiliency. The absence of healthy stress regulation results in individuals who are easily overwhelmed or who respond in maladative ways.
Many of our children endured chronic neglect, trauma, even abuse as infants. The typical orphanage structure is one where the emotional needs of babies go summarily unmet as staff concentrates on meeting basic standards of care. Many institutions do their very best with limited resources and actively attend to physical, nutritional and medical needs. But emotional need is less well valued or fostered. These infants rarely benefit from the consistent, attuned, devoted attention that most infants in biological families receive on a daily basis. Even in the best orphanages, infants are routinely left physically and emotionally alone for long stretches of time during a period of critical brain development. 
Although it is tempting to postulate that infants who are fostered fare much better, the reality is that they often experience sub-optimum care as well. In theory, foster care is a better context for consistently meeting emotional needs, and for some fortunate children this is borne out by their secure attachment and emotional health. However, far too often foster care provides a similar set of traumas. Sometimes foster parents are only part of a rotating matrix of care, taking a child for a time before she is returned to the orphanage until adoption, creating new trauma. Fostering might mean that a caregiver brings an infant home at night, while she spends her days with her emotional needs unmet in the institution. Or a foster family might tend to multiple infants in the home, replicating on a smaller scale the group care of orphanages. Sometimes foster parents are just plain inattentive, inept or abusive. The result is that many children who were fostered come to their adoptive homes with the same range of trauma and neglect issues that are found in post-institutionalized children. 
Not only do these infants fail to benefit from consistent, warm, emotional interaction and stimulation, they fail to learn effective stress regulation and they experience a form of trauma. Many of us are used to thinking of trauma as acute, one time events that are highly stressful to experience but which then resolve. For an infant, chronic neglect is experienced as ongoing trauma without resolution. Minus the moderating influence of a healthy stress regulation system or an attuned caregiver, the neurobiological response to neglect can permanently alter the biochemistry of the brain, creating a lifelong hypersensitive response to stress.
Emotional neglect has other physical manifestations in developing neurology. The neurobiological responses to neglect and trauma can become embedded in the emerging personality, creating a distorted lens through which the world is viewed. Innate personality can be trumped by the superimposition of maladaptive response, resulting in children who are unusually prone to a host of traits. How many of  our children can be described as strong willed, bossy, controlling, easily frustrated, anxious, lacking self-esteem, emotionally immature, or experiencing learning issues? There is a disproportionate intersection of these characteristics in kids with histories of neglect, trauma and poor attachment.
The parts of the brain that are coming online in the first six months or so are in the limbic system, which processes emotions and emotional regulation, memory and the emotional meaning of events, and social cues and responses. High stress experiences during this stage of infancy can profoundly impact a child's ability to self regulate, trust others, read social cues, and understand her own internal experiences. Stressed infants often go on to have classic attachment difficulties affecting mood regulation, behavioral control, interpersonal relationships, cognitive abilities, self concept, and physical health. 
One of the challenges of addressing issues that stem from early neglect and trauma is that in the first several months of life, experiences are processed by the preverbal right side of the brain, which develops first. Traumatic experience can become embedded as part of subconscious, implicit emotional memory that can later be triggered by simple emotions, sensations, or events. Meanwhile the left side of the brain, where verbal, logical, explicit memory resides, comes online later. 
In kids with preverbal trauma experiences there is often a disconnect between implicit memory and explicit memory. In effect, the two sides of the brain can't communicate and can't integrate traumatic experiences, which makes it nearly impossible to process them and move on. Early experience may have molded a child to be emotionally hyper-reactive in ways that she has no way of logically understanding. She may have trouble interpreting the meaning of events or her own internal states, which will impact her sense of herself, her social relationships, as well as memory, concentration and attention.
This is the reason that many attachment impaired kids don't respond well to traditional parenting techniques such as time outs. A parent may issue a time out as a way to "teach a lesson" about cause and effect. But attachment impaired kids have poor cause and effect reasoning, and might instead be catapulted back to a time of great stress, reflexively responding by becoming severely dysregulated.

The Effects of Early Loss and Trauma on Development
One of the most enduring myths about infants is that they are resilient. The notion persists that infants are more or less blank slates, incapable of absorbing or retaining experience before the acquisition of language. Current research from neuroscientists informs us that infants are actually the most impressionable and vulnerable to their early experiences, when their daily interactions exert the most influence on their development. Neurological development is experience dependent; experience determines how the developing brain and central nervous system organize, which directly impacts emotional, social, cognitive and physical growth. 
Resilience is the ability to bounce back after adverse experience. Resilience is a learned trait, dependent upon the establishment of an effective internal stress regulation system and consistent emotional support. A well attached and emotionally healthy child will likely bounce back after trauma if she is supported, precisely because she has learned how to moderate stress through her interpersonal experiences in the process of becoming securely attached. 
An unattached and unsupported infant, on the other hand, will have her brain molded by adverse experience. The brain is malleable and it will adapt itself to the experience of maltreatment in order to survive. Adaptive neurobiological responses will help to tolerate chronic stress at the expense of more typical development, and over time will become established neural pathways in the developing brain. The child likely will carry these adaptive responses forward with her into an adoptive family, at which point they are maladaptive for family life and healthy development. 
This malleable and adaptive quality of the brain is called neuroplasticity, and is what drives the experiential process of brain and central nervous system development. The stage of optimum neuroplasticity is the first three years of life, a period of critical and rapid brain growth. The brain grows and organizes in response to experience in a predictable developmental sequence, starting with the brainstem and moving on up the midbrain and the cerebral cortex. There are certain developmental windows of opportunity when specific areas of the infant brain and central nervous system organize. Once a window has closed, the developmental sequence continues to unfold regardless of how optimum previous development has been. 
Brain development builds upon itself and higher function is dependent on the organization of lower structures. Disorganization in a foundational stage of brain development will impact subsequent developmental stages in a cascading series of dysfunction. If early brain function is underdeveloped, the brain will not intuitively fill in the gaps but will continue to build on whatever foundation has been laid down. If the foundation is shaky, the structure it supports can never be solid. 
As delicate as the timing of this sequence may seem, in typical development the brain and central nervous system self-organize easily and optimally through daily, ordinary experience. As a social species we have evolved to develop and thrive via daily interpersonal relationships and interactions with our environment. Typically, the infant gets everything she needs for healthy emotional, physical, cognitive and social development through ordinary interaction within a family. 
Unless there is a placement shortly after birth, for most adopted kids this process will have been compromised. Neurobiological development will end up being shaped by loss, neglect, trauma, and poor attachment, resulting in a reduced capacity to integrate sensory, emotional and cognitive information into a cohesive whole. 
Understanding how experience dependent neurological development is makes it easier to understand why some adopted kids struggle years after adoption, even if they have been adopted into emotionally healthy family situations. 
Many of us entered into adoption believing that the positive influence of love and family would be enough to overcome early adverse experience. It doesn't help that this belief is echoed at large by society, professionals and institutions. Many pediatricians, therapists, social workers and adoption agencies are behind the curve on neuroscientific research, and reinforce the outdated idea that adopted children are little different than children born to us. Perhaps this is a notion held over from a generation ago, when the majority of adoptions were private domestic relinquishments of newborns. Now that the profile of adoption has totally transformed and the majority of adoptions are of older infants and children (via international programs and domestic foster care) we need a new paradigm. 
Experts now believe that any time a child joins a family through adoption that attachment will be an issue. At a minimum, unless adopted at birth, adopted children have suffered two major losses:  the primary maternal loss and the loss of the subsequent, intermediate caregivers. Pre-, peri- and postnatal research demonstrates that infants have bonds to their mothers in utero, and recognize their mothers at birth. A newborn knows her mother's smell, voice and touch and will experience acute distress if separated from her. A days old infant abandoned on a street for even a short time experiences extreme trauma. Separation from her mother is literally a life or death threat, and she will react neurobiologically with a massive internal stress response. 
What our children endured as infants was likely horrific for them. As adults with well developed coping mechanisms it's difficult for us to imagine the utter helplessness, annihilating terror, overwhelming dread, and staggering loss that these infants faced, well before the establishment of any sort of internal system for dealing with stress. Many of them then went on to experience varying degrees of stress in subsequent caregiving situations that failed to comfort, nurture, or provide the kind of consistent, attuned attention necessary to mitigate the effects of early stress and trauma. 
Because this kind of relational trauma happens before the acquisition of language, it becomes stored as sensory and motor memories in implicit memory systems that are operational in the first months of life. These infants absorb their implicit emotional experiences and form mental models of themselves, their caregivers, and the world. 
A nurturing caregiver who responds appropriately and consistently to the infant's distress helps the infant to internalize a mental model of herself as worthy of love, care and protection, and the belief in a benevolent and nurturing caregiver and, by extension, a benevolent and nurturing world. In the absence of consistent and nurturing care, infants internalize very different implicit mental models of themselves and the world. 
In this way, adopted children can bring preverbal feelings of loss, shame, anger, helplessness or worthlessness with them into their adoptive families. Logically, these feelings may make no sense to adoptive parents, especially if there is little weight given to early experience. But to an infant or child, the feelings can be deeply imbedded beyond logic or words. 
Manifestations of these imbedded feelings and mental models are expressed in a variety of ways in adopted children. There is a large range of possible outcomes and not every child will be affected equally. Each child is uniquely wired, and each child has a unique experience, so it's difficult to generalize about how children will fare. For some, adverse effects from early experience will be subtle and difficult to detect. However many will carry the effects of early loss and trauma forward with them in salient ways. 
Some common areas of difficulty that emerge and persist in adopted children include:
Emotional Regulation:  Adopted children frequently have a low tolerance for frustration and may have difficulty coping with normal daily stress or negative emotions. These children are often hyper-reactive, quick to anger or burst into tears over what others might consider insignificant or nonexistent slights. It can be difficult to calm these children with logic, consequences or discipline and many have out of control tantrums long past toddlerhood. 
Social Interaction:  Many adopted children have difficulty with social skills and navigating relationships. They often can't read social cues. They might have trouble sharing toys, food, friends, or family members, long past what is age appropriate. They might feel threatened by other children or in competition with them, or engage in sneaky, manipulative, or aggressive behaviors with peers. They might have trouble keeping friends, and in general mistrust others. 
Control:  Many adopted children have an intense need to be in control. They might seek to control the actions of others as well as their environment. This inevitably will affect their social realm, as they have trouble tolerating relationships on any terms other than their own. They are often bossy and manipulative. They may try to manipulate people, timetables, rules, or activities. Often they have trouble participating in competitive games and are sore losers. Sometimes control is expressed in unusual relationships with objects, possessions, or food. 
Cognition:  Children with early histories of loss, trauma and attachment difficulties frequently have trouble with higher brain cortical functions. They often have poor cause and effect reasoning and problem solving skills. Many adopted children struggle with poor visual or auditory processing. Learning and language disorders are common, as are behaviors that resemble ADD or ADHD. 
Transitions:  Adopted children often have greater than average difficulties with transitions. They are not "go with the flow" kids, but do best in environments of structure, predictability, and regularity. Often the transition from the school year to summer, vacations, holidays or other changes in routine are times of great stress, dysregulation, regression, and acting out. 
Some other common manifestations:  Dislike of physical closeness in relationships, superficial charm or indiscriminate affection, inappropriately demanding or clingy, lack of impulse control, self-destructive, blaming others inappropriately, aggression or violence towards others, lying or stealing, opposition, sleep disturbances, disorganized play or thoughts, distorted self-concept. (This is not a comprehensive list. For more information and list of symptoms go to http://attach.org/)
Even for the sensitive parent, it can be difficult to determine whether a behavior is part of typical development or whether it is being driven by an underlying adoption issue. Often the answer lies in the degrees rather than the behavior itself. Out of context a behavior, in and of itself, can mean little. Evaluating it in context, a behavior can stand out for its intensity, its persistence, or for being developmentally age inappropriate. 
For parents who wonder whether a behavior is normative or not, it's useful to ask some questions:  is a behavior interfering with a child's success socially, emotionally or academically? Is it standing in the way of a child's happiness and ability to fit in, in groups, at school, with peers? Is it persisting long past age appropriateness? If so, it's probably worth investigating through the lens of early experience and attachment. 
Why is it important to view behavior as attachment related? Isn't an impulse control problem just an impulse control problem? The distinction is important in informing the response. Approaching symptoms piecemeal rather than as manifestations of an underlying systemic disorganization is failing to see the whole picture and missing the opportunity for effective intervention. 
For children impacted by attachment and trauma issues, certain parenting techniques can exacerbate existing problems. Placing a child in time out, or letting her cry it out at night, for instance, can reinforce internalized feelings of shame, worthlessness, or fears of abandonment. For the securely attached child there may be little risk of harm, but for children with early loss experiences these techniques can be counterproductive at best, and emotionally damaging at worst. Parents can unwittingly aggravate underlying issues by inadvertently re-traumatizing their children. 
Children with histories of early loss and trauma can find it exceptionally difficult to reconcile their internal emotional landscapes with their current realities. Despite living in safe and loving families, they might be held hostage by their own hyper-reactive responses to the triggers in their environments. In brains shaped by early loss and trauma the corpus callosum, which facilitates left brain-right brain communication, is often underdeveloped, making it much more difficult to process and integrate traumatic implicit memories through explicit autobiographical memory systems. For such children, therapists experienced in adoption and attachment issues can help in processing and integrating early traumatic experience. 
Attachment therapy is a dynamic and evolving field that incorporates findings across many disciplines including neuroscience, trauma studies, academic attachment theory and developmental psychopathology. A unifying theme in attachment therapy is the implementation of corrective emotional experiences that address non-integrated or dysregulated neural networks, promoting better psychological functioning. Central to this methodology is the notion of  attunement. More than just sympathy, attunement is the experience of recognizing, connecting with, and sharing inner states with the child. In effect, it is providing the child with the profound, formative, verbal and nonverbal communication of mother and child that so many of our children missed in infancy. This powerful interaction helps to heal and facilitate developmental organization in the child. 
Psychotherapist and author Daniel Siegel writes that “attachment relationships may serve to create the central foundation from which the mind develops. "  While children with early experiences of loss, neglect and trauma may have missed the development of a solid foundation, neuroscience gives us enormous hope for rebuilding structures, growth and healing. With insight and care, a child's primary relationships can calm, soothe, help organize her experiences, and teach her that negative emotions can be tolerated and overcome. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Tragedy of the Loss of a Mother


The Tragedy Of the Loss Of a Mother

When a tragedy strikes, any normal person wants to know did this happen? Why? What happened.....How could something like this occur? The public is astonished at why a tragedy happened to that particular victim, especially a newborn victim.

If the biological mother died at birth the child's truth would be considered more important. But she did not die and the child is left alone to fend for his own emotional scars that will grow in time.

Yet the newborn infant's tragedy of relinquishment, abandonment and eventually adoption, this tragedy is ignored. The adoptive parents can only see their own triumph and joy at getting a child.

But the adopted child has been through psychological hell and nobody validates, gives a fuck or even considers what the infant has suffered and will continue to suffer throughout his entire adult life.

When the infant grows into cognitive understanding and can make sense of the entire adoption truth and lack of truth of what has happened to him will continue devastate the adopted child mind forever.

The public's continued denial in ignoring the adopted child's life as a psychological tragedy.They only want to see only the positive adoption story and ignore the negative true life consequences from being an adopted child. The public denies the reality of adoption because it is too awful to conceive of.  

 Most people could never imagine giving away their own child or taking someone else's child away from their parents. We can not conceive of such an insult as giving away our own born child so we pretend it is acceptable in public.

Adoptive parent's can not deal with their own guilt and shame of infertility, much less can they deal with what assault they have caused on the child's mother.

The adoptive parents must remain psychologically stable by ignoring the realities of adoption, never allowing the child or mothers names to be spoken as a reminder of the tragedy they themselves created in their demand to become parents.

 If they acknowledged the harm that the adoptive parents caused, they would not be able to live with what they have done.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lifelong Issues In Adoption


Lifelong Issues In Adoption


Lifelong Issues in Adoption

by Deborah N. Silverstein and Sharon Kaplan

Adoption is a lifelong, intergenerational process which unites the triad of birth families, adoptees, and adoptive families forever. Adoption, especially of adolescents, can lead to both great joy and tremendous pain. Recognizing the core issues in adoption is one intervention that can assist triad members and professionals working in adoption better to understand each other and the residual effects of the adoption experience.
Adoption triggers seven lifelong or core issues for all triad members, regardless of the circumstances of the adoption or the characteristics of the participants:
  1. Loss
  2. Rejection
  3. Guilt and Shame
  4. Grief
  5. Identity
  6. Intimacy
  7. Mastery/control
(Silverstein and Kaplan 1982)
Clearly, the specific experiences of triad members vary, but there is a commonality of affective experiences which persists throughout the individual's or family's life cycle development. The recognition of these similarities permits dialogue among triad members and allows those professionals with whom they interface to intervene in proactive as well as curative ways.
The presence of these issues does not indicate, however, that either the individual or the institution of adoption is pathological or pseudopathological. Rather, these are expected issues that evolve logically out of the nature of adoption. Before the recent advent of open and cooperative practices, adoption- had been practiced as a win/lose or adversarial process. In such an approach, birth families lose their child in order for the adoptive family to gain a child. The adoptee was transposed from one family to another with time-limited and, at times, short-sighted consideration of the child's long-term needs. Indeed, the emphasis has been on the needs of the adults--on the needs of the birth family not to parent and on the needs of the adoptive family to parent. The ramifications of this attitude can be seen in the number of difficulties experienced by adoptees and their families over their lifetimes.
Many of the issues inherent in the adoption experience converge when the adoptee reaches adolescence. At this time three factors intersect: an acute awareness of the significance of being adopted; a drive toward emancipation; and a biopsychosocial striving toward the development of an integrated identity.
It is not our intent here to question adoption, but rather to challenge some adoption assumptions, specifically, the persistent notion that adoption is not different from other forms of parenting and the accompanying disregard for the pain and struggles inherent in adoption.
However, identifying and integrating these core issues into pre-adoption education, post-placement supervision, and all post-legalized services, including treatment, universalizes and validates triad members' experiences, decreasing their isolation and feelings of helplessness.

Adoption is created through loss; without loss there would be no adoption. Loss, then, is at the hub of the wheel. All birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees share in having experienced at least one major, life-altering loss before becoming involved in adoption. In adoption, in order to gain anything, one must first lose--a family, a child, a dream. It is these losses and the way they are accepted and, hopefully, resolved which set the tone for the lifelong process of adoption.
Adoption is a fundamental, life-altering event. It transposes people from one location in the human mosaic into totally new configuration. Adoptive parents, whether through infertility, failed pregnancy, stillbirth, or the death of a child have suffered one of life's greatest blows prior to adopting. They have lost their dream child. No matter how well resolved the loss of bearing a child appears to be, it continues to affect the adoptive family at a variety of points throughout the families love cycle (Berman and Bufferd 1986). This fact is particularly evident during the adoptee's adolescence when the issues of burgeoning sexuality and impending emancipation may rekindle the loss issue.
Birthparents lose, perhaps forever, the child to whom they are genetically connected. Subsequently, they undergo multiple losses associated with the loss of role, the loss of contact, and perhaps the loss of the other birth parent which reshape the entire course of their lives.
Adoptees suffer their first loss at the initial separation from the birth family. Awareness of their adopted status is inevitable. Even if the loss is beyond conscious awareness, recognition, or vocabulary, it affects the adoptee on a very profound level. Any subsequent loss, or the perceived threat of separation, becomes more formidable for adoptees than their non-adopted peers.
The losses in adoption and the role they play in all triad members lives have largely been ignored. The grief process in adoption, so necessary for healthy functioning, is further complicated by the fact that there is no end to the losses, no closure to the loss experience. Loss in adoption is not a single occurrence. There is the initial, identifiable loss and innumerable secondary sub-losses. Loss becomes an evolving process, creating a theme of loss in both the individual's and family's development. Those losses affect all subsequent development.
Loss is always a part of triad members' lives. A loss in adoption is never totally forgotten. It remains either in conscious awareness or is pushed into the unconscious, only to be reawakened by later loss. It is crucial for triad members, their significant others, and the professional with whom they interface, to recognize these losses and the effect loss has on their lives.

Feelings of loss are exacerbated by keen feelings of rejection. One way individuals seek to cope with a loss is to personalize it. Triad members attempt to decipher what they did or did not do that led to the loss. Triad members become sensitive to the slightest hint of rejection, causing them either to avoid situations where they might be rejected or to provoke rejection in order to validate their earlier negative self-perceptions.
Adoptees seldom are able to view their placement into adoption by the birthparents as anything other than total rejection. Adoptees even at young ages grasp the concept that to be "chosen" means first that one was "un-chosen," reinforcing adoptees' lowered self-concept. Society promulgates the idea that the "good" adoptee is the one who is not curious and accepts adoption without question. At the other extreme of the continuum is the "bad" adoptee who is constantly questioning, thereby creating feelings of rejection in the adoptive parents.
Birthparents frequently condemn themselves for being irresponsible, as does society. Adoptive parents may inadvertently create fantasies for the adoptee about the birth family which reinforce these feelings of rejection. For example, adoptive parents may block an adolescent adoptee's interest in searching for birthparents by stating that the birthparents may have married and had other children. The implication is clear that the birthparents would consider contact with the adoptee an unwelcome intrusion.
Adoptive parents may sense that their bodies have rejected them if they are infertile. This impression may lead the infertile couple, for example, to feel betrayed or rejected by God. When they come to adoption, the adoptors, possibly unconsciously, anticipate the birthparents' rejection and criticism of their parenting. Adoptive parents struggle with issues of entitlement, wondering if perhaps they were never meant to be parents, especially to this child. The adopting family, then, may watch for the adoptee to reject them, interpreting many benign, childish actions as rejection. To avoid that ultimate rejection, some adoptive parents expel or bind adolescent adoptees prior to the accomplishment of appropriate emancipation tasks.

The sense of deserving such rejection leads triad members to experience tremendous guilt and shame. They commonly believe that there is something intrinsically wrong with them or their deeds that caused the losses to occur. Most triad members have internalized, romantic images of the American family which remain unfulfilled because there is no positive, realistic view of the adoptive family in our society.
For many triad members, the shame of being involved in adoption per se exists passively, often without recognition. The shame of an unplanned pregnancy, or the crisis of infertility, or the shame of having been given up remains unspoken, often as an unconscious motivator.
Adoptees suggest that something about their very being caused the adoption. The self-accusation is intensified by the secrecy often present in past and present adoption practices. These factors combine to lead the adoptee to conclude that the feelings of guilt and shame are indeed valid.
Adoptive parents, when they are diagnosed as infertile, frequently believe that they must have committed a grave sin to have received such a harsh sentence. They are ashamed of themselves, of their defective bodies, of their inability to bear children.
Birthparents feel tremendous guilt and shame for having been intimate and sexual; for the very act of conception, they find themselves guilty.

Every loss in adoption must be grieved. The losses in adoption, however, are difficult to mourn in a society where adoption is seen as a problem-solving event filled with joy. There are no rituals to bury the unborn children; no rites to mark off the loss of role of caretaking parents; no ceremonies for lost dreams or unknown families. Grief washes over triad members' lives, particularly at times of subsequent loss or developmental transitions.
Triad members can be assisted at any point in the adoption experience by learning about and discussing the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Kubler-Ross 1969).
Adoptees in their youth find it difficult to grieve their losses, although they are in many instances aware of them, even as young children. Youngsters removed from abusive homes are expected to feel only relief and gratitude, not loss and grief. Adults block children's expressions of pain or attempt to divert them. In addition, due to developmental unfolding of cognitive processes, adoptees do not fully appreciate the total impact of their losses into their adolescence or, for many, into adulthood. This delayed grief may lead to depression or acting out through substance abuse or aggressive behaviors.
Birthparents may undergo an initial, brief, intense period of grief at the time of the loss of the child, but are encouraged by well-meaning friends and family to move on in their lives and to believe that their child is better off. The grief, however, does not vanish, and, in fact, it has been reported that birth mothers may deny the experience for up to ten years (Campbell 1979).
Adoptive Pants' grief over the inability to bear children is also blocked by family and friends who encourage the couple to adopt, as if children are interchangeable. The grief of the adoptive parents continues as the child grows up since the adoptee can never fully meet the fantasies and expectations of the adoptive parents.

Adoption may also threaten triad members' sense of identity. Triad members often express feelings related to confused identity and identity crises, particularly at times of unrelated loss.
Identity is defined both by what one is and what one is not. In adoption, birthparents are parents and are not. Adoptive parents who were not parents suddenly become parents. Adoptees born into one family, a family probably nameless to them now, lose an identity and then borrow one from the adopting family.
Adoption, for some, precludes a complete or integrated sense of self. Triad members may experience themselves as incomplete, deficient, or unfinished. They state that they lack feelings of well-being, integration, or solidity associated with a fully developed identity.
Adoptees lacking medical, genetic, religious, and historical information are plagued by questions such as: Who are they? Why were they born? Were they in fact merely a mistake, not meant to have been born, an accident? This lack of identity may lead adoptees, particularly in adolescent years, to seek out ways to belong in more extreme fashion than many of their non-adopted peers. Adolescent adoptees are overrepresented among those who join sub-cultures, run away, become pregnant, or totally reject their families.
For many couples in our society a sense of identity is tied to procreation. Adoptive parents may lose that sense of generativity, of being fled to the past and future, often created through procreation.
Adoptive parents and birthparents share a common experience of role confusion. They are handicapped by the lack of positive identity associated with being either a birthparent or adoptive parent (Kirk 1964). Neither set of parents can lay full claim to the adoptee and neither can gain distance from any problems that may arise.

The multiple, ongoing losses in adoption, coupled with feelings of rejection, shame, and grief as well as an incomplete sense of self, may impede the development of intimacy for triad members. One maladaptive way to avoid possible reenactment of previous losses is to avoid closeness and commitment.
Adoptive parents report that their adopted children seem to hold back a part of themselves in the relationship. Adoptive mothers indicate, for example, that even as an infant, the adoptee was "not cuddly.'' Many adoptees as teens state that they truly have never felt close to anyone. Some youngsters declare a lifetime emptiness related to a longing for the birthmother they may have never seen.
Due to these multiple losses for both adoptees and adoptive parents, there may also have been difficulties in early bonding and attachment. For children adopted at older ages, multiple disruptions in attachment and/or abuse may interfere with relationships in the new family (Fahlberg 1979 a,b).
The adoptee's intimacy issues are particularly evident in relationships with members of the opposite sex and revolve around questions about the adoptee's conception, biological and genetic concerns, and sexuality.
The adoptive parents' couple relationship may have been irreparably harmed by the intrusive nature of medical procedures and the scapegoating and blame that may have been part of the diagnosis of infertility. These residual effects may become the hallmark of the later relationship.
Birthparents may come to equate sex, intimacy, and pregnancy with pain leading them to avoid additional loss by shunning intimate relationships. Further, birthparents may question their ability to parent a child successfully. In many instances, the birthparents fear intimacy in relationships with opposite sex partners, family or subsequent children.

Adoption alters the course of one's life. This shift presents triad members with additional hurdles in their development, and may hinder growth, self-actualization, and the evolution of self-control.
Birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees are all forced to give up control. Adoption, for most, is a second choice. Birthparents did not grow up with romantic images of becoming accidentally pregnant or abusing their children and surrendering them for adoption. In contrast, the pregnancy or abuse is a crisis situation whose resolution becomes adoption. In order to solve the predicament, birthparents must surrender not only the child but also their volition, leading to feelings of victimization and powerlessness which may become themes in birthparents' lives.
Adoptees are keenly aware that they were not party to the decision which led to their adoption. They had no- control over the loss of the birth family or the choice of the adoptive family. The adoption proceeded with adults making life-altering choices for them. This unnatural change of course impinges on growth toward self-actualization and self-control. Adolescent adoptees, attempting to master the loss of control they have experienced in adoption, frequently engage in power struggles with adoptive parents and other authority figures. They may lack internalized self-control, leading to a lowered sense of self-responsibility. These patterns, frequently passive/aggressive in nature, may continue into adulthood.
For adoptive parents, the intricacies of the adoption process lead to feelings of helplessness. These feelings sometimes cause adoptive parents to view themselves as powerless, and perhaps entitled to be parents, leading to laxity in parenting. As an alternative response, some adoptive parents may seek to regain the lost control by becoming overprotective and controlling, leading to rigidity in the parent/adoptee relationship.

The experience of adoption, then can be one of loss, rejection, guilt/shame, grief, diminished identity, thwarted intimacy, and threats to self-control and to the accomplishment of mastery. These seven core or lifelong issues permeate the lives of triad members regardless of the circumstances of the adoption.
Identifying these core issues can assist triad members and professionals in establishing an open dialogue and alleviating some of the pain and isolation which so often characterize adoption. Triad members may need professional assistance in recognizing that they may have become trapped in the negative feelings generated by the adoption experience. Armed with this new awareness, they can choose to catapult themselves into growth and strength.
Triad members may repeatedly do and undo their adoption experiences in their minds and in their vacillating behaviors while striving toward mastery. They will benefit from identifying, exploring and ultimately accepting the role of the seven core issues in their lives.
The following tasks and questions will help triad members and professionals explore the seven core issues in adoption:
  • List the losses, large and small, that you have experienced in adoption.
  • Identify the feelings associated with these losses.
  • What experiences in adoption have led to feelings of rejection?
  • Do you ever see yourself rejecting others before they can reject you? When?
  • What guilt or shame do you feel about adoption?
  • What feelings do you experience when you talk about adoption?
  • Identify your behaviors at each of the five stages of the grief process. Have you accepted your losses?
  • How has adoption impacted your sense of who you are?