I’m a writer. Not because I’ve ever been labeled one or hired solely for writing. Writing is my therapy. For me it’s cathartic and healing. I can express my thoughts in a way that won’t seem to come out orally. They come out in written form.— Leigh Bailey
The ever present inferiority complex. It follows me around like a stray dog. In the last few years I’ve laid blame on adoption. Originally being rejected by my own biology.
How many times do we, as adoptees, say something to a single person or a group, and question whether they misinterpreted the way we intended it, or if it offended them.
Social media takes it to another level for me. Every single time I post, I worry if people don’t immediately “like” what I posted. Likes are validation. Someone agrees with me if they like what I said. Someone thinks the picture I post is acceptable because they liked it.
Then there’s the vulnerability of those having the option to comment on my posts. Some comments are obviously positive and reaffirming. However, those which aren’t leave me wishing I hadn’t posted at all. I sometimes delete a post shortly after posting if I don’t receive positive feedback.
Is this an adoptee thing? How does this make our brains feel when we self induce the worry of being accepted? No one is twisting our arm to make us post. We want to because we have life events we’re happy about and like to share. I just wonder if I wasn’t already coping with rejection, would this even be an event for me.
I look at those who could care less about others’ approval with much envy. How do you not care if you’re wanted or accepted? I want to be that person. Needing and wanting to be wanted is a problem deeply hardwired in me. I’m fairly certain it’s very common in adoptees.
I make it a point to reflect back on each day and say to myself, “Self, today was a good day,” or “Self, I thought I could make it through the day without letting something upset me, but I didn’t.” I’ve found the common denominator in my bad days are when I hear or read something which triggers the feeling of being unwanted or not accepted. I declare it makes me snap into shut down, push everyone away from me mode. That’s also an adoptee move. There’s comfort in just knowing I’m not alone in feeling this way, and being able to tie it back to the trauma of being relinquished for adoption. But it still happens.
I take on the problems of those I’m around and closest to as my own. I somehow tie their woes and sorrows into my existing in their life. Thus, making it incredibly difficult to enjoy people. I can hear the most benign statement from someone and immediately convince myself I am to blame. This is about the time I distance myself, or suggest we “take a break” from one another. That solution seems way easier than fixing myself from a lifetime of consistently behaving this way.
I do want to change this pattern. I want to feel wanted and know that if I’m not it’s their loss, not mine. I’m getting there. Admitting that it’s a problem for me, and knowing there’s a reason is better than not. Baby steps.
(Pictured are the first two people I’ve ever known myself to look like. I love my girls.)
Peer support is one of a kind. I say this as I socialize minimally and live out in the country on a road so narrow you have to veer off a little when passing other vehicles to make room for both. Peer support is why we gravitate towards certain people. They get us! Being with or talking with them feels good. I’ve never known anything quite like the comfort of an adoptee peer until several years ago a friend of mine who has three adopted children put me in contact with my friend Anne, a fellow adoptee. While I’ve only met Anne in person once, we text often. I credit Anne with finding my birth father for me. He was a parent/child match for me on Ancestry DNA, then I realized there were about a half a million people in this country with his same name. I had to stalk him first before considering contacting him.
Anne “gets me”. While she had a different experience with her adopted family than I, we took on the same burdens of guilt wanting to know about our biological selves and families. How would that impact our adopted families, our immediate families, and our biological families? We are programmed to take up minimal space and be grateful. Not seek more. She and I both fear rejection. We both grieve. We commiserate. It’s validating for me to know I’m not the only person feeling this way. We’ve also both experienced issues which manifested themselves later in life. And we both know together that IT’S OKAY!
The adoptee FB groups and podcasts have broken the chains free for me to express what’s eaten at me for way too many years. I love my adoptee groups. I love that I’ve never met any of these people, but connect and bond with them.
I’m a 44 year old adoptee who’s experienced reunion as well as secondary rejection. I was relinquished at birth by my mother, and adopted at three days old. I was adopted by a nice family and given a loving home. But there were issues. Adoption was rarely discussed in my home. I felt I was to only be grateful, and not wish for my biological family. I struggled with confidence and feared rejection and abandonment in relationships. I’ve experienced reunion with my biological father who DID NOT know I existed. Reunion brought to life the loss of all those years. I never fully understood what I didn’t have until I finally held it in my heart. I’d spent 42 years thinking, wondering, wishing. I thought I’d combed over every emotion, feeling, possible. But different ones manifested once I met my birth family. It was joy combined with a new form of grief. I’ve reached out to my birth mother who refuses to acknowledge me. I’ve discovered the healing power of verbalizing feelings which I’ve held inside all these years. I believe those who adopt need to understand the importance of being educated on the psyche of an adoptee. They need to fully understand the trauma associated with being given away no matter what age it occurs. It is imperative that adopted parents talk openly about this with adoptees. To acknowledge the trauma and address the grief that accompanies the loss of a biological family helps to unlock your authenticity. Adoptees have an identity aside of their adopted family. It needs to be nourished and accepted. I’m very lucky to have a supportive husband who cheers me on as I journey. In addition, I have two amazing daughters who love and support me, and have learned that life isn’t always wrapped up in a pretty little package. I love writing. It’s the only way I express my thoughts.