Conflicting Emotions of Adoption
It Starts with Loss
As we explore the dynamic of emotions that are characteristic in adoptions, we discover there are several that are consistent within the lives of all parties involved in the experience. The birth family, the adoptee, and the adoptive family all experience the same chain of emotions, although peculiar to their own position in the process.
The core issues evolve out of the very nature of adoption and are therefore constant and lifelong. How the individuals deal with them determines how their lives proceed - either positively or with negative baggage. The help of professionals who know the issues and how to help people through them is key to living well emotionally.
Top 3 Triggers Of Guilt & Shame?
The sense of loss felt by each member of the adoption process and the attendant feeling of rejection can pave the way to feelings of guilt and shame. Players in the adoption process may feel they deserve rejection for having:
· Given up a child to adoption as a result of unplanned pregnancy or inability to afford to keep the child (birth parent(s)
· Been unworthy of their birth parents or feeling unwanted as a result of being put up for adoption (adoptee)
· Failed at having a biological child of their own, or having lost a child (adoptive parents)
They feel there is something wrong with them or with what they did that caused their losses to happen. The shame and guilt of the abovementioned points can often be felt internally and may not consciously be recognized, yet they are unconscious motivators.
Feelings of Being Punished
Children who have been adopted often feel that it is their fault their birth parents didn't keep them, and if their adoption has been kept secret from them for a lengthy period (as has been the case in many adoptions from past decades), then the guilt and shame of not being "born into" the adoptive family becomes an issue. These issues validate the shame.
Adoptive parents, having had to deal with infertility or loss of a child may look at their situation as one of being punished. They may feel they did something very wrong in order to be excluded from the possibility of having children of their own. And the birth parents usually deal with shame and guilt for having partaken of stolen or guilty pleasures, being intimate and having a child.
The Need to Grieve
This guilt and shame, the losses and rejection are all consistent with adoption. As with any other type of loss, the losses experienced in adoption need to be grieved. Yet, they are difficult to mourn when society views adoption as an event to be celebrated as a problem-solving, happy occasion. How does one grieve an unborn child? There are no ways to mark the loss of parenting nor are there commemorations to families that never existed. Grief is often expressed in future times of loss or transitions.
Learning How to Deal with It All
Children who are adopted may find it difficult to get in touch with the grief attached to the adoption and express it. If they have been rescued from abuse, they are supposed to be happy not feeling sorrow for being taken from their situation. Often adults circumvent the child's feelings of pain, diverting the expression and making it seem as though it is wrong for the child to feel grief. Most children do not understand the depth of the loss and what it means to them, and unless they get help to recognize and work through it, it may later manifest in aggressive behaviors or acting out through substance abuse, depression, or eating disorders.
There are five stages to grief:
By working through these stages with a counselor or professional, each member of the adoption process can access their emotions, mourn their loss, and move forward into healthier emotional growth.