The Characteristics of Adoption - Rejection
It's a Long Journey...
The lifelong aspects of adoption will either continue in a direction that will manifest in outward displays of pain, or as they are recognized and acknowledge, the individuals can proactively change a negative course. By embracing each aspect of the adoption grid, whether the person is part of the birth family, the adoptive family, or the adoptee, the ability to confront and gain mastery over any negative impact is possible.
...Full of Pain and Joy
Adoption has the ability to create intense pain and equally intense joy. All parties involved in adoption experience the emotional journey, albeit from different perspectives. There is a commonality in each aspect of the characteristics of adoption for everyone concerned. It is this commonality that opens the door to dialogue between participants and it makes room for professional counselors to interact and intervene in ways that are both proactive and helpful. All of the characteristics of adoption evolve from the nature of adoption and how it impacts individuals and families.
The Power of Emotional Loss
The initial emotion that affects all of those involved in the adoption is loss. The birth parent(s) experience the loss of the biological child with whom they have a genetic connection. The adopting parents have already experienced the loss of a dream child, whether through failed fertility efforts, death or miscarriage. The adoptee, even if there is no awareness or recognition of the fact, experiences the loss of birth parents. All of these losses for all of these people extend throughout their lifetimes, gradually building one on top of the other. They are never forgotten completely and will have an effect upon their lives.
The sense of loss is made more acute by the intense feelings of rejection. In order to cope, personalizing the rejection makes it more palatable. Questions like, "What did I do wrong to deserve this?" can cause serious self-degradation. There is, as a result, a heightened sensitivity to rejection and any interaction that can be construed as rejection usually is. The individuals will avoid situations wherein they think they may be rejected, or they will do things to prove the point, causing situations where rejection is displayed, validating the negative belief.
"Chosen" for Rejection
For the person who is adopted, there is almost no other way to perceive their adoption other than rejection. Even though they may be referred to as "chosen", they are acutely aware that in order to be chosen they must first be rejected by choice. This whittles away at the sense of self-worth that is already very fragile. Asking questions exacerbates the issue for many adoptees because it causes reaction and rejection from the adoptive family. It's a vicious cycle and requires the skill of a professional to help unravel.
Birth Parents' Pain
The rejection felt by birth parent(s) stems from the feelings of condemnation that come from society and from families and friends because of the irresponsibility attached to the birth. Additionally, adoptive parents may further these feelings in the adoptee by creating stories that reinforce the idea that the child was not wanted. A case in point may be telling a child who wants to find his birth parents that they may be married and have other children. The fear that brings this behavior on also estranges the child even more and lets him know that he would be invading the privacy of the birth parents. Of course, the end result is further rejection.
Coping with Rejection as Adoptive Parents
The adoptive parents, in cases of infertility, experience the rejection of their own bodies and even a sense of betrayal from God. There are also myriad unconscious sentiments around the possibility of being rejected by the birth parents as not good enough or raising the child incompetently. The concept of whether or not they should even be parents increases the feelings of rejection setting the stage for anticipating rejection from the child. In a bid to circumvent the pain associated with rejection, adoptive parents may push the child away. Again, it becomes a vicious cycle for both the adoptive parents and the child.
Identifying and exploring the rejection issues are part of the way to wholeness for all members of the adoption.