What Adoptees Often Wish People Knew
Written by Andrea Pastoor
That being adopted rarely feels like a gift
Adoption is complicated, and there are so many layers to all that it means to be adopted. For all involved, the reasons for adoption is usually varied, complex and often arises due to unforeseen circumstances.
People often perceive adoption as a gift, an opportunity to live a life that you would not have had had not the adoption entered the picture.
However, adoption is also a silent and lonely path that is rarely given the time or space to be acknowledged due to common beliefs and misunderstandings about it.
Many adoptees wish others could see how much grief and loss is associated to living life through the lens of adoption.
As an adoptee, grief is something I am very familiar with.
When I was younger, adoption was never seen as something traumatic and definitely not something to be grieved. Adoption can both be beautiful, and also full of sorrow. In my view, it is exchanging one family for another, and with that comes many complex layers on an emotional level for all involved, including the birth family, the adoptee themselves, and the adoptive family.
Something that most people fail to recognize is the reality that adoptees hold not only their own story, but also the family story of their birth family and as well as their adopted family.
Often, we hold these stories simultaneously and on our own, and at any moment we are often having to navigate the nuances of the different family stories, expectations, and flaws that come alongside it.
Frequently, our own story as an adoptee is silenced or not fully heard.
This is a very heavy burden to carry.
We rarely speak about adoption related issues to others …
… who aren’t adopted due to the fear of not being understood.
Since much of an adoptee’s story has not been heard by those around them, it is often difficult to trust or believe that people would understand what it is like to be an adoptee. As a result, many of us have found that it can take time to open up to loved ones and those we trust.
Even talking to a therapist about adoption can take time, and in my case, it took years before I felt like I could venture to speak about adoption related issues to my own therapist.
If an adoptee shares about their adoption on a deep level, know you are on sacred ground and appreciate the trust that is being given to you as a result. When an adoptee shares, be curious and allow them to open up to you in their own timing.
As hard as it might be, don’t be distracted by a “shiny” story and know that underneath their adoption is frequently a lot of big emotions, and a lot that has to be navigated as a result.
If you are an adoptee, an adoptive parent, if you have given a child for adoption or impacted by adoption in any other way, I would be honoured to hear your story.
Meet our Adoptions Counsellor