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November 2011

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« It's Really *Not* That Difficult | Main

November 16, 2011



"I had to work that much harder at feeling worthy, loved and wanted in life."

Yes, this exactly.

People often want to know if it is enough to have been loved and wanted by adoptive parents and don't understand the additional struggle that comes with having a period of time in your life where a switch from one parent(s) to another had to be made. In order to gain the love of an adoptive family, I had to first lose the opportunity to be loved by my first mother--that is not something the typical biologically-raised child has to deal with. Sometimes it takes some extra-convincing that I'm worthy of that love (and ironically enough, my adoptive name means "worthy to be loved").

Paula O.

Absolutely, Amanda. The loss of that opportunity and all of the losses and complexities that accompanies the profound loss of our first parents. . . the internalized messages that we harbor of why we were left or placed and often not having the language or capacity to fully understand that it's not our fault, the physiological effects and how that affects the brain development for many adoptees and of course just the grieving from being separated from our first mothers.

It is a lot for a child to carry. I see how hard my son has to work and recognize that same struggle in many young adoptees that I know and work with.


Paula, As always, I so appreciate what you write. My daughter is 4 and we are just at the cusp of when she will start to understand her loss. My heart already breaks for her a million times over. I do hope we adoptive parents of this generation can do better but I know we have our work cut out for us.


Yes, yes, yes. I would add though it doesn't end with adoption, it just begins. Then we are given the message, well most of us anyway, that we must be grateful to have whatever we have. Every little bit in away that is dishonest. I mean honest gratitude feels wonderful, I have a lot of that but enforced gratitude with the underlying message being I don't deserve to have a place at the table is awful.


I am only slightly amazed that the average person does not seem to understand this concept but aghast that adoptive parents seem to miss that so often. I now use every opportunity to educate people that adoption isn't sunshine and rainbows but definitely NOT when my kids are around. They do not need to be examples or educators for the good or bad until it is their choice.

kristen howerton

Thank you for sharing this. I have two kids by adoption and two by birth, and I see how this manifests for them as well. It is definitely more difficult for my child who spent several years in an orphanage to give and receive love . . it's painful, as a mom, to see him resist affection and to know the hurt that is underneath.

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