I was placed with my adoptive family at four weeks old in 1970.
I was placed with my adoptive family at four weeks old in 1970. My adoptive parents have always been very loving and have always treated me as 'their' daughter. I have an older brother who is also adopted, although sadly we are not close.
I know from reading my adoption file that my birth mother did the very best for me and right up until she gave me up was struggling with her decision. I also know from the notes in the file that she suffered from depression afterwards. The social worker who dealt with my case kept very detailed notes of all contact with all the parties right up until the official adoption, six months after I was born.
What I think people miss in the whole adoption scenario from the adoptee’s perspective is that no matter how loving a family is that adopts a child, the feeling of rejection for an adoptee is immeasurable and in my experience never really leaves one. I have suffered the most excruciating lack of self esteem and confidence my entire life. I'm nearly 40 now and am only just really trusting my own judgement, making decisions confidently and am becoming more 'whole' as an adult. This is due largely to five years of counselling that I sought after the death of my adoptive mother.
Sadly I've not been the parent I would have strived to be, had my starting situation in life been more positive, although I have loved my children enough for several life times, but not always as constructively or as confidently as I would have liked to. At times they have borne my burden through my depression possibly as if it were their own. They too, now they are older, tell me that their sense of identity feels compromised, something not many people realise I suspect.
I have found my birth father now. We are not pursuing a relationship. However, having many pieces of my puzzle has helped more than I could ever have imagined. Life after adoption can be good but we should remember that life after adoption also means just that.
Editor’s note: Thanks for sharing your story with us…It’s good that you have learned how much your mother struggled with her placement of you for adoption. It’s hard to know how much pressure she was under from others, but her hope was probably to give you what she thought was a better life even though she had to make a huge personal sacrifice. It may be that you now believe you would rather have been with her in her circumstances, and feel you didn’t get what you needed, but she probably did the best with what she knew at the time. She was always positively intended towards you, have no doubt.
The sense of rejection isn’t an issue for every adopted person. That can be due to the beliefs we have about our own situations, beliefs that we often develop, find evidence for and reinforce as we negotiate our way through the normal trials of childhood. It’s good that you have had some counselling and feel you are now growing as a whole person. I hope that as you now approach 40 - which can be a challenging age to face - you will find enough healing that enables your identity to hang on the many other positive aspects of your life as a person who is intrinsically valuable and has a contribution to make, rather than on the ‘I was adopted’ hook that has become, for you, limiting and negative.
This story was sent in on 22/02/2009
Our son was born on Boxing Day. He has Down’s syndrome.