Good Grief – can I get over it?
Hi, there I am Fiona I’m an adoptee. I was adopted at 8 months old after being in two different foster placements and 2 hospital stays. I have my great-niece from the family I was adopted out of on a Special Guardianship Order. Unusual I know but it’s working well.
Well is there such a thing as adoptee grief? And is it any different to everyday grief?
Grief – Because grief obeys its own trajectory, there is no timetable for feelings of pain after loss; nor is it possible to avoid suffering altogether. In fact, attempts to suppress or deny grief are just as likely to prolong the process, while also demanding additional emotional effort. (Taken from psychology today)
No timetable for feelings of pain after loss. I lost my parent straight after birth. The first thing she said as she went into the hospital in labour was that I had to be put up for adoption. Thanks, Mum. I have wondered why over the past few months as it’s news that has recently come to light for me. I sent off for my adoption files for the simple reason to corroborate what I had detailed in my book. Shocker alert….. It corroborated nothing exce
The pain of being told I was adopted was not something I could articulate as a child, the words used and what they meant were difficult to fathom at 6 and 7 and 8. I would say the hammer hit home at around 10. So for me, grief hit me hard at 10 years of age, running concurrently my hormones decided to kick in as well. I was experiencing the pain of loss in two places at the same time.
a) Loss of who I thought I was
b) Loss of my childhood
As my hormones began to bring about changes in my body, my mind also began to go through changes at the same time. I began to brood on the fact that I had been taken from my real family, no matter how often I was told that I was chosen and all the nice things adopters are advised to tell their adopted child I still had it in my mind that I had been taken. I began to notice how different I looked. I looked nothing like my little sister or my big brother. I started to grieve for what could have been.
I was so angry about it all. I had no idea I was grieving my own loss. My behaviour at school went really bad very quickly and although I was actually quite clever, I struggled to concentrate, everyone and everything was getting on my nerves. I left school with no passes in any subject at all. I lashed out at the smallest annoyance. My grief was not able to be reconciled because it was only recognised as me being an ungrateful, badly behaved young girl. I vividly remember being held down by my brother while he searched through my hair for the 666 mark. “The Omen” was all the rage at the time. Although done in jest it still left me feeling that I was considered evil. To be fair at that point in my life I may well have deserved that title.
So Where Did the Grief Go?
No matter that even in my initial loss of my natural family I had gained an exceptionally good, loving and stable family. I was unable to appreciate that in my stages of grief. I tried drugs, I tried alcohol and sex as ways to deal with what I was feeling. None of them helped only adding to the trauma and grief I was already finding too hard to manage. Some of the awful things that happened to me in those wilderness years were traumatic, to say the least. I thank God that my parents never gave up on me. They set boundaries to protect themselves as that is important too. The grief just went into the back of my mind covered over with layers of drugs, alcohol and more.
It wasn’t until many years later as a Christian, sober and drug-free that I finally began to look at the destruction I had caused and been through, and, an element of peace began to form around the whole adopted thing. I had great conversations with my Mum about how she felt in the midst of my madness. (will write about that in future blogs)
I found that professional grief counselling really helped me. I have also had a few sessions of trauma therapy which was also helpful. Writing my books and committing to writing this year-long blog of my experiences is also helping me and I do hope that it can help others too. Being part of adoption groups has been so enlightening to know that I am not strange or odd for feeling the way that I do. To know that I am not alone in finding it so hard to articulate my feelings to people. Because even now I still struggle in some areas.
Phew, Big breath out, it’s okay to just be me. And it is okay for you to just be you too.
We can walk through our grief, we can talk to others about how it was for us. It has been something that has been my nemesis for far too long. Not anymore! Some of my stuff I wrote on a big piece of paper took it out the back and set fire to it. It felt great to do that. There are probably some things in my story, mind and life that can never be reconciled but for me, I choose to go forward and try to share as honestly as I can to help others.
Thank you for reading my blogging journey so far. Next Monday I will be sharing on The cuckoo in the nest.