I saw a photo today (see below) This book cover reminded me of this excerpt and chapter in my memoir.
Four Traumas (published in 2012) (10 years later, republished in 2022)
I believe there are four distinct traumas in being an adoptee. They are: 1) in utero, when you feel what is happening to you or sense what is coming; 2) when you are delivered, abandoned, and handed to strangers; 3) later when you are told you are adopted and realize fully what it means; and 4) when you realize you are different, from a different culture or country, and you can’t contact your people, or know them, or have the information you need to find them.
It took me years to get this. There are more traumas, too – like when I’d fill out forms at the doctor’s office. I had no medical history. I had no idea if I was sitting next to someone who could be my biological brother, sister, mother or father. It was terrifying to think I could marry my own relative! I could carry a gene or trait that I pass down to my children – and I wouldn’t know until it’s too late. If my birthparents were alcoholics, then I really shouldn’t drink. I could be pre-disposed to diabetes or heart disease or cancer or depression and not even know. My list went on and on.
In 2006, I found out my birthmother had diabetes, which came as another shock.
I realize a powerful link exists between what I’m feeling, and what happens in my body. Years ago I’d use emotional binging, working more than one job, creating drama, just to numb my emotional pain. By 18 I was a total workaholic! I blamed myself and hated myself for everything. What grief, too young to understand. My birthmother’s rejection destroyed my ability to trust anyone.
There may be some adoptees who do not wish to heal this and go on as they are, holding on to these sad feelings and self-pity, rather than do the mental work to heal. Recognizing a pattern of belief is tough, partly because you gain sympathy by stealing (or sucking) energy from others when you act sick. That is no way to live. You need to be your own person, self-energizing, and not steal energy from anyone.
Adoptees are meant to survive this, no matter who we are or how we were traumatized. It’s a test.Can we heal our own minds? Yes.Can we love two families? Yes.Can we take our recovery and story back to our families? Definitely.
Some adoptees believe that when we meet mother or father, all pain and agony will disappear. That sadly is just hope. That is not the way it works. A reunion is just one step on the journey and it helps, but there are many many more steps just as difficult. It’s truly a test.
I’m uneasy around new people, reserved and shy at times. I’ve lived through many disappointments. It’s very upsetting to find out about orphan trauma now, years later, knowing no one bothered to tell me or help me while I was experiencing it.
After multiple traumas, which I’ll describe, I came to terms with it… eventually.