Do I want to know??

liz story adoptee searchAhhhh, the ultimate question for an adoptee…. Do I want to know who my birth parents are? It’s a very personal choice and there are many different factors involved in making that choice: medical history, ancestry curiosity, and a need to know why are just a few. I think it is interesting that there are a lot of people out there who have absolutely no desire to know. I can’t relate to that and would love to understand that feeling. Some have told me that they had such a great childhood and are so close to their family that they feel fulfilled enough that the knowledge of the birth parents would be unnecessary and might even disturb the balance and happiness they have. Then there are some who strictly want a medical history and nothing more. For others, even that happy childhood couldn’t suppress the curiosity, such as the case with me. I am part of the “I just gotta know” crowd! As hard as it is for the adoptees, it is also very hard for the adoptive parents. It is human nature to want to know who created you but it is also human nature for a mom and dad to feel insecure about that. My mom really struggled with my desire and ultimate search for my birth mother. It was hard but I continuously encouraged my mom and let her know that no one could ever replace her. In the end, she and my birth mother met and formed a beautiful friendship and everyone is happy! The moral of the story is that there needs to be a mutual understanding and compassion between adoptive parents and the child. Parents need to give their child the space they need to figure it out without having to feel guilty and the child needs to give the parents space to feel insecure and uneasy. Both need to communicate openly, freely, and often about their feelings so it can be addressed and resolved quickly.

60% of Americans have a personal connection to adoption

adoption statisticThat seems like a low number to me. I wonder what criteria they use to determine a personal connection. It seems like 90% of the time I tell someone I’m adopted they tell me they have a personal connection to adoption. My colleague told another colleague that I was adopted and he had a lot of questions for me because he had just adopted a girl. It was a different circumstance and not the typical adoption of a newborn. He had adopted a family member’s daughter when her mother died of cancer. The girl is 8 years old. Of course these are awful circumstances for the child but she will probably not suffer from the typical feelings of abandonment most adoptees feel at least not in the traditional sense. She may wonder why her mom had to leave her by passing away but she was not given up so it is a little different. Yet as we continued to talk, I found that many of the challenges remain the same. How can they make this young girl feel like she fits in and is a natural part of their family unit? Will the young girl appreciate what they’ve done and agree that it was for the best? I told him as I would tell any adoptive parent no matter what the circumstances of the adoption – love her and don’t treat her any differently than you treat your other children. That is the foundation for building confidence and trust and if you have that, you have the foundation for happiness. When all else fails, seek counseling because life is too short to live with worry, anxiety and stress.

If you can’t make everyone happy, then at least make yourself happy!

adoptee happyI am a people pleaser. It is my greatest fault and my greatest attribute all at once. I am happy if I’ve made someone else happy, which seems like a win-win situation but it becomes a problem if you’re trying to make multiple people happy in a situation where pleasing one person, displeases another. Then you might try to solve that problem by prioritizing the people you’re dealing with. Let’s say you’d rather please your spouse than your parent, or vice-versa. Another factor is the guilt level. How guilty will you feel by not doing what that person wants you to do and then of course, what are the consequences you will suffer? I will sometimes figure out a plan and then immediately regret it because someone lets me know they don’t like that. So then I back-track and change the plan to make that person happy then someone else is unhappy about it. All the while I’m trying to protect everyone’s feeling and tip toe around a solution and then all of a sudden I’M OVERWHELMED! (sigh)….And then I start beating myself up for not doing the right thing in the beginning. I learned that in these situations I should just do what makes ME happy. It’s very hard to do, but when I’ve been able to do it, everything has magically worked out where everyone is happy! When I make other people happy, I am happy and the cycle continues hehe….

Don’t let your circumstances define you!

adoptee circumstances

Are you a glass half full or glass half empty kind of person? The answer to that question determines how you let circumstances define you. A positive attitude will get you anywhere and everywhere you want to go in life! You’ve heard of visualizing your wants and needs and then they come to fruition? Well bringing positivity to every aspect of your life will do the same thing! Who isn’t drawn to people who are always smiling and laughing? At work, if you’re always presenting a positive attitude and smile people will begin to ask for you and want to work with you. That could lead to promotions and respect in your organization. At home, either with your family or in a relationship, bringing a positive attitude to a tenuous situation can resolve it peacefully. It’s no different with how you handle the circumstances you are given that are out of your control. I was adopted. It is a circumstance in my life I can’t change but I found the positive in that situation and have lived my life not as a victim but as someone that was given the gift of life. All birth mothers have a choice when they find themselves pregnant. One of those choices is abortion. But we are all here because our birth mothers chose life for us. Not only that, they chose an alternate life that has the possibility of being great. No matter what situation we’re given (or the cards we’re dealt) it is up to us what we do with it. We can make it positive or play the victim. Playing a victim will guarantee you are a victim your whole life. Be determined NOT to be the victim and you will enjoy a fruitful life.

Crossroads

adoptee crossroads

Is there anything harder than being at a crossroads in your life? I hate gambling and making a decision at the fork in the road is just like gambling. Left vs Right… what’s down that road versus the other road? What kind of consequences will I face by choosing one over the other? The trick is committing to the decision you make. Once you’ve made the decision, don’t go back and think, what if. Even if you’ve made the wrong choice there is a way to turn it into a positive and learn from it. I faced a crossroad when making the decision of whether or not to contact my birth father. He had no idea my birth mother was ever pregnant with his baby so he first had to be told he had a child! I struggled for days on whether or not I wanted my birth mother to tell him about me. What if he had this perfect life going and the news would disrupt his happiness? But if he wasn’t told then I would wonder every day of my life how he would’ve reacted to the news. I had to decide out of the two worst case scenarios, which one could I live with? I decided I could live with the possibility that the news of my existence could possibly disrupt his happy life. My birth mother gave him the news. He had nothing to say, nothing to ask and no desire to know me. THAT, I can live with…. Never knowing what that reaction would have been would’ve tormented me! I had to make the decision and I had to commit to it and it turned out just fine! Crossroads are a gamble and you have to be prepared to deal with worst case scenarios either way but whatever you do, don’t live with regrets!

Inspiration… It’s inside of you!

adoptee inspirationDon’t look for inspiration from others but rather from within. When you find it, then others will be inspired by you. Isn’t it the same when we look for happiness? Why do we continue to search for people who will make us happy? I think it’s pretty common mantra now that happiness comes from within. Naturally, when you’re happy whoever you’re with will be happy too. If not, they can kick rocks! Adoptees that are unsettled and searching for their birth families thinking it will bring them happiness come crashing down hard and fast when they do find the birth family and realize they are still miserable on the inside. It’s no different when someone thinks they’ll finally be happy if they just meet that right person and then relationships fail time after time. It’s because they’re not happy with themselves. I know finding happiness within is easier said than done, right? All it takes is focus. When you stop focusing on senseless people who are sucking the life out of you and put that focus on yourself is when you will start to find it. Do things for yourself instead of waiting for them to happen to you. That takes energy and like I said, take the energy from senseless people/things and apply it to making things happen for you. Hmmm, just writing this makes me feel inspired!

Emotions…like a box of chocolates. Never know what you’re going to get but you can control how they make you feel!

adoptee chocolates

What causes us to feel a certain way? I think a lot of how we feel comes from perception. There are adoptees out there that weren’t adopted from birth. Some tell me that they never felt like they belonged because they always knew they were adopted and came from somewhere else. One particular adoptee told me that she had negative feelings because she was 3 ½ years old when she was adopted. Sadly, her biological mother’s friend dropped her off at an orphanage and then she was adopted. I asked her if she had memories of that and she said no. So how does she still feel to this day that she never belonged and out of place? I asked her if her parents treated her nicely and she said yes, she had a great family. So my question is if you don’t ever remember NOT being a part of that family and was raised in a decent home with parents, brother, cousins, aunts and uncles, how do you FEEL that abandonment? If I burn my hand, I feel the pain and likely won’t forget it. If I never feel that burn, I don’t feel the pain. However, if I tell myself daily that I did burn my hand and that it really hurt then eventually I’m going to simply feel that emotion even though I don’t remember the physical act of burning my hand. My theory is that she doesn’t feel this way because of her personal memories but a perception that she created for herself throughout her life. In her mind, she always told herself I’m adopted and I don’t belong here. It’s no wonder after telling herself that over and over her whole life that she took on the feeling of not belonging. Not to say her life was perfect and she should’ve been perfectly happy, however, I believe we can control our emotions. We choose how to process those events in our lives. If you want to be a happy person, then create that perception for yourself! Perception always becomes reality. Enjoy the yummy chocolates and throw away the bitter ones.

Finding Ourselves, Finding “Self”

adoptee puzzle

I always thought the moment I met my birth mother would be this magical moment with imaginary fireworks because I would all of a sudden know who I am! Although meeting her was indeed magical (sans fireworks) and answered many questions it actually presented more possibilities to who I am instead of a definitive explanation. It was just another piece of the puzzle of my life. I didn’t know it then, but I was still in the process of gathering puzzle pieces. Our journey is about how we process those puzzle pieces; positively or negatively. We are in control of where those puzzle pieces go and how they fit together. Each life changing event, mistake we make, what we learn from those mistakes are all puzzle pieces. It took many years and many mistakes to feel like I finally know who I am inside and out. And it didn’t happen from meeting my birth mother.

Where We Are Today Is Where Our Minds Put Us