Erin E. McEndree
Adoption: 3 Identities; Separate but Bound
Adoption can be traumatic; there is no doubt about it. Adoptive parents, adoptees and biological parents are bound together with invisible tethers that cannot be broken, only managed. Although we lead separate lives, we affect one another even if we have never met. And if we do meet, a whole new set of issues are created to navigate. Each of us has a different set of issues to work out individually. However, feelings, emotions and actions are affected by the feelings, emotions and actions of the others in ways we don’t even realize. All three identities are unique and separate, yet bound together with tethers that influence our ideas about humanity, our self image and the depth of our spirituality.
Maybe you made adoption part of your child’s identity by weaving the facts of their beginning into their lives from their beginning. This approach does not take away concern about possible future events. You often wonder if your child will search for their biological family. How will they be received? How will your child handle affection towards those ‘strangers’? Will their love for you change? Will the biological mother try to infringe on my relationship with my child? Fears about the unknown can hover like a dark cloud if you dwell on them too often. The cloud will just grow darker and intensify.
You may have kept your child’s adoption a secret. A looming cloud of worry is ever present no matter how far in the rearview mirror it resides. Recurring thoughts of the potential storm are right under the surface if your child finds out the truth. It is stressful year after year. You may secretly agonize about how your child will react to ‘being protected’ if facts rain down about the details of their beginning. Maybe you believe you can hold back the storm by withholding your child’s identity, but the silent, ever-present storm is always there for you. This method almost always backfires and leaves devastation in its wake.
This book encourages you to take measures to secure core beliefs early in your adopted child such as trust, independence, identity and openness so a far better outcome will occur when turbulent adoption issues arise causing emotional disturbances. You can release the tether of worry and put hope in its place.
Knowing you are adopted may help you understand why you feel a certain way. You may feel out of place in your family and a sense that there is something missing. You may feel like you don’t belong because physical attributes are not similar to others in your family. The lack of knowledge about your beginning may consume your thoughts. You may struggle with abandonment and rejection issues which created identity problems and hopelessness. You may have a lack of support for your search.
After meeting your biological family, you may feel like you don’t belong there either. Some meetings are a disaster. Constant feelings of abandonment can contribute to anxiety, depression and fear. Those feelings will seep into your relationships, your self image, your work habits and deplete your spiritual life.
This book emboldens you to build your life on a solid foundation irrelevant of others. It helps you establish your identity so you can feel secure and bold whether you know your biological family or not. In these pages you will come to understand that neither your biological family nor your adoptive family defines you. You can release the tether of being validated by others and put security in its place.
You may have kept the pregnancy a secret from your friends, some family and community and still hold that secret decades later. Maybe your spouse and children do not know the deepest shame living in your heart. You may feel guilt and regret for your decision years ago when you were immature, unsupported and fearful of judgement. You may long to search, but are paralyzed with fear about how your biological child will react or if they even know they were adopted at all. You may agonize over questions like, “Does s/he hate me?” or “Did they have a good life?” You may have decided long ago to stay silent and suppress those feelings. The expectant shock and judgement from others is not worth divulging your secret.
You may be in reunion with the child you relinquished and have to navigate new and different issues. Confusion and judgement from family, friends and a whole new ‘family’ dynamic must be forged through uncharted, tumultuous waters. Overstepping boundaries is always on your mind. Wondering how much contact is too much contact eats at you night and day.
This book implores you to released the tethers of guilt and shame, forgive yourself and navigated a relationship with your biological child and their family with grace.
(Book: Release What Tethers by Erin E. McEndree)