Special, Chosen and Lucky
by Joe Soll, LCSW, DAPA, author of Adoption Healing… a path to recovery, and Co-author of Evil Exchange and Fatal Flight
How many times do we adoptees hear those three words?
They are presumably said with all good intentions, what goes on inside us when we hear them?
If I am special, do I have to follow the rules?
If I am chosen, did I come from a baby supermarket? Why did they pick me?
If I am lucky, what makes me so?
If I am special, why was I available to be chosen?
If I was chosen, did someone unchoose me first?
If I am lucky, why do I hurt so much inside?
If I am special, why does it not feel good when I hear it?
If I am chosen, who were the other contestants?
If am lucky, does that mean my first family was “bad” in some way?
Each time someone says either of those words, it is a reminder that we are adopted. The intent is to make us feel good, not hurt, not think about our natural mothers. Yet each time we hear these words, how can we not on some level think of where we came from? It’s like telling us to not think of pink elephants. Each time we hear the words it causes us internal pain. We may not be conscious of it, but it has to be there.
The reason why we adoptees do so much day-dreaming (which to the uninformed mental health professionals looks like ADD) is because we are constantly (at least unconsciously) trying to figure it all out. Who and why are the biggest unanswered questions and our minds struggle to understand what no one can or will tell us.
There are phobic and counterphobic reactions to pain and fear.
The phobic adoptee tells no one they are adopted.
The counterphobe flaunts being adopted, tells others how special she or he is.
In reality, the loss of our mothers at birth was a trauma of the highest order that is worse than the horrors of war. (Anna Freud) Each time we hear those three words that trauma is stirred up. When we are separated from our mothers we experience their death. There is no difference in losing a mother to death or adoption. Mommy is here, mommy is gone. Poof! Death as far as the infant’s experience goes.
If we are special, does that mean it is good to lose a mom?
If we are chosen, does that mean our parents took us from our mothers on purpose
If we are lucky, does that mean we are lucky our mothers are dead for us?
I like to throw away words that hurt, like the “R” word… Rejection
Maybe we should throw these three words away as well.
Spread the word, throw out “S”, “C” and “L” because they are not what they say they are.
—Joe Soll, LCSW, DAPA, author of Adoption Healing… a path to recovery, and Co-author of Evil Exchange and Fatal Flight
I got the opportunity to hear Joe speak this weekend at a conference in NYC on the affects of separation on adoptees and first moms. I learned so much about myself and will share further on my blog later this week. As I sat listening to Joe I wished I had a gang of adoptive parents with me so they could hear and understand why some adoptees do what they do.