Dealing With Adoption Through Counselling
There are many aspects to the subject of adoption, and for those involved it can raise several issues to be addressed.
I have tried to cover some of these within this page, but I am aware that the subject is so wide, that I cannot possibly touch on them all here. Some of the areas involved are:
- Finding out you have been adopted
- Parents who have given their children up for adoption
- Adoptive Parents considering telling their children
This page is addressed in general to the adopted child, but I am happy to talk over any other issues that you may have on the topic.
Finding Out You Are Adopted
People find out that they’re adopted in different ways. These days, it’s not uncommon to find out when you’re so young you might not remember being told, or you might find out when you’re older, or find out accidentally, potentially resulting in shock, disbelief, or perhaps anger. When you find out that you’re adopted you may be experiencing a range of emotions. These may including feeling:
- Stressed and / or anxious
- Surprised or shocked
- Down or depressed
- Embarrassed to tell others
If you are experiencing these feelings it is important to look after yourself. Take time out to do something that you enjoy. Even though you may not feel like it, exercising and eating well can help. If the way you are feeling is affecting your day to day routine, it is a good idea to talk to someone you trust. This may be someone like a friend, school counsellor or family member. However you find out you’re adopted, at some stage you might start to think about whether or not you want to contact your birth parents.
Feelings Around Your Birth Parents
People feel differently about this, and might have mixed emotions. Some people might have an instant desire to find out more about their biological parents and background, whereas others may not feel the need or urge, or may in fact feel strongly that they do not want any contact.
You might even worry about them or get angry with them – it’s important to get some help with these feelings, especially if you don’t feel okay talking to your adoptive parents about it.
You might be experiencing a whole range of feelings around your birth parents, including excitement, anger, curiosity, worry, and rejection. Feeling angry or rejected is not uncommon, and you might have various thoughts and be asking a number of questions.
If you are feeling worried about what might happen if you do decide to contact your birth parents, it might be helpful to keep in mind that a lot of adoptees do successfully reunite with their birth parents. Even where reunions have ended badly, most people say that they are still glad they searched.
Feelings Around Your Adoptive Parents
You might also be experiencing a whole range of feelings around your adoptive parents, including appreciation, betrayal, or anger. If your adoption was revealed to you at a later stage of your life, it is possible that you could feel angry towards or betrayed by your adoptive parents. You may be asking questions such as “Why didn’t they tell me earlier?” or, “Why didn’t they trust me with this information about my life?”
Part of growing up is discovering your identity. As someone who is adopted, it is natural to want to find out about your birth family as well as the family you grew up with. You may be happy to ask your adoptive parents questions about your background, or you may wish to actually meet your birth parents.
Aside from searching for birth relatives, there are other identity questions that can come up for adoptees. It can feel strange growing up without knowing other people who look like you, or who share your genes and characteristics. This is particularly hard for inter-country adoptees who may be of a different race to their parents. Some adoptees feel a lack of connection with the family they are raised in, or question whether they belong.
Things That May Help You Cope
Talk To Someone
- It may be helpful to talk to someone about how you are feeling. This may be a friend, or family member, or else you might prefer to speak to someone who is not so closely involved in your situation, for example, a counsellor, School counsellor, school nurse or teacher.
Keep A Diary
- If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, try writing it down – this may help you keep track of your feelings.
A Support Group
- Support groups give you a chance to talk with other adoptees who are going through similar situations or have already decided to find their birth parents.
Counselling can help you explore all of these issues and more. If you have any questions arouns any of the points raised here or wish to make an appointment, please feel free to contact me using the supplied form.
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