Right in my my own neighborhood.
Right among my own friends.
Today, (again), is another down-pouring day. It can make one feel melancholy. Especially after receiving news like this just yesterday. But then, there's a part of me grateful for the rain, as if God is crying for these poor souls who have either lost their way, are trying to regain it or even find it for the first time. But I don't just feel for the adoptees...I hurt for their bewildered parents and children, too. Do they have Jesus as their Safety Net? Do they know where to go to get the kind of help that understands the root cause of the 'primal wound symptoms' displayed by so many adoptees?
As I talked to one mom yesterday, we spoke of her child's need to have therapists that understand the adoptee heart. We cannot assume that because one is a therapist, they automatically 'get it'. My resources repeatedly state there is an amazing lack of training in this area and often the ones who pursue deeper understanding of adoption and post-adoption related issues are in some way connected to the adoption world themselves. I hope to give my friend more info on what to seek in a therapist today. I love her so much and hate to see her pain as we speak of her adopted child.
I also had coffee with another adoption-connected lady yesterday and then (!) ran into her again later in the day. (Meeting these two women in a single day, and one of them twice is not something to be ignored, folks...THIS is what we call a 'Divine Appointment'!) The 'coffee lady' has a history of serious struggles and the more we talked the more I wondered if she were adopted. With some gentle probing she revealed that her mother was adopted. My new friend's descriptions of some of her mother's actions over the years were 'textbook' adoptee heart manifestations. As she spoke, I was reminded of the son of another friend who was adopted and how his mother's difficulties had reached past herself to her own children. In the (so far) end, he was addicted to drugs and lost his wife and children. Today I believe his addiction to be the result of his attempts to deal with the sad and angry emotions caused by his mother's frequent abandonments. She had never healed from her own perceptions of abandonment as an infant adoptee. As an adoptee myself, I was a little shaken to make these correlations. How much of this was me? How much were my children affected by my post-adoption reactions?
Don't think I haven't gone there before. I have, and I've had to walk close to Jesus in those times so as not to allow satan a way to pull me into his abyss of guilt and shame.
One thing adoptees are 'famous for' is running away. I ran away once as a teenager and once as an adult. In my case, neither incident lasted more than an hour. (No, really, I'm such a sap!) However, I did learn how to run away mentally and emotionally. I remember how I would read, read, read as a child and then how my mother would yell at me, "You're hiding! You're hiding! WHY are you hiding!?" Well, for one thing, she was a fearful woman and I was scared of her and when you're scared, you freaking hide. But she was right...my 'hiding' in books was more than a love for books, it was a form of escape. We all do it. I just did it more than the average bear.
I could be tempted, in the past, into believing myself weird, but actually, it was my God-smart mind working for me where I was incapable of working for myself. It was a coping mechanism that as far as I knew, didn't hurt anyone...It seemed to be a safe place for everyone concerned.and as an adoptee who vacillated between complacency and rebellion, (sitting on the outside, standing with fist raised on the inside), this was a good choice, even though my awareness of my reasoning went no further than, "I just like to read!"
Unlike other adult adoptees who would leave their children for hours, days, months or even years, I didn't run away from my children. They were the only DNA of me that I knew of in the whole world! I couldn't...at least not physically. I was conditioned to a certain standard of performance and running away didn't fall within my particular boundaries. (I broke my boundaries in other ways.) But I'm pretty sure there were times when I 'disconnected' from them emotionally and mentally. I realize I'm being extremely vulnerable in sharing this, but the truth is, my relationship between myself and my children could be better. It's good, but it could be better and although I'm still sorting through this, I believe at the root is maybe this thing of my heart running away when times got tough.
Once I followed Jesus, I followed to the best of my ability but I didn't understand my own woundedness and spent a lot of time trying to perfect my outer shell in order to cover the hole in my heart...a hole I didn't really know I had. I just knew I often felt 'off'...incomplete... Well, as many adoptees will tell you, it's a hard thing to explain. Not having full revelation of truth in my life...truth of heritage, truth of why I react to stressors in a certain way and how that is connected to the 'primal wound' of an infant-mother or child-mother separation, I made mistakes. Some of them were pretty big, too. I still make them, but not as many, certainly not as big and I believe that is God's plan for everyone associated with adoption in one way or another...Progressive healing. But part of the reason for The Adoptee Heart...part of it... is the hope that adoptees younger, far younger, than I (I am a grandmother, after all), will start their progressive healing earlier than I did.
Actually, it's God's plan for all of mankind, isn't it? That we get better from the many and varied stumblers satan has set before us, planning for our demise? That we have patience with ourselves and with each other as we hold on to Him -our life raft- and make that long swim toward shore?
So, what's all this have to do with the stories I began today's post with, I wonder? Well, from what I've learned, running away is a very, very typical adoptee trait. Some run away physically, some fantasize about it, some do it via books, internet games, fantasy worlds, addictions...It's escape, people. We need to recognize this truth because there's more to it. When we need to escape it means there's something we need to escape from. Yes, the stresses of everyday living can make anyone feel the need to escape, but wouldn't that mean the scarred heart is even more susceptible? Could this scarring be what makes so many adoptees take running away to a deeper, more serious level...even to the level of attempting to permanently run away through suicide? (Remember, the suicide rate among adoptees is 4 times that of non-adoptees.)
It is true that no man is an island. What affects us DOES affect the world around us, no matter how private we think we are able to keep our 'stuff'.
Maybe we can just chew on that a while. Ask God what HE thinks. Look at some of the materials put out by Deanna Shrodes at Adoptee Restoration and maybe take a gander at the resources Sherrie Eldridge has to offer on her website. But let's not ignore pain...Pain is a symptom presented by something in need of healing. Let's not run away from the painful truth, hiding behind the skirts of Jesus as we say, "Well, I have Jesus and that's all I need." Yes, He IS all we need, but part of being in Him is following Him and He leads us where we need to go! The Third Person of God, Holy Spirit, is our flashlight...searching the darkest corners of our hearts. Not only does He bring to light those places we don't want others to see, most importantly, He brings to light those places WE don't want to see!
Try not to let these truths bring despair today. God shows us truth to set us FREE. Despair is the last thing I want for anyone reading this! Remember that Jesus truly is there for us. ALWAYS. But He's not a sugar-coater. He majors in reality and if we want to see the suicide numbers, institutionalized numbers and a huge number of other negative adoptee statistics go down, we need to face the truth of the this one fact: Adoption IS trauma. Some may heal from it without much help. Most don't. Can we just say "Okay, I get it?", join hands and let the healing begin?
I love you,
There is also the the possibility of adoptees running TO rather than FROM something when they run away. Here is an important excerpt from "Journey of the Adopted Self" by adoption author, Betty Jean Lifton (adoptee, adoptive mother and Ph.D.):
Running away has been called the "roaming phenomenon" and a "symbolic search" for the parents. We could say that the adopted adolescent is not running from but to something. One man remembers that he would head toward Denver, where he was born, with the thought that his birth mother might be there. It didn't matter that he didn't know her name and had no way of looking her up.
Some adoptees go to live in a friend's house, as if wanting to try another family out for size. This substitute family can satisfy their fantasy of what it would have been like to grow up with their real family. Others run for the sake of running, as if they can somehow escape themselves or their fate. "Running away from yourself is the hardest thing to do," according to one woman, who ended up a ward of the state at thirteen."