One of the central elements of adoption is one of loss; in fact, without loss there is no adoption.
Birth parents lose their child, and may wonder what has happened to that child, and if they are happy. There may be feelings of grief, guilt, sorrow, shame, and emptiness not just at the time of the adoption but at key points throughout their lives – the child’s birthday, the birth of future children, marriage and other important family occasions.
Adoptees lose their connection with their biological family and history, and may struggle with questions, doubts and concerns, such as:
- Who were my birth parents?
- Why did they give me up for adoption?
- What genetic conditions may I have inherited?
- Do I have other siblings out there somewhere?
- Do I take after my birth parents – physically or personality-wise?
- Should I make contact with my biological family? Will it upset my adoptive parents?
The face of adoption has changed greatly over the last few decades. The stigma attached to bearing a child out of wedlock has all but disappeared in our culture, leading to an increase in overseas adoption – meaning that adoptees may also lose their birth culture.
And finally, adoptive parents are often all too familiar with the grief that surrounds not being able to have a biological child of their own. They may struggle with insecurity, wondering if they are doing a good job as a parent, and what might happen should the birth parents become a part of their child’s life at some stage.
The Right to Grieve
Yet traditionally adoption is seen as a happy outcome for all involved – adoptive parents now have a long awaited child; adoptees are raised in a stable, loving and nurturing environment they might otherwise have been denied; and biological parents are able to move on with their lives.
For those affected by adoption, the positives are seen to so outweigh the negatives, that they feel they have to deny their feelings of grief and loss. This is known as “disenfranchised grief”, where people feel deprived of the right to grieve, to talk about it, to find support, to open about their feelings – due to society’s expectations.
The good news is that you don’t have to bury these thoughts and feelings any longer. At Vision Psychology our caring counsellors can help you to gain clarity about your adoption questions and experiences.
Author: Vision Psychology
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