An Adoptee Shares on EMDR Therapy

by Gabriela Paulsen, adopted from Romania to Denmark.

EMDR Therapy Changed My Life!

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for me, involved the therapist moving 2 fingers in front of my head so the eyes are moving side to side, while I was thinking about a trauma event. The stimuli can also be something I hold in my hand which is vibrating or it can be tapping done by the therapist. The eye movements help the brain to take up the trauma and reprocess it again, so it does not disturb me in daily life. During the eye movements, I sometimes had different reactions such as crying or maybe some body sensations like getting hot or fast breathing because my body experiences the trauma event again. There can many kind of different reactions and the tricky part is that I had no idea how I would react until I tried it!

In my case, I wanted to work with a trauma I had from my time in Romania as an orphan, I think it was from the orphanage, but I am not completely sure as it could also be a memory from my time in hospital.

My trauma was a memory I only got when I was sleeping and when the trauma was about to occur it felt like I might pass out and loose control. In that moment I knew that I would relive the trauma event again. I experienced the nightmare quite often as a teenager. The last time it happened, was around 10 years ago, just before I turned 17-18 years old. The trauma event felt extremely real. I was very scared and after I woke up, I was completely paralysed with fear. I had always thought this was something real, so when my therapist recommended EMDR therapy for me, I said yes and we started to work with this trauma. I only have my nightmare to work from, so it was not much. I had absolutely no idea whether I would react or not and it was actually quite difficult to think about such an old memory during the eye movements!

Session 1
On my first session of EMDR, it took a while before I started to react. I started to sit as if paralysed, I could only look straight forward and talked more slowly because it felt like I was put into a hypnotic state of mind. I then started to remember more of the trauma and I starting to breath faster even though it felt like I was holding my breath. My body was definitely starting to prepare for the trauma event memories and I felt very alert.

After that session, my brain continued to work with the trauma, which is expected. I could feel it because I was very alert, I was scared of being in a dark room and of some gloves I had because they are a symbol of a hand. During a work day, there was a potentially dangerous situation of a woman who was very threatening towards one of my colleagues, who reacted with aggression. I got extremely tense because of that and I was breathing like hell because I was ready to fight. It was a huge and shocking reaction I had and I couldn’t talk properly because of my breathing, so I had to take 5 minutes break to calm myself.

Session 2
I had problems getting my mind to go back into the trauma so my therapist and I had a short break from the eye movements to relax and help me get back into it. After a while I started to react with the paralysed / hypnotic state of mind and quick breathing but within myself, it felt silent and it appears like I am not breathing. After a while, I wanted to move my arm but directly afterwards I regretted this because I immediately felt like I did something wrong. Later, I started to remember more, it was like a part of me was revisiting the traumatic event. It was very interesting to explore because I got new information about my trauma. After going deeper and deeper into the trauma my breathing got faster and faster and suddenly I felt like I was about to break down into tears. I continued for a few minutes more and then I stopped doing the eye movements because I got very sad, I was crying and then my breathing was changing to be very big and deep, from within my stomach. I could feel my bones in my back so much from the heavy breathing. During this, I experienced the most insane feelings inside of me whilst my tears were running freely.

I didn’t understand at the time what happened because my brain was in the present and yet my body was reliving the trauma I had experienced. It was very hard to feel the trauma again. I thought that I must have looked like a person getting raped or tortured. It was a completely insane experience and afterwards I felt very confused about what happened and I asked my therapist to explain it to me.

Afterwards, I was extremely tired and my whole body felt very heavy. My muscles in my arms felt like they had lifted something way too heavy! I was also very alert and the rest of the day and the next 3-4 days, I was in this stressful state of mind. I would feel suddenly deep sorrow and tiredness several times a day without knowing why. It was literally like something was hurting inside me several times a day and like something wanted to come out of my body but I was with family, so I worked very hard to not break down and at the same time, I felt like I couldn’t get the emotions out either. It was very confusing. I also started to not like high noises and I felt scared if there where many people too close around me, like when I was on public transport. I usually do not have such problems. I was still scared of darkness and sometimes I got scared without knowing why. One of the times I was scared I was thinking about the woman who had caused my trauma.

I felt like I didn’t want to sleep after I have my nightmare about my trauma, because I was so scared!

Session 3
After 3 weeks, I was going to do EMDR again and I was very nervous and exciting about what would happened. The night before therapy I had a very short nightmare again which had not happened for around 10 years! This time, it was like I was further in the trauma event as compared to in the past, I had only ever dreamed as if I was at the beginning. In the nightmare some people were about to do something that I definitely didn’t like and I was thinking “stop”, so the nightmare ended extremely short. It felt like a few seconds but it was enough for me to feel again how I actually felt during the trauma event from years past. The next day, I was very stressed and actually scared.

During EMDR therapy session after this, I felt like my eyes were working against me, not wanting to participate. So I talked with my therapist about how I had completely closed down because of the nightmare. I didn’t have huge reactions during that session nor the next 2 sessions. In the last EMDR session, I could nearly get the image of the trauma event in my mind and I no longer felt scared – it was as if the trauma no longer affected me as powerfully as before. Between the sessions, I have felt very bad mentally but one day, it was like gone completely and I felt much happier, more relaxed and not as chronically tense. I also stopped having problems sleeping in a dark room – in the past, a completely dark room signalled that the re-lived trauma would occur.

In the past and prior to doing EMDR therapy, I would get anxiety from the outside getting dark, or having many people around me and high noises. Now all of these things are no longer a problem so I feel like I can go on living as myself once again. My friends have also told me that I seem more relaxed and most importantly, I feel a huge difference in my life!

I can highly recommend EMDR therapy for adoptees especially when it comes to trauma that the body remembers. I feel like I have healed my body and let out a terrible experience. Before EMDR therapy, I didn’t understand that my body was reliving such huge trauma all the time and how much it was impacting me.

Resources

Finding the Right Therapy as an Adoptee

Screening for an adoption competent therapist

The Trauma Inherent in Relinquishment and Adoption

We still have a long way to go to reach the wider public and educate them about the inherent trauma and losses in relinquishment and adoption. To assist with this, I’m trying to connect into spaces that are not adoption specific and share our message.

I recently sent our Video for Professionals to an organisation Stella that provides medical treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) called Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB). Who knows, perhaps it might be effective for some adoptees? Our trauma from relinquishment often has no language because it happened to us as young children or babies, so I am constantly on the look out for new treatments or options that can help give relief to the ongoing emotional minefield that many adoptees live. SGB works on the premise of dampening down our fight/flight response that results from ongoing trauma.

Stella’s chief psychologist, Doc Shauna Springer and the Head of Partnerships, Valerie Groth, both chatted with me and watched our videos. Until then, both had no idea as clinicians about the traumas inherent in relinquishment and adoption. They are inspired to join with me to help educate the public, so here is the short 30min podcast interview they conducted to help facilitate this. Click on the image to listen to the podcast.

If you already know about the traumas inherent in adoption, nothing in this will be new, but if you want a podcast that helps others understand from a first learner perspective, perhaps you might consider sharing it with them.

We also have our compiled list of resources as a starting point for those interested to learn more about the connection between trauma and adoption from experts all over the world.

If the Moon Could Be My Birthmother Now

by Roxas-Chua, adopted from the Philippines to the USA; author, artist.

I thought I’d share this image that sits on my desktop table in my studio. I created it one of those nights when I wasn’t able to tap into shift and movement in my adoption struggle. I find that a balance of story-sharing, self-parenting work, contemplative writing and drawing has helped me in navigating and translating the world around me. In this drawing, I was accompanied by the moon, which in way gave me comfort the way nature does. I hope you enjoy it. It’s a snapshot of tenderness that we seek from ourselves and from others. If the moon can be my birthmother now, I’m alright with that. I’ll take any path that lights up the night.

For more from Roxas-Chua, see their podcast Dear Someone Somewhere and book Saying Your Name Three Times Underwater.

Sue-Yen Bylund on Racism

On 3 April 2022, a group of 19 Australian intercountry adoptees participated in an ICAV consultation for the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) who have developed a Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework. We believe intercountry/transracial adoptees are under represented in race discussions in almost every adoptive country and wanted to make sure we had a say. The next few blogs will be a selection of the inputs from adoptees who participated to give a more nuanced insight into our lived experience of racism and our thoughts on what needs to be done to better support us.

by Sue-Yen Bylund, adopted from Vietnam to Australia, ICAV VIC Representative

Racism is here to stay. It is enmeshed in the very fabric of society, at every level. It manifests within us as individuals, at a systemic level pervading our policies and practices, reflected in our interpersonal behaviours and is accumulated and compounded in the base structures of our history, culture and ideology.

In order to mitigate the harm caused by racism we must be actively anti-racist. It is not enough to merely be “not racist”, as this, often results in a passive racism, which is as equally toxic as overt racism. Tolerance is a poor substitute for acceptance. Tolerance offers tokenism and indifference. Acceptance offers a place for all voices, a public validation as individuals and a genuine place at the table to self-determination.

Every person carries their racial biases differently. Acknowledgment of these biases on a personal individual level is important, however being open to listening, validating and accepting the experiences of others takes courage. 

My expectation within this forum, is to offer to an opportunity to broaden the discussion of anti-racism to embrace all forms and manifestations of racism within Australian society today. To offer encouragement to address the complex “grey” zones of racism. Through this broadening a more mature collective and inclusive voice will evolve, which I believe Australia is ready to share with the world.

The foundations of my identity lie amongst the chaos of war time Vietnam 1974. Within the first 3 weeks of my life, I experienced my initiation into the full audio and aromatic reality of war, surrounded by screaming and traumatised children and adults. Racial identity did not protect any of us from the horrors, what we all absorbed would remain forever with us as visceral burdens to tame. War and terror are the greatest levellers in stripping even the bravest to the very foundations of humanity. And then in one swift spin of the planet I would find myself a world away in the eerie quiet and calmness of Perth, Western Australia. This journey would also mark the beginning of a life’s self-education of racial fluidity. Being one heart and soul, but a chameleon of racial identities. Born of one culture, raised in another, looking as though I belong to one group, but in at my core, I belong to another, the duplicity and fluidity is complex and exhausting.

The need to feel safe, accepted, understood and validated seems to be a naturally human pursuit. As an intercountry adoptee the journey is complex and confusing. We slip into the cracks of racial stereotypes offering up apologetically a reason for inclusion or explanation for exclusion. Either way no matter where we are in our communities we are an anomaly. We are constantly offered up as a reminder that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover and if you care to listen carefully, you will hear the simple request for safety and acceptance.

My childhood cultural identity was shaped through the lens of middle class suburban 1970’s Australia. It was fortunate that the primary school I went to attracted a good proportion of Asian immigrant families. This enabled me, at a young age to observe the “other” type of Asian. The Asian person who spoke the language, ate the food, complied with the Asian cultural norms, while they themselves were carving out the unique existence in post “White Australia Policy” era. It was clear to me from the very beginning that I was an “Asian variant”. I was to experience racial prejudice from all sides. My immediate family comprised of a white Australian adoptive mother, a white Dutch (first generation migrant) adoptive father and their two biological white sons. Straddling my home and school environments I began to acknowledge the fragmented racial identity which was uniquely mine.

I would learn to instinctively navigate the pros and cons of racial profiling expressed by adults and classmates. At times it afforded me a shield to hide behind, at other times it just bewildered me at how ignorant and entitled people could be. 

Teachers would regard me with the marginalising stereotype of female Asian student, this meant that no matter what I did, or didn’t do, I was considered polite, conscientious and studious. This enabled me to glide through my studies relatively smoothly. Where this backfired was when I would be herded together with all the Asian “look-a-likes” to be given special instructions in Chinese/Cambodian/Vietnamese. There were always a few of us that would simply shrug our shoulders, knowing it was too hard to explain to the teachers that English was in fact our only language. 

Classmate interactions were more complex. While they seemed to want to flex their insecurities through bullying behaviours, I suspect they would often leave these bullying interactions more confused and with increased insecurities about themselves. They would corner me and spit out racial slurs “Ching Chong!”, “Go back to where you came from!”, “Asians out!” with the standard accompanying slanted eye gesture. I learnt very early to lean into the bullying. To not turn away in shame or embarrassment, I summoned the  airs of entitlement I learnt from my white Australian family. It was an educational opportunity. I would not show weakness. So armed with a vocabulary not generally associated with a small Asian female of 11 years I would lean in and say with a perfect Aussie twang, “Get f***ed you immature ignorant bigot!” While they processed the response in stunned silence, I was already half down the hall or across the oval. When I think back to those times, I know in my heart I still hold a deep resentment toward those who racially vilified me. The fact I could still name those individuals today shows how deeply it affected me. I built a wall to protect myself, a tough persona that would later in life be softened with self-depreciating humour. 

Humour has become one of the most powerful tools for disarming awkwardness though it should be noted that humour can only be genuinely offered by me (the vilified) otherwise it can have the effect of adding insult or increasing alienation.

Australian society in general is getting better at navigating racially blended families. However, there have been times where an awkward visual double take or racial slur has been reconsidered once formal introductions have concluded. 

For example, my adoptive mother is the personified “white saviour” heroine and therefore in this narrative, I embody the role of a grateful saved soul. There is no place in this narrative version for reality and it only serves to perpetuate the stereotypes. This distilled classification of our relationship as an adoptive mother and daughter has resulted in a chasm of empathy where my experience of racial prejudice and marginalisation cannot be reconciled with my adoptive mother’s version of my lived experience. She cannot/will not acknowledge that I have/do experience any racial prejudice. It’s unfathomable and therefore remains a taboo subject between us. I would suggest a classic case of “colour blindness” which is the most common manifestation of passive racism. Let me strongly suggest that racial “colour blindness” is not a positive construct to build a relationship in. I don’t advocate for a monochrome world. It cancels out important conversations that need to be had to build empathy and understanding. It bypasses the integral act of individual and collective validation.

A typical interaction in a social setting with my white husband, would start with a few awkward glances while people assessed my proficiency in English. Once the conversation has warmed up a little, the question is always asked “How did you two meet each other?” At this point all newbies begin listening in the hope to hear some spectacular Tinder dating app story with me gaining Australian citizenship when we married. Sad to say the story takes an epic sad tone when it is revealed I was a baby from the Viet Nam war. The conversation moves very quickly from one set of stereotypes to another. The chameleon game is afoot. We have now moved into the Viet Nam war genre and to be honest the racial stereotypes are just as nauseating. As the conversation peters out, I am left with a very uncomfortable feeling that I might be the daughter of a B-Grade war romance story of a soldier and prostitute but on the positive side, I have ruled out that I am a “mail order bride” from Asia desperate to get my claws into a rich white “sugar daddy”. Either way, I always leave these gatherings feeling like I have shared way too much about myself, simply to justify my equal status at the table of white Australians. Needless to say, it’s exhausting and incredibly invasive. At times my inner evil chameleon just wants to re-enforce the stereotypes rather than use my life as an education case study. In the end I see curiosity is better than fear and putting examples forward and building knowledge is a slow continuous but necessary journey.

With regards to my children, I am conscious that they physically are racially ambiguous. They could have genetic origins from various backgrounds, but once I stand next to them then it becomes evident their dark features come from me and they are of Asian origins. My daughter has experienced racial slurs from having an Asian looking mother. It wasn’t until she spent her gap year in Viet Nam that she developed her own understanding of her origins. She has in fact spent more time in Viet Nam than me. 

School parent social groups are an interesting micro society and navigating them is a full-time job. In the private school my children attended I had two very distinct social groups that I interacted with. One was a group of Asian looking mothers where I felt like an honouree member. I learnt Asian cultural things and etiquette that I didn’t get elsewhere. I did a lot of listening. The other group were all Anglo-Saxon looking mothers and I was dubbed the “token” Asian (humorous chameleon!) These girlfriends understood how I saw the world. It’s in these situations that I reflect on the sophistication of my chameleon gift and in a positive moment reflect on the bridges I can construct between the groups just through listening and sharing.

There is a niche and powerful position that intercountry adoptees have in the conversation around racism and prejudice. It’s borne from the hybrid and fluid nature of our self-identities. We exist in the space between cultures and races. The triumphal story of our survival is in fact a narrative of weaving together of cultures, racial identity, tolerance and acceptance. Intercountry adoptees must reconcile the disparity between the physical and internal nature of racial identity, because at every turn we are challenging the stereotypes and presumptions. As an Asian in white Australia, we challenge the mainstream colonial stereotypes, as an Asian in Asia, we find ourselves challenging the long-held stereotypes in our birth culture. We belong to both yet neither wholly. 

If I was to consider the future of racism in context of Australia, I would continue to raise the challenge to government and individuals to embrace the complexity. Find the words, create the platforms, lead with optimism. Systemic racism embedded in the policies and practices by government and institutions needs to be constantly questioned and reviewed to ensure it leads in activating change. Structural racism that unpins mainstream think-tanks needs to be shaken loose. It is an uncomfortable and confronting task, but I believe Australia is mature enough to take this task on. Interpersonal racism is very difficult to navigate as an intercountry adoptee, but the freedom to express an alternate reality from the stereotypes is a good platform to build upon. Internalised racism is insipid and so very damaging. We want to move from passive tolerance to active validation of individuals. 

Ongoing political bi-partisan support for research and consultation is an essential investment to engage in effective societal change. A firm commitment to reviewing and evaluating key milestones is required for accountability and integrity.  Educational resources coupled with public awareness and youth engagement are core to developing a more mature future for all Australians.

For more from Sue-Yen, read her ANZAC Day Reflections, her contribution to What’s in a Name? and advocacy with Green’s Senator meeting.

Resource

Read ICAVs small collation on Color blindness in Adoption

What Would My Utopia in Intercountry Adoption Be?

This was presented by Lynelle Long at the Child Identity Protection (CHIP) Webinar on Friday 18 Feb, 2022, the topic of the webinar was: Respecting the Child’s Right to Identity in Intercountry Adoption (at 2:58:01 on the video recording).

What I hope for the future is possibly just utopia, but sometimes in speaking the words out loud, our words can find an energy with others who share the same desire, which can start the small wave of thoughts that become an activity, then a movement that has ripple effects, that eventually turn and flow into a tsunami. I know there are so many in our adoptee community who are working so hard for these changes to happen. Each of our efforts can seem small in isolation, but together, en-masse, we will eventually effect that change we are working towards.

My utopia would love to see an end all intercountry adoption as it is currently practiced today: obliterate it or as a minimum, redesign The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption to ensure that it respects our right to identity, culture and family relations … and ensure legislation exists that supports our rights as adoptees and for our biological families.

When we do this, we need to also:

  • Remove money from being an incentive for profit and gain.
  • Remove the use of private agencies, centralise adoption and directly hold the responsibility and the risk with the Government / State.
  • Ensure adoptees have the right to annul their adoption and without a cost.
  • Ensure the generational rights to adoptee records i.e., our children and their children need to be given access to our adoption and birth records should we not do so in our lifetime.
  • Improve pre and post adoption supports, make it mandatory that this be free, trauma informed, lifelong and comprehensive; most importantly, in its design, to actively consult with lived experience expertise.
  • Make it mandatory to educate support professionals so they understand the heightened risk of suicide and trauma for adoptees, the inherent racism we face, the identity conflicts, etc .. so many issues we live that need trained and informed support.
  • Stop adoptions that are private/expatriate and from non Hague countries.
  • Create and fund a legal centre of expertise in intercountry adoption to help victims hold agencies and countries accountable where their rights have not been upheld.
  • Create and fund an independent body to monitor and punish Hague signatories who don’t uphold their responsibilities — to deal with issues like deportation by adoptive country, abuse and murder of child by adoptive family. There needs to be accountability for those responsible in placing us into families or countries that are more traumatic than where we came from.
  • Create and fund an international organisation that is setup up to empower and help support bio families search for their children. I meet so many of these bio parents who are disempowered and have nowhere to turn.

But before we even talk about adoption as a solution for a child, we need to ensure the focus and funds prioritises family preservation above all else. If this happened, we should not need intercountry adoption. To accomplish this, we need to help our birth countries implement social welfare alternatives like foster care, guardianship, group homes, simple adoption; and ensure that these are well resourced.

Regardless of whether we have intercountry adoption or not in the future, we need to deal with the past for those who are impacted. This means a historic investigation by an independent body must be conducted into past practices; learn from the lessons, ensure restorative justice for victims, including compensation. Only then when this is done, should we move forward to looking at re-implementing a new model of intercountry adoption.

And let’s not forget, we must make sure we cross pollinate the learnings from intercountry adoption into other family formation methods such as surrogacy – to prevent the further commodification of children and robbing them of their identities too.

These are the things I spend my life working on, creating and joining into the groundswell of people / community working to push for these much needed changes. 

For this to happen, we need to challenge governments and stakeholders around the world to ask the tough question, is intercountry adoption the ethically and morally right thing to do when we know other solutions can exist for vulnerable children that better respect our right to identity, culture and family relations.

Sadly, utopia doesn’t exist and so I can only conclude that until we have a system that upholds our adoptee rights, I don’t believe we should be conducting intercountry adoption in its current form. It is NOT in the best interests of the child to add on layers of trauma that could be prevented when we know better. Yes there will always be children who need support and alternatives .. but, we can’t keep repeating the mistakes of the past and turning a blind eye to what we are doing to so many en-masse. We must do better and challenge ourselves to be honest, truthful, listen to the voices of those it impacts most, and heed the lessons we can learn.

My Adoption Day Is An Anniversary of Loss

by Mary Choi Robinson, adopted from South Korea to the USA.

This is Choi Soon Kyu.

She is about 4 years old in this picture and recently orphaned and sick from the ravages of poverty.

Before this picture was taken she had a prior life and was someone’s child, someone’s daughter with most likely a different name.

About 8 months after this picture on February 18, she will be delivered to the US, be given a new identity and family; a new life that is foreign, scary, and imposed upon her. Her name will be changed and she will lose her language and culture to new ones.

Her three identities, her three lives, are borne of trauma and loss. She is now me and I survive every day from all she lost.

Don’t tell me to be thankful or grateful, or that every child deserves a safe, loving family and home.

Instead try to understand that I carry this unbearable grief and loss every day. A grief that is not worse but unlike other grief that cannot always be easily expressed. A grief I’m not certain how to mourn and will most likely never recover from, that may have generational consequences.

Some days I struggle more than others, especially when unexpectedly blindsided by adoption.

So today is not just the anniversary of my adoption/arrival to the US, but also an anniversary of loss. But I’m still here and doing the best I can making the most of this life, so I’ll celebrate that.

If you’d like to read more from Mary, her Masters thesis is included at ICAVs Research page – Living a Parallel Life: Memoirs and Research of a Transnational Korean Adoptee.

Anonymous shares about Adoptee Anger

This is a series on Adoptee Anger from lived experience, to help people understand what is beneath the surface and why adoptees can sometimes seem angry.

by Anonymous, adopted from China to the USA.

I have experienced anger as an adoptee. For me it occurred in my late teens and early 20s in that transition time between high school and college. I was angry at my parents for adopting me and not putting in effort to learn or share my birth culture, I was angry at my birth parents for putting me up for adoption and having a baby they could not care for. I was angry at larger systems of poverty and inequality that put people in difficult situations. I was so angry at people telling me I was Chinese or Asian but I had no idea what that meant.

I was angry at Chinese people I met that were disappointed I wasn’t more “Chinese.” I lashed out at my parents and said very hurtful things to them about adoption. I also unfortunately turned much of this anger and toxicity onto myself and it negatively affected the way I viewed myself. For me, the anger was about being confronted with the understanding that adoption didn’t just give me a family, but also meant that I had one in the periphery that I might never know. I felt like a foreigner in my own body, constantly being judged for my race but not claiming that identity. I couldn’t process how to come to terms with the effects of poverty and the larger systems that led to me being placed for adoption.

I really felt anger as the onset of grief.

Now the anger has faded, and I do feel a deep, complicated sadness when I think about these topics. What helped me the most was reaching out and connecting with other adoptees. It helped me to channel and validate my feelings about adoption, see more nuances in the process, and regain a lot of self-confidence and self-worth.

As I have gotten involved with adoptee organizations, I’ve found solace, healing, and joy. My parents, while we’ll always have differences, love me and they never retaliated when I said mean things about the adoption process or them. From close friends and family, I was treated with compassion, love, understanding, and community. I think that’s what every person needs when working through these big, unexplainable things.

Ofir shares about Adoptee Anger

This is a series on Adoptee Anger from lived experience, to help people understand what is beneath the surface and why adoptees can sometimes seem angry.

by Ofir Alzate, adopted from Colombia to the USA.

I am an adoptee with anger. Does this get passed down to our children because I have three angry boys . Now as an adult, I do feel like I can handle anger a lot better – I’ll walk away from confrontation before it gets bad.

It pisses me off now because I remember a few times the adopted couple used to say to me, “You’re always so angry and that’s all you do, is want to be in your room with the door closed”, and I had to open it. How does somebody not see a problem when it’s right there in their face, like what the f*** did you expect? That I was going to be jumping up and down happy because I got my family taken away, my country, and nobody looks like me and nobody is the same colour as me? Not to mention I didn’t even know what they were saying for the longest time.

I wanted to go home! I wanted my mom! I hated it here! I don’t belong here. I was given the wrong family.

I love my 3 boys and my 7 grandchildren but I am ready to leave it all behind. I’m currently waiting to hear about my passport. Even though it was just a copy, I received my birth certificate that my mom sent me along with my baptism certificate from Colombia. I cried for almost a good hour in my room. I touched something that my mom touched!

I’ve been feeling really down ever since Christmas and I also received my high school report card – my 9th and 10th grade report cards. It broke my heart that my grades were so bad. I only had an A in gym. I was getting Ds and Fs in Spanish. I remember struggling throughout my school years. Along with everything else, I know I have ADD. That definitely was the worst mistake of my whole life was quitting school, but then again, I didn’t have the support.

I just wanted out of that house, so I left when I was 16 and never went back.

God bless us all!

Andrea shares about Adoptee Anger

This is a series on Adoptee Anger from lived experience, to help people understand what is beneath the surface and why adoptees can sometimes seem angry.

by Andrea Johnstone, adopted from Canada to England.

I used to be angry as a teenager! I so desperately wanted my adopted mum and dad to see me for who I was and for them to meet my emotional needs. It never happened. I was the school bully as I had to learn to protect myself from all the racial comments.

My school teachers used to say to me, “You are nothing but a nigger!” Yes, that’s right f**ing school teachers. I was pulled up by my jumper and hit against the wall from a PE teacher who said to me, “I hate you Andrea Johnstone!” Wtf!! So yes, I was f**ing angry. The kids never got punished for their racial behaviour. The teachers had no idea that I was living in a very dysfunctional household – mother narcissistic with a depressive, passive father. So hell yes, I was angry!

However, the tides turned and I went into deep therapy after a suicide attempt. It was a long journey back to self. And I’m here now supporting many adoptees in the UK. So it was all meant to be, as I know that pain, I know that anger within. I know the primal wounding because I have been there.

That anger still continues at times to bubble within. But I know now how to soothe her xx and no regrets. All my life experiences are who I am today. I’m a bloody amazing, wise woman who has learnt to truly love herself and to remember I was the one I have been waiting for. To give to myself what I was needing.

All the looking outside myself, the love I looked for with men, nagh … I can only have a healthy relationship with someone when I get one with myself first. And let me tell you it’s taken decades to work that one out.

You have to dig deep ladies and gents because this journey as an adoptee is no walk in the park. xx

For fellow adoptees needing professional support, Andrea is a psychotherapist in the Bournemouth UK area, you can connect with her at Psychology Today UK.

Posting....
English
%%footer%%