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Understanding Rejection in Adoption Reunions

Posted by on Aug. 5, 2009 at 9:51 PM
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Carlini Institute for Therapy, Research and Transpersonal Education

Carlini Institute
BC
Canada

Understanding Rejection in Adoption Reunions

Copyright Heather Carlini, C.M.Ht.2005


Having worked in post-adoption counselling for twenty –five years now, I have seen both adoptees and natural mothers experience rejection at the end of a long search (for each other).

Nothing is more devastating … it is like a vexation of the Soul. I believe that the mother and child have a Soul Contract on a spiritual level, a subconscious yearning to meet each other so they can heal the pain of separation.

Unfortunately, these healing journeys are not always done together, in which case, both adoptee and natural mother must then finish their healing journeys alone.

However, if an adoptee does find his or her natural mother, she is not always prepared for this happening and may go into shock, followed by a state of fear. This reaction on her part will come across as "rejection" to the adoptee. What has happened is that for that moment, the younger fragmented self that was buried deep inside her has reawakened. This is the part of her that holds the fear.

As a young woman she may have been coerced into adoption by past cultural attitudes towards children born to unwed mothers. Since there was no support system such as we have today, she believed she had to do what others insisted was best for her baby. She relinquished the child in spite of her misgivings and need to nurture it.

To live with this decision of separation and cope with the emotional pain in her psyche, she buried the pain within herself and fragmented this part of her from her outward personality. To hide the truth from both herself and those around her, she took on a façade. For example, she may have maintained a personality as a people-pleaser, which would gain her acceptance and approval from others.

However, convinced she was unworthy of keeping her child and never having known where her child was, the fragmented side of her personality remained in a state of fear, anger, sadness, unworthiness, guilt and shame. These feelings can remain locked up in the subconscious mind and on a cellular level for years, unless she finds some way to heal.

In many such cases, the natural mother feels this psychosomatic body pain on anniversary dates such as her child's birthday. Sadness, depression and anger rise into her conscious mind, but it is unlikely she knows what is causing these emotions unless she is consciously able to acknowledge her hidden pain.

If her relinquished child suddenly calls her years later, the fragmented self within her brings all the cellular memories to the surface. Unexpectedly, she is reliving the surrender of her baby. Hearing the adoptee's voice suddenly reawakens this alternate reality. Every cell in her body is recognizing that familiar emotional chemistry from the past trauma. As each emotion has its own chemistry code, those same emotions she experienced at the time of relinquishment are now surfacing and the pain and fear are overwhelming her.

The emotions of sadness, anger, unworthiness, guilt and shame are all awake and she goes into momentary turmoil. In some natural mothers the first emotion to awaken is fear and this is what the adoptee sees as rejection. Unfortunately, he/she does not understand that the natural mother is re-experiencing the abstract feelings that are left over from the disenfranchised grief that she was never permitted to handle in the past. For that moment she feels like that young woman of years ago when she felt herself unworthy of being able to respond to a call from her child.

She may also fear that the adoptee is going to be very angry with her for the relinquishing him or her as a baby when it was at their most vulnerable stage in life.

She searches her memory banks for a reference point that will tell her how to handle this situation in the present, but she can't find one. As a result she may experience one of three types of symptoms. The first may be hyperarousal in which the lower emotions of anger, fear, guilt and shame are felt to the extreme. These are the emotions she experienced when she had to surrender her baby, that were locked into her body cells and are now reawakened.

She may then go through a stage of intrusive symptoms in which she needs to tell the story over and over to anyone who will listen, looking for validation and support. The truth is finally out and it has become "real". The third symptom is constriction which makes her feel powerless so that she goes into a state of surrender, shutting down all her emotions. These three stages are classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Most natural mothers experience them to some degree when faced with reunions. These symptoms will oscillate from one to the other until she finds a way to heal her inner pain.

Consequently, rejection isn't always what is seems.  It is really about the fear the natural mother is experiencing along with the other hidden emotions from the past that she was never given permission to heal. In some cases the natural mother may regress to a state in which she is living out of the emotions of the fragmented younger self.

If you wonder why some natural mothers react so harshly while others are delighted with the idea of a reunion, the source of the problem lies in the ways she coped over the years with her loss and whether or not she was able to talk about it with others. If she allowed herself to discuss the past and had read books on adoption issues she will be delighted with the idea of a reunion. But if she locked away the pain so deeply within herself, she may have created a mental block that parallels amnesia. When the memories of the relinquishment resurface, she begins to experience the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her outward behaviour now represents a negative overreaction to what should have been a joyous event.

The adoptee should be prepared not to judge her for her initial reaction, which appears as a rejection. The natural mother needs time to find support and validation for her trauma. To accomplish this she may require counselling that will help her manage her feelings towards a reunion before it is attempted. It would be advisable for her to copy down the adoptee's phone number and/or address, enabling her to contact him/her once she has regained her composure and knows how she wants to handle the reunion.

The natural mother's initial reaction to reunion is an abstract of mixed messages clouded by fear. She should be encouraged not to turn away from her child. The pain and insecurity she feels will disappear with time and acknowledgement of the grief. If the reunion cannot be accomplished successfully, she must at least go on heal to her own trauma that the adoption has caused her over the years.

I believe we need to heal adoption issues on four levels, mental, emotional, spiritual and physical, with the guidance of a qualified counsellor. Once these issues are healed, the final process of forgiveness  for herself and others will take her out of the past and into the present moment. If both mother and child can reach the point of forgiving the past, they can develop a healthy relationship and leave the past behind. Trying to intellectualize and make sense of what happened to them in the past is counterproductive to their growth in the moment. It is better that they let go of the pain and allow compassion to enter their hearts, leaving the lower emotions in the past.

copyright Heather Carlini2005

 link:  http://carliniinstitute.com/understanding_rejection_in_adoption_reunions

by on Aug. 5, 2009 at 9:51 PM
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Replies (1-10):
susie703
by on Aug. 5, 2009 at 10:15 PM


This post in so many ways explains what I have been going through since being "reunited" in January via e-mails. So many feelings, thoughts, that I have not been able to put into words, haven't been able to even figure out exactly what I was feeling. 

"I believe we need to heal adoption issues on four levels, mental, emotional, spiritual and physical, with the guidance of a qualified counsellor."

And where do I find a qualified counsellor to do this? 

"I believe that the mother and child have a Soul Contract on a spiritual level, a subconscious yearning to meet each other so they can heal the pain of separation." 

I do feel that yearning to meet my son in person, but he is not ready yet.  I feel that I am unable to go further in my healing until that happens. I am just staying patient, praying that the day will come that I receive a phone call and/or a request to meet in person.  I am sure he is going through many of these same things, is scared to put a real person in place of the birthmom he has had in his mind. 

A great post!


JourneyToPeace
by on Aug. 5, 2009 at 10:47 PM


Quoting susie703:


This post in so many ways explains what I have been going through since being "reunited" in January via e-mails. So many feelings, thoughts, that I have not been able to put into words, haven't been able to even figure out exactly what I was feeling. 

"I believe we need to heal adoption issues on four levels, mental, emotional, spiritual and physical, with the guidance of a qualified counsellor."

And where do I find a qualified counsellor to do this? 

"I believe that the mother and child have a Soul Contract on a spiritual level, a subconscious yearning to meet each other so they can heal the pain of separation." 

I do feel that yearning to meet my son in person, but he is not ready yet.  I feel that I am unable to go further in my healing until that happens. I am just staying patient, praying that the day will come that I receive a phone call and/or a request to meet in person.  I am sure he is going through many of these same things, is scared to put a real person in place of the birthmom he has had in his mind. 

A great post!


I also had the same feelings and did not have any information and blew the reunion apart. He was not ready either. there is a link to the article.  

link:   http://carliniinstitute.com/understanding_rejection_in_adoption_reunions  

  PortAngeles can also help you

Bubbly54
by Member on Aug. 6, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Great article - and how true it is, especially when you meet F2F.  I wish I had taken more time before having my F2F and not jumped from the frying pan into the fire.  Too late now, I guess :(  Out of curiousity, does anyone know of articles that give perspective from the adoptees point of view?  I am living mine as a bmom, but would like to know more from the adoptees angle.  Am I being rejected, is he just indifferent to me now that we have met, or is it simply social akwardness?

Anne28
by on Aug. 6, 2009 at 12:25 PM


Quoting susie703:

 

This post in so many ways explains what I have been going through since being "reunited" in January via e-mails. So many feelings, thoughts, that I have not been able to put into words, haven't been able to even figure out exactly what I was feeling. 

"I believe we need to heal adoption issues on four levels, mental, emotional, spiritual and physical, with the guidance of a qualified counsellor."

And where do I find a qualified counsellor to do this? 

"I believe that the mother and child have a Soul Contract on a spiritual level, a subconscious yearning to meet each other so they can heal the pain of separation." 

I do feel that yearning to meet my son in person, but he is not ready yet.  I feel that I am unable to go further in my healing until that happens. I am just staying patient, praying that the day will come that I receive a phone call and/or a request to meet in person.  I am sure he is going through many of these same things, is scared to put a real person in place of the birthmom he has had in his mind. 

A great post!


Susie:

2.5 years ago, I too, reunited w/my son via letter writing, than it progressed to emails after I just decided one day to send him one.  He thanked me for the email and our correspondence was really quite good.  However, he wasn't ready to "hear my voice" nor meet in person, he told me he needed time and to please give him that time, but that he did want to meet one day in the future.  So i didn't push him but kept writing to him, telling him he was in my thoughts and what we were up to as well.

A year later after corresponding via writing, still no phone call or mention of meeting f2f.  I happen to have a brother who lives in ATL and my son was in Auburn which is close so I threw out the fact that I would be visiting my brother for a long weekend and if he would consider meeting at that time.  Surprisingly, he said yes, he would like that.  We met and spent an entire day together; about 12 hours total.  It was a great f2f.  It was the beginning of our reunion and meant more to me than anything at that time in my life.  I surrounded everything I did around my son.  My other kids felt it, my marriage felt it.  If I didn't hear from him, I had a a bad day.  If I did, I was singing around the house.

We have been in touch since. It isn't what I expected, he doesn't love me nor need me but wants to stay in touch and we do.  I am still not certain where he places me in his life, but it sure has come a long ways from almost 3 years ago!

After our first f2f, we let a few months go by and were able to pick up the phone and talk, which we do every couple of weeks. He recently called me last week to tell me he had a rough day, his grandfather had passed away and he was close to him and shared his feelings w/me which is huge because he doesn't share a lot w/me. Maybe a breakthrough, or maybe he just felt comfortable talking about this particular subject.

Anyway, what I'm saying is it does take time for many adoptees and we have to be considerate though it's very discouraging and disappointing that we've waited all these years, just to wait some more for our hug and f2f.  I am glad I am where i am now, but it wasn't easy getting here. I no longer feel insecure about him not wanting contact or is "going to drop me."  I have actually decided that if he were to end communication, it wouldn't be anything I can control and we can only control our end.  I have worked hard to accept it is what it is and to be happy to know him now; however much he allows.  Also, I know that I am a good person and am "worth something" to my son too.  I am worth knowing and worth his time.  Once I relaxed about that, things began to soften and my heart didn't hurt as much.

He came to visit us and stay at our home last Thanksgiving....flew in on the redeye from CA and stayed for 4 days....it was great.  He is planning to visit sometime after October this year, when he finishes out his Air Force training in TX....may not be Thanksgiving again, but he knows he is welcome.

Continue to keep the emails flowing to him and they like that we "think about them."  Who wouldn't want to know someone is thinking about us.....they like to talk about themselves and ask him some questions about his work/school/life in general; that will get them to talk too.

Let us know how it goes....I wish you the best in this phase of reunion.

Anne

 


 

susie703
by on Aug. 7, 2009 at 11:02 AM


Quoting Bubbly54:

Great article - and how true it is, especially when you meet F2F.  I wish I had taken more time before having my F2F and not jumped from the frying pan into the fire.  Too late now, I guess :(  Out of curiousity, does anyone know of articles that give perspective from the adoptees point of view?  I am living mine as a bmom, but would like to know more from the adoptees angle.  Am I being rejected, is he just indifferent to me now that we have met, or is it simply social akwardness?

I have been told that it is a good thing that we are taking our time, getting to "know" each other before having our first F2F.  So, I just have to remind myself that I already have so much more than I ever dreamed of, and continue to be patient!  I also would love to read something like this from the adoptees point of view.  I would love to know how my son truly feels about our reunion, what he thinks/feels for me, what struggles he is having dealing with our "adoption story".


Anne: Thank you so much for your reply.  It gives me hope that one day our relationship will move forward.  I waited almost 30 years to know he is alive, healthy, and happy - what is another year or two to wait to meet him in person?  It's funny that you stated "they like to talk about themselves and ask him some questions about his work/school/life in general; that will get them to talk too."  I have noticed that when I ask him a question, he sends long emails telling me stories of whatever I quizzed him about.  His emails these last few weeks have been very short & sweet & I have been thinking this week that I need to ask him some more questions!  My questions are not just a way of getting an email from him though, I truly LOVE hearing about his life, parents, extended family, friends....

What a journey this reunion is! 

Bubbly54
by Member on Aug. 7, 2009 at 12:22 PM


Quoting Anne28:


 It was the beginning of our reunion and meant more to me than anything at that time in my life.  I surrounded everything I did around my son.  My other kids felt it, my marriage felt it.  If I didn't hear from him, I had a a bad day.  If I did, I was singing around the house.

We have been in touch since. It isn't what I expected, he doesn't love me nor need me but wants to stay in touch and we do.  I am still not certain where he places me in his life, but it sure has come a long ways from almost 3 years ago!

Anne28:


You have hit the nail on the head for me.  This is exactly where I am - if I hear from him, my world is on fire, if not, I feel like it is ending.  I had expectations for my reunion that were way, way to high - we are all told this, but how does it work when your brain and logic travel on a completely different road than your heart and emotions?  My reunion too is absolutely not what I had expected, nor hoped for.  I took this as rejection from his side, because it did not fit my mold of what I had expected.  Stupid, yes.  My son also does not love or need me, he has a family that he is close to, but perhaps in time we will find a spot in each others lives where we are both comfortable. This is what I hope for now.


DVT
by Bronze Member on Aug. 7, 2009 at 12:39 PM


Quoting Bubbly54:


Quoting Anne28:


 It was the beginning of our reunion and meant more to me than anything at that time in my life.  I surrounded everything I did around my son.  My other kids felt it, my marriage felt it.  If I didn't hear from him, I had a a bad day.  If I did, I was singing around the house.

We have been in touch since. It isn't what I expected, he doesn't love me nor need me but wants to stay in touch and we do.  I am still not certain where he places me in his life, but it sure has come a long ways from almost 3 years ago!

Anne28:


You have hit the nail on the head for me.  This is exactly where I am - if I hear from him, my world is on fire, if not, I feel like it is ending.  I had expectations for my reunion that were way, way to high - we are all told this, but how does it work when your brain and logic travel on a completely different road than your heart and emotions?  My reunion too is absolutely not what I had expected, nor hoped for.  I took this as rejection from his side, because it did not fit my mold of what I had expected.  Stupid, yes.  My son also does not love or need me, he has a family that he is close to, but perhaps in time we will find a spot in each others lives where we are both comfortable. This is what I hope for now.


What Anne described in her first paragraph is how I still feel and it's 2 1/2 yrs later.  I just love hearing from my son and I'm the happiest person on earth when it happens, however, when he doesn't pick up the phone when I call or call me back it's devasting.  It's a vicious cycle, one I want to get out of because it's not healthy to our relationship or my health.  He is close to his afamily as well.  Our relationship is good however, he still refers to me as one of his "moms" and I know that won't change.  We're part of his extended family and he includes my husband and our son as his family as well.  It's a great bond that we have and always know that we will. 

TysonsMomma2110
by Member on Oct. 18, 2010 at 11:30 PM
Wow, what an amazing article. It was like looking into my BM's mind. I know for certain she has felt these same emotions. I am glad to have came across this.
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onethentwins
by Group Owner on Oct. 19, 2010 at 12:09 PM


Quoting TysonsMomma2110:

Wow, what an amazing article. It was like looking into my BM's mind. I know for certain she has felt these same emotions. I am glad to have came across this.

You're right it is an amazing article. I've added a sticky note to it.

frogntoad_15
by New Member on Nov. 23, 2010 at 8:14 PM

This post is true. I am a birth parent counselor and an adult adoptee. After years of not wanting to know, I finially decided to find my birth mom. We communicated via e-mail, but then she lost her husband. Since that time, she said she might never talk to me again. I do not feel rejected, as I understand the birthmother side of things, being a counselor, but I was a bit hurt, for a short while.

As an adoptee, we might feel like we never quite fit anywhere, even if we had loving adoptive families. I was cherished, but still feel different at age 42, from my sibling who is the biological child of my adoptive mother. My birthmom was very kind to let me in on some things but then shut the door. I felt like an orphan. It hurts but life is bigger than our lives alone. I believe in God and feel that He is the Master Planner, and He put me where I belong. If not for my faith in Him, I know I would feel more rejection that what I have experienced.

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