Monday, November 28, 2005

Adoptees Share Your Stories...

"Our mothers
given to us for life
standing in the windows
forehead glued ot the pane
send forth their absence
watch out for us
who go away
who come back
who do not come back"
-Jerzy Ficowski

Share Your Story in the Comment Section
Adoptees need to hear each other tell of their experiences. How we all want to know that we are not alone and that our experience has a universal ring to it and a path that has been trodden to familiarity that leads to wholeness and a release of grief. Share, share, share so our voices ring together even as they speak in their own singularity of experience.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Adoptee Identity

"Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their
lives, power to retell it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as
times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts."
-Salman Rushdi
Erik Erikson's theories on identity development have influenced our modern ideas about how humans develop through their life cycle. He was an adoptee. Erikson was birthed and raised by his biological mother and adopted by her husband after losing his biological father. Much of Erikson's work, in regards to human development, began in the seeds of his childhood that created a strong desire to find his own identity as a result of his experience with adoption. "Life history intersects history," he wrote and clearly he felt perched precariously on his family tree as he searched for his likeness in his forefathers, both adopted and biological.

Erikson identified tasks that individuals must master from infancy until late in life as they become elderly. Adoptees fall into this developmental process because they are human, but as you will learn, if you read on, the adoptee has additional tasks at each developmental stage in which they must hurtle as they move through their life course.

The following are brief descriptions of Erik Erikson's
seven stages of human development:

Child Development:
Erikson's Oral-Sensory Stage Basic trust vs basic mistrust
Oral sensoryBirth to one year
Social mistrust demonstrated via ease of feeding, depth of sleep, bowel relaxation Depends on consistency and sameness of experience provided by caretakeer Second six-months teething and biting moves infant "from getting to taking" Weaning leads to "nostalgia for lost paradise" If basic trust is strong, child maintains hopeful attitude.
Erikson's Muscular-Anal Stage Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
1 year to 3 years
Biologically includes learning to walk, feed self, talk Muscular maturation sets stage for "holding on and letting go" Need for outer control, firmness of caretaker prior to development of autonomy Shame occurs when child is overtly self-conscious via negative exposure Self-doubt can evolve if parents overly shame child, e.g. about elimination
Erikson's Locomotor Genital Stage Initiative vs. Guilt
3 to 5 years
Initiative arises in relation to tasks for the sake of activity, both motor and intellectual Guilt may arise over goals contemplated (especially aggressive) Desire to mimic adult world; involvement in oedipal struggle leads to resolution via social role identification. Sibling rivalry frequent
Erikson's Latency Stage
6 to 11 years
Child is busy building, creating, accomplishing Receives systematic instruction as well as fundamentals of technology Danger of sense of inadequacy and inferiority if child despairs of his tools/skills and status among peers Socially decisive age
Erikson's Adolescent Stage 11 years and through end of adolescence Struggle to develop ego identity (sense of inner sameness and continuity) Preoccupation with appearance, hero worship, ideology Group identity (peers) develops Danger of role confusion, doubts about sexual and vocational identity Psychosocial moratorium, a stage between morality learned by the child and the ethics to be developed by the adult
Erikson's Adult Stages:
Early Adulthood
Intimacy vs. Isolation
Middle Adulthood:
Generativity vs. Self-absorption
Erikson's Maturity Stage:
The Aging Years
Integrity vs. Despair
*(This information was quoted from on the web.)

There are seven core issues that face adoptees regardless of the circumstances of their adoption or characteristics of the individual adoptees. These coreissues are expected and evolve naturally from the nature of the adoptive experience.
These seven core issues for the adoptee are:

Guilt & Shame

The additional developmental tasks for the adoptee throughout their lives is the identifying and integrating of these seven core issues at each developmental stage. These core issues will challenge adoptees in mastering behaviors and feelings such as helplessness, impeding isolative behavior, lack of self-esteem, and obtaining and maintaining control over their lives. As the adoptee moves through these core issues at different developmental stages a sense of identity diffusion can be experienced. This might look like the adoptee having no clear path for their life, or an unrealistic sense of where their life is going, and a lack of a sense of who they are or what they believe and can lead to an inability to make a commitment to a particular identity.
The search for identity commonly takes place during adolescence and in early adulthood, but for the adoptee this inability to develop a sense of whole self due to loss, grief, rejection, shame etc. moves the process of finding their identity into adulthood. The adoptee's dilemma around fitting into their adopted family can bring up a sense of being different and for some a feeling that they do not quite fit in. The sense of not fitting into either their adopted family or their birth family creates a lack of confidence inside the adoptee that a place has not been reserved for them in either family and can extend as far as feeling that they literally do not belong to or have a right to be a part of the human race. Reunion and completing the fractured story offers fodder for developing a solid self. Empowerment and reconnection to their biological family and history have the power to connect the adoptee to themselves and to assist them in fixing upon their sense of self in a committed way so that a solid identity evolves over time.
At each stage of development the seven core issues will come into play and shape and mold the adoptee's identity by their ability to come to terms with the lack of knowledge of their history or the integration of their discovered and recovered history as a result of reunion with their biological family of origin. The adoptees sense of self or identity becomes more whole and solid over the life course when the issues around adoption are resolved and intergrated into their feelings of belonging and having the right to a place in the world.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Interesting & Informing Links

Yahoo Groups Get connected on the internet in yahoo groups. Talk with other adoptees.
Stay connected and link in to online chat. We have an on-line chat room.We are there every evening after 11:30pm Eastern.Why not stop in and join us? You might find it helpful. Click below to go to chat:
Emergency Medical Locators for Adoptees"Dedicated to those adopted whose lives are imperiled by medical Crisis," Medical locations Locating and obtaining medical histories for the adoption community and all in need.1st family traces for transplants availableFax: 775-845-4334Staff members are online 24/7 To handle emergency searches. No one should die simply because they are adopted.Email:
Adoption Crossroads, (HQ) 845-268-0283 (All days but Wednesday) Email: 74 Lakewood Dr., Congers, NY 10920 Other Meeting Locations: 444 East 76th St, NY City, Wednesday only: 212-988-0110
Schenectady, NY: 518-370-2558 (call for schedule)
Paramus, NJ: 973-427-4521, 201-843-9898 (call for schedule)

The Daily Bastardette features daily commentary by Bastardette on issues of identity and adoptee rights including open records for adult adoptees, Baby Moses/Safe Haven laws, and any other atrocity the adoption industry and its paid lobbyists--not to mention deformer "friends"--can devise to maintain The Adoption Culture of Shame.
The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC) was established by Congress in 1987 to provide free information on all aspects of adoption.
Adoption LawSite created by The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy at Capital University Law School. The goal of this LawSite is to deliver a single online resource where prospective adoptive parents, biological parents, adoption and child welfare lawyers, juvenile and family court judges and child advocates of all kinds can turn to for child welfare and adoption law information.Adoption LawSite created by The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy at Capital University Law School. The goal of this LawSite is to deliver a single online resource where prospective adoptive parents, biological parents, adoption and child welfare lawyers, juvenile and family court judges and child advocates of all kinds can turn to for child welfare and adoption law information.
This is a great adoption forum if you want to connect and communicate with other triad members.
This website sells a movie entitled Unlocking the Heart about adoption and healing. There is also a curriculum on adoption and issues around adoption.

Friday, November 25, 2005

I Am Not A Poet

"When it's dark enough, you can see the stars."
Charles Beard

I am not a poet. My poetry writing burst forth prior to, during, and after my reunification with my birth family. I had last written poems in the first grade. A year after my reunion experience I put the poet's pen down and have not lifted it since. That was 13 years ago. (Carl Jung theorized about poetry and psychology. I wish I knew more of what he thought on this subject, perhaps one day I will spend some time on this very task.) What is fascinating to me is that after my reunion with my birth family all I wanted to do, was impassioned and obsessively motivated to do, was write poetry. I produced I'd say between 40 and 50 poems. It was as if the normal language that addressed my life no longer sufficed or served my experience justly. There was a language and a rhythm to the lyrically beated patterned expression found in the writing of poetry that gave my long and silenced history an artistic and almost formless or unruled expression. I treasure these poems. They are short lines that my soul spewed and danced out into existence after a very long exile. They are encapsulated and controlled versions of desperate inner turmoil and dark pain. When I wrote them I reread each of them over and over until my mind wore a familiar path between the words. It was as if the ghost kingdom of Betty Jean Lifton slipped through the ether and into my solid world through these imaging words and phrases. I am not a poet...but it took a poem to express my deep inner world that housed a secreted abandoned self as regularly organized every day language found no way of connecting to my experience, emotions, or split soul part.

Becoming Whole

"You see the one that I am, not the one that I was.
But the one that I was is also still part of myself."
-Jean Amery


My birth name is Gwendolyn Ray. I was named after my maternal grandmother, Gwendolyn Painter who died in 1963 from breast cancer. I have always imagined that I have her grace and poise and I am sure that I carry many of her shadows. In 1987 I met my maternal grandfather and full biological sister. In 1992, at the age of 32, I met my biological mother and father. I am one of three children from my birth mother and father and the youngest of five children in my adopted family. I was taken as a ward of the state of Michigan during the first five years of my life and adopted in 1964. My adopted name was Gwendolyn Carrie Sampson.
As I grew up I developed a split sense of myself in the outer world and in my inner world. I was the adoptee who always wore a mask of perfection and I was also the secreted abandoned child who was ashamed of her passion, energy, and difference. The inner dance of boxing off my authentic self and fanning the flame of my masked self took on the energy of my life. In the process of finding the truths in my life and conneting my fractured life story I have become whole by integrating these two selves. As a result I have gained a sense of identity that I never dreamed possible. The integration of internal split selves is possible. When you are whole and find your authenticity the world becomes your oyster and belonging is never up for questioning.
Betty Jean Lifton writes about the adoptees sense of having a split self and states in her book, Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness, that the goal of the adoptee "is to illuminate the dark unconscious of the self and make it whole." An adoptee's lack of a complete personal history is a hardship for the adoptee and a lack of a biological sense of himself is created by the separation from his biological family of origin. The adoptee is unable to identify wholely with either her biological family or her adopted family and as a result is left with internal questions that are unanswerable without the information that a genetic heritage can give them. One adoptee said of themselves in Nancy Verrier's latest book: "I have, as an adoptee, a Swiss Cheese identity because there are lots of holes in it!"
The lack of personal history that is solid and based in truths creates a split identity in the adoptee and steals the individual's sense of belonging not only to a family, but also to society. At some point in the adoptee's life they need to find and face the truths of their life story and their origins. This means that many adoptees will forge ahead, almost driven for answers, to embark upon the task of searching and finding their birth family and ultimately themselves.
The process of finding birth family will plunge the adoptee on to what Joseph Campbell called the hero's journey where they will face the internal dark side of themselves. It is through this hero's journey of finding their origins and completing their interrupted story that they will find the pearl inside themselves and rescue their soul. Completing the quest to find one's story will bring wholeness of identity and belonging to the adoptee.

The American Adoption Congress

The American Adoption Congress is composed of individuals, families and organizations committed to adoption reform. AAC represents all those whose lives are touched by adoption.Through education and advocacy the AAC promotes honesty, openness, and respect for family connections in adoption, foster care, and assisted reproduction. This organization is committed to increasing public awareness about the realities of adopted life for birth and adoptive families, changing public policies related adoption practices to acknowledge adoption as an extension of family, changing legislation in all states so that there is guaranted access to identifying information for all adopted persons and their birth and adoptive families through records access and preservation of open adoption agreements, and the right for birth familty reunification for all adults, without prior restraint, through search and support group networking and/or social service assistance.
(This information is quoted from the AAC website at

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