what adoptees wish adoptive parents knew

Adoptee Danielle Gaudette: Love With a Big Love

It’s Adoptee Month here at LavenderLuz.com.

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, spend November reading a variety of adoptee voices here. All essayists have responded to this prompt: what I wish adoptive parents knew about parenting an adoptee.

what adoptees wish adoptive parents knew

Today’s voice belongs to Danielle Gaudette.

Love With a Big Love

As a 45-year-old adoptee who has been in reunion with my birth parents since I was 21, I have done extensive energetic, emotional, and spiritual healing on myself. For the last two decades, as a mindfulness coach and trainer, I have helped others with their healing journeys. In the spring, I launched my teaching memoir, Healing Tree: An Adoptee’s Story About Hurting, Healing and Letting the Light Shine Through. At this moment, I feel myself trembling with excitement to connect with adoptive parents.

My adoptive mother passed away in 2013, but my adoptive father continues to be my hero; both still reside in the most tender place of my heart.

A Rare and Unconditional Love

To give you a picture of my life with them, perhaps it’s best for me to begin by sharing some excerpts from Healing Tree.

Throughout my life, whenever I would tell people I was adopted, they would usually ask me, “When did you find out?”  I cannot pinpoint one particular moment when that happened; I feel like I just always knew.  When I was very small, my mother used to say, “You didn’t grow in my belly.  You grew in another lady’s belly, and then we came to get you.  You are our adopted angel….”  

I remember her telling me that story before I was ever in school or old enough to realize this was something that made me different. From the time I was small enough to walk through my father’s legs as he made a tunnel for me, or ride on his back while he “horseyed” me around the house, I knew where I had come from. Because my parents loved me with what I now feel was a rare and unconditional love, I accepted what they told me with an open heart and without a single question.  I felt good about being their “adopted angel.” I cherished the way my dad slow danced on his knees with me to Billy Joel’s, “Honesty,” and the way my mom rubbed my hair and cheeks, infusing me with her love, professing my perfection….

When I was a little girl, I remember writing my mother long love letters about how I felt we were one, stuck together like glue, that I was she and she was me.  Even as a teenager, I told her all my secrets, all my gossip, and she was there for me through every single drama, wiping away my tears and reminding me that I was perfect. When it came to love, she held nothing back.  When it came to laughter, it was her deep belly laugh that left us howling on the bed, in the car, or on the kitchen floor…. 

Love and Be Loved

As I grew into adulthood, my mother trusted me and supported me in all my choices, even the ones that were difficult for her to accept. If she knew there was something I truly wanted, she put her own ideas and expectations aside and just embraced me.  My father, a compassionate and kind man, did the same.  I didn’t realize back then how rare and precious it was to have my parents always on my side.  What I did know is that, in turn, they had my full trust and loyalty….

They gave me exactly what I needed at the time: a wholesome goodness that came from the bottom of their hearts. My mother showed me how to love and be loved.  My father showed me how to be stable, loyal, and how to keep a pure heart – to feed the ducks, squirrels, and stray cats of the world, to take pictures of beautiful flowers and butterflies, and to always look up and appreciate the moon.  The foundation they laid for me at the beginning of my life was critical in allowing me to be who I am today, and I am deeply grateful.

Open-Hearted

Was the love my parents gave me “perfect”? Not at all. My mother suffered with mental illness, putting stress on our family unit. So, their love was not always neat and tidy, but it was always real. I was a sensitive little person, even from a young age, and I knew, at the core of my being, my parent’s love was sincere and boundaryless; it made me feel safe.

Because they were always honest and genuine with me, I trusted them. There was no trickery, no bargaining, no selfish or manipulative tactics. They never tried to control me and because they trusted me too, I felt valued.

They talked openly and honestly with me, so I felt I could do the same with them – there was no need to hide or feel shame. We could talk, cry, shout, laugh, play, tease, praise, hug, and cuddle and do it all over again each day. Because of this open-hearted communication, I felt seen and heard.

They supported my wants and needs, even if they were wildly different from their own. They did not try to stand in front of me, but instead stood behind, providing a loving, energetic pillar to prop me up. When I sought to find my biological parents, they stood by me all the way, refraining from inserting any of their opinions unless asked. I felt unconditionally embraced.

They respected me as a person. They never acted as if there was something different about me or wrong with me, nor did they act as if I should be grateful or indebted to them in any way. In fact, just recently my father said to me, “I think you’re such an amazing person, Danielle, and I’m just so glad that I got a chance to meet you. I feel really lucky.”

With intense inner work over the past twenty-four years, I unearthed my primal wound – the energetic injury that happened psychologically when I was separated from my biological mother at birth. Although the injury cannot be undone, I am certain the love, trust, support, and respect I received from my parents gave me the strength and capability I needed to not only manage this wound, but to thrive.

I hope adoptive parents everywhere honor their role. This relationship is one that gives us all the opportunity to love with a big love – beyond what is mine by birth — a love that is the greatest cultivation of the human heart and exhibits the possibilities that lie within the human spirit. Inside that loving light, all wounds have space to mend.

About Danielle Gaudette

Danielle Gaudette has been writing poetry and short stories since she was six . She graduated from the University of Iowa where she continued her study of creative writing. After finding her True Self in 2000, she explored her inner world and helps others do the same. As a 20-year trainer in Body & Brain principles and practices, she works in Seattle as the regional director of Washington Body & Brain Centers. Danielle shares her story in Healing Tree to help others find the courage to go inward and heal their hearts. She feels that every person who chooses to do their own inner work lifts off some collective heaviness, fear, resentment, and darkness. We brighten humanity-together.

Adoptees on Adoption 2022

guide to living in open adoption

Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a young adult daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *