Dear Needs Help in Indiana,
It must feel like walking on eggshells for an adoptee to live in an Either/Or world. If you even think about your birth mom, some will judge you as disloyal to the woman who is raising you. Because, y’know, there is room for only one set of “real” parents in Either/Or world. About the anger you’re feeling toward your birth mom, you’re told — by Dear Abby, no less — to wait until you’re older to search for her, and in the meantime to just get over it (which is not all that helpful unless the advice also includes how to do so).
I wish for you and my own similarly-aged daughter to instead grow up in a Both/And world. In this world, we don’t need to negate one mother in order to legitimize the other. In this world we acknowledge that both biology and biography have value in making a person who she is. In this world we encourage our kids to claim and be claimed by both their clans. In this world we strive to give our teen access to all her pieces (even if that means just wondering and talking about those missing pieces) as she does the hard work of building her identity.
It’s my belief that allowing for healing that split will, in itself, ameliorate some of the intense emotions you’re feeling.
I’m sorry that you are struggling and feeling angry. I wonder if being able to talk openly about your anger would ultimately help you release it. You are wise to see that unresolved anger can spill over into your relationships with friends and family members. Instead of stuffing down your feelings until some later date when you search for your birth mother, my advice would be to enlist your parents’ help* now to find an adoption-competent therapist. To start your search for one, check with Brooke, Judy, or Sherrie, all in Indiana.
Bring this book to your first therapy appointment and ask your counselor to read it, if s/he hasn’t already.
Come to think of it, maybe I should send a copy of Adoption Therapy to Dear Abby.
Being 13 is hard. Being 13 and having complex feelings about adoption and no one to process with is super hard. Please. Find someone to talk with you about it. There are people who know this path and can help you along your way.
Lori in Colorado
* If you think they might not be open-hearted about this, ask them to read this book first.
Image by Benmckune at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
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.