It’s Adoptee Month 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.
Today’s voice belongs to Lorah Gerald, The Adopted Chameleon.
Don’t You Know We Love You?
I can still hear my adoptive mother’s voice: Don’t you know we love you?
She must have said it over a thousand times throughout my life. It didn’t matter what was going on; that was her answer. That made the conversation stop. How could I say anything else? I don’t think that was her intention.
My adoptive mother was a trauma survivor. She had been abused and left home early to escape it. She had been married twice by the time my adoptive father married her. In a previous marriage, she had gone in for a gallbladder removal and had a hysterectomy performed at her husband’s request. He didn’t want children and this was legal.
All my younger life, I recall my adoptive mother ooh-ing and ahh-ing over babies. I never understood her obsession. The things I liked were different. I was more of a tomboy. I used to think this was the reason I didn’t feel close to her. As a spectator of other families’ lives, I noticed things others took for granted. I saw how other families had similar interests. I was always amazed at how they looked alike. I never had that being adopted. I had a lot of guilt for my feelings toward my adoptive parents. I felt I didn’t love them right. As a child, I assumed families were close because of their similarities.
No Common Language
I wish my adoptive parents would have known that I was feeling this way. I wish I would have had the language to tell them. I wish we could have healed together. There are so many things I wish I could change. They are both gone now. I share my experiences with the hope that no other adoptee will have to feel alone. That was the most important lesson I learned. I wasn’t alone in my feelings about adoption. Once I discovered the adoptee community, I felt heard for the first time. Many adoptees felt the same way I did. If only my adoptive parents had known that adoption starts with trauma. That the separation I felt when I was removed from my mother didn’t go away. I wasn’t a blank slate. I was traumatized and had no one to tell.
During the Baby Scoop Era, when I was relinquished, no one told my adoptive parents that adoption was trauma. They thought love would be enough. That was what they were led to believe. This lie not only harmed me, it prevented the relationship we might have had. Adoptive parents aren’t told that the child needs to be raised differently. Adoptees are not genetically predisposed to act like them. These differences will probably start appearing as the child matures.
Before adopting, hopeful adoptive parents need to be honest with themselves. They need to ask themselves if they are doing it to fill a void or if this is for the best interest of the child. The child will probably never look or act like them. Most people are drawn to their heritage. The adoptee is no different. How will they feel when the child wants to know where they came from? These are normal feelings the child is experiencing. Adoptive parents will need to understand this and support it.
Love Wasn’t Enough
“Yes, mother, I know you love me.” I still needed more. I needed to be heard and seen. I needed her to realize I was a different person from her. I wasn’t a blank slate. I had my own heritage already inside of me. I needed to know more about that. I needed to see people who looked like me. I needed to know I wasn’t alone with these feelings. I needed to talk to other adoptees. I needed her to understand I was traumatized and those feelings were still in me. The grief and loss I felt when I was separated from my first mother didn’t go away. It was part of me just like she was. I needed my adoptive parents to know that love wasn’t enough.
About Lorah Gerald
Lorah Gerald is a Kundalini Yoga Instructor, TIYT(Trauma Informed Yoga therapy) instructor, Reiki Master, Adoptee, Intuitive, and Ordained Minister. She writes and makes videos about her lived experiences with trauma and as an adoptee. She shares these experiences on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Pinterest as the @theadoptedchameleon. She writes memoir, inspirational, educational, opinion pieces and a blog on her website LorahGerald.com and her social channels.
Lorah hopes to help others heal their trauma, adopted or not, by sharing her lived experiences as an adoptee as well as her education in breath work, energy healing and natural intuitive abilities.
- Facebook: @theadoptedchameleon
- Instagram: @theadoptedchameleon
- Twitter: @theadoptedchameleon
- TikTok: @theadoptedchameleon
- Pinterest: @theadoptedchameleon
- Website: LorahGerald.com
Adoptees on Adoption 2022
- Love With A Big Love by Danielle Gaudette
- What I Wish You Had Known While Raising Me by Emma Stevens
- The Green Binder by Cynthia Landesberg
- A Simple Question with Many Answers by Rebecca Cheek
- Happy Birthday by Roberta Holland
- Don’t You Know We Love You? by Lorah Gerald
- Why My Truth Matters More Than Your Comfort by Brad Ewell
- Being Open is the Right Path by Allison Olson
- Adoptees on Adoption 2022 entire series
- Adoptees #flipthescript 2014-2016
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.
5 thoughts on “Adoptee Lorah Gerald: Don’t You Know We Love You?”
Thank you for sharing this critical insight. My childhood household did not constitute a family, and my ancestry was kept from me. One result was that the kind of ancestral connection you describe was unknown to me.
I wonder if it would make any difference to stop referring to our ancestral parents as ‘birth’ parents. It isn’t as if their only involvement was to be present at our births.
Ancestry goes way beyond just two “birth” parents. Did I grasp your point adequately, Mike?
Lorah, thank you for sharing your experiences. Although your mother had her own trauma that brought you two together, there is no comfort in knowing the why when it caused you to have a childhood of being unseen for who you were.
The best person to ask would be Lorah herself.
Her description feels very familiar (pun?) to me. I think there are many adoptees who find, among ancestors, a kind of visceral, emotional, resonance that is new to them because of their isolation. Is that something Lorah would (did?) say?
For me, at least, learning that this kind of resonance existed came late in life because I’d not knowne either my ancestors or descendants. The result required a reevaluation. Unlike Lorah, I had no prior hint and that made the discovery more of an upheval.
I loved her response to adoption. I had feelings similar to hers. tell adoptive mom felt very insecure and didn’t really want to tell me much or talk about it much. I waited til I was 71 and both parents gone to seardh; in many cases too late. I don’t know if my parents knew I had siblings or not but it was never mentioned so I never thought about it. But I had four, all of which are gone. But I have met one brother’s son and many cousins. All accepted me with open arms. Really friendly and special to me. I know my mom wouldn’t have approved of me searching. She would think it meant I didn’t love her but they are my parents. They raised me and loved jme and took good care of me.
Oh, Dianne. I’m glad you were able to meet some of your birth relatives, yet I’m sorry so much else was lost to you due to the Either/Or mindset of that era and your mother’s resulting insecurity. Sounds like you struggled with the competing forces of loyalty to your adoptive parents and curiosity about your birth family.