Q: With your own parents, how do you think writing, or some sort of grief clearing, would have served you as their daughter?
Anne: It would have felt like I was driving a car that the windshield had been cleaned, instead of driving a car with a really dirty windshield and always having to focus on the dirt.
— Anne Heffron, adoptee,
in Ep 206 of Adoption: The Long View —
No baby should be born with a job, as Dr Phil has said (yup, he’s more entertainer than therapist, just like Dr Laura, but in this case it is good advice). It’s just too much to expect a baby to fix anything — a relationship, a heart, a life.
But many people come to infant adoption after experiencing infertility and enduring some sort of loss. They might think that finally getting a baby and filling their empty arms will heal all the hurt.
And it does heal some of the hurt. Adopting a baby does resolve parenting, but it does nothing to address the wounds of infertility, which can be deep and enduring.
Grief doesn’t go away on its own; it needs to be addressed and processed. But how?
↑ Listen right here! ↑
This month’s guest for Episode 206 of Adoption: The Long View is an expert on one way to process and possibly even release big emotions like grief. Anne Heffron is the daughter of parents who hadn’t worked through their feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, who hadn’t resolved their own losses prior to adopting their three children. Parents who couldn’t talk about adoption when Anne tried to bring it up with them.
Anne wrote through her own big emotions one summer a few years ago, resulting in her memoir You Don’t Look Adopted. Since then, her Write or Die! method has had a profound impact helping people heal their wounded places and make way for their next chapter.
Anne Heffron on Writing to Process Infertility Grief & Loss
Listen in as Anne reveals:
- What it was like to be the daughter of parents whose unacknowledged grief made them brittle and fragile;
- Considerations for when your writing might hurt another person, and understanding the two kinds of hurt;
- Why it’s important for adoptees to be free to focus their lives on themselves and not always on their adoptive parents;
- How adopting a child is an invitation to work on yourself;
- What happens to struggle if you don’t talk about it;
- The one conversation Anne wishes more than anything that she could have had with her mom;
- Anne’s best advice for adopting well and for adoptive-parenting well.
Prefer to read? Here’s a transcript (but listening is so much better!).
When you [adoptive parent] have that kind of grief in your body, it’s a physical block that keeps the pure energy of you from flowing. Your child is going to sense that, and they are going to take it personally, and think it’s something they did wrong. They will have this body confusion in relation to your body.
— Anne Heffron, adoptee, in Ep 206 of Adoption: The Long View —
Show Notes from Episode 206
Besides being the author of the memoir You Don’t Look Adopted, Anne Heffron is also the co-writer with Antonia Bogdanovich of the movie Phantom Halo. Anne Heffron was born in Manhattan in 1964 to a college student. 51 years later Anne returned to Manhattan to find the roots of her story, the one that began with her birth instead of with the phrase “The day we got you.”
- Anne’s website: anneheffron.com
- Anne’s book: You Don’t Look Adopted
- Anne on Instagram
- Read: A cautionary tale for adoptive mothers
- Read: my review of You Don’t Look Adopted
- Watch: Anne and me unpack an adoption app, the ”Tinder” of adoption.
How to Tune In Regularly
You can find us on any podcast platform and on Adopting.com.
- Apple Podcasts
- Google Podcasts
- Search for “Adoption Long View” on your preferred podcast platform.
A new episode comes out the first Friday of the month. Thank you for sharing, subscribing, and rating this episode!
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.