Hi, my name is Sara. I am 17 years old and I am adopted. I was adopted when I was 2 and half years old. My parents divorced when I was 7. I am now 17. Most of my closest friends are older males in their 20's or 30's. Not sexual friends. Just guys I talk to and spend a lot of time. I base my friendships on trust, and mutual respect for each other's feelings.
However, I can't seem to trust my adopted parents and I also do things that are somewhat dangerous to me. Such as running away from home, I tried drugs although I no longer do them and I hate my parents and at times over the last 5 years have wanted them dead. My mom, dad and stepdad. My mom and stepdad are in the process of a divorce right now. There are no step brothers or sisters. Just my adopted brother who is 19. I have half brothers somewhere. I don't know where, from my biological mother.
My family life is not really that bad, but for some reason I hate my adopted family and have done nothing but cause them pain for the last five years. I want and need help so that I can start to get a long with them. I am not sure what my problem is but I just can't love them. Please help me if you can. I really would like to check into some kind of impatient treatment as well but don't know of any. What's my problem?
Thank you for your heartfelt question. Before I attempt to offer you a perspective on your difficult situation, allow me to congratulate you on your courage. I have corresponded with many adoptees who feel just as you do, but were unable to identify these deep seated issues until their late twenties or early thirties. At age 17, it is simply remarkable that you are so in touch with your feelings regarding your adoption situation.
First of all, many adoptees live with an overwhelming feeling of abandonment. They may ask themselves repeatedly why they were given up, and perhaps, what was wrong with them that their parents didn't love them enough to keep them. Knowing this common trait, your abandonment feelings are magnified by the fact that your adoptive parents divorced at age seven, and your adoptive mother and stepfather are currently divorcing. Although you may not feel as if you have been abandoned repeatedly in your life, your behaviors confirm that you are indeed unhappy with your situation. You are not alone. Many adoptees resort to running away, if only to get the attention they so desperately need. Adopted or not, when someone runs away, they are definitely running from something. Drugs and alcohol often enter the picture at an early age as well. The fact that you have chosen to let go of any drug use is admirable. Keep it up.
What concerns me the most is that you commented on your inability to love your adoptive parents. Perhaps you see them as the enemy. They are not, and can never replace, the people that brought you into this world. No matter what they do or how much they love you, your adoptive parents cannot take away the pain that you are feeling inside. Remember that your feelings of "wanting them dead" has nothing to do with them. You are feeling a lot of confusion and maybe displaced hatred that is preventing you from letting their love in. If your adoptive parents were abusive in any way, then is a different story. Your anger may be understandable. When you wrote, "they weren't really that bad", what does that mean to you? "Not that bad" to me means that there may be something that you don't want to look at just yet. On the other hand your comment that you want them dead is a very strong statement, one that I would not take lightly. If you have not been to a counselor yet, I strongly recommend that seek one out. You need to rectify who you are angry with and then learn the tools to deal with that anger. Anger will eat you up inside if you let it. Healing is an inside job.
The following are some suggestions to help you reconcile your issues:
- Try writing in a journal. Write down all your feelings, good, bad, and indifferent. Writing your feelings down will only help you, nobody else has to see them unless you choose to share it.
- Seek out a counselor, perhaps one that specializes in adoption related issues.
- Continue to build solid friendships built on honesty and trust, especially relationships with girls your own age.
- Join a support group for adoptees. Go to http://www.calib.com/naic/database/index.htm. Click on your state/area. There is a plethora of resources for all members of the adoption triad.
- Do not be afraid to tell your family how you feel. You may be surprised at how receptive they are. And if they are not receptive, rely on # 2, 3, and 4.
When you are ready, and not a minute before, conduct a search for your birthfamily. It is your right to know where you came from, and knowing will bring you immeasurable healing.
Good Luck, and remember, you are never alone.
This question was answered by Kasey Hamner. Kasey Hamner has a Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology, a Masters of Science degree in Counseling, a Pupil Personnel Services Credential authorizing her services as a School Psychologist, and is a Licensed Educational Psychologist. She specializes in adoption related issues including search and reunion, abandonment, self-esteem, substance abuse, depression, and relationship difficulties. Also amongst her specialties are children's issues including adoption, abandonment, ADD, special education and so on. Her approach is eclectic and is adapted to suit the individual's needs.
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