Adopted and Lost


Adopted and Lost


your avatar   23-year-old woman

I am adopted. I have known this since I was 14 years old. I have difficulty recognizing myself. It feels like I have no self identity. I know my birth mother's name but I haven't seen her. She was young when she became pregnant. She gave me up for adoption when I was two years old. Since I found out I was adopted I feel that do not belong to this world. I have great difficulty dealing with people and I always feel lonely. I end up feeling panicked when someone says they care about me or like to talk to me.

My adopted parents do nothing to help me or comfort me, I think they pretend they don't see how I am feeling. I have been thinking about committing suicide. In fact, I have thought about killing myself ten times within six months.

I need help dealing with my adoption and the problems I am experiencing. Any insight would be helpful.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

My Dear,

"Adopted" does not mean "rejected".

"Adopted" does not mean "faulty".

Your mother did not keep you, did not raise you herself. This could have been for any one of MANY reasons.

When she made the decision to give you up, you were a little toddler. Look around and seek out a few 2-year-olds. Gorgeous, aren't they? They are so cute even when naughty, even when they drive adults crazy with temper tantrums, even when they say 'no' to everything. And I don't think you were a naughty little child, for if you were, your new family would have chosen someone else when they wanted a child of their own. You were a lovely little fluff of life. It must have broken your mother's heart to have to give you up. She could not have looked at her need to adopt you out as a way of punishing you. She must have seen it as a way of the world punishing her. She was very young. She made a mistake, or possibly even someone forced sex on her, and she got pregnant.

She must have thought that her world would end. Possibly, she considered suicide. Her parents probably gave her a terrible time when they found out. They may have kicked her out of home when she decided to keep her child. All the boys and girls she knew may have been laughing at her, taunting her cruelly. Or, she may have managed to keep her pregnancy a secret, perhaps helped by supportive parents, and she was terrified that people might discover her secret.

She could have had an abortion. That may have been the better choice, for you are now unhappy. But, I have had clients who had chosen an abortion ten years before, and were still grieving for the baby lost. And I ask you: what did you do, 23 years ago, that is so bad that you deserved the death penalty? Did you kill anybody? Did you blow up an airplane? Did you terrorize a city with a bomb? No. You were born, that's all. And you had no say in it.

Being adopted is NOT your fault.

Did she give you up straight away? No, she kept trying, probably by herself, abandoned, in poverty imposed by the cruelty of society, for two years! She must have been a brave young woman, and you obviously inherited this. You have suffered from a fact you have thought of as a rejection for 9 years, and you are still here, fighting! You have considered suicide many times, but your inherited courage won't let you take the weak path. You are still here.

Being adopted is being CHOSEN.

Many unfortunate children grow up in orphanages. They have done nothing bad to deserve this. It's just that, when they were little, they did not attract an adopting family's attention. They were born, and reluctantly given up by a grieving mother, and then nobody else wanted them enough to give them a new family.

You were much luckier. Your adopting family chose you. They must have thought themselves to be so lucky, when they took their beautiful little daughter home for the first time.

Your parents are not perfect. They are only human. No doubt, like any other parents, they made mistakes. One was, not telling you about being an adoptee when you were tiny. Then you would have accepted the fact as just something about you, about as important as the color of your eyes. No doubt, they mistakenly tried to protect you from hurt, or didn't know how to approach the subject.

Probably, in your family, people find it hard to talk about feelings. They didn't keep your adoption a secret for 12 years because they were ashamed of it, but because they didn't know how to tell you. You are now punishing them with rejection. You are hurting them with your pain. I am sure they feel that they have failed you. Please forgive them for their mistakes, and appreciate them for having given you a family when you had none. They are your REAL FAMILY, whoever gave you birth, because they chose you.

A biological mother has no choice. Whoever is born, that's the child you have. An adopting family makes a positive choice, a deliberate decision. They select the child they want, because they want a little person to love, to raise, to have as their slice of the future.

Why have they given you little emotional support in your grief over having found out that you are adopted? Your plea for help suggests two reasons to me. First, they don't know how. Many people are like that. When a woman's husband dies, she often also loses many of her friends because they avoid her. They don't mean to, it's just that they "don't know what to say", "don't know what to do to help her". So they say nothing, do nothing, and stay away from what to them is an embarrassing situation. So the poor woman is punished for grieving. In the same way, your family dealt with your grief by pretending it wasn't there. They were hurt by your pain, and didn't know what to do about it. So, they kept silent, hoping it would go away by itself.

Second, you have described your pattern of dealing with rejection. You withdraw into yourself, and don't let the other person see your pain. So, when you reacted to their silence with silence, they thought that things were OK. This is not to blame you. You had learnt your way of reacting to emotions from your family, the people who raised you, the people who offered you a home and a future, and their love.

Your adopting family are the people who gave you the great compliment of choosing you. They have their faults, they are not perfect. Is anyone? Please forgive them for their faults. Give them your love. And seek out your biological mother, and give her your love too.

I know several adults who were adopted, who now have TWO loving families. Why shouldn't you have this joy too?

Your message deals with other, important issues, your fear at being offered warmth. This is understandable, but deal with one problem at a time. You can learn how to accept love when you have learned to accept yourself, accept the fact of being an adoptee.

With best wishes for your future,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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