I am 30 years old and was adopted from a foreign country at age 5. I have struggled for many years with this and did not realize how important it is for one to be secure with your adoption, as I was not. Now I am a professional but this remains a void in my life. I feel that one of my parents was abusive, mostly verbally and it really hurt me growing up.
I was wondering if you know of any support groups or any sort of groups that I can look into to discuss my feelings with others. Or if you have any suggestions as to how to cope with this void, i.e. should I try to find my natural parents? (this seems nearly impossible)
Speaking as an adult adoptee, adoption can leave a void in your life, even if you have been aware of your adoption since a young age. It is simply part of our reality as adoptees that we have two sets of parents: the ones who gave us life and the ones who nourished and nurtured it. Coming to terms with this might be one of the biggest challenges we face.
It is helpful to remember that you can't change the past, but you can find peace within yourself. That is your foundation. Open your heart and forgive the past. Learn to be confident and content in who you are now. It can sometimes be an arduous or even painful process, but it is well worth it over the long term.
Based on what you wrote, I would strongly suggest counseling as a starting point. Your experience is somewhat different from mine in that you were adopted at age 5. I am not a pediatrician, nor am I an expert in child psychology, but I wonder if you might have some early memories of your birthparents. Also, you didn't specify which country you are from, but if you have a different racial background from your adoptive family, it might magnify the feeling of "not fitting in" experienced by many adoptees.
You also mentioned that one of your adoptive parents was verbally abusive. I would think that all of this has contributed to the void you describe. Counseling can definitely address these issues and help you work through them.
As to whether you should search, that is something you must decide for yourself. It may not necessarily close the void. In fact, if it becomes a long and difficult search that yields no results, it might create more problems than it solves for you. Before you undertake something like this, I would suggest giving it some careful consideration. For instance, are you emotionally ready for a long and difficult search? If you find your birthparents, are you ready to go beyond that initial meeting and stay in contact? Are you ready to develop a relationship with your birthparents? How would you feel knowing that your birthparents might not want you to contact them? How would you feel if your search proved fruitless? Would you share your experiences with your adoptive parents and family? How might they feel? Would you be able to accept their responses to it, whether positive or negative?
None of this is to discourage you, because it must be your personal choice. But those are just a few possible outcomes or consequences of a search. Counseling might further help clarify this decision for you. There are also many books available on searching and on emotionally preparing yourself for a search.
I would also recommend joining a support group for adult adoptees. Hearing the experiences of other adoptees (or even birthparents and adoptive parents) can be very comforting. It can show you that you are not alone.
Whatever you decide, take care, and best of luck to you.
Additional resources and information:
- Support groups: Contact your local park district or a local adoption agency
- Check Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble
- Online information:About.com's Adoption page is a good place to begin. It offers information on searching, as well as links to adoptee discussion boards.
The Adoption Specialist
Women Improving Self Harmony...one woman at a time.