Adopted woman learns of past abuse


Adopted woman learns of past abuse


your avatar   Tina (37 year-old woman)

I was adopted at the age of 7. I have met my birth father and siblings, but I have not met my birth mother. I have found out that she let her 'boyfriends' sexually abuse me. She physically abused me. I have a wonderful adopted family and I love my birth family. That was 30 years ago and I had a nervous breakdown in November. I am on antidepressants and seem to be doing well now. I am married and have 3 children and a wonderful husband.

I would like to know why after so many years everything comes out in the open. It almost ruined my marriage because I didn't want to make love anymore. It made me sick. Does this happen a lot?


    Kasey Hamner,

Dear Tina,

I would like to express to you how sorry I am to hear that you are having difficulties in your life. Given your history, it is understandable that you would have the reactions you are currently experiencing. Finding out that your birthmother physically abused you and allowed her 'boyfriends' to sexually abuse you is a double whammy. Being adopted at age seven is even more unique than being adopted at birth. You may or may not have memories of your birthmother. You may or may not have memories of the sexual abuse by the boyfriends as well. And as an adult trying to find your roots and the circumstances of your relinquishment it must have been horrifying to learn the awful truth. Adoptees usually fantasize that they were given up by royalty or wealth, but to find out that you were sexually abused is tragic.

You mentioned that you had a nervous breakdown at thirty-seven, thirty years after your relinquishment. Does that surprise you? It does not surprise me. The part of you that may have remembered what happened to you has now been verified, it has been suddenly brought onto the surface to be dealt with. It is not uncommon for victims of sexual abuse to have difficulties with sexual relations. Flashbacks can happen during intercourse, in dreams, or even with certain smells, tastes, and tactile sensations. Flashbacks are common and may never go away entirely. I believe that flashbacks are ways that the mind attempts to reconcile what happened. It is also common for people who have been sexually abused to avoid sexual activity in hopes of avoiding the flashbacks. Being adopted and abused can make the feelings and issues more difficult to deal with.

I am glad to hear that you have a wonderful adoptive family. That is definitely something to be grateful for. Also, the fact that you have a loving husband and family is helpful. It sounds like your husband has been there for you through all this, and as long as you are willing to, it is important to be honest with him about your feelings. He may need to be reassured that your not wanting to make love to him has absolutely nothing to do with him. I am sure that he knows that, but a loving reminder never hurts. It is O.K. to take things slow and if you become uncomfortable, it is also O.K. to stop. I suggest that you use a little self-talk. When you start to have flashbacks or you start to feel 'sick', try to reassure yourself that you are in a loving, adult relationship with a wonderful man. Remind yourself that you will never have to be abused again. Tell yourself that you will never let anybody hurt you that way again. Become you own advocate.

I am glad to hear that the anti-depressants are working for you. If you have not been in counseling, it may be helpful to see a professional who either has experience with adoption related issues and/or sexual abuse. I believe that the truth will always come out. And even though the truth may hurt, the truth will also set you free. The more you work on forgiving your birthmother and her boyfriends, the more you will heal. You don't have to forget what happened, but forgiving can be very healing.

Remember to focus on the good in your life, and it appears that there is plenty of it in yours. You have a good relationship with your birthfather and birth siblings, and were raised by a loving adoptive family. They need you as much as you need them. Focus on your three children, be there for them like your birthmother was not there for you.

Take care,

Kasey Hamner

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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