Dana Plato and adoptees
I am a friend of an adoptee. I work in a high school and am curious about a few things.
I heard about the death of former child actress Dana Plato. I saw on one of the news magazine shows that she was an adoptee. She obviously had some problems with drugs and alcohol. I wonder if other adoptees seem to find comfort or whatever it is in these behaviors?
The following is my opinion only!
Thank you so much for your thought-provoking question. I too, was sorry to hear about Dana Plato's death. The fact that she was also adopted of course sparked my curiosity as well. I will not dare to say that being adopted caused her to abuse drugs and alcohol, only Dana herself would be able to tell us that. I will tell that you that many adoptees feel a nagging and ongoing 'disquieting loneliness', devastating feelings of rejection, fear of abandonment, and often lead troubled lives. It has been proven that many adoptees attempt to find comfort outside themselves, wherever possible. For instance, they often turn to food at an early age, then turn to alcohol and/or drugs.
Other common traits of adoptees are depression, shoplifting, relationship difficulties, and identity problems. Depression is pretty self-explanatory. The adoptee may feel hopeless. They may feel sad for no apparent reason. Their life may be going great, but for some reason, they can't be happy about it. Many adoptees that I have spoken to say something like, "I don't know why I am so depressed all the time. I have a great job, my husband loves me, my children are well-adjusted, and I just can't let it in". Many adoptees, including Dana Plato, have problems with stealing and shoplifting.
I believe that many adoptees are reaching out for help and sometimes the only way for them to get attention is to break the law. Relationships are commonly a source of fear and pain for many adoptees. They often cannot handle the intimacy from as early as birth. For instance, they frequently have trouble bonding to their adoptive parents, and later have difficulty maintaining adult relationships with lovers. The identity problems that I am referring to are simple. Adoptees who have not yet reunited yet do not know who they look like or take after. When they see the resemblances that their adoptive family members have to each other, they feel different.
All of the above mentioned traits may lead adoptees to seek comfort in people, places, and things outside themselves. The bottom line is that they don't want to feel the pain that they may or may not even know they have. Denial is a big part of being adopted. Many adoptees will tell me that they don't mind being adopted and that they never wonder about their 'real' parents. I believe that this is humanly impossible. At one time or another in an adoptees life, I believe that they will eventually have the desire to find those that resemble them and, most importantly, to find out the circumstances of their relinquishment.
Remember that everybody has a different personality and emotional life. I have heard from many adoptees who do no agree with my position. They claim that they will never be curious about their heritage and do not feel that being adopted has affected their life in any way. My response to this is if an adoptee is not curious about the people that gave them life, then something is wrong. It does not matter whether they were raised in a happy or unhappy home, being given up by the, "people who are supposed to love you the most" has to have an effect on you.
The most important thing to remember is that the pain of being adopted never really goes away entirely. Also, trying to find comfort in outside things is futile. Healing is an inside job. No person, place or thing can take the pain away. I recommend that adoptees who are in pain seek counseling and the fellowship of a support group. Nobody understands what it is like being adopted unless you are adopted yourself. I also encourage adoptees to search for their relatives. It is a way of taking their power back. They were powerless as infants, but as adults they have the power to choose. They can choose to search and then once reunited they can choose to have a relationship. We all have a choice. We must never forget that.
Thank you for your question, I hope my response has satisfied your curiosity.
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.