Adoptive children have lived inside their birth mothers for a period of nine months and have become quite accustomed to the smell, touch and sound of the mother. Once born, they are prepared biologically to be taken care of by the mother who gave them life. Once that has been taken from them, they are put into a world for which they are unprepared. According to Nancy Verrier,
"..the connection established during the nine months in utero is a profound connection, and that the severing of that connection in the original separation of the adopted child from the birth mother causes a primal or narcissistic wound which effects the adoptees' sense of self. It manifests itself in a sense of loss, basic mistrust, anxiety and depression, emotional and/or behavioral problems." (Statistics 13).
Adoptees are placed in homes where they have to make several adjustments. There is so much secrecy involved in the act of adoption, the adoptee has to play the game of "don't talk about it". Everyone who knows the family is aware that the child is adopted, but the child still has to pretend that this is "mommy and daddy". Then the child "acts out" by being promiscuous, rebellious, may perform poorly in school, troubled or disturbed, provoking feelings of misunderstanding and helplessness in the parents. Therefore creating an "unloving" environment in the home, which cannot be corrected because the adoptee cannot articulate their feelings and the parent cannot react appropriately. Adoptees seem to always have to "test" the adoptive parents' love for them.
When we look at secrecy in adoption, the adoptees' original birth certicate is altered to name the adoptive parents instead of the birth parent. Secrecy is so pervasive that adoption records are exempt from the Freedom of Information law, (Landsberg, sec. 3). A fact I found out trying to obtain my own records. While the agencies that assist in the relinquishing of the child, promise the mothers confidentiality, there is no promise or protection for the cild. Not having your own unaltered birth records is an extreme form of denying who the adoptee is.
Adoption has become so socially acceptable, that no one thinks twice about families who adopt children or even about the child who is adopted, no one except the adoptees themselves. And everything that the adoptee is thinking is not positive. Some adopted people think all of their problems are related to being adopted. Others think adoption has not interfered with the ability to live a happy and fulfilling life. Some people feel very positive about their adoption, but they do realize that adoption brings with it certain issues. (Clearinghouse, 4).
When exploring the feelings of adoption, the same feelings are echoed by most adoptees. Every paper written could have the same information; identity and self-esteem problems, feelings of abandonment and an interest in genetic history. My cousin expressed her feelings of being afraid of being abandoned again. She also stated that she felt being adopted prevented her from becoming emotionally attached to people, therefore making it difficult to have friends or intimate relationships. Another adoptee expressed exactly the same feelings when I spoke to her in 1998.
It is easy to ascertain that stress related illnesses in the older adoptee may have been brought on by the simple act of being adopted. The situation is made more stressful when the adoptee decides to try to get information about their birth mother. Gina Stronum, who was interviewed by People Magazine said it best when she said, "It was like everyone who was adopted was turned into a vicious animal out to stalk their birth mothers." (People, 104).
The climate for adoptees may change as the make up of the parents who adopt are now more willing to seek professional help for the adopted child with problems. In an early study of nearly five hundred privately arranged adoptions, nine to fifteen years later, the children were only marginally behind in social adjustment, where the family relationships were good. (Humphrey, 74).
When potential parents first think of the idea of adoption, the usual fear is that they know little or nothing about the childs' background. The parent(s) also do not know the full ramifications of the long term effects of adoption. Unbeknownst to the parent, is that the adoptee has problems based on their hidden background. It is the responsibility of the adoptive parent to obtain as much biological information as possible to share with the adoptee. So much more information needs to be revealed and more research needs to be done to bridge the gap of the unknown for the parent and the child.