Are we adoptees just mental?

I think one thing we adoptees must have in common is wondering from who we have inherited some of our habits.

If you have kids like me, you must have at one point or another compared your child’s habits and looks to yourself or to that of their other parent. All the good things have come from you of course and all the bad ones from the other person. Hey, at least, that’s what I do. However, now that mine are teens, I do realize that my daughter has many unpleasant habits in common with me, like her stubbornness or being convinced that she is always right and oh “the rolling of the eyes”…arg!

When I was little, my adoptive parents told me that they saw the doctor who delivered me and who was active in the adoption procedure during a trip to Wal-Mart’s. He looked at me and told them that he knew from whom I had inherited my long fingers. And that was it, that was the one and only thing I knew about them at that time and I have always carried that sentence in my heart and would wonder and dream about my natural parents. Huh, I imagined my mother being Céline Dion for some crazy reason.

Then I became a teen and my adoptive parents had divorced and my mother then took me back to her country of origin, Belgium. She had always had severe manic depression, but coming back to Belgium and not finding it the same as she had left it , 30 some years before, well that just put fuel on to her depression and she started to drink and take pills on top of it. I will spare you the details, but my teenage years were horrible, and I’m being mild here.

So as being a young adult, I had put it to the back of my mind, the though of me looking like someone else out there, and replaced those dreams I used to have with fear of becoming like my adoptive mother. Anytime I would have a tad bit too much to drink, I instantly would think of her and be petrified that I would be changing into her, an alcoholic. Or if I would have a couple of days of feeling down, (usually once a month) I would be scared that I was getting into a depression.

Last week I was doing my daily newspaper morning surfing and was reading an article in the Daily mail titled :

“When Cherry adopted these ‘angelic’ sisters she thought a loving home would heal the wounds of their troubled past. How terrifyingly wrong she was.”

In short it’s about a couple who have adopted two sisters. The eldest was 3 years old and the youngest 6 months. Their natural mother was a troubled person and couldn’t care for them anymore and so they moved from foster home to foster home, until this couple adopted them.

Picture isn’t me, but I was however delivered in a laundry basket.

According to the article , this couple was a stable family and having all the means necessary to raise these children happily and comfortably. Unfortunately after having adopted these children , they noticed some behavioral problems that caused much stress. In the end, the couple divorced, the wife ended up having to care for these children on a minimal income and the girls, now in their twenties are behind bars in jail. “‘Ironically they have followed exactly the same pattern as their mother,’ says Cherry.”

Again, this is a short sum up and to get the whole picture you should read the article yourself.

Then one paragraph really caught my attention :

Quite understandably, adopted children often suffer emotional difficulties. A U.S. study found that being adopted approximately doubles the odds of an adolescent being diagnosed with an emotional or behavioural problem. While these issues can usually be overcome, they often have a massive impact on the child’s adoptive family. 

My question to you dear readers is do you think that adopted children do have more problems? And I’m not talking about the many kids given up for adoption that have come from high-risk pregnancies, exposing them to potential for developmental delays, impulsive choices, poor choices, attention deficit, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and emotional disorders.

I do think that we might be more emotional than others and therefore I think that it is highly important for adopted children and their families to have enough support and that they have an adequate mental health support system at reach.

I also believe that God in His sovereignty, places orphaned or abandoned children with families on purpose, even if it doesn’t seem so at that moment. And what I have discovered is that conflicts that arise from adoption issues, whether on the side of parents or of the adopted child, can be overcome.  God has a way of taking conflict and using it for our own good.  God doesn’t give up on us.

So what do you think? Are we mental? Do we inherit traits ? I would really like to hear your thoughts or story, so please do share!

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34 thoughts on “Are we adoptees just mental?

  1. Toevallige meelezer. says:

    Hi there,
    Ik vind het prachtig hoe je dit schrijft! Ik herinner me jou als jonge twintiger met jonge kinderen heel erg op zoek naar houvast in je leven. als ik je blog lees, dan denk ik: jij hebt het gevonden en wat heeft God jou al die tijd goed vastgehouden, door al die stormen heen. Bijzonder!
    Groetjes, Margreet Brink (zus Lishe remember?)

  2. Your post has a lot of things that are great food for thought. I DO think we are “mental”… but so is everyone else in the world :) How we deal with what is within us is how God chooses to refine and speak to us. For me it was his way for showing me that no one can satisfy the need I have for being loved like he can. Yes, many adoptees are blessed with parents who will die on the hill for them and many end up with parents who are in over their heads. In the end is it all a part of God’s grand plan for each of us to know him intimately and personally?

    I too had parents who divorced within 1 year of bringing me home. I was eventually told that he never wanted to adopt me, it was only to save his marriage. I was the brunt of much anger and blame as I grew up. Mom’s 2nd hubby was an alcoholic and third was a wonderful man who was kind and loving but very passive and didn’t want to overstep his “step parent” role. My mom grew into a deep depression when he was diagnosed with cancer and began to self medicate about every pill that would ease the pain she was in. When attempting to take her life didn’t work, it fueled an already volatile relationship with her.

    It has only been by God’s grace that I am here and not in a mental institution or dead. I chose to listen to the inner being of my soul when God knew I had no where else to go or anyone to lean on. That is my prayer for all adoptees and parents… that we would listen to the depths of our soul and embrace the God who loves us more deeply than any human can. That within that relationship we would be satisfied and not look for love in the wrong places.

    Thanks for visiting my blog too :) (Smore Stories) It’s always such a blessing to connect with other adoptees and hear their own stories.

  3. As an adoptive parent of a 5-year old, who has been with us for 2 years, it is possibly too early for me to have any definitive opinion on this. I do think logically that my son and other adoptees are likely to be at an increased risk of emotional/behavioural problems, which could impact on their adult lives. I think this is completely understandable. I would like to hope that nurture will dominate over nature in the end, but there are certain genetic dispositions that we couldn’t hope to change. He also has a lot of inherited traits that I wouldn’t want to change, like determination and perseverance, both of which I ashamedly lack. At this point in time, I believe my son does have more ‘problems’ do deal with than the average child brought up in a secure, loving environment. We can only do our best to help minimise these in later life. We can never know what the future holds.

    I think this is a brilliant post. I have only just found your blog through your visit to my site and I shall will be very interested to hear things from an adoptees point of view. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. We recently adopted a newborn baby girl. As she starts to grow and change so quickly, I’m starting to notice more and more of her personality coming out. We spent more time with her birth mom–several meetings and then we shared a few days in the hospital room together when our daughter was born. We only met the birth father once. I got some sense of their personalities. The birthmom is such a sweetheart. The birth father was very polite and friendly, but we do have little background on their relationship. Though I don’t know the whole story, I know it ended badly and she had a restraining order against him. I do wonder who our daughter will be most like. I think some traits will be genetic.

    It is uncanny how some mannerisms and temperments in family are so similar. There are some things that that my nephew and I do that are so identical he could almost be my child instead of my sister’s child. :-) But, I also hope and pray by being loving parents and showing our daughter, by example, how to love and treat people, and how to be resilient, no matter what the circumstances, she will turn out to be a happy little girl and grow into a wonderful person.

  5. When I found my birth mother, the first surprise was that she had my expression on her face in the first photo she sent me. The most astonishing thing, though, was the parallelism in our paths. We were doing the same work, we had similar families; it was comforting, as well as a little discomfiting In my mid-forties, with children who are now themselves becoming adults, I am still discovering how being a child of adoption impacts our lives – forever. Not for better or worse, I think; whatever is, is. But being adopted is also why Psalm 139 (the early parts) is one of my favourites. God is the One being who has always known me, through all my families, through all my circumstances, through nature and nurture, and that is a tremendous comfort.

  6. Our family is just beginning this Journey. I will cling to the promise in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare to give you a future and a hope.”
    Thanks for sharing. :)

  7. Thank you for finding my blog, and liking my post (titled Too Much, Really on 04-30-12).

    I haven’t even read your post yet, (nor any of the other adoptee-related posts), but I look forward to exploring your blog. From the little bit that you’ve read about my experience as a birth mother, obviously you’ve already gathered that the whole subject of adoption is difficult for me to talk about, but I’m really glad you clicked “like” so that we could become acquainted. I may have to take it in small doses … I get overwhelmed about the subject, but I’m glad that my initial glance through your blog tells me that you’ve reunited with your birth parents, and I look forward to seeing what you’ve shared about that experience. Again, thanks for clicking like, and it is nice to (sort of) meet you. :-)

  8. What a wonderful article! You are a good writer and should consider writing a book about your experiences. I appreciate seeing how you have grown spiritually and bloomed in spite of things you had no control over in your life. Too often in life even non-adopted children grow up and blame the way they are on their genetics or their parents or disappointing circumstances in life. Even though we do not have control over all the circumstances we face, nor our race, or the country we grew up in or the parents we were born to or adopted by, we DO have control over how we respond to our circumstances and what we do with our lives.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  9. Wow. So close to home. A former foster sister, married to an adopted husband, 2 bio and 2 adopted children and adding another of their sibs this month to our family. We went through attachment disorder with our youngest. Ugggh. She is 15 now and we still have to remind her what “push away” behavior does. Beyond the hurt to us. But through all the challenges by God’s grace we have leaned in, together, often in tears on our knees with hands up in the air, grasping. Help! Giving thanks that God has kept us so desperately dependent on Him.
    Just received phone call 2 months ago, our chosen children have a 12 year old brother who is in CPS custody, finally. We are “dating” and he will move permanently with his big brother and sister end of May. Only God does this for only His own glory. Leaning in. No choice really. How could we not.
    BTW my husband has no desire to meet his bio mom except to thank her and share Jesus. My chosen children now are open to their birth mom and all the family who live very close. Many addicts. I always told my chosen their birth mom loved them she just loved something else more and when she used/uses she does not have the ability to chose them. They have suffered from biological baggage. But God makes all things new. Rejection is devastating. But chosen is powerful when you are chosen by the God of the universe for a purpose.

  10. My brother was 4 and I was 2 when we went into foster care (ages 6 and 3.5 at time of adoption) – he saw more, experienced more, remembered more. I had NO memories yet I’ve lived through the ugly just as much as he did. Our ugly days were different and happened at different points in our lives but they were there. My ado-parents almost split in the early years because my brother and ado-mom could not be in the same room without wanting to rip each other to shreds. My father commited suicide and my mother was seeking help for her manic depression at the time social services decided our mother’s wishes (to be in temporary care until she could come home) were not in our best interest. So there’s the nature bit that’s there, for sure. But for me – my pain was that I was old enough to know I was not naturally of the family I lived with but didn’t have memories of where I was from. Always old enough to know I didn’t belong (as rationalized by a young child) and too young to know where I did. That pain, hurt, and confusion would have followed anyone, I think.

    Selfishly, I recently declared that as an adopted child – I could never adopt as an adult. I know the blackness of the places I’ve been and I’m proud and happy to have come through them. It would break my heart to know a child of mine, because natural or not our children are our children, would have that blackness to wade through. I also know the pain and hurt I lashed out to my ado-parents with and the wounds I gave them, I would not want to be on the receiving end of that, either. I know it’s selfish but I could not/would not live through that again.

    • I’ve been reading your blog and you are very courageous for writing as openly as you do. I hope it helps you as it helps me …I see it as a kind of therapy.
      And I know how you feel, there was a time that I thought that I would NEVER adopt, knowing how I felt. My adoption dad has two natural children after I left home and I can’t help but feeling that he loves them more than me. And I would never want a child to feel like that.
      But now I realize that I’m not my dad, I’m not anybody else than myself.

      I’m looking forward to following your blog anonymous.


    • We all have to recognize what we can and cannot provide. It is hard to walk through the ugly, black stuff with a child. Often times I wonder if I can be everything my daughter needs. Then I realize I can’t. Only God can be everything that a person needs no matter what the darkness, no matter what the past (whether growing up adopted or in foster care or with a biological family). I can offer love, forgiveness, security, comfort, structure, routine, a healthy diet, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear. Are there times my heart gets wounded in the process? Absolutely. But I turn that over to God and trust Him to be all that I need…AND all that my children need (both the adopted and the biological).

  11. As we enter their teen years I pray even more for them. How can we help them process it all especially as they learn more details, horrible details about what may have happened and their country of birth’s callousness toward life. How will they continue to handle this whole part of their past that will never ever be resolved? With some measure of peace and trust in HIm is my hope. You see, they are from China.

  12. Thank you for reading my blog “Living Up to Mom” and commenting on my post “Stuff.”

    When I was a young woman, I always wanted to have 4 children. I would birth two and adopt two. God had other plans for me. After 5 miscarriages, my husband and I started adoption proceedings. We never finished the process as I became pregnant again. This time was different. I know this will sound weird, but I had an experience beforehand where God spoke to me and I knew with absolute certainty that I would be pregnant soon and that I would carry this baby to full term and have the pleasure of holding my baby in my arms. That baby was a beautiful baby girl and 2 1/2 years later i had a beautiful baby boy. I stopped there, because I couldn’t see raising any more children with my first husband. I confess that I did have second thoughts when we were going through the adoption process. I worried about what traits, both mental and physical our adopted child might have inherited. I worried that our child could grow up to hate us! We have all heard stories and even experienced them within our own families. In the end, I decided there are no guarantees in life, and I would just have to deal with whatever we encountered. I knew that having children would challenge me, stretch me and grow me, but I had no idea how much.

    My husband and I divorced when our children were 13 and 15—–a terrible age to put them through such a trauma, but trying to hold my family together at that time was like trying to hold a ball of water in my hands. My children have inherited traits from my husband and I that I wish they hadn’t! They have inherited things from their grandparents that I could live without. My children don’t always make good decisions. My daughter had a mental breakdown at the age of 20. I didn’t hesitate for a second to get her the help she needed that I knew I couldn’t provide which involved medication and counseling. I didn’t hesitate for a second to adjust my life to be with her 24/7 and help her through this crisis. We don’t have a history of mental illness in our family. My son is still not totally on his feet at the age of 24. He was raised in a church and baptized in a church, but he calls himself an agnostic. I don’t spend much time worrying about this. I am sure that he will find his way back to God. We each have our own spiritual paths, our own crosses to bear, our own issues to resolve. Nobody gets a free ticket to happiness! As a parent I’ve had to learn that I am not responsible for everything my children think, say, do and feel. As a parent I have a responsibility to love, protect, teach, nurture, and put down some boundaries. Beyond that I am not in control. None of us is.

    As a 54 year old woman who has sometimes stayed close to God and has sometimes strayed seriously off the path and has sometimes turned her back on God, I am sure that the only way to the peace and joy we all crave is through God and through the power of Christ who works within us through the Holy Spirit. It is a great mystery to me, but even when I have struggled to believe, God in his three forms has manifested himself in my life in ways that are miraculous. I have questioned God all my life, but my experience has led me to the truth of God. Ephesians 1:5-8 says, “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasuse and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” We are all adopted. We are all mental.

  13. I won’t even go into all that has come with my adoption. It seems pointless. My family knew my biological mother… and knew what she had, and they were told I would probably have it too. They still adopted me… and have saved my life. Doesn’t mean that it’s ever been easy. I still battle every day.

    I am following you now. Thank you for your honesty. Much love to all adoptees!

  14. You’re not mental, dear. I was raised without my dad, but got to meet him and my only aunt when I was 25. It was from him that inherited my love of extra sharp cheddar cheese, politics, and travel. Seeing my aunt explained my body form, which was always slim and boyish, unlike my mom’s zaftig curves! Had I never met them, I would have been in the dark about some of my habits and traits that I had not inherited from my mom. I used to ask her all the time if I was adopted because I couldn’t see where we were in any ways alike. Now that I am an adult, I look like her twin!

    When there are questions, you always want answers. Nothing mental about that.

  15. A lot of input here. I am very new to blogging. Thank you for commenting and “attaching” me to this community. As I have 2 adopted kiddos 15 and 16 now and are adding their new to us brother who is 12, this has helped me get a picture from their side as adopteees. My oldest 2 biological not at home any longer. The eldest at 22 visiting from out of state saw all three of the sibs together this weekend. They are so much like each other and so very much not like us. I think it is beautiful that we can be so very genetically different but love and work allows us to hear and understand each other. For us, God, puts us all in the same place, desperate for mercy and able to extend grace since that is all we receive.
    Talking to the newest “foster child” and discussing how the ties to mom will never go away. They will just have a different place. He has lived with her on and off for 12 years and she was not able to treat him very well, in and out of jail. Drug induced inability to choose what she loves. The talk of “bio” mom has really been a benefit to my kids who left her at 2 and 3. On top of that she and all the aunt and uncles live very close to us. Don’t know what boundaries will look like but do know there are restraining orders and strict limitations now. We don’t even know what they look like, and ever met.
    Glad to know there is encouragement as we delve deeper into extending ourselves, by grace for grace.
    Sincerely, Jackie

  16. I think all the other commenters have already established that you aren’t insane, so I won’t comment on that part… But I have to say that I think it’s fantastic that you’ve begun writing and talking about your feelings about being adopted, about your fears of becoming like your b-mother… I’ve had a lot of problems fitting in with my own mother and siblings too, but it wasn’t until recently that I was able to write it out and begin to sort things out in my own head, and that too, on a password-protected blog. I think you’re very courageous to speak about what has made you you. And the title ‘Maker’s Daughter’: all I can say is WOW!
    Cheers to you and yours! :)

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