Today I am bringing you a guest post from a fellow adoptee, Jeremiah Murzinsky, who writes on a very important topic about how being raised in a good family doesn’t remove the grief of adoption. At some point in life, adoptees will begin to grieve the losses and process the trauma that they sustained through family separation and adoption. While our bodies will deal with the process from the beginning, we may not begin to consciously acknowledge the effects of adoption until a later age. If we speak about the internal feelings we have that are complex, nuanced, and at times even at odds with each other, frequently we are met with push back about how we “got a better life” or “were raised in a good family. Here are Jeremiah’s thought on being raised in a “good” adoptive family that I hope will bring a greater understanding about the tension adoptees feel within between the loyalty to family vs the loyalty to self.
I was never truly curious about my biological mother until I started to do the work of confronting the pain I had been repressing my whole life.
(Reading “The Primal Wound” was what started this recognition within myself.)
My adoption would come up when I was growing up, and I would brush the subject off, as if it was of little importance. When it inevitably came up in conversations with other people, I was very insistent on how great being adopted was and how it meant I was “chosen”, which I have now come to see as defense mechanism.
I used to tell my adoptive mother all the time that she was my REAL mother.
I can recognize now that I was trying to convince myself of something I knew wasn’t really true, and I could also see how telling my adoptive mother this elicited a positive response from her which was innocent on her part, but only reinforced the behavior in me.
I met my bio mom once over Skype about 10 years ago (my half-sister who reached out to me after I turned 18 arranged this meeting), but then we didn’t speak again, which also bothered me greatly and I also repressed.
I’ve come to understand now that the nonchalance, positivity, and lack of any negative feelings I expressed surrounding my adoption were NOT because I had a good adoptive family and was “well adjusted”.
If anything, having a good adoptive family only enhanced the need for repression and to be the “good child” that never felt negative feelings about my adoption.
How could I let down people who love me so much by acknowledging these feelings?
How could I even begin to explain to them that their gargantuan efforts could never undo the pain of separation?
While I do have significant problems with rejection like many adoptees, I think my compliance and repression was less tied up in the idea of another rejection, and more so in the idea of not wanting to cause them pain, or at least that’s the way it feels to me now when I think about it.
How could I take away the joy of their finding healing from the grief of their own infertility, especially considering that it was my adoptive mother that was infertile?
As far as I saw it, being honest with my feelings was a betrayal of their contributions to my life.
There came a moment though, where I could no longer deny what it is that I feel on the deepest level.
Losing my mother was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
Losing her is something that I felt deeply.
Losing her meant losing a piece of myself.
At a certain point, your right to grieve things that you NEED to grieve outweighs making other people comfortable, and making other people feel uncomfortable with who you really are can be an incredibly difficult thing for an adoptee to do, especially if some of those people happen to be your adoptive parents.
But sometimes things in life just have to be done, especially if you are trying to be your authentic self.
Written by Jeremiah Murzinsky