Katie Naftzger, LICSW

family therapist, adoption specialist, speaker, author

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Adult Adoptees Stepping Into Adulthood

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-asian-student-image17606990Stepping into adulthood is never easy and many adoptees feel like beginners in the adult arena, even when their age would suggest otherwise.  What is it that’s so hard, and is it really different from anyone else?  When I talk about this with non-adopted clinicians one of them will inevitably say something like, “Katie, I hate to break it to you, but everyone goes through that.  That’s not an adoption thing, that’s a life thing.  My son is doing that right now and he’s not adopted.”  This is tricky because you also could say that about any clinical diagnosis.  Take depression, someone could say the same thing about depression, “Hey, everyone gets a little down sometimes!  Hey, I cry myself to sleep and I’m not depressed!  That’s just the way life is, it’s hard.”

I’m not putting a judgment on it.  I’m not suggesting that stepping into adulthood is harder for adult adoptees than it is for everyone else.  What I am suggesting, is that it’s more complicated mylan bupropion xl.

How?

The first way is expectations.  Adoptees carry the weight of two sets (at least!) of parents, their adoptive parents and their birth parents.  And, if we really wanted to, we could go way back to the beginning.  Adoptees may wonder what their adoptive parents expected it to be like when they welcomed their little adoptee into their life.  Did they expect it to be easier?  Adoptees worry that they’re a disappointment.  Adoptees also wonder what their birth parent(s) might have expected, or hoped.  They feel guilty that they haven’t made enough of their life to justify the sacrifices and turmoil their birth mother went through to carry them and relinquish them.  They are aware that they have opportunities that their birth mother will never have, and worry that they’re wasting them.

The second way is belonging.  This is not a new issue for adoptees, but it is different as an adopted adult.  One way it’s different is that you are in charge of deciding who you “belong” with, whether in dating, marriage, etc.  You are also in charge of where you belong.  This includes career, which country, living at home or not.  And, when you struggle to find that “belonging” feeling, is that the context, or is that you?  Are you taking that with you wherever you go?  It’s complicated.

The third way is contending with the option to search for your birth mother, or parent.  Before you grew up, your adoptive parents had opinions about that, some may have felt threatened, others may have pushed for it, but your opinion and needs were trumped by your age.  Now, it really is up to you.  And, how can you make such a decision without all of the relevant facts?  Is it still worthwhile to search, even if you come up short?  For some of you, yes.  For others, no.  

 

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