Katie Naftzger, LICSW

family therapist, adoption specialist, speaker, author

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Being Adopted – The Consignment Experience

It’s so hard to find ways to convey the experience of being adopted, to your community, your school, your adoptive parents and even to yourself!  But, there are certain times when it crystalizes which gives me something to share.  I want us to better understand one another even if our stories are very different.

I was clearing out my closet and thought it might be good to try to sell some of my clothes to a consignment store.  A pretty usual thing to do.  But, as I got all my stuff together to bring in, I found myself worrying about which clothes they would take, which ones they would reject.

For me, it was personal.  I felt a sense of dread and it’s a familiar feeling.  Adoptees are like the clothes that are “gently-used.”  We’re still just as good as clothes that are brand new, but we have something to prove, to others, to ourselves.  We’re not fresh out of the box.  Adoptees feel vulnerable and dependent on the opinions and acceptance of others and yet, we long to be free from the feeling that our survival depends on whether or not we’re accepted by others.  We inadvertently put a lot of power into the hands of that person sorting through those clothes.

Because, the answer is not being completely dependent on the vagaries and whims and others, and it’s also doesn’t mean denouncing the value of others and rejecting their worth.  It means finding a sweet spot in between those two poles – being connected, having meaningful relationships with the people in our life, but not to the point that we put our survival, whether emotional or physical, in their hands.

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