Six things I've learned since coming out of the adoption fog
Wow it’s been a tough year. Coming out of the fog started slowly in my early thirties, then it accelerated massively when I had children. If you don’t know what the fog is, it’s a term used to describe how you feel about being adopted.
Here are six things I’ve learned since coming out of the fog:
1. I’ve been lying all my life
But I didn’t know I was lying – at least not consciously. Every time I told someone I didn’t feel any different, or agreed with them that as I was adopted as a baby it “didn’t count”, I was lying.
If you had asked me at any point up until my early thirties how I felt about being adopted I would have said “absolutely fine!” then gone out and drank three bottles of wine and slept with a random.
Even post-reunion I was still in the fog. Yep. It’s pretty foggy in there.
2. You can’t force anyone out of the fog
The first rule of adoptee fog club is: people only come out when they’re ready. You cannot force another adoptee out of the fog, however gently.
My own journey out of the adoption fog went something like this:
- have my own children
- read the Primal Wound
- start listening to Adoptees On and other podcasts
- join a local support group for adoptees
- wake up one day shouting “Holy sh*t!”
At the point everything hit home, I wanted to gather all other adoptees in my arms for a communal cry and a big cuddle. But it doesn’t work that way; people are only ready when they’re ready.
3. I hold adoption trauma in my body
What are you talking about? What trauma? You were adopted as a baby! Even I subscribed to this attitude until recently, but now that I know differently I can literally feel it. And it’s always been there.
My adrenal system has always worked overtime but I didn’t know why or how to calm it down (apart from the aforementioned wine and bad sex).
The burden of being adopted weighs heavy. I hold it in my heart, but also in my hips and my throat. It may never go away, but things that have worked for me include:
Things still to try include:
Anne Heffron has talked about the vagus nerve with some tips on what worked for her. I’d love to hear about what worked for you.
4. Being adopted has made everything harder
As much as my close friends joke that I have ‘special needs’ because I’m adopted, I really do. From what I know about the way adoption is currently supported in the UK, adopted children do now have a protected status at school and can access additional support. (If this is not the case, please get in touch so I can amend my article!)
Because this wasn’t in place when I was growing up, I struggle to allow myself any additional concessions, when actually sometimes I need to give myself a break, or ask others to be more sensitive and/or supportive. I know there is a school of thought that says by being brought up this way I’m now more resilient, but I’m starting to disagree.
5. Being adopted doesn’t get better with age
I wish with all my heart I could say it did, but I’ve found these ‘middle years’ so far the hardest. That’s not to say it just gets progressively worse, it definitely fluctuates and I hope I’m simply in a trough rather than a peak right now due to my recent emergence from the fog. Did I mention the fog? Man it’s good to be out, but I do sometimes miss that comfy blanket of ignorance.
I do however know that being an adoptee is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life, rather than something that eases off and eventually vanishes.
6. The adoptee community is awesome!
Oh how I wish I’d found them sooner. But better late than never. The online adoptee community is fantastic, so supportive of one another and encouraging us in our baby steps to speak out and cope with the daily strains of adoption, search and reunion, etc. Thank you so much to you all.
And the support group I attend has been so powerful for me in my journey. There are adoptees from many walks of life, with different stories to tell but one fundamental thing in common. I look into their faces and I see acknowledgment of the primal wound, and that is something I didn’t know I needed so badly. I heartily recommend other adoptees to seek out an adoption support group near you, or start one of your own!
There are some people doing incredible work both online and IRL including: