Everyone wants to know where they came from, it’s in our genes to wonder about know where our nose came from or why we have the color of eyes that we do. For people who were adopted, they sometimes will never know why they are the way they are. This will essentially leave a void in their heart that they will never seem to be able to fill.
Mandi Lefevere was born on June 11, 1977, this was also the day that she was adopted. This was the start of many years where she felt like she didn’t belong. She told me the hardest thing about being adopted is not knowing anything about your story. Mandi said, “I feel like I don’t have a connection to the soil on the earth. Everyone is tethered to the earth but I’m not.” Being adopted will most definitely give you some sort of attachment disorder, when Mandi was young she didn’t have the typical attachment disorder that most adoptees have where they are very distant and unable to make real connections with people, she became overly attached and always needed someone around her to feel okay. She told me that she is still looking to fill the void in her heart that her adoptive mother could not fill.
Her relationship with her adoptive mother was anything but easy, her mother never connected with her when she was born and neither did Mandi. She was constantly fighting with her mother and getting into trouble- which is not uncommon for children that were adopted, they feel so lost and disconnected from everything and everyone around them that they do not know how else to handle their emotions. They feel as if they will get abandoned again and that their foundation will never be sturdy, because if it happened once it can happen again. This insecurity will follow them through their whole lives, and Mandi says that this underlies everything that she does.
Becoming a teenager is hard enough, you get a rush of hormones and you’re really trying to find out who you are and who you want to become. If you were adopted, you may start to feel even more lost than the average teenager because you don’t know where you came from. Those feelings of anger at your biological and adoptive parents cause some adoptees to act out, and one of the most common ways of acting out is that they will get pregnant while they’re still teenagers. 1 out 3 adoptees will have kids young, and Mandi was no exception, she had her first born when she was only 16. When you have a child, you now have something that is forever connected to you- something that an adopted child never had growing up- it only makes sense that they would want something that is blood related to them.
When you think of adoption, you usually think how wonderful it is that a family is finally going to have a baby, but when you look at it through an adoptee’s eyes, it’s more like a selfish transaction between people who both need something, either you need to give up your child or you are receiving one. Mandi told me, “I felt like I was taken, not given. I was a means to their end, you’re fulfilling something for someone else.” This comment really opened my eyes and expanded my way of thinking about adoption; the child was taken away from their home, the one person who was supposed to be there for them, and given to complete strangers. Then while they are growing up they have to say that they are grateful because they were given a home and a family, but they will most likely feel like they are different and out of place.
“The Primal Wound” by Nancy Newton Verrier is a great book for understanding the mind and feelings of an adopted child and the things that they go through emotionally and psychologically. It states multiple times that a baby knows its biological mother, and the separation between them causes the baby to have trouble developing correct emotional attachments and stunts their cognitive development, because at the beginning of their life they are neglected the most crucial and important connection between mom and baby which helps them to correctly form attachments and be able to trust. Erik Erikson (a developmental psychologist) created stages of psychosocial development, and the very first stage that begins the moment you are born, is called Trust vs. Mistrust. Trust Vs. Mistrust is when the baby either feels like they are being taken care of and loved and are able to trust their caregiver, or they aren’t able to trust them. This stage in psychosocial development is the most important stage because it sets that foundation for how this child will be able to trust and form attachments for the rest of their lives, and if that child is given up for adoption, chances are they won’t be able to trust their adoptive parents because, “if it happened once it can happen again.” The fear of those closest to them leaving is a fear that might never subside.
Adoption can be a beautiful thing if done correctly. Here are a few ways that can make it easier on the child: if you are a mother giving your child up, make sure that you swab some of your DNA that can be accessible when the child turns 18 so they can find out where they came from, stay in contact with the child at least by writing to them and sending pictures of yourself so the adoptive parents can show the child who you are and can see who brought them into this world. If you are a couple who wants to adopt a child, do as much research as you can about the psychological effects that it will have on the child and be prepared to be patient and understand that that child is suffering a loss, so if that baby doesn’t immediately attach to you or acts out one day, it doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate or love you, it’s just their innate desire to want to feel like they belong.
If you are looking to adopt a child or have already adopted one, do your research on how to properly understand what they are going through and the loss that they are suffering, give them love, be patient, and talk openly about adoption so the subject is not so untouchable as it is in most adoption cases, and always show them that you love them.