Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Survival Guide to Secondary Familial Rejection for Adoptees

When I began to search for my biological family, there was no ill will in my heart. I was searching for love,for community, and for culture. I had no idea that I might encounter a second rejection.

There was no anger...only love. Just a naive desire to love and to be loved by my biological family. In my mind, it wasn't complicated. I did not expect to be met with suspicion.

I didn't expect to encounter rejection and it caught me off guard. I'd just always assumed that things would go well.

Many adoptees don't search for their families because they fear a second rejection. Unfortunately, it does happen. Sometimes our families just don't want us. It happens. It's a horrible thing to go through, but it does happen.

So... let me present you with a survival guide for adoptees experiencing secondary familial rejection.

If you've been rejected a second time, firstly I want to say that I am so so sorry that this happened to you. Know that you are not alone. Unfortunately, many of us have faced what you are facing now. It may seem hopeless- It may seem like you are totally alone in the world, and while non-adopted persons may not understand what you are feeling right now, many other adoptees do. I encourage you to seek out an adoptee support group so that you can have a safe space to express your feelings.

Julian's Survival Guide to Secondary Familial Rejection for Adoptees

1. Realize that this isn't about You.

It's not about you. It can't be about you, because they don't even know you as a person. You're just a concept to them, not a human being. Know that you are a pawn in this. It sucks, but that's what you are. Some people will view you as a threat and use your existence to incite fear in others. On the other hand, some people will be able to maturely process through these difficult feelings to be able to empathsize with you. Either way, when we're just outright rejected in reunion- it isn't because we are unworthy. It says nothing about who you are as a human being to be rejected a second time. In many cases, it's just the luck of the draw. Human behavior is unpredictable, and many humans just can't handle the intense feelings that come along with adoption reunions.

2. It is Okay to Feel Angry...but Don't Let Your Anger Get out of Hand

When people have rejected you just because you exist- it is okay to be a little pissed off about that. It's totally unfair! It IS unjust and doesn't make much sense. It is pretty painful to spend your life looking for someone only to be ignored, or to have a door slammed in your face. Give yourself the emotional space you need to feel anger. Write about it. Talk to other adoptees about it. Blog. Draw. Express Yourself. HOWEVER, don't let it get out of hand. Self-care is essential here. Be angry at the people that rejected and abandoned you, but don't turn that anger against yourself. I've seen too many adoptees commit suicide. People that didn't care about you in life aren't going to care about you if you're dead. You might feel worthless, but you aren't worthless. Get out there and help other adoptees. Become an activist. Put all of that anger into skillful action. Our community needs your rage. Wack-job politicians are constantly trying to limit our access to our original birth certificates- fight for your rights.

3. Survive

That sounds strange, doesn't it? Why would Julian put " Survive" in a Survival Guide? Isn't that redundant? Yes, it is redundant, but I'm saying this because you need to hear it. Survive. Keep yourself alive. Do not give up. Do not lose sight of who you are. Do not fall into an emotional black hole which leads you off a cliff. Survive. It might feel like your life is over, but it isn't. Tell yourself that you will get through this.

4. Don't Pressure Yourself to Forgive

Some of us have been through horrible situations. While many religious fanatics often rant and rave about the importance of forgiving those who have harmed us, I'm a big fan of taking things slow. People that don't care about you, probably don't care about your forgiveness anyway. LOL. You might laugh, but it's true. Forgive at your own pace, if you choose to do so. Stylishly ignore those that might try to force you into forgiveness prematurely.

5. Create Your Own Family

Time and time again, I hear about the importance of community- and of feeling like we belong. Don't forget that friends can be an amazing support system. You can build a life rich with meaning. Some of us unfortunately have to start over. So do it. Start over. Build from the ground up.

6. Don't Ask Yourself "Why Did this Happened to me?"

This is a tough one, but if you can do so...I suggest you refrain from asking yourself, God, or the universe why this happened to you. Asking this question could drive a saint mad. There are too many factors involved. Accept that you will never know why. Asking this question is like literally jumping on a train that you can never get off of because it just drives in circles for all eternity. Don't get on. Bad things happen to good people because sometimes the universe sucks, and because humans can choose to be nice or to be assholes. Some people choose wrong.

7. Don't Expect Everyone to Understand

Non-adoptees probably have no reference point for what you're going through. Even some adoptees won't understand. Don't pee in the wind. In other words, don't vent to people that cannot take a supportive posture because it will blow back in your direction, and then you'll have to go to work with yellow stains all over your brand new shirt get the picture.

8. Read

Yes, read. Read adoptee support forums and read books about adoption. No, I'm not talking about those terrible " How to Make Your Adoptive Child Love you and Discipline them properly using a 3 inch blade" books ( LOL, I'm warped)... read things that will make you feel validated like " The Primal Wound". Also try to read books on trauma, because being rejected a second time is a major trauma.

9. Laugh

Laugh as much as you can. You need those feel-good chemicals right now. Watch funny movies, seek out funny friends. Laugh as often as you can. * Side note- You might not want to laugh too heartily if you have diarrhea...unless you're into that kind of thing.

10. Cry

I think this one is self-explanatory. But on a side-note, I once cried until my tear ducts clogged and my eyes swelled shut. Don't do that. LOL.

11. DABDA- Stages of Grief


You're going to go through the stages of grief. Sometimes you'll fly through them in order, and sometimes it will be out of order. You might go from acceptance back into denial. Just let it happen.

12. Try to Let Love In When You Can

Not everyone is going to abandon you. Not everyone sucks. Let love in when and where you can. We're social animals. People need people...even though people also hurt people. Let people love you in imperfect and sloppy ways ( I.E. My adoptive mother LOL). Accept imperfect offerings of love from people that genuinely mean well.

Hope that helps, adoptee.

Just remember, you aren't in this alone.

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