About Cheerio

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In general I am a cheery and energetic person. But I am enshrouded in a cloak of iron. That cloak is the weight of greiving my son, whom I've lost to adoption.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Is Healing Possible

Is healing possible?

There are about 20 resources in my book nook relating to adoption (this does not include the eBook and many published research articles filed away).

  The first book I ever read in trying to help me cope with losing my son was “Silent Grief: Miscarriage – child loss finding your way through the darkness” by Clara Hinton.  I count this book as adoption related because it was an essential piece in trying to find equilibrium in life.  It validated so much of what I experienced through the adoption -- loss.  In its pages it vividly and accurately described the tremendous hurt and pain.  And yes, “the darkness” aptly describes where that pain took and left me.

  The other book that was just as essential to me was “Adoption Loss: The Hidden Grief” by Evelyn Burns Robinson.  Her book IS about the impact of adoption on the original mother (as well as on the adoptee).  This book too was validating, not only jut about the pain, but also that my story is no anomaly.  In addition to the grief and pain, this book discusses the pressure, deceit, manipulation, and coercion original mothers faced. 

  In 2001 I knew I needed help.  I was unraveling emotionally, and was struggling to keep it together.  I was unable to find any type of help from the agency.  I searched for a counselor.  Some said they worked with adoptees, but none had helped an original mother before.  Online I found forums, support groups, and books (especially lower priced used books). 

I started collecting books recommended books from my adoptee and original mom friends.  I was thumbing through my books recently, hoping to find a resource for a friend.  I pulled out “Adoption and Recovery: Solving the mystery of reunion” by Evelyn Burns Robinson.  Her first book was so impactful to me, I assumed that I had read her second book a long time ago, but as I read the first few pages, I realized I actually have NOT read it yet.

I am only on page 28 and so far I HIGHLY recommend this book!

1.) Because it is written for those affected by “adoption separation” – both original parents/families and adoptees.
I.e.:  “for parents and children…there is a suffering that comes from living with the physical and emotional distance created by the adoption. … both … exist in a life situation where a very important person is missing.  No amount of occupational success or material comfort can compensate for that missing relationship.”  (p. 6)
And, on page seven, she addresses the reality that the loss the adoptee experiences is not acknowledged, recognized, or supported in most adoptive families.

2.) This book gives me hope that healing, or “recovery” as she describes it, is possible. 
Page 24 she discusses the goal of personal “adoption recovery work” is to understand what happened (including how and why) on both an intellectual and emotional level.  To “understand the events of your past better and to change how you think about what happened in your life.  Although you cannot change what has already happened, you can achieve a sense of control in the present and make choices in the future.
…If adoption has left us only with bitterness and sorrow, we have failed to grasp the opportunities which life has offered us through our adoption experiences.”   (emphasis mine)

Was this hope for healing in other books, and I just missed it?  
Was I hurting too much see it?  Did I not want to hear it? 
I tried.
I honestly and earnestly tried to figure out how to heal.
I found the validation, and acknowledgement.
I found support from other mothers and adoptees.
I found my voice and advocated for change.
I tried counseling and therapy several times.
But the wound, was always there – was always seeping – was always sore.
As I describe on my blog, it was as if I lived life enshrouded in an iron cloak.

I do recall some mothers say they experienced healing in reunion.  I cannot recall details of any conversation because I frankly did not believe it was possible – at least not possible for me.

But now . . . I am in reunion. 
Reunion with our son is still new, our first face to face was eleven months ago.  I am continuously amazed at how much it has changed me – dare I say brought healing to this old wound?  As we drove away from that first meeting, I felt content.  Days and weeks later, I still felt content. Our reunion has grown to several visits throughout the year, including visiting his home and he and his wife visiting ours. 

Is healing possible?
Yes.  (to clarify here that by healing, I do not necessarily mean it is a complete healing that removes any pain.  I still have issues and things that sting - but other things do not hurt to the point of crippling me.  I know in our reunion we will experience tough spots too.)  More than a year ago I would not have ventured to answer this question, because it was so unfathomable.

In the past 11 months I experienced the usual seasonal events -- Mother’s Day, his birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  However, in the past year I experienced without deep sadness, depression, or sorrow.

I am fully aware that things could change in our reunion and we may communicate or see each other less.  But I will ride the wave for as long as it lasts.

So the other question, is healing outside of reunion possible?  And I wonder if I had read this book several years ago, would it have helped me heal at least to the point of not being crippled?  I can only speculate, maybe it would/could have, but will truly never know.

Nor will I ever be able to answer if healing can exist outside of reunion. 
This book offers hope that it can.  So if you are struggling and are not in reunion, or are newly in reunion, give it a read.   If you care to, shoot some feedback and hopefully by then I’ll have the book finished myself.

I think this is an important topic that is open for discussion, and if you are willing, please share a comment about your own thoughts or experience about healing  -- aka “recovery”.

Is Healing Possible?

“Adoption and Recovery: Solving the mystery of reunion” by Evelyn Burns Robinson; 2004, Clova Publications; Christies Beach, South Australia


  1. I do not think that anything will ever erase the hurt, trauma, and scars that adoption creates. We crave reunion for so long, and after we have it, we still struggle to identify with our birth families. Sometimes I feel as though my life is a used jigsaw puzzle. The kind you buy at Goodwill, and while you build it you find that some pieces are worn out, bent, or even missing. Therefore the picture will never be clear or untarnished.

    I reunited in 2012 and 2013. Still, I do not feel complete. My mom died in 1995. Adoption robbed me of ever knowing her personally. It actually robbed BOTH of us, as I am sure that my mother wanted to know me as well.

    I also know that my mom never healed from my loss. I was born on Easter Sunday, 1965. Upon reunion my sister told me that mom would go into a deep funk every year at Easter time, and she never understood why UNTIL I entered her life. Easter Sunday was a trigger for both mom and son because of adoption.

    I am fairly confident that my experience with this does not stand alone.

    1. Jeff, thank you for your honest reply. I have often heard from adoptees, just as you described, that it can be a struggle fitting into a family that you were separated for so long.
      I agree that nothing can erase the scars (and I'll go back to edit and clarify "healing" - because I do not mean complete healing that undoes the damage already done).
      Yes, both you and your mother were robbed. From what you've shared about what you learned from surviving family about her, I am confident she did want to know you too.

      I wish none of us would know these pains that don't wash away. luv and hugs to you

  2. I agree 100% with everything that Jeff said. I don't think I will ever get over the hurt and trauma that my adoption caused. I reunited with my birth mother in 1991 and my brother in 1994. In 1995 I was rejected by them all over again. I did everything in my power to "fix" things. My birth mother died in 2018. I haven't spoken to my brother since 1996.

    I do have a relationship of some kind with my sister who was also given up for adoption. We learned a little over a year ago that we had a brother who died at the age of 28 in 1998. Our birth mother never said a word to us about him.

    No, I don't think you can overcome the losses of adoption.

    1. Holly, thank you so much for taking the time to reply, and sharing.

      while with my head and rationalizing, I can sort of understand why birth mothers reject their child(ren), but with my heart - I cannot relate at all! I am so sorry that she hurt you so deeply by her twice - and then to be rejected and hurt again by a sibling. I will never try to pretend that I know that pain. I am sorry, truly sorry.
      How sad for you and a sister found about another sibling and that she withheld that from you.

      "Overcoming the losses of adoption" ... I don't think that is realistic either. Because of the adoption, I lost the chance for any other children - nothing will "fix" or erase that loss either.

      Thank you again for sharing your heart with us - Luvs to you!

  3. I know that nothing will ever make up for the lost years we had, but now... wow...13 years after our first face to face and 15 of contact .. and finally enough visits that I can’t count the precious days anymore.... I think I am finally just goooooood.
    Like I often say if I squint my eyes it’s ALMOST like it never happened. We’re that good. We’re that tight. I do not fear losing him again. It just won’t happen.
    But.. I can’t say it’s ok because no matter how great it is... I can’t take back the years lost. I can’t erase it for HIM. I can’t pretend for my sake and comfort and pretend it didn’t happen.

    1. Thank you, Claud for your reply. I am glad you are in a better place, what sounds like a you feel secure. I know it doesn't always work out that way, but I am happy it did for you.

      Before your reunion, did you ever think or believe you would get to a day where you felt "ok" (if that is a fair descriptor?)