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Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew par [Eldridge, Sherrie]
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Hidden Losses

Row upon row of tombstones lined the lush lawns as I drove through the tall black iron gates toward my adoptive parents' graves. An elderly man filled a plastic pitcher at a spigot and the smell of freshly mowed grass filled the air. A new grave was being dug across the way, a vivid reminder that loss is an undeniable part of life.

On the seat beside me were two long-stemmed roses, symbolic of my late-blooming gratitude to my parents, who had weathered the growing-up years with me. I was returning to their graves as an adult who had finally come to grips with the fact that adoption had, and continues to have, a profound impact on my life. This was to be my day of reckoning, forgiveness, and closure.

As I exited the car and headed toward my parents' graves a tidal wave of grief washed over me, and I felt like an orphan once more. How I hate that feeling! I was gripped by the cold, hard fact that the people who loved me most were buried below.

I tiptoed over the mounded grass to their rose-colored headstone. RETHA G. AND MIKE J. COOK, the etched letters read. As I ran my fingers over the smooth granite stone, I whispered, "I hope you knew how much I loved you. Thank you for loving me when I was so unlovable."

Without a doubt, my parents did their best to be the kind of parents I needed. And I wanted nothing more than to be the kind of daughter they could be proud of. However, our hearts rarely, if ever, connected. Instead, we were like ships passing in the night.

Outwardly, we appeared to be a close family. We took vacations and played golf together. I remember my parents proudly watching the events of my life unfold. I was a model child: captain of the cheerleading team, first-chair clarinet, homecoming representative for my class. But behind the scenes I was starving myself, being sexually promiscuous, and stealing. My parents didn't have a clue. I never thought about the discrepancy between the good girl/bad girl aspects of my life or considered sharing my struggles with my parents. I was driven by a force I wasn't even aware of.

What was the problem? Was it my parents? Were they second rate? No! Was it me? Was I damaged goods because I was adopted? No! A million times, no. The problem, or enemy, was ignorance--ignorance about unresolved adoption loss and the need to grieve.

The "L" Word

As with most everything in life, adoption has positive and negative elements. None of us wants to acknowledge the negative, painful side--that is, loss. But the truth is, the very act of adoption is built upon loss. For the birth parents, the loss of their biological offspring, the relationship that could have been, a very part of themselves. For the adoptive parents, the loss of giving birth to a biological child, the child whose face will never mirror theirs. And for the adopted child, the loss of the birth parents, the earliest experience of belonging and acceptance. To deny adoption loss is to deny the emotional reality of everyone involved.

An adoptee's wounds are hardly ever talked about. They are the proverbial pink elephant in the living room. Dr. David M. Brodzinsky and Dr. Marshall D. Schechter, a psychologist and psychiatrist specializing in adoption, say in their insightful book Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self, that loss for the adoptee is "unlike other losses we have come to expect in a lifetime, such as death and divorce. Adoption is more pervasive, less socially recognized, and more profound."

Grief is the natural response to loss, and those touched by adoption must be given permission to revisit emotionally the place of loss, feel the pain, scream the anger, cry the tears, and then allow themselves to be loved by others. If left unresolved, this grief can and often does sabotage the strongest of families and the deepest potential within the adopted child. It can undermine the most sincere parental commitment and force adoptees to suffer in private, choosing either rebellion or conformity as a mode of relating.

Since adoption loss is somewhat difficult to understand, I will use the gardening technique of grafting to illustrate not only adoption loss but a variety of adoption dynamics.

A Lesson from Nature

A grafted tree. Magnificent to behold. One of a kind. Contrary to nature. Luxurious leaves and intricate roots. Loaded with horticultural challenges for a gardener, but ultimately yielding a tree with unparalleled beauty.

The adopted child. Magnificent to behold. One of a kind. Biological features often contrary to yours. Intricate roots that need to be healed. Loaded with behavioral challenges for parents, but ultimately yielding a life of unparalleled beauty.

How do you react to the above? Some might be saying "Yes! A thousand times, yes! This describes our child. She is one of a kind and we are so glad she is ours." Others may be saying "You'd better believe our adopted child presents us with challenges! He can peel wallpaper off a wall at the speed of a shining bullet, make holes in the drywall of his room, be verbally and physically rebellious, tear up anything in his room, and then collapse in a pool of tears."

Wherever you are in the spectrum of possible reactions, believe me, you are not alone! As the editor of a national adoption newsletter, Jewel Among Jewels Adoption News, I receive many letters from adoptive parents who are searching for answers. How can I most effectively parent my adopted child? What are some of the obstacles I may encounter? Why is my child acting out? Am I doing something wrong? I also receive many letters from adults who were adopted as children, searching for help in dealing with their long-buried past.

Also, on a personal level, I can understand your questions and concerns. When I was adopted fifty-three years ago at ten days of age, my parents' desire for me was just the same as every other adoptive parent today: they longed to see me thrive and live up to my fullest potential. They also longed for that parent-child intimacy that lays the foundation for all other healthy relationships in life. If only we had known years ago what I have learned in the past several years about adoption and loss.

Back in the 1940s when I was adopted, adoptive parents were counseled by well-meaning professionals not to talk about adoption or the circumstances surrounding their child's birth or his birth family. After all, "Babies don't remember," they said. "Don't talk about the differences in personality or appearance; capitalize on the likenesses!" Birth mothers were given the same message: "Go on with your life. Put this behind you and all will be well."

Frankly, it is this kind of counsel, sometimes given even today, that makes my blood curdle, for it is the seedbed of denial and has proven wrong for many thousands of adoptees and their families who were never given permission to face and grieve their hidden losses. Child welfare supervisor and open adoption practitioner James Gritter explains in his hope-filled book, The Spirit of Open Adoption, "We must be careful not to sanitize, sentimentalize, or even glamorize the pain of adoption; it really is miserable stuff, and it is intensely personal. It is interior. The pain of adoption is not something that happens to a person; it is the person. Because the pain is so primal, it is virtually impossible to describe."

Not every adopted person experiences his loss in the same way or at the same level, of course, just as not every abused child responds the same way to his wounds. One adopted adult in his early thirties told me, "After my wife and I had our first child, my adoptive parents gave me the little bit of information they had about my birth family and told me they would support me if I wanted to explore my history or search for birth relatives. I'm not sure why they even think I'd be interested; I'm not. I've always felt okay about being adopted, and my parents are my parents. I don't feel any big need to know any more than I do about my past, and I'm not aware of any adoption issues I need to deal with."

Présentation de l'éditeur

 Best-Seller Since 1999! Required Reading by Many Adoption Agencies
  • Why your happy child runs a 102 fever on her birthday
  • Why adoptees resist talking about adoption with parents
  • How to Gain Entrance into the child's world/not gain entrance
Because each adopted child is unique, the reader is cautioned not to take the title literally. It is mainly a springboard for parents to become proactive in recognizing their children's unspoken  needs and thus become their child's #1 cheerleader in life.

Filled with powerful insights from children, parents, and experts in the field, plus practical strategies and case histories that will ring true for every adoptive family, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew is an invaluable guide to the complex emotions that take up residence within the heart of the adopted child--and within the adoptive home.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2793 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 242 pages
  • Editeur : Delta; Édition : Reissue (5 octobre 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 1.0 étoiles sur 5 1 commentaire client
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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Seems to be written by someone who has imagined what it is to be adopted and not to have lived as.

I would not recommend at all.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.6 étoiles sur 5 315 commentaires
372 internautes sur 379 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 the truth about the loss but not enough of the positive 20 juin 2005
Par A. E Rothert - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I am now an adult. I was adopted as an infant. This is the first time I have seen in print many of the feelings of loss and abandonment being given up created in me. These are really feelings that should be experienced, experiences that should be grieved. The author advocates for openness about adoption, which I think is the solution: Don't pretend there wasn't an abandonment (even if it was for good reasons) and don't hide adoption like it is something to be ashamed of or over-do the opposite by labelling the adoptee "special."

The weakness of this book, as others have written, is that it dwells on the negative. There is a lot of good that comes out of adoption. It is probably the most important good thing that has happened to me to help make me who I am today. And most adoptees are like me in that they are accepted into loving families who are open about the adoption and do the best they can to make it day by day.

The author at times seems to be overly dramatizing the loss that adopted children feel. But this is likely intentional. This is, afterall, a book about what adopted children wish their adoptive parents knew. I *do* wish my adoptive parents had known that the feelings of loss and abandonment would be there... I wish I could have put words to what I was feeling earlier and to have known that I was not the only person to have such feelings, that I was, oddly enough, normal. We all dealt with it, but it would have been easier for me (and I would have been a more pleasant child) had we known to expect this issue instead of waiting for me to discover it myself while exploring my anger and seeming unwillingness to get too close emotionally to anyone.

So I recommend this book for adoptive parents and those considering adoption. That said, it should not be read or considered in isolation. Adoption is a positive thing that can change a child's life much for the better. Listening to the author's explanation of what an adopted child feels should not make anyone afraid of adopting; rather, it should help them recognize what their child is experiencing. For, as the author says so nicely, the child is going to experience the loss whether the adoptive parent knows it will happen, believes it will happen, wants it to happen, or not. Like so many other painful things in life, understanding and coping with being given away by one's mother at birth can make the adopted child a stronger, more empathic individual. Failing to do so can make him or her angry, unhappy, and generally disgruntled. Much better to deal with the issues than pretend they don't exist.
292 internautes sur 299 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Kris -- Reader from Ohio 17 avril 2000
Par Kristina Sander - Publié sur
Format: Broché
As a prospective adoptive parent AND adoptee, I found this book to be helpful in emphasizing some of the communication issues in adoption. This book emphasizes regret and loss on the part of the adoptee -- feelings that as an adoptee, I do not feel strongly about. I believe reading this book as an adoptive parent may give good insight into concerns and feelings, but as an ADOPTEE, I want prospective parents to know that my experience has been positive and happy -- therefore do not let this book discourage you. I found some interesting parallels to my life in this book, including hating birthdays and some of my actions growing up. I believe adoption can be more positive than the portrait the author paints. Readers can, however, use some of the communication suggestions the author makes.
191 internautes sur 202 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Caution for potential adoptive parents 25 mars 2009
Par N. Amirzafari - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I would have given this book a ZERO star rating if it was possible. I am an adoptee (very happy to be one--I love my parents!) and am in the middle of the adoption process myself. I found this book to be absolutely awful. I agree w/ the other 1 stars reviews that say this book is overly dramatic and overly negative. I will be speaking out often to tell any social worker or adoption agency to be very careful when they recommend this book to prospective adoptive parents. If this book is suggested to anyone----it should be with the clear message that SOME adoptees might feel some of these feelings..... but this book, in my opinion, is more of a 'worst case scenario' in how adoptees feel. It is the 'extreme' and not the norm. I kept thinking: PLEASE speak for yourself! DO NOT speak for "all adopted children". Another adoptee reviewer went as far as to say she kept wanting to tell this author to 'shut up' and as awful as that sounds....I have to agree. I felt the exact same way. And I kept reading w/ an open mind and tried and tried to 'hear her out" so to speak. I am opposed to the title because it implies all adoptees feel this way. It would be more appropriate to call the book something like "20 things some adoptive children MAY feel and would like you to know" but that is much less catchy.
It would be wrong to invalidate another adoptees feelings---they are his or hers alone. But they SHOULD NOT be applied to ALL adoptees! And this book does that. It is important for all adoptive parents to be aware of the (possible) struggles or issues that an adoptee may face. Key word is "may" face. Not everyone has such a painful adoptive experience. I certainly didn't. If you are thinking about adopting---and you choose to read this book (honnestly---I would STRONGLY advise against it) just know this is not how ALL adoptees feel. The adoptees I know do not feel this way. And I second another adoptee reviewer who said "your parents are the people who raised you"!!! I couldn't STAND this book. This is my first and only book review---I felt compelled to write this review in support of potential adoptive parents who are reading this book and getting a very inaccurate and depressing picture of adoptive families! I think there should be more books about positive adoption experiences....but the thing is....people who are happy to be adopted (like me) are too busy living their life like any other person. We don't "feel" adopted. We just feel "normal' so it would not occur to many of us to write a book about adoption!
313 internautes sur 347 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Not only bad, but quite possibly harmful 16 août 2006
Par James J. Hutton - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I am a 38 year old adoptee and adoptive parent. I was adopted as an infant, as was my own adopted daughter. As others have pointed out, this book is clearly both overly negative and overly dramatic. I would like to add that following the advice of the author could even be very harmful to your adopted child. In particular, I was taken aback by the author's suggestion that you should essentially tell your child that he or she must have unresolved grief issues and help him or her uncover them. That is just plain wrong. Please understand that it is entirely likely that your child, especially if he or she was adpoted as an infant, will never have any significant feelings of loss or grief. DO NOT CREATE THOSE FEELINGS OUT OF SOME MISGUIDED EFFORT TO HELP YOUR CHILD "UNCOVER" SUPPOSEDLY SUPPRESSED FEELINGS. In my own experience, I have always known that I was adopted and that I have been loved by my parents. I simply have no negative feelings regarding my own adoption. None. However, if my parents had read this book when I was a child and decided that they needed to tell me that I must have those feelings and we had to find them and focus on them, I undoubtedly would have needed years and years of therapy.

The advice in this book might have some helpful relevance to those who are adopted as older childen. However, for those adopted a infants, what you should do is tell them early and often that they are adopted and loved. Let them know that you are always available to talk with them about any feelings or questions they might have. If they have questions, answer them matter of factly. Do not burden them with negative feelings that they probably do not have and will never develop.
100 internautes sur 109 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 One thing I wish you to know before buying this book... 28 juin 2009
Par S. Sheriff - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Full disclosure: I was adopted by my parents when I was four months old. I always knew I was adopted and my parents later had a biological child just over three years after they adopted me.

Sherrie Eldridge's book says a lot about her own mindset, but there is not a lot of rational examination about adoption.

Ms. Eldridge believes that adopted children are victims who suffer an injury that never heals. These victims must be treated like victims. If they do not realize they are victims, they need to be indoctrinated into feeling their victim-hood. It's analogous to the guilt and victim industries that have thrived with regard to race, gender, socio-economic status, disability, disease, etc. Just like any industry, the individual circumstances are unimportant and inconsequential compared to the social template which Ms. Eldridge seeks to apply. Ms. Eldridge wraps her opinions in the pseudo-science of the adopted baby's primal experiences which supposedly haunt the psyche of every adopted child for the rest of their life. She offers no evidence to support this view, but it is clear that it reflects her personal perspective.

I'm sure there are adopted children who share Ms. Eldridge's perspective, but there are a lot of us who do not. I won the lottery when my parents adopted me. I know that there are two people who will never fail to support and love me. Among people I have met, that kind of unconditional love is extremely rare regardless of ties of blood or love/friendship.

I guess my point is that I do not consider myself to be a victim. I think that individuals are not preordained to react in a certain way to any given circumstance, such as adoption. I have not seen any evidence to suggest that primal scars haunt my subconscious.

In conclusion, this book is a great insight into the emotional baggage of Sherrie Eldridge. It has no relevance or value to those contemplating adoption or dealing with the challenges of raising an adopted child. Save the money for something a little more objective.
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