Adoptees, relinquishment and the possible trauma that lays beneath the surface of our search

Tonight an adoptee shared a video link to an individual who spoke about adoption being classified as a trauma wherein the adoptee faces abandonment and ordeal as their first experience into the world. I read more on this subject in the book Primal Wound many months ago. Both feel like something I can identify with, but not from natural memory.

The symptoms described regarding the ability of adoptees to naturally become chameleons to the environments they are placed in, need for control, self-soothing requirements, and hyper-vigilance in our relationships, that all seem like primal traits I can identify with. However, now nearly half a century old they feel all quite established in my psyche and no longer seen as an issue rather than a normal state of being.

Adoptees have all these quirks and more, but they are so adept at masking them in the everyday issues many other people face that they are often diagnosed the other more measurable and scientifically proven psychotherapies. In my youth I came close to experiencing another serious encounter when a friend of mine decided to stay with me, instead of us venturing home to his house one school afternoon.

The next day I was told how a stranger entered their home, whilst my friend and I played at my house less than a quarter mile away, and murdered his sister and father. I was so torn up by the event I was placed into counseling. Instead of the typical psychotherapist you might think I worked with I instead worked with a former Major in the Army. He had retired many years ago and began his own private practice helping Vietnam Veterans recover from PTSD.

When he heard I was an adoptee he asked me how I felt about it. To me, it did not seem relevant to the recent incident that occurred. Thirty-five years later, I wonder if he knew more on the subject than he let onto when we met. Now having studied the topic rather well, being treated by an expert in PTSD makes sense now. I worked with that counselor for about a year before our sessions ended and I went on my way. That was around the age of thirteen to fourteen years of age.

Having worked with adoptees exclusively for the past year, on about two-dozen cases, there is a clear feeling we all can identify with. It is not that we all did not come to terms and even adore our adopted families; instead it is the similar need to cope with trauma and challenges we face on the search for our first family.

If you have not heard about the theories of abandonment and trauma associated with relinquishment I encourage you to set aside an hour of time to take a look at this video here ( Then come back and think on the idea. What are you looking for in your biological family? Is it just a place where you can identify with similarities and quirks related to your nature, or is it something a lot further down? I encourage you to think on this for a time and read up on the subject.

I am not looking to help you excuse yourself from a life you lived, or explain away responsibilities you need to work on in yourself. However, most of the people I have helped these past twelve months are twenty or more years older than me. So something tells me these feelings, ideas, and theories may have already crossed your mind. Perhaps like me, you don’t feel damaged as some may feel from being adopted. However, it may give you pause to consider what else you might be looking to work on besides finding your first family. Our journey may touch on issues that have long been buried and left un-confronted could be troubling to face as we get closer to our journeys end.

It has happened to me more than once, that once presented with the clues leading directly to biological family members and adoptee must stop looking. Some have never even considered they would get far enough to have any conclusion. It can sometimes nudge at parts that have not been felt in a very long time. It is one of the reasons why our first encounter with a living sibling or birth parent needs to be performed carefully. While we may have spent months or even decades looking for them, this may well be the first time they have been confronted with the loss of the child they relinquished since the last day they saw us.