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Facing Adoption Rejections & Focusing on the Family We Create ~ Part 2

by Laura on October 31st, 2013

A Conversation with Deanna Doss Shrodes, pastor, blogger, writer and all around amazing person.

Primary rejection.

Secondary rejection. [Tertiary, and so on.]

Being rejected by our adoptive families.

Being rejected by our first families.

Facing the “mere” potential for rejection …

It’s a huge topic. Recently, when a mutual friend faced the possibility of rejection from her first father, due to a misunderstanding, she was devastated. It was our friend’s pain that inspired yesterday’s post at Deanna Doss Shrodes’ Adoptee Restoration. If you missed it, be sure to check it out here.

Today we continue our conversation.

Laura: Can you comment on how this advice to focus on the family we create could possibly apply to those who do not have children?

Deanna: Absolutely. I’d like to focus on three different adoptees who may be reading this today. First I’d like to address the adoptee who is afraid of creating a family in the first place. I recently met such an adoptee who has been engaged for eight years because she’s afraid of marriage and family due to her post-adoption issues. She doesn’t want to mess things up and is afraid to make the commitment, although she loves her fiancé very much. My encouragement to those who may be feeling that way is to go after what you want to create with all your heart. You are NOT destined to repeat what you came from. Read books, go to workshops, talk to wise people who have healthy families, get counseling, and pray your guts out! Go create the family you dream of and don’t let anything stop you.

Deanna’s family

The second type of adoptee I’d like to speak to are those who have created families but are going through difficult times. Maybe they’ve made some mistakes and they feel inadequate or like a failure. My encouragement to these people would be that it’s never too late to do the right thing. If you need to apologize to a spouse or a child, do it now. Don’t wait. As far as it depends on you, do what it takes for the health of your family. Own your mistakes, work on yourself, get help. It’s not too late for your family to flourish. Build your dream and then enjoy the beauty of it.

The third type of adoptee I’d like to speak to are those who have not created a family in the sense of spouse or children, and don’t want to. Perhaps you think this entire post is a wash for you because you haven’t created a family, have no interest, and don’t plan on it in the future. No problem ~ to each his or her own.  My encouragement to you would be to focus on the life you can create for yourself. If you don’t like your life right now…make a change. You can’t change others but you can change you. Make a decision to do things differently if you don’t like the way things are. Pursue the type of friendships you want. Nurture those relationships.   When the challenging times come with birth or adoptive family, you will have the support system you built tailor-made, to hone in on.

Adoptees are put through the ringer of life before we ever really get started, but criticizing by creating is one way we can say, “Look at us, world! We lost it all before we started and yet we rose up from the ashes to create something beautiful…”


Laura: You hit the nail on the head. Whether you have children or not, it’s simply about changing areas of our lives which are actually under our own control.

I have a really great (“great” is subjective) example of this, and it happened recently.

I have a wonderful ongoing relationship with my first mom, but reunion with my first father’s side has been fraught, to put it mildly. Basically, he wants nothing to do with me. When my first father and I had a falling out twelve years ago, I knew that he had three additional children; my (half) brothers and sisters.

Although he absolutely does not want me contacting them, it’s my view that once they turn 18, it’s not up to him anymore. So, in a fit of bravery I contacted my two older brothers (our sister is still in high school). I wrote all about secondary rejection in this post. Yeah, it hurt. Yeah, it was embarrassing.

But here’s the thing. If that had happened before I started my own family, I would have cried and rehashed for days, weeks. But this time, even before I had a chance to start wallowing, my husband dosed me with a heap of reality. He said

Look, eff them. They should be begging to know you, not the other way around. If you spend just half the time it took you to write that email/letter to play with your son, you’d get back that love in spades. You need to focus on your children.

My little loves

When the man is right, he’s right.

What about you?

Deanna: I have been able to live that way when it comes to everyone but my natural mother. That was the challenging one for me. With everyone else in my extended natural or adoptive family I could take the view, “Okay, so this is your loss! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. The world is full of other people who want to know me, accept me for who I am, and care. So, c’ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!” I never got to that point with my natural mom – just keepin’ it real, here.  It is easier said than done particularly when it comes to a parent. It’s not that I don’t care about siblings, but there is just something about your parents, and particularly a mother that makes rejection much more difficult.

I wish I didn’t care so much about my natural mother or father, knowing them and being accepted. But, I did.

My mother is gone so there’s nothing left there. In our last conversation we had on July 1, 2013 where she was actually coherent and talking, she let me know she could not accept me as I am.  That is where she left it, and now she has died. There is nothing that can be done to change what she did or give opportunity for her to repair it. But I can take a different view going forward in the way I choose to process the information and what I decide to do with it.

Being in therapy for eight months made a huge difference.

Focusing on the family I created is definitely one of the strategies I’ve employed to move beyond the re-traumatization that occurred with my natural mom this past year.

I believe your husband’s view is a healthy one.  We can become so consumed with our adoption losses that we don’t see the beauty of what we’ve created, right in front of us!

Laura: This is so potent: “But I can take a different view going forward in the way I choose to process the information and what I decide to do with it.”

You are amazing! I know your path to get to this place was not an easy one. (Which I am still pretty mad about; we adoptees tend to be immensely loyal.) What I’ve learned from you is that we must see this beauty and work on this beauty each and every day. Whether or not we are parenting, focusing on our family of friends, empty-nesting, and more.

For me, I see how you put so much time, effort, love and energy into your family, and that inspires me to do the work in my own.

While I try to be a good parent, to give them the tools to be happy, healthy, and good human beings, I must keep in mind that my relationship with them is of the utmost importance. I want so much for them in their future lives, and I hope they will want me around, as well. It’s the fact that I have a large measure of control over this outcome—day-in and day-out—that helps me stay strong and focused, especially when I experience adoption-related rejection.

Thanks so much, Deanna!






From → Adoption

  1. Great topic..

    I feel like I fit into some kind of "other" category. Perhaps the 3rd category.
    While my daughter was young (she's 35 now) I put my whole focus into her life trying to giver the love, support, home I never had.

    The rejection of adoptive parents and now biological siblings has left me in a place of loss, and yet acceptance and peace.
    My daughter has unfortunately inherited some of my adoptee behaviours such as fear of abandonment and loss, which has reared it's ugly head with my illness Mastocytosis.

    My created family now is compiled of a few special friends, of the adoption community, of the mastocytosis community. I long for the connection with my daughter again…reunion played a big part in our difficulties but I continue to have hope.
    Has a part of me just shutdown? Except for my daughter I am oddly satisfied and at peace with my life..
    Being ill dictates where my energy goes but I am no longer defined by my story nor my illness and that's a good thing.

    Thanks to you special ladies for bring conversations out in the open that so need to be acknowledged.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Yes! I applaud you for creating a family of friends for you and your daughter. But, I totally understand about how much reunion can affect the relationship with our family. I will be sending you light and love, hoping that things improve between you and your daughter.


  2. eagoodlife permalink

    Some of the rejections seem inexplicable sometimes – why are we dropped like a hot potato? One of my half-sisters happily accepted my weekly phone call while her cancer scare was on, told me she no longer needed to talk once it was over and hasn't spoken to me since, a few years ago! I sometimes think the novelty factor plays a part in some reunions – they take a look and decide No! For another sister, she liked the idea and the story she could tell her friends over 'drinkies' but the reality was too much. That side of my family is fraught with the results of the abuse of our father and his brothers by the chrisitan brothers who ran the orphanage they were in when their mother died.So much loss and trauma! My decision to let reunion die quietly has proven a peacful one and one I don't regret. We make our own lives, create our families as Thelmostdaughter says above. I greatly value all the wonderful adoptees who share and contribute to our understanding of adoption.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Yes! I agree — we DO learn so much from other adoptees. I'm sorry to hear about your sisters. Yes, I think the novelty factor is a real thing when it comes to reunion, sadly.

      I'm so glad to know you, and learn from you!

  3. You are facing Adoption Rejections right now but that's not a big issue you need to give your time to your family this time. Wait for the best moment or you need to try next year some time we have not things in under control.

  4. zara@brown permalink

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