Every year, hundreds of thousands of children are adopted in the United States and every story is entirely different. For example, some children are adopted straight from birth, some at various ages, some from foster homes and some officially adopted by stepparents. The process of adoption can bring forth intense emotions in both the ones getting adopted and in the biological parents as well. Some emotions are felt at a certain time in the process and some can develop later in life. The effects of adoption are extremely significant and powerful. Emotions from the process can be immensely detrimental to one’s mental health or so positive that they can be driven to a state of euphoria.
Many times adopted persons can be left to deal with serious negative and harmful emotions towards themselves and towards others. According to a fact sheet created by The Child Welfare Information Gateway, adopted persons can struggle with, “… identity and self-esteem, interest in genetic information, and managing adoption issues ( Impact of Adoption 2)”. Many times people can feel lost in their identity since they no longer have the full connection to what and who they were prior. Depending on the circumstances, they often lose biological parents, siblings, distant family and friends. “…identity issues are of particular concern for teenagers who are aware that they are adopted and even more so, for those adopted in a closed or semi-open circumstance. Such children often wonder why they were given up for adoption. They may also wonder about what their birth family looks like, acts like, does for a living, etc (Long Term Issues 5)”. A closed adoption is where the biological parents have no contact with the adoptive parents or with the child. The loss of the known can raise anxiety and questions that can also cause substantial pain.
The pain and sorrow from an adoption is not exclusive to one party and they can cause all who are involved to hurt and mourn. Although adopted persons often feel many emotions of grief and confusion, it is not always painless for the birth mother or the birth parents overall. “The birth and the actual surrendering of the baby may prompt feelings of numbness, shock, and denial, as well as grief, in the birth parents. All of these feelings are normal reactions to loss. This particular type of loss is different from a loss through death, however, because there is rarely a public acknowledgement, and friends and family of the birth parents may attempt to ignore the loss by pretending that nothing has happened (Emotional and Psychological Effects 5)”. This quote is explaining the pain and embarrassment birth parents may feel after or during the adoption process. Birth parents could feel embarrassed because of judgement casted by others and since they are ultimately giving up their child. In “My Birth Mom,” Emily E, Adkisson writes, “She thinks about me everyday/ Every birthday, Every Mother’s Day/ Hurt will always be there./ I would not be the person/ I am today without/ A Mother’s Love/ I can never thank her enough/ For all the pain/ She must go through/ To give me a wonderful life (9-18).” This poem was written from the perspective of a woman who was given up for adoption by her mother when she was a child. Even though she had left to deal with heavy emotions of her own, she understands the pain her birth mother felt simultaneously. She is truly compassionate and shows great empathy towards her mother in her writing. Adkisson understands that even though pain will always linger in her life, that it will always live within her mother as well. Keith writes, “I would daydream about the moment/ When I would finally meet you,/ And how I would cry and be speechless/ Just to finally see you./ With my own two eyes,/ Exactly how I had dreamed,/ Angelic and beautiful/ And as loving as you seemed…I’ve learned that sometimes love/ Is so much harder to show than to say./ That’s how I know you truly loved me, Mama,/ Because you’re not here with me today./ I can only imagine/ The selfless love that it took/ To say goodbye to your child/ And take one last look./ To let him go,/ In hopes that he can live a better life./ The pain must’ve felt/ Like a dull serrated knife./ I miss you every day, Mama,/ And I hope to see you soon./ But if not,/ Then I’ll see you in my dreams tomorrow afternoon (15-56),” in his poem “To a Mother I Never Knew.” This is another example of a person who was given up for adoption as a child, accepting what happened and being empathetic towards his birth mother. He faced emotional trauma but he knows his mother did as well. After years of growing, he realized that it was not easy for her and that she commited a selfless act to give him a better life.
Although many defeatist emotions usually do occur throughout the life of adopted persons and the families involved, there can also be many positive emotions felt too. Children in foster homes who feel not worthy or not lovable, soon learn what it means to be in a caring family after their adoption. They finally had love and care in all aspects of their lives. After learning they are adopted, along with feeling grateful, some may actually feel unique. “… many adopted children now accept and even pride themselves on being adopted. The child generally grows up hearing about how they were born being unconditionally loved by many: the birth mom who loves the child so much to want to provide the best life possible and the adoptive parent(s) who have searched all over for their child to love. This beautiful adoption story centers on love and can instill a sense of pride and confidence in an adoptee. It allows adoptees to view themselves as loved, and a “chosen child,” that can become central to their developing identity (How Adoption Benefits Children 4)”. This quote explains how some adoptees feel towards their adoption story. They know how loved they were by both parents and it can bring them great joy that overpowers their sadness.
Adoption does not only fill the adoptee with overwhelming, positive emotions, but also in the parents involved. Sometimes, a mother will give up her child in an attempt to provide them a better life and their decision comes from a place of unfathomable love. It can sometimes be a decision most do not understand. In “A Birth Mother’s Promise,” Sheila T. Battaglia writes, “With our short time together we had to share./ I promise that I will/provide you with all that is needed,/ This means unconditional love, care, honesty, and prayer./ I promise when I made my final decision,/ I knew what I had to do for you was right,/ When our/ Lord blessed me with a mother’s
intuition./ I promise to pray that one day you will understand/ It is because I love you so much/ That I placed you in your new loving parents’ hands (3-11)”. Her poem explains the genuine love and care she had for her child. She gave up her child in hopes for them to have a better life, even though they were already immensely loved. Her child now having the opportunity to a greater and more fulfilling life, brings great joy and positive emotions to fill her heart.
Every adoption story is greatly different and each person involved experiences different emotions throughout and after the process. Some of the most habitual emotions are guilt, confusion and a loss of normalcy. Many of the emotions felt from adoption are ones of sorrow and shame but, many also feel times of pure joy. The mental effects of adoption are so incredibly powerful and the process of adoption can easily alter someone’s life and mentality.