Thursday, March 12, 2009

P.A.S.T.: Post-Adoption Separation Trauma

P.A.S.T. and uncontrollable anger...

It's real and it cab be toxic. P.A.S.T seems to be prevalent and most OBVIOUS in the form of anger, though of course it can also crete depression and other manifestations.

I have no doubt that it effects others in quite the opposite way and makes some shy and withdrawn, remain in total denial - what me? Adopted? Yeah,but it was for the best and I'm quite happy. Lost a child to adoption? Angry? Of course not.

It makes some perennial victims - doormats, if you will - and has others just believing that they are.

But the most pervasive symptom, or at least the one I witness most often amongst those I come into contact with most often -- adoptees and mothers who lost children to adoption -- who are actively discussing adoption anger!

It takes several different forms.

There are some blog trollers (whom we've all met!) who go from blog to blog and disagree. No matter what is posted, one in particular, has a very different point of view, and can only express it in the most extreme, contrary and attacking fashion.

If you are for peace, she is for war. If you are against immigration, she is for it. It doesn't seem to matter and follows no pattern of liberalism versus conservatism...her political/religious belief is just contraryism! And she is darn proud of it as well!

Then there are the more scary ones because they catch you off guard. You can know these people for a day or years and things can go along rather smoothly. You have a very civil, kind, respectful dialogue with them for the day or year that you know them and then: POW! BAM! They go BALLISTIC over the most minor thing and cannot control the vile spewing from their mouth and covering you with their UGLY toxic venom....anymore than the little girl in the movie The Exorcist!

And... of course, an apology is no where to be found. In one case recently the perpetrator of this insanity totally denied saying what she said to me, despite it all being in written emails! In another recent case the perpetrator imemdiatwelt became the victim! Neither apologized for their totally INAPPROPRIATE behavior or the very unkind, hurtful things aid to me when they went into their rage.

Now, I have anger too! Oh yes indeed. No doubt about it. I have written about channeling anger constructively in activism. Yet, there have been times when I felt out of control and controlled by my anger. BUT, I have always experienced extreme embarrassment when I have "lost it" in anger. Even when justified and having exploded on one of those real live yet very robotic people on the telephone who repeats the same script over and over instead of answering your question! I blow up, get sarcastic...even slam the phone down. But I feel like and ASS after I do, and if I have done so to anyone I know -- and not just a passing car on the highway - I APOLOGIZE! But, that's me.
I also am self aware enough to know, that while everyone has these moments, and that there is a great deal in our high-speed world to add to our frustration...I know that underneath it all are my adoption issue "triggers."

I know it is an "You know you are separated by adoption when..." moment!

My triggers are:

- feeling pressured, rushed, gotta make a decision right now with no time to think (like some car salesman do to you!)

- needing to "right" and hating to be "wrong" - thus engaging in being arguments way too long and unable to just end it, walk away, hit delete...

- feeling ignored, invisible and unheard (probably why I speak loud and fast - and this one may have it source in my parentage and precede my loss to adoption)

- taking things too personally and getting my feelings hurt

- I identify with underdogs; discrimination and social injustices upset me.

- very innocuous comments like: "I can make you laugh" elicits the thought that no one can MAKE me do anything!

It is cathartic to discuss our triggers, and even to be able to laugh at them. But it is seriously important that we learn to recognize and gain some level of control over the way we react, lest we sabotage all of our relationships with family, friends and lovers as well as our job, career and our whole life!

In the past two weeks, I was exposed to toxic venom by an adoptee and a natural mother. One I had just "met" on the internet but had had a half dozen or so pleasant, respectful emails back and forth as she told me of her reunion. I was supportive and courteous to this stranger. And then: BAM! I made an error and instead of simply pointing it out and asking me to correct it, she went totally psycho on me, spewing four letter words and saying very hurtful things.
The second incident involved a mother I have known as a highly respected colleague for a couple of years.

I understand the root of their anger has nothing to do with me or anything I did or aid, or didn't do or say. I understand and have compassion and forgiveness, though it sure would be nice to get an apology, certainly if there is to be any contnued interactions.

But therein lies the rub. People who are out of control and have not begun any self-introspecton as to the cuase nd ffect of their actons and behavir... people who are often not evcenaware of what tey are saying, also are often one in the same people who are incapable of apologizing because they see an apology as an admission of guilt. It is not!

If you step on someone's toes - ACCIDENTLY - most people in polite society say: "I'm sorry." You are sorry that you ACCIDENTALLY may have hurt the person. You are not admitting that you did it intentionally. there is nothing inherent in an apology that implies that.

Yet another way you know you suffer form P.A.S.T. is if you have an inability to accept, or "own" anything you have done. If you are always on the defense; always feel you are being "blamed" for things you didn't do. Often feel like the victim of others "abuse" when someone is simply expressing their own feelings. And so it goes round and round...

Carole Anderson, may she rest in peace, used to call us "the walking wounded."

We are, but we cannot let it rule our lives and it does not excuse rude behavior! We need to GROW UP and take back control of our lives and our actions. Link
It may be UNDERSTANDABLE but that doesn't make it acceptable or excusable!

Join the discussion - which has 96 members so far! Share your experiences at: "You know you are separated by adoption when..." Hopefully it will be fun, cathartic and enlightening to those who think adoption is a win-win.

And...if you're having a bd day,week, year or life....having a pity-party or wallowing in this:


Joan M Wheeler, born as, Doris M Sippel said...

I'll be there! An entire day of doctors tomorrow, it gets like that.

Your words are meaningful. Reminiscent of a workshop that Annette Baran and Reuban Pannor once did - about mistakes I have made. It was supposed to be a introspection, but the workshop didn't get that response. Annette and Reuban were frustrated. They expressed their own sadness and missteps.

I, too, see myself in what you wrote here. Anger. Yeah, that's me. Sometimes I can channel it in activism, sometimes inward, and outward. And, feeling like an ass afterward, too. But not for the activism. That've very important!

AdoptAuthor said...

Annette et al. were not accepted for the apologies they publicly gave for the part they played in practicing adoption social work as they had been taught in social work school...despite decades devoted to turning that all around.

Is your point that it is because of PAST that many were and few still are unable to hear abd accept their apology?

Anonymous said...

Mirah wrote:" you have an inability to accept, or "own" anything you have done. If you are always on the defense; always feel you are being "blamed" for things you didn't do. Often feel like the victim of others "abuse" when someone is simply expressing their own feelings."

Amazing. Were you looking in a mirror when you wrote this? Do you ever consider why you have difficulty getting along with so many people?

AdoptAuthor said...


I just admitted my triggers...and whoever you are cannot even "own" your own comment! I do not go around commenting anonymously!! I "own" my comments as I do all my actions. And when I am wrong, apologize, too.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful example of compassion and forgiveness.

One of my pet 'triggers' is poisonous innuendo.
I much prefer withering sarcasm.

AdoptAuthor said...

I personally eschew obfuscation. I'm not highly educated and much prefer simple, direct forms of communication. Also honest and straightforward ones - though I do enjoy a bit of sarcastic humor now and then...aimed at the NCFA, or baby dumps, orphan horror movies, etc.

The rest of my reply go too long and I turned it into a follow-up post.

Anonymous said...

Making negative references about individuals with whom you have disagreements, while at the same time obscuring their identity in a way that makes it impossible for them to respond directly isn't an example of "simple and direct communication".
Nor of "compassion and forgiveness".

It IS a way to spread shit and duck the consequences.

AdoptAuthor said...


Whenever possible I confront people directly and have done so regarding the two recent incidents mentioned in this post. Naming them publicly is incendiary, slanderous and totally unnecessary except for voyeurs. This post was about my observations and feelings, and and attempt to understand the underlying issues that cause us to be so mean to one another.

Also, many attacks are made anonymously.

I know that I said something that was unintentionally hurtful to you Kippa. I tried several ways to reach out to you, Kippa, to apologize via mutual freinds etc.

I do not know whether or not you go the message I sent to you, Kippa, from your MySpace of Facebook page or whatever way it was that was the only channel available to write to you.

If you got none of those message - know that I tried because I am sorry that my words were unclear and left room for misinterpretation, Kippa. I do apologize if I hurt you.

It is very simple to contact me personally through or through Origins-usa. You, Kippa, however, obviously prefer these more public platforms in a attempt to embarrass me or whatever rather than having any mature discussion of issues.

I hope I have been direct enough, Kippa.


AdoptAuthor said...

What I hate most is being drawn into these petty disagreements and tit-for-tat nonsensical, counterproductive, time wasting battle of words. I hate being brought down to this childish schoolyard level. I hate it when I "become" my enemy and am not able to rise above and be the change I want to see. The muck and mire do suck one in...and I feel I am drowning it and need to get the heck OUT! Thus my post today. So you'll forgive me if I no longer indulge and reply...

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget