I find myself once again shopping for a therapist. My issues are not directly adoption-related they are more about aging alone with chronic illness and residual multiple traumatic stresses...but clearly adoption is a major part of life and my life's work.
So, day one with a new therspist. She asks how many chidlren I have and I tell her that I had four and three are living. She asks the natural question: how and when did my child die. Answer: Suicide in 1995 at the age of 27.
"That must have been very difficult" she commiserates appropriately.
Later on in her quest for details of my life, it becomes clear that the daughter who passed was not raised by me, but was lost to me originally into the adoption abyss in 1968.
This, however, is not met with equal compassion or sympathy that losing a child to death is, but rather with more questions about how old I was and basically why the loss occurred.
"So, you decided it was best, then"
"No. I was TOLD it was best."
Now, instead of feeling comforted, I felt combative and defensive.
I was also asked about the length and depth of my "relationship" with my daughter prior to her death - as if there is some mathematical formula to the accurately correlate the amount of times I met with my daughter to the amount of grief acceptable. Are those of us who find a grave and never meet our deceased children better off or worse than I?
I felt the questions were far more curiosity driven - even tinged with judgment - surely more so than the reaction to a child who had died. Though both are tragic losses of a child, one seemed clearly to hold more responsibility on my part to my interrogator - or am I just being over sensitive?
If a client reveals in therapy that she was raped, for instance, is it good practice to immediately question how well the client knew her rapist, if at all? How hard she fought or how loud she said no? Or is it preferred to be more gentle and let those facts come out a bit more slowly? Surely, the therapist's immediate reaction should be one of support for the horror of being raped regardless, and that should take primacy over an interrogation of the facts, should it not?
Now, mind you, this woman knew nothing out me. I may have been a psychotically abusive mother who drove my daughter to suicide. Yet she expressed sympathy at my loss to death without interrogation. Not so a loss to adoption. A loss to adoption seems not to deserve a simple "I'm sorry for your loss" or "that must have been awful."
Of course, I don't know her wither or her personal conenction to adoption. Should I ditch her based on these first impressions and seek another, kinder more compassionate therapist? Or should I stay and confront her knowing she will simply say she didn't mean to be unkind?
UPDATE: An adoptee therapist responded to me via email and confirmed that it is not my expectations that are not out of line. She very wisely said:
"'I'm so sorry to hear this - it just emphasizes that some very good therapists are not at all adoption sensitive, let alone adoption competent. ... I think at a certain point one has the energy to 'train' and educate therapists and other professionals, but then it seems odd to be the one paying or having your insurance pay, n'est pas? ...if you stay or if you go... with this therapist.... LEt her know how her 'meaning well but uninformed' responses to you have been more hurtful than healing and that you would need to see that she is ready to attend conferences, read books, and educate herself a bit more if you were to feel ready to do the deep work that you are prepared to do with her....oy. i am so sorry that you encountered this ..."