‘I grew up in a loving adoptive home, scared people would abandon me as my birth mom had.’: Adoptee opens up about self-worth struggles from closed adoption

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“I was born in the late eighties during the closed adoption era. I spent two days in the hospital bonding with my birth mom before being whisked away to meet my new family. Adoptions were shrouded in so much secrecy thirty-six years ago that my adoptive parents weren’t even permitted to meet the attorney inside the hospital to pick me up. The attorney had them meet him in the breezeway of the hospital in order to take me home. Little did the attorney know though that my adoptive mom’s sister was a nurse working in the same maternity ward where I was born.

Adoptive mom holds newborn adoptive daughter in a recliner
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair

My adoptive aunt and my cousin, her daughter, were able to meet me before my adoptive parents ever did. I left the hospital that day with an amended birth certificate listing my adoptive parents’ names where my birth parents’ names once were. The original birth certificate with the birth parents’ identity was sealed away with the courts in the state of Florida to allow my birth parents to go on with their lives as if nothing had ever happened.

Adoptive sister stands next to her brother on Easter with an Easter basket in her hand
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair

To this day, twenty-five states in the US still won’t allow adoptees access to their original birth certificates. In Florida, where I was born and still reside, I would have to have a court order to be able to obtain my original birth certificate, which is something any human being should be allowed free access to. Through research, we now know even if an infant is adopted at birth they still suffer trauma. Nancy Verrier was one of the first to recognize adoption IS trauma, even if adopted as an infant.

Young girl sits on blue outdoor chair while wearing a red dress
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair

Verrier explained in her book, The Primal Wound, that ‘severing the connection between the infant and biological mother causes a primal wound which often manifests in a sense of loss (depression), basic mistrust (anxiety), emotional and or behavioral problems and difficulties in relationships with significant others…affecting the adoptees’ sense of self, self-esteem, and self-worth throughout life.’

Little girl takes a funny photo next a tree, surrounded by pink flowers
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair

Even though I grew up in an incredibly loving home, I still struggled with my self-worth as a child and into my teen years because in the back of my mind I felt like there must’ve been something wrong with me for my first parents to give me up. It also showed up in my relationships growing up and until I was an adult, I never really saw how it always came back to my mom relinquishing me as an infant. I was the biggest people pleaser because I was so scared if I said something wrong people would abandon me just like my birth mom had.

Little girl carefully unwraps a present on her birthday
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair
Brother and sister smile while taking formal family photos in a studio
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair

When I started dating, the minute a guy would get too close to me, I would find something wrong with him and run the other way. I think subconsciously I felt like I had to leave him before he left me as my mom did. Then came the emotionally unavailable men because if he didn’t get too close to you then he couldn’t hurt you, right? I never understood when I was younger why I struggled with relationships and trusting people, but it all came back to the ‘primal wound’ I was left with when my birth mother relinquished me.

Young adoptive teen girl smiles for a photo with a dock behind her
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair

I grew up in an amazing family who would sit down to dinner at the table with us every night until the day I moved away to college. My parents will be celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary this November and they provided a great home for us growing up. Even so, I always wondered who I looked like and where my personality came from because I was so different than my adoptive family. I also wanted to know what the reason was for my birth parents deciding to place me for adoption so long before. I think finding my birth mom at eighteen really helped heal the ‘primal wound’ because I got all of my questions answered finally.

I learned my mom had placed me for adoption as an infant because she was very young, just recently divorced, and already struggling to raise my older sister. She knew I would never have a father in the picture and I would grow up in an unstable environment due to her addiction. I believe she came back into my life at the perfect time though because it was when she was at her very best, so we were able to make many happy memories together that weren’t tainted with drugs and the chaos addiction can bring.

She was just coming up on a year sober when we found each other. We were two peas in a pod for a long time and I am the only child of three who looks just like her. Even though I was not raised with her, I see all the similarities between us and how I picked up so much of her genetics, even though I didn’t know her for eighteen years. My birth mom passed away unexpectedly a few years ago, and the end years between us were not the best, as she fell back into old habits. When she passed away, she and I had not spoken in almost two years. I wish now we had made peace before she died and put our pride aside, but you always think you have time.

Young daughter spends quality time with birth mother
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair
Adoptive woman takes a selfie with her two biological siblings
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair

I know she is still with me, though. She lives on through each one of her children and her grandchildren. I may have missed out on eighteen years with them, but I also got to be there for a lot of special events. I got to stand in with my sister as a bridesmaid when our mom got married in West Palm Beach. I also got to stand in as a bridesmaid for my sister when she got married and my adoptive parents were present too. I have been able to watch my siblings’ kids as they grow up. I’m the proud aunt of three handsome boys and one beautiful little girl.

Adoptive woman takes a selfie with her biological sister after being reunited
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair

Finding my birth family was an amazing experience. We never realized how many ways we were intertwined over the years without knowing it. The first time I met my family, I realized my birth mom’s house backed right up to one of my very good friends, Justina. I had passed my mom’s house a dozen times going to visit Justina and never knew she was right up under my nose all along. I feel like it was meant to be for us to find our way back into each other’s lives again.

Adoption is a lifelong journey for everyone involved in the ‘adoption triad‘ – the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the child who is relinquished. For an adoption to take place, there is a huge loss involved. But it can also turn out to be a beautiful story. I was always so embarrassed to talk about being adopted growing up, but now I’m happy to share it because I realized what I was so scared of making me seem ‘different’ as a kid, is actually what makes me unique. My adoptive dad was right when he told my birth mom the first night they all met one another, ‘There is enough love to go around for everyone.'”

Adoptee takes a selfie with her dog while they cuddle in bed together
Courtesy of Lauren Trosclair

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lauren Trosclair. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Lauren:

‘My birth mom said, ‘I don’t know who your father is. I was dating a man while I had an affair with an attorney and a fling with a friend back then.’: Adoptee details search for birth father

‘I was the middle child of 3 and the only child placed for adoption. It was the most selfless thing my birth mom ever did.’: Adoptee reconnects with biological family, loses birth mom to addiction

Read more stories about adoption:

‘Don’t you want a child of your own?’ I do have a child of my own. She’s our child in every sense of the word.’: Mom shares grief and anxiety in international adoption journey

‘Do you know what you’re getting into?’ We went from empty nesters to a family of 5 in less than a year.’: Couple gush ‘my kids are the best thing about life’ after international adoption journey

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