How to Break

The harder you fight to hold on to specific assumptions, the more likely there’s gold in letting go of them. — John Seely Brown

How does one take a “break” from adoption?

Susie and I were trading comments in a previous post about this topic and I find myself wondering what tactics, coping mechanisms, others employ to get away from adoption (and I mean tactics beyond outright denial of adoption trauma).

Do you practice yoga?
Immerse yourself in other parts of your life?
Work too much?
Take medication?
Stay away from known triggers (blogs like this?)

Can one really “take a break” from adoption?

I haven’t been successful myself — ever. For me, to me, adoption is part of my very being, tattooed on my heart and soul, pulsing through my veins merging with my platelets in attempts to stop further soul bleeds. It is not just the thoughts I conjure in my waking hours. It comes to me at night – in my dreams and in my nightmares.  It finds me in restaurants (as in last night while artist Rebecca Pidgeon and her band discussed the russian adoption scandal at the table next to me…or when the guy across the restaurant looked frighteningly like my daughters father). It is in the books on my bookshelf at home. It has branded my body (in the form of the logo used for the site) – although I did this willingly and with no regret.

While I have let up on the adoption throttle by speaking less often, giving up ownership and moderation of a yahoogroup, blogging less,  and many others things, I havent seen much of a decrease in the amount of pain/thoughts that goes into adoption. I have however stopped heaping more pain and punishment on myself.  Perhaps that is a good thing? Perhaps that is all that I can do? Perhaps this amount of thought and pain is here to stay?

How do I take a break?  How do you keep your child in your heart and NOT think of the fact that child is adopted? Doesnt want to know you? That your other children are effected?

Has anyone out there made progress? Found a way to NOT be in denial/avoidance but still “take a break“?

Open to suggestions.

What works for you? I would like to know.

And I am sure Susie would too.

18 Thoughts.

  1. i’ve been devoting all of that time in my head to outside projects. i still write, but about other things. channel the creativity somewhere unexplored. i can’t let it rule me anymore. and yeah, medication DOES help me at this point. i’m okay with that. i don’t consider it denial/avoidance, it’s just unhealthy (for me) to have it in my face/head constantly. not saying that i don’t think about it at all…i have the moment, let it be a moment, and move the hell on. xox.

  2. And from a relationship perspective, I’d give all my worldly goods to be able to
    speak with other partners who are involved in relationships with partners who have
    been affected by adoption, cause like while there’s Al Anon and such for people affected by partners with drinking problems and there’s probably support groups for everything known to man, I’ve yet to find one for adoption…
    I’d be interested in knowing how partners cope, handle adoption related matters within the confines of your relationship, dunno, maybe I’m thinking too much(something I do a lot of), beyond frustrating as hell to be in a relationship and know there’s nothing you can do for your partner, sure I know one can be supportive and loving and all that, and from what Suz tells me I am all that and more..
    The inherent problem is as a guy, we’re ‘fixers’, we wanna fix thing, unfortunately you can’t fix this, : (
    I hear Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s ‘the invitation’ in my head…

    • Rich, you hit an old nail on the head just then. There isn’t any help for partners of those impacted by adoption. My hub isn’t the talking, sharing kind, but I’m going to see if I can find a few someones for you, because I know (just having watch my husband or heard from other husbands/wives of adoption) how hard it is. Thank you for wanting to understand and support Suz as best you can. Seems you’re doing a great job already!

  3. I would never say that I have “the way” because I think it is different for everyone.

    Here are some things I do. I remind myself intellectually of how I feel about adoption in general. Against. I try to remind myself intellectually of how I feel about the way moms were and still are treated. Unfairly, manipulated. These are things I can try and do something about. I can try to remind people that for every set of arms into which a baby is placed there is another set of empty arms. People try – or are encouraged – to see moms as the other because it makes it easier to take the kids. I can tell girls the pain won’t go away. We of a certain age don’t feel the way we do because our grief was just poorly managed. The grief is real and can’t be managed.

    Like Barb I try not to get spinning in the emotional pain because that is over. It is something that has happened and can’t be changed. I can’t make my son want to have a relationship with me or lose his fear of having a relationship with me. I am basically a happy person with a husband, a dog, a home, lots to be thankful for.

    What can be changed – maybe something I write will convince one person not to do it or make one woman think about the child that is being taken away either directly or indirectly from someone else.

    I hope some of this is coherent. I felt like I was going to start speechifying because it was wrong what happened to us but you know – do what you can to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.


  4. I try to devote my time to other things too, but sometimes (like this week, fighting this atrocious bill in Illinois) adoption seems like it absolutely pervades my existence and I DON’T WANT IT TO. Yet it shows up in sneaky little ways even when I’m not actively working on something adoption-related. For a while I thought writing would be a catharsis… except all my writing ends up being about adoption, even (especially?) the fiction…

    So, and I hate to admit it, I resort back to my childhood coping strategy: escapism. TV, books, something that gets me in another world and not thinking about this one. Maybe that’s not healthy. I don’t know. I do know that it’s not healthy for me to deal with the adoption crap on a constant basis.

    Rich–you might enjoy talking to my husband David. He has been with me throughout my search and supports me in my work toward adoption reform. He’s asked the same kinds of questions you have. He and I have talked before about how there really ought to be some kind of help for those related to people who have gone through adoption loss. I think Suz has my email address or you can contact me at me at 73adoptee dot com.

  5. I am able to take breaks.

    With my adoption stuff, I’ve reached a point where I am able to set it aside, while it always is a part of me. But, keep in mind that I first found my bmom and her side of my bfam, in 1996. It’s only been for about two years, now, that it doesn’t soak me everyday (and every second of everyday, which it did for my entire life and I am now 31). It has been a process and a journey, which almost seriously killed me. The depth of the pain, the weight of the abandonment, the even heavier weight of rejection by my entire bfamily…almost killed me. I almost let it.

    I’ve realized that time doesn’t heal all…but it certainly changes my perspective on my adoption stuff. It’s allowed me to grow and to take some power back and at least – even though it pains me to still be in limbo – know who they are and where they are. I’ve also come to a point where I (pray against this!) realize that I may never have a relationship with them. I know I definitely won’t have my dream relationship with them. I do have hope. Never give up hope.

    Suz, I think that you also face the challenge of…how do I put it? The challenge of not being able to move forward in a way that face to face reunion can provide. (Ok, that really hurt my heart…seriously, to type that. If I was sitting by you in person, I would have just grabbed your hand.) Your girl has basically stopped any ‘reunion’, in person, process… It’s like a tennis match…you hit the ball…and you’re just standing there…waiting. And then, after she did hit it back, she then went and took the darn ball altogether. Do you feel this way? What do you think about this? Am I completely off?

    I think, for me…I’ve learned to put it aside, when I need a break and it becomes too much. I will – literally in my head – put it all in a box, tuck it away and say to myself, “You need a break. The box and the stuff is still gonna be there and you can take it out whenever you want…but for now, you need a break.”


  6. I’ve tried and tried to put adoption issues aside. I was able to, for years. But it wore off.
    Now it’s on my mind just about every moment. Which I hate. I did have a F2F reunion with my son, but that was it, I can’t seem to get him to say, that was enough, or he may want to pick back up with me at some later date, for now, all he wants is to ignore me. So I don’t know how to just forget that. ? Now, don’t get me wrong I am not complaining about my F2F. I am very very glad I had that.
    I can also stew endlessly on, about my own adoptedness, and I wonder (when I’m not thinking about my son) how my mother can be in such denial.

    It’s a crazy way to live.
    The only ways I can find to escape for just a little while, are, watching TV (and I have a very tough time concentrating on TV) So it has to be some show I’m really into. Or reading, but again, concentration is extremely difficult for me. Going on vacation helps, but hey that’s what maybe 3 weeks out of the year? I did the whole anti-depressant route, but again for me in my situation, that does not help me, if I just take a happy pill to help me cope, I don’t deal with things. Yet, I’m not dealing with things now either, it’s not just dependent on me. I wish in some ways my son would either say, “get out of my life forever” or “lets try to have a relationship” Either way, *I’d know*. But living in this limbo… ugh.
    I hope that this constantly dwelling upon adoption matters will improve, as I’d like to move on with my life. I am presently thinking of enrolling in school, maybe that will help.

    My husband would be right on board with Rich. They could start a group. “Partners of adoption victims” Sometimes I wish my husband had somebody to talk about all this stuff with. He contends with a lot of stuff living with me adoptee and fmom.


  7. Hi Allison…I don’t know how to go about starting a group..I do know that in the here and now I’d love to at least see if anyone’s affected partners is interested in emailing…
    Suz knows my personal email address…if your husband is interested in ‘talking’ pls let me know..
    Suz, apologies as I did not mean to ‘hijack’ your post…

  8. A long time ago I wrote that I didn’t believe it was right for adoptive parents to take a break from adoption, because I didn’t believe first parents and adoptees could. We, after all, chose to adopt, which I believe gives us little right to ask for a break.

    Although I’ve pulled back on writing, that’s more because of other life stuff (the job search) and the fact that with the kids grown I’m feeling less comfortable writing about things that might affect them. I feel the same obligation to be involved in some way in improving adoption and working toward reform; that’s just not all happening online in the blog.

  9. Interestingly, I haven’t read your blog or many others for a year or so because I needed to run away from the grief – from the facts of adoption separation. (I know there really is no running away, but I like to try just the same.)

    UM wrote: “We of a certain age don’t feel the way we do because our grief was just poorly managed. The grief is real and can’t be managed.”

    This really spoke to me, as did many other comments. I don’t know that I am in the same age bracket UM is (I’m a 1984 loss) but it is an important point. If I understand it correctly, and I may not, it means that adoption “professionals” think they have found the perfect way to separate mothers from their babies- enter Ethica etc. – they want to find the ethical way to separate mothers and babies and I just don’t get that. It isn’t “ethical” and our pain isn’t “manageable”.

    Since reunion, which I am suppose to be so overwhelmingly thrilled with according the networks, I’ve withdrawn, quit painting, and immersed myself into work – it is a parched and impartial world and it suits me at this point.

  10. Suz, Sorry to say that while I think small breaks are possible — immersing oneself in other activities (escapism as Triona called it), avoiding adoption reading (although, shit, I was all over the story of the returned Russian boy), and just “changing the subject” in my head. I’ve also cut down on the number of adoption-related blogs I read (you, among a few others, I can’t quit — which is because you/they touch on a myriad of life’s truths, are thoughtful and not just whining).

    I can’t count the number of times I think of my son and our non-relationship each day. My grandkids and his ex are still in my life, so there’s that. When the thoughts and feelings come, I try to let them be and then let them pass, not obsess. Not like that always works. I find that ANYTHING your mind touches on during the day comes into your dreams. So he is always there. Like a son I raised, I imagine. But not in the happy way that your sons would be.

    Writing does give me release. For a long time, support groups (in-person, I don’t care much for the online ones) gave me release. Then not so much. I’ve given up much of my volunteerism around adoption as well.

    Once again, sadly, I don’t think it’s possible to quit it, EVER, Take a break, yes. However short and peaceful they are. We are all as branded as your ebabes tat indicates.

    Major hugs, D.

  11. Laurel :

    Suz, I think that you also face the challenge of…how do I put it? The challenge of not being able to move forward in a way that face to face reunion can provide. (Ok, that really hurt my heart…seriously, to type that. If I was sitting by you in person, I would have just grabbed your hand.) Your girl has basically stopped any ‘reunion’, in person, process… It’s like a tennis match…you hit the ball…and you’re just standing there…waiting. And then, after she did hit it back, she then went and took the darn ball altogether. Do you feel this way? What do you think about this? Am I completely off?

    Laurel – You always ask such good, but deep questions. I find myself unable to answer them without some processing and giving some thought to responding. I may write you privately for my response may be more than I am comfortable stating publicly.

  12. Do you practice yoga? Yes, and I think about adoption while I am at it. A tough aerobic/weight class leaves me no time to mull over issues.

    Write? I write for work, not creatively, but creative.

    Immerse yourself in other parts of your life? Yes, over involved in community projects.

    Work too much? Yes, but I am reaping a financial reward, go figure. More to spend on my son and his family and really piss his afamily off. They have behaved VERY badly with regard to me.

    Take medication? Yes, when I can’t sleep.

    Stay away from known triggers (blogs like this?) Can’t stay away because I then would feel all alone!

  13. Suz – NO pressure whatsoever! ♥ (Your posts always make me go to a deeper level and in responding, allow ME to explore my thoughts/feelings – so some of my ‘stuff’ is just me thinking out ‘loud’.)

  14. You are right Suz ~ Susie would like to know!! I was in Minneapolis this weekend, and had a wonderful 2-day escape from constant checking-to-see-if-I-have-gotten-an-email-yet, other adoption thoughts/obsessing. Although, I do have to admit that when we got back to the hotel Sat. night, I did check my email & GoogleReader.

    This is a great post, with some great answers. Sadly though, it also shows what life as a first mom is like for most. Too bad that girls/women considering adoption couldn’t find this blog & others like it before making that choice.

    Now, if I could just find a way to take a 2-day (or longer) vacation more often!

  15. I have a 5 year old son with whom I find plenty of things to do with. I know not everyone has that “out/break” as I do but it sure helps me. Although his memory is as sharp as a tack. Sometimes he remembers stuff that I don’t & often enough, those memories involve my son that I placed for adoption. There are little things that will trigger a round of questions such as, “Mom do you remember that one time when we went bowling with “K”(my oldest son) & he got upset that I beat him?” The smallest detail never seems to get past him. It’s a blessing at times & a curse at others.

  16. As an adoptee, it’s difficult to “take a break” sometimes, but I’ve actually been able to do this for most of my life. Going through the traumas of my childhood taught me to dissociate and leave the pain behind..even if it’s just for five minutes. I know that’s not necessarily healthy, and to be honest, it’s getting harder to do that now that I’m in therapy and actually dealing with the loss.

    Now I tend to knit or crochet…or play Bejeweled Blitz on the computer for an hour and it helps to get my mind off of things.

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