Adoption Issues - Difference, Personal Tales and Therapy
There are many ways in which we can feel a sense of ‘difference’ to others. If we also feel that others do not understand this difference, then we can feel cut off or perhaps isolated. One difference that I would like to highlight here is that of adoption and the issues that may arise from it. It seems to me that it is a difference that is not talked about a great deal. Therefore it can be hard for people to understand the perspective of someone affected by adoption issues – how it feels for them.
Talking can help. It is good to talk. Yet if someone talks, there also needs to be someone really listening – listening to the story of that person rather than making assumptions.
Not all adoption stories are the same. Some people may not feel they have any issues, while others may feel quite distressed. In itself adoption can be complicated, plus not all the facts from the past may be known with any certainty. Untangling thoughts and feelings and making some personal sense of the issues may not be an easy task. It can be hard to know where to begin.
The point I want to make here is that each person has their own unique story to tell. This story contains its own particular circumstances and events; and each person will interpret these in their own unique way. It is not one size fits all!
Adoption also obviously concerns families; and people affected by adoption may feel that they do not want to upset or ‘burden’ their family members by talking to them about it.
They may therefore feel more alone or isolated with their feelings. An alternative is to think about counselling. It may be that therapy could ‘break the ice’ in beginning to talk about these complex issues in a space that is neutral and confidential.
As well as the past and present to think about, there is also the future. Counselling may also be used as a space to think about the possibility of tracing and / or contacting birth relatives. Again everyone has their own unique take on what they want to do and how far they want to go with this. There is no one ‘right’ way to think about it all – just possibilities to be explored.
What kind of counselling might be helpful?
It makes sense then that adoption issues may benefit from a therapy that can take account of the uniqueness of the individual and their story. A therapy where there is space for the story to be told and reflected on; and where some kind of personal meaning can be explored.
Of course it is not just adoption issues that can be explored in this way. However adoption issues do lend themselves to an approach that focuses both on the individual’s life story, and the way they relate to or think about members of their family, (birth and adopted). Even more importantly, I feel, is having a focus on what the individual makes of their own story.
One approach that can be very helpful for those affected by adoption issues is psychodynamic counselling. It focuses on our individual ways of relating to each other. This approach also explores our personal meaning in life events and circumstances, both in the past and in the present. Having made sense of these issues in therapy, it may then be easier to talk to others about it and make clearer choices for the future.