Adoption—Individual Choice verses Collective Action

Why is it that so many individuals in leadership positions are so impassioned about adoption issues and zealously exert their authority with such an overtly feverish intensity? Is it even possible today to make a personal choice about adoption without being overwhelmed by wholehearted individuals representing dozens of agencies and organizations with a myriad of contradictory points of view depending on their professional background and the side of the adoption triangle they are on?

Judith Land | Adoption Detective | Collective Action

“When faced with a difficult decision pertaining to adoption unclutter your mind and unleash your willpower to do what’s best. Stop to think before jumping to conclusions. Focus selectively on issues of importance. Never give up hope of a favorable outcome.” —Judith Land

Let’s face it. Everyone is vulnerable. Most individuals have no first-hand knowledge or experience dealing with many of the complex and unforeseen issues associated with adoption. Adoptees whimsically daydreaming of reuniting with a lost parent may be exposed to intense primal emotions and sensibilities that outsiders don’t fully comprehend. Mothers thinking about relinquishing a child may lack vision and understanding of the degree of difficulty their child may experience later in life and naively lack empathy for the severe duress adoption may cause her child. Adoptive parents aspiring to expand their family may initially be unmindful of the complexities of adoption and psychological issues their child may face in adolescence. More often than not, public administration is a struggle for many individuals to conquer that takes extreme fortitude and strength of character to work through the myriad of legal and financial issues and moral dilemmas before the desired results can be achieved. Difficult choices that are private often require a disciplined, principled, and blameless perspective, open-mindedness toward ineptitude, a tolerance for fatuousness, and a bulldozer to dispose of barriers, stumbling blocks, and persistent opposition.

Ultimately, adoption is a personal choice that is intimate and confidential that affects the private lives and relationships of specific individuals but when you act independently and alone it is easy to become overwhelmed by the demand for an adherence to rules and overcome legal and social barriers that are difficult to navigate. Regardless of the position you find yourself in, or the side of the adoption triangle you are on, it is important to avoid making impulsive and temerarious decisions and refrain from being coerced into positions that you may later regret. As a first step, pause to think about the collective actions and wisdom of previous generations and learn to understand how outside influences may sway your opinions before finalizing your decision.

Who makes adoption policy and how does it come to fruition? Special interest groups with a specific purpose form societies, organizations, and associations to arouse concern, influence public opinion about adoption issues, prompt action, and campaign for change by lobbying politicians. Attorneys write laws for legislators hoping to enact new policies. Judges interpret and enforce the laws through the courts. Religious organizations struggle to address ethical and moral interpretations and guidance policies in response to evolving social priorities. Social service agencies establish written protocols and policies for dealing with specific issues leading to expanded manuals and internal training sessions. The media writes editorials and politicizes every aspect of the matters in question. Administrators create alternative action plans in response to new legislation requiring larger budgets and increased staff based on new aggregated procedures and a plethora of revised forms. Universities track statistics, conduct research, postulate about avant-garde theories, publish dissertations and hypothesize about a variety of suppositions. Book clubs expose leading authors and exchange opinions. Specialists in a broad range of agencies invent new legal, political, income tax, and social career niches. Support groups share intimate thoughts and feelings and personal stories. Psychologists invent new terminology to explain recently developed theories, revise diagnostic techniques and prescribe alternative treatment remedies. Nations pass treaties, accepted codes of procedure and behavior protocols for diplomatic occasions, and create a system of rules governing affairs of state regulating child trafficking and adoption policies. All of these actions collectively spur organizational changes, hiring of new personnel, increased training, budgets and a plethora of red tape. Any questions?

And you know what? Despite all of the collective actions of an ever-expanding assemblage of special interest groups and agencies, every action related to an adoption ultimately remains a personal intimate matter, regardless of which side of the adoption triangle you are on. The only circumstance when you absolutely can’t make an individual choice or overcome the bureaucracy is when you fail to try.

Judith Land



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“Woo Hoo!—I found my Grandparents.”

Adoption Detective | Judith Land | Grandparents

The overwhelming majority of grandparents think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life.

I recently discovered the identity of my maternal grandparents. My mother was adopted. She had never seen an image of her parents and was uncertain of their names. When the mystery of their identity was eventually solved and I viewed their faces in a photograph for the first time, I felt immediately connected with them and culturally linked to the past. My reaction was quietly introspective, overtly affirmative, and genuinely positive. I was overcome by immense feelings of joy, healing, and understanding produced by a deep sense of connectedness, belonging, and genealogical closure.

The cognitive knowledge and reactivity in response to those who are familiar to us is heart-rending. Emotional intelligence has a profound influence on our instinctual confirmation of identity. The psychological reactions produced by great works of art, and the feelings they evoke in the viewer, has been the subject of extensive study by artists and psychologists for many centuries. Understanding visual stimuli and the linking of personal memories to what is being viewed suggests that the experience is highly complex. The major neurological stimulus the photographs of my grandparents triggered in my brain were the same passionate, dramatic, and compelling emotions produced by the world’s greatest works of art—the equivalent of the Mona Lisa—deeply profound and eternally remembered.

Photographs are a slice of time and place that will never happen again. The visual images I have of my grandparents are priceless to me. Knowing the historic highlights of the pivotal points in my family’s history is timeless and enduring. Their memory, preserved in the black and white images of their faces that were left behind, creates a nostalgic sense of yesteryear of precious times gone by. My grandmother was an attractive young girl of German heritage who had a fling with a flamboyant Italian man of questionable character. He was a young, prosperous, married man with a family and a notorious reputation, but to those who befriended him, he was a good person. His wife and children and extended family loved him. He was a leader within the Italian community and a respected godfather to many individuals.

Story telling fascination brings to life tales of our ancestors and their accomplishments. This is how we learn about legends of the past; life lessons are taught; meanings behind family traditions are understood; and factoids become the ties that bind. Discovering the identity of my grandparents and seeing an image of their faces for the first time has been a surreal mix of fact and melodramatic fantasy.

Judith Land


Adoption Detective

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Adoption—Its Pub Weather Today

“When there are no lingering doubts in your mind and you are confident the outcome is certain there’s nothing to be lionhearted about.” Judith Land

Adoption Detective | Judith Land | Pub Weather

Alcohol poses unique risks to all women. Women are more vulnerable than men to alcohol’s harmful effects, more likely to abuse alcohol, and more commonly self-medicate with alcohol for depression, anxiety, stress, and coping with emotional difficulties.

Its pub weather and I’m thinking about you and the thousands of other adoptees and their birth mothers and fathers spread across the world today. Imagine a day when the reasons to quit don’t outnumber the reasons why some people drink—a day when you’re uncertain whether to cry because something regrettable and sorrowful happened long-ago or smile because the unpleasant events of a bygone era have remained hidden but not forgotten. Its pub weather today and unconscious sufferers wander aimlessly when there is no place to go on those darkened days when their tears make the flowers grow. There’s a deep sadness inside that never seems to go away. When you are all alone your heart beats like a heavy stone. Being the only one is disparaging and cruel when you’re perched alone on a barstool. Gin makes your head spin and wine makes you feel sublime. There is no way to atone for past mistakes; makes you feel lost in doubt knowing there’s no way out. Lady Justice is a moral force. Her attributes are a blindfold, a balance scale and a sword. The tipping point on the scale of life determines the contrast between enjoying the sunshine and drinking moonshine by the weight of a single grain of sand.

The world still goes on, even if you fall behind. Imagine what it is like sitting in the darkness trying to get through pub weather. There’s a deep sadness inside that never seems to ebb or flow or unremittingly go away. Some days it seems there’s no way out and no road home, days when you’re lost in self-doubt, feeling lonesome, insecure and all alone. All you can do is hope to find your consolation and wonder if lamented love will come along before your time is done. When you discover that life is fragile you have to remind yourself to breath deeply and cautiously watch your step as you plod along life’s path. Beware of darkness and inky black thoughts that linger inside your head during the darkest and dreariest of waking hours when despair is deeply imbedded as if by design, forever lingering, never to be buried or put to rest. Respect and honor being gone, learn to seek mercy and forgiveness and steer clear of moody weather that gives birth to endless blackened nights. Eventually, you reach the point in time when unworldly strangers say, “Get over it. It is time to move on.” Spending a life in the boondocks searching for answers to questions that aren’t easy to find sows a doleful existence that is endlessly forlorn. Questions made more complicated with multiple queries on your mind—especially the ones that lead you to ask, “How hard will it be to find my way back to you again?”

Are you tired of pub weather and the foreboding dispirited feelings it brings? Why not choose sunshine and laughter over tears and beers and shun moonshine and off color chatter. Learn to be entertained by the amber glow of dusk, the Milky Way and clear nights. Wake at dawn, happily bless the early morning light, and cultivate a progressive hope that everything in the world will eventually be all right. When you hear the howling wind gaining force don’t be afraid. Instead, see delight above your head in ephemeral clouds building shifting canyons and valleys in darkened thunderous gray and brilliant wispy white. Imagine a day when everything turns out okay. Knowing that you have not been forgotten causes a fountainhead of innate sentiments of tenderness, curiosity, warmth and love. So, why not dare to dream, take a chance, and challenge fate? Perhaps, someone estranged long ago will persevere in the coming year by fulfilling his or her dream of eventually catching a glimpse of you.

Judith Land



Adoption Detective

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Adoption—Parents who live vicariously

Vicariousness is a social phenomenon whereby a parent attempts to live out their own goals and accomplishments by chasing lost dreams and failed careers through their offspring. Living vicariously is a psychological form of possessiveness whereby an adult acts to persuade a child to participate in activities in which they aren’t particularly interested. This form of parental behavior is particularly evident in staged events, concerts, and beauty pageants, and is most obvious in the bleachers of children’s sporting events.

Judith Land | Adoption Detective | Vicarious

“Vicariousness is feelings enjoyed through the imagined participation in the experience of others, especially children. Some parents who live vicariously become angry and upset if their child doesn’t succeed or embarrasses them; feelings of shame and guilt that are intensified when the child is not aware of how embarrassing their performance and behavior is, especially if the parent has the dream of profiting financially from the earnings of the child.” Judith Land

Most parents have a natural tendency to encourage and project their own desires onto their children based on their own personal life experiences. They dream and fantasize now and then about all the wonderful things their children will do when they grow up. They conscientiously want to avoid seeing opportunities for positive accomplishments; educational experiences, character building events, and learning opportunities slip away. There are positive aspects to parental supervision of children’s activities but when participation becomes overindulgent, imprudent, and unrestrained, and the child is coerced into following the paths that the parents choose for them, there’s a risk to the child’s natural maturation process.

When an adolescent is overly dependent on the approval of parents they tend to remain in a state of perpetual childhood and suspended adolescence. The child has no way of developing their own distinct identity, becoming self-sufficient, and deciding what is best for themselves when their participation in an activity becomes excessive and entirely parent-driven. The child who fails to live up to the parent’s expectations may experience shame and guilt, low self-esteem and feelings they aren’t good enough, smart enough, or worthy enough for their parents to care about them. The experience of failing to meet the parents’ expectations may degrade the child’s ambition and slowly erode confidence in their own abilities. They may have difficulty developing their own goals and inner vision and things don’t always end well for them—for these reasons, beware of the parent who vicariously chases lost dreams and failed careers through the emotional risk and consequence of their adopted child.

Judith Land


Adoption Detective

children | parenting | relationships | adoption


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Empathy is more than a simple act of kindness, sympathy, prayer, or pity

“Those who have walked in the shoes of another person, regardless of which side of the adoption triangle they are on, are often the ones who best understand the depth of emotion, pain, suffering, and state of mind that others are experiencing. If you know someone associated with an adoption, then you know that empathy is one of the most important life skills you can learn because the adoption world is littered with individuals in desperate need of urgent care that could be comforted by a universal appeal for assistance, compassion and empathy.” Judith Land

Empathy | Judith Land | Adoption Detective

Empathy is about discerning what another person is thinking or feeling; experiencing emotions that match another person’s emotions; caring for other people and having a desire to help them. Compassion is an emotion we feel when others are in need, which motivates us to help them. Sympathy is feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

Empathy is the ability to feel and share another person’s emotions, feelings, and state of mind for the purpose of offering comfort and reassurance. Empathy is a gift and a skill that requires the means, talent and ability to interpret and comprehend the soul of another human, that is at the core of their emotional well-being, feeling and thought. Empathy is much more than a simple offering of kindness, sympathy, prayer, or pity; it is the ability to sense the feelings and perspectives of others and assuming an active interest in their concerns.

Empathy is the link between self and others and how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing. The ability to imagine oneself as another person and the capacity to place oneself in their position is a sophisticated imaginative process that is cognitive, emotional, or romantic in nature. Having the ability to understand what another person is experiencing from their frame of reference and the ability to place oneself in their position can be achieved with training to various degrees of intensity and accuracy but the basic capacity to cry when we see someone else cry or be happy when they are happy is based on primitive intuitive sympathetic responses when we recognize emotions and feelings in other beings that are innate and achieved unconsciously. Sentiments that trigger our emotions and feelings of tenderness, sadness, and reminiscence aren’t always about what we are feeling today. When one’s state of mind, intuitive feelings, and moral sense are overtly exaggerated or self-indulgent they may be the nostalgic aftereffects of post traumatic stress resulting from the events and circumstances of long ago. Understanding our own feelings and emotions is essential for a healthy life and the foundation of empathizing with others. Empathy is about listening with one’s eyes, as well as our ears, instincts and heart. Nonverbal communication is often the basis for understanding the feelings, experiences and thoughts of others that aren’t fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

Persons with a high degree of empathy have the capacity to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. Research has suggested that individuals who can empathize tend to have positive mental health, job performance, and leadership skills, enjoy better relationships with others and greater well-being through life.

Judith Land


Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child


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Adoption—Robinson Crusoe Syndrome

“It seems inevitable that the life’s adventures of adoptees who have lost all contact with family for a considerable period of time who are eventually reunited with them will one day be listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association as victims of Robinson Crusoe Syndrome.” —Judith Land

Robinson Crusoe is one of the most unforgettable stories and widely published books of all time, leading to many sequels, imitators, films and movies. The book is presented as an autobiography of a castaway who spends thirty years on a remote tropical island before ultimately being rescued.

Robinson Crusoe | Judith Land | Adoption Detective

Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published April 25, 1719, written in a simple narrative style in an epistolary, confessional, and didactic form. It is presented as an autobiography of the title character—a castaway who spends thirty years on a remote tropical island before being rescued by pirates.

Crusoe is a castaway and the soul survivor of a shipwreck, cast ashore and stranded on an uninhabited island that he names the Island of Despair. Fearful of an unknown land, he is afraid and filled with anxiety and spends the first night in a tree. He fears uncultivated land and he learns to achieve order by enclosing it. Eventually, through manly independence, intelligence, calculation and persistence, he gradually modifies the environment, first for protection and then for sustainability and finally for comfort. Faced with numerous emotionally fraught and morally charged situations, Crusoe reveals his heart and motivations and darker reactions to significant events. He becomes very religious after reading from the bible and when he encounters the unconscious cruelty of cannibals, slaves, and pirates, he decides not to hold them accountable because they don’t know any better. He initially ascribes to a doctrine of knowledge and truth but concludes that morality exists in relation to culture, society, and historical context that are not always absolute. He concludes that certain cultural groups have different modes of thought and standards of reasoning that conveys a moral theme and other rich cultural truths that are often ignored.

He is a rugged individualist who is isolated and alone and entirely cut off from his family and native cultural group who is forced to adapt to his foreign surroundings because he has no other choice. His adventure culminates by showing his acceptance of Christian doctrine, intuition of his own salvation, and the importance of providence, penitence and redemption. The story concludes with his deliverance not only from the island, but his spiritual deliverance and cleansing of problems manifested in his life that caused afflictions that oppressed him.

The story of Robinson Crusoe appeals to adoptees of all ages in every culture for obvious reasons—they too must learn to persevere, refashion them, and adjust to the situation and circumstances in which they find themselves in order to survive. They suffer through life’s adventures and brave the pain of lonesomeness. They quietly accept the consequences of their fate in solitude. They must constantly adjust to a shifting and uncertain destiny while experiencing the heartbreak of isolation and the pain of separation from family. They are forced to embrace local customs, conform to the traditions of religion, learn the language of the adoptive culture, and adjust to the subtle nuances of the environment and geography in which they find themselves. After thirty lonely years of cloistered obscurity in the back of beyond, imagine what it is like for them to feel the joy of being rescued and reunited with the past; an experience that can be overwhelmingly fascinating, like walking backwards through a very long tunnel to rekindle ancient memories, that can either warm them up from the inside or burn them.

Judith Land


Adoption Detective


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“Adoption and Behavioral Foxhole Syndrome”

Foxhole Syndrome | Adoption Detective | Judith Land

A behavioral syndrome is a characteristic combination of opinions, emotions, and behavior that are correlated with each other and a specific condition. The term foxhole syndrome was first used in World War I when millions of soldiers dug holes and trenches in the ground for protection, believing that if they stayed in their “foxholes” they would remain safe.

Some children still continue the historic tradition of hunkering down in a safe place to avoid unpleasant situations, predictable confrontation, and the emotional pain of reality. Adoptees suffering from “foxhole syndrome” believe that if they hide in a safe place and keep their head down they won’t be noticed. In their minds, surviving adversity entails more than getting through the initial crisis. They must also cope with the aftermath of a series of distressing, heartbreaking and harrowing events that are worrisome, agonizing, and difficult to reconcile. Hoping to escape a troubled past that is complicated, and avoid the strain and anxiety of post traumatic stress, the frightened child attempts to remain out of sight to avoid detection and looks for shelter in spaces that are defensible. Running for cover and seeking a safe haven that offers a psychological refuge is their way of avoiding stressful situations that cause tension, especially when there is a perception of uncertainty and risk.

Adoption is an event that can create a serious disruption of a person’s beliefs about human nature and the randomness and order of the universe. When people are afraid their hearts race and they either shoot at anything that moves or cower in the fetal position as they scramble to stay out of harms way. Unfortunately, it can be excruciatingly lonely being isolated in a closet, an attic, under a staircase, in a tree, in a darkened basement, or a lonely tavern, and depressing living with the repercussions and memories of complex circumstances and vagueness about how things stand when you are feeling isolated and alone. Adoption is an emotional occurrence with enduring consequences that adoptees have no control over, yet the outcome has profound aftereffects and significant implications to one’s values and eternal life. There is much at stake, yet no child is able to act on its own self-interest in any definitive way whatsoever—most are essentially powerless to alter life’s circumstances. They have no other recourse other than to quietly endure the interminable outcomes of the pivotal events in their life over which they have no command. They have a confined number of acquaintances, shy away from making new friends, and may be apprehensive about answering the telephone and the doorbell, even in adulthood. They are self-conscious and reserved and show timidity in the presence of strangers. They intentionally avoid specific activities due to nervousness and a lack of confidence, stay away from confrontational situations, and shy away from saying what they think in public—hence the term foxhole syndrome.

Did you ever wish that you could find a small sheltered cove far from everyone where you could conceal yourself under a warm blanket of complacency to hide from the pressures of the world? Trauma causes us to step back and re-evaluate our deepest motivations and convictions as we pass through each phase of the human life cycle of playfulness, ingenuity, passion, enterprise, contemplation, benevolence and wisdom. Each phase of life has its own perception of humanity and at each subsequent stage; happiness becomes based more on internal, controllable values and less on the externalities of the ever-changing outside world, but when troubles persist, it remains uncertain at what stage of life can you expect to blossom to your fullest degree. Regardless of the life phase you are in now, does it really take a full clinical analysis to correctly identify adoption as the underlying cause of behavioral foxhole syndrome?

Judith Land


Adoption Detective


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