Adoption—Fighting for your Destiny

“The day we give up on small fights and start focusing on our destiny is the day we start becoming successful and content with the way things are,” Judith Land 

Life is an awkward frustrating toffee pull for many adoptees. Their lives are complicated and their relationships more complex than they often need to be. They have many more things to think about and more family issues to deal with that lead to confusion and disagreements. The more muddled the situation becomes, the harder it is for them to calm down, adjust to circumstances, and concede other points of view. 

Adoption Detective | Judith Land

“Many adoptees find themselves in difficult situations that naturally lead to disagreements, conflict, and strife. They struggle for autonomy, privacy, equality, self-determination, and freedom. They are goaded into bickering and feuding with other family members and peers, often over trivial issues. Disagreements are a way of life, but they don’t have to cause havoc. There are many books on how to deal with disagreements effectively and they should be available when needed.” Judith Land

What adoptees eventually must learn is that one of the greatest turning points in life is when you come to the realization that it isn’t worth spending a lifetime consumed by negative thoughts triggered by resentment, feeling sorry for yourself, self-pity, and regret—knowing that it’s fruitless to blindly resist reality and continue to pick fights with everyone who disagrees with you. 

To be successful in life, learn to choose what you fight for wisely and know that small fights are for small fighters. Stop fighting against the gossipers and the trouble makers. Stop fighting public expectations of how you should live and behave. Stop fighting in laws, colleagues and friends who aren’t true. Stop fighting to change the opinions of stupid people with small minds. Stop resisting and give up on fighting for small things—insignificant things of little consequence—things that aren’t worth your time. Stop fighting for attention, fighting with family, fighting with inconsiderate people, fighting for your rights, fighting to please everyone, fighting to prove others are wrong about you. 

Use common sense and fight for important things that are attainable. Take responsibility for your life and career to determine which direction your life will go. Know that you can change your destiny by defining your goals and focusing on your vision for the future, based on who you are and what you do. Power your dreams with hope to alter future outcomes to ensure your destiny. This is the path to happiness.

Judith Land

 

 

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Adoption—Time is the allegorical Father of Truth

“Everyone can relate to having regrets related to an adoption, but how often do you spend wondering what would have happened—if only different choices had been made—thoughts that waste valuable time and eat you up inside? Obsessing about wrong choices, feelings of hopelessness and victimization, hoping that memories would somehow disappear, if only I could just re-envision the outcome I always wanted.” Judith Land

People who become complacent or unhappy with their current lives tend to look back on their past regrets to think, “if I had just done this or that…” If you catch yourself starting to wander back into those time changing thoughts, I think it is time to ask yourself what about your life would you want to change right now and how can you in the future because the future is the only thing you can change. Wanting a change in life is fine, it’s even necessary to grow as a person, but nothing will be changed by wishing you had done something different in the past. If you feel this way, it is time to start recognizing where you want to be in life and what steps you need to take to get there.

“I have had many moments in life that I can’t help but think about how different they could have been. Thinking too much about ‘What could have been’ may actually be ruining your life. The past will never change but, the future is yours.” Judith Land

Adoptees and birth mothers sometimes experience deteriorating emotional wellness, triggered by charged memories and persistent negative thoughts, resulting from the residual after effects of an adoption that is a cause for concern. When we feel emotionally out of control due to stress and anxiety, it often leads to mood-active responses that can become disruptive and inappropriate.

When bad things happen and we perceive things in a negative way, we get stuck ruminating about past decisions and events, wondering about how things turned out, thinking about choices that were made and why they happened—or could have happened—over and over. We brood on, worry about, and deliberate about these things in our minds. We mull over and agonize about past decisions that were made either impulsively or unwisely and the consequences of those actions. We become sad when we focus on our problems, indulging in self-pity and worries. We feel bad and helpless, angry and resentful. Often, it’s these ruminative thought cycles that drive our emotions up, and not the actual event itself.

Ruminating about the negative consequences of an adoption may cause you to feel yourself losing control. There are even times when you’re tempted to roll on the floor and scream at the top of your lungs. When emotions start to feel overwhelming, pause. Take a couple of deep breaths so your emotions can get a rest and start to calm down. Consciously bring those intense emotions down a bit, so you can carefully choose what to do next.

It can seem counterintuitive to accept the things that are bothering us, but indeed, it is good advice to “accept the things that you cannot change” when you want to control your emotions. No matter how upset we become, our emotions can’t change things that are unchangeable. So ask yourself: What part of this situation is unchangeable? Remind yourself to accept those things and focus your effort on the things you can change for the better. Strive for the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Use self-restraint to maintain your composure and stay calm.

Another strategy is to redirect your thoughts by getting up and doing something different, and changing your surroundings. This approach helps give you a moment to reset and take your thoughts in a new direction. Infuse some positive emotions into the situation to beat back those negative feelings. Look for the silver linings in whatever it is that’s bothering you. Improve your communication skills and advocate for your needs in your relationships with others. Infuse some positive emotions into the moment with something funny or inspiring. Positive things can often deflate even the most intense negative feelings. Stay calm and exercise self-mastery by doing something that generates happiness like watching a funny video, so you can start feeling yourself again. If you still feel all riled up, try exercise as an effective way to boost your mood. The greater the intensity of the workout, the greater the impact on your mood. The physiological changes that happen in your body make exercise a great solution for intense emotions that you’re having a hard time handling with other strategies.

Time is the allegorical father of truth. If the nurturing goddess Mother Earth and the elderly Father Time allow us to achieve inner peace by reuniting us with significant others from our past, embrace the opportunity, and remind yourself that emotionally you’ve never really been apart. This is what life all comes down to at the end of the sidewalk.

Judith Land

 

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Adoption—What is the meaning of énouement?

“Enouement is the bittersweet sorrows of having arrived in the future and not being able to tell your past self how things eventually turned out.” Judith Land

“I was very eager to discuss my childhood experiences with my birth parents when I met them for the first time, to let them know what my life was like, and disclose the fact that everything had turned out okay in the end. This experience made me wish I could turn back the clock and go back in time to know them when we were still young.” Judith Land

Most adoptees experience feelings of enouement at least once in their life. Enouement occurs when we arrive in the future and wish we could turn back the hands of time and return to the past to convey our intimate thoughts to our younger self to let ourselves and significant others know how everything turns out in the end—to let everyone know what the future holds. 

One of my favorite movies is Somewhere in Time, staring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Christopher Reeves becomes obsessed with a photograph of a young woman at the Grand Hotel in Michigan and dreams of traveling back in time. He is approached by an elderly woman who places a pocket watch in his hand and pleads, “Come back to me.” Having died of a broken heart, Christopher is transported back in time and reunited with the woman in the picture who had died eight years prior on the very night she gave him the pocket watch. It is a mesmerizing story of enouement with an enchanting and romantic aura of the past.

Heartache and obscure sorrows may lead to despondency when aspects of the truth remain vague and indeterminate for many years; nameless, enshrouded and concealed, unknown except by rumor, allusion, and innuendo. It is not possible to time travel; we are only able to return to the past through our imagination, fond hope, illusion, fantasy, and daydreams.

Feelings of enouement overwhelmed me when I eventually discovered the identity of my birth parents, grandparents and extended family; the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where I finally had the answers to how things turned out in the real world—the choices I made, the experiences I had, the person I became, and what my family was like—priceless intel that I instinctively wanted to share with anybody who hadn’t already made the journey, as if there was some part of me who had volunteered to stay behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, eagerly awaiting news from the front. 

Calm reflection brought on by introspection means thinking about the things that happened to you with an attitude of curiosity and self-exploration to draw conclusions about yourself and other people with a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality. Introspection leads you to learn more about yourself and how you’ve changed over time and why you feel the way you.

Reminiscing at length about the pivotal events in life and the feelings they evoked both then and now, and sharing those memories with our younger self and significant others is what we strive to do when we connect with persons we care about from the past—this is the feeling of enouement.

Judith Land

 

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Adoption—How does it feel?

“Pain is a multidimensional experience with numerous areas of the brain activated. If pain following trauma is the fault of another person, the brain’s response is heightened; recovery is hindered and the risk of pain and disability in the years ahead is significantly higher.” Judith Land

Rainbow Bridge | Judith Land |Adoption Detective

“If a child is separated from a parent, how much psychological pain will they experience, and how much post traumatic stress will they endure? The brain’s ability to modulate pain has been shown to vary, not only between individuals, but also within an individual over time. This is partially based on the context of the painful childhood separation experience.” Judith Land

How does it feel to be an adoptee? 

Adoptees suffer a major psychological loss at the initial separation from the birth family. Even if the loss is beyond conscious awareness, recognition, or vocabulary, it affects the adoptee on a very profound level. The grief process is further complicated by the fact there is no closure to the loss experience, all subsequent development is affected. Some adoptees are able to cope with this change in self-identity and move on with their lives, while others seem to be emotionally afflicted with the loss for an entire lifetime.

Rainbow Bridge is the largest natural bridge in the world, an ancient tribute to the forces of nature, a beautiful rainbow frozen in stone, located in Forbidding Canyon, Lake Powell, Arizona. While hiking to the famous arch, a man standing beside me paused to take a picture. Unaware of his perilous location, he lost his balance and tumbled into the canyon abyss. My husband and I climbed down the rock wall to provide emergency assistance. The victim’s lower leg had been brutally torn from the man’s body and was lying caddywampus on the rocks beside him. We wrapped a leather belt around his thigh to form a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. While performing this life-saving action, resuscitation and first aid, the man smiled and remarked, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.” Apparently, he felt no pain because the nerves in his leg had been completely severed.

Some adoptees in denial react in much the same way—the umbilical cord is severed. They say they feel no pain. They claim to lack any sense of loss, attachment disorder, anxiety, or fear of separation. Confident in their artificially altered self-identity, they claim to be free of mental angst. They are content with their inner self, current situation and relationships. Pain is an aberration. They are happy with the adoptive experience and the outcomes they have achieved. They do not assign blame. They give little thought to the past or the cause of the drastic change in their life trajectory. 

Whereas, other adoptees appear to develop profound life-long afflictions, feelings of dread and deep anxiety about their life, circumstances surrounding their birth, and family relationships. They suffer from chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, combined with the unbearable anguish of life without the hope of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Life becomes a struggle dealing with the emotional burdens of separation that weigh heavily on the dispossessed, not knowing when salvation will appear. 

Pain is more than just a sensation indicating tissue damage for victims of post traumatic stress disorder: it is a multidimensional emotional experience triggered by intense emotions and strong feelings of being wronged, as well as mental and bodily harm. Numerous areas of the brain are activated. The brain’s ability to deal with physical and emotional pain has been shown to vary between individuals and over time. This is partially based on the context of the painful experience and whether pre-existing psychological blame is present. Those who blame others for their emotional pain are more prone to persistent long-term suffering, disability, and delayed healing. Seeking comfort by excessive eating, drinking, and compulsive habits, hampers rather than helps their self-esteem.

There are many predictable behaviors known to be related to adoptive status, including complex psychological problems in bonding and attachment disorders. The anxiety of separation resulting from adoption can be so intense in some cases that it causes severe reoccurring distress that affects social, occupational, and academic functioning. Regardless of how individuals outwardly respond to these circumstances, through denial or acceptance, the process of adoption is a lifelong adjustment with many of the emotional problems associated with the slow pain of a broken heart and psychological stress reoccurring and manifesting itself throughout an adoptee’s entire life, particularly during milestones, and times of emotional distress. 

Adopted Child Syndrome is a condition that may not be properly diagnosed in many people. Even when diagnosed correctly, depression often goes untreated with many individuals left to deal with complex psychological issues on their own. The ineffable sense of loss of a mother for some adoptees is beyond the pale, beyond words, inexpressible, and indefinable. The mythical image of a wandering soul hoping to reunite with a significant other is every bit as emotionally complex and painful as the loss of a severed limb that can never be resolved.

Judith Land

 

 

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Adoption – Street Smarts or Book Smarts?

“Most of the time, learning occurs in not-so ideal situations—what I call chance learning. The brain loves novelty and when we see something odd or unusual we are more likely to remember the experience. That’s part of the reason our memories are continually updating and adjusting to new information.” Judith Land 

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“The brain is endlessly learning, acquiring knowledge, constantly updating, regenerating its memory banks of information on the fly, and replacing the old with the new, allowing us to learn from our first breath to our last. The universe we live in is always in flux, if we don’t change with it, we fail to thrive and grow.” Judith Land

The world of adoption is continually changing and updating at an increasingly faster pace. New information, concise reporting and more accurate statistics, expanding technical data, genetic and medical research, internet sharing, social media, increased psychological and childhood development studies, and evolving societal attitudes are leading to more informed choices than ever before. Media libraries, genealogical sites and the need for medical history have greatly increased the ability of adoptees from closed adoptions to trace their roots and discover their medical history. Common wisdom, public stigmatism, societal attitudes and modern perceptions of single parenthood and adoption today are much different than those of previous generations. But how do we learn all these things about the good and the bad sides of adoption, from experience and common sense, or through book learning?

Adoption is a complex topic. Individuals on all sides of the adoption triangle need to be aware and beware of all aspects of the topic and continually monitor those who are most vulnerable and likely to need assurance, comfort, and assistance.

Some adoptees and parents use street smarts to develop a shrewd awareness, experience, and resourcefulness needed for survival in difficult and unique social environments. Intelligence to them means being well informed and clever and quick in thought and action; the ability to figure out other people, and the ability to correctly interpret what others really mean when they say and do things. A street smart person is generally someone who is intelligent and knows how to handle important situations that is often not well-educated academically. Street smart people have the knowledge and experience required to handle dangers and potential difficulties in life, particularly in urban settings. They believe that practical experience is the mother of wisdom and more beneficial than academic learning without experience. They observe through personal observation what others face when they go through an adoption. It is through firsthand experiences they are able to read the warning signs and discern when a situation is going south, or when circumstances are fine and safe. It also means staying flexible to adapt to changing circumstances, and developing tools and resources to deal with whatever life throws at you. Street smart people learn to trust their initiative and instincts to help them prepare for disaster. Street smarts tend to give you the tools and mental capacity to work out solutions in a more natural way when faced with a potential disaster.

On the other hand, adoptees and parents with book smarts are studious, educated, and scholarly. They are good at gathering information and they have a lot of facts and information. They are very good at knowing stuff, retaining things, and remembering things but book smarts is an expression often used to imply someone who lacks understanding of the world and common sense. Book smart people obtain knowledge from study and books. They acquire knowledge through reading. They are typically less knowledgeable when it comes to handling important situations faced outside of school and academic circles because unless you actually go out and experience life in person, you can’t really say you are smart about that particular scenario or subject. 

Regardless of how we acquire our life experiences and gather knowledge about the relationships between parents and children, whether we are more street smart or book smart, it is always important to learn as much as we can about the predictable outcomes and the associated problems and opportunities adoption creates. When we learn to understand the association between thunder and lightning, we are finally beginning to see the broader picture, learn the associated repercussions of our actions, grasp the consequences of adoption, and understand the predictable collateral effects of the choices we make.

Judith Land

 

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Adoption – The importance of Communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. Good communication is the language of leadership. Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon the respect of others. Wise people speak because they have something to say; fools because they unwisely and imprudently have to say something.” Judith Land  

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“Adoption triggers a never ending catalog of unfamiliar situations and a litany of emotional responses, feelings and sentiments. The better we are at communicating our thoughts and feelings to others, the more likely we are to discover the truths behind the answers we are seeking.” Judith Land

Adoption is a self-perpetuating continuation of a difficult situation that is never ending, even without outside intervention. There are many things to know about children; it is only through continual communication that we learn the best ways to nurture, guide, discipline, and protect the most vulnerable children.

How well you understand and communicate with others has a considerable impact on how successful you will be in every arena of life. People who communicate effectively find it easier to understand others, make good choices, and resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. To discover what someone else is thinking we must learn to listen actively, empathize, and acknowledge other viewpoints.

Good communication means knowing how to ask questions that clarify what a person is trying to say, and be able to coherently explain our own point of view. Understanding others means going beyond the words they speak and learning how to interpret the unspoken. Knowing how to read other people’s styles and motives makes it easier to work with others effectively. When we explain ourselves clearly, we are more easily understood. If we succinctly make our point the first time, there may be less confusion and frustration. 

Good communication saves you time and energy, helps things go more smoothly and decreases misunderstandings. People respect individuals who are forthright and when you are straightforward, others will admire your courage and personal strength. Quiet firmness goes a long way toward influencing others to honor your needs. When you seek feedback, you discover the impact of your behavior on others and when you exchange feedback, you are enlightened. When you give feedback to others your relationships become fuller and more meaningful and when you influence others positively, you are valued.

Good communication makes it easier to motivate and influence others to take action, helps make persuasive appeals, and reduce resistance to change. To be in a more commanding position to influence others, you must become the kind of person who is able to speak clearly to know and unearth the needs of others, and link them in an effective way to what you have to mutually offer each other.

Judith Land

 

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Adoption – Staying afloat

“Have you ever felt as though you are simply treading water, desperately trying to stay afloat, while hoping to escape a difficult life situation? Without positivism, how long can anyone remain adrift? What’s the alternative to sinking altogether?” Judith Land

Adoption Detective | Staying Afloat | Judith Land

Adoption is a redemptive act to save someone from misfortune that happens in this world.

When you are dealt a bad hand in life, it sometimes becomes difficult to keep your head above water. When the threat of abuse or neglect is high, we worry about being lost or abandoned, and long to be free from confinement, suffering, danger and evil. We dream of escaping from dangerous and distressing situations and long for the guiding hand of a trusted parent or guardian to lead us out of the darkness. 

The hope and vision of all children is to have someone who cares, protects and shelters them from harm, but it’s a cold hard fact of life that the help and support they are desperately seeking isn’t always available. When they are forced into negative circumstances that are beyond their control the days pass slowly and mournfully with basset-hound eyes. 

Imagine the disadvantaged little girl who spends eighteen years attempting to stay mentally buoyant as she sorrowfully drifts through life treading water, lamenting the fact that she was adopted, trying to remain positive and emotionally afloat after being separated from her biological mother through no fault of her own; a neglected “red-headed stepchild” mistreated worse than the other children in the family, without favor, unwanted, wrongly blamed, shunned, and bullied. She has no advantages. Much of what she was forced to endure would produce a degree of sadness and melancholy that would cause others to collapse and fall apart. It’s a terrible experience seeing someone feeling worse about themselves than they did before due to Abandonment Issues and because others brought judgement that depresses and discourages them. 

Coming to grips with self-identity issues, understanding the emotional impacts of adoption, and facing up to the cold hard truth of the importance of bonding and attachment disorders leaves many adoptees with a feeling of hopelessly drifting through life, rudderless and without a paddle or a sail. Separation Anxiety Syndrome causes major distress and predictable problems functioning in social situations at work and school. The lessons that every adopted child needs to learn are that a ship will never sink unless water leaks inside the boat and all the negativity in the world can never bring you down unless you allow it inside you. Those who want to bring you down are already below you. The higher you go the further you can see.

We are all born into this world to find our purpose and fulfill our own aspirations, so don’t just settle for the version of yourself that you’ve been comfortable with all your life. Accept that growing means you’ll have to leave a lot of things in the past, no matter how hard and painful that may be. Know that it’s after we undergo struggles in life that we experience growth and become better people than we were yesterday. 

Judith Land

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