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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“Adoption—A thousand reasons to be angry”

“Empathy is heartbreaking for the virtuous adoptive parent who has given all the love and care and hugs they can to a child that continues to struggle with anger management issues.” Judith Land

Anger | Adoption Detective | Judith Land

“Our self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment and determines what we become. A belief in a positive self-image is the cornerstone of all the positive changes that take place in a person. Anger clouds our judgment and causes us to respond wildly based on our emotions. Anger is a negative emotion that is toxic to the body that interferes with its harmonious functioning and balances by negatively affecting our heart, immune system, digestion and hormone production. If you’re an adoptee who has experienced physical and psychological responses to anger that is disruptive to the natural flow of energy in your body, learn the principles of anger management to change the image of self to create a positive outlook and you will modify the personality, human behavior and the outcome.” Judith Land, Adoptee and Author of the book Adoption Detective

Every adopted child has feelings they can’t fully comprehend, including grief, denial, abandonment, low self-esteem and anger. There are a thousand reasons why adoption puts them in an irritable and irascible mood. Knowing that they were rejected by their parents and discarded by family torments them and no amount of external love can overcome this internal torture and humiliation. It’s almost impossible to emerge unscathed from any situation that makes a child available for adoption and every adopted child has experienced loss, or they wouldn’t be available for adoption. Their lives are complicated by painful backstories and gaps in their life’s story that causes emotional suffering. Traumatized by the experience many of them need help learning to understand their emotions—and eventually, how to deal with them. They are hurt by the adoption experience and confused by the lack of a true self-identity. They sense that something is intrinsically wrong without always knowing why. They are grieved by the difficulties they are forced to endure without ever understanding the reasons for the lifelong banishment they have received. A conscious awareness that their life’s journey has been coldly interrupted leaves many adoptees feeling overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness, annoyance, and displeasure triggered by a deep-seated internal fear of persecution, anger, and expressive behavior hostile to others.

They feel out of place when a true self-identity based on solid connections to the past is missing. They are angry knowing they were bartered for and given to strangers for a fee. They long to shed the label of a permanent child in need of lifelong supervision and protection and yearn for a curative breakthrough reality that will finally make sense out of their disrupted life stories. They view themselves as impassioned victims of an annoying maltreatment and emotional torture because they have been abandoned by family and antagonized by those in authority. With a teary eye, a broken heart and no end in sight, they become hapless victims of the unmerciful and cumulative psychological effects of adoption syndrome and post traumatic stress. They are forced to suffer a mental irritability characterized by a lack of sovereign control and heartbreaking social indignation. They endure the pain of the refugee, disconnected, abandoned and lied to about the reasons for the major deviation in their life’s trajectory. They feel disoriented, alone and autonomous, disengaged and isolated from their natural place in the world, geographic niche, social customs, and cultural group.

Lacking a true self-identity, feeling insecure, and existentially uncertain of their place in the world, many adoptees suffer low self-esteem, which is the single most important emotional gauge of future happiness, success, feelings of well being, confidence and positive assurances. The loss of a meaningful self identity and separation from their natural inherited place in the world leaves them in a frenzied mental state, disoriented and crazed with anxiety knowing that they were forced to accept new ethnic and cultural traditions, cuisine, religious faith and denomination, and the language assigned to them. When they eventually discover that social workers, lawyers, clergy, and adoptive parents acting in collaboration to conceal their real identity and the names of their parents have lied to them, and the government even refuses to acknowledge their frustration, they become increasingly incensed and bad tempered about what happened to them.

Judith Land


Adoption Detective

adopción | adoção | Annahme | 採用 | 양자 | pag-aampon | υιοθεσία | adopsjon

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Adoption—Are you burned out?

“There’s an old adage that you can’t get burned out unless you used to be on fire. Being burned out is a clear sign that you were once hotly passionate about an issue that was important to you.” Judith Land

Judith Land | Adoption Detective | burned out

I have many friends with great ideas for patents that would improve the lives of others, generate profits and exclude others from making, using, or selling their invention. A few of these individuals have become wealthy, while the others have allowed their ideas to languish on the shelf. Many individuals associated with an adoption have responded to challenges in much the same way as patent holders—their dreams and ideas have either been fulfilled or languished on the dusty shelves of obscurity.

Why hasn’t your dream been fulfilled? What caused your enthusiasm to wane? Perhaps, if your expectations aren’t being met, you are gradually running out of fuel and your enthusiasm has simply declined due to a lack of progress and increased age. When we are young we naturally feel enthusiastic, optimistic, and energetic about new ideas and experiences; it is easy for us to launch a vision quest to expand our horizons, survive multiple setbacks, and change directions. As we pass through various stages of life wisdom gradually accrues and emotional intelligence intensifies. Exposure to a wider variety of experiences grounds us and increases our insight into important issues and the motives of others. Eventually, if we remain in a static place too long our spirit dulls and our passions dwindle. Wholeheartedness and commitment fade as we become more complacent and accepting of the status quo. Over time, energy levels tend to decline and we naturally become more skeptical and pessimistic about the value of contemporary ideas, new frontiers, and alternative lifestyles.

What about you? Have the flames that were your life’s passion of yesteryear been reduced to blackened smoldering ashes—burned out long ago and out of fuel? Have the flames of youthful passion cooled and turned to dust because you doubted yourself; you didn’t know how to get started or accomplish your goals; you didn’t budget enough time; you lacked confidence; or did you simply lose your nerve? What was the one great idea that lit your passions and excited you? What would it take to rekindle the flame?

It is a fact that when coals are spread out the heat dissipates and the fire gets cold but when the coals are stirred and placed in close proximity to each other they create lots of flame and burn very hot. The message is simple, if you need a jolt, connect, collaborate and consult with others affected by an adoption that share the same youthful passions. Some adults endlessly debate whether or not to adopt or foster someone else’s child but the years go by and they never take action. Birth parents, foster parents, social workers, clergy, and extended family members often remain curious about a particular child wondering if they had a better life as promised but they never actually take the time to investigate. Adoptees suffering from genealogical bewilderment speak of a reoccurring desire to know something about the relevance of the past and speak of an inherent natural aspiration to reconnect with lost family members. It is one of the greatest passions of youth to be inquisitive about their native country, place of origin, race, and culture but the reality of a reunion with birth parents often remains an unfulfilled fantasy due to internal fears and an insurmountable bureaucracy.

Library shelves are filled with good advice about how to take charge of your life and initiate action and many organizations exist for the sole purpose of helping adoptees. If you have a desire to regain your youthful enthusiasm and accomplish a lifelong goal, try taking action by concentrating on your top two or three most important priorities. If getting started seems overly difficult, begin with something that doesn’t seem so distressing and ask for the advice and support of others. Focusing on results is the best way to rid you of uncertainty and create a positive attitude. Maintain a lighter state of mind and your tasks will seem easier. Make a decision to commit to follow through with your life’s desires and do the things you always wanted to do with vim and vigor. Try to stay positive and choose the path that will provide the greatest pleasure.

Judith Land


Adoption Detective

adopción | adoção | Annahme | 採用 | 양자 | pag-aampon | υιοθεσία | adopsjon

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“Adoption—An Affair of the Heart”

Have you ever wished that today could be tomorrow?

When a baby looks around it’s such a sight to see. If he or she could only speak, they would have much to say about how they feel knowing that their mother is gone away. When I was a child I lay awake thinking profound thoughts about my mother wondering why she was no longer by my side. Something deep-seated and intangible about her absence caused my heart to ache. Crying out in my sleep I’d softly moan, “My heart bleeds for you. It has been many days since I was born but your sacred voice still rings inside. Why have you forsaken me? When are you coming back for me?”

Judith Land | Adoption Detective | An Affair of the Heart

My entire life I was driven by an insatiable desire to find my roots, discover my true identity, and restore friendly relations with my biological parents. When I finally earned the chance to be reunited with them, the reality of meeting them in the flesh exceeded my wildest childhood fantasies. Getting to know them gradually and over time on a personal basis has truly been a storybook ending and a magical “affair of the heart”.

Feeling stagnant and restless, I dreamed of rendezvousing with my biological mother in sweet bliss, an “affaire de coeur” before I part this life, before the flower heads of youth blanch and wilt, slowly wither and gradually fade away. A wholesome life that is free of strife is a sacred concept that brings new meaning to my days on earth that helps me get through any weather. I whimsically long for the clouds to clear and rays of sun to peak through. I want the tower bells to ring, sounding an alarm about a bona fide love for someone who is missing and send a message of hope to the outcast child wanting to know why it ended this way.

I get restless when the sky is cheerless and despairing, always raining in my heart. Darkened clouds overhead, dripping endlessly on my head. Feeling the stillness of the night, I never feel exactly right. I’m frightened and confused about my plight and easily overcome by endless dreaming of fantastic things that may never happen. My life is an endless delay of creeping days and endless hours of sleepless nights. Lacking a clear perspective of worldliness and sophistication, I’m simultaneously overcome with the pain of yesterday’s sorrow and disheartened by feelings of hopelessness when dreaming of tomorrow. I pray to God both day and night, “Is this the circle of life that I should expect to go on forever? I would go anywhere, do anything, to catch a glimpse of her.”

I’ve seen ephemeral summer clouds gently floating overhead, pink apple blossoms in springtime and autumn foliage ablaze in multiple hues of red and orange. I’ve heard birds happily chirping to attract a mate and dogs and cats spat. I’ve marveled at lightning storms, rainbows and deep snows as the seasons pass. I’ve gazed at my reflection in a deep blue lake of glass and felt the power of thunderous ocean waves rolling in. I’ve felt the warmth of the sun’s rays at dawn and when the sun becomes a red ball of flame and turns the horizon pink, I robotically pour myself another drink.

Our lack of acquaintance and familiarity triggers desperate feelings of heartfelt pain, salty tears and sorrowful rain. Leisure isn’t fun any more. Feelings of being unheralded, anonymous, isolated and alone set my mood. Enduring endless days, lonesome nights and a marathon of ceaseless dreaming is what my life is all about. Boundless days and endless nights—an endless cycle of déjà vu day after day, season after season. I am an adoptee who feels the plight of the orphaned refugee. I don’t even know my parents’ names. Seeking eternal bliss, I whimsically dream of effectuating a heavenly love affair of the heart and the healing peace of mind a mother daughter reunion would make. I am restless and would be forever grateful and feel fulfilled and whole, if by happenstance some kindred soul would expose my aching heart to my ma and pa.

Judith Land


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