Adoption—Harbor Lights

“The sea inspires visions that are haunting and alluring, especially at sunset. When my adoptive father’s boat was leaving the port at dusk one moonlit evening and silver light was shimmering on the placid combers of the briny deep, I had a remarkably unexpected fantasy—a ghostly image of my first mother, like an apparition of the Virgin Mary. My eyes grew misty when I imagined her standing on the vanishing shore. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing when I saw the harbor lights departing—I longed to hold her near and kiss her once more. It‘s hard to breath when your heart yearns so much for someone behind a closed a door.” —Judith Land

Portofino is an Italian fishing village and holiday resort on the Italian Riviera. It is famous for its large number of celebrity visitors and picturesque harbor with colorfully painted buildings that line the shore.

When responsibility for a child is renounced by the parents and supplanted by others, the path to the throne is abdicated and the outcomes of each successive significant event in life become less predictable. There is no remedy; the ship has sailed without you, and there is no hope of turning it back. Adoption is an event that creates a serious disruption of a person’s beliefs about human nature and the randomness and order of the universe; 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 his or her own self-interest in any definitive way whatsoever—most are essentially powerless to alter life’s circumstances.

Life is a struggle for adoptees who feel the plight of the refugee when there is no other recourse other than to quietly endure the interminable outcomes of the pivotal events in life over which they have no command. 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. Each chapter of our life story has its own perception of humanity and at each subsequent stage we must learn that happiness is based more on internal, controllable values and less on the externalities of the ever-changing outside world. Regardless of the life phase you are in now, it really doesn’t take a full clinical analysis to correctly identify adoption as the underlying reason for—looking, longing, wishing, hoping, and dreaming—the same shared feelings and emotions that other adoptees experience. Flowers, sunshine, comraderie, world traveling and savory food can help the soul to heal but they are not the cure.

Sentience is the capacity to be finely sensitive in perception to subjective experience. To live a happy life we must learn to take ourselves out of harm’s way, avoid temptations and ground ourselves in deeply held values. Knowing what you stand for determines your behavior, especially when the going gets tough, and the temptation is to choose the easiest path. Just remember that life is like riding a bicycle—keep moving forward to maintain your balance. If you are clear about who you are in any given situation, and steadfastly unwilling to negotiate, the songs of the Sirens aren’t so alluring.

Judith Land


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“Adoption—Life is a Challenge”

“Life is challenging for adoptees because they have more things to think about and more personal issues to resolve.” Judith Land

There comes a day when turning the page is the best decision for you because you realize there is so much more to the book than the chapter you were stuck on. Change can be dramatic but when it is time to make a life adjustment, the smallest step in the right direction is often the most important of your life. The secret of transformation is not to fight the old but focus all of your energy on building the new by challenging yourself to improve. Old habits keep us back—but you must master new ways of thinking before you can master a new way to be. If you are on a path with no obstacles, it probably means you are complacent.

Adoption Detective | Judith Land

“If you are an adoptee caught in unpleasant relationships that are untenable and situations over which you have no control that are enduring, you must learn to challenge yourself to refashion the way you think and act by reorganizing and redesigning your life. You must consciously transform yourself through the acquisition of new skills that will help you metamorphose into someone new—the person you always wanted to be.” Judith Land

Are you an adoptee with missing chapters in your life’s backstory that are vexed by peerless omissions and vacuous darkness? The difficult tasks you may face are an opportunity to prove your ability to yourself, and to others. Everything of consequence that you ever do starts with a passion to do something extraordinary. When you challenge yourself and expand your horizons you achieve more and grow as a person. You learn to trust yourself more and you greatly increase the likelihood of having happiness and success in your life. Following is not the way to lead. Choosing the road less traveled is sometimes the best choice.

The way to achieve success in life means learning to start your day earlier, exercising more, committing to doing things culturally enriching, checking items off a to-do list, staying away from social media, meditating, and writing down your future hopes, dreams and obtainable goals. Favorable outcomes result from aiming high in your personal life and career, meeting and interacting with new people, cultivating social skills, and growing in emotional intelligence.

Developing a passion for increasing your life skills and knowledge helps you gain confidence in the belief that you can succeed and triumph over adversity. Being productive and retaining a positive mentality is contagious and inspires others to help you achieve your goals. Patience and strategy skills are needed to determine relevant methods and directions for achieving goals. Climbing a mountain takes planning, vision, true grit and ambition. And, in many cases, initiating an adoption search to discover previously unrevealed historical events by anonymous ancestors requires backbone, courage, extreme fortitude and strength of character. There is a wealth of information just waiting to be discovered in courthouses, town halls, city and state archives, old newspapers and historical societies all across the country. Another treasure trove of genealogical information is DNA testing which is an affordable solution that is proving to be very useful in solving genealogical mysteries and clarifying medical history.

You can choose to sit in perpetual stagnancy, immobilized by the gravity of your loss and lack of a clear self-identity, or you can rise from the pain and cherish the most precious gift you have, life itself. You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf. Know your limitations and then defy them but be realistic—don’t quit your job at the bank to become a lion tamer. Hard work and discipline are what you need to succeed. Mysteries are what make life interesting and unraveling them is what makes life meaningful. Sometimes overcoming great difficulties are as simple as changing the way you think about the situation. People of accomplishment cause change by going in the direction of their own choosing, rather than simply reacting to altered circumstances. Keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason. The greater the obstacle, the greater the glory there is in overcoming it. Stay strong because things always get better eventually—it may be stormy today, but it never rains forever.

Judith Land




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Adoption—Bubbles in Time

If I could save every day like a treasure in a bubble of time, I would preserve each precious moment and memory and continue to relive those experiences until eternity passes away. If only I was a child again, I would save all my wishes and dreams in one place and capture them in a bubble of time. Thinking about my biological family and mortality stimulates emotional resonance that evokes strong reminiscences, potent images, mysteries about relationships and human character, and sentimental feelings of life, like the brightly colored pedals of an enchanted flower slowly unfolding one beguiling leaf at a time to expose the inherent beauty of the corolla.

“My early life was a joy. Flowers bloomed, the water glistened, and the sun twinkled merrily on little waves of the sea of tranquility, but the journey to find my biological family was an emotional experience filled with mysteries, hazards and pitfalls. The thrill of discovery of each new clue that brought me one step closer to my real self and true identity, caused me to bubble over with enthusiasm, sparkling and effervescing like a Waterford toasting flute of crystal glass filled with bubbly champagne.” Judith Land

Have you ever felt nostalgic about what happened long-ago? Have you ever wished you knew more about the people and significant events in your life? Have you ever wished you could enter a bubble in time to see what your parents and grandparents looked like, how they thought and behaved?

I’ve always been fascinated with bubbles, spherical creations that capture our breath and stir our imaginations. Blowing bubbles is fun, creating spheres that are inherently tranquil and whimsically bright that trigger feelings of gaiety and delight. Bubbles are temporary manifestations of jewels with smooth surfaces reflecting all the colors of a rainbow that automatically respond to the wisp of a breeze, like a butterfly or a child with a mind of their own, and the freedom to come and go as they please. Bubbles are airy and light fragile creations. The ones that I like best are those that remain buoyantly suspended—indefinitely, floating, drifting, defying gravity, and effortlessly sailing on air. I love a sudsy bubble bath that gives me time to think sentimental thoughts about those we love.

Why do bubbles always burst like temporary winning streaks that come to an end?

I was raised in a bubble, insulated and protected from danger and shielded from the truth and the unpleasant cold realities of the real world. I was raised with an idealistic notion of the greater community and a limited perception of human nature and the ways that people tend to behave naturally.

The age of reason, the years of discretion, and the glory years of moral discernment are analogous to distinct passages in time, the memories of each ephemeral phase of life encapsulated within a bubble of time with a beginning and an end with each transition leading to an expanded level of comprehension and appreciation of the world.

Bubbles are fragile and temporary and when a bubble bursts herein lies the death of a dream, or the life of another person. Bubbles never go away quietly. Someone’s illusions are always shattered and sense of well-being destroyed. Sometimes, it is the parents who willfully take proactive steps to force a child out of naiveté by egregiously bursting the bubble of youth, insensibility, and immaturity. And, when the bubble bursts, the cradle falls and down comes baby cradle and all. Other times, it is the child who bursts the bubble of complacency surrounding their adoptive parents when the parents discover that the adopted child for whom they have an abiding love and affection has initiated a vision quest as a right of passage to discover their natural place of origin and true self-identity. And when the adopted child discovers the identity and source of their birth parents and aggressively knocks down the door of transparency, the bubbles of secrecy, privacy, isolation, and solitude are collectively and simultaneously burst en masse in unpredictable ways.

Bubbles are capsules in time that define every stage of life. The bubbles we inhabit, the ones we choose to enter and the ones we exclude others from entering define our time on earth. We all experience feelings of immaturity, chaos, fear and instability and uncertainty followed by various stages of happiness, communication and periods of enlightenment. Bubbles are ephemeral points in time and space that define each phase of our life by offering portals to help us visualize the past and present and give us hope by providing insight into future trends leading to a better life. Bubbles are forever changing, growing, evolving and merging.

I sincerely hope there will be a need for fewer adoptions tomorrow than today because more birth parents will aspire to fortuitously hang in there for another day. I wish I could save and protect every child in need like a treasure in a bubble of time. I pray for those who seek transparency with a desire to resurrect, reconnect, and comprehend the events of yesteryear.

Judith Land


Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child

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The History of Adoption

The practice of adoption is as old as recorded civilization. The Bible addresses this topic. Fearing for Moses’s life, Jochebed places her baby in a watertight basket and floats it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. Pharaoh’s grown daughter discovers the babe, takes pity on him, and decides to adopt him as her own.

“School is often the first time kids are left to describe complex emotions related to adoption to new classmates, without having a parent nearby for support.”

Adoption of boys was a common practice among Romans in the upper senatorial class for ensuring a smooth succession of leadership. In the absence of a biological son to inherit his wealth and title, it was common for the emperor to adopt a son to carry on the political tradition of his family and designate him as his legitimate chosen successor. Augustus Caesar was the most famous Roman adoptee.

Muhammad instructed adoptive parents to refer to their adoptive children by the names of their biological parents. They were not considered blood relatives, and it was okay for them to marry. Inheritance remained separate from the biological family. If an adoptee inherited wealth from a birth parent’s estate, the adopted family was commanded to act as trustee and not to combine that property or wealth with their own.

Conscripting or enslaving children into armies and labor pools occurred as a consequence of war and pestilence when children were left parentless. Abandoned children then became the ward of the state, military organization, or religious group. When this practice happened en masse, it had the advantage of ensuring the strength and continuity of cultural and religious practices in medieval society.

Foundlings were commonly abandoned on the doorstep of churches, resulting in many of Europe’s abandoned children becoming alumni of the Church. This trend marked the beginning of a shift toward institutionalization, eventually bringing about the establishment of foundling hospitals and orphanages. From these locations, children were doled out as laborers and household servants. Baby farming in the Victorian era was the taking in of a child for payment, but baby farmers were often unscrupulous and many orphans suffered neglect, abuse and death.

The destiny of most European orphans was a lifetime of squalor, poverty, and crime until literature changed public consciousness about the fate of parentless children. Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist exposed the cruel treatment of the many orphans in London. Heidi is a novel about the events in the life of an orphaned girl in the Swiss Alps that is popular all over the world. Little Orphan Annie became a highly popular daily comic strip. She escapes from an orphanage and makes her way in the world by hard work and a cheery disposition. Anne of Green Gables, the story of an 11-year-old orphan girl, has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages.

Orphan trains were highly popular as a source of free labor. The largest migration of children in history took place in the United States when over two hundred thousand children were forced onto railroad cars and shipped west, where any family desiring their services as laborers, maids, and servants used and abused them. The sheer size of the displacement and degree of exploitation that occurred gave rise to new agencies and a series of laws that promoted adoption rather than indenture.

Almost all children without parental care in the United States were in orphanages or foster arrangements until President Theodore Roosevelt declared the nuclear family was best able to serve as primary caretaker for the abandoned and orphaned. Inspired by his leadership, forces against institutionalization gathered momentum, and the practice of formal adoption gained popularity.

Eventually, adoption became a quintessential American institution, embodying faith in social engineering and mobility. By 1945, adoption was formulated as a legal act with consideration of the child’s best interests. The origin of the move toward secrecy and the sealing of all adoption and birth records began when Charles Loring Brace introduced the concept to prevent children from the orphan trains from being reclaimed by their parents. Brace feared the impact of the parents’ poverty and their Catholic religion, in particular, on the youth. Progressive reformers later carried on this tradition of secrecy when drafting American adoption laws.

The legalization of artificial birth control methods and abortion resulted in a sudden drop in the number of babies available for adoption. As concerns over illegitimacy began to subside in the early 1970s, social welfare agencies began to emphasize that; if possible, mothers and children should be kept together. Societal opinions and adoption laws continue to evolve and vary by state and country. In safe haven states, infants may be left anonymously at hospitals, fire departments, or police stations within a few days of birth. While some states allow for open adoptions, others impose strict secrecy laws to protect identities.

Advanced biological, genetic, social, and psychological research in recent years has greatly enhanced public knowledge about the symbiotic relationship between birth mothers and infants. The perception of similarities between adoptive parent and child appears important to successful parenting. In relationships marked by like personalities and appearances, both adult adoptees and adoptive parents report being happier with the adoption. For this reason, Native Americans and many other cultural and ethnic groups stress the importance of keeping adoption within the child’s ancestral population.

Open records have increased the number of adoption reunions in recent decades that can be a beneficial experience for adoptees that desire to learn about their biological and ancestral backgrounds and medical history, but this is not to imply that the goal of all reunions is to establish ongoing relationships.

Judith Land



La historia de la adopción | L’histoire de l’adoption | La storia di adozione | История принятия | Istoria Adoptare | Historien om adoption | Historien om adopsjon | Hanes Mabwysiadu | 입양의 역사 | 采纳史

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Adoption – The Sublime Confidence of Youth

“To flourish is to be at one’s prime and achieve the height of excellence and influence in your life. To flourish you must cultivate a favorable environment, live a healthy and vigorous lifestyle, and aim for sustained periods of luxuriant growth.” —Judith Land


“Even if the flower grows from an ancient root, the flowers of spring are themselves a new and precious gift to the world. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. Life stands still for those who spend too much time planning for tomorrow’s events. Dreams of the future make us happier than the history of the past. Have gratitude for past successes and wholeheartedly look forward with enthusiasm to what’s coming next.” —Judith Land

When is the right time to break the endless cycle of repetition and recapture the sublime confidence of youth to create an inspired vision of the perfect life? If you want something bad enough that you never had, you must do something that you’ve never done. Aim for the moon because if you want something bad enough the entire universe will conspire to help you achieve it.

Many adoptees face a lifelong adjustment process between two shifting realities, a life “that is” and an imaginary world that, “could have been”. They have difficulty weighing the differences between the prosaic and unimaginative paint-by-numbers traditional role assigned to them by their adoptive families verses something unknown that is deeply profound, and mysteriously hidden within them. Without encouragement, guidance, mentoring, or an elusive spark to ignite the imagination in a way that excites them, an entire lifetime may pass without ever experiencing the true beauty, treasure, vision, and potency that subconsciously lies dormant below the surface. The mind drifts mercilessly between the two dueling worlds that are poles apart—rival domains in a clash between an inner dream world inspired by nostalgic yearnings for knowledge of ancestral roots, a true sense of self, and significant others who are missing, verses an external public persona of someone living a prosaic day-to-day existence that is conventional, lacking panache, and unpoetic. They are forced into playing a role on the stage of life that isn’t really them—a matinee idol assigned the staring role as “the chosen one,” a lackluster existence for many adoptees that is overtly commonplace and a persistently banal day-to-day existence.

Why not chose to make this the year to strive to be at your prime and achieve the height of excellence and influence in your life? Why not learn to flourish by rekindling the sublime confidence of youth, making positive choices for your well-being, and initiating bold new extravagant actions to the imaginary fanfare of trumpets. Learn to become less dependent on external affirmations and increase your well-being in a profound way. Notice the enrichment, stimulation, and positive challenges others bring to your life. Improve your health to increase your energy and drive and extend your longevity. Incorporate a daily practice of mindfulness and kindness into your world. Cultivate resilience and learn how to intellectually respond, rather than emotionally react. Flourishing is about celebrating triumphs and achieving success by allowing yourself to grow vigorously. It is about developing a dramatic presence, communicating with fanciful embellishments based on a positive confident attitude, and signing your name with sweeping ornamental lines. To choose to flourish is an intentional act about living vivaciously. It is about cultivating an expansive bubbly presence, being enthusiastically effusive, developing a radiant and beguiling personality, and being creatively prolific, buoyant, and irrepressible.

Why not make this your year to flourish and achieve the height of excellence?

Judith Land



Perché non rendere questo vostro anno a fiorire e raggiungere l’altezza di eccellenza?

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“Adoption—Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

The tie that binds is a poetic reference to relationships. It is our shared beliefs and experiences that link us with others that always have a hold on us. Common interests, adventures, knowledge, recurrent events and acquaintance can create friendship and love but the “tie that binds” is a much more lyrical way of saying it. “Ties” are a reference to the things that we have in common with another person and interests that we share. “Binds” are the feelings of unity that a shared interest or experience creates, meaning relationships and situations that unite people together to form lasting relationships.


“Adoptees who feel alone in the world must learn to adjust to the significant events in their lives, evolving unpredictable circumstances, and altered relationships in response to those around them. When they feel the pain of the refugee, dispirited and sorrowful, despairing and downhearted, they should be reminded of the immortal words of Dean Martin, ‘Everybody loves somebody sometime. Everybody falls in love somehow.'” —Judith Land

John Fawcett, orphaned at age 12, gave us one of the most beloved farewell hymns of all time. More Christians upon parting have tearfully sung this hymn more than any other. He understood beauty and the sacrifice required to attain it; his words are the sort of legacy that we should remember. He reminds us that it is the fellowship of the holy spirit that leads us to encouragement, consolation, affection and compassion, which bring joy and beauty when we are of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose.

“Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. Before the Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares. When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again. This glorious hope revives our courage by the way; while each in expectation lives and longs to see the day. From sorrow, toil, and pain, and sin, we shall be free; and perfect love and friendship reign through all eternity.” John Fawcett

Regardless of how isolated and alone an adoptee may feel, Fawcett reminds us that to some extent we are all inextricably connected. We are all unique, yet individually we share common elements of our collective human heritage, preserved in history, mind, and traditions that are carried forth into future generations. No one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others. The tracking of our ancestry through our blood, our genes and our written and oral histories, leads us to find our place in the world and in our families—reminding ourselves that we are all related. We all share one irrefutable tie with the web of life that tenuously binds us to this planet. We are all connected through six degrees of separation. Some members of a family look and act nothing like each other or the parents, yet the members of a family share a bond stronger than their differences. In all human societies a family is based on blood and ancestry and formal relationships, including the sacraments of holy matrimony and legal adoption, but families may also be defined as informal groupings of people united as a result of exceptional circumstances, notable events, and shared experiences. Separation from those we care about gives us inward pain but we shall always remain joined in heart. Glorious hope gives us the courage that we will meet again someday.

John Fawcett teaches regardless of how a family is formed, the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love is ultimately the strongest bond that joins us together, our hearts, and our minds and our souls to discover perfect love and friendships that last through all eternity.

Judith Land




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“Adoption—Infants remember more than you think”

“Parents who worry about early traumatic experiences in their adopted child’s life may be comforted knowing that children younger than nine months are poor at retaining ‘explicit’ conscious memories. However, even though a child can’t recall a particular event, a favorite toy, or a trip to the zoo later in life, those experiences may still be crucial to the child’s development. A child might not remember their diapered days, but ‘implicit’ memories formed in the early formative years may actually be the ones with the greatest impact on their lives.” —Judith Land

adoption detective | Judith Land | memory

During the early years children learn “implicitly” based on tacit emotions evoked by specific situations. As we begin to mature, we gradually learn to develop “explicit” memories through the interpretation of facts, uncensored details and abstract concepts. Realization of the truth about the sum of who we really are goes far beyond the intellectually explicit conscious memories of life’s experience. —Judith Land

A child’s memories are based on emotional responses and feelings that are strong right from birth. Emotions create powerful memories that the brain actually remembers long after the occurrences themselves. Infants spend the first few years of life developing an emotional understanding of the world—feelings and interpretations that remain with us throughout our entire lives. That’s why early childhood has such a powerful effect on us, even though we consciously remember very little of it.

Infants as young as six months old implicitly remember emotionally stressful situations and are able to anticipate that negativity when exposed to the same situation again. Stress hormones increase when parents ignore their child until the child is reassured the situation won’t repeat itself. The links between emotion, stress, and memory have led scientists to believe that traumatic childhood events may trigger memories that are remembered more vividly and retained longer than routine experiences. Adult social behaviors, resistance to stress, and language skills are influenced by what happens during the early stages of life. These findings explain why adoptees who experienced isolation and neglect as infants, even when they can’t remember specific situations, still need the help of a therapist or counselor to address social and emotional stress and anxiety as adults.

Scientists who study memory support the idea that the brains of infants are set up to learn quickly and make rapid associations. Babies are much more sophisticated than many people realize. Memory begins early on, even before a child is even born. Babies who are played the same nursery tune regularly during pregnancy can recognize and remember the song at birth. They form memories that last for incredibly long periods of time. Newborns recognize their mothers’ voice at birth and are quickly reassured by her smell. They quickly learn the mother’s face and recognize the father, if he has been present during pregnancy. In the first two months babies recognize familiar faces and voices they will remember through seven months of age. This kind of recognition is the first indication of memory that increases dramatically during the first year. At 3 months, babies can remember new pictures and toys shown to them six days previously, offering proof that babies this age have recall memory. At 6 months they continue to remember how some toys work through their second birthdays. At about eight months babies learn to recall people who are familiar and develop anxieties toward strangers. At 9 months old, babies are able to remember where toys are stored and imitate actions they have witnessed. Missing the mother is a vital sign that the child has a clear memory of her just being there, and creating alarm when she isn’t visible. Toddlers continue to prefer smells they were exposed to in the first weeks of life. Long-lasting conscious memory of specific events develops in stages and begins when a baby is about 18 months old. First, they encode primitive sights and sounds. Then comes the accumulation of general knowledge and language. The final kinds of memories are autobiographical recollections of personal experiences.

Ten things about memory that parents of adopted children should know: 1) Memories provide the building blocks for learning. 2) Children of highly elaborative mothers tend to have earlier and richer memories. 3) Parents expressing positive emotions heighten a baby’s attention and arousal much more than someone with a placid facial expression and neutral voice. 4) Children remember far more and at earlier ages than previously thought. 5) Many memories last a lifetime. 6) Memories don’t always remain constant. 7) Emotional responses to stress tend to be remembered longer. 8) Spiritual memories linger long after our conscious powers of recall. 9) Implicit memories formed in the early formative years based on our emotional responses to stress may actually be the ones with the greatest impact on our lives. 10) Realization of the truth about the sum of who we really are as adoptees goes far beyond the intellectually explicit conscious memories of life’s experience.

Judith Land





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