Are you an adoptee who has felt the impact of your adoption throughout your lifespan? Do you feel disconnected from friends or significant others? Have you felt like you have unresolved grief or anger stemming from your adoption experience? Even when individuals are adopted into loving, supportive homes, the trauma of the broken biological connection to their mother impacts both their brains and bodies, and can disrupt emotional and sometimes physical development. Invalidation of the original trauma or loss by adopted family members, friends and communities can pile more stress on the adoptee, causing them to shut down and not express their feelings about the loss of biological connection or other issues related to their adoption.
Recognizing that loss is at the heart of every adoption is the first step in acknowledging and honoring that loss and allowing adoptees to grieve or mourn. Research has proven that there are developmental milestones that occur for infants even before their birth and that chaos, rejection from the biological mother and disconnection can be felt in-utero. This can cause them to be exposed to high cortisol levels in the womb which in turn create anxiety. Emotional dysregulation and attachment and developmental trauma or delays can also begin in the womb as a result of feelings of rejection and an impaired sense of safety and self-worth. If left untreated, these losses, traumas and/or delays can stunt critical brain development and color how an adoptee views the world from infancy through the lifespan, influencing attachment, relationships, and ability to self-soothe, among other things. Research has also shown that adoptees have a greater risk for substance abuse than non-adoptees and a four times greater risk of attempting suicide than non-adoptees. It is crucial for adoptees to have a safe place where they can tell their stories and fully work through their trauma and loss.
If you are an adoptee seeking help for mental health or substance use disorders, it is important to connect with a therapist who is adoption competent and trauma informed. As an adoptee myself, I have a unique perspective on how it feels to be adopted and an understanding of the clinical aspects of adoption trauma. As a therapist, I have been trained through the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative in the skills, strategies, and tools therapists need to support adoptees to heal from trauma and loss. Call 402-325-0117 x4 or book an appointment online to find support on your healing journey.
Carla Hammer, M.S., PLMHP
1001 S. 70th Street, Suite #225,
Lincoln, NE 68510