Overcoming Feelings of Rejection: Tip for Adoptees, Fosters, and Caregivers

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Guest Blog by Rebecca Weibert

I was adopted when I was about 8 weeks old. I was in foster care for those first weeks of my life. Suffice it to say; I don’t remember much of that time. I’ve always been thankful to the family – though I don’t know who they are – who were willing to take me as a newborn and care for me like I was their own, knowing they were going to let me go to a different family for the rest of my life. They did the ultimate selfless act, in my opinion. My understanding of foster care from the start was one where I knew foster families do not do what they do for recognition; they do it because they truly care for others, no questions asked, no terms or conditions.

The family I went to – my family – is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to me. I am truly blessed. I have one older sister, who is biologically theirs. My initial memories and experiences in life taught me that I was wanted. I know how fortunate I am to have that. I know how much of a privilege that is; how much of an advantage it gave me. I am thankful every day for it, knowing not all are that lucky.

The Feeling of Rejection…

The feeling of rejection only slowly and subtly crept its way into my life. Unfortunately, I think this feeling finds its place in every foster kid or adoptees life, no matter how lucky you are. The first memory I have that caused me to question my worth was when I was in first or second grade. We were doing an activity in class about genetics, and we were each handed a sheet of paper that had a list of physical features on it, and check boxes next to them. We were instructed to check off which features we thought we got from our mother or father – eye color, hair, nose, etc. I couldn’t participate. I didn’t know the answers to any of those questions. I didn’t look like my family, not at all. So I started to wonder, why did my biological family, more specifically my mother, give away something that was so definitively hers? Someone who may have had the same eyes, hair and nose? And why did she not want to find out what I looked like? Was she somewhere wondering the same questions I was now wondering, or did she not care? Was I not worthy of her love? The only conclusion I could come to at that age was that she must not care, otherwise she would have kept me. Thus, the knowledge of rejection stepped into my life.

Five Minutes On Facebook

My parents were always supportive of me trying to find my biological family. We had a limited amount of information in my adoption file that might help us find them, and I always had access to that information. I remember sending letters to the address that we had for my biological grandmother, little things like that. Nothing ever led anywhere, but I still knew I had my parents support there. After I turned eighteen, I started trying to look for myself. I called the hospital where I was born, I did name searches on the Internet, and I still didn’t get anywhere. When I was 22, I searched for my biological grandmother’s name on Facebook. There was one search result. I couldn’t believe it. I knew my biological mother’s first name, so I looked at the friend’s list of the woman I thought to be my grandmother, and there she was. I saw her picture and I knew. This woman had my face, my hair. This was the answer I had spent my life looking for. I was able to find a current address for my grandmother, and I wrote her explaining everything and giving all of my information in the case that she or my mother wanted contact. Within a few days, I received a phone call from my grandmother, and a following phone call from my birth mother. I still couldn’t believe it. Five minutes on Facebook and I had found it all.

Rejection Barges In

Our relationship started off really well. Everyone wanted contact, everyone was excited we had found each other, everyone was happy. I met my birth mother a few months later, and my two half-sisters not long after that. We all had dinner together, including my parents and my sister. It was a whirlwind. The thing about whirlwinds, though, is that they always wind down. After some further attempts to spend more time together, something started to feel off. The effort I was putting out wasn’t being reciprocated, and our contact slowly started to taper off. This took course over a few years. At some point, I made the decision to stop putting in the effort to maintain the relationships. I didn’t feel like it was fair to myself to try and try, when I wasn’t getting anything in return. Rejection didn’t creep in, this time it barged in. I started asking myself, what is it about me that they don’t want? I could no longer answer that with the fact that they didn’t know me. They did know me, and they claimed to want to know me, yet there was no follow through. What did I do wrong? I wasn’t comfortable enough with them to outright ask this, so I didn’t. Recently, I made the decision to end all contact with them, even if they initiate it. It wasn’t healthy for me anymore. I am working on making peace with it, and I believe I’ll get there. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Rejection is awful and hard and I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for it. It’s also this big part of life for adoptees and foster kids, and their caretakers also. We all have to figure out a way to deal with it, to work through it, to overcome it.

What To Do When There Is No Interest In Contact?

So what do you do when you realize that your biological family isn’t as interested in being in contact with you as you are with them?

  1. As the adoptee, I turn those feelings of confusion and anger and hurt around and I throw myself into loving the people who actively choose to be in my life. It takes time, but you come to realize that family is not always linked to you through genetics, family doesn’t always look like you, but family is made up of a group of people who love and support you, who believe in you, especially when you aren’t doing so well with believing in yourself. Self worth can be a hard thing to accrue, especially when the cards seem to be stacked against you, but the people in your life who are kind to you place a lot of it within you. There are still times when the rejection hits me out of nowhere, and sometimes that pain can transfer onto the people who are trying to love me. I have done my fair share of pushing people away because I’m afraid of more rejection, and I think that’s something I will always have to work on. I also work through all of this with a therapist. Sometimes I can’t find the answers I need within my family, so having a professional there to help me has always been a great asset.
  2. As for the caretakers, I’ll speak from my knowledge of what my caretakers have done for me, and what I try to do for my niece, who was a fostered and adopted by my sister. You will never be able to explain away the actions of your kid’s biological family. It may feel like that’s your job, but from my experience, it’s not what we as fosters or adoptees even need. We need to know that we are loved and valued, especially when we’re angry about the actions of our biological family. You’ll do your best at showing us this, but we won’t always be able to show you that it makes an impact on us. I’m telling you that it does, especially when we try to push it away. I remember pushing my mom away when I was younger because I thought she would at some point reject or abandon me as I felt my birth mother had done. It took me a long time to have a healthy relationship with my adoptive mom, one where I wasn’t afraid of her rejection or abandonment. Her steadfast acceptance of me and her unconditional love were always there for me, and I am able to look back at the times in my life where I tried my best to push it all away and know that it never wavered.

That’s what we need, so know that when you give these things to us that they are making a huge impact on us and we will always have those memories and feelings to look back on. You as caretakers are doing exactly the right thing – taking care of us, in the now and for our future. You may not be able to explain why our biological families cause us pain, but you are teaching us what it is to be loved, and that is the most important thing in life for every one of us.


About the blogger:
Rebecca Weibert, 30, is an aspiring professional organizer
and also a collector of all things nerdy and awesome. As
an adoptee and a woman living with mental illness,
Rebecca puts her energy into being a fierce advocate for
these causes that are close to her heart. A voracious
reader, a Ravenclaw, and a budding painter, Rebecca lives
in Maryland with her husband, Scott, and a menagerie of
cats.

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Boo Who? – Book Review

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From the Cover of Boo Who? by Ben Clanton:

“Boo is new — and it can be scary being new, especially for a shy ghost who can’t play any of the other kids’ games. Can Boo find a way to fit in and make friends with the rest of the group?

From the creator of Rex Wrecks It! comes a story about feeling invisible — and finding a way to be seen and appreciated for who you are.”


Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]


What Our Family Thought:

The target audience for this book appears to be the general public – specifically children in elementary school or approximately 4 to 10 years of age. Transfiguring Adoption was interested in this book as not only does it provide a fun tale that one might read around Halloween but it discusses feelings a child might have when they are the new student at a school. Naturally, being the new student at school is a common situation amongst foster and/or adoptive children.

The illustrations in the book seem to be very imaginative and animated. The colorful drawings have strong lines and a stylistic 2-D quality. The characters represented in the images are not human but imaginary characters of various sizes, colors, and genders which make this a good book for families with multiple races. The images do well to move the emotions and feelings of the story and seem to appeal to the lower age demographic which we mentioned above.

The story centers around a little ghost named Boo who is new to an area. The images suggest the characters are on a school playground but we are never told if Boo is new to a whole city or area or is Boo simply attending a new school – this generality makes the tale applicable to more children. Boo is having to deal with his insecurities and fears of making new friends and trying to fit in.

The story portrays the other characters in the book as being friendly and actually wanting to include Boo in their group. The tale proceeds to show how the characters interact with each other attempting to help Boo to fit in with their group.

While this book does not directly speak to foster or adoptive families, it would appear to be a great tale to generate healthy conversations about beginning a new school with a younger child. Transfiguring Adoption appreciates that this story’s plot circles around the issue of helping Boo to deal with his insecurities instead of creating an opposing character who acts as a bully or angry character. This will help caregivers focus their attention talking about a child’s fears and enforce the idea that other children at school will most likely be kind and friendly people.

Overall, Boo Who? seems to be a delightful tale which might be a quick read with your child but will provide long-lasting and healthy conversations with your child.


Buy From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:


It’s Your Turn:

  1. How can you see that the other children were friendly?
  2. Why was Boo scared? Why is being new scary?
  3. Which game was Boo the best at?
  4. Were all the kids good at all the games?
  5. What would you feel like if you were new?
  6. What good questions to ask people when you’re meeting someone new?

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Parenting in the Eye of the Storm – Adoption Book Review

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From the Cover of Parenting in the Eye of the Storm: The Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Navigating the Teen Years by Katie Naftzger:

“Describing the essential skills you need to help your adopted teen confidently face the challenges of growing up, adult adoptee and family therapist Katie Naftzger shares her personal and professional wisdom. Parenting in the Eye of the Storm contains invaluable insights for adoptive parents with simple strategies you can use to prepare your adopted teen for the journey ahead and strengthen the family bond in process.”

Grade:

5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What Our Family Thought:

The most powerful and important voice for adoptive parents to hear is that of the adoptee. In this book, readers will find the wisdom of not only an adoptee who experienced being adopted internationally, but one who now has years of experience as a therapist working with adoptees and their families to draw upon as well.

Parenting in the Eye of the Storm begins with a chapter that delves into the many layers of loss that adoptees experience describing 8 different losses, some of which are generally not thought about. Ms. Naftzger goes on to explain four parenting tasks she considers essential to parenting an adopted teen. The last three chapters discuss race, privilege and cultural norms, mental health, and self-care. While discussions of race center upon the experience of Asian adoptees, much of what Ms. Naftzger says can be applied beyond to other interracial adoptions.

Throughout the book, adoptive parents will find practical examples, stories of the author’s experiences and those of her clients, questions for introspection, and tips including what to say and what not to say. This book is meant to be read front to back and not used as a reference. Adoptive parents will likely all find some new perspective(s) as a result of reading Parenting in the Eye of the Storm.


Buy From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:


It’s Your Turn:

  1. Had you previously considered all eight areas of loss experienced by adoptees discussed in Chapter One?
  2. Which of the 4 parenting tasks do you find most challenging?
  3. Which parenting task do you feel most equipped for?
  4. What do you do for self-care?

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