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Adoption is a curse

Community Member

I have always been depressed.  I think of myself as a normal person but then I get a sickening jolt and realise that I am not.  I blame this on being adopted.  I was adopted as a baby in 1971 in London.  Times were harsh I think for young women in that period.  The sexual liberation of the 60s had come in but contraception was newfangled and abortion still illegal.  It was also unacceptable for women to have children outside of wedlock.  The result was a boom in illegitimate babies.  Nowadays the norm is for open adoptions.   This means that although the adoptive parents are the legal parents of the baby, that baby has full rights to know about it's biological parents.    When I was adopted things were a lot more restricted and biological mothers and babies were estranged from each other.   This seems completely twisted today but that was the reality.  Not only that but the adoptive parents were never educated in any way to provide the support that an adopted child should have.    The result for me was that I have had a really unhappy life.  That is despite having prosperous, well educated and conscientious adoptive parents.  Despite that seemingly advantageous beginning my life has always been wrong somehow.  I have always been emotionally disturbed from a young age.  I was obsessed as a child with "dreaming" .  This dominated my young life and involved galloping up and down the room and living in a fantasy world.  I also used to make little "spots"  with cushions - places I tried to feel calm and safe.  I was angry and destructive as a child and would throw away my birthday and Christmas presents.  I loathed my birthdays.  I tore up and threw away any photos with me in them.  

Adolescence was absolute hell.  I had functioned well socially until then but then I realised something was wrong.  I was unable to form relationships.  My friends developed normally.  They progressed into adulthood to sex, girlfriends, wives, careers and so on.  I have never progressed past this point.  I forced myself in my mid 20s to form relationships but it didn't work out well.  I backed off in my late 20s to my lasting regret.  I have now lived without any sex, love or intimacy for over 15 years.  I have a postgraduate degree but unlike all my friends who have professional middle class jobs I have always lived on the margins.   Now in middle age I realise that I am a really sick person.



41 Replies 41

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear Splodge

Hello and welcome to Beyond Blue. Thank you for sharing your story. I have met a few people who were adopted as children and have lived happy and fulfilled lives. I was brought up by my biological parents so I cannot really understand your perspective.  However I would like to talk to you about your experiences if this is OK with you.

I am sorry you have had such a sad life and still feel so distressed and isolated. It's not a nice place to be but maybe you can find a some relief and comfort by writing in here.

How old were you when you discovered you were adopted? A school friend of mine was adopted and as far as I know she always knew this. She says she had an ordinary life, much the same as her friends at school and in the neighbourhood. Her adoptive parents seemed much like the rest of our parents. I am not saying this to suggest your life should have been the same as everyone's situation is different.

My friend decided to find her biological family when her adoptive parents died. Until then she felt it would have been disloyal and send the wrong message if she had looked earlier. She did find her family, most of which had no interest in her. One sister chose to get to know her and that is all the contact she has. Apparently my friend's biological mother died before meeting my friend so all she knows is what she has been told. I think it would be hard to be the only child in a family to be adopted out and all the others stayed with their parents, but no doubt there was a reason.

My friend discovered that her natural mother was quite an unpleasant person and the entire family was quite dysfunctional. My friend believes she was very fortunate to have the upbringing she received.

My point with this story is that you cannot tell what you would be like had you remained with your natural mother. I realise this sounds like a trite comment but it is true.

I am sorry you feel you had a dreadful childhood and now an uncomfortable and sad life. So what can you do about it? Adoption laws have changed and you can trace your natural family if you wish. So that is one avenue you could pursue.

You can also look at your life as it is now and decide to make it happier. If you believe you are sick I suggest a visit to your GP is a good starting point. The people who write in here all consider themselves unwell to a greater or lesser degree. We all want to be well again and many of us make a great effort to do this.

Please continue to write in here.


Community Member
Sometimes we hurt so deeply that it clouds our thoughts and disguises the reasons why we feel as if we are not fitting in to the 'norm'.  could you try looking at your adoption from a different perspective? Having been put up for adoption may seem as if you were unwanted by the very person who should love you unconditionally, your birth mother.  However it was because of her love for you and your well being that she made that terrible sacrifice.  No amount of toys and gifts could replace your sense of loss. Your childhood behaviours are understandable. You felt isolated from the love that your adopted parents had for you as well and were looking for a sense of security, that never has been fulfilled it seems. You compare your life and your success to others who never experienced what you experienced. Judging yourself so harshly for the past is holding back your future happiness, in my opinion. Seek help from someone who can help you accept the past and allow you to learn from it and move forward into a brighter future. You are no longer a child, you are an accomplished adult with boundless opportunities who just needs a little help to look at things differently.  You are being much harder on yourself than is reasonable and this could be due to your feelings of unworthiness,  which are nothing more than unhelpful thoughts .  Please be kind to yourself, love yourself and nurture yourself. You deserve it, we all deserve it. Here is wishing you a glass half full!

I realise now that saying I am a sick person comes across as overly melodramatic.  I meant that I suffer from ongoing and intractable depression that I believe is related mostly to being adopted. 

 The point you make about the  pros and cons of the adoptive vs biological upbringing, Mary, is not the point.  It is very possible that I might have has a worse upbringing at the hands of my birth mother but I don't know and that is unknowable as I have not been able to find her and cannot live that alternative life obviously.   I think people who are not adopted quite rationally focus on this pros and cons argument but I think it is a secondary issue for most adopted people.  The main issue for me is identity and the development of personality.  I think that it is very common for adopted people to have serious problems with this that then goes on to make life very difficult.

Rhianna.  Again your  rationalisation is one that I have heard a lot.  I was so loved that I was given away to a stranger!  I know rationally that my birth mother would have been trying to do the right thing but emotionally it is not a very nice way to start off in life.  You are right though that I have to take life as it is and make the most of the future.  I have always tried to do this but it hasn't really worked and happiness/unhappiness in life is cumulative.   I have got to the point where I cannot see a way forward and my past is a millstone.   There is nothing to do except keep soldiering on and keep searching for happiness and peace.  But I am very frightened that I will fail and face old age in even more despair than I feel now.

Hello Splodge

My apologies if I made your dilemma sound trivial or easy to solve. That was not my intention. I was trying to say that as you do not know what your life would have been there is little point in speculating. If I had left my husband after ten years of marriage instead of 30, where would I be now. I don't know and imagining/day dreaming life would have been a better is pointless because it will never happen. And when I have done this it only makes me more sad and hurt.

I cannot experience your specific pain because I have not been in your situation. I can offer my care and support. I can suggest you find help to accept the past because it will not change. I can tell you of my experiences with past trauma but I feel this will not help you because they are different to yours and it's hard to relate. There is one point in common, to resolve to leave the past behind and live in the here and now.

If I was a different responder I would probably be able to write this in a more compassionate fashion. But I can only write in the way I see things. I really want you to be happy, to leave your past behind and I would love to help you get there. Unfortunately I can only write messages of support here. If this is helpful I will continue to support you as much as possible. Please try again.


Community Member

Hey splodge

I'm sorry you had such an emotional distressed childhood. I am also sorry that you now live with no love. I am guessing you must feel pretty lonely. I really don't know much about the effects of adoption. Anyway I just wanted to say hello to you, and give you a hug. Hope you will be OK.

Sending you some love from my heart, hopefully into yours.

Shelley xxx

PS  I was wondering if you had any pets, maybe a dog or something??


Community Member

Dear Splodge.  I think the hardest part about being adopted is the not knowing anything about your biological past.  I suppose when you were adopted, no information was given to your adoptive parents.  What illnesses have you inherited that you don't know about?  At least when we are 'kept' by our parents, we have some ideas about 'generic' background.  You and your adopted parents know nothing.  Your adopted parents possibly do love you, but you still feel the stigma of not being their biological child.  There is always something missing, no matter what they do for you, you still have that 'I'm not really theirs' feeling.  Have you tried talking to them about this.  Not knowing anything about yourself biologically, must be terrifying.  Not knowing how to ask, what to ask must also be scary.  What have you inherited in the way of 'mental health' issues, that seems to be the crux of your problems.  You are obviously a bit dubious about forming a relationship, because you don't know what you'll pass on to any future children.  Dr's can't help because they don't know anything about you.  Have you thought about contacting Red Cross to see if they can help you.  The laws regarding finding natural parents are different now.  What do you know about yourself?  Where you were born, what your birthday is?  You were born in London, where in London.  I don't think you're 'sick', I think you're 'lost' in that you don't know who you are, where you come from i.e your natural parents.  Perhaps ancestry.com might be a good place to start, along with (if you know) your father or mothers name?  What do your adoptive parents know.  What about their parents (if they're still alive).  Your adoptive g'parents. 

Family trees are 'in' at the moment.  I've just completed my father's side of the family (it's taken over 20 years).  I entered my paternal g'father's name, next thing, all this info about my fathers family appeared.  Dad's been dead since 1976.  Give it a go, you have nothing to lose. 


Community Member

Hi Splodge,

I can relate to your story a lot and strangely have just broken up with a guy who was born in 1971 and was adopted at birth, had a very supportive family but describes a similarish experience to you. 

I have always suffered with anxiety and depression from a young age, and always lived a dream world and felt I didn't come from my parents, even though I was not adopted. When babies experience any kind of trauma in the formative years, when they dont form a connection with their biological parents, especially the mother, it's like you grow up emotionally stunted. (It's not quite as simple as I've written there but I didnt want to write an entire novel here) This has always been my experience as well, most traditional CBT based therapy doesn't support this kinda stuff though, traditional therapy is more about helping you get through the day, it doesn't always get directly to the root of the issue or heal the real problem.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with CBT, I'm just saying it doesn't always work for everyone and there are other options out there.

There's therapies and a lot of books around that deal with Inner Child recovery, it's a fascinating theory and really helped me. There's also another topic discussed which I found helpful 'Frozen Needs.' Perhaps Google those 2. There's a great American author who's 3 books changed my life but I dont think I'm able to mention his name here. 

Community Member

Hi Splodge.

 As a fellow adoptee, I agree with your post headline - it is a curse.  I can't imagine any way that the process  - well, certainly the process/attitudes that prevailed up to, say, the late 70's - would not leave damage to the child in some form.

I confess to feeling a little annoyed with those well-meaning folk who in the last few years have been making such a noise about promoting adoption (particularly overseas children), as a support for those parents who can't support the child.  It fails to address the problems that they think adoption is the cure for.  Adoption was a poor solution for those of us born when the social mores of the time shamed girls or women who "got into trouble", and it's no better these days when the issue may be poverty or war.

I contributed to a post about adoption 2 years ago, which has a little more on my circumstances (and a few others): "Being Adopted" in the Trauma And Chronic Physical Illness forum.  Reading your post I noted your mention of making "little "spots"  with cushions - places I tried to feel calm and safe", which awoke in me the memory of being a compulsive "cubby-house" builder throughout my childhood.  Another trait I'm marking down to trying to compensate for the inherent insecurity I think a lot of us adoptees feel, and that no amount of rationalising is able to completely remove.

I rather wish there was a way for there to be a specific spot within BB Forum for adoption issues, so we adoptees could find each other more easily, though I understand the need to keep the Forum Categories as pared back as possible.  Or perhaps they feel there are other more specialised venues for this..?

Anyway, talking and listening are good first steps to managing all this.


Hello Barry and Splodge

Not being an adoptee I cannot comment or comprehend the issues you face. As I commented above, I have known people who were adopted and who appear to have happy and satisfying lives.  And of course I know people who have had not nice lives being brought up by their biological parents. From my side of the fence, so to speak, I understand the rationale of adoption, especially where a child has no biological parents alive or who would have great difficulty rearing another child. This latter is my friend's story.

I have always thought it sad that a child was taken from its mother simply because the mother was unmarried. And similarly when the mother was little more than a child herself as her family could have raised the child. But whatever the reason a child is adopted, I have difficulty in understanding why it is automatically bad.

Now I don't want to upset or offend either of you, really I don't. I would like to understand. Pipsy has discussed some the difficulties such as the knowledge of family background, and I get this. To me the downside of adoption is the feeling of not belonging in or to the family who adopted you. When families start reminiscing and comment that  "Jack will be just like Uncle Charles" it must be hard to know this can never apply to you. Is this the kind of dislocation you feel?

What is your suggestion for children who are. as they say "Put up for adoption".  Which is an expression I find very difficult. However, are there any other options? By and large we have got over the unmarried mother syndrome. As you say Barry, now it's poverty and war. Are there two groups of children? Those who are orphans and those who have families? I am really interested in your answers as for many years I have worked in the area of disability and financial disadvantage. Both crippling situations and very often with significant trauma for children.

In my opinion it is the needs of the child which come first. So how do we solve these problems given that poverty is such a major problem in Australia.  I will leave war alone as that is also a huge issue.Poverty, no jobs, living on welfare is often a generational way of life and children are caught up in this.

OK I've written a couple of my thoughts. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Please remember I have no intention of being insensitive or offensive. I am really interested in this subject which I have not encountered before in the way you have described.