Coming out of the Fog

This morning I woke up and saw heavy fog out my dining room window.  I had to get out in it to drop off my daughter at school and swing by a generous friend's house who had left me a food-present in her freezer inside of her garage.  As I was driving through this thick fog down Dorothy Lane through a school zone, I started thinking about what it used to be like when I was living in the adoption fog.

For some of you, "adoption fog" might be a strange-sounding term that has no meaning to you.  Let me explain.  Quickly link here for a brief idea of what will follow:

Adoption Reconstruction Stage Theory

When this diagram was first posted on Facebook, there were some upset people who commented. Many said they didn't agree with the final stage of acceptance, especially that we "find peace" with our adoptions.  Many pointed out these stages were not be in order.  Like the stages of grief (Shock, Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Acceptance), you can flip flop through stages and may never fully reach "acceptance".  Everybody grieves in their own time-line.  Adoption Reconstruction Stage Theory is similar to grief in that once you get past the initial "fog" (denial), you will start to feel lots of emotions and have realizations that may have been buried for (quite possibly) decades.

To illustrate the fog a little clearer, it can look like this:

Believing that relinquishment and adoption played no part in your life and that it does not matter in the slightest.

"I'm not interested in knowing anything about my history.  My parents who raised me are my only parents."

(Said to your birth mother) "Thank you for not aborting me"

Considering oneself chosen and lucky to be adopted. (not referring to being thankful for parents here)

Adopting a child from another country believing that you have saved an orphan just like you were saved from a potentially horrible fate.

Getting really angry and/or judging other adoptees who speak freely about their pain, anger and outrage at a system of adoption based on profits.

Believing all adoption is good because yours was a good experience and accusing other adoptees of being angry, bitter and ungrateful if they express a less-than-perfect view of adoption

Continuing the myth that Adoption is the only alternative to Abortion (really, parenting is).

Denying that you ever think of your birth parents, circumstances at birth or place of birth on your birthday or Mother's Day and that you are only grateful to be alive.

What it looks like when you come out of the fog:

You start to wish you knew somebody who looked like you and shared your dna.  (sudden realization that you are tired of being the only one in the family with dark skin and is 6'3").

You have just given birth and you cannot possibly fathom what your birth mother was thinking when she left you with strangers to raise.

You innocently call up your adoption agency and you are shocked to learn that your own records can be viewed by strangers but you cannot see them.

You order your birth certificate and realize that your real birth certificate is sealed from your view but the clerk at the Vital Stats can look at it any time he wants.

Your mother dies and when sorting through her belongings, you find your adoption paperwork containing information that you never knew before.

You realize the story you were told about your "real" parents dying in a car accident was a lie.

You have just given birth and you have to leave your child in the NICU and can't stop crying because you are checking out of the hospital without him.

You see for the first time in your child, the genetic similarities in looks, personality and interests and finally realize that DNA really does matter, despite what others had told you.

You finally start to understand why you were always depressed on your birthday and/or Mother's Day.

You read The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier or Journey of the Adopted Self by Betty Jean Lifton and your perspective shifts dramatically.

You meet another adoptee who feels exactly like you and realize you weren't crazy after all.

You spontaneously cry or feel triggered whenever you watch Elf, Matilda, Little Orphan Annie and the other hundreds of movies based on the cultural view of adoption.

You realize when filling out your umpteenth medical history form that you really do have a right to a medical history like everybody else. (and if you are ornery like me, you write on the form "Adopted! Yep! It sucks!)

You meet your birth parents and realize they weren't the crack addicted, homeless people that others led you to believe and/or you imagined.

You meet your birth parents and realize they really loved and missed you and didn't just drop you off and forget about you.

You understand and have empathy for other adoptees you meet who are still in the "fog" and you allow them to be who they are and walk their own path in their own timing (it's not easy, but we have been in your shoes before).


  1. Lynn,

    I've been thinking so much about adoption fog, and how it's so incredibly personal, and yet, to see it in others ... frustrating.

    Love this post!

    1. Way to go, Lynn!! Just sitting here nodding my head, and going, check, check... :-)

  2. Lynn. Lynn. Lynn.

    This is a stellar post.

    Thank you. <3

  3. Beautifully spoken Lynn. Thank you for sharing your heart.


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