I can’t deal with the magnitude of your problems so I’m angry with you

I came across a note the other day. It was written during the editing process of my book, Forbidden Family. One of my early editors told me his initial reaction to the contents of the book. He summed up the frustrations of the general public when confronted with the particulars of my adoption/reunion process:

I can’t deal with the magnitude of your problems so I’m angry with you.

Don’t talk about it.

Don’t write about it.

If you don’t talk about it I won’t have to deal with it.

I don’t think I can handle it my own life.

If it happened to me I couldn’t handle it.


Normal people tense up dealing with their own lives. Normal stress adds up the stress-level scale. People break down going through divorce, death of a parent, or a job loss. Some people don’t recover or develop stress-induced physical or mental illness. When adoption trauma is added to normal life stresses, the results are of a magnitude that are not even indicated on social work or psychiatric life stress scales.

Is adoption trauma discounted? Is adoption trauma off the charts?

Those of us who have been affected by adoption know all too clearly, we suffer unbearable anguish of stress brought on by relinquishment of a newborn or older child, or adoption search, or adoption reunion, or complications of reunion and rejection and loss. Our life partners, significant others, our spouses and children may not even understand what we must live with each day. Communication becomes a struggle with non-adopted people, or with normal parents.

My message to normal people: It could be worse. If you lost your child to adoption, if you were adopted, on top of all of your other problems, would you be able to cope?

~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.