Have I mentioned lately how much I love Betty Jean Lifton, the great mother of the adoption rights movement? I have read everything she's written, and have been immensely comforted and educated by her words. Here's a little excerpt from her website, describing the counseling work she does with adult adoptees:
"I see adopted people who are in a life crisis of one kind or another, due to the breakup of a relationship, the loss of a job, an adoptive parent's death. Many come when they are in the throes of search and reunion. They are struggling to deal with the tumultuous emotions that are surfacing, as well as with the complexity of forming a relationship with the birth mother, birthfather, or siblings. Their task is to reclaim those split off feelings and emotions and integrate them into the adult self.
For both the adoptee and birthmother, there is the bittersweet realization that what is lost can be recovered, but never in the form in which it was lost. The birth mother cannot have back the baby she gave up; the adoptee cannot have back the original mother that he lost. Their reunion will be influenced by the way the adoptee and birth mother have coped with their trauma and dissociation over the years. It is not easy. Going through reunion is like experiencing a tornado that swirls you around and then sets you down in a foreign land from which you have to slowly and painfully make your way back to a place that you can call your own."