Turning off the Darkness of Shame

I read a blog today.  It was written by a therapist who is an adoptee and an author who is an adoptee.  Here is the link:

Amazing blog post by Anne Heffron and Pam Cordano, MFT (both adoptees) about the price of healing

It made me think about healing.

The word itself gives the connotation that something is not whole, or healed.  Healing truly means the effort of making one whole or well again.

Healing in reference of being adopted is becoming whole.  How does an adopted person become whole if they are missing vital information about themselves?  How can we heal if we continue to be shamed by our very existences and by our birth?

An adopted person, even in the best of reunions, may not have the complete story of their lives.  There may be chunks of time missing.  Such as my first 7 months.  I have NO IDEA what was going on in my life.  Others may not know the details, but they have some information, but how can anyone truly “know”their story if they have not been present throughout the making of their life?  This causes shame – as if we were to blame for our missing time or our not being accepted by an adoptive family or that we were abandoned by our birth mother or given up….I could go on, but I won’t.

I have spent this past year in therapy.  I began with my current therapist 2 weeks after finding my birth family on February 1, 2017.  I was in new, uncharted territory and I needed someone to help me navigate these new, choppy waters.  I felt as though I was at sea and there was a huge storm and I was the only one capable of righting the sails.  I had to figure out who I was – now – because the person I was on January 31, 2017 no longer existed.


I found out I was #6 of 10 children, when just the day before, I was an only child whose adopted brother had passed away.  I was used to being by myself.  I found out that my roots are in Washington state.  I felt pulled to go and see. I have gone and I feel so at home among the trees.  I found out that I had a heritage, an ethnic background that I suspected, but was confirmed through DNA testing.

There was a lot of sadness to take in and a lot of “why’s,” that I truly can never answer.

My therapist has challenged my irrational thoughts.  She has helped me find balance and find solace in my story.  She has guided me to my own conclusions and answers.

But, healing is not just about therapy.  (funny thing to say as I am a Therapist)

I have had to offer myself gentleness.  I have given myself the gift of acceptance.  For me, acceptance makes all the difference in my process.  “I fully accept myself even though I struggle with grief….and sadness….and rejection…and longing…and…and…and”   It is the act of accepting self that has helped me heal.

I have given myself time to think and to feel. I have not tried to push away my emotions.  I have cried when I felt like I wanted.  I have been quiet when I needed.  I have talked when I felt like I wanted to be vulnerable.  I have used “cuss words,” which, for me, is new and sort of exciting!  I have allowed myself to ask for what I need.

But the one thing I have done, above all else that has helped me the most is I have not hidden my story.  I have shared publically about my adoption.  I have started an adoption story specific Instagram, which has connected me to the adoption community.  I sought out adoption groups on Facebook.  I have been very open to learning about my ‘adopted culture,’ more than ever before.  I started writing and sharing this blog. And in all this openness, I have found myself.

I have not allowed shame to creep in and consume me, when, trust me, it could have taken over.  Shame is the opposite of vulnerability.  Many who are adopted have been born and given away due to shame.  Some were born to unwed mothers who were shamed into placing the child in an adoption agency.  Many women were sent away to unwed mother’s homes.  Many were guilted by religion for being “easy” and getting pregnant. Some adoptees were conceived out of necessity and survival, which is shameful.

We adoptees have had enough shame.  It is time to turn off the darkness and walk into our light.  I have a big flashlight and I am ready to lead the way.  Who’s with me?



6 thoughts on “Turning off the Darkness of Shame

Add yours

  1. Hi…I was adopted in 1947, 6 weeks after I was born. I never felt shame just a feeling of not really belonging. I always thought I had a twin or maybe just a sister. I found out at age 68 that I have 5 sisters and 3 brothers! I found out that my biological parents were interesting people….I found out that I am part of a whole. Not all 8 sibs accept me but the 4 that do…..are wonderful smart enthusiastic people. 3 have accepted me unconditionally and 1 has finally accepted me after months and months of conversation. I have history and I am part of a whole family! Shame? I have none! Completion most definitely!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes I lived with shame. And being an unwanted guest in my own home. I found my biological mother when I was twenty seven. I was greeted with open arms. At age sixty four I found my biological father’s family. He died a year and a half before I contacted them. For the first time in my like I slept with a peace I had never know. At last I know who I am!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your courageous blog. I sensed your honesty immediately and I appreciate your candor. Not always easy for us adoptees.
    Here’s a bit of my truth. I am still a wounded adoptee after a very intense, although accepting, reunion 15 years ago but even at 68 years old I am still prone to deep longing and loneliness. My twin sister (fraternal) and I were never held nor even named at birth and we were in an orphanage for 5 months before our adoption. I was blessed to have her with me all my life until 5 years ago when she passed away at 62 of cancer. I haven’t really been the same since. Although who is after losing a beloved person? Although I’m angry and sad much of the time I do a good job of hiding it from my four grown daughters and grandchildren. I consider therapy but on a different level. Not talk therapy. PTSD therapy through touch. I’ve found someone in Boulder who’s reputation is excellent.
    Anyway I’d like to thank you for reaching out to us. It’s not easy…. My escape into my painting has been a link to my sad and hidden soul since I was 5 years old. It’s a blessing. That and my beautiful family.
    Thank you again for this excellent blog Janet. I’ll add reports of my new therapy after Christmas when I start.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Janet. Thank you for asking about my painting. I started drawing people at age 5. And I drew and painted pretty much from then on. One of my biological brothers is also a very talented artist which has developed into a love of fine art photography and he’s world known. His name is Terrell Lester if you’d like to look him up.
        I have been a professional artist for 25 years in galleries. I have always been fascinated with people but also paint Plein Aire landscapes, still life’s and florals. I’ve just st built a new webpage and I’d sure appreciate any feedback: suenosfineart.com

        Thanks Janet.
        Sending blessings and best of luck in your reunion.

        PS. My birth family is very supportive of my work. As well as my mother. She loved it. I think I was always looking for faces that might be my family which is why I searched and studied the face like I did…….


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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW

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