The Core Wounding of Adoption

I have been mulling a pair of words in my mind for a long while now. These words are:


This term came out several months ago in a therapy session my therapist.

The reason I have been thinking about this for some time is because of how I felt in my body when she first said this phrase to me. We were discussing the physical removal of a child from the mother. I was removed at birth. I went out one door, she another, she never saw me, I never saw her.

When the words, “core wounding” were said, I had a visceral, physical response that felt as though I had been punched in the gut. I imagined my newborn, 6 lb self being gut punched at birth. I can describe it best as an ache, a longing and a missing. Can you feel the wound in your body? Mine sits in a diamond shape at my solar plexus.

As I have been thinking about this term, of course, I turned to Google, as many of us will do when we are looking for our computer screen to quench our life’s curiosities.

I found an article on Psychology Today that described a person’s core wounding as,

Core wounds tend to be things like a sense of not being enough, of being unlovable to a parent, of feeling stupid, dirty, unwanted, or ugly. No matter what your core wound may be, you can guarantee that your wound influences who you are and how you behave.”

I certainly think that many adoptees might relate to these feelings. Unloveable is a theme I hear often when I associate with other adoptees. Many felt this way as they were growing up and figuring out life.

Adoptee’s Core Wounding comes from our removal, relinquishment, adoption, confusion, and all the other difficulties of we have faced as we have navigated life as an adopted person. This wound feels gaping some days and on other days, we just need a round band-aid to keep it from oozing.

I definitely feel the core wound bigger on days when things feel sad and difficult.

I wrote on this blog about a River of Melancholy and shared about visualizing a bridge. I still actively practice this exercise. I have found it to be so helpful. I still float in melancholy and I have decided it will be a lifetime and long river to navigate.

Now I am deeper into the wound of mother loss. I am deeper in the would of rejection. I am deeper in the would of longing. I am doing the work to heal and to find out how I can co-exist with the wound.

What can be done when that perpetual feeling of falling into darkness overtakes your life and nothing, but nothing seems to stop the falling and flailing of arms, legs, hair, tears, guts and ache?

One thing I have found to be helpful is to eat potato chips remind myself of all the challenges I have overcome. I literally have a list that I can recite in my head or verbally. For extra strength. I have them written in a note in my phone if I need to be reminded. I have NOT added the words, “my adoption trauma,” to the list, as I have not overcome this challenge. My adoption trauma remains a work in progress. It is much better, but I still struggle and I still have hope.

Another way to support yourself through adoption trauma is to get enough rest. Have good sleep hygiene. Go to bed and get up at the same time, even on weekends. This gives your brain time to regroup, and to rest. Sleep gives your body time to regenerate and to rest. Drink enough water. When we rest our minds and bodies, it is giving them permission to do what they do naturally. It allows them the time to just regroup and start new in the morning.

Take time to just breath. One of the ways I work with my kids to breath is to put hands in a bowl shape, then SMELL your soup (breath in) then COOL your soup (breath out, as if you were cooling soup) You can find other ways to do some deep breathing exercises, I like this one as it is playful, and being playful helps me not to take all of this life stuff so seriously. Play helps my heart heal.

Cool Your Soup – My favorite is Bean with Bacon

Lastly, try not to spend too much time ruminating on the “couldas, shouldas and wouldas” of adoption. The “if onlies” will make you crazy. We can not go back and change what happened to us as infants and children. What we can do is build a now and a future that is worth living, is meaningful and beautifully balanced.

Our Core Wounding may never heal completely, but it can be cared for and loved so that we can let others love us and we can love them.

Take time today to practice noticing your breath. Breath in. Breath out. How do you feel as you do this exercise for several repetitions? Now, put your hand on your heart. Breathe. Notice the thumpity thump of life sustaining blood pumping? You are alive. You have purpose. You have love to give. Now, pat your heart. Say in your mind, or out loud, “Good Heart, Kind Heart. Way to go Heart.” Stay present. You and your heart can do hard things. Big things.

Now…..repeat as needed, and know that all of our hearts are beating together as one; connected connection.

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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW

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