Written by Sherri Kinch
I was taken from my mother at birth, placed with a foster family for three months before I was adopted by my parents. I don’t remember being told that I was adopted, I always just seemed to know. As a child, people told me that I was “special”, that I was “chosen” and that I was very “lucky”.
I always felt thankful that my parents adopted me, they were the best parents that they could be. I was loved, had a caring extended family that never made me feel like an outsider, I had lots of clothes, toys, I had everything a little girl could ask for … but something was missing.
At school I worked hard, got good grades, played sports, joined clubs and had lots of friends … but something was missing.
I graduated from highschool, went to University, became a Chartered Accountant and have a successful career...
Still something was missing.
I had three serious relationships during my adult life and eventually got married. Like 50% of the married population, I also got divorced. I started to date again … but something was missing.
I was sitting in an Adoption Council of Ontario (ACO) meeting with the new Executive Director, Dianne Mathes, and she started talking about trauma in adoption and intergenerational trauma.
I could barely hold back my tears. It was like she was talking directly to me, like she knew exactly what I had been through, but how could I have experienced trauma? Wasn’t I special? Wasn’t I lucky? Didn’t I get a good education, a good job, have lots of friends … shouldn’t I be “adjusted”. As I listened to her speak, I wanted to scream why is this a secret? Why aren’t people talking about this? Where has the help been that I have needed, longed for, for the past 48 years?
Dianne told me about a new book called the Seven Core Issue in Adoption and Permanency by Sharon Kaplan Roszia and Allison Davis Maxon. The first sentence I read was “every adoption starts with trauma”. I cried. I found what was missing, I had finally found my answer.
I have been working with my therapist on this (everyone needs a therapist and I got one after my divorce), and I shared the learnings in the book. My therapist has not had formal training in adoption and trauma, and while this comes to her naturally, her actual response was “someone gave you up at birth, of course there was trauma”.
But not all professionals get it.
We need to educate professionals and adoptive parents on what adoptees are feeling and dealing with.
I felt alone, that something was missing in my life, I didn’t fit in, that I was lost. It took me 48 years to understand that my life started with trauma. It took me 48 years to find my people, to find the staff and volunteers at the ACO … I want to help everyone that has felt like me and I want to make sure it doesn't take them 48 years to find their answers.
Help me to spread the word that specialized education is necessary. Check out the Adoption Council of Ontario’s ACT training program for professionals - ACT: An Adoption and Permanency Curriculum for Child Welfare and Mental Health Professionals