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Thoughts on Adult Adoptee Initiated Estrangement: Anger Rage and Grief

Updated: Apr 3

Being an adult adoptee who has initiated estrangement from our adoptive parents can be excruciatingly painful. It can be hard to find space to do our work. But I also see a world that would prefer us to be angry and stay angry. It is more manageable to interact with anger than the visceral emotional upheaval of grief. Anger is easily dismissed and oversimplified. Think of the angry black woman trope. Anger can also make our inner processes more straightforward to manage. Anger can allow us to hold the jagged emotions that can cut us to the core, which need witnessing.

Anger has a story all its own to tell. Anger holds vigil for other emotions, waiting for a safe someone to handle our hearts' sharps. Anger provides us the space to find the safety our little hearts need while struggling. Anger is not a simple emotion; it's as complex as any other part of being human. Angers' definition does not belong to those who oversimplify and dismiss it. Angers' definition belongs to those whose righteousness fuels forward progress. Our roots tell us stories of who we are and where we come from, and to be denied that experience is rage-inducing - a righteous rage.

Righteous rage can be a product of self-love laced with self-respect. We grapple with what was, what could have been, and what we are willing to accept as we move forward with this type of rage in our hearts. Hearts can hold fire just as much as they can hold ice. What we have lost and what we have been denied by those closest to us. The sacredness of our losses places those closest to us at the epicenter of our first trauma—the loss of our mother, the one who held us without arms for nine months. We will manage the ripples of this trauma for the rest of our lives. The reality of righteous rage is that it is unsustainable. We can be rageful only for short periods without it becoming a physical burden that takes a toll on our bodies and souls. Rage is meant to spur us into action. It must be spoken to and listened to with love, compassion, and understanding. For when there has been inaction by others, righteous rage calls on us to become our own heroes.

When righteous rage is honored and sat with, the outrage shifts, the grief is allowed in, and there is a chance for insights and understandings about the people in our lives who faltered, failed, or could not be the parents we wanted and needed. The truth of their frailty becomes apparent, allowing us to see our humanity. We know the work we must do to become the heroes we want our parents to be.

Intergenerational truama processing involves facing the anguish of disenfranchised grief, the ambiguousness of a profound loss, and acknowledging what can never be. Adoptees hold the agony of four batons. We have to explore four legacies of intergenerational trauma that run through our blood, bones, bodies, and souls as we work through the process with the many ways of knowing. Yet we will, for all our effort, fail in healing everything. No amount of processing will stop the normal process of rupture that takes place in relationships and communities. While we may be healing parts of our experience, no amount of self-awareness will allow for perfection. So, we will pass on the baton to the next generation; however, as we pass it, let us meet ourselves with accountability, perspective, love, compassion, and understanding, allowing us to meet the next generation's righteous rage with our heads held high, our hearts open, and our wisdom shining. Let our wisdom and our paths light up the night for the next generation of adoptees and children of adoptees.

With Genuine Care,




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