#41 – Rejection

January 24, 2012 at 8:39 am | Posted in Adoption differences, adoption issues, Adoptive parenting do's, Touchy Times | Leave a comment
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Last month we talked about acceptance.  The opposite of that, of course, is rejection.  Our children may be more sensitive to rejection than we realize.  We may not think certain words or actions are rejecting from our point of view, but we need to think of where our children are coming from.  What is their background or base of considering just what rejection is?

If we were to fall out of a tree, we probably would be a little more careful the next time we wanted to climb a tree.  If we’d been in a car accident, we might be more alert to driving and drivers in the future.  If we ate too much cake and got sick, we might be more careful the next time we were tempted to overeat.  The bottom line is that our present behavior is often determined by our past experiences.

Our adopted children have some past experiences which might color how they perceive life.  If we ourselves are not adopted, we wouldn’t necessarily be tuned in to this, but it is very important.  Many adoptees look upon themselves as being given away, being rejected by their birth parents.  We all know intellectually that there are always circumstances supporting this action.  Even the older adoptee knows intellectually there were valid reasons.  However, that may not erase their sensitivity to rejection.

I’ve talked with adoptees about this and they readily admit they are sensitive to people rejecting them.  They’ll even admit they may be overly sensitive, however, it is what it is.

They say when people don’t promptly return a phone call, when a relationship doesn’t work out, when they are not picked for a team in school, when they don’t get the job they wanted – the list goes on and on – they have an unusually hard time dealing with rejection.  This is something they need to work through themselves, but it might help them if we are sensitive to their point of view.

One man told me that when he was a teen-ager his father planned to take him and his two brothers to the park.  His father was anxious to go, but Phil took too much time getting ready (in his father’s opinion).  His father called to his son several times to hurry up, but still Phil wasn’t ready as his brothers were. Finally, his father and two brothers left without him.  When Phil came down the stairs a few minutes later and discovered they had gone and left him home, his tears and anger burst out as he ran back up the stairs to his room.  He was 15 years old.  This was perhaps an overreaction to the incident, but then again, maybe it was his ‘rejection wound’ being opened up again.

Another man told of his senior year prom date dumping him two days before the prom for someone else.  This man said he had dated in high school, but that this rejection was so powerful that he went through four years of college never asking a girl for a date. He avoided the possibility of another rejection.

We all can look upon these examples as exaggerated, but in a group of adoptees, people nod their heads in an accepting manner when these stories are shared.  They understand.  It may be hard and new to us, but we should try to understand and help our children through this, explaining that rejection is a part of life for all of us.  We all just need to keep going and not avoid life circumstances where we might – or might not – be rejected.  The fact that we can show our adopted children we understand is an accepting gesture in itself which can help this ‘rejection wound” to heal.

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