Can I Have a Happy Birthday as an Adoptee?

Jun 24 / Kat Linquist

Birthdays are often seen as joyous occasions, a time for celebration and reflection on the passage of another year.

However, for many Adoptees, birthdays can be a complex and emotionally challenging time.

The day that marks their entry into the world is also a reminder of trauma, uncertainty, and unanswered questions.

This dichotomy can lead to increased feelings of abandonment, particularly if they were adopted at birth, and a sense of being unworthy of celebration due to adverse childhood experiences related to their adoption.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Here, we explore the challenges Adoptees face on their birthdays and offer steps to become your Authentic Architect to change these narratives to reclaim and celebrate this special day.

A Day Filled with Trauma and Uncertainty

For many Adoptees, their birthday can bring up the trauma of their separation from their birth parents.

This day might symbolize not just their birth, but also their first experience of loss and abandonment.

The uncertainty of their origins, the questions that remain unanswered about their birth parents, and the circumstances of their adoption can cast a long shadow over what is supposed to be a day of joy.

Being adopted at birth often means that the very day of one’s birth is intertwined with the feelings of being given up.

This can lead to a deep-seated sense of abandonment that resurfaces annually, making it hard to truly celebrate.

For Adoptees who were later separated from their mother or family, they may feel a sense of shame and guilt for celebrating themselves, as they do not feel that they belong anywhere, and  question who will love and celebrate them?

Unworthiness and Adverse Childhood Experiences

Some adoptees grow up feeling that they are "not allowed to celebrate themselves."

These feelings can stem from the belief that they aren't good enough or worthy of being celebrated, often exacerbated by adverse experiences in their adoptive families or environments.

These experiences can reinforce the narrative that their presence is more of a burden than a blessing.

Another experience is that if an Adoptee does not know who they “really” are, they feel a sense of disconnection with themselves, and therefore create a story or narrative that questions “Who are they celebrating on this day?”

A combination of Adoption Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences can lead to internalized feelings of unworthiness, disconnection and lack of Self Love.  So, it makes "sense" that an Adoptee wouldn't want to "celebrate me".

Yet... Here you are, living and breathing.  You have purpose for being here, whether you know if or not.  And you deserve to be celebrated!

Changing the Narrative – The Architect Way

Recognize You Are a One-in-8 Billion Phenomenon

Understanding and embracing the uniqueness of your existence is a powerful first step.

Every individual is a one-in-8 billion phenomenon, including you. No one else on this planet has your exact combination of experiences, personality, and potential.

This uniqueness is worth celebrating. Your birthday is not just a reminder of your past but also a testament to your individuality and the countless possibilities that lie ahead.  

The Past Does Not Determine Your Present or Future

Whatever has happened in your past does not have to dictate your present or future.

This can be a liberating realization. You have the power to define your narrative and to choose how you want to live and celebrate your life.

Birthdays can be a time to reflect on this empowerment and to set intentions for the year ahead, free from the constraints of past traumas.  

Accept and Acknowledge Your Feelings

It’s natural for thoughts of your birth mother and your adoption experience to arise on your birthday.

Instead of pushing these feelings away, accept them. Allow yourself moments of reflection and even grief.

Acknowledging these emotions can be a crucial step in Letting Go. However, it's equally important to not let these thoughts take over your day.

Give yourself permission to feel but also to move forward into the celebration of yourself.  

Celebrate Your Existence

Your existence is a cause for celebration.

Regardless of the circumstances of your birth and adoption, you are here, and your life has intrinsic value.

Plan your birthday in a way that brings you joy and fulfillment. Whether it's spending time with loved ones, engaging in activities you love, or simply taking a day for self-care, make your birthday about celebrating you.

You Are Worthy of Celebrating!

Birthdays for Adoptees can indeed be complicated, marked by a mix of emotions that are not always easy to navigate.

However, by becoming an Authentic Architect, you get to create and recognize your unique value, understand that your past does not control your present, accept and take responsibility for your feelings, and actively choose to celebrate your life, you can move beyond the narrative of "I can't have a happy birthday."

Reclaim your birthday as a day of joy, reflection, and celebration of the remarkable person that you are.

Look for my next blog with another Adoptee Challenge and the way to shift into becoming your Authentic Architect!

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