Adoption Is Trauma. It’s Time To Talk About It.

Mindy Stern
5 min readNov 5, 2019

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.


She surrendered me for adoption upon my birth. In three months, they took me from the womb to the NICU to the foster care to my adoptive parents. Gloria, my biological mother, did not know she was pregnant, she entered the emergency room for abdominal pains and exited traumatized in a way only birth mothers understand. She died at 50, one day before my birthday. I found her four years too late.

Eighteen months ago I found my biological father. He did not know about me. He has spent the last year and a half coming to terms with being denied knowledge of my existence and figuring out how to incorporate me into his life. Together we are building a lovely and meaningful relationship, but for me, reunion is painful in ways I never imagined. I have spent the last year and a half struggling to navigate it all.

Like the day I collapsed into a fetal position and sobbed.

I am on my bathroom floor, wailing for my mother. I am a newborn. I do not have the words nor the understanding for why I feel this. There is only the visceral sensation of unimaginable pain. I am indescribably sad. Mourning for my scared infant self, the one who searched for a breast that was not there, who searched for the familiar voice she no longer heard, who knew the one holding me was not the one who hosted me. I have reached the primal wound. I am mourning for me.

I look back on that day and wonder if it was the day my major depressive episode began. It took a year for me to break down, but the depth of sadness reunion uncorked was the start of my descent.

Adoption is trauma, and it’s long passed time we talked about it that way.

Being adopted in infancy doubles the odds of contact with mental health professionals. Adoptees are at higher risk for substance abuse disorders. We are four times more likely than non-adopted offspring to attempt suicide. And adult adoptees who search and find their biological families are at even HIGHER risk for psychological distress.

The statistics are staggering.

For me, like most adoptees, attachments, separations, and rejections trigger an anxiety response disproportionate to the event. My fear is…

Mindy Stern

Screenwriter. Essayist. Wannabe Novelist. Adoptee.