The Bond I Share with Rosie O’Donnell

Rosie, you are not to blame – regardless of what the tabloids say. Your story is my story. And it’s the story of thousands of families who’ve adopted children.

Without question, adoption celebrates life. But that beginning usually results from abandonment – and the loss of a birth family. Even in situations where children have been abused and neglected, new parents cannot erase their history.

Or should they try. No heroic effort to save a child will ever change that fact. I know firsthand from my own six children.

A familial bond exists. 

It might be small. It might be huge. It might be glorified. It might be dysfunctional. But at the end of each day, it’s very real.

Similar to you, Rosie, some of my children had difficulty trusting me – much less bonding with me. That’s what early trauma does, whether from alcohol and drugs in the womb or during the critically-important first three years of life.

That’s why new parents must be made aware.

For years my children wondered if their first family thought about them, cared about them or wanted to see them. Would their birth parents knock on the door one day? Surprise them with gifts?  

That fixation turned into a fantasy.

During their years of uncertainty in my own home, I remained empathetic – while being as supportive as possible. I didn’t know all the past details. I didn’t know all of my children’s secrets.

But I soon realized that adoption is traumatic. Definitely a little. Perhaps a lot – depending on the level of resiliency.

To ease my children’s fears, I talked respectfully to them about their birth parents – discussing their sense of loss too. Yet I didn’t see the handwriting on the wall. Within weeks of turning 18, three of mine would bolt from my home to make their fantasy real.

They had to see for themselves – similar to one of your children, Rosie.

They had to see for themselves.

Not surprisingly, their words about me weren’t exactly complimentary from time to time – and especially as adulthood approached.

I didn’t ask to be adopted. You were never a parent to me. You ruined my life and don’t understand how I feel.

Most days I succeeded in not taking the words personally. It was their early trauma talking, not the children I raised. I was simply the convenient target.

Years of trauma-sensitive therapy had helped but never entirely resolved their loss. For now, my young adult children needed time. It would bring a greater degree of maturity – allowing them to see the past more clearly.

That’s when I accepted the reality. My children would forever have two families – the one with me and the one before me – whether I acknowledge the situation or not. That’s why I embraced my children’s need to be validated.  

Who do I look like? Whose traits did I inherit? Did my birth family think about me as much as I thought about them?

No doubt, their journey into adulthood was marked with poor choices. Lots of them – but my kids insisted on learning the hard way. Sound familiar, Rosie?

One has children that he can can barely afford to raise. Another developed an addiction problem and landed in prison. Thankfully two of my sons reconnected with their birth father before he unexpectedly passed.

Yet none of my children totally discarded the lessons learned in my home. In fact, they finally came to mean something.

In other words, we survived and enjoy each other today – although I questioned my sanity during the turbulent teen and young adult years.

And Rosie, you can – and will – survive them too.  DCP

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Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE

To follow Craig’s progress in writing a book about raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love

To follow his son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page. Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold

One thought on “The Bond I Share with Rosie O’Donnell

  1. Thank you for writing tjis piece. I live it too. My 3 kids, all adopted and all with very different resiliency, walk the trauma line and live an internal reality of their own. My advocacy group, Family Forward Advocacy CT, is comprised of several adoptive moms for the reasons described in this article and more. Thank you.

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