Why Some Adoptees Are Caught Unaware

Dear friends,

I am pleased to announce the arrival of my latest book–20 Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make (March 15, 2015.) This is a “repub,” but loaded with much new information and many new chapters, including how adoptees can get unstuck from a painful past.

Book Cover HD

Here is the first part of the first chapter. Hope you enjoy!

You can pre-purchase at amazon.com or just go to “store” on this site.


Why would a 47 year old woman, who from all outward appearances “had it all,” risk re-experiencing what once had caused her deep feelings of abandonment and loss?

Why would see become one of the growing number of adoptees who actually search for their biological roots?

Why would she venture on such a quest even after most family members and friends advised against it?

Why would she write numerous letters to a judge in the county where she was born, requesting birth information that had been sealed decades before?


Because she heard the song of the nightingale. That quiet voice within. The voice that sings ever so softly, ever so gently, usually at change points in life, and particularly on birthdays.

“Why did it happen?” the nightingale asks. “Who are your biological parents? Where are they now? Do you look like them? Would they want to see you?”

I am this woman.

I always knew I was adopted. My parents told me when I was just old enough to understand. They used the “chosen child” adoption story prevalent in the 40’s. “We chose you out of all the babies in the whole world,” they said.

Mike, Retha, me


I fantasized about the event as only an adopted child could. Row upon row of bassinets were lined up in a baby store with every type of baby imaginable. Tiny ones. Chubby ones. Every color. Every size. Some crying and red-faced. Some with pink bows in their hair, others with blue.

The young couple walked ever so slowly through the aisles, looking eagerly for their special child. When they came to the one with dark hair and eyes, they said to one another, “This is the one! This is the one we’ve been looking for all our lives. We’ll choose her and make her our own. We’ll name her Sharon Lee.”

It seemed great to be “’dopted” at that young age, but things changed soon after entering school. During recess one day, a snotty-nosed bully taunted me with, “Ha! Ha! Ha! You’re adopted, Sherrie. You don’t have a real dad and mom.”

I ran from the circle of children, crying.

“I felt so sad. Mom and dad said I was special because I was adopted, but I don’t like being special. I want to be like all the other kids. Maybe it’s not so good to be adopted,” I reasoned.

“I wonder if I do have another dad and mom somewhere and why they didn’t keep me. Maybe there’s something wrong with me? I’ll just try to be like everyone else and then the other kids won’t make fun of me.”


When I was a child, the adoptee’s emotional loss and trauma was glossed over with the label “chosen child.” Parents were counseled not to talk about the child’s birth or biological parents. After all, they reasoned, babies can’t remember.

My experience proved otherwise.

Symptoms of unresolved grief were evident at a young age. Temper tantrums were common fare, and anger toward my adoptive mom escalated as the years progressed.

As a teen, I was often asked my nationality. Maybe it was my olive skin and brown eyes that made people curious? Or maybe my long nose, with the bump in the middle? Whatever the case, questions arose.

Always, the answer was the same. “I don’t know. I’m adopted.”  Secretly, I entertained possibilities of being French, Italian, or German.


3 comments to Why Some Adoptees Are Caught Unaware

  • Susan Finnell

    Hi Sherrie,

    I literally stumbled across your book “20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parent Knew” and couldn’t believe someone had finally written a book about the feelings and thoughts of adoptees. I felt like your story was mine after reading just the first page. I was adopted at 9 days old and always knew I was adopted, but it was never really discussed in detail, closed adoption of course to protect everyone (please!). It wasn’t until my later years as an adult I started to realize how many hang ups I had with relationships. I was so needy of being loved for me and wanted to be “real”, but could never understand why, my adoptive parents were wonderful!

    To complicate things even more, I found myself, a senior in high school, pregnant and having to make the grueling decision of adoption for my birth son (now 31). I can’t begin to tell you the shame I felt in so many more ways than other birth mothers normally do. Here I was, doing the very thing that had caused me so much pain and unanswered questions to my own biological child.

    What a journey it has been. How I wish I could put it in words like you have, so much to learn from my travels.

    Thank you for your boldness and complete honesty in exposing the pink elephant! I am so not alone!

    Blessings and if you ever get that chance, would love to chat with you!

    Susan Finnell 🙂

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