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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5074
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I am being legally adopted by an aunt who has acted more like

Resolved Question:

I am being legally adopted by an aunt who has acted more like a mother to me than my own. This is after 25 years of recovery work on my part due to sexual, emotional, verbal, and physical abuse at the hands of my parents as well as being ACOA. This adoption is occurring for me at midlife, when I seem to be getting much more clear about who I am and what I want out of life as well as what I want from healthy relationships. I feel very blessed and grateful.

However, is there anything I should know about the transition of being legally adopted? I suddenly now have parents that want me, want to be in my life, are interested in me, and may need things from me that I have not had to give cine my birth parents are not in my life. What does that transition look like?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

DoctorZ :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern today

DoctorZ :

That is great that you are going to be adopted by someone you feel very close to, I can imagine how wonderful a feeling that must be for you

DoctorZ :

Since you Aunt has been like a mother to you, as you described, this transition should be seamless for the most part. In all honestly you said it in your question that she has been like a parent to you, this is just a legal way of making it official. But in reality she has been your parent, she has been interested in your life, and so on before this adoption and she will continue to do so.

DoctorZ :

You may feel yourself questioning your identity for a bit as this is normal process for adoptions of any age, but you seem to have a clear idea of who you are as a person and what you want out of life.

DoctorZ :

One of the identity factors involved is if you want to change your last name to the same one as your new adopted parents. This may not be the case for you as you already may share the same last name or you may be using your married name, but this is sometimes the case that comes up in adoptions.

DoctorZ :

There will be a period of bliss as this become official where you and your new adopted parents are just overjoyed to be part of a family, but remember this was always the case. You do not need a piece of paper to officially declare that your Aunt has been like a mother to you for all these years. After this bliss (usually around one or two months), things will return back to normal as they always have been and you will continue to be happy, as will your Aunt.

DoctorZ :

Are you having any concerns about this adoption?

DoctorZ :

As for supporting your new parents with things that you not had to give before is a personal choice. Since your new parents seem to unconditionally love you as you have described, then they will not force you to do or give anything that you do not feel comfortable with. In truth, they want you to be happy and they will do anything to make you happy, that is what parents do.

DoctorZ :

I see that you are offline right now, but when you get back online I would be very interested in continuing this discussion with you and talking about anything further you would like to share regarding your concern, so if you respond in the chat box I will be able to get back to you as soon as possible.

Customer:

Hi, Thanks very much for your reply.

DoctorZ :

Anytime, I am here to help

Customer:

The only concern that I feel at this point is that she will be creating distress in her life in her relationship with my birth mother (her sister) and the rest of her siblings (who are still part of the system that lives in denial at this point about the addiction and mental illness in the family). She will most likely lose them, although I would not consider them healthy relationships in any case.

Customer:

However, she has not done a lot of inner work as I have, and is kind of in a "bridge" place in her conscious awareness. I may be the bridge that pulls her across. IN the mean time, there may be a lot of drama for her as her siblings possibly turn against her.

DoctorZ :

Well I am sure your Aunt has considered that to a degree. Have you discussed these concerns with her at all to help her weigh the pros and cons of this adoption?

Customer:

TO an extent...she is aware that this may mean "divorcing" her siblings, as she calls it. Her husband is a lovely man (her 2nd husband) and he has done quite a bit of inner work, and is supporting her in this decision...in fact, it may have been his idea. He said to me that he wants her to be making healthier choices in her life about her relationships, and recognizes them as toxic to her.

Customer:

They say that they would like to move forward with it anyway. :) I think I have just uncovered a fear that they will change their mind and choose the unhealthy family dynamic, as my parents do.

Customer:

AHA.

DoctorZ :

I think your Aunt and her husband unconditionally love you and realize they may divorce her siblings as she put it, but they do not care about that because of their unconditional love for you. I do not believe that your Aunt and her husband will abandon you like your biological parents if that is your fear. It is a big trust issue, but remember this is someone who has been with your before talks of this adoption, so they are reliable.

Customer:

Yes, a big trust issue. Absolutely.

DoctorZ :

Well like I said I think you Aunt and her husband have been like parents to you before this adoption and that this is just making it official, but that is also making it more of a reality for you

Customer:

Any thoughts on dealing with this trust issue within myself as I welcome this wonderful development in my life? I don't want to put a burden on them as I work through this. I want to welcome their genuine love and not rebuff it. I have been so protective of myself (for good reason)!

Customer:

They have loved me unconditionally, but I have not allowed myself to be very close to them before now. I am just "getting" since they expressed their desire to adopt me that they really mean it.

Customer:

It is nothing less than a molecular shift!

Customer:

It feels very positive, just to be clear. But I do feel the fear and mistrust in a part of me that is afraid that they will abandon me as the birth parents did.

DoctorZ :

You are right you do have good reason to protect yourself, and trust is like a leap of faith. I think what you are doing though is focusing on the negative thoughts of your past to dictate what you think might happen in the future, this is called foreshadowing and we all do it

Customer:

Right....do you have recommendations?

DoctorZ :

A good technique to help with these negative thoughts is something called a thought record. It will help you keep track of any negative thoughts you have. You put the negative thought on paper, the emotion accompanying, the evidence to support it, and the evidence against it. Then I want you to come up with an alternative thought for the situation (more positive and plausible). This will help you change your way of thinking to be able to think more positive and not automatically go to a negative type of thinking.

DoctorZ :

This will help you transform your negative thoughts into more positive and plausible thoughts and will help you be more trusting of your Aunt and her husband

Customer:

NIce...this is in line with my work in neurolinguistic programing

Customer:

Thank you...this will help.

DoctorZ :

Yep that is correct, this is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and some similarities with Neurolinguistic programming

DoctorZ :

I can also recommend a good book if you like as well

Customer:

Yes, please

DoctorZ :

There you go, that should be very helpful to you as well

Customer:

excellent, thank you

DoctorZ :

In addition, since you are concerned about the future this worksheet can help you as well.

DoctorZ :

It is called a What if worksheet and helps you analyze the positive and negative, and helps focus more on the positive since we all have a tendency to think worst case scenarios from time to time.

Customer:

Yes, this is helpful too. I truly want to welcome this very positive development in my life.

Customer:

Thank you!

DoctorZ :

Anytime, is there anything else I can help you with today?

Customer:

That feels complete to me. Thank you very much for the tools and your thoughts. :)

Customer:

I want to save this exchange to remind myself.

DoctorZ :

A link should have been sent to your email or it will be sent to your email after you rate me, so you can always have this for future reference

DoctorZ :

This way you will always have access to the chat and all the links I gave you

Customer:

Ok, so I see a "save and exit", is that where I should click?

DoctorZ :

No, actually the smiley faces at the bottom is what rates my performance and gives me credit for helping you today.

Customer:

Ok, just want to not lose the info. I have clicked on the "excellent" face and when I clicked submit it is trying to exit. Hopefully I can find the conversation again! :)

Customer:

Thanks again.

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5074
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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