We all like to have a say in how we live our lives. But sometimes being the master and controller of our own destiny is a challenge, especially for those affected by adoption. This affects how we develop as human beings and how we interact with the world around us. It changes how we approach self-control and 'self-actualisation'.
'Self-actualisation' was a theory first proposed by American psychologist, Abraham Maslow. The theory proposed that each person had an ideal self they could become if they used all of their talents, skills and determination. Losing a sense of mastery and control in your life can disrupt people on their path to full self-actualisation.
Parent's ideal for their life wasn't to lose a baby to adoption. Becoming accidentally pregnant and losing their child isn't high on people's list of dreams and aspirations. Additionally, losing control over what happens to the baby is a huge disruption to a mother's control over her life, leading to feelings of powerlessness that can become a theme for life. Fathers who had little input into the adoption may also experience issues of mastery over their own lives.
Adoptees have no control over their removal from their family of origin, nor placement in their family of destination. This can be disruptive to development as adoptees learn from early in life that they have little control over themselves or their destiny, as teenagers their may be conflict with their adoptive parents over control issues and they may participate in high risk taking behaviour (showing a lack of self control).
Adopted parents also lose a lot of mastery and control in adoption. Couples don't dream of becoming infertile and they feel helpless when they are unable to have children. This can lead to difficulty in controlling their own parenting, by becoming permissive or over-protective.
Losing mastery and control can lead all in the adoption triad to feel helpless, powerless and unmotivated.
As with all of the core issues in adoption, being aware of the issue is the first step in making progress. Identifying our feelings of helplessness and the reasons why they exist can help us to analayse the thoughts we have about who we are. Once we are aware we can start to act. Becoming self-actualised requires courage to be ourselves and explore new things. it means leaving our comfort zones and going beyond our limitations to discover a brand new world. It also means being realistic about ourselves, others and the world around us.
Having a goal and developing a sense of meaning in life is also an important step for gaining mastery and control over our lives. Some may find the exploration of spirituality helpful in this regard. Creativity is a useful tool for obtaining this objective - whether it be creative thought or creative action through art and music.