Who can deny that adoption is a beautiful moment in a family’s life?
Couples who cannot have children become parents. Couples who already have children get to share their love with even more children as they grow their family. Children who may have been destined to live a subpar life or couldn’t be cared for properly by their birth parents now have a new opportunity.
As an adopted child, I can attest to all of the above. But, let me tell you about one of the untold truths of adoption: how being adopted can make or break you as a business owner.
Many people who are adopted do not know they were adopted. Their parents did not let them know, so they may not be affected in the ways described below. On the other hand, those who know we were adopted may have struggled with feelings of inadequacy during certain points or situations in our lives.
If you’re reading this, then the chances are that you may or may not know how being adopted can affect your business. If you didn’t know it before, here’s the truth: adoption affects those of us who know we have been adopted in many ways, and not always for the better.
In fact, there is no way to tell what kind of impact adoption will have on our lives until we grow up and get into the workforce (if we even do). So what does this mean for your business?
It means that as a business owner who is adopted, there is a chance that some of these negative effects could be holding you back from becoming the successful entrepreneur you have dreamed of being.
However! There is also hope — we’ll talk about both so you can face any lingering psychological setbacks, overcome them, and be a successful business owner or employee.
Here are some of the negative ways that being adopted can affect your mindset, thus affecting your business:
- Lack of self-esteem or a sense of not being worthy. A lack of self-esteem can lead to an inability to take risks or be creative, leading you into a stifling rut.
- Feelings of abandonment that could manifest in self-destructive behaviors such as alcoholism or substance abuse. If addiction is something you struggle with, this not only affects your work performance but also puts the ones around you at risk for physical, emotional, and spiritual harm…that’s an issue and one worth addressing head-on.
- You may not be able to love or value yourself, which could lead you down an anxiety-ridden path — or worse! If you can’t love or value yourself, how can you truly expect anyone else to love or value you?
- Issues with control — such as a sense of feeling powerless or that you’re not in charge.
If these issues plague your business, it may be time to consider getting some professional guidance and support so things can improve from here on out…or at the very least, get back into balance again!
Here are some of the positive ways that being adopted can affect your business:
- You may be more empathetic and understanding of other people.
- You may be more comfortable with change.
- Your ability to network and make connections can go a lot easier.
- You’ll have an intuitive understanding of what people are going through on many different fronts, which will give you an edge up that others don’t always have in this space…
- You have a unique perspective on what it’s like to grow up without your biological family, which can help make you better at connecting with others!
- You know that there are no guarantees in life, especially when talking about relationships or work satisfaction.
My Personal Adoption Journey And How It Affected Me
Like many people reading this, my parents went through a divorce when I was very young. Divorce… it’s a horrible thing, but that’s a topic for another day.
Before my Mom got remarried, she did all she could to make sure I had as much of a balanced life as she could offer. She worked her ass off to provide for me and make sure I had what I needed. I will never forget when I got a little older and caught her lying through her actions and not her words.
It would happen on my birthdays and at Christmas time. I didn’t know it for years. One day, I found out that she was buying gifts, wrapping them, and sending them to me in the name of my biological father. It was crushing. Not because my mom was trying to make sure I had good memories of my father, but learning that he did not care enough to try.
To be sure… I do not fault my mom or consider her a bad mom for this. Sure. I used the word “lying” above, but was it really? She was trying to portray my father in a good light for me to have good memories of him. In a world where people go out of their way to make their ex-partners look bad, she was and still is a shining light.
Fast forward a few years to when she met the man she remarried. In my eyes, he was, and still is, a Godsend. They were married for a few years before he adopted me, and life was great before and after adoption. We did all sorts of cool things. We went camping, traveled the world, and saw places I may never see again. I will always have those memories, though.
One day in our house in Manhattan, KS, my mom asked me to come to the living room. They were sitting on the couch and asked me to come and sit with them. When I sat down, my then step-dad looked me dead in the eye and asked me if I would like Henry to be my last name and if I would be OK with him adopting me.
Are you kidding me?!?
I get a real dad who has shown me nothing but love over the past few years? I get to wear his last name like a badge of honor? I’ll have a real family and a dad without the word “step” in front of dad?
I’m all in!
I will never forget my adoption date, the gravity of sitting in a courtroom, answering a couple of questions by the judge and a lawyer. I still have my adoption papers locked away and pull them out once in a while to reminisce.
Without going into all of the dirty details that happened as I grew older, let’s say I reached a point where things started messing with my head. My biological “father” gave up his parental rights so I could be adopted? How does anyone do this? How do you give up your child? I struggled hard.
Mind you; I was younger when I had those thoughts. As an adult, I have concluded that we’ll never really know why someone would give up their child. I have also come to the understanding that while adoptees may struggle, birth parents who chose to relinquish their children to someone else have struggled with their decisions and lived through some painful memories as well. I have empathy for all parties involved.
My teenage years ended up a trainwreck by the time I reached eighteen. Moving forward in life, I was the cause of multiple failed personal and work relationships in my life.
I just told my wife while writing that if we had met years earlier, I would not have been able to love her as she needs because I struggled with so many issues that plagued my life throughout my teenage years into my thirties. I am proud to say after many failed relationships, I have learned many lessons and grown exponentially, and she knows the best version of me to this point in my life.
So this isn’t really supposed to be about me. I just wanted to lay some groundwork to say; I know what it’s like to struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy from my adoption experience.
How My Journey As A Business Owner Was Affected By My Adoption
Let’s move forward to today. I am a successful digital marketing consultant and own an agency that is continuously growing. It wasn’t like that at first. Like most business owners just starting, I had to fight for my dream to become a reality. I underpriced our services initially to get my foot in the door and get some referrals. A horrible move which I do not recommend to anybody.
What a mistake that was! I realize now that it was part of my past trying to dictate my future. I tried to win business by pleasing people with low prices because I knew rejection all too well. Rejection always seemed to bring up lingering feelings about the rejection I suffered as a child. And who likes rejection? No one.
I ended up being connected to a truly stellar life coach through some acquaintances. I know when many of us hear “life coach,” it immediately causes our eyes to roll. There are so many shady people out there with this title. However, this gentleman used to be a psychotherapist with a thriving practice. He walked me through step by step from point a to point z to show me where the issues were stemming from and how they affected my business and my relationship with my wife before we got married.
Bottom line; it changed my life, in turn changing the trajectory of my business.
If you know you are adopted and struggle in your business, I would highly suggest that you look at the connection. You may not realize it, but the two could be connected in deeper ways than you may think. Not everyone goes through this, but many adoptees do deal with it at a subconscious level.
So what are some practical applications that can help those of us who are adopted succeed in business?
- First and foremost, don’t focus on the rejection you may feel or have felt in knowing that someone gave you up. Instead, focus on the fact that someone fell in love with you enough to choose you to be on their team!
- You can channel that into your sales process as well. Not everyone you talk with will want to partner with your business. But the ones that do chose you to be on their team. You can be an integral part of their team and help them achieve their goals.
- Remind yourself of your worth and value. If you are an exceptional service provider that drives results, you bring value to the table worth every penny you are charging.
- If you struggle with self-worth and inadequacy, there are many competent counselors and coaches that can help you beat these issues. Yes, it requires trust, facing your pain, and going through a process. But you will come out more balanced and able to reach the goals you set for yourself and your business.
- Then there’s the elephant in the room… Addiction. If you struggle with substance abuse, alcoholism, relationship addictions, or any other type of addiction, handle it. Whether you get counseling, check in to rehab, or go through an intensive outpatient program, you need to take care of yourself before becoming a statistic and an example in other people’s stories.
In conclusion, you are not the sum of your past.
Let go of any resentment you may have. Make sure to be thankful for the parents who adopted you and gave you a life you would not have had without them. Let them know how grateful you are. You have a bright future ahead for you and your business.
I wish you much success in your journey, your business, and most of all, in your family!
Mom and Dad, if you stumble across this on the internet, know this one thing… You both changed my life. Dad, You changed my mom’s life — and for that, I will forever be grateful and always honor you. You changed the lives of my sisters that you and mom adopted along the way as well. In no way were my problems a reflection of you guys lacking love for me. We all know you did not lack love. On the contrary, you are the most loving man and woman we have ever met. You gave all of us the best life ever. As you know, I had to fight and conquer many personal demons in my life. I would not have been able to beat the odds and start a thriving business without your love, support, and encouragement. I owe all the good things that have manifested in my life to the unrelenting love you both showered on us!