One Friday this past May, I was sitting in a retreat with my former coach, Darla LeDoux. My 92-year-old dad had been having a rough time for many weeks and I received my mom’s call that morning telling me he’d died.
While I wanted to run to my mom’s side, she had my brother and many friends around. I decided to stay for the remainder of the retreat and see what there was to learn.
As I sat there that afternoon, I remembered so many moments with my dad. The day he bought me a car in high school because he saw what was happening with my bad-boy boyfriend who had a motorcycle.
I was also flooded with feelings about being adopted. They surprised me. I saw that though I had a great family around me, part of me had grown up feeling “Tribeless” and that feeling stuck with me through my adulthood—and definitely into my role as an entrepreneur. And with my dad gone, it woke something up.
Being adopted means a special kind of loneliness and a super-quick trigger on feelings of abandonment. The notion of “belonging,” so important for everyone, takes on a whole new meaning for the adoptee.
In my hotseat during the retreat, the theme of which was designing our own retreats, I knew that I wanted to talk more about adoption and business. I wanted to gather those who are adopted and running a business to look at things like rejection, rebelliousness, resilience, wisdom, loyalty, and belonging. There is so much meaty stuff in there!
Loyalty: You were raised by good people, and you don’t want to hurt them. They were amazingly supportive and loving. But the truth is, nothing they could have done could have taken away primal wounds…
Square Peg Syndrome: For me, my parents and brother (not adopted) were brilliant academics. While I had some strengths, academia was definitely not one of them. As an adoptee, you’re different. You’re a square peg in a round hole.
Rebelliousness: Unlike my family, I had a burning desire not to do things the way others did them. I didn’t want to follow rules. Remember the book Women Who Run with the Wolves in the 1980s? I would attend uptight social gatherings where everyone was engaged in polite “poodle” conversation, as I like to call it. I could feel my long, gray wolf tail sticking out from my dress!
Wisdom: I think adoptees understand at an early age that we are part of a something much bigger than the nuclear family. The bottom line, like it or not, is that we come in alone and we die alone—and I believe adoptees get this more than others do.
Rejection and Resiliency: I had a loving family—not perfect, but close. But I also had a deep sense of feeling that there was something major wrong with me because I was rejected so early. I have grown to bounce back from rejection really well… eventually. It has a special sting for adoptees because we suffered the one rejection that’s not ever supposed to happen—a mom rejecting her baby. But in order to live, we need to power through that sting, again and again.
That day, sitting there in that room after hearing my dad had died, I created a 3-day retreat for Adoptee Entrepreneurs. I am so excited to share it with you.