June 5th, 2007
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When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.

Catherine Ponder

Some of you may know that I recently completed an e-book on search and reunion for adoption.com. This excerpt discusses the forgiveness that is needed at reunion. (A plug for my e-book? Who me?)

However, there can be many opportunities for forgiveness in adoption. In open or closed adoptions, events occur that wound us and sometimes make us want to remain angry or upset with ourselves or someone else. Sometimes we might be angry at society in general.


For birth mothers, we often tend to be our own harshest critics. Eventually, however, forgiving ourselves for losing our child to adoption can release a huge burden from our lives. Forgiving ourselves is paramount to healing from adoption wounds.

Forgiving others is tough to do as well at times. A couple of points to keep in mind when considering forgiving others:

1) You will probably benefit more from forgiving someone than the person that you forgive. It might help you to forgive someone if you understand that you are doing it more for your own benefit than for theirs.

2) Forgiving others will make you feel healthier and more at peace. You will be a better person for your loved ones to be around unburdened by holding on to anger and not forgiving those who wronged or hurt you.

3) People who hurt you rarely do so intentionally, and therefore they deserve to be forgiven. For older birth mothers whose families pressured them into adoptions, it is important to note that often they had your best interests at heart. They may have truly felt as though they were giving you the best possible advice.

4) Forgiving others feels good and makes you feel better about yourself.

Forgiveness is something that adoptive parents probably struggle with as well. When they adopt children who have been mistreated, forgiving those who abused, neglected or otherwise harmed must be extremely difficult. However, showing your children how to forgive could be a valuable legacy that you can leave them.

Forgiveness may be challenging for any triad members, however, it frees us to forgive others.

Further Reading:

How to Forgive.


Photo by Jan Baker 2007

2 Responses to “How to Forgive Others”

  1. Faith Allen says:

    Good post!!

    Forgiveness is something that I have thought about a lot, especially over the past few years as I have focused on healing from childhood abuse. As I am sure you know, forgiveness is a hot topic on any board where people were deeply harmed and when the consequence have long-lasting effects.

    The way I have come to see forgiveness is choosing to stop nursing the bitterness and, instead, focus that freed up energy on healing myself. For me, choosing to let go of the bitterness is completely about healing myself. In the context of child abuse, I will never find a good enough reason or motivation for the abuser to “deserve” forgiveness. Instead, forgiveness is a gift that I give myself.

    I see forgiveness discussed in harmful ways at times, so it is a breath of fresh air to read a perspective like yours.

    Take care,

    - Faith

  2. I’ve been able to forgive almost everyone involved in the loss of the Munchkin. My parents and I have finally discussed the communication failures that lead to some serious misunderstandings. I forgive them for that as they have forgiven me for some things that I also said. (I’ll admit; when I felt attacked by them, I said some totally not nice things.) I’ve forgiven Munchkin’s birth father, which was a longer process for me and I think he’s forgiven me as well. I’ve forgiven some people who said some things that made me doubt myself; I’m sure they only thought that they were helping me “look at the bigger picture.”

    But I’m having the DARNDEST time forgiving the agency. I’ve tried. We work on it in therapy. But after they flat out refused to offer me an apology when that’s all I asked for in my Better Business Bureau complaint… well, I just can’t seem to let go of that anger, that bitterness, that resentment. I’m hurt that they won’t apologize for misleading me and lying to me. I’m angry that they refuse to accept responsibility for the things that went wrong. I want a sincere apology. And while I know that doesn’t HAVE to happen to forgive people (I forgave Munchkin’s birth father about a year before I actually GOT an apology), the flat denial of an apology makes me SO ANGRY. Still. Three years later.

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