Adopted Teen Wants “Normal” Family

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am very confused right now. I don’t know if I am happy because I always feel like something is missing in my life and I know I shouldn’t ask for more. I was adopted when I was 3 years old by a single middle aged woman, she’s often not home due to work and we’re not in good terms. I was told I was adopted when I was younger. My grandma always talks about how bad my father is and how he destroyed my real mother’s life. I thought that she was exaggerating first but when I met him, he wasn’t what I thought he should be. The idea of a father is not him at all. He has a new wife that said and my other siblings are with him. I hated him more, because my mother died of giving birth and here he is having a new wife. I don’t want to talk to men or adults because I figured that they’re the same as my father-selfish. When I started in highschool I came to conclusion that they’re not all the same. So I tried talking to them at least but still have problems talking to them sometimes. I have friends but sometimes I feel that we’re not friends, because they don’t understand me. Maybe because they have a complete family and they’re happy. I never really cried to them, and anyways they’re so slow so they will never understand that. I always cry alone, I dunno why.. out of loneliness or envy? It’s just that my life is better now than from my father but why do I seem to want to be reborn and have a normal happy family?

A: It’s understandable that you are looking for reasons for your unhappiness but you’re looking in all the wrong places. Your adoptive mom works to support you both. You have as “normal” a family as anyone else does. Very, very few families look and act like the families you see on reruns of old 1950s and ’60s sitcoms (you know: Mom in dress and pearls, Dad in suit, two to three kids all happy, happy, happy). Your father probably is more complicated than you give him credit for. All men are not alike. But you’re a smart girl. You know all that.

So let’s get to your question: Why are you are confused, alone, and unhappy? Partly it’s because you are going through the normal adjustment of adolescence. I know. That’s not a very satisfactory answer. But the truth is that your body is changing and most kids go through emotional turmoil while that is happening – at least for a little while. You don’t have much control over that piece – although you could talk to your doctor to make sure everything is going normally. Sometimes a thyroid imbalance, for example, makes things worse.

The other piece, you do have control over. You are alone and lonely because you’re not with people. However shy you may be, the “cure” is to get involved in something that you really care about with other people. Do you love animals? Maybe there’s an animal rescue group near you. Are you interested in music? Join a chorus or start a band. Do you love working with kids? Think about getting involved with an after-school program or some other activity where you could work with little ones. Are you interested in kids with special needs? I bet there’s an organization near you that works with them. By giving of yourself and by working side by side with others, you’ll start to find people who are more like you and meaning for your life.

Meanwhile, you also have some control over your relationship with your mother. Find two or three positive things to say to her every day — regardless of whether you think she deserves it. By going to work every day, she is providing for you. She adopted you because she really, really wanted you. She didn’t have to do it. She’s probably as confused and upset about your relationship as you are. You are both dealing with the teen years for the very first time. You’re both learning. Most parents have just as difficult of a time with it as their kids do, though in different ways. If you take the initiative and work to change the tone in your house a bit, you may be surprised and pleased with what happens.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Adopted Teen Wants “Normal” Family. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/04/24/adopted-teen-wants-normal-family/