The Mask

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MaskIn adoption circles the mask is what many adoptees wear. It can be a barrier between your child and you, your child and everyone else in their life, and your child and himself.

Although the mask is transparent it is impenetrable, it serves to protect the adopted child from their feelings and thoughts about adoption. In transracial adoption the mask can hide the adopted child from seeing how different they are, how they are perceived outside of their family and circle of friends/peers that they commonly compare themselves to. For many adoptees the mask is often the “people-pleaser,” “the good girl,” “the exceptional student.”

The mask permits the adoptee to hold people, even loved ones, at an “arm’s length.” And even though it is a survival mechanism and allows for great adaptation, the mask is also harmful because it undermines healing. The mask needs to come off, slowly peeled or chipped away, a little bit at a time as the adoptee gains the courage to let go.

Parents: Have there been times when you have wondered if your child wears a mask? Can you encourage to and support your child as he takes it off?

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