7 Core Issues in Adoption & Permanency: Mastery & Control

Jul 26, 2020

All of the unidentified, un-named, unacknowledged and un-grieved losses can create intense feelings of powerlessness and loss of control.

Mastery over one’s life circumstances has been lost at some point by all members of the constellation. Everyone lost some power and control because of a life crisis, with the infant/ child losing the most as they had no input into the decision that changed their life trajectory. For adoptees, the early loss of control that moved them from one family tree to another resulted in the ultimate loss of power and control. Traumatic losses and multiple attachment disruptions are a repeated assault on one’s need to feel empowered, secure, valued, and connected. The desire for power and control over one’s life unfolds through each stage of development and throughout adulthood.

Human beings need to feel in control to feel secure.

The loss of control can have a long term impact on constellation members. Birth/first parents may emerge from the adoption/permanency process feeling victimized and powerless. Adoptive/permanency parents have lost control of over when, how and whom to parent. Adoptees and/or children in foster care had no choice about being adopted or fostered and must cope with the haphazard nature of how they joined their particular family. They may wonder, with all the families in the country that are looking to adopt or foster, “How did I end up in this family?”

The ultimate goal for all members of the constellation is mastery, which is a regaining of power and control over one’s life.

Every human being needs to feel powerful. Power is a strong component of resilience. Feeling empowered gives a person the ability to have an effect on others, feel that they have authority and rights, be hopeful and create change.

Mastery is a hard-earned proficiency.

The achievement of mastery in various aspects of one’s life is a process, a journey, which includes adapting, learning, self-awareness and forgiving.

Constellation members may experience a loss of power and control when:

Major- life decisions about who will parent the child are made by courts, social workers and others

Infertility, genetic factors and life circumstances force a decision whether or not to parent and how to become a parent

The courts terminate parental rights

An infant/child/teen is repeatedly moved from place to place

A new birth certificate is issued and the child’s name and birth information is changed

Constellation members gain a sense of mastery when:

Their own core issues are acknowledged and addressed

They can identify their strengths, needs and value to themselves and others

They clarify what they were able to control and not control

They can forgive themselves and others for decisions/ mistakes that were made

They can acknowledge other constellation members’ losses, challenges and pain

They clarify the lessons that they have learned and take the time to celebrate their accomplishments, their resiliency, strengths and gains