“I never really knew my dad. Not really one to commit, he left me early in life and while I did have a mother, not having a dad has really been the defining event in my life. It has gnawed away at my soul ever since. I have always felt love from my mom. But not having the love of my dad, and not having him present in my life hurts so bad that nothing can really make up for him not being around. I feel incomplete, lost… There were so many times I wanted him to be there for me. But he wasn’t. And now I live with this dull ache inside…
There’s nothing in this world that can ever make up for that, is there? I mean, if you’re dad doesn’t love you, can you ever be whole?”
“I want to belong. But not having any parents, I feel like I’m constantly searching for a place to finally call home. I’m like I’m floating, by myself in a boat, bobbing up and down in a giant sea, not sure of where I’m hearing, and tired of getting nowhere. A person needs roots, stability. A person needs some place to call ‘home’ with someone waiting there for you.
I just want to belong.”
“Somewhere out there in the world, is my mom who gave me up for adoption. I understand why some young women do this. They are either scared, or broke, or unmarried, or afraid to disappoint their parents or too young--or maybe it’s all of those things. But what haunts me is not knowing if the fact that we are not together haunts her as much as it does me. I want to know her. Does she not want to know me? We are a part of each other forever. Does that not mean anything to her? How could she not want to try to find me?
And now I feel a part of me is missing. Am I destined to feel this way forever?”
Q: What is abandonment?
A: Abandonment, as defined by Psychology Today, is not receiving the necessary psychological or physical care, especially during childhood.
Q: What are some things that cause physical abandonment?
A: Lack of appropriate supervision, inadequate provision of nutrition and meals, inadequate clothing, housing, or shelter, and physical/sexual abuse can are all causes of physical abandonment. An additional cause of abandonment can be a loss during childhood, such as the death of a parent or loved one.
Q: What causes emotional abandonment?
A: Emotional abandonment can be caused when parents or caretakers do not provide the emotional conditions and the emotional environment necessary for healthy development. Claudia Black, Ph.D., describes emotional abandonment as, “occurring when a child has to hide a part of who he or she is in order to be accepted, or to not be rejected.”
Q: What else can cause abandonment?
A: Children feeling like they have to live up the high expectations of their parents, when children are held responsible for another person’s behavior, and disapproval aimed at the being of the child rather than his or her behavior.
Q: What are some of the side effects of abandonment?
A: Abandonment leads to children feeling inadequate, full of shame, wounded, and impaired behavior. Until these injuries are understood and accepted by those who have hurt the child, this pain will stay with the child and likely become a driving force in their lives, even in adulthood.
Q: What are some treatments for abandonment?
A: Therapy is a good option for someone who struggles with abandonment. “Working with a therapist, a person can learn to separate fears of the past from the present. This can set the stage for cognitive transformation so that he or she can develop more positive reactions and realistic expectations for their lives.”
Q: What are some signs of healing?
A: “Healing occurs when people begin to recognize that their fears are rooted in the past and develop the ability to minimize the way fear controls their emotional responses to current relationships and events.”
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 27:10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Isaiah 49:15-16 Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
Psalm 142:4-5 Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 32:7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Casey Treat, Healing the Orphaned Heart: Renewal for the Misunderstood, the Abused, and Abandoned (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, 2003).
David and Lisa Frisbie, Moving Forward After Divorce: Practical Steps to Healing Your Hurts, Finding Fresh Perspective, and Managing Your New Life (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2006)