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When you find out you are adopted there is a rush of confusion and questions that comes over you. The one thing to remember is that being given up for adoption has nothing to do with you.

Being adopted brings up questions and feelings that are sometimes just too much to handle and you do not know how to get the answers you are looking for. You feel like you are searching and searching for answers but can you trust anyone to give them to you?

Getting through finding out that you are adopted is never an easy process but we can help you, please give us a call or email us. We having gone through the process and understanding what you are going through will help you find peace.

Nelie Olivier, My Adoption Story | Activist For The Adopted | I Am Not A Mistake FoundationMy Adoption Story…

Since I can remember, I knew that I am “different”.  I was not a happy child. I was angry. I felt that I was not good enough. I had no fear. I never trusted any person or any situation and I never allowed myself to cry. Only “babies” cried – and I was never a “baby”.

I found myself living in isolation with my thoughts. This became my coping mechanism.

I created a “Wonderland” for myself where I am the best: loved and respected by my world of people!

I had good parents, not loving parents.  I grew up resenting people in general. I never experienced the love of a mother and a father, as it should be.  Yes:  good, solid folk.  Yet, to clothe and put food on the table, does not a loving mother or father make!

I saw my friends’ parents tucking them into bed with hugs and kisses. I was envious of them. Of that love. Of that life. Sadly, this was not how my brother and I were raised: we knew our parents loved us – but we never felt it.

Accordingly, we carried on, accepting the fact that this is how it is done in our home. Despite circumstance, as brother and sister, we grew closer and closer as the years passed.

We made “pinkie promises” that we would always be there for each other.  (Not knowing what was yet to come: that I would betray my brother to protect him for the hurt. I would inevitably betray myself also, by lying to him.)

Somehow, my instinct had dictated since birth that something didn’t quite add up.

Nelie Olivier, My Adoption Story | Activist For The Adopted | I Am Not A Mistake FoundationTo my utter horror, in 2006 I learnt that my brother and I had different parents.  Quite honestly, there are no words with which to adequately explain the hurt. I was scared to death that he would now not want to call me his sister. I could not bear the thought of losing my brother. EVER. Thus, I forced myself to lie to his face. I had broken his heart. He questioned why I had lied to him, when dishonesty is the one thing I cannot abide. My actions were indefensible and the bridge had to be rebuilt over many, many years of heartache and soul-searching.

Thinking back now – I was the worst school bully, I was hurting inside so I had to hurt in turn. My personality became one of my best creations:  Rule with fear, do not trust,  only trust yourself, and ANGER will drive you to succeed.

I became extremely competitive, especially to impress my mother!!! I was kind of okay as a child, but when I reached puberty – I realized that my “mother and father” and the entire family was hiding something from me.

I made it my mission to, on various occasions,  to try to catch my mother out with questions regarding my birth: Where was I born? Why are my brother and I eight, to nine months apart?

Did my mother think I was stupid? She had baby pictures of my brother (new born pictures)……all of the pictures of me as a child, were from a sitting age…… new-born pictures?  The best lie ever told by my mother, was that the camera had broken. We were well off….why not just buy another camera?

This feeling of rejection and constantly being lied to caused me to be me rebellious to the point of being sent to boarding school Potchefstroom. I hated them – as I had been shipped off from a very upper class home to a school that was a 100 years old: 2 single beds draped with hideous blue covers, in a dismal room. Yet, true to form, I did not cry. I did not tell them that I was scared. My first point of action for that day was to scare the living daylights out of all of the Hostel kids. I would rule the school! I also made sure that I was branded a trouble maker and that teachers and kids alike were very wary of me. This….is how you earn respect!

I also ensured that I was branded a trouble maker , children to teachers were all fearful of me.

I was compelled to be the best even in situations which turned my stomach. I had to succeed. And so I did. I morphed into the best leader, scholar, drama student and had honours for sport, culture and academics. All was well in my world.

We had Christmas in Wolmaransstad with my Dad’s family. My dad had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and they were living in Cape Town at the time. On Christmas Eve, after everyone had retired to their rooms, I cornered my cousin and my dad’s sister. I told them that my dad had told me that I was adopted. They both confirmed that I had been.

Stunned at the expected truth, I looked at them and thanked them. I went to my room. I divulged the news to my husband. I told him that I did not have to wonder anymore. It was confirmed. My suspicion was correct: I AM ADOPTED!!

The mere confirmation of what I suspected was enough to put me in an emotional depression that would haunt me for the next nine years.

I was frozen for what seemed like an eternity – How?   Why? Who? Where had I come from? Am I a MISTAKE and a FOOL?

My husband had no words for me. When you are not on the receiving end of such VITAL information, you do not know how to deal with it. I felt rejected by him as well as by my family. They simply did not understand. I was told that I was lucky to have such “good” parents. Whaaat? You do not know my life. You do not know how I grew up: desperately in quest of love from my parents and from you….. and you tell me to be grateful?

This would be the launch of 10 years that would change me and the course of my life forever. It was the hardest road to walk (ALONE). That was what I thought – to reach ONE DAY- through all of this turmoil which had become my life. To TRUST for the first time in 51 years.

If you have never been a victim of circumstance from the very beginning, not by your own design, you choose to live in Lala Land. It is safer there. ONLY YOU can make the decision to change the course of your life, and your experience of your past. No matter who you seek out, with however many qualifications, – YOU WILL NOT CHANGE.  You need to make the first move.

I have gone to Songoma’s to Physiatrists to Pastors,  to Phycologists to Tarot card readers – you name them I saw them because I wanted help.

From the pastors I had been told that I was filled with DEMONS – heck! I actually had mastered two of the seven deadliest sins – WRATH AND PRIDE. So give it your best shot. And again it did nothing to relieve the inner conflict of COMPETING constantly against myself. Nelie was so busy fighting Nelie, that I always had at least four, to six strategies in the works to safeguard against failure. This made me feel worth something and more superior about Nelie.

I was sinking – slowly but surely. I had been programmed to not show emotion. I do not trust. I do not ask for help. I battle this from within. I was painfully aware that I was dealing with things exceedingly more powerful than what I am. A perfect storm was building. Yet I was hell-bent on being victorious once more.

This Storm was driven by Anger. By Hate. Resentment toward myself and those around me. Historically, I had only been used for their gain. I could not see any good in either myself or anyone I came into contact with.

A little girl lost long ago: born with Fear. A fear that turned into Hate. Anger. Resentment.

Nelie Olivier, My Adoption Story | Activist For The Adopted | I Am Not A Mistake FoundationWhy me?   You will soon understand that when you have lived through 50 years of self-loathing, trying to belong, trying to keep your husband from straying, trying and dealing with your biological mother and your adoptive parents, your child’s choices as to her lifestyle, being the best at work, at home, riding the biggest bike like a man…….that the end of the tunnel has no light.

I had never realized how much pressure I had put myself under. Yet I still believed that I had made it on my own. Comically, I was not alone. This realization would only occur to me much later in my life.

I want to tell my agonizing story to help and comfort adopted children/adults, even if they know that they were adopted. The world at large has no inkling of just how isolated and confused you are:  you feel that everyone lies to you. They justify it by using the archaic notion of “stigma” and how they only wanted to “protect” you. YOU LIED, DAMMIT! Take responsibility for it! You lied because it suited your life!

Adoption: Through the eyes of the adoptee – study

Nelie Olivier, My Adoption Story | Activist For The Adopted | I Am Not A Mistake FoundationThe severe trauma of being separated from the mother will radiate through every aspect of the child’s life.  The baby will experience the mother’s loss as psychological death of the mother.  There will never be closure.

The baby will know the difference between the mother and the female adopter because the baby has bonded with the mother during the mother’s pregnancy.  The baby knows the mother’s scent and the mother’s heartbeat.  The baby reaches for the smell of the mother’s milk – not the adopters’. – (as there was no milk)

The baby will feel abandoned by the mother, often resulting in a lifelong inability to trust anyone. This, not being able to trust, will affect the child all of his life.  It is understandable as to why a child who is adopted would not be able to trust anyone because of the fear of abandonment.

The baby will always wonder why they were not kept by the mother and will blame themselves for not being loveable enough to keep.  Many adult adopted people still carry this feeling inside and it affects their relationships with others.  The child may also feel guilty as if they did something that caused the mother to not want them.

As the child grows up, they may feel like a misfit and will suffer from low self-esteem.  The child will feel like they do not belong anywhere and will feel very much alone.  They will feel like an outcast within the family who adopted them.

The child will think about their mother constantly.  This makes sense because the child longs for their mother and misses her terribly!  There is a wound there that can never be filled by anyone other than the mother!  This could cause the child to have trouble concentrating on their school work.  The child may be labelled a “dreamer” or a “bad student” which will harm their chances to succeed in life.

The adopters might not understand the reason for the child’s lack of concentration and this might cause them to be misdiagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  If misdiagnosed, the child will be forced to take medication they will not need.

My parents adopted two children.  Both of us were diagnosed as having ADD and was told it was genetic, (I can’t help but wonder if we were misdiagnosed).

The child will lose their true identity while the adopters will try to force them to be like them.  The reason for this is so that the adopters won’t be reminded that the child isn’t really theirs.  The adopters would want the true traits that the child inherits from his family to go away.  The child will not be allowed to be themselves.

The child will have no sense of their past which will make it difficult to envision their future.

The child may suppress their real feelings and live an emotionally-numb life in order to survive the tragedy of the separation from their mother compounded by their adoption.  (On a personal note:  I have had to live for years with this emotionally-numb type feeling not due to adoption issues but because I was abused and forced to keep my feelings and the abuse a “secret”  Secrets DESTROY people!  So does adoption!  Adoption and the effects of it is the biggest kept secret of all!

As the child becomes an adolescent they will have great difficulty establishing a sense of self because they will have no sense of their true history or heritage.

As the child becomes an adult, they may have trouble choosing a career and a mate due to their fear of commitment and abandonment.

The child’s adopters may not acknowledge that raising an adopted child is different from raising a child of their own.

The adopters want to pretend that the child they raised is not adopted but their own child so they force the child to live a lie by wiping out their past and changing their name and forcing the child to become like the adopters rather than being allowed to be their own person. 

They will further burden the child by telling them that they should forget about their natural parents and be grateful that they adopted them and gave them a home because the natural parents did not. (I constantly was told by family that I must remember that I am like a “throw away dog” as nobody wanted me)

Nothing anyone says or does can ever make up for the loss of the child’s first family!

The mother will not be able to change the past and undo the lifelong adverse effects of adoption on her child!


“I believe that the connection established during the nine months in utero is a profound connection, and it is my hypothesis that the severing of that connection in the original separation of the adopted child from the birth mother causes a primal or narcissistic wound, which affects the adoptee’s sense of Self and often manifests in a sense of loss, basic mistrust, anxiety and depression, emotional and/or behavioural problems, and difficulties in relationships with significant others.”

It is difficult to face the fact that by definition every adopted child is an abandoned child, who has suffered a devastating loss. No matter that the adoptive parents call it relinquishment and the birth mother calls it surrender, the child experiences it as abandonment”.

“The trauma of being separated from the mother, therefore, results in patterns of behaviour, emotional responses, and the sense of Self and others, which will be different from that which would have occurred had there been no trauma”.

“It can no longer be assumed that one can replace the biological mother with another “primary caregiver” without the child’s being both aware of the substitution and traumatized by it.

The mother/infant bond takes many forms and the communication between them is unconscious, instinctual, and intuitive.”

There are 7 core emotional issues for an adoptee

These seven (7) issues are so important who loves and works with either an adoptive child or adult.

Some Adoptees may not struggle with all of the above issues, but they are common across adoption situations that they are all important and to know and look for.


What does the children’s act say about adoption

I found it very interesting to see how Adoption changed over the years and would like to bring to your attention that you should understand the entire process surrounding Adoption.

The legislation governing adoptions in South Africa is the Children’s Act (Act 38     of 2005).

The Children’s Act (Act 38 of 2005) deals with a full spectrum of protection measures pertaining to the national, provincial and, where applicable, local spheres of government.

Your input would be valued – as we all Adoptees experience various situations and this can help all of us to try and understand and to come to terms with all of the “issues” that is making it difficult for us to overcome our unique situation.

From the pen of
Nelie Olivier
18 April 2018