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Jeanette Yoffe: Support for the Adoption Constellation

Updated On: June 19, 2024

Adoption stories are often laced with complex emotions, intricate family dynamics and unique personal journeys. In two compelling episodes of the Family Twist podcast, we had the privilege of speaking with Jeanette Yoffe, a therapist and adoptee, who shared her poignant story. Her experiences and insights provide a deep understanding of the emotional landscape of adoption, the challenges of reunion and the journey towards healing.

Jeanette’s narrative begins with the challenges she faced growing up with her adoptive family, marked by a profound sense of resentment and distance from her birth mother. This emotional gap created barriers in her relationships with her siblings, adding layers of complexity to family dynamics that many adoptees can relate to.

Adoption is not just a legal or physical change; it’s an emotional journey that encompasses loss, grief, identity, and often, trauma. Jeanette discusses the primal wound – the trauma experienced by adoptees due to separation from their birth mothers. This separation creates a ripple effect of emotional challenges, including a deep sense of loss and issues with identity and self-worth.

Jeanette Yoffe: “Children do believe it was their fault, unless deemed otherwise, that how could any birth mother give away her child?”

Delving deeper, Jeanette outlines seven core vulnerabilities that affect all members of the adoption triangle: birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees. These include loss, rejection, shame, guilt, identity, intimacy, and control. Each of these vulnerabilities paints a picture of the multifaceted challenges that those touched by adoption often face.

Jeanette Yoffe: “We all experience loss together, and for adoptive parents, they may have infertility loss.”

Reunion, a significant aspect of many adoptees’ journeys, can bring its own set of traumas. Jeanette shares her heart-wrenching experience of seeking out and eventually meeting her birth father. This encounter, filled with mixed emotions, showcases the complex nature of reunions and the secondary traumas they can evoke.

In response to her experiences, Jeanette founded the Celia Center, named after her birth mother, to support adoptees and birth parents. This community fosters understanding and provides resources to navigate the emotional terrain of adoption. Jeanette emphasizes the crucial role of mental health treatment in managing the challenges associated with adoption.

Jeanette Yoffe: “When I started writing about my story, it helped just like you’re doing your podcast. We need to recycle and make sense and process what is happening to us in order to move through the experience.”

Jeanette’s journey, as shared on Family Twist, reminds us of the profound impact adoption can have on personal identity and emotional well-being. Her courage in opening up about her experiences, coupled with her professional insights, offers hope and guidance for others navigating similar paths. As we continue to explore these stories, we gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities of adoption and the resilience of the human spirit in facing them.


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