Karl Stenske would be the first to tell you he loves his adoptive parents, they’ve provided him with a good upbringing and a good life. But for years he sensed something was amiss. It wasn’t until he began the Individualized MA program, at first intending to study TLA and motivation speaking, that he started to study adoptive laws and particularly to look at the issue of birthright: an adoptee’s right to know about his/her history. His study led to a MA thesis on “The Hidden Life of an Adopted Child,” which makes the case for how all adoptees, simply by virtue of being separated from their birth parents, suffer trauma that needs to be recognized and addressed. He writes for his presentation:
Relinquishment from one’s birth mother is a traumatic experience that has a lasting and expansive impact on an adoptee’s life. Looking through the lens of my own adoption I confront the commonly held beliefs that an infant is not impacted or aware of being given up. Attempting to counter the undermining effects of the adoption experience I look at trauma, how it functions and the need for adoptees to know, understand and have access to their birth records and cultural identity. In addressing the loss and its far reaching influence I identify how grieving is necessary and often overlooked. Finally, I will share about my development of Rationalization Therapy and how I believe it can help adoptees in their healing process.
At his presentation this week, many of us in the audience were very moved, often to tears, by how he laid out his own story of being adopted at a young age (three months) and the subsequent trauma that spoke through his life. His thesis is also focused on how, through claiming and naming the trauma and adoption and seeking appropriate help, adoptees can lead healthier lives, and Karl is also advising adoptive parents and fellow adoptees on what he learned.