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An Excerpt from Let Us Be Greater by Michelle Madrid

As an international adoptee and someone who has worked with adopted adults and youth as a life coach, I’ve identified eight adoptee pain points, places of hurt that adoptees need to heal. These pain points can cause challenges in the adoptee’s life, keeping them from a place of peace and wholeness within. Setting the course to compassionately and soulfully heal and reframe these eight primary sources of pain — transforming points of pain into points of light. The adoptee pain points are:

  1. The pain of feeling unwelcome in the world
  2. The pain of broken bonds and a deep sense of loss
  3. The pain of being denied access to truth
  4. The pain of familial rejection and of words that harm
  5. The pain of distrust
  6. The pain of banished biology
  7. The pain of pleasing others versus pleasing the self
  8. The pain of lack of transparency and acceptance

Adoptees may feel out of control and at the mercy of one, several, or all of these pain points. Our work here, together, is to transform this pain and to empower our lives as adoptees.

The motivation to transform can be found in this question:

What if this is as good as it gets?

Is this what you’re asking yourself as an adoptee about the pain you’re carrying? Do you believe that the pain will never get any better? I learned, through an exercise called the Dickens Process, to sink into a painful limiting belief and imagine what it would feel like if I was still living with it one year, three years, five years, or ten years down the road. The Dickens Process is an NLP (neurolinguistic programming) technique that guides you to use your conscious mind in identifying the consequences of a limiting belief and in deciding whether you want to continue with that belief. The essence of this exercise is based on the character Scrooge from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Scrooge is famously shown his past, his present, and what his future will look like if he doesn’t change his ways. The Dickens Process has you identify a limiting belief and then look at it in depth through the lens of three questions:

  1. What did this limiting belief cost you and your loved ones in the past? What have you lost because of this belief? See it. Hear it. Feel it.
  2. What is this limiting belief costing you and those you care about in the present? See it. Hear it. Feel it.
  3. What will this limiting belief cost you and the people you care about one year, three years, five years, or ten years down the road? See it. Hear it. Feel it.

Once you’ve dwelled on the pain of this limiting belief and experienced what it feels like to hold on to it, you will be motivated to create a new limitless belief that inspires and empowers you. Here’s my question for you:

What limiting belief is holding you back today? What if the pain you feel right now, because of this belief, is exactly how you’ll feel one year, three years, five years, or ten years down the road? Maybe you’re telling yourself, as I once did, that you’re just one of those people meant to live a life that’s smaller than the dreams you hold inside. Maybe you believe that staying quiet and concealed, as an adoptee, is how you’ll stay safe from rejection. Maybe you’re living on someone else’s terms. Are you? Are you living someone else’s narrative for your life? Are you falling in line but secretly falling apart inside? I don’t want you to feel this way — not for one more second. What would it be like for you to leave your limiting beliefs behind, once and for all, and move forward with new and limitless ones? Take time to consider the questions of the Dickens Process. It’s a game changer. It works! We’ll revisit this process in chapter 1 during a reflection exercise.

My adoptive mother once told me that I could start finding out more about my first family and my ethnicity once she was no longer around. This was a damaging comment, and it came from my own mother. The comment was based in fear, only I didn’t know that at the time. Mom was fearful of losing me, and I was petrified of being rejected by her. Neither one of us was operating from a space of unconditional love.

And so I did what my mother asked. Like a good adopted girl, I sat inside the waiting room of my own life. The only thing that grew during that time were the pain points. Like thick vines, they entangled me in fear. I felt trapped and lost. Maybe you do, too.

We’re not here, as adoptees, to live someone else’s life. We’re here to live our own lives, our big and beautiful lives! We’re here to be who we are and who we’re destined to become. We’re here to do that from the purest place of authenticity and essence.

My desire to get to the truth of me and to reignite the light within me has taken me on a transformational journey of self-discovery, self-compassion, and self-love. That journey began when I picked up a book by Louise Hay in graduate school called You Can Heal Your Life. The title didn’t say that you can heal your life — unless you’re adopted. No, it offered me the assurance that I really could heal my life, even as an adoptee. Hay’s book awakened me to a place of pure love, empowerment, and self-acceptance. I wanted to get to that place in my own way and through my own experiences. I want to help you get there, too.

My potential once seemed so limited. Today I view my potential as vast and without boundaries. I used to perceive adoption as my weakness, but now I see it as a source of my strength. I’ve traveled deep within in order to transform my life. I’ve learned to shift limiting beliefs into limitless truth. I’ll be asking you to do the same as we, adoptee to adoptee, move through the pages of this book.

You see, the pain you may be struggling with right now isn’t as good as it gets. It’s not all there is! There’s so much more awaiting you beyond the pain. Do you have the power to heal your life? Yes, I believe with all that I am that you do.

Excerpted from the book Let Us Be Greater: A Gentle, Guided Path to Healing for Adoptees ©2023 by Michelle Madrid. Printed with permission from New World Library —

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