What is “The Fog” Anyway?

inspired by a question I saw in an online adoption group:


“Coming out of The Fog” is, in part, realizing the impact that a bunch of new-found information or feelings have had and still have on you. It is understanding that adoption, your own and others’ is not a simple, single, scripted story.

Exiting from The Fog is sort of an “ah-hah!” moment in that you figure out truths you might not have considered before. It doesn’t just occur on one day. Sometimes it’s a slow reveal over time or you have a moment when you think you get it, but something new pops up, (due to what we commonly call a “trigger”), and there you go again pondering and processing once more.

While in The Fog, you might feel that regarding adoption, you have no problems with it, and neither does anyone else. Out of The Fog means you have a greater insight and awareness of your problems / concerns / feelings about adoption and the fact that other people feel in these ways as well. Also, “out of The Fog” means that you might not have all positive and endearing attitudes toward your personal adoption experience any longer nor toward the industry as a whole.

Emerging from the nebula is more intense for some people than for others. People with great childhoods can have a more heightened “unfogging” because they become critically aware of their good fortune in contrast to the suffering and level of loss experienced by others in the adoption community. It may sadden them either temporarily or forever. Hopefully with a good support system of friends or loved ones in real life, and or online, the sensations of morose or anger will be temporary.

I personally believe you can feel both grateful and joyful for the life you got with adoptive parents and still have compassion, grief, anger, etc for what you did not get to experience and for whom you did not get to meet. Once away from The Fog, you can empathize with other adoptees with diverse stories in a way you could never do prior.

When you are out of The Fog you see adoption not just through the stories and beliefs of your adoptive parents or the documentation provided by your agency, church, state or what have you. Out of The Fog is a step toward finding out who you really are as an independent, functioning human being.

The Fog is a protective barrier like glass block windows. Like those thick, strong chunks of chamfered material, The Fog can insulate you from feelings and information which might penetrate and threaten your security. The Fog has the power to alter what you perceive as reality. Having no fog may feel frightening at first and as though you’re exposed to the elements because without The Fog you have different boundaries and new freedoms to critically think and explore your beliefs on your own terms.

Freedom from an opaque point of view takes time. It might feel shocking initially, and no adoptee should ever be criticized or belittled for not fully understanding. Leaving The Fog is a process. Sensory overload will backfire. Everyone works at their own speed. Remember too that some adoptees can become unfogged and maintain similar opinions anyway. This is fine, but at least they have awareness and the educational tools to cope, accept and forage ahead in their adoptee journey.

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  • Mary Click  On January 11, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Paige, My name is Mary Click and I’m the Communications Coordinator for a journal called “Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics” that publishes personal stories from patients and healthcare providers with the aim of improving healthcare. We are looking for people to contribute to an issue called “Healthcare Challenges Faced by Adopted Persons Lacking Family Health History Information.” I wondered if you might be interested in writing? Or possibly you know of others who would be? Email me at maryclick@wustl.edu and I can give you more information. You can also visit our website and see the story call (under “submit,” then “calls for stories”): nibjournal.org.

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