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Adoption, Anxiety and Finding the Truth with Lise Laforge

Episode 58|36:15 min|

Podcast Categories: Adults, Stigma,

#OurAnxietyStories – The Anxiety Canada Podcast
#OurAnxietyStories – The Anxiety Canada Podcast
Adoption, Anxiety and Finding the Truth with Lise Laforge
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Did you know that anxiety and other mental health conditions, like schizophrenia and depression, can drastically impact the trajectory of a person’s life? 

In this episode of #OurAnxietystories, Lise Laforge reflects on her childhood and how it’s connected to her anxiety journey. At age 8, Lise was told she was adopted, which eventually led her to search for her birth mother. At 21, Lise received a call from Children’s Aid to say that they’d found her mother, but the news of her identity sparked an anxiety attack: Lise learned that her biological mother was a homeless woman she’d encountered before. She also learned that her mother had schizophrenia that went untreated for decades and had been a victim of domestic violence. Through learning about her mother, Lise gained a new understanding of homeless communities and some of the root causes of homelessness. Additionally, through therapy and speaking openly about the past, she’s learned to accept her situation and that she is “meant to be on this earth.” 

Anxiety Canada Scientific Advisory Committee member, Dr. Kyle Burns, says that this episode stresses the importance of relationships and how these can shape our anxiety. “We often describe anxiety in terms of the ‘fight-or-flight’ reflex and it certainly can be an alarm system for physical threats. But interpersonal anxiety can be just as powerful. As humans, one of our most basic needs is to belong and to connect and we often miss or give greater importance to physical needs. This is an important issue in adoption where the emotional sense of belonging and safety are just as important as food and shelter.”

Dr. Burns adds that acceptance is powerful: “John and Lise noted that anxiety is not really ‘cured’ and at the same time, they have both figured out a way to live. Acceptance can be hard to define, but I think it might be helpful for listeners to know a couple of things that acceptance is not. Acceptance is not approval, it is not saying that something is good (or bad, for that matter), and it is also not giving up. Acceptance is a sort of acknowledgement, and at the same time moving forward… How a person comes to a place of acceptance is likely going to be unique and individual, yet it’s stories like Lise’s that can give us some [guidance] on how we can get there.”  

If you have a loved one or family member who lives with a mental illness, communicating with them may be difficult. This is because mental illnesses can affect a person’s ability to concentrate or think clearly. BC Schizophrenia Society’s ‘Tips for Communicating with a Loved One who has a Mental Illness,’ is a PDF resource for youth that introduces basic tools for effective communication. This can help families and friends, and people living with mental illness, better communicate with one another. 

About the Guest 

After learning she was adopted as a child, Lise Laforge spent years looking for her birth mother, only to deal with a long struggle to accept the shocking truth that her mother was an unhoused person she’d been passing on the street for years. Now, Lise is an advocate for the homeless and the mental health challenges they often disproportionately endure. 

"I’ve just come to a realization, and ... I’ve accepted it all. I’ve accepted that I am meant to be on this earth. I’ve accepted that an unfortunate situation has happened and ... my birth mother didn’t get the help she needed."

- Lise Laforge

This podcast is brought to you by Anxiety Canada™, a leader in developing free, online self-help and evidence-based anxiety resources. For more information and resources, please visit our website and download our app, MindShift™ CBT.

Transcript

Intro: This is #OurAnxietyStories, the Anxiety Canada Podcast with John Bateman. This is the place where people from all walks of life share their anxiety stories to remind you that you are not alone. If you have an anxiety story you’d like to share, contact us at anxietycanada.com/ouranxietystories.  

John Bateman: This is John Bateman and you’re listening to Our Anxiety Stories, the Anxiety Canada Podcast, which can be found at anxietycanada.com/ouranxietystories or on any of your popular podcast platforms. 

After learning she was adopted as a child, Lise Laforge spent years looking for her birth mother, only to deal with a long struggle to accept the shocking truth that her mother was a homeless person she’d been passing on the street for years. Now, Lise is an advocate for the homeless and the mental health challenges they endure. Lise, thank you for joining me.  

Lise Laforge: Aw, thanks so much, John. I’m so happy to be here with you.  

John Bateman: It’s fabulous. I’m glad you could make it. And I would like to ask you, what’s your anxiety story?  

Lise Laforge: Yes. Okay, so let’s get started on that. So, I was born in a small northern Ontario town in the summer of 1972. A year and a half later, I was removed from my birth mother’s care and made crown ward and placed into foster care. I stayed in foster care for a little over a year. In 1974, I was adopted. I received a brand-new name. So, for the first two years of my life, I was Debbie and then I was Lise, and here I am as Lise  

John Bateman: and that stuck? 

Lise Laforge: Yeah. I was told by my adoptive mom, at eight years old, that I was adopted, but there was no conversation. There was no explanation. It was simply, “You’re adopted.” So naturally, I think like any child, I was extremely curious, and wanted to know what “adopted” meant. I wasn’t brave enough to ask anybody at all, and so I’d have to put these pieces together on my own as a child. So, I clued in that I didn’t look like anyone in my family. 

John Bateman: So, you didn’t even have a definition of what adopted was?  

Lise Laforge: No, not at all. 

John Bateman: Your parents just said, “You’re adopted”? 

Lise Laforge: Yes.  

John Bateman: And so, they may as well have said, you know, “You’re from Mars,” or something.  

Lise Laforge: That’s correct.  

John Bateman: Okay. Interesting. There was no definition given. 

Lise Laforge: Yeah, I know. It’s interesting now, as you know, as an adult and it makes no sense and in fairness to them, in those times, we didn’t talk about much of anything.  

John Bateman: So, you started kind of searching for this definition of adoption.  

Lise Laforge: Yeah, absolutely. What does this mean? And I clued in at a very early age that I didn’t really look like anyone. I had blue eyes, no one had blue eyes. And so that was kind of one of the details that kind of stuck with me. And then at 11-years-old, I found my adoption papers. My adoptive mom had them hidden in an armoire and so, when she would leave, I would sneak into this armoire, and I would read these papers over and over and over. 

And so, they stated my name change and some non-identifying information that is common for adoptees to receive. I was slowly figuring things out and putting the pieces together. But I was still young, and I still didn’t have all the pieces yet, but I kind of had this idea of what was happening. 

So, during the next few years, around 14-years-old, I continued reading them. She would continue leaving it, and it just continued being a secret. I don’t know if she ever clued in. If she did, she never said anything, because I would imagine she saw the papers were disheveled. I’m sure I didn’t place everything perfectly, or maybe the drawer wasn’t closed or the armoire door, but nothing was ever talked about. 

If she ever clued into it, nothing was said. So, in these adoption papers, there’s non-identifying information, but the name Claire was mentioned throughout these papers. And so, Claire, I learned, was the name of my birth mother. So, as a very young child, when my adoptive parents would argue, because there was some dysfunctional things happening, I remember praying that Claire would come and find me. Like, these are clear, clear, clear memories in my mind that I would just lie in bed and just pray for what I envisioned Claire to be, to just come and find me.  

John Bateman: And at this point, did you know Claire to be your birth mother? You had put that together? Or Claire was just a person that kind of was mentioned? 

Lise Laforge: Well, no, it talked about birth mother and Claire. I don’t remember the exact language, but I had put together that this woman they’re talking about, that would be my birth mother. So that was pretty clear to me. Or, you know, if it wasn’t accurate, that’s what I thought. And in the end, it was accurate. So, that worked out. So, I made this image in my mind of what she looked like, even. She had blue eyes, she was soft spoken, she was gentle. I made this entire character up in my mind. So, I would say when you ask me about my anxiety experience, I would say that by the age of 14, I was dealing now by this point with some really big feelings. 

John Bateman: Yeah, I would imagine so.  

Lise Laforge: Yeah. Some high anxiety, but it wasn’t talked about. And I’d go as far as to say that anxiety didn’t have a name either. So, the word anxiety, it didn’t exist, this word anxiety. It had no name. And so, at this point we’re in 1986. By now, my adoptive father is an alcoholic, and my adoptive parents’ divorce. I’m 14 and now we’re dealing with divorce. So, a lot happening. And it started at a really, really, really young age. At birth, really. And so, at the age of 18, when I was a legal age, I went to the children’s aid office. So now that I’m an adult, I completely see how I was far too young to make that decision on my own, but when we’re 18, we know everything. 

John Bateman: Do we ever! 

Lise Laforge: Yep, and I went to Children’s Aid and filled out the documents because I was going to start the search to find my birth mother, Claire. That was it. I was doing it. And in my mind, in my 18-year-old mind, she was going to be so happy that I did. 

There was no sense of anything other than she’s going to be happy that I did. That’s it. It was as simple as that. So, I don’t know what the process is now with adoptees when they search for their birth parents. But at the time, late eighties, early nineties, there was no plan for counseling or therapy or ongoing support while a search was being conducted by CAS. 

John Bateman: Yeah, because you had quite a wait. Three years.  

Lise Laforge: Yeah. And so, and there was no support of, you know, therapy for after the search would end. So, you fill out the documents, you sign your life away, they start the search, and you wait. And so, if you don’t have an adult in your life that’s, you know, supporting you through this. You know, I was, I was doing this on my own. So, three short years pass, I’m 21 and I receive a call from Children’s Aid, and they let me know that a match had been made. That’s typically how, I don’t know how it is now, but how it’s described. So, I answered the phone and I’m asked right away to sit down. 

John Bateman: Okay.  

Lise Laforge: They tell me that what they’re going to tell me… 

John Bateman: Red flag right there. 

Lise Laforge: They tell me that what they’re going to tell me is very difficult to hear and that they have a match in their system. And a match is a term used in adoptions when the system recognizes biological family members when they register a search. 

So, the match was clear. So, in my mind, I need to pack my bags because I’m going to visit Claire. Right. Surely, if I don’t live with her, she’s going to want me to come visit for a while, so I need to pack my suitcase. So, that’s my instant, “Yes! Okay, Perfect! You found her.” And then it’s time for me to pack my bag. So, I remember the feeling during that phone call. I remember my anxiety, which at the time I didn’t know what anxiety was. But I remember the feeling that I had. The anxiety, what it felt like, and it wasn’t anything that I had felt, even during like my childhood trauma. It was a whole other level of anxiety. 

John Bateman: So, this was a higher level of anxiety?  

Lise Laforge: Absolutely, it was. I would call it now an anxiety attack, for which now I know what it is, but I didn’t know at the time. So, this is 1993 and I’m 21 years old. I’m on the phone and the CAS worker explains to me that my birth mother suffered from schizophrenia and had been a person experiencing homelessness for decades. And the workers knew, the workers from CAS, knew her very well because they had been involved with the family for years, and small community, small town. Everyone knows everyone. So, the worker then explained to me that, so they named her, they said her first name, and that she was known as “The Bag Lady.” 

And the reason they used that term with me when describing her was so that they were sure I knew who she was, because we lived in such a small town, and everyone knew her. And so, when they said that, I remember where I was. I remember where I was standing. It was so clear to me. My heart dropped. I couldn’t see straight. I started shaking. And so that was the first of the big kind of panic attacks. Because I knew the woman they were talking about. I was petrified of her. Absolutely. 

John Bateman: Would you mind describing her a little bit in that case to kind of get an idea of what you were dealing with, when you said you knew her? 

Lise Laforge: Yeah, so I worked in a daycare, and I’d get off the bus downtown, and then I’d have to walk up the street and go to the daycare and, I don’t know why, but I felt like… So, she was a woman, “The Bag Lady,” and the reason they called her that in the community is because she had many bags. But she was a real presence. She yelled a lot. She shouted at people. And that scared me. It still scares me when people do that. And so, I was petrified, and so I would take different routes because what if I bumped into this woman? But you know, she has never hurt anyone, I’ve never heard of her hurting anyone, but just the yelling was something that I was very, very, very afraid of. 

John Bateman: Yeah, that’s concerning, yeah.  

Lise Laforge: And I always felt like I couldn’t do eye contact with her, which is very strange now to think that over. And I felt like I stuck out from the crowd, which again, is very strange because how ironic… But that’s how I felt that I can’t do eye contact with her, she’ll yell at me. And so, I would purposely not walk up certain streets. I just stayed away as much as possible.  

John Bateman: So, that all came crashing down on you as being she’s one half of your DNA. 

Lise Laforge: Yeah.  

John Bateman: How was that? How was it feeling that? 

Lise Laforge: So that took me years. That took me years. So, at this point, I’m coming to the realization, to the acceptance, that she’s not this tall, beautiful, soft-spoken woman, right? That I had imagined. There’s no suitcase for me to pack. I’m in shock and… I’m in shock. I think that’s the easiest way to put it.  

She was a woman who had suffered from domestic violence. She had schizophrenia who went untreated for decades. All of her children were removed from her care, and after losing everything is when she experienced homelessness for years. So, it’s only in my adult life that it makes sense to me now, but then, it didn’t. It was extremely hard to talk to people because I’m in my early twenties and other 21-year-olds are not understanding.  

John Bateman: They’re not going through that. Chances are they’re not going through that.  

Lise Laforge: They’re not going through it, and no one knew what to say, you know?  

John Bateman: Right. And that’s kind of indicative. If you’re having a mental health issue, you know…having anxiety, people don’t know what to say. Especially back then in the nineties. Like what you’re telling me is super common. There’s no words for anxiety and depression even back then. Let alone the extra stuff you’re going through. How much did you begin to confide and who did you confide in for support, if at all, in that case?  

Lise Laforge: This is an interesting question. Close friends, boyfriends. 

But the responses were worse. They were more painful. The responses were uncomfortable because people didn’t know what to say and the questions are uncomfortable. Oftentimes when you’re adopted, “Oh, well, you should be thankful you were adopted.” 

There’s just a lot of comments people say when you’re an adoptee and people just didn’t know how to talk about mental illness. and I didn’t know how to say the word schizophrenia, to be honest, until later on in life, I couldn’t say the word schizophrenia.  

John Bateman: 21 is still young and, and you’re still kind of hashing out who you are socially, and if you’re talking about people who live in the same small community as you, your boyfriend, or friends, they would know who she is as well, I’m assuming?  

Lise Laforge: Yeah, everyone did. Yes. Absolutely. Everyone did.  

John Bateman: So how did people approach that with you? Did that change you in anybody’s eyes, do you think? Or were you afraid that was going to affect your social standard?  

Lise Laforge: I did. I was. Very. Yeah. I had already moved away at this point. I moved away from the town around 2021. But I had many friends still from there. So, I would tell my new city friends and the responses were always the same. They were just… I don’t remember specifically what they were, but I know that they made me feel uncomfortable, whether I was talking to an adult, whether I was talking to someone my age. I had to stop talking about it. And I just started internalizing it for years. I actually felt like I was living a secret life. I didn’t even feel comfortable saying I was adopted anymore because people would have questions, because people always have questions. And then what would I say? So, I just should not even say I’m adopted. I should just leave it alone and not say anything. But that wasn’t good.  

John Bateman: Well, what you’re going through, I mean, you were facing in that era, early nineties, you’re facing a lot of real stigma—one being homelessness.  

Lise Laforge: Yeah.  

John Bateman: And mental health issues and being adopted.  

Lise Laforge: Yeah. 

John Bateman: You know, people who lead quote unquote normal lives have no idea how to speak that language or how to react.  

Lise Laforge: Mm-hmm. And nor did I.  

John Bateman: Yeah, for sure. And I guess you wouldn’t have an idea how to react and what to expect from people either.  

Lise Laforge: No. No.  

John Bateman: So, you basically suppressed this for a period of time. 

Lise Laforge: Oh, a hundred percent. By not talking about it and in starting to internalize it so young, it really set the tone from my twenties, thirties, and forties. It really set how life was going to happen in terms of my relationships. Like I just became chronically worried about people in my life leaving or dying. I would get into relationships with people who didn’t treat me well, because I don’t think I felt like I should be treated well. I don’t know. But I was extremely insecure, and I felt like I was living a secret life and that no one else could possibly be living this life. It’s just me.  

John Bateman: Do you feel like your anxiety, in this case, was probably dictating a lot of what you’re going through? Like your anxiety was kind of steering you?  

Lise Laforge: A hundred percent.  

John Bateman: So, at what point and how did you start getting that on track, you know? Did you start talking to a professional? Did you start doing homework yourself? What was your strategy when you finally decided you didn’t want to be this way?  

Lise Laforge: Yeah, I became a single mom at 27 and so you got to your stuff together.  

John Bateman: Yeah. You’re in a different sense, a survival mode in that case. 

Lise Laforge: It’s a whole other…world. And so that was my focus. That was my focus, and I had to raise her, and I had to be present and healthy, and the anxiety was obviously there, but I wasn’t even ready to speak to a therapist in my thirties because I even then thought even a therapist won’t understand and even a therapist won’t even know what to say because this story is completely impossible. Now it’s not.  

John Bateman: I will grant you that, but the story you’re telling is … 

Lise Laforge: It’s common.  

John Bateman: It’s the stuff of books though, like this … 

Lise Laforge: But it is common now.  

John Bateman: That’s what I don’t know, and that’s what, you know, I need to know.  

Lise Laforge: So now I feel like, look, all of the homeless communities that you see, these people that you see, have families, and babies, and children. So, there’s lots of me out there. There’s a lot of Lises out there. But I didn’t feel that before. I felt like alone, but now I know that that’s not the case. I have a completely different perspective on all of it, on life in general.  

John Bateman: Yeah, so quickly circling back because I feel like we skipped the part where you got help because what we’re talking about right now is you actually seeming like you started researching and getting more into advocacy for homelessness. But for yourself, before you got to that, you must have had to go through some work to get your confidence, to get your self esteem, to get yourself to the point that you felt confident to get into that. So, what was your process for that? Did you get into counseling? 

Lise Laforge: I did. So, in my forties, mid forties, I did. Not intense therapy; some talk therapy. But I’ve just come to a realization, and I’ve accepted… I’ve accepted it all. I’ve accepted that I am meant to be on this earth. I’ve accepted that an unfortunate situation has happened and someone, now we go back to my birth mother, didn’t get the help she needed, right? And so, if we look at our mental health system… so she was born in 1943. Well, in the 1940s and fifties and sixties and seventies, there was really no support. And so, how far we’ve come, but we still have so much work to do. And so, this is just very clear to me now. And so, the anxiety, it’s just something I accept. It’s almost like lights went off and I have a bigger role to play. And I have to use it in a different way. And I feel like that’s just why I’ve been put on this Earth is to do just that. It’s a strong calling within, that I just have to follow.  

John Bateman: Yeah, before we get into you getting into advocacy, I have to ask you, because I’m sure the people who are listening will want to know. Did you approach your mother in any way once you had this information? 

Lise Laforge: So, I had left already. I wasn’t in the city. Shortly after, without getting into too many details, because I don’t know the specifics, she was removed from the streets and put into a home. I was given the choice to visit her, but the choice was I could not go as me. I would have to introduce myself as a friend of a friend because it would be too traumatic for her. And at that time, I refused to do that. I didn’t want to do that, for whatever reasons. It’s hard to go back in time and know exactly where my mind was at. But I didn’t accept it, I didn’t understand any of it. I didn’t understand schizophrenia. I still didn’t feel comfortable even saying the words schizophrenia. Now I say it, you know? But at that time, and so…and then she passed away in 2002. So, I never did, and I don’t know if it would’ve been good to go, if it would’ve helped me. My memory is of her is seeing her on the streets and being afraid, but at the same time, because I was provided a lot of information, more than many adoptees from Children’s Aid, I have a real clear picture of what happened. There was a worker from Children’s Aid who was retiring and who had worked the file for 20 to 30 years, and she compiled a lot of information. And it’s paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of her being admitted into the psychiatric ward and discharged and into the psychiatric and discharged. And so, I have a very clear image of what happened… I’ve really just, I’ve naturally somehow come to terms with it all. And it just doesn’t feel painful. So, my anxiety will be with me forever, and I’m fully aware of that. 

John Bateman: That’s me too. And I think that’s one of the big keys for people with anxiety is to not search for a cure. And I know that sounds desperate, but that’s not true. That’s not true. 

Lise Laforge: And I have been there.  

John Bateman: There’s acceptance, right? And it’s like acceptance for you of the fact that your mother was who she was. You must have to accept it and move on with a functioning life at some point. 

Lise Laforge: Yes. And I actually have come to a point in life that I see her in such a different way. Like such a strong, incredibly strong, resilient woman and the pain she endured is beyond anything I will ever endure.  

John Bateman: Well, that’s one of the things I wanted to ask you. It’s good that you mentioned that because I wanted to ask you. You have a lot of emotions tied up in your mother, and the first emotion that I heard you telling me about was that of fear. Even though you didn’t know who she was at the time, it was a fear of this person. What was your progression of emotions like, because obviously you’ve landed to a place of deep caring and empathy and all these different warm emotions for your mother. What was that trajectory of emotions like for you? Did you go through anger?  

Lise Laforge: I didn’t. 

John Bateman: How did that progress for you from that shock of initially finding out who she was? How was that transition?  

Lise Laforge: It was educating myself on mental illness, and educating myself on what schizophrenia is, and what bipolar is, and what OCD is, and just really educating myself and understanding how someone could become homeless. And how when someone doesn’t have an advocate and how our mental health system can fail people, and if they don’t follow up with their appointments. It is also clear to me how it can all happen. And so, it’s clear as day, and I just have a really good understanding, but I didn’t go through anger.  

I feel more sadness. So, for instance I’ve told you where I live. We don’t have a big presence of a homeless community, but we have some. And when I walk by someone who’s experiencing homelessness, every time my heart sinks. I don’t just walk by. It exhausts me because I feel so much, and my mind starts to race. “Oh, I wonder what their story is. I wonder how they ended up here. I wonder what they need. What can I do? Is there anything I can do? Oh, I wonder if their mom’s worried. I wonder if their sister’s worried. Oh, I wonder what they’ve been through. I wonder what they went through. I wonder if it started when they were a child or teenager. Oh, I wonder…” 

And it’s a lot, it’s constant.  

John Bateman: Yeah. Most people don’t see them as human, I would imagine.  

Lise Laforge: And that’s real, and so I have a hard time with that, because I’ll walk by so many people that are just quickly walking by, and I can’t seem to understand how we can just walk over them or walk around them. And how we can allow this to happen in 2022. And so, it doesn’t make sense to me. And so that’s kind of what I’m dealing with now is the “I’m only one person, like, what can I do?” You know? I can use my voice and I can try and raise awareness. So, I’m working through all of those feelings.  

John Bateman: So that’s what you do as an advocate. That what you do. You just find as many ears as you can and talk about it… like on this podcast for example. 

Lise Laforge: Absolutely. Because I think, had I had access to support earlier on, my life would’ve been very different, on so many levels. And the thought of others not reaching out for support – at an earlier age or later on in life – I just would love for anybody to just hear the message, to reach out for help. It’s life changing, and the earlier you do it, the better. And there are services now and there’s the internet now. There’s just so much available. And be an advocate if you can, and if you know people who are struggling, meet advocates.  

John Bateman: Well, through this, this podcast, I meet a lot of advocates and it’s heartening that I meet a lot of young people now, because I’m with you. Like, you know, your anxiety would’ve been best addressed when you were 8, 9, 10, 11 years old. It wasn’t. I’m curious, when you got into researching schizophrenia, bipolar, and that kind of thing, how did that help you understand your emotions and, and how to deal with how to deal with your emotions? 

Lise Laforge: So initially, the fear struck me because what if I have schizophrenia?  

John Bateman: For sure, would be the first thing a lot of people would think, because there is a genetic link.  

Lise Laforge: Well, I have no symptoms that I know of. What if I don’t know it and everyone else sees it and no one’s saying anything. So, I went through this whole other level of stress of the what ifs; What if it hits me later? What if I become someone experiencing homelessness? and what if and what if and what if and what if?  

I went through that. I don’t go through that anymore. Well, I shouldn’t say that. I think we all do with the cost of living.  

John Bateman: Oh yeah. Well, that’s a different story. The recession’s a different story, isn’t it?  

Lise Laforge: Yes. I’m going to lose my job, but I feel much…’ Yeah, no. But I did go through the “What if I have it?” at the same time. “Okay, Lise, but if you do, you’ll be fine, because you’ll reach out for help. You’ll do this, you’ll educate yourself. You’ll go on medication. You can live a happy, healthy life but you have to get the support.” Initially, that wasn’t the case, but I’ve just learned that so many people we know are struggling with it and you don’t know they are. 

John Bateman: Exactly. Yeah. It sounds like because, you know, people talk a lot about their inner child. And, in this case your inner child is, you know, maybe it’s different the way you see it, but I’m looking at your inner child, sort of being that eight-year-old. So, what’s really wonderful about the way you deal with that “What if?” thinking is definitely the fact that you think, how would I treat that younger version of myself now? And, and it’s exactly the same way. You know, it’s with empathy, it’s with education, it’s with support, it’s with speaking out and using your voice on this podcast. It’s the kind of thing where we want to connect with people, and we will connect with people who have gone through very similar things to you because being adopted is an identity crisis enough for a lot of people and it sounds to me like your whole circumstance you went through has given you a profound sense of purpose and a profound sense of being here. 

Lise Laforge: I don’t know how this sounds to someone else, but I am thankful for it all. I am saddened beyond anything that there had to have been suffering, specifically for Claire, because I still can’t even come to terms with that amount of suffering. You lose one child. Like, I can’t wrap my head around it. But I’m so thankful that I’m here, I’m 50 years old and I’m talking. I’m an introvert, you know. I’m talking about it, and I’m thankful for the experience. I’m thankful that I have the empathy and you know, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t relate to everyone’s pain. I feel like I relate to people’s pain on so many different levels, from people who have divorced parents to people who are adopted… so many different levels. And I just feel like that’s a blessing.  

John Bateman: Yeah. It’s good because looking at it as a blessing, I know people who get a lot into feeling it so deeply that it begins to profoundly affect their life. They don’t become a functioning person because they are so tied up in this grief or all these things that happened to them and the cycle mistakenly continues. And so somewhere along the line you realized – maybe you didn’t realize – but you used it. You used it. Because that’s where I am with my mental health. I’ve gone through really horrific times of my life, and I just started learning first of all, I’m always going to have it, and second of all, how can I figure out a way to let people know, just like you’re doing, that they’re not alone, and to reach out for help when it’s there. 

Lise Laforge: A hundred percent. A hundred percent. Yeah, you just summed it up. Exactly.  

John Bateman: Your story is absolutely amazing. I, I really appreciate you sharing, you know, how you have navigated through this to be, to have it defined you in such a positive way and to let people understand that they can have their life defined by this kind of adversity as well. 

Lise Laforge: Absolutely.  

John Bateman: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me, Lise.  

Lise Laforge: Thanks so much, John.  

John Bateman: Okay. Take care. Bye 

Outro: Thank you for listening to #OurAnxietyStories. If you’d like to support this podcast or Anxiety Canada, go to AnxietyCanada.com