What does it take to be a winner? Greg Louganis was a five-time Olympic medalist but he did not feel like a winner because he was missing something very important.
Greg was placed in foster care at birth and adopted when he was 9 months old by Frances and Peter Louganis. As a child, he had very limited information about his biological parents. He felt abandoned and unlovable, and as a result, he acted out. He told People, “I’d always felt like if my natural parents couldn’t love me, then nobody could. I internalized that and went through a horrible rebellion. I was out of control and I wouldn’t let anyone in.”
This can be a very common feeling for people who have been adopted. If you had a closed adoption or have limited information about your biological parents, questions may arise: Why did they place me for adoption? Did they love me? Do I have any of their characteristics? According to Brooke Randolph, LMHC, there are core emotional issues that may result in adoption: loss/grief, rejection/abandonment, guilt/shame, identity, intimacy, control, and fear. Greg had feelings of rejection and loss; he stated he needed to know why he was placed for adoption. He needed to learn how to allow others to love him and overcome his fear that he was placed for adoption because his biological parents didn’t love him.
When Greg was a little older, he and his parents reached out to the adoption agency and were told he was placed for adoption because his biological parents were very young. The agency lost a lot of their paper files in a fire so they were only able to provide minimal information.
With that slight encouragement, he was able to focus on his diving and became an Olympic diver and medalist. What he didn’t know was that his biological father and half- siblings were following his career. After one of his diving events, Greg was told his biological father was there to meet him. Greg was shocked and amazed. Greg stated, “It was pretty amazing, but I was stunned. It wasn’t until I was on the plane to L.A that I started to have questions.”
Greg continued his contact with his biological father and also started communicating with his half-siblings. They let Greg know about a family reunion they were planning and invited Greg to come and meet more of his biological family. Greg stated it best: “I have family there. It’s an incredible gift that I’ve been given.”