Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Trauma of Being Adopted


Lorraine
While adoptive parents like Scott Simon present the happy-dappy point of view about adoption and the effects it is not likely to have on his children, there are experts who disagree quite radically. And as a first/birth mother I have been reading, thinking and writing about the myriad issues my daughter, relinquished in 1966, faced, and the host of problems stemming from them. Though Jane had epilepsy and always considered that her greatest cross to bear, there was more going on in her inner turmoil and unhappiness.

Copyright 2010 Lorraine Dusky 

"Though she wasn’t conscious of what was going on around her when my daughter was a baby, the uproar in her life started the day I did not go to her in the hospital. Even though she would have been in an incubator, on the other side of a glass wall, I would have been there. I would have been available to hold her when the time came to hold her close. I…but instead of bonding with a mother who smelled and sounded like the mother she knew from the inside, there were only strangers, people not familiar, with a different heartbeat, different smells, different sounds. After Jane was released from the hospital, the social worker I dealt with, Helen Mura, told me she spent about ten days in a nursery at the agency. 
Then the Zimmmermans took her home. In America where adoption today seems to be lurking in every family, around every corner, we tend to think of newborns as "new" and their caregivers fungible, as long as their basic needs are met. But as pediatrician and author T. Berry Brazelton has noted: "…the neonate is really the culmination of an amazing experience that has lasted forty weeks." I’ve taken the quote from the first chapter of Primal Wound, a primer for many adoptees written by Nancy Newton Verrier, a psychologist who specializes in adoption and is the mother of two daughters: one adopted, one not. "Many doctors and psychologists now understand that bonding doesn’t begin at birth, but is a continuum of physiological, psychological and spiritual events which begin in utero and continue throughout the post natal bonding period." she writes. "When this natural evolution is interrupted by a postnatal separation from the biological mother, the resultant experience of abandonment and loss is indelibly imprinted upon the unconscious minds of these children, causing that which I call the primal wound." [1]
Some adoptees and first mothers object to this concept of a primal wound, but there is enough research now to indicate that adoptees do have certain psychological issues that the rest of us do not, and they sometimes become pathological. Friends of ours have a son who went through a rough patch during high school and ultimately he ended up at a boarding school for troubled kids. What he’s said was unusual about his being there was that he was neither adopted nor from a broken home. Another friend’s adopted daughter did end up in an expensive "school of scoundrels," as she called it, the place was rife with adoptees. 
Yes, that’s only anecdotal evidence, but 'the number of adoptees in the adolescent and young-adult clinics and residential treatment centers is strikingly high,' notes B.J. Lifton. [2] 'Doctors from the Yale Psychiatric Institute and other hospitals that take very sick adolescents have told me they are discovering that from one-quarter to one-third of their patients are adopted. A great many of these young people are in serious trouble with the law and are drug addicted. The girls show an added history of nymphomania and out-of-wedlock pregnancy, almost as if they were acting out the role of the ‘whore mother.'"
Fighting words, there, and you can’t write them without an army of people objecting, adoptees, adoptive parents, friends of relatives of adoptees and adoptive parents who know adopted people who have never broken the speed limit and got all As in school. I know some of them myself. To them I say, Hats off! But I can only write here what it was like to know and love Jane. Delve into the growing library about adoptee psychology and you will come upon the word healing millions of times. Healing. Expect to be sad,' [3] Robert Anderson wrote in his excellent memoir, Second Choice: Growing Up Adopted. My daughter? She was eternally sad. And is not that a wound? A primal wound?"
Second Choice: Growing Up AdoptedAnd then this arrived in the Huffington Post a couple of weeks ago. Sally Maslansky, a marriage and family therapist, wrote about a premature twin thought to be born dead was brought to the parents, David and Kate Ogg, for them to say goodbye. He was held by his mother, Kate Ogg, for two hours...and after that time opened his eyes. In an interview on the Today show, Mrs. Ogg talked about holding her baby skin to skin, stroking him, calling his name, letting him know his twin sister was safe. Mrs. Ogg said: 
...they come out of you and all of a sudden there isn't the warmth or the smell of their mother or the sound of her heartbeat and so putting him back on my chest was as close as he could have been to being inside of me where he was last safe.
"Recently I was with a group of adoptive families," writes Maslansky. "Many had adopted their children well beyond birth and were discussing some of the wounds their children suffered as a result of living in orphanages or in the foster system. Some of the parents of children adopted at birth expressed that they did not believe their children had suffered any kind of trauma since they were present at their child's birth. My hope is that Kate and David Ogg's story of baby Jamie will help adoptive parents of all aged children recognize and honor the traumatic nature of any child being taken away from its mother at birth. I believe many adopted children long suffer the early trauma of this for years as many of their adoptive parents do not recognize such separation from their birth mother's as having any impact on their children." 

Maybe at last, the thoughts and feelings that we have instinctively known about giving birth and bonding are making it into the real world of medicine and mental health. But then along comes someone as delusional as Scott Simon appears to be, and a whole new generation of adopting parents accept his words as gospel truth and look away from the growing body of evidence to the contrary. Alas, while a good and loving home can change a great deal, while adoption of some sort will always be necessary in the real world, being taken away from your mother at birth and handed over to genetic strangers will always register, on some level, as a violent trauma.

After reading some of the comments posted here, I have myself added this comment and wish to add it to the post so that new readers will see it: 

I too thought about the "nymphomania" reference because it sounds so dated; today the phrase is "sex addition" and we hear a lot more about men seeking such treatment (Rob TV actor whose name escape me...not Rob Morrow, Tiger Woods), but my sense is that the stats still lead to both boys and girls having more deviant behavior, and promiscuity, both male and female, is a part of that. And it is likely that it is related to a desire for intimacy that they feel has been lacking in their lives, for whatever reason. I kept the quote as is because it is in BJ's revised edition of Lost & Found. Nymphomania, which just targets girls...is a sexist term.

As for the stats above about adoptees in the military, I am not surprised, but I would relate the motive to sign up to those individuals feeling unconnected to their adoptive families, and so seek a sense of belonging elsewhere, not to any more sinister reasons. One of the coolest guys I know is an adoptee/comedy writer (at one time for Letterman) who felt totally alienated from his uptight parents; when he found his biological family he found that his siblings were all in the entertainment business, one way or another. BTW, he was raised in Chicago but his family was in Canada and the connection to them was made through some official person who found them for him. Took years, he told me, due to number of cases and lack of funding for it. He met his mother before she died; I'd say he is a accomplished, successful family guy.

So understand that while I believe that adoption is a traumatic event in the life of an infant, of course not all individuals react the way the ones who makes up the troubling stats do. One more thing: All too often I think what some adoptive parents see as "troubled," would not be considered unusual behavior in the family from the same genetic pool. And so more kids from adoptive families end up at schools for troubled kids, etc.

And thanks Tamara for the clarification about the adoptees who become serial killers; I had a sense that their upbringing was far from the normal family, but had not seen those figures. Can you give us the source, for future reference?
______________________________
[1] Nancy Newton Verrier, The Primal Wound(Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1991), p.1. 
[2]B.J. Lifton, Lost & Found: The Adoption Experience (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009, Third Ed.) p. 45-46. Lifton adds that it is as if both sexes are experimenting with identities that seem to be related to fantasies about their biological parents. “The debate continues over the source of these maladjustments—the strain of being adopted, the adoptive parents’ unresolved conflicts about infertility, or intrauterine disturbances—and doctors now admit the need for long-term studies,” she adds. “It is encouraging that research is beginning to take place in various clinics around the country.”
[3] Robert Anderson, M.D., Second Choice: Growing Up Adopted(Badger Hill Press, 1993), p.160. Anderson’s personal odyssey centers around recognizing that being adopted is different from not being adopted, and that everyone benefits—adoptee and adoptive parents—if this is openly recognized from the start.

84 comments :

  1. BEAUTIFUL! This is something that is in psychology journals world wide - I am soooo glad you posted it!

    I would love to link this to the EDU blog - it is perfect!

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  2. Yes - being adopted is a trauma. My adoption was finalized 3 days after birth. (Go ahead - ask me how that's legal.) Anyway, it's not something I have ever "gotten over" and I'm now 34 yrs old. I can't discuss my adoption or my feelings with anyone in either of my families (adopted or biological) without someone either telling me that I'm ridiculous, selfish, ungrateful or mental. If I ever do bring it up, I'm always told that "it's the same thing with you" or I'm asked, "Why can't you just get over it?" I hate being adopted. I really really do. I'm caught in the middle and I don't belong anywhere. Being adopted is a trauma that NEVER heals, NEVER goes away and NEVER stops hurting. People planning to adopt, or those thinking about surrendering, should try to imagine living day to day in constant, emotional pain that there is no magic pill for. Would you want to live that way? If not, then think about inflicting that pain on someone else FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. Can you live with that?

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  3. Just me wrote what I would have written.

    "..think about inflicting that pain on someone else FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. Can you live with that?"

    Adopters CAN live with that. It's not their pain. They got the prize- a stranger's baby.

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  4. A close relative joined a support group for parents of children in drug rehab back in the 80's. The number of parents whose children were adopted was striking. Some bemoaned their fate. "I didn't sign up for this when I adopted!"

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  5. "The girls show an added history of nymphomania and out-of-wedlock pregnancy, almost as if they were acting out the role of the ‘whore mother.'"

    Whew. Is this actually being touted as evidence-based? Is this actually relevant to adoption across the board? Funny because statistics say my daughter was surrendered by a married couple in their middle to late child bearing years. DD hasn't got any context for this. None. I suggest this is some weird upper east side or west side or poo poo side that is being speculated about and has little basis in scientific reality as something necessarily related to adoption.

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  6. I'm an admirer of BJ, but I too found the reference to "nymphomania, etc . . . " disturbing.
    Especially on a first mother blog.

    And frankly, I don't see how any of this relates to adoption. I'm really happy for the family, but it wasn't a "miracle" because the baby wasn't dead.
    I'm not knocking "kangaroo care" which I'm sure has all sort of value. But this baby may equally well have been revived by other means. We just don't know. I just hope he hasn't sustained permanent brain damage.

    Another report:
    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/health-news/2010/08/27/amazing-story-of-mum-who-cradled-and-nursed-dead-newborn-son-back-to-life-86908-22517389/

    "The doctor who delivered Jamie refused to be interviewed."
    With good reason, I'm thinking.
    He has a lot to be concerned about.

    Kippa

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  7. I can only share my own personal experience with my found son who exhibits so many of the characterics of someone suffering from a primal wound. He got involved with drugs at an early age - 14 actually. He was sent to military boarding school because he was so difficult to handle.

    He shared with me early in our reunion 20 years ago, that he knew he was a disappointment to his adoptive father. To make up for this I suppose his adoptive mother seems to go out of her way to triangulate between the two of them. He is now 43 years old and has never stopped using drugs, can't hold a job or keep a relationship with a woman. He is truly a tortured soul.
    Yet to meet him, initially people note how intelligent and charming he is.

    I can't imagine what else might have caused his many issues but the trauma of having been taken from his mother and adopted by strangers. Verrier's work makes a lot of sense to me.

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  8. You'll find also that there are an above average number of adoptees in the army and forces.Dare say the violent movies soldiers are shown while they sit in tanks to psyche them up for killing don't help those adoptees much either!
    While adopters clearly still do not like to think adoption causes damage, it does..the removal from the mother and adoption itself.
    That damage lasts us for life.We may lead successful, fulfilled lives but it's always there to pop up and haunt us.It's always there to need dealing with, the legacy is there to be passed on to our children, however much we work on it and however much recovery we achieve.
    Those adopters who don't believe they "signed up for this when they adopted" were misled by the adoption industry and by their own desires and wishes.
    I thought 'nymphomaniacs' had died out in real life and certainly here in Australia the concept of the 'out-of -wedlock' baby is about as stale as last week's bread.It doesn't mean though that some female adoptees may have issues about their sexuality, their self-image, empowerment and feelings of self-worth. worth.Particularly when we're talking about those raised in any country where some adopters have very strict religious codes and expectations.
    On a lighter note it took me 50 years of driving to get that first speeding ticket!!

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  9. @O Solo Mama - actually the statistics are right on - sorry. But statistics are not the whole story - so maybe you have no frame of reference...facts are still facts.

    I think that far too many would like to believe that it is impossible since they have no experience or their children have no experience like those described. But like everything else, it does not mean it is not true -

    So sorry to tell you that it is totally correct - do the research and you would be amazed.

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  10. @OSoloMama - on second thought - just do the research. One thing that is absolutely true is that more adoptees end up in some form of mental health clinic at some point in life; more adoptees end up with specific mental health problems. This is specifically a point of interest in the mental health field and the research is solid.

    Your daughter may not have a frame of reference, according to you, but the fact is that she is (if I remember correctly) very young. Time is a huge tattle tale - and as I tell my own daughter - your time is coming.

    The biggest part of the adoption issue is that of denial on the adoptive parents part. Remember your words - by the way the references were a bit derogatory and unnecessary to the comment - when your daughter is older, much different than now and consider that no matter what you think - children do change as they grow and the teen years are filled with potholes.

    Good luck.

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  11. Last year when ARD had their protest in Philly, there was some sort of "boarding school for troubled kids" booth set up next to our booth.

    I laughed at the irony. Of course I asked how many of their students were adoptees, and the representative smiled and said "Too many".

    @osolomama:
    Many adoptees turn to sex for intimacy...although I do not think it is an "I wanna be like her" thing. It doesn't matter what we were told about our f Moms. We lost her. THAT is the issue. Whether we were told she was a whore, a student, a married woman or a rock star really doesn't matter...we lost her. THAT is the issue.

    This behavior has EVERYTHING to do with adoption. We lost the natural bond with our Mothers. That bond cannot be replaced by our A Moms. It is impossible.

    The intimacy that was lost with our First Mothers through adoption leads MANY adoptees to promiscuity, alcohol, drugs, etc.

    This is nothing new.

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  12. I think the author of this piece had to assume a lot and twist a bit to relate the original story of a very premature baby thought dead then revived, to adoption. It is wonderful that medical malpractice (for surely the parents in the story would have a case for that) did not win out, and that mother's love persisted and saved the child.

    But it is a huge stretch to say that this proves primal wound theory or has anything to do with adoption. Most of us had healthy full-term babies. Yes, babies benefit from skin to skin contact after birth, but very few babies got that in the 40s and 50s when few moms breastfed, and all babies were whisked away to a nursery as soon as they were born. So, is a whole generation primally wounded?

    As to Von's comment about above average numbers of adoptees in the military "psyched up" by violent movies (on top of their already violent tendencies??) the last I heard the military was an honorable choice of career, not a refuge for mentally ill killers. That comment is just plain insulting to our men and women in uniform.

    Just stating my opinion which I know is in the minority and will be met with outrage. No, I do not think adoption does not cause emotional problems, it does. I just question whether primal wound is the root of these real and painful problems.

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  13. I have never denied that adoptees face additional challenges—and my daughter is a teenager, by the way, not “very young”. What I dispute is that every adoption is the same or that problems are universal, which seems to be a popular mantra around here. Even if adoptees are more likely than the non-adopted to face certain risks, most adoptees have positive outcomes depending on how you want to measure that. That too is written in the science. Check it out yourselves:

    Mental Health in International Adoptees as Teenagers and Young Adults. An Epidemiological Study 2003

    Behavior problems and mental health contacts in adopted, foster, and nonadopted children. 1999

    Behavior Problems and Mental Health Referrals of International Adoptees: A Meta-analysis 2005

    Statistics say my daughter was likely relinquished by a married couple in the middle to late childbearing years because that is the most typical situation in China. That is a fact, and one that has been documented. The reason I offered up this information is that it appears to contradict the notion of girl adoptees having a greater risk for “nymphomania and out-of-wedlock pregnancy, almost as if they were acting out the role of the ‘whore mother.'”

    The narrative doesn't even fit. This is somebody's personal interpretation (and a somewhat offensive one, IMO) and not science.

    Any of you who know my blog you know that I do not discount the loss experienced by adoptees, so don't try that on me. The losses are real and the risks are there.

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  14. Just an observation: "Experiencing an adoptee" and "The experience of being an adoptee" are two entirely different experiences. I am NOT negating anyone's experiences.

    I would hope people would exercise care in the use of "statistics", particularly the sensational ones, so as not to perpetuate stereotypes. Those stereotypes seem to fall into two distinct categories. Either we are robotic-rainbow adoptees with absolutely no ill effects felt from the single most traumatic experience of our lives, or we are slavering serial killers, stalking our natural families for revenge and offing our adoptive families for the inheritance. (or ungrateful nympho-drug addicted burdens on society) To use the serial killer stereotype to make a point, here are the statistics. Adoptees represent 2-3% of the population, yet 16% of known serial killers are adoptees. Pretty big disparity in #'s, so looking at that sentence alone, we could make a lot of assumptions. BUT, if we dig a little deeper into that statistic and do some research and critical thinking, we find this. 90% of "killer adoptees" experienced horrific, unimaginable abuse at the hands of their adopters. The other 10%? Equals about 2-3% of the serial killer population. Interesting.

    I'm glad that people are studying and talking about adoption finally, really, I am. I would love to see the studies about delayed, chronic, disenfranchised grief. Studies about the effects that has on the human body? The human psyche? Studies about how many adoptees spend their lives struggling with untreated attachment disorders, inability to bond, trust etc. The truth is, most of us suit up and show up for life every day, contribute to society, love our children, and keep going as best we can. I would like to see the statistics regarding unrealized potential, and perceptions about quality of life from adoptees. Those are the most widespread epidemic problems that I have encountered in my interactions with other adoptees and my own experience. That and the disenfranchisement of our experience.

    The ACLU would love to take some sensational stats and lay them right on top of their imaginary pile of anonymous "bword"mother letters. Use them to make the point that these mothers are scared and need to have their "confidentiality" protected.

    Even the much revered Nancy Verrier is not an adoptee, she is an adopter. I also have found her work to be useful and supportive, BUT she doesn't speak for me. She has "experienced an adoptee" not had the experience of being an adoptee.

    Respectfully,

    Tamara Whitmore

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  15. Hi everyone following this discussion:

    I too thought about the "nymphomania" reference because it sounds so dated; today the phrase is "sex addition" and we hear a lot more about men seeking such treatment (Rob TV actor whose name escape me...not Rob Morrow, Tiger Woods), but my sense is that the stats still lead to both boys and girls having more deviant behavior, and promiscuity, both male and female, is a part of that. And it is likely that it is related to a desire for intimacy that they feel has been lacking in their lives, for whatever reason. I kept the quote as is because it is in BJ's revised edition of Lost & Found. Nymphomania, which just targets girls...is a sexist term.

    As for the stats above about adoptees in the military, I am not surprised, but I would relate the motive to sign up to those individuals feeling unconnected to their adoptive families, and so seek a sense of belonging elsewhere, not to any more sinister reasons. One of the coolest guys I know is an adoptee/comedy writer (at one time for Letterman) who felt totally alienated from his uptight parents; when he found his biological family he found that his siblings were all in the entertainment business, one way or another. BTW, he was raised in Chicago but his family was in Canada and the connection to them was made through some official person who found them for him. Took years, he told me, due to number of cases and lack of funding for it. He met his mother before she died; I'd say he is a accomplished, successful family guy.

    So understand that while I believe that adoption is a traumatic event in the life of an infant, of course not all individuals react the way the ones who makes up the stats do. One more thing: All too often I think what some adoptive parents see as "troubled," would not be considered unusual behavior in the family from the same genetic pool. And so more kids from adoptive families end up at schools for troubled kids, etc.
    And thanks Tamara for the clarification about the adoptees who become serial killers; I had a sense that their upbringing was far from the normal family, but had not seen those figures. Can you give us the source, for future reference?

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  16. "Nymphomania" is a patriarchial construct to pathologize female sexuality. The concept was debeunked years ago. And what exactly is deviancy? It's whatever somebody wants to think it is. Is oral sex deviant? It is to some people How about leather? One persons' deviance is another persons normal.

    As long as crap like this continues to be out there, the harder it is for adoptaees to gain full status in US society. Baby bonding is junk science.

    BTW, simply living in the US makes people insane.

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  17. @Osolomama:

    "What I dispute is that every adoption is the same or that problems are universal, which seems to be a popular mantra around here. Even if adoptees are more likely than the non-adopted to face certain risks, most adoptees have positive outcomes depending on how you want to measure that. That too is written in the science."

    Of course, no two adoptions are the same. But they are ALL EXACTLY THE SAME IN ONE ASPECT- the adoptee lost their first Mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, heritage, etc. Every adoption starts with an enormous loss to the adoptee.

    We can all find studies that will support how WE think or feel, and say, "See....it's true!" But if you throw them all against the wall and see what sticks, the things that stick are pretty much universal. Adoption is traumatic, and that trauma manifests itself in many different ways.

    I was the text-book adoptee, I still am. (as far as behaviors "MOST" adoptees exhibit)

    DESPITE my adoption, I am a very successful woman with a "positive outcome". DESPITE losing my first family, my culture, my identity, my traditions...and on some days, my sanity...I am happy.

    And what exactly IS a "positive outcome"? That an adoptee did not end up in a loony bin? That an adoptee is not in jail? That the ap's did not abandon their adoption ala Tedaldi?

    I feel it is necessary for ap's to know that these things (alcohol/drug issues, promiscuity, theft, rage issues, depression, problems keeping healthy relationships, etc) DO happen, and they frequently happen.

    Yes, "non-adoptees" can have these issues, too, but that is not the point, nor is it relevant. Adoptees have the same core issue- the loss of their first Mother and are being raised by strangers.

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  18. Thanking Osolo Mama and Kippa for bringing some more alternative views into this discussion.

    Also thanking Tamara for a reasoned and informative post and for further information on adopted serial killers. Aren't such people generally considered psychopaths or sociopaths, serial killers being the most extreme manifestation? I am not surprised that horrific childhood abuse plays a part in most of their lives. And the others, who were not abused, adopted or not, I do not think there is yet a consensus on what makes them psychopathic and dangerous. Some theories involve faulty brain chemistry, but I do not think a definitive answer has been reached.

    I too am tired of the stereotypes of good adoptee surrounded by rainbows and adoptee killer psychos. Most of the adoptees I know are just ordinary people, with some extra pain and difficulty due to adoption and secrets and lies, but leading ordinary mostly good lives.

    Those abused by either adoptive or biological parents have a whole extra layer of trauma beyond adoption, and that is important to understand.

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  19. "Of course, no two adoptions are the same. But they are ALL EXACTLY THE SAME IN ONE ASPECT- the adoptee lost their first Mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, heritage, etc. Every adoption starts with an enormous loss to the adoptee."

    Linda, if you read what I said, I already stated that.

    "And what exactly IS a "positive outcome"?

    That's why I said--however you choose to measure that. Each study measured it in slightly different ways. I take no credit for what was measured. If you think they used the wrong measure, you should write to the authors involved and explain why you get it and they don't.

    "We can all find studies that will support how WE think or feel, and say, "See....it's true!" But if you throw them all against the wall and see what sticks, the things that stick are pretty much universal. Adoption is traumatic, and that trauma manifests itself in many different ways."

    Well, that just about covers everything, doesn't it? Convenient.

    "I feel it is necessary for ap's to know that these things (alcohol/drug issues, promiscuity, theft, rage issues, depression, problems keeping healthy relationships, etc) DO happen, and they frequently happen."

    What's frequently? What is the source of the claim that adoptees are "frequently" alcoholics, drug users, sex addicts, thieves, angry, sad people, or relationship dunces?

    BD, backatcha.

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  20. Osolo, just to clarify, we do not think that every adoption ends up with a deviant personality, or that they are all the same, but since that population is somewhat skewed, that is what we write about. And if also could be genetics at work, let's consider that....it's always a number of factors, not one single thing...but...being adopted is one factor. That is all I am saying in my post.

    I don't think all the adopted kids who end up with problems had parents who were not good parents. I am aware of the studies that you reference; I think we've posted some, or some like them, at FMF in the past.

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  21. from Maryanne:

    "tired of the stereotypes of good adoptee surrounded by rainbows and adoptee killer psychos. Most of the adoptees I know are just ordinary people, with some extra pain and difficulty due to adoption and secrets and lies, but leading ordinary mostly good lives.

    Right on. I agree completely. We just disagree, I think, on the depth of the impact of being relinquished, adopted by genetic strangers, and,ahem, what to call it.

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  22. Lorraine, I am glad you agree with that statement. I agree with it too.

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  23. Linda says:"I feel it is necessary for ap's to know that these things (alcohol/drug issues, promiscuity, theft, rage issues, depression, problems keeping healthy relationships, etc) DO happen, and they frequently happen."

    It is necessary for ALL parents to know these things can happen, and is also one more good reason for adoptive parents and adoptees to know their genetic and medical history. There is a strong hereditary component to both a tendency towards depression and addiction/alcoholism. They run in my family, and I consider my raised sons and surrendered sons equally at risk and needing to know this. I have read that there is a hereditary component to peronality disorders that can lead to criminal behavior as well. None of these things have one simple cause, but a combination of factors acting together.

    Yes, all adoptees lost a lot, parents, heritage, extended natural family. But there is no proof that this loss is the cause of all the ills that adopted people might suffer. It is one factor but there are many others from both heredity and environment.

    Once again, correlation does not equal causation.

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  24. So, if you're adopted you get to blame everything that goes wrong in your life on being adopted? Is that how it works? There are plenty of messed up kids and they don't get to blame their behavior on being adopted. Most teens (and adults) have issues with their parents...being biologically related to someone doesn't make things better. There is no magic bond. Life can suck, adopted or not. If one was never told they were adopted they wouldn't have that excuse as a scapegoat for their behavior or unhappiness.

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  25. You fall in love and spend your life with someone to whom you are not related. You have an extremely close bond with your best friend, someone to whom you are not related. You could easily love and care for your friend's children or your nieces and nephews. It's easy to love a child. So why is it so unimaginable that there is no bonding in an adoptive family?

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  26. Dear Anonymous:

    Your two comments seem like one.

    And whoever said there is no bonding in adoptive families? No one. And who ever said that kids who are not adopted don't get into trouble or stop speaking to their parents? No one.

    I think it would be more honest if you were able to say that you are an adoptive parent, for you sound like one.

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  27. Lorraine~
    I am actually a birthmom. And I've realized that while looking for some comfort that coming to this site is not at all healthy for me.

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    Replies
    1. Well being an adoptee who has very loving adoptive parents, yet still feels like a tortured soul & has abandonment issues. Oh & also turned to drugs & alcohol (alto is 8 yrs sober now) I think birthmoms should do us a favor & abort. Saving a life, my ass, it hurts to be who we are & it's so deep, not even concious. I'm sorry but screw birthmoms wanting support. Yes u messed us up. Sorry but its true. The more I face what this has done to me & try 2 heal from it, the more I hate & despise the people who gave me up.

      Sure nonadoptees have problems to & they can look to who in their life caused their trouble bc every messed up non-adopted person has learned it from somewhere. The problem w/being adopted is you don't understand why u feel different,u don't understand what makes u defective. I grew up my whole life saying that being adopted were just words, my mom is my mom, yet it has played out in other areas of my life. Wasn't until getting sober that I actually looked at where some of this came from & its so painful to deal with.

      Delete
  28. I think people and their mental lust for religion are to blame for the atrocities associated with adoption...

    ReplyDelete
  29. To The Anonymous Birth Mother: I remember when I first encountered a connection to other adoptees and mothers, adoptive parents, etc. through Bastard Nation. It was hard to understand all the comments, blogs, responses, etc. But in time, I started to realize their is a reason some people despise or celebrate adoption or resent adoptive parents, or whatever their feelings might be, etc. Not everyone can agree or believe the same way. But what I have come to realize is some of these same people are just like me. They have concerns, passions, frustrations, hopes and fears. There are several people throughout the adoption forums who support conditional open records and are really religious - both of which make me ill. But I still adore these people and want to hear what they have to say - even if it irritates me to no end. :) There's no way of truly understanding the dynamics of motherhood and adoption if you don't expose yourself to every element no matter whether is' good, bad or ugly.

    ReplyDelete
  30. But, anonymous- you are twisting words. Adoptees DO have a bond with their adoptive parents. But it is NOT the same as the bond we had with our First Mothers. We knew our First Mothers before we were born. We are a part of her. We are one with her. But to say that we bond with a stranger the same way were bonded with our f Moms is ridiculous, and steeped in serious denial.

    Your comment about non-adoptees is not relevant, because adoptees ARE adopted. Yes, "life can suck" for non-adoptees, too, but for the adoptee, our starting point began with a loss. Speaking about these losses does not mean we are trying to "blame anyone". Speaking about these issues is a good thing. It helps dismiss the "better life through adoption" garbage.

    I find it amusing that there are some f Moms who feel the need to dismiss adoptees and their trauma caused by their losses. It almost makes them sound like adopters. They profited from adoption so of course they won't acknowledge the truth....but for a First Mom to do this? Wow.

    "Correlation does not equal causation"- right, Mac. To that I say, "Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint."

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  31. If it's not healthy to come to this blog Anonymous just imagine how it is to be an adoptee and live all your life with some of these issues.
    While adoptees in America are denied their birth information how will they ever know or be able to prove to those who don't believe in the trauma of adoption who think that adoption makes a handy excuse , that it has been traumatic and lifelong.
    Here in Australia where we have the freedom of owning our own information about our birthright and have done so for decades,we are still traumatised and suffer from adoption.So do the mothers we are reunited with.
    Some of us are not told we were adopted but we always suspect and when it comes out finally we suffer from feelings of betrayal, mistrust and so on.
    I've yet to know an adoptee who uses adoption as an excuse for anything.I have met and know many who try to make sense of their lives and what they have experienced.Very often they are resourceful,skilled survivalists who have made successful lives despite their beginnings.Success in life in the terms of others doesn't take away the legacy of adoption and the wrongness of the adoption industry.
    I made no slur on the military but did comment of one of the methods used..fact..that possibly would not be helpful to adoptees or in my view anyone else.
    I long ago realised that there are some people who will just never 'get it' or understand the reality of adoption.

    ReplyDelete
  32. BD wrote: "BTW, simply living in the US makes people insane."

    It's seems logical then, that the American adoption system contributes to that insanity. I've yet to meet an adoptee in person or online who isn't frantic about being heard and validated, be it adoption trauma, laws or both.

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  33. I want to urge all believers in Primal Wound to read these other books by Nancy Verrier that are strangely seldom mentioned.

    I have read this one, it contains some sensible advice on reunion relationships:

    Coming Home to Self: The Adopted Child Grows Up by Nancy Verrier


    Apparently the one below is new, I had not seen it before but the title says it all. I hope it will be helpful to some. Happy reading!


    http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Home-Self-Healing-Primal/dp/1905664818

    ReplyDelete
  34. You are quoting studies with poor research design. 'the number of adoptees in the adolescent and young-adult clinics and residential treatment centers is strikingly high.' Studies published after Lifton's book indicate that the majority of adoptees in treatment centers and prisons were adopted from foster care after being removed from homes where they were abused or neglected. More recent studies have shown that children adopted into stable homes soon after birth have a lower incidence of incarceration than their non-adopted peers.

    The research quoted by Lifton actually supports the premise that more babies should be relenquished at birth. If the birth mothers of adoptees referred to by Lifton had relinquished their children at birth to be placed in stable homes, the majority of those children would not have ended up in treatment.

    ReplyDelete
  35. "Osolo, just to clarify, we do not think that every adoption ends up with a deviant personality, or that they are all the same, but since that population is somewhat skewed, that is what we write about."


    I agree with this statement. There is so much anecdotal evidence that a disproportionate number of adoptees seem to have varying degrees of pain that often manifests in ill effects, but
    I don't think we are accurate in attributing it all to being ADOPTED, per se.

    It's the act of being separated from their natural mother that seems to be the catalyst to set many adopted people up for problems - not necessarily "adoption" itself. Whether someone calls it a "Primal Wound" or just an unnaturally challenging trauma for an infant; I've just heard and observed too many adoptees share on this topic to think problems don't exist.

    If these babies are adopted by people who refuse to acknowledge that there is a difference between adopting and birthing, it's a double whammy in their emotional development, IMO.

    I cannot understand why so many adopters refuse to acknowledge this evidence; like my own son's a parents. To this day, they proudly tell me that they never treated Steve any differently than his sister - their biological child!

    And anonymous, I don't hear anyone using being adopted as an excuse for anything, but I will say that I find it abhorrant that any parent, whether natural or adoptive would keep their head buried in the sand rather than explore different possibilities for their acting out child. For a parents, this should include the possibility that the child might just be wondering what was wrong with him that their own mother gave them away. What human with any sense of intellectual curiosity, wouldn't wonder about such a thing?

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  36. Anon,

    It makes me sad that whenever someone brings up adoptee pain, people will dispute it until the cows come home.

    While a lot of the things in the three books are based on the opinions of individual practitioners coming from what they've viewed in their practice, Perinatal Psychology has stressed for decades upon decades upon decades mother and baby closeness after birth for the physical, emotional, and psychological health of BOTH mother and baby. Read the research about infants who are separated from their mothers for any other reason (e.g. ill and needing an extended hospital stay). Are infants destined towards adoption magically impervious to those concerns? Why? Who is that helping?

    Adoptees growing up in a different context of life and being impacted by it has also been covered in empirical and theoretical literature for decades as well.

    This isn't about making people feel badly for what they thought was best for a child. This is about acknowledging an adopted person's scientific and social basis to feel differently and express pain.

    If someone feels pain and they don't want to say it because they're afraid of what people will say, who does that help?

    It is sad that instead of improving the adoption system and seeking to reduce the losses adoption inflicts on children and adults, people will write-off things adoptees have been saying for the past 60 years as a figment of their own self-victimization. As an adopted person who is well adjusted, educated, has a good life but still feels pain, I can tell you it doesn't feel good to hear people make judgements about me that way.

    Again, who in the world does that attitude help??

    ReplyDelete
  37. To the skeptics of the research (and I do agree with what BD said as well),

    I think the point is, that the psychological impact of the initial separation as well as the continued loss of being different is significant enough that it does lay the platform for adoptees to have problems.

    It does not mean they will.

    It does mean that we ought to reduce the losses on children to prevent problems from occuring *because they could occur.*

    So many times PAPs and APs will read the theoretical and empirical data as well as books written by professionals and say "well, I don't need to pay attention to this because not every adoptee has a hard time and I'm sure my kid won't." To me, the implications that the research has always given is that adoptee pain and disenfranchisement is significant enough that it ought to be avoided at all costs by Family Preservation. Not written off with adoptions continually proceding in their current state just hoping for the best.

    Of course not all adoptees have these problems. Different people across the globe react very differently to various types of trauma. But it doesn't mean the potential traumas in life should be made any less avoidable by increasing safety and awareness.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I have to agree with anonymous birthmom's Oct 7 post. Adoption is used as a scapegoat to explain adopted person's weaknesses. There are many things that are traumatic in our lives. Poverty is traumatic. Having an absent father is traumatic. Having serial surrogate fathers is traumatic. Death, illness, disability, neglect... The list goes on. Does the trauma of being separated at birth trump all other kinds of trauma we might experience in life? No!

    As a adopted person, I vehemently disagree that there is any kind of pathology whatsoever associated with being adopted as neonate, unless that person is routinely stigmatized by people who think like Lorraine and Jane.

    I also do not think that the path you are going down in this forum will bring any healing to birth mothers, who undoubtedly experienced trauma from the separation. Anonymous birthmother is right to challenge you. I know that she can find healing, but it won't happen here. There is a higher road.

    ReplyDelete
  39. papipanonymous, I also came to this site seeking some healing. You are correct that the things I have read here are disturbing. Disturbing in the fact that they have made me aware of the great trauma and pain that I as a first mother have lived with for so many, many years. The silence is what is unhealthy. At first I told myself that I would not return to this sight yet I find myself here often and now for the first time find myself making a comment. The topics dealt with here can be overwhelming and the truth hurts. It is a good thing that you have felt the need to heal and we all must do it in our own way. I wish you heartfelt luck in finding your way. It is certainly not an easy journey

    ReplyDelete
  40. The voice of the ADULT Adoptee is truly the only one who can voice an opinion on how an adoptee MAY feel or commonly act. And that voice can and will evolve from where it started but it is that persons experience - no one elses. And based on common feelings amongst us - it can be defined specifically related to our adoptions.

    Maryanne - Yes, mothers in the 50's etc were not encouraged to breastfeed and were drugged during delivery so asking if those babies suffered a primal wound...missing the obvious...those babies went home with their SAH mother who held, fed, bathed, spoke too, sang too, cuddled, coddled and was there for her baby...instead of a new mommy the baby did not know.

    Osolomama - Studies showing on average adoptees fared well. Really? One of the studies listed was a study on studies conducted by others over a large timespan which is really a stretch when dealing with human feelings and outcomes rather than science that can be repeated and validated. One study was Swedish which who knows the difference in the translated questions. And studies can be designed to achieve the goal of the theory they are done for - just like poll questions - it is all in the question structure. And how many adoptees do you know that found their voice and words before they were middle aged? How many had the guts to speak up earlier? And as a final note as some AP's come to adoption via infertility - I googled infertility and mental health studies - should I use that to tell any of those adoptive parents how to feel and act and dismiss and negate the effects of infertility because the study says XYZ? I don't think it would be right - so how is it right to tell an adoptee that a study shows adoptees turn out fine? It is dimissive. Adoptees have been studied enough - even to the point where they deliberately separated identical twins just so they could study them - like lab rats.

    I wish people would just let us OWN our feelings and stop telling us how we should feel or act.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Linda wrote:""Correlation does not equal causation"- right, Mac. To that I say, "Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint."

    It can often be a wrong hint that leads people to draw false conclusions, which can be backed up by "science" of sorts by those who want to believe.

    Are you familiar with the Flying Spaghetti Monster site? Here is their letter to the Kansas School Board, which quite logically equates two unconnected but correlated events, a decline in the number of pirates, and a rise in global temperature.
    http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/
    Both things can be graphed. Both things are true. As the number of pirates went down, global warming went up! There is a correlation there. Must be a hint, right?:-)

    I am thinking of joining the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, because I love pirates and spaghetti. YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Dear Anonymous birthmother:

    You sound as if you are defensive about having given your child up for adoption. As if you want to convince yourself that being adopted is the same as being raised by your natural parents. As an adoptee I can tell you that it most certainly is not. I think that is what this blog is trying to say. I would overwhelmingly have rather been raised by my first mother. To have remained in my own clan, the people whose heritage, traits, ancestry, genes, etc. I share would have been an enormous advantage in my life. Being adopted IS a huge trauma. Since I have located both sides of my family and know my history I know that having stayed with my first mother would have been better for me on so many different levels. It is not the same whether one is raised in their own family or by strangers. Actually the myth that being raised in a non-blood related family is the same as one's bio-famiy is one of the biggest myths that adoption is based on. Especially true during the "baby scoop" era. I think that one of the purposes of this blog is to say that this is not the case

    ReplyDelete
  43. I own my feelings about my adoption and no-one tells me what to feel or how I'm feeling.As a senior adoptee I've lived with adoption for 66 years, I reckon I'm old enough to know a bit about adoption and how it affects me!
    Some Adopters have a vested interest in not hearing the truth, so be it, let them live out their story and see how it turns out for them in time.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Being adopted wasn't the same as if I were kept in my biological family, nor was it the same for my sister, thankfully on both accounts. My sister has told me she's quite fine with the decision her bio mom made on her behalf and so am I fine with the decision mine made on my behalf. They were the best decisions under the circumstances.

    Neither of us are traumatized by being adopted, nor are any of the people I know in real life that are adopted.

    Like Von, no one tells me what to feel or how I'm feeling. Difference between us though is I'm not going around saying all adoptees experience what I've experienced. Quite the opposite. I report on all the trauma I read about every time I discuss adoption.

    Adopted people, and for that matter their mothers, should only be telling their own story or reporting on those they know personally, not avowing that it's the same trauma and wound for all adopted people.
    It's just not truthful.

    Neither are all these insulting, sensational claims that adoptees are prone to be serial killers, "nymphomaniacs", deviants, drug addicts, criminals....you think it's hard to get a job without a birth certificate, try getting one if this type of stigma becomes the norm when it comes to adopted people. I've never hesitated to say I'm adopted but if this crap catches on as, appears to be the goal of prominent adoption reform advocates, I may have to rethink my openness.

    Oh yeah, and good luck getting your biological families to meet you if they're afraid of you.

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  45. Nobody is telling anyone how to feel. The only thing I question is what caused the feelings that many adoptees have. I do not think it is only the separation from mother at birth as posited in primal wound, but many things in many adoptee lives, including the losses and secrets and lies that adoptees have to live with. Questioning the cause is not the same as questioning or denying another's feelings, because there is no way to know how another person feels. I do not know how it feels to be an adoptee. That does not mean I cannot question a theory about adoptees; not the real feelings, the theory.

    Feelings cannot be invalid. But there can objective truths about the cause that have nothing to do with feelings, things that can be measured and proven right or wrong. That is what a theory or hypothesis is.

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  46. This is anonymous birthmom.
    I do appreciate all your life experiences and opinions. The last 20 years have been a blur of nothingness. I cry for the baby I gave up. I am lost. The only thing I have to hold onto is that maybe, just maybe, my little girl had a happy life.

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  47. Campbell~ Went to your blog, love the way you write...I will continue to read. Thanks >:)

    ReplyDelete
  48. What I don't get is how Linda and others come up with the "MOST" statement when talking about adoptees.

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  49. Campbell, always made it clear or tried to, that my experiences are mine, yours are yours and of course there are differences between our adoption experiences and how we've dealt with the trauma of loosing our mothers but what we all have in common is that we were not raised by our biological parents and have suffered loss.It's so simple really.

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  50. "What I don't get is how Linda and others come up with the "MOST" statement when talking about adoptees."

    Mei Ling, gee, ya think? I don't get it either.

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  51. Maryanne, please see my post! Very important if you haven't seen it already! Artificial sweetener consumption linked to scourge of single parenting!
    http://osolomama.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/artificial-sweetener-consumption-linked-to-scourge-of-single-parenthood/

    ReplyDelete
  52. Campbell,

    Why don't you have a birth certificate? Don't you have an amended one that is valid for all legal purposes?

    ReplyDelete
  53. Anon mom wrote:"The last 20 years have been a blur of nothingness. I cry for the baby I gave up. I am lost. The only thing I have to hold onto is that maybe, just maybe, my little girl had a happy life."

    You might be interested in CUB (Concerned United Birthparents) We are the first group for birthparents, formed in 1976, before the internet. There are some in person groups and a retreat in Carlsbad CA coming up this week. Our webpage is in the process of being updated but you can get general info at the old one
    http://www.cubirthparents.org/
    There is also an email list that is free and you do not have to be a member to join:
    http://lists.cubirthparents.org/listinfo.cgi/cub-all-cubirthparents.org

    There are mothers at every stage of their journey in this group, and all are welcome. You do not have to be alone. There are also a wide variety of feelings and stories and all are respected.

    Chances are your daughter is OK. My son is, despite a less that great adoptive placement. We are here for you if you are interested.

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  54. "but what we all have in common is that we were not raised by our biological parents and have suffered loss."

    I think what Campbell has repeatedly tried to point out is that not all adoptees *FEEL* like they have loss.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Of course there is trauma associated with
    separation from the mother. I think a certain amount of trauma is intrinsic to such a separation, because it is brutal and best avoided unless under all but the most exceptional circumstances. However, to what extent it is suffered and how it manifests itself is bound to be variable, depending on the wiring of the individual as well as other
    influences both before and after birth.


    But to return to the headline-grabbing Ogg family story, I fail to see how it sheds any light on the
    concept of a primal wound - which, incidentally I don't dispute, although I do not think the idea is
    original, since the term, or something very like it has been used in a broad sense in transpersonal
    psychology for years. However, as the title of a book (and being accorded extra importance by being preceded by the definite article) it seems to have become almost a brand name.

    There are many recorded incidences of premature babies thought to be dead at birth or shortly thereafter, but who revived independently of their mothers - often not under very good circumstances.

    A very quick google turned up a few recent examples:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3752524,00.html

    http://www.pakistan.tv/videos-premature-baby-declared-dead-found-alive-%5BNe4VPdRgKec%5D.cfm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8194262.stm

    http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/
    uncategorized/baby-found-alive-hours-after-being-pronounced-dead_10067010.html

    http://www.kentuckymalpracticeinjury.com/
    2010/08/baby-pronounced-dead-found-alive-in-coffin.shtml

    Kippa

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  56. The reason that the word "nymphomania" disturbs me is not because I don't believe that adopted people may search for intimacy through sex, but because it suggests that doing so demonstrates that they have internalizing the idea of the "whore mother".

    Both "nymphomania" (no longer a diagnostic term, thank god) and "whore" used in this context
    perpetuate the myth that women who engage in sex outside marriage are somehow morally deficient.
    Much as I admire B.J, I think this was a bit of a miss-step, and while I understand what she means, I think it could have been better expressed.
    It also bothers me to see it quoted on a first mother blog. IMO, if one doesn't accept the basic premise, it is preferable to avoid quoting, unless to take issue with and deconstruct the concept.

    Kippa

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  57. Campbell wrote: "Neither are all these insulting, sensational claims that adoptees are prone to be serial killers, "nymphomaniacs", deviants, drug addicts, criminals....you think it's hard to get a job without a birth certificate, try getting one if this type of stigma becomes the norm when it comes to adopted people."

    What did you think about Ontrio's privacy czar Ann Cavoukian's press release that said: ADOPTEES WILL DESTROY LIVES in response to advocates getting birth certificates unsealed.

    And she wasn't referring to leather-bound sex-crazed adoptee stigmas.

    I'd be more concerned with what governments are propogating about adopted people than adoptee psychology research around mother and child separation.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Robin said...
    Campbell,

    Why don't you have a birth certificate? Don't you have an amended one that is valid for all legal purposes?

    I do have a birth certificate that's valid for all legal purposes. It's my understanding though that there are adopted people who do not.

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  59. "Campbell said, "you think it's hard to get a job without a birth certificate, try getting one if this type of stigma becomes the norm when it comes to adopted people."

    I get what you mean, but job application forms don't ask whether applicants are adopted.
    Nor do employers.

    Michelle wrote, "What did you think about Ontrio's privacy czar Ann Cavoukian's press release that said: ADOPTEES WILL DESTROY LIVES in response to advocates getting birth certificates unsealed."

    It's a smokescreen, a scare tactic, designed to intimidate. We know it isn't true because in other countries and states where birth certificates have been opened nothing terrible has resulted. In fact a whole lot of good has come out of it.

    I'm uncertain about the legalities of these things, but I think our privacy commissioner has it all up the spout from an ethical POV. It seems to me that she is not willing - or maybe not professionally free - to distinguish toxic secrecy from privacy. Secrecy involves shame and makes people miserable. Privacy doesn't.

    In fact, it is secrecy that destroys lives, which it does by eating away at the secret-keepers soul from within, and the repercussions of this erosion impact in a very real way on the lives of everyone to whom they are close.
    When people are denied the right to information that is their property, we have entered the sphere of secrecy, not privacy.

    Kippa

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  60. Some serious questions about primal wound trauma theory:

    Does the trauma occur right after birth if the mother does not hold the baby? If she does hold the baby and care for it in the hospital,but then surrenders, is the trauma averted or does it occur later?

    Is the trauma the loss of the mother shortly after birth, or is it any permanent loss of the mother in early childhood?

    Is there a primal wound in open adoption when they mother is in fairly frequent contact with the child and adoptive family from birth on?

    In cases not involving adoption but where mother and child are separated after birth due to illness or other factors, is the primal wound canceled or healed if the mother comes back, or is the damage done?

    In adoption, does reunion help alleviate the primal wound, make it worse, or make no difference?

    Is the trauma of primal wound incurable?

    I have not seen these issues really addressed and would appreciate any answers, not to argue but to understand the full picture.

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  61. I find it very surprising that female adoptees are more likely to give a child up for adoption. I would think they would be far less likely. I can't fathom putting a child through the pain of being rejected and all the other difficult aspects of being adopted.

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  62. Kippa, if enough people start to believe that adoptees are prone to such serious behavior, why would we be exempt from profiling? It may seem a stretch but people are assessed based on the length of their hair or number of piercings, the colour of their skin, on any obvious signs of religious beliefs.

    @Anonymous, being adopted most certainly had an affect on my behavior sexually. It made me determined not to get pregnant before I was in a position to raise a baby. That doesn't make it common to all other female adoptees, it's just how all the factors cumulated to form my psyche.

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  63. Maryanne,

    I believe it is the separation of the mother and child period.

    Then when adoption is added to that some will feel verying levels of rejection again (although a bio loosing his/her mother may also feel a rejection factor I would assume). To what degree the child will feel it is unique to each based on their personality and sensitivity type and coping skills.

    Can the AP's make a difference - I believe so but there are so many varying factors (personality matches or clashes, family unity or discord, etc, etc) that each again will have a different impact.

    It is all very individualized and some will perhaps only have the odd twinge and some will feel a loss very deeply and some will never feel any correlation.

    If we were all the same and felt the same way then the Blank Slate Theory would be proven correct. But we are all different genetically and are hardwired differently.

    Can we heal from it is subjective - do you ever stop missing someone who is no longer with you? It is how you let it impact your day to day life that should be asked. I believe I am pretty normal and know for sure I do not lay in bed whinning about my lot in life - but I have been impacted by adoption and I have also been impacted critically from the lack of family health history - which incidently provided me with the time to fully delve into how adoption had impacted me now that I have the time to reflect.

    There is a article in Time Mag first week/print edition for October that gets into some new science on how important our first nine months are especially when the mother has extreme stress at the end. Cannot remember the name but it starts with Origins. The online version is abridged and does not delve into what I hope the printed version does. Perhaps that can add insight.

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  64. "Is the trauma the loss of the mother shortly after birth, or is it any permanent loss of the mother in early childhood?"

    I think what could cause the trauma is losing one's mother. Period.

    Let's say a baby's mother dies in a car crash. Could that affect the baby in significant ways for the rest of their life? Sure. Death changes people. Infants are not blank slates.

    I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it's impossible for the infant to *function* on a daily basis. I don't know if you've read the Letters to Mrs. Feverfew blog, but she just recently posted something that struck me - lots of people can function on a daily basis. When a family member dies, well, they (the remainder of the family) have jobs, they have friends, they have families, they go on vacations, they live *life*.

    That doesn't mean the grief has disappeared or that it's been "recovered" in the "get over it" that people like to imply. It's been imbedded into them. It's part of them.

    Society invalidates this grief when it comes to infants. It says it doesn't matter if a mother and child has been swapped - infants are resilient, substitute caregivers can provide adequate care, so it really doesn't matter.

    That said, I do not believe it is always traumatizing for the infant. It can manifest in different ways, and even if it hurts like hell for the mothers, maybe the infant grows up in such a way that s/he feels s/he doesn't truly care at all. I'm not saying an infant can be emotionally handi-capped for life...

    But if it truly didn't matter, then why do people lean towards biology? Why not swap all infants and mothers, not just "some"? Why aren't *all* of us adopted, rather than the minority?

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  65. maryanne:

    Those are not "serious" questions about primal wound theory in adoption. You are not someone coming to this blog unaware of the various writings about this or Verrier's thesis. You are well versed in adoption research and have written reams about the pain and trauma of adoption yourself, if largely from the first mother's point of view.

    Those "questions" are all designed to refute the idea of any kind of negative impact when a child is raised by his non-parents, that is genetic strangers. I have to ask, why is it so important to you to deny others the right to their own feelings about this?

    This has baffled me for a long time. You have much to say about adoption that is worthy, but you seem to undercut your own position as someone who understands the impact of being relinquished with your comments on this.

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  66. Sandy, the book is "Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives", by Annie Murphy Paul.
    There is an interview with the author in the the Friday, October 8 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail, under the 'Life' section. It's called 'Handle with care'.
    I'm unable to copy and paste the link, but it should be easy to find anyway.

    Kippa

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  67. No Lorraine, those are serious questions. People say all kinds of thing attributed to Primal Wound theory. I want to know specifics about what this theory really means, which have not been made to clear to me in what I have read so far.

    I DO believe there is a lot of trauma in adoption both to mother and child. I do not believe that this trauma is universal, necessary, or is perceived by the child at birth or that this birth trauma, absent other negative and traumatic experiences, is a major influence in adult life for every adopted person.

    I do not see how that undercuts anything else I have said, especially not about my own situation. Unlike some people who post here, I do not believe that my views are "The Truth" about adoption in some universal sense. I may well be wrong, but I think I do present a valid alternative view that some agree with and others dispute.

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  68. Maryanne:

    Primal Wound is a theory.

    Your questions, as I read them coming from you, are debating points. They are also disingenuous.

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  69. The problem with believing in the Primal Wound theory is that it's like saying adoptees who do not feel loss are in denial, and that invalidates *their* experience.

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  70. Here is the link to the (very much, I suspect, because there seem to be a lot here that doesn't quite add up) condensed and edited interview with Annie Murphy Paul about her book "Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives".

    Stress, war can affect fetal development
    Tralee Pearce. From Friday's Globe and Mail.
    Published Friday, Oct. 08, 2010 11:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/
    stress-war-can-affect-fetal-development/article1749522/

    Kippa

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  71. Annie Murphy Paul's book was the lead review in last week's New York Times Book Review. In on the list of things to write about in the future.

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  72. The question might well be: Is being adopted the same as growing up with one's original family? Or are human beings completely fungible without consequences?

    If the answer is Yes, then there is no wound/impact of any kind to being adopted. Then all the adoptees writing here are...What? Just mildly curious in ...what? Why are they bothering? Why are they not writing at blogs about how it is to NOT be adopted and raised in one's natural family?

    If the answer is No, then call "it" what you like. It seems that the problem many have is calling "it" a "primal wound" and that the arguing going on here has more to do with what any impact being adopted has on the individual is called. If you are saying that being adopted is a totally neutral experience, then why, er, does anyone adopted read or maintain adoption-related blogs? I don't get it.

    If there is absolutely no difference between biological family/adopted family, then why the issue of access to one's original birth certificate of importance to any adoptee? Why bother searching? The logical step would be to say: who cares?

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  73. If there is absolutely no difference between biological family/adopted family, then why the issue of access to one's original birth certificate of importance to any adoptee? Why bother searching? The logical step would be to say: who cares?

    If there was no difference then people would be giving their babies away right and left. Anyone going through any kind of hardship or difficulty would just give their child to someone in easier circumstances. Middle-class people would all give their babies away to upper-class people so that they would have more "advantages". Obviously this sounds absurd because the biological bond IS so strong.

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  74. Thanks Kippa...

    Lorraine - I look forward to the post on the book.

    Mei-Ling - its been years since I read the book but I don't remember it being that all adotees actually felt the loss but for those who did there were some specific similarities and/or different paths they might follow. I will have to reread it because now you have me curious.

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  75. From what I've read, Nancy Verrier doesn't confine this sort of trauma to babies who are surrendered to adoption. She is aware that preemies or sick babies who suffer painful experiences or who may be left in isolation for long periods can be impacted too.

    Unfortunately the title of the book makes it look as if the term applies to adoptees alone, not just that they are more susceptible to it.
    If it had been written as '*A* Primal Wound', rather than '*THE* Primal Wound' there'd be a lot less confusion IMO.

    It sounds as if it is a lacing together of 'primal scream' and 'mortal wound'.
    Which seems to me pretty much bound to provoke a strong a reaction of one sort or another.

    Nitpicking as ever,

    Kippa

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  76. I dont like being adopted. I would have preferred to be apart of the normal 97.5% of the population that got raised by thier natural parents. Not a 2.5%adoptee that got raised by strangers. Why me?

    Despite it's popularity in the media adoption is quite rare. I googled this statistic- "Estimates suggest that adoptive families are atypical as well as few in number. Approximately 5 million Americans alive today are adoptees, 2-4 percent of all families have adopted, and 2.5 percent of all children under 18 are adopted."

    Alot of those 5 million americans were adopted in the BSE when unwed mothers were forced into putting thier babies up for adoption. Also who knows how many of those 2.5% of adopted children under the age of 18 were step parent adoptions or from foster care.

    2.5% is rare. Alot of those probably weren't infant adoptions either. Only women facing dire circumstances voluntarly give their babies away and its mostly only desperate infertile women with highly abnormal gynecological issues that adopt other womens babies, often only after trying unsuccessfully for years to have their own.

    Adoption is very unnatural and therefore the whole concept of adoption can only exist by an extreme denial of nature. Anything taken to an extreme becomes it's opposite and the opposite of UNNATURAL is PRIMAL. Adoption causes a primal wound because it's undeniably extremly unnatural.

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  77. Jill,

    I really liked your post. I don't like being adopted either. Another thing is that adoptees are often treated as if we are not full members of our A families. Often by extended family members and frequently by others. The minute you tell someone you are adopted, you hear "Oh, so those aren't your REAL parents/siblings, etc. It gets tiring and annoying to have to educate and defend that yes I am a member of my Afamily. I hear comments all the time that show that most people don't think of adoptees as members of the family. I wonder if this is one of the reasons that people search.


    BUT ADOPTEES DO NOT HAVE ANY OTHER FAMILY. Even if you are lucky enough to locate your B relatives (and many adoptees cannot), after having been separated adoptees rarely become full members of their birth families again either. So we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. And yes, this causes trauma.

    Btw, what is BSE?

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  78. BSE= Baby scoop era :)

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  79. BSE is Baby Scoop Era, from the 40s to the 70s, I think when adoptions reached an all time high as the sexual mores of the day were in a state of flux.

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  80. Lorraine, thank you so much for supporting us adoptees who believe that the primal wound is a viable theory. I grow tired of arguing with people who insist that there is a spectrum of experience for everyone but adoptees, and it is worse when adoptees are baited by people who aren't adoptees and discount adoptee opinions that may be painful to hear. I appreciate your measured thoughts immensely.

    I have been reading lots of reviews of Anna Murphy Paul's book and am eager to hear to your opinions of it.

    Katharine

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  81. I just want to echo Katharine's comments.

    Aside from the losses of first; symbiotic relationship of mother, genetic mirroring, family fluency, that have been touched on already. Adoptees face the added obstacle of having any grief expressed ridiculed.

    We are not even given dominion over our own experiences and many people cannot wait to discount us further and dismiss us more and prove that everything we say about our very own lives is suspect.

    Some people may claim they simply have a right to their own opinion which is sophmoric, no. I could be of the opinion of a great number of things I don't have the "right" to. To tell other people how they feel about their own lives would be one of those rights.

    It is a unique kind of hostility and abusive position to ridicule someone for trauma suffered. The damage is real. Take abanondment for example. A lot of adoptees overreact to real or perceived abandonment. If an adult adoptee, can understand that the first time they experienced abandonment it was a life or death situation and that is the reason for the perceived fear at the moment, and then also realize that as an adult they if the object of their affection abandons them again, it is NOT a life or death situation it can be immensely helpful to that person's well-being.

    I know this from my own experience. I would say I have very little if any residual abandonment issues due to consciously working through and therefore being able to separate the infant experience from the grown-ass woman has my own job experience. I think this is why I have so many long-lasting friendships that are so satisfying and genuine.

    If on the other hand, my real-life posse had been invalidating as so many adoptoraptors like to be, I may have stifled that, refused to explore it and still be reduced to high-anxiety if someone is running late.

    You can't fix what you won't admit is broken.

    Like Katharine, I want to thank you for advocating for the well-being of adoptees. It is vital to the well-being for those with the eyes to see it.

    Also, what totally flummoxes me is those that call us who dare talk about our expriences, "superstitious hysterics" what they think our motivation for telling all our fantastic lies that it did hurt us is? I would really be interested to know why they think we are so deviant as to fabricate whole life stories?

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  82. Thank your for this article. I was given up at birth, spent 3 months in an orphanage when I was adopted. I have dealt with my codependency and unconscious fear of rejection and abandonment all my life. People have a very difficult time realting my painful primal wound as a result of adoption. My adopted parents even though loving where also very physically and verbally abusive. The feeling is that of not belonging anywhere. Not being loved nor wanted. I agree wth "Just Me" 100%. it is awound that never heals. One can deal with it, work on it but it is a pain that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Certainly the loving adoptive parents are stepping in with an amazing contribution.
    Respectfully,
    Ingrid

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