Monday, December 14, 2009

Geochick: The Primal Wound

I'm a prospective adoptive parent (currently on the wait list) and a quasi-adoptee.  I say quasi because my biological father abandoned us after he and my mother divorced when I was 4 or 5 and when I was in high school my stepfather adopted me and my brother.  I identified with many of the issues in the book because of the way my mother treated the situation we had been put in.  It also raised a lot of questions for me about how much of the behavior is due to adoption and how much of it is plain old growing up issues since I always had my biological mother.

What signs did you see in your child or yourself, that support the concept of a primal wound derived from separation of mother and child in the process of adoption?

Since I don't have children yet, I'd like to answer this from a different perspective.  I'm not sure that the primal wound is solely from separation of the mother.  While the separation from the mother can be pointed to in most cases, in our case it was separation from the father, and subsequent behavior of our mother that caused issues.  In the journey of the adoption process and in reading this book, I've had to think hard and come to grips with the family dynamics.  At one time or another, I've exhibited many of the signs outlined in the book, mostly in the area of being compliant.  I was always the "good" one, good in school, polite and quiet.  I went to the college my mom wanted me to, I'm in the profession she wants me in.  I hate math yet I'm an engineer: the compliance  was a little extreme in my case.  That's the outside and on the inside I struggled with a lot of rage that typically surfaced in a blow-out temper tantrum, especially in high school and the first years of college.  If I ever brought up my biological father my mother would shut me down so fast that at an early age I learned that asking anything about him was "bad".  We were supposed to pretend like we were one big happy family and that my stepfather was my "real dad".  That only worked until my parents had children and my half brothers don't look anything like me and my brother.  My parents ignored the obvious, continued pretending, and continued not talking about it.  I get along ok with my mother but have come to realize that I keep her at arms length emotionally and I've always strived to be independent of my parents.  I hope that I can read the signs in my own child and instead of ignoring them, because that obviously doesn't work, help them work through the issues.

As a birthmother I was drawn to Chapter 10 and the discussion of the 'Cardinal Rules for Adoptive Parents.' I think if my role had been reversed and I was an adoptive mother, as much as my former birthmother self would like to be recognized, I do not think that I would consciously do this. I would be honest with questions about the birthmother and compassionate, but in my mother role I would try to emmulate everything that a good mother is for her child....and this would not be taking anyones place. I am his mother.   I would ask both adoptive mothers and birthmothers what their thoughts are on this.

I don't know how I feel about the Cardinal Rules.  I think I read them a bit differently in that I would always have to remind myself that I can't take the place of the birthmother completely.  But, I'd still try to fulfill the role of a good mother.  If I didn't want to raise children to the best of my ability, I wouldn't be going through this conscious, difficult process to build my family.

What was the hardest part of Verrier's Primal Wound for you to accept? What is the basis for your resistance to the argument? Personal experience? Generalization? Your perspective based on the side of the triad with which you most readily identify (knowing that some of us may fall into more than one "side")?

The hardest part of the book for me to accept is the feeling it left me with that I'll never be "good enough" as a mother because I didn't carry my child.  That being said, some of that feeling is my own problems/issues arising because I've spent my whole life trying to be "good enough".  

To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at The Open Adoption Examiner.


Lavender Luz said...

"The hardest part of the book for me to accept is the feeling it left me with that I'll never be "good enough" as a mother because I didn't carry my child. That being said, some of that feeling is my own problems/issues arising because I've spent my whole life trying to be "good enough". "

What a conundrum!

I think that because of your experience as a quasi-adoptee, you will be in a good position to parent from a place of wholeness and good-enough-ness. You know from the receiving end how suppression and denial feel like, and with that awareness you can parent differently.

Very good thoughts, GeoChick. Thanks.

AdoptedGirlz said...

I think you are right that we all share similar experiences as growing up of forms of rejection, abandonment, and even abuse, and that we all hurt the same and need healing. I think another good point you make is that when a parent denies the existence of the experience we are harmed even further. However, because we are so aware of the impact I believe that makes us better able to parent our children, as long as we continue to find the healing we need. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
peace to your soul...

Anonymous said...

I don't think that the missing feeling within you is necessarily limited to just the loss of the bio mom. I have heard other stories of people who suffered from the loss of the dad.

Even girls who know their father, but he doesn't take much of an active roll in their lives, typically, have behavioral and emotional issues.

I think the main point whether it's a bio mom or dad is loss. The loss of a biological parent, makes you feel, incomplete as a person.

I think the difference between, typical growing up issues and having a "primal wound" is that it remains with you throughout your life. It is not something we just grow out of.

When the day comes that a child becomes available to you, just remember there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Not biological or adoptive. We can do better than what we had, but we will never be perfect.