Monday, December 14, 2009

Lora: The Primal Wound

I am a 50+ year old adoptee, I had read Coming Home to Self , Nancy's second book,
but had not read the Primal Wound. This is the first time I have read it and I was surprised at how much I could relate to it. After years of feeling alone and hiding so that people would not see how bad I was deep down, its so validating to read that I am not alone in my feelings.

Here are the questions I chose to answer.

What signs did you see in yourself, that support the concept of a primal wound derived from separation of mother and child in the process of adoption?
In counseling about 8 years ago I was dealing with shame and feeling like I was bad, I brought up being too bad for my mother to keep and being given away.

My counselor was not that familiar with adoption and kept saying... you should have no memories of being given away, how could it have affected you. I had not done any reading about adoption and could not answer.

There are a great deal of behavioral issues that Verrier attributes to the Primal Wound of being separated from ones birthmother and subsequently adopted. These range from acting out and testing the adoptive parents, to becoming detached, to future inabilities to maintain healthy relationships as an adult. To the adoptees, I'm curious if you identified with any of these traits and to the adoptive parents, if you witnessed any of them in your child(ren)? Further, if you answered "yes", do you think your adoptive parents would agree that you have these traits as well?

I was the complacent adoptee in counterpart to my brother the acting out adoptee. We fit the theory perfectly. He was constantly in trouble, while I strived to be the "good girl." I always felt not good enough and afraid of causing trouble. I became a chameleon , someone who could unobtrusively fit in with any group. I became so adept at hiding my feelings that I no longer knew what they were. I would not have called it detached, I just concealed my real self because I was not good enough, so that no one ever knew me. Because of course if they ever knew the real me, the one even my mother could not love, they would surely reject me as she had done.

The funny thing is, if you had asked my parents, I think they would have told you I was a happy well-adjusted person. It was not until they were both deceased that I was able to understand and examine my true feelings and fears. My mother noticed that we were not close, I know I did not like to share information with her and she knew that, and once I graduated from college I moved far away. For me it was a self preservation mode of rejecting or leaving before I could be left

How can "life-triggers" help and hinder an adoptee's healing journey, and what are some suggestions to help them keep walking forward to wholeness?"
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")?
I managed to keep my feelings tightly controlled and hidden from all including myself until I got breast ca at the age of 40. Every time I saw a MD they asked me about my family history.
That was the beginning of a series of events that shocked me into some degree of self awareness. My a mother and a father had passed away and my marriage fell apart. Finally I considered counseling instead of insisting I was OK. While I began to examine my abuse at the hands of my a brother,which I also had denied, and to see why I was so stuck in a marriage that was no good for me, I kept coming back to the shame and feeling not good enough that is at my core values about myself. With her help in dealing with abuse, and my reading about adoption I feel I can intellectually understand some of my feelings, but I have not resolved them.

It seems a life long pursuit to try and feel whole and accepting of myself, and I am not sure I will ever get there. My natural mother after 2 letters declines further contact. She did tell me some of my family health history, but it seems so unreal, I still usually just write adopted on my medical paperwork.

The thing I was most resistive to was accepting that my adoptive mothers coldness and distance may have been in reaction to my inability to bond and trust with her. It hurts that I may have been rejecting of her, and felt it was a rejection of me. It feels frustrating and so set up to fail that there is not more information given to adoptive parents. That they are not aware of how to help a child to understand and heal. That like a wedding everyone seems so focused on the big event, but so little is put into the lifetime of support, healing and needs of an adopted child.

Why are counselors so untrained in treating adopted adults? Why aren't there more stories of the risks of adopting a child and the lifelong needs they present? Is it because there is still an unacknowledged stigma about being an unwanted child? Why do people still think love is enough or that God calls them to adopt and that is all there is to it? It seems that just now, many years after this book was published there is some degree of increased understanding for those who wish to educate themselves. But many adoptions are still closed, most records still blocked and many still seem to think a baby is a blank slate to be molded into a family.

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


Lavender Luz said...

"after years of feeling alone and hiding so that people would not see how bad I was deep down". This statement makes me very sad, perhaps because I recognize it.

And regarding that therapist, the more I read on this tour, the more I see the need for a directory of adoption-trained therapists.

"It feels frustrating and so set up to fail" -- that circle of rejection is is both sad AND avoidable simply through better training of adoptive parents. I hope that in the intervening years some progress is being made. You analogy of the wedding/marriage is a good one. Adoption is not just about GETTING a baby, but moreso about PARENTING a person.

I have seen your compassionate comments around the tour, Lora, and I thank you for your support of others involved in adoption.

AdoptedGirlz said...

I too am an adoptee and want so much for there to be more truth in our conversations about adoption, so that we are given a chance to heal and recover from the relinquishment. Thank you for your expression of your experience. It means so much to know we are helping each other grow through avenues like this.


sheryl-adoptee said...

I was the bad child and my brother was the good child. I have had more disfunctional relationships than I would like to admit. I seem to choose people who are the "black sheep", of their family.

My behavioral issues as a child,were so frustrating for my adoptive parents that they actually tried to find her, but she had moved away,with no forwarding address.

I am currently searching for a therapist myself.

I think alot of us adopted post 80's are going through the same things. It seems as though, sometime in the late 80's to early 90's things started to change.

More adoptive parents are more prepared, and more sensitive to the possibility of behavioral and emotional issues. I notice adopted teens and tweens seem to be, in my observation, well adjusted and even have close relationships with their adoptive parents.

Maybe what we need are therapists familiar with how adoption was dealt with befor the 80's and 90's, maybe even specifically trained in that area.

Just wishful thinking maybe.

you are not alone.

Kris said...

Lora... I am at work but wanted to let you know I had posted in the comments in NHBO why I felt it was necessary to take the post down. I didn't remove the blog, just my own contribution to it. Since I wrote it, I felt out of respect for the owner of the site, since it was set up to educate about the adoption of children with special needs, that it was the wrong forum in which to post in the first place and it was unfair to the blog owner.

I am sorry if you felt silenced, that wasn't my intention for anyone. It seemed things had gotten ugly enough that the comments were turned off (not by be), so again, it was strictly a decision I made out of respect for the blog owner.

I am glad to have linked to this website and look very forward to reading it.

As I stated before, I'm green in this world and eager to learn and have a great passion for adult adoptee rights.

Of course there were no hard feelings. I am open to debate- and I have learned so much from the various websites I read (some, a handful, listed on my blog) and the literature I am completely immersed in right now (most of it written by Korean adoptees). Obviously my focus is in transracial adoption/adoptees since I am an AP to a Chinese girl (adopted just 4 months ago).

Please don't feel I was shutting you down. Not at all. Truthfully I never had time to read every comment, only a handful. Life is much busier than it was 5 months ago, before this beautiful girl came into my life.

All the best to you. I look forward to reading this site.

Kris said...

ps. couldn't agree more- it's about parenting a PERSON. well said.