Sunday, December 13, 2009

Matriarch: The Primal Wound

The author states that only you can be the judge of whether the primal wound in fact exists. How does the primal wound manifest in you? If you are in reunion with members of your birth family, did making that contact help with your healing? What, if anything, has helped you to heal?
The primal wound manifested in me the same way it manifested in my birthmother, who was also adopted. It is a feeling of "drifting", and a certain detachment from life.
But the interesting thing about it is that while we both experienced these same feelings, our adoption experiences were worlds apart... I grew up in an emotionally barren household, while her experience was only positive; she had always maintained that she had no desire to search, and considered her adoptive parents as her own. Yet, she was still a drifter, always looking to fill a certain void she could not explain.
This leads me to conclude that the primal wound is there, whether it is acknowledged or not. I believe there is a built-in bond between mother and child that is supernatural and cannot be denied.

It does not help that anything to do with searching is a subject that is generally taboo in the adoptive household... I learned quickly it was a subject to be feared greatly and ought never to be mentioned.
Acknowledgement of those feelings in an atmosphere of trust, understanding and compassion must be present.
My birthmother married and went on to have 6 more children after me. I grew up as an only child, who often went for long walks alone to nurture inner peace. I was not sociable, didn't have many friends although I wanted desperately to feel loved.

It did not help that I was not allowed the freedom establish my own identity, even in things like dress for example. I wore what was put on my back, which was often two generations antiquated, my opinion irrelevant. Keep in mind this was the 70's. This only served to further alienate me from my peers.

My general experience growing up was one of stifling all modes of self-expression. Even my career interests were heavily criticized. While these things may not be exclusive to adoption, there were many reasons I often felt like I was living in an orphanage or boarding school rather than in a home... everything was so regimented, stiff, strained and restrained. I felt like property that was there to please, and when I didn't, was either punished or ignored.
I was reunited beginning in 85 with some of my birth siblings, and only in 2004 had I finally met all of them.
When my search began in '83, a friend revealed to my adoptive father what I was trying to do. Needless to say, he was infuriated. In any case, when I eventually found, I said nothing. I would have liked them to meet, but realized I now lived in two worlds, whether I liked it or not.
Living in two worlds was not easy; I often found myself torn between loyalties, and would go for long periods being out of touch with my birth family, which was a very big mistake I beg everyone not to repeat.
But because I was influenced in this way, I lost out on seeing all of my nieces and nephews grow up. I missed out on sharing these normal, natural family events.
My brothers and sisters accepted me with open arms, and I had something I'd never had in my life. A connection, a belonging, an extension of my real self. Family traits and strong resemblances. Things non-adoptees take for granted, and are granted easy access to, by the government itself, via genealogical databases. If it is considered beneficial for the general population to know their roots... how much more for us?
In an age where just about every other social right you can think of has already been granted, why do adoptees continue to face discrimination? Is family history not one of the most basic fundamental rights to be expected? I'm surprised it even requires preponderance.

I cannot imagine being denied the right to know my siblings, just because years ago a couple "wanted a baby", like people want pets.
Sometimes, I think some end up secretly wishing they could return them, like pets. (I have known some other aparents that should never be allowed anywhere near children)
The laws in place in most areas serve no one but the adoptive parents, and in a very low percentage (5%) of cases, the birth parents. But I believe two things with all my being:
  1. No one has the right to walk away from a life they created, unidentified. The need to know outweighs and outranks the desire for privacy. If you don't wish to pursue a relationship, fine. That doesn't give you the right to deny us our name and ethnic heritage- not to mention, medical history. It belongs to us. It is already ours, from the moment two cells become one.
  2. There comes a day when we're too old to "play house" any longer. I don't mean that this is the day we abandon our caregivers, it is a reality check for the powers that be. The day comes when we are no longer children, and our heritage is by birth, not association, that's an undeniable fact. It is at that point that we should be allowed unrestricted access to our birth information.
Let me say at this point, that years gone by have mellowed the effects of past scars, and that many things have been put aside and are not dwelt upon anymore. I do consider my aparents to be my parents, because they raised me, and I would never deliberately hurt them. Few of us have had perfect childhoods, and many of us just do the best we can under the circumstances.
But I don't believe it should have taken most of my life to feel this way, to get to this point. Should an adoptee not feel nurtured, accepted, appreciated? Encouraged to grow and to find themselves? I felt none of those things until much later in life.
And that's a sad thing for a child, especially a "chosen" child. I find it ironic that children who are supposedly so "wanted" often end up in the worst possible hands.

On page 18, there is a discussion entitled 'The Mysterious Link between Mother and Child." I think no one would argue that there is a link, after all they are 'one' for the initial nine months of life. That many adoptees feel that there is an empty hole inside them and that it is there for the birthmother is I believe very comforting and indicative that an empty 'space' does not have to be a 'wound.' It may even be the source of an illusive driving force, that another person is always behind the child's pursuit of happeniness and worth. I like the analogy of an empty space and believe that this is mirrored in a birthmother -.that an empty space in her life will always be reserved for her child. I would like to request reactions from adoptees about this idea...which is such a reassuring idea for this particular birthmother.
For me, and for many fellow adoptees, part of the mystery of this connection is that there are certain undeniable "coincidences" that occur with no possible prior knowledge on the part of either party, especially in regard to names, activities, etc... why do they occur? This is an important question that runs soul deep. It is a deeply spiritual phenomenon, and it has to mean something... it has to mean something.
For instance, my adoptive first name ends with "anne" and my birth sister born next after me has the same name which ends in "ette". Both are worlds apart from the original name my birthmother gave me, and she couldn't possibly have known my adoptive name 2 years later when she named my sister. How do you explain something like this?
You will never convince me that this happened by accident. It is almost like nature leaves clues along the way.
This is just one example of many unusual occurrences that go beyond shared family "traits" to something deeper... I am obsessed with boats. I later found out my birth father was a marine mechanic. There is no way I could have known this in advance. Perhaps part of this "space" is a key that holds an invisibly written part of our identity.
If we are able to look inside ourselves, and read some of these clues that point to things we like and do that perhaps did not come from our environment, but are a part of who we are... we might find it's part of a bigger picture.
In several places in the book I saw other adoptees stating that they had always felt different or like they didn't fit in. Is this something that you can describe more? I myself don't really recall feeling like my difference was related to being adopted yet I know that many of the personality traits were very much like me.

More than anything else, I believe there's an integral part of our personality that's genetically programmed... and when that personality clashes with our adoptive family's, it follows that things won't flow as expected. Unfortunately, this is something that isn't considered ahead of time. Compatibility profiling might forestall some of that. Of course, nothing's guaranteed, but if the birth mother and the adoptive mother are such totally different people, it is almost certain that trouble will ensue. The expression, "The branch doesn't fall far from the tree" is quite true.

For my birth mother, she had trouble fitting in because she was not like any of them. Her personality was too flamboyant and boisterous for a small town, and she moved to the big city very early in life.

In my case, my afamily was trying to raise a Victorian child in an era of flower children... a daunting task in itself, without all the other complications.

In closing, I'd just like to say that while I am not anti-adoption, I'm definitely pro-disclosure ~ open adoption all the way.

If it's really all about the children, put an end to secrets and lies.

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


Leigh said...

What a heartfelt post.

I'd like to ask you, as an adoptee that reunited with your birthfamily, particularly birth-siblings, what do you think about birth-siblings searching for a relative they knew was put up for adoption?? What if the adopted individual doesn't know they were adopted? Do you think that would be damaging to that person or something that is absolutely necessary?

If you feel inclined to reply, could you please send to

Thank you so much

Lavender Luz said...

1. "anything to do with searching is a subject that is generally taboo in the adoptive household."

I'm sorry this was true for you. I hope the era of openness means that fewer adoptees are encountering the same problem.

2. "It is almost like nature leaves clues along the way." Your examples are amazing!

Thanks so much for this post. It confirms some of what I believe about openness.

OpenAdoptMomof3 said...

I'm sorry you felt you had to choose/alternate between two worlds and families... but I'm glad your first family welcomed you with open arms.

I'm hopeful your stories and others will help today's adoptive parents understand and support their children better.

My name is Andy. said...

What a powerful post. Thank you so much for sharing.

AdoptedGirlz said...

Loved your post. I am all for openness in adoption for the relatively 'polite' adoptions. However, I feel that the first and foremost issue that needs to be addressed is the 'Primal Wound' the loss, the grief, rejection, abandonment has to be acknowledged and addressed prior to any detailed information due to the fact that according to how infants develop we have yet to clearly define a true self. We need the information of our past only in terms of our wound and the residual emotions. Then in the proper time should we move in to deeper layers of the circumstances of our relinquishment. I have seen 'secrets' come to light prematurely for adoptees that has propelled them farther into their destructive behavior. We have to approach this with kid gloves. With kind and gentle hearts truly sensitive to the pain and suffering adoptees have felt.
I wish for you that you could have grown up in an environment where all of you was embraced and you found freedom to express who you were. I know that I find it a constant challenge with my biological children to allow them true self expression. A lot of the time I want to throw in my desires for how I want them to be, so I know that as parents we must all share that shortcoming.
I hope now as an adult you have found your true self. Like you said it should not have had to take this long. I feel exactly the same way and believe with the information on the Primal Wound out there for adoptees and their parents growing up now, hopefully it won't take them as long.
Thank you for sharing your life and your thoughts. I truly appreciate them, and hope great happiness, freedom and love for you.


battynurse said...

I too am sorry that things were so "taboo" in your household that even discussing it was bad and that you were put in a position to live two different lives. My adoptive parents were always willing to answer any questions I had and stated they weren't against me looking for my 1st family. While they had difficulties being supportive in other areas they seemed to try their best here.
I do think though it would be more appropriate to now open all of those older cases where the children are adults and allow us more access to information. I was born in Washington and have access to basically nothing.