It seems we adoptees have to make it up as we go along in every area of our lives. If we are lucky enough to have been told we were adopted, a dubious concept, most of us adult adoptees have had to imagine what our mother was like, who our father might have been and the circumstances of our birth. Often, if we are lucky enough to reach reunion, another dubious privilege for so many, we discover our story is indeed stranger than fiction, stranger than we could have possibly imagined and always full of lies, deceptions and fanciful imaginings. When those are revealed, if they ever are fully, we begin to understand our part in the story of adoption – a story which so often was about protecting the identity of our parents and their families, the anonymity of those who facilitated our adoption, legally or illegally, about protecting those who did not want to be found or known, who wanted to cover their traces, to escape the consequences and to not take responsibility for our existence. It is not new, it has gone on for hundreds and hundreds of years. The orphanages of Roumania, the death camps they called Italian orphanges run by nuns, the dying hills of China, dumpster babies, child trafficking and baby selling have been part of our story always. We were not meant to know, not supposed to find out and certainly never meant to discover the truth.
Adopters sometimes like to tell us adult adoptees that adoption is better now and that they are sorry for what we went through! Pity, the great disempowerer! Presumably they believe that, because open adoption exists, with all it’s pitfalls, difficulties and complexities. It is perhaps in some places even less ethical than it has ever been. We read today of Australian couples living in Thailand and other countries who adopt within a few months for $1000 – no assessment for suitability to adopt, just instructions to provide love and the money! Easy!!
Non-adoptees are fond of telling us that there are ethical agencies available and that their adoption was ethical. Adoption can never be ethical when it involves large sums of money, removal of children from families, the invention of an ‘orphan crisis’ and taking children from their mother country. It will never be ethical when assessments are perfunctory, inadequate and allow those who believe they are performing an act of charity to become adopters. Adoption must be about finding the very best family for adoptees, those children who genuinely need a new family because they cannot or should not be raised by their biological relatives. In an ideal world adoption would not exist or would be so rare as to be very unusual.
Those who are outraged when children are removed from their biological parents and tell us that there is never a case for it, have not understood what humans are capable of, have not seen babies so abused that their tiny bodies are twisted and deformed by failure to thrive, their eyes blank and lifeless from constant abuse from the time they were born. The horrors some children live with and often die with, are the reality for some, those children live on your street, in your neighborhood and are in the care of those who cannot parent, when given every opportunity to do better, choose not to.
Adoption is complex on every aspect. I was once judged by a well known mother of loss as being a Yes-No-Yes-No adoptee and later as being Pro-Adoption – the big insult in circles where adoptees and mothers of loss mingle. I long ago gave up mingling in single issue circles where things get heated and go round in endless cycles of pointless expression of the same biases and prejudices, misunderstandings and myths and the side taking is poisonous. These days I’m far more interested in finding a way forward, discovering new places to understand what adoption does to adoptees and how to fix it. I usually begin by trying to understand what has happened to me and then move outwards to discover who else has experience of similar events, traumas and what they understand about those things. I look at research and often stumble across something of interest, like the paper below on the cingulate cortex and the study done of people with self-reported childhood trauma.
A neat description here of the cingulate cortex for starters in case, like me, you only had a vague idea of what it was – The cingulate cortex is a part of the brain situated in the medial aspect of the cerebral cortex. It includes the cortex of the cingulate gyrus, which lies immediately above the corpus callosum, and the continuation of this in the cingulate sulcus. The cingulate cortex is usually considered part of the limbic lobe.
It receives inputs from the thalamus and the neocortex, and projects to the entorhinal cortex via the cingulum. It is an integral part of the limbic system, which is involved with emotion formation and processing, learning, and memory. The combination of these three functions makes the cingulate gyrus highly influential in linking behavioral outcomes to motivation (e.g. a certain action induced a positive emotional response, which results in learning). This role makes the cingulate cortex highly important in disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. It also plays a role in executive function and respiratory control. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cingulate_cortex
Preclinical studies have demonstrated the relationship between stress-induced increased cortisol levels and atrophy of specific brain regions, however, this association has been less revealed in clinical samples. The aim of the present study was to investigate the changes and associations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity and gray matter volumes in young healthy adults with self-reported childhood trauma exposures.
If I have understood correctly if we have experienced childhood trauma it affects our brain and makes us dribble more!! For years Dentists have had a problem with the copious ammounts of saliva I produce and in the last year I have had my salivary glands scanned for stones because they are enlarged, just as my liver and spleen are or were until I had acupuncture. Too much information? My apologies, my point is that it sometimes takes years and chance to help us explain the things that happen to us, the effects of adoption and the associated traumas of mother-loss.
It is an integral part of the limbic system, which is involved with emotion formation and processing, learning, and memory. The combination of these three functions makes the cingulate gyrus highly influential in linking behavioral outcomes to motivation
That condition we adoptees call the Adoption Fog is sometimes taken to mean the state of unknowing we live in before we begin to understand the truth of our adoption and sometimes the fog we find ourselves in when we try to process our emotions, reactions, experiences. I always describe myself as a slow learner when it comes to relationships. I find it hard to draw conclusions about what people do, how they act and their motivation. It takes me a long time to process the events of my life, it has taken many years for me to understand my adoption, to reach the painful conclusions and see the deep hurt and the damage mother-loss does. Those who say they ‘don’t believe in’ the primal wound are often those who cannot be in a position to have experienced it, they view it clinically, ask for empirical evidence. Sometimes they are adopters who have a vested interest in denial, think they understand the adoptees they have raised. I’d bet my wordly possessions those adoptees have something different to say to other adoptees!
And so to the meaning of life!! – The first part of the Answer to the Question of the ‘Meaning of Life’ is about the way to truly Live. And that is to love and be loved by the people in your life with all your heart, and to seek to live in the Now – to strive to be present with them, and remember this mission and purpose through the struggles and the joy, and to share together the amazing journey of life. The second part is to see Life as more than your own life and your own time. To see that throughout time, humanity has shared a vision of ‘peace on earth’. And though it is an impossible dream, only a life lived in service to humanity – in honor of this shared goal – can help to validate the struggles of the 93 billion people who have lived and died, the 7 billion dreams of those alive today, and the hope of humanity to come. The third is to find a balance between the two – between living your individual life to the fullest, while striving to help humanity evolve to a higher consciousness of compassion, meaning and purpose. — Robert Alan Silverstein