For those of you who have not previously encountered ACE and how childhood experiences can affect our later lives, please view the links below. It is I think fairly obvious to adoptees that our time in the womb, birth and then the loss of our mother and the associated trauma around adoption will lead to the very things many of us wrestled with and which make our lives difficult for decades. What is mysterious, is how so many non-adoptees connected to adoption, are able to overlook or ignore the early and crucial part of the lives of adoptees. Perhaps they just don’t talk or write about it, maybe preparation for adoption is inadequate or perhaps the adoption propaganda which leads people to believe that ‘adoption is beautiful’ is as effective as we fear. In taking a blinkered stance, they do themselves a huge disfavour, make their lives much more difficult if they are adopters and they certainly cannot be effective adoptive parents when their knowledge is incomplete.
Understandably for mothers it must be painful and difficult, guilt inducing information to absorb, to take on board and accept, knowing that nothing can be done about the past by them. Reunion does not cure ‘adoption syndrome’, nor does telling us we were all ‘loved and wanted’ and that they think about us daily and that it was not their fault or that they chose what seemed ‘the loving option’. Giving us ‘the best life’ may have meant ‘womaning up’, growing up fast, being responsible, committed, inventive or willing to accept some slightly different standards of what a baby needs, requires for survival and a good life. Babies do not need new equipment, vast wardrobes, expensive toys, ponies and unlimited opportunities. They need warm, loving committed mothers/parents who cuddle them, talk to them, read to them, play with them and spend time with them. They need to be in a non-abusive functioning environment where there is no abuse, dysfunction or unrealistic expectations to affect their future lives and health. It has been hopeful to view the attempts being made to teach parenting, functional approaches to parenting and believe that the future may hold much better outcomes for young people and for adoptees.
Adoptees who suffer, do have some opportunities to change what has been bestowed upon them. It is time-consuming, requires almost super-human commitment, can be expensive, frustrating and may prove only partially effective. While finding a good therapist/counsellor who understand adoption thoroughly may be difficult, it can be well worth doing in order to reach a full understanding of what has affected us and to prepare for life as a survivor and possibly a thriver. We certainly need to prepare for reunion, if it is a possibility, an expectation, a hope or a dream. In my experience changing the physical is much more difficult and requires infinite patience, endurance, inventiveness and ability to grasp the nettle, try new approaches and be open-minded. We all get tired, depleted and worn out by the psychological effects of the adopted life, but the physical manifestations of our ‘primal wound’ and adoption are far more challenging, less well understood and seem infinitely complex. Eventually we may just need to accept that what is will be and we can only take care of ourselves as well as we are able, eat well, exercise if possible and live as good a life as we can manage. Making the best of what we’ve been given, requires that we care about ourselves, which can be particularly tricky for adoptees who often believe that they are not worth caring about because they were abandoned by the very person who is ‘supposed’ to love and care for them, but appeared not to do so.
Sometimes of course we discover that we were not cared for, cared about and were abandoned in every sense, some of us to baby boxes, doorsteps or barren, bleak hillsides. Dying rooms, dying mounds and orphanages run by nuns were an almost 100% guaranteed way to not survive longer than a few weeks or months. Some of us at some times or on bad days, believe that it might have been a better, quicker fate than the one we endure. There are some of us who survive, seek reunion, only to find we are abandoned again – the double whammy as adoptees call it! Yes, it’s a real thing! The mother who dreads our re-appearance, who is frightened of the past re-emerging and the truth made manifest. Sometimes there seems to be no end to the things that befall us and that we can never escape the adopted life in all it’s complexities, it’s synchronicities and horrors. I recently watched “The Dressmaker” and what an outcome! It resonated deeply with me – a courageous woman, a victim who turned the tables by seeking and finding the truth and burned down the town, throwing back the curses to the very ones who brought them to life. I’ll say no more, but view it if you can and haven’t; marvellous cast, cinematographically brilliant and so much more complex than the reviewers had led us to believe, as is often the case! Ace! Enjoy!