Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Deeper Into Attachment & Bonding


I don't know what has made me go back through the books in my personal library, but I'm so glad I did. When reading them as part of my doula training, years ago, I was very focused on birth and the maternal-infant bond from that perspective. Now that I'm in the adoption process, I've discovered that many of my books have sections addressing adoption. One even has a VERY detailed section called "Caring for Parents of an Infant Who Dies" which I devoured as I have been reading blogs of babies with Trisomy 18 and other fatal conditions.

What I appreciate most about my collection of books is that, while easy to find, they are not in the mainstream. These are books that stay outside the systems of our society, i.e. the medical system, the public school system, the political system. What I mean by "stay outside" is that the focus is on human biological and psychological health and well-being by researchers, doctors, scientists and others not affiliated with money-based organizations such as pharmaceutical, baby formula, or disposable diaper companies. They are informing us of our choices, even if these choices go against mainstream systems, such as natural birth vs. medical birth (in which doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money as hospitalizations for childbirth make up 50% of all hospitalizations).

One of the things I've discovered is that the information in my books, which in some cases are a bit old, one published back in 1976, was considered ground-breaking and, perhaps, controversial, but now, with the huge understanding of the relatively new science of adoption psychology, is in sync with today's information, but with a deeper look into prenatal and perinatal psychology than most adoption books offer.

Here is a link to a site that has several articles on birth psychology as it pertains specifically to adoption. Below is a sort of introduction to this site:

About the Adoption Column
by Marci Axness

Adoption is not a single event, but a complex lifelong process. Adoption is not a simplistic happy, "everybody wins" situation, as it tends to be portrayed in our culture. Tremendous blessings can be experienced by all the participants in adoption, but we must never forget that those blessings are born of loss--the loss for the birthparents of a child they will not parent; the loss of their dreamed-of biological children that infertile adoptive parents will never have; and the loss for the adopted child of his or her biological, geneological, and possibly cultural connections.

The APPPAH Adoption Column will specifically explore the pre- and perinatal aspects of adoption, including the experience of loss and trauma, the potential for intimacy and healing within the adoptive family, avenues for adult healing, and the exciting frontiers of what greater pre- and perinatal consciousness can mean for future adopted children and their parents."

One article from this site, What Is The Primal Wound? Understanding The Trauma of Infant-Maternal Separation by Marcy Axness, reenforces what an adult adoptee emphasized over and over again in her class called, Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, and that is that EMPATHY with the adopted child's experience and their feelings is of utmost importance.

In another article to adoptive parents, A Therapist Counsels Adoptive Parents: Interview with Wendy McCord, M.F.C.C., Ph.D.by Marcy Axness, a key state is, "The most important information that adoptive parents can have is that their baby is conscious of what happened to it, that there is, encoded in it's biological and emotional and spiritual system, the knowledge, already, of this primal wound. Babies sense it physically, emotionally and spiritually--on all levels."

There are many informative and interesting articles on the Birth Psychology website. Another one that particularly resonates with me is this:

""The first time I saw him I felt I'd burst! And the first time I held him I knew I was in love and bonded with him forever. You forget that you weren't pregnant (although I admit I regret I never had that experience) and instead are so grateful that someone else was and had the generosity of heart to bestow this incredible gift on you." Adoptive parent"

The reason this statement resonates with me a lot is because I do miss the fact that I'm not pregnant, but one mom who brought her daughter home a year ago said to me, "When they placed her in my arms it was the most natural thing in the world," and I'm looking forward to the moment when my daughter is placed in my arms and to feel what I'm going to feel at that moment.

One statement I disagree with is this, "Adoption is a second choice for all the triad members. People do not expect to grow up, get married, and adopt a child. Likewise, a person does not expect to grow up, get pregnant, and give her child to strangers to raise. It is also expected that families will retain their kinship ties and grow up knowing their biological relatives." The reason I disagree is because I know of many people who made that exact choice from the start, others adopted in conjuction with biological children, or as a start to their family before trying to concieve biologically. However, for many people, this statement is the utter truth.

There is a myriad of information available to give us insite as adoptive parents and I'll continue pass along resources as I come across them in my studies.

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