Sunday, June 27, 2010
The Primal Wound
I've posted before about pre-birth and birth memories and referenced such books as The Primal Connection and Babies Remember Birth. In The Primal Wound, these books are also referenced. I don't know why I haven't read this book until now, but it should be #1 on every adoptive parent's bookshelf and available for adopted children to read as soon as it is appropriate.
Yesterday, I attended a workshop at my agency called Identity and the Adoptive Family. I've attended one before, but felt the need to connect with others like myself and spare some time for this aspect of my life besides buying baby things.
One of the other single moms there nearly cried when she saw me. We started out together but she adopted her son from Guatemala and brought him home the day before adoptions were suspended. This woman felt so much for me because, here she was enjoying her son, and I was still waiting. It was heart warming to feel her care and concern.
My agency has a free lending library so I borrowed The Primal Wound and began reading it in my bathtub, but had to hop out and grab a pen and my journal because the language the author uses makes many things I've already learned plainly and painfully clear.
One of these things is that I can never replace my daughter's mother. Yes, she will love me and I will be here mom, but I can never fill that void in her soul reserved, and rightfully so, for her birthmother.
The author distinguishes between attachment and bonding, which I'm very glad to see. Attachment, she defines as, "...a kind of emotional dependence, which may seem crucial to their survival. Bonding, on the other hand, may not be so easily achieved. It implies a profound connection, which is experienced at all levels of human awareness."
On page 25 the author describes a conversation she had when her daughter, who was adopted, was 14. (girl to mom) "I understand that she had to give me up, Mom, but why doesn't that make me feel any better?" (mom replies) "It is the 14-year-old girl who understands the reasons for her relinquishment, but the feelings are those of a newborn baby who simply feels the loss of a mother who never came back."
I am finding this information supremely helpful on two fronts, one, for Apple's sake and, two, for my own personal reasons. My mother has had many husbands, 6 to be exact. Only one died, #5, the rest went away due to divorce, my mom initiating it. I have discovered in the last year something terrible that I greatly suspected but how have confirmation of. My mother deliberately did all she could to severe ties between me and my father and all paternal relatives. These people are good people, dairy farmers, perhaps less sophisticated than my maternal family would have liked, but the mistakes (mostly due to lack of sophistication) my paternal relatives made did not warrant the treatment they received and we all suffered, me the absolute most of all.
My first step-father I had from age 2-7 and to me, he was my dad. I don't have a picture of him; my mother destroyed them all. I am burning to know what he looked like because I cannot remember and it haunts me. In my life, one day he was simply gone and there wasn't a trace of him. I remember his parents, too, my grandparents for 5 years and they, too, were simply gone.
I'd often wondered why my paternal grandparents never came to visit me, why I always had to go to them (until age 6 when my mother was able to prevent visitation through coercement of me) and now I know, they were prevented from doing so by my mother.
I have experienced abandonment, many times. I am only now learning, through the information I have found around adoption, explanations for who I am, how I am, why I have feelings that I have. The conversation mentioned above between the mother and daughter put into words so clearly why, no matter what I did with any of my "dads," I couldn't fill the holes in my soul, and that no matter what I do now, I still cannot because the injury happened to a child and that child no longer exists but is a grown adult now.
It is precisely because of this that reunions between reliquished children and their birthparents don't heal the wound either. It's forever and we learn to put it into perspective and live with it, some better than others.