Monday, February 14, 2011

"Adoption Myth Buster: What It Takes To Wake"

I read an interesting article in the Huffington Post tonight.  The author, Jennifer Lauck, is an adoptee and the author of the New York Times Bestsellers, Blackbird and Found: A Memoir.  This current article is titled "Adoption Myth Buster: What It Takes To Wake".  The article is about her awakening from "magical thinking" about her adoption, to the realization of the true effects adoption has had on her life.  

Many things about this article broke this mother's heart.  There were several studies referenced regarding the effects of  infant separation trauma.  I have come to learn of some of these effects in the years following my reunion.  It is still heartbreaking to know that many of us first mothers chose adoption because we believed that what we were doing was only for the best for our children.  Yet, before either one of us left the hospital, life-long damage could already have been done to our children.  

One of the studies referenced was by Joseph Chilton Pearce, an author and human development scholar.  The study states that it takes less than forty-five minutes for an infant separated from his mother to  impact the brain and functions like sight.  I haven't heard of Mr. Pearce before, but I have added a couple of his books to my "read someday" list.  The thing that most interests me about Mr. Pearce is that he is certified as a HeartMath trainer, and is developing extensive insights into the heart-brain connection.  I haven't heard of this before, it sounds fascinating.   Hopefully I can learn more about this someday. 

Lauck also referrenced a study that showed that within six hours of separation from the mother, babies experienced "protest-despair" biology and "hyper-arousal and dissociation" response patterns. The conclusion of the Randomized Controlled Trial was: newborns should not be separated from their mothers.

Lauck states that many professional organizations have made recommendations promoting skin-to-skin contact and oppose routine separation of mother and infant.  My daughter-in-law, (who is due to deliver my grandson in just two weeks!) told me just the other day that her doctor puts the newborn infant directly onto momma's bare chest immediately after birth and leaves the baby there with the mother as long as possible.  They don't even take the baby to wash him/her off until the family has had time to meet each other.  The only time he does not do this is if there is a medical emergency preventing it.  

One of the most surprising references that Lauck wrote about is that of a former Catholic priest, Bert Hellinger.  Hellinger writes in his book  Love's Hidden Symmetry:   "In its most destructive form, inappropriate adoption can lead to illness and even suicide of the natural children."  I found it very interesting when reading about his book that he refers to the natural parents as "mom" and "dad" and the adoptive parents as "adoptive mother" and "adoptive father", and the adoptee as the "adopted child".  

Lauck finishes this excellent article talking about the understanding of and value of motherhood. 

I cannot agree more with one of the last sentences in the article:
To force a mother to choose between keeping her offspring or losing acceptance by the culture is to force her to split in half and as a result, to collapse. Rather than divide mothers, can we keep women intact, empower them and thus empower children to feel whole, safe and content?  
Indeed.  What a world it would be if we could do this! 


  1. I agree so much with you and reading that article was so hard in thinking of the damage I caused my son.

    I wonder too, because I was able to hold my son and be with him for the first couple days, how much trauma did it then cause him to be separated from me after that. After all those months while I was pregnant and he knew my scent and voice to those first couple days when he still had that from me to suddenly, without warning losing it all and being forced to connect with a complete stranger.

    I hate the thoughts of what that did to him. Of the damage it caused when all I ever wanted for him was the very best he could have.

  2. Cassie,
    My biggest regret (other than having to choose adoption in the first place) is that I did not know to insist on seeing my son at birth. He was hidden from me from the moment he was born... I was lost to him from the moment of birth...

    My heart breaks for all who have lost their mothers, their first families ~ whether immediately at birth, or a few days/weeks later.

  3. Suzie, if your baby was taken at birth, there *was* no choice, no decision. In fact, the hospital committed an illegal act: abduction. Do not feel guilt or regret -- adoption was not your choice (unless you really do feel that despite everything that occurred, you still would have surrendered your son if it hadn't happened at all, if you had been given support and been with your baby until at least 6 weeks postpartum, at which point a "choice" can be made.