Friday, December 11, 2009

Primal Wound Book Tour

I was invited on this Book Tour by The Open Adoption Examiner. Revolving around the book Primal Wound, there were questions presented to the whole triad of adoption that has resulted in some great insights from personal experience. This is my contribution this book tour. Please know that what I express is based on my own personal experience and I understand that not all birth mothers feel the way I do about adoption.

Q:For me, adoption was the answer. It was the only answer. I will not say it was a choice since there has to be at least two options for choice. I wonder if I had any idea of the loss and grief that would shadow me my entire life, or any concept of what my twin boys would possibly experience if I would have found a different answer. It has taken me 35 years to heal my heart. It has been a slow, continuous process and I am grateful I have the tools, the support and the self love to heal. My question is what is being done now to reach out to birthmothers who had no concept of the effects of separation for themselves let alone on their children and how do we use this knowledge to reach out to other birthmothers who need to heal and those women contemplating adoption as the only option.
Kelsey: There have been very limited advancements withing the system to help birth mothers. However, the internet has done so much to help these girls understand that they are not alone in their pain and grieving. I have been healing for almost 20 years and I agree with you that there is no amount of preparation that can really give these birth mothers the tools they will need to work through all the emotions. Like you, when I placed I was so niave in my thinking that someone would be able to help me through such a difficult period. I did not receive the phsycological care that was needed after placement. I was told that I would receive counseling and help, but like so many I fell off the agency's radar and was left to deal with it all on my own.
I have always felt that there needs to be more attention paid to the birth mother. I know, I know, adoption is about the welfare and good of the child and I agree wholeheartedly. However, there is something that people forget so often and that is this: there is no adoption without the birth mother, she ultimately is the one who makes an adoption happen. People do not want to hear that because it sounds selfish. It is selfish. But ask any new mother what is the best advice you can give to another new mother and that answer selfish. Take care of yourself. When you are tired, sleep. When you are hungry, eat. When you are wanting to be alone, tell people to please not visit but instead come at another time. Listen to your body and take care of YOURSELF. If this is well honoured advice, then why are we to assume that a birth mother does not also need to have the time to be selfish and take care of herself? Is it not logical to make sure that she is getting the help that she needs to not only deal with the aspects of being a new mother, but a mother who is also dealing with grief? More importantly, guilt? Do we as a society think about that when we think about birth mothers? Or are WE thinking selfishly to imply that we do not need to acknowledge the fact that she is a mother, but rather someone who decided to relinquish her rights to her child so she has no emotions? They are deep questions that I hope to make people out there think differently about birth mothers.
In that light, if there were more care offered and FOLLOWED through on with birth mothers after placement, perhaps there would be many more positive outcomes in the triad. I really do believe that it is the birth mother that needs that initial care in order to work through the pain, and eventually go on to live a happy and proud life.
I have done just that and after 15 years of contemplating a way to help children understand why their mothers would choose adoption for them, I was brave enough to put my story into words and my heart on the line. I now am a very determined woman with a positive view as a birth mother that is willing to share my story to help children, and birth mothers, everywhere.

Q: At the time I surrendered my children I had to believe that adoption was in the best interest of my children. I would deal with the pain and the loss but adoption was the best thing for them. If I hadn’t done my own healing work I think my guilt would have intensified after reading this book. What about the mothers that haven’t had the opportunity to heal. How do you introduce them to the concept of a primal wound and its lifelong implications without causing more anguish and pain to a mother who had no choice?
Kelsey: Honesty is the key, pure and simple. Do not try and sugar coat it for these women/girls. Placing a child for adoption is a heart wrenching decision that has no guidelines when it comes to the emotions that she will feel. There needs to be the understanding that to heal from this, more than anything, she will need to help herself. You can have all the emotional help in the world, but if you do not accept it and take what you need to begin the process of healing, then you will never be able to move on. She also needs to know that it is okay to be scared and angry, but do not let that be an excuse to hinder the road to being happy and content with her decision. It will not come quickly or without work, but understand that there are many women that have done it before her and have lived proud, fulfilling lives. There is no way to introduce this without the possibility of added anguish to an already fragile mind and heart, but I believe that if you are upfront with these birth mothers the better the chance that they will know that they are not alone. There is a better time in store for her, and eventually the pain and grief will give way to peace that she helped create a family.

Q: The author’s core premise is that the separation of birth mother from her baby will inevitably be experienced by the child as abandonment. Verrier believes this is responsible for various problems experienced by adoptees, due to unresolved issues regarding trust, rejection, shame, and identity. The author dismisses the notion that open adoption could be the “hope of the future” because the birth mother is still not the child’s “primary caregiver” (p8) and therefore the loss is still experienced as abandonment. Could real openness in adoption have the potential to change the author’s core premise? In other words, do you think that a child in a fully open adoption with ongoing contact with birth family will still experience his/her placement as abandonment? Why or why not?
Kelsey: As I answer this question, please keep in mind that I speak from my experience. I do believe that open adoption CAN help adoptees with abandonment issues. I also believe that the adoptive parents need to be 100% supportive of the birth mother in order for this to happen. My daughter has always known me. She does not remember a time when she did not know who I was and what role I played in her life. That role was that I gave birth to her, but was mature enough to know that I could not raise her on my own. Her parents continued to support me and my need to know who she was through her life with letters and pictures. I would see her from time to time, and by this I mean years would pass between physical meetings, and we never discussed why I did what I did, she just knew that I loved her because I was always keeping in touch with her. Instead, we would spend the time just hanging out and enjoying each other. She wrote an amazing article in her high school paper and told of how proud she was of me, that she was proud to be adopted, proud to be blessed with two families that loved her, and proud that I was strong enough to let her live life without me by her side. She is a wonderful young woman now who is so very loved by all who know her, well adjusted, outgoing, funny and happy...everything that I wanted for her. I know she does not see me as abondoning her, not in any way, shape or form. She instead sees me as a great role model for taking responsibility for my life, and hers, with a positive outlook on it all.
So yes, I do think that a real open adoption can be beneficial for the child, as well as the parents involved.

I want to thank The Primal Wound Tour for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this controversial, yet necessary, look into the adoption triad. I also thank the Open Adoption Examiner for inviting me to write this for them. I welcome any comments or questions that any of you may have. Thank you for taking the time to read, I am passionate about adoption and hope that my advocation can help bring changes to the way people think regarding adoption.

To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at The Open Adoption Examiner.


Lavender Luz said...

"I also believe that the adoptive parents need to be 100% supportive of the birth mother in order for this to happen."

For selfish reasons, I hope you are right on this!

I can only imagine how you must have felt reading your daughter's column in the high school paper.

I do think that dealing with our inner demons is really good for our kids. For this reason fully grieving losseis critical for firstparents and, to a certain extent, for adoptive parents.

Thanks so much for your contribution, Kelsey!

battynurse said...

Thank you for your perspective. I really appreciate hearing from a first mom who is involved with an open adoption and the insight you have.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Thank you ladies for the words of encouragement! Glad that this posting could shed some light for you! Let's hope that adoption can be viewed in a postitive way in years to come, especially the role of the birth mother.