Sunday, August 9, 2009

Primal Wounds?

When a child joins a family through adoption, there is much joy surrounding this event. With each of our daughters’ adoptions, I can’t think about these events without getting teary eyed. What a gift our family was given on these days. We are so lucky to be able to parent these exceptional children.

Earlier this summer, I heard a great sermon on adoption at church. The summary of the sermon was that adoption is a joyous and wonderful event, but to get to that point, some sort of hurt was caused for the adoption to occur. As a Christian, this is adoption into Christ’s family through his crucifixtion, in terms of adoption in our world, it was the event that led to the point that adoption was the best answer.

This past week, I read one of the most heart-wrenching letters. It was a letter from an adult woman to her birth mother on her abandonment here. As I read this letter, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of letter my own children might regarding their circumstances. The hurt that this woman felt really touched me deeply.

How much do you talk with your children about their life before they joined you? Do you evern mention the reasons or possible reasons for the events that happened before they joined you? How do you feel about the "primal wound" idea that children who are placed for adoption have an inner hurt that might be with them always? What can we do as adoptive parents to help our children come to the best terms with their adoption?

Karen Maunu


  1. I love reading your blog but most of the time I don't have time to post. I finally have a few minutes and something to share. We adopted our daughter at the age of 9, she is now 11 and has been home almost 19 months. We talk about her past on a regular basis and even more so when she first came home. We have talked about her birth mother and the possible situations. What is interesting is that when I first spoke to her about it, I thought I was doing the right thing, giving her possible situations of why her birthmother did what she did. But at some point it occured to me that my dauther didn't want to hear it from her birthmothers side of the story, but from her own side. what it was like for her. Anyway, we used the idea from Patty Cogens book and made a one page summary of pictures of her transition. Normally youtake the youngest picture you have of your child, then next to it is a picture of the child and you in China and then one of the child and parents at home. Our daughters was more complicated but we made something similar, but I took it a step further. My daughter had a difficult time beliving her birth mother existed. So I started by having her draw a picture of what she thoght she looked like the day she was born. then I had her draw a picture of what she thought her birthmother might have looked like. We added that to our pictures and it seemed to help give her some sort of feeling that her birthmother existed. The other thing we did that seemed to help was make sure she understood that she was just a baby and there was nothing she could have done to cause her mother to do what she did. That it was decisions of adults.

    My daughter brings up her birthmother everynow and then, but not with the same sadness she did a year ago.

    Sorry, I got off on a different subject, but I hope I give my the daughter the skills to handle all that life will bring her. But, I also believe that she will always carry a hurt inside her. Seperation will always be hard for her. By he age of 9 she had been seperated from her birthmother, foser mother and nanny at the SWI that she bonded with. That is a lot of seperation in 9 years. Somethings in life will always be a bit more difficult for her. But again, I hope that I give her the skills to learn how to cope and handle the feelings. The best example I can give is when she first came home she did great sleeping, but then we had to cosleep. Then she was on her own again, and to help with that we would take my worn smelly shit and put it over her pillow to sleep with at night. A great friend gave me the idea. Now a year later when my daughter has a difficult time at night she will ask for my shirt to put over her pillow. She is learning and we are so proud of her every day.


  2. "Do you evern mention the reasons or possible reasons for the events that happened before they joined you?"

    You can tell the truth appropriate for their age level, but not attempt to sugar-coat.

    After all, one day they will be adults and they will be reflecting upon how you conveyed their beginnings to them.