There are a number of blog postings doing the rounds at the moment that focus on the complexity surrounding adoption. One of the posts that really struck a chord with me was Mash’s post titled Some Thought Provoking Conversation About Adoption. I was most interested in one of the commentators, Rebecca from Love Is Not A Pie. As an adoptee and now a mother through adoption, she raised some valid points. I went over to read her blog and loved reading the section titled An Adoption Journey: From Trauma to Healing.
I have been very conscious of the trauma Ava must have suffered when she was separated from her birth mother and what the long term effects will be from that trauma. But what has surprised me often, is how little is know about post placement trauma and the effects it can/could have on the adopted child. When I’ve discussed this with the people closest to me, I’m often met with blank stares or with comments that imply I must be crazy. After all how could a 5 hour old baby know she had lost anything? How could a 20 second old baby know, when being placed in my arms that I was not the person who had nourished, soothed and grown her for all the previous months. But I believe she knows, I believe she did know, I believe she suffered and is suffering some level of trauma from her placement. I believe that all of us are born with a unconscious knowing of our mothers that permeate every cell of our bodies and we know when we’re separated from that.
I often try to imagine what it must have been like for Ava and other babies born and then placed for adoption. Too helpless and powerless and without any ability to tell someone how scared they feel? How insecure they feel that the only thing that is familiar to them is gone. I believe we experienced some of that anxiety when she was a newborn, her colic, her inability to sleep for long stretches, the uncontrollable crying and of course her over developed Moro reflex, these all point in the direction of feeling insecure or mourning of a loss.
People always comment on the wisdom they see in Ava’s eyes. They often comment that her eyes are wise, like she knows something the rest of us don’t. And this is true, she does know something we all don’t, she knows the sense of loss and the sense of trauma that most of us will never know. There are snap shots of her that seem to capture that very deep sense of loss. Here is an example that is very poignant for me, while my little girl is a happy and precious child, there are moments when one can almost visibly see what’s going on behind her childlike innocent eyes:
But as her mother and as her father, both Walter and I have committed to raising her with no secrets and with no false pretenses. She will always be allowed to ask anything she wants to ask about her BM and BF. We will always welcome those questions and answer them as honestly and age appropriately as we can. She will always be allowed to feel whatever it is that she needs to feel surrounding her start in life. We will always be there to love, guide and support her as she comes to terms with her placement throughout the course of her life.
She is a miracle, she is our precious miracle but that does not mean that placement was necessarily a miracle for her and as such she will be encouraged and allowed to feel whatever it is that she feels without having to suppress her natural instincts, thoughts and feelings because we see her as our miracle. I believe that this is what will make us successful in our attempts with such a sacred task as raising an adopted child.
As Ava’s mother, I have often thought about the Bible story of King Solomon:
One day two women brought a baby to Solomon. Each woman said the baby was her child. Solomon said, “Cut the baby in half and give half of the baby to each woman.” (Of course, he didn’t really intend to kill the baby. It was just a test.) “NO!” screamed the real mother, “Give her the baby. Do not kill him.” Then Solomon knew who the real mother was because of the way she loved the baby. He gave the baby to its real mother.
Now as a mother, this story has so much more meaning for me. While I never conceived Ava, carried her in my womb or birthed her, I am Ava’s mother heart, just as much as her BM is. I love her more than I can ever put into words and will never ever knowingly allow any harm to come to her.
And it is for this reason that I will continue to read, research and blog about our journey through the sacred task of effectively raising our beautiful adopted miracle.