Found Book Tour

This is my first book tour post. I must admit, I’m writing it at the last minute. I also must admit that I waited until the last minute because I didn’t really enjoy Found: A Memoir, by Jennifer Lauck and the idea of pondering it deeply (or at all) was not appealing. Having said that, I recognize the value in returning to the book and working through some of the questions; perhaps I’ll learn something about myself as I find a way to articulate my feelings about the book.

On pp 17-18, Jennifer talks about a baby searching for her mother after being born. How did this sensory-rich passage strike you? What thoughts did it trigger about the role you play in adoption?

I think this was the first moment that I started to feel negatively about the book. There was something very upsetting–and incredibly hopeless–about this passage; it made me so sad for so many parents reading it, wondering if their own child had suffered in that way. And I’m not just considering the birth parents or adoptive parents of adoptive children, but those of babies in the NICU or who are separated in the first days for some other reason.

I realize that just because I don’t want something to be true doesn’t make it untrue but I didn’t feel that the author presented any resources to back up the very serious claims made during this part of the book. I’m assuming she got this information from Nancy Verrier – the author of The Primal Wound – with whom she mentions working closely. I must admit that I didn’t research that author’s findings on the subject, but I felt that starting that section with, “What is not commonly known–although it is commons sense–is that within moments of separation from the mother, a newborn will experience outrage, panic, and eventually terror,” without quanlify (or quantifying) that statement, seems irresponsible. How does the author know this to be true? And if it is true: How long does this go on? Did my daughter feel this when she was taken, hours after her birth, to get shoots and undergo basic testing? Did she feel it when I asked the nurses to keep her a couple of extra hours so I could get some rest after 24 hours of labor induced sleep deprivation? Do babies who are placed immediately in the arms of their adopted mothers feel this? Do babies in the NICU experience this continually for the weeks or months they are there? I just found the whole thing to be incredibly presumptuous and totally unsubstantiated. It felt irresponsible that she would include it without referring to validating scientific evidence or explaining under what circumstances a baby would suffer in this way.

What part of Ms. Lauck’s adoption journey challenged your idea of adoption the most?

At first I thought that Ms. Lauck’s adoption journey most challenged my idea that adoption is a positive experience that provides something wonderful for all parties involved (while of course still being a difficult and complicated experience, to be sure). In the end it didn’t challenge my ideas about adoption that completely, but I definitely had my moments throughout the book.

I would say that this book did challenge my belief that safeguards are in place to protect (at least as much as can be reasonably expected) everyone involved in adoption, birthmothers, adoptive parents and adopted children. Of course Ms. Lauck’s adoption took place long ago, when proceedings were more secretive and sometimes decidedly less ethical, but I couldn’t help but wonder, if it were so easy, then, for her to be adopted by a family that so clearly could not provide her with a good, stable life, how plausible would a similar situation be today? I’m assuming, from the limited information I have on the adoption process, that such a situation would not be take place now, but I also know that anything can happen and frequently does. The idea that a child can be placed with a family that is already struggling significantly is upsetting.

What did you believe was the take-away message of this memoir? Did that idea change for you when you read the afterward?

I honestly felt that the take-away message of the memoir was that adoption is a negative institution that should be avoided at all cost. That opinion only seemed to be solidified by the author in the End Note, where she mentions the horrors of American families adopting orphaned children after international disasters followed by how “unhelpful” it is to take a child away from her mother due to “economic struggles, her age, or even her education.” While I do believe that it is imperative we offer women all the resources necessary to provide for their children–if that is what they want–I also recognize that sometimes no amount of resources will render a parenting situation best for both mother and child. Ms. Lauck seems unable or unwilling to recognize that.

It’s clear that the author has been deeply wounded by her experiences and she has every right to feel the way she does; I just wish she would acknowledge how her experience might bias her opinion about adoption in general. Perhaps if she did so I would be better prepared to consider her assertion that the legal adoption of a child between two willing parties is the same as snapping up a child found lost and crying in a grocery store and “admonishing her to “forget that mommy, I’m your mommy now.” Instead, I found the author’s portrayal of her journey, and the author herself, to be so ascetic that her pleas ultimately fell on deaf ears.

I’m sure it’s clear from my answers that I didn’t not enjoy the book. While I thought it was beautiful written and marveled many times as the poetry of her prose, I continually felt unable to embrace her acerbic nature.

Or maybe it’s just that, as a woman who is hoping to meet her own older sister lost to closed adoption, I don’t want to acknowledge that adoption can end in such bitter remorse.

Thank you, Lori, for managing this book tour. I’m very interested to read everyone else’s responses today and over the long weekend!

&

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

21 responses

  1. Oh, my. We in the adoption triad tend to forget that there are others affected by adoption beyond adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents. There are also other people in the birth family — siblings and other extended clanspeople.

    You explain well why this book rubbed you the way it did — you have a sister out there and you don’t know her story. Of course you are hoping that it’s very different from Ms Lauck’s.

    I, too, thought about “those of babies in the NICU or who are separated in the first days for some other reason.” Sometimes we just have to know we’ve done the best we can with the hand we’re dealt and not allow ourselves to second-guess or feel badly. Because that serves no purpose — it the primal wound doesn’t exist it’s wasted effort and if it does, there’s nothing we can do to change it. With awareness we might be able to mitigate it, though.

    Thanks for participating, Esperanza, even though it wasn’t easy.

  2. I had a very hard time reading the passages about the babies in the NICU being separated from their parents. Poor J, my son. If I’m honest with myself, he really did look terrified in there. No wonder I needed to spend every minute I could in there, annoying the hell out of the NICU staff. Since reading this, I have put a lot more time and energy into physically embracing, snuggling and hugging the twins. Not that I didn’t do that before, but I just am constantly reassuring them that I am there.

    I agree that the author’s voice was sometimes acerbic and hard to relate to. She reminded me a bit of Barbara Kingsolver in that way. I learned a lot from both of them, but some of the information was coming from a place of the highest moral authority. And I tend to bristle at that kind of tone. I’m kind of a contrarian that way 😉

  3. I had the same wonderings about the passage describing the baby searching for its mother after it is born—or similar ones, anyway.

    I don’t know how I feel about the “primal wound” theory—I am not an adoptee so a large part of me feels I don’t have the right to an opinion on it, but I feel like I need to understand the arguments for and against it because my children *are* adoptees. It is something I am aware of, and there are times when they were infants, crying unconsolably no matter what I did, that I wondered if it was because I was not the person they were looking for to calm them. (Friends who have biological children have assured me that their babies did the same thing, and that sometimes babies just cry no matter what you do. But that didn’t stop me from wondering…)

    I wonder—if there is such a thing as the “primal wound”—whether my children’s experience will be at all by having been held and cared for and nurtured by their first mother in the hours and days after their birth. Reading that passage made me certainly hope so… xo

  4. Jennifer here and I want to read your post over and over again for your willingness to keep thinking despite the strong negative reaction.

    You have wanted some substantiation of my research and so, I’ve included that in the bottom of this response. I hope it’s helpful. I did not include it in the book because it’s not a research book, it’s a memoir. But your point is well made and since it’s important…there you go.

    You wrote: “And I’m not just considering the birth parents or adoptive parents of adoptive children, but those of babies in the NICU or who are separated in the first days for some other reason.”

    This is the bottom line of what I am writing about and crucial. I am thinking about these babies too. My son was taken from me at birth…he was six weeks premature and this removal from me was “standard procedure.”

    What resulted was neurological damage in his optical nerves that we were told was the result of a “severe head trauma.” He was taken to a trauma specialist and treated–at age nine–and the doctor thought he had been in a car wreck. My son had experienced no “head trauma.” I was told about the research that supported a trauma based result of our separation by an optometrist who handed me Nancy Verrier’s book, Coming Home to Self. He didn’t even know I was adopted. He was trying to help me understand that my son suffered from what adopted children suffer from but that no one will admit.

    My daughter, born on time and put in my arms immediately, is a totally different child. My son has always been agitated, angry, reactive and has struggled with core imbalances. Whereas she is content in the world. This direct experience helps me see that babies do experience a myriad of internal reactions that the outer world is not aware of or will not notice because of the script they are given by society that reads: “adopted children are so lucky to be adopted, birth parents are so relieved to be released of their burden and babies are a clean slate–they’ll never know or remember any of this.”

    The ramifications of adoption practices are mind boggling to consider. Adoption turns the volume up on the situation but we are kidding ourselves if we thing adoptees are the only mis-managed babies. The medicalization of birth and the practice of separating children from mothers has produced a high profit industry with babies who are suffering in ways that show up later in the form of learning and behavioral disabilities (see The Business of Being Born for a shocking demonstration of the damage we do to children at the moment they are born).

    We live in a society with a divorce rate of 50% and it’s believed this largely because westerners suffer from a wide range of attachment disorder (Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendricks)

    There is a problem with what we are doing to children and what we are doing to mothers–who believe it is acceptable to surrender their children. What is going on that we, as a society, have allowed a woman the option of parting with her child? A bear wouldn’t dream of walking away from a cub. A whale would never abandon her young. We are mammals. What has gone wrong that our thinking has interferred with the natural process of nurturing.

    Okay…I’m on a rant. : )

    I will stop and here is that research:

    Vancouver, BC (Canada) — The Dalai Lama believes he has the key to a happier world, and it has nothing to do with political process or balance of power. The Buddhist spiritual leader, who arrived in Vancouver Thursday for a three-day visit, said the force that brings the deepest satisfaction to the world is the tender embrace between mother and newborn child.

    Bonding the key, Dalai Lama says
    by Michael Scott, Vancouver Sun, September 8, 2006
    Vancouver, BC (Canada-Vancouver BC) — The Dalai Lama believes he has the key to a happier world, and it has nothing to do with political process or balance of power. The Buddhist spiritual leader… said the force that brings the deepest satisfaction to the world is the tender embrace between mother and newborn child.

    “I am now 71 years old [but] I feel, still, deep in my mind, my first experience, my mother’s care. I can still feel it,” the Dalai Lama told a small audience at city hall, after a private meeting with Mayor Sam Sullivan.

    “That immediately gives me inner peace, inner calmness,” he added.
    The challenge in modern society is to hang on to that deep sense of connection later in life. “When we grow up, when our brain develops, then our intelligence causes short-sightedness,” he said. “And I think also the influence of the environment [plays a role]: then aggressiveness, fear, jealousy, anger, frustration — these things arise, and [cause our potential to] become submerged.”

    The Dalai Lama said his No. 1 priority is to promote this quality of human bonding, a force he calls “human value.”

    “After birth, our first experience is mother’s affection,” he said. “Mother’s care. The child at that time, just after birth, may not have the idea ‘This is my mother.’ But [will have a connection] because of the biological system or need, feeding, relying on that person. And on the mother’s side there is also that sort of tremendous feeling of care — and with that milk, also comes [the connection]. This is not due to religious faith, but because of the biological factor. That is the basis of our life breath, how our life started.

    “So, now the time has come, I feel, that as a result of discussion — of exchange, different ideas, different views — and as a result of listening to others’ problems, and noticing the global-level problems, including terrorism, I feel, if we make more effort to sustain our basic value, I think humanity may become more peaceful. More compassionate. As a result, differences can be easily solved through dialogue. Through talk. Through mutual understanding. So that is my number-one commitment: the promotion of human value.”

    The separation from the mother’s body, at birth, is the most dreadful thing. The baby was one with the mother and then the people take the child away and put him somewhere else. Dreadful. Eckhart Tolle, Author of Freedom From the World

    LAMAZE INTERNATIONAL:
    In recent years, studies have shown that it’s best for mothers and their healthy baby to stay together after birth (Bergman, Linley, & Fawcus, 2004; Bystrova, Matthiesen, et al., 2007; Bystrova, Widstrom, et al., 2007; Christensson et al., 1992; International Lactation Consultant Association, 1999; Moore & Anderson, 2007; Moore, Anderson, & Bergman, 2007; World Health Organization [WHO], 1998). And experts agree that unless a medical reason exists, healthy mothers and babies shouldn’t be separated after birth or during the early days following birth ( Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine [ABM] Protocol Committee, 2007; American Academy of Family Physicians, 2007; American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] Expert Workgroup on Breastfeeding, 2005; International Lactation Consultant Association, 1999; UNICEF/WHO, 2004; WHO, 1998). Interrupting, delaying, or limiting the time that a mother and her baby spend together may have a harmful effect on their relationship and on breastfeeding success (Enkin et al., 2000).
    Keeping Mothers and Babies Together 
Babies stay warm and cry less, and breastfeeding gets off to a good start when mothers and their baby have frequent time together, beginning at birth. Mothers learn to recognize their baby’s needs, responding tenderly and lovingly. A connection that lasts a lifetime begins to form.

    The Moment of Birth 
Nature prepares you and your baby to need and seek each other from the moment of birth. Oxytocin, the hormone that causes your uterus to contract, will stimulate “mothering” feelings after birth as you touch, gaze at, and breastfeed your baby (Uvnäs-Moberg, 1998; Winberg, 2005). More oxytocin will be released as you hold your baby skin-to-skin. Your brain will release endorphins, narcotic-like hormones that enhance these mothering feelings. These hormones help you feel calm and responsive and cause the temperature of your breasts to rise, keeping your baby warm (Uvnäs-Moberg, 1998). Because of the normal “adrenaline rush” babies experience right after birth, your baby will be bright, alert, and ready to nurse soon after birth (Porter, 2004; Righard & Alade, 1990). During the hours and days following birth, you will learn to understand your baby’s cues and unique way of communicating with you.Recommendations from Experts 
The benefits of keeping moms and babies together are so impressive that many professional organizations have made recommendations promoting skin-to-skin contact and rooming-in and opposing routine separation of mothers and babies after birth. These organizations include the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM Protocol Committee, 2007); American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP Expert Workgroup on Breastfeeding, 2005); the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women & Committee on Obstetric Practice, 2007); the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (2000); the World Health Organization (1998); and the International Lactation Consultant Association (1999).

    Nancy Verrier Position Paper: Every child who is separated from his or her biological mother will experience abandonment and loss. The key word here is “experience,” because many people would like to believe that relinquishment and adoption are simply concepts, and that the very real pain that results can be overcome by intellectual understanding or legislative amendment. http://www.nancyverrier.com/pos.php

    There exists a great need for legislative action and concern for the rights of adoptees. But few dare give voice to that which they know in their hearts: that the connection between biological mother and child is primal, mystical, mysterious, and everlasting. Far more than merely biological and historical, this primal connection is also cellular, psychological, emotional, and spiritual. So deep runs the connection between a child and its mother that the severing of that bond results in a profound wound for both, a wound from which neither fully recovers. In the case of adoption, the wound cannot be avoided, but it can and must be acknowledged and understood.
    A child separated from its mother at the beginning of life, when still in the primal relationship to her, experiences what I call the primal wound. This wound, occurring before the child has begun to separate his own identity from that of the mother, is experienced not only as a loss of the mother, but as a loss of the Self, that core-being of oneself which is the center of goodness and wholeness. The child may be left with a sense that part of oneself has disappeared, a feeling of incompleteness, a lack of wholeness. In addition to the genealogical sense of being cut off from one’s roots, this incompleteness is often experienced in a physical sense of bodily incompleteness, a hurt from something missing.
    Any injury to the basic goodness of Self interferes with healthy, phase-adequate ego development, resulting in premature ego development and a reluctance to trust others to “be there.” Recent studies in brain development tell us that one’s environment and one’s perceptions of the environment influence the way in which the neurons of the brain connect. There will be a difference between the environment of security and safety of being with the mother with whom an infant was prenatally bonded, and the anxiety and uncertainty of being with biological strangers (who may also leave at any time). The trauma of being separated from the mother, therefore, results in patterns of behavior, emotional responses, and the sense of Self and others, which will be different from that which would have occurred had there been no trauma.

    Separation trauma often manifests in one of two diametrically opposed behavioral patterns: aggressive, provocative, and anti-social; or withdrawn, acquiescent, and compliant. In both cases, the child is wounded, but each responds to the pain and anxiety in a different way. Each holds the same wish for love and acceptance, and each carries the same fears of rejection and abandonment. In neither case is the child operating from her true Self, but from a false self, which she believes helps protect her from further hurt, rejection, and disappointment. Add to that the fact that she doesn’t see herself reflected anywhere in the family, and one can begin to understand the need she has to constantly try to figure out how to be in this family.

    One of the greatest hindrances to healing is denial. Yet denial prevails among professionals and even some triad members, as well as in the general population. It is difficult to face the fact that by definition every adopted child is an abandoned child, who has suffered a devastating loss. No matter that the adoptive parents call it relinquishment and the birth mother calls it surrender, the child experiences it as abandonment. Yet, because there may have always been an undercurrent of anxiety and sadness in his life, the child doesn’t realize that everyone doesn’t feel this way and that this feeling is a result of a loss he experienced before he had conscious memory.

    It is important to recognize that the adoptee was present when the substitution of mothers took place. The experience was real. That he does not consciously remember the event should not detract us from this truth. It wasn’t a concept to be learned or a theory to be understood; it was a traumatizing experience about which the adoptee may have persistent and ambivalent feelings, all of which may be legitimate. He is not abnormal, sick, or crazy. His feelings are an appropriate response to the most devastating experience one could ever have: the loss of the mother.
    This loss cannot be eliminated by intellectual understanding, although this is important; or by legislation, although reform is certainly needed. The adoptee’s loss must be acknowledged, validated, and worked through, so that she can gain a new attitude toward it and begin to gain a sense of Self (who she is), self-esteem (how she feels about herself), and self-worth (how she believes she is valued by others). Only when we set aside our denial … when triad members acknowledge their pain, and when clinicians recognize the differences between biological and adoptive families … can we proceed down the path to healing with understanding, insight, honesty, and courage. http://www.nancyverrier.com/pos.php

    James Prescott: “one of the brain’s neuro-chemical transmitter substances—serotonin—has been shown to be significantly reduced under conditions of failed mother-infant bonding” (Prescott, 1997) This reduced serotonin level influences conditioned avoidance, sleep regulation and impulse control (van der Kold, McFarlane & Weisaeth, 1996)

    It takes 45 minutes for a baby separated from its mother to go into shock, Joseph Clinton Pearce, author of Magical Child and Evolutions End.

    Traumatic reactions occur when action is of no avail…the human system of self-defense become overwhelmed and disorganized. Judith Herman, author of Trauma and Recovery

    • Dear Ms. Lauck,

      Thank you very much for reading my post and responding to my concerns. I’m so sorry to hear of the trauma experienced by your son. I’m also sorry to hear that it has affected, and continues to affect him in his life. I also very much appreciate you including the research on which you based your claims. I will review it thoroughly.

      I also appreciate your thoughts on adoption, though I don’t necessarily agree with them. I think it is an understandable position to take for someone in your position – a woman who, on the one hand, was very much affected by adoption, in what I feel I can presume to be a negative way, and as someone who has the luxury of birthing your own genetic children and experiencing the wonders of motherhood in that way. I wonder what you would say to all the couples trying desperately to create their own families and finding it impossible to do so by “traditional means.” I’m not arguing that adoption should exist to fill the gaping holes in their lives, but surely there are times when, despite the loss involved for all people, adoption is a noble path. Perhaps not. Perhaps I’m letting my membership in the ALI community inform my judgement, as I believe your experience is coloring your own. It just seems too extreme for me to believe that adoption is inherently bad, which seems to be your position. But then again, my only connection to adoption is through my friends who have chosen that path to build beautiful loving families and through my sister, who my mom was shamed into giving up (much as you were and during the same time) and whom I hope to meet with some day (but seems to have made no steps to do so as of yet).

      Thank you again for responding to my post. I very much appreciate the time you spent to consider my words, which I’m sure were not easy to read.

      -Esperanza

  5. Esperanza, I really appreciated hearing your perspective. It took me ages to get through the book, because I would have to set it down for long lengths of a time to let myself cool off after passages like the first one you addressed. I had the same questions as you did, and had to keep reminding myself, that this was coming from a very specific and personal point of view. But it didn’t make it easier to digest.

    I really, really hope you get to meet your sister one day. I am just now getting to know my birth-brothers, and so far, its been pretty great.

  6. I am, of course, so excited about adoption. I have also learned so much about it over the past couple of years that challenges my excitement. To know that so many adoptees feel differently (not Ms. Lauk – I haven’t read the book so I don’t know how she feels), or that many in society view the ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for adoption – that makes me selfishly very sad. I hate that my becoming a parent is facilitated by others experiencing loss. The dichotomy leaves me feeling very guilty (which I plan to explore more fully once my adoption is complete and my blogging restrictions are lifted!)

  7. I take on this question of the goodness or badness of adoption over at the Maybe Baby site.

    I think adoption exists…as does infertility. The two have met each other and there is much to talk about.

    I think we are in trouble when we call adoption a “noble path,” because we are now talking about the script that society writes about adoption which states: adoptive parents are saints for taking on the unwanted child. We now have the whole other side which is that the adoptee is “unwanted,” or “unlucky” and required rescue and then there this the issue of the “bad birthmother” who needed to be rescued from motherhood. These are scripts and they are not in alignment with the biological reality inside the people living the lives. John Sobraske, a therapist in New York, speaks to this very well in an interview done on my site during Adoption Awareness month. I share the link with you and your readers in hopes these calls can help shine light: http://jenniferlauckmemoirwriting.com/adoption-awareness-2011/

    My favorite passage about adoption, as well as the attitudes and risks, comes from Bert Hellinger who writes Love’s Hidden Symmetry. It is here on googlebooks: http://books.google.com/books?id=8vUti2ErK9EC&q=adoption+#v=snippet&q=adoption&f=false

    Once there, type in “adoption” and perhaps what he says might make sense.

    As an adopted person, who has had a bit of experience, I can only go with what I know. I have yet to meet a family, who has adopted and not found out there were some serious and disquieting problems behind the scenes. These are the issues I hope these conversations can address. For too long, adoptees have suffered in silence and so have their adoptive families. Things are not perfect in any family. Things are not perfect in the adoption situation. I hope that is the take away of my own work.

    Thank you for your openness to listen.

    • Dear Ms. Lauck,

      I really appreciate the dialogue you are sustaining, both here and on The Maybe Babies’ blog (where I also posted this response). I have to admit that much of it is hard to hear, and I’m sure is much harder for adoptive parents, but it is also important to consider. As you said, you’ve heard this story so many times, talked so many people. I don’t doubt for one second that you have heard countless other adoptees express feelings similar to your own.

      I’m also assuming that these are adult adoptees who were placed in situations similar to yours, situations in which first mothers did not feel empowered to make any kind of decision, in which babies were take from them, possibly against their will. These sound like horrible situations, situations much like the one my mother suffered, and I can’t imagine the trauma they have caused all involved.

      I have to admit though, that the stories of adoption that I read on the blogs of my friends are not like that, they are nothing like that. They take place in rooms where first mothers and adopted mothers share in the experience of a very loved child being born, where that child stays with it’s birth mother for hours or days so as to avoid trauma and provide important nutrients, where relationships are formed and maintained between birth mothers and their children. Are the results still the same? Are the adoptive children still, in your eyes, equal to emotional slaves? Is that really the only outcome, even when adoptive children are give the chance to speak freely about their feelings, to mourn their lose, to be outraged and upset, and yet still be loved fiercely by their adoptive parents. Maybe you have met countless people in these situations and maybe their feelings as you described them. If that is true, I am deeply, deeply saddened. For them, for you, for the people who have given so much of themselves in the hopes of creating a happy family. If it true what you say about adoption, if there really is no way for it to be a positive path to family building, then that is a tragedy I suppose I am not yet ready to accept. The reality of it is too grim.

      I find it interesting that you so cherish being a mother, that you describe it as being so completely transformative and yet you are so quick to assume that you would never pursue adoption to ensure that transformation. Again, I believe you speak from a place of great fortune and you cannot possible know what is like to contemplate a life that might be void of the one thing you always expected would give it meaning. Of course, not all people who can’t have biological children don’t choose adoption, many live child free or choose other paths, but they have done so having considered loss and pain and tragedy in ways that are unfathomable for those of us who have not had to walk in their shoes. I know that adoption should not be defended just because it is one way to bring hope, love and parenthood to people who would otherwise suffer even more unimaginable loss, but it does feel important to include them in thd discussion.

      When I used the word noble (and I thought long and hard about using that word) I was worried it would be taken in the wrong context. When I say adoption might be the noble path, I don’t speak of the nobility of adoptive parents in saving some poor child who would otherwise have nothing, shaming the birth mother in the process. When I call adoption noble, I speak of what I can consider to be the noble venture of bringing two families together, first and forever families, to create a loving unit that’s is first and foremost intended to nurture the child that is the nucleus of the unit. I think that is an incredibly noble act, for all involved. I know that not all adoptions happen that way, but I also know that more and more are. There are people out there who recognize the trauma and loss of adoptees and who are trying so hard to honor that and create a situation that is nurturing despite the difficulties and imperfections.

      Again, thank you for being open to this discussion.

  8. I too found the book hard to read, although I enjoyed it. While I do think adopted children experience a significant loss, I think this is a story of one person’s struggle with that loss. Other people manage it differently. I have several friends who were adopted (and I only found out when we started our adoption process). What I learned from talking to them is that they all have very different perspectives and experiences. Some have struggled significantly; others have wondered about their birth families, maybe even searched and/or reunited, but still feel very connected to their adoptive families and feel they were able to come to terms with the adoption “issues” in their lives easily; one has information about her birth family (provided by her adoptive family) but has told me she has no desire to search because she feels she belongs in the family she was raised in. As I read the book, I viewed it more as one person’s story and search and something that might help me understand the myriad of feelings my children will experience.

    Glad you were part of the book tour.

  9. First of all, I think it’s great the author commented on your review! I have enjoyed reading the thoughtful reviews that you and JJiraffe have posted (will read the others too). I’m really bothered about the primal wound/damage from being separated from mother point too. As a mother of a child via surrogacy, how am I to interpret that? My child is biologically mine but carried by another – was he longing for our surrogate? It sort of blows my mind.

    I…I do think there is a connection between the woman that carries a baby and the baby. There has to be, but I don’t think it is as all-encompassing as the primal wound theorists would have us believe. Or maybe that’s just my own wishful thinking.

  10. I have read this thread with great interest. I don’t think is that the effects of adoption/separation/surrogacy/NICU are “black and white” or “either-or.” There are shades of gray; multitudes of them. They must be considered, and they affect individuals differently, depending on their temperament, circumstance, and life experiences.

    An fyi: wonderful studies about child trauma and the brain have been researched and reported on by The Child Trauma Academy :http://www.childtrauma.org/index.php/home.

  11. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the book. I ended up feeling the same way. “I didn’t not enjoy the book. While I thought it was beautiful written and marveled many times as the poetry of her prose, I continually felt unable to embrace her acerbic nature.”

  12. I had wanted to participate in this book tour, but the timing didn’t work for me. I appreciate and respect your honesty in your review and am impressed by the open dialogue you and the author are having here. I wasn’t expecting that when I clicked over and I my jawed literally dropped when I saw all the back and forth you have had so far.

    I was surprised to read some of what you shared about the book and the author’s perspective on adoption. The people I know in my life who have connections to adoption (as adoptees or adoptive parents) overall seem to have a different and more positive experience. However, I have not read this book and thus can’t speak to what I have not seen for myself.

    Thank you for sharing. I love book tours and think they are such an awesome way to process what reading the books evoke in us. I am sorry you didn’t enjoy this selection more, but glad to see your experience led to an interesting and thought-provoking interchange here.

  13. Fantastic discussion. Esperenza, I had trouble reading parts of the book as well, especially since I saw other contributers (in my mind) to the author’s overall mental well-being. i.e., being schlepped around to several households, being treated like a second-class citizen, and abuse. Still, I believe that we have to read and contemplate all sides of adoption and recognize it is a difficult path for members of the triad.

  14. Great discussion. I haven’t read the book, but as someone who may have adoption in my future, it both interests and terrifies me that some people have such negative experiences. I guess I naively thought that as long as you loved an adopted child as your own and gave them a stable, loving home, they have as good a chance as a biological child of becoming a happy, successful person.

  15. I am loving what this book is doing to all of us! So many great points of view from all different sides, I think this is one amazing discussion all around! Thank you all, bloggers and author Jennifer Lauck, for such passion and honesty!

  16. Hi Esperanza,

    I felt myself getting all worked up and I didn’t even read the book! I did, after reading these responses — visit the site on childhood trauma — and here’s what I have to add — anecdotal though it may be…I was three months premature and spent two full months in the newly minted NICU unit near the small Illinois town where I was born in 1972. My mother wasn’t allowed to touch nor hold me IN THAT ENTIRE TIME.

    (Okay, so we have a complex relationship…but I am not, nor do I think of myself as irretrievably wounded)

    I went home to a house of violence where, my mother tells the story, my father beat her while she held me to her chest sitting on the bed. My household was filled with violence and saturated with fear — but my mother’s fierce love permeated me too — I have to believe that — and my father’s when he was sober — and all the other people who came into my life after his murder with my own mother’s deterioration and depression…and I am living a stable and happy life — not without struggle — early on with depression and ongoing anxiety — no doubt changes in my brain chemistry from those early traumas…

    I guess my takeaway from these comments, not having read the book at all and just on the periphery, is that we humans are fragile and terrified creatures and we do the very best we can — and so often we fail — but if just one person gives us unconditional love — just one — there is the possibility that we thrive.

    I understand there’s so much politics — so many complex lenses through which we can view adoption — race/class etc… and some have levied the term imperialist too — the big hot-button academic word of the last twenty years… (I’m thinking in particular cross-cultural/international adoption here because it was mentioned earlier and in my journey with infertility G and I did a lot of hard thinking about these issues) — and in an ideal world we would fight the root causes of injustice/war/famine — we would fight world hunger and poverty so that everyone might be on an equal playing field and able to raise their children — in an ideal world no child would be faced with brutality — but I’m with you in my hope that the majority of children who are adopted are adopted into loving homes — not without pain, not without questions, not without longing (and who among us is free from those…adopted or no?) — and that love — in the end — wins.

    Long winded, perhaps rambling..trying to fit it in before naptime ends…

    XO

    Pam

  17. It’s taken me a while to reply to this post because I wasn’t sure what to say and I wanted to think about it (because you left such a thoughtful comment on my blog).

    For starters, the Primal Wound theory is highly debated. I haven’t read the book so I’m withholding judgement. I don’t think it’s impossible for an adopted child to bond with their adoptive mother. I know that my adoptive mom and I are best friends. She’s my biggest supporter and my rock. We love each other very much and she really is an fantastic mother. I consider myself very blessed to have such a great Mom.

    Thank being said, I did think of my first mother. I ended up searching not because my adoptive parents were bad (quite the opposite) but because they had raised me to be a strong woman who had the tools at her disposal to go after something that I really wanted – to know where I came from. It’s a natural feeling to want to know, and I don’t think I could have gone looking if I didn’t have my parents’ support behind me.

    If you asked my family and friends if I had a good adoption experience, they would say absolutely, without a doubt. They would said it was positive and that I was well adjusted and that adoption is not a factor of my life. Were I to write a book or where they to visit my blog, they wouldn’t know it was me. I don’t discuss the questions or the negative aspects with them. At all.

    I’m not saying that people can’t have a positive experience. That’s not the point. I know there are adoptees out there who have the best experience. And when it comes to the actual experience, I think mine was pretty amazing. But I don’t like that I was adopted. No matter how amazing my parents are, I’ll never like being adopted. I love my family very much. And it breaks my heart that I don’t feel differently. But I will never like that I have to deal with my adoption every single day. I will never be grateful that this path was chosen for me. And I will never say that I am glad to be adopted.

    Adoption isn’t black and white. Jennifer had a hard childhood. And it probably did affect her views on things. But that doesn’t mean that just because she had a bad childhood she was bound to feel that way and therefore if you treat your children differently, they will feel amazing about their adoption.

    For adoptive parents, I can only say that you have to love your children as adoptees. If you’re in an open relationship, I think that’s a huge plus, something I didn’t have, but that doesn’t make everything better. And know that you are your children’s parents. I love my adoptive parents more than words can say. And for me, the best thing they’ve ever done for me was to love me back and to support me in this. That’s all anyone can do right?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s