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Monday, July 18, 2005



While you and I both know we are already in full agreement about this complicated stuff... let me just state again... that as an adoptee... I could not have stated this as concisely as you have just done.


I've been meaning to come and comment all weekend and you nailed this for me. When I was working on the antiadoption article, it became clear that there's a sizable number of the adoptee community who identify with primal wound theory even if they've never heard of it or know what it is. I spoke with a couple of therapists specializing in adoptee issues and they said the same thing you did: Verrier is too strident and inflexible but it doesn't discount all of her insights.

I do believe that babies are resilient and that while they are primed to bond with the woman who is their biological mother, they must be flexible enough to bond with the next person. Makes sense considering that predictably surviving childbirth is a relatively new phenomena.

I do think that the way our culture does adoption actually makes things worse but that adoption reform can go a long way to helping adult adoptees manage the challenges that adoption can bring.

Finally, I dislike Verrier's term "wound." I don't like the way some of the followers compare being an adoptee to having a physical disability. I think this is a disservice to the adoptee community. However I realize that in order to make people take the adoptee experience seriously, it makes sense to be rather bombastic in the terminology.

I hope that eventually (and I think things are heading this way) we can honor the challenges of being an adopted person in a way that is respectful and supportive. I hope that we learn to honor first mothers as important people who matter in the lives of their children even if they are not present.

Oh one more thing. I believe that my views on this are strongly colored by my attachment parenting orientation, too. I know how important I was to Noah early on; how could I deny how important Madison's first mom was to her?


Yes, I agree too, very nicely put. It is so great to "hear" a discussion of all this. Thanks.


as being an adoptee myself, this primal wound discussion is so interesting to me, and I thought I would share my 2cents.
I do agree with Nancy and others who think that often (or probably most of the time) a child who is put up for ado is going to have some kind of "wound" .
Obviously, biological moms are very very stressed during their pregnancies, and there are animal models which show that abnormally high doses of stress hormones in the maternal blood stream cause irreversible alterations in the unborn's brain chemistry. Then, secondly, some adoptees (me for example) undergo several relation breaks in a very short time period. Thirdly, the way how the whole adoption thing is handled in the ado family as well as in general society will also influence if an adoptee sees him- or herself as someone who has been gifted or as someone whose life has been torn apart.
I do not think that all these problems apply to all adoptees, though. It's like with a divorce: some overcome this relatively easy, and some struggle for a long time.
I also should add that I do not see her problem with GS either: most surrogates are there because they want to do so, they are not rushed into any stressful decision making and society does not discriminate them.


"There's no predicting which child will suffer from a "primal wound" and which will find it irrelevant."

Wouldn't the quality of the adoptive environment be relevant here? I have zero first-hand experience of any of this, but surely a cold and rejecting adoptive parent (as described by Manuela) would increase the chances of this type wound, vs, a really enlightened and loving adoptive parent?


Excellent post. Between this, the post at Chez Miscarriage and the fact that another blogger wrote about Cindy Jordan's suicide and linked to me, I finally weighed in with my own thoughts.



Great post! Once again, you've given me some real substantial stuff to think about.


Whether it is true or not true, does the theory help anyone? If it hurts to propose a theory, why bother? You know what I mean?!?


My daughter is 9 years old, and adopted, and a recent revelation to me has been that this incredibly treasured child feels a measure of rejection at the root of her being. There's nothing I can do about that, except tell her the story of the day her birthmother placed her in my arms over and over again. "Have you ever cried so hard you couldn't breathe?" I asked her. She nodded. "That's how it was" I said. I've downplayed the birthmother grief up till now because I didn't want her to feel guilty about it.
I have another friend who has two adopted boys who were born in Haiti. Both of them have the attitude that "my mother died, so I get to live with this cool family". It's different with every child.


That's interesting. When I was researching adoption, one of the first books I read was called "Parenting the Child who Hurts". And this book made it very, very clear that even if you adopt from birth, the child will be wounded.


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