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Mental Health of Adoptive Child


by Origins Inc

What They Knew and Didn't Tell Us



1943.

PSYCHOLOGY OF THE ADOPTED CHILD.

Clothier. F. MD. 1943.

Clothier says in her paper in Mental Hygiene (1943). "Every adopted child at some point in his development, has been deprived of this primitive relationship with his mother. This trauma and the severing of the individual from his racial antecedents lie at the core of what is peculiar to the psychology of the adopted child.

The adopted child presents all the complications in social and emotional development in the own child. But the ego of the adopted child, in addition to all the demands made upon it, is called upon to compensate for the wound left by the loss of the biological mother".

The child who is placed with adoptive parents at or soon after birth misses the mutual and deeply satisfying mother and child relationship. The roots of which lie deep in the area of personality where the psychological and physiological are merged. Both for the child and the natural mother, that period is part of the biological sequence, and it is to be doubted whether the relationship of the child to it's post partum mother, in its subtler effects, can be replaced by even the best of substitute mothers.

But those subtle effects lie so deeply buried in the personality that, in the light of our present knowledge, we cannot evaluate them.

Clothier says: "We do know more about the trauma that an older baby suffers when he is separated from his mother with whom his relationship is no longer parasitic, but toward whom he has developed active social strivings".

For some children, and in some stages of development, the severing of a budding social relationship can cause irreparable harm. The child's willingness to sacrifice instinctive gratifications and infantile pleasures for the sake of a love relationship has proved a bitter disillusionment, and he may be reluctant to give himself into a love relationship again.

The child who is placed in infancy has the opportunity of passing through his oedipal development in relation to his adoptive parents without an interruption that in the child's fantasy, may amount to the most severe of punishments.

Because of the love the baby has come to need to receive from his mother and to give to his mother, he accepts his first responsibility in life, namely toilet training. He gives up infantile sources of pleasure for the sake of his mother, whose love he wants to hold and whom he wants to please.

The child who lacks the motivation of a growing social and emotional relationship with a highly valued love object, does not accept training in a spirit of co-operation. If he accepts it at all, it is likely to be in response to fear of the consequences of wetting and soiling. Many children use persistent wetting and soiling as a method of expressing their antagonism to a mother with whom they have not experienced an early, satisfying love relationship.

Brisley. (1939) points out that the illegitimate baby (and this applies to the prospective candidate for adoption) is under abnormal pressure to "be good". This implies first being quiet and taking feeds well, and later, accepting toilet training at an early age. This emphasis Brisley suggests is a "contributing factor to the insecurity and feeling of aloneness which seems characteristic of the illegitimate child."

Clothier goes on to say, "that every child, whether living with his parents or with foster parents, has a recourse to fantasy when he finds himself frustrated, threatened or incapable of dominating his environment. For the adopted child it is not a fantasy that these parents with whom he lives with are not his parents, it is reality.

For the adopted child, the second set of parents are obviously the unknown lost real parents. His normal ambivalence will make use of this reality situation to focus his love impulses on one set of parents and his hate impulses on another. He finds an easy escape from the frustrations inherent in his home education by assuming the attitude that these, his adoptive parents, are his bad and wicked persecutors, whereas his dimly remembered own or foster parents, from whom he was 'stolen' are represented in his fantasy as the good parents to whom he owes his love and allegiance".


1960

FANTASIES AND BEHAVIOUR OF THE ADOPTED CHILD;

Marshall D.Schechter. M.D., Beverly Hills California.

In his paper on the Observations of Adopted Children.

In a series of cases seen by him the percentage of adopted children was 13.3 as compared with the national average of 0.134. This indicates a hundredfold increase of patients in this category compared with what could be expected in the general population.

Toussieng (April 1958) of the out patients and admissions service said that one third of all patients coming to the Menninger out patient clinic were adopted.

Schechter, goes on to say. The striking thing in most cases was that the feature of their adoptive status played a significant role in the underlying dynamics of the problem.

He observed in many of his case studies on adopted children symptoms relating to such things as fantasies and "acting out" regarding the real parents, i.e. their appearance, their names and killing and murder especially toward their real mother.

Observations also included outbursts toward the adoptive parents telling them they would not do as the parents say because they were not their real parents. He also goes on to say that adopted children suffer symptoms of depression, feelings of incompleteness, phobic fear of abandonment, anxiety, aloofness and distancing of them selves which made close relationships impossible.

Schechter also noted hyperactivity and unmanageability in children of a young age. He also observed, particularly with one child, that it had relationships of the same quality with strangers as his parents, namely, superficial and dominated by a driving need to have his impulses satisfied immediately. The child could easily be comforted by a stranger as easily as by his mother.

In the behaviour of young adopted girls Schechter observed instances of such things as sex-play, exhibitionism, seductiveness and regression.

He also noted in cases of adopted boys, problems of lying, stealing, and lack of integration with others.

Schechter's observations of the adoptive parents were that often the adoptive mothers had intense feelings of inadequacy regarding their womanly functions that contributed to an over protectiveness to the children. These feelings also served as a constant reminder of her barrenness, stimulating her need to tell the story of "the chosen one".

Prior to adoption, some of these people had recognized emotional problems within themselves. Some had thought of the children as potential saviours of their marriage. Some felt that a child was essential to prove their masculinity.

Toussieng. (1958) commenting on the repetition of the story of adoption and of how "we picked you" suggests that the real parents did not want him and therefore were bad parents. Therefore, though the parents stress the wanting aspect they at the same time play the "abandonment theme".

The belief of "I'm no good: because my parents gave me away because I was no good and I am going to prove them right" is not uncommon in adoptive children.

In his comments Schechter reports we could see how the idea of adoption had woven itself into the framework of the childs personality configuration. It played a role in symptom formation and object relationships. It certainly had an effect in later development, giving the stamp of antisocial behaviour and that of a paranoidal system.

He summarises by stating " The patients in this paper do not have a fantasy about being adopted, they were adopted. Their daydream, which cannot be combated by denial, is the connection with their real parents. Who were they? What were they? Why did they give me up? Do I have any living relatives? What was my name, etc?

Clothier. (April;1943) states. A deep identification with our fore-bears as experienced originally in the mother-child relationship, gives us our most fundamental security. . . Every adopted child at some point in his development has been deprived of his primitive relationship with his mother. This trauma and the removal of the individual from his racial antecedent lie at the core of what is peculiar to the psychology of the adopted child.

Toussieng (1958) states; the adolescence of the adopted child seems to be a particularly difficult one because it is harder for adoptive adolescents to accept their rebellion against the adoptive parents, to give them up as love objects. Furthermore, I have now seen a number of cases in which children in adolescence start roaming around almost aimlessly, though some times they are seeking someone or some thing. They seem to be seeking the fantasised "good real parents".

Benedek (1938) presents an important concept regarding the development of confidence based on mother-child relationship. This is the area so sensitive in these adopted children and which can be found to under-lie so many of their disturbances.


1962

DISABILITIES IN ADOPTED CHILDREN AND ADOPTIVE PARENTS

Dr. Povl W. Toussieng. M.D.

Dr Toussieng was a child psychiatrist at The Menninger Clinic Topeka, Kansas.

Dr Toussieng suggests that adopted children seem more prone to emotional disturbances than non-adopted children; he concludes that their conflicts are caused by their adoptive parents unresolved resistance to parenthood.

He says that in spite of careful screening of adopted children and their prospective parents prior to adoption, a disproportionately large percentage of these children eventually come to psychiatric or other professional attention because of emotional, educational or social problems.

The fact that sixty one percent of the first and only child in an adopting family were particularly prone to disturbances suggested that they should look elsewhere than in the children themselves for the factors contributing to later disturbances. The children presented at the Childrens Service tended to present many severe difficulties.

Toussieng also acknowledges that severe emotional disturbances and personality disorders are over-represented among adopted children and that they may have severe emotional difficulties that may never come to the attention of professionals.

He points out that on reaching adulthood some children become obsessed with finding their real mother because they had revealed a feeling of never having been really attached to their adoptive family and never had the feeling of real belonging.

Toussieng refers to Deutsh (1945) where she discusses the influences of unconscious attitudes and conflicts on the abilities of the adoptive mother to be motherly toward their adopted children. She believes that an adoptive mothers failure to develop motherliness is the major cause of later disturbances in the child. They (the mothers) view the adopted child as narcissistic injury, as evidence that they themselves are damaged. The child in trying to identify with such parents may well acquire shaky and defective introjects.

Toussieng summarises by stating "children who have been adopted at an early age and/or who have not been exposed to psychological traumatization before adoption seem to be more prone to emotional disturbances than non-adopted children.


1963

ADOPTED CHILDREN DISABILITIES.

Michael Humphrey and Christopher Ounsted.

Michael Humphrey, M.A. B.Sc Principal Clinical Psychologist. Warneford and Park Hospitals.

Christopher Ounsted. D.M.,D.C.H., D.P.M., Consultant-in Charge Park Hospital for Children.

In a control group of 41 early age adoptees they distinguished the following symptoms. Emotional reactions (tantrums, negativism, jealousy). Enuresis, anxiety, disturbed social behaviour, aggression, withdrawal, stealing, cruelty, destructiveness, lying and encopresis.

They were impressed with finding out that one in two children adopted late had been stealing as compared to one in four children adopted at an early age. The action appeared in several cases to be expressly directed at the adoptive mother, either from a sense of rejection (in some cases well founded) or as an appeal for more individual attention. Sometimes the money would be spent on presents for friends in the hope of gaining popularity. Some of these children have stolen compulsively over a long period with no sign of remorse.

They found the adopted children suffered from varying degrees of parental deprivation, neglect, parental rejection or at the opposite extreme, over-indulgence, mental or physical illness sufficient to impair the quality of parental love, and jealously of a sibling born before or too soon after the adoption.


1963.

FANTASY OF ADOPTED CHILDREN AND ADOPTIVE PARENTS.

Schechter.M. Carlson.P.V. Simmons. J.Q. and Work. H.H.

In a paper submitted to the Childrens Bureau, US Department of Health Aug 1963.

The factor of adoption played a consistently important role in the genesis and perpetuation of the given symptom picture. Two major hypotheses were suggested for the higher incidence of psychological disturbances in the adoptee. Firstly the adoptee may intra-physically continue a split between good and bad in his infantile object relations, since in reality he has two sets of parents. Secondly, the adoptive parent is often confused in his or her role due to unconscious guilts and hostilities and tends to project this disturbance backward into the heredity of the child i.e. the natural parents.

Phipps(1953) mentioned the tendency of parents to speak about the heredity of the child as the major causative factor in behavioural difficulties.

Lemon E.M. (1959) referred to the difficulty that the adopted individual has in dealing with communication concerning his adopted status with a resulting tendency to weave factual material together with much fantasised material in his thoughts as he seeks his natural parents.

They went on to say that these patients perceived their adoptive parents as inadequate especially with the setting of limits and viewed their natural parents as their adequate set of parents.

Livermore J. B (1961) suggests that the adoptees have specific problems in identification, since the adoptive mother constantly reactivates primitive unconscious fears that her own insides have been destroyed.

They summarised by saying. "We feel that we have offered substantial evidence from many sources that the non-relative adopted child may be more prone to emotional difficulties".


1967.

ADOPTED CHILDREN.

A statement from the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 1967.37 402. Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Centre Norwalk Connecticut.

The number of adopted adolescent children who are referred to our centre and other centres is larger than their ratio in the general population. "We are impressed with the extent to which these children are pre-occupied with the theme of their adoption".

They go on to talk about the similarity of the traits and attitudes in these children which they refer to as the "Adoption Syndrome".


1970.

DISABILITIES OF ADOPTED CHILDREN.

Dr Christopher Ounsted, MA, DM, MRCP, DCH, DPM.

Dr Ounsted states that in the late fifties it had become apparent to him and his colleagues at the Park Street Hospital for Children that they were seeing an unexpectedly large number of adopted children. Many of the children owed their disabilities either to some inate handicap or to defects in the structure of their families, such as having parents who were psychotic, inadequate, psychopathic, defective, or in some other way not able to fulfill their parental roles adequately.

Ounsted noted that of the symptoms of adopted patients, compulsive theft was more significant.


1971.

ABUSE.

Henry Kemp. Archives of Diseases in Childhood (1971) states that some children may be more vulnerable to abuse than others. Among them are the hyperactive, the precocious, the premature, the stepchild and the adopted.


1974.

IDENTITY:

1974 Dr Triseliotis in his research paper on Identity and Adoption, gives examples of adoptees views on identity.

1st adoptee,
"I look in the mirror and cannot recognise myself".

2nd adoptee,
"I feel there is something about adoption that gives you a feeling of insecurity as regards just exactly who you are".

3rd adoptee,
"I feel that I am only a half a person, the other half obscured by my adoption".

4th adoptee,
"I never really felt I belonged. I feel empty and I find it difficult to make friends or be close to people. I have been hovering on the edge of a break down".


One of the main anxieties of adoptees is the fear of being different and somewhat set apart from the rest.

The adopted child has to gradually accept the loss of his natural parents and the "rejection" this implies. Yet he has to also accommodate a preferably positive image of the original set of parents and their genealogy in his developing self.

Children who are adopted into a different culture will still need to identify with aspects of their original heritage.


1975.

ABANDONMENT.

Bennett Olshaker, MD. In his paper "What shall We Tell the Kids", he notes that the adopted person has to contend with the feeling that he was abandoned, but we can try to help him in a positive manner by portraying his natural parents in a positive manner. He goes on to say that some adoptive parents may feel that their child's' parents were immoral for having a child out of wedlock. These sentiments create difficulties for the parents when the child has questions regarding sexual matters.


1976.

ADOPTED CHILDREN ADMITTED INTO RESIDENTIAL PSYCHIATRIC CARE.

Harper.J.; Williams. S. 1976.

This was an investigation over a period of five years from 1969-1974 into 22 adopted children admitted into the childrens unit at North Ryde Psychiatric Centre. Six were referred at age eleven and over, three were referred before their fifth birthday and the remaining thirteen fell between five and ten years and eleven months.

Symptoms in the children ranged from depression, aggressive acting out behaviour to stealing. In some instances stealing was a desperate attempt to buy friendship since the stolen money was to buy sweets and toys for peers. In other instances it seemed to compensate for the loss of the real mother by acquisition of material goods. In all cases it could be seen as a cry for help.

In some instances admission to the unit signals the relinquishing of parental responsibility as evidenced by eight cases where the child was made a ward of the state and placed in a child welfare home. A summary of the various outcomes indicated that they on the whole were unsatisfactory with one third settling back into their adoptive families with a positive prognosis and two thirds demonstrating a breakdown or possible breakdown in the adoptions.

Family trauma and parental pathology was investigated since it was felt that the stress of adoption could not alone account for the severity of symptoms and outcomes in the children. In terms of family trauma one mother and one father suicided after a history of depressive illness, one set of adoptive parents were murdered, two fathers were killed in car accidents with the adoptive child present and three fathers were unusually violent and aggressive men.

In seven cases, the mothers had a history of psychiatric illness prior to the adoption, including one with a schizophrenic illness. In the case of the seven mothers and three fathers for whom a psychiatric diagnosis was made after the adoption, one can only speculate on the degree to which extra-familial stresses and internal pressures contributed toward this decompensation.


1980.

ADOPTED ADOLESCENTS.

Rickarby. G.A. Eagan. P. 1980.

Rickarby and Eagan say that in their and others studies, there has been consistent evidence of morbidity of various types in adopted adolescents. He states that adoptive families are four times more as likely as biological to seek help for their distress. Acting out, degrees of depression, identity crisis and special roles, (the bad one, the mad one, or the sick one) may constitute an adolescent's expression of a families dysfunction.

With the added issues of adoption, adolescent development crises become more difficult and the concomitant distress and behaviour exaggerated. These situations include the adolescent who is unable to communicate to others his frightening or idealized fantasies about his biological parents and who cannot readily accept the identity expected of him in his adoptive family and the adopted adolescent who is struggling to cope in a family beset by marital conflict or mental illness.

Cultural fables may have a destructive aspect on the adopted adolescents development. One such fable is "the chosen child". This is often a source of great anger to the child whose experience of his family has not been "good enough". His anger is directed at the adoptive parents because these people "chose him".

Another fable is that of "the poor child whose parents did not want him" and who was adopted by the bountiful parents to whom the child should be ever more grateful.


1985.

ADOPTIVE ANXIETY, RAGE AND GUILT.

Silverman. M.A. 1985. Discusses in his paper that when adoptive status is foisted upon a child, the child is encumbered with so many problems that he or she is at risk of developing a host of psychological problems. This is particularly so if the child learns of his adoption at an early age.

These can be unhappiness, separation problems, difficulty knowing and learning, aggressive fantasies and acts, preoccupation with knives and other weapons, and his feelings of being deprived and robbed.

Adoptive status tends to affect multiple aspects of the developing personality. It interferes with the child's sense of security, the modulation of and channeling of the child's aggression, the development and resolution of the Oedipus complex, super-ego formation, and identity formation.

To lose a parent early in life, especially when there is a felt element of cruel rejection and desertion, as there tends to be when a child is told of adoption while still in the throes of "sadistic-anal" ambivalence and the hostile-dependent struggles of the reproachment crisis of separation-individuation, mobilizes in tense fear and rage. The rage at the abandoning parents is in part directed toward the adoptive parents.

In part the rage is turned back on the self, contributing to the fantasy that the child was abandoned by the original parents because he or she was bad, troublesome, greedy, and destructive.

Silverman goes on to say "nearly every adopted child or adult I have treated sooner or later has revealed the fantasy that the reason for the adoption was the biological mother died in childbirth, which tends to be depicted as a tearing, ripping, bloody, murderous affair in which the baby gains life by taking the life of the mother".

The adopted child not only needs to learn about pregnancy and childbirth to solve the mysteries of his or her origins, but also needs to find out if he or she is really a murderer! Adopted children often entertain the fantasy that the original father too has died.


1986.

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER IN ADOPTEES.

Wilson. : Green. : Soth. : 1986. Report that many adopted adolescent patients in their hospital (10 out of 21) have received a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. This diagnosis, made official in the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd edition 1980), includes the following symptoms: impulsivity or unpredictability in areas that are potentially self damaging, a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships with idealization, devaluation and manipulation, inappropriate intense anger.

Identity disturbance was manifested by uncertainty about several issues relating to identity, intolerance of being alone, affective instability, physically self-damaging acts, and chronic feelings of boredom and emptiness. It is theorised that this disorder arose because of deficits in early parenting experiences, which did not enable the child to develop a core identity, so they didn't feel part of a fused dyad, which explains their fear of abandonment and intolerance of being alone.


1988.

ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR IN ADOPTEES. ADOPTED CHILD SYNDROME.

Kirshner.D. Nagel.L. 1988.

Is there a distinct pattern of presenting behaviours and symptoms among adopted children and adolescents referred for psychotherapy? Some clinicians and clinical researchers whose day-to-day observations strongly suggest that such a pattern does, in fact exist. The senior author has observed extreme provocative, aggressive, antisocial, and delinquent conduct much more consistently among adoptees than their non-adopted counterparts.

Behind the recurrent behavioural and personality patterns there have emerged emotional and psychodynamic issues specifically linked to adoption.

Schecter, Carlson, Simmons, & Work (1964) looked at adopted and non-adopted children in a psychiatric setting and found a much greater occurrence of overt destructive acts and sexual acting-out among adoptees. Menlove (1965) used a similar sample and found significantly more aggressive symptomatology among adoptees. Although several predicted differences were significant, adoptees had significantly more hyperactivity, hostility, and negativism, and significantly more of them had passive-aggressive personalities.

What then is the adopted child syndrome? On the behavioural level, it is an antisocial pattern that usually includes pathological lying, stealing, and manipulativeness. Fire setting is sometimes seen and promiscuous behaviour is common.

Typically, the child seeks out delinquent, antisocial children or adults often of a lower economic class than the adoptive family. Provocative, disruptive behaviour is directed toward authority figures, notably teachers and parents. The child often threatens to run away, and in many cases repeatedly does so.

Truancy is common, as well as academic under-achievement and, in many cases there are significant learning problems. There is a typically shallow quality to the attachment formed by the child, and a general lack of meaningful relationships. The child reports feeling "different" and "empty".

Yet the parents of most children with the Adopted Child Syndrome exhibit a pattern of tension and denial surrounding the issue of adoption. It soon becomes apparent however, that communication about adoption is not simply absent; much worse, and the parents are tacitly communicating a message that the topic is dangerous and taboo.

The child, sensing his parents' insecurity and anxiety, is left to imagine what terrible truths they might be hiding. He feels an ominous pressure against voicing his feelings and curiosity. He senses that his adoptive parents would feel his interest in his birth parents was disloyal. He not only experiences a dread of the truth but also the stifling of his normal curiosity.


1988.

IDENTITY IN ADOPTEES.

Treadwell Penny, talks about Dr F.H. Stone, former consultant in child psychiatry at the Royal Hospital for sick children in Glasgow. Writing about the problems of identity experienced in adolescence by adopted children, Stone says:

"When there are emotional problems, really basic problems connected with identification, something is likely to happen. Instead of the young person playing roles, he may very actively take on a particular favoured role, which he proceeds to live, and this role tends often to be the least in favour with the parents or other adults who care for this young person.

And so we see again and again in our clinics the parents of teenagers who come to us in utter despair and say `Not only are we worried about the child, but the very things we have always been most afraid of: that's what he is doing'. If it was drugs then it was drugs; if it was promiscuity it was promiscuity; if it was failure to learn then it was failure to learn".


Psychologist Erick Erickson. . . calls this a "negative identity". One can readily appreciate the relevance of this to the adoptive situation, because here we see the danger, in the confusion or embarrassment of explaining to the child about the natural mother or father, of denigrating them either as people who abandoned him, who did not care for him, or who had certain attributes of personality or behaviour. The danger here is that this will backlash, and later on, especially in adolescence, this is precisely the mode of behaviour which the child adopts in his "negative identity".


1988.

WHY DO ADOPTEES SEARCH?

Robert.S. Andersen asks; "What then about the question as to why the adoptees are searching? This question can be paraphrased thus: "Why are you interested in your mother, your father, your sisters, brothers, grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews, ancestry, history, aptitudes, liabilities - in short why are you interested in you?"

This is the tragedy, that adoptees more often than not do not feel justified in living life as it is, but have to come out with socially acceptable excuses to justify their interest, needs, and their lives.

They cannot be honest with themselves or others because the conflictual forces, external if in the form of "how could you do this to your adoptive parents", or internal if in the form of "she gave me up and I do not want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that it matters", interfere with the living of life from their own original position.

Searching, is not simply an intellectual activity for the adoptee. There is an emotional component as well, and it is my belief that this emotional component is the most important part. If one genuinely wonders why adoptees search, I think that a comprehensive answer must include the following: On one level, adoptees search so they might see, touch, and talk to their biological mother - the search is an effort to make contact with one's biological family. On a different level (the bottom line), it is something more than this. I think that the search is most fundamentally, an expression of the wish to undo the trauma of separation.

Adoptees either hope (unrealistically, but not necessarily unexpectantly) to relive the life that was lost at the time of the separation, or hope (more realistically) to heal the wound caused by the separation, and therefore provide a more solid base for their lives.


1991.

SEVEN CORE ISSUES OF ADOPTION.

Kaplan.S.; Silverstein. D.:

  1. Loss: Adoption is created through loss. Without loss there can be no adoption.

  2. Rejection: One way people deal with loss is to figure out what they did was wrong so they can keep from having other losses. In doing this, people may conclude they suffered losses because they were unworthy of having whatever was lost. As a result they feel they were rejected.

  3. Guilt and Shame: When people personalize a loss to the extent that they feel there is something intrinsically wrong with themselves that caused the loss, they often feel guilt that they did something wrong or feel shame that others may know. (Silverstein).

  4. Grief: Because adoption is seen as a problem solving event in which everyone gains, rather than an event in which loss is integral, it is difficult for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birthparents to grieve. There are no rituals to bury unborn children, roles, dead dreams and disconnected families.

  5. Identity: A person's identity is derived from who he is and what he is not. Adoption threatens a persons knowing of who he is, where he came from, and where he is going.

  6. Intimacy: People who are confused about their identity have difficulty getting close to anyone, Kaplan says. And people who have had significant loss in their lives may fear getting close to others because of the risk of experiencing loss again.

  7. Control: All those involved with adoption have been "forced to give up control" said Silverstein. Adoption is a second choice. There is a crisis who's resolution is adoption.


1991.

THE BABY.

Unlike the adoptive mother the baby has experienced pregnancy. The child-in-the-womb has built up a rhythmical biological bond with the woman who will not be his mother. Prenatal psychologists believe the adopted baby has to learn to separate from the mother he has known in-utero and form an attachment to the new set of parents. Some adoptive parents believe this too.

They feel that the newborn baby has already had intimate prenatal and birth experiences and possible memories from which they are excluded. These parents interpret the baby's cries or discomfort as pining for the birthmother's smell, her touch, and the sound of her voice or naturally synchronized rhythmicity. Such hypersensitivity and fear of rejection by the baby may reflect the adopting parents own unconfessed preferences for a "natural child" of their own.

Arrival of an adopted baby revives the sense of having "stolen" a child they were not entitled to have. In addition, fantasies about the babies unknown conceptual and genetic history contribute to difficulties in falling in love with the little stranger who is to be part of their lives.


1991.

THE PRIMAL WOUND.

Verrier Nancy, 1991, believes that during gestation a mother becomes uniquely sensitised to her baby. Donald Winnicot called this phenomenon, primary maternal preoccupation. He believed that toward the end of pregnancy, the mother develops a state of heightened sensitivity, which provides a setting for the infants constitution to begin to make itself evident, for the developmental tendencies to start to unfold and for the infant to experience spontaneous movement.

He stressed the mother alone knows what the baby could be feeling and what he needs, because everyone else is outside his experience.

The mothers hormonal, physiological, constitutional and emotional preparation provides the child with a security, which no one else can. There is a natural flow from the in-utro experience of the baby safely confined in the womb to that of the baby secure within the mothers arms, to the wanderings of the toddler who is secure in the mothers proximity to her. This security provides the child with a sense of rightness and wholeness of self.

For these babies and their mother, relinquishment and adoption are not concepts; they are experiences they can never fully recover from. A child can certainly attach to another caregiver, but rather than a secure, serene feeling of oneness, the attachment is one in which the adoptive relationship may be what Bowlby has referred to as anxious attachment.

He noted that "provided there is one particular mother figure to who he can relate and who mothers him lovingly, he will in time take to and treat her as though she were almost his mother. That "almost" is the feeling expressed by the adoptive mothers who feel as if they had accepted the infant but the infant had not quite accepted them as mother.



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