Understanding the Emotions of Reunion
To understand the difficult array of emotion that comes with adoption reunion, one must first understand the original loss.
For mothers, they lost their child, usually shortly after birth. For many mothers they were kept away from their children in hospitals, or other settings, unable to see them or touch their babies after birth, for some the actual primal act of birth was interrupted and no eye contact allowed with their babies a wound in their psyche from which no mother was able to recover. For others they held them and fed them and then they were lost to them. As a group they were hidden, shamed, chastised, ridiculed, assaulted, punished, ostracized from society, shunned, and then thrown away after birth. Then they were further victimized as they were labelled “the kind of woman who could give away her own baby” after the pressure and coercion of the adoption agenda that was brought to bear upon her. She was alone, vulnerable, frightened and helpless against the pillars of society… the Churches, the doctors, the nurses, the social workers, the matrons in the maternity homes, and even her own parents These facts and the secrecy to which she was sworn are a deep wound which she has lived with since the day you were taken form her. This is the wound she risks opening just to be with you again.
- Joy…to think she may be reunited with her child
- Grief…years and years of disenfranchised and unresolved grief over the loss of her child
- Shame …ashamed of the sin of being an “unwed mother”
- Absolute Terror… to tell the secret to which she was sworn so many years ago and which she has kept
- Fear… of opening the “vault” of memories and emotions, fear of reprisal, fear her child will judge her
- Unworthy…to intrude into her child’s life
For Adopted Persons
Adopted persons have lived their entire lives knowing that they did not belong with their adoptive families. They worked hard to be accepted and to do what was required of them.
They were victims of the Primal Wound of separation from their mothers at birth. They bonded with their mothers; they knew their mothers smell, breathing, voice, touch and then suddenly they were taken away from her. Their cells have the memory of their mother and their loss. They were never consoled for the loss of their mother. They were expected to become someone else, take on another identity. Their original identity was stolen from them and their records have been kept from them in most provinces in Canada and this is still the case. They were issued false birth certificates in new names which were not theirs, and they were expected to act “as if born to” their adoptive parents and live up to the expectation of their ideal of a family. They have wondered all their lives about their origins, about their mother. They have felt abandoned, and they have trust issues. They are adopted. They have no medical or family history. They are adopted. That is all they know about themselves.
- Lonely – the adopted person may feel lonely in the sense that they are “alone in the world” without their natural family to validate their history and their future.
- Abandoned – the adopted person feels abandoned by his mother
- Hurt - s/he is hurt. Hurt deeply to the core that their mother left them. Imagine being a little child by the roadside left there by their mother – imagine how you might feel – this is deep inconsolable hurt that an adopted person feels.
- Angry – that they were left by their mother and that they had to “pretend” their whole life and no one cared about how they felt about losing their “real” mother. Angry with their mother for leaving them. Angry with their adoptive parents for not understanding them.
- Fear – of their fantasy of their mother being destroyed.
- Rejected- by their mother because she left him/her
- Unlovable- to their mother because she left him/her
- Guilt- for searching for their mother as it may hurt their adoptive parents , or that they will be considered “ungrateful” by their adoptive parents if they search.
“Birthright” Jean A.S. Strauss
“Adoption Healing” Joe Soll
“The Primal Wound” Nancy Verrier
“Your Children” Abreah karam
“Toronto CAS” Disclosure Package
“Reunion Relationships” Marlou Russell, Ph.D.