Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Adoption & Abandonment - Mothering Magazine

Abandonment - Mothering Magazine

One longstanding puzzle in the social sciences is that the research consistently shows a slightly heightened psycho-social vulnerability of adoptees, even those adopted at birth.

To support them in this process, we need to empathize with their experience and their feelings, in its various forms. In babies, these powerful feelings are expressed physically, through such behaviors as inconsolable crying (or the other extreme, virtually no crying at all), extreme startle responses, arching or stiffening at being held, "spacing out" or sleeping all the time, severe colic or other illness. The feelings of loss, abandonment and rage that may result from the trauma of separation are overwhelming to a newborn, who hasn?t yet developed an ego, much less ego defense mechanisms. Thus, they need our help in processing these powerful feelings, and this help needs to take the form of active empathy—saying the words, out loud, that let the baby know that what he or she is feeling is allowed, and that the caring adults present truly see and hear the baby and what that baby is experiencing.

"You miss your mother. You miss your connection. You've lost something very important, and I understand. I'm not the mom you expected, I don't smell like her, I don't sound like her. I'm a different mom, and I love you, and I'm not going away. I am here for you forever, even when you feel sad."

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