What Happens in the Womb . . .


Stays in the Child.

One of the most helpful of the books I’ve read in the last year was The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier. She is the mother of two daughters – one who was adopted and one who was not. Her clinical work has been with adoptees and other members of the adoption triad. With these experiences, she has come to believe that even newly born infants, when separated from their mothers, are deeply wounded and that their pre-verbal state of consciousness renders these wounds into a feeling state without the verbal context that memories require.

This has not been well understood until recently. But upon reflection, it makes a lot of sense. The gestating fetus grows inside the mother’s body. This is a very important time in both the mother’s and the infant’s lives because they are bonding and preparing for their lives together, once the child is delivered into independent life.

Any woman who has given birth, upon reflection, will realize that her infant knew her from the first moments of its life. Taking this child away from its mother causes deep anguish and sorrow. When placed in the adoptive family situation, the infant instinctively knows this stranger is not the child’s natural mother.

While in good circumstances, the child will learn to accept it’s placement into an adoptive home, deep inside there are fears of rejection and abandonment. Individual children will deal with these anxieties in one of two ways – either they will be compliant and do their best to live up to their adoptive parents’ expectations (while fearing all along that if they don’t they will be sent anyway, causing a lifelong insecurity in the person) – or they will act out. A defiant adoptee will often disrupt the family they have been placed within, causing biological or other adopted siblings to resent them and causing feelings of rejection in the adoptive parents – if, they don’t understand the source of the challenges they face in trying to parent this child.

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