Infertility and Narcissism

So many times, I have read adoptees speaking of their adoptive mothers as narcissists. It seems that Infertile women have a higher rate of narcissism. Many of these women become adoptive mothers. The findings of a research study (Psychological profile of women with infertility: A comparative study) revealed that infertile women group differed from fertile women group with respect to narcissism, dimensions of attachment style and uses of defense mechanism. The primary infertile group also showed marked difference from the secondary infertile group with respect to those variables.

Though I did love my adoptive maternal grandmother, I am forced to realize that she likely was a narcissist. I had to look up the definition. “Personality qualities include thinking very highly of oneself, needing admiration, believing others are inferior, and lacking empathy for others.” My mom struggled with her, never felt she quite measured up. My adoptive maternal grandmother was a phenomenal person and well regarded in her own circles but I do believe she damaged my mom’s own self-esteem.

Some of the comments I read in a group that seeks the ethical reform of adoption included these –

I am unsure if the narcissism pre-exists and adoption amplifies it, or if adoption creates narcissism. I think you would have to be a narcissist to think you are superior to an actual mother and have the right to take her baby, keep her baby, and deny / control her contact. Along with belittling her and gaslighting the mother and her child. To invade a mother’s pregnancy and birth, smear their infertility over her and her baby, and exploit her – that takes a particular cruelty and ruthlessness. While dressing it up as being ‘noble’ or ‘kind’ to the rest of the world. Glad this is being looked at. There’s plenty of infertile women who don’t adopt out of empathy for the mother. They accept their childlessness.

My observation too, narcissism in so many adoptive mothers with weak, ill equip adoptive fathers trailing behind them, trying to pick up the broken pieces but failing miserably. It’s a terrifying thought – children being adopted into these unstable and often unsafe environments

Mothers who had narcissist as parents are a target group for adoption predation. The roles that narcissists put their children into, now that they are mothers, allows them to be exploited by adoption counsellors in order to procure babies for their clientele, the prospective adoptive parents. These mothers are far easier to manipulate and their trauma is exploited, which often hasn’t been addressed or dealt with previously. Like all that is bad in adoption practice, it exploits the trauma and uses it as emotional impetus for an outcome against the mother and against her keeping her baby, along with the impossibly brief time frames allowed for her to make a decision. The ultimate goal – relinquishment.

Trauma and Behavioral Responses

Psychophysiological reactions to traumatic stress have been known to occur since ancient times. Traumatized people may 1) re-experience the event through obsessive recollections, flashbacks, or nightmares; 2) exhibit avoidant reactions; and/or 3) be easily hyper-aroused and vigilant.

Children whose families and homes do not provide consistent safety, comfort, and protection may develop ways of coping that allow them to survive and function day to day. For instance, they may be overly sensitive to the moods of others, always watching to figure out what the adults around them are feeling and how they will behave. They may withhold their own emotions from others, never letting them see when they are afraid, sad, or angry. These kinds of learned adaptations make sense when physical and/or emotional threats are ever-present. As a child grows up and encounters situations and relationships that are safe, these adaptations are no longer helpful, and may in fact be counterproductive and interfere with the capacity to live, love, and be loved.

The importance of a child’s close relationship with a caregiver cannot be overestimated. Through relationships with important attachment figures, children learn to trust others, regulate their emotions, and interact with the world; they develop a sense of the world as safe or unsafe, and come to understand their own value as individuals. When those relationships are unstable or unpredictable, children learn that they cannot rely on others to help them. Children who do not have healthy attachments may have trouble controlling and expressing emotions, and may react violently or inappropriately to situations.

Children who have experienced complex trauma often internalize and/or externalize stress reactions. Their emotional responses may be unpredictable or explosive and they may react to a reminder of a traumatic event with anger. This person may have difficulty calming down when upset. Since the traumas are often of an interpersonal nature, even mildly stressful interactions with others may serve as trauma reminders and trigger intense emotional reactions. Defensive postures are protective when an individual is under attack but become problematic in situations that do not warrant such intense reactions. Adaptive responses exhibited when faced with a perceived threat may be out of proportion compared to most people’s reaction to a normal stress. These reactions are often perceived by others as overreacting or as unresponsive or detached. Often both kinds of responses can be seen in an individual who has been traumatized as a child.

After becoming highly involved in adoption communities, I have learned a lot more about the effects of adoption trauma that both of my parents may have experienced. Trauma is a constant theme in adoption related communities. The first trauma is separation from the mother who’s womb the baby grew in. When an infant is still preverbal, the body remembers what the brain did not have language to interpret. For adoptees placed with abusive adoptive parents the trauma multiplies. This happens more often than most people might believe, due to the parents’ own unresolved feelings related to infertility and their knowledge that this child is not the one who would have been in their life with their own genetics – but for.

Within the community, it is frequently suggested how necessary it is to find a trauma-informed therapist because a therapist without this specialized perspective could do more harm than good.

Many people continue to reflect on the slap known around the world. Having an understanding of the behavioral effects of trauma, really put “the slap known around the world” event into perspective for me.

In his autobiographical book, “Will,” Smith recounts that as a child he witnessed domestic violence in his home. “When I was nine years old, I watched my father punch my mother in the side of the head so hard that she collapsed. I saw her spit blood. That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am.”

“Within everything that I have done since then — the awards and accolades, the spotlights and attention, the characters and the laughs — there has been a subtle string of apologies to my mother for my inaction that day. For failing her in the moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward.”

Seeing the look on his wife Jada’s face, after she was targeted for having a shaved head due to suffering the disease of Alopecia by the comedian Chris Rock, it is quite likely Smith re-experienced that memory in the context of current events. In effect, however wrong, he could make up for his childhood inability to protect the woman he loved. His reaction that night had more to do with that 9 year old traumatized little boy, than the man he had become since then. That man unfortunately is now subject to public reinterpretation. I admit to being a fan of Will Smith movies in general and have loved his easy going personality in most of these.

All this to highlight the extreme importance of understanding the impact of an experienced trauma and the need to seek help in the form of trauma-informed therapy. Domestic violence is a devastating problem that affects individuals all over the world. I recently saw a video of Smith listening to his wife honestly describe her extra-marital affairs. His ability to listen and to take that knowledge in impassively, may have also been a trauma induced behavior from his childhood. The fear of losing the love of a manipulative person and at the same time needing the love of that person perhaps triggered the response the world witnessed.

The Exploitation Problem

What could be wrong with a couple who has experienced infertility and has the financial means adopting the baby of an unwed mother ? Many people would see nothing wrong with this.

The problem is that behind this happily ever after scenario is a great deal of exploitation. In both of my parents’ adoptions, this was a definite factor, even though my mom’s parents were married. There is a great deal of money changing hands in the domestic infant adoption industry.

So, let’s consider domestic infant adoption. Only a newborn baby will do for these adoptive parents. They desire to only adopt a newborn baby. Let us judge this as selfishness. Maybe you as the hopeful adoptive parent just want to have the baby “experience.” Maybe you believe you’re getting a “blank slate” (that was what Georgia Tann who was involved in my mom’s adoption would tell her prospective parents). The truth is babies are NOT blank slates. Maybe you want the “as if born to” parenting experience (being there at the very beginning and you as parents being the only ones the child will ever know). Maybe you think this is as close as you can get to having your “own” child.

Some reality checks –

1. You are NOT needed. There are over 100 hopeful adoptive parents/singles/couples for every ONE newborn baby that is available to adopt. These babies are in high demand and sought after. They won’t age out of foster care, if you don’t adopt them. Furthermore, they have biological genetic families. Contrary to popular belief, there are very few women who just don’t want their kids. Imagine the desperation, fear and poverty you must live in to give away your own child. Adoption rates have gone down drastically over the last year. Why? Because families have received so much more financial help and resources due to COVID. With help and support, even more mothers are parenting their own children.

2. If you’re a hopeful adoptive parent glad that “support” from the government is stopping to increase your odds of getting a baby – you are not adopting because you are a good person.

3. If you’re praying for a woman to feel desperate enough to give you her baby – you are not adopting because you are a good person.

4. If you match pre-birth with a pregnant woman and coerce and manipulate her during her pregnancy – your desperation is showing and you are not adopting because you are a good person.

5. Agencies are a for profit business and often are not at all ethical. Know this, if you’re paying thousands of dollars to adopt through an agency – you are not adopting because you are a good person. You are adopting because you have the money to do so (or have raised the money through a Go Fund Me or other such platform).

6. A standard adoption practice is for the hopeful adoptive parents to be present in the delivery or hospital room. The agencies tell the birth mother that “this is just how it’s done.” Know this – it’s done to make it harder for the mom to change her mind, when she sees her child. If you’re there breathing down her neck while she is giving birth and in that moment when she first meets HER child – you are attempting rob her of the only precious moment with her baby that she may ever have. And maybe she WILL change her mind and her baby will be glad that she did.

7. If you make her feel guilty for wanting to keep her baby, the same way the agency will – you are exploiting her. If you employ an agency to call Child Protective Services on her (mind you, just standard adoption practice) when she wavers regarding giving her baby up to you, just to scare her into going forward – you are exploiting her.

8. So, the mom has changed her mind and is going to keep and parent her baby. Then, you fight against her decision by using the legal system or the agency does it on your behalf – you are exploiting her.

9. If the father is not on board with the adoption and his rights are being completely ignored – you are exploiting the father.

If any of this is true of your circumstances – you are guilty of exploiting a difficult time in someone’s life. A situation that will likely change for the better given time. You will leave a baby with lifelong trauma from sundering that child from its original family.

What Do You Expect ?

A comment was shared that read – “I would love to know what you expect for people who don’t want their child to do ? Trash can or abortion ?”

One reply – As an answer to “what would you expect…?” I would simply say that I expect any woman who is choosing to continue a pregnancy would be offered resources FIRST to ensure she feels capable and supported in the “default” choice to parent. If an expectant mom (and dad, if he’s in the picture/available/found) truly and genuinely refuses/chooses not to parent – then options can be explored, starting with the least traumatic. I expect good humans to not take advantage of someone else’s hardship, or encourage/manipulate an expectant parent to permanently separate from their child due to lack of resources.

Another reply – The separation of mother and child at infancy changes how your brain is hardwired because the child is put into a fight or flight mode and grows knowing that as it’s baseline of emotion for life. So yes, literally a lifetime of trauma. I am a functioning adult in spite of the trauma of being handed to strangers at 5 days old.  The trauma can be managed. I think you can learn to coexist with it. But I don’t think it ever heals and goes away. It’s always there.

Another – I’d remind the poster that the number of babies that are found in dumpsters / trash cans are few and a unique situation. Let’s focus on vulnerable young girls/women who seek an adoption agency due to many reasons – mostly resources and money – creating fear and panic. This is the primary reason mothers and newborns are separated. It is money / profit focused (agency & attorneys) swooping in to “help” the expectant mom see how worthless she is and how magnificent the 30-40 COUPLES competing for her baby are!!!!

Prayers Please

This is a TRUE and ONGOING situation and typical of many, many of these kinds of circumstances.

There is a mom who gave birth yesterday to a baby girl at a hospital in Florida. How messed up is this? Mom can’t (now couldn’t) have visitors due to COVID restrictions. She was allowed ONE support person during delivery and guess who it was? Yup, hopeful adoptive mom.

Due to their policy, the person there during delivery is the ONLY person allowed in. Baby was moved to a room with the wannabe mom AND wannabe DAD. (Ya know, they consider the wannabe mom’s desire for a “support person” and so they allowed dad.)

The adoption agency involved in Florida is a major player in the state. The new mom has now told the social worker (employed by hospital) last night that she has decided to parent her child. Of course, the hopeful adoptive parents and adoption agency employee refused to leave the hospital – until the hospital social worker and nursing staff told them they had to.

As they were leaving, the adoption agency employee told the hopeful adoptive parents to “get some sleep and we will regroup tomorrow.”

Happily, the hospital will now allow the new mom’s mom to come and support this morning. The mom has been prepared by members of an all things adoption support group for the antics common in domestic infant adoptions that occur when agencies and hopeful adoptive parents don’t get their way. They often will call Child Protective Services just for spite.

Please keep this new mom and her baby girl in your prayers for continued good outcomes. Thank you.

And just to know – This is STANDARD behavior in the world of domestic infant adoptions. Coercion, manipulation, isolation, preying on vulnerable women at a vulnerable time. If you are a hopeful adoptive mother who signs up to adopt via a domestic infant adoption, you are supporting these kinds of practices.

It doesn’t matter IF the expectant mom was going to allow you to adopt HER child. If she changes her mind after seeing her precious baby – NO means NO. Every new mom has every right to change her mind. In today’s story – these hopeful adoptive parents are not going to get her baby but it is almost certain that eventually they will get someone else’s baby. They always do.

It is never an unwed, expectant mother’s responsibility to provide an infertile couple with a child. And they always speak glowingly of the sacrifice such mothers make to allow them to take her child away from family.

A Lie Or Pretend

Someone in my all things adoption group wrote – I think it’s important to recognize that adoption for all parties is literally living a lie or playing pretend. I know my mom who was adopted felt this. She had her DNA tested at Ancestry and was in the middle of creating family trees when it really hit her. Both my mom and my dad were adopted and she realized none of it was real. I now know who the real grandparents are and I do intend to complete each of my parents’ family trees, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

One woman responded – When people get so hung up on I’m real and start lecturing their kid on it I want to laugh. They look like the fool…yeah you’re real but you aren’t “the mother”. Yeah I’m the mother but I’m not raising my kid. Reality, people.

Another woman shared – It is both at different times, yes. It’s also filled with excuses and justifications for the truth. Why can’t we JUST be real about it. Addressing that I really wasn’t “chosen” by my adoptive parents didn’t send me in a tailspin. I was next on the list that fit their criteria. That’s just fact. Could have easily been some other blonde, blue-eyed toddler they ended up raising. I don’t see why anyone would think that’s hurtful. Do adoptive parents really think we don’t know we were given away and them being our parents is a crapshoot? It’s kind of obvious, yet they go through all kinds of gyrations to fluff up the simple facts.

People act like adoptees are oblivious or incapable of handling the truth. Adoptees crave the truth, it’s all they ever want. Honesty. That’s it. Of course, adoptees already know the truth and adoptive parents just need to acknowledge what the adoptee already knows.

Acknowledge and validate. The two most important things to remember.

Someone else needed to add more complex context.

There are children being raised by extended relatives or adopted after a Termination of Parental Rights (assuming good reason). Do you tell these children they are living a lie? Or do you tell them that this is not the first choice, but it is what we have and we can try to make it work. Denying the trauma is living a lie, but I don’t think the family formed afterwards necessarily is. I don’t think every family formed outside of biological relationships is living a lie or pretending.

And sadly, not every family is good for the children born into it. Here’s one such story – I was raised by a very narcissistic mother and a very hands off father except when my mother manipulated him into abusing my brother and I (including putting me in foster care for being suicidal and self harming). I don’t feel towards them the way a child should parents. I lost the woman I actually considered a mom at 12. I personally feel like being a parent is more than giving birth and doing the bare necessities for a child. My parents may have given me everything I could have needed and let me play sports and go to camps, but they severely neglected my emotionally and mentally. I found my family elsewhere in other people. Them not being blood doesn’t invalidate my experience. I personally don’t agree with infant adoption or foster to adopt, but some people who give birth, really should just not be parents.

Adoption Is A Selfish Act

A woman in the all things adoption group I belong to wrote –

Why can’t people just stay childless, if they cannot have their own ? Why is adoption even sought after failed attempts trying to conceive ? How does it not occur people that taking a child from their mother because you want a child is not an ethical path to family ? Adoption is so selfish. As humans we need to live with the fact that we cannot have it all. We don’t always get what we want and that includes babies. Like any other disappointment in life, you need to deal with it. You are not dying because you can’t have kids.

The truth is that adoption has been packaged (for commercial profit reasons) as the selfless solution to their infertility problem. “Save the unwanted babies” and all that.

The ProLife/religious narrative is strong. Giving your baby to a family who can’t have one is framed as giving the most precious gift anyone can give. And NOT having children is a fate worse than death because you’re not bringing more soldiers into Christ’s army. The manipulation tactics used by the church are psychological warfare. And that bleeds into secular society.

Of course, the argument “for” always comes up –

Where would you have these children go ? What happens when the person regrets their one night stand and resents that child for their loss of “freedom?” What happens when someone has a drug or alcohol addiction and does not feel the need to seek treatment ? What happens when someone has anger issues that put children at risk for abuse ? I agree that the system is not perfect, but I think on some level we can agree that there are some wonderfully kind, capable people with a lot of love to give who would be better suited to raise the child than a parent who is not willing to put the work in to make themselves the parent their baby deserves. I really don’t think this is so black and white, where adoption is always evil, period. I think it’s a case by case thing.

The reality is that there will always be people raising other people’s kids, but there isn’t a need for the power imbalance, the fake birth certificates, and all the other bullshit.  What it means to “help children” needs to be redefined because adoption and identity theft isn’t it.

An adoptee responds to all the what if statements with this –

Most children are not relinquished for the reasons you stated. The majority of adoptions happen because of lack of support. Furthermore even in the circumstances you mentioned, adoption as defined currently is not necessary. No one should have to give up their identity and be forced to play a sick game of pretend, that never really ends, just to be cared for properly.

The narrative that adoption is the ‘opposite’ or the solution to child abuse is damaging. The truth is that there are adoptive parents who are abusive and have anger issues. And there are adoptive parents who resent their adopted children and treat them terribly.

Why is adoption so heavily promoted in the US as a good thing that there are 40 couples wanting to adopt to every newborn that is available for adoption ? Money and religion are behind the desire.

Responses to Reunion Trapped

This is a follow on blog to yesterday’s “Opportunistic Dependency” blog. Some responses to the young woman’s plight.

From one response – Do you know where she is located ? When she says these threats I would call the police or 911 to do a wellness check explain the situation and your concerns. If she is using it as leverage, she will hopefully not want that burden. If she is truthfully mentally not doing well, then you could really be helping her. Even if she is using it as leverage and has to get psychological help, maybe it could get her head in the right place.

While this answer seems harsh, I had to make a similar decision – to cut ties with a toxic sibling for my own mental health. Here’s what the commenter said – There is only so much your own mental health can take, and my view is that this seems to be all about her, not about you. She is your mother, not the other way around. Your relationship should be about you, or at the very least about both of you, not about what you have to offer her. Until she can get to a place where she can have that relationship with you… It’s on her. Disconnect for your own health. If you choose not to follow this advice, I totally understand. It took years of abuse/neglect for my siblings to come around to this way of thinking. Sending hugs. This is so hard. I get it.

I found this to be a direct and reasonable response –  She sounds like she is suffering from a serious addiction. This is not who she really is. That being said the burden isn’t yours to carry. She needs a professional to help her.

And maybe spending time with others facing similar challenges would be helpful, as this woman suggests – None of this is on you. She’s sick in addiction. And appears that abuse and manipulation are her tools. All I can recommend is an Alanon meeting and know that whatever she chooses to do to herself is her choice – not on you at all.

Another one shared – Similar to my story although she was older at 18 and is an alcoholic/depressive which she told me was my fault! I tried but like you she wasn’t actually interested in me…it’s tough and I do think of her but for my own sanity or what I have left its easier to have no relationship and it looks like I never will. Please don’t feel bad in anyway about saying no. Life is so difficult sometimes.

Another woman shared – It took me many years and thousands in therapy to understand that I am not my mothers mother. I had to get to the point where my mental health, family and self came before her. I’m so sorry that you are dealing with this. My mom was a teen mom too. She suffers from active addiction and I “raised” her my entire life. It is completely acceptable to cut toxic people from your life. It can be heartbreaking but at the end of the day you and your family (significant other, kids) need to come first. I personally learned how to compartmentalize the relationship and to politely but firmly say no. It’s hard when threats of suicide and self harm are thrown at you but you cannot be held responsible for her actions. She has a lot of issues that she needs to work out for herself.

And just one last sharing with perhaps a ray of hope –

Birth mom and recovered addict with an adopted daughter in reunion, Addicts are sick and many behave very differently to how they are sober. Not excusing her behavior. I never asked any one for a dime when I was an addict but that was mainly because I chose escorting to fund it, rather than stealing or bleeding family dry. I like to think that shows my character – that I’d rather choose a path harmful to myself than to others. Your mother has to answer for that, My advice would be keep your distance until she’s sober. Don’t close the door forever. She was so young and its tough. She may well be a sweetheart like you – when sober – but definitely don’t give her money and ignore the threats. Mostly anyone who’s going to kill themselves doesn’t barter it for money. I’d say it’s all hot air to manipulate. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you want the “addict mom” drama. But do hope she cleans up her act. It took me 12 years! But I’ve been sober now for 13. It can be done.

Intertwined and Corrupt

In the adoption group I belong to, an adoptive mother wrote –

If you understand how deeply corrupt adoption is, and do not understand how deeply corrupt the justice system is, then you may need to re-evaluate how much you REALLY believe adoption is corrupt.  This can also be said the opposite way.  Both systems use each other to remain corrupt.  In my opinion, if you support one of these systems, you ultimately support both. This is not political either. Just basic human rights.

Let me say it again – this woman describes herself as a adoptive mother.  WTF ?

One adoptee replied –

I’m not making a statement on my opinion of the justice system. What I’m saying is that this is an adoption page where the focus is adoption. Nobody, especially an entitled, self-important baby buyer is going to hijack this page for her own agenda. It pisses me off to have an adoptive parent tell me that I’m not allowed to speak out about adoption unless I follow her rules. Fuck her! Let those that have lived experience with the justice system speak their truths and be heard in their forums. This space is for us.

Another adoptee noted –

You cannot dismantle the systems of adoption that affect us as adoptees, without addressing ALL of the systems that fail ALL OF US.  The fact is, adoption, AND the justice system both fail people of color far more, and far worse, than they fail white people.

Another responder affirmed –

The criminal justice system does play a part in the adoption system and adoption reform. It definitely played a part in my case along with many other cases… they absolutely go hand in hand.

And the best response was this –

Adoption is driven by selfish, baby seeking citizens who think they are better. The demand of these selfish and/or savior minded citizens is what drives the corruption because supply does not meet demand. Demand equals money equals corruption, coercion, manipulation. Every single person that goes into the corrupt system of adoption wants the same thing…a child. The goal is singular. Take a child from their mother: We adoptees are the pawns. The ones that have so much value people are willing to pay $30000/$40000 to get us. Hopeful adoptive parents don’t care about our rights and don’t care that they are paying to ruin lives.

So let’s say it this way “If you understand deeply how corrupt the justice system is and you don’t understand how corrupt the adoption/foster system is and how YOU are part of that corruption – then maybe you need to re-evaluate”

 

It Is NOT God’s Plan

Many Christian couples who struggle with infertility begin to believe somehow that this signals God’s desire that they adopt someone else’s newborn baby.  This baby is not a blank slate. Newborn or infant adoption is not mostly trauma-free simply because this human being is pre-verbal.

I don’t believe for a minute that God is deliberately punishing you by causing you to become pregnant under difficult circumstances only to hand your baby over to complete strangers and then more or less throw you away (forget you ever existed or mattered).

What is actually selfish ?  Saying that giving a child up for adoption is the most selfless thing someone can do is flawed logic.  Does that mean biological mothers who keep their infants are selfish for keeping them ?  It is selfish not to give your precious baby to the more privileged minority of people who have much better financial resources to parent with ?  If that logic were true, then all biological parents would give their children to someone else to parent, since it is selfless towards the child to keep them when someone else has greater resources.

Using God to take away someone else’s baby is exploiting a vulnerable person and trying to use any belief in God they might have to coerce them to YOUR will.  This is not God’s will, this is you trying to use God for your own purposes.

I will never be able to get behind the idea that God got the wombs mixed up when he gave a baby to their mother.  God didn’t give a little baby to one mother for her and her baby to go through the rest of their lives with trauma simply to “heal the infertile wounds” of another couple.

It just doesn’t work that way but Christian couples are very prone to use their religion to justify taking a baby away from a vulnerable mother.