Hanger Baby

My sister is a hanger baby. My mother was terrified of giving birth after then seven children. When she was pregnant for my sister, she tried to abort her using a hanger. It was one of those secrets of the family.

My sister was born normal but as she grew, she was more street smart than book smart. My mother favored her terribly because of the guilt in what she had attempted to do. She thought she made her stupid.

My mother had three nervous breakdowns, suffered with debilitating alcoholism, and we lived in incredible poverty our whole lives. The only pride we were afforded was knowing we our father was a good catholic who used that at every turn to borrow money using his ten children as collateral.

There were little joyful experiences in my childhood. One friend asked me once to think of my happiest moment when I was a child. I have a photographic memory but could not think of one happy experience. I am sure there were some, but they were usually times that were devoid of trauma, so they were happy in comparison.

I was cursed on my birth by my mother. She delivered me in a drunken stupor.. She hung on to the doorway frame of the wall when they tried to take her to deliver me. She just screamed how much she hated me. I lived my life in galvanized numbness. I don’t think I have been able to fully shake it. I was well in my twenties before I realized that some parents love their children.

People always say they are speaking for the unborn. But they are not. They are speaking for their religious bias. They are speaking for a conditioning to bring babies into the world for some kind of political numbers game. The unborn would be better off if they landed in a place of love for them. It worked out well for my sister being born because of my mother’s guilt, she had an advantage in life.. I was not so lucky.

Every child has the right to be loved. I did not have to endure such a loveless existence. As I grew, I have had many memories bleed through about my past lives. It was not a thing that was in my belief system and yet the memories bled through.

If I had past lives, then I know I have future lives. I have the knowing that all of who I am doesn’t depend on this one lifetime. Nor does it with any fetus. I have had sessions with clients who brushed people’s lives by being their miscarried baby. It was all the interaction they needed to complete the transaction between parent and child.

What I have endured, I would not inflict on an innocent baby. There is the starving, being poor, being unloved and trying to thrive through incredible dysfunction. It is not something I think of everyday but the trauma of being a “have not” in a world of “haves” is the most cruel fate you can thrust on a baby. It would be different if it was merely a material thing. A mother’s love can help a child through any disadvantage. But without the love between a mother and child, the fate of both seems an unnecessary fate.

I know everyone who says they are pro life think they have the most scrupulous vantage point. But if they lived the life of a loveless baby, they may be much more agreeable to allowing there to be a choice. Perhaps they can trust Love to make the best choice for each soul and take their discretion out of the equation.

~ this personal experience was shared my Facebook friend – Jen Ward. Her website is – Jenuinehealing.com

An Adoptee Centric Movie

Siblings – Glorious 39

The blond on the left is the adoptee. In Glorious 39, an adoptee is the lead character and much about the emotions and behavior of the family in this movie ring true with all I have come to know about adoptees and their relationships with their family. Anne Keyes played by Romola Garai is the central character. Adopted at the time her parents didn’t believe they could have children, they subsequently had two – the brother and sister in the photo above.

Like many adoptees, Anne does not fit in with the family raising her. She has been adopted into a powerful political family. Like many adoptees, she is very close to her adoptive father. Dangerously so.

So, this is really a story about an adopted daughter’s relationship with her family. The fact that she is adopted is mentioned frequently throughout the movie. She also leads a different life, working as an actress, while the rest of the family except the father who is part of the pre-war government appears to live a life mostly of leisure (though her brother is actually part of the Secret Service). The pro-appeasement movement (which father and son are part of) hoped to avoid a conflict many believed they would lose. The elite also hoped to preserve the status quo of their comfortable lives. The appeasement theme is key to the relationships within the family dynamic.

The movie does not get a lot of good reviews. As a history buff to begin with, who enjoys seeing English culture and countryside, I did like the movie and it did make me think politically. But I was really drawn to the adoptee story (not too many reviewers mention it other than in passing). I believe that part was true to life, even if the lives are not those that most of us commonly experience as regards wealth and privilege. It is the relationships of the adoptee contrasted with the parents and siblings that really had my attention. There is a reveal of who the adoptees parents were and how she came to be in this family.

Trigger warning for animal lovers – there is a strong focus on the fate of family pets at the outbreak of the war that could be disturbing.

Wanting to Connect, Fearing Connection

There is a Chinese proverb that states that the beginning of wisdom is to call something by its proper name. The term ”adoption” does not do this but rather disguises a series of complex, developmental traumas that begin with relinquishment and continues on, sometimes through challenging episodes of care, to the adaptions necessary to attach to the adoptive family. The legacy of this trauma for the relinquished child is a conflict between wanting to connect and fearing connection. This is often experienced as a hyper vigilance that has an enormous impact on relationships and functioning which can disrupt the ability to be present, with feelings that one is both “too much” and “not enough”.

It is hard to imagine a more devastating wound than a child being separated from its mother at the beginning of life. Trauma is an event that overwhelms ordinary human responses to life and as early separation is a relational trauma it manifests later in life as problems in significant relationships and, more often than not, in attempts at self-regulation through chemical and process addictions.

The impact of trauma on functioning is both physical and psychological: heightened levels of cortisol and adrenaline raise anxiety levels leading to difficulties with concentration, while lower levels of serotonin lead to depression, making feelings of shame harder to manage. The trauma victim becomes reactive rather than reflective and experiences disabling feelings around issues of belonging and abandonment. A hunger for attachment means that the capacity for intimacy is compromised by intense and contradictory feelings of need and fear. In relationships there is a belief that they cannot be accepted for who they are and the sufferer is left literally in two minds; at best indecisive and at worst questioning their sanity.

Unlike the computer, the human brain starts working before building is finished. There are 100 billion neurons at birth waiting to make connections based on instructions from life experience. In the first years of life explicit memory systems have yet to be established and the adoption wound is stored, like other early attachment wounds, in implicit memory systems. The unconscious remembers the relinquishment as devastating and makes a mental note to avoid any similar experience at all costs. The conscious mind cannot recall the experience and so has no defense against the old lie that what cannot be recalled cannot have impact. Furthermore, because adoptees have no pre-trauma personality that they can refer to, they develop a false, core belief that their post-traumatic coping behavior, along with the associated shame and anxiety, is in fact their personality.

It is important to understand too that politics and the establishment play, and have played, an enormous part in the psychological wounds of relinquishment and adoption. Traditionally the world of adoption has referred to “the adoption triad” comprising the adopted child, the birth parents and the adoptive parents. However, this term is also misleading and disguises the fourth party in the adoption quartet: The establishment and the adoption business.

The establishment has legislated the assigning of a new identity and the erasing of the birth identity so that it is often not legally recognized. It is as if the adoptive family owns the adopted child. This is a particular issue for trans racial adoptees many of whom, as well as experiencing disconnect between racial self-identification and the racialization of the receiving country, would struggle to obtain a passport from their, or their birth parents, country of birth. Needless to say this has associations with the historic relationships between colonizer and the colonized.

The business of adoption and the industry that facilitates relinquishment and placement comprises state organizations and religious organizations as well as “kidnappers” and “baby finders”. The impact of some of these practices is being revealed.

It is clear that many adoptees have been struggling with a sophisticated, developmental trauma that has been hidden from them and those around them. In many cases it involves a series of traumatic experiences involving attachment changes that are experienced as life threatening. This trauma is hidden from consciousness both by the brain that remembers but cannot recall the events, but also by society that views adoptees as “chosen” and “fortunate”. If mental health is dependent on a commitment to reality, then it is vital that we call these traumas by their proper name. Furthermore, clinical experience shows us that change and recovery begin with acknowledgement and continue with the taking of personal responsibility for solutions. Victims don’t recover but those who dare to take uncomfortable, therapeutic actions certainly can.

Inspired by a blog written by Paul Sunderland titled “Relinquishment and Adoption: Understanding the Impact of an Early Psychological Wound”.

Choosing to Remain Child-Free

A conversation that came into my awareness this morning went like this –

I have a friend who recently underwent a procedure that will permanently sterilize her at 21 because she is certain she wants to be childfree.

Recently laws have passed that allow drs to deny this based on “good conscience”. It was already difficult enough to get it done.

What I’m surprised about is the different comments I have heard on this being said and the amount of uneducated people…

Some of the comments I’ve seen/heard –

“What about all the infertile women? You would never do that if you knew how many infertile women wanted babies!!”

“I can’t believe you would do that. What if you marry a man who wants children?”

“Sterilization should be illegal when there’s so many desperate good families hoping to adopt a newborn baby!”

Tell me – Why this is problematic ?

(I know why…I’m ready to protest it. I’m tired of laws going backwards. I’ve spent 2 years fighting with insurance over my own body just to have surgery because I’m at an extremely high risk for life threatening pregnancies.)

My body is not a political opinion nor is it my job or another woman’s job to be an incubator to push babies out for you because you’re infertile.

One woman shared – On Mother’s Day at my job I was asked if I have kids. I said no and I never want kids. Everyone acted like I’d just said something so heinous. One co-worker told me I should have babies and sell them. Like WTF ?!

She added –  it really pisses me off how many stories I’ve heard about women who want to get this procedure and can’t because doctors say they need to have at least one kid already, they need a man’s approval, and/or they’re too young. Meanwhile, women have to put up with the side effects of birth control methods. It’s really belittling of women to think they can’t make these decisions for themselves. And misogynistic to leave it up to the husband to give his approval for the procedure. Or to not do it because there’s no male significant other to ask for permission. Like women can’t have their own bodily autonomy. As if we’re just possessions for men and only have value as breeders (a term that Georgia Tann used – dehumanizing).

One woman put it rather simply – If you don’t want children, you don’t marry someone who does. That’s basic compatibility.

Then there was this woman’s personal story –  My older sister, now 40, still looks for a doctor to do a sterilization for her. She has never wanted a baby and asked at her first gyn appointment, when she was about 13, when she could have a sterilization. She never once wavered but it looks like she will never receive her desired treatment, because every doctor she asks, thinks she might change her mind. This so f***s me off! It’s her body, her decision, her money. Why does nobody give a f**k, when a man has a vasectomy??? Even childless men seem to be allowed to have one without questioning. That’s so biased.

My personal perspective ?  It is our body, given to us to utilize however we want to while alive on this Earth.  Every person’s decision should be honored as long as it is within legal boundaries – that includes abortion, sterilization, divorce, etc.