The narrative around adoption is often described as Unicorns and Rainbows by adult adoptees. That is because the stories that hopeful adoptive couples buy into are not the reality they are likely to live when they take another woman’s child as their own.
They honestly believe they are doing a good thing and being a beneficial presence in the life of a blank slate baby. It is an uninformed perspective. Every adoption has some degree of trauma at its core. If the adoptee was an infant, newly born when the adoption occurred, that trauma is not even conscious nor can it be verbalized. It is buried deep in the core of that developing fetus during the time it was connected to the original mother. That bonding has only recently begun to be more fully understood but it is at the root of much that later is seen as challenging behavior.
One outcome I didn’t see coming as I uncovered the identities of my original grandparents (both of my own parents were adoptees) was that I would go on to learn about all of the inconvenient truths around the process of adoption as it was practiced at the time my own parents were adopted (both spent 6-8 months with their original mothers before the separation occurred – I can only imagine the upset when they were torn away from her).
I also learned about the time period called the Baby Scoop Era – which began with the end of World War II and continued into the 1970s. From 1945 to 1973, it is estimated that up to 4 million parents in the United States placed children for adoption, with 2 million during the 1960s alone. That is a staggering number of adoptees that have grown into mature adults. Each with some degree of wounding from the process.
Because adoption was experienced as a normal occurrence in my childhood family, both of my sisters would go on to give up their own children to adoption shortly after birth. A pattern of mother/child separations plagued my sisters and I. Beyond adoption, in one way or another, two more of our children were raised by someone other than ourselves.
I have learned so much but if you who are reading this are considering becoming an adoptive parent yourself, please read first The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier and inform yourself honestly about what you are contemplating. She is the mother of two daughters – one adopted and one she birthed. She has a degree in clinical psychology and has a good depth of experience from which to inform your decision.