I really wasn’t in the mood to write during my daily session at my deceased in-laws cabin. I suppose it is the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg last night that has me de-motivated and distracted.
I thought – how to honor her life then. I remembered seeing “STEINEM” in large letters at the top of the spine on a book in my mother-in-law’s bookcase. I was aware of her as a feminist when I was coming of age in the early 1970s. My mother in law was a lifelong feminist. So I thought, I won’t try to write, I’ll just read a little today.
I chose the essay – Ruth’s Song (Because She Could Not Sing It) – because. It should be obvious why. I read this –
My ultimate protection was this: I was just passing through, a guest in the house; perhaps this wasn’t my mother at all. Though I knew very well that I was her daughter, I sometimes imagined that I had bee adopted and that my real parents would find me, a fantasy I’ve since discovered is common.
~Gloria Steinem, from her book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions
It is common for adoptees to have fantasies about their natural mother finding them. My mom wanted to find her mother but when she got the tiniest bit close to that goal, she was told that her mother had died a few years earlier.
Much of this essay is about Steinem’s mother’s mental illness. I can relate. My youngest sister is seriously mentally ill. And my mom had this obsession that each of her daughters was mentally ill. We each ended up in an institution at least briefly. I was dragged in by my dad for observation. After about 3 days, I was released as I was not a threat to anyone except perhaps my own self. My parents were never willing to financially invest in mental health care for their children, even when it was warranted.
I also know my mom once seriously thought about committing suicide. I don’t know what the trigger was but she changed her mind because she actually did care about her daughters. At least, that was what she told me.
Adoption can have a psychological toll. It is known that adopted children are more likely to struggle with emotional or behavioral disorders ranging from depression, anxiety, and ADHD to suicidal thoughts and substance abuse.
Adoption is the difficult process of gaining a child by removing him or her from another family. There is trauma associated with separating a child from the mother in whose womb the baby developed. Children are commonly unable to vocalize or even identify what they are feeling and so it is unlikely they will ask for help.
Symptoms of mental illness in children can be difficult to identify. Signs of emotional or behavioral disorders, like outbursts and sleep issues, are common in many stages of development without adoption as an added issue. As a parent, pay attention to age-inappropriate emotional responses, as well as symptoms that last longer than normal or don’t improve regardless of continued efforts. Seek professional help.