Emotional Detachment in Surrenders

It is completely understandable to me that when a woman in the midst of pregnancy has already decided to surrender her baby to adoption, that she would also choose to wall off her heart from the child growing in her womb.  Here is one such story . . .

It took me almost 10 years to come out of the fog. The biggest reason is that I had emotionally detached from the situation even during pregnancy.

Last year I had a complete mental breakdown because I suddenly started having flashbacks from being raped at 6 years old and I didn’t even know it happened until I began reliving it. This sudden onset of PTSD was a catalyst for turning my emotions back on and finally feeling grief about the adoption. I’d forgotten most of the events of my life, and the things I remembered were pretty numb.

I’m insanely lucky to have chosen adoptive parents who have actually kept the adoption open. With all of these personal changes, I’ve been trying to open myself up to my first daughter and actually connect with her.

A lot of people suppress their trauma. The hurt from adoption cuts both ways – mother and child. Unless you have no emotions, and it is the emotional pain of separation that causes detachment, you could not let a child you brought into this world be raised by someone else without suffering from guilt, shame or self-blame.

Here is another story –

I gave birth 2 weeks ago. And I had made an adoption plan, with a good friend. Baby is currently with her and I have 2 more weeks to change my mind. But when I had the baby I felt no emotional attachment to her. I didn’t feel like she was mine. I haven’t had any regrets yet. She is with an amazing family that I know without a doubt I will have contact with for her entire life.

She asks other women who have experienced this if they later had regrets.

One replied –  I felt the same way when my daughter was born. Like when the doctor gave her to me, I thought, “why are you handing me her baby?”

Another response was this –  It’s emotional numbing/detachment. It’s a trauma response to try and protect yourself from the pain of losing her forever. It will catch up to you, HARD, and it can cause a lifetime of trauma for you if it’s not dealt with quickly. Your daughter only wants you, and being given up will traumatize her for life. I beg you to reconsider. And this suggestion – try parenting her, with no contact with the hopeful adoptive parents for the next two weeks.

And there is this very sad story – I had some severe anger issues and no support which would have made it dangerous for him to stay with me. I begged my mom to adopt him until I was older but she refused. In my case, the adoptive parents weren’t total strangers, they were long time friends of the family. It’s my truth though, and I hate that that whole part of my life ever happened. I hate that I was convinced not to get an abortion. I hate who I was and everyone that had abandoned me back then. And if my son hates me too, then I deserve it.

Bottom line – You don’t just give your child away and not regret it.  It may take years or decades. Emotional detachment often catches up to you with the painful truth.

What Causes The Trauma ?

A question was asked – what causes trauma in adoption ?  I think it is valid to ask about that.

One adoptee responded – The separation in itself is traumatic. Example: I was separated from my birth mom right after I was born. She didn’t even get to see me. Now I know when babies are born it takes time til they understand they are a separate person. They still believe that they are A PART of their mother. It’s like someone cutting off a part of your body. And you have no recollection of who or why. Wouldn’t that be traumatising for you?

Another adoptee shared that the trauma came from not being able to understand why the original parents, or at least the mother, didn’t try harder.  Often an adoptee interprets that to mean that somehow they were not good enough, not lovable, defective somehow.  Children especially cannot appreciate the complicated situations many adults must navigate and how they arrive at difficult decisions that may even leave them with a lifetime of sorrow.

This frequently leaves the adoptee believing as they mature that no one could ever love them. They explain it this way – if the person who was naturally supposed to love them the most, as their own flesh and blood, couldn’t find it in themselves to love their own child, then why would anyone else be able to love them ? The concept of love is broken for many adoptees. For many, it is the ultimate betrayal and cannot be explained as anything less than a profound abandonment.

Many adoptees are given the standard narrative that their mother loved them so much and didn’t think she could really give the child the best life and so, she surrendered her child to someone else to raise, believing that would give her child the best possible outcome.  And I think a lot of these mothers have become convinced one way or another that this is the truth of their situation.  I try not to judge.  But personally, I do find this sad.  It arises from a self-deprecating and poor self-esteem that is preyed upon by agencies and lawyers who make money when they can get a child released from their original family to allow a more wealthy couple to technically “buy” that child.  I realize that most adoptive parents do not see it as baby selling and buying.

There is trauma too in this narrative. This teaches an adoptee to equate love with abandonment and betrayal.  The effects can diminish the opportunity to have strong, stable and healthy relationships later in life.  Some will go through several failures (and one does not have to be adopted to have failed romantic relationships, some of it is learning what it is that one needs and what one can give to another person, including when and how to compromise) before they finally find a relationship that can help them heal from such misunderstandings.  Some sadly never heal.