Friday, September 14, 2007

dropping in

Hi folks. Yes, i know I haven't posted for a while. Call it deep desire to avoid getting triggered by adoption-related issues.

I am the type of person who tries not to complain. "In real life," my friends know me as maybe being "too bubbly", "too nice." Complaining is something I seldom do. Being a "bitch" goes against everything I was brought up with believing, that to be "lady-like" you just don't do. My lace-gloved mother would be rolling in her grave if she knew I was actually speaking out about something. But then, my lace-gloved mother with her right-wing Baptist views about social propriety was the first to ensure that none of the relatives or her friends ever knew I was pregnant, who hid me away in a home, and most likely was the one who arranged for my child to be removed at birth. And I don't wear lace gloves - never have and never will.

But I have to complain, because a huge injustice was perpetrated on me, and on several million other mothers in this nation. We were coerced, forced, and otherwise fed live into the adoption machine, to be used as incubators and discarded as if we did not matter. But we do. And we have NEVER "gone on with our lives. Have you tried to live with severe PTSD? A disorder that many do not even realize can be caused by disembabyment, by losing a newborn to adoption? I live with it every single day. That, and unresolved complicated grief has almost destroyed my life. It physically affected my health to the point where i could no longer work (the pain hit and my gut responded in a way such that the pain is excruciating -- i won't go into details).

What can we do? Virtually nothing. Well, maybe not nothing: there are options: therapy, meds, EMDR ... In fact, it has becoming a running joke in some support groups: "What meds are you on?" Not "Are you taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs?", but "Which ones?" Yeah, medical system, promote adoption so you have a never-ending stream of mental-health customers.

Sure there are some therapists who want to help and do their best Joe Soll and his Adoption Healing books comes to mind. The best, in my opinion. But not everyone is into "inner child work." And one approach does not help everyone. PTSD causes distinct changes to the structure and function of the brain. That is a fact. And not every natural mother is aware that books like these even exist, or that the pain she feels is not a sign of total moral and character failure. After all, we were told we would "get over it" -- we have not, and therefore we have failed, right? The social workers told us we'd get over it. Society and even our loved ones don't believe that we should feel anything:

"That was forty years in the past. Why do you care?"
"She had a good life, right? So why are you feeling this way?"
"I know lots of other breeders and they don't feel that way. They are okay with 'their decision'" (puke!)
"Move on"
" ... nothing but a Bitter Old Birthmother..." (thanks, C., for this one).

So, we hide our pain. We are not supposed to feel it. And we used denial, dissociation and repressing our emotions as survival mechanisms, in order to try to continue breathing. We create a false, fake self in order to present a "happy face" to the world and hide our pain (and our shame and guilt -- did you know that both of these are common responses in trauma victims?)

But often, for many of us, the only way to escape the pain is suicide. And frankly, I often feel that those who succeed are the lucky ones.

Not that anyone cares. Articles about our pain get published and then forgotten. No baby broker will tell an expectant mother that she stands a good chance of suffering lifelong unresolved grief, PTSD, severe depression, secondary infertility, or other such consequences.

I was sent two articles by a friend. Here are some excerpts from them.

“Relinquishing mothers have more grief symptoms than women who have lost a child to death, including more denial; despair, atypical responses; and disturbances in sleep, appetite, and vigor.” - Askren & Bloom (1999)

"Because society views the relinquishment of an infant as a voluntary choice, there is no acknowledgement that a loss has occurred, and thus no expectation for the birth mother to go through a grief process with subsequent adjustment " - Askren & Bloom (1999)

“Results shown in Table 3 demonstrate that mothers relinquishing a child for adoption tend towards more grief symptoms than bereaved parents, especially if the method of adoption was open adoption.” ... "Table 3, comparing natural mothers in both open and closed adoptions with bereaved parents, shows that natural mothers suffer more denial, atypical responses, dispair, anger, depersonalization, sleep disturbance, somaticizing, physical symptoms, dependency, vigor." -- Blanton & Deschner (1990).