Adoptee Rage! This blog is written exclusively for the 38% of Abused and Neglected Adopted Children. The U.S. HHSA Identifies #1 Risk: Maltreatment, Child Abuse and Risk for Death In Adopted children. Childhood domination, Coping compensation. Research in Adoption Psychology, Developmental Trauma"The Adoption Paradox". By Rainstorm Red-Smith
About Adoptee Rage
Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.
List of Risks for Adoption Disruption
Some adopters decide they cannot handle severe physical, emotional, or psychiatric problems that show up in their adopted child. What happens when a child's behaviors fall too far short of the parents' unrealistic expectations?
Researchers at the University of Southern Maine identified several stages of an impending adoption failure:
In the first stage, diminishing pleasures, the joys of parenthood were far overwhelmed by the hardships.
Next, the parents want the child to change his behavior, but he can't or won't change. The parents may begin complaining how difficult this child is. It's a good idea for the parent to gain feedback and support from an adoptive parent group at this point.
At the turning point stage, an event causes the parents to feel they can no longer parent the child. The child may exhibit frightening or cruel behavior, or he may run away repeatedly. The parents start to imagine what life would be like if the child were no longer part of the family.
The deadline stage is just what it sounds like: The parents give the child an ultimatum. If the child doesn't do what the parents ask, they take steps to take the child away from the family.
Sometimes the adopters ask the agency or attorney to take the child back and place him with another family. In other cases they request that the state social services department take over the child's case (however, if they do so, they usually lose control over what happens to the child). These situations are referred to asdisrupted adoptions. They are extremely rare for children placed in infancy. If an intercountry adoption disrupts, then the adoptive parents must find another placement. This can be very difficult. In the extremely unlikely event it happens to you, contact an experienced adoption agency for help.
Keep in mind that disrupted adoptions are rare. Some factors that may lead to disruption are prior severe abuse, multiple homes, and foster homes—although children who fit this profile can do well and should not be ruled out as adoptive candidates.
Adoption researcher Victor Groze estimates that only about 2 percent of all adoptions fail. Of course, the best plan is to work on resolving the problem well before it reaches the latter stages and before the parents and the child give up on working together.
Bottom line: Although the large majority of adopted children turn out just fine, sometimes they will experience serious medical or psychiatric problems. If that happens, then, of course, you will need to seek treatment for the child. First, get the child a physical examination to rule out a readily treatable problem. Then, if the problem may be behavioral or psychiatric, seek out a competent therapist. Finally, take into account your own needs as a human being.
ADOPTEE RAGE! Neurobiologist Psychiatrist's Prove Detrimental Effects From the Separation of Infant-Mother Dyads ___________________________________________________ Despite this common practice, new research published inBiological Psychiatryprovides new evidence that separating infants from their mothers is stressful to the baby.
It is standard practice in a hospital setting, particularly among Western cultures, to separate mothers and their newborns. Separation is also common for babies under medical distress or premature babies, who may be placed in an incubator. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics specifically recommends against co-sleeping with an infant, due to its association with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
Humans are the only mammals who practice such maternal-neonate separation, but its physiological impact on the baby has been unknown until now. Researchers measured heart rate variability in 2-day-old sleeping babies for one hour each during skin-to-skin contact with mother and alone in a cot next to mother's bed. Neonatal autonomic activity was 176% higher and quiet sleep 86% lower during maternal separation compared to skin-to-skin contact.
Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, commented on the study's findings: "This paper highlights the profound impact of maternal separation on the infant. We knew that this was stressful, but the current study suggests that this is major physiologic stressor for the infant."
This research addresses a strange contradiction: In animal research, separation from mother is a common way of creating stress in order to study its damaging effects on the developing newborn brain. At the same time, separation of human newborns is common practice, particularly when specialized medical care is required (e.g. incubator care). "Skin-to-skin contact with mother removes this contradiction, and our results are a first step towards understanding exactly why babies do better when nursed in skin-to-skin contact with mother, compared to incubator care," explained study author Dr. Barak Morgan.
More research is necessary to further understand the newborn response to separation, including whether it is sustained response and whether it has any long-term neurodevelopmental effects.
However, skin-to-skin contact has known benefits, and certainly, most would agree that unnecessarily stressing a newborn is unacceptable. Thus, as further evidence emerges, the challenge to doctors will be to incorporate skin-to-skin contact into routine treatment whilst still safely providing the other elements of newborn medical care.
The quagmire of closed-adoption mentality in the adoptive parents impacts the population of closed adoption adopted children negatively in all aspects of their life. This population of adoptive parents adopted a child to fulfill their own pressing and immediate needs to possess a child. The psychology of the closed adoption practice is used as a scapegoat as "what the adoption agencies told adoptive parents at that time" was never improved upon and refusal to self-educate by reading about adopted children's perceptions of being adopted. The Adoptee written books, blogs, essays and writing about "what it is like for adopted children" was dismissed by these adoptive parents as being selfish, hateful and ungrateful as they are forever labeled "adopted CHILDREN", although the writers are far into maturity and adulthood at their time of authoring about adoption. Closed-Era adoption was based on adoption marketing that was published into pamphlets distributed to the ignorant public that were believed to be valid information "by experts", but were nothing more that advertising to the ignorant buyer. The ignorant public never questioned the validity of the adoption related publications, and as we see this practice now regulated in pharmaceutical marketing, the adverse effects must be documented in the advertising. Closed adoption era parents prefer closed adoption as they need to be in control and have sole ownership over their newly purchased adoptive child. Adoption reunion was taboo for closed adoption era adoptions, but these social norms are based on what the adoptive parent wants, demands and fears of the biological parent's future inclusion into their child's life. The adoptive parent's fear and jealousy of the biological parent that is ever present in the mind of the adopted child, are dismissed and labeled "fantasy thinking" by closed era adoption professionals. The professional psychological community has done a grave disservice to the population of adopted children and adult adoptees with biased studies that promote closed adoption "to benefit the child". As studies predate the closed adoption era identify psychological damage from being cut off from biological family and identity replacement to benefit the adoptive family have done permanent damage to the population of adopted children. The adoptive parent of the closed era, believed in the principals of what the closed era promised them, and now we have a new population of estranged baby-boomer era adoptive parents that claim ignorance in the adult adoptee's distance from them. Adopted children have no past, no valid identity and no physical connection to anyone, that which makes them unable to comprehend the past or the future. There is NO closure for adopted individuals, only the fragments of clues left behind from the destroyed puzzle of their life that adoptees are biologically driven to piece their life back together. The adoption reunion has nothing to do with the adoptive parents unless the adoptee was raised by an adoptive parent that did serve the best interest of the adopted child. To the Adoptee, their adoption reunion is private, coveted and the glimmer of hope that forever exists in the mind of the adoptee that might make them whole for the first time in life. To allow their adoptive mother inside their hear, to use the adoptee's truth and taint it with uncertainty to fuel the adoptive mother's gossip and make the reunion about the jealous adoptive mother will be as expected a disaster. To some adoptee's the hope in the biological reunion is the only thing that the adoptee has ever possessed. Future relationships take time and effort...as "there is NO Closure in biological reunions". The reunion for the adoptee is devalued by the adoptive parent as they will cause the adoptee shame, doubt and grief if they share it with their adoptive parent. If they allow the adoptive parent inside the adoptee's "bubble of truth" it will break as the adoptive parent's resistance is filled with the past adopted life of lies, vilification, denial and accusations, threats that are intentionally in place to destroy the adoptee's secret truth of hope in future reunion with biological family. The biological reunion belongs to the adoptee, it is their story for the first time in their life to hold dear and to with-hold from those that would devalue the adoptee's happiness.
ADOPTEE RAGE! The Natural Mother of an Adopted Child ___________________________________________________ The pretense of adoption industry marketing, the BIASED pro-adoption psychological studies that compliment adoption industry marketing opinions and the adoptive parents that want so desperately to have their adopted child fulfill the adoptive parent's expectations. In real-world reality, a normal family would refuse to sever all ties with their beloved family member as though they were dead....because of a legal document. Any legal document that decrees a child's biological family is no longer their biological family is preposterous!
The legal document declaring legal liability and responsibility of a minor child, is a temporary time frame until the minor child reaches majority...age 18 adult. The adoption industry culture has created too many of these "old wives tales" that are considered truth by an ignorant public. There are NO state laws in the U.S. protecting the biological mother's privacy, More "old wives tales" that is used to further vilify the biological mother...Yet it sounds great to the insecure adoptive mother. For the adopted child there are NO laws, legal actions or decree papers that can police the adopted child's thoughts, hopes and future adult adoptee decisions. The adoption papers that reflect the pro-adoption assumption that the biological relationship has been forever terminated....Is All For the insecure adoptive parent's benefit....Not the adopted individual's reality. As the adopted child has two mothers, two fathers and six sets of grandparents, and extended family etc..... The pretense that the adopted child's family tree is the adoptive family's tree is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!!! That it only benefits the adoptive parents. Is NOT adoption supposed to benefit the adopted child?
This paper develops the earlier work of the author and his colleagues, with the hindsight of a further twenty years of caring for disturbed adopted children.
It examines the themes of attachment/detachment, trust/distrust, gratitude, obligation and belonging, major difficulty in identity formation, response to obfuscated adoption motivation and high levels of conditioning and control that are the lot of those adopted children who are fortunate to be brought up in a family where they can remain until at least middle adolescence.
An Eriksonian model is used, and the work of Stierlin is drawn upon in understanding psychosocial separation issues of late adolescence. The thesis is put forward that adoptive children have more difficult and less culturally supported developmental tasks to achieve than those in a moderately functioning biologically related family. It puts a plea for more education of adoptive parents in these special difficulties, as they also suffer severely as a result of ignorance of these mostly inevitable processes.
PSYCHOSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF ADOPTED CHILDREN
Erikson’s model of human development is epigenetic. This is to say that each stage of psychosocial development is built upon the previous stage or stages of development and their outcome. For example a child who has a significant sense of basic trust, will seek autonomy and test it behaviourally without readily falling into shame and doubt. Or obversely a child with poor resolution of shame and doubt issues will have more trouble developing initiative unclouded by excessive guilt.
These earlier developmental stages form a developmental pattern at the same time as the child’s primary school education is beginning the serious years of acquiring literacy and adapting to the whole theme of continuing education.
In an adoptive family the child has nearly always been told he or she is adopted, often long before the conceptual notion of the word is within his range. In an adoptive family with a successful marriage with mutual motivation to adopt - as well as the capacity to grieve their infertility, and assuming the absence of mental illness including alcoholism, the child has adapted to their new parents’ idiosyncrasies sufficiently to have arrived at this stage of development with their own pattern of function. Note, that for the purposes of this paper, we are talking about those adoptive families still functioning as a family.
To Erikson, Primary School is the time of development where the maturing nervous system and psyche is being shaped by education, nurture and activities. He sees the time as one where the development is one of industry and the psychosocial alternative is a feeling of inferiority.
In common speech the issue of these years is, “Am I an okay kid?”
Not only must he or she be ‘okay’ in parent’s eyes, but now the teachers and peer group are becoming more and more important.
Working at education and development is always to the standards of the family where they are brought up, and the school chosen. This is one place where the fit between adoptive parents and child does matter. Biological parents readily recognize their own behavior and temperament in their children, which might lead to compassion or even over-reaction at elements of themselves they accept.
Adoptive parents are, with good reason, often bewildered. The child has different abilities and interests than they had, they seem to relate to other children in a manner that is unfamiliar; their spontaneous reactions to shock or frustration seem strange. At this stage the child is being tested hard by his social field. When he goes home and relates this, he or she needs every bit of validation by mirroring in hearing, “You’re okay.”, that is available.
It is from being an okay child with a sense of self that the adolescent finds his or her identity. Identity in our culture is an underrated issue for the reason that those who have an identity arising from a greater family background and strong sense of self take it for granted. They don’t know what it is like to struggle for an identity. Those who don’t have one, are depressed, lack direction, are distracted by substance abuse, settle for destructive relationships and stop trying.
In the greater family there is nearly always significant contact with other children, most commonly cousins. Cousins are a common source of information, some of it wrong or distorted. The material has its origins in the aunts and uncles’ discussions about the circumstances of the adoption, and snippets of gossip or speculation about the original mother and father of the boy or girl. A child who is not informed derives information readily from other children; cousins are a frequent source; many crises may occur from wrong information, sometimes far-fetched, and even information that is roughly correct.
For an adoptive child one alternative to this is no information whatsoever, a total wall of silence about his or her origins. Some adoptive parents provide information that is fed to them by agencies to be used at the appropriate age. Often this is edited, distorted or simply not factual, even the result of communication mistakes.
Anglo-Saxon and European culture has a background of centuries of successful breeding techniques long before it received help from science or the discipline of genetic research. Every family has its myths of who took after whom, and what the family was noted for in abilities, character and appearance. It is hard for an adoptive child to “…know what I am really like.” Other difficult notions are there for the child, such as “had to give you up for adoption.”, and “we chose you.” The culture doesn’t help the adoptive family either, because common culture says, “It will be just as if you had your own children.” The family are let down by not being supported by the culture in which they are supposed to exist as if adoption had had not occurred.. Confusion and insecurity readily occurs, particularly if one of Erikson’s first three stages has left some mistrust, shame, doubt or guilt as a problem for the child.
There is insecurity on both sides of the adoption. The child is insecure in not knowing how strong is this bond from adoptive parents – how committed are they to staying with it. And insecure children, despite their relative health, test out the adults of their family. Sometimes they do it aggressively, other times by adopting the behaviors of a younger care-eliciting child. When this goes on and on, and the child’s temperament appears strange and unfamiliar, some adoptive parents are tested too much in the same way as a fostering placement is tested and is unable to go on. Crisis phenomena occur and the more committed families seek help instead of giving up or blaming the child.
Adoptive parents who are insecure about adoption are outwardly distinct from the secure ones.
The secure ones know quite a lot about children generally and are interested in what the particular child is like and how they will develop. If this development requires straight answers or testing their origins, they make that possible without giving prejudicial information. They are able to let the adoptee differentiate into an adult with adult interests and finally develop a good adult/adult relationship with them.
If they are anxious about reunion, it is that the adoptee won’t suffer a major let down or be rejected. They are usually interested in the biological family and what they do without deprecation. It is rare to see a mother and an adoptive mother become good friends, and it can’t come about any other way than with real trust, but I have seen it be ultimately good for the adoptee and his family.
The more insecure the adoptive family, however, the more they are worried that the child will leave them, judge them, and not want to know them, the more they will make up myths or stories to make the child think they are better off with them than they would have been otherwise, and the more there are stories that their mother couldn’t keep them or didn’t wantthem. The messages to the adopted child about biological parents may be blatant: such as: “You’d have been starving in a humpy outside some little town.”, or subtle and projective, “Your ‘birth mother’ seems rather brittle don’t you think?” Insecurity is not all or nothing: thereare degrees of insecurity, and varieties - reflective of the adoptive family attitudes andpreconceptions. Unfortunately there is no known way of screening out which adoptive families will be insecure, but there is the opportunity to educate them in the hazards and help them with common insecurities. It is to be remembered that most of the ones we are discussing are in the middle or top group of adoptive families, and not ones who are drunk, drugged, divided or displaced. They are essentially people who are trying their best and are deserving of our compassion for their own insecurity and distress.
The adoptee’s insecurity is: Am I a good enough kid and grateful enough for you to see me through my development without wanting to get rid of me? - their attachment is essentially anxious.
The adoptive parent’s insecurity is about, “Did I really do well enough to have justified my having somebody else’s child to rare? How do I keep the deep downguilt feelings quiet?” An adoptive parent who has open communication with his or her spouse might be asking, “Did we do well enough…?”, and even that sense of them doing it together is of immense value to the adopted child.
Some adoptive parents want school results and trophies on shelf, and, if they just happen without anxiety and pressure, that is fine. But the adopted child is left with a burden of feelings of how to come to terms with obligation and expectations of gratitude. The secure adoptive parent can talk openly about this aspect of adoption and express what they themselves are thankful and joyful about. The insecure adoptive parents want their due.
One aspect of ‘wanting their due’, is control and maintaining the relationship on their own terms through later life. Stierlin has studied the ‘mission’ that families give to children and that begins to be acted on in a deeper manner when they are in later adolescence. In many adoptive families it is to be outstanding in some manner, and generally to give the message of what a great family they were brought up in. If the pressure behind this is not too great and the means to this is flexible, it is restricting, but not too damaging. If the pressure is great and the means inflexible, then the child is often under unbearable stress.
To prevent age appropriate separation from the family at the age where their peers are becoming adults is another insecurity issue. The mechanisms seem to be universal in Western Culture. To do everything for them so they are dependent for living skills is a simple one, more serious is to undermine their sense of their own capacity to cope with adult life and relationships and live by their own decisions (this is a shame and self-doubt theme) and the third is about the triggering of guilt – guilt themes and guilt games are painful, the response often set up in very early life; and, at a deeper level, linked in the adoptee to his or her fear of abandonment that is easily displaced later onto their mother and how they will feel when they meet her.
As I have pointed out in my earlier writings about the selection of adoptive parents, adoption motivation is very strong. I have already discussed such motivation factors as mutuality and a genuine interest in children as good outcome factors, and indicated that we are not discussing the family broken up by alcohol, or where a difficult marriage was to be temporarily propped up by the advent of a child. However it is important to remember that strong motivation themes, which may be very different between the couple and indeed their relatives, is a background to the development of an adopted child. The grandparent who rejects her adopted grandchild in favor of cousins for example, or the child with one parent who was not ‘the adopter’ in the first place, where the issue might be indifference: what difficulties does this make for a child’s understanding of their place in the world? I mention these issues here, but they are available in more detail from my earlier writings.
In Erikson’s terms, the stages of industry and identity in psychosocial development are a hard time for the adopted child, and, because they are the foundations for the later stages of intimacy and generativity that lead on to the child accepting themselves and their life, they are pivotal in the making of the person and the family of the future. While there are even echoes of adoption in society all parties to adoption require our compassion and support.
Erikson E.H. 1950. Childhood and Society Penguin Edition 1965 pp 239-236
Erikson E.H. 1968 Identity, Youth and Crisis Norton New York
Kraus J. 1978 Adjustment of Adopted Children and Demographic Profile of Adoptive Parents. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 1978 12(3), 181-187
Rickarby G. A. (1976) Family Psychiatry and the Selection of Adoptive Parents Australian Social Work, 31(2), pp 21-22
RickarbyGA. & Egan P.(1980) Issues of Preventive Work with Adopted Adolescents. Med. J. Aust 1: 470-47
RickarbyGA., Lee M.M., Said J. and Pauline Egan (1981) Adoptive Families in Distress Aust.Journal of Social Issues. Vol 16 Number 1 pp 32-36
You learn the world from your mother's face. The mother's eyes, especially, are a child's refuge,
"the mirror where children confirm their existence".
From the doting reflection of its mother's eyes, a baby draws its earliest, wordless lessons about connection, care, and love, and about how being ignored - which every child is sooner or later - makes the good feeling disappear.
The mother's gaze, determines more than you might realize about how you come to see yourself, your place in the world, and the moral nature of people around you. "The meeting eyes of love," novelist George Eliot called this all-important connection. According to Dan Siegal, a psychologist who specializes in early parental bonding, every child yearns for, and must have, this eye contact for healthy emotional development to occur.
Siegal, who founded a new field of research known as interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB), has proved that the mother's gaze plays a critical role in how we develop empathy.
"Repeated tens of thousands of times in the child's life, these small moments of mutual rapport serve to transmit the best part of our humanity --our capacity for love -- from one generation to the next," Siegal has discovered.
Without such mirrored transmission, children deprived of the mother's gaze are likely to feel disconnected from others later in life. Many of them will struggle to heal this disconnect in destructive ways ranging from dysfunctional love to substance abuse. Carl Jung described addiction as "a prayer gone awry"; indeed, there's an obvious link between the emptiness caused by a mother's absence and the spiritual impulse itself, with its goals of benediction, acceptance, and unity. Not long before his death, the late Pope John Paul II, who lost his own mother at an early age, was intrigued enough by IPNB - especially Dan Siegal's work on the mother's gaze - to invite Siegal to the Vatican for a private meeting to discuss how the pontiff's being orphaned had impacted his psychological and spiritual life.
Siegal suggests that that the visual interaction between mother and child primes the moral organ in visceral ways. "Through mirroring, attachment to caregivers helps the immature brain use the mature functions of the parent's brain to organize its own processes". "We learn to care, quite literally, by observing the caring behavior of our parent toward us.
" By the age of seven months, these earliest attachments have led to specific organizational changes in an infant's behavior and brain function. Having found a secure base in the world, according to psychologist John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory, the child learns emotional resilience. If the mother is responsive to the child's signals and interacts with sensitivity, a secure attachment will be formed, reinforcing the child's own positive emotional states and teaching him or her to modulate negative states.
Deprived of the mother's gaze, the area of the brain that coordinates social communication, empathic attunement, emotional regulation, and stimulus appraisal (the establishment of value and meaning) will be faulty. Such children are likely to develop "insecure attachment" along with all sorts of subsequent losses in self-esteem and feelings of belonging. Infants whose mothers deliberately ignore them in laboratory experiments become agitated and distressed. Rather than crawl around like the babies being paid attention to, they stop exploring the environment and either brood alone or desperately solicit their mother for attention. Not surprisingly, children of mothers who display postpartum or post-adoption depression tend to be anxious and distressed themselves.
We've come a long way in understanding how harmful parental distance can be to children's emotional and moral development. Not long ago, popular wisdom held that in order for children to be self-reliant and well-behaved, parents should treat their kids as miniature adults.
Before mirror neurons proved the vital link between empathy and parental attention, it was believed that children (little tabula rasas) were best initiated right away into the sort of alienation they could expect as grown-ups. "There is a sensible way of treating children," behaviorist John Watson counseled in 1928. "Never hug and kiss them. Never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight and shake hands with them in the morning." How different this withholding approach is from that of the Kung people of the Kalahari, whose mothers deliver children alone without anesthetic, stay in almost constant physical contact with them for several months, hold them in a vertical position during most of their waking hours - the better to see them face to face -- and nurse several times an hour for the first three or four years! Is it any surprise that the !Kung are among the most peaceful tribes in Africa? Not only is touch "both the alpha and omega of affection," as philosopher William James famously wrote, it's connected to our body's production of the hormone oxytocin - also known as the molecule of love - which the vagus nerve instructs the brain to release during lovemaking, nursing, and other human connection moments.
Regardless of how they're raised, no other offspring in the animal kingdom come close to the intimacy shared by human parents and their young. Our unique evolution requires this close-knit bond. When humans finally, permanently, stood up on our hind legs, moving from tree life to flat savannah ground, Homo sapiens developed much narrower hips in order to walk upright. With the woman's pelvis narrowed for walking, human babies needed to be born prematurely in order to squeeze their already enormous heads through the narrower passage. Whereas other mammals are born only when their brains are more or less ready to control their bodies, human babies can do nothing for themselves. Once out of womb, these giant brains attached to helpless baby bodies need constant care, and this parental relationship - with its manipulations, give and take, and demands for justice, respect, and loyalty - becomes our ethical kindergarten.
In the complex relationship between parents and children, our earliest bonding patterns are formed. Our first glimmers of being loved by our mother, thereby feeling ourselves to be lovable, are indissolubly linked to our ability to care for others in our maturity. As anyone who's been a parent can attest, this love requires levels of patience, stamina, and selflessness beyond anything demanded by any other relationship. Luckily, the rewards can be equally epic. Through the mirrored love in our mothers eyes, we learn surrender, devotion, and trust.
The Child That Could Have Been is NOT Adopted!
Mourning and the Loss of the Perfect Child
Solnit and Stark's (1961) seminal work related to the chronicity of mourning, following the birth of a child with a disability (or an Adopted Child). They describe the disappointment, helplessness, humiliation, trauma, defeat and sense of failure on the part of the mother and contend that the object-loss (in this case, the longed-for healthy child) is a blow from which parents may never recover. In this conceptualisation, mourning is disrupted due to the disabled child being a constant reminder of what was lost, and so the resolution of grief is inhibited. Solnit and Stark contend that pathological responses to the birth of a "defective" child are to be expected. The crucial elements of their work are:
grief occurs as a response to the loss of the anticipated normal child;
there is no time to resolve the grief because the unexpected child requires immediate attention;
the parents therefore are likely to have neurotic responses.
Although adoption dates back centuries, the issue of whether or not adopted children are at risk for psychological maladjustment remains controversial. That this dispute would occur at all is not surprising, since as recently as 1926 laws which liberalized adoptions in England were faced with a widespread objection that adoption would encourage depraved conduct (Tizard, 1991; Lipman et al., 1992).
Adopted children are exposed to many stressors that could increase their risks for psychological maladjustment. The biologic parents of children given up for adoption have a high incidence of impulse control problems such as hyperkinesis, chemical dependency and personality disorder. Adopted children are therefore at genetic risk for these disorders. Also, women who become pregnant out of wedlock and later give up their children for adoption often fail to seek prenatal medical care and are at risk of giving birth to premature and low birth weight infants (Kotsopoulos et al., 1993; Rogeness et al., 1993).
Before a permanent adoption placement, adopted children often endure poor nutritional and health status, poor living conditions, discontinuous care taking, disharmonious family environments, inadequate stimulation and affection, neglect and abuse (Tizard, 1991). A study of foreign adopted children by Verhulst and colleagues (1992) found that 45% of the sample experienced neglect, 13% were abused, 54% experienced at least one change in caretakers, 6% experienced three or more changes in caretaking environments, and 43% were in poor physical health upon placement with the adoptive family.
Challenges of Adoptive Childhood
The challenges that adoptive children and parents face do not cease after the formal adoption process has occurred. Adopted children must confront the difficult questions of whom their biologic parents are and why they are no longer with them. Adopted children sometimes account for the narcissistic injury caused by their perceived abandonment by assuming that they were somehow unacceptable to their biologic parents. This rationalization can lead to low self-esteem and fear of future abandonment (Nickman, 1985).
Adopted children are naturally inquisitive about their own backgrounds and that of their biologic families. Unfortunately, they have a double hindrance in this regard, as they usually find it difficult to find their personal histories, and are likely to have feelings of ambivalence and anxiety about what they might discover (Sants, 1964). Unresolved questions about their backgrounds can lead to obstacles in healthy identity formation. A strong identification with an idealized image of their biologic parents sometimes fills the emotional void resulting from these lingering uncertainties. Identification with the idealized biologic parents can compel the adopted child to reject and devalue his or her adoptive parents, which complicates the process of identity formation (Freud, 1959).
Adoptive parenthood involves difficult challenges as well. Adoptive parents must resolve the grief for the wished-for biologic child and come to terms with infertility issues. Anger directed toward the spouse held accountable for the inability or the choice not to conceive can taint family relationships. Insufficient emotional acceptance of the adoption alternative may result in a romanticized image of the biologic child who might have been. Failure to work through the loss of the biologic child can lead to feelings of rejection, alienation, entitlement and misdirected anger toward the adopted child, particularly if he or she fails to meet the adoptive parent's expectations (Solnit and Stark, 1961; Brinich, 1980).
Negative fantasies about the biologic parents can predispose the adoptive parents to be overly concerned about the adopted child's behaviors. These concerns can lead to a prohibitive attitude toward developmentally normal sexual and aggressive childhood activities. The resulting scrutiny by the adoptive parents can convey to the adoptee that the adoptive parents have a negative and antisocial image of him or her (Johnson and Szurek, 1952).
ADOPTEE RAGE! Mommy Please Don't Tell Anyone I'm Adopted __________________________________________ I have always felt overwhelming shame and humiliation when my adoptive mother would deliberately announce to anyone that I was her adopted child.....and was I ever introduced as "her child" in my life. And I would beg and plead with her "Mommy Please DON'T Tell Anybody" while driving in the car to anyplace or anywhere. Trapped in my adoptive mother's car was always the precursor to the seriously dreaded, anxiety provoking and humiliating introduction where I would be introduced as her "ADOPTED-CHILD"!! What Mother's hurtful words mean to me still: As mother's current charity project. As the award winning adoptive parent. As the woman that saves orphans. As the saint doing GOD's work. The woman that took in this Problem Child. The woman that owns me like a pet monkey. The child not worthy of the mother's sacrifice. The child not worthy of being a mother's daughter. The child not worthy of belonging to her family. That her humiliating me should serve me grateful. My being humiliated was my own personal flaw. That I was the one with a "privacy Problem". That my problems were not her problems. That her public image was more important than me. That I had no "right" to expect her to be silent. That I had no right to privacy. That I had no right to ask her "not to do" anything. That my shame is always punished by humiliation. That my difference would always be broadcast. That I was not worthy of a human being. What shamed me is what boosted her public image. I was not like other normal children, I was adopted. That I my shameful emotions were abnormal. That I'd better get used to it and be polite. Well I have never gotten used to it, she did not "brake my spirit" like an animal, nor did she change the way I feel about being on display for her vanity and public image. I still cringe at those horrid words from her angry voice, Telling me I am the problem. That my need for privacy is "absolutely ridiculous". The constant use of humiliation as my designated punishment has caused me great psychological damage as an adult human being. I go to great lengths to avoid people and her to remain emotionally stable and safe in my own skin. One sound of her voice, one laugh or threat to slap my face turns me into that helpless child that she keeps on a leash to display for my own good.
ADOPTEE RAGE! "Parental Alienation Syndrome" Common in Adoption __________________________________________ Parental Alienation Syndrome is a constant manifestation in the dynamic of "Adoption Fog" where the adoptee denies and vilifies the natural parent's psychological presence in their thoughts, lives and prevents them from seeking reunion out of gratitude and fear of adoptive parent abandonment.
Parental alienation syndrome (abbreviated as PAS) is a term coined by Richard A. Gardner in the early 1980s to refer to what he describes as a disorder in which a child, on an ongoing basis, belittles and insults one parent without justification, due to a combination of factors, including indoctrination by the other parent (almost exclusively as part of a child custody dispute) and the child's own attempts to denigrate the target parent. Gardner introduced the term in a 1985 paper, describing a cluster of symptoms he had observed during the early 1980s.
Parental alienation syndrome is not recognized as a disorder by the medical or legal communities and Gardner's theory and related research have been extensively criticized by legal and mental health scholars for lacking scientific validity and reliability. However, the separate but related concept of parental alienation, the estrangement of a child from a parent, is recognized as a dynamic in some divorcing and adoptive families. Psychologists differentiate between parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome by linking parental alienation with behaviors or symptoms of the parents, while parental alienation syndrome is linked to hatred and vilification of a targeted parent by the child.
Gardner described PAS as a preoccupation by the child with criticism and deprecation of a parent. Gardner stated that PAS occurs when, in the context of child custody disputes, one parent deliberately or unconsciously attempts to alienate a child from the other parent.According to Gardner, PAS is characterized by a cluster of eight symptoms that appear in the child. These include a campaign of denigration and hatred against the targeted parent; weak, absurd, or frivolous rationalizations for this deprecation and hatred; lack of the usual ambivalence about the targeted parent; strong assertions that the decision to reject the parent is theirs alone (the "independent-thinker phenomenon"); reflexive support of the favored parent in the conflict; lack of guilt over the treatment of the alienated parent; use of borrowed scenarios and phrases from the alienating parent; and the denigration not just of the targeted parent but also to that parent's extended family and friends. Despite frequent citations of these factors in scientific literature, "the value ascribed to these factors has not been explored with professionals in the field.
Gardner and others have divided PAS into mild, moderate and severe levels. The number and severity of the eight symptoms displayed increase through the different levels. The recommendations for management differ according to the severity level of the child's symptoms. While a diagnosis of PAS is made based on the child's symptoms, Gardner stated that any change in custody should be based primarily on the symptom level of the alienating parent.In mild cases, there is some parental programming against the targeted parent, but little or no disruption of visitation, and Gardner did not recommend court-ordered visitation. In moderate cases, there is more parental programming and greater resistance to visits with the targeted parent. Gardner recommended that primary custody remain with the programming parent if the brainwashing was expected to be discontinued, but if not, that custody should be transferred to the targeted parent. In addition, therapy with the child to stop alienation and remediate the damaged relationship with the targeted parent was recommended. In severe cases, children display most or all of the 8 symptoms, and will refuse steadfastly to visit the targeted parent, including threatening to run away or commit suicide if the visitation is forced. Gardner recommended that the child be removed from the alienating parent's home into a transition home before moving into the home of the targeted parent. In addition, therapy for the child is recommended. Gardner's proposed intervention for moderate and severe PAS, including court-ordered transfer to the alienated parent, fines, house arrest, incarceration, have been critiqued for their punitive nature towards the alienating parent and alienated child, and for the risk of abuse of power and violation of their civil rights. With time, Gardner revised his views and expressed less support for the most aggressive management strategies.
ADOPTEE RAGE! Adoptive Parent's Parental Alienation of Biological Parents __________________________________________ Adoptive mothers commonly experience the adopted child's natural parents as a threat to the adoptive mother's psychological stability. The adoptive mother's jealousy, entitlement and vilification of the non-existent natural parent is her impulsive reaction to label these real people as bad, the enemy, instead of being a mature adult representative of the child's natural parents that are not present to defend themselves. Adoptive mothers actively engage in natural parent alienation to condition the adopted child's normal thoughts about their natural parents to be negative thoughts of detest and repulsion toward the child's natural parents to ensure the adopted child's unconditional allegiance to the adoptive mother. This common psychological manipulation by immature, narcissistic and selfish adoptive mothers only lasts through adopted childhood, where in adolescence the child develops cognitive ability to question childhood manipulations by intrusive adoptive mothers to control their adopted child. Parental alienation is the process, and the result, of the psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent and/or other family members. It is a distinctive and widespread form of psychological abuse and family violence —towards both the child and the rejected family members—that occurs almost exclusively in association with family separation or divorce (particularly where legal action is involved) and that undermines core principles of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Natons Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most commonly, the primary cause is a parent wishing to exclude another parent from the life of their child, but other family members or friends, as well as professionals involved with the family (including psychologists, lawyers and judges), may contribute significantly to the process. It often leads to the long-term, or even permanent, estrangement of a child from one parent and other family membersand, as a particularly adverse childhood experience results in significantly increased risks of both mental and physical illness for children.
A parent who experienced feelings of inadequacy or abandonment in their childhood can have those feelings re-triggered by a divorce or breakup. In response, that parent can reenact a false narrative related to their own childhood, where the child's other parent symbolizes an inadequate or abusive parent, the child symbolizes a victim of the other parent, and the parent using harmful parenting practices symbolizes a good parent ostensibly trying to protect their child. The role of the bystander such as friends, therapists, and judges is to confirm the delusion for the parent, which was already partially confirmed for them by the child acting like a victim However, in reality, the other parent is neither inadequate nor abusive; rather, the parent using the harmful parenting practices is abusive. In effect, the parent who fears inadequacy or abandonment is able to project their fears onto the other parent because "all can plainly see" that it is the other parent who is rejected and abandoned by the child and who is "inadequate".
The parent using harmful parenting practices suffers from borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder related to an experience of feeling inadequate or abandoned while growing up. This feeling can be re-triggered by a divorce or breakup, causing them to decompensate into persecutory delusions. These parents may believe that they do not need to follow social norms of fairness, and they may "parentify their own children", "excessively bind their children to themselves", "demand absolute, unlimited control over their children while threatening rejection",project their own fears onto the other parent,abandon their spouse in favor of their children, and revive their own childhood attachment trauma after a difficult experience.
The techniques of harmful parenting may be subtle and "genuine". A parent can triangulate the child into the marital conflict by encouraging the child to make even minor complaints about the other parent and then "enthusiastically validating" them. This signals to the child that the other parent is dangerous and insensitive. This encouragement to complain manipulates the child into the role of victim without the child's awareness, allowing the parent to move into the protector role, forcing the other parent into the "inadequate" parent role, and leaving no trace of what happened for bystanders who only see the child acting as a "victim".Over time, the combined effects of growing closer to the alienating parent through this complaining process and growing further from the rejected parent as the result of focusing on negative things about the other parent cause the child to reject their other parent as being inadequate. A parent may also mix in lies, partial lies, and exaggerations, particularly ones that the child may not be able to verify or where only the true part of the partial lie is easy to verify. As the result of being encouraged to act as judge of their rejected parent, the child then feels superior to their rejected parent, leading to the symptoms of grandiosity, entitlement, and haughty arrogance. This feeds the delusion of the parent, that they are protecting the child from an inadequate parent. The child then begins to adopt this delusion also. Because the child and parent are from different generations, this qualifies as a perverse triangle further complicated by enmeshment and made even worse because a member of the perverse triangle has a personality disorder,climaxed by the splitting dynamic of the parent with the personality disorder that requires the ex-spouse to also become the ex-parent of the child. Finally, the child may be led to misinterpret the grief they experience from the loss of a parent as pain that means the rejected parent is abusive, since they mainly experience it in the presence of the rejected parent.