The Child That Could Have Been is NOT Adopted!
Mourning and the Loss of the Perfect ChildSolnit 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.