Sunday, February 7, 2010

Shame and Pain

I blog today not about news as I have been doing, but about the tough stuff: the emotional scares of adoption loss.

I have blogged about loss and grief.

I have blogged about anger.

Yet underlying much of the lifelong legacy suffered by mothers (and their children) who experience adoption loss and separation.

Dr Marc Miller, Ph.D.  writes:

One of the most striking contradictions that I have come across as a therapist is the discrepancy between the centrality of the affect of shame in humans, and the lack of attention shame has received in the study and practice of psychology. In my own training, I was taught to attend to a wide range of feelings: anger, fear, sexuality, excitement, sadness, but rarely, if ever, the feeling of shame. Shame is also avoided in the "real" world as well. In fact, most of us feel shame about feeling shame.
Many have taken it a but further and written about "toxic shame."

It is not difficult to see how mothers who relinquish experience shame. But adoptees?  For many,  shame is internalized when one is abandoned.When there is a major difference in the adoptee and his family, as in transnational and transracial adoptions, it is exacerbated because of lack of mirroring of one's physical self and feelings of alienation.

I read today, a very good analysis of Parental Alienation Syndrome. I have long been aware of this form of insidious brain washing of a child against one of his parents thta often occurs in adoption and presnted at an AAC many years ago the similalries of a bad diorce and adoption in regard to loayalty tugs-of-war.

I had never considered, however about the traumatic effect of PAS on the parent until reading a recent article by Chrissy Chrzanowski in Conduscive magazine, entitled: Is Parental Alienation a Form of Trauma?

If you have found yourself, post-reunion, in a competitive position with your child's adoptive parents,or rejected.... I highly recommend you read this article which states in part:

Parental alienation has effects on both the children and rejected parents. As parental alienation progresses the bond becomes severed and the child becomes overburdened with negative emotions. The parent becomes traumatized by the actions of the child and the other parent. Some of the emotions are loss, grief, anger, guilt, rage, regret, confusion, fearfulness, shame and hopelessness just to name a few. 
We see here the same emotions created by the original loss are compounded and repeated...and there is that word "shame."

We live in a culture that despite all of the strides of feminism, still values women greatly on their parenting skills or what appears to be  lack thereof. To be unmotherly - not want kids, not have kids - is considered odd at the very least. To lose custody or parental rights is for many in our society akin to being a sociopath or criminal. We are misunderstood and marginalized, sometime pitied.  We are made to feel ashamed of ourselves as mothers, women and human beings for having not been able to properly parent our chidlren against all odds.

It becomes our life. Many cope by dissociating from all of it for decades, only to be 'awakened" by being found. Then it all floods back and on top of it, many of us have to deal with being rejected or maligned by our child's adoptive families, creating a real double whammy. It recreates all of the feelings of our original loss and attempts to validate them.

It is no wonder that many of us get stuck in unending anger or depression at it all or want to stay living in a closet of denial.


maybe said...

It appears parental alienation is a great reference for understanding reunion, breakdown of reunion, and all the complications that present over time. Thanks for this, I plan to explore PAS in more depth.

AdoptAuthor said...

"The book" on PAS was written by Dr. Richard Gardner.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget