Monday, April 8, 2013

Adoption Ghosts and Unlived Lives

Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.   ~ Carl Jung
While Jung did not have adoption in mind when he said these profound words, how interesting to explore the concept within the framework of adoption.

The unlived life of most who adopt is evident and is carried with them forever: the ghost of the child they might have had. It is much of what creates what has become known as the pseudo "postpartum" depression, blues or letdown. The reality, the disappointment and the eternal wonder what a child "of my own" may have looked like, smelled like, sounded like, behaved like.
 That shadow ghost child remains a constant comparison.  I wonder if my child would have liked sports more, as I do; would my child have acted this way or that.

What, they are left to wonder would my life - our lives - have been like had i not been afflicted with infertility, not spent years undergoing painful and expensive tretments, facing disappointment after disappointment, and made to undergo the scrutiny of adoption. 

Adoptive parents live with the uncertainties of not being their child's "real" parents; fear of blood being thicker than water. They often live reactively to the threat of loosing the love and affection of their child to the ghost of the birth parent.

When we morphed gradually from the days of adoptive parents being encouraged not to reveal to their child that they were adopted to more openness and honesty, it was with a belief that telling a child they were 'chosen' would make them feel special and wanted.  How lacking in understanding of the psyche - how indicative of adoption as a social experiment - not to have anticipated that most every adoptee would figure out that being chosen meant having first been given away, unwanted, rejected, abandoned and that that in turn meant there was something inherently wrong with them.  Add to that the constant - very real -  feeling of being constantly compared to the child that did not grow in their mother's tummy...the adoptive parents' "real" child, their ghost child...and you have a whopping dose of feeling unworthy, never good enough.

The adoptee also has the unlived, "fantasy" life they might have had, had they not been placed for adoption.  Who would they be had their original parents found a way to provide a safe home for them to be nurtured in?

And then there is the unlived life of the mothers who loose a child to adoption? The ghost we live with forever...the "what ifs." How would life have been had we received the support we needed not to have had our child amputated from us? That ghost hovers over our every action and reaction, it haunts all of our relationships and it howls at our subsequent children as they wonder if they live up to our yearnings for the missing puzzle piece in our family portrait.

Unlived lives are powerful. Ghosts are daunting and can be relentless and demanding in their haunting and howling to be heard.

Jung knew the power, the influence of the ghosts of unlived lives we live with every day.

Today, we are trying yet another pendulum swing of an experiment with the lives of adopted children: open adoption. In this scenario, when it is done to the fullest and truest extent and not just "identified" adoption called open, where the openness extends beyond a knowing of the two sets of parents to the child.... children grow not with total fantasy unlived lives, 
but are exposed to them.  How will introducing the ghosts, inviting them to sit at our dinner tables play our for this new generation of experimental rat children? 

How will being invited to your ghost mom's wedding be internalized? Witnessing the addition of subsequent children - KEPT children - do to the psyches of these new world adopto-kids? Only time will tell.

We do know that for many mothers involved in these experiments it has meant deceit and betrayal as promises are broken. For others it has meant pain too excruciating to endure...playing our a scene from Thorton Wilder's play "Our Town" where you are the ghost present yet unseen and your child is calling another "Mommy."  Seeing, witnessing, being right there in the center of your unlived life.  Watching the parents who have more to offer and deserved your flesh and blood more than you did. How are they doing, the parents you CHOSE? 

Unlived lives are ghosts that haunt us and effect us in myriad ways - all of us - even when we live in a trance of denial and believe it doesn't matter at all. Our beliefs create a "reality" that can be shattered at any time by the truth. 
Because, what is real is never necessarily true.

You are really my mother; I am really your child.  In this life. In this reality that has been created by the stroke of a pen on a piece of paper. But not in our unlived lives that haunt us and shape us and influence everything we do.

And we wonder why reunification is so fraught with difficulties, when there are four of us reuniting - you and your ghost me and mine....and perhaps the adoptive parents ghosts as well....  

A poem I wrote back in the 80s..... for alicia, my eternal ghost child.... 


Before you were whole
and really alive
I dreamt of you and I

That dream was shattered
by a tugging too real to be imagined
they were taking you
            from me
tearing my insides out
I tried to hold on to you
but they pulled you
            from me

I closed my eyes
thinking you'd still be there
where you've always been
            in my dreams

In my dreams where
            I hold you
            rock you and
            comfort you

In my dreams where
I watch you
as you grow into
            a happy child
             gorgeous child
            a brilliant child

A child who laughs
and plays and throws
            kisses to me
because I am always with you
Hush now,
            mamma's here

In my dreams where
you grow taller
and more beautiful
            than ever

In my dreams where
            I am at graduations and
            Engagement parties

In my dreams where
            I am your proud mother…

But then
in my dream
your mother turns
and she's
            not me.

I waken with
            a start
to a nightmare
of emptiness and
soaked with tears
            and sweat

I can recall your
with vivid sweet pain
but, the rest
the rest
            is it all
            just a dream?

Once I saw you
we spoke
we touched
we broke the cardinal rule:
one mustn't touch
            a dream.

I tried to bring you
            back with me
to my reality
and almost lost you

Hush now,
            mamma's gone
I will not scare you

You needn't run away
I'll go back
and content myself
with my beautiful
dream of you
in which you are
my child

1 comment:

progenyivfsurrogacy said...

The procedure is identical to a frozen thaw embryo transfer ET cycle. For young women, we can transfer the embryos in a natural cycle, 2 days after ovulation. For older women, we need to downregulate with GnRH analog from Day 1, and then prepare the uterus to accept the embryo with exogenous estrogens and progesterone. The procedure is non-surgical, and there is no risk involved.
What about confidentiality?
In our clinic, we handle embryo donation like a closed adoption. There is no contact between the donating couple and the recipients, who never see each other. The recipient couple does not even need to inform their obstetrician that they achieved their pregnancy through embryo adoption.
Embryo Donation India
Gestational Surrogacy in India

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