This post concludes the last of my book notes on The Primal Wound by author Nancy Verrier. You can find the other two blog posts here and here. I’ve been taking notes on this book rather than doing a long book review due to the plethora of information that the book has on the adoptive triad. I’ve found the book to be very therapeutic and useful. There are many new concepts about adoption and how adoptees can heal from it that I appreciated. Below are my notes on Parts Three and Four which conclude the book.
Part Three: The Healing
Chapter 9 – In the Best Interest of the Child
- Open adoptions are one of the best ways of preserving important relationships for each member of the adoption triad. Knowing that the birth mother and child will not be permanently separated helps everyone involved in the adoption process.
- There needs to be more legislative work in adoptions. Families and adoption agencies need to put both the birth mother’s and child’s needs before their own. Having a “baby business” is only good for those who make a profit.
- Adoption agencies might function better if they were “state-controlled,” and or “non-profit agencies.” This would allow more transparency in the adoption process and allow “impartial settings” for each member of the adoption triad to be represented and have their needs put forward.
Chapter 10: The New Family
- Young adopted children are often adopted while mourning the loss of their birth mother. Parents need to be alert to “unexplained sadness or crying,” over their loss. Adoptive parents need to be ready to comfort and reassure the child of their commitment and love for them continuously in order to help the child.
- There is a “sequence of telling,” that adoptive parents and adoptees need to undergo together in explaining the child’s adoption. When the child is younger some, but not all details of their adoption should be shared. However, as the child gets older, more information should be shared to the point that when the child is in their teens, they should be able to understand “the law” around adoption, (that [their] birth family was signed away), sex, and relationships in a concrete way.
Chapter 11: Adopted Older Children
- Many older adopted children are often anxious about being abandoned again. This can sometimes be shown through their academic standing. Some adoptive children may not do well in school due to their “anxiety and inability to concentrate.” They are more worried about their family structure and where will be placed next instead of focused on school.
- Adoptive parents should not assume that they are “ineffective parents just because the child is acting out.” Older children are often working through a myriad of issues around their identity, immediate family sphere, and emotional wellbeing. Adoptive parents need to understand the complexities around adoption and act in a patient and supportive way.
Chapter 12: Reunion as a Means of Healing the Adoption Triad
- “No one has been more manipulated than the child; he is the only one who has had absolutely no control over his life. He has been manipulated from the beginning, having been cut off from his birthright – his genealogical roots and his connection to his mother.” (152).
- When adoptees go in search of their birth families, adoptive families and society as a whole needs to see them as courageous individuals. Adoptees are strong in their willingness to seek out a new relationship even at the risk of a second rejection from their birth mother and birth families.
- Often times society does not see an adoptee’s search for their birth family as positive. Many times adoptive families and other individuals believe that the adoptive family is the adoptee’s “real family,” which is an unhealthy and inaccurate way to understand the adoption triad.
- Towards the beginning of the adoption process, adoptive parents are often times “unaware of what is being said to the birthmothers by agencies, attorneys, or other adoption facilitators.” Families need to be aware that adoption agencies and lawyers may be promising different relational arrangements to the birth mother that end up not being fulfilled unbeknownst to the adoptive family. To avoid miscommunication and make sure that all parties in the adoption triad feel comfortable, adoptive families need to make attempts to reach out to the birth mother (and if applicable birth father) to discuss her needs and wants for her biological child.
- Reunions are a major part of the healing process for each member of the adoption triad. Through grace, communication, and acceptance it is possible for “the adoption triad to become an extended family, with the best interests of the adoptee as the motive for our learning to accept and love one another.”
Chapter 13: The Reunion Process
- Like the adopted child, the birth mother is often afraid that a possible reunion with her child will result in a second heartbreak, or rejection. She too is worried about loosing her child again.
- Some reunions start off very well but then “deteriorate [into] an almost nonexistent relationship.” Birth mothers, or adoptees who have felt strong emotions about their role in the adoptive triad just want to “forget it,” or, “get on with life.” This causes them to pull away from their new relationship which then starts to become obsolete.
- Though a child may be an adult, during the reunion with their birth mother they may become “child-like” around the individual for a while. They are regressing to a safe stage where they can receive care and love from their birth mother for the first time.
Chapter 14: Empowering Ourselves
- Adoptees need to change their belief that they are unworthy. It is “not a reality, it is a belief, and beliefs need to be challenged.”
- “Controlling our behavior takes a great deal of effort, but we can do it.” (185).
- Adoptees can empowered and find a deeper sense of value in themselves by facilitating a reunion with their birth mother, or, choosing not to explore a reunion. It is the adoptee’s choice and both the birth mother and adoptive parents need to respect their wishes on communication with the other.
Part Four: Conclusions
In the last part of the book, Verrier shares her insights on her research, and her experiences as an adoptive parent. She also touches on some of her personal beliefs regarding surrogacy, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and other “difficult choices” that individuals and families must make in forming a family structure in a non-biological way. I appreciated that Verrier chose to discuss different ways to form a family. Like adoptees, children who are reproduced through a birth mother or birth father, but, who will not be cared for by them will also go through stages of questioning and confusion over their identity. I believe that children born from surrogates and through IVF are very similar to adoptees. Families who are brought together in unconventional ways, like adoptees, may find Verrier’s concluding statements helpful. Part Four seems to be an open invitation for all families to use the information provided in The Primal Wound. Having more information on different family structures, and cultivating emotional and relational well-being can open the door for more children to identify information that can assist them.
I’ve really enjoyed taking notes and reading The Primal Wound over the last month. It’s a very helpful book, and I believe that it’s opened my eyes to new ways in which I understand adoption.
Until next time,