I know the title of this article is so much easier said than felt, but man, I have to share a few things about the experiences and wounds that many of us carry that I describe as very deep-rooted abandonment & rejection wounds. When we think of these wounds, we tend to believe that they began after we were born, but I suggest they could have started before birth due to the research I have done over the last 10 years. Just what we need, more cards stacked up against us. But knowledge is power, and it also promotes healing.
I have lived with this wound for 47 years in addition to my time in utero, so I understand how it can manifest in an adoptee’s life and how we can try to hide it and cover it up or act like it doesn’t exist. Sometimes many of us don’t understand this is even a thing. But no matter what we do, abandonment and rejection issues always seem to circle back around and rear their ugly heads.
I am not sure if you have thought about this or not, but many of us experienced our very first feelings of rejection while we were still in the womb of our birth mothers. I share this because I have researched prenatal bonding and prenatal psychology to try to understand my wound better.
We are all supposed to grow a strong bond with our biological mothers while still in the womb; however, that bond doesn’t always happen for adoptees. Research shows that biological mothers can and do bond with their babies while in utero, so it’s only safe to say that they can also disconnect and not connect with the baby during pregnancy. I learned we all have a critical process of development before birth, and it’s possible to be born with psychological issues due to a lack of bonding and connection with our biological mothers. This would only add to separation trauma, compacted by adoption trauma.
To help me understand the bond I should have had with my birth mother during conception, I read many books and articles that helped me understand how important this bond was because then I understood what I was missing if I didn’t have this bond with my biological mother. I also learned how this had impacted me throughout my life into adulthood.
A few of the books I read are, Babies Remember Birth, The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, Pre-Parenting – Nurturing Your Child From Conception, and Windows to the Womb – Revealing the Conscious Baby from Conception to Birth.
However, many times when an adoptee is going to be relinquished for adoption, our biological mothers purposely try not to bond with the baby growing inside their bellies for nine months. Why? Without a strong mother bond to us, it’s said to be easier to relinquish when the time comes. With this, sometimes, our biological mothers can purposefully try to block any emotions or feelings that come with bonding to the baby they are carrying for nine months. As a result, we feel this rejection back to the beginning for many of us before we were ever born. Sometimes it takes us a lifetime to connect the dots and make sense of it all. And sometimes adoptees go to their grave, never really understanding that the abandonment and rejection we feel aren’t who we are; it’s something that happened to us. It’s sometimes next to impossible to weigh these dynamics out, let alone heal from them.
It’s impossible to heal a wound by denying it’s there, so I wanted to write about this wound many of us carry that is no fault of our own. While researching conception and how babies can and do tune into their mother’s emotions during these nine months, even if our biological mothers aren’t purposely trying to not bond with us, their feelings of us are felt by us and can be carried in our subconscious memories. It’s no wonder many of us don’t understand the complexities of this wound because no one is teaching us or telling us that it exists.
Once we know more, we can heal more.
For me, my desire to HEAL was SO GREAT. I wanted to research the entire scope of pregnancy and pre-birth for myself, so I could try to get a better idea of my beginnings and how it all went down with my birth mother. Some of these discoveries I have learned were hard to grasp, but they have helped me understand from a more profound level, which helps me understand myself better. In return, I am learning to have empathy and compassion for myself and my birth mother. Every little clue to my beginnings has helped me heal, and I hope my fellow adoptees explore this dynamic so they can try to understand themselves better.
While reading an article on the Integrative Psychiatry Institute website that is called “How Prenatal and Birth Imprints Set the Stage for Adult Behaviors HPP15,” I learned:
“From a prenatal psychology perspective, the development in the womb and the birth process can have a huge impact on who we are as adults and the behaviors that we default to.”
This alone inspires me to learn as much as possible about my prenatal life and to learn all the information that I can about my birth story. As adoptees, we’re usually always considered blank slates; when we enter into the contractual agreement, we don’t sigh; we call this adoption.
While society and our adoptive parents at large spark our stories beginning with our adoptive parents, the adoptee community is circling around to let the world know that our stories didn’t start at adoption. They started long before then, and our stories before adoption matter, and they are essential to each of us.
While I began to fight the world for my truth, I learned many things about my biological mother that helped me understand her decision to relinquish me for adoption. So I wanted to step into her shoes to learn more about her life as a child, her life growing up and her life when she conceived me, the days up to my delivery, and her life after. I wrote about this before in an article titled “My Birth Mother’s Shoes.” In understanding her journey better, I understood my life better.
I learned I was conceived out of a one-night stand with a married man. He was a close friend of the family, ten years older than my biological mother. The pregnancy with me was hidden from him and everyone around. It was a secret, and no one was supposed to know at all costs. I can only imagine how my birth mother felt during that time. Maybe she didn’t feel at all because I learned she drank every day through the entire pregnancy with me. I genuinely believe she rejected the pregnancy while she was pregnant with me, and even when I could have bonded with her because I was connected to her, she was not bonded with me and even likely fought this connection off. By learning about her alcohol abuse, I am left to speculate. I learned she worked up until the day she had me and went back to work the very next day. She checked into the hospital under an alias.
I think she felt “bad” for being pregnant by a married man, and one of the feelings I have carried my whole life is the feeling of being BAD. Read, “She’s Bad.” The feelings of secrecy and shame likely consumed her, which makes it no secret I have had to work hard to remove the way she felt from my life because it has always felt like I was born with that shame, secrecy, and badness. I have felt sad and lonely for most of my life, and I believe this was also the feelings my birth mother felt during her pregnancy and the days leading up to my birth. In many ways, for many years, it defined who I am because that is all I have known. However, I am not those things, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt like them for most of my life. Learning to separate them has helped me tremendously.
David Chamberlain, Ph.D. states in his book, Babies Remember Birth:
“A bad birth can be like a thorn in the flesh, which keeps getting inflamed.”
We can all guarantee that any child relinquished for adoption can be equated with an inhumane and bad birth/experience. It’s one of the most significant traumas we will ever experience, yet society continues to turn a blind eye and act as if it doesn’t exist.
In Babies Remember Birth, if you skip to page 134, you will find chapter 10, titled PITFALLS. If you decide to read on, you will learn of many individuals who experienced separation trauma and what that felt like as they participated in hypnosis in therapy and tap into their preverbal consciousness.
One person even said, “It was like a funeral at birth.”
David Chamberlain, Ph.D. also states in his book, Babies Remember Birth:
“Things said during pregnancy can leave harmful imprints, “birthmarks” that are psychological rather than physical. But, even inside the womb, babies can learn to cope with unhappy parents.”
I am sharing these dynamics in this article because I hope all my fellow adoptees understand that the wounds of abandonment and rejection they carry are valid, legit, and so very real. They can and do go back to our preverbal and prenatal lives. For each of our individual lives, it helps by investigating further by asking more questions and not giving up or taking “no” for an answer.
The argument can be raised from the adoptee’s perspective that we need our truth to gain this reality of our beginnings, and they are correct. This is why I will always side with my fellow adoptees learning their truth because everyone deserves to know who they are and where they come from. I fought the moment I came out of the womb and likely while in the womb. I even wrote about it one time in an article titled “The Fight of My Life – Revised.” I have fought like so many of my fellow adoptees have to learn our truth when it seems like the whole world is up against us.
I was never giving up, but I almost died trying many times over.
One of the many discoveries I have learned is that although I feel abandoned and rejected by my birth mother, she didn’t know me to reject me. Instead, she rejected the unresolved wounds that she had never processed due to her alcohol dependency. She rejected her decision, the outcome of my adoptive parents divorcing when I was one, and that her decision didn’t create a better life for me, only a different one. I acknowledged her alcohol abuse was a focus of her life way before I was born. She had a hard life and a challenging childhood. I heard many stories, and every little clue helped me understand better and begin healing in return.
Separation trauma can impact adoptees significantly, and everyone reacts differently to trauma. However, one of the most significant dynamics for adoptees is that we often suffer in silence because our adoptive parents and the world celebrate adoption. In return, they celebrate our trauma. They leave no room for our sorrow or sadness. Our conception and preconception stories, and birth stories are a part of our history. Even when we’re considered blank slates, what happens during these times matters to adoptees.
While abandonment and rejection from our adoption experiences can and does impact each of us significantly, and sometimes the wounds last a lifetime, the more we learn about our [His]-Story and [Her]-Story, the more we learn about ourselves. So it’s essential to separate the differences between the things we have control over and the things we don’t. We had no control over what happened to us as babies, but we can fight like hell for our truth. I always try to remember I am not how abandonment and rejection from adoption has made me feel. I am not the pain and heartbreak. Yes, it’s been a part of my life and always will be, but we are all so much more than how adoption has made us feel. We have a purpose, and we all have many countless reasons that the universe brought us together.
Being adopted, it’s sometimes hard to feel like anyone cares about you. But I am here to share that you won’t feel others care about you until you put yourself first and learn to care about yourself FIRST. For me, that meant letting go of the feelings of being misunderstood. My fellow adoptees get me, and that’s good enough for me. But, unfortunately, other people can’t get me because they aren’t walking in my shoes.
So much of what adoptees experience and endure along our journeys aren’t our fault. The feelings of abandonment and rejection aren’t our faults either. I hope you know that you are so much more than how adoption makes you feel wherever you are in your healing journey. You are NOT how abandonment and rejection make you feel. Trauma doesn’t have a healing time frame, so be easy on yourself and allow yourself to feel the feelings when they surface. Then, allow yourself the space to seek healing and guidance by adoptee-competent trauma specialists.
Research all of the dynamics of the wounds you carry as an adoptee and, if possible, go back to previous generations. You can bet that your biological mother’s decision didn’t start with her. Consider reading the book “It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle.”
It’s not your fault, and you didn’t deserve the pain adoption has caused you. You are not your abandonment and rejection. You are more valuable, and your story is of utmost importance, back to the very beginning.
Never stop fighting for your truth; you deserve it. Never stop researching and learning about the wounds we carry. Understand, most of society won’t acknowledge them, so it’s up to YOU to do the work. But, acknowledging these realities is the first step.
I hope this article helps one of my fellow adoptees out there.
For those who have made it this far, have you been able to gain any information on your biological mother to help form a conclusion of what your preverbal and prenatal lives might have been like?
Have you made the connection that the way she felt during pregnancy could very well be impacting you to this day?
Love, Love PK
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova