By Cully Ray
(continued from yesterday)
The feelings of abandonment that are instilled in the adoptee or foster child are in constant conflict with his/her need to be loved by their parents (natural and adoptive), and the world around them is a constant reminder that they are different – somehow less than others – and they must be super vigilant to keep this a secret. As do Stockholm Syndrome victims, these Adoptees have great difficulty identifying and expressing their feelings, tragically some are unable to go on with their lives.
Some of the effects that are seen in adoptees and foster children who are objectified by their adoptive parents, foster care givers, and/or communities and peers are:
* Denial of actions by the adoptive parents or foster care givers that make the child feel inadequate or physically hurt.
* Substance abuse
* Minimizing their feelings – self-sacrifice
* Disassociation with the idea of natural family or parent-child relationships
* Failure to make realistic relationships in both personal and professional life
* Internalizing – blame and guilt for things they have/had no control over
* Over achieving – fear of not being “good enough”
* Anger/Rage/Overwhelming depression often triggered by birthdays or celebrations
I believe that Stockholm Syndrome is also evidenced in birth-mothers, in that when they have been the target/victim of parental/community abandonment (as well as abandonment by the father of their child) the need to be re-accepted by their family (parents) and the community that their parents live in is often overwhelming. The “re-accepting” means that these girls and young women remain in an environment that has stopped openly judging and/or shunning them but always threatens more of the same if they ever displease those in control again. In time, the birth-mother learns to bury herself and become what will make her “lovable and acceptable” by her parents and the community – she learns to live by “the rules” and shuns those who don’t. Shunning is a social punishment designed to inflict mental pain upon people who have fallen into disfavor, and is a traumatic experience. The target/victim is continually reminded that they are an outcast by whispers just loud enough to catch their attention, then turning away or staring until the target turns away; back turning or proximity avoidance; and, the ever popular and effective – silent treatment. Shunning does not take a break, when you are shunned it will even be in a time of need.
I don’t think anyone can deny the powerful need to be loved and accepted. Some of us may have transferred who we need to be loved and accepted by from parents to friends, business associates, or strangers; and, some may find that humans all too often let us down so we prove we are lovable by having things – big house, fancy car, status and fame. Ultimately, the feelings of helplessness or separation or abandonment that can (they don’t always) happen in the adoption cycle damages the two people who really do matter most – the child and the mother, and when that damage is important enough it lasts a life time… or two… or more.
Maybe it’s time to read (again) BJ’s book “Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness” and check this link out – from Australia – http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/COMMITTEE/mentalhealth_ctte/submissions/sub420.pdf
Or this one – http://www.originsnsw.com/mentalhealth/id2.html
In September (2009), the New York Times published an article which explores just how much “love” (and its manipulation) plays a role in how and why we will do or say the things we do, and what sometimes can result ( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/health/15mind.html?fta=y ).