Friday, November 11th, 2011

In The Beginning…

In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment.Thomas Carlyle•

One thing I’ve learned, through both painful and positive experience, is that the successful flourishing of any project, product, event… or person, is seeded right at the beginning. Imagine setting off in a boat with the intention of sailing to a distant island, but having miscalculated your route by even just a tiny degree: everything will seem fine and dandy for awhile, maybe even for days. But as those tiny degrees of misdirection exponentially add up over many miles, you will at some point realize you are ending up far from where you wanted to be.

A mantra from chaos theory goes, “Sensitive dependence on initial conditions.”

This applies whenever something new is brought into being: cookies, crops, houses, stories, songs, sweaters, people. Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Wired Wednesday: Losing a Child to Online Extremists

 

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

I did not write this. I am curating this. It is a mind-blowing article that appeared in Washingtonian magazine.

This story chillingly details a phenomenon that every parent should be aware of in today’s wired world. It sheds light on a fearful dimension of the digital age that I have not yet explored in this blog…and, in fact, of which I was unaware until I read this article.

This isn’t something that just happens to other people. The writer sounds like me, her son sounds like my son. Their family, their values, sound like ours… and, I’m guessing if you’re into Parenting for Peace stuff… maybe like yours. She writes,

“I couldn’t understand how this had happened. … My husband and I poured everything we had into nurturing an empathetic, observant child. Until then, it had seemed to be working. Teachers and family friends had always commented on Sam’s kindness and especially his gentleness toward the ‘underdog’.”

Read Anonymous’ article, “What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right: A Washington family’s nightmare year” at Washingtonian’s site here.

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

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Photo-illustration by C.J. Burton for Washingtonian

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

My Three Mothers: An Appreciation

I had three mothers and I needed them all. I’m dedicating this Mother’s Day reflection to all you mamas out there who fill so many roles and wear so many hats in meeting your children’s needs — and you’re just one mother! You are masters of the bob-and-weave, performing complex multi-task maneuvering to cover the many bases required of moms.

My three mothers divvied up the task, though certainly not by design. It just sorta worked out that way. Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Wired Wednesday: Saving Our Smartphone Brains

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeaceWhen my book Parenting for Peace came out in 2012, the handheld device revolution hadn’t yet reached its tipping point, so smartphone brain wasn’t yet a thing.

The screens I discussed in my book were DVDs in the backs of SUV seats, video games, computer screens, television and other such notions that have become quaint-sounding in just a few years.

But even before the smartphone brain era had taken hold, I posed in my book the idea that we’re faced with a “Peaceful Parenting Conundrum” that goes as follows:

  • Technology has careened forward and changed our world dramatically, even in just the past fifty years; and…
  • Human beings haven’t much changed—in how we’re built or how we function—in thousands of years!

One of the most urgent questions for parents today is, How do we most gracefully and fruitfully navigate these dual realities?! Read the rest of this entry »

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Once Removed: Residue of Separation

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

I had originally intended to post a different article “for my birthday” this year, but this one raised its hand and spoke to me loudly. This one, this day, feels alive and real and timeless.

Twenty years ago I wrote the following essay to serve as a prelude in Jane Guttman’s powerful 1999 book, The Gift Wrapped in Sorrow. In her book, Jane chronicled the pain, surrender and healing she had experienced as a birthmother. In her introduction to my essay, Jane wrote, “In the course of writing this book I have become intimately related to the pain of adoption. But I can only truly know my pain. It has been of the utmost importance to me to also become aware of what it feels like to be surrendered. I believe it is essential to include an impression of that experience as well.”

I’ve been aware these many decades that many adoptees get sad around their birthday. Some therapists see this as an “anniversary reaction”—irritability, sadness, anxiety, depression, or less-defined, unsettling feelings that occur at the anniversary of a traumatic experience. (The whole issue of newborn separation as a trauma that is rememberable is another topic, discussed elsewhere.)

That was never me. Yes, I was separated from my biological mother right at birth, and yes, I spent six days in the hospital nursery before going to my adoptive home. But I have always loved my birthday, who knows why.

Read the rest of this entry »
Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

How Adoption Is Unique

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace When November rolls around—National Adoption Month—I’m obliged as a good adoptee to give even more thought than usual to my entry into this world. While so many adoption institutions and Hallmark cards are devoted to de-emphasizing the differences in adoptive families, I want to discuss some ways that adoption is unique. Before getting my degree and writing Parenting for Peace, my previous body of work explored the psychological and social issues in adoption. Understanding how adoption is unique can help bring healing and wholeness to everyone involved.

“Out of Everydayness”: One Way Adoption is Unique

One of my favorite places is Hawaii, and I’m enchanted by the uniquely Hawaiian concepts of hanaiand ‘ohana. These have to do with family connections that expand and expand, without anyone losing one’s own history. One fascinating piece of research that has informed my understanding of how adoption is unique analyzed the narratives of adopted adolescents to identify common, consistent themes. The common themes in how these adopted youth described themselves were “alien,” “rootless,” “flotsam,” and “in limbo.” Read the rest of this entry »

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Crisis Pregnancy Is Age-Old: Adoption’s Beginnings

 

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

I published two Adoption Insight booklets exactly twenty years ago, and how happy I would be if the contents of those booklets had become obsolete in that time. Oh how I wish they were relics of an outdated, reformed adoption system. Alas, that isn’t the case. Women facing crisis pregnancy is a situation as old as human history.

Volume III of Adoption Insight was going to be titled, Nurturing This Untimely Miracle ~ Insights for the Mother with a Crisis Pregnancy. It was going to dispel common myths, like the misguided one that says,  if you are planning or even considering adoption for your baby, it is your “job” to begin the process of detaching now, while you’re pregnant… that it will make it easier to separate when the time comes. Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

It Matters to Adoptees How We Got Here!

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

I had a great run of success in the 90s getting Letters to the Editor about adoption published: Harper’s Bazaar and Time magazine and USA Today, Los Angeles Times and various smaller regional newspapers. (Newspapers—how quaint!)

I came to hold that particular genre in high regard. I dubbed it “micro-journalism”: a way for readers to get small but potent doses of new awareness about important issues like adoption. Mind you, this was in the 90s, long before the epidemic shrinking of attention span that plagues us writers in today’s impatient, “just-give-me-a-listicle” era. Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

The Primal Wound: Separation Trauma IS Trauma…At Any Age

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

As a society we are rightly outraged by the separation of immigrant parents and children. That these children will suffer emotional wounds due to this separation, amidst such chaotic circumstances, is collectively, instinctively assumed. But where is the outrage—or even a drip of compassion—over the separation of mothers and babies in the case of adoption?

This glaring double standard regarding separation trauma was one of the forces that impelled Nancy Verrier to begin writing about this elephant in the room. You see, by the 1980s it was increasingly accepted by many progressive doctors and theorists that separation of mother and newborn was best avoided in general. But there was a cultural blind spot when it came to adoption!

[In case you’re new to this Adoption Insight 25th Anniversary situation, all year I’m reissuing my trove of adoption articles I wrote in the 90s. Usually I include a brief introduction and/or a bit of never-before-shared behind-the-scenes scoop on how it came to be. Today’s introduction is an article in itself… but you will in fact come to the original article below, “In Appreciation of The Primal Wound.”]

Honesty in adoption—the last American taboo?

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

The Reunion with my Birthmother

 

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeaceThis article was published in the adoption magazine Roots & Wings in 1993 about my adoption reunion with my birthmother. (I know, “adoption reunion” is an oddly over-descriptive term to use in an article in an adoption series. Blame the tyranny of SEO!)

In the spirit of truth and authenticity, I’m reissuing this cache of 90s articles as I wrote them them, with minimal changes. If there’s some embarrassing punctuation or a cringingly awful mistake, I will make those corrections. If there is a glaringly obsolete reference or fact, I will either update it or clarify it [with a bracketed comment like this.] And I may bend a wee bit to the aforementioned tyranny of SEO, so that as many people will find this article online as possible.

Hmm, what “inside scoop” can I give you on this one? Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Adoption Slogans or Honest Talk About Adoption?

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Of all the articles I wrote about adoption, this remained one of my favorites. In a short piece it touches upon many essentials related to adoption’s psychological issues. It was published in the California Association of Social Workers quarterly publication.

The impetus for this piece was a cover article in the L.A. Times Sunday Magazine about hopeful prospective parents’ experiences with (then far less advanced) reproductive technologies—some successful, some not. An adoptive father (that is, someone for whom reproductive technologies were unsuccessful) was quoted as saying that he had wanted to try absolutely everything they could before adopting… and once they had done that, then he was willing to adopt.

The implication came through loud and clear: for him, as for a vast majority of parents, adoption is <gasp> second choice. On the one hand, I found it sort of refreshing that he was so honest. On the other, I thought of the perky adoption slogans that I grew up with and in my characteristic (mostly private) black humor I thought, “I wonder if that’s what he’ll tell his adopted child: We did everything else possible before we agreed to adopt you.

Of course it was a rhetorical question. But there was something there to explore and share.

Read the rest of this entry »