Posts Tagged ‘relinquishment’

Once Removed: Residue of Separation

Monday, February 18th, 2019
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.

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