Adoption Trauma

All humans beings’ history begins in intrauterine life.


Drawing on Nancy Newton Verrier’s theories, this narrative delves into the trauma and ‘primal wound’

felt by adopted children. Through introspection, it seeks healing and understanding of this deep pain.

The story of all human beings begins with intrauterine life.

Nancy Newton Verrier, an important American psychologist, in the field of adoption, mentions that all life histories include the emotional bond between a mother and her child, when he/she is still inside the womb. When a baby is in its mother’s womb, a bond is already established between them. In addition, it has been scientifically proven that when a baby is born it recognizes its mother’s voice, and even her heartbeat. So, if the baby is separated from this mother at birth, he can register a difference between that mother he knew and his new mother. The baby, however small, realizes that she is not the same person. As Nancy N. Verrier expresses it, the emotional bond between a mother and her child is a continuum of psychological, physiological, and spiritual events, beginning in the womb and continuing after birth. And when this natural evolution is interrupted by a separation from the first mother, after birth, the resulting experience of abandonment and loss leaves an imprint on these children. This experience causes what for Nancy N. Verrier is a ‘primal wound’, a trauma in adoption. All babies and children who are placed for adoption, regardless of the reason their first mothers placed them for adoption, will feel that loss as abandonment. And this experience of abandonment is a traumatic experience that leaves a mark.

There are other theories that consider childbirth itself a traumatic experience. I like to think of adoption as a ‘passage’ as well. The experience of being given up for adoption makes me think of a sense of passage. And I believe that that passage, from birth to another Mother, while it leaves a mark on the adopted child, that mark can be alleviated. I aspire to find a way to alleviate this passage, to make it as less traumatic as possible. And after having read and studied a lot, I have my own conceptualization. Instead of talking about a ‘primal wound’, I prefer to talk about a certain ‘pain’. A pain that is inscribed somewhere, and which cannot and must not be denied. But which can definitely be attenuated. To attenuate this pain the first thing to do is to recognize it. If we can recognize the loss and if we can recognize that there was a trauma and that there is a mark accompanied by a pain, then we can mention it. And it’s important to be able to talk about this, which is something that happens to all of us who have been adopted, no matter how old we were when this happened. When we are able to talk about it, and become familiar with the words trauma, abandonment, and pain, that is when we can heal and relieve suffering.

Nancy Newton Verrier is a renowned psychologist, authored “The Primal Wound”. Her work highlights the emotional impact of separation between adoptees and their birth mothers.

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