Nov 2, 2009

The birth mom gig

This birthmom deal is not at all like I imagined it would be. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change my decision! I know she was meant to be adopted into her family. I am still so amazed at how clear that was. It's just that post-adoption is nothing at all like I thought, not even close. Not worse, not better, just different. I guess all I had to go on was my own imagination at the time! Come to think of it, I don't know how I pictured it, maybe I didn't..Or maybe God was helping me see the goodness and love in it, and I just forget now at times. When I saw her and her family together in person or in pictures, it just made me so happy. It always has, I just don't get to see as many pics as before.

It just seemed much more "do-able" then. It still is, it's just that every emotion that I think should be next, is always the total opposite in reality. Usually my body starts aching when I am trying to avoid an emotion, and it isn't until my body gives out that I will acknowledge the pain. I'm just all over the place with my feelings. It's an overall icky feeling when time goes by and the memory of someone you can see slowly drifting away. It's like you know that's supposed to happen and it is how anyone grieves a loss and gets better over time, but I want to fight it inside with all my heart too! Is that self-destructive behavior then? Cause I don't want to follow the steps anymore in my grief processing pamphlet. I want to just call it a day and set up base at #6 for a while. If I were her (my daughter), I don't think I would want...yeah I'm sure I wouldn't want, to be forgotten in the least bit. Even if she resented me for the adoption, I would like her to know I never went a second without thinking about her. But it's not about holding onto it because I feel guilty and think it will hurt her to move on (that is the common response I get from people) It's more selfish than that. Instead I can't (or it feels I can't) let go because I think it will hurt ME to do so. If it's biological, then why try process anything, it's ingrained in you. Maybe it is inevitable though, the mind just will forget... and that just, well, sucks. That's my feeling about the dang grief processing model!
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. - C.S. Lewis

I don't lie the Kubler-Ross 5 stages of grief (that is just not enough steps 4 me) Looking at any grief processing theory, even with 10 steps, doesn't make you thrilled for the future...
I found this articel and website interesting:
And this little quote proves my beliefs on attachement may be true:
"Many doctors and psychologists now understand that bonding doesn't begin at birth, but is a continuum of physiological, psychological, and spiritual events which begin in utero and continue throughout the postnatal bonding period. When this natural evolution is interrupted by a postnatal separation from the biological mother, the resultant experience of abandonment and loss is indelibly imprinted upon the unconscious minds of these children, causing that which I call the primal wound'." So writes Nancy Verrier in her book, The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child (1993).
But what a fetus most needs--from the earliest moments after conception--is to feel a sense of connection with its mother, a feeling from her that he or she is loved, but more than just loved, welcomed--if not on the practical, physical level of knowing for sure that she will ultimately parent the child, then on the more spiritual realm of recognizing it to be a child of God, an innocent being that needs nurturance in this moment.
A woman with a crisis pregnancy may not feel entitled to bond with her baby. She may believe--like society in general tends to believe, especially if she is even considering adoption for her child--that it is her "job" not to do what is usually the natural thing, which is to embrace that baby on some level. I think it's critical that a woman in this circumstance be supported and guided in following her instinct to connect with her baby, with the crucial--and perhaps liberating--understanding that the unknown future of their relationship together need not--and should not!--dictate that she not connect with the baby now.
I dream of a big happy house with lots of smiles and laughs and good food and music on the radio, and oh how I wish that for you...will you have that? I don't know right now what will await you, or me, after you arrive into this world... But whatever home you have later, I want your home now to be secure. As I rub my belly I wonder what you feel in there, do you feel my love for you? Do you feel my fear, too? You probably do, but feel my love more, okay? Feel my love...
Hand in hand with this sense of not being entitled to claim the baby, there is sometimes the feeling of shame on the part of a woman facing a crisis pregnancy, that she's made this big "mistake", perhaps feels that she's letting lots of people down--her parents, her boyfriend, etc.--and may not even feel worthy of claiming the baby inside her. The feeling may be that she'll "save" the baby by staying detached from it: "I'm not going to screw up your life, too."
A woman having these types of feelings can hopefully be led to an understanding that regardless of how she views herself--or how anyone else "on the outside" may view her--and regardless of her difficult circumstances, the most important thing for her baby is to feel her very real, claiming presence. She needs to know that she is everything to her baby, if only for this short time in her womb.

Here is a summary on grief processing theories over the years:
Grief is a Natural process. Everyone has griefs, both large and small:
  • A large grief might be the loss of a loved one grief, a rape grief, incest grief, or loosing a limb grief.
  • A small grief might be the canceling of an important event like the next bif family wedding, or cutting yourself on broken glass during dishes.
the biblical phrase "Grieve Not" - it’s real, but really says, "Grieve with hope".

The first Study (I think) on grief was by Dr. Erich Lindeman, Harvard College, Scholarly paper "Symptomatology and Management of Acute Grief" published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in the 1960’s. The grieving person has to "extricate himself from the bondage to the deceased and find new patterns of rewarding interaction." The study found differences between 'normal grief' and 'morbid grief':
  • Normal grief achieves the separation.
  • Morbid grief is self-perpetuating and never ending.
Dr. Lindeman then described 5 things he saw in acute grief. These are now known as the "Five Stages of Grief" and are relatively well known in the counseling realm; at least my mother the pastor has talked about them since she was in seminary as something everyone knew or should know. So: here goes.
The 5 Stages of Grief: (traditional)
  1. Somatic Distress: Physical pain, usually in your heart or forehead. (Note: I haven’t ever grieved by finding my big toe hurt a lot. That’s another problem, relating to the pickle jar you were just holding)
  2. Preoccupation with the image of the deceased.
  3. Guilt
  4. Anger
  5. Loss of patterns of conduct
People don’t always move between them in order; Everyone doesn’t have each stage in an equal amount;, People can be in more than one stage at once.
There’s some new thinking on this subject. (My most plausible) Many books now refer to there being 10 stages. The Ten Stages of Grief (developed over last 10 years)

    Ten Stages of Grief
1. SHOCK: Anesthetized against the overwhelming loss. Not comprehending and not able to face the full magnitude of it.
2 EMOTIONAL RELEASE: Beginning to realize how dreadful the loss is. Venting or releasing these feelings is better than trying to repress them.
3. 3 DEPRESSION, LONELINESS AND UTTER ISOLATION: Feeling of “No help for me.” Down in the depths of despair. Should know this is a NORMAL feeling. Aided by EXPRESSED CONCERN.
4. PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF DISTRESS: “Ill” with symptoms related to the loss. Best help is to understand the grief process
5. PANIC: Convinced “something is wrong with me” as a person, can concentrate on little else. May fear losing the mind.
6. GUILT FEELINGS: May recall own past neglect, mistreatment, or wrong to the deceased. Wrongs may be imaginary or exaggerated. But they may be REAL wrongs with REAL guilt. Confession and unburdening of real guilt gives best relief. “Forgiveness” of real wrongs, as if they were imaginary, is no adequate solution.
7. HOSTILITY: Feeling better leads to expressing self more actively. Hostile expressions toward those who “caused” the loss are common. Such hostility is normal but not to be encouraged.
8. INABILITY TO RENEW NORMAL ACTIVITIES: Cannot get back to “business as usual.” Must bear loss alone, since others are back to normal activities. Need encouragement to face new realities, not to be sheltered from them.
9. GRADUAL OVERCOMING OF GRIEF: Emotional balance returns little by little, like healing of a physical would. Rate varies with individuals.
10. READJUSTMENT TO THE NEW REALITIES: Not “old self again,” because there is a new situation. Stronger, deeper, better for having faced and overcome the disaster.
Newborn Adoption:
The Lifelong Psychological Matrix
Column Editor, Marcy Axness, Ph.D.

A Therapist Counsels Adoptive Parents
Marcy Axness Interviews Wendy McCord

Guilt, Shame, and Grief: An Empirical Study of Perinatal Bereavement

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