parents

Almost a volatile time

It felt strange talking about Anthony with my cousin as I didn’t say much about him when sending letters to my parents who rarely mentioned him.  Of course my mum was extremely annoyed about Anthony wanted me and my family in his life but the extent of this came out over the next year or so.  My sister and I hadn’t had any contact for six years by this time and it would another five years and our mum dying before  we did.

Rick had joined the site that Anthony had set up and he had included Rick’s family tree on the site, we were administrators of that side. When I thought about the early days it was difficult as Rick had his issues to deal with and Anthony had problems accepting him.  Rick wasn’t his father who wouldn’t accept Anthony but it got easier.

Anthony and I started chatting on msn messenger as we had fallen out over the adoption papers a few weeks previously although we have been sending the occasional email.  We could both be stubborn at the best of times but I was relieved we talking again.  The fall out with Anthony at that time was due to Anthony wanting to ask questions about the adoption papers but as I had never seen them I couldn’t answer him. When I tried to talk to him about the papers he kicked off so I sent him an email stating why certain things had been crossed out and replaced with other words. I also let him know what was true and what wasn’t.

*This was a period when life was good with the occasional hiccup.  I was getting used to the occasional bad times from my son and was just letting it go over my head.  At times I would be bewildered why he would suddenly be angry.  I also knew I wouldn’t get a reasonable response back if I asked as I was expected to be psychic and just know.  Eventually I found out he had been as bad with my family although by 2006 I saw it as understandable with my mum as she had lied to him.  Me knowing my parents could have been honest to both of us since late 2001 contributed to this.  My dad was forgiven much quicker as he knew exactly what my mum was like so it was easier than dealing with her wrath.

At this time I couldn’t stop thinking about why I couldn’t remember signing the Consent to Relinquish form.  A friend from an online group, Empty Arms, seemed to think we possibly signed the form at a magistrate’s home rather than at court but I was sure I hadn’t done either. If I did go to a magistrate’s home or court then I certainly had a big whole in my memory – it was almost scary.

*As it turned out I didn’t get the Consent to Relinquish form and eventually I just gave up.  I kept trying periodically but was constantly given the run around so in the end I got tired and fed up of the stress it was causing.

Adoption Paperwork

I remember when I first received a copy of the adoption papers which I should have received when my son was adopted. On reading them it was no surprise to realize that I had a ‘hole’ in my memory I hadn’t given information on them. It was still a bit irritating to read half-truths and lies though, the only absolute truth was descriptions of myself and my ex. The only other bit of truth was about my mum being asthmatic and that she had been in contact with Rubella so I’m partially deaf and a hardly noticeable speech defect. The only thing that really disappointed me was that I thought there would be a copy of the consent to relinquish form and nobody told me that it wouldn’t be included even though I had mentioned not remembering signing the form so wanted to see a copy.

When I saw my counsellor, from After Adoption, for the last time which was the same day as I got the copy of the adoption paperwork I mentioned this. All she could do was mumble was something about the consent to relinquish form being at the court that dealt with the adoption. I left it that as she had never been very helpful about explaining my rights so just didn’t know what to say but it has been on my mind since then.

The subject was brought up in another online group I belonged to specifically for women who have had a child adopted but haven’t had any more children. Some of the others said they have copies of the consent form so it has got the rest of us thinking about this so we are going to try and get copies as well. Yesterday I emailed my contact at the Adoption Resource Centre thanking her again for being so helpful before over the other paperwork then went on to explain what I was after this time.

I hated this feeling of having holes in my memory from that time and I couldn’t ask my parents as it had never been open to debate to discuss Anthony’s adoption.  The only person I discussed Anthony with was my dad, post reunion, and then it was stilted, he only mentioned Anthony when they had spoken to each other – I hated that so much. I got more support from my in-laws and they openly admitted they didn’t understand what I have been through. Rick’s eldest sister and brother in law were fine about meeting Anthony the last time we saw him and they often asked after him. One thing that cheered me up is that Rick had second thoughts about viewing the flat of the lady who wanted to do a mutual exchange with us. I wanted to get back down south but I didn’t really want to give up a house for a flat as we had dogs and it wouldn’t be fair on the cat even though she was a ‘house’ cat as she liked sunning herself outside.

Talking

Recently I made a new friend connection on Facebook who is an adoptee and has written Your Secret My Story.  I do want to get the book as from the little I know about it has helped me to talk a bit more to my sister.

Back in September we went down south to see family and give one of my sister’s granddaughters, our great niece, her birthday present.  Before we came back my sister and I went through some crates that had come from our Dad’s home after he passed on.  We came home with two crates of photographs and a few pieces of paperwork as my sister knows we are into family history/genealogy.  Anything we didn’t want she said to chuck.

While we were going through the paperwork there were a couple of photographs of my son there so we talked about him.  She feels bad because she feels she should love him as he is her nephew but doesn’t like him.  I can understand where my sister is coming from as he can be very charming one minute then be angry when he doesn’t hear what he wants to hear.  I told her not to feel bad about it as we had the same attitude and whilst I love him because he is my son and always will, I struggle to like him at times.  We are so much alike with likes and dislike, even mannersisms, but adoption wrecked any chance of a happy reunion.

When we went back down south in November for my birthday the subject came up again.  This time my sister mentioned that she and my parents refused to give my son any information as I was the one whom he needed to talk to.  At the time when my son found my family I wasn’t talking to them due to an argument but two years of not talking to my parents I got back in touch with them.  Instead of being honest with my son they continued to tell him they didn’t know where I was.  My sister didn’t know where I was so she was honest.  She told me that our parents told him the same and if they found out where I was they would let me know he wanted contact.  I told my sister they never said a word to me so delayed contact for three years.  It would have continued if I hadn’t found him.

I also told my sister of a conversation I had with our Mum over the phone back in 2006.  She was visibly upset when I told her our Mum had said she couldn’t understand why my son wanted to know me as I was nothing to him and his only family was his adoptive one.  My sister said it was cruel of our Mum to say that.  I haven’t told her of the letter our Mum wrote to my son telling him to accept that I didn’t want to be found.

My sister needed to be told of both as she believed our parents would be honest with me about what actually happened.  She has a better idea why I was so angry at that period in my life.

But I adopted my child at birth. What do you mean trauma?

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-adopted-my-child-birth-what-do-you-mean-trauma-alex-stavros/

But I adopted my child at birth. What do you mean trauma?

Published on June 10, 2015

Alex Stavros
CEO, Embark Behavioral Health // Creating Joy // Business As a Force for Good

BY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

It is not uncommon for adoptive parents to come to us feeling out of options for their difficult child and overwhelmed about what could have created all of these DSM diagnoses and intense feelings and behaviors.  Especially if the child was adopted at or near birth.  “We adopted our son at birth. We brought him home from the hospital ourselves and have done nothing but love him.”

Does this sound too familiar?

If so, then why are you now being told that all of that had something to do with the issues today?

First and foremost, it is important not to be too hard on ourselves or even our child’s birth parents. At this time, it is most important to find our child the help that they need. Understanding the diagnosis and its origins may help one decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.  Quality and traditional parenting techniques may no longer be a solution our child’s condition will likely require trauma sensitive interventions to heal.

Fetal Trauma

First we need to understand there are many developmental milestones for your child that occur prior to birth.  Your child began feeling and learning in the womb. According to Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D., your baby learned to be comforted by the voice and heartbeat of his mother well before birth[1] a voice that was not yours. In the case of adoption this connective disruption has an impact on the brain and body.

Paula Thomson writes for Birth Psychology, “Early pre- and post-natal experiences, including early trauma, are encoded in the implicit memory of the fetus, located in the subcortical and deep limbic regions of the maturing brain. These memories will travel with us into our early days of infancy and beyond and more importantly, these early experiences set our ongoing physiological and psychological regulatory baselines.”[2]

Clearly, chaos outside of the womb, for example, may affect children in utero. This includes arguments, a chaotic home environment or an abusive spouse, and other rambunctious noise that may seem harmless to the fetus.  If the mother drinks or smokes, or is generally unhealthy, this also impacts in-utero development, including the sense of safety and self-worth for the child.  Critical brain development is also stunted.   Mothers that end up placing their child with adoptive parents are also likely to feel increased stress during their pregnancies.  Many are very young, have many other children or are emotionally or financially unable to support a child.  Each of these stressors could expose unborn babies to cortisol, making them also stressed.  The baby is then born anxious.  Surprisingly, babies are also able to sense a disconnection or lack of acceptance from their mother while in the womb leading to attachment issues and developmental trauma down the road.

Genetic Memory

Beyond these connection concerns, trauma can also be an inherited condition.  Recent studies indicate that trauma resides in the DNA, allowing mental disease and behavioral disorders to be passed down for generations.  In the end, adoption itself is a form of trauma.  Without the biological connection to their mother, even newborns can feel that something is wrong and be difficult to sooth as a result. This effect has the potential to grow over time even in the most loving and supportive adoptive homes.

Summary: Humans, and the brain, develop through experience.  Adverse experiences stunt this development.  And development starts way before birth even before conception.

[1] http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/06/29/emotional-trauma-in-the-womb/

[2] https://birthpsychology.com/journals/volume-19-issue-1/impact-trauma-embryo-and-fetus-application-diathesis-stress-model-and-neu

BY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

About Calo

Calo (“kay-low”) is a behavioral and mental health provider that specializes in healing the effects of complex developmental trauma. Calo is comprised of Calo Teens (www.caloteens.com), Calo Preteens (www.calopreteens.com) both residential programs predominately serving adoptive families – and New Vision Wilderness (www.newvisionwilderness.com “NVW”).

NVW is a wilderness therapy program based in the North Woods of Wisconsin and the Mountain Desert of Oregon. NVW offers one of the most clinically intensive models in the country specializing in a Trauma Informed model.

The Calo programs implement a unique and truly relational treatment model based on evidence-based attachment treatment research. Calo’s proprietary treatment model is pervasive throughout the programs. The unique model facilitates establishing, deepening and maintaining healthy and safe relationships that ultimately lead to co-regulation and Joy.

The clinical modalities across the programs include, but are not limited to, Brainspotting, HeartMath, EMDR, Neurofeedback, Trauma Sensitive Yoga, Transferable Attachment Canine Therapy, Adventure Therapy, Play and Sand Therapy, and Sensory/Occupational Therapies.
Published on June 10, 2015

Alex Stavros
CEO, Embark Behavioral Health // Creating Joy // Business As a Force for Good

BY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

IBY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

It is not uncommon for adoptive parents to come to us feeling out of options for their difficult child and overwhelmed about what could have created all of these DSM diagnoses and intense feelings and behaviors.  Especially if the child was adopted at or near birth.  “We adopted our son at birth. We brought him home from the hospital ourselves and have done nothing but love him.”

Does this sound too familiar?

If so, then why are you now being told that all of that had something to do with the issues today?

First and foremost, it is important not to be too hard on ourselves or even our child’s birth parents. At this time, it is most important to find our child the help that they need. Understanding the diagnosis and its origins may help one decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.  Quality and traditional parenting techniques may no longer be a solution our child’s condition will likely require trauma sensitive interventions to heal.

Fetal Trauma

First we need to understand there are many developmental milestones for your child that occur prior to birth.  Your child began feeling and learning in the womb. According to Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D., your baby learned to be comforted by the voice and heartbeat of his mother well before birth[1] a voice that was not yours. In the case of adoption this connective disruption has an impact on the brain and body.

Paula Thomson writes for Birth Psychology, “Early pre- and post-natal experiences, including early trauma, are encoded in the implicit memory of the fetus, located in the subcortical and deep limbic regions of the maturing brain. These memories will travel with us into our early days of infancy and beyond and more importantly, these early experiences set our ongoing physiological and psychological regulatory baselines.”[2]

Clearly, chaos outside of the womb, for example, may affect children in utero. This includes arguments, a chaotic home environment or an abusive spouse, and other rambunctious noise that may seem harmless to the fetus.  If the mother drinks or smokes, or is generally unhealthy, this also impacts in-utero development, including the sense of safety and self-worth for the child.  Critical brain development is also stunted.   Mothers that end up placing their child with adoptive parents are also likely to feel increased stress during their pregnancies.  Many are very young, have many other children or are emotionally or financially unable to support a child.  Each of these stressors could expose unborn babies to cortisol, making them also stressed.  The baby is then born anxious.  Surprisingly, babies are also able to sense a disconnection or lack of acceptance from their mother while in the womb leading to attachment issues and developmental trauma down the road.

Genetic Memory

Beyond these connection concerns, trauma can also be an inherited condition.  Recent studies indicate that trauma resides in the DNA, allowing mental disease and behavioral disorders to be passed down for generations.  In the end, adoption itself is a form of trauma.  Without the biological connection to their mother, even newborns can feel that something is wrong and be difficult to sooth as a result. This effect has the potential to grow over time even in the most loving and supportive adoptive homes.

Summary: Humans, and the brain, develop through experience.  Adverse experiences stunt this development.  And development starts way before birth even before conception.

[1] http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/06/29/emotional-trauma-in-the-womb/

[2] https://birthpsychology.com/journals/volume-19-issue-1/impact-trauma-embryo-and-fetus-application-diathesis-stress-model-and-neu

BY: ALEX STAVROS, President and CEO, Calo Family of Programs

About Calo

Calo (“kay-low”) is a behavioral and mental health provider that specializes in healing the effects of complex developmental trauma. Calo is comprised of Calo Teens (www.caloteens.com), Calo Preteens (www.calopreteens.com) both residential programs predominately serving adoptive families – and New Vision Wilderness (www.newvisionwilderness.com “NVW”).

NVW is a wilderness therapy program based in the North Woods of Wisconsin and the Mountain Desert of Oregon. NVW offers one of the most clinically intensive models in the country specializing in a Trauma Informed model.

The Calo programs implement a unique and truly relational treatment model based on evidence-based attachment treatment research. Calo’s proprietary treatment model is pervasive throughout the programs. The unique model facilitates establishing, deepening and maintaining healthy and safe relationships that ultimately lead to co-regulation and Joy.

The clinical modalities across the programs include, but are not limited to, Brainspotting, HeartMath, EMDR, Neurofeedback, Trauma Sensitive Yoga, Transferable Attachment Canine Therapy, Adventure Therapy, Play and Sand Therapy, and Sensory/Occupational Therapies.

Wearing my mask

Not talking about a baby being lost to adoption is a bad idea but it was my way of coping for too many years.  When a mother loses her baby to miscarriage, stillborn, or genetic condition people can be supportive even though they don’t understand the (personal) loss.  Of course today there are different charities that offer support which is priceless.  One of our nieces and nephew-in-law lost their second child to Trisomy 18 (Edward’s Syndrome) when she was a day old.  They were well looked after by their midwife and ARC but it doesn’t make the loss any easier.  They were given a card with their daughter’s hands and feet imprints on it.   They also received a teddy bear with the name of another baby’s name on it and one day parents will receive a teddy bear with their daughter’s name on it.

When it comes to adoption people think it’s wonderful, farting unicorns and in the child’s best interests.   In reality, it isn’t and unless the child is at real risk of any type of abuse it’s better to keep the child with his or her mother/father.  If the parents die then special guardianship with the child’s family member is the next best thing otherwise with another guardian. I am not completely anti-adoption as there are other ways a child can be raised in safety and retain their name.

What people don’t understand is that when a mother is forced to let her baby be adopted it is loss and the mother suffers for the rest of her life.  Her baby is still alive but she will never raise her child.  It is a different type of loss to mothers whose babies have died but the result is the same both types of mothers never get over it and just learn to live with the loss.

I lived too many years hiding my pain as I was never offered any counselling so I put on an act.  Eventually, I did find my son without actively searching for him when he had just turned 23 years old on Genes Reunited.  The rage and pain I actively controlled came out finally but I still mourn the loss of my baby, I will never get him back.   My son was shocked I found him without actively searching and had been searching for 5 years.  He found my family but at that time my family didn’t know where I was due to a massive argument I’d had with my sister and by this time we had moved.  My son was hurt that my parents hadn’t told me they had contact with him for two years when I got back in touch with them.  There was absolutely no good reason why they didn’t tell me and the poor excuse was they didn’t know if my husband knew about him.  My sister told me they didn’t know where I was so I don’t know what they were telling her – I didn’t have contact with her for 12 years.  I didn’t want to fall out with her again as we have got on better since our dad died.

My son and I don’t talk now.  We both made mistakes but he won’t accept he was just as much to blame as me when we had disagreements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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