Trauma in Adoption?

Have you ever heard anyone talk about trauma in adoptions?

I haven’t. I haven’t really looked either. Adoption, in general, is a holy process that is spoken of with respect and sacrifice.


Trauma is a big word recently. We’ve been talking about it in my school for a couple of years now. I see it tagged quite a lot in videos and articles. Undoubtedly, everyone has suffered instances of trauma.

I like this take on it.


I’ve been listening to Kyle Cease, often in my mornings. He makes me laugh and then think. I listened to this today. In particular, the part about a baby not understanding the passage of time and being away from their parent hit me pretty hard. When my son was born, I gave the nurse instructions to bring him to me if he cried. She brought him four times in the first hour. Exhausted, I told her to go ahead and keep him for the night, give him formula if needed. I was awoken the next morning by a nurse rolling my red-faced and howling son into my room.

“Wow, you have got a screamer!” she said.

I felt my heart drop through the floor.

“He cried all night! The only way we could calm him down was if he was in the swinging bassinet. I bet he’s hungry this morning.” She continued, without seeing the utter devastation she was raining on me.

She handed me my baby and checked my vital signs, cheerily filling me in on how loud my poor boy was. I tucked his little face into my neck and cried along with him. I never sent my kids anywhere in a hospital without me or their dad again. Never again.

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My mother didn’t have the luxury of choice.

For a few minutes this morning I sat in my quiet bathroom and just thought about a baby that was born, rather traumatically, pulled with forceps. She was born into a room with a lot of mixed emotions, sadness, regret, embarrassment, and fear. The cord was cut, the baby quickly examined for any defect. Deemed in good health, the squalling newborn was hastily wrapped and taken to the nursery to be sorted into a plastic cradle and lined up with many other unhappy babies.  I was never touched by my mother or grandparents. Two days later I was handed over to a well-meaning woman who didn’t smell right.

I don’t say that to be mean or ungrateful. It’s just the truth. I didn’t understand it until I held my own baby. I didn’t realize how much comfort was derived, just from being held by mom. How even a half asleep and fussing child will immediately settle when tucked close to that native skin. That genetic scent that belongs to the body you grew in.

It’s one of the first questions I was compelled to ask my younger brother.

“What perfume did she wear?”

I wondered if it would smell the same on me? I’ve never owned Chanel No 5, but I love its scent on the inside of my wrist.

My father also comes to mind when I think of that lost baby.

My father had less choice in the matter than mom.

Saturday was the twenty-fourth anniversary of his death. I didn’t know about him then or any other October until this year. I’m so thankful for my older siblings who have taken the time to share their memories, photos, and notes about him with me. They’ve given him life, humor, and humanity. They’ve changed him from a black and white picture to a man I wish I could have known.

I desire it so keenly at moments, I have to stop and catch my breath.

I’m only punishing myself, putting off the trip to meet my siblings. They are part of my dad, still here on the planet. I’ll admit here that where I would have rushed to meet my father or mother as soon as I knew where they were, I’m a little more trepidatious about meeting siblings.

It’s all here inside me. Everything I learned growing up. It doesn’t matter how old you are, some situations are always going to trigger your five-year-old self. The concern, worry, and fear are maximized without dad there to love me unconditionally.

I’m not saying he would immediately have loved me.

I’m saying there is something about your own child.


13 thoughts on “Trauma in Adoption?

  1. Wow – Great and insightful post! Though I’m not too happy with the way the nurse had spoken to you after you gave birth to your son. Postpartum blues is very common for many women – but it can develop into Postpartum depression quite easily. I felt the nurse’s comments were quite insensitive – of all people in her line of work she should have been giving some sensitivity training. I recall being made to feed guilty for not being able to breast feed. It’s not because I didn’t want to but I just wasn’t producing enough milk (I had complications with my delivery which left me anemic) but so many of the nurses were SO pro-breast feeding it made the mothers who chose not to or could not feel pretty guilty about it. It wasn’t until I had a visiting nurse come see me at home who just looked at me and said, “It’s not worth stressing yourself over it. Formula is not the end of the world. And you can still bond with your baby while feeding from a bottle – it’s more important you take care of yourself first!”

    She was an angel!

    Sorry – I know that was not the main part of your post. But that part just really caught my attention.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. When I had my kids breast feeding was out of fashion, only ‘hippy’ mum’s did it. So i had the opposite problem, we got blue folders, that meant we were trouble😉 In reality having a baby is pretty stressful, the last thing you need is some child care fashionista bullying you. The rule now is that a stressed mum means a stressed baby, and a stressed baby is baby at risk.
      End of.

      Liked by 1 person

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