We are all broken. But for some, it comes in a different form.
A woman came into the Center to ask for advice. She and her husband are contemplating adopting and she wanted to know what she could do to lessen the impact on the children.
She knew that I was adopted and that we have a program to help adults come to terms with their adoption experience. We started it after uncovering research showing it’s not uncommon for adoptees to have unplanned pregnancies. We wanted to help prevent this. Not only do we have men and women in the program, but children as young as ten. It has been amazing to watch them discover the feelings they didn’t know they had and the subconscious reasons behind some of their actions. They begin to understand themselves. They begin to understand that the truth does indeed set you free.
It made total sense to me that there would be unresolved grief in an adoptee. Even though a child may be placed for adoption with great intentions, it does not mean there won’t be pain for both the birth mother, and the child. I recalled asking a question at a function, “Would we tell someone who has lost a child to not worry because they can get another one?” That would be incredibly unfeeling! Yet that’s what we’re saying to adoptees. “You shouldn’t feel any grief about your birth mother no longer being around – here’s another one to take her place.” We take it even further by saying, “You should be grateful.”
I am extremely grateful. But I also recognized a very deep root of trauma in myself.
Generally, we think it’s just a baby, and as babies, we can’t remember anything. Actually that’s not true…
Apparently a human brain takes twenty-five years to become fully developed. But the limbic portion of our brain, the emotional memory box, is almost fully formed when we are born. If something traumatic happens when we’re small, we may not remember it, but we “remember” it. It is fully stamped on our emotions and souls, hence the term – The earlier the trauma, the more the effect.
It stands to reason, then, that there would be unresolved pain and that the person would have no idea where it was stemming from.
The woman and I talked about always “being with” the child in their emotions and thoughts, allowing them a safe place to feel and “grieve” without judgement.
At the end of the appointment, we prayed that God would give her great wisdom and discernment to enable her to be the best parent possible for her future children. As we prayed, I told her of something I had written as I progressed on my own journey through the adoptee program at the Center. In a letter to my birth father (never to be sent), I wrote, “I am almost through this… I am almost fully restored. I am no longer broken…. Psalm 31:13 says ‘I am forgotten, out of mind like the dead; I am like a shattered dish.’ I was shattered. But God has been so patient with me. He has glued all the pieces back together and we are together now just waiting for everything to dry.…”
Through her tears she said, “I know that these children are broken… but I’m praying that there won’t be so many pieces.”
One thing I’ve learned: If broken pieces are properly mended, the place of brokenness becomes stronger than the rest.
If you want to learn more about this issue, you can listen to this month's interview on The Rock. It includes a big AHA moment that the interviewer had: