Connie, lived in an aged care facility where I worked some 20 years ago. She told me that when she was a young woman she gave birth whilst not married. The authorities sent her to a mental institution after removing her child. She was then given electric shock treatment and a lobotomy. At the time, British society frowned on pregnancies 'out of wedlock'.
Connie never really recovered from the trauma of what they did to her in the institution and never ever recovered from having her baby taken from her. She felt many things from these punitive acts, the main thing was a deep and terrible sense of loss.
Loss pervaded the forced removal of children from their mother. Loss was there for the fathers of those children. Loss was at the front and centre of the child that was removed and loss was the basis for the adoptive parents start to their new role. The loss associated with adoptive parents is that they are often not able to give birth for physical/psychological reasons. That, coming to terms with that situation is rarely effectively dealt with prior to adopting a child. This then often leads to significant issues over and above the issues that the adoptee is facing.
Some of those involved have not been in position to grieve and others, are not in a position to end their grieving. This is one of the few commonalities that affect all those in these past practices.
What have they lost. The most obvious thing is the mother child attachment. The associated feeling has been described as ripping and tearing of the child from the mother. These children are now adults, many of whom are damaged and sad, again much like their mothers who gave birth to them.
That loss of attachment is only part of the story. Other aspects involve the way that these adoptees found out about the fact they were adopted and when. Other damage was caused by the way they were parented, with different parenting issues to 'natural families'. Some were abused, others were treated like 2nd class people. Unsurprisingly many adoptees feel they are invisible and without a voice.
The result of these unresolved traumas has been an experience of being re-traumatised because of the inability to 'get to grips' with the facts for many years.
It is a difficult thing to try and put the genie back in the bottle and the same is true of the attempted reunion of birth mother and separated offspring. The understandable motivation, from both mother and offspring is to reconnect this is often just too hard for a multitude of reasons.
Crisis of identity is a common aspect of the child and adult adoptee, as suggested in my previous blogs.
Everyone involved in the forced adoption process has a sense of loss.There are no winners only losers.