Verrier Nancy, 1991, believes that
during gestation a mother becomes uniquely sensitised to her baby. Donald
Winnicot called this phenomenon, primary maternal preoccupation. He believed
that toward the end of pregnancy, the mother develops a state of heightened
sensitivity, which provides a setting for the infants constitution to begin to
make itself evident, for the developmental tendencies to start to unfold and
for the infant to experience spontaneous movement.
He stressed the mother alone knows
what the baby could be feeling and what he needs, because everyone else is
outside his experience.
The mothers hormonal, physiological,
constitutional and emotional preparation provides the child with a security,
which no one else can. There is a natural flow from the in-utro experience of
the baby safely confined in the womb to that of the baby secure within the
mothers arms, to the wanderings of the toddler who is secure in the mothers
proximity to her. This security provides the child with a sense of rightness
and wholeness of self.
For these babies and their mother,
relinquishment and adoption are not concepts, they are experiences they can
never fully recover from. A child can certainly attach to another care giver,
but rather than a secure, serene feeling of oneness, the attachment is one in
which the adoptive relationship may be what Bowlby has referred to as anxious
He noted that "provided there
is one particular mother figure to who he can relate and who mothers him lovingly,
he will in time take to and treat her as though she were almost his mother.
That "almost" is the feeling expressed by the adoptive mothers who
feel as if they had accepted the infant but the infant had not quite accepted
them as mother.