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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Adoption Trauma, Adaptation & Addiction





By Trace Hentz (American Indian Adoptees editor)


I freely admit I am an adoptee with trauma, a trauma that happened when I was a tiny baby (pre-language).  Doctors might classify this as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Today there are many other terms: Reactive Attachment Disorder, Severe Narcissistic Injury, the Primal Wound, or perhaps the Adoptee Syndrome.


Today I was explaining to a friend on the phone I was trying to find an analogy for her high stress (distress).  I told her: Imagine you are a rabbit raised in a den of snakes. That rabbit would never feel comfortable and you'd be on high alert, as in adrenal overload - "fight or flight." That stress on you the rabbit would not go away: You are not home. The mother snake is not your mother. You want your own mother. You don't feel safe. These snakes are not your people. They literally scare you.

The trauma can add up: being abandoned-relinquished-separated from your source/mother, foster care before adoption, or an orphanage, not bonding to anyone: all these add up to more trauma and being afraid.


Now I know this will upset people who adopted a baby. Some are very nice people. They don't want to be called snakes or scary.


But the bottom line for the adoptee: The strangers are not your parents. They adopted you. They are substitutes.  What happened as a baby affects us as adults.


And as this short video (above) by Paul Sunderland suggests: it's not adoption, it's adaptation. We adoptees do adapt.  Some of us go insane. And we get scarred. And the stress of that is not good for any child. And it follows you into adulthood. (And as the video suggests, some of us fall into addictions and self-medicating behavior and suicide.) Some of us get very sick.  Full Video


No matter how well meaning our adoptive parents are, they must understand how we view this situation, what we take from it and understand, and what we feel deeply in our soul.

Watch Part One: Primal Wound with Nancy Verrier...

This loss we experience is a soul injury.  And it lasts our entire life.

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

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where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.