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Thursday, February 21, 2019

One Small Sacrifice: Four Traumas #ICWA


The Special Place of Children in Aboriginal Cultures
Children hold a special place in Aboriginal cultures. According to tradition, they are gifts from the spirit world and have to be treated very gently lest they become disillusioned with this world and return to a more congenial place. They must be protected from harm because there are spirits that would wish to entice them back to that other realm. They bring a purity of vision to the world that can teach their elders. They carry within them the gifts that manifest themselves as they become teachers, mothers, hunters, councillors, artisans and visionaries. They renew the strength of the family, clan and village and make the elders young again with their joyful presence. Failure to care for these gifts bestowed on the family, and to protect children from the betrayal of others, is perhaps the greatest shame that can befall an Aboriginal family.  It is a shame that countless Aboriginal families have experienced some of this repeatedly over generations.  

 By Trace Hentz (formerly DeMeyer)

I saw a photo today (see below) This book cover reminded me of this excerpt and chapter in my memoir.
via



Four Traumas (published in 2012)


            Now that we have the internet and many ways to find information, I read that adoptees are more traumatized than a prisoner of war. That’s right. It’s called post-traumatic stress disorder. A prisoner of war may escape or be released, but an adoptee may suffer their entire life.
             
I believe there are four distinct traumas in being an adoptee. They are: 1) in utero, when you feel what is happening to you or sense what is coming; 2) when you are delivered, abandoned, and handed to strangers; 3) later when you are told you are adopted and realize fully what it means; and 4) when you realize you are different, from a different culture or country, and you can’t contact your people, or know them, or have the information you need to find them.
            

 It took me years to get this. There are more traumas, too – like when I’d fill out forms at the doctor’s office. I had no medical history. I had no idea if I was sitting next to someone who could be my biological brother, sister, mother or father. It was terrifying to think I could marry my own relative! I could carry a gene or trait that I pass down to my children – and I wouldn’t know until it’s too late. If my birthparents were alcoholics, then I really shouldn’t drink. I could be pre-disposed to diabetes or heart disease or cancer or depression and not even know. My list went on and on.
             
In 2006, I found out my birthmother had diabetes, which came as another shock.
             
I realize a powerful link exists between what I’m feeling, and what happens in my body. Years ago I’d use emotional binging, working more than one job, creating drama, just to numb my emotional pain. By 18 I was a total workaholic!  I blamed myself and hated myself for everything.  What grief, too young to understand. My birthmother’s rejection destroyed my ability to trust anyone.
           
There may be some adoptees who do not wish to heal this and go on as they are, holding on to these sad feelings and self-pity, rather than do the mental work to heal. Recognizing a pattern of belief is tough, partly because you gain sympathy by stealing (or sucking) energy from others when you act sick. That is no way to live. You need to be your own person, self-energizing, and not steal energy from anyone.
            Adoptees are meant to survive this, no matter who we are or how we were traumatized. It’s a test.
            Can we heal our own minds? Yes.
            Can we love two families? Yes.
            Can we take our recovery and story back to our families? Definitely.
           
Some adoptees believe that when we meet mother or father, all pain and agony will disappear. That sadly is just hope. That is not the way it works. A reunion is just one step on the journey and it helps, but there are many many more steps just as difficult. It’s truly a test.       

Regardless of ancestry, creed or complexion, adoptees can heal this. The only one who can fix it is you.
            
 I’m uneasy around new people, reserved and shy at times. I’ve lived through many disappointments. It’s very upsetting to find out about orphan trauma now, years later, knowing no one bothered to tell me or help me while I was experiencing it. 

After multiple traumas, which I’ll describe, I came to terms with it… eventually.


P.S.
I am working on a new book with some memoir in the coming months. I wrote a research paper "Disappeared" and I want to add some of this paper to the new book.
I have a doctor appt. next week, my cancer check-up. I am not worried, I feel fine. 

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