30 years of helping those whose lives have
been touched by adoption
PTSD. In layman's
terms, What is it and how does it relate to adoption?
by Joe Soll 조
, LCSW, DAPA
PTSD or Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder occurs after you've seen or
experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat
of severe injury or psychological or physical
loss of a mother or child is a severe trauma
When a mother and child are
separated by adoption, they both experience the death
of their other. The only difference
between the experience of losing a mother or child to
death or kidnapping or adoption is the way you are
treated. Mommy is here, mommy is gone. Baby is
here, Baby is gone. That is a death. That is a
trauma. If there is a real death, one is usually
treated with respect. When it comes to a
psychological death as in adoption loss, one rarely
gets treated with respect.
the words of Anna Freud, The horrors of war pale
beside the loss of a mother. I think that holds
true for the loss of a baby. So our adoption
losses are a trauma of the highest order, causing PTSD
changes the body's response to stress. It affects the
stress hormones and chemicals that carry information
between the nerves
adoption loss symptoms of PTSD fall into three main
or fear of reliving the event, which upsets our day to
means constant fear of abandonment which can be an
Sadness and despair Panic
Flashback episodes, where
the event seems to be happening again &
Repeated upsetting memories
of the event Repeated nightmares of the
event Self blame or guilt for the
Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that
remind you of the event
Emotional "numbing," or
feeling as though you don't care about anything Feeling detached Difficulty trusting others For the moms, being unable to
remember important aspects of the trauma
Having a lack of interest in
normal activities Showing and being less aware
of your moods
Avoiding places, people, or
thoughts that remind you of the event Thinking you are doomed and
have no future
Difficulty concentrating Startling easily Having an exaggerated
response to things that startle you Being more aware of
what's going on around you meaning being on the
alert for danger Feeling irritable or having
outbursts of anger Having trouble falling or staying
might feel guilt about the event. You might also
have some of the following symptoms, which are typical
of anxiety, stress, and tension:
Agitation or excitability
Dizziness Fainting Feeling your heart beat in
your chest Headaches
can we do to heal?
preferred method of doing this work is to work with
our inner child.
need to recognize that losing oneís mother or child at
birth cannot happen again because we are adults.
We need to explain this to our inner child until he or
she believes it.
need to grieve the loss of our other just as we would
grieve a real death.
need to talk about our trauma as much as we can, at
our own pace with those with whom we feel comfortable.
need to respect our fears. Doing this work is usually
terrifying, yet the more we do it, the less we will be
terrified. Itís like dipping your toein the
water bit by bit, getting used to the pain, anger and
sadness while knowing it canít happen again.
must not watch the clock while doing this work. Our
healing is like climbing a mountain of recovery.
Each personís path up their mountain is windy and full
of dips and gullies and crevices that must be
traversed to get to the top and get to the top we
in mind that we survived our trauma without support or
help as young people and if we could do that alone, we
can surely survive the healing with the caring
support of those around us as adults.
can do this! And, as long as we do not give up,
we can and we will Heal!!
"Injuries caused by
separation of mother and child can, in time and with
work, be dealt with effectively to the point where the
loss will not interfere daily in our lives.
Instead, the pain might rear it's head a few times a
year. We may need to cry--get a hug and perhaps
vent our anger--but the pain will pass more quickly
the words of Anais Nin"And the day came when the
risk to remain closed in a bud became more painful
than the risk it took to blossom"