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World expert lifts lid on adoption fallacies

Media release – August 24, 2005

World expert lifts lid on adoption fallacies

World renowned expert Nancy Verrier today lifted the lid on adoption fallacies and perceptions on the eve of the national adoption conference in Christchurch.

There were many misconceptions in society about adoption, Verrier said today.

``One is that adopted people should feel grateful for having been adopted. A little baby would never choose to be separated from his own mother.

``An incorrect perception is adopted children will grow up to be like their adoptive parents. Their talents, aptitudes and interests are more genetic than environmental, although many adoptees choose careers that they think their adoptive parents will approve of.

``Another wrong idea is that the younger you adopt, the easier it is for the child. No one needs their mother more than at the beginning of life when they are still psychologically connected to her.’’
Verrier will be the key speaker at the national adoption conference in Christchurch August 27 to 29. Verrier, an adoptive mother, has counselled and lectured around the world about adoption.
She will talk to adopted people, birth parents, adoptive parents, midwives, social workers, counsellors, obstetricians and GPs.
Verrier said from Lafayette in California today that birth mothers who had given their babies did not just “get on with their lives” as they were promised. Most thought about their lost child often and with great yearning.

In closed adoptions, these mothers don’t even know if their child is alive. There is a great deal of guilt-induced secondary infertility among birth mothers.

``Most people who have been adopted feel abandoned. They have a hair trigger for rejection because of this. There is also the need to be in control, difficulties with trust and intimacy, as well as identity.

``Also separation trauma has the same consequences and manifestations as other traumas: terror, disconnection, and captivity; and hyper-vigilance, intrusion, repetition compulsion, dissociation, and a constant sense of fight or flight.’’

When these things happen early, it sets up a pattern in the neurological system, which get triggered. These early experiences create a series of negative beliefs about themselves and others, and the safety of the world.

She said it was very difficult for those not adopted to understand all the complexities of relinquishment and adoption.

``Separating babies and their mothers is an unnatural process that leaves a void in both mother and child, and should be done only when absolutely necessary. People need to understand that adoption is a complex process and has lifelong ramifications.

``Birth mothers feel excitement, happiness, fear, and relief in seeking a reunion. The most traumatic moments might be fearing that s/he won’t be able to find his or her child, or that the child will be so angry that they won’t want to meet.’’
The conference is being run by the Canterbury Adoption Awareness and Education Trust. Its chairwoman Julia Cantrell said today that New Zealand had led the way in opening adoption records since 1985.

She said two million New Zealanders were affected by adoption. More than 103,000 NZ babies were adopted between 1940 and 1990.

``Each adoption initially involves five people: the adopted person, birth mother and father, adoptive mother and father. However, when we add siblings, grandparents, partners and children, more than two million New Zealanders have a direct link to adoption.’’


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