Thanks and Trauma: NAAM

This is for day 23 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees, posted on day 24.

Holidays evoke a lot of emotions, and sometimes our bodies remember things our brains don’t (for whatever reasons). As an adoptive parent, I saw a range of emotions in my children on days like Thanksgiving, birthdays, Mother’s Day. There’s such a thing as a trauma-versary, an annual or seasonal recollection of a trauma that may be felt subconsciously, and that may manifest as unease, anger, or sadness, on what is supposed to be (to others) a happy day.

So maybe young adoptees will experience this tomorrow. Maybe older adoptees will struggle with the whole complicated notion of gratitude in adoption. Some adoptees and their adoptive parents are estranged, and that can be painful. Some may have searched and reunited with birth/first family, and the outcome is confusion or even rejection. Maybe birth/first parents will be reminded of the grief and loss they have endured.

Trauma is a part of adoption, or more precisely of relinquishment. The separation of mother and child is recognized as traumatic, even as a child may be loved by others. Some adoptees experience trauma-versary during the month they were relinquished, and may or may not know why they feel disquieted.

Anyway—I am not an expert on this, though I have some experience with it. Thanksgiving and other holidays can be difficult, even as there is so much pressure to be a Hallmark card. I wish for all adoptees to find peace and space for healing with their families.

Resources: The book “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the healing of Trauma” by Bessel Van Der Kolk may be helpful, along with “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Menakem may be helpful.

Newport Beach, OR © Maureen McCauley

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