THE BLOG
02/13/2011 11:13 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Adoption Myth Buster: What it Takes to Wake

Earlier this week, I posted "Adoption versus Abduction" on HuffPost, and in no time, comments racked up from adoptees, fast to point out how satisfied they were with their adoptive parents and families. There were also adoptive parents on the board, eager to share their own feelings of contentment, calling adoption a gift and a blessing.

I once assumed my own adoption had been a gift and a blessing too. In fact, the term, "gift from God," was bandied about more than my own name. My adoptive mother, with a tumor growing in her spine, trusted that if she were truly meant to die, God wouldn't have given her a baby. For three years she had what some called a miraculous recovery and was able to leave her bed and walk intermittently. The tumor continued to grow however, and my adoptive mother suffered through many surgeries only to die when I was seven.

Analyzing the outcome with only a child's knowledge and ability to reason, I concluded the magic must have worn off and that surely I caused my adoptive mother's death. My father's death of a heart attack a mere eighteen months later sent me spinning. Many years later, my older brother (their natural child) ended his life with a single bullet to his brain due to depression; I became convinced I had doomed my family.

That's what magical thinking, the realm of children's minds, can do to a person. Magical thinking is black or white, good or bad, up or down. This way of thinking, a common consequence of surviving anything traumatic as a child, can grow to rule adolescent and adult thought patterns if not exposed and demystified.

Awakening began when I sat with my son at an eye specialist's office. My nine-year-old had neurological damage in his optic nerve and I had been sent to the specialist for further tests. The doctor asked a series of questions, one of which was had my son had a severe fall or a car accident? When I said no, the doctor asked about the circumstances of my son's birth and if we had ever been separated. In fact, yes was my answer, my son had been taken from me for most of four days. He was healthy, but hospital procedure for premature babies born earlier than 34 weeks' gestation required that he be, not in my arms bonding, but in intensive care for a battery of mandatory tests.

The specialist suggested I read up on infant separation trauma and the work of adoptive parent Dr. Nancy Verrier, who wrote on this phenomenon in order to better understand what was going on with my own son.

Verrier's work in Coming Home to Self, published in 2003, points to a study by Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of Magical Child and Evolutions End, who states that it takes less than forty-five minutes for an infant separated from his mother to go into shock and this reaction has immediate impact on the brain and functions like sight.

Beyond Verrier's work, I found a study titled: Randomized controlled trial of skin-to-skin contact from birth versus conventional incubator for physiological stabilization in 1200- to 2199-gram newborns. This study showed that within six hours of separation from the mother, babies experienced "protest-despair" biology and "hyper-arousal and dissociation" response patterns. The conclusion of the Randomized Controlled Trial was: newborns should not be separated from their mothers.

Jennifer Lauck is the author of Found: A Memoir, The True Sequel to Blackbird with Seal Press and her book video trailer can be seen on YouTube. She is also the author of the New York Times Bestseller Blackbird, Still Waters, Show Me the Way. She is a regular blogger on Prolifically Raw and Shewrites.com.