02 October 2013

BETTY JEAN LIFTON : LOST AND FOUND : THE ADOPTION EXPERIENCE : BOOK EXCERPT

This book was Copyrighted in 1979, 1983, and 1988, so there were updates.  That was pre-Internet and the changes were probably due to the great number of resources such as adoption registries in the back of the book.  The book is a keeper for me because of the parts like this which take a side of NATURE rather than NURTURE.

Page 47 EXCERPT:  GENEALOGICAL BEWILDERMENT

... "In 1952 there appeared in Mental Health magazine a short letter entitled, "Children without Genealogy - A problem of adoption."  It began, "May I draw attention to the observation that lack of knowledge of their real parents and ancestors can be a cause of maladjustment in children."  It was signed by a British psychiatrist, E. Wellisch, who went on to note that in questioning whether it matters if a child has such knowledge, it should be remembered that most people accept their own genealogy as a matter of fact, and are no more aware of it than one is of one's shadow or mirror image.

... Expanding this analogy, Wellischy pointed out that the shadow and mirror image of a person have a considerable psychological significance in that they are extensions of the body image - a concept he borrowed from Paul Schilder to describe a picture of our own body which also extends beyond its confines.  Wellisch reminded his readers that the shadow was regarded by primitive people as an actual part of the body, and the mirror was used in witchcraft - in Gothic tales heroes sold their shadows and mirror images to the devil with disastrous results...

The deeper he went into his study, the more Wellisch was struck by the Adoptees loss.  He noted how everyone, including himself, took the presence of others with similar physcial characteristics for granted, because they had grown up surrounded by relatives who resembled them... "

OLD THINK?  IS AN ADOPTED CHILD ALWAYS GRIEVING FOR HIS BIRTH PARENTS or UNKNOWN FAMILY?

Well, this is still one thought provoking book.  I was thinking about this today because of a distant relative who has been having major issues with an adopted child for many years.  The child is all grown up now and still troubled.  This person does not at all look like his adopted family.  He began looking for family through adoption registrations the day after he turned 18.  He did, in fact, succeed in being reunited with siblings who had also been put out for adoption and none of them had done well.  The family of origin was British, possibly Jewish British, and Anglo-Saxon Protestant American.  The adopting family was Italian, Armenian, and Catholic.  Besides not at all looking like the family he was raised in, and despite being well loved, not abused, and also given lots of therapy, the genes dictated his personality, temperament, and weaknesses.  The birth parents had all their children taken away from them due to abuses.  They were addicts.  He became an addict and abusive as well.

In this case nature has dominated nurture. 

Every situation is different.

NY TIMES OBIT FOR BETTY JEAN LIFTON WHO URGED OPEN ADOPTIONS link (2010)

Quote " Ms. Lifton, who lectured widely about the potential psychological effects of adoption, was best known for a nonfiction trilogy: “Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter” (McGraw Hill, 1975), in which she recounts her adulthood search for her birth mother; “Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience”(Dial, 1979); and “Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness”(Basic Books, 1994).
      
An outspoken proponent of open adoption, Ms. Lifton was often interviewed on the issue in the news media. (Nine states now allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.)  She was a past board member of the American Adoption Congress; in recent years she also worked as a psychological counselor, with a practice centered on adoptees and their families." Unquote

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