Because this COVID-19 quarantine gives us more time to think in-depth about life and relationships, many of us may be having disturbing thoughts we believe we can’t share with anyone.
As an adopted person, I have felt all these things and a friend of mine has definitely experienced them. His name is Moses and he lived in Biblical times. You may wondering what he has to do with quarantine and hard things in life.
When we study his life, you’ll see that even though he lived in Biblical times, his struggles were much akin to ours today. All these struggles indicate that we need to be healed from our painful past….and present-day quarantine.
In order to study Moses and what we can learn from him, we must remember that his struggles were evidence of something deeper that must be dealt with. We’re going to look at the first part of his life prior to adoption and discover that his painful past doesn’t surface as memories of the past, but reactions to current life events.
Usually, the reactions are OVER-REACTIONS to current day events. As a friend of mine says, “Adoptees have an exclamation point after every sentence.” For me, I have a huge startle response. If anyone just touches me, I jump. If I sleuth that behavior, I know that as a baby, I was placed in an incubator for ten days after birth and likely didn’t receive much human touch.
I challenge you to be a sleuth as you read each chapter. Ask yourself: 1. What is the present-day event, the over-reaction? And, 2. What pain from the past could be triggering this?
Now, let’s put on our sleuth hats and go hunting for overreactions to present day events. Underline them. High light. Make a 3-ring binder to hold all your insights. I will highlight in this first chapter to show what I mean..
What the Bible Says About Moses‘ Birth and Adoption: Exodus 2: 1-9
1 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” 8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him.
Sleuthing for Pain from Moses’ Past
FEELS=bashful, guilty, ashamed, inferior, bored, inadequate, miserable, totally overwhelmed, sad, inadequate
Do you think Moses’ hurt from when he was screaming would be buried, or surface someday? Perhaps, with the feeling of “something’s not right inside?” Perhaps with crazy anxiety he couldn’t calm?
Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you can’t stop crying? Does it ever feel like you’re crying on the inside only? Do you ever feel anxious for seemingly no reason?
SHE PLACED THE CHILD (V.3)
FEELS=fear of abandonment, unexplainable anxiety, rejection
As he was placed in the basket, all that was familiar disappeared. For the first time in his life, he might have felt like an orphan. He had no awareness of Jehovah–the Being who is absolutely Self-Existent, the One who in himself possesses essential life and permanent existence. Even though his mother wasn’t there with Moses when he was floating on the Nile, Jehovah was. Jehovah’s strong hands were holding him up and keeping him safe.
What disappeared from your life when you were placed in foster care/adopted? Do you ever feel afraid of going to new places? New school, new friend’s house, new activity at school?
Sleuthing for Moses’ Overreactions Later in Life
Exodus 5: 29-30 where God asked Moses to go to Pharaoh with a message, but Moses said he couldn’t because he stuttered? This, and many other passages in Exodus show overreactions.
Remember to look for the exclamation point in present-day life.
Do you ever lack in self worth? Do you feel inadequate and inferior to others?(copyright, Sherrie Eldridge, 2020)
How Other Adoptees See Life
I am adopted! Someone didn’t want me. This became my story, my scar and my struggle. When I learned of my adoption, compounded by dynamics in my family life, I ‘heard’ only that someone DIDN’T want me. I was rejected somewhere and somehow, I was now different. All of this became the energy force that kept me, motivated me and often controlled me on a lifetime course of anger, debate, searching and stubborn determination to prove that ‘they,’ whoever the natural parents were, were wrong to give me up.-Dr. Richard Gilbert
What I discovered is what I call the primal wound, a wound which is physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual; a wound which causes pain so profound as to have been described as cellular by those adoptees who allowed themselves to go that deeply into their pain. I began to understand this wound as having been caused by the separation of the child from his biological mother, the connection to whom seems mystical, mysterious, spiritual and everlasting.
Nancy Verrier, THE PRIMAL WOUND: Understanding the Adopted Child
The loss inherent in adoption is unlike other losses we have come to expect in a lifetime, such as death or divorce. Adoption is more pervasive, less socially recognized and more profound.BEING ADOPTED, The Lifelong Search for Self, by David M. Brodzinsky, Ph.D. and Marshall D. Schechter, M.D.
Can a baby under one year ‘remember’ this traumatic separation from his original parents? No, he will probably not remember these events as a series of pictures which can be recalled. What is remembered, or preserved, is anxiety, a primitive kind of terror, which returns in waves in later life. Loss and danger of loss of love become recurrent themes or life patterns. What is preserved may be a profound moodiness or depression later in life, the somatic memory of the first tragic loss, which returns from the unremembered past even, ironically, at moments of pleasure and success. What is preserved is the violation of trust, of the ordered world of infancy in which love, protection and continuity of experience are invested in people. The arbitrary fate that broke the first human bonds may damage or shatter that trust, so that when love is given again it may not be freely returned. And finally, what is preserved is likely to be a wound to the embryonic personality in the first year which may have profound effects upon later development.EVERY CHILD’S BIRTHRIGHT, by Selma Fraiberg
Wrapping Words Around Unspoken Feelings
- Can you put your feelings into words after reading this chapter? Any new thoughts? Strange thoughts? Scary thoughts?
- How do you feel as you embark on this journey of talking about adoption in-depth? Check the statements with which you agree and explain why you checked them on the lines that follow:
- I really don’t want to be doing this.
- Adoption is no big deal to me.
- I am terrified.
- I am nervous.
- I doubt this book is going to help me.
- I am afraid my adoptive parents will be hurt.
- I feel a fierce loyalty to my adoptive parents and would never do anything to jeopardize our relationship.
- I look forward to this because I have a need to be with other adoptees and hear their experiences.
3. Can you identify any personal over-reactions amidst this quarantine? Record them here. Congratulations. Now, dig into your life story and see if it ties to a past hurt, or loss.
Write Letters TO and FROM Your First (2nd, 3rd) Mother
- Write a letter TO your birth mother.
- Write a letter to yourself FROM your birth mother, expressing thoughts and feelings you think she would want you to know about her reasons for placing you for adoption and how she feels about what you have just said in your letter to her.
Friends, share this with whoever might benefit. Just give credit and the link to buy the workbook at https://sherrieeldridgeadoption.blog/shop.
Let’s chew on these truths for the week? Please share your thoughts and insights here vs on FB or social media? We need to hear one another’s voices.
Be sure and sign up here for next week’s study.
Love to all of you!