Friday, August 10, 2007

Health – Physical wellness and State of Mind

I was talking to my cousin today. She is planning on adopting a baby who is still in utero of a 16 year old mother to be. She told me, “All I hope is that the baby is healthy.” Of course this made me think of various different things such as the fact that I was “healthy” up until the age of 24. If you have seen my picture in an earlier post, you can see that I definitely looked healthy even while cancer was ravaging my body.

As I’ve written before, my adoptive parents adopted a healthy infant but now have an adult adopted daughter that is not well. Does that matter as much? Is it less difficult to deal with illness or disease when the child has become an adult and your needs to parent a child have already been fulfilled?

Her comment also made me think of the fact that being adopted alone alters the state of the mental health of a person; doesn’t it? Doesn’t mental health matter as much as physical health? She has not once stopped to think that the act of separation of the mother and child will forever alter the mental state of this baby. Even if this child grows up to be overall emotionally well adjusted, being adopted does come with a price. You forever feel an emptiness that is impossible to overcome, even with reunion. Even when the outward appearance shows a strong sense of positive self-esteem, you forever feel an insecurity of letting someone love you. You forever worry about pleasing those around you, so you sometimes walk on tip toes to avoid upsetting people.

Being adopted doesn’t only change your name or your experiences, it changes who a person is. Our experiences in life shape who we become as members of society. The people who raise us as children guide us into who we become and what we contribute to that society. This changes who we are, or I should say who we were supposed to be. Just pondering who you were supposed to be, would have been, or should have been is an altered mental state; isn’t it? Why would people wonder about their other self? Shouldn’t there only be one self in order to have a truly healthy mental status?

So what if a baby is born 8 lbs, 20 in., with all 10 fingers and 10 toes. Does that guarantee health? What is meant when they say "as long as she is healthy?" Does that just mean that you hope the baby is delivered safely and free from outward medical concerns; a child you can bring home and dress up, show off, take to school and play house with? Does it matter if your child grows up and finds out at age 24 that she has cancer? Does it matter if your child grows up hurting inside while trying to merge the pieces of two different selves? Do either of those matter at all?


Possum said...

GREAT post Nicole.
I was nodding my head madly as I read.
People just don't get that REAL effects of adoption on an adoptee.
Biggest hugs,
Poss. xxxx

Betsy said...

"As long as the baby is healthy" - I can't tell you how many times I've heard that expression.

I speak to many expectant parents who are waiting on results from an amnio to see if their child has Down syndrome.

In these cases "as long as it is healthy" means "as long as the baby doesn't have Down syndrome"

How naive and pompous of us to assume that we can get those kinds of guarantees in life...that some silly test, or a count of fingers and toes at birth can predict anything at all really.

The parenting business is serious stuff, and we owe it to the children we raise to learn the true meaning of unconditional love, whether those children are born to us or arrive through adoption.

BethGo said...

Thank you for writing this. As an adoptee and the mother of a child born with a limb difference, I have often wondered what would have happened if I had not been born "healthy".

Nicole said...

Hi Possum,
I got the feeling that you truly understood the adoptee frustration in mt post. I think adoptees are as close as you can get to multiple personalities, perhaps of a different type. I was pondering this lately, and I don't believe that it begins at reunion. I believe it begins in early childhood when we are told the story of our adoption. How about you? I never knew it then, but looking back I remember knowing there were two sides of me. One I felt had to be tucked deep inside, and that I would not ever be able to pursue who she was, would've been, could've been. It was taboo.

Nicole said...

Hi Betsy,
I am far from an expert in genetics. But I am aware of Down Syndrome and unless accompanied by a heart defect, or a fluke of some unhealthful illness, children born with DS ARE healthy, are they not? It is pompous to assume that a pregnancy and delivery of a baby that appears and looks healthy and "normal" will guarantee a future of health. Just as pompous as assuming that a diagnosis of DS, prenatally, or at birth guarantees that the child is NOT healthy. There are no guarantees. Not for the pregnant mother to be and not for the adoptive mother to be. If a pregnant mother to be must learn to cope with a diagnosis they were not expecting, why can't adoptive parents to be do the same?

Marnina said...

Good for people to know.