This Notion of Trauma

(Or, That First Whirling Scar)

I have post-traumatic stress disorder. It is this complicated notion of trauma that is central to my desire to write, in part for my own process of coming to terms with my PTSD, but also in an attempt to provide a voice, albeit one among many, to call for a cultural shift in understanding both adoption and PTSD.

My trauma was not centralized in the moment of the adopting – although it was my first traumatic moment after birth. If that had been the only traumatic incident, though, there is still certainly enough research to support that as a possible causal factor in the onset of what Nancy Verrier terms “the primal wound” in her 1993 book of that name. The other trauma is detailed as much as I am able to recount it, and consists of incidents and physical abuses.

Adoption in the abstract is a powerful remedy for a societal problem, and my own experiences within the larger institution are subjective. I seek to present both a personal account, spotlighting moments of trauma as a guide to my own life experience within the frame of being adopted. I also hope to provide a regional perspective into the larger landscape of adoptive laws and cultural signposts.

Adoption as I experience it is a complicated, but ultimately negative factor in my own personal make-up. I understand that not everyone feels the way I do about their childhood as an adoptee, and I hope that this book of mine will spark more stories that matter about the adoptee experience, written by adoptees themselves.

I will be writing about my personal remembrances of the town Twin Falls, Idaho. My understanding of that space is still somewhat set in the mid-80’s, as I left the town in ‘89. My vitriol for aspects of the town bubble up primarily because I see the churches as complicit in the cultural factors that abetted the physical abuse I endured as a child, as well as the lack of proper medical oversight as I recovered.

Because memory is a faulty tool, especially memories of trauma, I am grateful to my younger sister (also an adoptee) for her perspective.

I will be sharing her story as well, as much as she is willing to allow, because her story further illustrates the essential core of my argument – states are poor arbiters of adoptive practice, churches even less so, and these laws need to be consolidated at the federal level. This is especially salient in the current climate of ejecting individuals from the country over documentation. Trans-national adoptees have already found themselves stateless and suicidal for reasons that, when I detail them in the coming posts and my memoir will likely leave you befuddled.

Adoption is an unasked-for experience on the part of the infant adoptee, a decision ostensibly made for the good of the infant. But the aspect erased in that equation is in the decider’s identity, raising the larger specter of coercion, profit, ideology, classism, criminality and many other possible issues. My own adoption narrative, as much as I’ve pieced together, begins not in the Magic Valley Regional Medical Center where I was born, but much more weirdly at Grace Baptist Church, home of Twin Falls Christian Academy, where I would eventually attend school.