As a fellow adoptee my heart goes out to Charlotte Dawson in her tragic passing. She has been on my radar for many years now, since I found out she was adopted at birth and now, here in memoriam, I can again feel her a breath away from my soul.
A lot has been said about the reasons for her suicide and without wanting to butt in as a stranger where I am not welcome, I do feel I have a silent and meaningful connection with her as a fellow adoptee. There are often many reasons behind a suicide and Charlotte had complex, compelling, and overlapping traumas in her life
that may have lead to her early death. However, I would also like to say, from my position as an adoptee, that Adoption Trauma is (as Von Coates
has also posted on her Facebook page) still grievously overlooked and underappreciated in society today. I would just like to point out for all those commentators who are genuinely and compassionately trying to piece together and learn from her death (for a beautiful tribute and personal memoriam see Rebecca Sparrow’s article)
, that Adoption Trauma is real, debilitating, and life threatening. It can have an accumulative effect throughout life and society should not continue to underestimate or overlook how devastating ‘relinquishment’ can be. As Rebecca Sparrow suggests “We let her down’ but I would like to highlight that ‘letting her down’ also includes, and probably hinges upon, society’s lack of understanding and acceptance of adoption trauma in general.
Before every Adoption (no matter how loving the adoptive parents) there is first, from the baby’s perspective, a life-threatening Relinquishment. This is generally not only often forgotten but not even understood. It is for society an unthinkable, unspeakable moment that cannot even be referred to at great length – only in passing (only very recently have we begun to emerge from five decades of deadly silence surrounding adoption).
Being Relinquished is like being born on an Existential Precipice and it is treacherous to manage life from such a precarious position.
Indeed, relinquishment/adoption for the baby and subsequent adult is a dangerous and acutely painful business…
The 2012 Australian Institute of Family Studies report Past adoption experiences: National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices
shows that quality of life is one-third lower for adoptees than the general population and that there is a “higher than average likelihood of having a mental health disorder than the general population.” (p. 121). I want journalists, commentators, therapists, and society at large (and sometimes adoptees themselves) to understand more fully the trauma associated with adoption.
I feel sad and deeply moved as so many are by Charlotte’s passing but perhaps I, and others like me, have a personal and experiential insight, a deeper understanding and primal connection to the tragedy with regard to the underlying and often forgotten and misunderstood effects of adoption trauma. I hope that society can learn, not only about depression, bullying and abuse but also, and I feel, most importantly and crucially, about adoption trauma and its primal position in the investigation and understanding of psychopathology.
Farewell Charlotte. I am so so terribly sorry…This fellow adoptee will continue to hold you in her heart always…