- Book Tour (Day 1)
- Nancy Verrier: Q1
- Nancy Verrier: Q2
- Nancy Verrier: Q3
- Nancy Verrier: Q4
- Nancy Verrier: Q5
Open Adoption Examiner readers recently participated in a book tour for The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child. Please see the right sidebar to read these thought-provoking posts, even if you have not read the book.
Besides the questions that book tourists submitted to each other, they were invited to ask questions of the author.
In this 10-post series, Nancy Verrier is answering the questions that were put to her. Here is the sixth.
First of all, thank you for writing this book. It has helped me as an adoptive mother tremendously and I can see myself referring to it in the future. That said, it made for some difficult reading! I had to separate my issues from my daughters’ issues and recognize that I was mixing the two together.
In the Core Issues chapter on pages 78 and 79 you described my situation perfectly. No matter what I suggest, it is wrong. My husband tells me to stop making an issue out of appearance and hygiene. I see good hygiene and a healthy appearance a way for one of my girls to improve her self-image. It breaks my heart that she doesn’t take care of her body, but it also bothers me that others may think bad of her and bad of me as a mom in a transracial adoption. I am starting to agree with my husband and am trying to let go of some things. How do you suggest I deal with my feelings on this topic and for how long should I not focus on hygiene issues….what if she never starts to take care of herself or her hygiene and self-image get worse?
Nancy Verrier: Control is a big issues for adoptees. This becomes most apparent during adolescence. The more we insist, the more resistance we encounter. Even seemingly benign suggestions are taken as attempts to control. This doesn’t stop with the teenager and the parent, but continues into adult relationships. We have to do what every parent of a teenager has to do and choose our battles. Although hygiene is certainly important, I would think that at some point if it is too bad, some of her friends will let her know. Sometimes if we back off, they will begin to do the right thing if they think it is their idea.
To answer your specific question, I don’t think you have to worry about your daughter not taking care of her hygiene her whole life. This is a stage she is going through—something she can control—but it doesn’t last forever. (Be glad it isn’t anorexia.) I think you also have to be honest about whether you are more worried about her hygiene or your reputation as a parent. It isn’t her hygiene that is giving her problems with her self-image: It is the child who wasn’t kept. All young children blame themselves for whatever is going on in their lives. These beliefs are deeply imprinted in their neurological systems. Your daughter doesn’t think she was good enough to keep. Some of her behaviors will be her attempt to prove this to be true. Believe it or not, this particular anomaly will pass. One thing we adoptive parents have to learn is patience!
More Q&A with Nancy Verrier will come shortly. Subscribe so you don’t miss a post.