chapter  9
From Infertility and Empty Womb to Maternal Fulfillment
The psychological birth of the adoptive mother
WithJoAnn Ponder
Pages 18

Psychologically, the mother makes the child a part of her body, prenatally and postnatally, especially in breastfeeding. In this chapter, the author explores the available psychoanalytic and developmental literature, along with insights from her clinical practice with adoptive families and her own journey to becoming an adoptive mother after years of infertility. The adoption does not result in an instantaneous identity and fulfillment as a parent, which involves a more gradual process of coming into being. Adoptive parent and child are strangers at first, and parents faced with the fact that the child came from someone else's seed and womb, especially if the child is dissimilar in appearance. According to B. Waterman, adoptive mothers are capable of a primary maternal preoccupation. In a laboratory paradigm simulating the withdrawn form of maternal depression, E. Tronick and colleagues found that infants had distressing responses to even short periods of maternal unresponsiveness.