Weekend Workshop with Joe Soll
In November 2006 the Forget Me Not Family Society hosted a weekend with Joe Soll, "Adoption Healing...........A Path to Recovery". The following article was written by Vice President Marnie Tetz and appeared in the Fall 2006 Adoption Circles newsletter.
This weekend was an amazing event. An amazing time spent with amazing people, people in pain willing to work on themselves, willing to acknowledge that they are in pain, and willing to learn how to heal from the pain they have suffered from adoption. I will be using the word amazing quite a bit, I am sorry for that, yet it's the only word I know that truly describes the people and the weekend. Joe Soll is an amazing compassionate, loving and caring person. He speaks from his own life experience of the pain he endured from being adopted, being taken from his mother, and brought up in the silence adoption creates in so many of the homes that adoption has traumatized. This weekend brought mums, adopted adults, and adoptive mums together, we examined what happened to us, and we learned how we can set forth on a pathway of healing. We learned that if we are able to be brave enough to get to our inner most feelings, that the healing can start, and that we will be able to move forward......that we need to walk through the pain in order to come out whole. We also learned that each one of us is brave, and that each one of us is capable of doing this work. We cried together and we laughed together. We were family.
Joe started the weekend with a support group meeting, not like the one I usually attend, I'm sure not like one most of us attend. Yet, the same thread runs through, that we need to talk about our feelings, we need to reach inside of ourselves to find out what is going on, so that we can move forward. Our statements were to start with "I feel......" in the blank we were to say that we felt sad, or angry, or hurt or afraid.....we were to plug in what we were feeling, and then we were to say why. It was tough, tough to be able to actually identify what we were feeling. Some were better at it than others. Some were reluctant, it's a very scary thing to actually put a feeling, a deep down inside feeling into words. Once it's in words that have been spoken, then that feeling of hurt or anger or pain becomes real. Once it's out there on the table.....for one to actually see........sigh, we then have to take a step forward, with bravery and courage to exam why, and what we are able to do to work on that feeling. Joe helped us learn how to reach inside and bring that feeling out, using our voices. Using the voice that for many has been silenced for so many years. With his gentleness, he made it not so scary. With the caring support of the other members of the group, voices were being heard. Many tears were shed that first night, and a lot of courage was found. We all knew that we looked forward to the next day, we all knew we wanted to be together. We were a family.
Saturday, we started on the real work. Joe followed an outline that took into account the physical and emotional changes a mother's body goes through during pregnancy, and when the bond between mother and child takes place. The difference between the mother that can keep her baby and the mother that has no choices. The trauma that takes place within the mother when she knows that she is going to lose her baby, and the trauma that takes place within the child when they lose their mother. We learned what we already suspected, that a baby isn't a clean slate with no knowledge of who their mother is. We learned that we didn't imagine that something was missing, we learned that we know something is missing. We had our pain validated. The workshop was followed by another support group, which was intense, and exhausting. However it was again a chance for more to take that brave step, and allow their voice to be heard. That voice that had been kept silent for so long, it was a chance to express the anger, sadness and pain, that has been kept inside for a very long time. I chance to express it in a very safe comforting place. Many tears, hugs and some laughter later, we again had confirmation that we were a family.
Sunday morning, with sleepy eyes, we bravely met for our final support meeting. We hugged, we talked, and then we got down to what we were there for. Again we were going to talk about our feelings. We were going to once again share with our family, our inner most feelings, of pain, sadness, anger........... There were new feelings emerging too, ones of gratitude, gladness, and hope, for the opportunity we all had been able to experience. The opportunity to come together, to be with those brave enough, willing enough to listen and learn from our guest, Joe Soll, and from each other. With this final support group, we all were able to find our voice, each of us shared through our tears the pain we had held inside for so long. We were hugged and comforted by those who truely do understand what it is to have had one's life traumatized by the separation of the most sacred bond there is, mother and child. Through our tears, we were able to laugh, we knew that we would be okay. We knew that we had all experienced together an amazing event, an amazing weekend, spent with amazing people. We are a family.