Motherhood Conference Recovered


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Mothering Conference, Brisbane July 2007

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  • Motherhood Conference Recovered

    1. 1. Fourth Australian International Conference on Motherhood The Mother: Images, Issues and Practices Helen J. Riley PhD Candidate Queensland University of Technology, School of Humanities & Human Services, Applied Ethics Intrinsic trust and mothering: the ethical implications of the late discovery of knowledge of genetic origins A tree with branches but no roots stands on shaky ground
    2. 2. “ Deceit and violence – these are the two forms of deliberate assault on human beings”. Bok, S. (1989). Lying: moral choice in public and private life . New York: Vintage Books.
    3. 3. <ul><li>Late discovery adoption </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Well over 200,000 adoptions in Australia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>legislation changes to open records 1984-1994 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Marshall & McDonald, 2001) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>My estimate – circa 10,000 - 20,000 late discovery adopted persons in Australia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>many still finding out in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s! </li></ul></ul></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>Brenda, a mother, now 67 </li></ul><ul><li>- 55 at time of late discovery </li></ul><ul><li>“ I felt absolute disbelief, let down, lied to, and that I had been mistrusted by not being told the truth and had spent my life living a lie”. All these emotions and reactions seem[ed] to join together. </li></ul><ul><li>Tina, mother, now 49 </li></ul><ul><li> - 33 at time of late discovery </li></ul><ul><li>“ I…became severely anxious going on to develop manic depression. My marriage split up and my 2 children were traumatized”. </li></ul><ul><li>Sally, mother, 49 at time of late discovery </li></ul><ul><li>“ I felt very alone and felt like I was drowning” </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>Felicity, a mother - 35 at time of late discovery </li></ul><ul><li>“… .absolutely devastated ….it’s hard to explain because even though I always had a feeling….I was sad, confused, angry, relieved, emotional, bitter, afraid, and an immense feeling of loneliness and rejection and feeling not important and perhaps a feeling of insignificance” </li></ul><ul><li>Louise, a mother, 40 at time of late discovery </li></ul><ul><li>“ [this] information [was] given to me by my husband as he left…after 12 years of marriage, during which time he carried the secret of my adoption”. </li></ul><ul><li>“… . betrayal, abandonment and [the] distress of learning that everyone in my life had known of my adoption and chosen to keep it secret from me”. </li></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>Louise cont’d </li></ul><ul><li>“… ingrained anxiety and over protectiveness of my sons…in the early years following revelation of my adoption, feelings of desolation and despair arose and remained with me”. </li></ul><ul><li>Karla, 40 at time of late discovery </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I felt profoundly betrayed….the brunt of a 40 year joke……I became obsessed with the unfairness of state-sanctioned laws that prevented me from access to my original birth certificate…..I was </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>appalled that state laws deprived me of access……” </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. <ul><li>Felicity, mother – 35 at time of late discovery </li></ul><ul><li>“ still to this day I have not dealt with the situation and I think I never will fully because even as I type these words it is like I am referring to a third party it is surreal to think that it is me I am referring to……….” </li></ul><ul><li>I get lot’s of bad days…….I feel angry at my parents for not preparing me and looking out for me…….my relationship with my mother is definitely strained”. </li></ul>
    8. 8. <ul><li>Trust </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Basal security </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Jones, K. (2004). Trust and terror. In P. DesAutels & M. U. Walker (Eds.), Moral psychology: feminist ethics and social theory . Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intrinsic trust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Brison, S. J. (1997). Outliving oneself: trauma, memory, and personal identity. In D. T. Meyers (Ed.), Feminists rethink the self. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. </li></ul></ul></ul>‘ If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust?’. common saying “… the main task of infancy is to acquire a favourable ratio of trust to mistrust” Miller (1993)
    9. 9. <ul><ul><li>“ Trust is accepted vulnerability to another person’s power over something that one cares about, where (a) the truster forgoes searching (at the time) for ways to reduce such vulnerability, and (2) the truster maintains normative expectations of the one-trusted that they not use that power to harm what is entrusted”. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ dissonance between, on the one hand, intellectual judgments of risk and, on the other hand, emotional responses to risk and willingness to enter into….trust relations despite risk? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Jones, K. (2004 p.6-8) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. <ul><ul><li>hyper-vigilance ……a heightened awareness of own vulnerability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>higher than average estimates of objective risk provided in a situation – an automatic assumption of threat </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>can lead to revisions in practice of trust – a LD comes face to face with the inability of even the wisest of trust practices to protect from the harm that others can inflict </li></ul></ul></ul>
    11. 11. <ul><ul><li>“ A traumatic event is one in which a person feels utterly helpless in the face of a force that is perceived to be life-threatening ” (p.13). When the trauma is of human origin and is intentionally inflicted… it not only shatters one’s fundamental assumptions about the world and one’s safety in it but also severs the sustaining connection between the self and the rest of humanity ” (p.14). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Causes “cognitive and emotional paralysis” (p17)…..” one’s memories of an earlier life [is] lost, along with the ability to envision a future……. one’s basic cognitive and emotional capacities are gone, or radically altered……this [leaves the survivor] with no bearings by which to navigate (p21)”. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> Brison, S. J., 1997 </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. <ul><li>LD experience fulfils many of the criteria outlined by Brison and Jones for determining what defines ‘trauma’ that can shatter intrinsic trust </li></ul><ul><ul><li>life threatening? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In LD – identity is threatened </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>intentionally inflicted? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Yes, but not usually with intention to harm </li></ul></ul></ul>
    13. 13. <ul><ul><li>An ‘ethics of identity’ in late discovery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Personal identity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Relationships with others </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Moral values </li></ul></ul></ul>
    14. 14. <ul><ul><ul><li>Personal-identity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Kinship losses </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The intentional denial of knowledge of biological kin </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Genetic medical history </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>‘ fake’ …….. then ‘unknown’ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of cultural identity (religion, history, genealogy) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Perception of an imposed wrongful identity leading to demands for rights </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><ul><ul><li>Relationships with others </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>mis-recognition </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>negligent disregard by others </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>disrespect or contempt by others </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>not treated as a person worthy of equal moral value </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a loss of agency…..of not being in control of one’s own life </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Can result in reactive attitudes with effects beyond the individual ……disharmony in relationships, loss of trust in others, generalised feelings of sadness, anger, bitterness, frustration </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    16. 16. <ul><ul><ul><li>Moral values </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of transparency can render individuals ‘mute’ or ‘invisible’ leading to feelings of negative or diminished recognition and response – (perception of unequal moral value) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Long term, the moral values of care, integrity, trust, responsibility, justice, rights, dignity and accountability may be affected </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>M.U. Walker, 1998, 2000, 2006 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 17. <ul><li>Late discovery stories reveal implications for mothering when intrinsic trust [basal security] is violated, shattered or undermined. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of sense of connection with others </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Live in state of hyper-awareness or hyper-vigilance - anxiety and depression </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lose direction in life – no past/no future </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>May lose confidence in mothering </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>one mother lost/lied to by another </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Often unable to heal for long periods </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Disharmony in relationships and with institutions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Changes in moral values </li></ul></ul></ul>
    18. 18. <ul><ul><li>Donor assisted conception </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Australia ca 6,000 births/year </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>USA ca 60,000 births/year </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Overall - 1/3 or less of all parents tell their child/ren of their means of conception. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>prediction…many thousands of donor conceived offspring in the future will find out about their status as adults </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Beth, 27, lesbian and considering motherhood using donor sperm at time of discovery “ It’s weird to have a thing about you that should matter, but doesn’t, except it might, but you never know. How much of who I am comes from a man I’ve never met?”
    20. 20. <ul><li>Wendy, now </li></ul><ul><li>22 at time of discovery </li></ul><ul><li>“ shell-shocked…living dual lives…for as long as I can remember dad has loathed my sister and I [and now he admits this is] “because we are not ‘his’ ”. </li></ul>
    21. 21. <ul><li>Heather, 18 at time of late discovery </li></ul><ul><li>“ everything I’d lived and thought I fully understood through one identity, I began to second guess with half of my identity missing” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I felt illegitimate, ashamed, unrecognised and abandoned by my biological father”. </li></ul>
    22. 22. <ul><li>Christine , a mother and grandmother at time of late discovery </li></ul><ul><li>“ At that moment I was a middle aged wife, mother and grandmother, but I no longer knew who I really was”. </li></ul><ul><li>“… ..I was left with the mammoth task of reassessing my whole life….a deep sense of loss and grief….anger and frustration”. </li></ul><ul><li>Identity Crisis </li></ul><ul><li>My other self is musing </li></ul><ul><li>On the person I should be, </li></ul><ul><li>if only there had been a chance </li></ul><ul><li>To find the proper me. </li></ul><ul><li>But who am I? Where am I from? </li></ul><ul><li>My life is all at sea, </li></ul><ul><li>From being trapped inside a lie, </li></ul><ul><li>A false identity. </li></ul>