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Nancy Verrier's Spawn

I have recently been accused of "being known by many many as the spawn of Nancy Verrier".

Honestly all I can do is chuckle. Reason being, since I read The Primal Wound, I detest the woman. Anyone who's spoken to me on the subject can attest to this.

I can't stand Nancy Verrier. I can't tolerate any adopter who can't accept their own culpability in adoption trauma, and she CLEARLY couldn't. She had no inkling, or didn't want to, about the role adopters play in adoptee trauma. I could practically hear her in the wailing adopter tone as I read the book...

"We just wanted a child to love! Through no fault of our own, this child is traumatized! We do our best, but it's just SO HARD to love these mean little adoptees with their PTSD and trauma! It's not MY fault you won't LET ME LOVE YOU! I didn't do anything wrong, and you've been hurting me since infancy with your rejection and acting out! All I wanted was to love you unconditionally!"

I can cite passages from "The Primal Wound" that say all those exact things in different words. They're highlighted in purple in my copy of the book.

I'm not saying she didn't do some good work or that she hasn't helped countless adoptees, because she has. I'm not saying I would not recommend her book to adoptees fresh out of the fog, because I would. Adoptees fresh out of the fog often NEED to leave their adopters on the pedestal. Often it's too much otherwise. Nancy allows them to do that.

But once you reach a certain point in your recovery, the adopter shine begins to dull and that pedestal starts to crumble. You begin to see things you never noticed before, hear the comments and comparisons, find out what was whispered about you behind closed doors. Some adopters abandon us altogether, deleting us from wills, obituaries, and family histories. As though we never existed. We see them for what they are and what they've done. We see their lies and excuses. Nothing about them changes, but everything changes for us once that fog lifts.

I simply cannot condone Verrier's apparent mindset in her books, because it is ultimately detrimental to adoptees. For example, she uses our rejection of our adopters in our infancy to excuse their difficulties in navigating their relationships with us later in life. She also suggests that the responsibility for the healing of our adoptive families lies with us. This is incredibly damaging to adoptees, taking these weights upon ourselves when we already have so much built in damage to deal with. Adopter and relinquisher healing is neither our job nor our problem. Most adopters' and relinquishers' inability to see or accept that doesn't make it any less true.

She seems to think reunion fixes something, and refuses to accept the idea that adoption itself is the problem. She pathologizes our relationships with our adopters with terms like "projective identification", which places the distance in the relationship squarely on our heads. Because of our "inability to allow our mothers to be affectionate", we create distance as a "defense against vulnerability". I have news for you, lady. There is no defense against adoptee vulnerability. Many of us have no defense against what was done to us. And that distance? Most oftentimes the result of our "mothers'" buried resentment that we aren't the perfect child they always dreamed of, "their" child that for whatever reason they couldn't produce.

But no, it's all really on the adoptee, because adopters bear no guilt, according to Verrier. 

As I said, this is not to say the book isn't helpful on other fronts. Even Verrier says that in reunion the adopters and relinquishers' should put the Adoptee first, and not spew their feelings all over us, but instead deal with them on their own or in other arenas. She accurately describes many scenarios that trouble adoptees. She speaks eloquently on developmental trauma, her "Primal Wound". She is gentle enough to not frighten away fresh out of the fog adoptees.

But to say that I am a supporter of hers would be a mistake. In fact, if I ever meet her, I'll pay for her coffee long enough to set her adopter-centric attitude straight.


  1. So freakin true I spoke on the phone to her.. She mainly was like go fix yourself because you are not being healthy for others around you... And I was bawling and wanting comfort from the first professional to acknowledge the trauma... So glad you wrote this, you see it so clearly dang. You must have been through hell... But yeah she seems to be very unaware of self and needy for love from her child...

  2. Barn Wheway: Since she's so unwarrantedly popular, Verrier needs dismantling in depth. the few bits she accidentally might have got right make her no more than a snare for the abandonee. She is simply another abandoner adoptionist, made a few bob out of it no doubt. Be sure to put some arsenic in that mug Julie!


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