Canadian Council of Natural Mothers' Library

Birth Mother Trauma:
A Counseling Guide for Birth Mothers

Heather Carlini

This hopeful book speaks to healing for those women who've lost their children to adoption. Intended as a guide for counsellors, it also assists the women who prefer to work on their own to heal themselves. Many thoughtful suggestions are included for exercises and affirmations that women can use to help themselves. The book serves as an excellent introduction for the general reader who may not have much background in issues of loss related to parents who lose their children to adoption. Its gentle tone and personal insight make it easy to read.

The book opens with the results of Carlini's research on women who've lost their children to adoption. These questions give the research support for the rest of the book. Their informal tone sets the context for the book as an aide to the general reader as well as the counsellor.

In the initial chapters of the book, Carlini gives the consequences of what were often relinquishments coerced by those significant in the mothers' lives at the time, or by the unsupported situations in which pregnant women found themselves. She describes the defences used by women to cope with the trauma of losing their children: denial, repression and others. She also gives the stages of recovery and the core issues with which these mothers must deal.

The best part of the book deals with the mechanisms and some exercises for healing. Cautions are given for seeking professional counselling, and common pitfalls of some situations. The final chapter deals with issues, cautions and rewards of searching for one's child, grown to adulthood, and for reunion dynamics. The book is worth reading for this chapter alone.

Each person will find different nuggets in this book which speak to them strongly. Personally, I found a paragraph describing how these mothers "take on the blame for everything that happened years as go." This was one of my reactions, as a woman who lost her son to adoption.

This is an excellent book to recommend to adoptees and to adoptive parents to help them understand because it does not blame or indulge in negativity, while still being clear about the damage that is done to women when they are separated from their children. The gentle tone and hopeful message that healing is possible may make it easier for them to absorb the message.


Reviewer: Sandra Falconer Pace


ISBN: 0-9696295-0-8 Obtainable from:
Revised Edition, 1997
Editors: M. J. Turner & L. M. Wright
Morning Side Publishing
PO Box 386,
Saanichton, BC V8M 2C5 Canada

Author's Websites:


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