On Sunday, March 11, 2023, DNAngels is hosting an online screening of the documentary Reckoning With The Primal Wound, produced by Rebecca Autumn Sansom and Jill Hawkins, Ph.D. This is the first Adoptee and Birth Mother-produced documentary about the concept of the primal wound, an idea first explored in the Nancy Verrier book by the same name.
Sitting down with Autumn, I had so many questions. The first is how to describe the “primal wound” to those who are not adoptees. “Just use the author’s words in the movie,” she suggested. Verrier describes the “mystical and mysterious” bond between birth mother and child and talks about the wound that occurs when a child is taken from its biological mother. This is the primal wound. It exists in an adoptee from his or her birth, it may not be physical or visible, but it is ever-present, even if not known or acknowledged. For adoptees, their feelings of abandonment are real. The trauma is real.
Pause for a moment to think about if you needed to do a family tree and didn’t know anyone you were biologically related to. Autumn, the name her birth mother gave her, Rebecca to those who knew her growing up, had known most of her life that she was adopted, though she remembers a time before she was told.
When asked how the movie came to fruition, she said, “it made itself,” and then laughed. In truth, it started with her recommending the book to some relatives that were also adopted or suggesting that if they were not the reading type, to watch the movie. The fatal flaw in that plan was that there wasn’t a movie. The seed was planted.
So Autumn, an independent filmmaker in the third trimester of her pregnancy with her first child, decided to make the film. She didn’t realize Verrier lived a scant 45 minutes away, but it seemed like kismet. Her biological mother, Jill, had arrived to be present for the birth. Jill and Autumn had been in reunion for about seven years at that point in time. Autumn told her boss her idea, and she immediately thought of her friend, who was going through her own tragic reunion story and put Autumn in contact with Doris and seed that had been planted started to germinate.
The movie interviews adoptees, biological parents, adoptive parents, and scholars about about their experiences with adoption and the primal wound. To hear these first-hand experiences related with the raw emotions that sometimes accompany them brings the viewer into the the adoptee’s world. The movie ends with the poignant story about the “box.” The box was created by Jill for her unborn child, and it is through the documentary that we first learn of the existence of the box and its ultimate fate.
Fun fact, the interview with Jill was filmed while Autumn was in labor, during the “ten hours of downtime” the pair had waiting on the baby to make her appearance. With all filming during this time, would you believe no one captured the baby’s arrival? Autumn finished the film during the pandemic, and it premiered at the Catalina Film Festival in September 2022 and has received positive feedback. “People watch it, and something clicks that not everything they have heard about adoption is true,” says Autumn. The credits are everchanging, as the film is a “Living Documentary.” It currently has over 1000 names (and growing!) of those in the “Adoptee Army,” including Adoptees, Birth Parents, Adoptive Parents, and other Allies. As the film is viewed by more and more people across the country and world-wide and touches more lives, more people are moved to add their names to the list of those who stand with adoptees in support changing the adoption narrative. The seed has blossomed.
For more information on Reckoning the Primal Wound.
If you are interested in tickets for the DNAngels Screening March 11, 2023 @ 5:00 p.m. C.S.T.
If you are interested in joining the Adoptee Army.