Nancy Verrier: Who Am I? I am a mother, a former teacher, a psychotherapist, author, and lecturer. But I’m getting ahead of myself. As a child, from the age of five and a half, I grew up on a farm that had been in the Peabody side of our family for over a hundred years. I attended a one-room schoolhouse from the first through the eighth grades. This was a great advantage, because we had a wonderful teacher. (I credit her for the fact that I was the first non-English major in the history of The University of the Pacific to pass the advanced grammar exam without having taken advanced grammar.) We had science fairs and our annual wild flower gathering, mounting, and identifying. We had athletic meets, where I surprised myself by winning the trophy for the best athlete in the county rural schools when in seventh grade. We put on plays every Christmas, in which everyone in the school took part. We were given music lessons and had a band, which would play at all special events. I learned to play the clarinet and saxophone, and also began singing in public at age six. I also took private piano lessons, and beginning in high school, private voice lessons.
From both my mother and father I inherited a love of music, art, and literature. We always had music in our home, and we all sang or played an instrument. I remember the cows answering when my brother would practice the trombone, and my sister Norine having to stand on a box in order to play the bass drum, when she was in first grade. She never missed a beat! My dad and I both sang in the church choir. My mom was a writer and later a children’s librarian. She always encouraged me in my writing endeavors. My dad instilled in us an appreciation for astronomy, botany, theology, and philosophy. We had a deep love for animals and all four of us children were members of the 4-H Club. I had 200 laying hens for which I had to keep meticulous records!
As a high school student, I was “into everything” from French Club to class and student body offices to musicals. Because of my love of singing, I decided to major in voice at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. I graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree, but opted against a career in opera, when I decided to marry my college sweetheart right after graduation.
I taught elementary and junior high school for ten years before my second husband, Maurice, and I adopted our first child in 1969. Two years later, I gave birth to a second daughter. I stayed home with our children for the next fourteen years. I was never bored. Not only was taking care of two children a challenge, but it also gave me a chance to pursue many different interests while they were in school. One of those interests, of course, was music, and I sang in various opera workshops, madrigal groups, and choral ensembles, including the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. In addition to music, I enjoyed languages and studied Russian and French. I love singing the songs of Russian composers, such as Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. Another interest is gardening, which I wish I had more time for today.
When our daughters became teenagers, I decided to get my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology. It was for my Master’s Degree that I did research into the subject of adoption. This resulted in my thesis: The Primal Wound: Legacy of the Adopted Child. It was after a very well attended seminar on the subject at an American Adoption Congress conference in Garden City, California, in 1991, that I was convinced to write a book based on my thesis. That book, The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child has become a classic in adoption literature and is considered by adoptees to be their adoption bible. I have been honored to have received two awards for the publication of this book: the Book of the Year Award from the Council for Equal Rights in Adoption in 1993, and the Emma Vilardi Humanitarian Award from the American Adoption Congress in 2003.
At the prompting of many of you, I have now written a second book: Coming Home to Self, which is summarized under the new book on this web site. The purpose of this book is to take adoptees and those in relationship with them to the next step in healing. When one has been traumatized at the beginning of life, there is often very little awareness that coping behaviors are a result of that trauma, rather than indigenous aspects of the person. In order to overcome self-defeating behavior, one must become aware of the difference. This book is about becoming aware, authentic, and accountable-which should lead to more satisfying relationships.
I am still practicing psychotherapy, largely, but not exclusively, with members of the adoption triad. Now that my second book is finished, I hope to be able to present more seminars and workshops in which I hope to educate others in the manifestations of separation and loss in adoption. Adoption is still the best solution when biological mothers or other relatives cannot take care of children, but it is not an ideal solution. The loss involved must be understood, especially from the point of view of those too young to be able to explain their experiences and feelings themselves. This is what I try to do in my books and seminars. We all need to heal, and healing can only take place if we acknowledge the truth, learn from one another, and face the ensuing challenges with insight and courage.
Most of all, I guess I would like to known as an advocate for children. This is not always p.c., especially when it runs contrary to being an advocate for women (which I am also). But I truly believe that we must begin to realize just how much and in what ways our children need us. What this means is that we may have to sacrifice our own wishes or put on hold our other career plans for them … at least for a time, if it is possible. I believe that we either sacrifice for our children, or we sacrifice our children. When we opt for our children, the satisfaction can be greater than any other kind of adulation of recognition. We really can “do it all,” just not all at once!
Please send all questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 208, Lafayette, CA 94549
|1987-2011||Various classes in Continuing Education (CEUs)|
|1983-1986||John F. Kennedy University, Orinda. California
- M.A. in Clinical Psychology (1986)
|1959-1977||Classes in education and languages (French/Russian)
– Various colleges and universities in S.F. Bay Area
|1955-1959||University of the Pacific, Stockton, California
- Bachelor of Music in Voice (1959)
|1990-2011||Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist (MFC 27578)
– Private practice in Lafayette, California Psychotherapy: individuals, couples, families
Counseling: members of the adoption triad Consultation: professionals on adoption issues
|1989-2011||Lecturer on adoption issues:
– United States, Canada, England, Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia
– (adoption and separation issues)
|1986-1990||Trainee and intern in private practice|
|1969-1983||Motherhood: Retired from teaching to rear two daughters|
|1959-1969||Elementary and junior high school teacher, Livermore, California|
|1985-2011||Research in the field of adoption
(based on literature and personal, interpersonal, and clinical experience)
|1986||Completed thesis for Master’s Degree:
The Primal Wound:
Legacy of the Adopted Child
The Primal Wound:
Understanding the Adopted Child
|2003||Published The Adopted Child Grows Up:
Coming Home to Self
|2011||The Primal Wound now in 15th printing|