Sunday, August 3, 2008

On Bulletin Board and Refrigerator Mantras

Lorraine’s old bumper sticker, “Adopted People Are Not Allowed Ancestry Because It Might Upset Somebody, "sounds a lot like the “daily affirmation” affixed to my desk. I read it in a novel, Sister Mine by Tawni O’Dell, in May 2007. The novel itself wasn’t memorable, but it stuck in my mind for this line, which I have handwritten on a 3” x 3” yellow Post-It Note: “The only way to be absolutely sure an adoption is safe is to make sure the biological mother is dead.” Since I’m at the computer every day, I read it several times a day. And it certainly seems to hold true, doesn’t it? To us, it seems absurd, the stuff of fiction, yet there’s Tom Junot (previous blog entry), writing about us crazy natural mothers who dare to want to have relationships with our adult children!

I’m sitting here shaking my head, thinking about how far we’ve come from the dark ages of the closed adoption system, yet there’s so much more work that needs to be done. How can we assure adoptive parents that we’re not going to show up after twenty or thirty years and usurp the adoptive parents’ roles? And why do we have to do the reassuring in the first place?! We’re just relieved and thankful to know our kids were loved and well cared for. Yes, the tears for lost years and what might have been eventually follow, but there’s no way around it, it comes with the territory, we need to grieve. And our children need to be allowed to grieve too. I’ve said this to Lorraine countless times: in an ideal world, women who wanted to bear children and who have the financial and emotional means to do to so would; and unplanned/unwanted pregnancies would be eradicated like polio. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says “Donate Life.” I’ve seen the same magnet/sticker on a locker in the doctors’ lounge on Grey’s Anatomy. It was a gift when I signed an organ donor card a couple of years ago, but now it’s a daily reminder of how I and my fellow birthmother sisterhood gave the ultimate gift—the gift of life! And this—the stigma that still follows us in the 21st century, the unjustifiable fear and loathing from adoptive parents, the children who won’t forgive us for giving them away—is our thanks. Do you know—or perhaps you are—a birthmother who was welcomed with open arms by her child’s adoptive family, one where the adoptive mother isn’t scared to death of you, isn’t intimidated by you because her child resembles you and not her? If so, please tell me what it’s like. Dear reader, I’m not angry, I’m just very, very frustrated. I was the found party in my reunion dynamic, I didn’t seek; it took me about 18 months to recover from losing my daughter a second time. There are two boys--a 2-1/2 year old and a ten month old, who don’t know they have a Grandida and haven’t received the gifts she sent because their mother doesn’t acknowledge the women’s existence. I have no explanation other than this one offered by my sister, who my daughter will contact when she needs information, “She already has a mother. She doesn’t need another.” This just wasn’t what a signed up for. Or was it?

5 comments:

mombonnie said...

Do you happen to have a link to the article? I tried using google to find one but I wasn't successful. And yes, I am reunited with my son and was welcomed with open arms in the beginning, until she realized that it wasn't going to be a once in a lifetime meeting. My son now lives with us.

carol said...

Love the saying on your post-it note, “The only way to be absolutely sure an adoption is safe is to make sure the biological mother is dead.” I’m not sure I’m in the take-it-all-in-stride stage yet. However, the quote fits with my current developmental stage – best described as ‘raging’ at the moment – subject to change or die altogether.

I was found – by the aps. The afather tells me it’s all “one big happy family” and, “the more the merrier”, the amother has quite a different view. From the amother: “you can stay with us anytime you want to,” and “I still think it was better that *_* was raised with us rather than you,” and “you were always in our hearts,” and “I could never tell him that you loved him.” Can you say passive-aggressive? I can, and I know what it looks like! Holey hell, I’d rather be outright denied by the freaks than go through this. I can’t imagine how women cope in ‘open’ adoptions, but I wonder if it is anything like this.

No, I don't think any of it is what we would have signed up for had we known.

mombonnie - hmmm, I'm green!

maybe said...

I haven't met the aparents yet, but I'm glad to have read about the experiences of those who have. Carol's examples seem to be the norm: afather can handle it, amother insecure and hurtful.

I'll be wearing my best suit of armor when we meet and I don't plan on letting anyone intimidate me.

peps said...

I was welcomed warmly by my son and his family. The novelty has worn off after 3.5 yrs but I still wonder why I get so much love from his parents. I am humbled by it, and by the love of my son. As I prepared for reunion, I never read or heard anything about a happy reunion. I wasn't prepared for it. Yet, now that I'm in one, I see them all around me and realize they are more common than I thought.

What is it like? It's like my chest is wide open with my heart beating for all to see. It's like having a real family, a mentally healthy family -- something I did not experience growing up. [I have no contact with my "family of origin" anymore.] It's like being Loving and Loved. It's like a spiritual rapture. It's like acceptance for who you are. It's like feeling I'm ok with who I am. They acknowledge my pain. They know I went through Hell but it was worth it to find them all. It's like my burdens have been lifted. Finally, I can say to myself "I did something right!" [an achievement for one who had been told so often that all I do is wrong.]

They started to search for me when my son turned 18. Everyone wanted a reunion. His friends coaxed him into a surfing adventure and he was off to Latin & South American beaches for a few years (supposed to be a few months!). Then college, more travel, and getting established in a career... somehow I knew he wanted me to find him when he didn't show up by age 29. My birthdays are acknowledged with flowers. Our reunion date is acknowledged as a turning point for us all. I am welcomed at family reunions. My son's family is awesome. My son is awesome. I like to think that he is what I would have been like if I had been loved as a child. In losing everything, I found it all.

overactive-imagination said...

I have been heart broken for over 20 years over the loss of my daughter. No.....she wasn't stolen from me....I knowingly (or so I thought) signed those adoption papers.
Beind just barely 19 and already having a one year old who I was struggling to raise....I was told numerous times by the adoption agency that I would be doing a disservice to my unborn child by planning to keep her.
Being naive and having no family to speak of......I listened when I was told how much better off my daughter would be if I were to sign away my rights to her.
Never once, ever was I given the option or ever told of an open adoption arrangement. I was told that "this" was the only way to ensure the happiness of my child. I did what I was told......I signed the dotted line.
After I gave birth and went to view my daughter (who I had not been allowed to see or hold at that point) in the nursery window, I inquired about my daughter and was told that she was not there, only a Jane Doe who had been given away was in the nursery and not with her mother. I took my daughter to my room with me after much of a fight to get her there and kept her with me until I was released 2 days later.
I apologize for leaving such a lengthy comment. This has been so very hard on me through the years and the day I left the hospital will be forever engrained in my mind as the worst day of my life.
I haven't spoken of my daughter's adoption until just a couple of years ago because I suddenly became the outcast once the adoption was final....by my family...by my friends and most obviously by the adoption agency who had told me so often that I was doing the right thing.......what was best for my daughter but almost immediately after signing the final adoption papers, I became an outcast in their eyes as well.
It has taken me almost 20 years to speak of her adoption although not a day has passed that I have not missed her presence in my life.
Again, apologizes for the length of my comment. I look forward to reading more of this site.
Dawn