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?