As National Adoption Month draws to a close today, I find myself irritated with myself that I let the thoughtless remarks about birth mothers who search from an acquaintance get to me as much as they did. He basically said that birth mothers searching and longing for a reunion was motivated by selfishness, and selfishness alone. Our deep-seated guilt and continuing sorrow over abandoning a child to genetic strangers? Oh, well. His attitude, I would guess, is formed by the many adoptive parents he knows as well as that lovely movie, Juno.
An email response to his wife alerted both of them that the heated discussion about adoption that we had in September got out of hand and hurt me deeply. He called on the cell the evening before Thanksgiving just as my husband and I sat down to dinner. He was apologizing, but I did not actually think he knew why he was doing so. I said, let's get together, we just sat down to eat...
The meeting never happened. He did have a busy Thanksgiving weekend at his house, but his house in less than a half-mile away, and he has no kids demanding time and attention. He may have thought I wanted to berate him and dissolve into tears, and while I told myself I expressively did not want to do that, He didn't know that and I was insisting we meet in person. Now I am sorry I set any kind of pre-condition. I assumed we were better friends than we were. My mistake. I just need to let him move out of my life. Or at least, move away from the place where he can upset me so much.
I've been attacked many times over the course of the last three decades when I published the first birth mother memoir, Birthmark. And I've always been able to brush aside the fusillade, even though my adrenaline is coursing through my veins. Talking about adoption for me is never merely an intellectual exercise; it's always intensely personal and strikes my core.
But Lordy, even writing about this incident again feels like too much messaging of my sore ego. Now he's probably on the way back to the city in this miserable rain; I just want to drop this whole thing and move somewhat away from him (not as easy as it sounds, given our multiple connections), but be able to sit next to him comfortably at a dinner party. But when he asked: What part of the pie chart of a birth mother who searches is 'selfish'?, I wish I had quickly responded: "What part of the pie chart of adoptive parents who are against a birth mother making a reconnection is 'selfish'? The woman gave the adoptee life, doesn't she have any rights? How did all the rights move over to the side of the adoptive parents? The condition of anonymity was not requested, it was imposed on birth mothers."
What this contretemps taught me is that here are a lot of people out there who really really think our curiosity about the children we lost to adoption--what we feel is so much more than that word conveys--is motivated only by base and selfish reasons. We've got some educating to do. In that respect, I ought to be grateful to this man. Now I know how he, and many, many others, feel. To them, open adoption is pretty much unthinkable.
Now the good news: In the Zanesville Times-Recorder, columnist Lori Law writes of adoptive parents who make the birth mother a part of their lives. And in the Fredericksberg Free Lance-Star there is the story of an adoptee who was happy to be found by her mother. So progress is being made.
Happy Adoption Month...Well, I don't know if I'd go that far.