Monday, December 8, 2008

Generations After Me Are A Part of Me

I have my own mitochondrial DNA. When it becomes a part of another person--no matter how that is done--that person is a part of me, I am a part of her or him, and will be for generations hence.

I have a granddaughter whom my daughter gave up for adoption. I only learned about her after she was born. I never met her. Yet she is a part of me and I am a part of her. I worry that she needs to know who she is, why she was available to be adopted, who her biological, genetic, real non-adopted relatives are. I wonder if her adoptive parents--genetic strangers--are good to her/good for her. I wonder if she has an ability to write and express herself. I wonder if she has flat feet. I wonder if she is allergic to cats and ragweed. She should know that several grandparents died of a heart condition, and that cancer is rare in the family. I wonder how she feels about being adopted, if she questions her identity, and where she came from.

However, the laws of Wisconsin, where she was born and adopted, deny me this information. I am left only with eternal questions. It is true, my longing to know this granddaughter is not as all encompassing as was my need to find my daughter. That ruled my life until I found her.

As regular readers know, my daughter--my granddaughter's mother--died last year, and even if she were alive, the state would not search for her daughter; only the adopted person can initiate a search, as I recently learned when I emailed someone in the appropriate Wisconsin agency. I do have on file my willingness to be contacted, and the news that her mother is deceased--information that will be given to her should she contact the state. This unknown young woman, born April 3, 1986 in Madison, named Lisa by her mother, is a part of me.

Though I cannot walk in the shoes of the childless who yearn for a child, simply saying, Here, take some of me and make a baby, and we'll go on living as if that individual has nothing to do with me, is against any and all reasonable laws of nature. Embryo adoption as well as egg and sperm selling--they are not "donations" since donations are just that, donated--are abominable prima facie. Though the urge or procreate is what continues the human race, the world has enough people in it without making more when nature is trying to put on the brakes.

With all we know today about the need to know one's heritage, we should not be cooking up people in laboratories who will never be able to learn from whence they came. If anyone doubts this, look up the websites of sperm-donor babies searching for their fathers and siblings. Go to a meeting of adoptees in search. Read their postings on the Internet. Talk to a late-discovery-adoptee and hear their pain.

The need to know one's roots is basic and universal; no one should be denied this. Laws that seal records of adopted people are abominations that go against the grain of reality, nature, any ethical standard. They are the remnants of a culture that condoned slavery.

Because someone wants to have a child, no matter how deeply felt the desire, no matter that the science makes it possible, does not make creating that life from this one's eggs and that's one sperm right. Because someone cannot have a child does not give them the right to someone else's, whether as a living baby or an embryo frozen in a tube.
--lorraine


PS: Aston, a friend who let loose one night about how selfish birth mothers are who search, and I have reached a rapprochement of sorts. He called, apologized, came over, we talked. He said he read the Donaldson study of adopted people and had gained some new insights, but if I made any headway on his harsh and unyielding attitude towards birth mothers (that we have absolutely no right to ever initiate contact, because that might be disruptive) is unknown. Aston is a church-going man, and--only when I asked for compassion for the birth mother's point of view--did he seem to respond positively and think it over.

I did use what one of our readers wrote: that adoptees are told they are selfish for searching because they might upset the birth mother's neat little life. That seemed to hit the heart of the matter: both sides being told they are selfish to seek reunion. (By the way, I've seen some new list of acceptable language [to adoptive parents, one assumes], and reunion is now verboten.) When the conversation started he seemed only to want to tell me that I should warn people that adoption was a subject not open to discussion, which seemed a bit boorish on his part. I have been treated better by hostile attorneys when I testified in court for adoptees asking for their birth records. Aston ought to try discussing the reasons against international adoption with our mutual friend who has a Chinese daughter. She gets apoplectic if you mention Emily Prager's name. (more on this later.)

Perhaps the good that came out of this whole disagreeable incident is that I was confronted head on the attitude of many today--many today in our legislatures--and because of our friendship and numerous connections, possibly I opened Aston's mind a bit to the concept of birth mothers other than Juno. And that would be a good thing. If only he were not the kind of person we encounter in Albany when we lobby for open records.

The I-Ching says: Work on what has been spoiled.

16 comments :

  1. I was curious about the politically correct term for "reunion" so I located the site on Google. According to the Positive Adoptive Language PDF from adoptivefamilies.com, "reunion" is negative language, while "making contact with" is positive language. So I guess that means we all attend a "high school making contact with," not a reunion. Today's Oprah show should be billed as "The Cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show Make Contact!"

    Like so many things, political correctness can be extreme. My daughter and I didn't make contact with one another nine years ago, we were reunited, i.e., we were brought together again.

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  2. I suppose that "reunion" to the adoptivefamilies.com set forces realization that the child originated with someone else. The words Reunion or Reunited brings up something many would like to forget... that the child is and was originated by another. Ummmm I think "Forever Family" is politically incorrect as I am offended by the term. Do we think adoptivefamilies.com will add it to their list? Probably not.

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  3. Oh and I just use the term "originated" to make a point. I certainly have never considered any of my children's birth's "originations" *grin*

    Have a wonderful day!
    Kristy

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  4. Exactly, Linda. It's ridiculous. "Making contact" just doesn't cut it.
    I don't get what's bad, misleading or threatening about the word "reunion" that it needs to be replaced with an alternative. It's a perfectly fine word that describes the situation exactly.

    Reunion is what it is, parent and offspring coming together again.
    After all, in a very real physical sense, they *have* known each other before.
    But it doesn't mean they are going to morph into an amorphous single entity like something out of Star Trek. People are so damned literal.

    I wonder if this isn't something to do with the open records=reunion confusion paranoia.
    Open records don't=reunion anyway.
    Reunion is an entirely separate matter to be negotiated (or not) by the parties involved.
    Nobody's business but their own.

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  5. Lorraine, I just want to say I think you were gutsy to hang tough with Aston.
    It must have taken a lot out of you but does sound as if you made headway and, however much, any is better than none.

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  6. I came across your blog today and find your current post somewhat disturbing. While I understand and respect that children should have a right to know their genetic makeup and medical/social histories, not all birth parents want to be located and not all adoptees are interested. I do however believe each should have a voice in deciding such future contact and support more access to records for the sake of adoptees. Having many adopted friends they are quite split in their desires to locate their birth families. Some searched, others did not and some didn't care either way. What disturbs me is the notion that blood and genes alone create a family and that is simply not the case. Genes are important to one's future without a doubt but without love, daily care and guidance one cannot survive in this world. We sadly live in a society where the term mother and father must be proven and in most cases should be a privilege and not a right. The notion that only blood can tend to blood is unrealistic and adults who choose of their own free will to relinquish a child, donate their sperm or eggs does in fact remain their right and will never be regulated by the government. As the adoptive mother of a toddler I am sad my daughter will not be able to access her birthparents in the future but just because it is not the norm doesn't mean I won't try for her sake. I respect and honor her birthparents for giving her life and for leaving her in a safe place so she could be found and given a chance to succeed in life.

    Proud mama to Emme

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  7. Lost & Found, you wrote:

    "What disturbs me is the notion that blood and genes alone create a family and that is simply not the case."

    I don't think anyone was saying that, however I think the time that the child grows inside the mother and the bond that is created and then severed by whatever means is discounted as well. I hope as an adoptive parent you will keep an open mind, read books like "Primal Wound" and realize that however wonderfully complete your family may be with your child, there there is a mother with whom she bonded first and even though it may have been merely during pregnancy that bond will always be there.

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  8. Lost and Found wrote, "as the adoptive mother of a toddler I am sad my daughter will not be able to access her birthparents in the future..."

    I find this hard to believe. Too many of us mothers have experienced the wish on the part of a-parents that we disappear or die. Don't wany any pesky "blood" around to shake up the "forever family."

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  9. Before we get too far off track, LostandFound, if you're still with us, apparently you're not in an open adoption? I'd like to know why you think your daughter won't be able to know her family of origin; did you adopt outside the US? Are there no records of any kind?

    Most FMF readers are veterans of the closed adoption system, and we're living proof that secrets and lies only beget more secrets and lies and heartache, hence Lorraine's comments in the post “Go to a meeting of adoptees in search. Read their postings on the Internet. Talk to a late-discovery-adoptee and hear their pain.”

    I second Kristy’s suggestion that you read The Primal Wound if you haven’t already;immerse yourself in triad member memoirs. And for your daughter’s sake and your own peace of mind, continue to keep an open mind and heart.

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  10. I came back to see any follow-up because I think dialogue is important. While I hope maternal/fetal bonds exist I know that is not always the case. Yes I hope that my daughter had some form of bonding, love and nurture from her birthmother other than merely nutrition to sustain her life. My daughter was adopted from China which if you don't know still has a one-child policy. It is illegal to use gender identification, have more than one child and also illegal to give up that child so Chinese adoptees are all abandoned. They cannot be declared orphans otherwise. I don't like the the term orphan which suggests no parents because many Chinese adoptees do in fact have birth parents even if we don't know who they are. I have already left notes and photos in the area where she was found so her birth family may know she is safe, happy and thriving. What I took from the writer's post was that genes count for everything and I don't believe that. It takes a lot to be a parent and mere blood does not a mother make.

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  11. Hi Lost and Found...You read into my post more than was there...of course I knew that my daughter was the daughter of her adoptive family also, and that she was the product of both of us. But adoptive parents all too often do everything possible to deny the birth/genetic/biological link to the mother (and father) who created the child. My point was that my daughter, her daughters--even the one I do not know--is a part of me and my gene pool, in quite a direct way.

    What I hope we are doing with this blog is education all members of the triad about what it is like from our side of the window. We do not have babies and move on. Yes it is true, some mothers do that--approximately five percent do not want their children to return for a reunion--but most of us do not have the babies and make a new life without them. They stay constant in our lives. --lorraine dusky

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  12. Lorraine
    Your point is well taken and the response welcome. I realize I am here on your turf but some of your readers need an awakening of their own. Yes I represent the adoptive parent but I also represent one who cares about the links to her birth family even though there is zero info of them. I didn't steal someone else's kid, nor borrow or adopt because I was too old to procreate on my own. I didn't see a need to populate the world further when babies and children are thrown away all over the world every single day. I can't personally change the political climate of these countries but people can choose to keep having kids they can't care for or stop having them when there is no way for them to raise them. Sad very sad. I don't agree with your position but you've been respectful toward an outsider. Too bad your crew is so nasty, uninformed and judgemental

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  13. Dear lost and found:
    I hope you will stay with us...do remember that many of those who post are adoptees, not birth parents.

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  14. Yes, well there you have it, pls. remember it is us adoptees who are the "nasty" ones.

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  15. Hey Joy,

    Check out my comment to Lost and Found on the feminist thread. She was pretty nasty herself there. And yes, some of us birthmothers can be plenty nasty too:-)

    But I think her real feelings about us came out in her comments about gin-drinking crack heads! Now, who is it that is nasty, judesgmental, and uninformed?

    Personally proud to be part of the "Crew"!

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  16. I'll drink to that Mairaine,

    I didn't see any nastiness either just a differing point of view, when the name calling started.

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