Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Day I Began Searching for the Daughter I Gave Away

While Jane is writing the next part of her story, we have more interesting data on how birth/first mothers react to learning they are being sought by their children they relinquished for adoption. But first, a personal note:

Like one of our regular readers, Maryanne, I revolted when I learned that the adoption records and my daughter's birth certificate would be sealed to her after her eighteenth birthday, and began quietly searching for her when she was quite young. Okay, as soon as I read about Florence Fisher and the Adoptees Liberty Movement Association (ALMA) in the New York Times on July 25, 1972 in a story headlined: Adopted Children Who Wonder, "What Was Mother Like?" (Note: those interested will probably have to pay to read the piece, as it is in the Times archive.)

Reading the piece it was as if the scales fell from my eyes. My daughter was six years old. I did not realize it then, but that was the day in my heart that I began searching for her. And within the year, I met Florence, began writing about the adoption reform movement, and tried various means to find my daughter's new identity, but all were unsuccessful. I did not formally institute a search for my daughter until she was fifteen, and because all other avenues had been blocked, I simply paid $1,200 to "The Searcher," as he was known, and within weeks had her name, address and phone number, along with that of her parents. They were in a state (Wisconsin) a thousand miles from where I lived on Long Island, New York.

It turned out that he had already found her, and had done the search based on what I had written in Birthmark. I had put all the significant clues in there, hoping her adoptive family would find them, and reach out to me. Wishful thinking, I know. Later I did learn that someone had told my daughter's adoptive mother about Birthmark, but she chose to ignore it. I do not know if the person who suggested she read my memoir saw the similarities in my relinquishment, and their adoption, of a daughter in Rochester, New York on 1966.

But hey, if it was a friend or family member, they had to know the age of their daughter, and where she was adopted...so today I'm going to assume that person was aware that Jane was likely to be the adopted daughter in question. And Mary (my daughter's other mother) did not want to pursue the matter. Remember, this is way back in the dark ages of 1979. Reunions were rare. Very rare.

So, I was what is known as a "seeker" mother; fellow bloggers at FirstMotherForum, Jane and Linda, were sought. Linda was called directly by her daughter and reacted positively immediately, as she has written earlier at FMF; Jane was contacted by an aunt and had a more difficult and lengthy internal emotional process to go through before she was ready for reunion, as she told us in the previous post. But no matter how we reacted to the situation, all three of us became staunch supporters of giving adopted people their original birth records--hell, we're in favor of adoptions never being closed!

Are we anti-adoption? Let me put it this way: I'm not against some form of adoption when the natural mother and her family are totally and completely unable to care for the child. But I have seen too much pain and destruction on the part of both birth/first mothers and adopted people to be much in favor on "adoption" without a zillion caveats. It was just this tone of mine that got me banned from a website chat room of blissful birth mothers called "Adoption Voices." (And by the way, I was invited to join the chat.)

Except for the one first mother who was in an open adoption and eight years later cried buckets when she looked at the son's pictures, or got on the plane after a visit, they were all quite content and happy to have provided a child to complete someone else's family. I posted a couple of times, trying to inject some reality into their gaga stuff I was reading, but whadda know, the administrator yanked me off; told me that the site was about "adoption, not anti-adoption." Linda did some spade work and discovered that a number of the birth mothers posting were...from Utah, the Land of the LDS, The Church of the Latter Day Saints. No comment. Readers might want to join Adoption Voices themselves. I've found other birth mother chat rooms are often supported by an adoption agency....looking for birth mothers who want to tell other birth mothers what a great thing they did.

Now, to the other data from a Confidential Intermediary from Indianapolis, Katrina Carlisle, who is also an adoptive mother.

I am a CI and have been for 18 years. I have 70% birth mothers accepting some form of contact and 30% saying no. Some of the "no" answers end up calling me later with changed minds. When I reach adult adoptees (for the birth mothers) I have almost 100 percent agreeing to at least some form of contact, especially after I remind them this is an opportunity to receive updated medical info.

I am not a birth mother. I am a social worker and an adoptive parent who strongly believes all adult adoptees can benefit from re-connecting with birth families. My daughter is 31 and found her birth family at 23 and it has provided her with a lot of healing and enriched her life. My 34-year old son refuses to consider a search, but I hold out hope that he will change his mind in the future. I also recognize the benefit to the birth mothers in re-connecting with their adult children. I just think it is an all around good thing for everybody. I do a lot of counseling with the adoptive parents to help them understand their child’s need to search.

One thing that has really helped though is asking the adult adoptee to provide me with a non-identifying letter explaining why they are searching and what they are hoping for and also having them include photos. Then I can ask the birth mother if she would like me to send that letter to any address she says, and to read the letter (from her child) before she makes a decision. They have a hard time turning down that letter. I also do counseling and try to support them through telling their husbands or other children about their adoption experience. Our agency is over 100 years old so some of the birth mothers I locate are in their 70’s, 80’s and some even 90’s. They are usually so scared to have this exposed.

I offer birth mothers the opportunity to stay anonymous if they wish. They may correspond with their child through me. I forward the non-identifying letters and pictures they send. Many of the birth mothers choose this option first. It helps them feel protected from someone arriving on their doorstep before they are ready. They feel safer and more in control of the situation. Then, after they correspond for awhile, they begin to feel comfortable and then agree to exchange identifying info. Almost everyone ends up meeting in person eventually. Although, one couple I have has been writing each other for 5 years and still have not agreed to meet.

Katrina Carlisle LSW, BSW

Adoption Search Specialist

St. Elizabeth Coleman

Pregnancy and Adoption Services



42 comments :

  1. Lorraine,
    I guess I was having a bad day today and when I read the title of this post I just lost it. It was so validating to hear your honesty that you truly did "give your daughter away". Adoptees feel this way, no matter HOW politically correct people try to say it. It is so unvalidating to hear those "politically correct" ways of saying it ~ placed, adoption plan, etc. We were given away, no matter how sweet people try to say it.
    My first Mother was also a seeking Mother who registered with Alma in the late 70's before I was even a teenager. She passed away when I was 12 years old, but it has been the hugest comfort to me to know she was searching for me. Hugs to you. Peach

    ReplyDelete
  2. As someone who has used Katrina Carlisle and who has spoken with many other Coleman adoptees, I doubt the truth of her words. The agency has secret policies that you are not advised of until they have your money. It is then too late for either birthmother or adoptee.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Using a CI sounds like a felon writing letters in prison that first must be read by a criminologist for incriminating information and edited before being sent to the innocent victim on the "outside".

    This protection of the birth parents from their own children is OUTRAGEOUS. I hate our culture of shame and the de-humanizing mistreatment of adoptees because, after all, we must be 'damaged goods' if we weren't wanted by our parents to begin with.

    The "land of the free" makes me want to vomit because it allows adopted people to be treated as lepers and scapegoats who must be banned from their natural families for the protection of society.

    This culture is what I believe has kept my natural mother from wanting a real connection with me. My mother's shame of her pregnancy and my adoption keeps our relationship hostile. She refuses to accept the fact that I want to know who my biological father is. She thinks I should just be a good little adoptee and accept what little she has told me and move on. (She has accused me of being insecure because I feel the need to know who my biological father is.)

    Our society's failure to accept her as MY mother has allowed her to believe that she did what she thought was best for me at the time of relinquishment and that I should be grateful to her for it and just "be happy".

    I blame the rainbow-farting adoption culture for my pain. Many attorneys have bought themselves large homes and expensive cars at the expense of innocent children by convincing our mothers that other people could do better for us. I want the baby-pimping to stop!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. As an Indiana Adoptee, I for one feel very fortunate that I did not have to use a Confidential Intermediary.
    I can not imagine having to rely on the word of a person, let alone one who works for an adoption agency to tell me the truth about contacting my biological family. And to actually have to pay money for someone else to contact my own mother seems wrong to me.

    I found my mother on the Adoption.com registry but three months prior to my finding her, my mother had registered with the State of Indiana Registry to be reunited with me. I had been registered there for years. It seems a match would have been instantly made through the state and yet it wasn't. I called to ask why and was treated quite rudely by Mry Hind and her minions. They put me on hold for twenty minutes to find my file and then informed me that my mother and I HAD indeed been matched, when I asked why I had not been informed, I was hung up on! Yes, a state worker hung up on me!

    We eventually received our information from the state but I wonder if we would have ever been matched had I not found her on my own first.

    I'm sorry but I just would not be able to give money to an adoption worker to contact my mother. it also seems the fact that she is an adoptive parent as well would also be a conflict of interest.

    How does one insure that a CI is actually telling the truth about what they find. It doesn't seem like there are many checks and balances to the system, especially in Indiana.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I found it interesting that the reaction of the adoptee is so violently angry. I also have been uninvited from several birthmother groups. I find it hysterical. I am not the good little birthmother - in fact I am the first one to say that I was used, lied to and then left with a gigantic issue that ate at me for most of 27 years.

    My child, on the other hand, was not a baby, she was three, and the adoption was a coercion in the first degree. The social worker used her safety as leverage. I was tired after almost 4 years of battle for, in the beginnig, her very life. I collapsed. I was human.

    But my daughter, no matter how much she denies it, remembered me. She remembers a jumble of people and violence (nothing like abusive foster parents to make our lives interesting) and on solid - me. Then I was gone.

    I find that giving her away, as you put it, was the most devastating thing in the world. I am still recovering from that.

    Anger, yes. Rage, yes. Impotence, yes. Sad but true. All the "adults" involved are dead. Beyond my revenge and rage and pain. But I believe that they paid.

    Looking for her consumed me for almost 6 years. Prior to that I would look in school yards, parks, playgrounds, newspapers, anywhere that showed faces.

    But you know, it never really ends.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I find it interesting that identifying information from the searching party is not given to the "found" party until they both agree to meet. If a CI found my mom, I would ask a few non-identifying questions and then would give my ID to my mom through the CI. Here it is. This is me. If you would like to contact me, you have my info. Why does the searching party have to play the censorship game? Is it because CIs like to be in control of the relationship "for our own good"?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous #2

    It works the same way for mother's we are forever punished for losing our babies to those who had
    control over our lives. I was a teen who was punished
    for getting pregnant by losing my baby at birth.

    Recently my 18 yr old granddaughter told me she just wants me to be happy. She also told me to move on and get over it. Needless to say I did NOT take her words kindly. What in the f does she know about adoption or its pain just because she wants me happy she thinks I can just forget all thats happened to me and my son.

    Seems thats the way the want all of us to act whether mother or adoptee. WE are all just supposed to be happy without records without ever knowing the truths just be happy. So naive and she claims she is an adult but sill has mommy and daddy paying her bills guess that makes her happy.
    So be she has a lot of growing up to do before she can speak about how she wants me to be go live in your fairytale world.

    ps I NEVER gave my baby away he was taken because they knew they could do it I wasn't protected this was when I was 17 a minor.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I don't understand why that CI seems to be having a commercial here?


    Creepy.

    No to the social worker contacting my mother or me, esp. an adoptive parent :p

    ReplyDelete
  9. I feel that using a CI such as Katrina Carlisle is just another example of the system taking advantage of the adoptee and a first Mother. Who are they to withold ANY information from an adoptee? Of course, I find it HILARIOUS and not a coincidence that Carlisle is an adoptive parent. Typical behavior, huh?

    While I have no problems paying someone to help you search, a CI/search angel, or whatever they are calling themselves these days, has NO right to withhold ANY information. It is not THEIR reunion. In Carlsle's case, the adoptee who hired her is NOT her adoptling whom she feels the need to control. And for God's sake, who, other than uninformed people, baby brokers or adoptive parents uses the term "birthmother" anymore?

    People made money off us when they took us from our first Mothers. They make money off of us as we try to find her. Is that not enough? Shame on these people.

    Im glad I did not have an intermediary contact my first Mother. We didn't need any more strangers telling us what we should do.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My (an adult adoptee) opinion is that much like America's doctors are our LEGAL DRUG DEALERS, adoption agencys are America's legal PIMPS & HUMAN TRAFICKERS. period.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I tried to comment yesterday but was having sporadic internet issues, so apologies if this is a repeat.

    I always wonder how the Katrina's of the world feel knowing that they can see someone's original identity, but the person who rightfully owns that identity is denied.

    It's insulting, humiliating and infantilizing for anyone to be subjected to a CI program just because they want to know who they are, or because they want to get in touch with their own child.

    ReplyDelete
  12. While I was in the UK in '72 I made preliminary enquiries about searching to a SW, but she told me I didn't have a snowball's chance. I think she believed it, but can't be sure. We returned to Canada at the end of that year, and in '75, unbeknownst to me, records were opened to adoptees.

    When we did reunite in 2000, it was my son's father who found me. He then, with the scant info I was able to give him, plus a letter of authorization I wrote (since I wasn't in the country), found our son - who had accessed his info in '95.

    Re. confidential intermediaries. I personally think they are a leftover from the old days of secrecy - in fact I believe they help perpetuate that secrecy. Why confidential? Why an intermediary? Do people really need this kind of buffer? I don't think so.

    Surely all adoptees have the right to direct access to their own information without yet another person intervening on their or their parents' behalf. And ditto for parents. Seriously, if I'm going eff up, I'd much rather do it myself than have some do-gooder do it for me.

    I suppose people can't be stopped from using intermediaries if they absolutely insist on doing so - but at the very least the CI should be specially trained and qualified in post adoption work, not just some social worker who has forged a cosy little niche for his or her self.


    P.S
    I don't understand why the free advertising plug either.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Intermediaries should never be mandatory. If some people want to use them, fine, but that should be a choice, not the only way to contact your mother or child.

    As several have already said, they are not really needed and in some cases do more harm than good. It is controlling and humiliating for adults to be forced to use intermediaries, doubly so if they are not given their own information but are at the mercy of someone who may or may not have their best interest at heart.

    Like Kippa said, I would rather screw up my own contact (and in some ways did:-) than have to blame someone else and always wonder if I could have done it better.

    I am very, very suspicious of intermediaries who claim 100% success in contacts, or very low rates of success. I would never want to have that kind of God-like power over the lives of others, and wonder about people who do it and relish it. Give everyone their own information, and let them make their own choices about when and how to make contact.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The CI thing is an insult to the adoptees, and another way to make money in the adoption industry.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Because some of you find it offensive, I'm taking down the contact information about the CI in this post, but I don't see it as an ad because she works for an agency, and is not a free-lance person advertising for business. Nor do I think that CIs are the best route to go; but with a reluctant BM a CI who is also a birth mother may be the one who can convince a woman that her life will be enriched, not ruined, by meeting her offspring.

    But I do think that the CIs and the wildly divergent numbers of first mothers in regards to contact/refusal is rather difficult to accommodate in one's mind. Why do some get a refusal rate of one to two percent, and others go up to thirty--even fifty--percent? Has to be the system of contact. The age of the birth mother. The fear of shame.

    But as Jane's piece the other day showed us, many birth mothers go through a lot of emotional turmoil when they are contacted at first.

    As for the "I gave away my daughter..." I've written about this language before--To the adopted person, "give away" is what their hearts feel and I have never shied away from this language. I'm looking at the reunion story I wrote for McCall's in 1983 and the headline reads: The Daughter I Gave Away. No fudging the language there.

    The agency in Rochester might have been making an "adoption plan" for me; I was giving away my precious, loved, first and only child.

    And it broke my heart.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I do not see where it helps that the intermediary also happens to have surrendered a child. She is a total stranger calling with personal information that the mother in the closet did not want anyone to know. In most cases I still think it better that the adoptee makes her own contact, and I still wonder why anyone would want the responsibility of being in the middle of someone else's delicate personal situation.

    I "gave away" or "gave up" my child too, Lorraine, although sometimes I say "surrendered", that fits as well. "Relinquished" works too, but seems kind of a fancy word for a sad and shoddy reality.

    What I did not do was "make an adoption plan" or any kind of plan. Had I been capable of planning I could have kept my child. And I did not "place" him, having no idea where he went and if I did, would not have picked the people he got stuck with!

    However, some mothers really did "make an adoption plan" albeit not many from our generation. Especially with open adoptions that have stayed open, this wording may fit. But it does not fit for many of us, and the euphemisms do not help. Each of us should use the language that actually fits our own situation.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have a bigger issue with the fact she works for an agency. If that is not a conflict of interest, I dont know what is. And PLEASE stop calling yourself and other first Mothers a "BM".

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ontario had the Adoption Disclosure Registry (ADR)and it was a nightmare. Government staff acted as intermediaries if a match didn't happen upon registering (an active registry). They also acted as counsellors (gross).

    I recall one story where the adopted person was looking for her mother and the ADR contacted her. She was nervous, but agreed to send a picture of herself. The ADR staff received the pic, then called the mother and said that it was too recent and that her daughter might be able to recognize her. Nothing like freaking the woman out even more! So she sent a pic of her at 17. Then she sent her daughter "The Letter".

    This is just one example of how these people abused their power. Never, never should there be a person (CI) who is in control of people's personal information.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Does anyone know what qualifies a person as a confidential intermediary ?
    Beyond the regular old Bachelor of Social Work, that is.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have a problem with the fact that Katrina Carlisle works for an agency too.
    She also seems to be the co-author of "Adoption for Dummies" http://www.amazon.com/Adoption-Dummies-Tracy-Barr/dp/0764554883

    ReplyDelete
  21. Lindalou Who:

    I will call myself anything I want, and for me, birth mother is not an insulting term. I have used it for more than 30 years, since the founding of Concerned United Birthparents of which I was a founding member. Lorraine uses it here to get more traffic from search engines, as birth mother is the most common term in use for a mother who gave up a child, lthough she prefers "first" or "Natural mother" That's all. She wrote a piece on it you can find in the archives here.

    To me all those terms are interchangeable and mean the same thing. And yes, I have read all the rationales on why "birthmother" is a bad word, and they failed to convince. This is a non-issue.

    If you do not like the term "birth mother", by all means don't use it, but don't criticize others choice of words.

    ReplyDelete
  22. "It was just this tone of mine that got me banned from a website chat room of blissful birth mothers called "Adoption Voices."

    That's not the same Adoption Voices that's been going around the blogs of adoptive moms, has it?

    It's not this site, is it: http://adoptionvoices.com/

    ReplyDelete
  23. Mei-Kubg--you were banned too?

    Cool. Adoption voices only wants Happy thoughts about adoption. I think all of us ought to take it up as a cause to write real stuff on these ridiculous sites that only promote adoption...More to come in a blog post.

    Yes, I prefer natural mother, but as Maryanne pointed out, women searching for information for the first time put "birth mother" in their search engine to find information. But it may be the shortened term that you object to; I understand. Did it for brevity's sake, but I'll refrain at this site.
    lo

    ReplyDelete
  24. I don't think Linda has a problem with the term Birth Mother but with the abbreviation BM. It makes many of us think of bowel movements. And we don't want you to be associated with poop.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think it was the use of BM too.

    I will never forget stumbling upon an adoptee saying, "I was speaking to my BM today" and thinking "WHAT?" then I realized she meant birth mother.

    Personally, I am of the notion that the term, "Birth mother" is insulting to the adoptee as well as the mother. It makes it sound like we didn't lose our mothers but rather some birth mother creature whose job it was to give us away, adding to our suspicious changeling status.

    I cringe whenever I hear people say it, and it feels instulting to me.

    I mean honestly Maryanne, would you say, don't criticize others for using racial slurs?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thank you Beth, that was exactly my point. My first Mother is not a piece of shit, although most of society would like everyone to think that.

    I don't care who coined the term, or which group you are a founding member of, Maryanne. It may be a "non-issue" to old school first Mothers or the adoption industry, but I will criticize anyone who uses the term. Its offensive to me, and most adoptees and first Mothers I know. Call yourself whatever you wish, but know that many adoptees find the term insulting.

    It's offensive, degrading and smacks of disrespect. My first Mother gave more to me and did more for me than expel me from her vagina.

    But that is just the opinion of an adoptee.....and we all know no one wants to hear us.

    I understand using the term "birth mother" to get more traffic, as it is a widely known term. BM is just ridiculous. Thank you, Lorraine.

    ReplyDelete
  27. To most people "birth mother" is not a slur of any kind. To those to whom it is, that is in your mind, not in my intent. It is rude to criticize anyone for using a term which you dislike, but which is in common usage as a neutral word. Racial slurs are known for what they are by everyone. Only a select small group in adoption reform and anti-adoption circles has decided that "birth mother" is a slur to anyone.

    I too use just "mother" where that is understood, but sometimes a modifier is needed, and if I am writing for general readership, not just adoption reformers, the modifier of "mother" would be "birth". Because most people know that you mean a mother who surrendered a child as apposed to an adoptive mother, or mother who raised her child. If you say "first mother" people say "what's that"?

    Am I my surrendered son's mother? In the words of the dreaded Sarah Palin, you betcha! He has my eyes, my sense of humor, my love of cats. He has all the medical tendencies that run in my family. No way a word can change that or my life-long love for him, my firstborn.

    Yes, I am an old-school birth mother (or first mother if you prefer) but I have nothing to do with the adoption industry. I am sorry you adoptees are insulted, because no insult is meant, and I would be the last person to deny the lifelong connection of adoptee and mother.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Since everyone else is weighing in, I'm not crazy for 'birth mother', though no objection to anyone else using it - *especially* if the term is a part of their life experience/history.
    I do not love the language police.

    I like Mater Creatrix myself.
    Immediate Female Progenitor is nice too.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Personally, Lorainne, don't think it does much good to go wander over to places like Adoption Voices and state one's piece. I've been instructed by other bloggers to do as much on other sites and at the end of the day, most of what is said doesn't sink in and, in fact, promotes hostility. I read some of the remarks that were left and all they did was make Bubba mad. No point. Waste of time.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I try to use the word "parents". It works for us because I am a single mom (*mom*) and then Simone has her *parents*. The distinction has always served us well. In forums where only birthmother would be understood, I would use it. But I use first mother more often. Agree with Maryanne and Kippa that language is a fluid thing and that the language police don't help. For me, the litmus test is what people want to be called.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Lorraine, no, I wasn't banned. I haven't posted - just went in and chatted.

    I talked to a "birthmom" who was in an open adoption with her 3-year-old "birthson."

    Her: It's so hard to find positive stories.
    Me: What do you mean?
    Her: You know? Lots of blogs where the younger mothers who have relinquished are in a hole of despair. I wonder if there are any happy ones.
    Me: ...
    Me: I would be concerned if one did NOT think the relinquishment of a child was a horrible thing.
    Her: No no that's not what I mean, giving up a child hurts like hell but I just think I made the best decision possible. The a-parents are wonderful, the social worker was amazing, we all have a good relationship.
    Me: *thinking: Right, you keep telling yourself that*

    ReplyDelete
  32. I would never insist that others use the term "birth mother" if it upsets them; I do not think there is "one true name" for a mother who has given up a child, and women in our category can call themselves anything they want, and I won't be objecting or correcting.
    I don't attach positive or negative meaning to the word,and don't love it. It just gets the job done of communicating with the greatest number of people.

    As Osolo said, language is fluid, and I find I use just "mother" much more than I used to. Maybe in time the term "birth mother" will fall out of common usage, at which time I would follow suit and use whatever term the most people understand without explanation.

    It is the "language police" aspect of word usage that upsets me. And just as has happened in this thread, it derails the conversation from other topics that are much more relevant and important. Don't tell me what words to use, and I will do you the same favor.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Me: *thinking: Right, you keep telling yourself that*

    That seems to be the way of the world to those on the "Happy Fulfilled BirthMother" sites.

    And personally, I think it is worth rattling those cages a bit. I only left a couple of comments and they did not seem screeds against the happy -to-be-a-woman-who-labored-a-birthchild types and Mr. Nathan G. William of Provo, UT said OH NO. I wonder how these women will react to their children when they come back in twenty, thirty years.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I think the term 'birthmother' *will* eventually fall out of common usage, if only because it also applies to gestational surrogates.
    Which makes it redundant in its originally intended sense.

    Oh my! I remember the dust-up over the term before the Shedding Light on the Adoption Experience Conference a couple of years ago.
    B.J Lifton was excoriated for not playing along (and she was well within her rights not to, IMO) and Marley blogged about it.

    Yeah, it's the 'language police' aspect that pisses me too.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Oh yes, Kippa, I remember the fallout over that conference and BJ Lifton. The whole thing was so shabby and unfair to BJ who has given so much to adoptees and mothers.

    Not only was she forbidden to use the word "birthmother", (The dreaded "B" word, not be written or spoken),the reason give was that it would "retraumatize" those hearing it! Like the word itself had malevolent magic power to turn them to stone or cause fits or something. Very silly. The whole thing just made the supporters of that event look like fanatics.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I disagree about the racial slurs being universally known.

    No one uses the term "colored" anymore and I would be corrected if I did.

    Generally, if people tell me a certain term is offensive to them, like birth mother is to me, I simply avoid using it rather than insist on using it.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I promise this is my last word on this issue, but could not resist saying; "colored" is not a racial slur. I just heard this week that the NAACP, the National Organization For the Advancement of COLORED People, was celebrating its 100th birthday! And they are still using "colored" in their title.

    "Colored" is an old-fashioned term, not an insult. When I was a kid it was the polite way to refer to Negroes, another old-fashioned term. We all know what the real racial slur for people of color is and was. It was nasty then and is nasty now. My Mom had some colored friends and that is how she referred to them and they referred to themselves in the 50s.

    "Colored" is a term that has gone out of fashion, to be replaced by Black, African American, and in a broader sense People of Color.

    Just as "Birth Mother" has mostly replaced "Natural Mother" and "biological mother" and perhaps eventually will be replaced by "First Mother" or some other term.In the mean time, all those terms are still used by some people with no insult intended.

    I do not think anyone would correct an 80 year old lady referring politely to our nice Colored president, Barack Obama.
    It may be an old term but it was never an insulting one.

    I do not take words out of my general vocabulary because a small group of people have imputed a bunch of meanings to those words that I do not see, and I still think it rude to correct other's well intentioned use of words. I do not like the term "adopter" instead of "adoptive parent" so I do not use it, but I do not correct those who prefer that term.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Nor do I use the term 'colored'. Other reasons aside, it doesn't make sense to me.
    But I don't talk about 'people of color' either, and that, apparently, is considered to be politically correct language.
    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has retained its original name out of respect for its history, so I don't think the term 'colored' can be truly derogatory.

    For me, 'birthmother' comes into a similar category.
    The women who first used the term to identify themselves felt it was a positive label - at least better than anything else anyone had come up with before that - and I think that provided they use it discreetly, within their own context, and don't shove it down other people's throats, they shouldn't be reproached for doing so.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Well my mother is not a 70 year-old lady and she prefers to be called birthmother. It actually became a point of contention with us because I was uncomfortable using the term as people had told me it was offensive. My mother seems to fell that terms like firstmother can be very subversive in it causes people to have a "cult mentality" her words.
    She feels that all this drama over terms is just another form of coercion within the group.
    It's funny though, I asked people for their opinion on a forum for all members of the so-called triad and found that many first mothers who were adamant about NOT using the term birthmother told me I should call my mother what she wanted me to call her... my birthmother.
    I thought that was weird.
    So now I call her...umm...uh...umm...my mother.
    I think we put too much power into words sometimes, but I also think it's sad that I have such a hard time calling the person who gave me life my mother, when indeed she is.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Beth Go mentioned her mother preferring the term "birthmother" and feeling that terms like "first mother" might reflect a "cult mentality". I'd say call her what she prefers; if she does not find it insulting, it is not. If she preferred "first mother" or some other term, use that one. Don't worry about what other people say.it is your relationship with each other that counts.

    It is certainly not a subjest worth fighting over with reunited mother or adoptee. My son calls me by my first name. I have no idea what he calls me to others nor do I care. He refers to his late adoptive mother as "mother" but couldn't stand her. Sometimes a word is just a word.

    I find any politically correct language that is enforced by a group does have a cult-like feel to it. I would tend to agree with Beth's mother on that. On the opposite side of the fence, this is just as true of "positive adoption language" that some adoptive parent groups push. Insider language may lend cohesiveness to a group, but it also enforces an "us against them" mentality about the uninitiated rest of the world.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you Maryanne, I could not have said it better. My daughter Jane always called me: Lorraine, and "Maraine" as a private joke between us.

    Only after I knew her for about 15-20 years did I sometimes sign cards "your mother." Because she would sign her cards, "your daughter, Jane."

    And I am quite sure that she referred to me as her "birth mother" when talking to others. No big deal. She lived in Wisconsin with her parents, her mother and father.

    When I met some of her friends from a club she belonged to at her funeral, a woman who came up to me said "Are you Jane's biological mother?" It was said without malice and I thought it was perfect. While the phrase can sometimes seem demeaning of our importance, in this setting, with her friendly tone of voice, it did not. It felt right, and to tell the truth, it meant she had not been schooled in correct PC language, and I appreciated that.

    And then the woman said, in front of the group from the club: "Jane talked about you a great deal."

    Who could object to that?

    ReplyDelete
  42. I think you should use the term that the adopted child feels most comfortable with and stop this maddening self diluting between one-another.

    I have never known an adult to have such a utter lack of self-control, respect for boundaries and otherwise maturity in my life than my "birthmother" and I am beginning to believe that some of the behavior is from websites like this intended to over empower and brainwash each other.

    I am not shocked in the least there are such stringent laws between birthmothers and their biological children, because it is evident in my life that whatever connection the birthmother feels is so incredibly strong of a force, there is no reasoning with her.

    So riddle me this ladies, once the birthchild has chosen to meet the birthmother who was seemingly "normal" i.e. has her own kids and husband and life. What then is the cure for her inability to constantly email, call, contact, send too many gifts, cuss, fight and banter to get her way and otherwise act like a child?

    Restraining order??? I'm at that point.

    Thanks.

    -shocked and pissed at his "birthmother"

    ReplyDelete

We welcome comments from all, and appreciate letting us know how you relate to adoption when you leave your first comment.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish or not. We are trying to find a way to end the endless anonymous comments, which drive many of us crazy. Pick a name! Any name. Choose the NAME/URL selection. You do not need a URL. Your name does not have to be your name IRL though we appreciate those who do, and we understand due to the sensitive nature of our subject, many will prefer to use a nom de plume. Okay with us, but the endless Anons are tiresome for everyone. If you post as "anonymous" you run the risk of not being posted.

We try to be timely but we do have other lives.

For those coming here from Networked Blogs on Facebook, if it does not allow you to make a comment, click the "x" on the gray "Networked Blogs" tool bar to exit out of that frame and it should then let you comment.

THOSE WHO WISH TO LEAVE LINKS PLEASE WRITE MORE ABOUT IT THAN SIMPLY LEAVE THE LINK--TELL US WHY WE SHOULD GO THERE--AND ALSO KNOW THAT YOU CANNOT COPY AND PASTE FROM LINKS. We are unlikely to post comments that consist of nothing more than a link and the admonition to go there.