Demons in Adoption

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Telling your Birthmother She Made the Right Decision is Wrong

photo by ken robbins

To those who focused on the word: guilt in yesterday's post, Desperately Seeking Birth Mother (including the woman who placed the ad), let me further explain. Unless they were in unhappy circumstances, adoptees seem to need to stress repeatedly to the birth mother how wonderful! their adoptive parents were. And that stems from a certain amount of guilt for wanting to search for birth parents at all. We birth/first mothers basically assume and hope that unless they are ax murderers or otherwise monsters, they have been pretty good parents.

For Caribbeanspa22@gmail.com, the reasons to include those words may not have been the case because of health reasons, but many adoptees feel that simply by searching they are "hurting" their parents. We have heard of countless cases where adoptees do not tell their adoptive parents they are searching, not even if they have a reunion, even many years after the fact. That situation alone begs the question: how close could they possibly be if they leave this factoid and reality out of their relationship with their adoptive parents, but then...closed adoptions are based on the lie that your past and heritage does not matter. And we also know many adopted people who only decide to search once their adoptive parents are dead.

This must be changing with more openness, and greater numbers of understanding parents (many who post comments here), but the culture has infused the sense that adoptees "owe" their parents love, and to seek out the other, i.e, the birth mother, often leads to feelings of guilt because of their loyalty to the parents who raised them, and whom they love,and towards whom they feel immense loyalty. That's all I meant, and I am certainly not critical of the woman who placed the ad. It was a cool thing to do, and let's all hope her mother sees the ad and makes contact. (If so, please let us know, caribbeanspa@gmail.com)

In that vein, and because I think it deserves more important billing, I'm lifting this morning a letter fellow blogger Jane included in the comments in the last post:


As a reunited mother, I believe there are two myths that need to be put to rest along with “you’ll forget and get on with your life” -- that it's comforting to a mother to be told that she made the right decision and that mothers give away their children because they love them.

These were brought home to me when I read Birthright (1994) by Jean Strauss, an adoptee. Strauss describes her first conversation with her birthmother:

“One reason I had searched for [her birthmother] was that I wanted to tell her that she’d done the right thing. I always felt she deserved to know that. I proudly said it now on the phone, sure that this one sentence would make her feel good about her decision thirty-three years earlier to relinquish me for adoption. ‘You know, you did the right thing when you gave me up.”

Her answer burst my hallucination. ‘I’ll never believe that. I should have never let you go. I wish I had taken you and run.’”
 My daughter told me much the same thing: “You made the right decision “No,” I responded. “I made the wrong decision; it may have turned out well. But the decision was wrong."

Decision-making requires adequate information and viable options. We were depressed, frightened, and alone. The information we received from our families and the “professionals” was incomplete, inaccurate, and in some cases, outright lies. Our families wanted to avoid shame; our babies’ fathers wanted to avoid responsibility, and the adoption agencies needed the baby to stay in business.

The correctness of a decision has to be judged by what we knew at the time, not by how it turned out. (If I spend my life savings on lottery tickets and win, it doesn’t mean that the decision to invest in this way was correct.)

We did not know what would happen to our babies once we gave them up. By telling us we made the right decision, our children are saying in effect: “any person would have been a better parent than you would have been; any situation would have been better than living with you” These are not comforting words.

The counterpart to telling a mother she made the right decision might be for the mother to tell her child “I’m glad I gave you away.” No child would want to hear that.

Strauss’ mother also says to her in their first conversation: “I want you to know that I have always loved you.” Strauss responds “‘I never doubted that … My mom taught me that giving a child up for adoption is an act of love.”

We did not give up our children because we loved love them. We gave them up in spite of the fact that we loved them. We gave them up because of self-loathing, fear, anger, depression, hopelessness. We gave them up because we had no resources. We gave them up because we had been told to act with our brains and not follow our hearts, that this was “the mature” decision, the “responsible” decision. We gave them up because we felt sorry for the unknown but perfect couple who would adopt our child. We gave them up because we were told that if we loved them we would give them up.

Yes, that was what the message was and to read the happy birth mother blogs (from which we have been "banned," that is still the message birth mothers are fed. I gave my daughter up because I could not keep her; because I surrendered to a situation that I could not see how to manage otherwise. I did not give her up because I "loved" her and telling her that after I found her surely would have sounded absurd.--lorraine

39 comments :

  1. I do not feel it is an insult for the adoptee to state they had a "wonderful life" if it is not taken or meant as an insult. Also, nothing is true of "all" adoptees or mothers, people have different feelings about what they want to hear or say, and different motivations.

    People on both sides of a reunion need to let the other person say what they need to say, not what the other person wants to hear.

    The adopted woman who placed that ad stated here in comments that she really did have a wonderful life, no subtext or hidden meanings. Sometimes people just mean what they say, with no hidden agenda.

    Birthmothers telling their children what they do and do not want to hear from them is just as bad as adoptive parents insisting on extreme loyalty and only happy tales. It once again puts the adoptee in the middle of trying to please two mothers rather than state their own honest opinions.

    I wish my son had had a "wonderful life". That he did not is not a source of satisfaction to me. This has nothing to do with my wanting to keep him or reasons for giving him up. It is about him, not me. I wish he had been happy and well-treated in his adoptive home once he got there. I did not wish a miserable life on him so I could look good or feel good in contrast.

    Adoptees should be able to tell the truth about their lives, wonderful, terrible or just average, and as mothers we need to listen, not get upset when their lives do not follow our script. One more time, we need to be the grownup and understand where they are coming from. It is not about what we want to hear, but what they need to tell us about the lives they have lived.

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  2. When I met my mom for the second time at 49, I wrote a three page letter describing my life...in which I said how grateful I was that everything turned out well and how wonderful and bright my a-parents were. I wish I still had a copy of that letter to know exactly what I said. Her reply to me was short...and basically..."thank you for the essay." Then she went on about her family...and really how wonderful and bright they are. It wasn't a real pissing contest, but I thought so at the time. I think she was telling me..."staying would have been good too if I had been able to make that choice."

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  3. Jane's post sums up everything I feel about the "I had a wonderful life, I'm glad you gave me up" line. I'm sure it's rarely intended to be hurtful but when a other hears that statement it's like a knife in the heart.

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  4. During my brief contact with my birth mother I debated over this: whether to gloss over my unhappy adoptive relationship with "I had a great life" or be honest about the situation. I chose the latter and although I tried to be compassionate, it backfired on me. I think my mother *wanted* me to say everything was hunky-dory because it would let her off the hook. She tried very hard in her letters to push me back to my adoptive mother, which was pointless because I never had a relationship with my a-mom. And she did indeed say the equivalent of "I'm glad I gave you away". That HURT.

    I like what Maryanne said. I wish we (adoptees and mothers) could feel free to be honest with one another without worrying about it being a relationship-ender. I needed to tell my mother what I did, but she did not want to hear it, and there were things she said I didn't want to hear. We all need to open our hearts and minds even if it means facing things we don't want to face.

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  5. Triona, so glad you understood what I meant! It is just as unfair to the adoptee for mothers to only want to hear the good, and thus justify the surrender, as to only want to hear the bad because that sounds like the adoptee would rather have been raised by them.

    The adopted person's reality is that they were surrendered and were raised by their adoptive parents. How they feel about that and the actual circumstances they had to live with are theirs to describe to us when we reunite.

    My son neither thanked me, berated me, nor sympathized with me about the fact that I surrendered him. He just wrote eloquently about the circumstances of his life and the character of his adoptive parents; his narrative, not mine and not tailored to me. He told me what he needed me to know. I accepted it as what was, wished it had been better, and we both moved on from there. Some of it was ugly, most of it was sad, but he did come though a whole person and that is what counts.

    For those mothers who were thanked for surrendering, hard as it the polite thing would be to say "you are welcome" and accept the thanks in the spirit in which it is offered. Yes, tell your story to your child when the time is right, but let it speak for itself as your reality, not as a refutation of theirs nor a challenge to any good feelings they have about their adoptive life.

    Once again, as wiser friends have to keep telling me, "it is not about you." Keep keeping that in mind no matter what your surrendered child's story is.

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  6. my son had a good home too. until I found out what he was saying was untrue.

    soon after adoption his life changed, the male that adopted him divorced his "mom" so he was in essence back to square one with that "horrible" single mother syndrome that was the reason he was taken from me.
    of course she was nine yrs older but still wasn't in the position to raise two kids which she had acquired while she was married temporarily. seems that was a way to get kids, as the "father" was gone soon enough in the life. her sister had kids so she picked out two.

    adoption is like a$$holes we all have one and it is hurtful to mothers and babies

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  7. "Unless they were in unhappy circumstances, adoptees seem to need to stress repeatedly to the birth mother how wonderful! their adoptive parents were."
    I really do think that's a bit of a generalization.
    Maybe "seems" is the operative word here.
    The "seeming" of things isn't always the sum total of what is.

    I too like what Maryanne said, and agree that there's not always a hidden agenda behind people's words.
    Sometimes folk aren't perfectly tactful, and mean something subtly but importantly different from what's initially understood.

    For me, the fact that this adopted woman said that she would "welcome contact" says quite a bit more than the "wonderful life" part of the message. Though, with regards to that, I do believe that she intended it to be reassuring - and frankly, I think most mothers would *far* rather their children did indeed have a "wonderful life" than the miserable opposite.
    I feel very fortunate that my relinquished son had loving a-parents who did nurture him to the best of their abilities under sometimes trying circumstances that were no fault of their own.
    I am grateful for that because I know that much in life is a crap shoot, and adoption particularly so.
    I think it must be very hard to know that your child had had a difficult life. But I think adopted people have the right to speak the truth of their experience, good or bad, without any glossing over to protect someone else, whether that someone else is an a-parent or a biological parent.

    I would hope that an adopted person who wants contact with his/her natural family wouldn't feel guilty about doing so out of fear of offending the a-parents. No doubt some do feel this way, but it is sad that they would have to.

    And personally, I don't think an adoptee is under any obligation to tell their a-parents that they're searching.
    If they want to, of course, they should do so.
    But it's their business.

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  8. My firstmother has told me on many occasions that she is glad she waited until she was married to have her OWN kids.
    How do you think that felt?

    And she is disappointed that I did not have an "ideal" life as an adoptee.

    To each her own I guess.

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  9. Just because something is true doesn't mean it has to be spoken. If there is a possibility that something could be hurtful, consider carefully before you say it. Once the words are spoken, they cannot be taken back.

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  10. I think if you want a relationship with someone and there's something important to you that helps explain who you are/where you are coming from, then you need to tell it.
    In fact you have an obligation to yourself to tell it. Because if you don't, you'll never be able to connect properly.
    But I also think you have an obligation to the other person to say it in a way that isn't destructive to them.

    But Sandy's right that once words are spoken, they can't be taken back. I've had hurtful things said to me, and when I've protested, been told, "Don't be silly. I didn't mean it. It's only words."
    Words are important.
    They are all we have.

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  11. Didn't Nancy Verrier write that an adoptee needs to hear "I'm sorry" from his/her mother? Saying "your welcome" or "I'm okay with the fact that I didn't raise you" (or anything that implies such a thing) contradicts her point of view.

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  12. The one thing that struck me in the previous posting was the stuff about telling people *they* made the right decisions. I think this is a matter of phrasing. It's OK to say, "It turned out OK for me--they were nice people." It's not really acceptable to judge your first mother's decision as good or bad and proclaim it so for her enlightenment; only she can do that and she reserves the right to call it a bad one for as long as she wants. But that does not interfere with the adoptee's right to articulate his or her feelings, as Triona said. Two different people needing to say different things.

    Lorraine, I wasn't intending to fasten on the word guilt, but I did have a question about it. The remark you said today. . .

    ". . .how close could they [a-parents and a-child] possibly be if they leave this factoid and reality [searching] out of their relationship with their adoptive parents. . ."

    Well. . .but it isn't a natural state of children everywhere to be in conflict with themselves over what to tell Mom and Pop? Doesn't this occur all the time? Kids don't come out to their parents; they don't tell their parents they're dating a racial minority; they don't tell them they want to go to art school instead of dental school.

    I don't this is an a-parent thing in particular. I think it's a kid-and-parent thing.

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  13. My reluctant to search, and then searching and never telling my aparents had nothing whatsoever to do with my fear of hurting them. It had everything to do with my fear of them hurting me and rejecting me and disowning me. All of which they managed to do without ever knowing about my reunion. I could never tell my mother that I had a wonderful life - I'm just not that good a liar.

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  14. After reading Mary Anne's posts, I think a clarification is in order. I don't think it is insulting for an adoptee tell his birthmother he had a wonderful life. We all want our children to have wonderful lives.

    What is insulting is to thank his birthmother for giving him a wonderful life or telling her she made the right decision. In making this statement, the adoptee is telling his mother that she is inferior to the adoptive parents. In fact, she is so bad that anyone selected by the adoption agency would have been a better parent than she; that her only virtue is knowing how bad she was.

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  15. I do not think we as mothers should let our own insecurities lead us to interpret what the adoptee means by thanking us for surrendering or by saying we made the right choice, especially not an adoptee newly in reunion.

    I would not recommend that adoptees thank their mothers for surrender, and agree with Osolo that it is better to say "it turned out ok for me" than "you did the right thing."

    But I do not think we can universally assume that an adoptee saying "you did the right thing" also implies as Jane says "In making this statement, the adoptee is telling his mother that she is inferior to the adoptive parents. In fact, she is so bad that anyone selected by the adoption agency would have been a better parent than she; that her only virtue is knowing how bad she was." That is an awful lot of negativity to assume from a simple thanks!

    Reunion is about relationship, about broken people trying to communicate from very different perspectives. As mothers I do not think we should read so much into what our kids say, without knowing that is what they actually mean.

    The adoptee only knows the life she has lived, and the parents who have raised her. At first meeting, she does not know the birthmother or her family to make comparisons. She might just be saying, "I'm ok, I have not suffered, I appreciate the chance you gave me." She may think her mother wants to be thanked, as some do. She may have no negative feelings about her birthmother at all. Or she might, but that is later to be seen with much more dialogue.

    As mothers it is prudent not to take offense and not to jump to conclusions about unstated messages in what our kids say.

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  16. I don't suggest that adoptees are intending to insult their birthmothers when they thank her for giving them a wonderful life. In fact, I quote from Jean Strauss' book, "Birthright" where
    she tells her birthmother, expecting her to be pleased, that she made the right decision. Jean is astonished when her birthmother takes offense.

    Adoptees are often unaware of the implications of their statement thanking their birthmothers for giving them a wonderful life. I've heard many adoptees say they want to search in order to thank their birthmothers for giving them away! This shows a profound ignorance of the birthmother experience.

    A much better opening statement as Osolomama says would be "I've had a wonderful life and now I'd like learn about the circumstances of my adoption and get to know you."

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  17. I am totally out of my depth here (not that that ever stopped me from blathering on), but the one thing I do see as important is each person stating their truth. Of course, that is the case in any relationship. Not what "you" did, but what I think and what I would like to share with you. Heck, even what I need from you.

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  18. A much better opening statement as Osolomama says would be "I've had a wonderful life and now I'd like learn about the circumstances of my adoption and get to know you."

    That is a lovely sentiment and I think a part of me felt that but there was another much bigger part of me that just wanted to say, "Gee it's great you're finally here. Where did you go and why did it take you so long to come back to me?"

    It's great to ruminate over the ideal things for adoptees to say to their first parents in reunion and vice versa but the reality is that there are a lot more underlying issues at hand here.

    I worry that this kind of wishful thinking is crossing a line into dictating to the adoptee how they should feel and respond. We as adoptees have enough burdens to carry don't we?

    Now it's all about being politically correct in reunion while we face our inner abandoned child for the first time? That is not an easy thing to do.

    I did not thank my firstmother for giving me great adoptive parents. It is not in my realm of thinking. Not that they weren't great but because I have honestly spent my entire life missing my mother and wondering what I did wrong to make her leave me. That does not exactly make for a wonderful life.

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  19. Beth, I believe that was only discussed in relation to OK/positive feelings. . .

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  20. Hmm. This is odd because my mother expected me to thank her. It is heartening to hear so many mothers being horrified at the "thanks" because that is exactly how I feel.

    I'd drink a bottle of bleach before I'd thank my mother for abandoning me. I can think of a number of things to thank my mother for, but that isn't one of them.

    Another thing, clueless AP's thanking real mothers for their "gift" also makes me wretch on my keyboard.

    EP

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  21. I didn't say the first part of my last post. Jane did. I left out the quotes on accident. Sorry for the confusion.

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  22. Ok, one more try.

    I think we are all missing the point. "You did the right thing" is a painful thing for the mom, at the same time, "I did the right thing" is painful for the child.

    Sometimes we have to remember that all of us are in a three way relationship. The ones that adopted - adopters, aparents, whatever - the children/adult children - and the moms/birthmothers whatever.

    For many adoptees the issues are very deep and suppressed. This is not because of bad placements, necessarily, but because there is no substitute for the genetic being that is part of each child.

    My daughter used those words on me, told me that she was happy (in fact that is her favorite taunt) and does not realize it no longer affects me, I know the truth.

    It is simply going into reunion educated for the problems and willing to be patient.

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  23. "Just because something is true doesn't mean it has to be spoken."

    OK. I agree. Sounds reasonable. I could see that and fully understand that for what it means. But on the other hand...

    Just because something isn't said or stated does not mean it ISN'T true.

    "but it isn't a natural state of children everywhere to be in conflict with themselves over what to tell Mom and Pop?"

    But in adopto-land you have more factors at stake - the parents who are your parents, the people that initially "abandoned" you and the place of origin where you came from.

    It's different because subconsciously the adoptive parents always know there were another set of parents first, even if that issue is always on the backburner. They are subconsciously aware of that, and so is the adoptee.

    It's like "biting the hand which feeds you" because if you don't want to say "Thank you for giving me a better life", it assumes the original life would have been absolutely inferior and that the original parents would have always been inferior, and therefore a slap in the face to all involved no matter of the intentions.

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  24. When I first organized a baby picture album to send to Mama through airmail, one of the last things I wrote (and had translated) was: "This life was all thanks to you! I cannot thank you enough for giving me life!"

    but then it occurred to me a few months later that it's akin to saying "Thank god YOU didn't raise me, because if you had, I would have been dead, no doubt about that! Adoption was the ONLY way I could have lived."

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  25. BethGo: "I worry that this kind of wishful thinking is crossing a line into dictating to the adoptee how they should feel and respond."

    I absolutely agree with this.

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  26. Jane,

    I think I am beginning to get what you meant to convey to adoptees, that you and some mothers MIGHT interpret thanks for surrender as " telling his mother that she is inferior to the adoptive parents. In fact, she is so bad that anyone selected by the adoption agency would have been a better parent than she; that her only virtue is knowing how bad she was."

    The problem for me is you state this as fact, as what the adoptee actually means and what all mothers would assume, not as one interpretation some mothers might put on his words. The whole thing would be a lot more clear if you took out the universal and wrote more from an "I" point of view.

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  27. My son and I are in a happy and successful reunion which is 5 years old now.

    We didn't make assumptions about each other. We simply asked each other "What happened?" and how we felt about it all.

    This item seems to be all about assumptions but that is never a good way to go.

    It seems to me that it is better to ask questions, listen to each other's point of view and respect the fact that how you see things is not going to be the same for the other person, especially when adoption itself is made up of half-truths and omissions.

    My son and I respect how each other feels and we have been able to move on from that.

    We very rarely discuss adoption nowadays. The present is far too precious to fritter away on what could have been as we cannot change that.

    What matters to us now is getting to know each other and not allow the ghosts of the past to ruin the joy of our friendship in the present.

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  28. But then there are women who do believe - or at least claim to - they made the 'right' decision under the circumstances.
    I wonder how they react to having their decision confirmed as right and proper.
    Does it jar their certainty?
    I don't know.

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  29. Maryanne said: Once again, as wiser friends have to keep telling me, "it is not about you." Keep keeping that in mind no matter what your surrendered child's story is.

    OK, isn't hearing from your child, "YOU made the right decision" ABOUT ME??? That's a statement about ME and MY so-called decisionmaking. There WAS no decision, of course, only coersion. I don't think it's fair that my surrendered daughter make judgments about MY life without knowing what went on in MY life.

    Of course the adoptee can say they had a good life, and got a pony, or whatever. That's THEIR life. But please don't tell ME about MY life.

    An adoptee should look at the facts before "thanking" their first mother or telling them they had good decision-making skills. I was the one who searched and found my daughter. WOULDN'T THAT INDICATE THAT I WANTED HER? And since I DID search, that I wanted to know her and have her know ME?

    I don't want to hear I made the right decision to have a life of depression and unrelenting grief. I don't want to have it implied that her adopters were WAY better people than I and my family were.

    Hearing I "made the right decision" makes it personal to ME. Talk about assumptions.

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  30. Oh, I hope I didn't insult anyone who didn't search for their child by inferring that they didn't care about their child. I know that is so totally not true.
    Please don't flame me!

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  31. Anon wrote
    "It seems to me that it is better to ask questions, listen to each other's point of view and respect the fact that how you see things is not going to be the same for the other person, especially when adoption itself is made up of half-truths and omissions."

    This whole post is the best thing said yet on this subject. Like the old saying says, "Assume makes an Ass out of U and Me". Question, communicate, don't assume, and concentrate on your relationship in the present. Sounds like excellent advice to me.

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  32. Well that's the thing Kippa. My mother insists that she would not have made a good parent for me as an unmarried woman.
    She is confused and annoyed at the fact that I was not a happy dappy rainbow tooting adoptee living the life with my pool and my pony (I had neither, not that it would have made a difference).
    Her biggest complaint about my adoptive parents is that they weren't rich like she'd been told they were.
    Gee Mom, sorry to disappoint you.
    I have a hard enough time sorting out my own feelings about all this, I can not take on protecting her as well, especially when she is so entrenched in the kool-aid fog.

    I think this is the thing people don't get about most of us adoptees. For many of us, people-pleasing is so deeply ingrained in our very being.
    I just think it is unfair to be once again telling adoptees what they do and don't need to say in reunion. We've spent our whole lives doing that.

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  33. Ok, this is probably simple and stupid...but....

    One thing my b-mom and I talk about often is, the past is the past. I had a sometimes hellish childhood, and she of course is sorry I had to go through that, but can't change it now. She did what she thought was best for me, and I think both of us paid the price for that.

    The simple/stupid part is this; Without this adoption having taken place, I would not be "me". Not the same "me" as I am now, at least. I wouldn't be married to my husband, I wouldn't have the same kids, I would be a completely different person. Maybe a wonderful happy person with a wonderful happy life, but I wouldn't be the "me" I am today. I wouldn't give my kids, my husband, my LIFE up for anything in the world, and because that means having to live through all the crap I've lived through, so be it. OK. Give me the magic wand to turn back time, and change her decision, and I wouldn't use that wand, even though I knew how much pain I'd have to go through again. Call me crazy.

    I HATE adoption, I HATE the adoption industry, and I HATE adoptive parents that adopt for the wrong reasons. So don't get me wrong. I wouldn't wish my childhood on another person, but it's my life and it made me "me". She felt at the time giving me up was the right thing, for me. She was misinformed, tricked, and naive. It wasn't her fault my a-mom was an alcoholic, I blame the adoption agency.

    I'm getting off subject here...

    So this was just my explanation of why, to me, she made the "right decision". Confusing, being that I'm not pro-adoption, but adoptees are often in a constant state of confusion, so that's maybe not so crazy after all...

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  34. The last Anon who posted. . .that was lovely. I would hope for such a path for my daughter were she ever to reunite. I would also hope for such feelings to characterize my relationship with her first parents. We cannot help who we are or what we have done; we can only go forward.

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  35. There are two things that bother me when I hear the phrase "You made the right decision." The first thing is that it tells the mother, "Thank you for saving me from you. You obviously would have been a dangerous, unfit mother." The second thing is that it assumes that an actual "decision" was made by the mother

    A decision, by definition, involves two or more choices, is freely-made with no pressure from any external source, and is fully-informed. When a mother is pressured/coerced to surrender her baby at birth, kept ignorant of any resources that could help her, and without the information of the long-term consequences of surrender to mother and child, there is no decision. "I placed by baby because I had no choice" is not a decision. It is a coerced action. Adoption at birth negates the mother's ability to give informed consent, as she has not recovered from birth, and this takes at least 4-6 wks. She does not have direct experience and knowledge of what she will be losing.

    I have no problem with an adoptee saying that they had a wonderful life. We all hope that our children have had wonderful lives. But the life an adoptee has, in most cases, is not due to any "decision" the mother made. But of course the industry tells the adoptive parents that the mother "chose adoption," and adoptees are raised with this message. Which is why it is important for natural moms to speak out about their experience, and that they loved and wanted to keep their babies.

    p.s. I cover some of the myths of adoption in a new blog post:
    "Separated by adoption reality: the adoptive parent experience"

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  36. Hmmm well, busy subject... okay, I stated how I felt when my surrendered daughter thanked me for the wonderful life she had, and I wish I had been more truthful in my reply to her, however I think sometimes we in adoptoland (me included) spend far too much time dissecting what was said, how it was said, what time it was said, the make-up they were wearing when they said it... etc... I didn't know what to say when I received the first e-mail from Sarah. I had no clue. I am sure I have made mistakes in what I have said or how I have said it. I don't want her to censor anything for my feelings and I know I have censored way too much to avoid hurting hers. We all just make our way through it and pray that somewhere down the line, that our communication is something we don't HAVE to think about...

    :)
    Kristy

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  37. To Kathy.

    What I meant by "it's not about me"
    is that until our kids actually get to know us and know our stories, and how little choice many of us had, what they are saying really is not about you, Kathy, or me, Maryanne as we really are, but about the myths they believe about "The Birthmother", an unknown figure they have constructed in their own minds to fill the vacuum of no real information about us.

    That is why we should not take it personally if our kids want to thank us, or believe we had a real choice. At this point they do not know how it was for us, and if we react with anger and personal hurt, we may lose the chance to calmly explain.

    Don't get insulted or defensive, don't assume,but explain and question and discuss, as one of the posters here said earlier, and accept the fact that we cannot totally know their reality, nor can they know ours as surrendering mothers.

    Help your child get to know you, her real flesh and blood mother, and maybe eventually she will react to the person you are, not what she imagined you to be. That takes a long time, a lot of patience, and the courage to let down defenses.

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  38. "But of course the industry tells the adoptive parents that the mother "chose adoption," and adoptees are raised with this message."

    Yeah. That's what everyone tells me - "Your mother loved you so much she gave you up."

    but it's NOT TRUE.

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  39. Ok, My input... "You did the right thing" could very well mean it is clear that you (the natural mom) had no support and maybe that type of unsupportive family to you isn't one I would want to be a part of either. Parents of Natural Moms often seem to be emotionally unsafe individuals often controlling just about everything they could get their claws into...Quick aside: Control freaks seem to abound in adoption circles...the A parent as one genre: some do adopt for the right reasons----but what gall to assume you could do better than the natural mom. How better to get the free points of "being a good person" and then not have to be even decent to get the free P.R. I think there is a syndrome of the bad adoptive parent(why else would there be so very many of them), same as bad cop, or filthy priest...There is a risk it attracts those who say the equivalent of, "Well, I'm probably not a great parent but since this kid wasn't going to have much anyway whatever I do is good enough". Maybe it is also because people often look to children to fix the marriage, fill whats empty in life, and just as natural children get pushed aside, how much easier to push aside the adopted child who doesn't usually have the same qualities that emotionally needy parents eventually will crave.
    Bethgo thank you for your posts...so very much in common. You and a few others have saved me the typing on many occasions, and given me insight into what was irking me.
    I wanted to comment more into the layering of control issues as they come up for all the players in adoption...but will save for another day...Are control issues on the blog menu one day? One more observation, I do get the lack of control many, perhaps almost all natural moms had especially during that certain horrible era...but I have noticed a whiff of complete lack of responsibility for everything that a few...and I do mean really only a few natural mothers want to fall back on. I think it is an emotional pitfall to think oneself has 0% control for most any circumstance in life. "Blameless" is a really difficult place to start any dialogue to a relinquished person. "Powerless to do what you wanted at the time" rings more true because it is not the same as "none of it was my fault"... The nuance of difference says alot about the experience of learning and growth that has taken place to deal with the pain of relinquishment. If you are 0% at fault are you also waiting on someone else to fix it? Complicated nuance of psycho-babble I know...Just that I notice sometimes angry Natural moms start flailing at everything in their dispair...even their children in reunion because they couldn't control the separation, they can't control the reunion... maybe?

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