Saturday, February 6, 2010

Anti-Abortion Ad at the Super Bowl; No Relinquishment Regrets?



I've tried in vain to avoid all things adoption, but once again it was front and center and unavoidable. I just finished reading Gail Collins' When Everything Changed, a history of the women's movement from the 60s to the present, and of course she discussed Roe v. Wade and out-of-wedlock pregnanices. I sent this e-mail to Lorraine last week:
And I was just reading this chapter about the decline of the double standard in Gail Collins' book; she's discussing the Pill. She quotes a woman who attended my college a decade before me and married her senior year, which was rare in the 60s: Judy Riff remembered that one of her friends at their all-girls Catholic college got pregnant her sophomore year, "and one minute she was there and the next minute she was gone. It was like she was never there.....I don't know what happened to her." The very idea of having a baby out of wedlock "was just so awful....," Riff said, "that probably would have to be the worst thing that could have happened to any of us."

Now, this was my college, but 1967. You know I was a sophomore when I got pregnant in 1976. I had conversations with just about all the girls in the dorm, and several of the sisters, and the sisters agreed with me, sadly, that I wasn't the first, and I wasn't going to be the last (single and pregnant). Thank GOD I had the support of my classmates. Actually, I thought about that when I got pregnant, they could have thrown me out. Thankfully, they didn't. I remember making up a final exam and Sister Lucille brought me a glass of milk and cookies (perhaps a reward because I didn't choose abortion?). And I'm reading this on the 34th anniversary of the day I met [my daughter's father]. I conceived on the 31st, tomorrow. Happy anniversary to me.

And that chill up my spine coincided with the debate over CBS's decision to run an anti-abortion ad while rejecting a gay dating service ad during the Super Bowl. For me, it's a very real possibility that all the rights that Lorraine and Jane and so many of my sisters fought for my generation and our children and grandchildren are slowly eroding...I have a very strong feeling women vacuuming in frilly aprons and pearls may actually once again become a reality, and a woman's right to choose will cease being a right.

And finally, Lorraine shared this gem that was forwarded from another blog earlier this week:

Birth Mother Question: I was just wondering if you get any feedback from birth mothers a year or two after placement regarding their outlook on adoption and their decision to place? As a birth mother who placed a baby through AdoptHelp two years ago, Mark asked me to answer this question. I have spoken with many birth mothers who have placed over the years through my support group on the Web. The good news is that I am not aware of any birth mothers who regret their decision. [Emphasis mine] I have talked with some who wished that they weren't in the position they were in. Then again, I also have talked to women who have placed twice, who couldn’t be happier because there was no other option in their opinion. Every woman, no matter what their story, although they have had their hard times, does not for a single second regret what they did. They know they did what was best for their child, and they respect their story. It has changed more lives than one, and as birth mom’s, that’s what we strive for. Changing not only the lives of our child, but the life of the parent or parents that will love and nourish our child. From my experience, most birth mothers have the same outlook; they are proud and stand with their heads held high! [Emphasis Mine]

Posted on Friday, November 14, 2008 at 08:01PM by Registered CommenterAdoptHelp in Birth mother Questions, adoption, birth mother, place baby for adoption, pregnant Comments Off
I was so stunned by this statement that all I could say was the birthmothers this commenter has spoken to must have been lobotomized. As for women placing children for adoption twice--once was painful enough. And yeah, like Judy Riff said, it's up there with the worst thing that ever happened to my daughter and me. In my thirty-four years in the birthmother sisterhood, I have yet to meet or speak to a birth mother who doesn't wish things could have been different. The only birth mother I'm aware of who is at peace with her decision is the twenty-something woman who posted a FMF comment many blogs ago; I'd like to talk to that woman in about twenty years to see if she's still as happy about her decision.
 
Just some random thoughts to ponder on a snow day.

82 comments:

Mei Ling said...

" They know they did what was best for their child, and they respect their story."

Funnily enough, in regards to real life, so do I.

The difference is that she admitted the pain never goes away.

Honestly, since I know her background, I believe adoption was her only reasonable option. She could have kept the child but it was no environment for a child to be properly raised in. So from the day of birth, she knew she would be placing the child for adoption.

Can't say I disagree with that.

However, I also must point out that she has NEVER EVER gotten over the pain of separation.

Cedar said...

" a year or two after placement"

This explains the bullshit. Maxine Weinreb refused to have any mothers in her study who had surrendered babies any LESS than 5 years prior, as she stated that it takes at LEAST that amount of time for the loss to fully impact.

The first few years, the mother is stuck in the shock of trauma. The full force of the surrender has not hit her, most likely, not unless she is cogniscant of the coercion and force and realizes she wanted to keep her baby.

Traumatic shock can make mothers forget a LOT OF details including that they wanted to keep their babies, or how they were pressured or manipulated.

If a mother who has "recently placed" tries to tell me that she's happy with the consequences, my first reaction is to tell her that the consequences have not hit her yet. \

Trauma to Surrendering Mothers

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

I am a Braveheart, that is what I like to call birth mothers, and I am here to tell you that I am one of the rare ones who is happy with my life and the lives of my children that I relinquished all those years ago. I have three children that I place, yes I did it twice, a daughter and twin boys.

I had two unique cirrcumstances and placed in two different states (mainly because the first adoption was horrible thanks to the State of Missouri) and I have some years under my belt. It was not an easy road to travel, not at all. But I can honestly say that I have no regrets about what I have done for my children. They are all in their teens now, have sought me out, and have told me time and time again how proud they are that I was strong enough to let them walk without me.

I know that I am not the normal birth mother, I know that I am an exception to the rule. I am not bitter or angry, I have lead a relatively happy life since my children were born and I now am raising two boys of my own.

To say that there is no pain, guilt, grief or self hatered is a complete lie. However, it is what you do with the pain, guilt, grief and self hatered that makes the difference. To be a birth parent is not for the weak of character or the weak at heart. It takes so much strength and bravery to get through life after relinquishment, and it will stay with you until the day you leave this earth.

I agree that these young mothers have NO IDEA what is in store for them. There is no guide to help them through this life without their child. They will experience so much, and it will be for the rest of their lives.

But I can say that not all birth mothers are bitter about relinquishment. I am not. I can also tell you that I am quite proud of my Braveheart and am willing to put myself on the line everyday to help anyone out there make an educated choice about what is right for them. I choose to advocate for the positives of adoption because that is what I have been doing since I had my children, making a positive out of what many would see as a negative situation.

The pain is still there, but now instead of tears I smile when I think of my children because I know that they have had a life that I could have NEVER have given them.

Thank you for the thought provoking post,
Kelsey

KimKim said...

I find the use of the word "bitter" to describe mothers who have feel grief and loss over adoption to be abusive.

I also find the use of the word "bitter" to be a way of claiming superiority over mothers who are not at peace with losing their children.

I am not supportive of the word bitter. It implies that mothers who are against adoption are somehow faulty.


I am not proud of relinquishing, I don't think it makes me a stronger or better person. In fact quite the opposite.

If I had been stronger, had I then had the self esteem I have now, had I realized what an amazing person I am then I would not have relinquished.

I am not bitter, I am not unhappy in my life but I will never ever say that sending my daughter away from our family was something that I am proud of.

I am ashamed that she was exiled from our tribe. Ashamed of myself and ashamed of my family.

maryanne said...

Kelsey,

We all have the right to tell our own stories and define our own experience, You and your children are fortunate that everything turned out well. You are doubly fortunate that they sought you out at a young age and want to have a relationship.

You may feel you are "Braveheart" for surrendering your children. I was more "Chickenheart" for not having the courage to stand up and keep mine, and it did not go well for either him or me. My son did not get a better life. He did not get anything I and my family could not have given him. He did get beaten with a wooden spoon which would not have happened to him in my home. He cut himself off from his adoptive family as an adult and did not even go to his mother's funeral.

There are no guarantees in adoption. Surrendering mothers should hear stories like yours, stories like mine and others much worse, and be honestly told theirs could go either way. A surrendered child gets a different life, that could be better and could be worse, depending on circumstances beyond anyone's control. There is no one right or "brave" choice for everyone.

After many years I do not feel I am exactly "bitter" now, because my son turned out to be a fine human being despite his upbringing, and he has made a good marriage and happy life for himself. I have survived and raised other sons, but I regret with my whole heart what happened to my son, and to my young life as a result of surrender that was a result of defeat, really "giving up", not an informed choice with all the facts on the table.

Mothers considering surrender deserve to hear all sides, not just the "sunny" one, and not be told they are "brave" if they surrender and "selfish" if they raise their child.

Little Snowdrop said...

Hafta agree with KimKIm on this one.
I think she said it well.

It's the experience of losing one's child that is "bitter", not the subsequent feelings of sadness, loss and anger that most, if not all, women who have relinquished their children (for whatever reason) feel.
I too think the term "bitter" is inappropriate to tag onto women who are unwilling to pretend their loss is something to celebrate,

Besides, even when there is no other viable alternative to adoption, even where relinquishment for adoption is the original mother's "choice", even in the best open adoption situation, the child loses out on their original family, and in cases of permanently closed adoptions, history. It creates a lacuna.
What's to feel so good about that?

And as Maryanne has pointed out, adoption's a crap shoot. Those of us whose children were parented by good people were the fortunate ones. Not everyone's so lucky. Just as not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to have other children after relinquishment.

.

Lori said...

Ms. Stewart. I appreciate your use of words. Interesting that you often use the word bitter. It denotes the need to vendicate yourself as "better than" someone who is not complacent.

It is definitely true that you are lucky that your children sought you out when they were young. Maybe that is why you think it is all rosy. Your turn at "bitter" is soon to come. I don't know how long you have been in reunion, but one thing I do know is this: No matter what you think is going on, you don't know. Your children found you very young, why? What would be so wonderful as to force a child to choose to find you at that early an age?

I think you, well, frankly, live in a rose colored world that has no basis in fact or life. The child that reconnects young will, from all research (and there is not nearly enough), explode on you later in life. They are in denial of an anger that is deep and real.

All I can say is this - Good Luck.

As for that disgusting Ad - guess what it has been showing for the last two late nights?It is a lie perpetuated by greed and the human desire (genetic - interesting thought) to reproduce.

I might, will probably, not, for the first time since 1978, watch the superbowl - the only game I watch every year.

Mei Ling said...

I really don't understand how a mother can be happy at having given away her own child.

I just don't get it. That's not what mothers are supposed to do.

maryanne said...

Mei Ling, mothers do many things they are not "supposed to" do, including abandon, abuse and kill their kids. Fathers too, sadly. If people only did what they were supposed to do, we would live in a perfect world.

Some mothers really did not want their children, and are relieved to not be raising them. Some have talked themselves into believing they did the right thing, and some really did do the right thing because of overwhelming problems.

What bothers me about Kelsey and other mothers who do feel satisfied with their choice is not that they surrendered and are at peace with it, but that they urge others to do the same without a full disclosure that not all adoptions are "better" for either mother or child, nor that surrendering is always an act of bravery or altruism.

maybe said...

Ms. Stewart wrote, "they are all in their teens now, have sought me out, and have told me time and time again how proud they are that I was strong enough to let them walk without me."

What if at some point in their life they tell you something different? What if they confess to being unhappy, having identity issues, or any other type of problem stemming from their relinquishment? I've read enough adoptee writings to know that many of them hide their anger and their negative feelings about adoption from their mothers.

Mei Ling is correct, giving away a baby is just not what mothers are meant to do, no matter how you sugarcoat it.

(Standard disclaimer: protecting a child from abusive and dangerous situations is where adoption can be a viable alternative.)

As for the mothers who claim to have no regrets: that is the socially acceptable answer - no one wants to hear a mother tell her real story and us mothers know this well. Many of us hide our real feelings to protect ourselves emotionally. If we don't hide our negative feelings we are subject to marginalization and dismissal. Mei Ling recenty wrote about adoptees being dismissed; mothers can relate to this, as well. Anything that challenges the status quo is just not fodder for discussion in adoption-land.

maybe said...

From another blog, "I also grew up with awful abandonment issues caused by the thought that my father did not love me enough to stay with us, I was sure it was my fault because I was not a good enough child for him."

This was written by the mother who gave her baby up for adoption and is not one of us bitter ones. It makes me wonder: is there a cycle of recurring abandonment issues and behaviors in adoption?

Mei Ling said...

"Mei Ling, mothers do many things they are not "supposed to" do, including abandon, abuse and kill their kids. "

I've read A Child Called IT. I know all about it. And the whole time I was thinking "Why wasn't she stopped? Why did they wait 7 years to remove him from the household? She didn't deserve to be a mother!"

But then, once I calmed down after reading it, the second question (and the question presented in the back of the book) was:

Why did she abuse her child? Why was the child being physically harmed? Was it because she truly didn't love him, or because of some horrible past issues that imprinted into her subconscious memory?

This is what I mean: that mothers aren't supposed to give up their children. Some do. Some want to, some feel they have to. But the point is that they're not supposed to, and it can't just be brushed away with a "Well, life happens, horrible things occur, and then we deal with them."

That's a factual way of looking at it. It's not wrong at its base level, because no one will argue a child's removal from an abusive home and it'd be ridiculous to do so if a child is in physical danger.

But the emotional part is much, much more complex, which is what I was trying to point out.

Cedar said...

Kelsey, if you loved your babies, then why did you surrender them for adoption?
You admit that you feel if you feel "pain, guilt, grief and self hatered," but these are emotions that come with having done an act you did not want to do, which your moral fabric told you was wrong to do. You say you are happy with your "choice," but to be honest with you, a mother who is happy with having surrendered her baby, who did it without being coerced, would feel NONE Of these negative feelings.

As you are feeling grief, pain, guilt, etc., that tells me that you wanted to keep your child but for some reason still surrendered. It also is a strong indicator that you were coerced into surrendering, as a mother who was NOT coerced would not end up with ANY of these consequences. She would indeed be happy and satisfied with her decision (assuming she obtained proper counselling and made an informed choice, something that I also wonder if you had been given the chance to make).

Are you familiar with coercion methods that agencies, prospective adoptive parents, and adoption lawyers use on expectant and new mothers?

osolomama said...

Maybe, I remember one discussion about that on another forum over a year ago. I know an adoptee who surrendered and she was also not conflicted about surrendering. She had raised two boys and was not in a position to raise another. But I'd be wary of generalizations about what goes on in the human mind. Like Maryanne, I think the motivations of people are intensely individual, and a unique combination of the internal and external pressures that are brought to bear on them.

Also, Lorraine's daughter was an adoptee who surrendered. She might have more to say about this.

AdoptAuthor said...

Ironically,I just posted about the ongoing shame and pain of loss on my blog today:

http://familypreservation.blogspot.
com/2010/02/shame-and-pain.html

And while there - you can click on the link at the top to sign the letter to Pres. Obama.

Maura said...

Mothers aren't "meant" to do anything. There's little about motherhood that is written in stone.

Am I happy that I gave up my son? No. I've said here before that I have a hole in my heart. But it hasn't ruin my life either. I am not mother material. That is something that is written in stone. But I have to say, I don't think I'm a Braveheart. I knew what I had to do, I never wavered, and I did it. I certainly don't feel brave.

Here's the thing, and it is a thing I've never heard any birth mother say. I didn't love my son. I can't say even now that I love him, because I don't know him. But he's a part of me. I care about him, I worry about him. I want to find him. Maybe I don't have a right to know him, and maybe he won't want to meet me. Because I gave him to strangers. But I want to know if he's OK. So there's that.

With all that said, this study (survey? collection of anecdotes? Casual questions? I'm confused about who wrote this post, who is talking in the last part of it, and who asked questions of whom) sounds like a lot of bull caca, as my mother says. Not that I think the women were lying, but because it started out skewed. As Cedar alluded to above, two years isn't much of a measuring stick. I think that at least some of the women will have different feelings five, ten, twenty years down the road. For that matter, if these women had been asked the question on a Tuesday instead of a Wednesday (or whatever), they could have given different answers. This is not a static subject. Feelings about it can change between morning and afternoon of the same day.

Also, I've talked to birth mothers who have surrendered their children within the past two years, and they're devastated, like "can't get out of bed for days at a time" devastated. It's heartbreaking.

"Bitter". Hmm. I've met a couple women who've said they're bitter, but I was never clear about why. Maybe at how the system works? Maybe because of the pressure they couldn't fight, for whatever reason? I don't know. They didn't want to talk about it, and I didn't pry.

The simple truth is that there is no single birth/first mother story. We have all made the same decision, but that's as far as it goes.

Also, everything Maryanne said. As usual. Maryanne, you always get to the heart of the matter. Thanks.

Mei Ling said...

"Mothers aren't "meant" to do anything."

Really? So the status of mother itself does not indicate anything?

"There's little about motherhood that is written in stone."

I thought motherhood was about birthing, parenting and loving a child.

Or is that merely a societal definition?

AdoptAuthor said...

KimKim,

I like what you said about being bitter. It is used pejoratively to attack our empowerment, much like the words "bitch" and bitchy are thrown at females who are in any way assertive, successful or powerful. It is part of womens inhumanity toward women which is all about self-hate, jealousy, and misery loving company. Be "nice" and weak instead!

Personally, loosing my child was a very bitter pill to swallow that has left a bitter taste in my mouth I cannot erase 40+ years after the fact.

Looking at the dictionary I see the following definitions for bitter (besides in terms of food): “hard to bear; grievous; distressful: a bitter sorrow.
causing pain; piercing; stinging; hard to admit or accept: a bitter lesson.”

These certainly apply!

Bitter is also defined as: “intense antagonism or hostility: bitter hatred.
resentful or cynical: bitter words.”

It is, I suppose, this extreme that is being refereed to, extremes which are found in some. In my experience I see such hostility in a very small percentage of mothers who have lost children to adoption and such labels should thus not be used with a broad brush to define all activists who speak out against adoption wrongs and for reforms.

Wallowing in bitterness or cynicism is as worthless as wallowing in self-pity, despair, hopelessness and pessimism.

I myself see it instead as righteous indignation and when focused properly is very motivating. There are few activists in any field who are not driven by anger to right a situation that needs to be changed.

Are gays fighting for their rights in the military and to marry called "bitter" about the years of discrimination they have suffered? Some may well be and have every right IMHO to be. Were Blacks who fought for their civil right bitter; cynical at times? Were our foremothers who fought for our right to vote? Does it matter? It took both the martin Luther Kings Jrs of this world as well as the Black Panther extremists – driven more by “intense hostility” to get us to where we are today in regard to racial equality.

Little Snowdrop said...

A supposition isn't a rule. It's only an assumption. As Maryanne pointed out, mothers do all kinds of things they're not 'supposed' to do.

Sarah Blaffer Hardy
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/1999/
12/09/maternal/index.html

AdoptAuthor said...

More on being bitter...

Is ok for adoptees to feel bitter what was done tot hem?

Are they "allowed" their bitterness, their anger?

Cause I sure have come across some VERy angry adoptees who would qualify for any definition of being bitter!

Are they more "entitled" to that emotion because it was done "to" them and we were "willing" victims"?

Mei Ling said...

"As Maryanne pointed out, mothers do all kinds of things they're not 'supposed' to do. "

Right, and so that doesn't mean they are mothers. It means they are just people who happened to birth biologically-related offspring.

I have an extended relative who doesn't mother. She is "a" mother but doesn't do "mothering." By legal definition she is a parent, by semantics she is nothing but a woman who pops out kids and then neglects them.

She's supposed to take care of her kids but she doesn't. Yet, by the birthing act she is deemed a mother, deemed what she "should" be doing.

So is she a mother, and is it just a matter of politics?

Mei Ling said...

Little Snowdrop, that article is from 1999. Do you have anything more recent than that which has anecdotal or scientific evidence?

Jessica Pegis said...

"Right, and so that doesn't mean they are mothers. It means they are just people who happened to birth biologically-related offspring."

Hmm, I thought that was the adopter argument. You know, "giving birth doesn't make you a mom."

Me personally, I think mothers are mothers even if they don't or can't "mother". Having your child makes you a mother. How or whether you "mother" after that is a different story. It doesn't make you just a bio-connected nada if you don't. Some people are prevented from mothering. Others don't want to mother. Others mother and do it badly. I don't think any of it adds up to saying that by necessity, "mothers" do not surrender. Mothers do a whole bunch of things, including killing their kids.

maryanne said...

Agreeing with Jessica here, giving birth makes one a mother. It does not make one a good mother. Adopting also makes one a mother, but does not make one a good mother either. A bad mother is not a non-mother. I am very surprised to see that bit of word twisting, which as Jess says is most often used by adopters, used here.

maryanne said...

Maura wrote:"Here's the thing, and it is a thing I've never heard any birth mother say. I didn't love my son. I can't say even now that I love him, because I don't know him. But he's a part of me. I care about him, I worry about him. I want to find him."

This comment jumped out at me, because it is similar to something my son said early on; "you keep saying you love me, but you don't know me. How can you love someone you don't know?"

From you what you have written, you may not love your son at this point but you show a lot of respect for him as a separate person, which may be more important.

I think what mothers and adoptees "love" before reunion is not the person, but the idea of "mother" or "child". I can now understand why my protestations of "love" sounded hollow and false to my son.
You do have to know someone to love them as a person; to love THEM, not an idea or ideal.

Sometimes when we do get to know our surrendered kids, we find we do not like them, and cannot really love them, because of the kind of people they are. That can happen with the children we raise as well. I am fortunate to have gotten to know my son somewhat, and I really like what I know, and that is a relief.

Maura, I think you might have the basis for a healthier and more honest reunion than some of us who went into it in love with an ideal, which is a hard thing for a flesh and blood person to live up to in the long run.

Write to me privately if you want, maireaine@hexatron.com

Campbell said...

"You do have to know someone to love them as a person; to love THEM, not an idea or ideal."


Now THIS makes sense.

Jessica Pegis said...

It's not that the Hrdy book is 10 years old (which isn't that old). . .btw, if you want to google drop the "a" in her name; it's actually Hrdy. It's because that book is an award-winning classic written by a Harvard-trained anthropologist. I'm not saying it's the "truth" because none of this stuff is. (Neither is the primal wound.) But it's a substantive piece of research that deserves recognition.

Osolomama
(can't seem to choose the WordPressID right now)

Jessica Pegis said...

Sorry for not including this. Here's a 2001 lecture from Hrdy:

http://videoservices.unl.edu/catalog/search2.cfm?ID=1208

Little Snowdrop said...

ITA that 10 years is hardly old, and Hrdy's (sorry about spelling error) empirical observations about the human condition as it relates to mothers and their children continue to deserve serious consideration.

Quote from that 10 year old article:
' "A woman who is committed to being a mother will learn to love any baby, whether it's her own or not; a woman not committed to or prepared for being a mother may well not be prepared to love any baby, not even her own."

In her just-published book, "Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection," Hrdy says that women, like other primates, make a choice about mothering. They consider the availability of food, shelter, a father -- and the costs of those things -- in deciding whether to do the job. As coldly modern as this assessment process may seem, it is as old as the species, as deeply ingrained in our psyches and in our biological histories as any of our other basic urges, says Hrdy." '

Here's another video, this one on evolutionary empathy, which is the subject of her most recent book "Mothers and Others" in which she discusses parenting through cooperative breeding, and argues that human cooperation is rooted in baby making and baby sitting, not in war making:
http://www.intelligencesquared.com/interviews-lectures-conversations/Sarah-Blaffer-Hrdy-on-evolutionary-empathy

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

I commented here to address the author not knowing a mature birth mother who was happy with her decision years down the line. I was speaking in my voice and if I implied that I was generalizing all birth mothers, beyond my realm of aquaintances, I apologize. That was not at all my intent. And I have to say that you all have been very respectful in your opinions and I appreciate that. However there were some questions and assumptions that I would like to clarify in your responses to me.

If this forum would have been around 10 years ago, I would have been telling someone like me the same types of things that you all have stated here. My journey, now in the 20th year, has not always been peaceful and content. I spent years picking up the pieces of my mind and heart trying to make sense of what was happening in my life, what was happening in my children's lives. I myself, and speaking for myself, was very bitter (as in hard to bear; grievous; distressful: a bitter sorrow. causing pain; piercing; stinging; hard to admit or accept: a bitter lesson.,I thank you AdoptAuthor for the description) with the entire system and the immense loss in my soul, that I had chose, after my adoptions. But I realized that complaining about it did nothing but make me mad, so I decided that I should focus more on using my voice to make people aware of the injustices that are done to birth parents. I used that word to describe myself and several other mothers I know who have used that word specifically, so I apologize to all of you who found it offensive. I was not trying to feel superior to anyone, again not my intent. I will make sure that I explain myself and my background more clearly in future posts and comments.

Maryanne, you are absolutely correct...I and my children are fortunate. I know that not all adoptions have the outcome that I have. But I had a LOT to do with that. I fought for what I wanted and I was strong enought to tell those that disagreed that I knew what was best for my situation. You are absolutely correct that all of our stories are different and they all need to be told so that a change is made for the better, for the future women and girls out there who find themselves in our situtations. My first adoption was horrific. I talk about it honestly and I am not shy to disclose what was in my mind when people were telling me what was best for me, what was best for my child. My story may be sunny now, but it was not always that way. I know well that dark side, and I know now that not everyone is going to be as happy as I am. I do not want everyone to be like me, not at all.

Lori, I appreciate your use of words and if you read the above you can see that I explained my use of the B word. And yes, I am fortunate that my children have found me. My daughter knew from very young age who I was and in her late teens she contacts me on a regular basis. My sons are also heading into adulthood and they recently found me, on their own, through the internet. It has been awkward at times, but has also been very healing. I take it all in, answer their inquiries and have been honest with them. I could have my time coming, who knows. I do know that I have been through more than many my age. I know that I have on rosey colored glasses for sure! But they are bifocals that remind me daily of what I have truly lost, and just how far I have come. I know all about denial and blowing up and I will explain futher down, I thank you for wishing me luck.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Mei Ling,
"I really don't understand how a mother can be happy at having given away her own child."
I did not say that I was happy that I placed my children for adoption, I said that I was happy with my life and the lives of my children. I was not at all happy about placement, I was doing what I thought was best for my children at the time, but I was not happy about it.

"I just don't get it. That's not what mothers are supposed to do."
This is true. I knew I was not supposed to have children and then not raise them. Perhaps this is why adoption is so difficult to deal with, perhaps that is why I had so many emotional issues after placement.

Maybe: I know full well that things can change on a dime. I choose to live life in the moment, and right now it is good. Just because I spoke up in this forum with a positive attitude, do not assume that when I write I sugar coat things. I write about my positives as well as my negatives.
"Anything that challenges the status quo..." I comppetely agree with this, I challenged the status quo all those years ago and they challenged me right back. This is why I speak up about the injustices done to birth mothers.
Thank you for taking the time to investigate my other post and I am happy to address your remark. I had shining examples in my life that lead me to chose adoption for my children. Namely my father leaving, and two family members who were young, single mothers. My father left when I was three and lead me to believe that he still loved us, giving me hope that there could be a happy family life. I found out at 16 that he had been married for 12 years and had two children behind me. I understand identity and abandonment issues. I lived quite depressed and confused for several years, and just when I was coming to terms with my true issues, I discovered I was preganant. I was not going to stay with the father, I was not college educated and I grew up knowing life without security. I did not want that for my child. In my eyes, in my heart, I know I did the right thing for my situation.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Cedar, Yes I loved my children and I placed them for adoption because that was the best I could do for them at the time. Of course I did not want to do it, it is against my moral fibers but it is also a better choice than abortion or living without a stable family life. "You say you are happy with your "choice," but to be honest with you, a mother who is happy with having surrendered her baby, who did it without being coerced, would feel NONE Of these negative feelings." Again, you are assuming that I was happy about placement, but what I said was I was happy with my life and my childrens lifes now...20 years later. I was not happy about the adoption at the time, which is what you are referencing. Are there studies done on this that you have stated? I know for a fact that this is not true in my case, how can you say that because I chose adoption for my children I should not be feeling guilty? Because I chose adoption I should not feel pain? Did you feel what I was feeling when I drove away from the hospital without my baby in my arms? No. Everone's story is different, please do not assume that I would not feel those things.
"It also is a strong indicator that you were coerced into surrendering, as a mother who was NOT coerced would not end up with ANY of these consequences." I have to respectfully disagree with you again. I was not coerced. Quite the opposite. I was chastised and ridiculed by the system because I WANTED to place for adoption. I was treated like a criminal, like a non human. I was so terrorized by the social workers and the State of Missouri that I began to doubt that I would ever be able to place her with the family that I chose. I am well aware of the coercion tactics and I think it is a travesty that it still happens in this day and age! I know all about it, and it is another reason I advocate the fact that there needs to be more counseling and aftercare for birth parents, which I did not receive but thank you for asking.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Maura, I liked what you said. especially the part about the devestation. I write about that feeling as well. Your points were exquisitly put.

AdoptAuthor, "Wallowing in bitterness or cynicism is as worthless as wallowing in self-pity, despair, hopelessness and pessimism."

I myself see it instead as righteous indignation and when focused properly is very motivating. There are few activists in any field who are not driven by anger to right a situation that needs to be changed." I agree. It was my anger at the system that prompted me to come to terms with my choices, explore my role as a mother, change my destiny and path that I was on, to begin to speak out for birth mothers who have been wronged.

The bottom line is I do not feel ashamed about my story. I have been contacted by countless women who have found a voice they can believe in, I have been contacted by adoptees that thank me for my honesty, and I have been contacted by adoptive parents who ask for advice on how to help their birth mothers. My message is that birth mothers need all kinds of help and support after relinquishment. I am not a birth mother who was treated correctly by any means, but I am also not one to let things happen to me. I am older, bolder and a LOT wiser than I once was.

Please do not judge anyone until you know the road they have traveled. None of you would want me to judge you based on your responses.

Please know that I use my voice to try and help people understand WHY I am happy now. If you like you can check out some of my posts. You will find that not all are happy and fluffy.

Linda said...

Kelsey, thank you for taking the time to respond to the individual comments.

I'd like to remind posters to please watch your tone and your language. Firstmother Forum welcomes ALL. Remember we're all on the same team here. We try to be open to not only first mothers, but also adoptees, adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents so that all can learn from one another. But when the language gets snarky, it just turns people off and away, and I believe this was Keley's first posting; I would be unhappy if it were her last. We all agree we have much to learn from one another. While Lorraine takes a little break, I've followed Lorraine's decision to be more diligent about what we post.

Jane is planning a new blog for later today which should put this conversation to rest.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

And I thank you Linda for allowing me to respond to all, even if it was WAY more than I was supposed to. You have a great blog here with some very intuitive minds, I appreciate what you, and all of your readers, have said. I have learned from them as well.

Thanks again,
Kelsey

maybe said...

Thanks for the follow-up post from Kelsey Stewart. I know I get very triggered when I read something that comes off as "adoption is great, no one has issues with giving away her baby" (even if that was not the intended message -some things just sound that way at times). I have this repsonse because society at large and the adoption agenices in particular use the tale of the happy birth mother to further adoption mythology (or the tale of the drug addled birth mother, whichever happens to suit their needs at the time).

Kelsey explained that this was not her intention and on her blog further I see where she stongly advocates for mothers. I look foward to hearing more from her.

Joy Miller, adoptee said...

Regarding the potential for the erosion of women's rights, I think that there's an aspect of "progress" that should be noted- if science CAN do it, it WILL do it. While there is always a cycle of moral and ethical debate, science presses on. I think of cloning and cell stem research. Likewise, although history itself has proved the deveopment and use of nuclear warheads to be utterly insane, production continues. I think that we can take heart that as long as we continue to make our voices heard, women's rights will prevail.

cedartrees said...

Kelsey, the mother-child bond and relationships is so important that there are recognized rights that all mothers inherently have, for the sole reason that we are human beings. One of these is the right to all the support you need in order to raise your child without fear of an "unstable life' (i.e. missing support system). Check out Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Coercion takes many forms: It can take the form of agencies, family members, clergy, hospital staff, etc. pressuring the mother to surrender her baby or telling her that adoption is a fantastic option (making her feel she would be selfish for wanting to keep her baby). It can take the form of carefully-researched methods being applied to mothers to increase the chance they will surrender. It can also be systemic financial coercion when governments withhold vital financial support from mothers which leave them in fear of dire poverty with no guaranteed income, housing, etc. The latter is, yes, intentional, and according to adoption researcher Reuben Pannor is the leading cause of surrender. It is also preventable. Why does Australia have a mere handful of surrenders each year while the U.S. has tens of thousands? Because Australia protects mothers against ALL these types of coercion.

Ignoring the fact that abortion and adoption are NOT related events in the slightest, the fact you state that "you did not want to do it" and yet you consider it to be a choice are the parts that don't jive.

Let's follow the logic: You wanted to keep your babies, you did not want to surrender: So what made you do it? Something made you surrender against you will. That "something" was coercion. A coerced "choice" is not a choice at all, the coercion by the fact of existing has eliminated all freedom of choice. So, in essence, you did not "choose" to surrender your babies.

That's why i'm saying that mothers who love their babies don't "choose" to surrender them. Adoption was created in 1851 as a disposal mechanism for unloved and unwanted children, not for children were were loved and wanted. It's the rise of the adoption industry, convincing mothers to surrender babies, that has made it into such.

You had the right to keep your baby. Your babies had the right to the support they needed in order to keep YOU.

There is a checklist of common coercion methods here, but human rights violations including poverty also count as coercion.

So does open adoption practices where mothers meet or "bond with" adopters prior to birth or prior to signing surrender documents. That has a huge risk of emotional coercion. And again, a coerced surrender is not a "choice' at all.

maryanne said...

So we have here at least two mothers saying that surrender was their own choice, given their situations and feelings. Maura and Kelsey are speaking for themselves, and they seem to do it quite well.

Then we have Cedar, saying all surrenders are coerced and nobody who loves their child would surrender given any real choice. That is certainly a broad generalization that leaves no room for any grey area.

I tend to believe people speaking for themselves, whether what they say is what I would say or what I would want. Not all mothers who give birth want to keep and raise their children just because I did. I don't have any problem imagining someone feeling differently than I did in the same situation, or acting differently.

Some people were coerced and that is wrong. Some were not. Why must it be all or nothing?

Cedar said...

Kelsey, you inspired me to put my comment to you into a blog post:

Adoption “Choice” – A Response to a Mother

Cedar said...

Maryanne, I have never denied that there are some mothers who were not coerced, who willingly gave away their babies with no pressure, complete freedom of choice, and fully informed.

But repeatedly I hear stories from mothers who struggle with guilt and self-blame, and whose children feel abandoned and rejected, because they are mothers who were coerced but do not recognize the industry's coercion methods which were applied to them.

You and I both know about the damage to mother and child that is commonly left in the wake of an adoption. And I know you are familiar with coercion as you likely have heard the stories of hundreds of mothers who who had been coerced and i assume you have also ready industry studies on how to bring more babies to market by influencing mothers' decisions.

If a mother truly did not want her baby, if her baby truly was unloved and she did not want to keep her baby, then choosing adoption is her right.

But if her decision *was* influenced by the industry or if she was not given the chance to make an informed decision with full disclosure of risks and time to recover post-birth, then to blame herself let's the real criminals off the hook.

I know what a non-coerced decision looks like. What Kelsey describes does not look like one to me. She states that adoption was not what she wanted.

The importance of the mother-baby relationship indeed leaves no shades of grey.

Jessica Pegis said...

"The importance of the mother-baby relationship indeed leaves no shades of grey."

Uh, what say? What do you mean by that? It's a relationship. No human relationship lacks shades of grey. Relationships ARE shades of grey; that is what most characterizes them.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Cedar Trees, Maryanne and Cedar...
Allow me to elaborate one more time. I became pregnant. I was young. I came from divorce, I felt abandoned and it really affected me as a person. I did not want the life that I lead for my child, I wanted to break a cycle of unhappiness, I wanted to give my child a better life than I could offer. I wanted her, I loved her growing inside of me, but I was mature enough to look into my future with her and see that I was IN NO WAY ready to be responsible for another life. I had the balls to admit that I needed help. I needed someone to help me raise my child. If anything coerced me it was GOD himself. That's right, I said it. GOD. I prayed and prayed for guidance and the answer that he gave me was adoption. I never even met a social worker until one month before my due date. We tried to do everything properly, leagally and privately as per my request (that was the only way to achieve an open adoption in those days)...but the State of Missouri was loosing out on money so they decided to step in and change EVERYTHING one month before she was in the world.

I fought the State, the social workers, the lawyers and the agency in order to place her with the family that I chose for her. A family that I found, researched, spent time with to ask questions, and discussed what I was going to need as a birth mother to live life without her. I took action in my own life, I chose adoption with my eyes wide open based on my faith in GOD to lead me in the right direction to do what was right in his eyes. Because you see, no matter what anyone thinks about me and my story, no matter what you say you think I have been through, the only thing that matters is that GOD knows what I did and why I did it. I asked for HIS help and the help of others in a time when so many would not have.

Please stop trying to convince me that coercion played a part in my story, it is just not true. I chose adoption, I knew what I was doing, I placed her with a family that I hand picked. I did not surrender. I did not give up. I took responsibility for my actions. But all of this in no way means that I did not love her or want her. You are making very bold statements about me as a person.

The last thing I will say is this, and please let's ponder this. Because you feel so strongly about the negatives of adoption and you voice it so well, have you ever thought that perhaps the reasons you are not satisfied, and your relationships are not as fulfilling as you would like, could be the direct result of how you perceive yourself as a birth mother? Do you realize that your view of it could have an impact on your children and how they feel about it? I think about that. I think my positive outlook through all of the darkness is a quality that my kids look up to. I will not apologize that I have had an entirely different post birth experience than you did. I have said before I am not one to let things happen to me. I am the kind of person who learns from life, keeps it in perspective and I live with my faults. I am not claiming to be better than anyone else, I just know who I am, what I have been through and what kind of life I want to lead.

Kristina said...

PART 1:

Hello Mothers, I'm Kris - A Mother, A Birth Mother, A Natural Mother, A...Whatever Label You Like best... "Insert Here"...
I want to say First, that I am only here out of Love. To Support and To Be Supported. That's essentially what has brought us together isn't it?
And, Of Course, Our Experiences in Living With Adoption.
I have to say that My Heart and Head is SO Intensely FULL from what ALL I have read here tonight.
I am Grateful for all of you.
In my eyes, all of you women are Brave...Brave for sharing your hearts and your truth. It is through every one of your stories that I am able to become closer to my own truth in regards to my own experience with Adoption.
So, Thanks...XOX
I am 14 years along my journey of being a Birth Mother and 8 years along my journey of being a mother actively parenting two amazing spirited girls :)

I really do not want to respond to the "emotions" of what has been said here (although I will if anyone would like to know xox )
but rather lend to the "statistical" aspect of the ideas of coersion , regret, etc..
I do not regret giving my first child up for adoption.
Part of my decision was "self-less" and the other part was "selfish".
I was not in any way ready to become an active mother/parent….


*The Rest of My Comment is at my Blog Home:

http://thekaleidoscopechronicles.blogspot.com/


My LOVE, Sincerely to all of you strong, beautiful women...XOX
Mama K.

maryanne said...

Kristina, why use so many capital letters where they are not needed?It makes it hard to read what you write or to take it seriously. That's nice that things worked out for you, but what are you saying?

Kelsey, I understand that you were not coerced. I was agreeing with what you said as your own perspective of your own life, not questioning it like Cedar. Please do not include me with her as our views are very different.

I take responsibility for surrendering my son. I am not blaming the rest of the world. The facts in my case are different from yours, as I suspect my personality is different. My son and I are slowly working out a relationship both of us can live with, and I am very grateful for that. I am also glad to see others working it out with their kids for themselves in ways that all can move on and live their lives. I am not a fan of wallowing endlessly in grief.

Cedar, indeed all relationships have shades of grey. There is nothing sacred about the mother-child relationship, sentimentality aside. Some work, some do not.

Little Snowdrop said...

There's disagreeing with people, which is O.K.
And then there's gainsaying them, which isn't.

Kesley pleaded, "Please do not judge anyone until you know the road they have traveled. None of you would want me to judge you based on your responses. "
Not everyone seems to have heard her say that.
Or, if they have, they've felt entitled to ignore it.

Campbell said...

I appreciate the owners of this blog allowing the voice of birth/first mothers that are more similar to the voice of mine. It's reassuring so, thanks!

Jessica Pegis said...

I just read a line from a forthcoming book on adoption, which I think summarizes something important. Speaking about the evidence that at least some surrendering mothers in Canada in the '70s (the chapter focuses on Black and Aboriginal women) chose adoption, the author writes:

"In all such examples, the circumstances that produced
such narrow choices should not be conflated with the absence of adult subjectivity itself."

Thought that was an interesting line.

Kristina said...

Maryanne,

Re:
"Kristina, why use so many capital letters where they are not needed?It makes it hard to read what you write or to take it seriously."

Please, let me help you understand, since I assume that this is what you would like...to understand?

Why do i use so many capital letters?
A: Because that is the way I chose to write. Because that is the way I emphasize what is MOST important to me.
I am very sorry my writing style upset you.

Q: Why do you feel/think it is okay to tell me that they(my capital letters) were not needed?

- Isn't that MY decision?
I am starting to really get an idea of how coersion has played a role in so many people's lives and continues to affect them in their relationships with others. I know you don't want pity, but i cannot help but feel sad.

If my capitalizing words that are important to me makes it hard for you to take me seriously, I apologize.
What i write and have written, I take VERY seriously.
My joy and pain are very real, and the semantics of writing should have no bearing when someone is speaking from their heart.
I am truly sorry about your frustration.

"That's nice that things worked out for you, but what are you saying?"

Please, where did i ever say that "things worked out for me"?
My journey has been up and down and all over, nothing has ever "worked" out for me.
I have worked through "it"
I have worked really hard at acceptance.
I have chosen to place more love in my life instead of fear, anger/frustration. I did the opposite for years and it didn't get me anywhere...It wasn't until I realized that I kept choosing all the negative that I was able to become just a little more free, and the healing truly began.
The truth is a hard pill to swallow. but once i chose to swallow it - i started to become closer to the true essence of who I am. Who I want to be.

I could say that things are not working out...but i'm not going to. in part b/c that is not how i am choosing to see the experience.

My birth daughter sought me out a few months ago behind her mother's back. Found my name on some paperwork from years ago and found me on Facebook. She is 14.
If you are interested in how this is evolving, you can read about it...but something tells me you don't want to know.
And that's fine.
But just FYI, it is not all peachy keen. It is FULL of the guts of adoption. And it is just my experience.

I am not here to be judged nor am i here to judge anyone.
We all live our own heaven or hell in our experience with adoption.

I have an aunt who was coersed into relinquishing her baby as a teenager and I have seen first hand how awful that experience is.
My heart truly breaks for any woman who has been forced to do something she did not want to do.
My first experience with sex was rape. I know about coersion and the sometimes devastating effects this trauma leaves behind.

Like i said before, I do love all of you brave and honest women. I will never tell you what to say or feel, please have that same respect for me.

Kindest Regards,
Mama K.

Cedar said...

"... have you ever thought that perhaps the reasons you are not satisfied, and your relationships are not as fulfilling as you would like, could be the direct result of how you perceive yourself as a birth mother?"

Kelsey, you are making some assumptions here about me. First, I am not a "birthmother," as I never ceased being a mother to my child and thus I reject the label of "non-mother." Second, my relationships are very fulfilling and have nothing to do with adoption. My relationship with my son is exactly as we both want it to be given we were separated for 20 years. We live together and I have adopted him back. We're restored our relationship. He hates adoption even more than I do.

Kelsey, coercion takes many forms, and indeed it is entirely your choice whether you feel you were coerced or not. But you mentioned grief, pain, guilt, self-hatred does not sound like a "positive" experience to me, or one that you wanted. Blaming ourselves for "placing" our child can result in guilt, shame, anger at oneself, and self-blame. Our children can justifiably feel abandoned, rejected, and angry if we tell them it was our choice.

You describe not having access to the support and resources you needed, and lack of confidence which could have been built up with counselling and a mentor. The support system you needed was not there when it could have been. The circumstances that forced you to surrender were preventable, and that's what's sad. As an adoption worker in Australia told me "We work with women to find out what's preventing them from parenting, what they need, and providing it." Adoption there is a last resort.

That, plus not being able to recover from the hormonal storm of birth before making your decision, and meeting adoptive parents, are all elements that may have affected your decision. These adoption practice were researched by the industry being being implemented by agencies. Their purpose: to influence mothers' decisions and increase surrender rates.

We'll never know of course what your decision would have been if you had support, a mentor, and mothering your child for at least 6 weeks before considering adoption without adoptive parents involved.

I have never stated that there are not mothers who were never coerced. Some mothers would have chosen adoption regardless of what coercion had been applied to them. Not all mothers love the children they give birth to. But al mothers who love and want to keep their babies have the right to everything they require in order to do so.

maryanne said...

What I am seeing in the mothers who really did feel surrender was the better option for them is that they wanted to give their children a better chance and better uphringing than they had, and in some cases to save the child from a really dysfunctional family. Some mothers would not want their parents or other relatives to have a major role in raising their child, with good reason.

That is one reason why I can't support across the board "family preservation" and feel each case has to be considered individually rather than having a broad policy pushing either surrender for all or raising the child for all.

I can see how a young mother could view her own childhood as so difficult and painful due to inadequate or abusive parenting, that she would feel her child might have a better chance with strangers. This was not so in my case but I have heard enough other stories where it was a big factor, and not one to be easily discounted.

maryanne said...

Cedar, what I think you are missing is that some choices in life can be seen as for the best by the person who made the choice, and also cause a great deal of sadness, pain and grief. A lack of pain is not always an indicator of the best decision. Many situations in life are ambiguous and painful.

I know many people who suffered greatly through a divorce, but still feel it was for the best. Also people who had to put an aged and ill parent in a nursing home, or kick out a drug-addicted adult son or daughter. I think the mothers who do not regret their choice to surrender, and do not feel coerced, are talking about something like that. A choice that hurt, but was right for them.

They feel it was their choice, the best one in a bad situation, and while it is painful and causes grief, they honestly feel it was the best they could do given their circumstances.

For those of us who do not feel it was the best we could do, like me, there is at least some peace in taking responsibility for my own part in the surrender, and letting others involved sort out their own guilt or involvement. I feel I failed my son. That does not mean I do not love him. Taking responsibility for my actions and letting go of blaming others for everything has made me feel better, not worse.

Life is complicated and messy and we each need to make our peace with our own actions, not tell others how they should feel.

Little Snowdrop said...

Cedar said "I have never stated that there are not mothers who were never coerced."

No, you didn't.
But you do seem to be trying to silence Kelsey from asserting that she wasn't.

Linda said...

Message for Improper Adoptee:

Please contact me through the email noted in my profile...I've tried to write you directly but your blog doesn't accept comments and there's no contact info. Would like to connect with you. Thx.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Mayanne,
You are correct again, I did lump you into that catagorey and I do apologize for my genreralzation. I think your words in the last few post I have enjoyed seeing you, Maryanne. Thank you for your defending my point of view. I appreciate it.

Little Snowdrop,
I thank you for speaking up as well, it is always good to see someone understandning what I am saying. I appreciate that as well.

Cedar, My apologies to you for assuming your relationship were not fulfilling. I just sense a lot of negativity from you and was just pondering a thought. I am respecting that you have passion, that you are tenacious in your quest, and I admire your stance in your convictions. But, do you realize that the previous posts, the blog that you wrote inspired by me...do you realize that you are trying to coerce me into thinking something that I know is not true? Do you realize that you have now become the coercer in this conversation. The definition of coercion is: to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, esp. without regard for individual desire or volition. I feel that you are not willing to listen to all that I have told you, and I am not going to explain it again.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Look, Ladies ... the bottom line is this. We all in this sisterhood have one common and unique thread. Loss. We have all lost a child, we all have huge hole where that little one should be. Even worse, it is not a loss that people understand nor wish to get involved with. IF someone were to loose a child to an accident or disease, people would not think twice about the grief, the pain, the sorrow of an incredible blow to one's heart, their soul. But people do not see us a women who lost their children. They think differently because whether through force or choice, they cannot see that we too have lost children. And even doubly worse is, we have lost children that are still very much alive, living without us, not knowing how much we think about them, want to know about them, just wonder if they are at all like us. We all face battles everyday in our journey through motherhood and if we are here talking about it, then that tells me we are all brave women. To get up everyday and face life knowing that it could all suddenly change is a fact of life for us. We never know what will set us off, we never know if pictures and updates willl fill us with joy or take us back to the days when it was so new, so very hard. It takes a lot of guts and self confidence to just get through the days, we all know that. It saddens me to hear Maryanne call herself 'Chickenheart". HOw dare you say that Maryanne! You are not chicken now! YOu have expressed yourself so beautifuly, so calmly and with such pride in what you had to endure, I call that brave. Cedar is here telling anyone who will listen that coercion is hermuse for making achange, that is what I call brave. LIttle Snowdrop standing up for someone else, that is what I call brave. And the best part, we are all here discussing this, learning new things about other sisters, we have been brave enough to stand up for what we believe in no matter the outlook is negative or positive, we are all her fighting together to change a system that has too many flaws to count and too little support for the one person who makes the adoption happen in the first place.

I call myself Braveheart for the journey I have endured, the ridicule that I have to right, the long explainations of who I am and why I chose the things I chose, and the longing to kiss my children everynight and tell them I love them, just as a mother should. I am proud that I got through it, and am still learining everyday what a wonderful journey it can be. I think you all can find something in your heart that tells you how very brave you are, even if you do not know it. I know it. I can see it here.

I thank each and every one of you for allowing me to express myself in this forum. You have been respectful, thought provoking and interesting to listen to. Let's hope we can all work together to make changes so others do not have to endure the afterlying pain the way we did.
My best to you all!

Little Snowdrop said...

" I thank you for speaking up as well, it is always good to see someone understandning what I am saying."

You're welcome.
Actually you didn't say much I did understand.
I was just defending your right to say it.
No big deal.

maryanne said...

Thank you, Kelsey, Your kind words are appreciated. I really was a Chickenheart, though. Cowardice was a big reason for my surrender. Am I brave now? Not really, but better than I was and I keep trying to fight all kinds of fears and do what needs doing, You are right, we all have a hard struggle no matter what our original choice or lack of choice was. It is good to see different points of view.

Cedar said...

One difference I believe that this conversation has clarified for me, in my own mind, is that when Kelsey spoke about struggling with guilt and self hatred at times, I realized that I have *never* felt guilt, regret, or self-hatred about the loss of my son to adoption. This struck home today when I also read on another board a mother stating that all natural mothers feel guilt. I never have. I admit it had never crossed my mind to feel guilty. So, I reached out to Kelsey, especially as much of what she describes is standard industry coercion practice, to offer her another explanation, especially as the adoption industry had so much power over us and knew from careful research exactly how to increase the likelihood a mother will surrender her baby. Again, it is her choice whether to accept this or not.

maryanne said...

I have felt great guilt, right from the very day I signed the surrender, and deep self-hatred. But this is my story, what was in my heart, and knowing about the adoption industry etc has never alleviated any of it. The only thing that has helped is knowing that in spite of it all my son is ok, and the added bonus that he is willing to communicate with me. My story is different from yours, and Kelsey's is different from both of ours. I accept that you have never felt guilt. Can you accept that I have?

Cedar, I read your story of adopting back your son yesterday, and it makes many of your views more understandable. I am sorry you and your son had to suffer so much, but glad you were able to help him before it was too late.

I hope you have many good years together, and I hope you can begin to see that we hurt in different ways and heal in different ways as well.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Guilt? For the longest time it was practically my middle name.

Little Snowdrop said...

It's nice that you don't feel any guilt, Cedar, and I quite agree that not all natural mothers do. And shouldn't be expected to.But there is no doubt that many mothers were shamed before and after relinquishing, and when shame is internalized, it often feels like guilt to the individual who is experiencing it.

Personally I feel responsible for allowing myself to get pregnant in 1962. It was not a smart thing to do in those days, even though I was probably even more ignorant about sexual matters than most young girls at that time.
But mostly I regret, after having become pregnant, not making the Grand Gesture, such as Running Away - even though the likelihood is that it would have been counterproductive. Nevertheless, I still wonder if it might have been more convincing than words and tears.
I also regret having allowed myself to be blackmailed by threats that my family would never recover, and of self harm by members. I wish I had called their bluff (because I believe now that it was manipulative bullshit).
I think this relates to the kind of 'cowardice' to which Maryanne refers. I understand what coercion is, but I was a coward too.
Am I not entitled to feel this way?

Whatever one's feelings about one's personal experience, I firmly believe everyone should be allowed to process their experiences for themselves.
It seems to me that to persist in trying to impose one's own belief system onto others, *especially* in the face of resistance, is disrespectful.

People do not like to be bullied

Kristina said...

Good Morning Mothers,

Little Snowdrop, your comment just posted in my email at the same time i was posting on my Blog.
It has everything to do with what you are saying here. Everything that has been said. All that I have read and felt the past few days.

Love to ALL ~ Mama K.

http://thekaleidoscopechronicles.blogspot.com/2010/02/ten-thousand-words.html

joy said...

Wow, I am not going to get over that "Braveheart" comment for a long time. :P to that.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

I thank the authors of this blog for the amazing conversation that has transpired this past week. We may not all see eye to eye, but we can all agree that there needs to be changes in the adoption process and systems that are currently in place.

I have learned so much from this blog, and I think all of the women here have shown such passion, such strength.

Just as Cedar was inspired to write because of comments that I said, I too have been inspired by all the comments this week.

http://thebestforyoubook.blogspot.com/2010/02/dear-anderson-cooperhaiti-is-not-only_12.html

Thank you again.
With kindest regards,
Kelsey

joy said...

@ "Bravehart"

I am so perplexed that you had all this energy and resources to fight the state, fight social workers and attorneys but not the energy to get your act together and raise your children.

I also like to refer to myself with a special monniker,

"princess bride" it just speaks to me, you know?

Kristina said...

“A sarcastic person has a superiority complex that can be cured only by the honesty of humility.” ~L.G.Lovasik

@joy...

I am wondering why you are challenging kelsey in this sarcastic manner?
Is it really that important for you to try to make a mother who has peace about her decision feel like a failure?
If it is you that feels that you have failed as a mother, why would you want to try to coerce another into those awful feelings and thoughts?
Honestly...

Why are those of us that feel at peace with our decision crucified with sarcasm, resentment and bullying?

Why?

Maura said...

Joy, I don't believe it's our place to question when, where, how or why someone put their energy in any particular direction. Kelsey has been very honest with us, but I don't think she needs to defend herself for how she handled her situation.

Kelsey, you've been very forthright, not to mention tough when challenged. I thank you for that.

I still don't feel brave, though. :)

joy said...

I am sorry, no I do not feel I failed as a mother, wasn't exactly what I would call stellar mother material, but did put my big girl pants on and raise my kid.

As an ADOPTEE, I find this characterzation of adoption, harmful to adoptees.

I do not think adoption is the "best" for the child except for the most extreme circumstances. I think telling children that you loved them so much you gave them away is harmful.

How many adoptees, too many to count, have gotten this message as children and said it interfered with their ability to form relationships as they equate love with abandonment?

I find it incredibly reckless behavior to go around promoting a practice without looking into what it does to children and the life-long impact it has on them, which is the only reasonable conclusion to reach otherwise Ms. Stewart would not have penned a story, that promulgates what has been a message that is difficult at best, destructive at worst, for adopted children.

The notion that leaving your children without your protection, somehow makes you a folk-hero a la braveheart offends my adoptee sensibilities on so many levels that, sacrasm seemed to fit the situation.

To do so, when one had the resources to fight established authority that most adults don't, flummoxes and baffles me.

It seems to based on the mythical and fantastic notion that people who adopt are of a fairy-creature, uber-human speicies is so hopelessly misguided and ultimately harms children.

I don't like practices that harm children, I find them outrageous. Hence the outraged response. I suggest you ladies who are mystified by my response read child development books like the Continuum Concept, attachment theory like Bowlby and Harlow and the painful blogs of many, many adult adoptees and then get back to me.

Even if you say, "oh not every adoptee feels that way" What risk factor is high enough, as a friend of mine, an adoptee said "If adoption was a drug it would never pass trials, it harms too many children"

Also, I would note that coming on a blog of a mother whose adopted out daughter committed suicide to pimp out your pro-adoption book is another indication of insensitivity at best.

"It's about the kids, man!" remember?

joy said...

P.S.

Maura, I hate to tell you, but am not very interested in where you think my place is.

signed,

Joy, Princess-Bride, Dive, et.al.

Maura said...

Joy said: I am sorry, no I do not feel I failed as a mother, wasn't exactly what I would call stellar mother material, but did put my big girl pants on and raise my kid.

As an ADOPTEE, I find this characterzation of adoption, harmful to adoptees.

I do not think adoption is the "best" for the child except for the most extreme circumstances. I think telling children that you loved them so much you gave them away is harmful.


I' m not sure what characterization you're talking about, Joy. Is there anyone here who thinks adoption is a wonderful thing? I've read every one of the comments for this and every other post for the last few months, and I don't see a whole lot of women talking about how great and fabulous adoption is.

I don't understand "I loved you so much I gave you away", but that doesn't mean I'm going to condemn someone for feeling that way. There is no hivemind among birth/first/natural/[insert preferred term here] mothers. The only thing we have in common is a personal experience to adoption.

Your views on adoption aren't what I commented on. It was your attack against Kelsey, this specifically:

I am so perplexed that you had all this energy and resources to fight the state, fight social workers and attorneys but not the energy to get your act together and raise your children.

The fact is, how she used her energy is not your business any more than it's mine. Everyone (and I do mean everyone, not just the people here) has a story, and everyone has a secret. We don't know her whole story, and, if there are any secrets, she'll tell us when/if she's ready.

I sincerely think it's wonderful that you kept your child. But that doesn't make you any better than women who didn't. It just makes you different.

Little Snowdrop said...

I agree.
Telling people that you loved them so much that you gave them away is just another form of mind bending. It is contradictory and confusing.

I have to wonder how much the people who say that kind of thing really believe it in their hearts, and how much they are trying to convince themselves as well as others.

It is rarely a reason that makes logical sense, especially from the POV of the person who was "given".

Plus it conveniently takes attention way from whatever other less palatable reasons there may have been for the relinquishment.
IMO.

maryanne said...

On the "Braveheart" subject; I do not mind if Kelsey refers to herself that way. What bothered me was her statement:
" I am a Braveheart, that is what I like to call birth mothers, birthmothers are Bravehearts"

The issue is not defining herself, but applying the term "Braveheart to us all. We each can define for ourselves whether our own surrender was brave or cowardly. I don't put myself on par with the original Braveheart, William Wallace, who was drawn and quartered! "All" birthmothers are neither brave nor cowardly. This is something so subjective that nobody can speak for another or define another on the basis of bravery or cowardice.

The only thing that can be reliably said about "all" surrendering mothers is that we all gave up a child, coerced or free choice or anything in between, and that nobody ever forgets they had a child although some may wish to. Beyond that, as they they used to say on an old TV show, "there are nine million stories in the Naked City".

Kristina said...

First, I want to say Thank You to Lorraine, Linda, and Jane - When I came to this particular post I knew nothing of any of your experiences.
It is really important for me on my journey to not just consider one side, or just my experience...b/c what i am here for...is to learn, to try to understand, to heal, to grow - not just considering mothers,birthparents - but considering and hearing mothers, parents, adoptive parents....but truly I started this process to prepare myself to learn from ADOPTEES.

The real reason i started blogging was to start to grasp what my birth child might be feeling and thinking, I want so badly to learn from others in the hopes that one day i will be able to help her feel whole, understood and wanted.

I don't want to hurt anyone anymore.

I hurt myself and others for a long long time.
I main-lined heroin and sold drugs for a long time.
I gave a child up for adoption.
I lied to everyone, mostly myself.
Pain Guilt and Shame was my name.
I was in and out of Foster Homes as a teenager b/c my mom didn't want to deal with me.
I have been raped.
I have been in Jail.
My soul was stolen by Methadone.

I chose to give my baby up for adoption b/c i could not bear the thought of bringing a child into my F***ED up World.
I chose adoption because I was scared.
I chose Adoption Because I was Selfish.
I chose Adoption b/c I really, truly thought it was THE BEST CHOICE.

I was able to get my act together with the help of the Judge and with the Help of Grace.
I got clean.
I face SO many demons, and the worst demon - Myself.
I started healing my pain.
I am still on the path.
This path will be lifelong for me.

My 14 year old BirthDaughter found me a few months ago.
My whole LaLa Land of Adoption started to crumble.

Were my circumstances "exreme" enough to justify choosing adoption?
I don't know.
I feel they were.
But who determines that?

Should i have chosen abortion?

Am I that horrible of a person to have chosen to give my baby to two people that could offer her all the things i couldn't - the basics?

Should I have spared M the life of being an ADOPTEE with all of its ramifications?

I don't believe this.

I equate love with abandonment.
I wasn't adopted.
I have a mother who always told me she "loved me unconditionally" who doesn't want anything to do with me.
I don't even feel like a have a family.

My point is that I don't believe that only ADOPTEES feel this way.
I refuse to accept that I "burdened" M with LIFE.

I will do whatever it takes to help M not feel this way.
I will own up to my selfish behavior if it will help her heal.

@Lori
Please! What do I do to help M not feel this way? What can I do!
I honestly and humbly want to know...I refuse to accept that it is too late.

Most Sincerely and Honestly,
Mama K.

Kristina said...

Side Note....

I mentioned @Lori instead of @Joy.
This was not intended, but it is now.

Lori I think I mentioned you b/c you have been on my mind and heart this week.
Cedar too.
and Mei Ling.

I truly want to learn from you women. You have struck and inspired me.
There is nothing i can do about the past or my decisions in the past.
Right Now, I am confronted with my 14 year old Birth Daughter and I need help in realizing what I can do for her so that she never feels abandoned by me. Or take me out...b/c its about her, not me.
You want to help an innocent child?
Help me help M.
I can take it, whatever IT is.
All i ask is that you don't intentionally cut me.
I am already cut and bleeding.
I don't want to hear theories, but i will listen to them.
I want words and stories and advice that can potentially help save an Adopted Child. My Adopted Child.

Thanks in Advance
and with Kindest Regards,
Mama K.

joy said...

@ Maura

Ms. Stewart wrote a book for adoptees, that she is attempting to sell. You can follow her link yourself and also may wonder why braveheart herself lists her name comma author.

No, keeping my child doesn't make me a better person than people who didn't and like K, I have a whole laundry list of reasons I could trot out, that would be considered very good reasons for not keeping.

It doesn't make me a better person, it makes his life a hell of a lot easier though, and it shows.

I think when our friend braveheart is out pushing books about how she loved her kids so she gave them to strangers, yes, I think that is my business.

I am very involved with supporting other adoptees, adoptees trying to wrap their minds around surviving relinquishment, not everyone does after all.

People who never use their discernment to judge situations or people, often end up in very bad places.







@ K: I do believe abortion is the more sensible and humane option for an undesired child, sorry you asked---


Also, I if you want to "help" your "birthdaughter" I would suggest dropping the prefix "birth" the first thing you need to come to terms with, is she is your daughter. She didn't give you away, you gave her away.

Campbell said...

Kristina, I think you're going to be fine because you seem to truly care and want to do the best thing for your child in the realm of the reality that you both share.

I've read your blog. In my adoptee and mom mind you're doing all that you can for your and your daughter's situation. Some of your thoughts about what she's going through are bang on in my opinion. I truly wish her adoptive mom would speak with you, was able to put her ego aside and tap in to your wisdom and experience. I wish she knew that you have her (and your) daughter's best interests at heart and that you guys could work together to help her through these difficult teenage years.

Personally, I'm totally fine with having been adopted and I know others that are too. I had some rough patches growing up like a million other females but it wasn't because I was adopted.

Hang in there, keep learning, loving, and most importantly don't let anyone tell you that what you think and feel is wrong just because it's not what their experience is.

maryanne said...

Kristina, no more sarcasm here, I am sorry for criticizing your writing after reading what you have been through. I can fully see why you surrendered, and why you felt it was a good choice.

It is sad that your daughter's adoptive mother won't let her communicate with you. Sometimes adoptive mothers are not what they seem; my son's mother was not. She came across as my ally but was not, and I later learned my son was abused by her and she was mentally unstable. When she died he did not even attend her funeral, and he is not an uncaring person.

You truly are brave to have overcome addiction and a painful childhood. What you can best give your daughter is the example of your courage and good life now, and keep the door open for future contact and communication.

I wish you well, and again, sorry for the snark.

Kristina said...

@joy.
why say sorry, i asked.
i also thought you might say that.
that's fine, that's all you.
we don't have to agree.

I can definitely see your point with the "birth"daughter label. i have only used that term here.
it has never made me feel comfortable writing it.
To call myself her mother? I don't feel like i am deserving to call myself that.

As for adoption being harmful to children...you are seriously generalizing this fact.

i have quite a few very close friends that are adoptees and they have never have had these painful issues. there are a lot of adoptees that are content.
and i am very interested and concerned with how adoption affects adoptees so i am researching this and it is very important to me.

if your advocacy is for the children truly harmed by adoption, how is it that you help them?

another thing i must add...
i know kelsey and her heart and she is absolutely not pushing her book.
you are WAY off base here.
sorry.

good night mothers xox
k.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Princess,
I never once mentioned my book on this blog. I was not here to discuss that in any way. Way back when, I commented on Linda's post and a great conversation started. Several others took a look at my blog and did not mention my book. My book is not the subject of this post and it is completely irrelevant to this conversation. May I remind you of what this blog states: "Comments are welcome from all, but attacks, nasty remarks, slanderous statements, and irrelevant comments will not be published. We do mean irrelevant. Neither will we publish comments that misinterpret the posts, or earlier comments."
Some rules were broken here.

I would also like to say that I thought it was incredibly tactless and disrespectful to insert someone else's pain that has nothing at all to do with this post, just to satisfy your hunger to cut me down and spew more hatred on me. Just because you disagree with me, and people like me, does not mean that you can misrepresent what I was doing here in the first place.

You say "I don't like practices that harm children, I find them outrageous." Yet ... "I do believe abortion is the more sensible and humane option for an undesired child." This is one hell of a contradiction, Joy. So for the record, I would rather be a Braveheart than a Terminator any day...thank you very much.

The title of this blog is Birth Mothers, First Mothers Forum. This is quite deceiving. I did not know that one comment would start such a crucifiction of my character, such rage because of my positive outlook. I did my best to answer your inqueries as respectfully as I could. Too bad some here could not return the gesture.

Thank you Maura for your kind words, they are much appreciated. You are right, there are secrets but I cannot discuss them here. And Kris, thank you for standing up for me and the person that I am.

I would like to apologize to Linda and Maybe. As much as you would like to hear my voice again, I will have to respectfully decline your invitation to return. I have learned so much from most of you, and have nothing else to say to the rest of you.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Ahem...I don't see why any one who posts here AND writes a book ought to be criticized for having written a book--and linking to a site that does promote her book. Should people with the ability to write books not post comments or not publicize that they do?

As most of you know, I'm a writer myself, and wrote a first memoir from the birth/first mother's perspective back in 1979 when the world was quite a different place in regards to "coming out." It's called Birthmark and is available through amazon and others even though it's out of print.

Whether or not one agrees with Kelsey, she ought not to be criticized because her link leads to her blog, her book. Authors have a difficult time getting word out about their work and I for one found her contributions to the blog enlightening, and they certainly sparked a lot of discussion. I winced when I saw the comment personally criticizing her because she has a book out. This blog should not just be for people who agree with us. And Kelsey, I sincerely hope you will come back.

Adoptmom said...

I am an adoptive mother and I hope you don't mind that I am posting here. I feel fortunate to learn from natural mothers so that I can be as courteous to our son's natural mother as I can be and to help our son with adoption. Kristen, I am pro-choice, but I am so impressed that you chose adoption as opposed to abortion. Aren't you glad that your daughter has had the chance to have her life? I cannot imagine how difficult your journey has been. Good for you for facing the demon of addiction - and winning (one day at a time)! So many are lost to drugs. Your battle (and victory) is a testament to your strength. BTW: My father was adopted and is a well-adjusted individual who enjoys positive, long-term relationships with women. Don't just assume that all adoptees have issues. It seems that some on this board believe that abortion would have been the better choice in your particular circumstance. I would caution you to consider the source. After looking at this individual's posts, it appears that she doesn't seem to have many positive views at all. If a person is just a negative person, then all life experiences are viewed through that lens. It doesn't mean that the life experiences are negative, it just means that SHE views them that way.