The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's November, 2006 report, Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process which Lorraine refers to in the preceding post is excellent and well worth reading. However, I think the jury is still out on whether women from the Baby-Scope, pre Roe v. Wade, period see relinquishing their children differently that the open adoption mothers of today. I relinquished my daughter Megan in 1966. If I had been asked how I felt about my “decision” during the next 20 years, I would have answered I was okay, that I did the only thing I could have done.
In fact, in the early 80's, I read a letter to Ann Landers from a birthmother telling of her intense, endless pain. I remember being incredulous. While I had not forgotten about my child (as social workers in my day promised), I worked at putting my feelings aside, and other than an occasional, sometimes intense, sense of loss, I was generally successful. I was actually quite proud of myself for having control.
It was not until my mother died in July of 1988 almost 22 years after my surrender that I began to suffer profound and frequent episodes of grief. I began replaying the events leading up to my pregnancy, Megan’s birth, and the surrender. I realized that I could have -- and should have -- kept her. Since our reunion in 1997 these feelings have lessened somewhat and I have been able to focus more on the present than the past.
Other birthmothers have told me that they repressed their feelings for many years. In fact one birthmother recounted how she volunteered at an adoption agency, giving talks to prospective adoptive parents about what a good decision she made. Then she reunited with her daughter and her protective wall crumbled.
We can't know until 20 or more years have passed whether open-adoption mothers are more at peace than my generation of mothers.
Tomorrow, we're moving to a new writer and a new topic. Birthfather Joe Sanchez tells us about his search for his daughter.