And of course, if a mother willingly surrendered her child -- if indeed the child was unwanted and she did not want to keep it -- she is not going to experience PTSD as it was not done against her will. It would not be a traumatic event for her.Whoa, Cedar, beg to differ! I love your blog (Adoption Critique) and usually agree with you, but the comment above, posted as a comment to the previous post here (Does surrender (for the birth/first mother) and adoption (for the child) lead to PTSD?) sure got my notice.
I was not forced by anyone, save circumstance, society, the prevailing culture, to surrender my baby. I think I can say without being contradicted, the same is true for Jane and Linda. My parents did not make me sign the papers. My parents in another state did not even know I was pregnant because at over four months pregnant, I had been able to go home for Christmas and disguise the fact that I was with child! For a number of reasons--such as the father was a married man, he did not get a divorce in time to save our baby--I did not feel that I could keep my child. I live with the fact that I was not strong enough to change the course of my life on the spot and keep my baby. Do I have regrets that I was not stronger? Did I know what a lifelong impact this would have on my life?
Yes, and no.
Mother's Day tribute in the Modern Love column. We read it in a zillion other blogs, in memoirs, and now, even see it making its way in the movies.
Was it traumatic that I relinquished my daughter, even though no one had a hatchet over my head? Or for the writer of the column about open adoption, Amy Seek? Absolutely. I could not know how my dramatically relinquishment would affect me, how within six years the scales would fall from my eyes when I read about Florence Fisher and the Adoptees Liberty Movement Association in The New York Times, and set my life on a course to change adoption as it is practiced today.
Do I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? PTSD is not like cancer, a disease with damaged cells you can look at through a microscope. PTSD is more like PMS...something on a continuum, and somewhere you reach a point where the lingering effects of the event are so overwhelming you end up with a classification of PTSD. I wouldn't call my current state one of PTSD, in the true medical sense where I need drugs, or alcohol or to be locked up in loony bin, but my surrender of my daughter sure as hell bothers me. A whole lot.
Consider this: If I--and a whole lot of other other women who relinquished their children in all sorts of circumstances for all sorts of reasons--were so damn okay, the week leading up to Mother's Day would not have been such a bitch for so many of us.
Firestorms erupted on other blogs. I walked out on a neighbor when she--knowing I relinquished a child, even having met that child--indicated she hoped the thirty-fortysomething couple who live between us "adopt" because the nice young man of that couple finally found a woman and she's moved in, but it's probably too late for them to have children. And they have told someone adoption is on their minds. I'm thinking, Damn, I'll never be able to walk past that house again without thinking about "adoption," and I've already got that at the other end of the block. I'm thinking: every time I see that kid he or she will remind me that somewhere else, there was a catastrophe in someone's life and that's why the real mother doesn't have her baby.
If my surrender was not traumatic I would not be so upset--racing heart, elevated blood pressure, automatic sweat release--when I listen to people talk about adoption casually.
I would not say, Damn, can't I avoid this? nearly everytime I turn the TV on and there's some new story with an adoption twist. Last week it was Law & Order, the week before it was Law & Order, SVU.
I wouldn't think about a friend's daughter from Guatemala, Hmm, probably one of those stolen kids.
I would not even be pissed off that an adoptive grandfather, told me to my face "you are our worst nightmare" when he learned that my daughter actually lived her with us for lengthy stretches at a time when she was in her teens and after. I would not record programs such as Who Do You Think You Are? and The Locator and keep Kleenex nearby because, of course, I know I am going to weep.
My own PMS serious enough that a doctor eventually classified it as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD. But do I have PTSD forty-four years after my daughter was born, and relinquished to an unknown world?
Maybe not in the clinical sense. But a variation thereof. If I didn't I would not be writing FirstMotherForum. I'd simply be smelling the roses.--lorraine
PS: If you are interested in commenting here about how you do not have a lifelong trauma relating to adoption and we who do are the unusual, please go to a blog that is devoted to the great happiness that is adoption for other people. There are several. This is not one. Yes, some of the arguing that goes on in the comments here is best done elsewhere, and what was underway in the last blog made me rethink what we post. I'm laying that out now because I am tired of the bickering that goes on, the accusations that follow--even in snarky comments at other blogs about how I am despicable--when we do not post some comments. It's tiring. I'm done with it.