Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dear Abby encourages searching for first/birth family

Lorraine
I stand corrected. Denise posted the following comment re Dear Abby:
"I too was pleased to see what the New Abby has written. Although I have to say that the original Abby was quite open to search and reunion. As I wrote on this topic on my blog, it was because of a letter she published from a first mother who found her son through Soundex, that I learned about that registry. I saved the letter until my son was 18, then
registered. He registered 8 years later and we were matched and immediately put in contact. I then wrote to thank Abby and tell her about my reunion. She published my letter and a very positive response. 
So while yesterday I stuck Dear Abby in the same grab bag as her sister, Ann Landers and Dr. Laura Schlessinger as being against search and reunion for birth mothers and adoptees, I was wrong.* Mea culpa. To pick up from yesterday (with edits):
Along comes a hopeful sign in the voice of the New Abby, daughter of the first Abby, who actually writes under her real name: Jeanne Phillips, as her byline indicates. In yesterday's column she wrote:
"Why do I hope “Thankful Son” will one day be reunited with his birth mother? For two reasons: Many times, such a reunion brings both parent and child a sense of completion. It also provides an opportunity for the child to get a complete family medical history."
Hooray!  We are making progress!!! This was in response to the many letters she says she got from first mothers and adoptees who wrote after she published a letter signed Thankful Son, written by an adoptee, a man, some birth mother's son, thanking her for letting him be adopted.

Well. Of course we can understand the impulse because if you are adopted you have got to consider that your mother might have aborted you--there's not way around that--and a sweet letter to your first mother thanking her for not doing that and getting you settled with good parents seems like a nice, loving gesture, and we will take it at face value, but yeah, we know, there is this nagging feeling that "being thanked" for giving up our child for adoption is bittersweet at best. In the back our minds is that nagging thought: You mean, Are you thanking me for NOT BEING ABLE TO RAISE YOU MYSELF...because you had so many more advantages with the middle-class couple who adopted you?

But his letter didn't actually get into that. He said he had been looking for his mother on line for years, that he was a successful professional, he called her is "biological mother" (no au courant PC language, which I love, actually, for its bluntness and truth) and when he addressed her he wrote: "Mama," which can bring tears to the weepy like myself.

Yesterday this new delightful Abby, Jeanne (I love her already), published two letters from birth mothers (Wendy in Delaware and Brenda in Florida who feels she doesn't have the "right" to search), another adoptee who calls himself an "adopted child,"  (yes, I know but we are all someone's child) and...er, a letter from an adoptive mother who doesn't want Abby to encourage a search, even though she claims that she would not be against such an undertaking. Well, we know about that. REAL Mom in Miami writes:
After all, these people are virtual strangers. They have different values and expectations, which all too often can lead to disappointment. At the very least, it’s a weird experience. I think what adopted children really want to know is why they were given up and if they were loved. The answer to that last question, from this mom, is a resounding YES! — The “Real” Mom in Miami
Given the defensive tone of her letter, I cannot imagine that any of her children could actually do a search with her help and blessing, and that she would be making them feel that dirty little word: ungrateful. I can imagine the silence at the Thanksgiving dinner table ("What did I do wrong that you feel you have to search for ...that woman?") and the coolness upon hearing a real person--OMG, it's the mother!) was found. And by the way, Ms. Real Mom in Miami, just how do you know that "these people...have different values..."? That reference drives me up the wall because whenever my daughter's adoptive mother got angry with me (and she did, quite often as the years went by, I did not live up to her "expectations," I think to disappear in the woodwork) I would get a letter that included the sentence: We have different values.  

I always wanted to write back: Yes, we believe in murder and rape here on the East Coast, but you good folk in the Midwest (where I am from btw) believe in bestiality and mass murder at high schools....but of course I did nothing of the kind. I simply did not respond, however much I wanted to.

But I digress. The letters are such a great change from what we are used to reading in advice columns about search-and-rescue--Oh, sorry Freudian slip, I mean, search-and-reunion....that I feel hopeful today. And of course the column in USA Today (and, I hope the print edition in the morning) didn't dampen my mood. Of course, we do have to find a way to educate both mothers and children that each has the right to seek the other out. As the Italian say, Blood seeks Blood. It sounds better in Italian, and I'm not talking about the Mafia here. --lorraine
---------------
Links to Dear Abby letters above. I'm going to sit right down and write her a letter. Oh! And for all you kind folks who have been trying to post at the recalcitrant USA Today site, what can I say? There's trouble somewhere on the line. If the piece gets into print--now scheduled for Thursday--you might save your sanity by simply sending your thoughts along to letters@usatoday.com. And if you haven't read the column yet, here's the link: I share Oprah's mom's shame and pain.   And I don't mind at all if you hit share and give it a high five at the top where the little upwards arrow is. Please excuse the shameless promotion of my memoir, Birthmark. But if I ain't gonna do it, who is?

* See also: The Daughter I Never Wanted and other lies about adoption in the media
Dear Abby Gets It! Firstmother Husbands cont'd
On grieving for a grandchild NOT placed for adoption

5 comments :

  1. I truly wanted to throw up when i read what the "real" mom had to say.

    I'm willing to bet that her adopted children don't feel the same way...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I too was pleased to see what the New Abby has written. Although I have to say that the original Abby was quite open to search and reunion. As I wrote on this topic on my blog, it was because of a letter she published from a first mother who found her son through Soundex, that I learned about that registry. I saved the letter until my son was 18, then registered. He registered 8 years later and we were matched and immediately put in contact. I then wrote to thank Abby and tell her about my reunion. She published my letter and a very positive response.

    Ann Landers was not so pro-reunion. In fact, I thought, a very bitter, negative woman.

    You're right, Lorraine, we ARE making progress... however slow.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Denise, obviously you are right about Dear Abby.

    Her sister, Ann Landers, and Dr. Laura were positively against search, but Abby, as you have shown, had more compassion for adoptees and birth mothers.

    When this kind of birth mother/child reunion gets into the papers, it helps move opinion. I guess I morphed all of them into one, and mostly remembered what I heard from Landers and the now-dismissed sucky Dr. Laura.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Censored again just by stating that one of the Landers was
    an adored. Dr Laura was considering it till she encountered a birth mom who wanted some contact the nerve of the birthmom will you print this? Prob not

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anon: Almost did not publish your comment because I do not know what it means? Censored again? and the rest of it does not make clear what you are talking about.

    ReplyDelete

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