USA Today published two letters today following up my viewpoints piece (I share Oprah's mom's shame and pain) of last week: "Counsel birth mothers about the realities of adoption" reads a headline I can only think of as stupendous--as it is over a terrific letter by Jeanine M. Biocic, president of Origins-USA, and a email friend of ours at FMF.
"Birth mothers believe, in fact are told, that relinquishing their child is the best thing all around. Rarely do they comprehend, until it is too late, that they may live the rest of their lives with secrecy, grief, and stigma, never forgetting and always wondering about the uncertainly of the life that awaits their child. Rarely do they comprehend, until it's too late, that relinquishing their child will affect decisions they make for the rest of their lives, and not always for the better."
The second letter is from adoptee Alice Miceli, of Tabernacle, New Jersey, who writes that while she has found members of her mothers family, such as cousins and aunts, she has been unable to find her mother, though she has been searching for 35 years. From a letter left by her mother in her adoption file, she knows that her mother came from a very abusive family, and she understands the pain of mothers who give up their children:
"I have wanted to fin my birth mother to give her a big hug, and thank her for giving me a better life and for the great sacrifice she made for the love of me. I do not judge her; she was alone, young with nowhere to turn. Birth mothers need to be found so we adoptees can express our feelings to them."Amen to both writers, and thank you both. (Links to both letters above.) The world needs to know about the pain of the "adoption option" from both the viewpoint of birth mother and child. Letters and op-ed pieces wherever we can get them increase public awareness as we continue the fight for open records in state after state. In New Jersey the battle seems especially difficult as the state's preeminent newspaper, The Star-Ledger, is opposed to adoptee rights, and keeps giving the opposition op-ed space on their pages. One the editors are especially fond of is the wrong-headed director of the New Jersey ACLU, Deborah Jacobs, who seems especially determined to save us first mothers from the temporary embarrassment of acknowledging our children who have been lost to adoption.
Me? I'm cynical. I think she has adoption for herself in the back of her childless 40-something mind. Or some cock-eyed sense of "women's rights" that overshadows her ability to put herself in the shoes of an adopted person. Liberals like Jacobs think of adoption quite simply as "a good thing," and wear the blinders of sharing their wealth with the rest of the world without thinking of the heartache and turmoil and lifelong grief behind most adoptions.
Yet behind every adoption of child from a living, breathing woman is a woeful mother leaving a trail of tears. I say "most" because there are always kids who actually need a home and family to feel a part of, as my cohort Jane and I have stated in our page on What We Think About Adoption. Yet those children are the exception, not the rule.
They only way to change opinion of calcified lawmakers is to make our voices heard. If you are reading this, in any state or province or country in the world, and want the laws changed, write a letter to your local paper. Use the Oprah connection to give the letter a current "hook." First mothers and adoptees in Michigan, Indiana, Montana, New Jersey, California, New York, Vermont Connecticut, Florida and everywhere, use this Oprah moment to stand up and be counted, to make a stake for ending all closed adoptions with open records, not only for our children, but for ourselves also. If you don't do it, who will?--lorraine
Coming next: On learning that my daughter had epilepsy and that it was likely caused by the birth control pills I took when I did not know I was pregnant.