It's a word bandied about about birth mothers who are not content with their situation as mothers without children to mother. Call me bitter, and it gives you an excuse to dismiss me, because, y'all know that I haven't accepted reality and made peace with the fact that I relinquished my daughter to an uncertain future. And we birth mothers who relinquished in the Mesozoic Age of shame, shunning and closed adoptions,
we who have found and reunited with our children only to discover that there is no second act that reverses the first in adoption, that not only is there no going back, there is possibly no healthy going forward, we are neither blissful nor content. We are still birth mothers, biological mothers, mothers but not mothers, mothers who did not raise our children.
I have always accepted the reality that I gave up my daughter for a lot of reasons and I made the choice--as much as anyone had free choice in the Sixties--myself. I was not sixteen, I was not coerced by my parents, I was not "talked" into it--well, the father (married to someone else, and also a father of three others) saw no other option other than adoption once abortion was off the table. But I did it. I did not see options, and I signed the papers. I put my daughter into a life situation with parents who were quite bit NOT like her.
|My daughter, Jane|
But because I was devastated, because a part of me will always be devastated, even though I have certainly picked up the pieces and gotten on with my life, but still--does that make me bitter today? Does it make all of us who surrendered in closed adoptions out of touch with adoption today?
During our recent skirmish with another blog that shall be nameless, a snide comment was that we looked like we would make nice "grandmothers." That's another way of saying we are out of touch with the real world today, we are dinosaurs from another age. Recently a social worker who deals with open adoptions said that the first mothers she deals with--often very young, some still in high school--in open adoptions are relieved not to be parents, and not, you know, that implied, bitter like us.
I get that. Sixteen and Pregnant may sound cool when you're the center of a reality show, but the reality of motherhood and fatherhood at sixteen is pretty daunting. So, I can understand relieved not to be Sixteen and Parenting. But what she was saying also is: They are not like you. They are relieved, ie, content with their situation. The young parents she was talking about were in truly open adoptions, by the way, and sometimes babysit for their children.
Well, yeah, I can see that would make a big difference. If I had known where Jane was, if I had been able to have my life--I always was hell bent on having a career--and see her now and then, babysit and take her to the zoo or the circus, tuck her in some nights and read her stories, I suppose I might be relieved and have a more positive view of the realities of adoption than I do today. But would Jane have been less affected by being adopted? That's the $64,000 dollar question. No answer there.
I don't think I'm bitter about my life. That's a harsh word to pin on anybody. I do think the surrender affected me profoundly and made me a different person than I would have been had I not had a child I gave up. If I had married my first love, we would have had at least one child, he always wanted children and I knew that from the getgo, and today I probably would be involved in some other cause--saving the environment sounds good--but I'd be quite a different person. Coming to grips with all that was why I came so undone when his daughter, just a few months older than my daughter, contacted me over a year ago. Contemplating the simpler life not lived was not easy. If you believe in karma, this was my tao. And I wept. For weeks.
One cannot know how those relieved teenagers in an open adoption with their child will feel about their lives in ten, twenty years hence, or what their relationship with the child they surrendered will be. Or how the adopted individual will feel about their life situation. Life is uncertain. We are all--all, not just those involved in adoption--part of a grand experiment called life. There are no guarantees, there is not ultimate ideal or perfection, and no one has a unfettered shot at happiness. Just do not dismiss my concerns with the epithet bitter.
And you, those young relieved birth mothers who seem blissful and whom I can find if I search hard enough on the web, I won't say you drank the Kool-ade. That is just as dismissive as calling me bitter. Yes, certainly from this side of this complicated equation, it does seem like you may have an easier shot at that thing called happiness.--lorraine