Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Steve Jobs’ mother didn’t abandon him, nor did she 'make an adoption plan'

Jane

Steve Jobs “was born out of wedlock and abandoned” Steve Kroft stated on 60 Minutes. If Kroft had been schooled in the adoption industry's “Positive/Respectful Adoption Language," he might have phrased it differently, Jobs’ mother Joanne Schieble (later Simpson) “made an adoption plan.”

Simpson did not abandon her son (although according to Jobs’s  biographer, Walter Isaacson, Job felt abandoned). Nor is it likely that Simpson "made an adoption plan." Most likely, Simpson surrendered her son for adoption as single white mothers were expected to do in 1955. She cared about him enough that she insisted his adoptive parents agree to send him to college.

"Make an adoption plan" conveys that mothers are responsible and in control of their decisions. It transforms the separation of mothers and children from an aberration into a positive act; it tells society (particularly adoptive parents) that mothers choose to "place their child for adoption" in order “to give them a better life.”

Adoption agencies and fuzzy-thinking liberals like the Jessica Arons of the Center for American Progress tout the "adoption option," laying out "parenting," adoption, and abortion as though expectant mothers are choosing from a smorgasbord of equal choices. The underlying assumption is that women with unplanned pregnancies can make fully rational decisions, that they have free will or, in the Mormon speak of my surrendered daughter Rebecca, "free agency." When I speak of my grief, she reminds me that I made the "right decision."

We often see adoptees on television during their search say they only want to find their birth parents to "thank them" for letting them be adopted. We first mothers see a mixed message: one the one hand they are happy or joyful they were adopted; on the other hand, they aren't content enough to not search. I have to think, though, that for most, it must be painful to hear that their mother's decision to give them up was borne from a well thought out plan; that she weighed the pros and con of keeping them--and then decided they weren't worth the effort of keeping. 

CULTURAL CONDITIONING CONTROLS OUR CHOICES
In truth, however, unconscious biases, cultural conditioning–irrational factors--are more likely to explain adoption decisions. This is borne out by the work of Professor Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University and the late Amos Tversky. Kahneman, who won a Nobel prize in economics for his work, and Tversky conducted extensive research proving that human behavior often deviates from the old models which assumed that “we are mostly rational agents” and “that people are basically sensible utility-maximizers and that when they depart from reason it’s because some passion like fear or love distorted their judgment.” According to Kahneman and Tversky “people rely on unconscious biases and rules of thumb to navigate the world. … Our free will is bounded. We have much less control over ourselves than we thought.” (David Brooks reviewing Kahneman’s new memoir Thinking, Fast and Slow)

Professor Kent Greenfield of Boston College says much the same thing in The Myth of Choice: Personal Responsibility in a World of Limit. Choices are “’constrained, manipulated and forced upon us’ by biology, culture, authority and economics.” Protecting people from bad choices is good for them and for us. “When we recognize that the rhetoric of choice may be misleading (or false) we may be more willing to bind ourselves with enlightened public policies.” (Glenn Altschuler reviewing The Myth of Choice, Oregonian).

LEGISLATORS APPEASE THE ADOPTION LOBBY
In the context of adoption, laws should be designed to guard against irrational decisions which fracture families unnecessarily. Laws should require reasonable waiting periods before parents may consent to adoption and reasonable time periods for parents to revoke consent. In their zeal to appease the adoption lobby and meet the needs of childless constituents, however, state legislatures have done the opposite, reducing the time to decide upon adoption.

If the public were aware of the realities behind many surrenders, there might be fewer adoptions. To change public thinking, however, would require acceptance of the limits of free will and a recognition that taking advantage of a mother's other-directed decision is morally wrong, something that those desiring a baby (likely an irrational decision as well) are unlikely to do.
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 For more on The Adoption Option, see Response to the Adoption Option

For more on the need to reform adoption laws related to consent, see

106 comments :

  1. How can you surrender a child without abandoning him or her?

    OK, her son was not made into a foundling, exposed to the elements, granted. But how can you say that Simpson did not abandon him?

    Yes, I am in favor of using Negative Adoption Language, as long as it is honest.

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  2. I say he was abandoned to strangers, That's real adoption language.

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  3. From what I've learned about what happens in the heart of the adoptee--no matter how much an adoption was planned--the child grows up and once he or she learns what adoption means, that another mother gave him or her away that registers, rationally or not, as abandonment. That's what many or most adoptive parents refuse to accept and what I hate about adoption the most.

    Does anyone really think her mother sat around and "made an adoption plan"? One wants to know why she couldn't make an alternative plan if it was all that rational. Sounds like making a plan to decide where to go to college. Harvard or State U? Junior college or State U?

    Yet to us birth mothers, using the word abandonment piles on more guilt than we otherwise feel, when we did not abandon a child on the steps of the police station or at a hospital. But then, that is what those drop-off laws permit in some states. You can drop off a baby, no questions asked. That is abandonment.

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  4. Speaking of words..has the adoption industry completely rewritten the meaning of the word "thankful" and hardwired it into its lexicon?
    Isaacson was interviewed on NPR ( Fresh Air) yesterday....and continued to expound on the biography he wrote on Steve Jobs. He said that Jobs described how his Birth Mother's privacy was (so-called) "protected" by sealed records. HA ! Though at first, the delivering doctor offered the moronic "all my files were lost in a fire" story, he soon caved. So, not surprisingly, the mandatory "state protection" of this woman's name didn't last long....yet , 'access' opponents still circle their wagons around this crumbling system. Eventually, the doctor decided to just simply pass her name on to Jobs. Of course, having no backbone for the absolute appropriateness of his act, this pathetic man wanted to be dead before the information was sent to Jobs--- to avoid having to defend his actions. Isaacson went on to share details that Jobs told him of the first meeting with his Birth Mother...." she was so happy to see me and cried, saying she did not want to give me up. I told her it was ok. I just wanted to thank her." But, even hearing her say she didn't want to do it, was forced to do it, and seeing that she seemingly was still not at peace with her 'adoption plan', it could not mitigate the hurt of being let go. Not even having the chance to say " thank you for doing it!" could un-ring the surrender bell. Is the unspoken part of 'it's ok! I was chosen!' : "...just not by you" ? Is this the adoptee's painful truth when they hunt down natural family to say "thank you " ? Isaacson firmly felt that Simpson's surrender of Jobs (negatively) overshadowed Jobs life view of himself. Is this something to be thankful for?

    Aside from abuse and neglect, I can not fathom how an adoptee WOULD be thankful for being separated from the natural family due simply to societal norms, or in Jobs case, the tyrannical, religious demands of his Grandfather. THANKFUL for this treatment of his own Mother? As Jane pointed to the obvious; I would better understand an adoptee being "thankful" if there were no attempt to search out natural family. But, to hunt her down just to say "good job!" ? Really?

    My found son has a close, intact, normal, loving adoptive family and has been afforded many life bonuses of travel and education. Yet, he recognizes that his was a completely unnecessary adoption due to mores of 1968. I was not unfit to raise him. "They" did not do a better job than me--they did a different job than me. When he expresses being thankful, it is in conjunction with being reunited with his natural family early enough in his life to add much richness to his experience on earth. He tells me he is thankful for all the love in his families but, given a choice, he would have preferred to have had his life take its 'natural course'...rather than to have been un-naturally separated from it. After all, and THANKFULLY, this system of parents raising their young has worked just fine for the vast majority of human families since the dawn of time.

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  5. I certainly felt as if I was abandoning when I "surrendered" my child. But it didn't seem at the time as if there was anything I could have done about it.
    I think many mothers felt/feel this way, probably including Joanne Schieble.

    I don't think the fact that Joanne Schieble insisted that her son went to adoptive parents who would agree to send him to college means a great deal other than showing that education was a priority for her. I believe she went on to finish hers.

    Oh well. There's only so much juice that can be squeezed out of an orange. Or an Apple for that matter.

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  6. Maureen Dowd today in the New York Times and syndicated:

    "Chrisann Brennan, the mother of Jobs’s oldest child, Lisa, told Isaacson that being put up for adoption left Jobs 'full of broken glass.' He very belatedly acknowledged Lisa and their relationship was built, Isaacson says, on 'layers of resentment.'

    "He could be hard on women. Two exes scrawled mean messages on his walls. As soon as he learned that his beautiful, willowy, blonde girlfriend, Laurene Powell, was pregnant in 1991, he began musing that he might still be in love with the previous beautiful, willowy, blonde girlfriend, Tina Redse.

    “'He surprised a wide swath of friends and even acquaintances by asking them what he should do,” Isaacson writes. ‘Who was prettier,’ he would ask, ‘Tina or Laurene?’ And “'who should he marry?'”

    "Isaacson notes that Jobs could be distant at times with the two daughters he had with Laurene (though not the son). When one daughter dreamed of going to the Oscars with him, he blew her off.

    "Andy Hertzfeld, a friend and former Apple engineer, lent Lisa $20,000 when she thought her father was not going to pay her Harvard tuition. Jobs paid it back to his friend, but Lisa did not invite him to her Harvard graduation.

    “'The key question about Steve is why he can’t control himself at times from being so reflexively cruel and harmful to some people,' Hertzfeld said. 'That goes back to being abandoned at birth.'”

    No matter how we cut it, abandonment is the word that keeps coming up. Job's story is certainly giving a lot of adiptive and natural parents a reality check.

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  7. "We often see adoptees on television during their search say they only want to find their birth parents to "thank them" for letting them be adopted. We first mothers see a mixed message: one the one hand they are happy or joyful they were adopted; on the other hand, they aren't content enough to not search." ...and to earthmother and Lorraine...

    I, an adoptee, said "thank you" to a birth mother friend. At the time, I was almost 40 years old and believed that I should be grateful to her sacrifice (and to my own mother's) - I had been brainwashed by society ("You are so lucky to have your parents") and by my aparents ("She loved you enough to give you up") for all those decades. Wow - what was I supposed to feel? Anger? No, not an adoptee expected to be a non-person, a changeable entity that adapts to any and all situations with glee and gratitude. Sadness? No, again, for the same reasons. Distrust? Abandoned? Afraid? What kind of "good adoptee" would I be if I had rational feelings like those?!

    Only when my birthmother friend kindly told me that it hurt her to hear that I thanked her - that the hole in her heart was so great at her loss - did I realize there was someone else out there who felt what I felt all my life - fear, sadness, anger, abandoned. For, as she abandoned me, so did so much trust my mother had in the world abandon her on that day.

    I've never met her, but I imagine that is true.

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  8. Oh...Kristi...why do I have tears in my eyes? Because the emotions stirred by what I read here never go away.

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  9. @Earth Mother - Yes, you definitely can't unring the bell, and I too wonder at why an adoptee would search if they are so happy and grateful. After all, if you are happy and grateful, would you not simply be happy in your world? Searching implies much more.

    @Kristi - thank you. That is the hard part, learning that there is so much more to it and that gratitude is like another knife.

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  10. Thankfully, my daughter never thanked me for giving her up for adoption, almost 47 years ago. Rather, just some months ago, during one of our conversations, she told me the greatest gift I gave her, was in searching and finding her. As much as that lifted my heart, still it was bittersweet. I thought to myself, I wish we had never been separated in the first place..thus making search & found, a moot subject.

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  11. @Lori.
    Is there any reason why adopted people shouldn't be both happy with their situation AND curious about the people who physically created them? I don't understand why it's so hard for some to understand. Being happy doesn't make people brain dead.

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  12. I certainly couldn't agree with more the title of this post. I would have been very hurt if my first mother had sat down and thought everything through rationally and decided that yes, she just didn't want to be burdened with me. Actually, that is what I thought she did until I learned about the BSE.

    I have also been puzzled by adoptees who say they are so happy being adopted and yet still search for their blood kin. IMHO, I think people search in order to find FAMILY not to say "thank you".

    @Earth mother,
    Thank you for your beautiful comment. Although I think it hit too close to home. I found myself tearing up after I read it.

    Robin

    PS I just never can seem to get away from adoption. I watched the Biggest Loser last night for no more than 10 minutes and it turns out one of the trainers was adopted (and seemingly VERY happy about it). He was coaching one of the contestants who was an adoptive father. The coach said something to the effect that the contestant obviously had a great heart since he was able to take someone else's kids and make them his own. And I was trying to do something away from adoption. It certainly seems that adoption is chic these days.

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  13. Jobs said in an article on the internet he never finished university because he couldn't afford it. So much for a better life. Where were adoptive mom and dad? Obviously not paying for his schooling.

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  14. @Anon - no, but I find it unlikely, given human nature, that a person that is so happy with their personal situation would seek out something that would disrupt that happiness. That is basic psychology.

    When looked at in retrospect, almost every "happy" (for lack of a better term) adoptee that has searched realizes that loving their adoptive families has nothing to do with personal happiness, but instead has more to do with the unhappiness that is hidden deep inside.

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  15. Why would anyone be happy about being adopted? If babies had a choice they would never want to be taken from their mothers. My mother has emotional problems. I don't know how bad they were before she gave me up, but they are pretty bad now. My father is a cold man who told me that he cannot feel emotion. He told me he never cared what happened to me after he took me to the adoption agency, with my mother when i was 5 days old. My parents got married when they found out my mom was pregnant, but then changed their mind about keeping me. They had to drive me to the adoption agency themselves. No one came to get me. Then they had the marriage annulled. I wish everyday that I grew up with them. I missed my whole life. I'll never be OK. My heart was broken before I left the cradle. Happy with my situation? you have no idea what you're talking about

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  16. I don't think curiosity and happiness with adoptive situations are at issue. The issue is the overwhelming pressure for "gratitude" on the part of adoptees and first parents.

    My son's amom took the opportunity in her one and only contact to tell me that every year on his bday they drank a toast to me. These were people who went on to have bio children (although not a son). Needless to say I was offended. Members of my extended family somehow thought I should extend my gratitude to the apars. For what?

    It is just all that expectation of gratitude that is deranged. There is nothing about adoption that warrants gratitude on the part of anyone. There are many more responses that make sense.

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  17. Robin and others:

    did you see my sidebar about the biggest loser? I was floored. And thought: here we go again.

    Next thing it will be on Dancing with the Stars.

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  18. Lorraine,
    I hadn't noticed the sidebar comment about The Biggest Loser until after I posted that comment. I know you are a fan of The Bachelor/Bachelorette. I sure hope adoption does wind its way into the new season starting in January.

    @Anon 4:49,
    I noticed that, too, on 60 minutes that Jobs was adopted into a working class family. I remember thinking, What? I thought adoptees were all adopted "up". Not that their financial status diminishes their parenting ability at all but I thought first parents were always told about all the material advantages their child would have if given up for adoption.

    Robin

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  19. @ SameOld
    "There is nothing about adoption that warrants gratitude on the part of anyone."

    Of course there isn't. That's why I didn't mention it.

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  20. @ Lori
    "When looked at in retrospect, almost every "happy" adoptee that has searched realizes that loving their adoptive families has nothing to do with personal happiness, but instead has more to do with the unhappiness that is hidden deep inside."

    I don't agree. I think that loving adoptive family has a quite a lot to do with personal happiness, and that not loving adoptive family would have big negative influence on happiness.
    Anyway, how do you know what almost every adoptee that has searched feels? Do you know almost all of them.

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  21. "We often see adoptees on television during their search say they only want to find their birth parents to "thank them" for letting them be adopted. We first mothers see a mixed message: one the one hand they are happy or joyful they were adopted; on the other hand, they aren't content enough to not search."

    I think if I had got a chance to meet my birthmother, I would merely have reassured her that I had a good life.

    I don't think I could have said "thank you for relinquishing me", "you did the right thing" and all those similar statements because I don't think it is up to me to thank someone for doing something when I have no idea how they would have felt about it.

    I don't know if I ever really felt abandoned. I definitely do feel a loss though this has really only become apparent in the last year or so since meeting the family.

    On the whole, I just feel sadness for her because she never did have any more living children - she had stillborn twins in the early 70s and an unsuccessful pregnancy a few years before she passed away - I suppose you could say she then ran out of time to have any more. She was much loved by her niece who lost her aunt when she was 6.

    Was I a happy adoptee growing up? I am unsure. However, it is probably true to say I was an uncomplaining adoptee - I just settled for things as they were, life was easier that way.

    I didn't search to "fill a hole" in my heart but I can say that meeting my extended family has enriched my life and would never go back to before.

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  22. "Jobs said in an article on the internet he never finished university because he couldn't afford it. So much for a better life. Where were adoptive mom and dad? Obviously not paying for his schooling."

    In his own words.

    "After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
    It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it.

    Stanford Commencement Address, 12 Jun 2005

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  23. I was adopted down. My dad's family owned land and were pretty well off. My a parents lived in a 1 bedroom apt. where I shared a room with my amom until I was 14. The only house I've ever lived in is the one I own now. My dad owned many houses and sold them for profit. He recently got a $20,000 face lift!!

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  24. I never felt abandoned and since I have a brother that was truly abandoned, I just don't feel I can apply that to my situation. My mother may not have made a plan, because as I know personally, who really makes a plan? You go to the agency, say you are considering adoption, and bam you have "made a plan". Both of us were doing what we had to do in crappy situations.

    My brother on the other hand was literally left somewhere and found. He was truly abandoned, yes, in the United States, in a very rural area no less, in fact my step son lives in the town he was found in, how is that for irony? We think my step son may have my brother's mom as a teacher.

    Knowing what I know about how he feels about things, which isn't much, I know I can't use the word abandoned when it comes to myself because I wasn't left somewhere in November, in a nothern state to possibly freeze to death. I know the exact date of my birth, he has an estimate, there are just so many things that help me see my situation in a different light.

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  25. "There is nothing about adoption that warrants gratitude on the part of anyone."

    Of course not... except for adoption in itself.

    Adoption occurs because for whatever reason, the child was not kept by the original parents.

    We live in a world where parents are supposed to take care of their children, and strangers are not obligated to take care of anyone else. Family first, then community.

    So when the child is adopted, no one says anyone *HAS* to take care of that child. No one says an American set of parents has to step in and save a child's life - even if they do it because they merely want to "love and raise" a child.

    Therefore, if the original parents didn't take care of their child, at least *someone* stepped in to do so.

    Because no one owes anyone anything, except when it comes to family.

    Prior to the adoption, the child isn't a part of the adoptive family. And there lies the gratitude issue.

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  26. Mei-Ling: Very well put.

    I am sure that gratitude issue complicates everything: about search, about loyalty issues, about feelings towards the parents who raised you--and makes it more complicated than it would be otherwise when confronted with the parents who didn't.

    And Karen Lynn: Thanks for talking about the difference between a true abandonment and being surrendered through an agency. But somewhere--likely in the town where your brother was left--is a woman who was desperate when she gave birth. Maybe she had kept the pregnancy a secret and gave birth by herself; maybe she had been raped by her father. She may even know who her son has become, as it may have been in the papers who adopted the abandoned baby. No matter how she feels now it would be incredibly difficult to come forward because she would have to accept responsibility for leaving her son out in the cold.

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  27. Oh, Michele, I just came across your first comment--what you said breaks my heart, it breaks the heart of every mother who is searching, or how has searched, or who has been happy to be found.

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  28. I never thanked my mother for giving me up for adoption. She probably wouldn't have believed me if I had. She probably would have scoffed and said "yeah, right". She never thought giving me up for adoption was a good thing or that I would be happy about being adopted. She actually carried a lot of guilt about that. But back in the day, she knew and I have come to understand that she really had no other choice.

    Also, I have never gotten this gratitude message neither from my APs, my FPs or anyone else. I was never expected to be grateful for being adopted but I was expected to be FINE with it, which I wasn't. And therein lay my problems with it.

    Robin

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  29. When my child was still very young, I told her that I'd "planned" for her future (i.e. adoption).

    This was the language offered to me by my CPC counselor and, at the time, I used it because I thought it would be easier for my still-young child to hear than:

    "My pregnancy counselor told me I would be selfish to raise you, sinful even, and that you would be glad and 'grateful' to be adopted away from me.

    She said she knew this couple ... and it turned out that she really worked for them and wasn't a real counselor at all. She brought them to my bedside after I'd said that I couldn't part from you ... and then told me that she had faith that I was a 'good birthmother' and wouldn't let people down.

    As I laid there in my hospital bed, it felt as if people were putting their hands up my hospital gown while whispering into my ear that I deserved it. And, for a long, long time I thought I must have somehow ... and was willing to use their words."

    My child is an adult now, and I still don't know what language I'd use if ever we met.

    I won't agree that I abandoned her, although that's how she may perceive it.

    I won't agree that I made an "adoption plan," though that's the party line still pushed.

    I won't tell her that it felt something akin to a calculated sort of group molestation (tired as metaphors like these are, there is not another that better describes it at this point).

    All I know, my truth, is that I was doing what I then believed was the loving thing, the good-for-her thing. Naive and vulnerable as I was.

    Either way, it was not an empowered act or plan but, rather, like that photograph that used to circulate on some first parent websites: The one where a mother is totally immersed in a pond of water, no longer visible at all, except for her arms and hands ... which are holding her child up out of it.

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  30. The only contact I have had with my daughter was through my mother-in-law who happened upon her at work one day. When talking with my mother-in-law, she told her to tell me she was "grateful her birth mother did the right thing" and that she was "glad to have been adopted" and that she had "had a wonderful life that [she] couldn't have had with her birth mother."

    I still can't access words to describe the anguish these comments have caused in my life. I am certain they were intended to make me feel "better" but they have had the complete opposite effect.

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  31. Michelle, you describe parents who truly did not want to raise you. Do you really think that would have been better life with them? Or perhaps your adoptive parents were just as bad or worse. In any event, sorry for your hard life, but you do still have a life to live. Can you find any happiness in it? Your account of your life is indeed heartbreaking.

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  32. I feel one of the biggest hurdles for adoptees is that most of us learn of our adoptions as very young children. At an age where we have absolutely no idea about pregnancy and conception. I feel that those (often erroneous) thoughts and ideas of our young minds become the most deep-rooted and therefore the hardest to let go of as we mature. I was 23 years old when my natural mother found me, yet I could only process my feelings on a preschool level (of course I didn't know that at the time.) It took me many many years to enter into a real reunion with her, I was in my late 30s.

    The language of adoption in our society does so much harm. I have been watching the Jobs biographer in these recent days and wish he would have done some investigation about how adoptees feel. He would be able to explain things in a better light if he had.

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  33. I think Steve Jobs and his biographer may be doing more to open people's eyes to the impact adoption can have on some people than anything else has-except of course, for all that "special" and "chosen" language. Right now I'm in the doghouse .Yesterday was my son's birthday and for the first time since we've been reunited he has refused to answer any calls on his birthday and for awhile now This may be it I ended up calling his a-mom to find out if he's still alive and grovelling a bit. I hope the stress isn't getting to him I may just have to get on a plane which I haven't done in 35 yrs and see what's up. Maybe he's recognized some of my comments here although I try not to include any identifying info(sound familiar?) so I won't be commenting any more here and if I do it will be even vaguer I was up all night with a familiar flashback(the one where I was suicidal when the Social Service Dept wouldn't tell me where he was and every part of me was screaming to know where my baby was. I shouldn't say this but sometimes I hate this country and all it's stupid left-brain laws that put money above people

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  34. Anonymous at 11 .m.:

    I think I may have seen at illustration once and was so grossed out I ran away from it ASAP. Can you send us a link to one? I'd like to see it now.

    On an earlier blog I raised the idea that a lot of adoptive parents would like us dead...and got a lot of flack for it. Well, what does that illustration say other than that? Birth mother drowns, here's the baby bundle.

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  35. Anon at 1:14 pm.

    Do you really think your son trolls the Web reading comments at blogs? Seems unlikely, no?

    I hope you will feel this is a safe place, but if you do feel uncomfortable because of your son's possible recognition and reaction, just write about your feelings without being specific.

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  36. Anon 11:00 wrote:"All I know, my truth, is that I was doing what I then believed was the loving thing, the good-for-her thing. Naive and vulnerable as I was."

    I spent some time looking at what young expectant mothers considering adoption are told. Everything was about how inadequate they would be as parents and how the child deserved so much more (i.e. a two-parent home, more material advantages, and all the other things a young, single mother supposedly couldn't provide). But the one thing that was missing was that there was almost no mention of how the child would FEEL about being adopted. Would s/he feel rejected, abandoned, hurt that her mother hadn't kept her? Sure there were statements like.... studies show that adopted children do just as well socially, behaviorally and scholastically as their non-adopted peers (and I always suspect these "studies" were sponsored by the NCFA) but next to nothing about what the psychological/emotional effect will be on the adoptee as a result of being relinquished. Given that adoption is supposedly first and foremost about the child (ha ha ha ha ha) I found this omission outrageous.

    Robin

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  37. As to the comment about birthmothers feeling like adoptive mothers want them dead, funny I was talking to my son's a-mom and told her I didn't want a wake because no one would come and it would be embarrassing('You'd be surprised'she said-don't know how to take that one-whether to laugh or cry) and I don't want a Catholic Mass since we 'other mothers' are not exactly held in high esteem We are the world's scapegoats and she got upset when I said this. I have a cousin of some sort( We have the same great-great grandparents and to my son they would be his great-great-great grandparents. This cousin is a Catholic priest from Ireland who gave a talk at my Dad's funeral explaining this. I felt this was very helpful to my son and me to see how we really are related. But when I went up to Communion this priest hesitated until I turned to indicate my son and his Mom behind me and then he relented(I'm such a sinner !) At the dinner afterwards he came up to me and my son and asked him if he was my Dad's grandson I replied that he's my son-I remember that night he was born. "That's all it takes to be a mother" he sarcastically said

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  38. Anon,

    October 27, 2011 2:28 PM

    That is why I hate religion the phonies that
    pretend they are better because they are
    religious. This priest and all other judgers
    should really look at themselves first before
    condeming someone else. They are THE
    problem!!!
    Bill O' Reilly condems single moms too we are
    the problem not the overspending legislators. Or
    those who found a way to take billions with the
    hedgefunds.

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  39. A Pox on that Pusillanimous Priest!

    AS IF any representative THE CATHOLIC CHURCH has any right to be condemning today, considering the sexual abuse the priests have perpetuated, and in hiding it, the Church has further enabled. Of course we can't blame one priest for all the sins of the Catholic Church, but anyone who is that condemning ought to look into their own nasty souls for being that way. Send him a DVD of The Madelene Sisters.

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  40. Michele,
    Your comments about your birth mother having "emotional problems" is one I hear a lot from adoptees. I probably personally know at least a dozen adoptees who are certain them birthmother is crazy or demented. It is very common to believe your mother is nuts. Really common. Extremely common. You're not alone.

    The belief that birthmothers have "bad emotional problems" can add to the identity crisis for adoptees. That's a whole essay unto itself, but embracing a mother's emotionality is healing.

    I don't know the exact nature of your mother's problems, but I do know that trying on empathy for your birth mother's pain can ease your own pain. By doing this, you can learn something about yourself that will make your own life better.

    You still have to watch for toxic interactions and strive to limit them so you don't drown though.

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  41. Hi, Robin.

    I'm the anonymous poster who wrote that my truth, at the time, was that I was somehow doing the best thing they told me I could do for my child.

    I completely agree with you. Never did my counselor tell me that my child would feel abandoned, suffer from potential attachment issues, etc. I don't think she had a clue, to be honest.

    I remember asking her (when she would push the "adoption option"), but how will my child feel?

    She, of course, cited the party line: that my child would be glad and grateful to be adopted into a family with a present father, a college fund, etc.

    I remember once, she cited Native American and Latino single mothers. She said that they tended to be ignorant about "what adoption really was." She said that these mothers considered 'an adoption plan' the equivalent of 'throwing the baby away.'

    I remember my counselor actually laughed out loud and shook her head (in a dismissive way) while saying this. She then went on to again say something about "God's plan for families."

    At the time, I remember thinking maybe she was right. Maybe these mothers who kept their babies were indeed selfish and ignorant.

    I contacted the counselor years later, after the open adoption was closed, to tell her how it had all turned out ... to tell her how wrong she had been. (I won't go into detail, but my child did not have a good life.)

    I had no idea that any adoptee felt abandoned or anything but glad until the internet became mainstream. I remember, upon discovering this, how horrified I was.

    I have a friend who is a member of CUB. She hosts support meetings in her town. Some years ago, a new mother who had relinquished the week before attended... and heard, for the first time, an adoptee speak of her feelings.

    This mother immediately called the agency and, after the expected fight, got her child back.

    We were and are intentionally mislead about how our children will feel by supposed "counselors."

    Lorraine, per the photograph, I don't know if it's still out there. For me, it rang true for many years ... as far as what was expected of me and how I sometimes felt.

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  42. I am quite happy in my life. I have a loving husband and 4 great children. That has nothing to do with the sad facts of my adoption. My mother swears she wanted to raise me, and thought she was going to. My father convinced her she would be a terrible mother and that I would have a terrible life, worse than she had. Her life was horrible. She had no self esteem ans no parents to help her. She was abused in many ways from early childhood. My father was just one in a long line of men who hurt her. My father faked my death so his family wouldn't ask questions. I was delivered on a cold rainy November night, and no one was told. No one celebrated, no one visited. My mother is also part black, which was a big deal in 1962. I still wish she had kept me. I hated being adopted. She could've gotten child support from him, but she was scared and ignorant. She cried the whole time she was at the agency. She was described as weeping even in the notes I got from the adoption agency. No one seemed to think there was anything wrong with that.

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  43. In the midsixties there was no counselor only the worker who was doing her job working for the next adopter on the list.
    There were no "adoption plans" nor was there any choice
    single whites were lead like sheep to shearing. Most of the time with parents willingly participating along with clergy who made sure our sins were paid with our own flesh.

    Disgusting

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  44. Megan - Did you ever stop and consider that the "exact nature" of a first mothers mental problems *might just* be tied up in the disenfranchised grief of losing a child? Have you considered what effect the societal taboo on mourning a child lost to adoption might have on the spirit and psyche of a marginalized first mother? The effect of being told to just "get over it" and "move on"? Do you think for one single moment that LOSING A CHILD TO ADOPTION might have *something* to do with first mothers who struggle with mental problems?

    Or is, to you, akin to asking which came first: the chicken or the egg. Your comment seems to perpetuate the outdated notion that first mothers relinquish children BECAUSE they are somehow mentally defective or abnormal.

    Michelle - My heart breaks to hear your story and your first mother's story. Such a tragedy, one that we as first mothers are all to familiar with.

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  45. Thanks Megan, that was very insightful. That's exactly what I'm trying to do. Mom's sister said Mom was diagnosed with multiple personalities. Mom and her sisters suffered severe maternal neglect and abuse by men. I'm trying to feel things from her side, but she can get nasty with me sometimes. When i took a two week break she was pretty angry with me. Thanks for your understanding.

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  46. Letters...Feverfew:
    Read my comment again, please. I said it was common for adoptees to believe their birth mothers are nuts. I did not say that birth mothers really were nuts. The answer to all of your questions is yes, yes, yes, yes and no.

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  47. Anonymous @ Disgusting

    October 27, 2011 9:02 PM

    'In the midsixties there was no counselor only the worker who was doing her job working for the next adopter on the list.
    There were no "adoption plans" nor was there any choice'

    Actually that is not true for all of us. My agency in the 60s, The Texas Cradle Society, was pretty decent given the times (1965) and the circumstances. The agency was originally an Episcopalian agency for the military. I was a military kid and the adoptees were military officer/wife who fit my age, ethnic, religious and educational criteria. I do not fault the agency. I fault the father and his friends/colleagues who pushed me there for what was essentially the good of the father's career and nothing else. It wasn't perfect for my son, but it could have been worse. His biological father is an asshat. In all honesty I can't say what would have happened.

    What they did and what I did are 2 different things. I stuffed it all deep inside and tried not to think of it too much for 32 years because I felt helpless. Much of my feelings were repressed. That's why first mothers are often nuts. Their feelings, the entire experience, and years of crap were repressed. Who do they talk to it about? I didn't even know it was that crazy. There is nothing worse than the repression of the super rational.

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  48. Meagan said: "Your comments about your birth mother having "emotional problems" is one I hear a lot from adoptees. I probably personally know at least a dozen adoptees who are certain them birthmother is crazy or demented. It is very common to believe your mother is nuts. Really common. Extremely common. You're not alone."

    But, Megan, you never seem to bring up how 'nuts' some adoptive mothers are who truly believe that some god allowed her to gain at the expense and suffering of a young vulnerable woman. If that is not nuts or demented, I don't know what is.

    I know, it is always the natural mother who gets to carry that unfortunate stigma around because she was young and unmarried at one time. Those perfect adopters never have to bear that cross, now do they?

    Just curious to know why you seem to relish in coming to this blog and rubbing salt into the wounds of natural mothers? I am having a hard time understanding it.

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  49. As a long time-first mother reader of this blog,

    Megan the happy adoptee (see her email addy) comes her to rub salt in her own mother's womb, and thereby inflicts pain on the rest of us. Under the guise of healing.

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  50. Anon 9:12, see my previous response to Letters...Feverfew

    I was talking about a common perception for some adoptees. I've heard and read it over and over. Perceptions are not always accurate, but they drive our interactions with one another. My comment was directed towards another adoptee who was struggling through a relationship with a mother who she believes has emotional problems. She's not the only one who experiences this. Adoptees often complain about their mother's emotional problems, but at some point in our growth, we move forward and understand the forces at play.

    I'm totally with Michele, and I feel for her pain about her birth mother.

    Sorry, I didn't realize the comment would be pouring salt into wounds of birth mothers. That was not my intent. Still, my point about how adoptees can perceive birthmothers is an important one in understanding the relationship dynamics in reunions.

    Perhaps Steve Jobs had some distorted perception about his birth father? If he is a classic adoptee, he probably did.

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  51. Just saw the email addy. Wow. Happy Dappy Adoptee comes here to hurt her natural mother even more than she already has hurt all of these years.

    Do.Not.Understand.And.Never.Will.

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  52. Being a firstmother is truly the pits. I wrote the comment about the priest but did not mean it to be used against the Church This priest is my cousin so in a way I would be condemning myself Also, I went to Catholic schools through college and am still a person of faith even though I don't go to Church very often' This isn't the real world' my Irish Catholic Dad would suddenly announce at dinner every once in a while and I do believe in the unseen world and have even come in contact twice-once when I was in an accident there was an angel with me and after my Mom died and I was severely distraught I did see her in her house in Sag Harbor. Nobody will convince me that I didn't or that I'm crazy. Now I'm a Jewish grandmother

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  53. In response to Megan's comment about adoptees believing their mothers have emotional issues - I can see where in the early stages of reunion a mother may appear emotionally damaged. I know I felt fairly unhinged for quite some time. I tried my best to appear calm and cool, but who knows if my son saw the real me - a quivering mess. So many emotions came flooding to the surface all at once, followed by constantly evolving thoughts and feelings as I tried to work through it all.

    Maybe that's what adoptees sense especially during the early stages of reunion. Even when we try to hide it.

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  54. I've posted here before, and I generally love the support I get, I get to learn and understand all sides (not just my own as an adoptee)but wow! what do you guys want to find us miserable and unhappy! is that what it is? I am against adoption, hate what it did to me and to my mom, but this girl (megan?) has stated that she posts on here because her mom posts about her! if she is happy with her adoption I dont understand why that is offensive (maybe she is in a "fog" maybe she just is happy idk). She obviously is respectful, disagrees perhaps with her mom on things but seems to want a dialogue. Do the moms on here see a problem with that, do they want her miserable? Megans mom gave her up to adoption, and that hurts her *and I GET it* but I would hope that no mother would want their child to be miserable and for her mom to allow others to attack her on her own blog is a little unsettling.


    and Lorraine,on a side note, I was pleased to see you say job's mother in the title, I hate the word birth mother as it feels unnatural and in my opinion lessens the value of what the relationship really is. In regards to adoptive parent hostility, I feel that perhaps to vilanize the mother, their own guilt/unease in the situation is alleviated...

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  55. It is weird and predictable that comments here degenerate at times. I doubt that Megan's email address is happy "dappy" adoptee. She is the one that has lived her life and it seems only decent to allow her to define herself. Who doesn't want the privilege of defining themselves? Accusing her of claiming happiness in her own life only to rub salt in her mother's wounds is petty and will not lead to understanding. Refusing to understand will not lead to happiness. We all have our troubles. Condemning others never really makes me happy.
    JJanet

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  56. I feel I owe an apology to everyone. I commented a few days ago (out of anger and frustration at the closed adoption laws and other laws that put money above people) when my son wouldn't talk to me on his birthday(he still won't). I said something about sometimes hating this country What I meant was I'm sometimes angry at the government. I was confusing the words hate and anger. Believe me, I love this country and appreciate every day our hard-won freedoms. My Dad was a WWII vet.

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  57. Megan's comment about first mothers being seen as crazy or unhinged by the children they surrendered at the time or soon after reunion was spot on. Many adoptee memoirs make some kind of statement like that about the found first/birth mother, and I will say that's the first time I have ever seen an adoptee point that out--that this is a common phenomenon. It was a helpful comment directed at adoptees, and helpful to mothers in or awaiting reunion to remind us to keep our wits about us.

    Most--or all emotionally stable--natural mothers do hope that all their children, adopted or not, grow up to be contented and have some semblance of happiness in their lives. Eventually many of us natural mothers, however, come to understand and accept that adoption was hardly a plus in our childrens' emotional makeup, no matter what we were taught to believe when we surrendered them.

    In turn, many of us, while still harboring holes in our hearts for the act of surrendering our children to adoption, have gone on to have lives that are reasonably content and happy--no matter how undone and emotional we were at the time of surrender and (if possible) reunion. However, I have yet to see a natural mother have an email address that corresponds to "joyfuladoptee@" or "adoptedhappy@" about being a surrendering mother.

    "Blissfulbirthmother@" or "fabulousfirstmom" would be comparable. Wouldn't one's son or daughter see such that as purposefully hurtful, a little pinprick of a dagger day after day, quietly but irrevocably reminding the son or daughter that you were continually glad he or she had been relinquished? Maybe those who use such an address didn't mean to imply what what it announces so blatantly, but how can it be interpreted any other way? I will admit "joyfuladoptee@" or "adoptedhappy@" has an unsettling and irritating effect on me.

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  58. PS: Yes, I loved the headline too--without a qualifier--but we will continue to have to use birth or first or natural most of the time because that is what folks Google to find us. I think changing what we are called is complicated enormously by the search-engine factor.

    Our readershiop was increased quite a bit last week because people searched for "Steve Jobs birth mother" and "Steve Jobs biological mother" and "Steve jobs biological father" and we did want them to find us.

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  59. I don't think it's surprising at all that first mothers were offended by Megan's comment that so many adoptees think their birthmothers are nuts. This is after all a forum for first mothers. Nor do I think that Megan's own first mother or any others wish her unhappiness.

    I often wonder what Megan's real feelings are about her adoption since so ofter her comments have an undercurrent of hostility.

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  60. Yes, mothers newly in reunion may appear unhinged because they are so excited their child has returned and so anxious he will go away. Adoptees may back away which makes the mothers more anxious and their behavior more extreme.

    I also think adoptees exaggerate their mothers' behavior in order to convince themselves that their adoption was the right thing and avoid thinking about who they might have been.

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  61. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/what-made-steve-jobs/2011/10/27/gIQAIa8lMM_blog.html?hpid=z6

    This is an interesting take on Jobs and the nature/nurture issue of an adoptee.

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  62. Would you all be more appeased if Megan's addy was "sad adoptee" or "pathetic miserable adoptee"?
    Would that make everyone feel better?
    Now ask yourself why.

    What's wrong with being happy?

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  63. Hi: I am so happy I gave my kid was given up for adoption and I didn't have to raise her, as she is kind of a nut job!

    call me blissfulbirthmommormon@yahoo

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  64. Again, some one asked would natural mothers prefer that we as adoptees ARE miserable and yearning all ofour lives? Do you wantus to feel guilt because we may have had decent parents(that can not replace you!), would you have rathered . Maybe its a huge defense mechanism to play the "happy dappy" adoptee to be able to cope with the fact we were placed and unable to learn who we were completly. Maybe some adoptees may see the fact that the mothers are emotional and it scares the heck out of them because they feel in some deep place they are responsable for that pain? Maybe it really is lousy that we are responsbile to BOTH our mothers and we continue to be second?

    I am amazed sometimes at the anger that is expressed towards adoptees that really are just trying to discuss. Maybe megan did generalize...but i see generalizations about adoptees from mothers all the time! BOTH kinds of mothers!

    I see an huge anger towards ADOPTEESS that i don't understand...I understand the rage towards apaents, towards society, towards adoption professional. I have made a HUGE attempt to understand the pain of all involved.....

    I don't think any mother made an adoption plan...except for the cold ones that really did not want a child...wanted a college education...wanted the man(as mine did) over the "baby" . Yes...those situations happened ...and through it all...those of us that were adopted have to sift through the way it was for us...do we tiptoe and "ruin" our mothers lives ...or do we go straight and and contact....do we negate out own feelings...as we were the ones whose lives DRAMATICALLY changed...as our persona changed because of adoption...to suit others?

    I trully feel for what our mothers went through, it was horrible, unfair, and lifechangeing for you all.

    But i don't see how degarading an adoptees words that were not meant to be hurtful, and twisting and humaliting HER is going to help anyone....

    The "happy dappy" label ..is very degrading..and shows no insight into how an adoptee may have got there to begin with. BRAINWASHING.....What a cool defense mechanism to beleive that your first mother was nuts to be able to cope with the fact that your adoption was valid, that you lost a whole family, an idenity, lost medical info, lost ancestory..was 2nd best, was not the same as your adoptive family for a good reason?

    It took me years and years to shed that defense mechanism and what i was left with was sadness...I had good parents....I had a decent life....BUT I wish I never had to be adopted to begin with..not because either mother was better or worse. Not because i was judging my mom harshly..although i times i think i did..because i needed to prove that adoption was really needed..otherwise what was the point of it? WEre my feelings right? Don't know. But i do know that it was feelings that started at a very young age...before i had the abilty to reason..it was the fact of my existence and itsmorphs everything...how you feel about yourself, how you respond to others around you, and how you cope...all done at very important devolpmental stages. It becomes WHO we are! Some come through it intact some don't. Most of us are in the middle somewhere.

    Not assigning blame for the situaion that put me there...but did assign blame to my first mother that demanded i be a certian way to her....made me angry. I am who i am and what i am because of both birth and adoption...I wished she were able to understand that FIRST....as i was trying to understand her..then maybe dialogue and mutual caring and understanding can happen. Until then it just reamains a visious circle and no one can attain peace.

    WE adoptees truly do need to hear from the mothers but the mothers need to hear and listen ...OBJECTIVILY to the adoptees for ALL of us to come to some place of peace.

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  65. wow! my mother has had "disturbed" actions (see genetic sexual attraction) but I love her and accept her. I get those actions are due to ptsd, but my comment was trying to be constructive to feeling like an adoptee was being hassled, not defending what she was sayin, just trying to understand, which is what i though bmff was trying to do. Our cause will work if we unite, not try to rub our fucking rejections in our faces like above commenter! It's ok for her to be happy, was trying to find a peace and common ground! its funny how mothers want to understand and be understood (and I am trying) but display the same actions they cry out against! hurtful! maybe she is happy because she's still in a fog! who knows, its not constructive to be hurtful!

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  66. I said nothing hurtful, was trying to bridge a harmony/peace/understanding so we can benefit from each other and work, not to have my own abandonment mocked and thrown in my face! She didnt say it like that, perhaps in a stockholm/adoption fog, or maybe she is happy, but " Hi: I am so happy I gave my kid was given up for adoption and I didn't have to raise her, as she is kind of a nut job! " this is rude and hurtful. Maybe this is why we cant unite and unethical adoptions will still continue

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  67. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, dpen. We are not angry at adoptees; we understand that they have suffered as well. We appreciate your candor in stating that you erected defenses in order not to come to terms with the fact that your adoption was unnecessary.

    Maybe that's what's going on with Megan; I don't know. However, when Megan calls herself "adoptedhappy" or "joyfuladoptee", Lorraine and I take these appellations to mean that Megan is glad I didn't raise her. Megan has in fact conveyed this many times through telling me that I she was "glad she was adopted," that I made the "right decision" and she was "raised in the family in which she belonged." These comments go beyond simply saying she had a good adoptive family, a good life, and she is happy with herself.

    They are pointless and hurtful.

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  68. sometimes I have trouble understanding who is mad at who in this thread. Jenn and Megans comments were both helpful to me. Jenn very nearly spoke my feelings exactly. My dear mother is mentally ill. She went to FIT on a grant program for the mentally ill. Her reactions to me are sometimes difficult for me to understand. She gets very angry at any mention of the pain of my adoption. She says things like, "I'm having fun with my friends, people who really love me, unlike you, who only loves a fantasy of me". I just don't know what to think when she gets like that. We've been reunited less than a year, and I am the one who searched. She never says she's sorry. I love her so much, but it's hard to deal with her being angry at me. I can't help that I was adopted. I never left her, she left me. It seems there is a layer of hostility between mothers and adoptees. I wish we could understand each other better, and our shared pain could help us heal each other. I can only hope that my mother can stop seeing me as an enemy, and remember that I am that little baby she once loved so much. My heart was broken by adoption, and I'm hurting again by my mother's reaction to me. I struggle to understand why it happened. I would give anything to do it all over, and be able to grow up in my true family.

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  69. Jane,

    I am not sure if my adoption was necessary or not. It just was and as a result i needed to cope with it all since babyhood. At that point it does't really matter about the necessity . The kicker being my situation was not ALL that bad. I have a good family that i was raised with, and my first mother and her family were open to reunion...but it was still very difficult for me to process and i worried incessently about who I was hurting...both mothers ect.

    I did not know that Megan was your daughter and I am sorry you both have to navigate this in such a public way. Sometimes the hurt deep within us makes us say or do things that may be seen as hurtful....I hope none of it is intentional.

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  70. opps, not Jenn, I meant dpen. Sorry

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  71. I hope I don't seem unkind in this comment but I think Dpen has a good point and I *think* I understood what Megan was getting at. Perhaps I misread it but I think Megan was talking about the adoptee's perception vs. the reality of the adoptees mother.


    I think it is important to bear in mind that the whole of society pits the adoptee against her(his) mother from the time they separate the two. The scope is far wider than a personal vendetta by adoptive parents against natural parents.

    I think many adoptive parents don't say anything or even necessarily feel anything negative towards their child's natural parents.

    Adoption though, especially as it was practiced when both Megan and I were adopted did not happen because women just suddenly started believing in giving their babies away. It was enforced by the communities, churches, "experts" the new and "civilized" social workers and courts. The entire culture that our mothers lived in and its institutions were more than complicit, they were the perpatrators--with some exceptions, I am aware that some women are not willing to parent. (before I get reminded again).

    Most of us were raised in those same communities that believed we needed to be separated from our mothers. Even if our adoptive parents were careful, the rest of the world wasn't.

    Rather than look at the reality of let's say a church's role in the selling of children, because after all it wasn't our mothers who sold us, they didn't get a paycheck out of the deal---they soothed their own conscious with getting us to believe it too.

    Instead of looking at the fact that our mothers were often just human beings doing what human beings will do even when they are starving to death and can't be bothered to wave the flies out of their eyes do---fall in love, make love, and have babies. (Yes I am aware that we are not all "love" children and other circumstances are real too).

    I mean if God didn't want us to have sex, why did he make us so damned horny?

    So we are given a different set of messages, but from the day we are born. We are saved and we were saved from what must have been the awful thing that is our mother. I have a v. close adoptee friend IRL who was raised in the same faith as Megan and was routinely asked from the time she was tiny by an agrandmother, also Mormon "Aren't you so glad you were rescued from the gutter?" When she was so young this comment caused her to contemplate gutters not understanding the idiom.


    The sealing of birth certificates and illegeality of adoptees having any clue about who their mothers were created an environment where painting us as the unwanted bastards of our whore mothers was the path of least resistance. No accountability there, the mother is easily painted as a dangerous cipher.

    I have to break this up getting too long.

    Joy

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  72. Joy-continued:

    I am not speaking for anyone but myself, but when I get stressed I often find the belief systems of my childhood creeping back in. Even the religion that I long ago left, its tenets start shaping my thoughts until I take a break and reset.

    When I get stressed I often find myself guided by the values that were modeled for me as a child.

    For me personally, becoming reunited with my mother--stressed me in so many ways I had an emotional crisis. It challenged not only everything I thought I knew about adoption, but everything I thought I knew about myself. How I was made up, how my personality considered quirky and capricious in my environment would have been seen as very ordinary and sensible with my nfamily.

    While I didn't say the same hurtful things to my own mother as Megan has to you Jane, I have said plenty of hurtful things to her. Things that were born out of terror I can't even begin to describe. From what I personally believe was the body-memory of my original relinquishment, what I did perceive as abandonment although clearly I was not left exposed to the elements.

    It was very hard for me not to see my mother as the all-powerful God that babies see their mothers as and as a person who was a young girl in the center of a terrible storm.

    On top of that you are dealing with loyalty issues that at least for me were reinforced by not only my community but my closest friends. It was more than I could bear. Some days it still is. To say relating to my mother makes me still feel very frightenly vulnerable is a gross understatement.

    I am just saying all of this not to deign to speak for Megan, only she really knows what is in her heart--and even parts of our own hearts are hidden from us---I can't help but feel some empathy for her situation.

    Perhaps those comments are her (or any adoptees) attempts to buttress her own sense of identity, and believe me I am not making light of it, because this shit is really hard.

    I am also not saying everyone feels things as intensely as I do, but my world fell apart in a way that we don't have language for when I met my mother. I am a better person for it and grateful to have the opportunity to know where I come from, to see the photo she sent me in an email today and still be shocked by the genetic mirroring, she doesn't get that at all.

    While I was falling apart, I still had school to attend to, a social life, a marriage, a baby to raise. The unintended result was me sometimes lashing out like a three-year-old with a very acerbic vocabulary.

    It is just a possibility that while a very different person than I am, Megan may share some of the same motivations. I find this possibilty much more plausible though than the idea that she is malicious and calculating designing to hurt your feelings.

    The child I raised and am very close too has certainly cut me to the quick in a way that no other person has in his moments. Not even very long ago. I have had tell him, "I understand that you are angry with me and you have every right to be, but enough! This isn't good for either of us." Cuz sometimes moms have to.

    Idk, sorry for the novel, but I sincerely hope that there is some resolution. I know you have both been hurt and I can so relate. I hope for more love and less acrimony for all of us that are brave enough to enter into this storm.

    Joy

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  73. Dpen said:

    "I am amazed sometimes at the anger that is expressed towards adoptees that really are just trying to discuss. Maybe megan did generalize...but i see generalizations about adoptees from mothers all the time! BOTH kinds of mothers!"

    I can't believe you have the nerve to come here and say that when natural mothers have been called all kinds of vile, hateful things here and elsewhere on the internet. Megan does seem to deliberately come here to rub salt into the wound of her mother and the rest of us for that matter and a few of us were simply pointing that out.

    "I see an huge anger towards ADOPTEESS that i don't understand"....

    Yes, and I see huge anger towards MOTHERS here and elsewhere, being called despicable things by adoptees and adopters alike, all because we thought we were doing the right thing when we were young, vulnerable women. We have a forum to discuss how we feel and what we went through in losing our children and still get ripped for it, on many occasions.

    This "my pain and hurt is more valid than your pain and hurt" is getting old. Both sides have pain and hurt. I think there is a respectful way to engage with one another without denegrating the other and saying hurtful things (that you KNOW are hurtful, but continue to do it anyway). If a mother went to an adoptee blog and made statements such as Megan does, we would be ripped to shreds and called monsters for saying we were "happy to have given our children up" and that our "lives were so much better without them in it." You know it. It's okay for one side to engage in that, but if we did, we would be despicable.

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  74. A more analogous email address for a first mother might be "Happychildfree". Now that would hurt. I think all the hurtful comments from fmothers to adoptees and vice versa are just a reflection of what adoption does to people. Certainly makes the case for family preservation. Although I guess those who promote adoption couldn't care less about all the pain we suffer later after reunion and the even possibly unconscious bitterness we may feel towards one another. They've already collected the check.

    Robin

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  75. blissfulbirthmormonmomOctober 29, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    Dear everyone:

    Obviously the blissfulbirthmormonmom@yahoo was meant as a satirical comment in reaction to anyone who has an email address that reads "adoptedhappy" or whatever it is. as a Fmom, that hurts. I did not intend to attack anyone who has had a good adoption, but to show that turnabout is fair play.

    And there are blogs where such a handle would be appropriate. I frankly can't understand how adtopees aren't hurt and upset by what they read there, not here. --long time reader of FMF

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  76. Joy, Good post, It explains the absolute confusion our mere existence causes us. The vunerability comment was spot on...even at my old age i feel it...

    As far as anon saying whose pain is worse competition...I totally agree. The tit for tat that goes on is absurdity at its best. an adoptee has an offensive email...so thye mothers strike back with one that is menat to hurt all the adoptees...hmmmm childlike?

    I have laways said that the pain is so different for all the people invovled that it does't work to try and compare it. I think we all have to sit back and again say that the adoptees need to be listended to OBJECTIVILY..listen to where they are coming from. Not so they can get sympathy...I personally don't want sympathy. Just an attempt to understand. We often hear "But you don't understand what i went through"...no , i can only imagine...and most tiems no matter what the situaion it was a horrible thing for our mothers. I think often the many mothers that refuse contact have not dealt with the trauma...just as some adoptees that refuse contact or are unable to deal don't have a clue that they even have some issues regarding their adoption. If they admit to it then they are hurting...not just themselves but their mothers that they may or may not love...talk about confusion! Most of us adoptees can't be what either one of our mothers want.We trying to figure out what we want and need! For ourselves and our children.

    Its so sad listening and seeing the tit for tat....

    BTW...I have not called any mother vile and hurtful things..least of all my own. I have heard adoptees be generalized as some terrible, unable to think for themselves be told that we are not compassionate because i state my situaion and SOMEONE does't think its "respectful" enough to one mother or another. I have felt that sometimes we are just seen as a symbol of someones worst hurt and greatest dream...not for the flawed, regular person that i am...have felt that as I state my issues or experiance regarding adoption Some feel the need to slap me back into my place because it does't fit into their perception of how i "should" feel and i am NOT justing talking about the mothers here. AND why do i have to deal with all of that...just because i was born at the wrong time and adopted. Just because I exist.

    I have also seen wonderful attempts at understanding all sides, I have also seen some have the ability to put "self" aside for a minute to really hear the other person.

    We all know that adoption in its present and past forms is very complex ...so instead of arguing about who had it the worst we should be exmaning the complexies from ALL sides and open ourselves to listening and understanding. In my 10 years of reading and psoting about adoption I have come to my connclusion that adoption happended...sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worst and there are just fact, some realities that we all need to just get.

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  77. quoting dpen:
    "an adoptee has an offensive email...so thye mothers strike back with one that is menat to hurt all the adoptees...hmmmm childlike?"

    Just asking, but you don't think an offensive email like adoptedhappy or happyadopted or whatever is offensive to all birth mothers? ....hmmm obtuse, maybe? isn't such an email address designed to be hurtful? So it's okay for an adoptee to have an offensive email but not okay for a first mother to point out that it is offensive? (no one has that email adress that I am aware of) That's what I take from your comment.

    btw, megan's original point was not offensive and accurate about how adoptees react to their fms and that's been lost here.

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  78. Is there any way to separate out what an individual person says about her mother or her life, clearly stated, not generalized, and not take it a blanket statement or insult to all mothers or all adoptees? The only adoptee whose opinion is directly relevant to me is my son. What Megan says about Jane or any other adoptee says about their mother is not insulting to me because it has nothing to do with me.

    How can we have any kind of conversation at all if first our opinions and stories and feelings all have to match, or we are insulting someone? Adoptees should be able to define themselves as happy, unhappy, angry, anyway they feel. Mothers should be able to feel that their surrenders were coerced, necessary, something that worked out ok, or a source of pain that will never be ok.

    There is no one acceptable narrative, there are just all our individual stories. Could we start from there without accusations and demands that others feel as we want them to?

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  79. On this blog and others, I've been reading a lot of adoptees upbraid their mothers for what they “should have” and “could have” done. Personally, I find that offensive and counter-productive.

    Was the adoptee walking in the footsteps of the mother at the time she surrendered? Does he or she have intimate knowledge of all the pressures and factors that went into making the decision? A mother's decision should be off limits. It was HER assessment of her life and resources at the time. If she comes to regret the decision herself and can "meet" the adoptee on that level, it still does not give anyone the right to claim the "life that should have been theirs" because babies don't make decisions about their lives. Adults do. No mother should be attacked for making what she believed was the right decision at the time, and no adoptee should be attacked for not wanting to trade in the life they got for an unknown life. (Similar to the opposite: no adoptee should be attacked for being deeply anguished about being adopted and no mother should have to cover up regrets if she has them.)

    If people could just honor people's individual feelings it would be so much more helpful.

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  80. Maryann

    I had typed out a long drawn out post and said to much. It would not post. but what you just said is pretty much what i was trying to saying in much more concise terms. Why does it have to be them against us? I honestly feel that there are so many different personalities and situations in adoption that any blanket generalizations don't fit.

    There are some really sad realities in adoption as it was done in the BSEand today also. The only way for us to get though it is for ALL to make some sort of attempt of where the other might be coming from/
    The "Well you said this so I can say this" does not cut it.

    There is only one "demand" that i think an adoptee is entitled to that is medical information for themselves and their families..and heritage. The only demand i can see from a fmoms viewpoint is for you to know your child is alright..everything else is negotiable.

    Not trying to speak from a fmoms side in the demands , you can correct me if i am wrong.

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  81. I don't think a first mother can ever fully understand an adoptee. And I don't think an adoptee can ever fully understand a first mother. I don't think the damage from adoption can ever be fully undone.

    Robin

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  82. dpen said:There is only one "demand" that i think an adoptee is entitled to that is medical information for themselves and their families..and heritage. The only demand i can see from a fmoms viewpoint is for you to know your child is alright..everything else is negotiable."

    I agree. I also think we need to move away from the bare-bones and adversarial "demand" viewpoint to the "negotiable" part, the real meat of most reunions and the place where so much hurt and misunderstanding can occur.

    Nobody is owed a relationship, but most who search from either side want one. Negotiating that often takes the patience of a saint, and the empathy, wisdom, and tolerance of one as well, but if the other person really wants to be left alone, at some point that is all you can do.

    It is worth saying again, expectations and demands are what sour many reunions that might have gone another way.

    Perhaps we can never fully understand each other, but we can at least listen, and not expect others to conform to our agenda.

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  83. At the risk of sounding Kumbayaish (is that a word???) and of course, now echoing other more coherent comments....why can't we just agree that adoption can be so terribly painful for both adoptees and mothers and not make assumptions on what people are trying to say about their own situations? How can we ever hope to understand our own individual child or mother if we can't "hear" what non-related people have to say on this issue? As someone who's trying to reunite, I do appreciate all the different viewpoints, particularly as I have yet to discover what my own adult child's viewpoint is....

    S - a first mother

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  84. As a "first" mother I can imagine the blow of being told by my daughter that she was glad she was adopted even though that was not my experience. I think being a "first" mom is bound up with feeling beat up one way or another. Discovering that her adoptee experience was not the perfect rescue I had been promised was a blow too.

    While I'm sorry for the loss and pain in all of our lives; I can't begrudge anyone's happiness however they find it or claim it. If adoptees want to label themselves happy it's really ok with me.

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  85. I never knew that adoptees and mothers were in conflict until i met my own mother. I still didn't know until she started to be mean to me. I was shocked and saddened to realize that she was angry at me. Truthfully, I still don't understand it. Many women did keep their babies, I wonder what made mine different. It's hard to hear that she never really considered how I would feel as I got older. She assumed that I was happy and contented. I've had to face many hard truths in this past year. I know my mother and I have both been damaged in very profound ways. I'm losing hope that our problems can ever be resolved. I keep thinking of that song from Oklahoma, Why can't the cowboy and the rancher be friends? I think that maybe there is no way.

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  86. Robin,

    I fully agree.


    All I want is to continue a loving, bonding relationship with my daughter. I am no longer that 17 year old and she is no longer a child. We both know in our adult wisdom that her adoption didn't need to happen. We love each other and both feel blessed to be back together. I am glad that her life turned out well in spite of its beginning. Being open and honest with each other is our means to heal as much as possible.

    All the crap in the past has to be dealt with but if in the end it doesn't lead to a successful relationshop why burden yourself with all the heartache.
    I never felt that I had a hole in my heart from losing my daughter. I always looked at it as a space filled with all my love and thoughts of her hidden behind a closed door. A door that I had given her the key to upon losing her. Hoping that the day would come when she would use it. Well she has and I'll be damned if it ever gets locked again.
    I don't care what society adopters, adoptees, my friends, family members, or even other first mothers have to say about me.
    My gosl right now is to mend our relationship as strong as possible and live out my life knowing I have been given a second chance to be her Mother.

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  87. Our reality is our perception fact is mother or baby we both lost each other!

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  88. Anon 1:33 wrote :" it still does not give anyone the right to claim the "life that should have been theirs" because babies don't make decisions about their lives. Adults do."

    There is something about this comment that irks me. I do understand that no one has the right to force themselves into someone else's life. Although by this logic it could also be argued that adoptees should not have the right to their OBCs, to know who their natural mother and father are, who their grandparents are, their ancestry, heritage, etc. since the adults are making all the decisions. This kind of thinking could eliminate adoptee rights in one fell swoop. The point of adoptee rights is that as infants or young children we had no say in what happened to us, however, as adults we do have rights and should not have to be beholden forever to what adults decided (whether freely or forced) when we were babies. To not just hear, well too bad, kiddo, you were one of the unlucky ones, you got tossed.

    Robin

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  89. Megan said, "Letters...Feverfew:
    Read my comment again, please. I said it was common for adoptees to believe their birth mothers are nuts. I did not say that birth mothers really were nuts. The answer to all of your questions is yes, yes, yes, yes and no."

    Thank you so much for helping me understand your comment a bit better. I truly appreciate your willingness to help me grow as a first mother.

    I haven't had the chance to read the rest of the responses that came after you wrote the one (quoted above) to me. I am actually a bit afraid to do it, to be honest. I don't want to ruin the perfectly lovely day I have just spent with my family at a museum and then the local pumpkin patch.

    M.

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  90. @ Robin:

    Your 4:51 comment. Couldn't agree more. I find the comment v. unrealistic and think holding an attitude like that would lead to a lot of unhappiness in one's life and in the lives of ones children.

    Joy

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  91. I am trying not to fall into the trap of us vs them. All the language of 'abandonment','special and chosen','real parents' just divides I feel we are all real parents. In all of Isaacson's interviews promoting his book that I've seen he keeps using the words abandoned referring to the firstparents and real parents referring to the a-parents. I did not raise my son and in that sense am not his real parent, but I beg to differ with all the religious people and laws and courts who say I am not his mother. Giving birth does make someone a mother with all the intuition and everything else that goes along with it. If society the courts the churches etc chose to spit on us and strip us of our dignity so be it They're wrong. I have finally realized that both sides of the political spectrum are just trying to divide and conquer,pit us against each other and get their hands on the power and pot of gold. I have had a few lucky breaks here and there, but otherwise my life has been difficult.Just because I am a more right-brain person trying to fit into the extremely left-brain society in this country, I have been called crazy,locked up, and ridiculed. Now I do not have health insurance for doctors,just hospitalization. If I'm not covered they'll leave me alone and not want to do anything to me that they won't get paid for.It's all about money in this country and in adoption. Disgusting

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  92. Lorraine wrote at 9:23 that what she hates most about adoption is that the child feels abandoned and that most APs refuse to accept that. What I hate most about adoption is that I did not get to live the life that should have been mine.

    Also, I think there is a difference between saying one is happy and saying one is happy because he or she was adopted. I doubt that anyone here wishes another "triad" member unhappiness.

    @Joy,
    4:31 comment? not 4:51? Just asking because I've posted several comments here.

    Robin

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  93. Robin wrote:"by this logic it could also be argued that adoptees should not have the right to their OBCs, to know who their natural mother and father are, who their grandparents are, their ancestry, heritage, etc. since the adults are making all the decisions. This kind of thinking could eliminate adoptee rights in one fell swoop."

    Not so. Adoptee rights to their OBC and heritage is about everyone, including the adoptee, being an adult, so laws meant for children no longer apply. Lots of laws are that way and do not apply when the person is no longer a minor.

    This has nothing to do with the post about adoptees berating and continually blaming their mother about "the life that should have been theirs", something she may deeply wish she could restore, but that is not possible. Infants cannot make decisions about anything, so adults must. Adoptees do not stay forever infants nor do mothers stay wounded young girls. That comment was not about adult adoptee rights or legal access to OBCs by any stretch of the imagination.

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  94. Some say that they are unhappy they were surrendered/abandoned, but happy or at least satisfied with their life as adoptees. Some hate it all. Some mothers feel they made a choice they can live with, others do not, or feel with good reason they had no choice.

    It seems a terrible black hole for any of us to focus on "the life we should have had". You can get lost in endless parallel universes that way, so many "what ifs" good and bad, but in the end we all have to live the life we have.

    "The saddest words of tongue or pen
    Are only these, "it might have been."~ old saying

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  95. @ Robin, lol writing down the time doesn't help much if I write down the wrong time!

    Yes, the 4:31 comment, but really I could have written down any of the times nearly I every comment you makes I nod my head too.


    Joy

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  96. "You can get lost in endless parallel universes that way, so many "what ifs" good and bad, but in the end we all have to live the life we have."

    For logical reasons, we do live the lives we are being given. If it were that simple, so many human beings would not be in pain today.

    People don't "accept" pain. They resign themselves to it despite hurdles in life.

    Saying "I'm in pain, but I can never eliminate it, so who cares" is totally different from saying "I'm in pain, I accept that, and as long as I can continue to live life while acknowledging I may never not feel this pain in some point or another."

    I don't know, people might read my blog and think "You talk so much about the life you never lived - that will eat you up inside."

    I'm sure if it would, if I thought about this parallel universe all the time, if I thought about my birth all the time, and if I was constantly thinking about how much adoption sucks or whatever else.

    But I don't. I blog for maybe half an hour, I blog a few times a week, I have flashes of heartache when I'm reminded of the language barrier, but really, at the same time, I'm living life.

    I can't do anything about my adoption now, obviously. That doesn't prevent it from having had its affects on me. That is acceptance. Understanding that pain can exist in a permanent way and STILL live life.

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  97. I would like to see Job's wealth and his adoption examined--but not as the current media coverage does. I'm tired of seeing stories where his adoption is mentioned as if his nparents lost a winning lottery ticket or his adoption issues are what gave him his drive to achieve.

    I want to hear about how his wealth must have made it easier to search for his nfamily. How did he get his records opened? He could reach out to his nfamily, make those frequent cross-country trips to visit his nsister, and financially assist his ailing nmother. I want to hear about how he found someone to give him "scream therapy" and how easily he could have embarked on any therapy he chose. I wonder what it was like for him to see his nfather mentioned in the news, see a recent picture of him, and have access to those few reported details.

    Wealth might not have affected Job's relinquishment, but it must have eased some of his issues with adoption. Access, contact, and acceptance...his and his nparents' truth.

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  98. @Maryanne,
    I was exaggerating to make a point. The operative word in that comment was CLAIM. When adoptees want our OBCs and search and reunite we are in many cases trying to RECLAIM the life that should have been ours. As I wrote in my comment of 6:25 pm, what I hate most about adoption is that I did not get to live the life that should have been mine.

    The person who wrote the comment probably was not referring to OBC access, etc. However, an argument often used against adoptee rights is that our n-parents did what they thought was best at the time and that we need to let them move on with their lives unencumbered by past actions and decisions. Denying us our information is in fact saying that adoptees have no right to claim information about the life that should have been ours.

    My response to anon 1:33 was to show that if taken to an extreme that is where that kind of thinking can lead.

    Robin

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  99. Mein-Ling: I couldn't agree with your comment more--I blog about adoption issues, I read adoption stuff, I wish I'd married the young man of my college years and there never would have been adoption as a leitmotif in my life, I would have raised my daughter, but there is so much more to my life than that. We all make do with what is, and our happiness is life depends on living the life that we have.

    On another note, I turned on Piers Morgan last night just as Walter Isaacson was discussing the adoption and HOW STEVE JOBS SEARCHED (take that, whomever kept emailing me two weeks ago that Jobs did not search but was ambushed by his original family) and again he told the whole story of meeting his father in that restaurant, Jandali telling Mona Simpson, his sister, that Jobs was a big tipper, etc., but what makes it way into every conversation lately about Jobs's adoption is the word: ABANDONMENT.

    The "positive adoption language" folks who only talk about "making an adoption plan" must be going cuckoo. It's also showing up in the reviews/interveiws of Didion's new book about her daughter and her adoption. More about that later.

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  100. Didn't want to leave you hanging at 99 comments...

    So, here's to 100!

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  101. "Denying us our information is in fact saying that adoptees have no right to claim information about the life that should have been ours."

    It's really denying information about the life that is yours. Sealing OBCs is corrupt.

    "n-parents did what they thought was best at the time and that we need to let them move on with their lives unencumbered by past actions and decisions."
    I was fed that line of thinking as a young woman. Over time I learned that it is false to think anyone moves on unencumbered through denial of the past. It doesn't matter how many times it's said or who says it. We must learn from our experience. Part of that is learning how lying affects us.
    JJanet

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  102. Here's a quote from Ruth Marcus' column that appeared in Saturday's newspaper.

    "Any number of Jobs' friends ascribed his prickliness and drive to a sense of abandonment. Being given up by his birth parents left Jobs 'full of broken glass,' said the mother of the daughter Job essentially abandoned during her early years.

    "Jobs rejected this assessment - but substituted a different interpretation. 'Knowing I was adopted may have made me feel more independent, but I have never felt abandoned,' he told Isaacson. 'I've always felt special. My parents made me feel special'"

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  103. I bought his biography yesterday and I am finding it fascinating and revealing in ways I did not expect.

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  104. Link to the Ruth marcus column:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/what-made-steve-jobs/2011/10/27/gIQAIa8lMM_blog.html

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  105. Two short comments:

    First: What I find insidious is that the pain of adoption prevents us from healing the pain of adoption.

    And Second: I hope that in a year or two we look back and say: "And then Steve Jobs died and that's when everything started to change."
    Steve may be giving us more than Macs and ipads and itunes. He may be giving us the truth about the adoption experience.

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  106. Oh, I thought everything was supposed to have "started to change" when Oprah's sister found her. Remember all the hype over that, and then it just blew away? I do not see where Steve Jobs' death changes anything in adoption. After the media feeding frenzy, it all goes back to business as usual.

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