Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Letter to (Birth) Mothers Who Reject Reunion

Lorraine
My birth mother doesn't respond/ why does my birth mother reject contact/ birth mother rejects contact... must be among the saddest words on earth to type into Google. And then the person finds First Mother Forum and we are all about wanting a solid, good, reasonable relationship with the children we relinquished, and we are torn apart when they reject us. Or put us through what seem like unreasonable paces.

Carrie, an adoptee who found FMF the other day, wanted to know why some mothers reject contact from the children they gave up for adoption, as her mother did. Carrie's not the only one to face this, as we've heard this many times before. Every time my friend who is a confidential intermediary in a partially "open" state is in the middle of a search-and-reunion, she expresses fear that one side or the other will reject contact, and she cannot pass on the contact information. Carrie asked if I would write a letter to all those first/birth mothers who reject contact and reunion. It's a hard assignment because I'm not in their mind set, but here goes:

Dear Sister:

When you gave you child up for adoption however many years ago, you may have been told that you were supposed to forget him or her, and go out and make a new life for yourself. A priest went so far as to tell a good friend that she had to think of her daughter as "dead," from that day forward.

But you soon found out that it wasn't that simple. You knew your baby wasn't dead, you know that somewhere out there was someone with your DNA, someone that you carried in your body for nine months, someone who will grow up to look like you and have your mannerisms.

Yet your coping mechanism was able to turn off thoughts of the child, as you were instructed. Since you are now rejecting contact from your long-lost child of many years ago, you were successful. 
But that child is now a grown-up individual who has deep, unmet needs that you alone can satisfy. That child longs to look into a face that looks like hers, to know someone who he or she is related to by blood, by ancestry, by history going back to the beginning of time. He or she needs to meet you to feel complete, to understand fully that he or she is a person with a real biological mother and father, not someone who arrived by Federal Express. This has nothing to do with how good or evil, or loving or cold, one's adoptive parents are, for this desire--to know the truth of one's origins--is totally separate from them.
And you are the only person who can satisfy that deep, innate longing. You. No one else.
AN EMOTIONAL FACE LIFT
I am not suggesting reunion with your child, gone out of your life for so long, will not be emotionally wrenching. It will be. All the feelings you had at the time of birth and surrender will come flooding back.

I am not suggesting it will be easy. It will be hard, unsettling, fraught. It will also be glorious. It will feel like the sun is at last shining. A great weight will be lifted. A few months after I reunited with my daughter, an acquaintance asked a mutual friend if I had "had work done" on my face. I could only be amused. I knew what was different. So did my friend.

It's likely the guilt, the shame, the sense of failure you carry in the recesses of your heart and head have prevented you from agreeing to a meeting, or responding with a letter, even if you were forced to relinquish your baby by your parents, or your church, or the ethos of the era in which you surrendered. Many first mothers have shared your feelings. Fellow blogger Jane suffered such shame and fear that she ignored her daughter's first attempts at contact for many years.* But know this: your child has already forgiven you; she wouldn't be asking to meet otherwise.

TELLING THE FAMILY
You say you haven't told your husband? Or your other children about this first child and you can't face them? True, when you tell them they are likely to feel that you have been, on some level, lying by omission to them all those years. That is a real hurdle. But any reasonable person--your partner, your other children--will understand that your silence is due to the shame that you felt about this. They will get over their shock. They will understand, or at least, accept you as you are. If they loved you before, they will not stop loving you. You have to trust their love.

As I had kept my pregnancy secret from my family, and did not tell my mother about my daughter until she was already five. I had carried so much hope for the family in my baggage--I was the first to go to college--and admitting what I had done seemed to be beyond shameful. We all survived. I gained my mother's love and support, and my brothers' understanding, as I went public.

There is going to be no good time to bring this up because it will come like a bolt out of the blue. There is no getting around that. But this admission will be freeing in a way you cannot imagine. Secrets only have the power to hurt you as long as they are secret.

However, if you are in a relationship and you fear for your well-being if news of this surprise child comes out, let your son or daughter know this. Unless they are deranged, they will understand and make every accommodation you need. She wants to meet you, not put you in harm's way. If the connection has to be kept secret, so be it. She will understand, because a meeting--even a single meeting--is a million times better than a flat refusal. If a relationship develops, that is well and good, but that is up to the two of you. It may happen, or it may not. You have to be prepared for either outcome. 

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
We are all in this life together. We should all strive to do what we can to make life better for each other, whether it is to help a blind person cross the street, or meet the child, now grown, you gave up for adoption.

You gave a child life. At the time your baby was born, you could not give her a home; today you can give her answers, a medical history, and the story of her family, the one she belongs in by birth. You can give her the deep satisfaction of looking into a face that looks like hers. You can give her the real story of her birth. In the way that the continuum of life works, you owe this daughter, this son that much. No matter the circumstances of the adoption, no matter how good her or his adoptive family has been, you can say you are sorry. That will be great relief to you, a blessing to your child. Do not leave the world with this one thing undone. It is trite to add this, but I will says it anyway: Tomorrow may be too late. --lorraine
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* Jane's story of why she did not respond to her daughter's initial attempts to contact her:  A Birthmother's Fears of Reunion


______________________________
If any first mothers afraid to go public wish to email me privately, the email address for the blog can be found by clicking on to my name in the right sidebar. I can only hope this reaches the mothers for whom it is intended.

69 comments :

  1. Lorraine, I found my daughter so I didn't have to go through this. She was never a secret in my life, so there were no startling confessions for me.
    But it's not just first mothers who refuse contact. A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a searcher who was looking for my uncle (who was deceased). She found my family tree online and of course, my uncle was on it. Apparently my uncle fathered a son before he was married, who was surrendered for adoption. This son was now searching. I decided to contact my cousins, who were this man's half-siblings. They refused to meet him. "Not our dad" was the theme. To them, he was probably looking for money.
    My long-lost cousin was looking for my uncle's gravestone. We had a couple of short phone conversations and then he stopped contact.
    He got his information; found the gravestone; took some photos off my family tree and faded into the sunset. I felt used.
    So it's not always just about first moms.

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  2. Phantom Mom: I'm sorry you felt used, but think about how he felt--his siblings refused to meet him. At least you helped answer his questions, and I hope you can feel good about that.

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  3. Lorraine, your readers may want to take a look at this essay written by Carole J. Anderson of CUB in 1982. It's titled, "Why Won't My Mother Meet Me?" There are some very thought-provoking ideas in the essay.

    Link: http://www.exiledmothers.com/adoption_facts/why_wont_my_mother.html

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  4. "History is nothing more than lies agreed upon by men(or women in this case)" Napoleon Bonaparte

    The woman who gave birth to me had fourty-two years of preparation and time to decide what to do "if and when" that day ever came. Her decision was made very clear to me. It was very, very obvious to me that she had given her responce a lot of thought as well. I find myself wondering if having being grown in such an empty tomb has damaged me in the same way?

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  5. re:Jerry Sandusky

    This is not directed at BSE moms because I believe you had no choice. But for any person ( male or female) considering adoption, if you bring a child into the world and do not take responsibility for him or her you have no idea what will happen to that child. As an adoptee stories like Mr. Sandusky's enrage me. We infants and children are so helpless and vulnerable.

    Mr. Sandusky's story has come to light because he is a famous person. I am sure there are plenty more just like it. Way to go, social wreckers, your home studies are so worthwhile and effective {insert sarcasm}.

    Robin

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  6. Thanks for writing this. Reunion hasn't healed my heart but it's so much better now that I know my daughter and we have a relationship with her. It may not be what I wish but it's getting pretty darn good. I never want to go back to the secrets and denying that I have a daughter.

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  7. @Phantom Mom,

    Why don't you try contacting your long-lost cousin? Often those of us who were separated from our n-families feel that we are becoming pests if we are always the ones to initiate contact.

    I highly doubt that he was "using" you. He may be reluctant to keep contacting you because he has already been rejected by his half-siblings. If his response is cool, no harm done. But you may be able to start a nice relationship with a new family member.

    Robin

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  8. Thank you. I wish my mother could read this. I wish she understood the way you do.

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  9. Your letter left me with a lump in my throat. I too hope it reaches the mothers it is intended for.

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  10. Dearest Lorraine/Fmoms/Fdads and Adoptees -

    You have now struck a chord that needs to be expounded upon (from my personal perspective) along with a willingness to seek all above addressees counsel/wisdom/experience and if need be lambastements (please understand - I will probably kill the English language)-

    My situation - 36 years ago I was the father of an adopted-out daughter. A year and a half later, I married the birth mother (Jane's stats of 20-30% of fdads marrying fmoms - is there a study on the lives of these people ? - would guess the study would conclude DO NOT ATTEMPT - TUMULTUOUS LIVING - yet another topic for discussion in the future). First daughter contacts my wife through internet social media wanting to talk etc stating that she respected my wife (her bmom) if my wife had not told anyone of the adoption but ended the email with a quasi-threat of telling our kept children who are now adults and have not been told ("respected" - but did not honor) First contact with first daughter was via telephone and my wife expressed the desire for first daughter to not tell our kept children. First daughter responds to my wife (her birth mother) that she has the right to tell them (our kept children)and they have the right to know. At this point my wife shuts down/is back in her 20s and is totally frightened with the prospect of being exposed and not honoring of not telling others. She was raised in a very religious home with the command of "Never Speak Of This Again" and like a good first-born and not having a boyfriend with a spine (me), she complied. My wife nor I have ever received the benefits of counseling. My wife thinks all counselors are quacks. She knew this day would eventually come (my wife is 10 times smarter than me) and we agreed with each other that had first daughter been humble and contrite respecting our (my wife's) decision to not tell our kept children, that the 3 of us would have met to see where things would have gone. Since the quasi-threat was on the table, my wife and I decided that I would meet first daughter and reason with her of not telling our other children at this time. Of course, as Fmoms, you know that I melted at the first sight of my first daughter. I could not apologize enough. I felt so absolutely guilty/a failure/ashamed of what I had put her through. And of course, I had all of those feelings of thankfulness. She is soooooo beautiful. SHE IS ALIVE AND SHE HAS MADE IT THUS FAR - YEAH !!!!!!!!!!!! (Words cannot really express the joy/guilt/pain/excitement/remorse/etc that was experienced at the same time - and you fmoms know exactly what I am saying). At any rate, we met, discussed, came to the impasse of telling or not telling our kept children (her siblings), hugged - unsure if it was for the last time or not - I desperately hope not - and I returned home. My wife was devastated and swore that this would be the undoing of our marriage and our family. We eventually told our kept children and they are processing. At the request/insistence of our first daughter, our kept children spoke to first daughter via telephone but there has been no follow-up contact by kept children to fdaughter (I think because of the "forced" situation / circumstances). I have to presume that fdaughter wanted to make sure that kept children knew of her existence. She stated to me that to her (first daughter) it was more important that our kept children know that they had another sibling than it was to have a relationship with myself or her fmom (which kind of kicked me in the gut). It has now been a year since first contact and apx. 10 months since myself and first daughter have met. I have spoken to her numerous times before and after our meeting - texted/emailed etc. When I met with first daughter, I caught her in 2 lies which were crappily explained away. Thus, trust is non-existent or fragile at best.

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  11. Continued -

    My wife currently insists that she never wants to meet first daughter. There is constantly a huge unacknowledged elephant in the room. I perceive that it is due to the initial handling of forcing us to tell our kept children instead of a desire to meet each other face to face and begin the walk down the road of reunion.

    Your letter to "Sister" Fmoms addressed that the love will remain and understanding will ensue when explaining to those who did not know - this has certainly been the case. You further expressed if there was fear of well-being of exposing the "secret" of the adoption, that son/daughter will understand and make every accommodation needed.

    With the availability of instant notification through internet social media etc., along with the above denoted attitude of first daughter, I feel you missed the mark in our and similar situations. Based on the threat that ultimately came to fruition and discovery of lies by first daughter, the possibility of exposure to others who do not know is real. A life lived without open acknowledgment of adopting out a child along with the secretly carrying the hurt/guilt/shame/etc that now has the potential of being exposed to all. What in the h--- is my wife supposed to do ? How can she trust first daughter when we were forced to tell our kept children ? What else weill we be forced to do ? Who else will we be forced to tell ?

    For the record, I love my wife desperately and unconditionally and I will never leave her nor forsake her. I love my first daughter and desperately want to help her heal and bring her along side of the rest of us somehow. I love my kept children and desire to maintain the loving caring relationship we have established together.

    No Man is an island. No man stands alone. Each man's joy is joy to me. Each man's grief is my own. We need one another. So I will defend. Each man as my brother. Each man as my friend (one of my most absolutely positively favorite songs). If fmoms and adoptees seek that which is only beneficial and/or comfortable for themselves - how will/can true loving reunion ever occur ?

    Please speak to/expound on the sacrifice that each party needs to give of themselves to reach each other (sacrificing their own hurts/guilt/feelings of abandonment/feelings of not being whole/shame/etc/etc/etc)(getting out of one's own skin and putting on the skin of the other)

    And now you know why I struggle to balance (fulcrum) the pain/healing of my wife with the pain/healing of my first daughter and all the feelings of my other children and fdaughter's Aparents and her husband.

    All comments are welcome - good/bad/indifferent.

    Oh - this is so damn hard !

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  12. we all (fmoms,adoptees) have been forced to be secrets for so long,s that while I feel that it is the natural parents place when to tell, the adoptee should not be expected to stay in the closet forever. When this happened to me (and we are talking her also requesting I not contact deceased bdad's daughter who she doesnt even know) almost two years into the reunion, she wanted me to wait to find dads family until her son was eighteen because of what ppl might say! I would have waited six years to talk to a sister who she never met just to avoid gossip) I just said, I am no longer going to pretend that I am your "friend". I respect if you cant tell people, but I will not allow my own self esteem and my own feelings of abandonment to be effected, so if you cant tell me when I will no longer be a shameful secret and we can part ways. Period. It is unhealthy to expect the adoptee to remain hidden until it fits needs. It is also unhealthy to try and force a natural mother to be pushed out of the closet. As long as there is a plan in action and an intention, I feel that the natural parent should not be forced. However, I also feel that in this gentlemans case, I mean think about it, she is the daughter of a couple that married and had her full siblings, that must be hard you know. I also think that if siblings are adults then it is not fair to expect the adoptee to wait a decade or an extended period of time not to have a relationship, I mean she missed out her whole life on them and visa versa. Perhaps they are reluctant to have a relationship because of your wife's attitude? Just my input, I feel that its tricky, but in my opinion and the way I did it was talk to natural parent first, allow him/her time to process and to tell, but dont wait forever, because I am a person, not a secret. Bulldozing never get anywhere! Reunions are delicate, we are all wounded and I say try to understand the shame and stigma on both sides,

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  13. Also, I have to add, why would you expect your daughter who was given up to be contrite? Contrite for what? As for her behavior, and lack of trust, please read the Primal wound, when you speak of sacrifices you seem to expect her to make them all, please read to see what adoption does to adoptees. Also pick up the Girls who went away for yourself, your daughter and your wife. It is very informative and may help your daughter understand what shame can do. But now is your chance to be a real parent and fight for your daughter, help your wife and heal. Your post comes off as slightly angry and you seem to throw the blame on your daughter. "the hurt being exposed to all" at some point you were planning on telling people? or now that her full siblings no, you can reason with yourselves that you would have. If your wife knew that this would come, what were her plans? I am more that positive that the moms running this site would be happy to reach out to her, and they really "get" it.

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  14. Dear Struggling Fulcrum, and all others like you:

    I will address your issues later in a blog post, but in short, you do have a very hard role to fill. At least you met your first born, and had an emotional reaction to her. As for her mother, your wife, she has two choices: either continue on the sad road she is on, which is upsetting to everybody, and is upsetting our other children, the adopted one's siblings, as your wife has passed on her negativity to them; or she can accept what has happended and work on herself to embrace her past, her/your daughter, and help the other children do the same.

    I am in my sixties; I was raised in a Catholic home and went to Catholic schools for 12 years, and was so ashamed of my pregnancy that I hid it from my family. My daughter was born in 1966. If your wife will read anything--I am assuming she won't read firstmotherforum--she might peek into my own memoir, Birthmark, available from amazon) about the fears of being "found out" as a young woman "in trouble" and how I was able to come to grips with that. It also covers the adoptee's needs to know one's heritage to feel complete. I'm sorry if I am promoting my book here, however, as it's long been out of print I do not benefit from any sales.

    My partner in sin here, Jane, had to tell her other daughters (3) about the first when they were grown up, and it was not easy. (There is a link to one of her posts at the end of the blog).

    Your wife needs to focus on the needs of her first born, an individual who never had a choice (yes, I know your wife feels as if she did neither) about how or who would raise her. Perhaps talking to a therapist might help your wife come to accept her responsibility to her daughter, now grown, but who still has needs.

    Closed adoptions have done so much damage, and your wife's reaction to her daughter is ample proof.

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  15. Another possible reason for rejection and one that is seldom mentioned is the fear of being punished or abused by the adoptee. I am a first mother who has firsthand knowledge of what life is like when your found child feels that there is a debt to be paid by you, the mother, for the abandonment, the rejection, the inescapable primal wound and everything bad that is attributed to adoption. I searched and found prior to the advent of the internet. My head was filled with visions of a happy reunion thanks to the wonderful stories I read in the ALMA newsletters. I eagerly anticipated the day I would find my child and my heart and home were overflowing with love and joy. I wasn’t even remotely prepared for what followed. Now that the internet is available, there seems to be an abundance of stories about unhappy reunions for various reasons. So it’s easy to see now why one might think, “why go there”?

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  16. "Why go there"

    Because we owe it to our children.

    Even if reunion doesn't evolve into a relationship. I was responsible for my daughter being adopted and I don't see how any mother could deny the fact that they were partially if not fully responsible.
    Is it and easy thing. Hell no.
    We lived through the hard part. The not knowing. The secret. The anguish. I have to agree with Lorraine, finally knowing and being able to be open and honest with your child id the most freeing experience I have ever had.

    I don't care what anyone thinks of me or my past so called choice. What matters now is developing a good realitonship with my grown daughter.

    Janet

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  17. Anon 9:55 wrote: "My head was filled with visions of a happy reunion thanks to the wonderful stories I read in the ALMA newsletters."

    I agree with you, anon, that search and support groups of the ALMA variety did strongly promote the idea that adoption reunion always worked out wonderfully and this message turned out to be misleading. I think this was done in part because in those days adoptees were told they were malajusted for even wanting to search. And also to show that first mothers had never wanted anonymity and hence, the sealed OBCs should be opened.

    In a previous post someone had commented that many adoptees find their first mother and think she is nuts. Well, I think adoption itself is nuts. The whole idea of reunion where people are finding their closest relative and yet they are strangers is nuts. The whole bizarre situation of needing to search and reunite is nuts. It's not the people involved who are nuts (except of course in those rare circumstances where someone is truly mentally ill) but not knowing your own parent or child sure is.

    Robin

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  18. Having been around back in the day and involved with ALMA for a brief time, I can concur that only happy happy rah rah reunion stories were permitted in ALMA publicity.It was very symplistic and a bit dishonest. It did mislead many of us, and ill-prepared anyone for some of the bad outcomes of reunion that did happen and are still happening today. The reasons for this were political, but the devastation to individuals in hard places was personal.

    Also, no it is not just that "adoption is crazy" nor is adoption the only cause for craziness in those who involved. I know a fair number of people who have found parents and children who were severely disturbed, and made their lives hell, and they got very little help in dealing with this in the early days of adoption reform.

    Another case of love not being enough; some of these situations escalated to the point of mothers or adoptees having to distance themselves from the other person, for their own sanity and safety.

    It took a long time and the advent of the internet for those in really horrendous reunions to be able to talk about it and not be blamed for not "giving enough" or "putting up with enough" or "rejecting again" after they had done all they could to help and it was never enough.

    Sometimes the pendulum swings the other way, and those in decent but disappointing reunions with sane but not overly interested or demonstrative relatives called this "abuse" when it was not, and struck back where they should have been patient and empathetic.

    Reunion is always a fragile and difficult thing, and it can only be understood and people in reunion supported if everyone, in good, bad and mediocre reunions, is able to talk honestly about their own situation without either generalizing to "all reunions" or having to shut up because someone else feels uncomfortable hearing a different kind of story.

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  19. "Reunion is always a fragile and difficult thing"

    Because it is a very bizarre and unnatural thing for two people who are the closest of blood relatives to be strangers.

    Robin

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  20. I don't know about "bizarre and unnatural." Literature is full of stories of long-lost parents and children reuniting with various results, going back to Oedipus. See adoptee Marianne Novy's "Reading Adoption"
    http://www.press.umich.edu/titleDetailDesc.do?id=98747

    It is a popular and enduring scenario. Dramatic and unusual yes, but a common enough occurrence to have become a familiar theme.

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  21. @Anon 3:40,
    I still think it is unnatural for parents and children, especially mothers and children to be separated. And that adoption is a form of social engineering. One of the saddest parts is that I believe so many of these separated parents and children could have had great relationships if they had never been separated. But once adoption takes place and then the people involved try to put it back together through reunion it just so often doesn't seem to work.

    Comparatively speaking, my first mother and I had a good relationship after reunion but I think we would have had a great mother/daughter relationship if she had been able to keep me. And that I would have been blessed to have her as a mother. I bet there were many potentially great relationships like that that were destroyed by adoption.

    Robin

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  22. Lorraine,
    As you consider a future post regarding the keeping of secrets in adoption, I would appreciate your comments in situations where the lost child (now an adult with his own children) refuses to tell the children that this "nice lady" who visits is the grandmother. It is another one of those big elephant in the room situation.

    Glory

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  23. Lorraine, Jenn, Anons, Robin (I love your wisdom and insights Ms Robin - through all of this I will learn much from you), Maryanne & Glory - KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING

    Jenn - Contrite was not the proper word. Angry and seem to throw the blame on fdaughter - no, Not angry, just frustrated that a concrete wall 100 feet high and 10 feet thick has now been created due to the handling of the situation. Not impossible to get over but pretty damn hard and will take much wisdom and intelligence to get over or around it.

    Now for the crux of the situation - and I fully expect (and hope) to hear from many regarding what I perceive in jenn and my fdaughter. In your response jenn were many references to I, Me etc (meaning yourself). Indicating that the most important thing to Jenn as well as my fdaughter is themselves and not the whole. I count this as a typical development in most adoptees when they have concentrated mostly on abandonment/self esteem issues which are me myself and I issues. Forcing someone to do something that they just cant bring themselves to do at that point in time - who does that serve ? Only the selfish one pushing the issue.

    Lorraine - although your daughter drifted in and out of the reunion, from what I have read through your posts, she seemed to understand that reunion was healing for you as well.

    Further, what I have read in other various blogs, successful reunions seem to start with the adopted child and mother then when they are ready, the circle then enlarges to gradually include others. But it begins with the bmom/bdad and adoptee. And if it takes forever - so what ? In my case, it is going to have to start with me and fdaughter.

    When the Amom was arguing with the Nmom regarding the "possession" of a child, Solomon ordered the child be cut in half. Jenn - does that mean that if Solomon did give the child to the Amom because the Nmom gave way to possession rights in order to spare the life of the child that when the child as an adult met up with the Nmom (who had other kept-children) that the best that the given away child could do would be to give the Nmom a time-line to tell her kept children ? What the Hell ? Get over yourself. Sacrifice your personhood/youness for the benefit of the whole.

    So what if you never ever ever speak to your bdad's daughter. So What ?!! Your life goes on - her life goes on. The only difference between your and her life going on as it is without contact, is knowledge of her existance. Had you not known that bdad had another daughter, your life and her life would continue on. But because you know, you are willing to throw a monkey wrench in her life and such monkey wrench really does not affect your life - it just goes on.

    Dedicate yourself to your fmom. Love her so unconditionally, that she has no excuse and turns her desire for you to contact bdad's daughter because she sees what a truly wonderful person you really are - inside and out. Sacrifice you for the benefit of the whole.

    Here we go - this should stir the pot of discussion pretty well.

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  24. Struggling Fulcrum: I had a different experience than a first parent asking me to be silent: I had a first parent who refused to acknowledge me altogether. First through a CI, and then through letters and phone calls. It was like I was a ghost, or even worse, a non-person.

    I found out I had a half-brother, and decided that her silence meant that all bets were off. If she couldn't acknowledge me as a person, then she couldn't expect me to keep her secret. So I contacted him and was a BIG surprise. He was shocked but open and welcomed me, but of course was in the middle for a long while. He eventually pulled back, and I told everyone else, even though she had asked me not to. I didn't care anymore. I wasn't going to be a skeleton in ANYONE's closet "for the greater good," fuck that very much, even though I consider myself a kind and thoughtful and giving person. What sort of reception and human kindness was I being extended? Not to mention that I was suffering from medical issues related to familial problems that could have been helped by discussion with those in my first family.

    I believe that to be given respect, one must extend respect. I was patient and kind, and I put up with a lot of rejection over eleven years. Being the outsider really hurts.

    As it turns out, my brother and mother have now come around, and I have very good relationships with *both* of them. Had I backed off and waited for my mother to make the first move, NOTHING would have happened. She was perfectly happy to stay in her 42-year-old safe place of denial. As my first mother said to me last week, "You don't give up, do you?" Nope. She is working hard with her priest on forgiving herself. She knows that I have forgiven her (what's to forgive, really, except some early remarks and the ignoring stuff?). We just have to move forward now.

    I think that blaming the adoptee, and saying that it's the adoptee's job to carry the burden of silence and secrets is really, really heinous. Those of us in closed adoptions have been secrets all of our lives, and while that's okay for some of us, it really pisses me off to be expected to carry that burden any longer. It's NOT my job. I am not a criminal. I believe that parents need to grow up and take that burden back from us. The best day of my life was when my first mother acknowledged me as a human being, because I was NOT a secret anymore. I was so freeing, I cannot describe it. A human being should, IMO, not have to have being a secret be part of their identity. In some ways, I am glad I got to tell my brother about myself on MY terms. Why shouldn't it be on my terms?

    I am a grownup, with my *own* identity, even though my mother's mother keeps asking about "the baby being back." Really? I am NOT the "baby" anymore, and I think that's the problem your wife running into, Struggling Fulcrum. She needs to look at it from different viewpoint. Your firstborn is not "that baby," an outsider, an adversary. She's your daughter, a hurt child who feels that she's being treated as lesser than your kept kids. And being lesser than truly sucks. She might be putting up walls to protect herself because being rejected is painful, and feeling that you have no place in a family is hurtful, and that you will never be welcomed in the same way as kept children is excruciating at times. Perhaps? Ask her. It might get you farther than judging her.

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  25. Ms. Marginalia, thank you for that insightful and inspiring comment about your own situation. I really cannot see into the heart of the women who refuse any contact or acknowledgment of any sort, such as Struggling Fulcum's wife, or Elaine Penn's mother and her terrible website.

    I know they are unlikely ever to read anything about the needs of their own children, now adult, because they have shut themselves off so completely to feeling anything for them. These women are a mystery. It's as if they have put on a thick sheath of ice around their hearts that nothing can break through. They do not have the "mothering instinct" towards the child they gave up.

    On another note: Reunion is a one-time thing, like birth. You can't drift in and out of it. My daughter and I had periods (several months, more than a year once) when we did not communicate. That was a rift in the relationship; but I am also aware of mother/child relationships without adoption but no communication for several years. And yes, since I am the one who found my daughter, she clearly understood that it was healing for me to know her. She had her nuerosis based on many things; all who knew her struggled at times for maintain a relationship, and that includes her adoptive parents, but there is so much about our relationship that I miss, so much that was connective tissue because we were mother and daughter.

    Thanksgiving is coming up; I remember the one--it was the one just before my daughter died--when she was in Wisconsin, we were on Long Island with Tony's grown children and their families, but she was on the phone talking to me and them several times that day, for hours by the time it was all added up. In the last years, though she might have spent part of any holiday with her adoptive parents, her mother (probably loosened by drink) always managed to say something to my daughter Jane that hurt her to the quick. She'd come home and call me, I could hear the disappointment and hurt in her voice, but only later would I hear what had happened, as she was too embarrassed at the time to tell me, other than...something had come up, again, as usual. It always made her feel so other.

    And Robin, I have a favor to ask.. To make it easier to pick out your comments, would you mind signing in as "Robin?" Just click on the Name/URL and type in "Robin." You don't need to have a URL to use that function and it will eliminate one more "Anonymous"...which I would get rid of completely if I could. Everyone's actual identity is still protected. And this request extends to anyone else, especially if you comment here repeatedly. Or not.

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  26. Lorraine or Jane,

    This is slightly of topic but do either of you know if it is possible to amend an original birth certificate? My daughter was named at birth but it is not on her OBC. Can we change that? I find it hard to look at with her being named baby girl. She was born in Wisconsin.

    Thanks for any help.

    Janet

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  27. Janet,

    Interesting question regarding amending an original birth certificate to add you daughters given first name. I don't know the answer. I suggest you ask the Wisconsin vital stats department; let us know the answer. My thought is that you'd have to have the amended certificate amended back to the original and add her name. This would likely require your daughter's consent and the consent of her adoptive parents.

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  28. Jane,

    Thanks for the response. I will look into it further and let you know. I don't see a problem with daughter and adopted Mom in amending the original but I can foresee problems in changing the amended certificate. I'll let you know.

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  29. Mr. Fulcrum,

    It sounds like you have done everything you could to connect with your daughter. What your wife and other children do at this point is not your responsibility, but something to be worked out between your surrendered daughter and themselves, but of course it takes two wanting the relationship to make it work.

    I have no insight into mothers who do not want to meet their child, because my case was so the opposite, and I was never really hiding the fact that I had another child. Whatever motivates her, it is her problem, not yours. She may wish no relationship, but she has no right to lay down ultimatums to you about your relationship with your child.

    I'd say to continue your own relationship with your daughter as much as you can, and don't worry so much about the others. It seems it was very important to your daughter to have her siblings know about her, and you complied with that request and that is done. Whether she was presumptuous in requesting they be told or not, what's done is done. Don't agonize over it. Move on from here with your own relationship, and make it clear to your daughter that you are not responsible for how the rest of the family reacts.

    You can't expect or demand sacrifice from any other person, including your daughter. You and she have to work something out that is acceptable to both, or let it go. It is shame the rest of the family has no interest, but it is what you have to work with now.

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  30. I do not believe that i said the most important thing in the reunion was myself by any means, I did not "force" my mother to tell anyone. But I am not going to be a secret because I am black and she was ashamed of me simply because of my color. I never asked her to tell my half siblings from her marriage or anyone else in her family. I did make contact with my fathers daughter because she is my sister and in no way shape or form related to my mm. And my life has changed for the better, I have crucial medical information. But I dont understand how I am supposed to sacrifice myself for the greater good? I think sir that you are trying to judge me and you dont even know the details, I gave my input because you asked, but you dont know about my adoption experience and you sure have no idea about the abuse I have been through, so I will not even address the issue of you believing I need to sacrifice myself for the greater good. I believe in respect and not pushing, but I also believe in respecting one self enough not to be a secret forever. I do think that reunions based on mutual respect will last longer, I have said before that adoptees who habitually abuse their birth mothers are wrong, that we all are hurting and I try to come on here to read and understand how my mom might feel. But I do not think that many on her advocate for adoptees staying in the closet forever. And I have been nothing but respectful to you, so please try to do the same for me.

    Lorraine, what is your opinion? after two years should I not have contacted my sister? you have read enough of my posts (too many) and I believe that I am trying to understand. Do you "perceive me to be all about me?" This is why I feel so discouraged about adoption in general, I simply and respectfully give my experience where for once I stood up for myself and said this cant be forever
    (because I would not expect her to be a secret from my arents) and then in meeting my own family I am told I just her that it cant be forever. And just though you should know Fulcrum, my reunion is indefinitely on pause because of genetic sexual attraction on my mother's part. So, through years of being kept in the closet in addition to being called racial slurs when she gets mad, I am trying my best as an adoptee who has been through abuse growing up, to understand why she is the way she is so that we can move forward. I do not think I am being selfish to expect respect because you are no judge to how much I love my mother. you have no idea at all what I am trying to do to understand her and be in her life, but it will not be at the expense of my own person. Lorraine, please your input here!

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  31. Fulcram,

    Now for the crux of the situation - and I fully expect (and hope) to hear from many regarding what I perceive in jenn and my fdaughter. In your response jenn were many references to I, Me etc (meaning yourself). Indicating that the most important thing to Jenn as well as my fdaughter is themselves and not the whole. I count this as a typical development in most adoptees when they have concentrated mostly on abandonment/self esteem issues which are me myself and I issues. Forcing someone to do something that they just cant bring themselves to do at that point in time - who does that serve ? Only the selfish one pushing the issue.

    I had to chuckle at this. the anger at adoptees and any adoptee that really is just trying to find what they lost. What did they lose...not another human being, not a thing, not just a family...THEY LOST WHO THEY ARE..they lost themselves, they lost a complete family. Even if it were for the best of reasons..they still lost a huge part of who they are. You say they are selfish while drifting though reunion? How can you say that when their whole lives have really been based on the greater good of their mothers. First they are the wonderful , cute, answer to all prayers to adoptive parents, then the worst nightmare, proof of shame, selfish people that only can see themselves...Thats alotfor anyone to have to live with for just being conceived and born.

    another very sad fact that is a result of adoption. Adoptees don't fit 100% in any family. No matter how much love either has to offer, no matter how many fantasies are spun...it ain't gonna happen.....to much time has passed , to much has occurred(whether good or bad) to "your" children and they are trying to figure out we they fit into it all. Where their kids fir into it all and how to move on so we can feel some peace and stability for a situation that we did not create but one that totally created who we were to become.

    So if you see some selfishness, me, myself and Iism...so be it...I see it has not being totally whole to begin with. that what first families and adoptive families need to learn.....your dealing with a human being that has already been pulled apart into differnt people to keep others happy.

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  32. Janet wrote: "Why go there"

    "Because we owe it to our children."

    Thank you so much for this comment and for others like it. You have really shown that you understand that your relinquished daughter has a right to the life that was hers by birth.

    @Lorraine,
    I use to always type my name in but then my comments stopped being posted. I didn't think you had bumped me from your blog :) When I started using Anonymous and typing my name at the bottom, my comments showed up again. There must have been a glitch.

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  33. Anonymous:

    So many Anonymouses, which comment is yours? And if you see a little garbage can at the bottom you can delete the comment yourself> PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING UP A NAME FOR YOURSELF AND PUTTING IT IN THE NAME/URL LINE. You do not need a URL to use this function.

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  34. The email address is listed under my name. click on that.

    And to whomever asked about changed original birth certificates: Yes, it happens. In some states the city was even changed to suit that of the adoptive parents, and birthdays have been known to mysteriously be different from the real one. Or should I say...birth one? Positive language, you know....

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  35. ROBIN:

    I thought that and wondered what had happened.

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  36. One of the most damaging facts of adoption to both mom and child is secrecy. The secret turns into shame. and fulcrum, i love my mom and you have no idea into my situation. I am a good person, and you are twisting my sincere attempts to give you an experience from a diff view into an attack on my character and how I have handled the situation. I do not have to sacrifice anymore, but I have. I do not have to put up with name calling and even disturbing behavior, but I want to work through it, because I get that adoption is hard, that she is hurting, because she is my mom and I love her. If you simply want to rile ppl up then that is one thing, but if you read what i wrote, I do not believe in forcing and never "forced" her to tell her children, my siblings, but I do not have to sacrifice my self worth and am glad I didnt not tell my dads daughter because she already knew it turns out because our dad told her and that relationship has helped me find a home and her a part of our father when he is now deceased. I will chalk your attack on my character as a misunderstanding of my tone, but I was trying to give a perspective, you asked for it, not to argue. Loving another person doesnt mean you have to sacrifice your own self worth. I hope your daughter and you can find a common ground, but you are in no way my judge. Its funny when a parent tells an adoptee to get over themselves, I was being completely sincere.

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  37. Ms Marginalia & Jenn -


    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH - I can't believe that I am posting with the same Jenn that I truly love to read (once again the cluelessness of the male shines through)

    I am very sorry for you equating my comments as attacks on you or your character. This was definitely not my intent. But what did happen was a wonderful discourse of true feelings from yourself and Ms. Marginalia. I am a sponge needing those feelings BECAUSE I AM SO SCARED ABOUT ALL OF THIS.

    I am that 20 year old immature punk boy that didn't step up to the plate. I seem to stay trapped in thoughts of failure and worthlessness (typical fmom yet I am the fdad.) I fear that if I were to talk to my fdaughter the way I did here - I would lose her again - but this time forever.

    Please forgive me for hurting you. Thank you for sharing your experience/hurts/angst/and triumphs.

    Do no throw me out with the bathwater as I desperately need all of your thoughts/insights (all of them - good/bad/pissed-off/indifferent) to go forward.

    But still - don't you love a little battle now and then ?

    SF

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  38. Opps. Jenn, I left a message for you at the other blog post--I've tried to leave a comment at Lost Daughters for you but got an error message.

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  39. Oh Lorraine! Thank you SO much for this letter. Thank you, thank you.

    I am very, very tempted to print it out and mail it to my unreceptive birthmother.

    I'm quite certain she doesn't identify as a first/birth mother and so does not frequent this site!

    Thank you.

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  40. Dear ms. marginalia - I love you, woman. When I read this, "I think that blaming the adoptee, and saying that it's the adoptee's job to carry the burden of silence and secrets is really, really heinous. Those of us in closed adoptions have been secrets all of our lives, and while that's okay for some of us, it really pisses me off to be expected to carry that burden any longer. It's NOT my job. I am not a criminal. I believe that parents need to grow up and take that burden back from us" all I could do was nod my head vigorously and say, "AMEN, sister!!!"


    Struggling Fulcrum - If I have one bit of advice for you (as a fellow first parent), it would be to shut up and listen to what adoptees are trying to tell us. Especially ones like ms. marginalia and jenn. It doesn't mean we have to agree with it 100%, it doesn't mean we have to like it. But it does mean we need to keep our traps shut occassionally and open our ears. They have much to teach us about and we would be wise to listen carefully.

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  41. There is no guarantee that rejecting mothers have not read blogs like this, or adoption reform books, or seen shows favorable to reunion. It is possible to do all of those and continue to disagree. Would you be convinced to change your beliefs by reading pro-adoption blogs or books?

    Some blogs and those who post might even makes someone already afraid of reunion even more scared or just unwilling to take a chance on what they might find.It is not always ignorance that deters.

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  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  43. I am an adoptee whose mother supposedly denied contact. I wonder if the agency had any clue to tell her that she is not only denying me access to my records but also my first father and his family's access to me. He never agreed to allow me to be adopted. He fought it. Being parent myself, we owe it to our children even as adults to give them the truth. That is not saying that I don't have compassion for her. I most definitely do. I understand why she is the way she is. Lord knows adoption as well as abortion dehumanize the human child even in the eyes of the parent. I think too that these types of decisions also dehumanize and demonize the parents. Does it still hurt at times? Yes. Fulcrum at least your daughter knows her information. Me after all these years, I still have no idea who delivered me, what hospital that I was born in, and what my country of origin truly is. For me, it is no longer important that I know her. I wouldn't mind knowing my info but I am okay with it now. I think when adoptees and moms go into these search situations, they expect a parent and child reunion. That relationship has been lost for a long time. They need to go in expecting and giving only friendship. That prevents a great deal of heartache on both sides. For me, truthfully I have a mother. She was the one who was there to pick up the pieces of the fallout of my search. She is the one that still has not given up hope for her to find me. If I need a "first mom", I have several friends who fit that bill for me. They satisfy that emotion deep inside of me. I find that I am not as lost as I once was.

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  44. Robin wrote:t "your relinquished daughter has a right to the life that was hers by birth."

    The sad truth is, that life is gone, it did not happen and nobody can restore it, much as they might wish to. Natural parents can provide truthful answers,give the adoptee her heritage and medical history, access to other relatives, they can be sorry, they can be supportive of their adoptee, and they can be loving, in some cases they can even have the adoptee live with them, but they cannot change the past. Also, I do not see the concept of being "entitled" to life with your natural parents as helpful. It is not something that can be restored years later.It is not something that it is good to focus upon in reunion.

    I think it is harmful to a good reunion to focus on the life you were entitled to or should have had with the natural family, rather than on working things out in the life you do have. This goes for mothers too who grieve over the lost baby and childhood while their adult child is standing right there, offering an adult relationship and friendship.

    None of us can go back and change anything. There is no time machine. No, it cannot be as it was if the surrender had never happened. That is something that has to be accepted before everyone can move on to what can be created and enjoyed in the present and future.

    I remember BJ Lifton telling me that many adoptees do not feel that they fully belong in either family. Adoption makes for pain and difficulty in relationships. But that does not mean we should not try for the kind of connections we can make, bruised and broken, not perfec perhaps but valued and real in their own way.

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  45. I want to meet my first mother. I just want to meet her once. I would love a relationship with her, but that's just not going to happen. But I still want to meet her.

    I've been doing a lot of thinking about this. I want to meet her because I can't wrap my head around her as a person. I feel like I just appeared here on Earth one day. Email doesn't make her real to me. The only thing that will is meeting her in the flesh. I feel like if I can meet her, hear her voice, and see her as a person, then I can move on with my life. I'm not going to be able to do that until I meet her.

    I didn't fully understand this until I met my first father. Seeing him in person was the single most profound adoption moment of my life. It was right there, in my face, that I was related to someone. I'm very thankful that I did get to meet him. I'm lucky he still wants to have a relationship with me. But knowing what I know now about the importance of meeting someone face-to-face, I want to meet my mother even more.

    Thank you for this post Lorraine. It meant a lot to read.

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  46. I agree with Maryanne's 11:28 comment. She is exactly right. There is no entitlement. Part of the greiving process is accepting that.

    Jenn, my birth father refused to meet me when I first contacted him at age 20. But I tried again at age 31 and he said yes. By then his children were grown and out of the house. I realize that 11 years seems like an eternity, but I just want to give you hope that perhaps your mother will eventually come around.

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  47. Thanks, Jenn. This is one of those days when I am so depressed I feel like giving up. Getting an alternative adoption story into the media feels nearly impossible. We need an Occupy Wall Street movement of our own.

    Occupy Adoption Agency...?

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  48. Maryanne wrote. "But that does not mean we should not try for the kind of connections we can make, bruised and broken, not perfect perhaps but valued and real in their own way."

    It seems almost fortuitous that I just heard this quote from Michael J. Fox, "Excellence I can reach for. Perfection is God's business."
    It struck a chord.

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  49. Maryanne wrote:"Robin wrote:t "your relinquished daughter has a right to the life that was hers by birth."

    The sad truth is, that life is gone, it did not happen and nobody can restore it, much as they might wish to."

    You missed my point. I was not saying that anyone can push the rewind button and go back as if the relinquishment never took place. That is not implied by my comment or the comments made by Janet that I was referring to.

    The point is that Janet is acknowledging that her daughter is a part of the family. Her willingness to let her daughter into her life and try to build a relationship now is commendable. Those first parents who reject reunion and who will not even provide any information on what is also a part of the child's life are cruel.

    I do believe that I have the right to know who my parents are, my grandparents and my extended family and my history. I am a member of my original family and this is what I meant by my life by birth.

    We adoptees did not ask to be ousted from our families and the entire loss of our blood kin on both sides is not something we should have to accept. Obviously, we cannot return to being raised by them but we can certainly be allowed to know who they are, have our questions answered and hopefully even build a relationship now.

    This is why I support access to OBCs and search and reunion. I also think that first parents have a right to know their surrendered children as well.

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  50. I agree that friendship is probably the best way to approach a relationship with anyone in our first families. I know I love to think of my brother as my brother--and he is--but we do not have the same history that siblings raised together share. While we love each other, we agreed this summer to stop mourning what we don't have and focus on a friendship with our adult selves. It has been great in taking pressure off.

    Same with my mother. She said a year ago she wanted to think of me as a nice woman she had met in the grocery store and wanted to take her time to get to know. I could have been huffy about it, but I respected her need for time. She hadn't expected me to find her or want contact. Now we are great friends and can explore deeper things.

    I can tell her things I would not tell my ammo because she is a friend, not a parent. I like that.

    She is also respectful, and understands how adoptees should not be secrets.

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  51. Oops, I meant "amom" but my iPhone changed it to "ammo" and I didn't notice. She is very nice, not ordnance.

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  52. Robin,
    Thanks for your kind words. Many of your posts here have helped me in my developing relationship with my daughter. The two of you seem much alike.

    You have every right to know your original family and so do all adoptees.
    Of course it doesn't always happen that way and we can never have the relationship we would have had if she had not been reinquished. As adults we both realize that but refuse to ever be seperated or silenced again. She is not a baby but she is my baby. We can love each other. hold each other, laugh and cry together and grow togehter. My whole family has welcomed her with open arms. Several of them have also met her adopted mother. We are determined to make this work. It has been six years and only gets better.

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  53. Megan,
    Your'e right it is part of the grieving process. But after accepting that we can't go back we need to set our sights on going forward.

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  54. Robin,

    I also support adoptee access to their own OBC. That is a legal right that has been denied to adopted adults and that is shameful, and easily corrected by law. It is a simple thing, if only more legislators could be convinced of that.

    I am in favor of reunion too, and of giving adoptees all the information they want about the natural family, including names and addresses of everyone. In most cases it should be up to the adoptee to contact other relatives or not, but it is not right to keep the adoptee a secret from other family members. It is decent and kind for the natural parents to include the adoptee in family events, if the adoptee wants to be included. But it is not something anyone is "entitled" to, unlike information. I think it is reasonable for adoptees to contact siblings or other family after giving the mother some time to tell them herself. No, you should not have to wait forever, but waiting a year or two seems reasonable.

    What I do not think of in terms of "rights" or "entitlement" is relationship. A relationship takes two to want it, and that is outside the legal realm of rights. It is something individuals have to work out between each other.

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  55. Quoting ms. marginalia
    "Oops, I meant "amom" but my iPhone changed it to "ammo" and I didn't notice. She is very nice, not ordnance."

    Thanks for posting that - sometimes the comments seem like ordnance and are in need of a little comic relief!

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  56. Lorraine wrote to Struggling Fulcrum: " Perhaps talking to a therapist might help your wife come to accept her responsibility to her daughter, now grown, but who still has needs."

    I would be very careful about which therapist you choose and recommend interviewing several. I'm sure there are plenty of therapists who are highly entrenched in the Pertman-esque view of adoption. The wrong therapist could do more harm than good.

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  57. There seems to have been some confusion, there are two jenns posting, the Jenn who first responded was me (biracial) the second Jenn is from Lost daughters. just clearing it up as she thought that I was trying to be her, (her comments link to her pages) but it was just a mistake with so many Jenns that Lorraine and SF thought that I was her

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  58. What about first mothers who fade away? I worked like heck to keep contact ongoing. Our youngest daughter has a full brother with her first family. I never wanted to separate siblings but the first mom was determined that either they (she and her husband) placed the baby or she was leaving him with a one year old and a newborn. My daughter (now 16) would really like to have contact with her brother but we don't know where they are. (I've asked relatives and they aren't comfortable giving out that info, which I respect.) After working on a compilation video of Hannah's first year, I was told by her first mom that,"Well, it was kind of boring." I do keep up with the paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather by sending photos/dvd etc. I know it's not the same for them, it can't be. I wish my daughter could really know ALL of her family. Sorry if this seems rambling. I guess I'm hurt on my daughter's behalf. I've thought many, many times over the last 13 years (since last time we saw her) how much I wish she were an integral part of Hannah's life. I wish her fmom had the attitude of many of you. I, however, will be eternally grateful to have this precious, silly, smart, sarcastic, happy-hugger in my life. Hope it's not a problem that an amom wrote here.

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  59. beemommy, we welcome comments from adoptive parents. I'm sorry your daughter's mother has ended contact. I can only guess at the reasons. Some first mothers end contact because they find it too painful. They may not realize how hurtful it is to their surrendered child. Some first mothers feel they are "in the way" and don't want to interfere with the adoptive family. In these cases, I believe that the adoption agency or practitioner did a poor job of counseling the birth parents.

    Just as we urge first mothers to respond positively to contact with their adult surrendered children, we urge first mothers to maintain contact with their surrendered child.

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  60. Beemommy's comment (9:38) is the reason I am not a big fan of open adoption. It does more damage to the child knowing that the first mother could be in touch and chooses not to than for those of us who knew our fmothers didn't even have the option. First the adoptee has to deal with being given up and then is reminded that s/he is not an important part of the first mother's life.


    Jane wrote that many fmothers discontinue contact because it is too painful which is probably true in some cases. However, from Beemommy's comment it sounds like this first mother is not just not that interested in her daughter.

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  61. There are all kinds of people--not all adoptive parents are the grasping kind who want their kids to be something they are not, and birth mothers who for whatever reason walk away from their children for good. It happens, and we can't fathom the reasons. Periodically we hear from adoptive parents who very much want the first mother to stay in contact...and she does not.

    Neither adoption is perfect; abuses in both. Hurt in both. So we have to take the greater good over the abuses and problems that will arise. Though it has to be hard, I can't help but believe that an open adoption is better for MOST first mothers and MOST adoptees.

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  62. It would be interesting to hear from adoptees who were in open or semi-open adoptions. Since this started some time in the 80s there should be a fair number who are adults now. Most of the adoptees who comment here were born during the BSE.

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  63. Thank you ladies so much for responding. I do think in the case of Hannah's fmom, she is just not very maternal. Her first daughter was raised by her first husband. About a year and a half after Hannah's birth, the brother was put in foster care (I wish we had known, this information was not shared with us until several months later when I wanted to get the three children together...we would have done whatever was necessary to get permission to foster him while they worked on their problems)for eighteen months and then his dad had him. She has a great many issues due to her own growing up in a dysfunctional family. @ Robyn, from the moment we decided to pursue adoption, I knew I wanted it to be open. I have a friend who found out she was adopted at 35 and the fallout of that took years to begin to deal with. I hated the secrecy and was determined not to continue with that idea. I also knew that adoption involves loss, loss for Hannah of being raised in her biological family, loss for her first parents in not getting the blessing of watching her grow on a daily basis. Again, thank you for your responses. I hope someday Hannah and her first family are truly reunited and they can experience the wonder that is her. (Not that it's all sweetness and light...she is a teenager after all.)

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  64. Beemommy wrote:" I have a friend who found out she was adopted at 35 and the fallout of that took years to begin to deal with."

    Thank you for responding Beemommy. I just wanted to point out that I was not referring to NOT telling the child that s/he is adopted. I think all children have the right to know they are adopted and to know who their first parents/families are. Just speaking for myself, I would have preferred to only be a member of my a-family until age 18 if my first mother was going to repeatedly hurt me by showing that she was not that interested in being a part of my life and for other reasons.

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  65. Struggling Fulcrum, perhaps I can enlighten you as to what your natural daughter felt.

    I found my first mother six years ago. She has never replied to a letter, card, flowers, photos I send several times each year. I spoke with her once on the phone for less than a minute before she got angry and ended the call. She resented me "intruding" into her life and family.

    How did that make an adoptee feel? Like a worthless piece of dung. I wasn't asking to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner or be mentioned in her will, I simply wanted to be acknowledged as a human being, one who is biologically related to other human beings.

    She never told her other children about me. I found that my half sister died just weeks before I found her. And my first mother apparently is so insecure about her relationship with my half brother who she never told me about that I've only sent him one email with no reply.

    I then found my birth father. He, too, refused to speak to me or meet. He had never told his wife or other children. My half sister on that side had also died. My half brother on that side takes his cue from his father, for fear of enraging my BF's wife (who is a real piece of work.)

    So as an adoptee, there is a lot of anger being related but refused. Your daughter has a lot of that anger - we all do! She lied to you? How f*cking unfair- after all, her life has been nothing but a lie.

    I'm basically told by both sides of my adoptive family that I don't count, that I'm not worthy to associate with my legitimate siblings. Think that doesn't smart? Your daughter pushed for change in the family wall and your wife and you resent it? Well if she hadn't, NOTHING would have happened it's pretty plain to see. She pushed because you were so fearful of your happy little world.

    I've made only one attempt at contacting each living sibling. I won't pester them. I send an appropriate card to each living parent occasionally. I don't try to wreck their happy little worlds, but I (like Marginalia) will be damned if I'll hide in the wings just to make the lies of their lives easier for them. And yes, I will be there for their funerals, family be damned.

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  66. Ms Marginalia, I feel EXACTLY like you. Today (Thanksgiving day) I feel like a stranger looking through the windows at families inside laughing and eating.

    Therapy and Triad groups have helped me a lot. Would that the rest of my birth family would do the same! I would still like to know the story, because it's MY story. So I look at my own family, my children and granddaughter, and realize I am the healthy one, they are the dysfunctional ones. I pity them, trapped in their fears and lies.

    Lorraine, I suspect that for many birth parents who refuse contact that they thought time would weaken their feelings, and are astounded to find that the fear, the panic, the helplessness returns like PTSD, in all its ugly strength. Their adrenaline dumps, the "flight or fight" response triggers, and they interpret this powerful feeling as anger, as fear, as a terrifying return to not being able to master their own feelings. Anger is only as strong as the bond we have with those we have feelings about. No bond, no real anger- we are most hurt by those we have the most love for!

    As adoptees, we are forever (as the British say) "between two stools." We are grafted onto our adoptive family, and cling to that bond, weak as it is, because it's the one we know. We reach out to our original families, but hesitate to let go of the family we know even if it is not a good one (and even if it is good.) We try the impossible, to be an integral part of two families, and society gives us little guidance or encouragement.

    So we in the bastard brotherhood stumble our way past the barriers that trip us up, falling frequently but trying to reach out and make it to the other side. It sure helps when someone extends a hand to us, but we've learned through our lives that we can trust no one but ourselves. Being an adoptee means we are imperfect, but at least we are aware of our handicap; we look at our birth families and know they, too, are emotional walking wounded but they continue to deny it...

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  67. d28Bob: You are right, you are the healthy one. You've tried; I don't understand the hard-headed families/parents who reject the other. It's all you say plus the embarrassment of living a lie for so long. And yes, the spouses of the birth parents also. They wield a lot of power.

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  68. Beautiful letter. Wish my first mother could hear its message. She has refused all contact. I've even been told she refuses to know anything about me or even look at a picture of me. It's amazing how we can let the past hold so much power over us. Base on my purported story, birth father was married with two sons and my first mother's college professor plus my first mother's father had just started work at the same university in a prestigious position, I can understand where her anxiety comes from. But my grandparents are passed away, so what is the point to hanging on the past.

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