We tell our found or reunited children what a terrible experience giving up them was, and they listen intently, seem to comprehend our pain, but later we hear them saying or writing something to effect that that adoption is such a great institution and they are "glad" they were adopted. We hear: I am so glad you worthless, lower class, fill-in-the-blank person did not raise me. I am so relieved that you didn't get your clutches on me and I was lucky enough to escape. This attitude has found its way into more adoptee memoirs than I can count, starting with Sarah Saffian's Ithaka and continuing through The Mistress's Daughter by A. M. Holmes.
WHEN 'THANK YOU' DOESN'T APPLY
"Thank you for letting me be adopted." Now they may be saying, I'm glad you did not have an abortion, which of course would be natural to think--even surrogate kids without a chance of finding out whose genes they have would agree because after all, they exist and wouldn't otherwise--but how do we feel when we hear: Thank you for letting me adopted? See above.
We hear that our "found" reunited children are urging anyone--except in some dire situation--to give up their babies. See above.
Given the adoption consciousness of the world today we expect and are not surprised when people from the world at large cast an uncritical and unknowing eye on all adoptions everywhere as A Good Thing. When we hear or read it coming from close relatives, who have some idea of the personal pain our relinquishment has cost, it feels like a personal attack. We feel like we don't count in their eyes, that anything we have said has not made any impression on them. One first mother's sister posted on Facebook that among the things she wanted for Christmas is that all the "unwanted children of the world be adopted." Well, we would hope that all children have families et cetera, but stating that as a comment gives more credence to the idea that there are--you know--millions and millions of babies in, say, Ethiopia, waiting for Madonna (or anyone) to take them. In fact, there is a push on right now to Stop the Trafficking of Ethiopian Children. Despite how pro-adoption people do not like the word "trafficking" in connection with adoption, this is what it is called by the people in Ethiopia trying to stop it: Stop trafficking Ethiopian children.
A close relative saying that she thinks that adoptees and birth/first mothers ought not to search and that "well enough ought to be left alone." This means: no reunions, no opening of sealed records, no answers to lifelong identity questions, of both mother and child.
JUST HOW SELFISH ARE YOU?
"What part was not selfish when you looked for your daughter?" That questioner assumes that the main impulse reason to look for one's own child who was surrendered and adopted is selfishness, and that the son or daughter who was adopted is so much better of without out. This is an out-and-out total attack on the birth parent who choose to search. I wrote about this happening to me a couple of years ago.
"I wouldn't mind seeing my (real/natural/birth) mother again." This may have been written without a great deal of thought in an awkward attempt at welcoming a visit to or from one's natural mother, but it sends a message of hesitation, uncertainty--Does the (adopted out) son or daughter really want to see his/her mother? Maybe, but maybe he/she would mind, and rather not. I know as well as anyone that the relationships after reunion can be fragile, but I would think it would hurt if a birth mother, contemplating seeing her son or daughter again said..."Well, I wouldn't mind seeing you..."
"You are nothing more than a reproductive agent." Comment superfluous, but thanks for reminding me what you think of me. See blog link below. Birth Mothers Attacked as Usual...or, Maybe I Need New Friends
Heard from an adoptive grandfather: "You (reunited birth mother) are our greatest fear." Well, actually this one was more in line with what a lot of us expect, so it didn't hurt at all when it was said to me at a dinner party while the hostess was in the kitchen getting dessert. I replied before she returned that my daughter had lived her with my husband and me for several summers and, in fact, worked here during the summers, and that to his surprise, I had a good relationship with her adoptive parents. I said it with a smile. I hope he choked on the chocolate mousse. At the very least, I made him uncomfortable.
That's my short quick list tonight before I watch the Golden Globes, hoping that some tipsy winner says something wacky (unlike the Oscars, the actors are having dinner and drinking) and that Ricky Gervais is as outrageous as usual. And what triggers you?
Jane here: Let me add the comment from my niece Janice who was trying to enlist my help in convincing her daughter Beth into giving up Beth's child for adoption. I told Janice how painful it was to lose a child. Her response: "That's just you. Other women have no problem with it."
Lorraine here again on 1/17/12: The other evening after I posted this an adoptive grandfather who is an old friend and on Facebook said: I see you still are on that adoption business. You know I am against birth parents searching! and the intent of his comment was to tell me how the blog annoys him. Well, this is a man who became somewhat of an uncle to my daughter Jane, let her stay at his place in Manhattan etc. but the blog just bugs him! Long after he met Jane his (single) daughter adopted from China. Well, get over it! Don't read the blog! (He doesn't, as far as I sense.) But if you are going to keep telling me this, our friendship is in big trouble! This is who I am. Get over it or get out.
see also: A Neighbor Condemns Searching for our Children Lost to Adoption, a friendship ends
Birth Mothers Attacked as Usual...or, Maybe I Need New Friends
Open Adoption is "one free baby-sitting scam"....