Monday, February 27, 2012

'Fessing up and running straight into a fresh adoption...

Lorraine spills the beans
Last week in Virginia I met a woman whom I immediately liked and as we were together over the course of several hours, I ended up telling her my involvement with the Big A. You know, it's always a question: to tell or not to tell. And stay silent and avoid the slings and arrows of misfortune that may come your way when meeting new folks. When she first asked what I wrote about, I said, "feminist issues," as I have a long history of writing about women and the glass ceiling and gender bias in the legal system.

As we were in Virginia, just as the nutty bill to invade women's vaginas with an ultrasound probe before they may have an abortion was the issue de jour, she was eager to hear more. She herself had been at a protest rally the morning before. Incidentally, Gov. Bob McDonnell (who initially said he would sign the bill) and the anti-women Republican-dominated legislature backed down.


But as she asked more about moi, I pushed my luck and spilled the truth: I gave up a child for adoption and am an advocate for adoption reform and opening sealed records. It's this subject for which I am best known, I added.   

THERE'S ALWAYS AN ADOPTION LURKING SOMEWHERE
Ah! She had just came back from Atlanta where her daughter and husband had adopted a newborn, a Caucasian baby even though they had said they would adopt a mixed-race, and it only took two months for the whole process. Dear Reader, how to react? What to say? Do I allow a shadow to come over my face? Ohh...is what I said. She went on to say she had been there and she met the parents of the child.

But as she talked I found her response most comforting, in a twisted sort of way. She talked about how this adoption would be so different from how it was in the old days (that would be me), this would be an open adoption--no question about that--that the couple who were the parents were "just not ready" to be parents, the girl had some college, the young man, she thought none. But she ended adding that she could hardly look at them, and that she spent the time there working on a baby blanket. What she said by inference was that she got that this giving up a child was a sin against nature, that she understood how the mother had to feel, even if she was operating on remote control through this process of handing over her child.

I ended up feeling that the woman, more than her daughter, understood the terrible dynamics of the situation. I only could say that this open adoption might be more difficult for her daughter and husband than they imagine, having heard of so many open adoptions that snap shut. I said a few other things, about how difficult it was for me, how women go through with the adoption but later on come to realize what has been done to them, to their babies, but I was reacting to a done deal hundreds of miles away.

ARE MOTHERS WHO KEEP THEIR BABIES LOSERS? 
Later, I found myself thinking about pro-adoption first mother bloggers whose writings seem to be a way to convince themselves that they did the smart, right thing--they are not like those poor losers who keep their babies, drop out of school, take welfare, et cetera.  Jane and I talked about this last night, and she said that agencies do a great job of convincing prospective adopters and prospective providers (pregnant teens and women) that they are doing the right thing. Right for whom?

photo
David Smolin, who understands
"Adoption involves the loss of relationship and connection to one’s original parents, sibling, and extended family. Any perspective on adoption that does not, at the outset, understand this is as a significant loss and harm to both child and original family is, I believe, dangerous and deficient....In a world in which we (outside the context of adoption) acknowledge that both nature (genetics) and nurture matter, pretending that genetic inheritance and nine months of nurture in the womb mean nothing makes no sense." --David Smolin, in a forthcoming book in which he and Elizabeth Bartholet, adoption promoter and Harvard prof go head to head about intercountry adoption. Professor Smolin is the adoptive father of two girls from India who he came to learn had been stolen from their parents. He spent six years locating the girls' family. --lorraine, feeling blue today
_______________________________
Personal note: I am heading towards surgery in mid-March to repair a torn and tender rotator cuff, and typing remains difficult. I can do it, but it leads to a huge spasm between shoulder and neck. So I will try to write short posts in the coming weeks as possible. If I am unusually MIA, please understand.

For more on the Smolin/Bartholet debate: Selected Works of David M. Smolin
Click on the "download" icon in the upper left of the page.

And readers, opponents of transvaginal ultrasound, check this out




13 comments :

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vbLsy9eKBlI

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  2. Thanks adopted ones...I embedded the amusing video in the blog.
    :)

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  3. Yeah, unfortuneately these same words have been heard
    before spoken by the adopter to the mother.

    This adoption"will be different" said the spider to the fly.

    While the future grandmother admits she could not look at the mother and silently knits a blanket. Tells me a lot
    about her she knows the truth and silently watches until the prey is snatched.

    I am so disillusioned by what women will do to other women so they can have a baby.

    Women are mire compassionate I don't think so their drive to have a baby any baby they can call their own males them ruthless.

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  4. Lordie, adoption is everywhere, isn't it? I mean, I feel like I can't spend an entire day without running smack dab into it somewhere. I couldn't even watch the Oscars without thinking when this one or that one came on the screen--Angelina, Sandra Bullock--that she is an adoptive mother. It's even come up now a couple of times on The Biggest Loser. One of the trainers is adopted and one of the contestants had a meltdown the other week about feeling that something was missing in her life because she was adopted. I mean, I'm sick to death of it, but it was a good thing for everybody watching to hear and see what she had to say.

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  5. There was an article in the local newspaper about those who have stillborns or infants who died shortly after birth. They stated a need to have photos and a way to memorialize and grieve the baby they bonded with in-utero and lost upon birth. The old thinking was to encourage them to go home and forget about it or try to have another later on. The new thinking is to find a way to process their grief in a healthy manner.

    Sound familiar? Except with adoption the new thinking is to actually celebrate the loss of the child. No grieving allowed, unless it is followed by singing the praises of adoption and patting one-self on the back for doing the right thing. Can this be healthy long-term? Or is it a short-term reaction that may explode in grief and anger years later?

    Good luck with your surgery.

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  6. Re: Shaylene, "adoption is everywhere"...I can't go anywhere without it reaching out and clobbering me ("Facebook helped one couple's dream of having a baby come true!" and they are posting again to find a sibling - talk about a free market!)

    As an adoptee, it just disgusts me - I feel like a victim of slave-traders, standing on the block, hoping for a kind master, knowing there is no escape. When will it end?

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  7. maybe:

    "There was an article in the local newspaper about those who have stillborns or infants who died shortly after birth...."

    Santorum and his wife apparently took their child who lived two hours or less home and kept slept with it overnight. Like, yuk. Yes, everyone can grieve and grieve in public except adoptees for losing their real families (yes I know, not very PC) and real mothers for losing their babies. It's a crime.

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  8. Kristi:

    We are doing a post about the advertising for babies. It does have the feel of a modern-day slave trade. I suppose Craig's List is next, if it hasn't been done there already.

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  9. maybe, you wrote: "They stated a need to have photos and a way to memorialize and grieve the baby they bonded with in-utero and lost upon birth. The old thinking was to encourage them to go home and forget about it or try to have another later on. The new thinking is to find a way to process their grief in a healthy manner.

    Sound familiar? Except with adoption the new thinking is to actually celebrate the loss of the child. No grieving allowed, unless it is followed by singing the praises of adoption and patting one-self on the back for doing the right thing. Can this be healthy long-term? Or is it a short-term reaction that may explode in grief and anger years later?"

    You make excellent points. As did the person who brought up the Santorums' grieving process.

    I work in L&D, and when we have patients with a fetal demise, there is a long set of protocols we follow that allow our patients and their families the time to grieve with their child, as they see fit. We do photos and footprints of the baby, as with any newborn. Families can hold the baby, and we will retrieve the baby from the morgue, if desired. It is *not* a process that is over once the birth is over. We don't say, "Look forward, get on your way, have another replacement baby."

    Adoption is the only time in which loss is celebrated, *forever*, in a socially-sanctioned way. Even more so with open adoptions. Make the best of an unpleasant situation, and adoptees bite your tongues.

    Adoption is NOT a win/win/win, and it hurts to have people insist on it being such. I can only speak of my own situation, and it's hard, being in reunion now, and seeing pictures in which I could have been with my grandfather. It sucks. I try not to go there. I only hurt my mother and myself.

    I am an adult, I can shoulder the burden of loss now, and my family and I are all moving forward in a healthy way. That's all I can do: forge ahead with what I have today. But it doesn't make the losses any easier to take.

    When I think about the story Lorraine shared in this post, I think about the baby, and yes, it will be good that the baby won't have the blank space of not knowing where he or she came from. And yet there will always be, ALWAYS be the what ifs when the baby is old enough to understand.

    There is an open adoption coming to pass in my extended afamily. On the one hand, my afamily is pretty great. It's a wonderful family to belong to, and yet it's triggering as hell to watch everything unfolding, no matter how much I love the people in question. I resign myself to knowing I cannot control anything but my own life, and that I can offer myself to this child as a support person in the future. Her parents-to-be have asked as much of me. Sigh.

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  10. Ms. Marginalia, I was just reading your blog and wondered who is the adoptee blogger who wrote a post in support of Kimberly Leighton?

    And then I read your thoughtful comment and had tears in my eyes by the time I got to the bottom, thinking about having to deal with an adoption in your extended family, even given that your afamily is pretty great. I know it certainly has been hard for fellow blogger Jane when that occurred, and I just thank my lucky stars that no one in my family or my husband's (I have two adult step-children, both of whom had a child) adopted. The cousin's kids who did are far away back in Michigan and I did not and do not have to be confronted with the parents, or children because I would be so attuned to differences. I can't help it, I find myself watching the adoptees who are teens (and adopted by acquaintances) with my first mother eyes. I have to know them pretty well before I can get that out of my head. Of course I am not talking about step-parent adoption, one of whom is on my Christmas list.

    Of course, adoption is all around me, as I have written many times, but at least it's not family, and I can be cooler about it than I would if it were happening up close and personal.
    ----------------------
    and I hate this new Blogger format for comments! Preview sucks!

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  11. One month since my niece adopted a newborn baby girl. I am still unable to get it out of my thoughts.
    I received an announcement a couple of weeks back after I declined to join in the celebration. It has photos and a very disgusting "adoption" poem. The worst one is a photo of the babys little foot with their wedding rings around a couple of her toes.
    I was trying to tell myself that they had made themselves aware of all of the adoption issues including the feelings of the mohter. Trying to give them the benefit that they may have done their homework. That photo and disgusting poem do nothing but put her in her place. Unwed and just an incubator for someone more deserving.
    I do not see myself having any contact with people in my family for some time to come.
    It just reinforces the fact that this adoption crap never goes away and just when you think you might have a handle on it, it rears its ugly head once more.

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  12. I hear you, Janet,
    People like your niece have their heads so full of adoption agency propaganda they tune out the truth.

    My niece pushed her daughter into giving up her baby for adoption parroting all the usual nonsense about forgetting and going on with her life. This was in 2003!

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  13. Jane,

    I am sorry that you have also had to experience this.
    What I don't understand is they all seemed so overjoyed when my daughter found me after 36 years. Yet 6 years later they are even more overjoyed that my niece has taken another girls child through adoption. I guess their feelings at the time of my daughters return weren't as genunine as I thought.

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