Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Continuing Adventures of Being Out as a Birth Mother

Lorraine, not quite incognito
Last weekend at a party on a backyard deck in the Hamptons, I am introduced to a man I have no recollection of knowing. He immediately says, Oh, we've met.

I say, Oh really, where, when?

He says, At a party like this. When you wrote a book about adoption...are you still involved in that?

Well of course my ears prick up like a horse on high alert and I say, Oh. Yes, I am still involved in that, but how is it that you remember me?

We adopted a daughter thirty-five years ago.

I nod, and we manage to move on rather quickly. Our paths do not cross again. We are both so neutral about what we have just stated that I have no idea whether we once argued, whether he was upset with me and my message, or ever cracked Birthmark, my "book about adoption." Because what I do remember is being passed nasty notes at parties just like this the summer before Birthmark came out, in the fall of 1979, thirty-three years ago. A My Turn column in Newsweek that October, Who Is My Daughter?, further spread the news of my shocking and outlandish memoir. I remember hearing from friends who were at a dinner party around that time with Ben Gazarra, the actor and director, that he pounded the table in anger: Who was this woman and what gave her the right? Who does she think she is?

Pounded the table? I asked my friends Marilyn and Ed. Yes, they assured me, pounded the table.

Oh. Better stay away from Ben Gazarra. I was not sad when I heard he died recently; I thought: one more down as attitudes change. 

BEING 'THAT WOMAN' WHO WROTE 'THAT BOOK'
I remember knowing that people whispered stuff about me, that I was pointed out as "that woman," that some adoptees got so angry that I had the nerve to even suggest that I wanted to know my daughter whom I relinquished back in the good ole' days that they shouted at me until they got red in the face. I remember Lee Campbell, founder of Concerned United Birthparents, going on a The Phil Donahue Show--as popular as Oprah in the day--with her identity masked by a veil. I remember my book publicist telling me that some talk show hosts--such as Larry King and Sally Jesse Raphael (both on the radio then, with huge followings)--would not even consider having me on "because their bookers said they were adoptive parents." I remember strange headlines in newspapers about me and the book, hostile interviewers, angry adoptive parents. Very angry adoptive parents.

That was little over three decades ago. We've come a long way, baby.

Four days later I am with some folks on a boat (I do live in a harbor)--and adoption comes up in that one of the women is telling another about her friends she brought to the above party and their two-year-old adopted child and how they had to submit a book of photographs of their lives and write a "Dear Birth Mother" letter, and how the "birth mother" selected them, and my friend looks up and asks me, Have you ever heard of that? 

Well, yes, I say, I have heard of that--what I actually say is there is not much I do not know about adoption today, which I suppose is a snippy answer--but I realize that now much much more is being demanded of me, about how this "Dear Birth Mother " letter/picture book is common practice and so on. And so on.

So now while seven of the eight people on deck are now listening to me, I say a few words about how a great many adoptions are what is called semi-open, the mothers-to-be choose the couple or single parent based on the photographs et cetera, adding that many if not most such adoptions close anyway, or are not very open at all because the parties do not actually ever meet or know each other's names, and I can feel my blood pressure begin to rise, I can feel my heart beat jump up six notches, and wonder if this adoption now on the table is really an open one, and I guess I'll have to ask. Do I need to go into the whole concept that this adoption--if they got a newborn in this country, and was this baby the desirable white infant--probably should not have happened in the first place, and the (most likely) young mother is in for a grim awakening about the longterm negative impact on her life? I can feel myself sinking into an emotional quagmire where I do not want to go. It had been such a pleasant afternoon. One of the other women and I had worked at a yard sale (proceeds for Obama) the previous week and all day Saturday and made $8,000, and we were going over the ups and downs of a community yard sale when Wham. Adoption. Time to educate.

CAN WE CHANGE THE SUBJECT?
Well, yes that one is "open," the woman I do not know well says, but the birth mother has not wanted to come and see the child, and I say, Well, it is so painful for some mothers they cannot handle it and the real grief may emerge later, I have this blog that I write with another FIRST mother, we hear from women ten, twenty, thirty years later and...I realize I could go on and give a ten-minute disquisition of Modern Adoption Practices and what is wrong with adoption today, and how you never truly get over giving up your baby, how you do not go back "to the life you had before" because nothing is the same again ever, and not-so-incidentally, you are a totally changed person. Suddenly a pleasant afternoon cruise is turned into what feels like being interviewed on television and while it is worth doing for the cameras to get our side of the story out there, I just can't do this today, in this place, at this moment, at what up to then has been a pleasant social event, the birthday of the boat's captain and owner. 

So I take a page from what Florence Fisher told me years ago: when someone starts in on adoption at a social event, she simply says, I don't talk about this at social events. Today I stop myself mid-stream and say: Can we change the subject?

There are times when you just have to speak out and save yourself.

I add, Can we talk about being raped instead? My friend reaches out and we shake hands, she too had been raped. (Legitimately, in case that brilliant reproductive genius Todd Akin is lurking here and wonders.)

MANY WAYS TO COMMUNICATE
As I was saying goodbye to the woman who has the friends with the adopted child, she says quietly, I am so sorry...I say, It's okay, don't worry about it, this adoption business is something I just can't talk about unemotionally. I email my thanks to the other women, the hostess who does know my story quite well, and explain why I had to change the subject, and she says she is so glad I mentioned it because she was feeling terrible because she is the one who drew me into the conversation about adoption. She writes that she had overheard me tell the husband of the woman with the friends with the adopted child that I was working on a followup to my memoir and what it was about, and she thought it was all right to do so, since I was talking so openly to him. Yes, I had, somehow I had sensed that I could tell him without getting all worked up, and I had and he did not do anything but sympathetically acknowledge that this was a subject worth writing about. He did not begin to tell me about their friends with the adorable two-year-old.

Well, obviously, the message communicated is that this adoption business--from the point of view of a mother--is tricky, nearly always emotional, and still difficult to talk about calmly nearly a half century later. Maybe that was the point. --lorraine
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For more on the same subject:

Talking out about adoption is not always easy. In fact, almost never.
Birth Mother to Adoptive Parents: You Make Me Uncomfortable
Explaining Adoption Reform Issues to the Hip, Educated Masses
Telling a Stranger What It's Like to be a Birth Mother

And there's Ann Fessler's book, above The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade From an Amazon reviewer: "I got this for a family member who was/is one of the 'Girls Who Went Away'. Turned out that my younger brother had already sent her a copy. She rated it 5 stars as an accurate depiction of the subject in that era...." Click on icon to order book, and if you are going to, please order through FMF. 

68 comments :

  1. LOL! I love your picture with the hat! Incognito, eh??

    I did buy your book - loved it - and now I'm going to donate it to my library, as I noticed they didn't have a copy of it!

    Yes, talking about adoption 30/40 years later is so emotional for me too!

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  2. You can never get away from adoption. I think it would be incredibly hard to be in a mothers shoes - being in the adoptee shoes is hard enough.

    Adoption the gift that keeps on giving...

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  3. At 67, I am still - or again - "dating."

    More than half the men i meet have some connection to adoption. Some have adopted children, Some have other family who adopted - or TRIED to adopt. One had a child born of a surrogate! (We never made it to a first date.)

    Some have opinions good or bad on the subject.

    And, yes, many times I have had to ask to change the subject, or, depending on my mood at the moment: I have said that it is a painful subject for me to talk about, I'll tell you later, I'm not comfortable talking about it right now (or at this time and place.) Other times I have referred people to google me.

    It limits the very limited playing field for me, I can tell you that!

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  4. Interesting you mention Larry King. I never cared for his show as he struck me as someone who was completely wrapped up in himself. Did you know that there is a Larry King Jr - a son that dad Larry didn't acknowledge for 33 years? Larry Sr. said he never sought him out because his own life was in a swirl and he had other children. I wonder how the son feels about having been kept a secret all those years and knowing that his father never even thought about him. Ouch!

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  5. Mirah:

    I can totally understand dealing with the adoption issue and talking about it with guys you are just meet must be, er, interesting, a concept that never occurred to me. Good luck!

    My husband's cousin gave up a baby and he saw how it screwed her up. He was eleven at the time, and she lived with his family (in hiding, not in her home town) and he always felt she got a really raw deal, and so he was sympatico from the get-go. It was a private adoption in Westfield, New Jersey, and now his cousin's daughter is trying to find her sister--she would be in her Sixties--but without any luck. His older brother knew who she was, but he took her name to the grave.

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  6. It is hard when adoption comes up in social settings. Especially since, at least in this country, most people think of adoption as a good thing. You know, finding loving, stable homes for all those unwanted kids.

    I like the way Florence Fisher handles it. It lets a person enjoy their social life while at the same time does not require that she betray her convictions.

    Lorraine, I think you handled the situation as well as possible given the circumstances.

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  7. Lee: Libraries get rid of copies that are not in high demand. May I suggest you pass the book on to someone who would like to read it?

    lo

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  8. Lorraine, I first became aware of you and your story when McCall's published "The Daughter I Gave Away" in July 1983. I think I bought your book shortly after that. The article is inside the book!

    I thoroughly understand this social situation. When I was married, we attended a dinner party. One of the guests, upon hearing that I was an adoptee and in a support group, yelled at me that I encourage adoptees to "knock on doors, barge into their secret mother's life, make a scene, and cause heartache." and "How dare you?!"

    I was completely stunned. Of course I don't advocate knocking on doors and frightening people. I ran into another room, crying. The woman came in and yelled some more, saying that her elderly mother was bombarded by an adoptee who showed up at the front door, and her father had no idea that she had another daughter. I stood there, shaking at the attack. I said that I am not responsible for another woman's inappropriate handing of making contact with an elderly mother who never told her husband and subsequent children.

    It became my fault because our local support group at the time was on the radio and in the paper.

    Somehow, we resumed dinner.

    And Mirah, I can relate to trying to date. I'm 56. Men I meet are, too, either adoptive fathers, or even disclose that they are sperm donors, or are completely opposed to "what I'm doing". One man was so angry with me for being an adoptee activist that he gave me a disgusted look and said, "You should really be grateful..."

    One man I had diner with talked about the problems his young adult adopted daughter had. I told him that she needs to read about adoption, that she may need counseling, that her adoption is contributing to her troubled life. He actually had tears in his eyes. He really wanted it all to go away.

    Then he, being a business man, decided to ask me, in sort-of interview style, "So, tell me about your birthmother".

    I said, "Well, my mother died when I was three months old. I don't consider her to be 'my birth mother', she was my mother. There was never any intention of giving me up for adoption. Her death led to that..."

    My dinner date's expression turned to wide-eyed shock.

    So then I asked him, "So, tell me about your daughter's mother."

    He said, "I can't. We don't know..."

    Exactly. We finished dinner in silence. I was willing to give him another chance since he was asking questions, but he couldn't handle the depth of the my pain, so I didn't hear from him after that.

    Just two weeks ago, I met the older brother of a friend. I congratulated him on being a successful editor of a progressive newspaper. He then asked me what I do. I told him.

    He then said, "My adopted son doesn't need his sealed birth certificte. We are ALL related anyway. You know, the HUMAN race! What does he need that other document for, anyway? I'm the one who loves him."

    On, nice going. He smashes my life and efforts for social justice. And he's the editor of a PROGRESSIVE newspaper.

    Uggh. I have so many of these stories.

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  9. I will try to find your book as after 32 years I let everyone know that indeed I had been a mother to a beautiful little boy but placed him for adoption so he would have not only a Mommy but a Daddy to love him. Some family is still unaware I hate that but as long as my Mother is alive I must NOT TELL lol though somehow I know I will it is easy right now as he is living across the country from me :) I will look for your book

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  10. Anon, you can order the book from Amazon by just clicking on the bright yellow icon on the sidebar on the right of the blog~!

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  11. Legitimatebastard: Wow, your awful encounters made my head spin! About the editor of the progressive magazine--oh do tell, email me at forumfirstmoter@gmail.com--I am not surprised. Being conservative or liberal has NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW PEOPLE REACT to the "adoption option." People can be liberal in every other aspect of their lives, but the adoption of their child is "different." It is partly because that is what they were led to believe, and wanted to believe, when they adopted. Agencies and attorneys do a terrible job of educating prospective and current adoptive parents.

    As for the amazing reaction from a sister of an adoptee--birth mothers do need to stop keeping this secret! and tell their near and dear about the other children they gave birth to.

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  12. I too am dating again. I am in early 60's. I was dating a man who seemed nice. He would go see his elderly mom. He was an adoptee.
    I told him I was a mother who was reunited I was living with my son. I decided that I did not want to date him.
    Then I met a man who googled my name he asked me how it felt to be a b mom. I was surprised he had googled me. He made decision to stop dating. Which is fine with me. He really didn't want to know what it felt like he was trying to find out about me. No secrets there.
    Just recently I met a man we were out to drinks and dinner. He spent most of dinner trying to impress me in regards to women he had dated. I wasn't impressed and I shared my story low and behold he had gotten a woman pregnant she gave up daughter. Woman called him to let him know daughter wanted contact. He could take it or leave it. I decided that since I found my som and it was earth shattering reunion and learning about his life. Men don't feel the same at least not this one.

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  13. Lorraine wrote:"Agencies and attorneys do a terrible job of educating prospective and current adoptive parents."

    No they don't. They do a fantastic job of convincing PAPs that raising an adopted child will be the same as raising a bio-kid. After all, that's what they want PAPs to believe. They want the adoption to go through not to have PAPs second guessing themselves as to whether or not adoption is right for them. The attorneys and agencies want to seal the deal not worry about who may or may not be traumatized in the long run. They don't care.

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  14. Robin said...
    Lorraine wrote:"Agencies and attorneys do a terrible job of educating prospective and current adoptive parents."

    "No they don't. They do a fantastic job of convincing PAPs that raising an adopted child will be the same as raising a bio-kid. After all, that's what they want PAPs to believe. They want the adoption to go through not to have PAPs second guessing themselves as to whether or not adoption is right for them. The attorneys and agencies want to seal the deal not worry about who may or may not be traumatized in the long run. They don't care."

    That wasn't my personal experience when I adopted my daughter almost 11 years ago. There was a huge process of evaluation and education to determine if we realized what we were getting into. Part of the evaluation was to discover if we had given up all hope of having a biological child or if we were going to continue to try to conceive (by whatever method that may entail). Maybe this varies from agency to agency. I felt it was a pretty thorough process to determine if we were fully aware that 1) we were never going to be biologically related to the child we hoped to one day adopt, 2) that we weren't planning on using that child as a test case while continuing to have our REAL child, and 3)that adopting a child would not replace some long term grief someone might feel by not having a child "of their own", among other things.

    I was never told that adoption would be easy or wouldn't come with a lifetime of personal education for everyone involved.

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  15. "No they don't. They do a fantastic job of convincing PAPs that raising an adopted child will be the same as raising a bio-kid."

    No they don't. Even in 1996, I was never told this--in fact, we were told repeatedly by the social worker and by the adoption counselors hired by the agency that successful adoptive parenting involves understanding that your child has a history and another set of parents. Please stop generalizing.

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  16. Beehive:

    A great many adoptive parents don't get the message that because their children had other parents first, and that the might want to not only know these people but have a real relationship with them. A great many adoptive parent are horrified by the thought of the "other" parents in their lives, and believe that "god meant you for me and god intended that this other woman had you and was not able to have you and will spend the rest of her life sorry this happened."

    Even in 1996. Obviously you are not one of them, right? But please stop telling us mothers what is wrong with us.

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  17. I must have missed something because I did not see Beehive or Second Mom telling first moms what is wrong with us, just relating their experiences as adoptive moms. And unlike some, they were counseled well and seem to be doing their best to honor their adopted kids's natural heritage.

    Generalizing about any of us, adoptive moms, first moms, or adoptees is easy to fall into, especially given our own experience, but it really does not work.

    I think that what adoptive parents are told has gotten better and more realistic for those dealing with decent and ethical agencies. The problem is that so many adoption facilitators are neither decent nor ethical so the bad advice still is given, even today, but is not universal.

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  18. Thank God I am married and not in the dating pool. It wouldn't be pretty.
    I tell everyone I meet that I have a daughter I lost to adoption. they all look quizzical when I say lost. I don't like lost but what else am I going to say? sometimes I do say a child I was coerced to place for adoption. That is more honest but turns me into a bit of a victim. I was a victim but I don't want to diminish my stupidity to believe such flawed logic (If you REALLY love her you will place, otherwise it's SELFISH, in 1980). I gauge their curiosity and speak more. It gets dicey when they are an adoptive parent. I don't really like conflict all that well so I shut down if it get's contentious. I have been lucky and had very few bad encounters. the worst was having an adoptive mother to my house to work on committee work only to realize how polar opposite we were on adoption issues. I couldn't wait to usher her out of my house. Other adoptive parents are friends and we have found much common ground.

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  19. Lorraine,

    I didn't see anywhere were Beehive states anything remotely negative about mothers of any genre.

    I have to agree with both the AP's who expressed dissent. We too were never told it would easy ( this was 10 plus years ago) and were educated to respect their overseas family, culture and history.

    Additionally we were given tools to support them throughout a lifetime of possible grieving and feelings of loss.

    Is it perfect or completely comprehensive for every child or aodption? No. But its something and it was a beginning. We did our home "homework" too.

    We have since done 2 successful overseas searches and do have contact with both of our children's overseas families. One Mama prefers indirect contact and another refused contact but we exchange letters and calls with an extended family. We have met members of both families on visits back.

    We feel blessed to have this connection and if fear had been our motivator ( fear of not being "the only ones") would not have sought them out.

    Thanks and I agree; please stop with the blanket statements. Personal experiences yes, but not cookie cutter analogies.

    LL

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  20. Lorraine, wanna know what jumped out at me in the sentence, "and how they had to submit a book of photographs of their lives and write a 'Dear Birth Mother' letter"?

    The two words "had to." Clearly this was something that they had agreed to do before getting the baby, and the phrase "had to" implied that it was not a welcome task. And quite possibly something that they would forego if and when they could.

    Once a copy editor, always a copy editor, I guess.

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  21. 2nd Mom has been great, and I applaud her for commenting here and sharing her experience.

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  22. "Thanks and I agree; please stop with the blanket statements. Personal experiences yes, but not cookie cutter analogies."

    This is directed at who: Loraine or others who comment?

    Yes, adoption doesn't have to be an emotional subject. Did you read Loraine's post? If it's not emotional, why was she attacked when she wasn't even present?

    Race relations doesn't have to be an emotional subject either. But oddly enough, for many African-Americans it is. Odd how that works.

    And when did you say you gave up your baby?

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  23. Viktoria,

    I didn't speak to whether or not adoption was an "emotional subject"; clearly I believe it is.

    I also addressed my comment to Lorraine, so yes, I was speaking to Lorraine.

    Asking when/if I gave up a baby seems odd. Would my comments carry more weight if I say "yes". Can I then have carte blanche to make generalizations too? I was speaking to the portion of the post I have experience with; direct contact and education from an adoption agency.

    A subject was posted about and I shared my own experiences which fall outside of the de jour that was type casted by the author.

    Sorry if that is upsetting.

    LL

    Thanks.

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  24. You're on to me. My comments reflect the fact that I am a BSE adoptee as are Jane and Lorraine's daughters. And this is the area of adoption that I am most familiar with. Perhaps I should have clarified that more in my comment.

    I can assure you my APs were never given any information to lead them to believe that raising an adopted child would be harder or different than raising a bio-child. Nancy Verrier has also written about having this same experience. And other APs especially from that era has said the same thing.

    @2ndmom,
    I'm glad you were given advice to think things through about how you really felt about raising an adopted child as opposed to a biological child. I'm wondering though, were you also encouraged to think about how the CHILD would feel about being relinquished and raised in an adoptive family rather than his/her bio-family?

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  25. I am a birth mom. This is the first time I have ever written publicly about it. In 1969, I was 15 years old. I was raped by an 18 year old repeatedly over a period off several weeks as I was threatened by being told, "you know i've gotten you pregnant. If you don't let me, I won't marry you". Being 15, pregnant and unmarried in 1969 in a small rural southern community was the most frightening thing that could happen. After a few weeks of this I realized I would rather be pregnant and alone than married to him. He was a monster. Turns out i was pregnant.

    The shame for me is that I WANTED to give my child up. My mother urged me not to, but I just wanted to put the shame, the rape and pregnancy behind me. I wanted to be normal again. I simply did not understand what I was doing. The fear, shame and social stigma of the day was overwhelming. And I truly believed that someone else would be a better mother than me. However, by the time I was 18, I realized the magnitude of what I had done. But it was too late. The regret and sense of loss was overwhelming.

    My sister has two adopted children. I have spent the last 42 years of my life being told by my mother and sister how shameful it was for me to make that decision - as if my own inner demons didn't accuse me enough.

    Now my son has found me. It was a glorious reunion because his adoption experience was not a good one. My son tells me he always loved me and wanted me. My mother and sister continue to tell him that I wanted to surrender him, but they wanted to keep him, just to be sure he knows who to blame - NOT grandma and aunt!

    Someone please tell me how I can ever forgive myself and how do I talk to my son about this? I do not feel worthy to be called his mom. Every time I am with him, I feel that I victimized him - that precious, vulnerable child - and i cringe in shame. I want nothing more than to be his mom in everyway, but I can't get past the fact that I wanted to surrender him.

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  26. Patty,
    You were 15 y.o. You were still a child yourself. You did what you thought was best at the time. I'm sure your son can understand. We adoptees do not hate our first mothers.

    What can you do now? BE THERE FOR YOUR SON! Especially if he had a bad adoption experience, he needs you. You can be his mother. You ARE his mother. Life is giving you a second chance! Please stop beating yourself up and take it.

    You are getting something that so many of us do not get, that is the chance to restore much of what was taken from both of you. I'm not a very religious person but this sounds to me like you are getting beauty for ashes. I think the only regret and shame you will feel is if you don't take advantage of it.

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  27. "So I take a page from what Florence Fisher told me years ago: when someone starts in on adoption at a social event, she simply says, I don't talk about this at social events. Today I stop myself mid-stream and say: Can we change the subject?"

    Lorraine and Florence have been fire-brands for unsealing the records for decades, and both obviously have taken a lot of grief from adoptive parents and others--at social events. Did you even read what she and the others have said? I think they know when they ought not to talk about it.

    You are critical of Lorraine because she can't talk about this without an adrenaline rush, and suggest that she might do better having a long conversation (all conversations about adoption that start with educating somebody are long) with a woman she just met without feeling her heart rate increase?
    When she has no idea what the woman's attitude is going be--she has the friends with the 2-year-old right, adopted right?--might it not be better just to change the subject?

    What is the worst thing that ever happened to you? Do you want to use it as a teaching moment and talk about it at length when you really don't want to talk about it because you know it will be painful? Lorraine apparently would rather talk about her being raped.

    Yes, what you have to say is colored by the fact of who is saying it.

    Loraine's not caring that Ben Gazarra died was natural--he was obviously an enemy of all that she has stood for--for decades. Do you weep when you read obits of people you did not know? She was just being honest and that is why I like this blog so much. How about you? As far as we can tell, you are the one without compassion.

    So, what is your relationship to adoption? Why do you read this blog? I gave up my son three decades ago, and do not talk about it, except here.

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  28. A great many [THAT MEANS NOT ALL] adoptive parents don't get the message that because their children had other parents first, and that the might want to not only know these people but have a real relationship with them. A great many [also means, NOT ALL] adoptive parent are horrified by the thought of the "other" parents in their lives, and believe that "god meant you for me and god intended that this other woman had you and was not able to have you and will spend the rest of her life sorry this happened."

    Anon or Beehive writes: Please stop generalizing.

    Huh?

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  29. Patty,

    Obviously, your mother and sister are putting fuel onto your fire of shame.

    They were not raped. You were. You were a fifteen-year-old child who had been raped. You'd been traumatized. You need compassion from your family, not judgment.

    Young people are not known for having foresight. I'm sure you were hoping to put it all behind you, and honestly no one should blame you for that choice.

    None of us can recover what we've lost. But you can develop a strong relationship with your son now.

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  30. Lorraine Dusky said...
    "2nd Mom has been great, and I applaud her for commenting here and sharing her experience."

    Thank you! :)

    Robin said...
    "@2ndmom, I'm glad you were given advice to think things through about how you really felt about raising an adopted child as opposed to a biological child. I'm wondering though, were you also encouraged to think about how the CHILD would feel about being relinquished and raised in an adoptive family rather than his/her bio-family?"

    It was touched on by the agency, but by that time I had joined a couple forums (1 moderated, others not) and had begun researching adoption related issues on my own from the adoptees and first mother's standpoint. I don't think the agency touched on that subject in great detail, but enough for me to go searching for information on my own.

    I will say, though, that the agency was ABSOLUTELY against true openness! So much so that at the initial orientation we were told not to tell any potential "match" our last names or even the city we lived in! At that point I decided to rebel and follow my own instincts based on the various accounts I had read of first mothers and adoptees.

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  31. Victoria asked "Do you weep when you read obits for people you don't know?"
    No, but I am sorry that they have died. Even enemies do not deserve indifference to their passing. One thing we have in common is that we all die.
    If Lorraine was indifferent she wouldn't have raised the subject. What she's expressing is not indifference, but barely concealed delight.

    Just for the record, Ben Gazarra wasn't a baby-stealing adopter. He was a stepfather who adopted his third wife's child when he married in 1982.

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  32. To theadopted parents that tell us they were educated..well thas great and I hope your child is the one to reap the benifits of that. It is about the child. Need to ask how to you handle the "birthmother questions"? Not only from your child but from the rest of society? You see, your child soaks up the attiudes of society and they are absorbed into their being...I can say that because thats what I lived. My parents(adoptive) back in the 60's and 70's pretty much raised us to respect our unknown birthfamilies, tried to be as open as possible about adoption, NEVER put down our birth families and answered our questions the best they knew how. I truly beleive they gave us the best unconditional love they could have , given the times. As an adult both my mom and dad supported my search and understood my need to search. My mom admitted that if it were her she would do the same thing, when my first mother passed away my dad gave me the money to go to the services"of course you have to go she is your MOTHER" Dad said. so I was validated as a person that was born of onefamily and loved by another...it was society's attiudes that messed me up. The comments from both adults and children(still to this day) that make my mouth gape in disbeleive....if you want to be educated ...take in the stigma that is attached, yes to this day of adoptees(especially) and birthfamies. Thats where the education needs to be. Needs to be yelled from the rooftops and from the adoptive parents as they hold the most power of persuaison. when i hear comments(not from here) that "I would NEVER adopt if they were going to search", and how we are nothing but ingrates for want to search and how we need to be more understanding of our mothers feelings and situions and just shake my head and say that the attuidtudes of the 50's are still alive and well.

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  33. Robin and dpen,

    Thank you for your comments. You both have encouraged me. I want so badly to be given permission to forgive myself. I appreciate the observation that my family should show me compassion rather than judgment, as if they were the ones who were noble, yet wronged. Instead of accepting their blame, I will find a way to bring that out. Perhaps they can try to understand what you've pointed out. I was raped, not them. But to them, that pales in the face of what I did. It also helped to hear you say that young people are not known for their foresight. It amazes me that all these years I have cringed under their accusations and accepted the shame rather than pointing out those things to them. It seems so obvious to hear you say it.

    Robin, thank you for saying what you did. Coming from an adoptee, that means so, so much. I know he needs me very much, and sees me as his mother. It's just my guilt keeps me from boldly walking in that role, as if how can I dare claim that most wonderful role of mother. It just hovers there in my mind. But I am very encouraged. I do very much feel that I've been given beauty for ashes. It feels like redemption to me. I'm so ready to fully embrace it and be everything he needs now.

    Finding this blog and reading the posts help me to understand that I was battling things that were so much bigger than my capacity to understand at the time. That I wasn't some kind of heartless beast when I choose to surrender my child. And that decision doesn't somehow disqualify me forever from being the mother I know he needs.

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  34. HDW, I'm sorry, I just made a mistake. It was you and not dpen who responded to me. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

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  35. Dear Patty:

    My heart went out to you when I read your heart-breaking story, and I am so glad that adoptees Robin and HDW responded because I think their words would mean a lot.

    We do have to forgive ourselves for doing what we felt we had to, and the fact that you are having a glorious reunion with your son indicates that he has forgiven you too, despite the back-biting from your mother and sister.

    Lots of emotions are going to be bubbling up from the past into the present, and it can be exhausting, but try to recognize your own strengths and accept yourself. I hope your mother and sister can do the same; their actions strike me as particularly heartless.

    In my own case, I have found it best to recognize that I was a participant in what I did--relinquishing my daughter, and that I made a mistake. But life is full of them, and we have to accept what we did, forgive ourselves and live in the present. And your present is pretty spectacular, isn't it? As you say, embrace the moment, stay away from those who bring you down, and embrace your son, and be what he needs--his mother. The next chapter of your life may be so much better than the one you are leaving behind.

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  36. I speak as an adult adoptee who was supported by my family throughout my childhood to both research and honor my birth family. I have ongoing contact with my birth family; its tough but workable. And honestly? Would not have nearly as successful without the support of my parents/siblings at home.

    I sometimes am baffled by the willingness of one self proclaimed marginilized and stereotyped group (and I do believe that's grounded in reality) to label and dehumanize another.

    Two wrongs don't make a right. Anecdotal experiences, personal stories of adoptees with horrendous experiences at the hands of their adoptive families, is just that.....personal experience.

    To presume that all agencies shirk their responsibilities (now or then) or that all or most adoptive parents live in fear of birth families and oppose all contact or searches, .....well, it just strikes me as the pot calling the kettle from one group to another.

    I do know there was a movement by scholars in the 70's that encouraged International adoptive families to raise their child devoid of culture and treat them as if there was no difference. I am thankful my parents disagreed with that sentiment.

    However, for every negative story by one AA there are equal stories of it being done right. Not perfect....but right; for that child for those circumstances.

    I think when the blaming and name calling stops, real dialogue can start.

    Those are the blogs I frequent and find resonate most with me.

    I do agree with @dpen that adoptive families should carry the larger burden of disseminating those harmful cultural stigmas and birth mother stereotypes. On the other hand having recently watched episodes of Teen Mother, High School Moms, etc., one wonders if perhaps there is plenty of responsibility to be shared.

    I've said my peace and I thank you for reading.

    Amelia

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  37. dpen said...
    "To the adopted parents that tell us they were educated..well thas great and I hope your child is the one to reap the benifits of that. It is about the child. Need to ask how to you handle the "birthmother questions"? Not only from your child but from the rest of society?"

    We have had an extremely open relationship with my daughter's biological family since she born. Early on, we were able to accept each other as "Family" and really do consider ourselves to be. My daughter has two younger siblings and, although they don't live with us, have full sibling relationships with each other. There have never been any secrets and from birth my daughter knew that her sister's are her sister's, grandparents are grandparents, aunt's and uncle's are still aunt's and uncle's. We don't differentiate between who is her "birth" family and who is her "adopted" family. They are ALL her family, and our family also.

    From the start, I've always told her the story of her adoption and how we came to be her parents, so there was never a moment of revelation where I just sprung the news on her. Lol.Since she's always known her first mom and entire biological family, we've always had an open dialogue about all of them, just as we do with the rest of our family. I am thankful she is able to go to any of us and ask any question she might have, from either sides perspective.

    As far as the rest of society, I learned early on that people are never going to see things from the same perspective if they aren't personally experiencing it. Even other adoptive parents handle their situations differently. So, yes, I've had my share of completely stupid comments over the years and try and educate people as I go, knowing that is really not possible. Lol. One question I am asked ALL the time is, "Does she know she's adopted?!?!?!". Well, complete stranger, would I be telling you right in front of her if she DIDN'T know? Lol. My daughter tells people she was adopted also, and somehow that always freaks them out. I just say that my daughter's dna didn't change because she was adopted, that her biological family is STILL her family, and that we are blessed to count them as our family also. When they say, "Oh, I could never do that!" I just tell them they have no idea what they would do because it isn't their reality, but hopefully they would do what was best for their child.

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  38. 2nd Mom:

    The more I read about how you are rearing your daughter, the more I appreciate you. You are doing a great great job of educating people just by your words and actions. In my own relationships with adoptive parents, I see a great deal of difference in how the Big A is dealt with, and though I have not talked to the children they adopted about any of this, nor will I unless they seek me out--I know they know my relationship to adoption as some of them know my granddaughter and our story.

    Once again, thanks for your insightful input. It makes me feel better that there are parents like you.

    Just a side note: Who we don't hear from at FMF are parents who adopted privately through an attorney.

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  39. {{{{{Patty}}}}}
    I am so happy you wrote to First Mother Forum. Thank God for Lorraine and Jane, right??
    How do we forgive ourselves? That's a hard question. I think what helped me was to realize that I did what I thought was right at the time. And since I can't go back and change my decision I need to just move on.
    It's hard to imagine your mom and sister telling your son they wanted you to keep him but you refused. That's just plain mean spirited. Can you ask them to stop talking about the past and live in today? If they can not do that for you, you will have some decision to make about going forward with a relationship with the two of them.
    I welcome you to join a Yahoo Group I am a part of called: SunflowerFirstMoms-Reunited@yahoogroups.com
    We are all mothers in reunion with the children we relinquished. It is an email group. You will get a lot of help in navigating the reunion relationship.
    It's good to know you are not alone!
    Love,
    Barb

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  40. Lorraine, thank you so much for confirming what Robin and HDW told me. Hearing from adoptees was HUGE! I am so encouraged hearing from folks who understand these things rather than people who have shamed me all my life. Putting it in perspective for me - wow - means so much. I have to get past feeling that because I gave him away, now I have no right to be his mom.

    I buried these things for so many years, almost afraid he would find me and my shame of facing his hurt would be more than I could handle. But as soon as I heard the words, your son is looking for his mother, and heard him exclaim on the phone, "OMG! I can't believe I am talking to my Mom!", all my doubts about facing this again vanished in an instant. If he needs me, I'm here 100% no hesitations! Those were the sweetest words I have ever heard spoken, bar none!

    You are right, I do have to accept my own participation, but without the crippling guilt that I've allowed my mom (especially) to bury me in.

    I loved Robin saying adoptees do not hate their first mothers and that I AM HIS MOTHER. I so needed to hear that. And HDW said that even though it was my choice because I wanted to put it all behind me, that no one should blame me for that...

    I know I'm rambling, but the relief of finding advocates for that 15 y.o. child I was, facing this literally without the support of an adult, being called a whore by my father and heartless by my mom, and no one else knowing because of the shame I brought to our family....It feels so good to have someone speak out in my defense...

    I will do all within my power to boldly and confidently accept I AM MY SON's MOM. And though I made a mistake, it was, in so many ways, impossible for me to navigate with any wisdom or foresight. To embrace this second chance and be everything for him that I can be.

    I will continue to read and post.

    Thank you, Lorraine, and all of you for your bravery and your tireless work with this blog and to bring these issues to the public to help others in their adoption journeys.

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  41. As maryanne noted, ethical adoption agencies do make an effort to let prospective adoptive parents know that raising an adopted child is different from raising their own child. In Oregon ethical agencies also require that adoptions be fully open.

    Unfortunately, far too many unethical agencies operate in this country in addition to unethical adoption facilitators and adoption attorneys. They tell prospective adoptive parents whatever they want to hear. This will continue as long as there's big money to be made in the adoption business.

    LL -- your comments about the "education" and "tools" you were given are disingenuous. You adopted overseas (eschewing a needy US child). You entered into the process knowing that children of different races and cultures would be different than biological children. Likely, the purpose of the "education" and "tools" were to overcome your fears of adopting these children. Further, the agency should have given you contact information and arranged contact agreements. It apparently failed to educate the first mothers on the importance of continuing contact and failed to give them the tools to navigate the adoptions.

    Of course the agency will claim it did not have the opportunity to educate the first mothers which is untrue. The agency could have searched them out (which also would have assured that they voluntarily relinquished their children).

    Sadly, your adopted children may feel rejected because their first mothers have not responded positively to your attempts to contact them.

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  42. Jane wrote: You adopted overseas (eschewing a needy US child). You entered into the process knowing that children of different races and cultures would be different than biological children. Likely, the purpose of the "education" and "tools" were to overcome your fears of adopting these children."

    So does that mean you are against all international adoptions, and only domestic adoptions from foster care are ok? That seems harsh, especially given the good will expressed by LL whom you are criticizing.

    It seems strange that some adoptive parents like 2nd Mom are ok, but others saying similar things like LL, Beehive and some others are attacked.

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  43. @Jane,

    How is sharing my experience "disengenous"?

    Yes, we adopted overseas but initially did not seek to; or rather I should add that that we approached our adoption with open minds.

    We chose an agency first; attended their classes, workshops and did our reading. All of this was geared towards Domestic Adoptions.

    Please don't presume ( again ) that you KNOW each family's experiences or path.

    We ultimately adopted overseas and I refuse to feel guilty for seeking out our children's birth families. Time passes and things can happen; I would never have wanted to leave stones unturned if it was within our powers to give our children ties to their past.

    What our children ultimately wish to do with AlL of the information is up to them; we will support them as much as possible.

    Additionally you seem to presume to know that both of children's overseas Mothers may always feel as they do today. But this forum shows hearts and minds can change.

    Is it not possible that they too might feel differently as time passes and wish for a more active relationship with our children?

    Wow ~ a lot to process here.

    Thanks for the taking it upon yourself to "clarify" my remarks falsely, I might add.

    And tossing in that we overlooked children of need right here simply shows your predujice towards children who don't have the benefit of being born on these shores. (and I might add....how do you know we didn't also adopt domestically? Or attempted to?) Did you know we currently foster a set of siblings??? No I don't suppose you did. Didn't know I needed to submit a resume when commenting to a public blog.

    I can only preusme the attention I am getting is due to the fact that I hit a nerve? Presented an adoptive family not crippled by fears of a birth family or riddled with insecurities? One who actively sought out birth families and continue to hope for their presence in the lives of our children. One who did their homework and visits blogs such as this to try to see all sides and beter understand adoption from other perspectives and experiences.



    LL

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  44. I've been a Birth Mother for 44 years and the emotional part is still there for me. We've been reunited for 25 years and I'm thankful for that. This year we had our first "family" picture taken of our first born son and our daughters and us. It is priceless.

    I want to thank all of you who were so active in helping us come to grips with all of this in the 70s. I helped set up CUB in San Diego back then and it changed my life.

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  45. LL,
    Let's clarify. I read your comment as intending to show that your adoption agency did in fact educate propsective adoptive parents and give them the necessary tools to help their child deal with adoption.

    My intent was to take the halo off the agency. The "education" and "tools" were likely self-serving, to make the sale, to convince prospective adoptive parents to give up their quest for an American infant and adopt internationally where infants have been more plentiful.

    I commend you for taking in foster children. I find it puzzling that you could not have adopted children from the foster care system.

    I certainly did not mean to suggest that your children's first mothers will feel the same in the future as they do today. I hope for your children's sake that they come around and reach out to their children. I commend you for searching for your children's first mothers and for doing your own education on adoption.

    My point was that if this agency were doing its job, it would have arranged contact with the first mothers at the time it arranged the adoption.

    International adoption should be sharply curtailed. It does little to help needy children abroad and encourages corruption and outdated social policies. As far as helping children who don't have the benefit of being born on these shores, that's about several billion; they can best be helped in their own countries.

    I encourage you to read FMF's latest post about international adoption which has links to scholarly research which support our views. Foreign Adoptions Aren't Plunging Fast Enough

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  46. LL, here is my take on the situation. We are both adoptive parents who are here to educate ourselves for our children's benefit. But, as adoptive parents, we are on someone else's "turf" so to speak. Not everyone knows, or cares to know, our perspective and sometimes it takes time for people to know your story and understand where you are coming from. No one is coming after you with pitchforks and torches. ;)

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  47. I don't know if LL has investigated the blogs of international adoptees who have returned to their land of birth. Reunion for domestic adoptees and mothers is often a monumental challenge but for the IA population there are additional hurdles involving culture, language, and class. How a reunion or openness could survive in IA is unfathomable to me. I wish you and your family well as you try to maintain relationships across boarders.

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  48. Patty,

    You did the best you could given the trauma of being raped. I'm sorry your mother and sister feel it's OK to shame you, that is just reprehensible. You were a young girl who was hurt and victimized and you did what your young heart believed would be right for both you and your baby.

    Own your motherhood! You have a wonderful opportunity to bring your son into his rightful family, do not let anyone deter you from that.

    Best wishes and please keep visiting this blog!

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  49. On the contrary, 2nd Mom, the pitchforks and torches are often out here when adoptive parents or anyone with a different, not wholly anti-adoption viewpoint comments. Time has not changed this, it goes around and around despite repeated denials.

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  50. Anon:

    Remember that saying, If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen?

    Why come here if it is disturbing?

    I do not haunt pro-adoption blogs and tell them they are wrong.

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  51. I do that sometimes. (Haunt pro adoption blogs) I just can't help my self!

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  52. Dear Patty,

    You have had a much harder trauma to deal with than many of us, raped and terrorized at such a young age. NOTHING that happened is your fault, you need to believe this, nor is it your son's fault. If you have not reached out to a rape hotline or rape counseling, it is not too late to do that now. You will find lots of support and tools to deal with the trauma and see more clearly that you are in no way to blame. Here is just one rape survivor hotline, but there are many more if you google and find something in your area.
    http://www.rapevictimadvocates.org/

    Your mother and sister are not helping you. You did what you had to do in 1969, which was give up a child you could not raise at the time. What they wanted then or now does not matter. They are behaving in a way which is toxic to you and your son, try to distance yourself from them for a while.

    There is a good piece on being the child of rape on the Declassified Adoptee blog which you may want to read and share with your son.
    http://www.declassifiedadoptee.com/2012/08/uncovering-subconscious-bias-in_27.html
    Amanda is an adoptee child of rape so she speaks from her heart and experience.

    Your goodness of heart is shown by your openness to reunion today and your concern for your son. You ARE a real mom, stand up and be proud. The past is over, yes, you need help to deal with the sad circumstances, but you have today and tomorrow and you are heading in the right direction. Don't let anyone drag you down. You are a brave survivor, not a victim. We are here for you and other rape survivors will be as well if you reach out. Bless you on your difficult journey to healing.

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  53. LL,
    I owe you an apology and I do apologize. Although I intended my remarks to criticize the adoption industry, my shot was too wide.

    Of course you were not being disingenuous, but describing your own experience.

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  54. @ Jane,

    I truly thank you; its not easy to apologize and its much appreciated.

    I too take to heart as 2nd Mom noted that I am visiting someone elses' territory and I should not have taken offense as I did.

    I wish I could tell you why it was so difficult to adopt from Foster Care, then and really even now.

    Often the children we fostered were returned to family or distant relatives, only to be bumped again later on. Often agencies won't place a child or children with the same (previous) Foster Family. We would have welcomed them back with open arms.

    Our current situation is tricky too. The siblings we are fostering are of a different race than us and we have been told the odds of adopting them are slim because of said differences. It just gets hard. If they were going back to family, that, I could celebrate. But to be continually bumped around......heartbreaking.

    Ironically we are already a blended family but that carries no wait in our state.

    Thank you once again and thanks to everyone who shares their hearts and experiences with forethought and courage.

    LL

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  55. Maybe and Maryanne,

    Thank you so much for your encouragement. The support I have gotten here helps me so much. I have carried so much guilt and shame, not just over the surrender of my son, but over the rape as well. At the time I did not report the rape. My home life was not positive. And I blamed myself for being raped. Years later when I did try to tell my mom, she dismissed it because, to her way of thinking, I would have said something at the time. She believed i was just saying that to excuse myself for putting my son up for adoption. And I know how crazy it must sound to say I was raped when I was not showing up battered and bruised. But fear, coercion,and force add up to rape.

    It's so good to have other women accept the trauma I experienced and understand my state of mind at the time.

    Maryanne, I am going to look into the survivor of rape link you sent me. I had successfully buried all this until my son found me. Now I have to deal with something I have ignored for so long.

    I'm so close to tears right now. I feel so validated - at last.

    Thank you all for caring about total stranger.

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  56. Patty:

    All of here who share/
    the heavy burden of relinquishment/
    are not strangers/
    to each other/
    we are all sisters under the skin.

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  57. Patty said:

    I'm so glad that you have decided to seek out the support that you deserve. I'm angry that your family has not fully supported you, but I am very impressed with your strength.

    You have carried on with your life despite the cruel commentary from your family. And, despite how your son was created, you have desperately wanted to embrace his existence. That's strength.

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  58. First of all, Patty, do follow up on getting help for rape trauma. It is never too late to deal with it, and you no longer have to do it alone. Many women never reported the rape, and many never had physical scars, just devastating emotional ones such as you are bravely facing now. Your terrible story is all too common. You were terrorized and abused. Every rape where a woman says no and the rapist goes ahead anyway is "legitimate rape" despite what some idiot politicians spew.

    On another note, the "adventures of being out there as a birthmother," yesterday I was talking to my trainer at the gym, a really nice young man, about Ireland. His girlfriend was born in Ireland and is adopted. I knew this, am in choir with her mother, never brought up adoption to him as I felt it was not my place, but he has heard many tales about all my kids including my oldest, and his new house, puppy, marathons etc.

    So Ryan is telling me he and his girlfriend would like to take a trip to Ireland, and one of the goals would be to find her biological parents! Her adoptive parents are Irish citizens who moved to the US when she was small, so it was not an international adoption. They are supportive.

    I was SO excited to tell Ryan I could hook them up with Mari Steed and Irish search groups, that it was not hopeless, and that my oldest son had been surrendered for adoption, that we were reunited, and I had been involved in reform for years. He was really happy to hear this and will pass it on to his girlfriend who just got a job teaching yoga at our gym too.

    I told him you don't know what you will find, but will never know until you try , and that I would help in any way I can. It will be exciting to see how this story progresses. Being "out there" can help people around you in ways you never imagined.

    ( For those who know me and are shocked to hear me working out with a trainer at the gym, me, a potato all too fond of the couch and carbs, my doctor and a health scare now resolved got me going, and now I love it!:-)

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  59. Maryanne:

    That is the best when it happens like that: because you are "out" you are able to help someone who knows about you!

    Someone before said something about me being able to use the platform I have to educate, and passing up that opportunity; I do sometimes grab it and run with it, but there are times when I know it is going to be uncomfortable and I will hear a lot of this is the exception and what about that and I just can't emotionally take it on. In the case on the boat, I had already told the man I had just met (husband of the woman with the AP friends) quietly about my book and my work and the blog. So I was certainly "out" to him.

    You can tell when the situation is going to be non-confrontational, and if I am with that woman again in a one-on-one situation, I will even bring it up myself, and I am quite confident it will be a good way to talk about adoption and my role in it, and I won't feel threatened and ready to be attacked the way I felt so suddenly that afternoon. And she is a good person to reach--a documentary film maker for a well-known news analyst. Anyway, she go thte message that a million years later (45) it is still a very raw subject for me!

    But back to you: Good job, kiddo! That is the reason more mothers need to be out.

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  60. Lorraine: You commented that you don't hear from adoptive parents who adopted privately through an attorney. I am one of those adoptive parents and I am an adoptee in reunion as well. Was there something about this side of adoption that you would like to know? I tried to comment earlier but it was never posted...
    I would be glad to answer anything you wish to know about aparents who adopt through an attorney. Why do you think it is that you don't hear from this particular group?

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  61. Maryanne, HDW, and Lorraine,

    it does feel like having sisters out there - real sisters who understand the confusion, insecurity and trauma first moms experience. I had always believed I had done such a wonderful job of coping with all this and putting it behind me, only to have it all come rushing back. My family seems so unconcerned and dismissive. my sister is threatened because she is an amom. She can't validate me because she would have to validate the first mom of her achildren, which she could never do. My husband loves me but is clueless. My friends care and rejoice with me, but don't understand the emotional trauma I find myself in the middle of. It is truly something that no one who hasn't experienced this can understand. I will seriously consider finding help with the rape trauma. I would never have even thought about it without the help I've found here. And maybe it's time I came to terms with it...

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  62. I have just published a book called "Birth Mother" about what it was like for me to give up my son in a closed adoption in 1969 in Kansas. Now that the book is available on Amazon and in bookstores I am starting to realize that I have "come out" as a birth mother and I'm surprised at how uncomfortable I feel when people say things like, "You're so brave to write about these experiences." It did take courage to write about what I went through, and to publish the book. It's not a topic that most people will bring up themselves, but when I bring it up, very often someone in the room says "I gave up a child in a closed adoption..." or "Someone I know and love gave up a child in a closed adoption..." The pain is palpable. When I see my book on the shelves of a store or in someone's hands I pray that it will be helpful to other women who went through the closed adoption experience, and if so, it will be worth it to me.

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  63. Joanna, I can relate to the double-edged sword of the "how brave you are to be out" comments. I don't get them much any more, being out there for many years, but it always made me pause. I don't feel brave, because I do not actually feel I did anything to be ashamed of. it did not take me any bravery to admit I had a son I had surrendered, because I was desperate to find him and could not do that if I did not talk about it. Now, I am just proud of the great guy he turned out to be.

    Everyone I know my age had sex before marriage, so that is no big thing. Some of us just got "caught" as we used to say. I am certainly not ashamed of my son, and never was. I feel bad that I did not have the courage to keep him, and yes, ashamed that his father left us, but all that was long ago. I did not kill anyone, commit a crime, do anything shocking or horrible or even uncommon given the times, so why say I am "brave" to tell about it?

    Like you, I hope that what I write and say helps others to talk about their experience, to know they are not alone, and to see that it is ok to be open about what is a part of many women's lives.

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  64. Joanna wrote:"The pain is palpable. When I see my book on the shelves of a store or in someone's hands I pray that it will be helpful to other women who went through the closed adoption experience, and if so, it will be worth it to me."

    Is the pain because it was a closed adoption or because of giving the child up in the first place?

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  65. Patty wrote:The shame for me is that I WANTED to give my child up. My mother urged me not to, but I just wanted to put the shame, the rape and pregnancy behind me. I wanted to be normal again. I simply did not understand what I was doing.

    I can relate to this shame. I was older than you (19) and times were changing (1982)and my parents left the choice up to me. I felt in my heart that they wanted me to. All I wanted is to be normal again. If I could I would have rather rewind the clock than to be having a baby.

    I never was " normal" again. I got my life back but forever haunted by what I did. I did not foresee the implications from not keeping him.I did not foresee regret or loss or decades of not talking about it and what that does to someone.I did not foresee never having more children and to watch the world around me embrace theirs.

    We have to forgive ourselves. We did not know any better.

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  66. Great comment, Maureen, but could you clarify something for me. You wrote: "and my parents left the choice up to me. I felt in my heart that they wanted me to."
    Do you mean they wanted you to give your son up for adoption or to keep him?

    Also, your 3rd paragraph is one of the (many) things that make me angry about adoption agencies and attorneys. They don't seem to mention the long-term effects of relinquishing a child. The only tip-off might be that some agencies like LDS offer LIFETIME free counseling. But I highly doubt that most people in the middle of the situation would connect the dots and think ... wait a minute, I'm going to need lifelong help to deal with this? Maybe this isn't the best way to go after all.

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  67. Robin, great comment and dissecting the need for possible LIFETIME counseling. That seems to say it all, and yes, it is true, at the time of the adoption, no one is focusing or telling the truth about the impact on the child. Who can't speak for herself.

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  68. Robin, I intended to write "I felt in my heart that my parents wanted me to keep him."
    They never really came out and said this though! A teary eyed conversation with my dad haunts me to this day as well as recalling the caseworker in the hospital who told me in a not very kind way that my mother was in the nursery with my baby and was having a very hard time with "this." As if I did not feel guilty enough.

    As much as it was a case of the blind leading the blind and counseling may have helped, I so agree with your statement that at that age, in my situation I do not think I would have ever "connected the dots" had there been a mention of lifetime counseling.

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