Thursday, January 23, 2014

Adoptee reunions won't erase all our sorrows--nor should they be expected to

Lorraine
Adoptees often write that they feel that they are responsible for their first mothers' reunion happiness. Some write that they do not want to be the person always in charge of another person's joy or grief. One of our regular commentors, adoptee Dpen wrote:
"Regardless of the situation...in the end the tears fall like boulders on the adopted ones. Not allowed to show our grief as it may be hurtful to one or both of our mothers...no matter how we feel, no matter where are loyalties might or might not be we are judged as not being good enough, compassionate enough, and yes, [not] good enough to anyone. We were born, adopted, lived and grow up "being adopted" and we are not able to voice OUR realities without SOMEONE trying to manipulate the story to make THEIR situation better, to MAKE us feel or do certain things to make the mothers feel better. 
Anyone wonder why we may be a little angry at times?"
I've read this comment in various guises before and it's always bothered me because I couldn't quite understand why adoptees stated  they felt so responsible for the first mothers' contentment and happiness. It went beyond what the non-adopted feel towards their parents. 

'I KNEW SHE WOULD COME AROUND'
I loved my mother, but when I did all kinds of things that did not make her happy--such as study
My parents, Victoria and Harry Dusky 
journalism rather than nursing or teaching, leave home after college, and even get my own apartment in a strange city--it didn't occur to me NOT to live my life as I chose because I would make her unhappy. I did not really worry that in following my own path I would be the cause of her grief. I was aware of it, I didn't go out of my way to hurt her, but in simply being myself for the longest time I know I did, and I also know I did not worry about it in the same way that many adoptees have expressed it. I knew she would come around, and that she loved me in spite of my choices. 

One of my male friends said when his son was born: Kids--they have you by the cajones. What he meant what that you, the parent, worry about your children night and day, want the best for them, will do all kinds of things for them. Yet at the same time, they are not worrying about your well being in anything like the same fashion. You, the parent, do not have your children by the cajones. They have a freer attitude: I didn't ask to be born, thanks for everything, but I have my life, see ya around. Oh, I don't mean that children don't take care of their parents when they are sick, look after their finances, do all the respectful things that are normal, but--it's different. We aren't as invested in our parents well-being as much as they are in ours.

Now add being adopted to the mix. For them, this normal role may be skewed. What do they grow up hearing--even if not explicitly, because the situation itself writes the script: You were chosen. (Implicit message: So you better be worth it, kiddo) You are special. When we saw your for the first time, we knew you were ours. (God sent you to make our lives better; ergo, we expect you to live up to that.) Even if the adopted child (and I do mean young'un here) doesn't hear about how much trouble and cost was involved in acquiring this precious bundle, the message make its way to the child that he didn't come into the family with a toss of the genetic dice--he is special. Those genes were meant to be arranged just so--just for us. And thus, you, the adoptee, are expected to be good. Follow our rules. That is the way it is ordained. Toss in hearing at all about infertility, miscarriages, et cetera, and you're setting up a child to feel the weight of all his or her parents present and future happiness. Yo! No wonder some rebel, some are angry. 

One of my friends told me about the speech an adoptive mother made at her son's bar mitzvah--I know for a fact that this woman had several miscarriages, and two children who died within three day before she and her husband turned to adoption because of a deep, insatiable longing for a child. Her bar mitzvah speech was about how the child was god's gift, how special he was, how god picked him out, yadda, yadda, yadda. Everybody in the room--a big, expensive room--knew about the miscarriages, the dead babies, the adoption, because the woman has written about it. Of course, he had to know too. I can't imagine that he doesn't care a lot of emotional freight regarding his mother.* 

From the comments we get from some adoptees, I sense: Look at all my (adoptive) parents they have done for me! I could be in an orphanage or god-knows-where! I love them, damn straight, but I also owe them. I am responsible for their well-being and happiness. 

'TEARS FALL LIKE BOLDERS'
Now along comes a reunion, and a crying first mother who is supposed to be overjoyed that she has found her lost and sorely lamented child (who is now all grown up, with needs and attitudes that may be different from one's own) and the adoptee not only doesn't expect that, but rejects it. We first mothers are crying because we can't really dam up the emotions, and the adoptee may think: What! She's crying? She needs me to "fix" her pain! I've been doing that for someone else all my life! I just can't take it anymore. I want to be the child! Give me a break, would someone give me a break here? 

Tears feel like boulders, wrote Dpen. How could they not? Reunion was supposed to bring relief, instead there is more of the same crushing emotional responsibility? After years of conditioning to acclimate one's self to "complete" a family or whatever else adoptees they are supposed to do, more of being responsible for another's fulfillment is just too damn much. One friend of mine, an adoptee, who had a good job was sending her elderly adoptive parents $1,500 a month. She could afford it, that's true, but she was not one of the wealthy. She began a search for her birth/first parents, but stopped mid-steam, which is when I met her. She said to me: What if I found them and they need $1,500 a month? 

Good point. The money was tangible proof of what her adoptive parents in another state a thousand miles away needed; it also served as a metaphor for the emotional need she might be expected to fulfill for a new set of parents.  

The solution? It's never an easy fix. If you are the adopted, with all kinds of emotions--strong and yet 
fearful--try not to put the responsibility of your first mother's reactions on yourself. Remind yourself that to a large degree, we are all responsible for our own well-being and health, and that includes your first mother and father. Enjoy the moment, and perhaps, for the very first time, feel free to be the child you were never allowed to be. Do not go out of your way to be purposefully cruel or heartless. Remember that she may have been coerced to give you up--by the custom of the times, by poverty, by her youth and her parents insistence. Accept that your first mother, or biological father, is going to be overwhelmed and very likely, weep. Tears of joy (at reunion) will mingle with tears of sorrow (for the years lost). 

Understand that we mothers who want a reunion are most likely going to carry on and quite likely, weep. We emotionally are swept back to the time and feelings we had we gave our children up. But we mothers must accept that our children can't "fix" anything that doesn't happen on its own. Just as they should not have been raised to feel responsible for their parents' happiness, they are also not responsible for ours now. I am not suggesting that first mothers hide their tears--that is likely to cost more in the long run, in terms of psychological damage--but do not expect our found children to "fix" us. Just be glad they are found. And if they have had a good life with their other families, rejoice in that too. After all, isn't that what we all wanted when we gave them up for that "better life" we were unable to provide?--lorraine
_________________________
(* This mother was unable to use the words "mother" in any form in reference to his first mother; in her writing she had become: the woman who birthed him. Of course we are talking about a closed adoption less than two decades ago. I don't see this adoptive mother handling a reunion well.  

And a personal note: I just realized from this photo of my parents that I have in my office that the vintage gown that I wore when I married my husband has the same kind of scalloped neckline.  

FROM FMF
The original and full comment from Dpen is at this post:

RECOMMENDED READING

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade
 Ann Fessler brings out into the open the astonishing untold history of the million and a half women who surrendered children for adoption due to enormous family and social pressure in the decades before Roe v. Wade. An adoptee who was herself surrendered during those years and recently made contact with her mother, Ann Fessler brilliantly brings to life the voices of more than a hundred women, as well as the spirit of those times. --Amazon

The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories
With eloquence and conviction, more than 30 diverse birth mothers, adoptive mothers and adoptees tell their adoption stories and explore what is a deeply emotional, sometimes controversial, and always compelling experience that affects millions of families and individuals.With eloquence and conviction, more than 30 diverse birth mothers, adoptive mothers and adoptees tell their adoption stories and explore what is a deeply emotional, sometimes controversial, and always compelling experience that affects millions of families and individuals.With eloquence and conviction, more than 30 diverse birth mothers, adoptive mothers and adoptees tell their adoption stories and explore what is a deeply emotional, sometimes controversial, and always compelling experience that affects millions of families and individuals.--Amazon. This is available for pennies, plus shipping, and well worth it for the variety of points of view. Full disclosure: Lorraine has the first essay in the book. 

ORDER EITHER BY CLICKING ON THE JACKET ICON OR TITLE. THANK YOU. 

41 comments :

  1. An eloquent post, and one with a lot of truth in it.

    Meaning no disrespect to anyone, as I have stated previously, unless a person is adopted, you can not understand the adoptee. First mothers have a different perspective. A gut-wrenching one to be sure, but it is different. I cannot possibly imagine a first-mother's pain. Just as no one else in the adoption equation can understand the adoptee.

    The pressure on me as an adoptee was/in enormous. My AP's wanted a baby desperately. They waited for years. I finally entered the picture and they still waited for years to have the adoption legally finalized. But here I was....the answer to their prayers and dreams! The underlying message was and still is that my beginnings don't matter. Just look at how wonderful everything turned out to be!

    So, even if I had the strength to search behind their backs, there is another message:

    My first mother never met my AP's. I was told she never saw me or held me. She left me in the hospital, or somewhere, not knowing anything about where I was going to end up. I was in some kind of limbo ( that AP's won't speak about) for a month or so. Maybe foster care, maybe some other institution? I have no idea. She was not present at the finalization proceeding when I was 4 years old. She has obviously not signed up with the NY registry, because they have no info to give me.

    What am I supposed to think? It is a difficult situation to find oneself in.
    Every adoptive situation is different. There is no blanket answer that will help us all involved in this adoption horror show.

    I wish there was.

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  3. Lorraine, this resonates with me. I always felt great responsibility for my aparents' happiness and well-being, though I don't believe it was their intention to cast that burden onto me. I was, however, very aware that I was it -- the only child - and that adopting me "made them happy". I took the message to heart.

    Likewise, I feel incredibly responsible toward both of my first parents. Being a parent myself, I simply can't imagine the depth of grief, and my understanding of the trauma my mother experienced is deepened through reading the writings of first mothers and TGWWA. I am very aware that they have spent our years apart longing for me.

    And yes, I often feel like I am the one who carries it all for everyone else.

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  4. I never saw or held my son when he was born and I regret this everyday. I was lead to believe that I was doing the best thing for my son by giving him away. 47 years later I still don't understand how I bought that message.

    My son found me 6 years ago. When we met I gave him Ann Fessler's book to help him understand the culture in 1967. Very quickly after that I realized it was not fair to put any of 'my stuff' on him. Since then I have worked very hard to find some peace in all this adoption mess. It is a constant struggle but it is mine to deal with. I read First Mother forum religiously as part of my work.

    My goal is to make sure my son knows I love him unconditionally (always have) and that I am there for him when he needs me. I think he knows that he is not responsible in any way for my happiness but I intend to ask him when I visit him next week.

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  5. Tears I could handle. Tears mean engagement. What's difficult is being advised to lie, to hide what I am, which is a child abuse survivor.

    There isn't much left to say about my childhood if I don't mention that. It's the answer to the question, "What was your childhood like?"

    The answer to the questions, "What have you done with your (adult) life?" and "Why did you wait so long to search?" come down to "I was recovering from child abuse."

    "Just send some smiling pictures of you as a child," I'm told. There's only one picture of me smiling between my first grade class picture and my wedding photo.

    I get the 60's culture schtick, but IDK how to tell her who I became.

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  6. "Our parents never made any secret of it, in fact, they made sure that we knew we were extra special because we had been chosen by them."

    This was in a story from Ireland about a woman who discovered that she was living around the corner from her birth mother. Lorraine's point exactly. It is a burden being special.

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  7. Lioness: Are you not telling your first mother the truth that you were abused? You must get beyond that and talk to someone--and yes, tell the truth.

    Childhood sexual abuse does more damage than the world knows, and I have some close personal experience with it. But you need to stop lying and talk to someone about what happened to you. And stop lying to your first mother, if you are. There can be no real healing until you do. And when you get fearful, keep telling yourself that it was not your fault, that whomever did this was a sick person. Please get help.

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  8. Look at all the emotion on this page. Ranging from those of us who had a decent life, and still have issues, to those of us who suffered abuse as a child.

    It tells me that, no matter what anyone thinks, adoption is wrong. It is un-natural.

    Adoptees have been struggling for decades. First mothers are talking about their struggles ...and it seems to me that no one is listening. Everyone still seems to think adoption is win-win. I had a good childhood, but I'm buckling under the pressure of being so special, so chosen. Some children had to live though abuse, or broken adoptive homes, which was not the way it was supposed to happen.

    None of this should have happened.

    And why is it so difficult to get the powers that be to see adoption for what it really is? Not to mention when adoption is politically entangled with abortion.

    I just don't see an end to this mess!

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  9. Julia Emily:\

    The story you grew up with MAY be true. And it may be a lie. If what they said was true, it is strange that your adoption was not finalized for four years. Something about your story doesn't ring true. I cannot tell you how many adoptees were told things that were far from the truth, and since your parents won't speak about it, you may be one of them.

    You keep talking about how bringing this up this will crush them--but they are going to take the story to the grave with them unless you speak up. As I said, since you need a cover, make up an illness that demands a medical history. a driver's license glitch, passport--whatever. Don't wait.

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  10. Lorraine, I'm in therapy and haven't found my first mother yet. I've been in therapy since the day I turned 18 and walked to the nearest mental health clinic. I'm talking about the kinds or reunion advice I'm getting.

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  11. Lorraine: I wrote a comment before I even read yours directed at me!

    I know lies were told over the years. I have uncovered one or two of those. Things were said to make the story appealing to me as a child. But the adoption did take close to four years to finalize. I was at the proceeding, and I have the original document issued to us on that day. It is hard to believe, and I don't know why it took so long.

    Secrets are of no use to anyone. Of that much we are certain.

    I am going to take the route of petitioning the NY Courts as soon as I learn how exactly to go about it.

    Thanks for everything....your writing and your advice!

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  12. When my son and I connected I was thrown into such grief I couldn't function. Fortunately, I knew I needed professional help and got it. My son was an "angry adoptee" and dumped on me. I'm amazed we still have a relationship. I read a lot about adoptees so I could understand him, but I also told him off when he said things that were insulting and cruel. I remember telling him I did not "allow the children I raised to talk to me like that and I sure as hell wasn't taking it from him." I also said, " I raised three kids who will care for me in my old age. You will never be responsible for me, but I expect you to understand GRIEF ! Read a book about it."

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  13. I have read all this and im lost for words. I had two children adopted against my will I fought and fought to keep them I didnt do every thing rt I was 21raising two kids alone but I loved my kids and still do.I think about them all the time pray for them and love them unconditionally. Every year on there birthdays I have a little birthday cake n ice cream n make a birthday wish for them. I know who adopted my children and I have tryed to speak with her constantly about my kids now that they are legally adults.she refuses to make contact with me and I cant image what she has taught my children. I dont know what to expect kind of scary.I have a four year old daughter now I almost never had.because it was hard to let go and move on I havent really did that yet. Im glad I gave it one more chance she reall has put light in my darkness n grief.I hope I find my children I dont want them to take care of me or fix anything I just want them to know I love them all ways have and always will.

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  14. My role in my adoptive childhood home was to validate my parents. Good grades, musically talented, good looks, etc. My good performance legitimized their decision to adopt. I was there to take away the shame of infertility, which would have naturally resulted in a small family, when in our religious community large families were the norm. Sometimes I have felt that my a-parents adopted to keep up appearances.

    I met my first mother as an adult, and as our relationship developed she became more bold about pushing me to become the person I would have been if she had raised me. I really tried, thinking it would make her feel better but instead she became more critical and presumptive over time. More and more I felt like I was a disappointment. Having me around just seemed to cause her rage. It is so evident in her face every time we Skype or spend time together. ;(

    Inside me are both the Pretty, Talented, Rule-abiding little girl my a-parents trained me to be and the Liberal, Intelligent, critical Thinking woman my birth mother craves me to be. I am all of everything. That's all part of me. But I am done changing to meet others' expectations, because it makes me miserable to do so. I can't do it.

    I am the one that has to walk around with me every day, I have to look me in the mirror and like what I see. Nobody else does.

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  15. Lorraine wrote:"--it didn't occur to me NOT to live my life as I chose because I would make her unhappy."

    " I knew she would come around, and that she loved me in spite of my choices."

    That's because you were a bio-kid growing up a healthy environment. You knew that your connection to your parents was secure and that your mother loved you unconditionally, even when she didn't always approve of your choices. Adoptees do not have such reassurance that our parents will always be there for us. We started life behind the 8 ball. You didn't worry that your parents would pick up and walk out on you. But to us adoptees, it seemed that our parents did just that, even if we were too young to remember it. It leaves us forever waiting for the other shoe to drop, so we try to do what we can to prevent another abandonment. This often means denying our own feelings and our own wants while putting the desires and well-being of others first.

    I'm not saying that adoptees are consciously thinking about this all the time and I'm sure there are adoptees who would even disagree with me. But I believe our attachment to non-bio parents is less secure than the attachment bio-kids have. It's not our being 'chosen', or being expected to be grateful, it's being insecure. Perhaps on a subconscious level many adoptees never feel 100% sure that we are part of the family and that we can count on our APs to always be there for us. As an adoptee, I think it is 'normal' to live with a certain degree of fear over losing one's family again.

    This post was very triggering for me. It was hard for me to read and even harder to comment.

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  16. Robin, and everybody reading the comments--I have been very aware for a while that the connection that children who were not adopted feel towards their parents is quite different from the one that adoptees do, and it is because the non-adopted, the biological children, are more secure in that connection. We can stop speaking to our parents, but the connection is still there. And we have a much more--call it relaxed--relationship to them. As a matter of fact, my mother stopped speaking to me for about a month before I left home--the time between when I accepted a job in Saginaw 90 miles away and I actually left. I talk about this somewhat in Birthmark. Regular readers will know I later had a strong relationship with her, and that she supported all that I did when I was the first to go public as a first mother in a major way.

    No matter what the adoptive parents say, or do not say, the knowledge is there that one was not born into a family, and acceptance needs to be constantly reaffirmed. Florence Fisher and I used to talk about this because she recognized this quality in so many of the people she helped. On the other side of the coin are the adoptees who rebel and don't follow the code they are supposed to. I am not saying that this is either/or, but I don't think adoptees ever escape this psychological factor; their relationship to the family simply requires it as a basis for connection. It needs more "work" and attention than the normal connection, which just is.

    I would love to hear some input from a late discovery adoptee on this. But often I hear that once they learn the truth, then a lot of things that they wondered about fell into place.

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  17. Robin wrote, "That's because you were a bio-kid growing up a healthy environment. You knew that your connection to your parents was secure and that your mother loved you unconditionally, even when she didn't always approve of your choices."

    So true.

    In a moment of exasperation, my a-mom once said to my a-brother, "We didn't have to adopt you. You know."

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  18. "You didn't worry that your parents would pick up and walk out on you. But to us adoptees, it seemed that our parents did just that"

    @Robin,

    I realize that this post is directed to Lorraine, so I cannot speak for Lorraine. But I can speak for myself and some other mothers and "bio-kids" that I know.

    If our parents had "been there" for us, we wouldn't have been "sent away" to lose our children and our children wouldn't have been adopted in the first place. I was told(by my parents) that neither I nor my baby were welcome in my parents' home, which was, after all, my home. I had been living there for years.
    I begged my father,in 1968, to help me raise my son. I even told him that times were changing, laws were changing and civil rights would help mothers like me(he knew that..he was an attorney)
    He not only refused to help me. He lectured me on my "sin" and told me he never wanted to see me again.
    I was their "bio-kid" and they rejected me and my son..their grand-child.

    My parents' second grandchild was also born out of wedlock, in 1979, and they were going to reject him, too, but then my brother decided to marry the child's mother. However, the boy always knew and felt rejected. He is also deceased, now.

    My father has a reputation for being a harsh person who fears the judgment of God. This is not just with regards to my son's adoption. It seems to be my father's personality and perhaps that is why it is impossible to reconcile with some people.

    My father told me that he believes that his children are bad and that means that he must be "bad" too, and so he is going to go to hell. And he is terrified, as he is dying now...a very elderly, frail man.


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  19. I don't know for sure, but for me my connection with my adoptive family has never been anything less than secure. I felt special, sure - as did most of my non adoptive friends. Good grief, we live in a society where kids today feel "special" for simply being....entitlement I suppose.

    But here is the rub - how can we know how our feelings & experiences might have differed had we remained with our biological family? We simply cannot because we were not granted that opportunity.

    So I say this with all due respect, but I absolutely rail against anyone, First Mother or other, who uses sweeping summaries of just how our connection is or is not to the family WE DO have.

    Lorraine opines and supposes to have facts on her side, but she doesn't truly know. She grew up with her bio. family - she is NOT an adoptee.

    Why, when we have these types of discussions are adoptees always being pegged as one thing or another? Why must we all fit into one mold and one I might add that suspiciously seems to reflect best on biological families?

    I have countless friends who felt like strangers within their own "biological families" and felt and still feel "responsible" to uphold a family legacy, remain in the "family" business, attend a certain college because their parents did, go down a specific career path, remain close to home, etc...... let's put this in perspective please.

    What the adoptee in reunion might face is BOTH of those emotional tugs - trying to balance & perhaps please BOTH families.

    To say that it's adoption or AP's who create that neediness or lack of security is fairly short sided. It would be like me saying the act of being "given away" created all the ills in my life. Would that be fair to say? To summarize all biological families as being "responsible" for any wrong turn in our lives?

    Please don't qualify it for us all as one "family" connection being better or stronger than another ESPECIALLY when directing it to adoptees who simply CANNOT have that discussion based on experience. Please leave our experiences be......

    Thank you,

    Jade Adoptee


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  20. All reasonable perspectives. Yes, I can never know what it is like to be adopted; adoptees can never know what it is like to be not adopted.

    And yes, the biological parents of many first mothers are the ones largely responsible for a child being relinquished to adoption. Many of them were incredibly heartless in this regard, largely, I think (not proven fact) because they felt they would be the ones raising the child, and then, of course, there was the incredibly shame brought onto a whole family when a girl got "in trouble" and the boy wouldn't marry her.

    Psychology is not hard science with facts that can be "proven" like a theorem; of course we speak here in generalities; and remember this post started out as a warning to mothers to expect that their found children should not be expected to fix all their sorrows regarding the adoption. Adoption is so complicated. I read a comment elsewhere the other day at an adoptee blog; the writer was asked how she felt about adoption, because someone in her family wanted to adopt, and what about this and that. The writer said that she answered: It's complicated.

    Not the answer that the individual asking wanted, it doesn't cover the layers of questions that need to be answered, but it is truthful. It's complicated.

    Jade, since you have given yourself a name (a beautiful one), you can use the Name/URL choice when you comment. You don't need a URL to use that. Just click on that and type in Jade; that will make it easier for everyone to identify your comments. Thank you.

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  21. You know what? I was never "special." I was just me.

    I was Daddy's little girl until it was time for college, which he opposed. After all the encouragement of my early years, after hearing how "smart" I was, etc., I felt incredibly let down by him when it came time to sign up for college prep courses rather than secretarial or home ec. We had an epic battle. My mother quietly supported me on the sidelines--she wanted me to go to college if at all possible. In the end, I won, but at some cost to my relationship to my father.

    But you know, I never felt "special" in the way that I hear adoptees write about it. I was not "chosen." I was not sent by god. I was just my parents' kid. Period. Not particularly special, just their child, and how come you aren't on the honor roll this semester, young lady?

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  22. "Many of them were incredibly heartless in this regard, largely, I think (not proven fact) because they felt they would be the ones raising the child, and then, of course, there was the incredibly shame brought onto a whole family when a girl got "in trouble" and the boy wouldn't marry her."

    @Lo,

    I remember telling my father that no one in my circle of friends would care very much about the 'shame'.And that people in general were not caring much about the shame. (Even my ob/gyn had told me that he had just had a patient before me who kept her baby) His response?

    "Then you have been hanging around with the wrong people."

    I already had completed 3 years of college, at the age of 19 ( I had skipped a grade)when I became pregnant. I needed help, but I didn't need someone else to raise my child. And, my college degree was in a field that is known for tolerance and employing people in "alternative lifestyles" so I figured I could find work. In those days, it was a pretty good area of work.

    But, I still needed help. No one would help me keep my baby. I was refused everywhere.

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  23. @Lo,

    we were never told we were 'special' either. lol... but I think that was also part of growing up back "then."

    In fact, I remember just the opposite, we were always told we were "not special" and we should be "grateful for what we had."

    Our father used to tell us we could be "sent to the orphanage." There was an orphanage a couple of miles from our house. One time, in the 1950s, he drove us over there so we could see it and know that it was real and that he wasn't kidding about it.

    That orphanage closed in the 1970s.

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  24. "I can never know what it is like to be adopted; adoptees can never know what it is like to be not adopted."

    I think there is a sub group? of adoptees/bio children that has the potential to see both sides of it. I'm talking about people like me, raised by my birth mom and the man who adopted me as an infant.

    it was like having two seperate realities, I looked like my mom, talked like her, her biological history was mine and being around her family was like a normal family is how I looked liked some, less like others, etc but being around my dad's family it was very obvious I didn't fit in and it did lead to some "is that my culture, its his, I'm being raised in it but, well, it felt like a coat that didn't fit too well. Because I didn't know my biological father I still scanned faces to see if they looked like me, hoping to find a long lost sister or grand parent to fill in the blanks I felt were missing in my family.

    I never doubted my mom's love for me and never trusted my adopted dad's love. I always felt his was conditional although he was my biggest supporter and my mom was much more judgmental of me but for some reason I knew she would never turn her back on me, she was my mom. my adopted dad? I always felt I had to be perfect for him to love me. Not sure where I'm going with this so I just wanted to say I enjoy your blog very much.

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  25. There is a huge amount of insecurity in adoption all around. In my opinion, if everyone was secure with it, the records would never have been sealed in the first place.

    My AP's are very threatened, and always were, by the fact that there is my bio-mother/family out there somewhere.

    I was always under pressure to be perfect. The perfect answer to years of problems for my AP's. It is a weird feeling and I don't know how to explain it exactly, but others here will know what I mean.

    A difficult position to be in. One that certainly does not make me feel secure. Even at my age now.

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  26. The specialness (for the most part) that adoptees have to live with is contrived. Its a manipulation to brainwash them into thinking that they really are "special" for being adopted...tTHat they really are "chosen" and so therefore should be grateful.

    I was not raised as "speical" I had to conform to the family, do my chores, was disciplined like anyother child. Hey I was a child of the sixties in a no nonsense family. Love my family, loved my mom and dad. But does not mean that i wanted to be adopted in the first place. No one does...everyone wants to be raised by their own family...its only natural. But when adoption is needed its on the onus of the adoptee to make the adoption a "wonderful" thing....

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  27. Julia Emily,

    I just read Tim Greens book,"A Man and His Mother". Wonderful book.

    Thought of you.

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  28. BJane: I will look into that book. I find since I began reading this blog, I have ordered a number of books! Hopefully they will help. Thanks!

    Like Lorraine said....the legislators and lawmakers should be made to read them as well.

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  29. As an AP, this really spoke to me. It reminded me I need to be careful about the words that I choose. I don't want my kids to grow up feeling pressure to make me happy. I want to raise independent, critical thinkers. That means they're going to make choices that won't neccessarily be mine.

    I don't feel that I "chose" these kids. Their parents chose a profile, that was us. We merely accepted their choice. I certainly don't think "God" intended for another woman to give birth to "my" child. If that were the case, he could have just put them in my womb. I haven't yet used the word special. And I think I will try to avoid that one as well.

    I'm going to just stick to age appropriate truths and try not to add my judgements (which is hard).

    I guess the best I can do is just be aware of how different people feel in these situations and try to learn from that.

    Thanks for sharing another perspective that made me think.

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  30. Your forum was a great insight to me from an adoptee's point of view. You see, I'm a birth mother who just recently reached out to my birth daughter to provide her important hereditary medical information that I believed she should be given. I went through the whole process, and completed forms and wrote her a letter and sent pictures in case she wanted them. I made it clear that I didn't want to disturb her life, only wanted her to have the medical information - but if she wanted to meet me, I would be more than happy to meet her. That being said, I guess I set myself up for a letdown, because no matter how much I told myself that, the thought that I might get to meet my daughter just consumed me. Now the silence on the other end is deafening. But I never thought, for once, how this request might affect HER life, only that it would enrich mine. True love is loving enough to let go. I let go once..I think it's time to let go again. Thanks.

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  31. Thank you for the viewpoint of an adoptee. You see, I'm a birth mother who just recently reached out to my 30-something birth daughter to give her updated medical information that I believed was critical for her to have. So I went through the whole process, sent forms, letter, and pictures. I explained to her in the letter that I only contacted her to give her medical updates, but that if she wanted to meet me, I would be more than happy to meet with her. She was located, and she did receive everything - but the silence on the other end is now deafening. I kept telling myself that it was good that she got the information, but a large part of me was hoping she would want more. I realize now, that's what I wanted, and it's not about ME. The best news I could have ever received is that she is alive and well. I will take that, and try to let go of my "dream" of meeting her in person. I loved her enough once to let her go - perhaps it's time to let go again.

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  32. Cherry -

    I don't understand why the legal finalization is such a big deal for adoptive parents. I honestly cannot even recall the exact date of ours. We were glad to have the legal aspects over because we wanted to get a new social security card and passport for our daughter (we had heard issues post-911 with year discrepancies and wanted to avoid that). But it was a bittersweet day for us because our daughter's OBC was sealed away, and we don't agree with that.

    As to the "as if born to," that's an upsetting phrase to use in this circumstance. He was essentially saying that the alteration of the OBC fixes something and makes an adopted child magically biological to their adoptive parents. The state doesn't have that power, sorry. My daughter has biological parents, and the fact that the state forced us to change her BC doesn't change that fact.

    I do think that in some cases, when this phrase is used, they simply mean that the love felt by the adoptive parents is equal to as if their child was biologically theirs. But I don't use that phrase at all to avoid any confusion; there are better ways to phrase my feelings that don't cause hurt to anyone. I'm also not defending that judge's use of it because I think that it was incredibly offensive to use it at that timing because of what he is implying.

    I sincerely hope neither of my daughters ever feels responsible for my happiness. That is not on them. I have often felt like a disappointment to my parents, and I am acutely aware of how these feelings can impact someone. I work very hard to always convey to my children that simply their existence is joy enough for me, and above all, much of my happiness comes from seeing them happy.

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  33. To Dpen:

    Thank you for clarifying the "special" definition. I was getting a bit irate with the "well I wasn't special" comments. You hit it on the head.

    In my case and I'm sure many others, "special" didn't have good connotations.

    Lucky you, you were UNCHOSEN. Lucky you, you have LOST EVERYBODY. Lucky you, you have LOST YOURSELF. Lucky you, you life a life of false pretences and lies. Yes indeed, you are SPECIAL.

    And for the record, I wish my fmom did cry because she wanted me back. It would be nice for her to have some kind of heartfelt and kind emotions towards me.

    She's the one who I'm supposed to make happy. Meanwhile, she was abusive to me in the past, tore me apart in the present and somehow or other has managed to turn the whole thing around that I'm responsible for what happened and she's the victim. I'm so tired of her crap I'm actually on a "time out" from her. I haven't left but I need some breathing space where it isn't all about her.

    Rotten kid that I am I had the audacity to show up where I wasn't wanted. I'm special like that.

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  34. "As if born to" are the words commonly used in adoption statues in the US. It's a short hand way of assuring that an adopted child has all the LEGAL rights of a child by birth such as the right to inherit,receive government benefits, and so on.

    I hope this helps.

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  35. regarding the "you are special and we chose you language" - I think/guess that it is not an attempt to brainwash or manipulate a child as dpen suggests, but an attempt by adoptive parents to try and deal with the fact that for whatever reason, the child has suffered an incredible loss.

    as an AP, I am acutely aware that my child has this enormous loss to deal with. I do not use the you are special / chosen language myself, but I think that is why some AP use it. We don't want our children to feel that they are flawed or mistakes or abandoned.

    We have to deal with the "primal wound" as best as we can to give our children the best life we can.

    I hope my child knows the love is unconditional; I think this is the case. but I do agree that enormous loss of your birth mom and being given up by your birth mom can have a life long impact and create deep feelings of not being worthy, not being lovable, not being good enough.

    as an Amom I want to do all I can to ensure my child you are worthy, you are lovable, you are more than good enough.

    like most parents, I hope, I never try to have my child believe that the child's job is to take care of ME. my job is to take care of the child. My child seems like any other child right now, happy, busy, sweet, interested in friends, etc. things seem ok but I will always be on the lookout for issues from abandonment.

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  36. Thanks, Anonymous, for your comment.

    And to everybody: that 'special' designation has to be onerous. You're 'special' so you damn well better prove it seems to be the concept the child absorbs.

    Feeling in the dumps today myself.

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  37. Anonymous: You are a very wise adoptive parent, and I wish there were more like you. ..The pressure on me an a child to be perfect was enormous. I was the luckiest chosen kid in the world! Dancing lessons, music lessons, Catholic private school, pretty dresses.....you get the idea. There was always the expectation of great grades in school, good reports, no misbehavior. Other than the famous "chosen child" story, nothing was ever said about my adoption. There were childish stories told to make the idea appealing to me, I suppose, but it never went any further than that.

    This continues to this day. I was expected to marry the perfect guy, have perfect children, care for my parents in their old age, and never ask any questions that might upset them.

    This is what I always did and am still doing. I had a good childhood, but the underlying messages were there. And they still are there. And I am trapped in the middle of it all.

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  38. I'm an adoptee. I visit this site to get perspective on what it might be like for my bio mother. However- I find your constant condescending of the validity of 'APs' to be disgraceful. Fine. You are distraught because you were forced to give up your child or regret a decision you made. It gives you no right to disparage the parents of adopted children. We are not all angry or pining away for our bio mothers. I am very open about my story! My bio mother was a drug addicted 20 year old who had no use for me until she got clean 12 years later. Suddenly she regretted her decision to relinquish me. Whatever. My parents have given me a beautiful life and have NEVER made me feel as though I should be grateful. In fact, they often check in to see if I'm open to communicating with my bio mother. You need to wrap your head around the fact that some adoptees could care less about their bio parents. Don't try and read into it, don't try and make assumptions- it is true! I had a crack head mother who chose her addiction over me. End of discussion. - Caroline

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  39. We do not mean to disparage all adoptive parents but we do deal with the children of those who have had problems or issues with their adoptive parents,or issues simply about being adopted.

    You do seem to resent that first mothers and other adoptees have a place to vent without constantly praising adoptive parents.

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  40. I absolutely do not feel that way. Adoption is not perfect and I feel horrible for any bio parent who was coerced or any adoptee who feels loss. I DO feel a loss and I'm not looking for anyone to sing the praises of AP's. It just seems like if you are an adoptee who has no interest in his/her bio parents or does not feel the anguish others do, or - god forbid - 'praise' their AP's, we are often assumed to be in 'denial' or not 'sympathetic'. I have a right to feel the way I do about my bio mother. I absolutely respect you, this blog and other adoptees. This is just my experience and perspective. -Caroline

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