' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: The Day I Was Born: The Story Denied to Many Adoptees

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Day I Was Born: The Story Denied to Many Adoptees

Jane
"Tell me about the day my mom was born," my eight-year-old granddaughter Katie requested as I drove her from school to swim team practice Monday. Her request surprised me; I expected she would want to listen to Radio Classics as usual. I obliged. "Your mother was born in the middle of the night in the middle of the winter," I began. When I finished she asked about the day she was born, a story she had heard often: how I had come to the hospital with her two year old brother Chris; how her mom told him the baby was no longer in her stomach and how her father lifted Chris up and showed him the baby, all snuggled in pink in her crib.

When my three raised daughters were little, they too loved the story that began "on the day you were born."  Every time I told them the story, a wave of sadness crept over me because I did not tell, could not tell, my first
daughter Rebecca that story. Recurrent guilt that also came up when I celebrated my daughters' birthdays, signed them up for camp, took them to family reunions. I'm not doing this for my first daughter.

I imagined Rebecca was told about "the day we chose you and brought you home." Adoptive parent memoirs ("Our Adoption Journey") always include a section on how they told their child about coming into their family. The child is delighted to hear the story; he snuggles up close, so happy to have been chosen.

As I told my daughters about the day they were born, I would think, "perhaps it didn't matter that I could not tell Rebecca about her birth, being selected might be as satisfying, perhaps more satisfying--certainly narratives from adoptive parents suggested that. The thought didn't comfort me, though. Instead it led to the thought that perhaps I should have placed all my children for adoption, if indeed being adopted is a happier state.

Rebecca and I connected just after her 31st birthday. The following year I came to her home in Illinois and celebrated her birthday with her. She asked me to tell her about the day she was born.

As I told Katie about those magical moments when children come into the world, I could not help but think about the children who will never hear their story: those adopted into closed adoptions and those adopted from abroad who may not ever learn the day or even the year in which they were born. No matter how much frosting is put on the "day we brought you home" cake, there's a hollow space inside.--jane

38 comments :

  1. My son would love to hear the story of his birth. I hope his first mom makes contact with us one day, so he can hear it from her.

    We have not told our son he was "chosen" by us. Rather, we have said it the other way around. Lenny asked if we chose him and we told Lenny how his first parents could not take proper care of him so the judge asked us if we would be a second mom and dad to him. We've told him how we had hoped his parents could take care of him but since they were not able to, we are lucky that WE got chosen to be his mom and dad.

    In my own private thoughts, I often worry how Lenny's adoption story will impact him as he gets older. I am hoping he will see that his first parents really, really wanted to keep him, that they really tried to rehabilitate, but were simply not able to do so. I am hoping he will focus on the positives of how much they wanted him rather than their negative behaviors that caused them to lose him.

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  2. Oh, Jane, I'm so glad you were finally able to tell your first-born daughter about the day she was born. I can imagine it was a beautiful moment for the two of you.

    As an adoptive mother, this touches me because I'm sad for my adopted daughter that this simple question doesn't have a completely beautiful story associated with it, like my biological daughter. I am awful at baby books, so my older daughter doesn't have one, which I regretted until I saw the adopted child ones, and then I was glad I kinda suck at this so I didn't have to do one for my younger. I don't like them and the way they are phrased. They both have photo books of their birth, and my adopted daughter's is full of pictures and memories of her first parents.

    There were certainly beautiful moments, and I am hopeful that her other mom will share those stories with her, and I have some of my own, as well. But there were sad moments as well, and overwhelmingly, when I think of my daughter's birth, I get a little heartsick and sad. I hate that, but it is what it is. It is not beautiful when a baby is lost to her mother, even if she is given a new mother. It's sad... and it makes me sad, even when I try very hard not to get too caught up in the sadness. It is still there.

    I've never, ever understood the "chosen one" angle. WE were the ones who were chosen, not her. For us, we view it as being humbled and blessed to have been chosen to be her second parents, to be given the opportunity to love her and create a family with her. I was chosen to be her mother, and I take that honor very seriously, and in many ways, I feel I have expectations to live up to for her that I did not feel with my biological daughter. It's a heavy responsibility to be a parent, but to be asked to be second mother to a fellow mother's child is a truly humbling experience. I personally feel I carry the weight of being everything she wanted for her child as well as everything I want to be for my children.

    Anyway, off topic now, but I do share with you the feeling that it is a very complicated question, "tell me about when I was born," when it comes from an adoptee. I ache for those, like you said, who will never have the answers.

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  3. It is good to know what I can of the story, although the cosy "and then we held you, and we checked your fingers and toes, and everyone said how much you looked like so-and-so" is often not true for us adoptees. Some of us were not held, but were whisked away. Some of us were not named by our mothers. I know when I was born and who was there, but my my mother was under sedation and remembers next to nothing about the experience.

    This is in stark contrast with the births of my own children. It is a shame that the infant version of me was alone in the nursery, but such is adoption.

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  4. Thanks, Jay, I like your explanation much better than the chosen child story.

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  5. I was able to hold Rebecca in the hospital. I starred at her very hard so I would remember her face. When my other girls were born, I stared at them too, comparing their faces to Rebecca's, at the same time trying to shake off thoughts of Rebecca, feeling guilty that I was not embracing this new baby 100 percent.

    Many mothers did not hold their children slated for adoption because they were not allowed to. Social workers claimed it was better if mothers not see their babies; it would make it easier to forget. And of course, not seeing their babies made it less likely they would change their minds.

    I wonder if it occurred to the social workers how painful it would be for the adopted child to learn that her mother did not hold her, that she was isolated in a nursery while other babies were taken to their mothers to be fed and cuddled.

    I know first mothers who deeply regret never having been allowed even a few minutes with their precious newborn.

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  6. It is sad indeed, for many adoptees to not have the joy associated with the day they are born; the joy of being held and admired by their first moms and first families.

    In some ways I am glad my son got to be held by his first mom, fully loved and nurtured by her for the first month and visited by her for a few months after he was taken away by CPS. So, when she does meet him (I hope she does), she truly has a happy story of his birth. It was unfortunate that circumstances radically changed after that first month.

    With regard to the "chosen" aspect of describing adoptees, I believe it is incorrect on many levels. I also believe, as Tiffany does, that it is an honor and privilege that we got to be his parents - that we indeed are the chosen ones. However, I do worry that our son will think of his first parents as somehow less than worthy because we got "chosen" to be his parents. I want him to be reassured that there is no difference in the love, it is simply that we stepped in as additional parents to help raise him. It is a tough issue that ties into my not wanting him to feel that he needed additional "help" in his raising (i.e., is inferior because he is an adoptee).

    *Sigh* it is so very complicated.

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  7. Yes, this is very complicated indeed. Jane writes:

    "I wonder if it occurred to the social workers how painful it would be for the adopted child to learn that her mother did not hold her, that she was isolated in a nursery while other babies were taken to their mothers to be fed and cuddled."

    I can tell you that it did not occur to anyone that this was the wrong thing to do. At least not when I was born.

    "The girl" did not hold or see me. For some reason, this is something I was told more than once. My AP's were not present when I was born....they did not "get" me until almost 2 months later. Where I was for that period of time is a mystery. The whole thing is a mystery. As you all know, no one was clear on the birthdate. I do not have any info regarding what time I was born, or how much I weighed. There is no baby book or any photos of me as a newborn. There is only a pediatrician record that starts when I was 2 months old.

    I was told the chosen baby story a million times. I was given the famous "Chosen Baby" book, which I still have, for whatever reason. My AP's still feel that this is the way adoption should be handled.

    I mentioned recently that my friend, through DNA testing sites, is finally finding relatives and is learning about her beginnings. My A-mother's reaction: "you would never do that, would you? God, I hope not." Her exact words.

    As much as I want my documents from when I was born, and want to read about that lost period of time in my life, I will probably never know exactly what happened on the day I was born. The general feeling is that it was very important, for some reason, to hide these details. The baby would never need to know. Details could be made up as needed, and they were, throughout my life. It is clear my AP's also do not know a lot of the details.

    How can a couple take a stranger's baby and not ask about the birth, the medical history, the circumstances? I have no idea. It was an ignorant time. They wanted a baby and I appeared, as if I dropped from the sky. The details, and my first mother, instantly became unimportant.

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  8. Allow me to add, as I think about it further: My AP's only mentioned my first mother a handful of times in my life. But the fact that she never held or even saw me was something they always mentioned. They never met her. This is all I was ever told about her.

    Knowing them inside-out as I do, and listening to the way these facts are presented to me....it is clear that this is their way of cementing in their minds that THEY are my parents, certainly not this girl who never held me.

    Do they even know these facts? Were they told this, or did they make this up like a lot of other "facts"? I don't know. But it is said in a way that is supposed to reassure us all that they are my ONLY parents.

    Complicated. And sad.

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  9. Tiffany said: 'It's a heavy responsibility to be a parent, but to be asked to be second mother to a fellow mother's child is a truly humbling experience'.

    Jay said: 'it is simply that we stepped in as additional parents to help raise him.'


    I've never seen such respect shown to first mothers as you two show. Honestly, you have no idea how utterly restorative it is. Thank you both so much, from the bottom of my heart.

    My son's other mother is of the 'Well, she signed the papers, I'm your mother, who the hell does she think she is' variety. This adds so much extra ongoing pain onto the loss of my son, and it causes him profound and intolerable anguish as he tries to have a life that is whole, with all his family in it, including us.

    You two help me to keep my heart open in the face of such an embittering and injurious attitude. Thank you so much - you're the blue sky peeping through the storm clouds.


    When I went into labour with my son, I sat on the sofa in the middle of the night and waited as long as I could till I woke anyone. I knew that time would be so special and I wanted it to last as long as possible. I felt it was our time, precious to us. I think it was also the first time I really realised we were going to part because I held off telling anyone so that the process of separation could somehow be delayed. I think I just wanted the pregnancy to go on forever.

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  10. My son who I am in reunion with and two other children were talking about the day that they were born. I could sense my son was feeling maybe a bit jealous. He couldn't share his story, I had too. I could see a sadness in his eyes.

    That night I wrote his birth story. Starting from the day I was 16 years old and laid eyes on his birth father, through our 4 year relationship, my pregnancy, his birth, visiting him at the temporary foster home, ending with the moment I handed him to his adoptive parents.

    It ended up 15 pages long, so I had it bound as book before I gave it to him.

    I know that was one of the best gifts I could ever give him. No matter how rocky our relationship can be, he will always know the intimate
    details of his birth story. That makes my heart smile.

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  11. My son who I am in reunion with and two other children were talking about the day that they were born. I could sense my son was feeling maybe a bit jealous. He couldn't share his story, I had too. I could see a sadness in his eyes.

    That night I wrote his birth story. Starting from the day I was 16 years old and laid eyes on his birth father, through our 4 year relationship, my pregnancy, his birth, visiting him at the temporary foster home, ending with the moment I handed him to his adoptive parents.

    It ended up 15 pages long, so I had it bound as book before I gave it to him.

    I know that was one of the best gifts I could ever give him. No matter how rocky our relationship can be, he will always know the intimate
    details of his birth story. That makes my heart smile.

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  12. Julia Emily-

    "I mentioned recently that my friend, through DNA testing sites, is finally finding relatives and is learning about her beginnings. My A-mother's reaction: "you would never do that, would you? God, I hope not." Her exact words....

    What did you say? I imagine nothing--probably what I would have done--but your face may have betrayed you. Since you say that you asked about Philomena, and then said this, they know that you are thinking about your other parents. Where are you with the court? Did you file the necessary papers? Excuse me if I missed it. Since this is eating you up, are you going ahead with DNA testing? You have to be prepared for anything, but you will never know unless you do it.

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  13. Cherry, I am truly sorry. My heart hurts so much for you, and all I can say is that selfishness has it's own rewards. I see so many adoptees whose relationships crumble with their adoptive parents because of these attitudes of possessiveness and exclusion. In an age of open adoption, I can well imagine your son growing up to resent being kept from having you in his life. Small comfort for the moment, though, and the desire to see him now, as he grows. I deeply wish I could knock some sense into his adoptive mother.

    Your birth story made me think of my daughter's mother... I'm glad my daughter was held and loved by her mother.

    Julia Emily, as an adoptive mom to an adoptee, and as one woman to another, I just have to say please search. Do everything you want to do, and don't give a second thought to any potential impact to your parents.

    Your parents do not own you.

    They do not own your story.

    They do not own your truth.

    Adoptive or biological, we parents are granted the opportunity to raise our children to adulthood, providing them with love, guidance, and the best care we can. But we are not their puppeteers. We have no right to attempt to control their lives and decisions. Your parents have NO right to make the demand of you that you continue to ignore these longings in your heart to know from where you came. I know you said they are elderly and this would hurt them. That doesn't change a damn thing, in my personal and completely unsolicited opinion.

    I'm not saying you have to throw it in their faces, although I don't personally feel you are obligated to keep this a secret, but neither do you have to deal with their desire for continued secrecy and allegiance only to them.

    I say this as someone who has recently dealt with stepping back from contact with my own parents. They hurt my children when they were out at Christmas (we live across the country), and my father refuses to apologize or even admit what he did was wrong. He is further asserting his right to continue to do this because "it's just who he is." To protect my children, I have told him that until he mends the situation, we cannot have a relationship. It hurts like crazy, but toxic relationships are never ok. Parents putting unreasonable expectations on their adult children and grandchildren is not ok. It is ok for you to make your own decisions and choices against the will of your parents.

    I just wanted to encourage you not to give up, and to do all you can to search out your truth. My heart goes out to you... what a difficult way to live life. I cannot even imagine your heartache.

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  14. Julia Emily said: 'The details, and my first mother, instantly became unimportant.'

    To them maybe, but not to you.

    Your truth, your feelings, your needs are as important as anyone else's. I know you know that, and I know that phrases like that don't help. I also know I don't understand what it is like to be adopted. But I really feel for you - you are in a very, very unfair place. I wish your APs would use these last years of their lives to support your onward journey - that would be such a loving thing to do, to put you first.


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  15. What a wonderful thing to do, brains3401.

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  16. I remember my relinquished daughter asking me more than once to tell me about the day she was born. So of course I told her and she was always fascinated.

    She was not placed in the wrong mommy's tummy. She and I both almost died during her birth and we both survived against the odds. No one can make that story all about them and their need for a child. She has a story that started before her adoption and she knows this. Perhaps that is why she wanted to hear it again and again.

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  17. Hi Jane: I was on the phone with A-mom when I mentioned my friend, so she couldn't see my face and how I reacted to what she said. And once she said "God, I hope not", we went on to something else. This friend is my best friend from childhood, someone my AP's have known all her life, and I felt it was going to be interesting to see what they thought about her search. We all know what mom thinks. My father still says she is selfish and should let it go.

    I have filed the papers petitioning the court. But, since I am waiting almost 2 years for simple non-id from NY State, I wonder how quickly this will move along?

    I think I am going to do DNA at Ancestry. That's where my friend got her great result. Still thinking about it.

    I am in a very weird position. My AP's are what they are, they are still on this earth, and I deal with them more now than I ever did, since they are not well. I have outlined how they think and what they believe, and at this point in their lives I feel I can only go ahead with doing things that don't really involve them. I can not care for these 2 people every day, and then bring up this huge subject that threatens my mother and that my father thinks is brought up only by spoiled and selfish adoptees.

    It is too much pressure for me.
    I know that bringing this up to them now would be a tremendous mistake. I appreciate all the suggestions, and in theory they all make sense. Perfect sense. But after 56 years of being with these people, I know how it would play out. Not pretty.

    I can not tell you all how I appreciate you listening, offering advice, and sharing your own stories. This has been a tremendous help to me! Thanks so much!

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  18. Julia Emily--I can think of a millions times when I did not say something (that I wish I had) and you are in a much more difficult situation. Like I said before, it's likely I would do exactly what you are doing--kinda fishing now and then to bring it up, but not forcing the issue. Do what you need to do.

    The NY Registry for adoptees and birth parents is a joke. The man who runs it is not in favor of opening records. We've heard many complaints about it. The court system is likely to be much more neutral, and not take so long to respond.

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  19. Ican't tell you how important hearing about how my mother fought and lied to spend our first/last week together in the hospital. She told the doctor/nurses that she couldn't urinate and was catheterized for the whole week. She would empty the bag in the bathroom and when the output was measured it was inconsequential. But she held me, fed me and gave me her love. I always felt it. Never once doubted that I would find and we'd have a relationship. I faltered in my faith when the social worker sent my non-id (Which opened with: your mother intentionally got pregnant to prove she could bear a child but did not want the baby) but once I saw my full name in the baptismal registrar, I knew I had always been right- she loved me. 21yrs later and I still like to hear that she promised me we'd be together again as she said goodbye.

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  20. Reading everyone's stories really brings home the epidemic of losses faced by adoptees and first mothers/families. So many fundamental things most families take for granted are missing, like gaping holes, when adoption happens. There is some compensation when there is a chance to be reunited and fill some of the missing gaps of information. Stories like those of "bains3401" and "Adoptionvictimswithavoice" are so moving. But even so, knowing the information is different from living it. I am so sorry for all that adoption takes away.

    Julia Emily and Cherry, my thoughts are with you both constantly. I cannot presume to feel your pain but there is an empathy there - please know this.

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  21. Kind of late to this thread, but I did tell my daughter all about her birth in my (last) 12-page communication with her. I did hold her and got to feed her, but the nuns really discouraged this!! But I HAD to see her; my mother and sisters even came to the hospital to see her; I also told her on the day I signed the adoption papers that I would find her! I got to hold her there for 10 whole minutes until they took her away. They even took a picture of her for me.

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  22. @Julia Emily,
    I hope you will understand that this comment is written in the spirit of support and encouragement.

    You write about how your APs feel about adoption and how it has worked out for them. But this is not about them. It's about you. You have a right to your feelings and your beliefs about adoption and you don't need to convince your APs that you are right or get them to understand your POV at all. At age 50 something, you don't have to share every aspect of your life with your APs and you don't need their approval. I understand that you love them very much and that they are your family, but I can tell by what you write that you have been very hurt by being an adoptee in a closed adoption.

    It is terribly unfortunate that your APs will not share with you what they know, if anything. But you need to let that go. There are other avenues open to you to find the answers you are seeking. And you have a right to take care of your own needs. There is an enormous amount of support here at FMF and the other Family Preservation sites, but you are the only one who can set yourself free.

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  23. A cautionary tale for adoptive parents: I was told, among other things, that my natural mother was unable to care for me and this was very traumatizing for me. I concluded that something must be REALLY WRONG with my natural mother, because I didn't understand what was involved in caring for a child, and I worried about her and feared she was in trouble. It wasn't until I studied human development in preparation to go to nursing school that I realized that it had been developmentally inappropriate for the adults in my life to expect me to understand all of the complexities intended by their words. I spent many years worried that my natural mother was cold and hungry somewhere...because after all, if she couldn't take care of a baby, how could she take care of herself? Similarly, "she gave you up because she loved you" makes absolutely no sense to a child and is actually quite horrifying. For me, this all added to the pain and confusion of not having a birth story or looking anything like my adoptive families and, as far as I could figure out, just having dropped into my adoptive family around the age of 6 months. So what's the best way to tell a child his/her story? I won't pretend to be the expert. But the longer I live, the more I believe in the truth.

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  24. Hi Robin: Everything you state makes perfect sense, in theory. A lot of things that work "on paper", so to speak, do not work when actually put into play in real life. That is the situation here.

    Had I done this 20 or 25 years ago, it might have been a tiny bit different, but I was still mostly in the fog at that time. As younger, stronger people they might have been able to handle the idea a bit better. Or at least make an attempt to understand it.

    If I had some support...someone to come with me when I try to ask questions, it might act as a buffer, and there might be less of an explosion. But, hubby is not on board. I have no siblings, adopted or bio. My older daughter's reaction to the idea was...how can we do this to Nana and Papa? I can't force her if she is as uncomfortable as I am.

    I have filed the papers to have my file opened. I am thinking about DNA testing, once my credit card calms down a little! At this point that is all I can do.

    My AP's are well into their 90's. They are in very poor health, very frail, and this is, unfortunately, not the time to start bringing up this subject. I know full well their thoughts on adoption. If I started this now I might as well just shoot them, because it would kill them, without a doubt. I, alone, cannot be responsible for that.

    You state, and I thank you for it, that this is about me, not my AP's. But it has NEVER been about me, or any adoptee. We were just the product. The commodity, if you will.

    Let's see what happens with the great state of NY. That's all I can do right now. But I do thank you for your support.

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  25. It is enormously telling when the "significant other," the one left behind, is at a loss to explain 'the departure,' insisting they had built a wonderful life together ...
    As for high-profile adoptees, their companies and identity, think Steve Jobs and his Apple ... and Jobs' friend Larry Ellison and Oracle. Almost biblical, isn't it?
    *

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  26. To Lorraine and Jane: sorry; I just left a comment annonymously when I saw the footnote. It's the wee hours ...
    my comment mentions adoptees Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison.
    You can call me "Saultxy" (a screen-name).
    Btw, my birthmother (not adopted) took her life when I was eleven (I found her; she left a letter). One year later, I was adopted by my new stepmother. I have been estranged from my family in Canada since my early twenties.
    Saultxy
    Silicon Valley
    Carmicone@aol.com
    *

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  27. @ SarahM: I agree....the truth, to the best of the adoptive parent's knowledge, is the best, or rather, the only correct way to tell a child they are adopted. Of course, it has to be told in an age appropriate way, and as the child grows, more details can be told.

    The chosen baby, your mother loved you so much she gave you up, your mother couldn't care for you.....these stories are confusing and frightening to a child. They can not understand what is being said. I got the chosen baby story. Out of all the babies in the world they picked me! But as I grew, the story never changed, and I finally learned that was not the case at all.

    I never got my mother loved me so much, etc., My AP's NEVER would have referred to the girl as my mother. She was never mentioned, and when she was, it was in a very dismissive way. All of maybe 4 times in my entire life.

    I, like you, needed some truth. It would have made this whole secretive. miserable thing a lot easier to understand and live with.

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  28. Has it ever occurred to you ( adoptees and bmoms) that the"chosen one" stories told were told to lessen the blow of not knowing why the child was put up for adoption? Think about it, the" she loved you so much" story really was a "saving face" grace for you and the child you placed. Many bmom had affairs with married men who wouldn't leave their families when the bmom was pregnant or, sometimes, the child was the result of a one night stand. If you were an aparent would you tell the truth or sugar coat it until age appropriate?

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  29. Anomynous, you make a good point, but the "chosen baby" story is so full of holes that I think something more honest might work better, especially as the child himself or herself understands that being adopted means that someone else is your mother who was supposed to keep you, in the natural order of life.

    How about...your other mommy had problems--poverty, sickness, whatever--and she couldn't keep you and that's how we came to have you and we love you so very much.

    I have a sense from reading adoptee's comments that the chosen baby business adds tot he feeling, well heck, if they "chose" me I had better be worthy of that and not rock the boat and be very good and not tell them this bothers me...etc. "Chosen" sounds nice but adds a burden to the adoptee at a very young impressionable ago. I know I am going for honesty here, and makes the story harder to tell, but the adoptee is the one who is then forced to carry the burden of that "nice" story, rather than be honest. That story protects the adoptive parents more than it protects a child. On the other hand, if a mother did choose the parents, that is another way to telling the story.

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  30. Anon: The Chosen Baby story stinks in plain English. And that is the only story I heard.

    I remember the book "The Chosen Baby", and there was a part of the story that bothered me to no end. The prospective AP's asked specifically for a boy as their first chosen baby, and the story made it sound as if they might settle for a girl if they had to. Then they get the call to come and see the baby boy the adoption worker has ready for them, after a very long waiting period. She tells them that if he is not just the right baby boy for them, they can wait until another one comes along.

    In my little mind : they could just leave the baby there and wait for another?

    PLEASE!!

    I still have the book and just looked it up to refresh my memory.

    So that was a frightening idea to me. It made me think, as Lorraine points out, that I was chosen and if I didn't fulfill all my AP's expectations, they might even bring me back for a better baby/child. I was chosen....I had better live up to it.

    No one understands the adoptee except another adoptee. And you can be sure NO adoptee anywhere came up with the Chosen Baby garbage.

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  31. Anonymous asked "If you were an aparent would you tell the truth or sugar coat it until age appropriate?"

    The truth. Always. The truth can be age appropriate. I read your "sugar coating" as "white lies," and I do not lie to my children, even when they ask hard questions. I can always make the truth age appropriate without making up lies to try to make it sound better somehow.

    I do not know every single reason or thought that my adopted daughter's mother had in regards to placing her for adoption. We know the basics, which is openly discussed in our family. I do not make anything up. If I don't know an answer to a question, I say honestly, "I don't know."

    I'm not adopted, but I think many of us experience our parents telling us sugar coated versions of things when we were younger. With my parents, on the hard topics, they never went beyond the sugar coating. I decided I would never do that with my children because it doesn't create trust between parent and child. I don't view adoption as any different- I will always tell the truth, in an age appropriate way, adding more as she is able to handle it, but never saying anything that I don't know is absolutely factual.

    We are in an open adoption, so our daughter will be able to ask her mom and dad herself, for which I am incredibly grateful. We would have never done a closed adoption because of our personal beliefs, but I don't think that would have changed my opinion that the truth is always the best road to walk. I know some adoptive parents who "color" their child's birth story with opinions and guesses when they don't know all the facts. I think that is a dangerous game to play. Trust, once lost, can be difficult to regain.

    Julia Emily had a great perspective on why "chosen" is a dangerous and incorrect term to use in regards to adopted children. In most cases, it is false anyway- the child was not literally selected from a range of options, which "chosen" implies. Julia Emily's statement that being chosen placed an added burden on her is something a lot of adoptees say, too. My husband and I were the "chosen" ones, not our daughter. I do indeed feel an added pressure to live up to high expectations as a mother, but I can handle that feeling because I am an adult. A child should not be burdened with the feeling of having higher expectations as a result of being "chosen." I would never want that for my children.

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  32. SarahM, I learned a lot from your cautionary comment to adoptive parents. We have told our 5 year old son that his first parents were not able to take care of him because they became addicted to drugs (we have talked at a very simple, hopefully child-sensitive level about drug addiction). But, based on your comment, I see that I had better watch out that he doesn't think his parents are "defective" in some way. Or, worse, that he is defective and will become addicted too. Hopefully, as he gets older, we can address some of these issues with sensitivity. Thanks for your comment, it has given me a lot to think about.

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  33. Lorraine:

    I beg to differ. I see it as protecting the child from what maybe the harsh reality of their birth story.

    Many adoptees weren't born to teenage kids who got in trouble ( unplanned pregnancy) and many times the child's birth story is even harsh for the aparents to know too. So why not be "gentle" with the story until the child is age appropriate? I know I wouldn't want to hear "well, we were told that your mom had an affair with a married man and he wouldn't leave his family" or "to be honest, your bmom told us she doesn't know who your bfather is?"

    Do you think its fair to the child, at such a young age, to know this stuff?

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  34. Anon wrote:
    "I know I wouldn't want to hear "well, we were told that your mom had an affair with a married man and he wouldn't leave his family" or 'to be honest, your bmom told us she doesn't know who your bfather is?'"

    I agree -- a child should not be given this information because it may well be not true. A child cannot distinguish between "we were told" and "this is what happened."

    Adoption practitioners often told prospective adoptive parents whatever would make the sale. The father was married, he was killed in the war, a car crash, whatever. And mothers have been told to deny knowing who the father was because involving him would just complement things.

    Instead, how about saying, "we don't know why your mother gave you up. She likely had problems and didn't think she could care for you. We hope you can meet her one day and she can tell you.

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  35. Tiffany, Sarah and Jay are all correct: some form of the truth is always the best way to handle things. If the child is young, of course it has to be said in a way a child can understand. But always try to tell the truth.

    And Tiffany is 100% correct is saying "I don't know" when she doesn't actually know. The child probably will ask again. You will be able to discuss the subject. The lines of communication will remain open. And your child will always appreciate, deep down, that you were honest about what you did and did not know.

    My A-mom is, of course, from a different time. The Chosen Baby thing scared the life out of me. "The girl" was a complete mystery. And the fact that Mom made up answers to some of my questions accomplished nothing. How could I have gotten blond hair because my A-dad was blond as a boy? All while I am looking at his boyhood pictures showing him with dark hair. Why tell me I was probably born at midnight, therefore we are not sure of the date? How could she say that when she certainly was not present when I was born? A simple "I don't really know" would have made me feel better.

    And then we have "Let's change the subject", which is what she still says when she doesn't have an answer or doesn't like the conversation.

    Answers like these shut down any line of communication we might have had. The clear message from this type of behavior is that she did not want to discuss it.

    So we didn't. And we still don't.

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  36. My parents told how they chose me at the hospital. I remember seeing pictures of my younger brother when they were offered him. I remember going to pick him up at the airport where he walked between two habit-dressed nuns and he didn't speak English...I was 2.5 and he 18 months. He arrived on my neighbors due date and her baby grew in her belly-my brother came from nuns and a plane. I knew we were really different from everyone else . My mother made it clear she didn't want to talk about my adoption. Yet every story or speech I ever gave in school was about being adopted and wanting to search-as early as kindergarten. I'd over hear my mother talking with her friends occaissionally and that's how I got info. They knew she was a teen and my father was married.( not totally true-he rushed to get married when he found out about her pregnancy-it was an arranged mafia wedding.). My a mom would often talk about my mother in derogatory terms....telling me she wouldn't let me be a slut like my real mother.(all her terms, never mine.). Hard way to have trust when your a mom doesn't trust you to not become what your mother was...when u don't know who she is....

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  37. The era of secrets & lies needs to end! For anyone who still has no information at all.. I want to share that I have seen DNA testing work! There is a good volunteer run site called DNAAdoption.com. For a while I was keeping up with the affiliated yahoo group and nearly every week someone found success.
    More recently I was contacted a few weeks ago by a mysterious 3rd cousin through a DNA testing site. Yesterday we solved his adoption related puzzle (it was his father who was adopted).
    As someone said you own your story so take back what is yours - your origin and your heritage, and I will add .. "Good, bad or ugly!" (Ie be prepared you could find anything.)
    Warmly, "JellyBean"
    Spouse of adoptee in reunion with birth family(found through traditional search methods).

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  38. Renee's comment is a sad testament to the fact that adoption is a screwed up mess! Why is this such a threatening thing? And why are human beings given to people who clearly are not equipped to handle the complications of raising an adopted child?

    My husband has a cousin who is about 10 years younger than I. She is an adopted, only child like myself, and we have been close for years. I knew from the day I first met her (she was 10 years old) that this child had a burning need to search and find her roots and family. You would have had to be blind and living under a rock not to know this. It was all she talked about.

    Many years later she underwent a very long search. This was about 18 years ago, when there was no Facebook and the internet was young. She drove herself crazy. Jumped thru hoops. Paid search angels and a PI....you get the idea. Finally she found an aunt, and through this person found her birth mother and some half siblings.

    After this news broke, she discovered that her adoptive parents had the name of her birth mother all along. They had a lot of other pertinent info as well, but they had the woman's first and last name.

    But they did not offer this information to their daughter. They hid it from her all through the years that she was searching.

    What did this accomplish? There was a huge explosion and they are no longer speaking.

    Adoption is a nightmare.

    Stories like this and like Renee's should not exist. People can not be treated this way.

    This has to end. Now.

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