Demons in Adoption

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

First Mother to (reunited) daughter: What did I do wrong now?

Lorraine and Jane, 1982 
I may have published this excerpt from my memoir, hole in my heart, earlier but last week another first mother was suffering the pangs of have her daughter leave her inexplicably once again, and at the same time I was going over the section below about just that. So for my sister first mother, and all of us who have suffered through this, I am repeating this section here. For new readers, I relinquished my daughter in 1966 in a closed adoption, and we reunited in 1981. So we had a lengthy relationship by the time we step into my life here in 2002.


2002-2003 
Just when everything is going swimmingly for a couple of years there, the tide shifts and the life raft of our relationship breaks apart again on the rocky shoals of Jane’s divided loyalties.

She and I speak frequently, send each other presents, and appear to have found a comfortable plateau in our relationship. Our closeness, even with the disruption of adoption, reminds me of my relationship with my mother after I left home—we talked about once a week, everyday chitchat, and now Jane and I do the same:

Here’s a recipe for a canapé we call Memphis cheesies, made with Rice Crispies and cheddar. How’s Bill? He’s now working full time as a post man? Great. What’s Brittney [her daughter] up to? You got a steamer to “steam clean” your house? Whoa! Tony thinks I’m a clean freak, wait til he hears about this. Arthur [a friend] is going to China to visit his daughter—you do remember she lives there? With Lulu, the girl she adopted from China? I’m painting the deck chairs white. You’re painting your bench yellow? You wanted that recipe for the turkey brine? Gallon and a half each of apple juice and water, cup of brandy, one and a half cups of salt.

Lorraine
One Thanksgiving Day she is a part of the event at our house, even though she is halfway across the country: She calls in the morning as my pumpkin pies are baking, she calls later when both our turkeys are roasting, she calls back later to chat with Evan, Tony's son, for nearly an hour before dinner, she calls again that evening to say her turkey came out great, using my brine recipe in her parent’s roaster. The symbolism us not lost on either of us—my recipe, their cooker—and we joke about it. Christmas, January, early February, and all is well.

Jane calls me crying one afternoon, seemingly moments after she heard Matt, the oldest of the two biological children of the Rhymers, her adoptive parents, had died in a skiing accident. He was an avid, expert skier and died in a colossal fall on a western mountain. When Jane got the news, I was the first person she called, still stunned, then sobbing. Over the coming week, we speak a couple of times each day. Jane is distraught because her parents did not buy her a ticket originally when they did for her younger brother (their other biological son), to travel to the memorial service out west. I urge her to tell them that she wants to go, and in the end, they provide tickets for both her and Britt. John, Jane’s older adopted brother, lives out west, and he would be there. Initially being left out was extremely upsetting to Jane, but once the slight was corrected, it was absorbed and smoothed over, and ignored. She tells me about the service when she gets back, we speak a couple of times that week. We have no fight, not even a whisper of an argument.


In the Nineties, in Sag Harbor 
But then, suddenly a week or so later, in early March, it is Wham Bam, thank you Ma’am, I’m outta here. First, she stops calling, second, she is cold and barely responsive the one time I manage to speak to her. Then I only get the machine. I call and listen to [her husband] Bill’s even voice on the answering machine, Please leave a message.

It obviously isn’t meant for me. I rack my brain trying to figure out what I might have said—after everything had been going so well—but come up with nothing. Her computer is dialup and she does not have email yet. Or email that I know about.

What did I say, or do?

All I can think is that for some reason she is going to show me how it feels to be abandoned, to have a relationship cut off without an explanation. It matters not that she found some psychic relief in my having searched for her, rather than having to find me, it matters not that we’ve been on cruise control for years now, she is punishing me in kind: She survived being abandoned, now it’s my turn. She would walk away and not look back.

God, it hurt. 

Jane had pulled away before without a word, and then we’d resume relations as if there had been no break, but we’d been so close now for a couple of years and I mistakenly assumed that kind of inexplicable behavior was over. If she were an ordinary friend, I would have walked away long ago, not gone back into a relationship that made me crazy, that has so much power to hurt, that stops and starts seemingly without reason, that is so irrational.

But Jane is my daughter.

An adoptee explains it all 
At the time, I do not know how common this is, but the blogs and the books are littered with stories like this: advance; retreat, advance, retreat, sometimes for good. B.J.’s mother sent her a printed card, Betty Jean cut off for a decade. There were other reasons—her mother was unwilling to tell the rest of the family about Betty Jean—but it was the printed card that stuck in her craw, and my memory. In the last few days, I’ve been in frequent contact with a woman who is in the process of mending a relationship with her natural mother, after cutting her off nine years earlier. Why? Because placating her adoptive parents who were freaking out over her new relationship with that woman—her other mother—and the adoptee found that balancing between the two, as well as managing her own family, was ultimately too much to handle. Understandable, right? But she had not bothered to tell her other mother, the woman she had only recently joyously reunited with, that staying in touch was too emotionally fraught—as long as her adoptive parents were so upset because of it.

What is so maddening is that when this kind of elimination from one’s life occurs, it happens without warning, without a clue why, without an explanation, and you are left there standing in the road wondering what the hell just happened. And that’s where I was.--lorraine

Next: Ruffling Feathers, a birthday apart: What did this first mother do wrong now? Cont.
_____________________________
Later sections of this story
First Mother to (reunited) daughter: What did I do wrong now?
What did I do wrong now? Cont. Part 3

Related posts from FMF (yes, we have written about this before)
When the Reunited Child Pulls Back
When birth/natural mother-adoptee reunions go awry, Part 2
The [birth] mother and child reunion, Part 3
After the Birthmother/Adoptee Reunion: Navigating the Turbulent Waters

RECOMMENDED READING
The Declassified Adoptee Essays of an Adoption Activist
Intelligent, thought-provoking essays by Amanda Transue-Woolston taken from her blog: The Declassifed Adoptee. Every group of the adoption circle can benefit from her wisdom.

"As an adoptive parent to young children, I find the experiences of adopted people to be an invaluable insight into what my own kids might be thinking and feeling. Amanda is one of the clearest and most helpful voices I have found in this respect. Her writing is both unflinchingly honest and almost professional in tone. She makes it clear that she loves her whole family--her adoptive one and her biological one--without shying away from the issues that make being an adoptee challenging. It's a difficult balance to strike, and few writers I've read do it with such depth and grace."--From Amazon

52 comments :

  1. I am going through this, again, as we epeak. Some background: my "adopted away" daughter is 29. It was "semi-open" with letters, pictures, and phone calls until my daughter was 9, and then the aparents decided to fully open the adoption with many visits, even overnight for several days at a time through the years. Once she got older, probably late teens through now, she puts us through months-long periods of "no contact." Her bio-father and I married when "adopted away" daughter was almost 2,and we had 6 more kids. I naively thought that since all the kids *kinda* grew up together that they'd have a strong base for future relationships. Didn't seem to happen. They get "cut off" the same way that her father and I do. Although *I* am usually the one who sends her the texts or emails that get ignored, she will quit corresponding on or "liking" facebook posts/pictures by her "birth"siblings. It hurts as bad or worse to see her mistreat and ignore my other kids. I don't know what her rationalizations behind withdrawing from them could be, unless she sees us as a "package deal." ??? It's confusing and hurtful! I understand her lack of a voice concerning being given up for adoption. She knows it isn't what we wanted, and that it was forced upon us...while we fought as hard as we could at the time to keep her. BUT, how much are we expected to take? We are only human too. I would rather her take a baseball bat and beat the crap out of me once and for all. It would be easier to take if it would end the periods of rejecting silence.

    I'm sorry, Lorraine, for the loss of your daughter.

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  2. alegad
    So true. My son wished us a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (with a smiley emoticon) last Christmas. A week later he emailed us his Goodbye. He only wanted the initial contact - not a relationship. I wish he had told us two years ago when we first made contact. His goodbye came without warning. I thought we were making progress. It is devastating.

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  3. @Amy,

    I can't say for certain, but perhaps observing Facebook posts, etc. shared by her 'birth siblings' serves to remind her of how different her circumstances are compared to the six you parented. There might be times she feels strong and balanced enough to support and nurture that connection and times she needs to draw inward, heal and worry just about herself, her family, her career path, etc....

    Is it passive aggressive? Maybe...but maybe it's all she can do right now.

    While it might seem like a slight to you and I recognize it must be hard, her motivations might be very different than you imagine.

    You liken it (or preferable) if she would simply beat you with a baseball bat....that implies you believe she is doing this deliberately to inflict hurt.

    What if she isn't? What if this IS the best she can do? What if you and your spouse did your best to keep her but could not.....you say it was your best effort. What if this is simply all she can do? You want her to take you and your efforts at face value but seem unwilling to do the same for her.

    It sounds like you have been blessed with a very open situation and she must have solid AP's. Take heart in that and understand it may not be all about you.

    As a side note and yes, I'm an adult adoptee; sometimes we use the excuse that it's our adopted family holding us back from fully engaging with our bio. families.....when in fact that's just deflection. I said it too, when in fact my parents were extremely supportive of my reunion. I found reunion exhausting & fraught with negative implications. My bio. family wanted to act as if no time had passed and actively campaigned for me to turn away from my adoptive family.

    It was just too much; passing the blame to my adoptive family was just easier to do when they simply would not let me frame our relationship within my comfort level. I tried to openly tell them but no one was listening.....

    Sorry if that sounds selfish but it's reality too.

    Beth


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  4. I am very much looking forward to your continuation post. My own child whom I lost to adoption is still in her teens. We have recently connected again after a very tumultuous period.

    As she has explained, she does not want to tell her AP's that we are speaking and attempting to sort our relationship out again. She indicated she was feeling guilty connecting with me without their permission, which makes communicating with me additionally difficult for her. Although I was incredibly relieved to have an explanation provided for the seemingly inexplicable silences after a warm exchange--this is incredibly difficult. I wanted to say that she never really had their permission, nor was it likely that she was ever really going to get it. But I held back.

    I have always hoped that things would get easier once she became independent and started a life of her own, but based on the stories of other mothers and their adult children, I am afraid this will always be something she must deal with.

    It is heartbreaking, for many reasons but most that she would need to justify having a relationship with her mother. They chose adoption, knowing these children came attached with a family that already belonged to them, they were not simply dropped off by the stork, as much as they may wish it to be the truth.

    Frustrating. But I love my daughter with all my heart and soul; it's going to be a long ride on this rollercoaster.

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  5. I looked back at our last conversation..... I can't even begin to understand why or what is wrong.... But then, I realize it hurts, it will always hurt, but it is not me. It was never about me and never will be a real relationship..... She will always simply put it out there, pretend and then slam my face in the wall until she feels that it hurts enough for me to need to feel safe again. They use these tactics in torturers chambers to create new ways of thinking. It won't work on me. Eventually - oh wait, possibly NOW - it will force me to realize that I will never be what she wants and thus, I will have to live as I have for 34 years - as a woman without children. As if I had buried her instead of signing those papers.

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  6. Hi Beth! Thanks for your feed-back. It gives me another adoptee's insight, which I truly do appreciate. What I didn't share earlier is that while our daughter doesn't answer MY texts or initiate contact, she will text my mother...who she KNOWS was one of the 2 driving forces behind her being given up. For example, I sent her a very friendly "Happy Easter...love and miss you" text, which was completely ignored. But my dear Mother got a very "gushy" text initiated by our daughter. I wasn't worthy of a reply, so...

    I do have reason to believe it's passive-aggressive since there have been other similar incidents in the past. I have tried to encourage her to open up and share her feelings, but she's very closed off unless you "catch her" at just the right time. And as far as her aparents, solid though they may be, there have been digs at me through the years concerning me not being a "real" mother, etc. I hope I'm not sounding paranoid but I have reason to believe this was a case of "keep your friends close but your enemies closer" type of situation. I think the initial intentions were good, but no one knew what to expect 20 yrs. ago. Certainly I didn't. I just wanted our lost daughter in our lives. We have all, ALL, paid a big price...adopted away daughter included.

    Thank you for giving me something else to think about. If you have any other ideas, I'm open to hearing them! :)

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  7. I probably present that way too to my biological family. Warm, then distant - involved then cold.

    I am willing to take my fair share of the blame but what of them?

    Here is how their bio. reads: happy/joyous then demanding - warm then ultra critical.

    I won't change my long standing holiday traditions (that I love) to suit them? Well then I'm the bad guy. I won't drop my plans last minute to accommodate them? Missed a few Facebook posts? Well, it must be adoptive families' fault. Right?

    I forget to call my First Mother on Mother's Day until late afternoon - the horror!

    And for the record? Like Beth I was tempted to tell my "first family" that it was my allegiance to my adoptive family keeping me from fully embracing the relationship with them but instead they just supplied that as the reason all by themselves.

    Never asked me. Had they asked, I would have told them that my family encouraged reunion but did become concerned when they saw the emotional toll it was taking on me to keep the relationship going. Even then my (adoptive) Mom mentioned maybe I could give my (bio.) Mom another chance - bygones and all. My (bio.) Mom doesn't realize it but my Mom (who I just call Mom btw) is her saving grace and biggest supporter.

    Had they asked why I'm sometimes communicative and sometimes not, I might have told them that I can't change who I am or erase 28 years of existence/traditions/relationships and so much more just because they "found" me. But maybe it's just easier to blame it on my adoptive fam.!

    BTW, Anon with the teen hiding her communication: do both of you a favor and encourage her to share with her adoptive family. No (before any one flames) NOT for the Mom's benefit but for the daughter you both are sharing. Teen years are HARD - subterfuge rarely works out in the end. You can't force her but I would strongly encourage her to tell them. She might be surprised at what they say and just how helpful they might be given that opportunity.

    Just my 2cents

    AA in Frisco

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  8. @Amy,
    I would recommend that you read a blog called "Sister Wish". It is a well-written blog that offers valuable insights into the psychological and practical realities of being an adoptee in an open adoption.

    From your perspective, it may seem that your relinquished daughter was always a member of the family. But as an adoptee she still had the unenviable task of navigating between two families while seeing first hand that her siblings did not have this burden. She also had to deal with the fact that she WAS given up. I'm sure you did not expect her to come through this unscathed. Perhaps her behavior is what she needs to do at this time to protect herself.

    http://www.sisterwish.com

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  9. @Amy, Sadly, there is a very real possibility that you are being punished. Many years after the fact, I found out from my reunited child that I was indeed being punished for having "thrown her out like a piece of trash." The fact that you are married to the father may make the situation even worse for no matter how you slice it, your daughter probably feels that you could have kept her if only you had "tried" harder. It is extremely difficult for some to go back in time an try to understand your particular set of circumstances.

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  10. I am familiar with "sisterwish" and actually email back and forth with Kat, the author. She has been very helpful to me! I wish there were more "open adoption adoptees" speaking out. I found this study posted somewhere (http://www.njarch.org/images/2012_03_OpennessInAdoption%20(2).pdf) and it seems the adoptees are faring pretty well in open adoptions...IF this study is accurate. Is it to be believed? Idk...could be more propaganda I guess because I haven't found any adoptees from open adoptions who felt the way the participants apparently did/do.

    ANYWAY, did I think our daughter would come out unscathed? Honestly, from what the social workers, my own adoptee mother, and several others told me, I did NOT think she'd have any problems. Sounds stupid or naive maybe, but as far as I was told, one mother replaced another, and adding the openness would be a blessing for my daughter since we had the "fairy-tale" situation (amom called it that). Daughter would have all her questions answered that may or may not come up, and many more people to love and support her. It wasn't until she was about 13 and started letting her feelings slip every now and again that I realized "this is very difficult for her." I thought of backing out, for her benefit. But we were all in too deep. HAD I KNOWN that I would be hurting my child by giving her up for adoption, I would have run away with her! Everyone told me she'd be fine...better off, never miss us, etc. etc. Afterall, I had a mother who was adopted who TOLD ME she had no issues, only gratitude for being given up. I was barely 17! Did I believe she'd come out unscathed? Initially, yes.

    I can't swear I'm being punished, but it surely feels like it. I have bent over backwards to help my daughter feel loved and accepted. I truly don't know what else I could have done. I have always made myself available to her whenever she needed anything, and have reassured her of my love for her, and how I never wanted to give her up. I don't believe open adoptions are the answer. For both the adoptee and the birthmom/dad, it may be too "up close and personal" for any of us to handle.

    I can't read my daughter's mind. If she pushes me away, I'm not going to harass her by injecting myself where I'm not wanted. I can take the hint. I get it that she's hurting possibly, but so are the rest of us. I'm getting the idea the birthfamily doesn't count. We were children ourselves when this happened. I understand now that it's a crime that we can never pay for, or live down. That's why I said I'd rather have the stuffing beaten out of me once and for all then go through the emotional push/pull from someone who can't figure out what to do with me/us. I don't intrude with her adoptive family. We don't invite her for holidays to avoid making her feel pulled between families. I'm sure that will come back to bite me too. I have tried to understand what she might be going through by researching, reading blogs, speaking to other adoptees...what more can I do? She has said she knows I love her and I have done my best to make sure she feels it. Now, I will respect her need for space because I have no choice.

    Thank you for the feed-back. I really do appreciate it.

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  11. Not a lot of understanding or attempting to understand what or why the adoptee acts as they do. But lots of "how could they do this to me" going on. ahhh the life of an adoptee is sooo easy and we are nothing but selfish little, ungrateful, non understanding little brats that don't get the mothers pain...ya, i get it. from all of our fami;lies...my shoulers can't handle it all so I will devote myself to my own healing and that of my children.

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  12. What happened in my/our story was surprising--as I think all readers will be when they read the next section on this subject, which will appear in a day or two.

    We first mothers try to do our best and to suddenly be shut out by our reunited children for reasons we can't fathom is heart-breaking and mysterious. The whole reunion--which so many of us want--opens up for us too all the old wounds. Then we are told, by the actions of the adoptee, that we don't count, and that we can expect to be treated badly. Again and again.

    This is a blog by first mothers for first mothers, though we realize our readership includes all groups involved in adoption. Often when we reveal our truths, adoptees come back at us criticize us for revealing our pain and make fun of us with derogatory comments.

    Consequently a lot of first mother blogs open to all don't even want to discuss these issues.

    No one is saying--and least of all me--that adoptees don't have deep and abiding pain. But we do too. No matter how the adoption came about, we are only human. We can only deal with the here and now. We are all human. Actions have consequences.

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  13. Thank you, Lorraine, for this 9:49 comment. Few people, other than firstmothers, really get it.

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  14. I think that the one thing that really hurts is that she did this door slamming when I knew she needed space and attempted to give it to her - only to have her come back in force at me - then slam the door abruptly. Meaning I knew she needed space, I told her I was aware and that I would refrain from bothering her for a bit. Then she kept coming at me...... So I thought, okay - and I made the mistake of talking to her..... when I should have avoided the conversation - apparently. Either way, no matter what I do, she comes back at me with anger.

    Truthfully, while I get the pain and stuff, I do.... why don't adoptees get counseling? I don't mean that it will fix it, but it might help with coping. Instead of just beating the shit out of mothers?

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  15. Hi Lori: Respectfully.....no amount of counseling could have ever helped me in my particular situation. Which brings up the fact that every adoptive situation is different, and unless you are the adoptee, you can not possibly understand.

    A number of adoptees posting here say their adoptive parents were their "excuse" for backing out of a relationship with their first mothers or families. In my case....it is most certainly NOT an excuse. It would have been the reason.

    My first mother was never dealt with at all. The entire adoption was and still is shrouded in ultra-secrecy. My adoptive parents have made it very clear how they feel about adoptees having anything to do with their first families. So, "the girl" was never treated as anything but a non-entity. They never expressed any feelings about her at all. She went away and they were and still are very happy about it.

    Had the girl surfaced and found me at any time I probably would have jumped off a bridge. There is no way I could have had a relationship with her, as much as I may have wanted to, and deal with the reaction of my adoptive parents. It is beyond what I am capable of handling.

    She certainly won't surface now, because she is either in her 90's, or she is no longer living. But, if she did, I would have to keep any relationship a secret from my AP's, which is ridiculous, and the relationship would probably be only by letter or phone call. I am only human. I can't handle anything else.

    Forgive the rambling, but just one more thing: even when I was still deep in the fog I always said that no one can possibly understand an adoptee, unless you are one. My feeling always was that my AP's DECIDED to adopt. Whatever the reason, this was a decision they made, or had to make, or whatever. My first mother also had to come to a decision. She may have been forced, she may have had her feelings quashed, she may have relinquished of her own accord. I will never know...but somehow she had to decide something.

    I was an infant. I didn't decide any of this. And 56 years later, I am still struggling to deal with it.

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  16. so what i'm hearing from adopted adults is their feelings are to be tip-toed around and the 'first'mom needs to remain their punching bag? to be used at the adopted person's convenience? i'm not at all diminishing the pain of being relinquished. there are things that happen to children, horrible things, that need therapy to help them deal. it isn't acceptable to abuse or hurt others because they are hurting. when does the adopted adult take responsibility for getting help and healing themselves once and for all? the damage to both parties is very deep, but it doesn't give one permission to strike out and commit more. might i also add that unless you are a mother who felt forced into giving her baby up for adoption, you cannot possibly understand their side either. we don't need to compare who had the worst pain. there is plenty to go around on both sides. it is no competition.

    just my thoughts.

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  17. Anonymous mom: When I post here as an adult adoptee, I am not speaking for ALL adult adoptees. I don't claim to understand first mother's feelings, and I also don't think all the other adult adoptees who post here are saying they want to be tip-toed around. And it doesn't sound to me like anyone thinks this is a competition.

    But every situation is different.

    I have never initiated a search, and I would have had to back away from a reunion, for the reasons I have already stated. My first mother, had she found me, could have posted on this very blog about how I was rejecting her, how hurt she was, how hard she was trying....you get the idea. And there would not have been a damn thing I could do about it, because of the intense, toxic situation with my adoptive parents.

    The only winners in adoption are the adoptive parents. The other two parties have nothing but pain. First mother's pain is intense....it has to be. But the adoptee, at whatever age, is grappling with a situation that is really almost impossible to understand. We are perpetual children. Other people decide what is "best" for us. Lawmakers ignore us in all but a handful of states. Secrets are kept from us and our lives, in closed adoption, are based upon lies. And I am sick of it.

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  18. Julia E: Lori was not directing her comment at you. You have no idea who your mother is. Wea re talking here about reunited adoptees who treat their first mothers badly. It happens. Again and again. I know. Lori knows. A great many of us know.

    We do understand your adoptive parents have not made a single movement or concession to your feelings, or made any attempt to find out how you feel, and have shut down any attempt that you have made to bring the subject up. I have to say, I don't care how old they are, I have no sympathy for their closed-minded attitude and the pain they have inflicted. They really bother me. They are not feeble-minded, they are living in a box, and I have absolutely no sympathy for their tender feelings of ownership. Of you. If I were in a room with them alone I would make their ears hurt.

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  19. Hi Lorraine: I have trouble trying to relate exactly what I am trying to say in a typed comment....I may have come across wrong. What I was trying to say was, if the situation had presented itself, and I had to back away from a reunion or a relationship with my first mom, she would be hurt. And, looking at it from her side, she would have every right to be hurt, but I would have been helpless to do anything about it. Not that I am acting out of sympathy for my AP's feelings. It's not that at all....but I am the only one who has to deal with them. I do not agree with their feelings, I do not feel sympathy, but I am in an impossible situation. They can't even answer a simple question without telling me to change the subject. It is a tense situation. If I were to try to delve any further into this subject with them the situation would become unbearable. I am simply not strong enough to have that kind of tension hovering over me.

    It's a mess. Just read all the comments here and see what adoption has done to people. If all states would wake up and unseal the records, we could simply request our information and move forward, without worrying about all these consequences!

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  20. Thank you Lorraine, you are correct. By the way, to Julia Emily, I was an abandoned pre-teen/teen, so, I think I do understand some of it. However, I was only discussing the pain that is repeatedly inflicted upon mothers by adult adoptees that truly need to work out their crap and be the adults they want to be. No mother "expects" things to be peachy - but every adult human expects to have a modicum of manners and to show those manners to others. To repeatedly inflict pain upon another person without bothering to even attempt to work things through or get help are the actions of children... not adults.

    I totally agree with Lorraine regarding the rest. There is nothing I can comprehend about a person choosing to be oblivious to the pain of a child - adopted or not.

    I do not compare my pain to my child's - but she can't compare her's to mine either. It is not a case of mine is more or hers is more - that is ridiculous and childish. Pain is pain.

    The fact is that adopted persons are in a battle to be recognized as adults..... One of the things they ask for is the right to make adult choices. The misguided morons that are opposing them have one thing right - far more adoptees abuse their biological families than the other way around and in the view of these misguided individuals, they are preventing this abuse.

    As for me - having had to work through a lot of abandonment (mom tried to kill me in womb and the hatred never ceased) in my life, I know that it can be done. But you have to do the work - and you can't expect others to respect you as an adult with adult rights if you act like a toddler who is mad because they could not have the candy.

    I am done apologizing or pretending that it is okay - I have not done that in years. I am also not willing to support adoptees rights if they are not willing to act like adults.

    My advice to you - get some therapy. Seriously! You say you could never work through it, but you apparently have not tried.

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  21. Lori: I don't remember asking for your advice, thank you. And you have misunderstood everything I have said. Which is one of the reasons a lot of adoptees are so frustrated. It's like beating my head against a brick wall.

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  22. Julie E, Actually, I did not see the last posting before mine - until after mine was written. I don't presume to give advice, but I do know that counseling helps... personal experience.

    I feel for you. I can't begin to understand how it is okay to pretend someone is something they aren't and that the other parts of them are not important.

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  23. Lori said: '...you can't expect others to respect you as an adult with adult rights if you act like a toddler who is mad because they could not have the candy.'

    I realise I have taken this quote out of context, but there is something about this sentence that makes me want to throw up.

    I don't think anyone writing in the comments section of this blog is having a tantrum about something trivial and temporary.

    What I hear are individuals who are in profound pain, and who feel deeply and justifiably enraged, about an unconscionable wrong done to them. The fact that this is unacknowledged and entirely misrepresented by society, makes for an extremely lonely life experience.

    From what I have read from the writings of others and from my own experience, this applies to both first mothers and adopted people, though the reasons and details are different for both.

    I do not like my own experience to be trivialised or dismissed, no matter who it is done by. The quote above seems to be doing just that to adoptees like Julia Emily who, in articulating their deep pain, provide insight into what it is like to live as an adopted person, just as we first mothers here can offer the same to others about our experience.

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  24. This blog post is about being treated badly by our reunited children. They are adults, we can only react to them as adults. Lori, and many many others mothers, reunite and then find that the person they love treats them like a door mat. I loved my daughter but after a while her here-today-gone-tomorrow behavior was hurtful, manipulative, and ultimately distancing. And all Lori was saying is that no one can forever be on the receiving end of a bad relationship with another adult forever. We can all blame adoption for the initial reason for the hurtful behavior, but we have to deal with each other as people. When I sensed that my daughter's (adopted out) daughter was going to repeat this behavior with me all over again--since her first mother, my daughter was dead, I stepped back.

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  25. Hi Cherry "Lonely Life Experience." Three little words but that's it in a nutshell.

    Adoption is a painful thing. Like I said, the only ones who "win" are the adoptive parents. Otherwise there are no winners here.

    And as far as society not understanding and refusing to listen....that is a great source of pain on the part of the adoptee. Just listen to the way it is handled. We are always referred to as the "adopted child." We are told records cannot be opened because of the rights of the first mothers, even though so many of you are saying just the opposite! No one is listening! When one of the judges at the NY hearing testified (I forgot his name) he actually came out and said he didn't think the adopted child had ANY rights in the equation. My jaw hit the floor.

    I can't understand in the year 2014 how human beings are expected to live with lies and false documents. How first mothers who want to find their (adult) children are held back in so many states because of the "first mother in the closet" routine. How adoption became the opposite of abortion. I don't understand it. It's all politics, money, corruption and nothing more. And I am beyond frustrated with this whole thing!

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  26. Robin said: 'I'm sure you did not expect her to come through this unscathed.'

    The possibility that my son might be harmed by adoption did not even enter my radar. The only end result of adoption was happiness, in a home that had everything, in a family that was mature and prepared and bursting with as-yet unexpressed love. A family immune from normal people's troubles.

    Harm to him was only mentioned in the context of me keeping him. That was presented as an absolute certainty. Undeveloped me, jobless, inexperienced, unprepared. All that would harm him. Without a doubt. This was reiterated many times, and was the only message.


    I have a photo of my son and I, taken in the pre-adoption foster home where I visited him. The photo is lovely - I am cuddling him and he is snuggling into my breast. I've had it with me for decades.

    I've looked at it for years, many many times, closely, but it was only last year that I realised with a profound shock that he knew who I was when that photo was taken.

    I had thought for so many years that I was just a shape he was cuddling into, that I could be anyone. I didn't know that I was his mother. Throughout my pregnancy I was encouraged to write letters to his prospective adoptive parents, reassurring them that he was theirs, that they were his mother and father; when I said I wanted to breastfeed him to give him a good start, and was told not to by doctors, I didn't realise I could override them because I was his mother. When I was told I could give him a name, I felt overjoyed at such an unexpected opportunity because I felt like I was a no-one to him, and there I was, being given the chance to give him a name.

    There were so many things, but I think I have only really, fully understood that I am his mother since we have been reunited. With that realisation has come the terrible awareness of what he has been through as a result of being separated from me, his mother, by adoption.

    Then, like now, we were described as not being our children's mother. But what else explains the grief and the sense of loss?

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  27. I am already gearing myself up to be ignored on Mother's Day, which ironically this year, is my birthday as well. Ultimate *slap in the face.* (IF that's what is happening in my case)

    I'll spend the day busying myself with my children and grandbabies and try not to dwell on what I *don't* have.

    What I'm discovering is that open or closed adoption, once the adoptee is an adult and in control of things, the "go away, come here" is typical in both situations. Integrating 2 families, mainly 2 mothers, seems tiring and much too difficult for some adoptees. I read somewhere last night that divided loyalties is often what causes the withdrawal from the "birth"mother/family.

    Let's face it...we will continue to pay the excruciatingly high price for what we did...uninformed and forced, or "willingly" and done with the best of intentions...forever. Doesn't matter what we do or how much we repent, relinquishing a child is something that cannot be made "right." I'm sure not all adoptees feel this way, but it's obvious that many do, and the "mother/child" relationship will never be a smooth, peaceful one. For periods of time maybe, but it's inevitable that the door will slam shut once again, and we'll be expected to wait it out. Sigh.

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  28. Lorraine, I know that that is what Lori was saying but I thought that phrase was deeply undermining of others.

    Although I haven't (yet?) been treated by my son in the way you described in your post, I know it is a possibility and I wonder what I will do in that instance. I have, however, had moments in our reunion where I have felt treated in a way that is hurtful, dismissive/degrading and unfair. I dwelled on those moments, wondering what would happen to our developing relationship if those moments became more frequent, or more extensive. I realised it would create a block between us, as I would try to defend myself as a person with feelings, whilst being aware of why my son might be acting in that way.

    I think one of the difficulties about reuniting as adults is that we have reached the age of being able to choose whether to have an active relationship with the other, without having the emotional underpinning to our relationship that comes with time and experience. In families unaffected by adoption, it might evolve that the children growing up end up distant from their parents, with little ongoing contact. But a bedrock of experience has been built up during childhood that stops their every connection from dissipating. In reuniting adult relationships, that bedrock isn't there, but the freedom to choose not to have a relationship is.

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  29. Having monitored the comments here with Jane for the last five years, we understand how a single sentence can be misinterpreted from the writer's intent and read through the filter of the reader's own experience. The person writing has a whole long back story--just as we all do--and we need to give each other some leeway before emotionally reacting.

    Cherry, your second graf says it all, and I am glad you included that. And personally, having lived with a difficult relationship with my daughter, full of highs one day and lows the next six months, I understand exactly where Lori is coming from. Adoption as practiced in the Western world is more damaging than the world knows.

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  31. Wow Cherry. Your response to Robin's question of 'did you think she would come out of this unscathed?' is basically what I *should* have written in answering that. What you described was pretty much word-for-word what I was told and what I experienced. So, just to clear this up for anyone who might be wondering ...

    Had I been aware that being given up would have caused my daughter one iota of pain or loss I would have NEVER have let her go. If I would have been able to jump on the internet and research "adoptee issues" or "birthmother issues" (no internet in 1984/85) there is a great possibility I wouldn't have gone through with it. This is what I knew when I made my "decision"...
    1. I would be the epitome of a bad mother if I was selfish enough to choose to try and raise my daughter.
    2. She would resent me, and I would cause her birthfather and my family to resent me too.
    3. Keeping her would cause her GREAT suffering. What mother CHOOSES to have her child suffer?? Terrible ones, that's who.
    4. I could go on to have more children down the road...when I was "ready." My daughter and her adoption would become a distant and less frequent memory as time when on.
    5. Many other couples wanted children so badly, and couldn't have them. I would feel so good about helping one of them out.
    6. I have a mother who was adopted who claimed no residual issues from being adopted, and I had 3 fairly close to my age cousins who were adopted into our family, and they seemed happy enough.

    Now...I could probably sit here and come up with more, but that's the gist of it. Again, I answer YES, I expected my daughter to come out unscathed. Opening the adoption made the trivial things that *could* be wrong (mainly just curious questions and the ability for the full siblings to know each other) "all good." THERE WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE ANY PAIN ON MY DAUGHTER'S SIDE AND ANY PAIN *I* HAD WAS BECAUSE I DESERVED IT. AT 17, THAT IS WHAT I BELIEVED. The initial suffering isn't enough. We still have to get our "payback" from the beloved children that we lost. It makes me sad and angry. For that, I won't apologize.

    Let me also add that I am equally angry at the fact that my daughter was viewed as nothing more than a commodity. HER potential feelings of pain and loss weren't any more important to the adoption agency than mine were. We meant nothing to them...nothing but a $$ sign. The adoptive parents paid the fee, but my daughter, family and I pay the price. It's disgusting all the way around. No parent wants to cause the source of their child's pain. It's hard for me to face that I played the major role...whether I knew it or not.

    Okay, rant over.

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  32. @Amy and Cherry, you have both clearly expressed how I felt as a firstmother. As a matter of fact, the firstmothers I know did expect their children to experience adoption unscathed. I even expected my daughter to "thank me" for putting her needs first! This shows what a gullible, naive teenager I was.







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  33. As an adopted person, I guess there are 2 things that I will never be able to understand. One, it is mind boggling to me to hear a first mother say that she never thought her child might be damaged by being given up by his/her own parents. My own n-mother said she would be furious if her parents had relinquished her. I mean, who really wants their parents to give them away? I'm not saying that anyone (and certainly not my own mother) had any other choice, but to never even think about the fact that the child might feel rejected or abandoned is beyond my comprehension.


    Two, the assumption that strangers will always provide a better life. I realize the so-called counseling you got was totally biased and that you didn't realize you were being manipulated, but it is hard to believe that it never once occurred to you that you are giving your helpless infant to STRANGERS (I realize this isn't the issue with a kinship adoption). Even teenagers have heard stories about how someone seemed like such a wonderful person and then gets convicted of some heinous crime. And even when one gets 'counseling', you still have the ability to think for yourself. Again, I'm not saying that you had any choice in whether or not to relinquish your child, just that these two issues are pretty much impossible for me to understand.

    Then there were a couple of comments advising adoptees (and in what I perceived to be a very rude fashion) to get counseling. Well, in case you are unaware, statistics show that adoptees are grossly overrepresented in mental health treatment, special schools, etc., so it seems that adoptees and/or their APs are heeding this advice in droves. Does counseling help? Somewhat. But I don't believe there is any counseling in the world that can help a person fully recover from the fact that their parents give them up. I think that is an unrealistic expectation. Counseling can help one cope. So I personally found it offensive that the message seemed to be to get counseling so that adoptees can get 'fixed' and start behaving right. Also, most mental health professionals, even in the 21st century, still see adoption through rose-colored glasses and don't understand (or outright deny) the devastating impact it has on both adoptees and first mothers alike, especially when there are plenty of counselors who are adoptive parents themselves.

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  34. Robin, I do not feel that you have heard what I have tried to say, and I do not know how to say it any clearer.

    I did not know that I was anything to my son.

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  35. Robin said: 'it is hard to believe that it never once occurred to you that you are giving your helpless infant to STRANGERS'.

    What I believed was that I was removing my son from a life of certain misery and enabling him to be brought up by the best parents there could possibly be. I was led to believe this by those with social power, in whom virtually everyone laid their trust then.

    Finding out that my son might have felt rejected was one of the biggest shocks of my life. I thought he would know the above, and understand his importance to me. It never occurred to me that I might be something to miss, or that I might have an impact on him, because I believed I was completely inconsequential to him and his life.

    Now it seems unbelievable that I could not see what effect this would have on him, or how he might feel.

    But I have insight now, and experience, and maturity and the internet. I have listened to adoptees and I have read research papers. I have searched my soul and looked into the face of my son, and seen that I AM something to him and that he missed me terribly.

    It is hard for this fifty-something to understand the blankness of experience, and the unquestioning trust, of my sixteen year old self but I extend my deep compassion to my past self as well as to my displaced son.

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  36. Hello Cherry, I'm happy to read that you have deep compassion for your past self. I have for mine as well. I work with teenagers daily, so I can easily understand why many teenagers can be convinced, even in this day and age, to allow strangers to raise their baby. The unquestioning trust you had along with the cultural influences of the era, are to be expected from the working brain of a teenager. To educate others and/or to deepen your own understanding of why you made the decision you did, there is a great article in the 10/11 issue of National Geographic called The New Science of the Teenage Brain; additionally, Debra Bradley Ruder wrote a great article in Harvard Magazine called The Teen Brain: A Work in Progress. This is just a sample, but for anyone who can't wrap their brain around the path that leads teens to adoption, you could direct them to some reading material that will help give their mature adult brains some insignt.

    Be kind to yourself and take care.

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  37. @Robin,

    I had never thought of "what if my parents had given me away." My own mother was "given away" and she claimed to be fine, happy, well-adjusted, and even told me she never really thought about her "birth"mother. Twenty some-odd years later, I know that to be false. She carries a myriad of issues related to being given up, but at 17, I lacked the insight to recognize it. I believe there was a time or two when I brought up the question of "what if this child is mad at me one day for giving her away" and it was immediately squashed by either my mom, or the social worker. I was told adoptees are grateful for their "birth"mothers recognizing their short-comings and doing what was best for them. My adoption agency brought in an adult adoptee who did nothing but sing the praises of adoption. She was so grateful to have the family she did, and it was all thanks to the woman who so unselfishly knew she couldn't be a good mother at the time...yadda yadda yadda. I don't think you can understand the brain-washing many of us were put through unless you've been through it. Same as unless you're adopted, no one else can understand YOUR feelings. If I had only known then what I know now...

    "Two, the assumption that strangers will always provide a better life. I realize the so-called counseling you got was totally biased and that you didn't realize you were being manipulated, but it is hard to believe that it never once occurred to you that you are giving your helpless infant to STRANGERS (I realize this isn't the issue with a kinship adoption)."

    But it was explained REPEATEDLY to us that these "strangers" were put through rigorous screening and back-ground checks! These were "cream of the crop" folks here who wanted nothing more than to have a child to love! When I began voicing a "change of heart" the social worker informed me of this new concept that they were going to be experimenting with called "open adoption." It meant that I would get 3 "Dear Birthmom" letters and I would actually get to CHOOSE one of the three to be the parents AND (hang on to your hat!) I would get several letters and pictures of my baby through the first 2 years of her life! How amazing is that??! These people wouldn't be "strangers" to me anymore! Oh no, I will know their first names, occupations, WHY they want a child so badly, if my child would have a sibling(s), and their plans for her future! Their letters told me of their love for me, and how thankful they were for me giving them the chance to be a family! They would be so happy if I would just choose them, and they would see to it that "the baby" would always know how much I loved her. They would make sure of it.

    I guess it's hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there how you believe 100% that your child will be so much better off, and you'll be nothing more than a curiousity...at best. I truly felt, and honestly sometimes STILL feel, that I don't matter to my daughter. When she withdraws, as she has done repeatedly, I see that as rejection. I feel that I am not important enough (this includes the rest of my family too) to even warrant a simple explanation, or even a "leave me alone." How are we firstmothers supposed to take having the door shut on us? Like everything the social workers or our parents or whomever told us was true...we're insignificant. We can and have been replaced, and we're not needed. THAT is how we take it...because that is what we were told and what we believe(d).

    Perhaps it's subconsciously giving us a taste of our own medicine...as another adoptee blogged about recently. Whatever it is, it hurts and we too feel rejected. I hope there is a day we can see we have more in common with each other than not, and be empathetic instead of punishing. I have to accept in my own situation that it may never come. Somehow I will live with it.

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  38. My daughter was certainly not "happy" she was given up, and I see lots of reasons why she would have been better off with me. But she did understand how it happened, and why, and I was always grateful that she did.

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  39. Hi Amy: Your comment fully illustrates that so many first mothers were coerced, forced, brainwashed. From all the reading I have been doing, especially about the BSE, that is all I come away with. And I suppose, since there was such a demand for white infants, and so much money started changing hands, the brainwashing continued because there were so many people willing to pay big money for an infant. Which brings me to your statement about your daughter being a "commodity". Yep. That's exactly it.

    In one of the very few times my A-father ever talked about this situation at all, he mentioned how many years it took for my AP's to get a baby. And that they were paying a lawyer all through those years, and that he borrowed a large amount of money from his own father to do it....took him a long time to pay it back. And that I remained an only child because they didn't have the money to do it again.
    It was out of character for him to say this, but he did. He was not talking to me directly, but I was within earshot and I still remember every word.

    No amount of counseling could help a person muddle through stuff like that. Which brings me to what Robin said. Yes, the comment you mention was very rude and I thank you for saying so.

    Poor young girls years ago were assured that their infants would do so well with the two-parent, stable family. But nobody taught those families how to deal with the fact that they were raising a child given to them, in most cases, by a stranger. Most AP's did not handle it well....mine certainly needed some counseling and there was none to be had. So, I am sure my first mother thought she was doing the right thing, the only thing she could do, and she followed instructions and disappeared forever.

    What a mess.

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  40. Another comment, if I may:

    Cherry said : "The possibility that my son might be harmed by adoption did not even enter my radar. The only end result of adoption was happiness, in a home that had everything, in a family that was mature and prepared and bursting with as-yet unexpressed love. A family immune from normal people's troubles."


    She and so many other young girls were led to believe this, or brainwashed into believing it.

    Thinking back, my first mother certainly must have been told the same thing. I was going to have everything, with emphasis on the fact that she could not provide it.

    Truth was....I grew up in a tiny 4 room apartment. This place was referred to as "this lousy house" by A-mom, and "the chicken coop" by A-dad. Hardly luxurious. My father's parents lived in the same building, and there was a lot of tension between them and A-mom. Not pretty. Neither A-parent finished high school. Dad for medical reasons, mom just dropped out. Dad worked down Wall Street, but just as a clerk when I was a young child. It wasn't until many, many years later that he actually made money. He purchased his first house, that he actually owned, at the age of 63.

    Did anyone check this out? I was told once that a caseworker visited our place, while the adoption was still not finalized. Did my first mother know this, or was she under a completely different impression? It was not a bad life, but it wasn't the greatest, as she was probably led to believe.

    Just wondering. I would love to read my file....to see what was said at the time.

    My petition to open it is still pending.

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  41. Robin said, 'It is hard to believe that it never once occurred to you that you are giving your helpless infant to STRANGERS'.

    Yuck. Maybe it is hard for you to believe, but perhaps, when it comes to a subject like this, your imagination is limited to what you have learned about your own mother's experience.
    Personally I believe most mothers under pressure to relinquish do "think" about this, as well as other things, although sometimes at a level so deep they have trouble putting words around their thoughts - something which is especially difficult to do when there is no-one around who is willing to listen - and if they do attempt to articulate their feelings they are disparaged for trying.

    Personally I did worry *very much* about what sort of experience my child would have being raised by an unrelated family as well as what kind of family they would be. But I believe that even those mothers who were persuaded that adoption was the right/ best/ good/ redemptive way to go, mostly "thought", although in an inchoate sort of way, about these things too. It's just that they had no language or outlet that enabled them to express their fears and feelings on a conscious level, and so their concerns were driven under.

    Just Another Mother.

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  42. Gail, thank you for those article references, and for your kind understanding. It’s this that stops us feeling lonely with our experience.

    When I was pregnant I could:

    1. Bring my newborn baby home to an impoverished, cramped, tense house, with my overloaded mother irritated by his cries and me a single minor with no idea even what he ate (there were no parenting classes back then; I don't recall antenatal classes – I learned about birth from a bookshop. In labour, my midwife said that if I was her daughter she'd slap me - that was the kind of 'help' offered to pregnant girls then).
    2. Watch my son being brought up in his father's family home, a place heavy with unacknowledged untreated depression. His grandmother had tried to kill herself twice there, among his domineering grandfather and depressed aunt/uncles.
    3. Have him adopted, entirely believing (and why wouldn't I, it was parroted by trusted pillars of society) that he would have stability, love and be cherished, with every need met by able, eager adults who'd been forensically vetted for their unparalleled parenting skills.
    Those were my choices. There were others but they never reached me or I was too young to be capable of taking them.
    What I didn't know or anticipate shocks me now.
    The deep bond between natural mother and newborn seems only recently recognised within adoption circles yet it’s so obvious. When Nancy Verrier asserted this bond existed she was met with incredulity, amazement, relief and resistance. That wasn’t long ago.
    The whole non-adoption-affected world might laud this bond, paint portraits of it, write songs about it, create laws & rituals around it, bless its profundity but in the official world of adoption no such bond ever existed. Mothers like me were nothing to our babies. The most we could expect was to not be a hindrance.
    What made me see my son might feel rejected were adopted people's writing on the Internet (my son was 16 when I first saw the Internet). When Julia Emily writes 'My husband, senator *** and I were all born the same year. They have their OBC's, why can't I?’ I think 'Yes! That's SO clear, the injustice so obvious and indisputable. That powerful sentence could change people's minds'. Isn't that often so - that someone’s words enlighten us to something so utterly obvious that we've never considered? Adoptees’ writing did that for me.
    Initially I thought 'He’ll only feel rejected if he wrongly believes he wasn't wanted. Once he understands that he was extremely precious to me, that I couldn't even bear his brand new self absorbing a mere hint of being a pest just for crying, that I could find no place for him to be happy in apart from adoption, he won't feel rejected, he’ll understand his profound importance to me'.
    Maybe this is why many mothers desperately want their (adult) children to understand their situation at the time of their adoption.
    I’ve learned much from adopted people repeatedly speaking their truth; I hope the same results from first mothers like me speaking ours.
    When I am aghast at the naivety of what I once believed, I relate to others who stand and stare at their past selves wondering how they could've not known/imagined what they know now. The McCanns in the UK who thought their abducted child would be safe in an unlocked holiday chalet nearby; the soldier's mother in ‘Farenheight 9/11’ who went from flag-raising exponent of the war in Iraq to sobbing in agony at the loss of her son and the arrival of newly-obvious questions.
    We look back wondering 'What was I thinking? How could I have thought that was ok?’ Our children paid. We did too.
    The billion-dollar marketing industry knows we are impressionable creatures; so did the 1930s propagandists with their hateful films: social psychologists like Milgram show we are not the strong, lucid thinkers we might imagine ourselves to be in the face of authority. I agree and reiterate what Lorraine said earlier - we are only human.





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  43. @ Anonymous 10.14:

    Personally I believe most mothers under pressure to relinquish do "think" about this, as well as other things, although sometimes at a level so deep they have trouble putting words around their thoughts - something which is especially difficult to do when there is no-one around who is willing to listen - and if they do attempt to articulate their feelings they are disparaged for trying.'

    You got that ABSOLUTELY right.

    Right near the end, when my son was in the pre-adoption foster home, I suddenly thought 'I dont want him to be adopted by strangers'. I didn't even know why, it just felt wrong. I went to the social worker and told her that, and she told me how wonderful his life was going to be - how his new parents had the room ready full of toys, how excited they all were, that his new grandparents could barely contain themselves, and that his new mother cries at the tiniest delay in any delay in the adoption process. The whole propaganda of how he was going to a much better life with them, and how I would thwart it by keeping him, got reapplied, and my (as you so rightly say) inchoate and unable-to-be-articulated anxiety got obliterated.

    I had one or two other similarly lucid moments during the long adoption process but it is like my questions could never live. It was like a blanket was thrown over every question. The thing is, I trusted these people so I trusted their answers and the picture they painted, only later seeing that I hadn't actually been answered at all and that there was no way anyone could possibly see the future.

    @ Julia Emily:

    About where you lived and your question 'did anyone check this out'? I feel the same about the fact that my son went to a home which was already in danger of being repossessed for non-payment of the mortgage at the point of the adoption. One of his parents died of alcoholism while my son was still a boy, while his amom's boyfriends physically threatened him, leaving bruises.
    I could not believe my son had gone to this, that he had experienced this. It will always be unbearable.

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  44. Hi Cherry: your posts are an amazing insight into first mothers. You present your teen self, and what you were thinking at the time, and your present day thoughts with such eloquence and clarity, that you are making it easier for me to understand what might have gone on way back in 1957.

    Someday, and I hope I can work it out sooner rather than later, I have to find out just why my adoption took so long to finalize. When I do, I will update here. In my mind, maybe my first mother was having second thought just like you. Maybe she wouldn't or couldn't co-operate? Maybe she was so distraught she couldn't go through with it until almost 4 years had passed.

    When I approach my AP's with the idea of my obtaining a passport and needing documents, after I pick them up off the floor, maybe I can find out some answers to these questions.

    I do know that she never re-appeared. I believe she was made to think that she had no right to do so.

    Thanks so much for your posts!

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  45. @ Cherry: PS: I am sorry about your son's adoptive home. It must have been hard to discover the truth. My home was not going to win any awards, either. But it was a legal adoption, and somebody decided that it was better than staying with my first mom. Ah....the powers that be!

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  46. Amy and Cherry, you are both doing an absolutely wonderful job of speaking up for us firstmothers and I so appreciate your voices. I especially liked your clarification of STRANGERS. And Julia, I appreciate your understanding as an adoptee. I have been following your story and it is truly heartbreaking. I feel for you and I'm so sorry for what your ap's and the closed system have subjected you to.

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  47. This post kills me.

    I’m 18 months into the rejection phase of my reunion with my daughter. I could see the light at the end of our tunnel fading during the last two years of our five year reunion, but nothing prepares you for bat over the head. A bat held by someone you love so dearly.

    Initially, I was completely devastated, as significant as the devastation of giving her up in the first place.

    Her rejection was harsh, actually vicious. I was unceremoniously accused of things that never happened and scolded for manufactured reasons. I was told if there was to be future contact, it would be up to her and likely years from being a reality. And with one email, I was completely cut off, as was everyone I introduced her to (relatives, friends) without another word.

    Now, I’m disgusted.

    From the beginning of our reunion, her adoptive parents systematically orchestrated this rejection. Even though it was ultimately her decision to excise me, it was her parent’s fears, insecurities and their desire to maintain their Stepford family that forced her to choose a side. These are the same people who patted my head (in writing for the first two years of my daughter’s life) and told me what a generous, considerate, loving woman I was (I was essentially an orphaned teenager) for being selfless enough to give them my baby to raise. The same people who hired private investigators to follow me (found out in reunion) and who spent years in fear I would reappear. When I did, they did their level-best to sabotage every time my daughter tried to see me.

    So, this is my payback for abandoning my daughter. Touché.

    I can’t change my decision, but if I could… I would never sign myself for this life-long torture again. I’m exhausted by people’s opinions (adoptees, adoptive parents, et al) that I gave up my rights when I gave up my daughter. That was never the spirit of my agreement and I was a party to the ‘agreement’. I agreed not to interfere with her childhood or reinstate my parental rights (during the 6 months, when I could have). I did not agree not to love her. And yes, I do feel entitled. I do feel just as human, valuable and as essential as the other components of our triad. I simply refuse to accept that I am less worthy because I placed my daughter for adoption.

    In summary, while things may change in the future, I won’t hold my breath for a minute. I was treated so unkindly and with such contempt by my daughter and her adoptive parents. The likelihood that I would willingly reopen the door to my reunion seems foolhardy. It’s willingly signing up for the bat to the head again. Why would I? I love my daughter, but I don’t I like her. I’ve had to draw lines with my destructive blood relatives my entire life to create healthy boundaries, so I feel completely justified in doing that with my daughter and her adoptive parents.

    Isn’t this nuts? Isn’t it completely crazy that something done out of pure love and altruism carries this kind of emotional punishment? I had no support, no therapy, no one, so I refuse to torture myself for doing what I thought was right, given what little information I had. For years my decision made me feel good - now that is completely stripped away and replaced with anger that I did this to myself, her and them (we are clearly all in pain).

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  48. @ Julia Emily:

    I learn so much from your crystal-clear, impassioned posts too. Whenever I read them, I think to myself 'keep on saying what you want to say, Julia Emily. Just keep on saying it' - because what you have to say is so important and you say it so well.


    I know what I thought and felt as a teenager because I wrote a diary during the year I slowly and inexorably lost my son to adoption. For minor medical reasons, the adoption process was extended beyond the normal time frame so my diary had many detailed entries of the conversations, thoughts and feelings I had during that time. I also remember vividly so much of what I felt, though there are great blanks in my memory regarding external events. But my diary often held the details.

    I could never read that diary. Only once my son and I had reunited could I open it and read. Even then I was reluctant - I only started to read it when I went to it to check an indistinct fact for my son.

    I was absolutely flabbergasted when I read the contents. I saw, for the first time, how I was manipulated and unheard. How I had signed the papers separating me and my son forever with neither parent, legal representative or impartial adult present, despite me being a minor. I saw how I didn't know (ie. wasn't told) about the help that was available, and how I didn't fully comprehend the implications of what I was doing (I thought one of my post-adoption birthday cards was from my son, not realising that in our closed adoption, he was absolutely gone forever). I read words that social workers said that sound like a script because I've since heard other first mothers say they heard the exact same phrases too. I saw how connected I was to my son - during my first visit to him at the pre-adoption foster home, I was nervous when going there but overwhelmed with excitement when I saw him - I hear the love in my voice as I describe him in my diary entry of that day. I also read how completely I believed I'd be selfish to keep my son, and I see the people who stoked up and introduced that belief. What I see most clearly is that on those few occasions I spoke aloud about the possibly of keeping my son, that thought was completely obliterated by the adults around me. I see that now.

    I read that diary of a sixteen year old with my mature mind and heart, and I was and am outraged for both my son and myself. Like you, Julia Emily, I think it is all a complete mess and an utter tragedy, perhaps even a crime.

    I support you in everything you do to claim what is yours.

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  49. Adoption did a number on a lot of us. i know there are happy adoptees out there, but I don't understand them at all. How can they be OK with losing their own mothers? It's not supposed to be OK, its a tragedy.

    The way my mother acts is because of adoption. The way I act is because of adoption. If we're adults, then we're acting like adults. Damaged adults. Damaged because of the ridiculous idea that biology doesn't matter.

    Who in their right mind would believe that families are interchangeable, and that if the old switcheroo is done early enough, the baby won't know the difference.

    I'm not talking about first mothers believing it, I'm talking about social workers, adoptive parents and society at large. The idea is so wrong I don't understand how anyone can go along with it, but they do. Millions of them do.

    Infant adoption is inhuman and brutal. Separating mother and newborn is always tragic. All the money in the world can't make up for losing your mother. I'll never understand why everyone can't see that.

    My relationship with my mother will never be right. We've both lost too much, and it can never be fixed.

    We look so much alike. We move alike, laugh and eat alike, and I lost all that. She'll never hear my baby voice, and I'll never see her as a young woman. It's all gone.......and for what?

    A better life with strangers? Never seeing the face of family until I had my own child. Waiting 48 years to see my own mother's face again. It never feels better.

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  50. I have said this before but it bears repeating: can we somehow get the lawmakers, assembly members, governors, right-to-lifers to read what is written here? Not many are listening when we testify and sign petitions....but if they read all these comments maybe they would wake up.

    @ Cherry: Yes, this whole thing is a tragedy and a crime. Look at what it has done to all of us. I can't imagine the feelings you wrote down as a young teen, surrounded by people who forced you to give up your son. People who told you they knew what was best for him. It's disgusting. What they didn't tell you was and still is that adoption is a big money industry. BIG money, and it just so happens that the product is a little tiny baby.

    I am sorry that you and other first moms were put through such a thing. And we really can't turn back the clock. There are too many obstacles in the way, as we are learning from the reunion/rejection stories written here.

    I know of one reunion situation and it was a disaster. My husband's younger cousin, also in a closed adoption, searched like crazy in the years before internet, to find her first family. Everyone who knew her KNEW without a doubt that she was going to search. It was all she could think about. Upon finding her first family, she discovered that nobody knew she existed, because her first mother had hidden it from everyone, including her husband. Siblings, aunts, grandparents...no one wanted anything to do with her, but she kept at it. They fought, but eventually came to an understanding. On the other end, she found out that her adoptive parents had the name of her first mother all along. They hid it from her as she jumped through hoops for years searching. So now her adoptive family doesn't want anything to do with her, nor she with them.

    And we have my AP's voicing their opinion about how selfish she was to search, and telling me to end my relationship with her because of it.

    How is any of this a good thing? What a disaster.

    That is the only reunion I know of. But my dear friend is a black market baby who had a pretty miserable life, and I know a number of adoptees who have no idea they were adopted at all, which is another thing altogether.

    But it tells me that adoption is the most unnatural thing in the world. No unicorns and rainbows. It is nothing but hurt.

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  51. I hear you adoptomuss. I agree with you too x

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  52. Julia Emily, I agree with you, it is nothing but hurt.

    Your poor friend - how cruel of everyone to treat her that way. She did nothing wrong. Nothing to deserve that.

    I am based in the UK. As far as I know, the adoption system my son and I got ensnared by in the 1970s wasn't based on money but solely on a repulsive, perverse idea of morality. This deemed that I didn't deserve to be a mother, or even count as one, because I'd done the terrible thing and clearly had sex without a ring on my finger. This morality deemed that my darling son would be better off with 'proper' parents (married - no matter that it was an utterly toxic marriage)than with me.

    So adoption in the UK may be underpinned by different things - same moral judgements, less religion, no big business as far as I am aware - but the results were the same and they used the same ingredients of shame and subterfuge to separate mother and baby.

    About reunion - for all the difficulties and pain involved in it, it was the best thing that ever happened to me (along with my son's presence in the world). My son says he's been happier than he's ever been since we found each other again. I would never wish not to have reunited.

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