Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What did this first mother do wrong now? Cont.

Lorraine
Continuing the story of my daughter's strange and hurtful behavior, when we had been close and she suddenly pulled back and wasn't talking to me, answering the phone, or emailing. I was dead meat to her.

April, same year, 2003. At American Adoption Congress’s 25th anniversary convention in Atlanta, I am one of the keynote speakers. The AAC is comprised of adoptees and both first parents and adoptive parents, and stands for openness in adoption, including taking down the sealed-records statutes. I talk about the early days of this movement, and how far we still have to go. I do not gloss over the rabid opposition we faced then, and still do.


Tact in the service of reform is often ineffective; it can obscure the depth of one’s passion and muddle the message. Taken to its extreme, it confuses the opposition. While tact may let you continue talking to the opposition, talk may be all you get. Just as there was no way for abolitionists to speak to slave holders without raising their hackles—and fury—so it often is about adoption. My talk is basically a history of the adoption reform movement--I have been involved since the early days, and this is what I know. I mention that no matter how you slice it, no matter how many adoptive parents say they are in favor of open records, scratch the legislators who remain the staunchest opponents and you find that they are closely connected with adopting. They frequently turn out to be adoptive parents themselves or have close relatives who are. I've seen this in state after state--and in Washington, DC.

Adoptees and first mothers I know sit up front and nod in agreement. I assume my talk is being well-received. 

Well.

As a group, the adoptive parents in the audience are less than pleased, and let me know during the question period after. But I’m not aware of any real displeasure—their comments were more along the lines of: We’re not like that. Okay, you’re not, I respond. In the hall afterward some guy walks up and gives me a big effusive hug and a kiss on the check and moves on. Who is that?, I ask of the others surrounding me. He’s Adam Pertman, director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute. Though some first mothers revile Adam because they think his writing repeats misconceptions about adoption in general and them in particular, we are on the same side.
  
Happier times, Jane opening her birthday presents, circa 1986
Yet hours later I hear that in many of who were present spent the better part of the day in other sessions smoothing their own ruffled feathers. They rarely, if ever, hear criticism directed at them as a group—and particularly not from an uppity birth mother. We are supposed to be tending our wounds, and the very idea that we might criticize them is offensive. As far as I can tell, adoptive parents are familiar with two reactions: sympathy, because they couldn’t have children of their own, and praise, for adopting someone else’s outcast. Who does this woman think she is?

A part of me at the conference feels like a fraud— I am a poster first mother for reform and reunion, and my own daughter isn't speaking to me? Yet my own baggage is actually immaterial: adoptees deserve to know who they were when they were born, and reform will not happen without a phalanx of first mothers announcing that we do not want to remain anonymous from our own children. Think how much bloodshed would have been saved if plantation owners understood that all men deserved to be free; it is the same with adoption and first mothers.

There will always be those fearful few who want to stay anonymous from their children, for any number of reasons—because they have never told their husbands, or their other children, because their religion has told them they belong to another family now and forever, because their own sense of shame is emotionally incapacitating—but the vast majority of us desperately want to know our children, no matter how secretive and pathetic we were at the time we relinquished them. In the path to unsealing the records, we are needed. We cannot stay in the closet. Our voices must be raised.

Still, why have I been relegated to her emotional trash heap?

Her birthday is two days after I get back. 
Adoptive father on the changing culture

This year for the first time I had sent no gift, no card. I thought about calling, but that seemed wrong. She’d been silent so long. I was so clearly dead to her. Maybe they already had Caller ID (we did not) and she would not pick up anyway. Or if she did answer, I’d get a cool response that announced: Oh, it’s you—why are you bothering me? You are nothing to me. Or I’d leave a message that went unanswered.

And you know what? I am fucking exhausted by this fractious and fragile  relationship, exhausted trying to figure out how to react, tired of getting beaten up by something I could not fix. I do not call.  

But I don’t get off lightly, I spend a part of the day deep in the blues. A first mother friend, Linda, who knows what I am going through, calls and I burst into tears. We email each other pretty much every day. Unless you are one of us, you would be surprised how often adoption passes by in the culture: on television dramas, in celebrity gossip, on your street and in your office. You want to escape, but can’t. A never ending supply of reminders of the biggest, and saddest, event of your life confront you daily, and to each other we could make note of them. We are alternately snide, ironic, infuriated or simply sad. We can be free with our feelings without being thought obsessive or loony. Linda’s daughter had cut her off too, even though her daughter is the one who had searched. The reunion had been ecstatic. So why was Linda cut off? Unknown. Or maybe it was because Linda had used the guest towels hanging on the rack when she visited, as her daughter had remarked unfavorably about that. She didn’t use the right towels. You think I’m kidding? I’m not.--lorraine


[1] Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America (New York: 2000). Pertman is the executive director of The Donaldson Institute, an adoption think-tank, and an active proponent of unsealing original birth records of adoptees. 

Previous Post in this series: First Mother to (reunited) daughter: What did I do wrong now?

RECOMMENDED READING

Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families -- and America 
"Adam Pertman explores the history and human impact of adoption, explodes the corrosive myths surrounding it, and tells compelling stories about its participants as they grapple with issues relating to race, identity, equality, discrimination, personal history, and connections with all their families. For the first edition of this groundbreaking examination of adoption and its impact on us all, Pertman won awards from many organizations, including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, the Dave Thomas Center for Adoption Law, the American Adoption Congress, the Century Foundation, Holt International, and the U.S. Congress. In this updated edition, Pertman reveals how changing attitudes and laws are transforming adoption—and thereby American society—in the twenty-first century."--Amazon. Maybe I have a thick skin, maybe because I am a writer too and recognize Adam is on our side, I did not find anything in the book offensive. We are all trying to do our best and Adam has been a tireless supporter of adoption reform, and as an adoptive parent, and an educator, he can have a great influence. 

THANK YOU FOR ORDERING ANYTHING THROUGH FMF. CLICK ON LINKS OR BOOK JACKET. 

53 comments :

  1. My heart breaks for first mothers that have lost their only child to adoption. As a first mother myself, there was one thing that help me start to heal my wounds. This year I found my daughter's adoptive parents on Facebook and wrote them a letter. I wanted them to know how devastating it was for me to close the open addoption we agreed to. I also express in my message the grief i endured for years. It felt good to be heard, we are expected to be grateful ,but to the adoptive parents that close adoption without a valid reason need to understand that not only hurt the mother of their children but also the child they claim to love.

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  2. No, adoptive parents do not realize the harm they do when they close an adoption--they are only thinking about themselves and convince themselves that the child is "confused" and better off without a relationship with (as long as the individual is stable, not on drugs, etc) the one person they NEED a relationship with.
    \
    Anonymous: PLEASE CHOOSE A MONIKER IN ORDER TO COMMENT. THANKS. IT MAKES IT SO MUCH EASIER FOR EVERYONE. YOU DO NOT NEED A URL , JUST ADD A NAME.

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  3. I always feel like it is a guessing game.... is my advice going to piss her off? Is she asking so she has a reason to shut me out? Didn't I tell her I loved her often enough? Did I say it too often? Did I sound judgmental when I tried to gently let her know I am capable of doing things for myself?

    It is never ending.... you never know if you are going to be set up to get slammed or if they will ignore it and then slam you later!

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  4. Wow, Lorraine,

    It must be so nice to just know beyond a doubt why other's behave in such a way: in this case, all the adoptive parents hearing your speech that day.

    Certainly they could not have taken umbrage with a tactless delivery (as you have stated you put forth) and clearly their disagreement with you must have stemmed from their own insecurities and insular world as you have stated.

    I'm sure analogies such as likening adoption/reform to slavery sits well with African American groups too. I am part African American and I don't like it. Am I also insecure and not accustomed to criticism?

    How nice to be able to sum up an entire group clairvoyantly. How tactless of those adoptive parents to actually ask questions during the Q & A period following your talk. Then they "dared" to continue discussing your remarks as the day wore on - unforgiveable!

    How absurd they were even there trying to affect positive change for Adoptees. Clearly their motivations must have been purely selfish - they must have imagined it might be televised or that maybe they would be again "complimented" on taking in a lost child. Yes....that must have been it. Obviously they hoped to gain something purely selfish.

    Had they rushed forward in agreement, would they still have been insecure and unaccustomed to criticism? Would it have erased your long standing biases of them as a whole?


    Adult Adoptee


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  5. Adult Adoptee Anonymous: If you starting working for opening records you will discover that when you scratch many of the major opponents to unsealing your records--mine are not sealed, you know--they turn out to have a close connection to adoptive parents--either they are adoptive parents or their sister is or they are the parents of someone whose adopted. It apparently upset them to hear this.

    When a change in a federal law would have given adoptees their OBCs at 18 back in the Seventies, the committee in DC handling this got 7,000 letters, most of them opposing it. Do you really think they were written by adoptees like you or...first mothers? The National Council FOR Adoption organized the letter-writing campaign.

    Truth sometimes hurts.

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  6. Wow Adult Adoptee thatv is kinda harsh! Jane and Lorraine both support adult adoptee access to their original birth certificates. Adoptive parents can be jerks about that. Usually it is a member of their side of the foot stool that blocks our access. Sometimes it is the adoption agencies themselves.

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  7. As one of those mothers that see adoption as a form of slavery - considering that adoptive parents are now treating children as if they were puppies that couldn't be house trained (SEE: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/opinion/kristof-when-children-are-traded.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&) I have to wonder if you are just a pissed of kid or if you truly buy the rainbow bs koolaid and drink it in mass quantities.

    No, seriously, you took it very personally. The facts are that all adopted persons and mothers stories are different, but we all share the same basic bonds. Unfortunately, it doesn't make communication easier. I really don't understand your need to attack a mother on a mother's blog - if you don't like it - don't read it and leave. We will not miss you.

    The facts is you just schooled a MOTHER who lost her only child to adoption and subsequent suicide on how she should be happy that she got screwed by the process and so did her child and how she should kiss the ass of people that buy, sell and trade kids. How sad is that?

    Trolling to pick fights with mothers..... come on!

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  8. Adult Adoptee Anonymous, the very fact that these people felt free to take someone else's child and take all the credit FOR that child as the child's "parent" tells you right away that something selfish is going on. Most people who can't do something just accept that they can't do it and move on with their lives. I can't run a four-minute mile. I am fine with that. Not adopters. They can't accept. And the crazy part is they're not curing their infertility. So I'm not sure what's going on there.

    Except, of course, the few adopters (in my experience--if y'all are more numerous, you need to speak the hell up) who came to terms with their infertility, or who were never infertile to start with, and who genuinely want to help children who genuinely do not have family to care for them already. But you and I both know, if you look at the stats, that those are few and far between.

    Lorraine hardly needs to read minds to understand the less than salutary attitudes among far too many adoptive parents. Do a Google search for "Adoptive Parents Speak" and "Shit People Say About Adoption", and enlighten yourself.

    And finally, learn to listen to what people are saying instead of putting words in their mouths. Lorraine explained why she did not use tact. It went completely over your head. In fact I'm starting to wonder if you're the same person who refused to read my blog post in full and then read me the riot act on my Facebook page when I wasn't talking about adoption situations like yours in the first place. As I said already in response to that whole sorry situation, happy people do not seek conflict. If you're so happy with your adoption, go away and be happy with your adoption and leave us poor pitiful angry people alone. Thanks in advance.

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  9. Dana said, "Except, of course, the few adopters (in my experience--if y'all are more numerous, you need to speak the hell up) who came to terms with their infertility, or who were never infertile to start with, and who genuinely want to help children who genuinely do not have family to care for them already. But you and I both know, if you look at the stats, that those are few and far between."

    I'm an adoptive mom who did not adopt as a result of fertility issues. I don't think we are particularly numerous, actually. I only personally know one other, a dear childhood friend of mine who adopted from foster care.

    While I have great compassion for people who experience infertility, I do sometimes feel that some people (not using that damning "all" word here, just to be clear) may not dealt with their infertility before adopting. I can't know for certain, of course, but at the state-mandated training we attended, I definitely felt that way. My husband and I were the only couple not dealing with infertility out of, I don't recall exactly, but maybe 15? We all had to go around the room, introduce ourselves, and say whey we were there. My husband and I discussed it later, and we both were very uncomfortable with the stories and conversations we heard. I envisioned adoption as providing a home for a child in need. Of course, I expected that many people would probably be there as a result of infertility, but it did indeed feel like adoption was about them, what they wanted, what they needed, to fix something.

    We only used our agency to complete the paperwork- we did not advertise with them or match through them. When it came up during the process that I do not have infertility problems, the director told me flat out they never would have worked with us if they had known that. She said, "We want to give children to couples who deserve them, and you can have your own." I'm not often speechless, but I was then. My husband was absolutely furious. We thought it was supposed to be about providing the best home for a child in need? I got a really big lesson in the ethics (lack of) of adoption in our country. Our daughter's parents chose us for specific reasons, and none of those had to do with providing "a gift" to some deserving, infertile couple.

    I can definitely see why so many first moms and adoptees feel as if they are commodities, means to an end, an incubator, and all the numerous horrible comparisons I have read and heard. It doesn't mean every single adoptive parent is the same, but I definitely get the stereotype and where it is coming from. That's why I rarely comment in defense when I see statements made about adoptive mothers that do not fit at all who I am as an adoptive mother. I usually assume that this person's experience has informed her opinions, and who am I to try to take that away from her? I try not to take someone's else's perfectly valid experiences as a condemnation of me.

    Criticism can be good. I've learned a lot here, and really taken a good, hard look at myself and my own viewpoints, beliefs, and actions. You don't have to agree with everything that Jane and Lorraine say to get a lot out of this blog. They challenge the status quo, and adoption is not some perfect entity. If it cannot stand up to the challenges, well, then, it needs to change. If even a handful of mothers feel coerced, then we should work to change that. If even a handful of adoptive parents are abusive, then we should work to ensure homestudies weed them out. Criticize away, please. It's only through critique that anything improves, and I don't get why anyone, APs included, should be scared of improving adoption.

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  10. I wish I had met my mother before she was murdered. She wanted to find me and I was searching for her. I can never imagine being angry at my mom for using the wrong hand towel. She could of used any towels in the house. She could have used no towels it all. She could have stolen the towels for all I would have cared. it wouldn't even have been stealing because she would have been welcome to Each and every one of them. but I digress. all of my life I have been told that I should be grateful for my adoptive home. I was never grateful. Because of my ingratitude I was eliminated and punished.
    I would be grateful now. I would be grateful if I once again could touch the face of the woman who gave me birth. I would be grateful if she could be in my life. I will never ever ever be grateful to those who sold me into slavery. I will never be grateful to those who decided I was their possession. I am grateful to the woman who gave me life and I would be grateful if I could ever see her again.
    your place as for mothers is vital. Don't let anyone ever tell you if it isn't. My heart breaks for each and everyone of you who has lost for I know what it is to have lost.

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  11. Anonymous adult adoptee,

    I agree with much of what you said. I started reading this blog to try to better understand the birth mother point of view. All I've found is yet one more closed environment, only this one is closed to dissenting perspectives. If you do not validate their anger, you are not welcome.

    Seeing how they responded to you is why I am moving on.

    "Mothers," attacking the people who did the hard work of raising us says far more about you than about them. I am disappointed.

    Katie
    Another Adult Adoptee

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  12. Katie, If you stuck around, you would be surprised as to why my daughter cut off our relationship this time. I am posting only sections of the whole story-- some of which you might glean from the pictures--but as you say, pick up your marbles and join another game.

    I have been involved in adoption reform possibly since before you were born. I'm old now and weary of adoptees who don't understand that there is a lot of pain to go around, and that many adoptive parents are great people and many are not, especially when it comes to the natural mothers of the children involved. I am tired of not speaking the truth. You will be much happier at adoptee blogs--some of them are very good, such as Lost Daughters. You will find the link on my blog list in the left sidebar.

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  13. Katie: You are a good deal younger than I, and someday you might come to see adoption for what it really is.
    It took me a VERY long time to realize that something was very wrong with my life, and to piece it all together.

    There are very few close-minded people posting on this blog. I also came here to find out about first mothers, because mine was always treated like a "nothing", just a vehicle that provided my AP's with a baby. I wanted to try to learn how "the girl" may have felt through this whole process. And I learned a lot.

    Read what these women have to say. There is a lot of pain and loss in adoption. And they lived it. First mothers and adoptees have been damaged from this system of closed adoption, some beyond repair. Only adoptive parents win.

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  14. I've always been upset about Lori's feelings toward her daughter. It's always negative and hostile. Not just here, but any place she posts. Her daughter is always out to get her.

    I fear my mother feels the same way. Everything I do is seen as a hostile gesture. Last mothers day I sent her what I thought was a lovely present and card. She later told me she thought I picked out the ugliest present possible just to hurt her!

    I sent her sparkly good morning emails., just because I loved her and wanted her to have a good day.She asked how I could do that, after being so nasty to her. I can't win.

    Of course, there will be no mother's day gift this year. It'll be a long hard day for me to get through.

    It seems that some mother's are looking for hurt, and they will find it. The first time my mother turned on me it broke my heart, again. Now I've come to expect it.

    Probably the worst thing to see is how much she loves the son she kept. He can do no wrong. It's just torture.

    I don't know what I did to make my mother hate me so. I wish I could see her more. I know our time together is short, she's 70 and I'm 51. I missed her all my life, and I still do.

    I don't know what your daughter did to you Lori, but it must have been bad. I wish you and my mother could compare notes, but she doesn't want to talk to anyone.

    I've tried therapy and medication, but it's been no help. Some things just can't be cured.

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  15. I'm an adult adoptee as well but am fully aware that the main opposition to open records in America comes from many Adopters and the Agencies who procure children for them. Mothers who lose their children rarely try to hide from them and most adoptees have no problem knowing their history. Before anyone decides I am a bitter adoptee I have to point out I had wonderful adoptive parents who always did their best for me. My own mother would have kept me but I was the wrong gender so she chose to give me away. Frankly I had a better life without her but my experience isn't universal or typical. I was stunned when I discovered that America did not have open records as I was able to access all my records as a teenager, not as a qualified right, but because I was considered to be the owner of those records.

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  16. Lori's back story (and daughter's relationship) is complicated and since she cannot reveal it all, let's give her the benefit of the doubt. The difficulty that blogs even like this have is that the whole story cannot be told, so what you get are the feelings without all the details of what led there.

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  17. And adoptomuss, I do know your story is not a happy one, and I am sorry that your mother cannot deal with the emotions she has, and at least be kind to you, her daughter.

    Mother's Day will be hard for a lot of us, daughters and mothers alike. I thought we were going on a short weekend trip--which would be good--but that turns out to be the following weekend. So it goes. It is only one day. A good movie would be a good idea--but no weepers!

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  18. A great article is one that challenges people,and judging by the ruffled feathers again here in the commentary, I'd say you've put out another great post Lorraine. I am always a little leery when I see such deep animosity toward adoption reform or even the slightest criticism of the oh-so-holy adopting population from self-proclaimed "adoptees" when it sounds so familiar to the wound licking adopter defense. But I digress..

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  19. Can we please stop lumping all first parents/adoptees/adoptive parents into grossly generic categories? I'm an adoptive parent. I support open records and legally enforceable openness agreements. I actively encourage my son to have contact with his first mother/family (biological father is unknown). I don't view what's said on this page as scary or threatening. I am not a "jerk". I didn't steal a child and I din't "take" anyone. I don't take credit for my child's love of running or art (things his first mother excels in). I don't see first families as dismissible or burdensome, and I don't know any adoptive families these days which do. However, I am still learning...and that's why I read this blog. I come here to learn, to be open, and to try to understand a different perspective than my own.

    But, when commenters and posters make overarching generalizations about adoptive parents (or any party involved in adoption), it takes the conversation from a place of healing/learning...to one of defensiveness. Calling adoptive parents "baby stealers" or comparing us to slave owners is the same thing as calling first mothers "irresponsible" or "sluts"...it's offensive and overwhelmingly incorrect.

    However, this is your place to vent and write, and I don't want to suggest that constraint is needed. I am simply pointing out that those offensive generalizations can go both ways.

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  20. Torri and Adoptomus, I'm so sorry for your pain. x

    Lorraine, your comment about picking up marbles made me chuckle.

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  21. Lori and adoptamuss describe the relationship I have with my sister. Loves me, then hates me, begs for closeness, then rejects me. This won't change as we are both over 50. I keep my guard up and accept that it is her problem and nothing I do can change her. Our only connection to adoption is my sweet daughter from China. Families and relationships are seldom the Norman Rockwell picture of happiness we see from the outside. Not all relationship problems are solvable or even caused by the tyranny of adoption.

    To Julie Emily, other adoptees, and all first moms: Thank you for your openness and honesty. It helps me mother the complicated teenager that adoption has made my daughter.

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  22. Dear Adoptmuss,

    Lorraine is perfectly correct in how complicated my story really is. But here is a hint.... the only communication that I am allowed is to write.... seriously write.... my feelings. I don't understand why you would bother to read my stuff if you think I am so negative.

    The truth is, I love my daughter with a depth that is terrifying and I always have. I have to be hard and put up a wall to keep from being destroyed each and every time she pulls back. There is never an explanation, no warning, no reason.... even when she reappears with a "I'm sorry".....

    I planned my daughter as much as any 16 yr old can plan and I did all of the very right things - she wore cloth diapers, was taken every where with me, had her father, was breast fed.... she slept in my bed for 3 years.....

    If you want to know the whole story - message me and we shall arrange to talk. You can ask me any question you want and I will always be honest.

    Therapy does not fix everything. It takes personal work to get through that kind of hurt.

    Your relationship with your mother is EXACTLY like mine with my daughter. I sent her a birthday gift - she told me how much she hated it and that I could not possibly know style. If she asks me for advice, I prepare to be shut out, because no matter what I say it is wrong. If I send a happy "I love you" on FB, I am crowding her.

    Please, turn it around and tell me how you would feel if the ONLY way you could express your feelings to someone would be to write in your blog.... and to know that she will use every single word against you. I finally told her what my life was really like off line.... and she stepped back as if I was nuts.

    To know that nothing I say or do means anything... that is what I live with. My daughter is not a bad person.... not really. But I wouldn't know, she has never shown me much but the negative side and we have never had a single moment alone to get to know each other.... not once in 12 years.

    Seriously, if you are so curious, message me. You will find out that I am very different than what a blink in time, an expression of emotion, can reflect.

    Or you can stop reading my stuff. Which I find confusing. If I bother you that much why read?

    Sigh.... I give up.

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  23. Lori, How do i know what you're writing without reading it? I'm not allowed to contact my mother either. I wait until she's ready. It's always on her terms and I never know when she's going to snap. So I wait. I play by her rules, because it's the only way I can see her.

    I've found that I can take it. She can't help it. I don't call her abusive, I try not to judge her. It's been 3 1/2 years.

    We had our last meeting 1 week ago. I have to wait for her to be ready to see me again. i can't Email, text or call, because it scares her. She won't come visit me, I have to go see her. That's the way it is.

    It just hurts me when I hear mother's bad mouthing their children. Any mothers, not just first mothers.

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  24. To be clear, I do not compare adoptive parents to slave owners. However--if adoptive parents spoke out more about the damage of sealed records, they would open more quickly. I said that the most opposition in legislatures often comes from adoptive parents. Look at what someone like Julia Emily or others who have posted here report about their adoptive parents.

    I said that if slave owners had spoken out against slavery, and set their slaves free, slavery would have ended sooner. The same would be true about ending sealed records. Julia Emily's adoptive parents apparently can hardly say the word. And so she can never ask them about anything.

    I do not lump all adoptive parents in to a single group. Lord knows, we have some great understanding ones who comment here. Without rancor or anger.

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  25. adoptamuss:

    Maybe, just maybe, the horrible way your bmom treats you would have been same if she would have raised you.

    Many times the way people are now, shows who they were in their youth! I would take it as a sign/blessing that she (your bmom) didn't keep and raise you. Can you imagine how you would have turned out??

    AJT

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  26. Wow. I wonder what your connection to adoption is anonymous?

    According to the non identifying info Spence Chapin was good enough to send me, The social worker wrote that she "had no question that the mother had a good deal of feeling for the child". "Your birth mother was described as weeping whenever she spoke of her plans for you although she remained strong in her belief that she wanted better for you."

    The worker wrote that your birth mother seemed to know you quite well. She expressed concern that you were hungry and changed your diaper quite competently. It was noted that your birth mother appeared drained while your birth father appeared sober.

    My mother told me she was sobbing during the entire ordeal of giving me up.

    She tried to commit suicide by overdoing on phenobarbital soon after I was gone.

    My mother loved me, and she still does. giving me away destroyed her.

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  27. @Suggestion,

    There are not many states that enforce open agreements.

    I relinquished in the 90’s and even though my sons AP’s thought they were giving my son a home, that I had a choice, it was gaslighting and coercion that played a HUGE roll in his relinquishment. At a young age, with family and religion spouting a two parent home, as “best”, I did not stand a chance at rearing my son. His amom says that she doesn’t keep my son from me, but out of his mouth he states that she is threatened. I doubt that she on a daily basis says, “you should call your mother and see how she’s doing.” No, it is easier for her to put it in his lap and say it is up to him (too many AP”s do this…it is a form of washing their hands of the matter. And it shows a lack of understanding for the adoptee). I have heard her use parental alienation on the other children in the home as well, so I won’t put that past her. She has subtly manipulated our “open” adoption. And when she writes me to say that my son is confused (because I was concerned for his welfare) and that they now have to treat me as the other birthmothers, she is basically closing an open adoption, and I have zero say…..

    But, honestly I don’t think she understands how destructive adoption is, as it is currently practiced in the US.

    As it stands, adoption has hurt, and will continue to hurt human beings if we do nothing. Rationalize all day long that it doesn’t hurt everyone so sit down and be quiet. My conscience will not let me condone and support something that hurts even ONE human being. If it causes damage then it needs to be changed.

    And to counter to your comment of, “I don't see first families as dismissible or burdensome, and I don't know any adoptive families these days which do” I know of many….too MANY. So, stay and learn. Read as many books as you can. Be voice for the adult adoptee and their civil rights to know their roots. And, dare I say, be a voice for the mothers who are still being coerced and are having their children stolen from them……because it is still happening.

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  28. Adoptmuss, I don't judge her... we were in reunion for 7 years before I simply decided enough and went to our first meeting - without her permission..... I shouldn't have, but that is okay. I am not allowed to visit her, talk to her, post anything (without someone thinking that they know enough to judge me), or even be me.....

    I have to act the way she wants, look the way she wants, be the way she wants or I am attacked with fury and rage. I can't tell her anything, I dare not interrupt her when she is talking to me to say anything, and NO gift I have ever given her has been good enough. I no longer send gifts, I send money - because that is what she wants from me.

    And that will never happen again since I live on a fixed income.

    The thing is this.. you are asking me to stop trying to communicate.... without knowing any of the story behind it. And how can I bad mouth her? By telling the truth? If she doesn't want me to say it, then maybe she shouldn't do it?

    Some times it is just not worth the efforts.

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  29. Well, okay then,

    I actually came here on a tip from another Adult Adoptee; of course Adoption is a part of my life and I was eager to peek in and glean insights along the way.

    Apparently open discourse is only encouraged for First Mothers. I get it; it IS your site. No hard feelings and as suggested, I won't be back.

    For the record, I have been reading along for quite some time and only just commented on this post. If that's trolling okay....but I have not been attacking folks on Facebook???

    As an African American, drawing parallels to slavery was extremely distasteful to me. I appreciate the clarification though I do believe that use of that analogy was deliberate and in part, for shock value. It cheapens the history of all those enslaved by a nation and those who sacrificed all for its abolition. I think that's hard to recognize if you are not black.

    In a more broad sense, I have found that this site is largely filled with hate fueled name calling and rancor. Sadly, so many of you here seem mired in your own self pity and are desperate for a scapegoat from your own mistakes.

    I get that too; it's tempting to want to rewrite history to make ourselves look better during challenging times.

    I love what Suggestion and a few other posters shared; I agree that trying to avoid overreaching generalizations and judging would go a long way towards healthy and meaningful discourse and maybe that elusive change you all want.

    I thought that was the point but I was wrong.

    So yes, I will leave you all to yourselves and encourage others: Adoptees and Adoptive Parents to run for the hills.

    Honestly, I see the pain here but just question what ever is resolved except finger pointing and blaming? Sadly, the really good stuff shared on here gets lost in the translation of hatred and bitterness.

    Thanks for letting me have my say. May you all find a measure of peace one day.

    Adult Adoptee

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  30. I LOVE this blog :-)

    Thank you a million times for it x

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  31. I am yet another adult adoptee and I have to say I agree with what the other anonymous adoptees have said and said much more eloquently than I could. Making generalized comments about any group does not encourage open dialogue, but I do understand this is a group for birthmothers so this will be my only comment before I take my marbles elsewhere too.

    I do appreciate what Lorraine and other birthmothers have done to advocate for open records. I have to wonder though if adoptive parents are the main obstacles to open records at this time. Adoption has changed so much from the days of no information given or received on either side. Many if not most younger adoptees now have the names and other information but still have their original birth certificates locked away which hardly makes sense. The older adoptees like myself where no information was ever exchanged are now entering retirement or pre-retirement age with a much lesser likelihood of having living parents, either adoptive or biological, so who is being protected there. Even with living parents how many would be that motivated to try to keep their middle aged "children" from their original birth certificates. I suspect the agencies and lawyers are more motivated at this point to keep their records sealed for whatever reason but I could be wrong, wouldn't be the first time.

    Wishing you all a good day.

    Yet another anonymous adoptee

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  32. Lorraine, you said "To be clear, I do not compare adoptive parents to slave owners. However--if adoptive parents spoke out more about the damage of sealed records, they would open more quickly."
    You also said "If slave owners had spoken out against slavery, and set their slaves free, slavery would have ended sooner. The same would be true about ending sealed records."

    There's a comparison right there. Drawing attention to a similarity is making a comparison even if it is indirect.
    I can see why some African Americans and adoptive parents would find that offensive. If the issue is the timeline, how about using the women's suffrage movement instead?

    Just Another Mother

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  33. Slavery took away the rights of the individual to themselves, basically, without any input from the slaves themselves; the government controlled them, had laws that supported the slave owners "ownership." Of course the differences are great, adoptive parents care for and under normal circumstances love their children. But it was a government-sponsored and approved system that allowed for it.

    The same is true of the identities of adoptees in closed adoptions. Yes, many younger adoptive parents are not from the closed era and have more progressive ideas. But there are many who echo the feelings of an adoptive grandparent who once said to me--about two years ago, his son has adopted two children from Siberia--"Your are our worst nightmare." His son wrote a book that unequivocally states he and and his went to Russia to adopt to avoid "have to save a place for the birth mother at the dance recital." They are part of the younger adoptive parents set. I doubt their children are out of elementary school yet.

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  34. I started reading here when I started reunion with my birth mother, about two years ago. I don't comment. I just read. But I do have to agree with the other adult adoptees: this isn't a place for learning or understanding. This is a place where everyone else gets blamed, not birth parents. You blame agencies. You blame government. You blame APs. You blame religion. You blame overbearing parents. You blame society. You blame laws and societal mores. Can you please stop blaming people? We get it, it wasn't the ideal situation. You were trapped, scared, lost, and had no support. But, I had a really great upbringing. My parents were loving and fun. They didn't lie to me about the adoption, but kept all the information they had. They encouraged and helped me search. So, by you blaming people like them, I'm a bit skeptical of your motives. I've seen commenters and posters blast APs who dare to comment or suggest that adoption is a good thing.

    So, please, stop with the modifying phrases and the weasel words. If you want people to listen and take you seriously, try honey instead of rancid vinegar.

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  35. Lofty. Condescending. Correcting.

    I won't be sad to see these elements disappear from the discourse here, so that the usual brave, honest, sensitive conversations can continue.

    Please do go away if you don't like it here. The blogsphere is enormous, why come here expecting us to bend our truth to ensure it is agreeable to you?


    And this? Wow:

    'In a more broad sense, I have found that this site is largely filled with hate fueled name calling and rancor. Sadly, so many of you here seem mired in your own self pity and are desperate for a scapegoat from your own mistakes........I agree that trying to avoid overreaching generalizations and judging would go a long way towards healthy and meaningful discourse'

    Can you see it? The absurdity of this? It actually made me laugh (with contempt of course, just to be clear).

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  36. Anonymous adoptee who is quite pissed off:

    I first made an intemperate comment to respond to your condescending closure--and apparently you won't see this comment--but in the next post or two I do touch upon exactly what you talk about--mothers not taking responsibility for their actions, or being sorry for what happened, no matter the situation. However, I do not think you are understanding the incredible deep and prevailing mood of the culture that pointed only to one choice with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Pretty much it was adoption or you might as well kill yourself. I certainly thought about suicide a great deal during my period of hiding in the months before my daughter was born. Suicide seemed like a better option than facing the shame and/or giving her up. Somehow, I got through those months of confinement and she was born.

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  37. '...If you want people to listen and take you seriously...'

    Hmmmm....such a LOT of people telling us how we should talk.

    In a tone that suggests we are five.

    Just the comments section here is quite an education.

    Lorraine, have you thought of doing a section on this blog called 'JUST SHUT UP'. Then all these comments, with their varied versions of this sentiment, could be put in there? Like a kind of quarantine.

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  38. Cherry,
    You're talking to adoptees. The ONLY party in adoption that didn't have a say, and rarely gets a voice. And you want us to "Just Shut Up"?

    For women who claim to love their "lost" children so much, it seems you all don't really want to hear what we have to say.

    We're speaking to you as if you're five, because that's the way I see so many first/birth mothers behave (it's all about them). Frankly, it's not the entitled adoptive parents that bothers me. It's the "oh poor me" attitude of first/birth mothers that frustrates me to the point of giving up trying to communicate at all.

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  39. And...these "discussions" and misunderstandings are exactly how rifts develop between mothers and adult adoptees in the first place.

    I absolutely hear the pain of mothers, and respect that pain.

    I hear that some adoptees shut doors without communication. Whoever does that (mother, adoptee, friend, partner) is cruel. And IMO, wrong.

    I am an adoptee who is in the opposite position: like adoptomuss, I have a controlling mother who shuts off communication or says very cruel things when I do not meet her expectations. She has never able to articulate her feelings about what I have done, except to hurt me either directly or obliquely. I am simply wrong when I state my needs; I am ridiculed. I do want to talk things over, but a discussion cannot be one-sided. There is always some culpability to go around.

    Emotionally traumatized people belong to every segment of society. No group is immune. If you feel able to reach out to someone who has hurt you: do it. If you cannot, don't. The other person may love you very much but be incapable of reaching out at a particular moment. Yes, people can be cruel. Ask yourself who is worth fighting for, and then don't talk about how people have hurt you. If you love someone, you will set your boundaries and wait (or not).

    Adoption breaks apart families and relationships. I am one of those who does see it like slavery/indentured servitude. I served, still serve, against my will. I lost so much. The suffrage metaphor doesn't cover it for me.

    Not every adoptee will say they lost things to adoption. That is tragic from my standpoint, but their position may offer some peace to them. Maybe they hurt their mothers (or fathers) with reticence and indecision. I am sure some do; I have heard and read many stories of this.

    Not every mother is wonderfully eager to accept us, protect us, hold us close. Truth. But I still love my mother and am searching for ways to connect to her. Most of us are, and I see incredible amounts of like pain in my groups of adult adoptees.

    Life is short.

    Pain is not a competition.

    I think most of us just try to get through a day, saying, "What the hell happened?" on the other side. Conflict sucks. We can choose either to work on it or not. Not working on it has fallout, but you need equal partners to work.

    Yet Another Adult Adoptee


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  40. Robin WestbrookMay 2, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Lorraine, I am so in this place. "And you know what? I am fucking exhausted by this fractious and fragile relationship, exhausted trying to figure out how to react, tired of getting beaten up by something I could not fix." I am tired of being chastised for my politics, my personality....any thing that will serve to cover up what I am really being beaten up for...what I cannot go back and change. I'm getting old. I am dealing with issues that come with age. I am tired and I am through taking crap for being alive and not being who she wants me to be. I am worthy of respect and if I don't get it along with a bit of peace, I turn away and refuse to feel guilty for being relieved. Thank you for saying what so many of us feel in this situation.

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  41. Robin WestbrookMay 2, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    Thank you for saying this, Lorraine. "And you know what? I am fucking exhausted by this fractious and fragile relationship, exhausted trying to figure out how to react, tired of getting beaten up by something I could not fix." I deserve better and I decided, a while back, that it was best if I loved from a distance. I can't be or do what she wants me to be and do.

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  42. @Lorraine coming from the other side, I'm a daughter who wonders what did I do wrong this time? It's been nothing but push/pull, hot/cold between my mother and I for years. Mostly cold. I wanted nothing more than to have a healthy, loving relationship with my mother, but for reasons I'll never quite understand, she didn't want that. I have done everything I know how to do, and I'm just not good enough for her. Her loss, but still it hurts deeply. She doesn't even know who I am. Not really.

    I think many of us are on edge because Mother's Day is just around the corner.

    Exiled daughter

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  43. I feel sorry for the adoptees that choose to see our reality as a put down to them. They are adults and should be able to be more receptive to the communication of pain, without feeling guilty and accepting it as directed at them or blame laying.

    Adoption is a form of slavery - the courts give "title" to the child through adoption, the amended birth certificate is the documented proof of ownership. Now, this being said, that doesn't mean all adoptive parents are bad or evil. There are good and bad in every situation.

    So, for those adoptees that only see part of the conversation, I feel bad for them.

    Now, for others, I am sick and tired of them crying "wah wah, you are treating me like a baby" - then turning around and treating us like babies... After all, only children get shushed and corrected in their thinking.

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  44. In my own situation, as readers here already know, my first mother was treated by my adoptive parents as a "nothing." The girl had me, they got me, that was the end of it and my AP's still feel this way, to a degree that many consider extreme.

    Any kind of search or reunion was out of the question. And now, even if I hid it from my AP's, I think it's too late.

    It is very difficult to grow up under such circumstances. As soon as I would ask a question, I was told to change the subject. It got to the point where, even when I was alone with my thoughts about my first mother I quashed them, because the subject was so taboo.

    I am still trying to come to terms with it all. I got an ABC and some very vague non-id. I am waiting on my petition to (hopefully) open my records. This is more than I have ever done before. And, even though my AP's believe that "the girl" was worth nothing, I certainly don't believe so.

    I am trying. This is a mess that no human being should have to contend with. It is very difficult.

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  45. @ Adoptee Jen:

    The 'JUST SHUT UP' section is for all the posts that seem to be telling first mothers to just shut up. As yours did.

    These posts vary how they say it, but say it they do.

    They say we write about our lived experience too bitterly, not sweetly enough, not kindly enough, too self-centredly. They say we will only be listened to if we use this tone, or refrain from these phrases, or pay homage to that situation. Genuine pain is swept up and popped in the self-pity bin.

    All these look and feel very like 'Just shut up' to me. And I hope that first mothers here don't. I hope they keep recording how it was and how it felt, so that those who CAN hear the humanity behind it all understand more.

    I hope no first mother here feels shamed or shouted down or condescended to as they try and express something that has rarely been publicly expressed before, and that has hardly ever had a place to be, especially among understanding company.

    The 'JUST SHUT UP' section is for all the varied attempts - whether subtle or by sledgehammer - to make us, the first mothers, do just that. In this particular case, it was about us.




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  46. Julia Emily, do you have anyone you can share all this with? Who can support you? Someone you trust? Like your friend you mentioned recently?

    You are doing absolutely nothing wrong but it's always so good to have someone right by your side to say this to you whenever fear rises up. You know you have us on here, but someone right with you might be really reassurring. During early reunion I was virtually propped up by my husband and sister - they gave me the strength and reassurance that I didn't have myself then.

    It's unnerving how much of the outside world's stuff gets into us. You feeling that you couldn't even THINK about your first mother; me not believing I had the right to even THINK of myself as my son's mother. It's as if the outside world, with all its values and wonky ideas, sets up its architecture within us and we end up living with that inner landscape.

    I think it's so hugely liberating to start questioning that landscape, amending it, altering it, replacing it. I think that's what coming out of the fog is about, as hugely painful as that process is.







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  47. Exiled daughter: You probably did nothing more than "use the wrong towels." By that I mean, having you around opens up the old wounds that have been buried for so so long, and your mother is probably coming undone. It happened to me at times. I wanted to run away and hide, but I didn't, I just came apart. I can think of times when I was irritated with things my daughter did when they were really so small that I should have just absorbed them. Eventually we got past that, but...as this story comes to an end, her retreats were triggered by ... other things.

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  48. And yes, everybody is on edge because of Mother's Day. It's impossible to avoid!

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  49. Hi Cherry: The two other adoptees I mention here live many states away. So, while we do understand each other, and we always were very close, we are limited to phone calls and email.

    It would be good to have someone to lean on!! My husband just does not get it. I have tried to get him to just look at the situation...but he simply can not see a problem with it. Aside from trying to get a passport, which to him is a very cut and dried thing, he doesn't get what is bothering me!

    But I have learned a HUGE amount here! Especially these last few days with Lorraine posting about her daughter's unusual behavior.

    Thanks for your concern!

    And yes....coming out of the fog is a weird and painful experience. I never thought this would happen to me. But I am glad I woke up, so to speak, because I am learning a lot.

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  50. I know the posts are a continuing story, but lets take the conversation over to the latest post: Part 4. Thanks everyone for complying.

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  51. Hi:
    I have never posted to this forum before. Anyway, I am an adoptive mom of 3. Two were my former foster children and one from Haiti. The two who were my foster kids share a First Mom and it was a closed adoption. I had info on her, but she had none on me. I found the First Mom on FB and sent her some pics around Christmas time. She answeren me back and insisted on calling my daughter by the name that she had given her. She also made reference to them being HER CHILDREN. She never had custody of our mutual daughter and named her Heaven at birth. I got her at age 2 days and changed her name when I adopted her a year later. These kids were taken from her because she was a crack addict/ prostitute. She has cleaned up her act and is now married with 2 more children. In my case, open adoption would not work. She has no respect for the fact that these kids have another family now.

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  52. To Julia Emily. Come check out www.DNAAdoption.com. It's not too late to find out at least something, and I have personally seen many people find their original /birth/natural families. People lie and keep secrets, but DNA does not lie.

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  53. To Anonymous 9:17
    Ouch and I can understand how open adoption wouldn't work in your situation. And it sounds like your kids really did need you, and my heart goes out to you, and their birth mother too for all her challenges. I really admire families that adopt from foster and know several in person who like you adopted children from situations where their parents were on drugs, in jail, and worse frankly. There is a place for adoption but the more I learn the more I think it should be a last resort as was previously mentioned.
    (Adoptee's spouse here. )

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