Saturday, May 3, 2014

My (reunited) daughter doesn't speak to me: What did I do now? Cont., Part 4

The weekend Jane and I met, 1981
Fall 2003. I am on a panel of birth mothers at a Concerned United Birthparents retreat. One of the other women speaks rather long and forcefully about her therapist telling her repeatedly that giving up her child “was not her fault,” words a therapist had her repeat until she believes it, she feels it, she knows it. Her relationship with the father is a fleeting one-night stand in France, and maybe she does feel that way but I find her insistent “not my fault” message at odds with my own frame of mind. I did give a baby up for adoption. In some way, that was my fault. I've always tried to own up to what I did.

When I get up to speak, I talk about taking responsibility for our actions, no matter what. There's no winner, no polling of the audience, no instant feedback. I have no idea how those in attendance react.

 Later I attend a healing session led by Carol Schaefer, author of The Other Mother. Now as I hear Carol’s soothing voice, guiding our visualization, I see Jane [my daughter] coming toward me,
walking over a bridge, carrying a small, flat package wrapped in dark pink tissue paper—I have no idea what’s in the package, or why it’s pink, except that she’s a girl—and suddenly I am engulfed in a tsunami of tears. Cathartic tears? Not on your life. Just tears. At this point, I am way beyond catharsis; once again I am merely wretched. Many women in the group are in the same sorry boat—we had a reunion and then somehow it went south.

FEELING OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM OF LIFE 
Those of us who have relinquished a child often feel outside of the mainstream—we are the pariahs we know we are—and so we rarely speak of our deep and abiding pain. Being among our own kind, where we are not judged, or pitied, is immensely comforting. You don’t have to explain, or apologize, or feel embarrassed by the sudden rush of tears filling your eyes. It is all okay, for the woman sitting next to you, who is otherwise a stranger, understands. I confess to the group that my daughter has rejected me--again--and that's why I am in such pain. But in quite moments when I walk alone that weekend, I can’t help but recall the theory that the people who repress their feelings are the healthier. Maybe I ought to try it. 

Sometime that very same weekend, I hear Nancy Verrier, adoptive mother/adoption therapist/author, suggest that we tell our children, at least once, I am sorry. Sorry without caveats. Just sorry that your child is adopted. That you didn’t raise him or her. Sorry, plain and simple. No statement with “it was the times” or “my father/mother/priest/grandmother made me do it” or any of the other million reasons, no matter how true and valid they are. No matter if you were truly forced into signing the surrender papers. No matter if you felt you had no choice. No matter if you were raped and your parents sent you to purdah and said not to come back with that bastard. 

So what? is Verrier’s argument. No matter how it happened that you did not raise your baby, you can still be sorry, because, after all, aren’t you? The adopted person might rationally understand the mitigating factors about why she was relinquished, but maybe, she explains. to hear a mother say just once, “I’m sorry you were adopted,” would be healing. It would not deflect the blame to anyone or anything else, it was be an acknowledgment that no matter how the adoption turned out—good or bad or in between—you are sorry that it happened at all. She adds that a lot of after-reunion relationships improve dramatically once this is said. Do it once, she adds, not a million times. You don’t have to be a whipping post.

WHY DID YOU GIVE MAMA UP?
A light bulb over my head switches on. Have I ever done this, the way Verrier is talking about it? I am pretty sure the answer is no—otherwise, why would this feel like such a revelation? On the flight home, I stare out the window of the airplane as a conversation I had with Britt that summer floats by like a passing cloud. She was eleven—old enough to be fully aware of that adoption meant I had given birth to her mother, but then gave her up. She knew by then that there were both grief and joy between Jane and me, and now she wanted to know, Why did you give Mama up?
Verrier's long-selling book

She saw that Tony and I had a normal middle-class life, that we lived in a neighborhood of nice houses in a swell seaside town, so how come? We were in her bedroom at our house, it was after dinner, early evening but not yet dark. We had not put on a lamp yet.

How to explain what it was like in 1966, what my situation was then, what it was like to be an unwed mother?  How to explain how the rare “unwed mother” had whispers clinging to her like pollen in the springtime? Britt knew kids who had single moms, and by the way, she herself had not seen her father since she was two, and until Jane married, her own mom been a single mother. Britt had been absorbed into the family of Jane’s other parents, so why hadn’t that been the way with Jane and my family? She was determined to get to the bottom of this mystery.

But didn’t you have an uncle or someone you could have asked for help? she wanted to know. Someone who would have helped you? Couldn’t you have gone to the bank and explained to the man you needed money?

I explained the situation, the times, he was married, I was alone, I couldn’t get a loan, you weren’t supposed to have a baby if you weren’t married, et cetera. 

She wasn’t buying any of it. Finally I say, women who had babies and weren’t married were, uh, scorned. Like hos. I knew she had recently learned the word. 

Oh.

But. The look on her face told me she was not convinced. I knew she was thinking: There must have been a way. I turned on the light. I waited.


“I made a mistake,” I finally said. “A terrible mistake. I shouldn’t have done it. I thought it was best for both her and me, but it turned out not to be.” I raised my eyebrows and stared into her bright blue eyes, aware at that moment how much like Patrick’s they were. I knew I was staring into the eyes of an old soul, one who understands much.

Ah, now she got it. A mistake.

Mistakes she understood. Grandma Lorraine made a mistake. That she can accept. It was a doozy of a mistake, but still: a mistake. She said nothing more.

By the time the plane lands, I know what I must do. I would make that call. I would simply say: I’m sorry. No caveats added. Said or unsaid would be this: I made a mistake.--lorraine

NEXT: Conclusion: The reason for my daughter's withdrawal/rejection is revealed. 
________________________
Previous sections at First Mother Forum to this chapter of hole in my heart, a memoir still-in-progress. I swear this will be published soon!
First Mother to (reunited) daughter: What did I do wrong now?
What did this first mother do wrong now? Cont.
What did I do wrong now? Cont. Part 3

The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child 

This book is a definite "must read" for all parents of adopted children. I know that as a parent you will resist believing in the Primal Wound but you must for the benefit of your children. You will learn to understand your adopted children and will be able to help them throughout their lives - sometimes even in the smallest way, i.e. the simple reassurance that you WILL return home after work. I met my birth family at 30 years old. Then I read this book a few years later. This book made a difference in my life. It will make a difference in your life." --An adoptee at Amazon
LOVE
I love this book--an illustrated story told on vibrant pages with uneven edges and popups and cut outs--and have given it to people I love. The story is a simple one about a little girl who loses her parents and ends up in an orphanage and feels very very alone...until one day....Yes, I would give it to a mother or an adoptee for Mother's Day. You may feel differently, but I will always love this book.  
THANK YOU FOR ORDERING THOUGH FMF. 

39 comments :

  1. I have said those words to my daughter more than I can think them.... I don't know that it helped her. It did help me.

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  2. Another amazing, heartfelt post, Lorraine.

    As I read about you trying to explain to your grand daughter all I could think of was....it really can't be explained. When I try to explain to my own children how things were way back when, in any capacity...it is impossible for them to understand. The world has changed so much.

    Just the fact that my own adoption is so closed is something my younger girl can not get. She very rarely mentions it, but when she does she is dumbfounded. I have tried all the explanations that you tried with your grand daughter. Being a product of today's society, she just can't get it.

    And when I think about my own first mother, it does boggle the mind. Nowadays, a 35 year old woman with a job would have her baby and life would go on. My daughter's teacher, unmarried, just went on leave to have her baby, and the kids gave her a baby shower! My first mom was an art instructor, so she obviously made a living. But I tell myself that, in those days, a single, unmarried woman with a baby simply was not allowed. She would have been disgraced. She probably would have lost her job. I am speculating....but there were reasons this decision was made. Maybe the reasons are not valid for us today, but I have to try to believe they were valid at the time.

    I'll go crazy otherwise. Adoption is too complicated. First mothers are in anguish over their past decisions. Adoptees like me are struggling with all kinds of issues. Then we have the happy adoptees telling us all that we're nuts. And the answers just aren't there.

    I wish I could offer more. We are all struggling. But we can help each other by posting here. Thank you for this.

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  3. @Julia Emily, accept there is a great probability of it having been a mistake, please?
    There is no reason to assume that your mother was a fully rational, correctly and fully informed being at the time, well aware what her resources were and what the resources of the adopters would be. So why would her reasons have been valid ones? Accept that you always have been such a wonderful person that giving you up, would in most circumstances be a mistake.

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  4. Adoption...the decision we'll have to answer for to generations to come! We are not 'reminded' that it isn't just our child who is 'lost' to adoption, but their children, and their children...and on and on. Not to mention the fact that it effects them as well. They also lose a whole side of their biological family tree.

    As I have mentioned, my mother was adopted in 1945. She 'never had issues' and therefore never wanted to search. Well, since I was old enough to understand what being adopted was and that I had another family 'out there' also, I wanted to know who they were. (always been interested in family history) So, against my mother's wishes, I decided about 10 yrs. ago to look for my grandmother. What I found was that she has passed away in 1989. I was heart-broken. Something else that was news to us was the fact that my grandmother had been 34, and married to her birthfather when she was given up! (we have pretty much confirmed that he really was her bfather from the ancestry.com DNA test because of his nationality) They divorced soon after my mother was born. I was able to track down two maternal cousins who knew nothing of my mother's existence. My grandmother had told no one about having a baby. The only reasoning the cousins could come up with was that they had heard through the family grape-vine that the birthfather was pretty abusive to my grandmother, and maybe that's why she didn't want to bring a baby into the violence. Still seems that there could have been another way, but whatever, we will never know the 'why's' or what she was thinking.

    I have heard about biological mothers apologizing for giving their child up, only to be given the answer 'you have nothing to be sorry for!' Well, yes we do! There is always sorrow for bringing a child into the world and not feeling you are able to be a proper mother to them, no matter where that idea comes from or if it's true or not. There is much sorrow in believing you cannot provide for or take care of your own child. All of this pales in comparison to feeling that you've inflicted even an ounce of pain on the person you love most in this world. As a mother, we're supposed to spare our children hardships. Instead, we've created a HUGE one, and for that, I will forever be 'sorry.'

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  5. Hi Theodore: what I am trying to convince myself of is this: the world was different then. This was a long time ago. My first mother's reasons had to be, in her mind, valid at that time.

    Not valid any longer, but she must have believed they were valid then. And if I don't at least try to believe the same, I will lose my mind. I can't rationalize this any other way.

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  6. I have said I'm sorry to my daughter and it backfired. She thinks it was the BEST thing that she was adopted, so saying I was sorry didn't mean much. If I said I made a mistake surrendering you, she would say being adopted was GREAT. She would say (as she's said before) that I need to take responsibility. What does that look like, I counter. She has no response.

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  7. As an adoptee who was dumped by her mother about 6 years after reunion (limited, sporadic contact because I was still a secret to most people), I can empathize with your pain, Lorraine. It's excruciating. In trying to figure out what Jane was doing/thinking, I keep going back to Verrier's "Primal Wound" explanations. I think for most of us adoptees, even we don't know the depths of our damage, often not knowing why our words and actions are so destructive. It goes back to the fight-or-flight response that remain in our cells from being relinquished and completely discombobulated in our first, most helpless days. The confusing response (Jane's and so many others) seems to be a combination of BOTH fight and flight. Alarming and sad to both the perpetrators and the victims of it. God adoption sucks.

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  8. @ Julia E,

    " My daughter's teacher, unmarried, just went on leave to have her baby, and the kids gave her a baby shower! My first mom was an art instructor, so she obviously made a living. But I tell myself that, in those days, a single, unmarried woman with a baby simply was not allowed. She would have been disgraced. She probably would have lost her job. I am speculating....but there were reasons this decision was made"

    yes, you are likely correct. In those days a school teacher who became pregnant out of wedlock would have been fired. There was a 'moral turpitude" clause on the teaching contracts that would have applied to unwed pregnancy back then. (I was a schoolteacher myself in the 1970s, and I recall the "moral turpitude" clause on the teaching contract)

    The laws are different today. The Pregnancy Act of 1978, added to the 1964 Civil Rights Act has helped to protect the rights of single and married pregnant and parenting women.

    It has taken a lot of time, and a lot of effort by a lot of people to get the changes we have today.Lawsuits helped, as well.

    And, yes, it does help to share here, as well.

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  9. @Mary I can relate having been dumped by my mother as well many years after reunion. I don't know her reasons, but the best I can figure out is that I dared have feelings, pain, needs, and the desire to have some amount of respect simply as a human being. I had to play by her rules, having no needs of my own, or be shunned from her life. I did try. I really did. I put her first, and myself second, until I just couldn't do it any longer. Eventually I refused to be a second tier child, I deserve the same amount of respect and kindness as her kept child.

    Exiled daughter

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  10. Mary: Thank you for your sympathetic understanding--for either party is a very difficult to be on the receiving end of erratic and hurtful behavior. But it is the end result of the abandonment the adoptee feels; the awful sense of loss/guilt/shame that the mother felt with the relinquishment. That is the great payoff of adoption.

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  11. Phantom Mom: Your daughter is reacting to the life she had, and not thinking about how it sounds to you--Gee, I'm so glad you didn't keep me!

    I don't understand then what she means by take responsibility--except to say, yes, I gave you up, I'm sorry, as Verrier says. But it also sounds like she would like you to take credit for the great life she had!

    Try to be understanding, but a doormat you do not need to be.

    I think that the initial pain and loss for the adoptee comes in the pre-verbal stage and thus they cannot articulate the feelings because they can't quite identify the source or exactly what's what.

    And while we mothers know the source of our pain, we do not expect to be brought back to that time of tremendous loss and grief with the force that it hits us with. Some mothers find it too painful, I suspect, to be around the reminder of what happened, and so push the child away, when the adult child wants to know the mother.

    The time period I am talking about in this series of posts came after knowing my daughter for more than two decades, and so emotionally I had calmed down, but --well, the end of the story will be posted on Monday.

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  12. Kitta, Julie E, In those days any pregnant woman, married or not, was fired. About 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled that under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a school district could not fire a woman for being pregnant. The district argued that it was not being discriminatory because it would have fired a pregnant man!

    While both married and unmarried mothers were fired, married ones would likely have been re-hired once their child was two or whatever age the district required. Single mothers, probably not.

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  13. Thank you, Jane, for pointing out that women teachers would be fired if they were pregnant and single pregnant women would certainly be intolerable. I was talking about this not too long ago with a friend of mine who was in that position in a school district we both worked in. Fortunately, her parents were a big help and very supportive. She married the father, stayed home with the child for two years, and then returned to work with a letter stating that her parents would be taking care of her child during the day. Another characteristic of this era is that childcare centers were not available. In my area, they started appearing on a small scale around 1975, and then they were only available for potty trained children ages 3 and older.
    Understanding the era and the cultural influences of the times is critical for any adoptee contemplating a reunion.

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  14. Lorraine, like Lori, I said "sorry" so many times I eventually lost count. Do you know why Verrier's advice was to say it just once? That seemed odd to me.

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  15. Gail:

    Why once? Because how many times can you say I'm sorry you were adopted without feeling...like you will never say it enough times? How can you have a relationship with anybody if you are always saying "I'm sorry." That is not a relationship; that is being beat over the head repeatedly. Both mothers and children (who are adults, or teens) have to move on and deal with life as it is today.

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  16. Thanks everyone for the info about pregnant women being fired from their jobs. I didn't realize it was the normal thing to do back then. I am learning that things were very different then, and I am glad things have changed.

    So, why haven't the laws changed? Why are there law makers who still believe this nonsense? That, I think, is the most frustrating part of this whole thing. We seem to be moving backwards on this issue of opening adoption records. It's unbelievable in this day and age!

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  17. Yes, Julia, you are so right about the level of frustration that closed records create. Some day, and I'm hoping I live long enough to see it, people will look back at today's era with shock that such a state of affairs even existed. Like Lorraine, I searched and found my daughter in the 80's - pre-internet. I felt "driven" to search as the unknown was making me crazy, so I have much empathy for you.

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  18. Julia Emily, you'd better believe it.
    This one is not an adoption story, but in the mid sixties my friend J, an excellent student, was thrown out of college because it was discovered she'd got pregnant before she was married - *even though* she had married the father well before the news of her pregnancy got out.

    I also know people who have lost their jobs when it was discovered they'd surrendered their "bastard" children for adoption. And a woman who was thrown out of her lodgings for the same reason.

    I had a prof. at college, a really lovely woman, whose younger sister was attending the same institution as a student. Only she wasn't really her younger sister - she was her daughter who had been raised as her sister, and only told later by her mother when she'd started college (because the grand parents wouldn't have approved, and wanted to maintain the pretense). It was a big secret, only shared among a few loyal friends.

    Just Another Mother

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  19. Personally, I don't and won't take Verriers advice. Just because she adopted.and. wrote a few books about adopted per ad ons doesn't mean she knows what and where I as a mom should be doing be doing or not doing. It took her awhile to figure out her own adopted daughter was in pain and if I remember right it was after her teunion.

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  20. JE,

    The good news is that the laws have changed. Thanks to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a woman cannot be fired from most jobs just for being pregnant.

    The Family Medical Leave Act may give her time off so she can return to her job after the baby is born. FMLA does not give her an income when she is off work, though. In other western countries, mothers get their salaries or money from the government during their pregnancies and for a time afterwards.

    If the US had these benefits, single mothers would have less pressure to give up their babies.

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  21. On the lighter side, the following appeared on the front page of my local paper. "After her graduation on May 1, 1968, Shari Worrell became a stewardess for United Airlines in an era that demanded she wear a skirt, high heels, false eyelashes and a girdle. We had girdle checks, remembers Worrell, who says she always wore one even while meeting the requirement to keep her weight between 105 and 118 pounds. We got weighed in before every flight."

    Those were the days!

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  22. Here is the link to the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, for anyone who is interested:

    http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/pregnancy.cfm

    This Act of Congress was an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    I knew several single women who had jobs in the 1960s, early 1970s, became pregnant and were fired...because of their "immoral behavior." Men who engaged in the same sexual behavior did not lose their jobs.

    The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, added to the Civil Rights law, helped to change the situation.

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  23. This was an amazing education!! Thanks to all who commented and provided links. I am glad, of course, that the laws have changed regarding firing a woman due to her being pregnant...but I am still hoping for the ridiculous closed adoption laws to be changed.

    So, in 1957 there was no way on earth my first mother could have kept her job, and had a life of her own had she kept me. She most likely lost the job just for being pregnant, and especially because she was not married. Mind boggling. I am hoping desperately that my petition to open my file is granted. It's the only way I'll ever learn what really happened.

    How anyone could believe that a woman could give up her own baby and that they would forget about it is beyond what I can believe. How anyone can still believe it today is even more impossible to believe! But people still do.

    @Gail: The stewardess story was funny! Hard to imagine such a thing!

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    1. Julia Emily & Gail, I grew up hearing "stewardess stories," as I lived just a few miles from a major airline, surrounded by flight crews and the air hostesses who'd been fired upon marriage... including my mother. She lived on black coffee, skim milk, and four packs of cigarettes a day to keep her weight down.

      The only reason my parents could justify my foreign language studies was so I could fly for an international carrier after graduating--and give my free travel vouchers to my folks, of course.

      None of the airlines with which I interviewed DID hire me: They could tell I didn't really want to be a flight attendant, even if I did pass the conversational language tests in four foreign tongues.

      My most hair-raising experience was being told by Eastern Airlines that I was a half-inch too tall and two pounds overweight.

      My mother remembered that if she hadn't gotten married by the age of thirty-two, she'd've been fired. "If you haven't found a man to take care of you by then, [Now Defunct] Airlines doesn't want you either." That is a direct quote. Quite a few pregnant stews had shotgun marriages; it was considered preferable to getting fired once a sudden weight gain/girdle-check "fail" disclosed an unplanned pregnancy.

      Those were the pre-Roe days!

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    2. Julia Emily
      Yes! My husband was adopted in 1958. This is known by some as the "Baby Scoop Era" or BSE. There are some fantastic websites on this era and the trauma to relinquishing mothers.
      A really good book is "The Girls Who Went Away." My husband and I read it and bought and watched the accompanying DVD. Very eye opening for us from younger generations.
      BSE research
      http://babyscoopera.com/

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  24. Oh yeah. When I had my "birth"daughter in 1985, one of the "relinquishing tactics" used on me was that I wouldn't be able to find a decent job because no one would hire a teen-aged, single mom. So I would have had no way to support my child. Then when I got pregnant again a little over a year later (got married when I was 6 months pregnant that time) I was going to college and working at a pre-school. But before I actually got married, I was **petrified** that I would lose that job. I assumed I'd be viewed as a bad example to the children I taught.

    The 80's were a pivotal time. More progressive than the 60's and 70's, but many people still had the same mind-set. It was changing, but nothing like the acceptance we experience today. Adoptees have to go back in time to understand exactly what it was like "back in the day."

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  25. Anonymous, May 4th 3:00 PM, I do think apologies to one's child are merited, but I also have some sympathy with how you feel.

    Apologies that can actually *help*, spring spontaneously from the heart, and aren't made on the "advice" of anyone.
    I have always been surprised that anyone would need the advice of a therapy guru before getting round to telling their child they were sorry they'd let them go to be adopted.
    I wonder to myself, could it be that they identified so strongly with their child that they felt an apology wasn't necessary? Or was it because, having done nothing wrong themselves, they felt so victimized they couldn't see that there was anything, even from the child's point of view, to be sorry for.

    Just Another Mother

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  26. As a mother whose son has faded in and out over the years,once with no explanation for two years after an in-person meeting, I can relate to this topic. In fact I am annoyed at myself that I still let fear creep in when I have not heard from him for a few weeks, despite over ten years now when he has always come back and been kind.

    The most important thing I have learned is that it is not about me, but about things in his life. Our adult children all have lives that have nothing to do with us, and these lives are very busy. Plus when he gets back to me he is sorry, and I accept that. It is my insecurity that is the problem, not his actions.

    For me, it meant more to stop making excuses and blaming others and take responsibility for my part in the surrender to earn his respect. He did not really want or need an apology as he said it was not his place to forgive me, but that I had to forgive myself. That made sense to me.

    All of us, adoptees or mothers, have our own stuff that we have to deal with alone, not lay on the other person and expect them to fix it. I try not to dwell on why my son withdrew, but to enjoy the relationship we do have now, fragile though it may be."Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky" as the song says. This is not at all easy for an anxious, prone to depression person like me, but I am working hard at it and sometimes succeeding.

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  27. Wow, Ms. Tarquin Bistcuitbarrel, I am impressed--conversational in 4 languages? Surely a feat that not many women had...and a half inch too tall and 2 pounds over? Yikes. I never became a stewardess but I thought about it--for about a half hour. I worked very hard to go to college, and in college (mostly paying all my bills) that for a while it seemed like a freakin' change from worrying about cracking the glass ceiling in journalism.

    What airline insisted you be gone by 32? American? Do tell--though they were all the same.

    Feeling very much the dinosaur tonight....

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  28. Just Another Mother: Of course I expressed remorse, regret, sorrow to my daughter after I found her. She knew I was "sorry."

    But I don't think I had ever thought of expressing my "sorry" to her the way Nancy Verrier explained it. Because I felt pushed into giving my daughter up, because I felt there was no real choice, I may have not said it that way. Besides, I was hoping that conversation would allow her for "forgive" me. Didn't happen, as the next (and concluding) part of this chapter reveals.

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  29. TWA. Their "hostesses"--they scowled at the term "stewardesses"--were also known as "teenie-weenies." So you'd better measure up! That is, down...

    Still and all, flying for TWA was undoubtedly the pinnacle of my mother's life. She was very proud of being hired, and the fact that I wanted to do something else infuriated her. One of my sisters worked in reservations for many years at another airline, since she was heavier than the requirements for flight attendants; my parents got those coveted flight vouchers after all.

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  30. " Because I felt pushed into giving my daughter up, because I felt there was no real choice."
    I understand, Lorraine. That's what I thought.

    Just Another Mother

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  31. The issue of what I am responsible for is something I am carefully and gradually picking over now.

    For so long I thought and believed I was entirely responsible for my son's adoption.

    As his 18th birthday drew near, with the potential for reunion, I looked again at why I'd chosen to have him adopted. I looked and looked and I couldn't find a reason. I told my mum that I wouldn't know how to answer my son if he asked why, because I didn't know. I knew what everyone had said about him having a better life, but that was other people's views, that seemed external to us, cerebral. I couldn't find an inner reason why I would've given him up. She said, after some time, 'Tell him you had an unsupportive family'. I was indignant - I didn't see my family like that. I had the same reaction when my mum told me, a few years after his adoption, that she felt guilty for pressurising me. I didn't see it then, and again felt protective of her, that she was admonishing herself unnecessarily.

    I know now that I was pressurised by many, and that I had no support from my family to keep him. I know this because I am older, and because I read my detailed diary of the time.

    Once all the bluster fell away (the perverse romance of adoption - the fairytale of happy ever after), it was shocking to find absolutely no concrete reason why I would've given my son up. There are amorphous reasons - a lack of confidence in myself as his mother, a cultivated belief that others would give him a much better life, seeing only a cul-de-sac of options when it came to imagining or offering him a happy life.

    I now see the bigger picture, in which me and my son existed at the time of my pregnancy and his birth. I see so much pressure from without to give him up. I now see how vulnerable and weakened I was as a 16 year old, and how utterly vulnerable and in need of me he was.

    But if I boil everything away, all the unfair pressures and the tangle of other people's agendas and society's morality-based cruelty, I see one thing.

    I see that I didn't chose to give my son up for adoption. But I DID loosen my hold on him, just enough to enable others to lift him away. I will grieve that all my life, and my son will have to live the consequences of that for all of his. I couldn't be more sorry for that, and I've told him so. I felt compelled to, it felt easy and it felt right.

    Now we have to find our way forward with everything that resulted from that.

    I know I will keep on looking at what I am responsible for, for a long time, until it's done. It's my journey with myself. The results will be for my son.


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  32. Oh, dear Cherry, you were SIXTEEN when your son was born... I can only imagine the staunch support, love, and belief in you that the adults around you would have had to loudly proclaim to keep your baby from being prised from your embrace! And from what you've written, you didn't have that. Such a shame!

    You were indeed "pressurized" from being the fine mum I have no doubt you could have been. Please don't beat yourself up.

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  33. Cherry:

    Amen to Mrs. Tarquin.. BB.

    Stop beating yourself up!

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  34. Cherry, I love the way you stated that you loosened your hold and allowed others to lift him away. It reminds me of how I felt which is why I use the word "surrendered."

    Your warmth, care, and concern is reflected in your writing and I bet you would have been and will possibly be a great mom to your son.

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  35. I do not see Cherry as "beating herself up" but rather as taking responsibility for HER part in the surrender, as I have done. This does not mean exonerating or excusing all the other people and factors that led to surrender. They each have their own responsibility to deal with. That we as mothers have our does not obliterate theirs.

    How we deal with the aftermath of surrender is very individual, and what works for one does not work for another. For me, I went from blaming everything and everyone else, to seeing my part in "loosening my hold" on my son, as Cherry put it, so others could take him away. Cherry at first did not blame her family and others, I did, for many years. I have come to a better place by claiming my responsibility as well as seeing that of others.

    Now, we have both reached a place of seeing our own part in the surrender as well as that of others around us, and trying to move forward from this place, not look endlessly backward. This is not beating ourselves up, and it is not an affront to those who feel better believing that they had no agency at all in the surrender. We each have to follow the path that leads to our own healing. What works for each of us is what matters, not that there is one right way to deal with the issue of why we surrendered.

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  36. I agree, Maryanne and Cherry. Relinquishments come about as a result of a perfect storm of circumstances, but whatever the reasons for our loosening our hold on our children (I too really appreciate the way you phrased that, Cherry) we need to accept and acknowledge our part in their relinquishment.
    Like Maryanne says, it doesn't let anyone else off the hook. Besides, taking responsibility for one's own contribution to another person's suffering is the foundation of apology.

    Just Another Mother

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  37. Mrs TarquinBB, 'prised' is a good word for it. And Gail, yes, 'surrendered' fits well doesn't it.

    Thanks all for being the great (and warm) company I sometimes need with all this. Of course, you made me cry, but it was from the feeling of being accompanied and understood, always a deeply moving feeling when you've felt very alone (as I'm sure many who come here have felt).

    xx

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