' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: How do natural mothers fare?
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

How do natural mothers fare?

Lorraine
Considering the flak the last couple days at First Mother Forum, today seemed like the right time to include a portion of the book I'm about to publishMy book is a largely a memoir--of my relinquishment, search, reunion and relationship with my daughter Jane-- but it also has sections of journalism that puts our painful story in a larger context. From Hole in My Heart:

Adoption is trumpeted today as a universal good thing. For infertile couples who wish to have a family, it is a solution. For religious organizations and fellow-travelers, agencies that use the mantle of religion, it is a business. For liberals who want to do good and keep the sense of family about them, it is a way to keep population growth down. Celebrities who adopt get on the cover of magazines, increasing their likability and encouraging ever more people to
raise other people’s children. A liberal think-tank issues a white paper[1] encouraging women and teens to surrender their babies in order that they, the mothers, might have a better life.

But what is rarely talked about is the long-term mental and physical effect of surrendering a baby to others for adoption. One expects short-term grief in the aftermath of signing away one’s rights to a child one has borne, but what of the long-term lasting impact, four, five—twenty—years later?

A TOXIC AFTERMATH FOR MOTHERS
We are not doing so well. While there are millions of us out there, we are hard to study and pin down—we do go on and have lives and get swallowed up by a code of silence that many of us assume. But the toxic aftermath of relinquishing a child lingers on:

A British study of 93 mothers[2] who had relinquished children to adoption found that while only an insignificant proportion of these women had been diagnosed with a mental health problem previously (3 percent), in the time between parting and contact, 24 percent had a psychiatric diagnosis, mainly for depression. Not surprisingly mothers who were compelled to search for their children fared the worst: They were prone to lowered self-esteem, anxiety and worry over the child; they required more doctor visits, and attributed their physical and mental problems over the years to adoption. Seeker mothers often cited parental pressure as the main reason for the adoption, and reported that they had little emotional support during the pregnancy and relinquishment.

An Australian study of over two hundred natural mothers[3] found that nearly thirty percent reported below-average “adjustment” to the situation at the time they were questioned, many up to twenty years later. Half reported an increasing sense of loss over the years. Few opportunities to talk about their feelings related to surrender and no social supports exacerbated their depression.

A survey of a dozen studies[4] identified a grief reaction “unique” to the natural mother that left her “at risk for long-term physical, psychologic[al] and social repercussions.” The authors concluded that the women’s reactions were similar to normal grief, with one notable difference: they “often lead to chronic, unresolved grief….Although interventions have been proposed, little is known about their effectiveness in preventing or alleviating these repercussions.”

A study of more than 300 natural mothers, most of them members of Concerned United Birthparents (CUB),[5] found that they perceived surrendering a child had a profound negative effect on their later lives, particularly regarding marriage, fertility and parenting. Critics might argue that members of any such an organization self-select to be skewed toward pathology; nonetheless, the results mirror the studies done by impartial researchers.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH SUFFERS
In The Adoption Triangle--the first book to investigate natural mothers—the authors (a psychiatrist and two social workers) found that in numerous letters from natural mothers collected years after surrender, “there was still the intensity of feeling and the need to describe the pain, still carried within…. Even if the birth parents had become comfortable with the decision [to relinquish] because there were no viable alternatives, they nevertheless felt loss, pain, mourning and a continuing sense of caring for that long vanished child.”[6]

The Birthmother Research Project,[7] found that on average women who surrender children are more likely to have hysterectomies than women who do not. Researcher J. Kelly, M.A. writes: "The survey results supported other research findings…that birthmothers experience difficulties with unresolved grief, traumatic stress symptoms, self-punishment, low self-esteem, arrested emotional development, living at extremes, difficulty forgiving oneself/others, being out of touch with feelings, difficulty giving/receiving love, relationship problems, self-hatred and dysfunctional sexual problems. Unresolved grief, self-punishment, and low self-esteem ranked highest among the difficulties identified as extreme, often or severe."

Today some come right out and call the effect of adoption on some natural mothers Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.[8]  That sounds about right to me.--lorraine

(Copyright material; not to be copied or used without the express permission of the author, Lorraine Dusky



[1] Jessica Arons,”The Adoption Option: Adoption Won’t Reduce Abortion but It Will Expand Women’s Choices,” Center for American Progress (October, 2010).  
[2] John Triseliotis, Julia Feast and Fiona Kyle, ”The Adoption Triangle Revisited: A Study of adoption, search and reunion experiences” (The British Association for Adoption & Fostering, London: 2005) , pp, 80-92. The sample is small—32 seekers and 61 mothers who were sought, but is one of the very few—perhaps the only—to include both seeker and sought first mothers.
[3] Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process, Donaldson Adoption Institute (New York:2006, revised 2007), pp. 46-50. The Australian study is one of several included in the Donaldson report.
[4]H. A. Askren, and K. C. Bloom, “Postadoptive Reactions of the Relinquishing Mother: A Review,” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 1999:28.: pp. 395–400.
[5] Eva Y. Deykin, Lee Campbell, Patricia Patti, “The Post Adoption Experience of Surrendering Parents,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, April 1984,  pp. 271-280. Also Karen Wilson Buterbaugh, “Adoption-Induced Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Mothers of the Baby Scoop Era,” Origins America, 2010.
[6] Arthur D. Sorosky, Annette Baran and Ruben Pannor The Adoption Triangle: Sealed or Opened Records: How They Affect Adoptees, Birth Parents, and Adoptive Parents, updated from 1979 edition, (San Antonio: 1989) p. 72.
[7] J. Kelly, “Birthmother Research Project,” (On line: 2009).
[8] Karen Wilson Buterbaugh, “Adoption-Induced Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Mothers of the Baby Scoop Era,” Origins America (On line: 2010).

TO READ
The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories edited by Susan Wadia-Ellis

"The one thing that did emerge most clearly from this work was the overall tone that adoption was an incredibly painful thing for all parties involved. The more positive essays were from the adoptive moms--birth moms and adopted daughters were obviously struggling to make sense out of their experiences.....wonderful collection, but at the same time I seriously wonder whether adoption is something I'm able to emotionally tackle after experiencing Wadia-Ells' book.

"Lesbian women, multi-racial families, and a variety of socio-economic backgrounds all lend to this book a wealth of perspectives. The contributors are thoughtful, often in emotional pain, honest about their experiences, and each one is a talented writer."--A reader at Amazon


The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades  Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler
The title speaks for itself. Fessler is an adoptee. 

"Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to keep the baby," says Joyce, in a story typical of the birth mothers, mostly white and middle-class, who vent here about being forced to give up their babies for adoption from the 1950s through the early '70s. They recall callous parents obsessed with what their neighbors would say; maternity homes run by unfeeling nuns who sowed the seeds of lifelong guilt and shame; and social workers who treated unwed mothers like incubators for married couples. 

"More than one birth mother was emotionally paralyzed until she finally met the child she'd relinquished years earlier. In these pages, which are sure to provoke controversy among adoptive parents, birth mothers repeatedly insist that their babies were unwanted by society, not by them. Fessler, a photography professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, is an adoptee whose birth mother confessed that she had given her away even though her fiancé, who wasn't Fessler's father, was willing to raise her. Although at times rambling and self-pitying, these knowing oral histories are an emotional boon for birth mothers and adoptees struggling to make sense of troubled pasts."--Publisher's Weekly



104 comments :

  1. Hi Lorraine,
    After finding my son in 92, I found myself to be relieved and happy. I have had many years in a reunion with my son including living together for over 15 yrs.
    Even after all this I still carry my overall sadness over his loss. I wish I could lose this feeling. Even typing this brings me to tears.
    I do think that over all anyone that tells their story of losing a baby is not understood. The non acknowledgement validates my feelings. Even my own mother looks at my loss as her having to live with this for the rest of HER life. Of course, she tries to never talk about it. I have found this to be the hardest part the not understanding.
    Gale

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  2. Excellent, Lorraine, and ,Gale, I feel just as you do. I've been in reunion with my son for over three years, and when I first found him (I was the one who searched; he'd been told mistakenly that his mother had committed suicide ten days after his birth), I thought that would be the end of grief. I discovered it was only the beginning. I had no chance to grieve his loss in 1968. The man I married (not his father) punished me for having a baby, and my parents, who were the reason for my relinquishment, never spoke of him again. I stuffed my feelings down as deeply as I could, and when I found my son 44 years later, all that grief came pouring out. Things have settled down, and our relationship is strong, but I will never stop grieving the lost years. Yes, I've moved on and have a good life, but there is a shadow that will follow me forever. I would like very much for the "rest of the world" to recognize and acknowledge my loss, but even if that were to happen, the grief will remain. A severed limb cannot be replaced, nor can the lost years of a child's life.

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  3. Hi Lorraine...

    Even though I've been in a relatively good reunion for almost 16 years now....still I have many moments of extreme sadness come over me. It is the memory of my baby, my newborn that I was 'allowed' to hold for about a half hour. How better to explain it for me....I lost my baby, my baby is forever lost to me. I reunited with an adult....not my baby. It is the memory of my baby that still brings sadness and sorrow for me. I'm 68 years old now and still there are times my thoughts scream....I want my baby back!! But that can never be, I accept that, I live with that. I will forever miss 'my baby'.

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  4. Thank you, Pam...I wonder why that greatest generation only acknowledges certain events especially those that involve their doing good...yes, greatest tragedy is that greatest generation went through a taumatic event WW2 and for some reason can never acknowledge losses of family members those closest to them...or are we close no its a facade my mother loves to pretend of course her culpability was there. Along with step thing...ah, yes I got pg and would have loved to hold my baby after delivery although wide awake..didn't cruel and inhumane. I wanted to raise my baby. No chance of that as we had to pretend everything was ok....nutty.
    Gale

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  5. I am going to guess most friends and family would say I am doing well, I have a good job, husband, nice home and interests. They might even say (if they are in a position to know) that I am doing reasonably well in relation to my adoption surrender, non reunion and its collateral damanage to my family. They would be partially right. Twenty eight years in therapy, constant self work and reflection have helped a great deal.

    And yet.

    I am daily plagued with anxiety, depression and sadness that I work hard to manage, to hide. I do not tell people the # of times I check on my daughter online, I do not tell anyone how this feeling of her is with me every day all the time. I still feel, despite all my progress, that I must put on the brave face, show the world I am good for if I am not it will lessen my chance of her being willing to meet me someday, if she ever changes her mind. I am wearing a mask I glues to my face daily I am really not that well off. But I must pretend I am. For certain, no grown adoptee wants to meet a whack job mother. I work hard to be "meeting worthy".

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  6. My Mom was drunk and living in the same rooming house for 20 years when I walked in and announced that I was her son. It was the day after my 50th birthday. Her first words to me were: " How'd you find me? Got a cigarette? " I'd say she carried some baggage.

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    1. Yes, she does carry baggage. Are you still in touch with her?

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  7. Interestingly enough I just read part of a story about women on campuses doing everything to help women cope with bad feelings about sexual assault to the point where they have special rooms set up with cookies and movies of puppies when a discussion on campus might trigger anxiety. I thought, geeze, wake up. Don't go to the talk/ and I then thought about how we had to hide what happened to us, and all of us living in our separate glasses houses with unacknowledged triggers all around.

    Here's the story for those interested:
    Op-Ed | Judith Shulevitz: In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas SECTION SR - PAGE 1
    By JUDITH SHULEVITZ

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    1. Remember Juno, anyone?

      I can't watch that actress (Ellen Page) in anything. And even good friends don't understand why, and tell me that my reaction is unreasonable, how could I be like that?

      You know why, I thought--you didn't have a child and give her up for adoption.

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    2. Seems like good friends would most certainly understand... Once a trigger, always a trigger! When we see ANY actor/actress in a movie we generally recall what they've been in before. Ellen Page = Juno = trigger. Pretty simple equation.

      I'm sorry they don't get it Lorraine. How very shortsighted of them.

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    3. No one wants to hear what happened to us. They want us to just go away. I was so young that the powers that be made certain that I virtually went away. That movie Juno was crap.

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    4. I'm sorry too Lorraine, it's a secondary wounding when people, especially those close to us, don't understand the how ..or what.. or why it triggers. Your reaction is not at all unreasonable. It's perfectly normal.

      It helps so much to learn what the triggers are and yet.. you can end up tip-toeing around almost everything if you're not the one who is triggered. Learning to ''appreciate'' my husbands triggers (related to combat in Vietnam in the 60's) was a long time coming.. brushing my teeth set him on edge (understatement).. I had to think, where was he coming from? and one day *I* ''heard it'', it sounded like chopper blades. I told him what I thought and he was 'better' after that. There was the rattling plastic bags or candy wrappers or chip bags ..they were a HUGE ''minefield''. A noise like that will get you killed in the bush. I had to walk in his footsteps (for a time) landmines, booby traps and pungy stakes (he was protecting me.. and him), stop when he stopped (in the woods) oh so many things, there were -good-reasons for his anxiety, his actions and emotional reactions. People had died or he and or others had been badly wounded.. the threat always of every bush, every tree, every clump of grass, every everywhere there could be death coming from it. Even though he was physically back in the states (had been for about 18 years) and was where those things were not prevalent and especially not in our home.. . his mind and so much of him was still in Vietnam. It has been a long road. Having my own trauma from the loss of my son, in a very hard way, helped me to understand him and how that follows a person throughout their life. It can get some better but it doesn't leave a person unscathed. It seems like there is a need to make a ''safe'' place. Where those things can't come in.. except when choppers fly over or the folks that target practice in the surrounding area sometimes leave you feeling like you're in a war zone. The beauty of this is, in recent years.. since I have come out of the ''forget it-get over it'' box I was shoved into, over the loss of my son and become more vocal about it... he has started turning off certain shows or he'll skip over them if he knows there is a bad (real obvious) adoption trigger in them.. and he will watch something later if I tell him it's not working or 'gonna work for me. I have to speak up though. No one is a mind reader... and no matter how much I scream to myself... 'WHAT, ABOUT HOW MUCH THIS HURTS ME, DON'T YOU BLOOMIN' UNDERSTAND?' those around me are not going to understand it if I don't speak up. What they do with it from there is ..up to them and I make necessary adjustments accordingly. It's a hard thing, it seems... what brings 'relief' to some can cause enormous pain to others.... all due to our individual experiences in life. The things my husband can find ''quiet relief'' in .... """cause""" me to turn into a non-functioning mess.... and visa versa. I'm trying to work on it though. (~_~).

      Lorraine makes a profound statement in ''I then thought about how we had to hide what happened to us, and all of us living in our separate glass houses with unacknowledged triggers ALL AROUND." They are ... ALL... around. There is no where to hide ..not completely from adoption loss. It seems there is not one day to not -go there and no 'safe place' to not feel the pain, the grief.

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  8. Lorraine, if I was to tell my story, I would get pity. Because of this, I do not. I am angry and hurt and devastated.... and tired to the bone. But I don't even know if I could ever get it down on paper.

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  9. I'm glad to find your blog. I've had decades of depression as a result of relinquishing my baby at birth when I was 15. The records were sealed until the law changed. My daughter found me when she was 27--19 years ago. We attempted reunion but it was just too difficult for me. She was the result of a brutal rape and I developed PTSD after seeing her. She is very angry now, and it is devastating to know she feels rejected yet again. She was adopted into a wonderful large family and was doted on, and I'm so glad for that. When I read blogs by adoptees, I'm heartbroken as they vent their anger, hurt, and hatred for their birth moms. Even when they've reunited sometimes they don't understand why they don't automatically fit into the birth mothers family. I'll live with guilt forever for giving her up. I'm not sure I believe in adoption anymore--it's proven so harmful for both child and birth mother.

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  10. Lorraine, thank you so much for referencing my article about PTSD in surrendering mothers. The mental health community MUST study the after effects of mother/child separation and understand and accept that yes, we DO suffer from PTSD. How can a mother have her baby taken from her without incurring the deepest of trauma? How, too, can a newborn baby be removed from her own natural (willing) mother and not suffer the worst trauma in life? Our injuries must be recognized by the mental health community as real... as valid. I wonder why it has taken so long. Could it be that they do know but refuse to admit it publicly? If they did, they would have to accept that infant adoption HURTS mothers and it HURTS their taken children. It is way past time for these injuries to be acknowledged by all.

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  11. Karen,
    It took decades for vets to be acknowledged. We didn't go to war but our war was fought over our lifetime. I feel like I am still fighting that war with my mom. She only sees it as her having to live the rest of her life hearing how hardit has been for me to lose my baby. I have not posted this excessively in fact very little. I have been trying to deal with it like most of us. In pain and hurting all because we loved someone.
    I do think if mental health acknowledged our pain or our children's pain it would be a damper on adoption. I don't believe it would stop it. But, actually studying the years of studies a lot of us mom's have participated in would be all they needed.
    Just absurd how our pain was used to bring such happiness to another woman. We didn't matter then and we don't matter now. We are the pawns used for our babies then cast aside. I hate adoption in fact when I hear someone talking about it I feel like throwing up. If one of those idiots had to live for one minute l like we did they would feel different. I recently stopped seeing someone when I realized their was the lucky kid that got adopted by this special woman story. Too much for me.
    I heard social workers don't even have these issues addressed in their studies. Adoption, is such a happy event. We just need to go away.

    Gale
    Juno, was a stupid movie so juvenile and totally unreal as to what a young pregnant woman goes through. Dumb and dumber Hollywood.

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  12. Dumb or not, it was entertaining and I know it had an impact on young girls. I heard about that first hand. So I will always associate Ellen Page and Juno and the writer Diablo Cody (who won an Oscar for Juno) and the director Jason Reitman with this awful awful movie that made giving up a child .... and going to school while pregnant....so damn easy.

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    1. I heard Jason Reitman interviewed on "Fresh Air."All aglow about adoption. His sister was adopted.

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    2. Ah so. I am not surprised. Maybe his sister is one of the well -adjusted adoptees, never shared any dark feelings with her brother or their parents, and the natural (birth) mother--surely she got over it quickly!

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  13. I will also be interested to see how the "open adoption" (birth)moms end up. I'm so afraid that I'm totally maladjusted because after 30 years, nothing is getting better, or easier...or more palatable. Does it make a difference at all if the (b)mom feels that the choice of relinquishment/adoption was hers...vs. a forced, coerced situation, as mine was? Because I never wanted to give my daughter up in the first place, and because being up close and personal as I watched someone else "mother" my daughter and claim her as "hers" has been pure torture to me throughout the past 21 years, which is when the adoption fully opened up. I have been told how "lucky" we were that we got to see her grow up. Why don't I feel lucky, then? Why do I feel like I have been struggling and suffering constantly? Never at peace? IF this whole situation had been of my choosing, would I feel differently? Would I be faring better? Would I not be needing to start up therapy for the umpteenth time once again to hopefully FINALLY get a grip on things?

    If I had been able to handle everything better, would my (birth)daughter not be struggling as much as she is now? No one bothered to tell me that even though our adoption has been fully open for the majority of her life, that we would just now be dealing with "reunion-type issues." The push me/pull me with her is CONSTANT. When I upset her or make her mad, instead of talking it out like healthy-minded adults do, she gives me the silent treatment for months on end. To me, that is about the worst thing you can do...shut me out without an explanation. So, I walk on eggshells, which I *thought* would end when she was 18 and her aparents couldn't close the adoption. No one told me that once she was able to think on her own, without the daily influence of her aparents, that she'd start coming out of the fog. Thank God I educated myself on adoptee issues so that I could help her somewhat. She has loosely diagnosed herself with RAD. Whether she has it or not I'm not sure but she found that information on her own and identifies with it's description. She needs and wants counseling, but since she lives with her aparents (she's 30 remember) and they pretty much support her at this time, she can't tell them WHY she needs it or she says they'll "take it as THEY did something wrong." Yet she claims she always felt she could be honest with them about her adoption issues while growing up?? This girl was put on Paxil at 16, yet no one thought that her relinquishment/open adoption might be a problem.

    Oh I could go on and on. Will open adoption (birth)moms turn out better than our BSE sisters? My premature answer is no. Open adoption brings its own set of issues which in my opinion, are equally as painful and destructive. We still lost our babies and our motherhood...and that's the bottom line.

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    1. Amy, I have walked that walk--especially when the silent treatment and total shutout is the ONLY way they know how to handle aggravations with their natural mothers. Eggshells is right.

      I hope you can see that here at least you can call her your daughter (without the birth) prefix and that you are her mother with the (birth) prefix also. If you were only there for the birth you and she wouldn't be in such pain today. Just seeing yourself in a slightly more elevated position in regards to her might make you feel less guilty.

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    2. Thank you, Lorraine. I'm just *so* used to using "birth" and "adoptive" for clarification. It's kind of a habit, so it's done without my thinking. I'll work on it though!

      Do you think they use the silent treatment as a punishment? Something about it feels intentional. Maybe because, with my daughter, she is VERY passive-aggressive. I have seen it in other ways too. So we just have to learn how to live with this and accept it? But I wonder, is this a common adoptee reaction, or a personality thing that would have been there regardless? I *have* learned that the harder you push her to talk, the longer the silent periods go!
      SO FRUSTRATING!!

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    3. Amy, I am sorry for your pain and that of your daughter. You asked "Does it make a difference if the (b)mom feels that the choice of relinquished/adoption was hers...versus forced/coerced situation as mine was?"
      That's an interesting question. Perhaps if a mother's decision had been as fully informed as possible and she was willing to take full responsibility for it as well as for all risks and consequences, it would make a difference. Although, of course, it would still weigh heavily on her.
      I respect and admire parents, first and adoptive, who put in the effort to make an open adoption work, although there is no doubt open adoption involves its own set of problems for all involved.

      As far as self-diagnosing is concerned, I think it's human nature to want give a name to something we feel is wrong with us, in the hope that a label will explain away (or at least make tangible) whatever physical or emotional problems we may be having. But self diagnosis is not a good option even though it is hard to resist the temptation, especially these days, when there is so much information - and misinformation - out there. There is no substitute for a proper diagnosis by a doctor such as a psychiatrist of psychologist who is properly qualified to help people with mental illnesses like RAD (which is rare and the result of early neglect or abuse) or PTSD. I hope your daughter can be persuaded to get a professional diagnosis for what ails her.

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    4. Actually, it's the polite version of what she feels like doing--sort of like biting her tongue. What I felt like doing was screaming at the top of my lungs at her for dumping me and leaving me with crazy adopters.

      YES, we know it's not your faults, Moms. But apologizing--for not being there, for not seeing her grow up, for not being able to protect her--would go a long way.

      Off the top of my head, I don't know of an adoptee in reunion who has had a mother do this. Every time your daughter tells you something that happened to her that she is sad about, embarrassed about, shamed by, just answer with, "I'm so sorry that happened to you." Then bite YOUR tongue.

      Her fury will erode eventually.

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    5. I have apologized...extensively with no qualifications...no excuses (although there are many reasons which were out of my 17 yr. old control) Her anger (although she vehemently denies being angry...only "hurt" or "upset") seems to have gotten stronger as she moved through her 20's. She seemed to accept the "sweet, fluffy, "God made this happen" garbage her aparents fed her through her growing up years. I think deep down she KNEW none of this felt "right" but her aparents were telling her differently.

      I have bitten my tongue frequently. Beginning when the adoptive mother told me point blank that SHE was the REAL mother...not me. Almost bit it off when amom told me she "doesn't mind gay people, but sure didn't want to raise one!" when speaking of my daughter, who had recently come out as a lesbian. I've never told my daughter she said that and never, ever will.

      For such a "wonderful, loving option" why are the first moms and adoptees so ripped apart?? This wasn't supposed to happen. Never mentioned to me in the "counseling sessions" put forth by the adoption agency. Lying by omission. All over the place.

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    6. I did apologize, and also took responsibility for my part in the surrender, when my son called me on always blaming somebody else. It was a relief and and an eye-opener for me, and our relationship improved a great deal after that. My son did not express fury, but was tired of hearing my endless excuses and recounting of what happened to poor me all those years ago. He told me he could not be my savior or absolver, but that I had to forgive myself and live in the present. I didn't learn his real story until I shut up and really listened to him instead of putting my interpretation on his life and feelings.

      I think it a good idea for any mother to apologize once and sincerely, but not to keep apologizing, nor is it good for adoptees to keep blaming when the mom is truly sorry and accepts her own responsibility for how her actions caused them pain. None of us meant our kids to suffer, but if they did, we do have to own up to our part of that. My son had a crazy adoptive mother too. It was hard to hear the truth, but ultimately healing.

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    7. Sunny, t too apologised, with no caveats.I said I was sorry that I let it happen.
      I'm sorry it happened to you too. I hope you believe that there are adoptees out there wohose mothers have expressed their regret that they failed to keep them, and who did express their sincerest sympathy to their children for the suffering they endured as a result of being surrendered.

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    8. I think what I would have appreciated the most, would have been my mother saying she was sorry that she didn't know me *as a child.* Because I certainly missed her. What is so hard about that?

      It also seems like a lot of the mothers act as if we're equals to them, we're not. You're still the mother.

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  14. It doesn't matter how much pain mothers or their children endure.

    The bottom line is, the bottom line. Selling newborns is a profitable business, and it's not going to stop.

    Vulnerable women are studied, and adoption agencies market to them. What happens after is collateral damage,

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    1. I believe you are right...unfortunately.

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  15. Amy, I too am currently going through the silent treatment from my daughter. This after I (strongly) suggested she see a therapist when she told me she was again battling depression. I asked her to find a therapist who is knowledgeable about adoption separation trauma. My Christmas parcel wasn't acknowledged, my e-mails haven't been acknowledged. I finally received an e-card for my birthday last month, but nothing since. My daughter is part of a group of people to whom I send general type e-mails on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I must admit, I find not acknowledging the parcel to be rude, no matter what a person is going through. Am I wrong to feel that way? Do we ever get past the "walking on eggshells"?

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    1. Hmmm. My daughter has yet to acknowledge receiving her birthday present as well. It's been 3 weeks. I've texted her with no response. It was a semi-expensive silver bracelet, and I'm curious to know if it got to her. (lost tracking receipt...my bad) I'm assuming it did, and I didn't deserve an acknowledgment. However, she isn't speaking to my mother either, yet she has no qualms about cashing the check that her Grandmother sent her for her bday. No "thank you" for that either.

      Is it pay-back? Rudeness? or both?

      So sorry you're going through this too, Anne. It sucks.

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  16. No, you're not wrong to feel that way. Failing to acknowledge presents is rude, no matter the circumstances.

    Yes, you do get over walking on eggs shells. Things become less important as time goes by.

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  17. To get back to Lorraine's original blog, in addition to all the feelings as others have described, anger has probably been the most dominant feeling I've carried for 38 years. About 20 years ago I was mugged in the parking lot by a man who grabbed a gold chain off my neck and ran. I jumped into my car and raced around the block to try and find him - to knock him over with my car. My response to the incident was totally out of proportion to what had happened to me. He didn't hurt me, he didn't push me - just grabbed the chain and ran. It is only now in middle age, that I look back and recognize the times when my angry outbursts were due to all these negative feelings lying just below the surface. I have Jenny's permission to quote her (excellent) response to a question which was asked "What have you lost?": What have I lost?
    I lost my child, yes, but everything that goes with that. The enjoyment of Christmas, Mother’s Day and birthdays. I am there in body only.
    My entire extended family, brother, sister, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. I am now an emotional orphan.
    I lost my innocence and the knowledge that my family would protect me and love me.
    My soul was raped by the 'professionals' that were entrusted with my care as well as being physically abused by them. So I lost trust in those that I should have no fear of.
    I lost the first 4 months of my grand-daughter's life as I was not told she existed.
    I lost the adult I was going to be and the career I had wanted since I was a child.
    I lost the ability to have an untethered relationship with my husband. He knows that there is part of me he can never reach and that barrier is there every day.
    I have lost some of my gentleness. There is a hardness in me that never existed before and yet my heart has been so wounded that sometimes I have no more to give. My heart has healed, the scar is large.
    The me you see today is not the one that would have been. She is long gone.

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    1. I quoted Jenny McMillan who explained her loss so succinctly.

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  18. Lorraine,

    i just now read this post and the comments - wow! well i was not surprised about the post and technically i'm not surprised by the comments but the comments are stunning, amazing, in that they are from actual women and not statistics. so much more powerful at least to me. my heart goes out to all of those grieving moms.

    still, in a strange way, it was 'nice' to see. nice to see real comments, real women, their own words, being real. it is hard to not appreciate someone, anyone, taking the time and effort to be thoughtful, genuine about their feelings, letting their guard down i suppose. offering their stories without seeming concern for judgments. i feel both enormous sadness and respect for all the mothers at FMF.

    thanks for the brilliant, catalytic post. really it is quite an accomplishment i think.

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  19. I fared badly and I hesitate to tell my story because I am a "tough case." I was a victim of sexually predatory behavior, a sexually ignorant virgin and still in grammar school. All decision making was done by the adults of my family, the young man's family, and the church. I was told I had a kidney infection while at the same time, I was restrained flat on my back as "penance" in a Catholic facility both prior to labor and through labor. I was not conscious for actual delivery but awakened to the awareness that something important was missing. I knew that what was missing was no kidney infection. I was not allowed to see my baby. My baby was placed with another family in the community and I was mocked about it. It wasn't until I read Ann Fessler's book in 2012 that I realized "kidney infection" was a commonly known cover story. I was humiliated, degraded, physically punished, was left brain impaired from psychiatric treatment intended to silence me about my situation. I struggled to be normal in a neighborhood where my reputation was mud. Brain damaged and robbed of my child, I still struggled to do well in school and went to work right after high school quickly beginning college studies which I continued at night for 14 years until graduation. As did many of the girls in Ann Fessler's book, I overcompensated. Still, I never learned how to function lovingly and normally in any relationship. As a young woman, I was hounded by good religious creeps who knew the family of my child's father. I was considered to be a phony and a liar because after the eighth grade, I no longer consciously knew that I'd had a child and did not fully remember anything from that time period until I was 58 years old. My MRI shows my brain to be missing a slice - so to speak. My pregnancy occurred in the 1960's and I was threatened by a paternal aunt with being shipped to the nuns in Ireland and with a lobotomy - for my own good. Would my life have been better if my family had raised me and my child together? I think so. Can I prove it? No. I've suffered migraines, two major abdominal surgeries due to scar tissue, miscarriage, depression, and severe PTSD - not to mention -memory loss of a couple years of my young life. I loved my child when I knew about my child and I love my child now. We have no contact.

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    1. DM, what you endured was horrific. There's no other way to say it. I sincerely hope that sharing with us has brought you some measure of comfort. It was a brave thing to do and I salute you.

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    2. DM, your experience was horrific. There is no other way to put it. I hope you got some small measure of comfort from sharing with us. You were brave to share and I salute you for doing so.

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    3. Oh DM, your story is so incredibly sad. Being treated as too young to know what was going on destroyed a good part of your life. I hope you can find a way to salvage the years you have left. I am not a huge believer in therapy for everything, but in your case I hope you can find a good, sympathetic listener and someone who can help you find coping mechanisms for all the wrongs that have been invested upon you. As for the horrible people who did these things to you and still surround you, I urge you to find a way to get them away from your life.

      My own health has been so-so with a passel of sinus troubles and infections for many years, and when I read the studies of how we birth/natural mothers suffer...I couldn't help at least wonder about my own problems.

      Do find a path to your own healing. The past is behind you and while you can never let it go completely, look for ways to at least make yourself happy, minute by minute, day to day--even if it only means going to a comedy that makes you laugh and forget your troubles for a few hours. Laughter makes us feel better as it releases some brain chemicals that have a soothing effect.

      Namaste.

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  20. Why don't mothers stand up for other mothers?.......there are so few that are will to say " stop with the agency rhetoric " ........I think it is time we stopped standing in the shadows just accepting what is dished out.......the egg shell dance....

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    1. Ah, but adoption today is different to adoption of the BSE. No, it's not - but that is what the agencies sell. They sell open adoption, so what we mothers have to say is irrelevant according to them.

      It is only since the advent of the internet that our voices can be more widely heard and we can direct mothers to blogs and articles such as this one. However, the "professionals" still outweigh us in terms of their ability to promote adoption. As recently as yesterday, the San Francisco Globe had a big article titled "Woman Selflessly Gives Up Her Newborn For Adoption For An Incredible Reason" (http://fb-207.sfglobe.com/2015/03/22/woman-selflessly-gives-up-her-newborn-for-adoption-for-an-incredible-reason/?src=fbfan_37778).
      We are standing up, even though it is a David & Goliath battle.

      For many mothers, one of the ways they try to deal with having relinquished a child, is to continue to believe the Kool-Aid. That what they did was in the best interests of the child. For them, they can't stand up and say "stop with the agency rhetoric" because they still believe it.

      Last, but not least, mothers of the BSE are middle-aged and older and many have limited or no access to the internet. They can't see that books & blogs have been written about their experiences.

      So, the minority of us continue to plug away and, slowly but surely, bring other mothers in from the cold.

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    2. Other natural mothers are afraid to defend other mothers who might say something in a moment of high frustration, lest they be attacked themselves.

      Anne, I saw that story yesterday and I could not read it. I can't stand to read about women giving up their babies in the mad delusion that they are doing a "good thing."
      Lordy, let's ask everyone to give up their babies to someone else to make that someone else feel better. It's only poor, young and usually disadvantaged women who give richer people their children. The economic disparity is makes what is going on so obvious.

      And the Republicans in Congress can't get behind raising the minimum wage to reasonable levels. Thus in America the American Dream has become a mirage. Poverty is the most significant factor in women's lives that leads them to relinquish their babies, sell their eggs, or rent their wombs.

      This piece is excellent reading:

      Traitors to Their Class

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    3. Lorraine, I have asked adoptive mothers that if giving them a child was so special and "heroic, and blood, DNA does not matter then if they should suddenly become pregnant with "their OWN" then they should just give them to a "deserving couple...after all its no big deal right? (sarcasm)

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  21. Thirty eight years since I lost my son on September 13, 1976. Three years in a good, loving reunion. Today has been one of the hardest days of my life. Loss to adoption is like that. It takes over your mind, your heart, your thinking, your entire being. I'm hurt, confused, depressed and went into the bathroom at work to cry twice. When does it end? I get asked that a lot. My answer: never. It never ends. And I will be this way until the day I die.

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    1. Jackie D. I've been reading this blog today, your sons birthday close to mine. July 76. After 8 years in a reunion from 2004-2011, he took his life. He was a first father also, his son soon turning 18. He struggled with identity crisis, bipolar possibly, depression. Had stuffed many feelings as well. He was so good to me, so open about feelings, he lived with me and my husband for a 8 mos, and in our town for 3 years after reunion. He had met and had relationships with most of our families,including his firstfather as well .The pain never ends, EMDR helped me with anger issues I faced after reunion, as the memories came bubbling up so fast of my teen motherhood/loss. Suicide of my son has broken me, I can't hide behind it anymore, I've been a lost soul again, Regardless of counseling, anxiety, depression, bottoms me out, and still, people not on our "island of adoption", don't understand. I'm still trying. I've got photo's of my "adopted out" grandson, am in touch with his sweet firstmom, Excluded from my sons adoptive parents friendship we had till a month after the suicide, too many memories for the adoptive mom to deal with. We all lost. Peace prayers wished for all of us. Sally

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  22. Anne, DM, Jackie, all of you natural mothers, I'm am so sad to read your comments. They are so true. Take heart. The pain may not end but it can lessen. Those bad days become less frequent.

    Yes, Jan Louise, we need to stand up for other mothers -- and mothers to be. Tell our stories, work for adoption reform legislation.

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    1. They do become less frequent. I have months where I'm ok then - BAM! Somebody will say something or I'll read something or I have a nightmare and I'm back in the funk. I hate those days.

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  23. The bad days do become less frequent but still bad because you have to consciously decide not to go there every day to avoid the downward spiral, to picture yourself as a real mother even when you don't have a good reunion. Tricky but sneaky. Money is the main reason religious organizations keep promoting adoption. Someone has to be the martyrs right?

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    1. Money is almost always behind any adoption.

      If our pains and reactions and continuing grief don't qualify as a diagnosis for PTSD, I don't know what "disease" or trauma that women have ever would. If "giving up a baby" could be seen as a precursor to PTSD...it would be harder for agencies to convince vulnerable women that giving up a child was a magnificent "gift" to the couples who want to adopt.

      What a wonderful world that would be.

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  24. Just wondering, I mean an article about Rebecca Kiessling, who has been adopted back by her mother in 2010 showed up at the bottom, would destruction/trumping/revocation of the adoption make life better for mothers? In that case the "thorn" is no longer present in the present, but the damage/scars would still be there...

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    1. Theodore, would give us more context?

      Rebecca Keissling, who was conceived in a rape?

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    2. Yep, the anti-rape-exception-pro-lifer herself. She is currently officially the daughter of her mother and her mother's husband. Mind you, Rebecca seems to have brought it up herself, and feels fine with it, but the article does not tell us much about the way her mother feels.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3000499/Woman-discovers-conceived-RAPE-nearly-aborted-tracking-birth-mother-gave-adoption-40-years-ago.html

      Adopted back stuff at the end of the article.

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  25. PTSD is classified as a mental illness and unfortunately mental illness continues to be a stigma. As Lorraine has already noted, some, but not all, natural mothers will develop PTSD. Equally, not all suffering is mental illness. I think it it is important to keep in mind that while all mothers who lose children to adoption will suffer, not all will become mentally ill. We don't need to stigmatize ourselves by self-diagnosing any more than we have already been stigmatized. Otherwise we run the risk of not being taken seriously.

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  26. Yes, Mothers should just say: I'm sorry. It would go a long way. I wrote a post about this some time back but right now I don't have the time to find it and repost it.

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  27. Lorraine, I disagree. Categorically. I did nothing to be "sorry" for and I am not responsible for the behaviors of other adults. I think that there is a point when, while I am sorry she was not raised in my home, the reality is that I owe no apology to my daughter. An apology is fine - if you feel guilty. I do not and never will. I am sad that her home was not what they claimed. But I did not make a "choice" to "give away" my child. So, no, I do not buy it.

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    1. I'm sorry you were adopted.

      Period.

      That is nothing but an acknowledgment that being adopted in not, in most cases, a good thing. I'm sorry you fell down. I'm sorry your dog died. I'm sorry you cut your finger. I'm sorry you are in pain.
      This is not about guilt, or anything else.

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    2. From my point of view it seems like you have misunderstood. Not even sorry about the fact that you weren't, for whatever reason, able to keep and raise her yourself? That you couldn't be there for her, as you would like to have been? I think that's an important part of what Lorraine means.

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    3. No, I didn't misunderstand. Not one iota. I will never apologize to my daughter. I do not have anything to apologize for. I fought for 3 years against the state of Arizona to keep her. She is alive because I am an independent tough woman.... I owe no apologies - period. I am not sorry for what happened. Pissed off, but not sorry. I did not do it - if she needs an apology, she will have to find the social worker that force through an illegal adoption (CPS social worker supervisor no less) and lied to a judge. Not ever going to happen from me.

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    4. Lisa, I did not misunderstand. I am not sorry because I did not have any control over what happened. I am as much of a victim as she is. I feel for her, but not in the way you are stating.

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    5. Alright, Lori. I did say "from my point of view". You are entitled to yours. I'm glad that you feel for your daughter and hope she comes round to feeling for you.

      Being seventeen in the early sixties, I didn't have control either, but will always be sorry that I didn't and also that my child had to suffer for my powerlessness.
      We are all different, and especially when it comes to the circumstances under which we lost our children, the devil is in the details.

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    6. Lori, I have to agree. I would say sorry to my daughter ONLY in respect to not being strong enough to fight the enormous forces working against me at the age of 17 in 1966. Sorry that I couldn't prevent her separation from me. Sorry that my mother wouldn't support me in keeping her. Sorry that she was adopted by strangers in a home where they had birthed two of their own natural children... she being the middle one... the only adopted one. Sorry that we spent 30 years not knowing where the other was. Sorry that people can be so conniving and evil as to not support a frightened, single, pregnant young mother-to-be. Sorry that we live in that kind of world.

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  28. My mom and I have been in reunion for over twenty years. She finally faced her anger about my adoption, and some other issues, last year. We avoided certain topics, like my abusive e aparents, or the fact that I believe my mom was forced to give me :-Psomething she hadn't been able to admit because then she would have to blame her parents, not herself. Last year she forgave them, and herself. She also realizes she doesn't have to be grateful for my adoptive parent taking me in.or feel guilty that my finding her upset my amom. It opened a whole new aspect in our relationship. Now we can accept that we lost something precious. I suffered the loss of never having the mommy she wasn't allowed to be to me, and I can only try to empathize with the losses and pain she has suffered. But the pain does also emphasize the memories we have built these last 20yrs and those we will continue to build. But reunion doesn't make up for the losses we suffered or the fact that our lives were irrevocably changed by adoption.

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  29. On the idea of saying sorry, i'm divided. Depending on where i am in my life, for instance, remembering the younger person i was just starting out on my own, I might have taken the comment as patronizing, or pity. This has very little to do with the intention coming from my mother, and everything to do with my immaturity. Now that i'm older, wiser, seeing things in shade of grey as opposed to absolutes, I would more likely take it in a positive light, even if it was delivered with nervousness and/or awkwardness that was less than fairy tale. I would accept is as empathy, understanding, that i suffered a great loss too, as a result of adoption. I would not take it as an apology.

    I've often wondered if moms would like to hear thank you. Gratitude. I asked a first mother this and apparently that is absolutely *not* what birth mothers want to hear? How does an adoptee say a simple, all-encompassing 'thank you' for the good things that have come from her mother? Thank you for being born ? - ugh - to me that sounds so inappropriate. Thank you for my genetic makeup. Thank you for sharing genes. Thank you for becoming a part of my adult life? Thank you for being in my life? All I could think of saying was thank you...

    Let me put it this way. I keep reading that adoptees have anger, hurt, confusion, about the situation and towards their moms. That may be, but at least in my case it is not all of the story. I truly feel gratitude. Not for being adopted, but despite it. What is the best way to communicate that? What are the best words? I was surprised to find that saying thank you could be received so badly, but, i get it now, and i don't really need that explained. But it would be really helpful if someone could shed some light on how to say thank you in a positive manner.

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    1. Thanking your first mother for giving you up -- for the wonderful life you've had, etc ,etc is a HUGE insult to the first mother. You're telling her she in no way measures up--or could measure up to your adoptive parents..

      If an adoptee wants to start off on a good foot with her first mother, I'd suggest not thanking her for anything. Treating her with kindness and respect are the keys to a good reunion, not thanking her for what she didn't do--raise you or thanking her for something she had no control of-- her genes. Let her know you're happy to know her, you enjoy being with her. She will reciprocate.

      Lorraine wrote a post on this several years ago. http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2009/07/thanking-your-birthmother-for-letting.html

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    2. thanks Jane. i'm aware that thanking her for giving me up is an insult, i have always understood that. i have never entertained the thought of saying that. my gratitude is not about that. do you think it is impossible to express the fact that i like who i am genetically without it being some sort of insult?

      i have read that post you linked. i think there is a misunderstanding about what i'm asking here.. nonetheless it shows that what i'm wanting to say can be misunderstood.

      if you are interested, i will try to explain... i see it as the obverse of her saying 'i'm sorry' and that is why i brought it up in this thread. As I see it, she has no reason to apologize for my being adopted, she was swept up in the BSE, i trust her... if she wants to talk about it okay but i really don't require an explanation if it is too painful. she has given me a general description. But if she says i'm sorry i was adopted - that could be taken as negating who i am now, who i have become... or i could take it as shared empathy. i choose to take it the latter. is it impossible for a mother to accept a thank you from a place of shared empathy?

      i met my mother in 89 or 90? i'm not sure which.. and i visited her many times up until she flipped out and decided i was a bad influence on my sister, and, the cause of many problems throughout my mother's life. in short, i see now and i saw somewhat then that my sister's high school graduation was a trigger for her. but i took what she said seriously and i did not hear much from her over the years. finally after all this time, we emailed for 2 years and now just recently met again.
      "thank you" is out of the question? i'm really stunned. i am grateful, to be in touch now, and for the small amount of contact we had in the past, it changed my life.
      i do not have the vocabulary to express that other than thank you?

      anyway. anyone reading please don't be insulted i'm really only asking, and clarifying here because i think maybe i was not clear and have been misunderstood. i appreciate all the comments and help thanks very much.

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    3. Kaisa,

      I have a similar problem in that I often want to thank my son but no actual words quite fit.

      If I had to try and put it into words, it would be something like 'thank you for making my heart fill with absolute love when I see your lovely face or hug you'.

      In some ways, I don't want my son to thank me because I want him to take my love for granted - to feel that secure with it that he doesn't have to necessarily appreciate it.

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    4. Kasia, I do understand what you're trying to say.

      As for mothers saying "I'm sorry you were adopted." They mean I'm sorry I turned my back on you -- the most unnatural and unforgivable thing a mother can do. I understand though that adoptees may take it as a criticism of the person they are. My surrendered daughter took offense when I criticized the institution of adoption because she took it as a criticism of not only herself but her adoptive parents.

      From my experience almost any discussion about adoption is bound to result in miscommunication.

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    5. Jane, that is the truth "almost any discussion about adoption is bound to result in miscommunication." No matter what I say, it seems that my lack of being adoptive person only sensitive person has made me a target.

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  30. I have been reading this forum for a year. Thank you so much for giving me the support I need in my 2 year reunion. My other children think I am crazy for still feeling sad about giving away my son. It is good to know that I am not alone and that having a bad day once in awhile is not crazy. So much of what I am reading I have experienced and I am better able to handle the ups and downs of my reunion. Thank you everyone.

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  31. Saying "I'm sorry" is extremely important and may, in some cases, need to be said more than once. Guilt is irrelevant as I also did not feel guilty because in my heart I fully and completely felt I was doing the selfless act and the best thing for my daughter. I learned much later in life that I was by far the better choice for a parent.

    Lorraine, I do recall your former post addressing this very issue. If you could find it, it might be helpful to provide the link.

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  32. I have never meant any harm to either our bloggers or the other commenters. But I have been told that my comments and pov are coming across as micro-aggression and treating people as less than human, and being accused of coming here just to bash mothers ( I believe something to that effect was said, but I do not have time to go back through nearly 80 comments to verify), while the fact of the matter is...nothing could be further from the truth.

    Cherry, I tried to reach out to you through a mutual acquaintance, but apparently that was not enough. Maryanne, I agree entirely with your comment of March 22nd at 7:44 am. The only thing I would have added is that I think adoption should be as rare as possible because it causes so much pain to the adoptee. But after being a part of the family preservation blogosphere for several years now, I have learned that some adoptees were not hurt by having been given up for adoption. I certainly take them at their word. I think they are the lucky ones and I wish I knew their secret.

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    1. Robin: The adoptee POV you always state in your comments has always been dead-on. I don't think you treat anyone as less than human....you are just speaking the truth, the way the adoptee perceives it. Unfortunately, not too many people want to hear it.

      I think all adoptees are hurt, whether they realize it or not. If you had asked me 10 years ago, I would have said all was well and there were no issues related to my being adopted. Then I woke up. And I believe all adoptees do eventually wake up. They may never tell anyone but themselves, but I think we all have that light bulb moment eventually.

      Contrary to what Lori stated, I think the first mother does owe the adoptee something. I am not sure if it is an apology, an explanation, much needed information, or what, but the bottom line is this: In the famous adoption triad, the adoptee was the one who was given away. Period. We were not asked, we had no say, and we were given away. None of the other parties have to deal with this issue, and all that comes with it and after it. It ruined my life, as it did the lives of countless adoptees. My self-esteem is at an all-time low, and I am not the only adoptee who feels this way. First mothers have issues, I understand that. But it is impossible for a human being to get over being given away.

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    2. JE, Actually, I have always been extremely forthcoming with my daughter. Honest to a fault. But I will never apologize. I don't owe her that and never will. My daughter was not given away. I wish you well, but please, do not make blanket statements like that. They aren't always true.

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    3. Far too many of our children were --taken away-- (not even remotely resembling -given-). When we hear adoptees (or anyone) say things like -we (mother's) ''made an adoption plan'', or ''we made a ''''''choice'''''', or ''thank you for 'choosing' adoption'', or any of a multitude of other phrases like that .. oh what a blow. IT hurts. Because we didn't have any choices... we wanted our babies, our children. No we didn't have a gun to our head or a knife to our throat.... they didn't need to use those.. they had an arsenal of drugs in the hospital to use....and a multitude of other tactics.

      Please consider reading at pound pup legacy... the stories of babies taken and how ... are from all over the world. funny thing is though. The 'real story' has yet to immerge in the U.S. These things didn't and don't ''just happen'' in the rest of the world and the U.S. is ''up for sainthood''. IT goes on everywhere.

      I tried to go to the Globe story "Woman selflessly gives up her newborn for adoption" and got distracted by an adoption agency link... American adoptions dot com. with the line "Choosing adoption you are not "giving up" This site/agency had another that tells a mother how to keep her pregnancy a secret from everybody -"Can I keep my adoption plan a secret?" and another that tells them how they can get around the father's rights (human rights if not legal rights).. after I finished reading a few I felt broken and absolutely sick. They have several sub categories and the few I read I cannot believe these practices are allowed to exist in the U.S or anywhere for that matter. People comment often about how international adoption practices are so corrupt... and yet they seem so blind to the very same things going on in this country. I don't understand it.

      When people want babies ........ well, look at the recent headlines. There is a desperation that will not stop until....... not often is it so graphic... and yet, our babies are taken from our womb.. we are sent home bleeding, and broken in mind, body and spirit and the system doesn't care what becomes of us. It is done with such subtlety and cunning. They shut the mother out, slam records shut and ''pretend'' she. doesn't. exist. There's more than one way to make mommy disappear. This practice needs to stop! It needs to be changed so no other family gets --unnecessarily-- and horribly ripped apart. Ever.

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    4. Robin, thanks! I always welcome the adoptee point of view, and have been accused just as you have of attacking other mothers because my viewpoint has evolved over the years to a different place from the angry, grieving, despairing young woman I was. I do not always agree with your comments, but sometimes I do. Sometimes you agree with me, sometimes not. The nature of these blog comments is that sometimes people agree, sometimes they disagree, but it should not be based on the person but on the individual point of view expressed. There should be no "teams" here, but just people expressing their own thoughts and telling their own stories, however varied.

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  33. Kaisa, I could easily relate to your comment and am glad you made it. When I initially met my daughter, I had anticipated a "thank you" as I had been led to believe by the social worker that adoptees are thankful. I was shocked at how angry and unthankful my daughter was. When information about the truth of adoption became widely available, especially on the internet, I became quickly enlightened. So I can understand the difficulty an adoptee might have trying to figure out what the mother wants to hear.

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    1. thank you Gail for your insight :) i have been angry but only at the situation... not at my mother. i have felt hurt but not anger, at miscommunications. i guess i am grateful that she is hanging in there after all this time and wanting to have contact however difficult. :) thanks for your input.

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    2. Gail, you said 'When I initially met my daughter, I had anticipated a "thank you" as I had been led to believe by the social worker that adoptees are thankful'.

      When I read that, I immediately thought that anticipating a thank you was also a symptom of the worthlessness that many of us relinquishing mothers felt - as if we were nothing for our babies to lose or miss.

      Like you, I had no idea that adoptees felt hurt or rejected by being given up for adoption. But at the core of that thought is the belief that I was of absolutely no importance to my son. So I wouldn't be missed, or needed or even my absence noticed.

      Last year I looked at a photo I have of me as a teenage girl cuddling my few week old son, who snuggled closely into me. In the photo, we are both at the interim foster home before his adoption. I've looked at that photo so often over the decades, but only last year did I see that I wasn't just someone he was snuggling into - I suddenly saw that he knew me. He knew who I was. The snuggle was of a baby into his mother. I felt so heartbroken for him when I realised that. For decades I thought I was a no-one to him, but I suddenly saw that he knew exactly who I was back then.

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    3. Cherry, you are *so* right...", I had no idea that adoptees felt hurt or rejected by being given up for adoption. But at the core of that thought is the belief that I was of absolutely no importance to my son. So I wouldn't be missed, or needed or even my absence noticed." I felt THE SAME EXACT WAY about my daughter. It was drilled into my head that I was and would be successfully replaced, I was NOT a "mother" to my daughter in any form or fashion, nor would I ever be seen by her as one, and one day, I might be a mere "curiosity" and she might seek me out...if I was "lucky." Well, once I got hold of the internet and began researching adoption, adoptees, birthmoms, etc. and I was reading that adopted people did indeed miss their bio-moms/families, and some felt they had long lasting repercussions from being relinquished, you could have scraped me up off the floor. I was dumb-founded and shocked to say the least. "We might matter to our adopted-away children??!!" That's when the depression began taking hold. It was all a big, fat lie...I fell for it hook, line, and sinker...and there was nothing I could do at that point. And then to find out that the "lines" my social worker used on me in TX 1985 were the SAME EXACT "LINES" being used on girls across the country in 1975, 1980, 1988, etc. "WHAT??!! You were told too that your child would resent you one day if you decided to keep him/her? ME TOO!!! And you were called a 'birth'mom even before you actually WERE one?? And the social worker always referred to your baby as "THE baby"?? SAME HERE!" I knew there was a book out there somewhere that all the agency workers were reading to brainwash us. Couldn't be a coincidence that we were all told the same things. I was right.

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  34. Kaisa,
    I do not expect gratitude from my son. I have 4 other grown adult children and don't expect gratitude. I just want to love all my kids as they are my kids.
    I have never had any of my kids feel that they need to express gratitude.
    I do remember hearing that come from those that have adopted. Maybe, they should express gratitude that they were able to raise a child...but no they expect that from raised child.
    I would suggest you and yor mom talk and communicate honestly. The damage has been done.
    As far as saying sorry, I know that comes from another famous person that has adopted. If I had been the one to make that absolute decision I might feel differently. That decision was made against my will as a minor. It was wrong... always was wrong. My son has never expressed that I say I am sorry. We have had many deep loving and sorrowful conversations...

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    1. Thanks, Mother, for your insight, too. I don't think my mother expects gratitude. I'm not a mother myself but, I thought that it wasn't unusual for kids to feel gratitude? towards their parents. Obviously on Mother's Day there are expressions of the sort, thanks for raising me, teaching me right from wrong, etc. But I can't help but wonder that the words have a deeper meaning coming from a genetically-linked child. For instance, thank you for passing down your sense of humor... that is a case of nature and nurture, and the combination is more powerful, obviously than either in isolation. But once I recognize those 'natural' traits, yes, i do feel gratitude. It is not gratitude about the situation at all. Gratitude for life... a good life... it is a sort of spiritual feeling.. just as i'm thankful for other blessings in my life and the wonders of the world. Hahaha and all this from me who is not religious.

      I am trying to communicate - thank you. My mother seems happy to see me but I think she is living in a lot of denial, she has spotty memories of the past (not dementia or age-related) and i'm not exactly sure I want to rock the boat... one day at a time I guess :) thanks again

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    2. Kaisa, maybe you should try to take that gratefulness, put it away from the drought rational analysis in the emotional core of your being and let it change until you can express it to your mother as "I love you".

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    3. Mother, it sounds as if you never felt the need to say sorry, maybe because the sympathy was already there and both and your son felt it wordlessly. Which is fine. It sounds as if you understand each other well :)
      I think a spontaneous "Sorry" is fine too, so long as it is meant as an expression of sympathy and concern and is genuine, wholehearted and spontaneous.
      I'm not sure that I like a certain adoption guru telling mothers in reunion what to do and say, though. Something about it rubs me wrong.

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  35. Robin,
    I have seen and heard adoptees talk about how adoption didn't hurt or harm them. When anyone's family is hidden from them it hurts and I don't think they are always aware of cozinant of the harm. Adoption, harms families it tears one apart to build another.. wrong in my opinion.

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    1. Its a protective response. Its a way of making our whole lives valid in some way. I grew up with a family not blood related

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  36. Thanks everybody for opening my eyes to your personal perspectives it means a lot <3 :)

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  37. Hi Lisa,
    You are right my son and I do understand each. Wasn't always the case. We had to talk to listen and sometimes we disagreed. I love my son and he knows how much I love him. Of course, living together has given us an advantage.
    I agree about adoption guru...I have read her books but don't agree with her telling us mom's we NEED to apologize. Maybe, those that adopt should apologize for adopting....uhhh,
    I doubt they will after all they were the ones that benefitted from our sorrow and our children's life. If adoptees don't feel sorrow but their lives were taken away and a substitute
    , name, bcert, life made in the name of almighty adoption....in my opinion adopting isn't a saintly endeavor it's a needy and greedy endeavor because you want a baby any baby.


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  38. Hi Lisa,
    You are right my son and I do understand each. Wasn't always the case. We had to talk to listen and sometimes we disagreed. I love my son and he knows how much I love him. Of course, living together has given us an advantage.
    I agree about adoption guru...I have read her books but don't agree with her telling us mom's we NEED to apologize. Maybe, those that adopt should apologize for adopting....uhhh,
    I doubt they will after all they were the ones that benefitted from our sorrow and our children's life. If adoptees don't feel sorrow but their lives were taken away and a substitute
    , name, bcert, life made in the name of almighty adoption....in my opinion adopting isn't a saintly endeavor it's a needy and greedy endeavor because you want a baby any baby.


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    1. No, YOU don't have to apologize for things that were truly beyond your control. But a " I am so sorry this had to happen to begin with, I am so sorry I was unable to manage things that were beyond my control and I am so sorry things happened the way they did" . Thats all, it validates to the adoptee that just maybe we were just tossed due to inconvenience(which happens...especially today), it might just melt the defensive mode that many of us adoptees grow up with, so much so it becomes a part of our personality . The saying sorry thing has nothing to do with the adoptive parents and everything to do with the relationship between mother and child...What i am hearing is the typical pitting the mothers aganist each other instead of focusing on your adopted son or daughter. Whenever I hear the mothers(both bio and adoptive) I just want to scream. The adoptee has nothing to apologize for, unless in the process of reunion they are truly rude and disrespectful(disagreeing does not make someone rude).

      The "I sorrys " are to make your son/daughter feel better about the whole thing about giving away thing......Its rather childish to say the adoptive parents should, society should, the adoptee should when in fact right at that moment if you truly care the natural mother can.

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    2. Dpen said "I am so sorry this had to happen to begin with, I am so sorry I was unable to manage things that were beyond my control and I am so sorry things happened the way they did."
      *Exactly*, dpen. Although I think it needs to said spontaneously, from the heart. Not because someone else has told you it's the right thing to say.

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    3. dpen said" The adoptee has nothing to apologize for, unless in the process of reunion they are truly rude and disrespectful(disagreeing does not make someone rude)." I fully agree, and people tend to miss this important point when I tell my story and compare it to theirs. My son did not want to know me for many years, but he was never rude, crude, or disrespectful to me. He conveyed his wishes at the time which I found disappointing, but he never in any way disrespected me He has always been a true gentleman.. If my son had treated me badly I would feel very differently. As it is, indeed he had nothing to apologize for, and I feel that I did, because it was at least partially my responsibility that he was surrendered and had to live with the difficulties that ensued from that.

      I know other mothers who were subjected to all sorts of verbal abuse and cruelty at the hands of their son or daughter, and conversely adoptees who were treated equally badly by their bio mothers. The bad treatment is not justified in either instance. There is no universal adoptee or surrendering mother; we are all different individuals and there is no one template of how we should interact with each other. It never hurts to apply the rules of common courtesy, empathy, and decency, and if one person repeatedly crosses those lines, sometimes all one can do is retreat, set boundaries, and step away from a sick relationship.

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  39. JE,

    No, adoptees weren't asked most adoptees were womb fresh newborns.
    BSE.

    Robin, does state her opinion very well and I don't always like to hear it. Same
    goes for us mom's our opinions on this site are sometimes attacked by those that have adopted, and adoptees, even mother's who have gone through same experience don't always see it the same way.
    I wish we could talk and we have been given this place to do just that...talk.
    Try going to adoption Com and stating your feelings you as an adoptee would NOT be heard as those people ONLY want to hear their manta...adoption is wonderful.
    I see that you are evolving, I have read some of your posts. I don't always agree with you...and know that if you were ever to find you would be in a whole different area of adoption. I really think before reunion you are not aware about how you would handle all things in adoption with your mom.

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  40. i am a mother and i feel this is the only place i can say "i am not faring well"...after nearly 40 years of secrecy the national apology by the australian prime minister julia gillard prompted me to search for and find my first born. i was ecstatic, faint with relief and joy when i heard she was alive and even, co-incidentelly, living in the same out of the way area as myself and her 3 half sisters - was i excited? glad? thankful? every wonderful emotion whelmed up in me - 40 years of sorrow and hidden tears, anger and unacknowledgable fears would now be behind us...we could grow into the future together.

    i know now this was what they call the "honeymoon" period of reunion. i am sorry i believed the propaganda that to have a child out òf wedlock was wrong, and that it woułd be selfish to make that child a bastard bybkeeping it. i hope i have conveyed my regret to my daughter - everyone else know now damaging adoption was to us all - 3 generations so far.


    as my daughter has rejected contact for the moment (the last 7 months) i feel once again i am in shadowland. i suspect she is suffering anxiety and revulsion but i can't find out if she has help. the dampener, the glass walls, have descended and again i cannot communicate with or even see her. people ask me how she is, her children, husband - they look at me sadly when i say i don't know, they pity me i suppose but they refrain from asking again. is this because they realise it pains me? or is it because the thought of a mother and child reunion not working out is too unnatural to bear?

    adoption held us hostage for 40 years; i thought we'd been released - that i had done my time, survived the punishment for my crime of having an illegitimate child. that the ex-nuptual baby had enjoyed the fabulous life that i, supposedly, could never have provided. seems i was deluding myself - she is incommunicado, anxious. her adoptive mother is not to be contacted, needs to be protected. i deserve no explanation, sucease to my wondering...back in your box, mother, you are nothing but "member of the triad" to this daughter and her adoptive family.

    one positive aspect though - at least her 3 half sisters now have some insight into why i have been such a tentative, unengaged, emotionless mother to them - i learnt 40 years ago i had no entitlement to parent, or to love a child. i learnt my lesson - i am sorry. i'll get back in my box.

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  41. Hyacynth, you have nothing to be sorry for. Not truly. Our world was very different than the one that seems to be the preferred world of others. Our world was not full of happy dappy or even saccharin honey...it was a world that left us charred and hurting. You have done the best. Now, my only thought is that you need to help yourself and live life. Your daughter will either come around or not.

    Thank you for refocusing this onto the question of how we fared... because that is the topic. Hang in there, you are not alone.

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  42. @Cherry - I'm sorry to read that you've haven't been feeling well; so I'm especially appreciative that you took the time to share your thoughts related to my comment. One of the benefits of this particular blog is the ability to find others with similar experiences, feelings, and beliefs. It's comforting to know that I wasn't the only one duped by the adoption industry; in fact, there were literally millions of us. Looking back, I don't recall feeling worthless nearly so much as feeling helpless and backed into a corner. What makes this even worse is the knowledge that I was taken advantage of by the very people I trusted. Today, and maybe because of the adoption disaster, I research everything before I make a decision and refuse to align myself with doctor groups, political parties, adoptions gurus, organized religions etc. I spend much time, and in some cases too much time, trying to make absolutely certain that every decision I make is an informed one! I wonder if others do the same?

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    1. Gail, thank you for your kind thoughts, I appreciated them very much.

      I identify with a lot of your experience. You said 'What makes this even worse is the knowledge that I was taken advantage of by the very people I trusted' - I relate to that so much. I no longer trust anyone in any position of power whatsoever, and will always feel profoundly injured by how my parents responded to my hour of need as a young pregnant woman, meaning that I am emotionally one step back from them. Trust within my personal relationships is always an extremely important and potent issue, though I try to start from a position of openness.

      I'm very glad you don't recall feelngs of worthlessness. Reading my diary of the time, I came across a page I wrote just before my son was adopted. It said 'Why aren't I good enough?' in massive, agitated handwriting. How can anyone change their mind if they believe this about themselves as their child's mother? And who put that thought there in the first place?


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    2. Cherry, I didn't realize that your parents were so instrumental in making you lose your son. That is so painful, and so impossible to recover from. You are betrayed by the people who were supposed to protect you, and yours. I am so very sorry. Many many hugs today.

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  43. Mothers who lose their babies (through adoption) are held hostage to a lifetime of grief and sadness, which never ever goes away and many times intensifies with time. Usually, their only "crime" was being young, uneducated, and UNMARRIED. For years, these mothers of loss (MOL) have been the baby breeders for older, wealthier, MARRIED women. In many ways, MOL grief is similar to the grief of a mother who has lost her baby to death. The main difference, though, is that MOL aren't allowed (by society) to grieve their loss, and their loss is not supported or validated. Time doesn't heal all wounds.

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    1. I thought about writing the powers that be for a ''pardon'' not so long ago. maybe I will still. ..but the ''crime'' still affects. I have a hard time feeling like I have permission to know or even call my own son so deep is the wound from the punishment. I hope someday the ''world'' can say ''we were wrong, the punishment didn't fit the crime'' and release us from this prison of shame and unending sorrow. Did society cut the tongues out of liars?, remove the hands of a thief?, or take the heart out of one that hates?, or remove the eyes and heart out of one that covets? ... no, they did not. They took our children from our bodies, they took our womanhood, they took our motherhood, they took our worth, our trust, our strength, and for many they took our future children too... for our 'crime'. No wonder so many of us do not function. We feel like the bottom scrapings.

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  44. I agree that poverty is the reason, or the excuse. But babies do not always get adopted into families with more wealth. There is so much movement in this country, mixing of people far and wide. I know that my mother was told that I would ruin her life and that she couldnt afford me, but the truth was her family had more financial resources and support than the family that adopted me. That is not uncommon. My aparents did not consider lack of money as an obstacle to raising a child, even in the late 60s, but they did consider being young and unmarried likely issues. Once I became an adult and before i knew much about my original mother and father, I had already decided not to have kids until I had a lot of resources both financial and in terms of a support network, support for not just me but for the child, too. I think lack of financial and other support for young couples, be it through public policy or cultural traditions, causes both the younger and older couples to consider adoption as an answer: placing a child for adoption when too young, and getting a child once the bio-clock has stopped ticking. It's just nuts when you think about it. Why does our society create and maintain a system that fights our very biology?

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