' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Don't thank me for giving up my child

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Don't thank me for giving up my child

Lorraine
When anyone thanks me for being "brave" and "courageous" for doing "the right thing" for my daughter by giving her up for adoption, I know we still have a lot of work to do. I want to scream back at them: I wasn't brave or courageous, I was lying in the muck and mud of despair and saw no other way. It was the worst thing I ever did in my life, the worst thing I will ever do.

What is leading to this rant today? A posting on Facebook.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that I am a liberal, a progressive, a Democrat. I posted this on Facebook the other day:
"As someone who fought my own battles because I was a woman, because I didn't go to the right school, because I have been put down for being one of "those women" who gave up a child, I relate to Hillary,
and the battles she has fought herself. She is the feminist I want in the White House. She isn't perfect, but neither am I. She is my candidate, and I am thrilled to my bones. I will work for her, I have donated what I can, and will do more, and on election night, I will watch her become the next president of the US.

"I have refrained from saying what I think of Bernie Sanders on others' pages, and I would ask those of you who support him to have the same courtesy here."
Most people got it, and only a few left snarky comments about Hillary, but soon enough, an adoptive mother--a friend of a friend--writes that she is applauding me for having the courage to give up my daughter and making the best choice for her and by the way, she is the happy adoptive mother of XYZ. Before I saw the comment myself, others of our persuasion did. Someone asked if I was going to leave the woman's unwanted remark up. I said, Yes, and I would probably write about it. Today it is gone, and I didn't take a screen shot, but of course I remember the intent. 

BRAVERY IS NOT A FACTOR 
I know the woman wasn't being purposefully nasty, and wrote her comment with good intentions. But what I thought was, this is the garbage that is being fed adoptive parents today--and somehow that attitude spills over to the woman or woman-child who is giving up her own flesh and blood. From what I glean from contact with the world of adoption today, vulnerable young women are being "thanked" and fawned over as bastions of generosity for giving up their children to people with more means. They are being told they are "doing the brave thing" by giving up their children to a "better future."  

Hogwash. I gave up my daughter to an uncertain future with strangers. I wasn't married and few resources; the adopting couple were married and had a comfortable life. They were middle class. But they were not much like me or my family. They are conventional, trust authority, follow rules, and stayed true to the Catholic church. My family is artistic, we question authority, and despite my mother's prayers, we strayed from organized religion. Irony is our middle name. My daughter not only did not "fit in,"--though she loved them all and was fiercely loyal. And she was sexually abused by her grandmother's live-in companion. Grandpa, whom my daughter remembers fondly, had died. 

This was the great sacrifice I made for my daughter? That she would be told by a man that "it didn't count" as incest because she "wasn't really family"? 

That the man would not be banished, that she would be forced to see him again even after she had been promised she wouldn't (after she told the family about the abuse, years after it started), that grandma would leave her diamond earrings to my daughter, but she would never take them? For this I am supposed to feel good about giving up my daughter? 

Not every adopted individual is abused, of course, but non-biological children are more likely to be abused than others. *

My daughter did not have a better life than she would have had with me, a single woman without means, without a husband, facing the slings and arrows of cruel fortune of the times. Neither one of us ever "got over it." My daughter didn't have a better life, she had a different life. In Downton Abbey there was a scene in which Ethel, the maid who became pregnant with a British officer's child, has to decide whether to give up the child--and be banished from his life--to the wealthy parents of the officer, who had died in the Great War. It was a wrenching for me to watch, and I freely wept. As Ethel considers the options--she'd fallen low because she had to lose her job, couldn't get another as a single woman with a child--she says something to the effect of her son gaining a position in society, an education and all the rest, but "losing a mother's love."  

The other day I ran into someone who spends his summers here where I live on Long Island. He's an interesting guy--a sociology professor turned a private pilot, someone who flies those banners over the beach, which is oddly enough quite dangerous. He had gotten to know Jane a bit--they had shared a drink or two at the local watering hole. When she attended college here, she drove to school with his son. We hadn't really spoken more than hello for several years--and only in the summers. 

HOW IS YOUR DAUGHTER? 
Now there we were outside the post office--where we pick up our mail in our village--and he casually asked how Jane was. 

Well. 

Without skipping a beat, I said: She committed suicide in 2007. 

I told him I remembered how he once said to me, after having a drink with Jane, that when he asked her how she was, she had answered, Well, I decided not to kill myself this afternoon. He nodded. 

I told him about the higher rate of suicidal attempts among adoptees. He nodded. And in a weird twist of fate, I told him how his son was now the book editor of the local newspaper who had assigned my memoir to be reviewed. Life is strange, right? 

Never thank a natural mother for giving up her child. Never tell her she is brave or that she did the right thing. Never tell her that she made a great sacrifice so her child had a better life. My daughter lost a mother's love and had a different life, among strangers. For the two of us, her adoption was a tragedy we could never quite fix.--lorraine
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*Children living in households with one or more male adults that are not related to them are at increased risk for maltreatment, injury and death. This risk is not elevated for children living with a single parent, as long as no other adults live in the home.
Household Composition and Risk of Fatal Child Maltreatment


Excerpt from the East Hampton Star: (review assigned by my friend's son)
The Wages of Adoption  (this links to it)
by Evan Harris
The book is an exploration of the complexities, pitfalls, revelations, and power of Ms. Dusky’s relationship with her daughter, Jane, through Jane’s suicide at age 42. In some ways, the two volumes (Birthmark and this one)  together offer a cultural history of adoption in America, from the 1960s to 1990s. Ultimately, Hole in My Heart sketches out the wages of adoption from Ms. Dusky’s strongly held perspective.

Ms. Dusky is particularly lucid in outlining the ways in which, for her, relinquishing her child was not truly a choice, but an action in the absence of real alternatives. In 1966, when she was pregnant, abortion was a remote option that did not materialize for her, and her resources — psycho/emotional and otherwise — were nil. 

....she identifies herself as a person who did not feel she had a choice. Yet, somehow, she does not rationalize: “The right thing would have been to keep her. I did what I did, and I have had to live with the consequences. The justifications might repeat in my brain — it was the times, it was the shame of it all, I was alone without anyone to turn to — but none of it reaches that damn hole in my heart.”
__________________________
Snarky political comments will not be published. THIS IS NOT THE PLACE TO DISCUSS THE ELECTION. 
CLICK ON LINKS TO ORDER PUBLICATIONS OR ANYTHING FROM AMAZON. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT. 


49 comments :

  1. Well said. Well-intentioned people want to make others feel better, even about painful things like losing a child. That's why they say things like, "It was God's will" or "Everything happens for a reason." It isn't, and it doesn't. Thanking a natural mother or calling her brave are the opposite of helpful. Such comments only remind the mother of her loss; they don't make her feel one whit better. Whether a child is lost to adoption or to death, the loss is profound and deserving of respect, not gratitude.

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  2. You've probably seen these studies, but they're worth publicizing. Both articles were published in the journal, "Pediatrics."


    "Children living in households with 1 or more male adults that are not related to them are at increased risk for maltreatment injury death. This risk is not elevated for children living with a single parent, as long as no other adults live in the home."

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/4/615.abstract

    "The odds for reported suicide attempt are elevated in individuals who are adopted relative to those who are not adopted."

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/4/639.abstract

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    1. When I have a moment I will add that to the piece--thanks Kaye!

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  3. I agree. My child didn't have a better life, nor did he have opportunities. The biggest 'lie'/'sell' going in the adoption industry is telling a young women her baby/child will be better off being raised by strangers, without her,the mother, or the young mother and father in a temporary economic crisis.

    Those same people who say out of one side of their mouth, "you did the right thing", are the same people who out of the other side of their mouth will say, "I could never give my baby away".

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  4. People want to think they are being helpful and kind, and perhaps want to communicate that they are not being judgmental. The issue is though, not what you had done, but what was done TO you - the circumstances that led to you giving up your baby - an unthinkable act, which those who have not had your experience cannot fathom. Although all of our situations are unique, the sense of loss of a baby, or child, experienced by a birth mother upon adoption, is common and shared.

    Although compliments and thank-you's abound, there is very little patience for hearing anything from us that is not positive, or expresses that we are unhappy, about the situation. No one wants to hear anything bad. And it's easier to talk AT someone, than to talk to someone, as the response may not be what is deemed as acceptable in the rosy atmosphere that surrounds infant adoption.

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  5. So true! The concept of "giving your baby up to a better life" is one of the adoption myths that has defined the adoption narrative for too long. We adoptees lose so much that isn't accounted for; family, continuity, bonding, identity, heredity, basic civil rights to our history, and we gain perpetual childhood - along with an adoptive family that may or may not care for us since we aren't 'theirs', maybe we're given ballet or piano lessons (as if this could compensate), and we gain the full time job of fixing whatever goes wrong (or was wrong to begin with) in our adoptive families' lives. Not a better life, but a profoundly different, and often dysfunctional, one.

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  6. I remember the push for adoption or abortion when I was 17 and pregnant. I was scared and the father and I were in good terms, we actually married and still are married. Something in us knew we could do this so we kept our baby in the face of much opposition. Even if he wasn't in, I figured I could but it was scary. If I had listened to others I would have believed I couldn't do it, they were convincing. They said my life was ruined. The worst thing for me is I heard that for years afterwards with no evidence that I was failing, it is just what people believe. So I just wanted you to know that I know what you guys went through and I hope you can have healing from all that went on! It was terrible, people have wrong ideas! I know now many adoptive family situations that were not the better way, it is what it is. Hopefully you can connect with your children and love them and they won't go through this...it is a hard road that few understand but I just want you to know, I think you made the best choice you could at the time <3

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    1. Reading between the lines I see you saying you were in the same boat as all the mothers of loss but you were strong enough not to have to give up your child. Well done, aren't you wonderful. And then you go to say that you totally get what we went through...really? Wow that's impressive! And you end it by calling what happened to us a choice that we made and the best choice at that.....interesting....

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    2. K, I think saying that "you made the best choice you could" is not a negative dig. We may have felt like we had no choice, but took my mind, Sherri Huff she is just saying, we are allowed to stop beating ourselves up over the loss of our children. She just sounds like she remembers our era and sympathizes with what happened. I did not take her comment negatively in the least.

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    3. Her situation was completely different, the father of her child stood by her and gave her support, she wasn't facing a pregnancy alone. She has no idea what we went through. She writes that YOU MADE THE BEST CHOICE YOU COULD AT THE TIME. Lorraine you can think what you want but I'm going to have to stay unconvinced. First of all it did not feel like a choice and second of all how was it the best choice or is your post saying you made the best choice for your daughter? No, her post is irritating to me. Like it if you will that's the beauty of thinking for yourself, you may think as you wish.

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    4. K. I meant no harm. I felt led to share because even though I chose a different option (we had three choices as I see it) it was a hard choice and few supported you. What I felt was condemnation and people saying I had failed or would fail. I even had a co-worker who hated me because I had a baby young and out of wedlock. He said to me "that isn't fair, my wife and I are good people and we can't have children and here someone like you can have a child." I could be wrong, but I feel like you guys should know that I received hateful treatment. However, I am not trying to get sympathy, this was just meant to help you guys!

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    5. Sheri, I find this comment even more offensive than the first one. You speak in terms of "us" when you were pregnant, you and him. There is the first difference. There is no we, no me and you Sheri. Then you harp on about choices. Clearly you were not brainwashed like I was into believing that being a good mother meant giving her to people better than me. I felt there was no choice, I had to give her the best life possible. I was seen as not worthy of her and I bought into that crap. Please don't insult me by saying I had a choice, I might see that I could have said no and I might see that I could have and should have had the confidence to realise the best mother for her was me. No I didn't have a choice as a pregnant teenager who was alone. No I didn't have a choice oh wait three choices? How patronising and rude of you Ms. Huff. You will get sympathy from me, I am sorry you don't understand.

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    6. I feel foolish now thinking I could explain that keeping the baby was not an easy road either and that this might help heal your pain. I thought if anyone could have fellowship, we could. About the father. He was seen as a saint and I was the lucky girl who was the recipient of his charity. No matter what I did, I was still the trash that got pregnant out of wedlock. What I do want to tell anyone else who might see this and is contemplating adoption, it got easier. Who I was as a person was not viewed so poorly as I got older. People have their ideas about things and you can't trust them. My dad wanted me to have an abortion. He had my aunt call me too and tried to talk to me about making that decision. I had gone to Plan Parenthood before getting pregnant and was going to go on the pill after my menstrual cycle but that never came. When I went back after the baby was born to get a prescription they asked when I aborted the baby and I said I didn't. They were visibly not happy. Even they had ideas of what should have happened. Originally when I posted this I thought I would help those who chose this route know it wasn't easy and I still feel you made the best choice you could at the time. Even the children who were given to another family, I thought it might help them know what their mom faced. It was terrible and keeping the baby meant people would be mean to your mom. That is not a very nice thing to do to a child to be mean to their mother when all she was trying to do was do what seemed right in her eyes to do! I also thought it would help to know that even though I made that choice, I don't judge others who had an abortion or adoption because I know what you faced. I felt like if you knew I don't judge you, that would help in case you are judging yourself or if your kids are judging you.

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    7. Sherri,
      I appreciate your attempt at kindness, and I do believe that you did not mean to insult any of us.
      Also, I believe that you were treated badly when you got pregnant. Many of my friends got pregnant at the same time I did, during the baby scoop. And they were treated horribly, even for awhile after they got married.
      But, like you have said, they were eventually allowed to become a part of society and raise their kids.
      The uproar died down.
      You were able to raise your child and the uproar died down, but for us, the turmoil and loss never went away. That is what, in my opinion, is the difference.

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    8. Sherri, I do not judge you nor feel you are judging me. I am happy to hear that your story turned out differently from many of ours here. I am glad you were able to keep and raise your child. My best friend got pregnant two years before I did, and got married at 7 months pregnant to her boyfriend who stood by her. I admire her courage and yours and anyone else who stood up to the pressure to surrender that was very real at that time, as was the shame that was heaped on those who "had to" get married or tried to go it alone as a single mother. In those days even divorced mothers were suspect and subject to gossip and disapproval.

      I did not feel that you were criticizing those of us who surrendered by telling your different story. We all had it hard in in different ways, only as you pointed out, for you it got better, as it did for my girlfriend who got married when pregnant. Times changed quickly, and in a few years that did not matter, but for those of us who surrendered, our children were gone and the shame was doubled.

      I know what you faced as well, and neither route was easy or clearly the right way to go back when we were pregnant. A lot of the outcome was luck and chance as well as choice, but I do not see condemning you who kept your child or condemning us who surrendered, and I do understand your good intent in telling your story here.

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    9. Sherri, you like to use the word choice don't you? So if I trick you into giving me your life savings was that a voluntary donation? If I said to you hey you chose to give me that money. I could have given the money too but I didn't, but hey you made the best choice you could...it was hard for me to keep my money a lot of people said I was greedy and no I don't want sympathy for that and I wanted to make you feel better about losing all your money. I know you chose to donate your life savings and yeah we all had this money and we had three choices....So again, if I had tricked and conned you into giving me your life savings and then called it a generous donation that you chose to do, would you feel good if after telling me hey no I didn't feel like I chose that it felt like being robbed...would you feel good if I came back three times telling you that you chose that?

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    10. @K
      It wasn't a choice for a lot of us....absolutely. You are correct.
      I was trying to find a way to keep my child and was denied wherever I turned and no matter whom I asked for help.
      Some people may feel or believe they made a choice to relinquish or "place"...but I know I did not.
      And I know many others did not choose to give away their children either.
      A person really cannot be fighting to keep their child, begging to keep, struggling to find a way to keep, and choosing to give the child away at the same time.

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    11. Sherri, thanks for sharing and listening to our stores. Pregnancy is often seen as an epic disaster if it occurs at the "wrong" time - which can be anytime depending on the circumstances.

      I know a woman whose old sister was pregnant at 18 and kept the baby. Fast forward 30 years and this woman routinely slips in a comment about how her sister "ruined her life." Both mother and child (successful college grad) are quite fine, no lives were ruined as far as I can tell. Yet the stigma remains for some in the family.

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    12. Sherri, don't worry most of us understand exactly what you are trying to say.

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    13. I have come to realize after I posted what I did what it would mean to give your baby up for adoption and not know! No one told you that...all they did was say things that suggested you weren't the best option for the baby. That is terrible to say. I want you to know they lied to you based on their beliefs. I pray for you to be healed of this because it has taken a long time but I have had to be healed for keeping the child that everyone said it won't be right to do! We did have a choice and none of them were easy, but we made the best choice we could at the time and is what it is, our best no matter what anyone says, even ourselves!

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    14. Sherri you are determined to force the word choice aren't you. Not everyone had a choice, some of us were drugged, some of us were bullied, some of us were abandoned, some of us were brainwashed, some of us were manipulated and emotionally blackmailed. Again it's like telling a person who was conned out of their life savings that they made a donation. I find you not a nice person and am rather baffled as to why you would insist on being so rude. And to say we made the best choice we could at the time, on a first mother's forum, really you are quite abusive. I am just baffled. I would never want to deliberately upset a mother who lost a child. I would feel ashamed to do such a thing.

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    15. K--I think she is saying that she had a choice, and she kept her child. Let's leave it at that.

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  7. Thank you Lorraine for your voice of reason. AP's NEED to know the children will be living a different life, not a better life. Your advice has help me give my daughter the space to be the person she is, not what I think she should be.

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  8. I wish people wouldn't say that, especially to first moms. Talk about a knife to the gut. Cruelty meant as kindness is not less painful because of its good intentions. I am sorry you had to deal with that for what is probably the millionth time.



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    1. Tiffany--
      No, I haven't had to deal with it a million times. In fact, that may be the first! I think more people of my (older) generation did not see adoption as a gift, but an answer to a horrible situation, so there was no hint of "thanking" someone. Maybe this grew up after Roe V. Wade and abortion access, and so the idea was "thank you" for enduring a danger to your health, going through the birth process, and accepting a lifetime of sorrow--so we could have a baby! I am sure that the adoption industry also found this a way to wrap their minds around what giving up a baby meant and goes along with "positive adoption language."

      The "thank you" idea appeals, to my mind to the adoptive parents. They don't really think it through. My generation instinctively got that giving up a child meant...a bad thing. It was better that way.

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    2. I hear it a lot, so that makes me think it must be a new thing then. I think you are right that it's the adoption industry and positive language to make it seem all flowery and beautiful. I will say thank you to you for the insight that you always bring to the topic of adoption.

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  9. What can you say when your birth-child says "thank you for not aborting me"? Especially when you never intended to, to begin with. Is this part of the "positive adoption language"or "positive thoughts" they were taught growing up?

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    1. Danni, Lorraine's answer was very good. I would add, "No child ever needs to say thank you for not aborting me. Among all the sadness I have felt through the years, there is a small happiness that my beautiful child is walking around in the world. Up to now, it's been my only happiness. But now - I have a lot of reasons to be happy."

      That's how I see it anyway.

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    2. Since you never wanted an abortion (I did not either) you could just tell her that, no need to thank you for not doing something you did not consider doing. And you could add as New and Old has said that you are glad they are in the world and communicating with you now. She may have assumed that if abortion was legal when you surrendered that you considered it and decided against it, but that was not always the case.

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    3. @ Maryanne,
      I too, like your answer here, and others along the same lines. Many mothers never consider abortion so being thanked for not doing it just doesn't make sense.

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    4. Yes, thank you all for your replies/suggestions. I did tell her right away that I had not considered abortion, and the other suggestions about reaffirming my joy at being able to communicate with her is a good idea to add to that as well. I have posted some more on this on the next blog which is about this topic. My main concern about my daughter making this statement is that her religious adoptive parents may have made comments along this line, that birthmothers always consider abortion, and in my particular case, where some evil people claimed I wanted to harm my child, (which was not true) may have drilled into her head that I wanted to abort or otherwise harm her.

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  10. Saying "thank you for not aborting me" may be a way of finding out if that was a possibility. You may decide to tell the truth--if that was the case--but especially if it was not--say that.

    Then add, please don't "thank me" for giving you up because it makes me feel bad and worthless, as if I were never fit to raise you. It might have been hard but you would have never doubted or questioned who I was, and all that means. And for that, I am sorry."

    Danni, this is such a good question, I will take it up in a blog very soon, if not the next one.

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    1. On the flip side, adoptees too often hear "You should be grateful your mother didn't abort you!"

      Argh.

      I can't count how many times I've pointed out that abortion and adoption are not flip sides of the same coin. Every woman (EVERY WOMAN) makes the choice to abort or carry to term. Only then does she decide whether to parent or to relinquish.

      They're two separate, distinct, decisions.

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  11. After an article about me being a first mother appeared in the Oregonian, a woman at my bridge club said to me: "what kind of woman gives up a child? A thinking mother!" Yuck!

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  12. it's almost always adoptive parents that say the "Thank you for placing bullshit". Yep it sure makes their life better.
    I think adoptees are often confused. On one hand if I didn't place, my daughter would have a different name, perhaps some different values, and possibly would have never met her children's father. She loves who she is (and I do too). I believe wholeheartedly that she would have loved the life and who she became with me, too, but it's water under the bridge so I just leave it alone.
    It was the absolute worst mistake I ever made. I can't imagine doing anything more horrific than leaving my own flesh and blood at a hospital to fend for herself. And here I thought I was some saint doing right by her. No, No, NO! I failed her miserably. I spend every minute of every day mentally trying to make it up - but it can never be so. I hope young mothers that think about adoption read your blog, Lorraine, in advance and realize that the horrific decision is a life time sentence.
    Barb

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    1. Maybe they say that because they can't understand how a mother can give-up her child? During the BSE many bmom where forced by their parents. But today's bmoms are already parenting child/children and give-up their second, third or fourth kid. To me, as an adoptee, I can't see that? It's like how can you "keep" them but give-up me? I think it's because they don't want the responsibility.

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  13. I was adopted at 2 years old by a mother who was infertile (and on her second marriage) and a father who had three grown children by his first wife. I was a "gift" for my mom since dad already had kids. I was one of those sexually molested as a young teen by both my adoptive dad and another adult male relative. Since what happened with my adoptive dad was made out to kinda be my fault, I never told about what happened with the other relative. I was a target, and was not "theirs" and everyone knew that I was not biologically related. I'm not sure how I didn't act out or become a mess, but I've seen both relatives at holidays for the last 35 years and what happened has never been discussed since. Since being in reunion for the past year with both of my first parents, I wish I had been able to stay with them, yes, my life would have been difficult at times, but who can say what "better" is? I thank my first family for finding me, not for losing me, that's what makes sense to me.

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  14. Lorraine, I have a few friends who are adoptive mothers. They all know the tremendous desperation so many of mothers from the BSE went through -- but only after knowing me for a year or so. They weren't trying to be hurtful or snarky in the beginning. They truly didn't realize what the Kool-Aid really is all about and how our decision came out of deep fear and desperation. I think the amom on your thread made the same mistake that most of society has made about us, mainly assuming we're either the madonna or the whore. If they see us as nice people, we get the madonna stuff of how unselfish and courageous we were. I hope she keeps following you on FB -- she'll eventually "get it."

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  15. When I hear people says mothers had a choice, I want to respond: "Yes, the condemned man has a choice between walking to the gallows or being dragged."

    Some of us fought and some of us didn't but for many single white pregnant women in the 50's and 60's, the outcome was inevitable.

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  16. Jane, I hope you can forgive me for editing, of sorts, your comment. It's not meant in any way to minimize your feelings or experience. I do agree with the 'condemned man' analogy. Quite accurate.

    "Some of us fought and some of us didn't but for many single white pregnant [change to *mothers* and omit the word *women*, minimizes the importance of motherhood, 'timely' or not] [omit entirely-*in the 50's and 60's*] the outcome was inevitable."

    Not disagreeing with your statement but expanding the time coverage. The numbers may be much less, but there are still many who have faced the same all through the years. Is that part of the reason why adoption flourishes? The "it's not like it was back then" coming from those of us who are mothers?

    To me, the limited time frame statements are there for people to read and automatically think?, presume?, assume?, that things are much better now. I don't feel they are any better, even today. It's a new kind of insidiousness.

    I would love to see others refrain from using the word "choice" when it comes to adoption talk. Yes, some may have had every option available to them and all the assistance they could possibly want, and full understanding of the ramifications / outcomes for mother and child. We know that is not often the case for so many even today.

    I've had one person (an adoptive mother) say 'thank you for giving up your child, and giving a beautiful gift'. I was stunned. I said something, like don't thank me or some such and I walked away. She had NO clue what she was doing to my mind, body and spirit with the words she spoke. You feel stuff like that just like the first day when they have removed your child...in every cell in your body and your mind is screaming -Noooooooooooooo!

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    1. That's fine, Cindy, edit away! Regarding your suggestion -- single white pregnant women be changed to "single white pregnant mothers." I consider women as mothers only after they have given birth.

      I don't think adoption is flourishing. There's only about 14,000 domestic infant adoptions each year compared to perhaps a 100,000 during the BSE. There's about 800,000 abortions each year. Given the choice, most women opt to abort. It's also more common for single mothers to keep their babies. The industry turned to foreign countries for babies but that source is drying up as well.

      On the other hand, marketing for babies is much more aggressive today. Adoption is pushed by religious authorities (the LDS Church, for example) and "liberal" thinkers who discount the significance of blood ties and promote the "adoption option." The adoption industry has no end of tricks to separate babies from their mothers. In my day, adoption agencies only had to open their doors and in came the pregnant women. There was a surplus of babies and agencies worked hard to find couples to take them.

      Today, there's a shortage of adoptable babies. Demand is up because women put off attempting to become pregnant until it's too late and gays want children. Those wanting children have many more options though, donor eggs and sperm and surrogates. The adoption attorneys I know say more than half of their clients now are using "assisted reproduction."

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    2. I should have added that "expectant mother" is fine to emphasize motherhood. I admit that I didn't feel like a mother at all. Someone came to me in the hospital after my daughter was born and asked me to sign a permission form for her to have medical care if she needed it. The form identified me as "mother" and I re-coiled. Years later when we reunited, someone referred to her as "your daughter." I recoiled again.

      Eventually, I was able to use the term "daughter" in referring to her. Still, it doesn't seem real. Perhaps my resistance is caused by internalizing society's view that natural mothers are mere carriers, not mothers.

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    3. We can't be used by society to perpetuate that stereotype of "mere carriers". I'm not, nor was I then, a baby vending machine...and neither were you. We are mothers. Always were. Always will be. I think I know what you mean in how hard it is to 'claim' our motherhood. I still feel like I 'need permission' or 'don't have permission', am not 'allowed my child', 'you're not the/a mother'. It makes it hard to BE -Mom- when your child NEEDS and wants you to BE.

      Yes, society made sure we understood the place they wanted us in. This past Friday I was listening to a song and heard the words 'scarlet woman' and burst into tears feeling the condemnation of the "world" much like Hester, only with the child removed and given to "better people".

      I wonder if it's ever going to completely stop hurting or if the feeling of 'you're nothing', 'not a mother', 'not worth nuthin', will ever heal ENOUGH to not be knocked back into that intense shame and grief out of the blue.

      Expectant mothers is the perfect term. Thanks.

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    4. This is especially true when people ask, "Do you have any children?" I never had other children, so I always, somewhat uncomfortable, and not sure if I was "really" lying, would say "No." I never wanted to answer questions on doctor intake forms. I guess they need to know for medical purposes but there was a feeling of shame and I never wanted to be honest. Feeling like I had no "right" to say "yes I have a child."

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    5. It is a normal question--because it is a great life-changer--and so the person asking is ...asking which set of life experiences you have had. If you say Yes, I know the impulse is to say, but not like you imagine. And often it's inappropriate to go into the whole spiel because that opens a can of words they were not expecting, or maybe, even wanted to know. Do you say that to someone who casually asks you at a dinner party, or ladies' lunch? I did sometime, and I didn't others.

      If it's a medical question, probably best to say yes. But I myself did lie once to a doctor less than a year after my daughter was born. It was a physical exam for new insurance at a new job--he new job in a different city necessitated by the pregnancy. Lord, what we went through....

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    6. Cindy--I still burst into tears sometimes at some small thing that reminds me of everything.

      Unlike Jane, I felt like a mother to my daughter when we met immediately, and used the term without an ounce of shame or doubt. My daughter however, had to get used to it. But I guess telling the world I was a mother without a child and then I had a child made me be used to feeling that way--I had a daughter and here she is, World!

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    7. And I agree: Adoption as it is sold today is a new kind of insidiousness. It's different from when those of my generation gave up, but the pressure now comes from an industry trying to stay relevant and--in business! No babies, no business, no job. It should be more of a dying industry than it is.

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  17. As a first mom who had a one-time meeting with her son's a-parents and chatted with them for a couple of hours, I would have appreciated a "thank you." Not a "thanks for the gift," but rather a "thanks for choosing life. We have been so blessed to be able to raise *****."

    Although it was a friendly meeting, the a-mom made sure to let me know that he was "difficult" at times. Oh, lady, you're disappointed with "the product?" Unbelievable!

    I felt absolutely insulted and humiliated that that I did not receive a humble "thank you so much for your choosing life." But that's just me. I can understand that some first moms don't want to hear "thank you."

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