' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: In Adoptee's Search, Loss and Grief Collide

Monday, August 11, 2008

In Adoptee's Search, Loss and Grief Collide

Double Header Day:

Folks, I've twice lost everything I have written and so I'm a little nuts...so as lightening strikes overhead I'm going to try one more time because it's important to get our voices heard when adoption reunion stories make news. Today's New York Times (8/11/08) has a story about an adoptee, Mark Cellura, who searched and found that his twin, seemingly an identical sibling, had died in 1987. Reporter Sarah Kershaw does a good job of highlighting the necessity of this man's search, and the long slog it is taking to change laws to give adoptees their birth rights. For us, the only really sorry note in the story is that Mark's mother has not responded to a letter from his intrepid searcher, Pam Slayton. (However, there is one adoptee mentioned in the story who has happily reunited, so all first mothers don't look like--jerks.

I know adopted people are afraid of rejection, but is it really any easier if it's done through a third party? Adopted people should make contact themselves, have the courage to make a phone call. Just by the mere fact of birth, they are entitled by the laws of nature one meeting, one day of answers, all truths revealed, nothing held back. This is the story of their lives. I know some of these women still say no, but I'll go out on a limb here and predict that the total reunion-rejection rate is probably lower than when the contact is made through a third person, via letter. The only exception I can feel good about is when a confidential searcher, as in some states, is also a birth mother, and is able to allay the fears of women deep in the closet.

See "In Adoptee's Search, Loss and Grief Collide" at:

So, let's use today's Times story to storm our version of the Bastille: Write to the Times (Letters@nytimes.com) and email a copy of the letter to your legislators, all of them: Your state senator and assemblyman, as well as your congressman and senator in Washington. Unless you let them know what you want, they're not going to know. Urge them to get behind a clean bill--one that gives adoptees the rights that should be theirs as a matter of course. Read about
the good New York bill at: http://www.unsealedinitiative.org/

You don't have to be brilliant, you just have to voice your opinion. The more letters the Times gets, the more ink we will get in the paper. You do have to remember to include your name, address, and phone number. Be brief, but be quick. Allow yourself to get angry! Me, I'm angry at all those women in the closet. I'd like to pull them out by the short hairs and give them 40 whacks. But how do we reach them? Aye, that is the question. How do we reach them, how do we change their minds and open their hearts? Through my high school grapevine, I know of one woman from Sacred Heart High School in Dearborn, Michigan who apparently is not curious, and never looked back. How do I reach her?


But remember, Well-behaved women seldom make history.


  1. This is my third attempt at leaving a comment...so hope it works.

    Just wanted to say that I have very little patience for birth mothers who don't want to be found. Sure it's hard sure it can be traumatic but it's better than the alternative for everyone involved.

  2. After sending several cards and letters since Christmas, I called my birthmother for the first time last night - August 11, 2008.– 6:00pm Phone rang 3 times.
    “Mrs. Robertson? Is this a good time to call? Can you talk for a minute?
    ”Yes. Who is this?”
    “Robert. I just wanted to know if you could answer some questions for me.”
    “I’ve told you, there’s nothing to talk about. “
    “I understand that. I just hoped you could give me some answers.”
    “You know I told you before – I don’t want to talk about this, I don’t want to think about this. It was a closed adoption – you have no right to bother me. I made my decision years ago and that’s that.”
    “I just want to know some things.”
    “There’s nothing unusual in your medical history. That’s all you need to know. Please leave me alone. Why do you want to know?”
    “Two reasons, I guess. One is that I still want to know my paternal history. The other is that I just want to know how I fit into the human race, where I come from. Can you at least tell me who my father was?”
    “I don’t think I can even remember his name. I don’t want you to contact my family or friends about this. Can you understand that?”
    “I understand and I don’t want to hurt you. But I just need to know.”
    “You know you had no right to go onto Vicki’s website and leave that message. Vicky was nothing like you, you had nothing in common. She took after her father. It was not right for you to be there.”
    “I’m sorry that you feel that way. I think she and I would have been friends.”
    “Don't you understand by now how I feel? I feel like you’re stalking me. Just leave me alone.”
    “I wish you didn’t feel that way, but I understand. If that’s the way you want it, I'll just have to live with it.”
    “That’s what I want. Don’t call me again.”

    "I guess I just have to respect that. I'm sorry"

    So much for birthmother's love. She's had 58 years to think of this...

  3. Lorraine, thanks for a great post. I don't think adoptees necessarily go through a third party because they are afraid of rejection. In many cases there is no other way for us to find out anything about our adoptions.

    I tried for almost ten years to search on my own, and would gladly have made that first call myself if I could have done so. But I was unable to get that far. I signed up for an intermediary (the Illinois CI program), which in retrospect was a gigantic mistake that may have cost me any future contact with my birth mother. (See my blog at 73adoptee.blogspot.com, keyword "intermediaries").

    I, too, have a hard time understanding why a birth mother would so absolutely refuse contact. Like d28bob, my birth mother has denied contact and will not share information about my birth father. She has made her wishes clear, and I respect that - but that should not preclude me from being able to acertain my heritage. Where does one person's rights end and another's begin?

    The commonly-held idea that an adoptee, upon having a birth name, will immediately jump upon the birth family as some kind of crazy stalker is a stereotype I would like to see obliterated. Without my birth mother's name, I have no access to my own, or to my original birth certificate or medical records. It has nothing to with contacting her directly.

    I don't know what could be said to a birth mother so terrified that she feels the need to deny the adoptee's very existence. I wish I did, because then I'd know what to say to mine - if I ever have the chance to talk to her again.

    PS - thanks for putting my blog in your blogroll!

  4. It's Lorraine here--I can't tell you how these stories pain me. And I can not can not understand these women, who I find so cruel. I know they have put it out of their minds, but...the sorrow they engender is a blight upon all of us, not just first mothers.

    my heart goes out to your sorrow.

  5. First off, I would like to say that I *love* your blog! (I found you through Ungrateful Little Bastard's blog.)

    I don't know if I am welcome here since I am an adoptive mom, but I feel like I *have* to tell you -- in response to one of your other entries -- that I would LOVE to have my daughter's first mom in our lives. I hope that someday she will get on her feet and get her life together and get to know her child. And as much as I fear that reunion, I *want* our (as in: mine & hers)daughter to know her. I pray that she won't reject her; my heart aches at the thought of it!

    I count myself lucky though -- I have a relationship with my daughter's maternal grandmother (and other relatives). At least she will have the opportunity to know something about where she came from.

  6. Lorraine - Thanks for your kind words. I can only imagine the pain of first mothers like yourself, and the experiences you have been through.

    I know you don't have a magic bullet, but do you have any advice as to how we, the adoption community, can show support for these women who feel the need to deny? I think if some of them knew they are not alone, it might help. I often wonder if my mother had no idea that adoptees and birth relatives were "allowed" to search, until I came looking for her. Perhaps the shock was so much she felt she had to deny my existence.

    Perhaps, along the lines of adoptees' RegDay, we should have a "Mothers' Dignity Day," to get the message out that first mothers need not feel ashamed or alone. Isn't there a celebration for first mothers sometime after Mother's Day in May?

    Rozzo - You are doing the best thing you can by being here and learning what adoption truly means to first families and adoptees. Bless you for making sure you know your daughter's heritage and supporting her in whatever decision she makes regarding search.

  7. I have no clue why some mothers reject their kids, even though I am also a birthmother. I always wanted to find my son, would have been thrilled if he had wanted to find me, which he did not. I have no sympathy for mothers who continue to reject their adoptees,and no special insight into their narrow minds.

    Some rejections are initially just shock, and those turn around, so adoptees need to have patience, but repeated rejections that go on for years are just cruel. I feel bad for adoptees this happens to, but have no real insight into why. I suspect that it is because birthmothers come in all kinds, cruel and kind, just like everyon

  8. I searched on behalf of a friend of mine and found her birth mother. The birth mother denies that she is the birth mother. I was so sure that when I found her she would be thrilled about having been found. I thought I'd find a woman who had always wondered what happened to that baby girl she had to give up. I just don't understand! I feel so bad for my friend that her birth mother isn't welcoming her! I pray one day her birth mother will come around, have a big change of heart and answer some questions that my friend has always wondered about.



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