' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: You are only as sick as the secrets you keep

Thursday, October 1, 2009

You are only as sick as the secrets you keep

Carrie Fisher, in touting her book and one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, on The View this morning, said that revealing the truth about yourself makes it impossible for others to hurt you. "You are only as sick as the secrets you keep," she said.

She went on to list her particular maladies--years of drinking and drugs before rehab, being bipolar, bed-hopping (sounds like an aerobic exercise, joked Joy Behar), marrying a guy who became gay, and I thought, Wow, keep going, add the really big one: Giving up a child for adoption. That's a lot bigger than drugs and rehab. Of course, she didn't because I don't think that's on her "been there, done that" list. But I kept ruminating about the wisdom of her words: "You are only as sick as the secrets you keep."

Once you tell your husband/children/neighbors/friends that you have given a child up for adoption--no one is going to whisper behind your back...Do you know she did? She gave up a child for adoption--because what is the point of whispering?

Tell your family now and it won't come back to bite you later on. Without any scientific evidence whatsoever and only anecdotal information to go on, I believe that is at the heart of the first/birth mother rejections that we hear about and that are so damaging and hurtful to the individual who has been given up.

Hiding the truth from your loved ones doesn't put any trust in your relationship with your family because you feel you will be rejected if they only knew the truth about you. Yes, it's not a great thing to have to tell anyone because it's not a great thing to have done, we know, we know, we have been there, but it is a part of who you are today, and who you will be tomorrow. And being open about it will make your load so much lighter.

If you feel the sting of hurt from your husband/family after you tell them what has been the secret in your heart, it is because they will feel they have been lied to by omission, and that you felt the relationship was not strong enough to bear this secret. Trust them, trust your love enough to tell the truth. Explain how shamed and awful a thing you felt you did, and how that led you to bury this all these years. Ask them to understand how different it was when you had your child. Ask them for their forgiveness--for not having told them sooner.

If you are afraid, think how good it will be to not have to keep this secret. You are only as sick as the secrets you keep.

If you think you can not do it, think: I can do this one thing for that child. My child.
If you stumble before you get the words out, think: I can do this one thing for my child. I will acknowledge her/his existence. I could not keep him/her, but I will acknowledge his/her life. And I will accept her/him if I am fortunate enough to know her/him one day.

And do it. Remember, you've got a lot of company. Six million adoptees were not delivered by the stork.--lorraine
Remember Anita Tedaldi? The woman who adopted and terminated the adoption when she and the child did not bond? Here she is on the Today Show this morning.  I don't have anything to add that has not been said before elsewhere, but you have to ask, why in the world was Anita Tedaldi, with five biological children, and a husband who apparently is deployed somewhere, allowed to adopt in the first place? Did not the agency think that maybe the woman already had had hands full? This story originated in the New York Times and this evening I noticed that the comments were closed after more than 300. But it you care to read Number 317, you'll find another woman considering the same thing: sending back a child she can't bond with.


  1. I don't think you should have to tell people if you don't feel comfortable. I also don't think you should say you feel shamed if you don't.

    I don't feel ashamed. I feel many things but I refused to be shamed about what happened, that's crazy.

    What do you mean by different? You know I don't think much has changed at all. I think in America it's even worse now the way they advertise so agressively.

    I have really regretted telling people like my family in law. I don't like them knowing. It doesn't help my daughter if they know. I just have to hear stupid comments and ignorant assumptions about it.

    Not that they are bad people, I like my family in law but it doesn't help that they know (my mother in law told them)

    My blood family always knew.

    I don't think a secret like you were bi polar or took drugs is received in the same way because the media portrays adoption in such a stupid way that then you have to deal with so much ignorance. It's really a burden.

    People only see that you gave your child away, they don't get the whole picture.

    I never hide it though if it comes up and the subject keeps going then I refuse to hide it. I never deny that I have a daughter either.

    Some days I just don't want to go there because it's very painful subject.

    I don't really care who knows that I am a clean addict, I always get praise for that anyway...

    Just my opinion doesn't mean i am right and you are wrong...


    Thank you for writing this!

  2. It's too bad that your husband's family is a jerk about this, but at least...you never have to have this be a surprise to them. I hear stupid stuff all the time but at least everyone knows how I am hearing it. People don't have to blast the news about their lost child to the world at large unless they want to, but keeping it from your family--which you have not done--is a step towards sanity.

    In a day or two, I'll write about telling my own family --because they didn't know I even had a child until she was five.

  3. "People only see that you gave your child away, they don't get the whole picture."

    Coming from the adoptee side, people only see that the "birth" mom abandoned the child, which obviously* makes them unwanted ya know? and then they see the adoptive mom and think "Well at least THEY chose you to love and raise."



    * Note: This is heavy sarcasm.

  4. I do not think this is a "one size fits all subject." Each of us has our own story and own situations.

    I do not see others running up to me to share every tidbit about their personal lives. Carie Fisher will make a bundle off her book and I do not see her as a particularly good role model.

    My husband knows about my reunion and for now that is where it will sit.

    For me the animosity from my son's amom is hard enough to overcome by itself. I cannot imagine giving friends a blow by blow update. it would be far too painful.

  5. I don't mean to make my in law family sound like jerks, they are real sweeties and I love them. It's just that they are undeducated about adoption and some of them make stupid comments that just stress me out rather than make me feel understood.

    I also don't feel comfortable with them knowing if they don't really see the whole picture.

    Same with my mother in law she always asks intrusive questions about it.

    I do love them though they are good people.

    I used to be the most stupid and ignorant about adoption!

    My daughter and I live in different countries. She has been here to see me.

    She is not a secret, just to clarify and I would never deny her existance.

    I guess my point is that it's ok not to tell people too it's really ok if it doesn't feel safe or if you feel vulnerable.

    For me what isn't ok is refusing contact or denying them access to other family members. Again I don't want to judge here but that for me would not be ok.

    I believe my daughter has a right to access everyone she wants to and she has a right to deny contact with everyone too.

  6. Why is it that adopters are still seen as saints when they surrender children?

    Personally I think it is terrible that she even considered that.

    When I heard that she didn't even ask her children to turn off the TV when that poor boy was leaving for good, I couldn't believe it.

    The boy leaves forever and her family couldn't be bothered to turn their heads to say good bye - Sponge Bob was far more important
    (pretty much says it all).

  7. As to Tedaldi, I just want to scream at her. Idiot! She is just trying to justify her sh**ty (sorry, word just fits) decision with the media blitz... Poor poor me, had to make this agonizing decision, we weren't bonding... If the child was bio, there would be no question in her mind, she would have done what it took to make it work.

  8. It sickens me that this woman is getting even MORE media attention. Just think how that young man will feel upon adulthood when he will get to reivew a blow-by-blow report on how he was rejected (and how so many people applauded her for her courageous rejection!).

    As far as secrets go, sometimes it is wise to choose a confidant very carefully. I try to choose only those I think can be empathetic and supportive, which can be tricky, 'cause sometimes you just don't know how a person will react until the cat's out of the bag. But that really pertains to the details of the situation, not just the general knowledge of an event such as adoption. I've learned to deflect (or attack) those who are not true confidants and who try to interfere or make assinine comments. It generally scares them off, which is fine by me.

  9. Well, folks, having grown from age 12 to 18.5 in foster care the one thing I know for a fact - SECRETS are the worst thing in the world.

    A secret can open your life up to scrutiny.

    The truth is the only way you can simply live and if someone misunderstands and has the crass audacity to judge, isn't that their problem.

    A secret can harm or end your happiness.

    The truth may can only be either the end of something that might not have been right, or the beginning of something even stronger.

    A secret is what so many of you ladies out there live in. All the ill health, with other issues and loneliness.

    The truth frees the soul, the heart and the ability to live in a world that is happy and balanced.

    I choose the truth. As for nosy people, don't we all have them? And don't you wonder why you are secretive in the first place?

    Live in the light, love can only grow strong and true in the light.

  10. A bit off topic, but I had the pleasure of seeing Carrie Fisher's show over the weekend. And I thought, "Good for her!" I thought it was very brave of her to turn her personal tragedies into entertainment--theater of the absurd. And isn't that what our collective birthmother experiences are, theater of the absurd? You can't make this stuff up!

    By opening up and sharing her "secrets," Carrie minimized the shock value, made it more...acceptable. While few in the audience could relate to growing up in the public eye with scandal as your best friend, many related to her challenges with her bipolar disorder. By revealing all, no questions were left unanswered, and there was no cause for judgment.

    As I've said often, secrets and lies beget more secrets and lies.



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