' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Dear Abby comes up with the right answer

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dear Abby comes up with the right answer

 Just a shortie, here, as Jane will be posting later today, but as I was trolling the stories at the bottom of the blog today, I came upon this in the Dear Abby column, and it's so right on target with what we were discussing in the last post I am sharing it here:

When I was in high school nine years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby whom I placed in an open adoption with a great family. I am now in my 20s.
I find that if I mention the adoption, the conversation sometimes becomes awkward. I don't like to mention it with acquaintances because it's something very personal and I am somewhat sensitive about it.
When people ask me if I have children, what would be the appropriate response? -- BIRTH MOTHER IN MINNESOTA
DEAR BIRTH MOTHER: You are under no obligation to give chapter and verse about your personal history to anyone who is only an acquaintance. If you are asked if you have children, just say no because you are not raising any.

 Well, that's certainly was what I did until I published my memoir, Birthmark, in the late Seventies, and then even after if I knew the person did not know who I was in that connection. And then once I found her, I often simply said, Yes,  I have a daughter. It got easier as she got older because I found her when she was a teenager, and then people wondered why she was not living with me and my husband. Once she was older it was perfectly normal that she lived elsewhere, as in another state.

One last thing about people knowing. Years ago, before I found my daughter, I had a roommate in Manhattan who was dating a rather prominent child psychologist and author. I do not remember what led to this comment but he once said to her: You don't want to end up like Lorraine. 

Whoa! was my reaction when I heard that, and yes indeed, that was pity. No one wants to be a pathetic creature that others pity. So my advice is like Dear Abby's: sometimes choose your answer to give you the least grief.

But let me immediately add, sometimes we all need to speak up, and take the slings and arrows of poor fortune because unless we do, the laws are not going to change and adopted people are not going to be given their birth records in every state of the union. Speak up when you think speaking up just might do some good. Say: I gave my daughter up for adoption and I would like--fervently hope-- to meet her one day.

Or, I surrendered my daughter, or son,  when she was an infant and we have been reunited. And I'm in favor of open records for all adoptees, and yes, if you want to know, for birth mothers too. I was not given a choice when I relinquished.

Or: I relinquished my son when he was an infant but he found me last year and it was the most rewarding day of my life, want to see his picture?

The ups and downs of the post reunion? Ah, that is another question indeed. --lorraine


  1. I have always said "yes, a daughter." Now I have to admit, and this is going to sound truly pitiful, that I almost built a fantasy around her. But then my situation is not the "average" one. No one need get their knickers in a knot, I only mean that I actually planned to raise my child and had no intention of making any "adoption plan" for any reason. You kind of have to read my blog to get it.

    At any rate, I have to say this ....Lorraine is right. Say and do what gives the least pain, aggravation and retains your dignity. But once the adult/child is there, in your life, the door is open nd if you wish, yes, you can say it without having to explain it.

    sign me nutcookie.blogspot.com

  2. I quite agree people shouldn't feel they have to give personal information to a mere acquaintance - and *certainly* not to strangers.
    On the other hand, if the situation seems right, and the subject comes up, I think it's a good opportunity to speak honestly.
    Which is to say, I think it's mostly a matter of context and relevance. No hard rules.

    Curiously (as it seems to me now, and especially from hearing other mother's stories), people rarely, used to ask me if I had children, possibly because the kind of life that we and our friends led made it unlikely that we would.
    When it did happen, I would tell, but like you say, it wasn't always easy. Of course, my friends knew anyway.
    I only met with opprobrium once - from my female boss. And that lost me my job.
    However, the shame was all hers.

    Little Snowdrop

  3. Yikes, your boss was so against you once she knew you lost your job? How was she involved in adoption?

    there must have been something?

  4. "How was she involved in adoption? "
    She wasn't. At least, not as far as I know. It was just that it was 1962, and things were like that.
    After I relinquished, my parents expected me to continue my education, but I couldn't bear to. I felt I had to get away.
    Anyway, I got a job doing window in a big London department store. I did well for a while. In fact I was my boss's golden girl. But eventually I cracked and began weeping in the window while arranging displays. I can't imagine it was good advertising for the store.
    My boss took me to her office, and with tea and sympathy got me to blurt out the reason. Her attitude changed immediately. She sent me back to the studio and I got my pink slip and marching orders 1/2 an hour later.

    Little Snowdrop

  5. She was involved. Somehow.

  6. Well, she wasn't involved in mine, and so I prefer not to make any assumptions. It's my belief she just saw me as a contaminant.

    Little Snowdrop



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