' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Generation Gap: Do Women From an Earlier Era See Relinquishing their Children Differently?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Generation Gap: Do Women From an Earlier Era See Relinquishing their Children Differently?

Didn't know the blog was screwed up! Have been away from computer for more than 30 hours! Read below for changes, and er, a fix. Didn't know there was nothing there! --lo

So, do birth/first mothers who relinquished during the Baby Scoop Era, as I did in 1966, in general feel differently about their decision to do so than mothers who relinquished later on? The discussion going on in the comments at a previous post, No Relinquishment Regrets, indicates that they do. In general. And in reading other blogs (including at adoption.com or was it adoptionvoices?) which kicked me off for having an alternative opinion), it's not been lost on me that younger (birth/first) mothers, mothers who relinquished without the intense societal pressures that those of us who relinquished in the Fifties, Sixties, even the Seventies felt coming at us relentless as the rain do feel differently than we do.

I've poked around looking for research and it's sketchy. We start here with what British adoption researcher John Triseliotis  reported in 2005 in The Adoption Triangle Revisited (with Julia Feast and Fiona Kyle):
"Most of the birth mothers featuring in this study gave birth to their child, and parted with them, in the 1950 and 1960s when harsh attitudes, along with same and stigma, surrounded non-marital birth. As a result, and to maintain the secret, many birth mothers and their families built elaborate stories and fictions to disguise the pregnancy and birth, with many of them being sent to mother and baby homes or to another part of the country in order to conceal the pregnancy. It is not surprising, perhaps, that many came to feel that it had not been their decision to part with their child and suggested that it was taken out of their control."
[This is a hard nut for me, because on the one hand, I feel this way--that my choice was not really a choice, even if my parents were not directly involved, they were involved--and on the other hand, I feel that taking responsibility for one's act is leads to greater acceptance by one's found/reunited child. In my own situation, in time I was able to say to her that I--not society--gave her up. Simply saying: I'm sorry that you had to be adopted without caveats as in The devil, the times, my parents made me do it, leads to a stronger basis for a reunion of hearts and minds--and forgiveness. Just, I'm sorry you were adopted. I'm sorry I did not keep you.

Those few words eloquently express one's own responsibility for the child you gave up for adoption. Some may disagree, but I think most adoptees would like to hear those words at least once, even. As for forgiveness, we may feel pressures were so inevitable that we do not need forgiveness, but maybe adoptees need to feel they have the power to give it; however, if we say we were not to blame, how can they forgive us?]
To continue with Triseliotis: "A significant minority, however, were clear that the decision had been theirs. Because of the stigma and the absence of emotional support and understanding from the immediate family, or the child's father, and because the decision had been taken out of their hands, the great majority also came to feel lonely, isolated, abandoned, vulnerable, powerless and largely victims. Equally, some of their parents had found themselves torn between the wish to be supportive and the fear of shame. Furthermore, and because the pregnancy had become a taboo subject, it could not be talked about within the family and so no emotional support could be made available either.
[Which leads to older-era birth/first mothers not telling their husbands, children, etc., and makes for a difficult transition (or none at all) when the adopted person comes back into one's life. So--if you are reading this and have not told your spouse, your children...just do it. They may be hurt because you kept this secret from them, but in most cases, it will lead to a better understanding and the support you need. Just do it. A group from New York's Unsealed Initiative was back up on Albany lobbying last week, and again, they ran into someone who obviously had knowledge of some birth mother hiding deep in the closet and mentioned, when discussing the bill that would give adoptees their original birth certificates, how birth mothers are "fair game." Indicating that as "game" to be shot, they do not want to be found. When, in fact, most birth/first mothers hope to be rescued from a lifetime of wondering about their offspring.]
Triseliotis: "Some doctors, nurses and other professionals, e.g., moral welfare workers, were said to have shared the parent's and society's censorious attitudes, reinforcing both the shame and concealment of the pregnancy and birth. They, too, were said to without emotional support and saw adoption as resolving all the concerns and also providing the child with a 'good home.' This meant that birth mothers were again deprived of opportunities to express their intense grief and feelings of loss."
Hello...Yo, that is that how I felt. I only told one girl friend in Rochester [she drove me to the hospital, hoping I would not deliver in the car], one who was back in Michigan but we did not talk often, and Patrick, my daughter's father. Who saw adoption as the only solution.
But younger women do not approach giving up their child to be adopted with the same pressures, and by and large they do feel relinquishment is a real "choice," and thus are able to take responsibility that it is their own decision, and in making that decision, are genuinely of the mind that they are doing the best by their child. And while that does not change the maternal feelings of loss (that is hormonal, instinctual), it seems to have led to a lessening of the type of deep-seated and unending grief that mothers of my era harbor. From the Evan B. Donaldson 2006 report on birthmothers and their grief:
Current research on birthmothers concludes that being able to choose the adoptive family and having ongoing contact and/or knowledge results in lower levels of grief and greater peace of mind with their adoption decisions.
Women who have the highest grief levels are those who placed their children with the understanding that they would have ongoing information, but the arrangement was cut off. Such contact/information is the most important factor in facilitating birthparents’ adjustment, but only 13 states have laws to enforce post-adoption contact agreements in infant adoptions.
And from anecdotal evidence, those 13 states are not doing much to actually enforce the contracts. If an adoptive family changes their phone number and moves away, who is going to find them and haul their asses into court/jail? The local sheriff? And if the adoptive parents are pillars of the community, or otherwise "upstanding" citizens? And the sheriff is going to do exactly what?

Not much. I am taking the women at face value--that is what they are saying, that they are more at peace with their decisions than I was--but yeah, everyone, there is a part of me that has a hard time buying that.

And everyone, no matter when you relinquished, long ago or last week, give yourself a break tomorrow--buy yourself a flower, eat some chocolate, forgive yourself. afor the time being, we'll have to rely on anecdotal data. Stay tuned.

And despite everything, buy yourself a flower, have some chocolate, it's good for the heart. Yes, it's winter but spring can not be far behind.--lorraine


  1. Hi! I wrote a response to this post, but it is huge -- almost 500 words! So, do you want me to post it here, or on my blog with a link back to your original post?

  2. My opinion? Same SH** Different Era.

    I have a study done by a Catholic, private adoption agency in 1996. It is a retrospective case analysis of 100 pregnancy counseling cases from the late 80's to mid 90's. These cases included women who chose to parent and those who chose to relinquish (the agency patted itself on the back, noting in the study that it does not charge pregnant women for counseling). The study introduced the historical aspect of adoption where women at one time would relinquish due to harsh stigmas against single-motherhood, out of wedlock pregnany/birth and illegitimacy. The researchers in their hypothesis felt that these stigmas were no longer a driving force behind relqinuishment and were conducting a study to determine the new sociodemographic variables that would "predict" a mother's decision to parent or relinquish in modern times.

    They found that women who had well established future goals, more family support and higher levels of education were more likely to relinquish their children. They also found openness in adoption to be favorable..BECAUSE: openness encourages relinquishment (so you can see the agency's bias in their own study).

    So what do we have now? A new era, new women, new reasons to convince them to give up their babies and new evasive methods in order to do so.

    We no longer shame a woman into secrecy based on outdated stigmas. Rather, we promise her openness and appear to give her autonomous choice and involvement. We encourage her to be independant, to make this move for herself and her baby. Do the "right thing" for her and "do the right thing" for her child. We tell her what that "right thing is" and, of course, it's adoption. Openness agreements are made and what chance does a First Mother who expresses pain and regret and public complaint about giving her child up have of her adoption staying open if she does so?

    New era, new women, new adoption, new openness---and a whole new silence.

  3. I am truly inbetween once more. I relinquished in 1981 - but my child was born in 1978. And while I was never coerced in the normal BS way, they stepped it up for me. I was threatened outright. Not for my life, but my child's safety.

    I have a lot of friends that are BSE and I can see where the secrecy is a big deal - very hard on everyone. I also have a lot of friends that are post BSE - and all the BS is the same thing. They just put the "positive" swing in the advertising - they had to. More and more adult adoptees were searching. More and more mothers were stepping up and dealing. So, instead of pumping them full of the "shame on you" shite, they simply guilted them into feeling like they needed to be somehow better to keep their kids and that open adoption would be the best thing...that way they would not have to be a secret.

    We all know how that is working out.

    I think, no, I believe, that it does not matter what kind of crap they tell you, it is still crap. It is still about getting a baby for a someone that is unwilling to parent a child that is somehow damaged by foster care, or simply to not attempt to parent or parent without anything more than guardianship.

    Basics remain the same - sadly, they just painted over the slime with a new coat of prettier slime.

  4. Interesting question, I do see marked differences. For example when I had my son, I was married. Adoption was still pushed on me, but it wasn't about the "shame of an unwed maternity" but rather the "shame of not having a college education" and settled life, which depending on what neighborhood you come from, can mean a great deal.

    The fear that my potential would go unrealized. The blindness to the fact that it isn't an either or situation.

    Also, I think it is important to note, that while on a broad scale I do think it is much easier for women to keep, much more socially acceptable...For certain women, even very young ones who are a part of the religious right resurgence, not much HAS changed for them.

    I remember on that dreadful "Adoption Voices" reading the sad story of a very young woman who was conflicted about giving up her child, but her father was a very religious preacher or what not in NC and she still got the same old, "stick you in a maternity home and learn you to like it" treatment that many of the BSE mothers got. She was just as helpless.

    My own mother falls into kind of a gray area, her parents, not the industry were the instruments of coercion, but they would do it with the flair that she had to believe it was her own choice. She may disagree with my assessment, but I have a strong feeling that they wanted HER to come to a place where she felt it was her decision, they didn't force her, they just removed all her other options.

    It is very hard to say, so much is dependent on the particular culture of the mother.

    Personally, I feel it was much easier for me to bear and keep my child, than it would have been for my mother. A large part of that, I believe is not due to the time difference, really not that great of one, but the difference in the religions we were respectively raised in.

  5. I don't think it's very different from when I relinquished in 84. They use a lot of guilt making tactics, call it corageous and selfless, talk about giving the baby a better life.

    There is still a lot of shaming done towards young single pregnant women.

    Even when counter shaming is done by some anti adoption people it's not strong enough to overpower the brain washing of "if you love your baby you will give baby up to those better people with the house and the marriage and the respectability".

    What also hasn't changed is the shaming you are giving for not only being pregnant but for relinquishing.

    That hasn't changed really.

    It's like racism, it's a lot less but it's still there.

  6. I do not find the "baby scoop era" designation of mothers who surrendered before abortion was legal really helpful in understanding the real experiences of individual women. It is more a means to divide surrendering mothers into opposing camps than to promote understanding or unity.

    There is a nasty undercurrent from some older mothers and some adoptees towards the younger ones who express some satisfaction or peace with their decision that "you did not suffer enough." It as if there were a hierarchy of pain, with the most "worthy" and "loving" mothers those who were the most damaged and have the most anger at adoption in general.

    I have known mothers who surrendered many years ago who made their own choice to surrender, and were satisfied that it was the best choice. This attitude is not exclusive to younger mothers, nor is the experience of being powerless, shamed, and lied to. That has always happened and is still happening today to young mothers who fall into the hands of fanatical religious or unscrupulous adoption brokers.

    Not all of us older mothers hid in shame for years either. Lorraine and I are examples of the many who did not make our kids a dark secret but came out when they were very young. Conversely, secrets and lies are still part of some surrenders today, especially in some religious communities.

    If more younger mothers are satisfied with the choice of surrender, and more at peace than some of us older moms were, isn't that a good thing? Not all open adoptions are a sham, not all close. Not all adoptions shouldn't happen. Not all mothers suffer irreparable harm forever, although I'd venture to say none ever forget.

    If you believe that adoption is intrinsically evil, and that any mother who surrenders of her own volition is either deluded or evil as well, then you can go on railing against any younger mother who has had an easier time of it.

    Or you can listen, and pay more attention to each mother's real story than the year in which it happened. We do not have to try to fit ourselves into any more boxes like the "Baby scoop era" or after that era in order to communicate.

  7. Joy said "For certain women, even very young ones who are a part of the religious right resurgence, not much HAS changed for them."

    ITA with that.

  8. KimKIm wrote "Even when counter shaming is done by some anti adoption people it's not strong enough to overpower the brain washing of "if you love your baby you will give baby up to those better people with the house and the marriage and the respectability"."

    I do not believe that counter-shaming has any chance of achieving it's objectives. Shaming of any sort is simply wrong, and all counter-shaming does IMO is widen the gulf between people by encouraging a a downward spiral into irrationality.

    My wish is that society would understand that "the house, the marriage and the respectability" are no compensation for losing one's original family, and that the only truly ethical adoptions are those where there is no willing and/or able natural family to raise the child.

  9. How come there is nothing written after "his reply? Or is there and my lap is screwed up and I can't see it? Or is there a blank space and that means he had none? If so, very creative Lorraine :)

  10. I will tell you what I think has changed.

    Because less and less women were relinguishing their children, the adoption industry came up with the brilliant idea of a something called "Open Adoption".

    That term was used solely as a lure to get young women to believe they would be involved and kept up do date on their children, because we too were brainwashed to believe that we would live with the stigman of being unwed mothers, if we kept and raised our own flesh an blood.

    We too were brainwashed to believe that we had nothing to offer our newborn infants but love (and that is too selfish a reason to keep your own child; however the adotive parents love means so much more than ours does and it is OK and not at all selfish for them to love and covet our chidren.. ~because they have more CASH!)

    Little do alot of unassuming, uninformed young women know that that term usually means nothing, nada. We still irrevocable lose our children, only now with the knowledge what we let ourselves be manipulated and conned out of them by adopters and the baby brokers who want a womb fresh infant. .

  11. I don't feel it's very helpful to labour the differences either.
    There are so many influences - social, cultural, religious, familial, economic, etc, blah, blah, blah - that are always in flux, that I think it takes away from the real issue, which is that parents and children ought not be separated except in cases of absolute necessity.

    Of course, "necessary" can mean a lot of different things to different people.
    There *are* women who do not want to parent because it would interfere with other plans they may have made for their lives, and who are not prepared to make compromises in order to keep their children with them.
    I think this is too often glossed over with sentimental statements about relinquishment being a supreme sacrifice and act of love (which I think it can be, though rarely in our affluent society), perhaps because of the the myth that motherhood is a primal calling that applies to all women without exception. I see it as a way of avoiding the kind of social opprobrium that is heaped upon women who might otherwise be stigmatized as "unnatural".

    However, the fact is, that for most relinquishing parents and their children, relinquishment is a significantly negative experience that is not to be encouraged for trivial reasons.

  12. Amanda wrote "They also found openness in adoption to be favorable. . . BECAUSE: openness encourages relinquishment."

    ITA that open adoption is too often used as a lure, and even in states where open adoption agreements are supposed to be legally enforceable, there is no real guarantee of security, because, apart from anything else, adoptive parents can hop state lines.

    I believe that state wide restoration of original birth certificates to *all* adopted adults would effectively eliminate this problem, since potential adopters, aware of their legal obligations from the get-go, wouldn't dare to risk the consequences of breaking the law. Openness would be built into the system.
    I also think adopters would be afraid to jeopardize their future relationship with their adopted children by withholding info. about and access to original family from the child before it reaches adulthood.

    However, until such a day is reached (OBCs and open records for all), I remain skeptical about open adoption - even though I think that where adoption is necessary, a scrupulously maintained open adoption is probably, in most cases, in the best interests of the child.

  13. Well, I agree that much of it is generational in so far as the majority of those of us who surrendered during the BSE; genuinely felt and believe we were coerced, forced and shamed. Sure there were women who felt it was their decision, but they seem to be few and far between amongst those of us trying to understand and change adoption laws and be supportive to each other; as well as educating the public. This seems pretty obvious from the large number of mothers who continue to come out and tell their eerily similiar stories. Most describe the exact same feelings and experiences of the mothers in Fessler's book - TGWWA.

    I believe that no matter what anyone insists we should or should not call ourselves, the way we each choose to label ourselves should be no one else's concern. I am a mother of the BSE as well, and I know the differences.

    On the hand, while the stigma is nowhere close to what it used to be for the majority of younger mothers who surrender, or feel they are truly making a choice participating in making an adoption plan and their "open" adoption remains open, I have to agree with Amanda. As far as the crap they tell these young pregnant mothers, it's still crap just a different era.

    Recognizing that there are generational differences and trying to understand what they are is the only way to stop this woman's abuse issue - that of encouraging single mothers to surrender their children to adoption.

    It reminds me of the fact that many women aren't even aware that they're in an abusive relationship or have choices until they're taught otherwise or it's too late.

    I think we still need to keep banging our drums..
    Excellent topic!

  14. What I don't grasp is this: (1) I have copies of 33 studies done between 1976 and 2002, all done in order to find out how to coerce more mothers to surrender their babies. Tactics such as promising open adoption, pre-birth contact with adoptive parents, limited contact with baby in hospital, adoptive parents taking home baby from hospital, convincing mothers that adoption is a "loving option," birthparent mentors -- all were developed to increase surrender rates i.e. coerce mothers into surrendering (Coercion = manipulation, force, pressure, convincing or any other method designed to ensure the mother will surrender) -- BUT (2) mothers describe experiencing all these coercion methods and yet deny they were coerced.

    Same with financial coercion -- having to "give their baby a better life" i.e. being forced by fear of poverty instead of being able to rely on secure and sufficient financial support as is their basic human right. No mother wants to see her child suffer in poverty, be harmed by poverty. Hence this is not a viable choice -- it is an inhumane government punishment of poor and single mothers and the anti-poverty movement helps speak out against it.

    But at the same time these "non-coerced" mothers grieve the loss of their baby, indicating that there was a connection there, that they loved and wanted to keep their babies (If you have a million dollars, would you have kept your baby?). In a truly non-coerced surrender, there would be no grief or trauma, as the baby would truly have been unwanted and unloved -- what adoption is meant for.

    I think that the blatant coercion is easy to recognize, but even in the 1950s social workers were trained in how to make the girl "decide on adoption" to make her believe it was her decision. Today, adoption businesses have the research that enables them to be that much better at it.

  15. I wrote an article about open adoption as a coercion tactic: "Open Adoption: They knew it would work."

    It is just one of many such techniques developed to increase surrenders. And this is why they did it: to get more babies to market.

  16. “Same with financial coercion -- having to "give their baby a better life" i.e. being forced by fear of poverty instead of being able to rely on secure and sufficient financial support as is their basic human right. No mother wants to see her child suffer in poverty, be harmed by poverty. Hence this is not a viable choice -- it is an inhumane government punishment of poor and single mothers and the anti-poverty movement helps speak out against it.

    “But at the same time these "non-coerced" mothers grieve the loss of their baby, indicating that there was a connection there . . . “

    But, in fact, the external pressures to surrender can co-exist in the surrendering mother's mind as good reasons to surrender. Nothing exists in a vacuum. That was what I was trying to get at with the quote I left on the “no relinquishment regrets” post:

    "In all such examples [of adoption] the circumstances that produced such narrow choices should not be conflated with the absence of adult subjectivity itself."

    The mother herself may be in-tune with the very culture that offers those choices, narrow though they may be. She herself may believe that her situation is not conducive to raising a child. I am not excusing or condemning the choices or anyone's acceptance of them but "coercion” does not take into account how people actually make decisions. The pressure is both external and internal. That is why mothers may not feel coerced; they may feel the decision was self-directed. But they still grieve the loss of their child.

  17. Same SH** Different tactics. Today there is more demand and fewer shame-induced relinquishments.

    Same SH** Same pain. I don't care when or how. The result is still loss.

  18. Kitta here:

    I would like to respond to Little Snowdrop who suggested that restoring OBCs to adopted people would force adoptive parents to obey the law, and not withhold information from their adopted children(if I am understanding your statements correctly).

    I have worked in access to records legislation for many years, since the mid 1990s. In my research I have spoken with search/support groups from Kansas, where records have always been available to adult adopted people.

    The search group leaders told me that "Kansas adoptees grow up just like other adoptees, where records are still sealed. Most Kansas adoptees have no idea that records are open to them, until they themselves decide to search in adulthood. They join a search group and then they find out they can get their records."

    Some Kansas adopted people are never told they were adopted, just as adopted people from "closed" states are still not always told. Kansas adopted people have told me that, other than having access to records in adulthood, they have the same feelings and issues that other adopted people have.

    I do think that requiring open adoption would help. If it is understood from the beginning that identities are being shared, that would make it harder for secrecy to continue.

  19. Sorry, everyone regarding the screw up in the blog. It was in the "preview" section when I looked at it but I was in huge hurry when I wrote that blog and posted without looking at the blog itself. So I just saw it tonight, the next day, (2/13 at 9:53 p.m.) and was very amused IA by your comment.

    But I think there is some research I missed. Stay tuned, we're obviously not finished with this topic. Everybody's comments have been enlightening. I believe there is a somewhat different attitude, but I also have a really hard time believing that someone can give up a child with a deep-seated longing that we talk about here. And if you label us "bitter," that's just a way to dismiss us and put us in the camp of deranged.

  20. "The pressure is both external and internal."

    That pressure is still coercion, be it psychological, social, financial, or emotional coercion. Whenever a mother is pressured to surrender a child she loves, there is something wrong in the situation. She is being forced to perform an act that goes against every living fibre in her being. Mothers in natural do not abandon babies they love. No child wants to be abandoned. Society instinctively recoils in horror at the 'abandoning mother' because it goes so much against our gut instincts of how a mother should behave. Adoption is not natural.

    "It is difficult to face the fact that by definition every adopted child is an abandoned child, who has suffered a devastating loss. No matter that the adoptive parents call it relinquishment and the birth mother calls it surrender, the child experiences it as abandonment."

    The child is right. And the grieving mother who wanted to keep her baby was persuaded somehow that her feelings of love did not count. Something is very wrong in this picture, and that 'something' is the pressure that forces women to surrender/abandon their babies, whatever the source of that pressure.

  21. "She is being forced to perform an act that goes against every living fibre in her being."

    Wow, this is my third time saying this. No, the point is--it may not go against every fibre of her being. She may believe that surrender is a good, albeit painful, decision. You can still grieve and do what you do. In the limited sample available of surrendering mothers from China, for example, they all said they thought about those kids but they all said they did the right thing.

    There is no such thing as a pure natural relationship. All human relationships are mediated by culture, beliefs, traditions, and a host of other human-made constructs. That's basically how we make decisions. The mother-child relationsip is no exception.

  22. Kitta said, "If it is understood from the beginning that identities are being shared, that would make it harder for secrecy to continue."

    I agree that would be essential. The importance of such understanding needs to be impressed, not just on adoptive parents, but upon the public in general.

    "Kansas adopted people have told me that, other than having access to records in adulthood, they have the same feelings and issues that other adopted people have."
    I'm sure that's true.
    I think if secrecy were not allowed to continue, people would consider the ramifications of adoption more seriously.

  23. Amen, to Little Snowdrop's comment. Adoptive parents who are very "open" about their child's adoption often sing a different tune when the child starts to search. Then it's: Why isn't my love enough? and are very threatened.

    But not all adoptive parents are like that. I know some who have actually done the search for their child because they could.

  24. Cedar said, "Could it be that one leads to the other: that "taking responsibility for" what then becomes abandonment leads to this veiled anger and being treated as if you yourself deserve abandoning? "

    While I'm delighted to tell you that has not been my experience, your suggestion (above) strikes me as manipulative.
    Taking responsibility doesn't mean being a doormat. It simple means acknowledging ones own particular part in the wider mess.
    Of course, those who like yourself are entirely blameless victims, must be free to say so.
    But they really shouldn't be trying to press-gang others with a different perspective to sing in their chorus.
    Trying to deny people agency is just more of the same crap that contributed to many of our relinquishments.

    For someone who talks so glibly about the evils of coercion, you sure know how to do it.
    I guess that means you were an apt pupil.

  25. So, Snowdrop, if someone was to tell a rape victim that she was not responsible for having been raped, that is would be coercion in your books as well. I see.

    There are many parallels between sexual assault and reproductive assault (forced surrender). (Similarly with sexual exploitation and reproductive exploitation.) I have heard many times from natural mothers in support groups that rape crisis counselling has been the most helpful for them in dealing with the trauma of surrender.

    In helping a woman who has suffered sexual assault, whether you're a counsellor or a friend, the advice is that "survivors ... may gain especially from interventions that support self-determination / help them to reject feelings of responsibility / including the unwarranted notion that they ... deserved maltreatment." (Briere & Scott, 'Principles of Trauma Therapy,' 2006). This is how it applies to adoption.

    (1) Self determination -- you had the right to keep your baby, you have the right to call yourself a mother, you can build a future with your child, you have the right to search for and make contact with your child, etc.

    (2) Rejecting feelings of responsibility -- you were not responsible for the coercion that made you feel you should or have to surrender your child. A decision re adoption can only be made post-recovery. Becoming educated about coercion methods, why they exist, and how they increase the odds of surrender.

    (3) Realizing that being young, poor, or unwed does not justify having human rights ripped away from you by government, brokers, or customers. such that you then need to "save your baby from yourself." It does not justify at-birth abduction.

    Yes, some women did willingly give away their babies. I never claimed they did not. They do go on with life with no emotional damage or unresolved grief and loss because they never had a connection that child to begin with. Others felt that surrender was "the best thing to do" -- and it is worthwhile examining where this comes from. The pain they feel is evidence that it IS a loss for them and on some level they loved and wanted to keep their babies. It is this love that industry coercion methods worked to overcome such that the mother surrendered. The research has been ongoing since the 1950s -- surrender does not exist in a vacuum. It exists in a market where in 2000 there were an estimated 40 couples waiting for every 1 white infant available, where the industry makes billions every year, where they have dozens of studies on how to remove babies from mothers. Have you collected and read many of these studies? I have.

  26. As I read the original article and following comments, I thought of how my opinions of surrendering my son and adoption have changed over the years. I lost my baby in 1968. If I had been asked my opinion of surrendering him in 1978, what I would have said would be exactly the opposite of what I would say now, over 40 years later. Time, age, and knowledge of the depth to which losing him has affected my whole life have all contributed to a complete turnaround of my thoughts regarding his loss and adoption in general.

  27. Kitta here:

    "Realizing that being young, poor, or unwed does not justify having human rights ripped away from you by government, brokers, or customers. such that you then need to "save your baby from yourself." It does not justify at-birth abduction."

    Cedar, what concerns me is that I see mothers who don't realize that they have been denied, through process of law or government social policy, the right to raise their children. It is actually against the law in my state to try to influence a parent to surrender a child. Yet, this happens anyway, and mothers don't know they have been violated.
    Parents have a right to raise their children...unless proven guilty of abuse or real neglect(not just being poor).

    I lost my son in 1968, and I had a pretty good idea of what was being done to me, even if I couldn't stop it. My family were involved in the adoption industry, doing adoptions in their law firm, so I had that information, but not my family's support for keeping my son.

    I needed help and no one would help me.

    I do work in legislation, and have worked for parents rights.The law that permitted "my" agency to threaten me with involuntary court termination if I didn't sign a surrender, is still on the books. .

    Our western culture doesn't value some families or some parents. We are still seen as a 'social problem' and the "solution" is adoption.

  28. Glory,

    the only difference between us is that I knew giving up my daughter was at bottom, wrong. WRONG. That doing so violated something very basic in me, and that in a very real way, I would never "get over it." Thanks for your comment, it struck so true.

    And guys, can we all be a bit more understanding of each other's point of view? Adoption is painful for everyone.

  29. "So Snowdrop, if someone was to tell a rape victim that she was not responsible for having been raped, that is would be coercion in your books as well. I see."

    Not only do you not see, but your comparison (above) comes under the definition of what R.J Lifton describes as a thought-terminating cliché.

  30. Cedar, you are comparing apples and oranges. Surrendering a child and rape or sexual assault are two different kinds of traumatic events. I have never heard of rape crisis counseling being helpful or relevant to mothers who surrendered unless the pregnancy were the result of rape, which is a whole other issue.

    You may feel that your surrender was comparable and similar to sexual assault and find rape crisis counseling helpful. If it helped you, that is good. But it is not for every mother, or most mothers who surrendered. I do not feel that what happened to me was like being raped, even though surrendering my son was the worst experience I have had. I also cannot see comparing taking responsibility for one's own part in surrendering as the same as taking responsibility for being raped. These are very different issues. A rape victim is never really responsible for being raped. Mothers who surrender have varying degrees of responsibility ranging from none to it being a real free choice, with every shade of grey inbetween.

    I too have had a lot of experience with other surrendering mothers, adoptees, those searching, those reunited, those with all kinds of experience. I have also read a lot of the studies and literature out there about us, such as it is. Almost all of it is unscientific, from a self-selected group and only meant to prove whatever foregone conclusion those doing the study wanted to prove. I do not put too much weight on this stuff, even when the conclusions are those I would like to agree with.

    I do not understand your insistence that all of us were either coerced and blameless or did not care or love our kids. It is not that simple.

  31. Lorraine and I have decided not to accept any more comments on these posts about the generation gap. We've had a lot of thoughtful comments but the conversation has degenerated into personal and repetitive remarks. We did make a mistake and allow several comments which included personal attacks which we have now taken down.



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