' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Do Origins Matter?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do Origins Matter?

Judy Clarke, the court-appointed lawyer for Jared Loughner, the deranged 22-year-old charged in the Tucson shootings, is said to be likely investigate his life--"going back several generations to learn as much as possible about his origins"--as she prepares his defense. Of course most people will just read that and move on, but as I read it this morning in The New York Times my mind--the mind of a first mother, a birth mother--leaped to the awareness that this would almost certainly not be possible if Loughner were adopted.

Changing EverythingOver and over again we are reminded how much genetics and one's background play in the wholeness of a life. When I watched Who Do You Think You Are?, the NBC shows that traces the genealogy of celebrities from Sarah Jessica Parker to Spike Lee, I thought, these shows are bound to have a awareness on the consciousness of lawmakers who still deny adoptees the basic civil right to this kind of self-knowledge. But watching the drama in the legislatures play out once again in New Jersey, and in New York, and elsewhere, it seems that the quality of curiosity is curiously strained in the minds of obstinate lawmakers. And also in folks like the dunderheads and anti-civil rights yahoos such as Deborah Jacobs of the NJ American Civil Liberties Association, the august priests who head the Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Lutheran faction in  New Jersey. Why does their charity, their concept of civil rights, not extend to adopted people? Why do they deny them their civil rights?

All remember the crying, scared embarrassed young woman who felt forced, for one reason or another, to give up a child twenty, thirty, forty years ago. That is the image in their minds. (For the bar association, which opposes open records, it's another matter; their clients are adoptive parents who prefer anonymity and sealed records.) And no matter how many of us first mothers/birth mothers stand up and say, We have changed, we want to know our children who were adopted, we are not the frightened young women of your imagination, the message still falls on deaf ears. We had no choice in the matter, but now we are the excuse to deny our children their civil rights. I don't know how or when this will ever be over, but someday it will.
The Open Adoption Experience - A Complete Guide for Adoptive and Birth Families___________________________
On another note, Osolomama, a single mother of a girl adopted from China and a frequent contributor here, has a really interesting blog about open adoption: Ignorant Questions About Open Adoption.  It's well worth reading. After I found my daughter when she was fifteen, one could say that I had an open adoption. It was not without problems (as my daughter was not without major neurological and psychological problems), but it certainly was a better way for me and her to live: with knowledge and awareness of the other. She came and went from this household on a regular basis as a teenager and young woman. I always knew where I could phone her.

And one last note: Adam Pertman of the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, has a good opinion piece today at HuffPo. Read it and make a comment, please leave it here too to encourage others to comment. My comment is early on in the list under the handle of True_Grit. Eventually, if we make enough noise, if we get enough ink, we will get through to the dunderheads. Adoptee rights is not about reunion per se, or special treatment; adoptees are unequal to the rest of us as long as they are denied knowledge of who they are, and the only way to correct that is to let them have their original, unamended birth certificates.--lorraine, a first mother first.


  1. I find it so interesting how our own experiences shape our perceptions. Upon reading an attorney's statement that her defense would revolve around her clients "origins" I would be more apt to wonder if her client weren't product of the foster care system, adoption or some other troublesome "origins". I suppose she could be referring to a genetic predisposition for schizophrenia, but being the product of a less than functioning adoptee and the foster care system, that is where my mind takes me.

  2. Hi, I wanted to send you this general comment about two articles in recent magazines. Marie Claire Feb 2011 Page 93 has an article about a women found by her wealthy biological father. The adoptee says she was brought up to believe that nurture was far more important than nature. ..But it was mind-boggling how she felt an instant kinship with her biological family. She calls her biological parents her "real parents". The Feb 2011 Harper's Bazaar page 115 talks about how giving up a child for adoption 30 years ago contributed to a successful model agent's adult obesity. She felt guilty-emotional baggage. Her material instinct says to possibly seek out the daughter she gave up. She is struggling with the possible outcomes. I really appreciate your blog.

  3. Thanks, Anon, for the compliment and the citations to the magazine articles.

  4. Anon 2:14 writes: " The adoptee says she was brought up to believe that nurture was far more important than nature"

    LOL, of course she was. This is the whole premise that adoption is based on. That you can take a child born in one family and place her in another family and there will be no consequences. It will be just as if the child had been born to the adoptive family. Also, many APs stress that they are the "real" parents thus further minimizing the connection to the bio-family. The whole adoption industry needs to deny how profound the biological connection really is.

  5. I read Lorraine Dusky's book when I was a 20 year old mother without her baby son. I gave him up for adoption to make my family happy, and was under the illusion that he would be better off without me, and have a wonderful life with two loving parents - which I am sure he has (I have to believe that). I don't necessarily agree with that now (the without me part). I've missed him for the last 26 years and feel now that I would have been a wonderful mother to my darling boy.

    During the months after they took him and gave him to his new parents, I was lost and grieving; with no one, anywhere, who could understand, or who would even care to try. When I read Lorraine's book, I felt so relieved that there was someone, somewhere who had the same feelings. I read it over and over, and kept it out of the library for weeks. When I finally had to return it, I did so reluctantly... I wanted to keep Lorraine with me... to feel the comfort of having someone with me (or her words) who understood. I bought a lot of books over the years on the subject, but when I finally obtained a copy of Birthmark as my own, it was my go-to book for a bit of comfort, understanding and sisterhood. Thank you Lorraine, for sharing your story with a confused young women, who desperately needed to hear it. I was not alone.
    Cheryl MacDonald
    Charlottetown PEI Canada
    Searching for my son, born on January 30th, 1985, in Charlottetown.

  6. HI Cheryl There is a FB page on FB pertaining to adopted children and first mothers searching, You may want to post your info there. As well Im on FB Theresa Macleod Aylward as well from PEI I am a birth mother if you wanted to chat:)



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