' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Does adoption run in families?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Does adoption run in families?


Are adoptees more likely than other mothers to surrender their children for adoption? In 1966, a new social worker at the Florence Crittenton Home in San Francisco told me that many of the pregnant girls at Crittenton were adoptees, hinting that perhaps adoption was not the panacea for unwed pregnancy that it was made out to be. However, she added, other workers assured her there was no correlation between being adopted and subsequently giving up a child; it only seemed that way.
Although I’ve seen no studies, I’m convinced the Crittenton workers willfully ignored the link between adoption and surrender. One of the first birth mothers I met at my first American Adoption Association Conference was an adoptee and I have met many adoptee/birth mothers since. My fellow blogger Lorraine’s surrendered daughter, Jane, gave up a baby. Although Jane is gone, Lorraine has reunited with her granddaughter, Lisa Marie.

I was reminded about the connection between being adopted and surrendering a child  
recently when I read an article in The New Yorker (May 16, 2011) about children’s author and novelist Paula Fox and her new book, News from the World: Stories and Essays.

Fox’s mother, Elsie de Sola Fox was 20 when Paula was born in New York City in 1923. She and her husband, Paul Fox, placed Paula in an orphanage soon after her birth, intending that she be adopted. As Paula Fox recounts in her 2002 memoir, Borrowed Finery, she was rescued at the last minute by a poor but cultivated minister in upstate New York. Her parents soon resurfaced, however. Never sharing more than a few scattered moments with their daughter, Fox’s parents shuttled her from one exotic place to another, New York City, Cuba, Hollywood, Florida, New England, Montreal.

At 20 Fox became pregnant and, following in her mother’s footsteps, she surrendered her baby up for adoption. As her daughter Linda Carroll recounts in her 2005 memoir Her Mother’s Daughter, Fox explained when they reunited 49 years later: ”’I thought that you were me, and I was my own mother. I thought that by releasing you at birth, I would ensure you would not have to go through the pain and bewilderment that I went through.’”

At 20 Carroll married and gave birth to a daughter, Courtney. Carroll wrote: “When I became pregnant with Courtney, I had thought: Now I am my mother, young and pregnant by the wrong man, and this baby is me, but I will do it differently. I will keep her and love her. She will never feel that she doesn’t belong.”

That was not to be. Courtney was a difficult child. After the age of 8, she lived with Carroll only briefly, cared for by a series of relatives and therapists until she was sent to a juvenile facility for shop lifting at age 14. She never returned to her family.

Carroll and Courtney’s father divorced and she married again and had two more daughters. She and her husband adopted a three year old boy African-American Joshua. “Adopting a child seemed like a perfect way to give something back to the world by doing what we loved—raising a family. I also felt it was my duty, since I had been adopted. And beneath all these good reasons, both Frank and I secretly hoped that this child would be a shared vision, something to reinvigorate our faltering marriage.”

Carroll’s marriage to Frank failed anyway. She married Mark and the family moved to New Zealand. Joshua became increasingly distressed and distant from the family. After a visit with a family with several multi-racial boys, Joshua asked to remain with them. Carroll and her family returned to the US, leaving Joshua in New Zealand. When he was grown, Joshua returned to the US and reunited with Carroll and her family.

Courtney became a singer and married musician Kurt Cobain. They had a daughter Frances in 1992. After Cobain’s suicide in 1994, Child Welfare Authorities placed Frances with Carroll because of Courtney’s drug use.

I’m convinced that adoption played a part in the difficulties the Fox women have had in raising their children. The saga may have begun even before Else de Sola Fox abandoned the infant Paula. Elsie was the fifth child and only daughter born to a Cuban mother, forced by her father to marry at age 16. Elsie too married at a young age and had four abortions before giving birth to Fox.  
for more see earlier post: The Adoption Cycle: Adoptees who have babies they relinquish

Her Mother's Daughter: A Memoir of the Mother I Never Knew and of My Daughter, Courtney Love
on December 22, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase


  1. As an adoptee and the oldest daughter, when I got pregnant as a married, 30-something, I had similar feelings as the Fox ladies - "this baby is ME, and I am my MOTHER". I knew that I had the chance to do it over. What an overwhelming and impossible expectation of responsibility.

    I also understand why the Fox mothers set themselves up for failure. It was their "genetic expectancy" - to not mother at all, or to do so poorly. I didn't want children for many, many years. Today, I go through feelings of inadequacy, too, maybe not so severely as they, but more severely than mothers who have been raised by their mothers.

    What an amazing story of genetics! Maybe this will help those adoptive parents like mine who can't stand their children, no matter how perfect, because they are unlike anyone in their families. "Sorry, we're just like our mothers." ;)

  2. Jane, Thank you for posting this thread! I agree with you. I think adoption casts a long shadow not just for us first moms but for our children adopted and raised. I remember being told by Catholic Social Services that "your children will never need to know you." They've managed to convince a lot of people of that lie.

  3. Interesting question, in a low adoption rate environment probably not. Studying the research report on Dutch domestic adoption 1998-2007, it turns out that out of the total population (199 children, 197 pregnancies and 196 women, with roots in 40-ish countries), only two mothers were known adoptees, both international ones from Latin America (country not specified for privacy reasons), one in spite of the adoptives being prepared to give her all support to keep the fruit of her womb. If it is any clue, she had little interest in her first mother too, and was using drugs at the time.

    And furthermore, what about kept daughters of relinquishing mothers? Would they be relinquishing at a greater rate too?

  4. Interesting thoughts - My daughter's father was an adoptee and my older half brother was adopted by his stepfather....hmmmm......

  5. @Lorrraine,

    In which issue of Esquire can we find husband extraordinaire's article?

  6. I think adoption definitely runs in families in many many ways. I see it in my own family (my grandmother had a son who was taken by the state and placed in an orphange because she was a single and poor teen mom, 20 years later her daughter placed HER daughter for adoption) and in my daughter's mother's family. I think this is something that requires more study and attention.

  7. Robin:

    the quote is from a very old issue (from the 80s) that is not on line. There's another quote of his that is much more common..and was even on a Hallmark bookmark:

    Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.

  8. My family is riddled with adoption, most of which I didn't know when I got pregnant and surrendered. That my grandmother left my mother and her siblings after my grandfather died. Most shocking to me, which I learned after reuniting with my son, was that he and his wife surrendered two children when they broke up. It's like once it's happened, it makes giving up a child okay, even normal.

  9. Denise: Oh, your story is sad. That's two grandchildren lost to you. That must have hurt mighty when you learned that. When I could not talk Jane out of giving up Lisa, I felt like such a failure.

    And so downhearted. I thought: What have I started? There were many terrible things about adoption, but finding that out was having to accept the reality of how truly awful adoption is for the adoptee: that they would let it happen to the nest generation.

  10. I know a few adoptees who ended up relinquishing children. One said she felt she was not good enough to keep, so she would not be good enough to Mother. The other two were forced by their ap's to surrender.

    I can see how young adoptees could be forced by their ap's to surrender. Their ap's have no clue as to how powerful the bond between natural Mother and child is, so they are ignorant as to the effects on a natural Mother. Plus, the kid isn't really their family, and they know how happy a stranger's kid made them.

    I got pregnant when I was 17. I had already lost my Mother, there was no way I would have lost a child, too. I ended the cycle, and if my daughters would have become pregnant, my grandchildren would have stayed in my family. Adoption negatively affects generations of people.

  11. You said it Denise. “It's like once it's happened, it makes giving up a child okay, even normal.”

    It’s very difficult to argue the value of maintaining the family when adoption, whether the one who surrendered their child or the one who was surrendered, is in your midst. Very sorry to hear about the loss of your grandchildren.

    Thanks for this column Jane. It’s a point of view that doesn’t often appear.

  12. I have always found the idea that adoptees are more likely to surrender children very hard to comprehend. Being adopted I was much, much, much less likely to give a child up for adoption. I found the experience to be so terribly painful (see face of Michigan State University student on sidebar) that I would never have wanted to do that to my child. Also, since I had lost my genealogical antecedants I could not imagine losing my descendants as well. Granted I did grow up after the sexual revolution when Roe v. Wade was the law of the land and birth control was widely available to single people.

  13. I know some adoptees who surrendered a child, also some adoptees and some birthmothers who adopted a child. I've also known adoptees who said because they were adopted they could never give up a child. Adoption has a profound affect on how pregnancy is viewed, but I think it can go either way. Perhaps it does "run in families" in some cases.

    The saga of Paula Fox's family seems more like generations of dysfunction and inability to be good parents, with adoption a symptom, not the cause, only a part of a tragic history. This particular case seems less about adoption running in families than irresponsibility and instability running in this family, and children suffering in multiple generations.

  14. In my case, it is more a family of unplanned pregnancies - not adoptions - that seems to be passed from generation to generation. My own father was born out of wedlock, my sister had an unplanned pregnancy (father married her), as did I. I am the only ninny that seemed to fall prey to the adoption koolaid. There is no other (that I know of) adoption in our family for generations.

    That being said, I have seen this same thing, unplanned pregnancy play out in many of the reunions I have faciliated. Three easter hosue mothers (who I helped reunite) had teenage daughters who became pregnant. The easter house mothers supported their daughters and kept their grandchildren in the family, insuring that was was done to them would never be done to their daughters. They stopped the insanity (at least it appears that way).

    Bert Hellinger and other noted family constellation therapists believe that unresolved trauma from one generation will manifest itself in the next. My belief is that this pattern is such a concept. My easter house mothers have, hopefully, stopped the cycle.

    great article.

  15. Ruh Roh.........

    I don't think it sounds very promising if Gov. Christie is having such a hard time deciding about the Adoptee Rights bill when his own sister is adopted. It sounds like she may not be a supporter of OBC access for all adoptees. How unfair that he has unfettered access to his OBC while his sister is denied hers (and through no fault of her own I might add). If he was my brother and hesitated like this, I would disown him.

  16. I'm wondering if Gov. Christie's hesitation over signing the birth certificate bill is connected with the possibility that he may run for president. He can't afford to antagonize the anti-choice crowd who opposed the bill.

  17. Theodore wrote: "And furthermore, what about kept daughters of relinquishing mothers? Would they be relinquishing at a greater rate too?"

    Hi Theodore, I can't speak for other first moms of course. But I can tell you that both my raised daughters tell every one of their friends that adoption is the worst solution to a crisis pregnancy. They both despise it and have told me it would never be an option they'd exercise.

  18. Not sure how this thread got to be about the NJ bill, but Christie's reluctance to sign it is not about his presidential ambitions, but about his NJ connections to the Council of Catholic Bishops, a powerful group here. I do not think that what his adopted sister wants or does not counts for anything, but what the bishops want counts for a lot. He already knows which way to go, just drawing out the drama to seem "fair".

  19. Moore and Davidson (2002): Adoptees are 14x more likely to surrender than young mothers in the general population. It certainly shows that there is indeed influence here, and that there are many many unnecessary adoptions happening. :(

    I think that pressure from their adoptive mothers has a huge influence here as well.

    Moore, N. & Davidson, J. K. A profile of adoption placers: Perceptions of pregnant teens during the decision-making process. Adoption Quarterly, 6(2), 29-41.

  20. Adoptees surrendering their children makes me think of the tv show Teen Mom. I remember it always intrigued me that all of the girls had enormous family support (i.e. they could live with their parents and their parents would help them raise the baby). The only one who didn't was Lori who was an adoptee herself. Her APs said they would do grandparently type things but that if Lori kept the baby she couldn't live with them and that she was on her own. I felt that Lori's "parents" didn't see her child as being their grandson. Since there was no biological relationship they seemed to have no problem with Lori giving him to strangers. I found it very sad and it brought home to me once again how different adoptive families are from bio-families.

    Jane Karr:

    I am curious as to why your kept daughters are so opposed to adoption. Is is because of all the pain you suffered from relinquishing your child, was it because of reunion? Just wondering, if you don't mind sharing more information.


    I started the thread about Gov. Christie. If I see something interesting on the sidebar I add a comment to the most current post. Not sure if this is the correct way to address the issue but I couldn't think of anything else.

  21. The adoptees I know IRL are super cautious about birth control.

  22. Jane Carr said that she can't speak for first moms (convenient disclaimer), but both her daughters say they despise adoption and have told her it would never be an option they'd exercise.

    Nice that they can assume they'd have an option.

  23. @Anon 7:02,
    You are certainly right about that. Adoptees know all too well the unhappy consequences of a problem pregnancy.

  24. Robin.

    No problem with the Christie thing, just wondered where it came from. He is cutting everything that matters here in NJ, school funding, libraries, getting rid of our NJ Network public TV, and has demonized teachers as the enemy while giving his millionaire buddies every kind of break. If he actually ran for president it would be a disaster.

    From what I understand of NJ law,there are three options for a bill. He can sign it, veto it, or do nothing and it goes into law anyhow. Please correct me if I am wrong on this.

    Since the adoption bill is pretty high profile, I doubt he can just let it slide through, and I doubt he would go against his buddies the Bishops. But you never know.

  25. Robin

    It's just too bad that pregnancy needs to be thought of as a problem. Bringing a life into this world should be rejoiced. Unfortunately, thats not what most of us faced. When young with little or no support from family alot of us made immature decisions. Little did we know that we would pay so dearly for that decision.

    My daughter got pregnant at 15 and iscarried. Only to be face withit again at 18. This time she aborted. After reunion hearing this was a very emotional experience for us both. I not only had to grieve my loss of her but but now for her babies lost as well. I wonder if it would have happened if I would have been allowed to raise her?

    I also think that having a good, stable, loving, relationship with a father figure plays an import role in making wise choices as young, immature girls.

  26. Hi guys: Found out yesterday I do not have carpel tunnel syndrome, but trouble anyway, apparently partly from sleeping in my arm over head and it didn't get enough blood year after year--but I still can't use all my fingers, typing hurts, much physical therapy is in my future...and yes, this is the right place to discuss sidebar stuff.

    Is it true if Christie does nothing, the bill still becomes law? Please confirm. Someone.

    Cedar: thanks so much for that data. I will look for it on line. That 14X number is a killer, since we know what kind of emotional destruction and internal havoc adoption causes. And people want more babies!!!I wonder if this will be true among the international adoptees, like the Chinese girls.

    As a side note: my daughter's adoptive parents have shown no interest in Jane's daughter, Lisa, who was surrendered, nor she in them. It's a non-starter. However, the daughter she kept lived with them for several years, and are still very much a part of her life, as she lives near them in Wisconsin. When she is not at school in Michigan, she lives with Jane's former husband, who became "Dad" as soon as Jane married him when Kim was in the eight. She was never adopted formally, but he is very much Dad; her own father was a ne'er-do-well who basically disappeared when Jane left him, and died about five years ago. Kim never saw him again after the split; she was two, and her step-dad Bob is a really great guy who has been a wonderful factor in Kim's life.

    There was a point where Kim almost came to live with Tony and me, but ultimately it did not happen, though I wanted it very much. My daughter Jane was unstable, Kim was likely to see more of her if she remained with the adoptive grandparents because Jane was nearby.

    However, I am pretty sure that if Kim had started acting up with drugs and such, she would have been with us. Her adoptive grandmother said as much to me once. But she was always a good student, and a good girl. I sometimes felt she was freer to act up when she was living with us during the summer.

  27. It sounds like Gov. Christie would definitely have just vetoed the adoptee rights bill if he didn't have an adopted sister. It does sound like he would be against it as he is strong on the pro-life side and as Jane said they are against it. How nice that they support adoption as the perfect solution to the problem of unplanned pregnancy and then deny the adoptee his or her roots. Also, I'm not in New Jersey but I had thought it was a blue state?? Am I wrong? It certainly sounds very conservative for being in the Northeast.

  28. I have read that adopttees are for Ed into adoption by their adopters T a higher rate than non adopttees. How cruel that is to them having been for Ed to live with strangers then forced to give their baby to strangers. Makes me askthe question do adopters have the same feelings as natural parents. Of course they deny this but numbers speak louder than words. We all know words are used to
    most people advantage especially in adoption.

    New Jersey's Christie needs to cut his food supply first
    trim the fat! California is a mess after Arnold term now
    we have Brown who will trim our fat. Hope he can keep Cal from bankruptcy. Who will keep our federal government from bankruptcy???
    Jane, glad you found out what is wrong so therapy for you why not just sleep with arm down? Hope it helps you.
    As far as adoption running in families I don't think so but I do believe it runs in foster care they think that these young women should supply adopters demand. The Fox women
    have generational abandonment issues. Plus lack of support by men in their lives.

  29. @Trying to heal,
    Problem pregnancy. You are right. Come to think of it I wasn't a problem at all to my first mother. She very much wanted a child (I turned out to be her only child) and was hoping for a girl. My natural father was actually the problem. He should have been given away instead of me. We all would have been better off :)

  30. Robin and all....

    I wrote to Pam and asked her about Christie's options. Here is what she said:

    I wrote:
    Hi Pam,

    I heard that there are three options for Christie about any bill, sign it, veto it, or do nothing and it becomes law anyhow. Is that true? If so, might he take the last option to appear neutral on the issue?

    Pam wrote:
    "that is true. he can also conditionally veto it and edit it, then send back to Senate and Assembly"

    So this bill can become really bad if Christie edits it. This does not bode well. It can become something none of those supporting it recognize. I could see Christie calling for mandatory intermediaries or a registry. I do not think his adopted sister has anything to do with his decision. He is a sleazoid politician playing to his supporters and the Bishops and millionaires pull his strings.

    As to NJ being a blue state, not Morris County where I live and Christie hails from. It is almost solid rich old money republican conservative, with a sprinkling of Tea Party yahoos whom the guys in power are using to further their own agenda.

    We have a hereditary monarchy representing us in Congress, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen is about seventh generation in his family from here! Really, there has been one in politics since the Revolutionary War. In my town, usually the Democrats do not even bother to run a candidate for town council, the Republican primary decides it.

    Frelinghuysen is a prince compared to Christie who looks like Boss Hogg. Frelinghuysen has always been favorable to open records and the local group here, although it is not a federal issue so that does not count.

  31. @ Robin,

    You're also right. Since day one of reunion I have told my daughter that it was never about her being a problem or not good enough to keep. It was about all the others who played a role in her adoption telling me I wasn't good enough to keep her. I soon realized I should have told them all where to go. Have a feeling your Mom and many others here feel much the same.

  32. maryanne said, "The saga of Paula Fox's family seems more like generations of dysfunction and inability to be good parents, with adoption a symptom, not the cause, only a part of a tragic history. This particular case seems less about adoption running in families than irresponsibility and instability running in this family, and children suffering in multiple generations."
    I have to agree 200%. The thought that adoptees are somehow born with traits that give credence to the idea that they/we/I am somehow less than and other than non-adoptees makes my stomach turn and my blood boil. Parenting and social/community mores are far more important than the circumstances of birth.

  33. @Lorraine:

    I am so glad they've figured out the source of your pain and have a solid plan to move ahead. PT isn't the most fun, but losing the use of a hand is hell, especially for a writer! Writing one handed and being in pain is horrible--chronic pain like yours is so brutal.

    Wishing you all the best for your recovery.

  34. "The thought that adoptees are somehow born with traits that give credence to the idea that they/we/I am somehow less than and other than non-adoptees makes my stomach turn and my blood boil."

    Take it easy, please. Face the facts, a girl is genetically about half identical to her genetic mother, with the same sexual hormones and organs, similar behaviour in similar circumstances is to be expected.

    Where would an adoptee find the strenth to resist adoption pushers?
    She is NOT the daughter of somebody who fought the system and won, she cannot despise "birth mothers" as less than sluts and whores, to keep parenting on pride, without despising her own ancestry and herself. If she has a bad adoptive family they are pushing her to give up, a good family may strengthen her conviction that adopters will be providing a better home than she ever can be. The alien feeling about adoption will not be hers too.

    That is not to say that adoptees should be giving up their children, just that they can be expected to be more vulnerable to adoption pushers, but by no means certain prey.

  35. No, a girl is not "half identical to her genetic mother" or father either.That would make us all half-clones. Nor is sexual behavior an inherited trait. There are plenty of social factors at work there, not genetics.

    Each individual inherits a unique mix of genes from both maternal and paternal sides, stretching back endless generations. That is what makes each of us a unique individual, not a carbon copy of either parent.

    Parents pushing surrender was the standard thing for many years, whether the daughter was adopted or biological. Where do you think all us birthmothers who are not adopted came from? Family shame was the moving force, not biological connection or lack of same.

    Younger adoptees that I know are more likely to be very vigilant about birth control because of their experience, not wanting to repeat what their mothers went through.

  36. "The thought that adoptees are somehow born with traits that give credence to the idea that they/we/I am somehow less than and other than non-adoptees makes my stomach turn and my blood boil. Parenting and social/community mores are far more important than the circumstances of birth."

    I'll second and third this. And Theodore, I argue that some adoptees can be less expected to be vulnerable to "adoption pushers". Adoptees are very resilient people and are more than capable of finding places from which to draw strength.

  37. Thanks, Ms, Marginailia...getting a diagnosis was good and it immediately relieved my mind and let me do what I wanted to--shake my wrist and get more blood down there in the 2 finger that are so weak.

    ALL: I don't think Jane's post implies that adoptees are "lesser" by any means; I certainly ever thought of my daughter that way. But she did lose a daughter herself to adoption. And that daughter turns out to be the amazingly strong and talented Lisa...
    whom you read about here. She just had a staged reading of a play of hers on Minneapolis.

    But the numbers (see Cedar's comment) indicate that having lived through the situation of being adopted, which, from what we learn, is not a picnic, does lead SOME to let the same thing occur in the next generation. Inevitable? No. Sad when it happens? YES. Very. That's what the take away here is. But no one is "lesser."

  38. The Fox family sounds like a dysfunctional family that while adoption played a part, I don't think their family saga proves any cause and effect relationship from adoption for the multi-generational dysfunction.

    Maryanne wrote:"Younger adoptees that I know are more likely to be very vigilant about birth control because of their experience, not wanting to repeat what their mothers went through."

    Actually being vigilant about birth control was because I did not want the child to go through what I went through as an adoptee. I can't say that I was really looking at it through the lens of what my first mother experienced as a woman who relinquished.

  39. I wonder what has happened to Paula Fox's four other grandchildren.

    In this article she says she changed her mind ten days after relinquishing, but it was too late:

    I could be wrong about this because the whole saga gets very confusing, but it seems like Paula Fox was the only one who actually formally relinquished her child for adoption. Linda Carroll didn't relinquish Courtney, and Francis Bean Cobain wasn't adopted although she was put under the guardianship of her paternal grandmother (who she credits her with being the only constant thing she's ever had in her life).

    What I see is generational cycles of abandonment with adoption as a related issue.

  40. @ Campbell, I do know that there are indeed many succesful adoptees, who find strengths, and I do not doubt that most adoptees in the family way will be excellent mothers and all.

    However, there seem to be relatively speaking more adoptees relinquishing than non-adoptees. Even in that Dutch research adoptees are about 30 times more common as First Mothers than expected, (mind, numbers are way too low to draw any conclusion there.)

    Either the something experience of being adopted causes that over representation OR there is something genetically, which may make relinquished adoptees more vulnerable, and I do NOT claim that those inherited vulnerabilities are weaknesses, think of humility, altruism, obedience,... They might very well be virtues under most circumstances, something which seems more likely.

  41. The Fox saga is a story of abandonment with formal adoption being only one form. However, from a child's point of view, there may not be much difference between a parent who leaves the child with others to raise and once who formerly surrenders him.

    I did not intend to suggest that adoptees were lesser in some way. My thought was that adoptees might think of children as dispensable since they were dispensed. Paula Fox was placed in an orphanage to be adopted but rescued by a family friend. She gave up her daughter, Linda Carroll. Although Fox did try to get Carroll back, Carroll did not know that. Carroll adopted a boy who struggled in her family. She left him with another family in New Zealand and returned to the US. This may have been the best for him but was a form of abandonment.

    Carroll did not relinquish Courtney but did place her with other caretakers because Courtney was extremely difficult to be around.

    Carroll seems to have spent much of her life searching for a place where she belonged. She married four times and moved frequently. She took the last name of a good friend because she felt her fit her better than the name of her adoptive parents.

    Courtney in turn did not or could not nurture her daughter because of Courtney's drug addiction.

    Adoption and abandonment have long-lasting consequences.

  42. Regarding what happened to Paula Fox's other grandchildren: According to Carroll as of 2005 "Nicole, Jaimee, Tobias, and Daniel have rich and fulfilling lives and careers in psychotherapy, law, academic scholarship, and writing." Joshua, the boy left in New Zealand, "returned to Oregon and reunited with her family. He is studying to be CPA."

    Nicole, Jaimee, Tobias, and Daniel had more stability in their lives than Courtney since Carroll had a better relationship with their fathers. Courtney apparently felt she was the odd woman out in her family.

    Certainly, however, many factors went into Courtney's behavioral problems. Like many artists, she marched to her own drummer.

  43. As an adult adoptee, I think there would have to be extensive research on it to see if there would be any validity to it. There are so many factors to consider besides genetics.
    My mother went on to have 5 more children that she raised right after me. They have either lost their children to the state or have willingly given their children to the other parent to raise. I am the adoptee and have two children, both that I have raised, so that theory would not fit my circumstances. However, my brothers and sisters who grew up with my mother have lost/ surrendered their children, so maybe genetics plays a part, but not specifically to adoptees.

  44. This is NOT a comment about the topic at hand...just a TIP about a book that you might want to look into and review...and I just don't know how else to get it to you:

    On June 4/5, 2011, The Wall Street Journal reviewed a book titled The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers and Child Traffickers by Scott Carney...who also wrote: White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine.

    The review makes reference to Mr. Carney's assertion that making organ donation and "adoption", among other practices, anonymous is an obvious lack of transparency. It further quotes Mr. Carney: "Transparency is capitalism's most basic safety feature."

    I found the review interesting and will definitely read the book.

  45. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/jun/21/

    dear anon: th above link doesn't work--can you try again? I'm interested.

  46. I am the first (and only) to be adopted out. My grandmother was adamant that I be given away. My mother was not strong enough and still is not strong enough to decide how she felt/feels about it. But when my (b)cousin got pregnant at 16, it was such a joyous occasion for the entire family.

    BUT - I recently learned that my cousin DID consider giving her son up with no pressure or even mention of it by our grandmother. Thankfully, my sister talked some sense in to her.

    It still bothers me though. Why me and no one else? My (b)mother was conceived out of wedlock; they married and kept her. But I was forced out. Yet, after me there have been two more children conceived and born out of wedlock (by other family members) who were celebrated and welcomed. And now there's another one on the way!

    So, while the unwed pregnancies haven't stopped in my particular family - so far, adoption has. Phew!

  47. Anonymous 9:04pm said...

    "Jane Carr said that she can't speak for first moms (convenient disclaimer), but both her daughters say they despise adoption and have told her it would never be an option they'd exercise."

    "Nice that they can assume they'd have an option."

    Dear Anonymous 9:04,

    I'm hoping that you can clarify exactly what you mean by "convenient disclaimer" in your reaction to Jane Karr's comment about not being able to speak for all natural mothers. Convenient how and for whom?? It's obvious that Jane can only speak for herself---she's not being insincere, and at least she's got the guts to use her real name instead of "Anonymous".

    The "Anonymous" screen name is a convenient cop-out. It doesn't take all that much time or creativity to come up with some screen name so that we don't confuse all the "Anonymous" comments and get them mixed up with each other.

    Would you have had the same reaction if an adopted person said they weren't speaking for all adoptees? Or would that be "convenient" too?

  48. RAVEN:

    Thanks for saying what I was thinking--please please everybody when you post here think up an anonymous name if you must, as it does make it easier to separate the drop-in anonymousa from the I-come-here-all-the-time anonymousa.

    And on the other point, I agree with you too. I really didn't understand what the carping was about.

  49. Lorraine, you are right. The link I gave you doesn't work for me either. Try googling The Guardian Paula Fox.
    Or http://www.guardian.co.uk/books and put 'Paula Fox' in search. The title of the article is "A qualified Optimist".

    Anon 12:58 PM

  50. As a complete outsider to this discussion (an AP with two kids and zero pregnancies), I am greatly saddened and kind of surprised by the thought that an adoptee might be MORE likely to relinquish. In many cases, that baby is her first known blood relative!! Someone who probably looks like her.

    Reminds me of an essay by Amy Anderson, adult Korean adoptee and single mom:



  51. Elizabeth, you are anything BUT an outsider in this topic, assuming at least one of your young ones is female. You are raising adoptees. You know now that your girl(s) belong to a group, statiscally seen more likely to show this harmful behaviour. It is up to you now to arm them, and that is a position, which is truly between a rock and a hard place, a very hard place.

  52. Thanks for the link, Elizabeth.

    A most interesting article.

  53. Lorraine, Jane... I never intended to imply that either of you had suggested that "adoptees" were/are lesser beings. and honestly, I didn't think I had.
    The implication comes from society/community and sometimes (all too often) from the adoptive family - members who just can't love a child they are not blood related to or that they feel is a product of 'sin', or (very sadly) a child they adopted to bolster their ego as "do gooders" to/in a social group that in the long run could not care less.

  54. Cully Ray:

    I wasn't sure you were talking about anything we said, but without making it cklear what you are referring to, the outside reader might assume we had done that. Again, thanks, for clearing that up.

    At least my daughter's mother said to her what was on her mind about being, er, less than: You're just like Lorraine (sotto voce: that selfish bitch).

  55. I see adoption as a sympton of the root cause: abandonment issues recycling through successive generations. Families were often forced to leave their kids somewhere deemed safe, (ie. orphanage, foster care, with clergy, other family members, etc.) in order to survive/take a far away job/escape abuse. Still happens today in the third world and even the good ol' USA.

    The resulting abandonment issues at the subconscious level are never adequately addressed so the cycle repeats. (For those who want to say, "that's not every situation," - I'm sure there are other circumstances to consider as well, I'm just looking at the patterns I've noticed in my own and many other adoptee/firstmother/adoptive family trees). Abandonment leading to loneliess, fear, insecurity, desperation - how do we escape the multi-generational destruction of family brought on by this vicious cycle? It seems to afflict so many...

    Seems we suffer the same issues as the so-called "broken family" which is often lamented in the media (usually in reference to divorce and MIA mothers and fathers). Only difference is, we aren't allowed to acknowledge the problem due to society's insistence that adoption is wonderful. Contrast that with the constant attention on how the "broken family" needs to be prevented if at all possible, or healed after the fact, in order to break the cycle. At it's heart, adoption = broken family, does it not? Not suprising that the cycle so often repeats.

  56. Lorraine said: At least my daughter's mother said to her what was on her mind about being, er, less than: You're just like Lorraine.
    You bring up a very important issue... how many of us (Adoptees) were told negative information about our natural mothers and then told either "You don't want to turn out like her do you?!!!" or (the ever popular) "You're just like your mother!"
    We (males and females) are "just like" or Nothing like our parents (blood or adopted) because they raised us and they were/are our role models.

  57. I agree that adoption runs in families. I have always intuitively felt that adoptees want to understand how their mothers could have done this to them and what better way too.

    Adoptees de facto grow-up in households that believe in adoption. That normalize and support adoption.

    While I did not consciously get pregnant at the same age my mother was, I did get pregnant then. It has occurred to me that it was something of a subconscious grudge-match.

    Perhaps I am reading too much into it and it was simple biology and I simply wanted to protect and nurture my baby like most mothers do and I had that opportunity. Unlike many mothers who relinquished.

    Lots of things run in families, like suicide, if you have a parent who commits suicide you yourself are a greater risk, as it has now become an solution to a problem for you. Of course not all children of suicides commit suicide and not all suicides are the children of suicides. I know someone will want to point out the obvious to me so I will just state that.

    If all other patterns of behavior run in families, why not adoption too? It is not really magic or a miracle no matter what Bethany Christian Services has told you.

  58. From a comment way up closer to the top, addressing Jane Edwards: As a co-writer at a blog that is well aware of the way that words and phrases are used to manipulate and modify perception, I was disturbed that you pulled out the phrase "anti-choice". I also didn't not appreciate the lumping together of a group as being of the same mindset, as I'm sure you would not appreciate the lumping together of "all birthmothers are x, y and z". For the record, I am a first mother, I am pro-life, and I am also all about opening records and adoption reform, if not abolishment. :)

    Now, on to topic, my husband is an adoptee. His biological mother was also an adoptee. She was forced to surrender him at birth. Her own mother abandoned her when she was a toddler, and her father gave her to an orphanage while keeping and raising her brothers.

    He is also the biological father of a child that we had together and relinquished prior to our marriage, and HE was the driving force behind the adoption. I would never have done it without that pressure.

    Stacked 3 deep thus far, and I pray that our daughter does not repeat the cycle. In her late teens now, she is opposed to having any children at all, ever, but that could change as she matures. She is also very much pro-abortion.

    I think our lineage reflects much truth in what was stated in this article.

  59. KRT,

    I did not intend to imply that all folks who oppose abortion also oppose open records. Catholic Charities in Oregon is very supportive of adoption reform including opening records.

    My phrase "the anti-choice crowd who oppose open records" was referring to a segment of open records opponents who use opposition to abortion as a smoke screen to justify keeping records closed. There are also pro-choice opponents of the legislation including the New Jersey ACLU.

    My apologies. I should have phrased this differently.

  60. I don't know if adoption runs in families but I think much of what I did was driven by unconscious forces. When I was a baby, my mother's brother was killed in a car crash. When I found the son that I had surrendered,he was at a rock concert in another state. His mother answered the phone and one of the first things I said was"Is he a good driver?" I just blurted it out. She got a little nervous and wanted to know if she should call to tell him or wait until he got home. I told her to wait until he was back. Everything was fine, but it wasn't until my parents met him(their grandson) and my mother said"He looks like my brother" that everything started to make sense to me. My mother's brother was born in October as was my son and I felt driven by strange dreams to find my son in August of the year he was 23. My mother's brother died in August of the year he was 23. When my mother showed us pictures, the resemblance was remarkable. Her brother's fiance even looked almost exactly like my son's then-girlfriend. This has all been very strange,but wonderful.too,like a new dimension or level of awareness or something.

  61. There are so many coincidences in some reunions that it is...mystical. And it does feel strange and wonderful at the same time.

  62. My first mother and I had some eerie coincidences, too. We were living in homes that looked exactly alike even though we lived 800 miles apart. Also, when I found her we were both reading the same book and this was not some current bestseller that everyone was reading, it was about 4 years old.

  63. I have been researching adoption issues for the last few months and happened upon this wonderful site. I too was adopted and surrendered my son. I was an older child when adopted and the Children's Home Society of Maryland pushed my adopters to take both my brother and myself so we would not be separated. My adopted father was brilliant and schzophrenic which turned into a brutal world. When I turned 13 I took my parents to court to be removed from the home after my father strangled me. The court returned me to foster care where I was later sexually abused. My brother and I were separated for many years and were never able to re-establish a connection though we tried. I became pregnant at 19 and thought I'd be doing the best thing for my child if I gave him up for adoption. I often wonder why considering what I went through, but I remember feeling I couldn't be a very good mother, not really understanding the psychology of it all back then. I did eventually have a daughter that I raised and though she did not give her children up for adoption, she let them be raised by by ex-husband and his wife, after a bipolar episode where she just disappeared for several months. So, perhaps there is indeed a genetic component. Perhaps we are so destined. After avoiding the issue all my life and suffering the consequences I am now on a belated quest to heal these wounds that defined my life, and reading this thread and this site has given me wings. I was floundering and though intellectually attacking my research, my sadness had begun to weigh heavily, and I felt quite alone. Thank you to all.

  64. 'And furthermore, what about kept daughters of relinquishing mothers? Would they be relinquishing at a greater rate too? '

    I am the daughter my mother kept after relinquishing her first daughter four years earlier. When I got pregnant at 16, my mother pressurised me to give up my son for adoption, believing it would be best for him and for me.

    Of course, it wasn't. We are reunited now, but grief and loss accompany our joy in being back in each other's worlds.

    I wonder what was going on in my mother's head, beneath the rational thoughts she was having about my situation.

    She is too difficult to talk to. Or perhaps it's that I don't trust her anymore.



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