' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Is the Adoptee/ (birth) Mother reunion ever (re)solved?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is the Adoptee/ (birth) Mother reunion ever (re)solved?

Evelyn Robinson
"When I talk to people about the loss of my son, they sometimes ask me why I wanted to 'rake up the past' and why didn't I 'let sleeping dogs lie.' When you give birth to a child, especially when that child still lives, that child does not exist in the past, but in the present. Once you  have given birth, you are that child's mother and you will always be a mother, no matter what. Being a mother never ends; it is never in the past. There is no such thing as an 'ex-mother.'

"Natural mothers have spent their lives apologizing. We apologized for getting pregnant, but we were not the only people having sexual relationships. We apologized for giving away our babies, but we were told by everyone that it was the right thing to do for our children. We apologized for missing our children, but it was a perfectly natural reaction to our loss. Some mothers are still apologizing for wanting to find their lost children. It is time we stopped apologizing. It is right for us to search for our children. We are mothers, after all.

"....It has taken me many years to be able to describe these events [giving up her child], frankly and without apology. Because I have confronted and embraced my experience, I have robbed it of its power to shame and embarrass me."

This wonderful passage is in first mother Evelyn Burns Robinson's book, Adoption and Recovery: Solving the Mystery of Reunion. I do wish reunion could be solved. Like a crossword puzzle or an anagram. Solved. Felt good about. Resolved. 

If we have learned anything at First Mother Forum, it is that reunion is so vastly different for the two sides of the equation--mother and child. Those of us mothers who want a relationship, want it to be as normal as possible--phone calls, connection, inclusion into the son's or daughter's life--but as far as I can tell, nobody knows what the new normal is for first mother/relinquished child relationship is! It's up, it's down, it's a crazy carnival ride that is so emotional it often seems that one side or the other has to get off. Sometimes it is the mother; sometimes it is the adopted one.

Adoptees tell us how emotionally overwhelming reunion is, as one comes to grips with the life not lived, that other person who-might-have-been. And to them, the new normal is knowing the reality but...life has to go back to the normal of before, and that may or may not include the mother-who-wasn't-there before. And we, those mothers who relinquished, known as birth mothers to the masses, have to resolve to find a way to live with that knowledge. That we may or may not be a vibrant part of our child's life. After the first wild flush of reunion, we might be just part of the background wall paper of our children and grandchildren's lives. When they retreat, we are left feeling burnt out and used. I do not mean to be cynical here as I quote Kurt Vonnegut, but...So it goes. 

We cannot undo the past; we cannot have back what we once relinquished. We do not have to apologize to the world, but we can be sorry that our children were adopted. But we must accept what is. We can only live our lives the best we can: we can bring wealth of love and kindness to all whose paths cross ours, and we can resolve to hurt as few people as possible along the journey as we set down one foot after the other to the end of our tao, our way, our path. --lorraine


  1. What about those of us birthmothers who because of mental illness, poverty, lack of any sort of support network, whose sexual partner and his family turned out to be abusive and involved with the criminal justice system, or all or all of these, gave our baby up for adoption? What about those of us who turned to their County for help, instead of "selling" our babies to some agency or lawyer? And what about the social workers who told us in the 1950s and 1960s, sometimes after weeks of counseling to make sure we WANTED AND NEEDED to give the baby for adoption, "You are NOT a mother. By signing the adoption papers, you give up all rights to being a parent to this child" and that only by court order could the records be unsealed? I am one of these birth mothers, and I know other women who also were and are still in this position. My birth daughter illegally got the records from the county's archives, called me in the middle of the night with odd entrapment questions put forward by the "rights" search organization she was working with. When I agreed to meet her, which I did both at my home and hers 1000 miles away, three times, she spent the entire time talking on the phone to her friends, and refusing to have anything to do with me? She split (temporarily) my family down the middle, and caused my husband to divorce me. Believe me, I am not alone in these things. I do not romanticize the blood relationship. I realize basic problems. I wished her well as an infant, did the very best I could, went to a Salvation Army home and hospital where I gave birth to her. I now know that she grew up in a very kind, competent and wealthy family. Not only did her adoptive parents treat her well, they had a swimming pool and gave her a horse! I, on the other hand, still have terrible mood swings, am finally in recovery due to mood altering medications, and live on Social Security. I wish there were a forum for people like me, who are legion, I'm sure of that.

  2. Dear Anonymous: we are so very aware of all the problems in adoptee/birth mother reunions, and have had quite a few ourselves, though non so drastic as you relate. In numerous posts, we have written about the various problems that arise, and there are many posts around the date of this one that talk about the issues.

    You sound as if you are new to First Mother Forum. If you would like to read more--and comments from troubled mothers like yourself--use the search function at the side of the blog and search for "reunion" or "birth mother adoptee reunion" or "birth mother and child reunion." You will find a wealth of posts and comments you may find helpful.

    This post where you have left a comment came shortly after several posts about reunions, and was a response to the many comments the other posts had received.

  3. Hi! I was posting under "Anonymous," but here I am -- Synergy! Hope that name shows up here now. Lorraine showed me how to choose my screen name. Have you seen my web page No Regrets Birthmothers? https://noregretsbirthmothers.wordpress.com/

    You may be interested. I wonder if there are many other people who had my situation. Plus, I've never seen myself being a mother. So far the only comment I've received was hate mail. I didn't accept it and so it was not posted there. Stigma against 1950s and 1960s birth mothers still asserts itself -- I guess we are seen as maybe second only to child murderers. When my ex-mother-in-law found out, it ruined my marriage.



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