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

Tuesday, November 22, 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 why I want to 'take 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 for missing our children. 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 be able to describe these events [giving up a 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 from 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 anagram. Solved. Felt good about. Resolved.

If we have learned from First Mother Forum, it is that reunion is so vastly different for the two sides of the adoption equation: mother and child. Those of us mothers who want a relationship, who hope for a relationship as soon as we have our wits returned to us, want it to be as normal as possible--phone calls, connection, disagreements that actually can be argued, inclusion in the found child's life--but as far as I can tell, nobody knows what the new normal is for first mother/relinquished child. It's up, it's down, it's a crazy carnival ride that is so emotionally fraught that it often appears 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 overwhelming reunion is, as one comes to grips with the life-not-lived, the other individual who-might-have-been. And to adoptees, the new normal is knowing the reality...but life has to go back to the reality of before, and that may or many not include the mother-who-wasn't-there before. We, those mothers who gave up our children--known as birth mothers to the masses--have to find a way to live with that knowledge, that is, that we often are imminently disposable to our found children. That we may or may not get to be a vibrant part of our children's lives. After the first wild flush of reunion, after the first blush of romance--and that is what it feels like--we just might be part of the background wall paper. When they retreat, we feel burnt out and used. I do not mean to sound cynical here, but Kurt Vonnegut's quote applies: 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 tell our children one time we are sorry they were adopted, that this unfortunate occurance is part of their story. But we must accept what is. We can only live our lives the best we can: we can bring kindness to all whose paths cross ours, we can look for the humor in life's little exigencies, and we can resolve to hurt as few people as possible as we set down one foot after the other to the end of our way, our tao, our path.

To do anything else is not a choice; it is giving up. Again.--lorraine 
See also: Why birth/natural mother-adoptee reunions go awry
The [birth] mother and child reunion, Part 3
After the Birthmother/Adoptee Reunion: Navigating the Turbulent Waters

(NOTE BENE: Only comments regarding reunion left at the current blog will be posted.) 


  1. Such a good post. As a non-reunited adoptee, I implore my mother to find me - and keep me this time. Let me know what it's like to argue with someone who won't leave (or where I won't fear that outcome), cry to someone who will hold me, share my fears with someone who won't mock me, love me just because I exist and not because of what I can offer. (Though, she could do all of these things or none, it's true.)

    As an adoptee, I understand the "pull away". I've spent my life trying to pull away from others when I instinctually "know" that they will be abandoning me. A memory unremembered but in the soul.

    You are right - the past cannot be changed. But we can do our best now, and most of us do.

    It's alot to ask, but regardless of the outcome, I implore you, Jane and Lorraine, to encourage mothers to find their children. No - this is not at all what I'm suggesting, but - even giving us the chance to abandon you, for a change, would be something we've never, ever been given; a true act of selfless love. No choice was ever ours in this deal (not that many of you, in 1970, when I was relinquished, had much of a choice, I know).

    And I encourage my fellow adoptees to face our own demons, our own fears, our own unknowns and fight through our own emotions to reunite with the one person we have ever been truly, literally connected to.

  2. Ah, Kristi, we have encouraged that mothers search/ adoptees search. I know I've written at least one post abut that.
    I wonder what comes up if your do a search for "should I search for my adopted son/daughter/child?"

    But often each side thinks they should "wait" for the other to do it first. It's the system that closed the adoption. And the system is wrong.

    I can understand you saying that if a mother searches and her child wants to "abandon" her...but Oh, it feels so very cruel--especially after someone has opened her heart and home to that individual. I suppose you are saying "turn about is fair play," and the life experiences of an adoptee teaches him or her to do just that. History is full of such examples, starting with pedophiles.

  3. ughh, I got what you were trying to say, but I kinda cringed when you said that. I think that while adoption is abandonment, and we have a right to feel abandoned, we should not want to inflict this kind of pain on someone else, much lest our own mothers. I hope that is misphrased, or the intent isnt how it comes off. No, the adoptee doesnt owe the mother a relationship or even anything at all, but I wouldnt want my mom to feel the pain I have felt, I just want her to love me, and I know that sounds simplistic and probably elementary, but I think that while we may want our mothers to feel the horror of being given away,if they are reaching out (it is not commonplace) at least have respect. And Lorraine, i get what you are saying too, but why wouldnt a mother open her heart and home to the individual, the individual is her child. I just think that trying to make the other side pay, can end up abusive (on either end)

  4. Jenn:

    Of course a mother would/should open her home and heart--after years of grieving--but then to be "abandoned" by her child does lead to feeling burnt out. Maybe--and I'm saying maybe, not talking for adoptees--that is how adoptees feel after the rush of reunion. I don't thing adoptees set out to punish their mothers after reunion, but maybe it happens because of their history of feeling "abandoned" themselves. Usually I've seen there is some sort of a reason, no matter how flimsy it seems to the mother--and that becomes the trigger. Instead of telling a first mother about the problem, the adoptee "abandons" the mother. What do adoptees think about that? Please don't kill me because I'm trying to imagine the dynamic. I can't possibly know what it is like to be given up, and I really am curious to hear adoptees' thinking about this.

    What is true is that adoption is cruel. To both mothers who relinquish and children who are relinquished. And that cruelty begets....

  5. I searched for my son, and found him in the late 1980s, with the idea that he should have the choice to say "yes" or "no' to me. I didn't think he should have to face rejection...which he told me that he had feared.

    When I became pregnant in the 1960s, I asked my parents to help me..after my child's father had abandoned me.My parents' response was a hatred so vile against me and my child that I could hardly believe I knew these people...even though they had raised me.
    My father sent me thousands of miles away, under guardianship, to live with relatives. He told me he never wanted to see me again. He said that all I reminded him of was failure....because I had gotten pregnant while in college and unmarried.

    I was unable to get any help to raise my child.I was offered temporary care for my child from an agency. I arranged for that care and tried to reason with my parents.But they ridiculed me and called me a sinner.And refused to help. Then the social worker threatened me with court termination(TPR).SO I signed the surrender, as I had no other place to go.
    I fought to keep my son...and lost the battle.
    Many mothers have similar stories. We have felt the sting of abandonment by our own parents.
    Deliberate cruelty has no place in reunion.

  6. lorraine, please clarify, are we talking pullbacks or initial rejection of any relationship\

  7. Jenn:

    Opps. Pullbacks. I thought that was clear.

  8. EEEEKKKK! My statement was misinterpreted in the worst way - that is why I said "No - this is not at all what I'm suggesting, but"...meaning that to open your hearts to us, the children you relinquished, is "a true act of selfless love", knowing that we might abandon you, too. Lorraine, I did not at all mean that "turn about is fair play."

    I hope this makes it more clear - I'm sick thinking that you somehow felt I was suggesting revenge, something I feel is in no way warranted in our situations, even if I believed in revenge! You/mothers were as mistreated as were we/adoptees. I do not blame you, or my own mother.

    The "pulling away" is something that many adoptees can't control. It may seem as though we are being intentional, but speaking for myself, it is merely a knee-jerk, defensive mechanism that even my aparents said I always had, from the time they knew me at three months old. As a 41 year-old, I have it somewhat under control, but admit that to have my mother leave me again (should I ever meet her) would be too painful to live with. I can't rule out, if I felt she was going to "pull away", that I wouldn't beat her to the punch.

    The whole adoption thing is just crap. (Sorry, that was a nasty remark. It's the holiday season and I feel the absence of family especially, now. Crap is the best word I've got.)

  9. I have had a rocky relationship with my bmom as I have said before,but we had good times and here is I had a few pullbacks and here is one of them:
    When I was with my mom, during a good time, I found that a normally closed off person (you can see i can be a little angry adoptee) I was shocked how vulnerable I felt, like when I was with her it was just the two of us and I had never been happier, aware of what I was capable of feeling, my heart was bursting with agony/contentent/surpise/joy/hate/love. I spent my whole life building emotional walls, but she had full access and it scared me. I was a scared little girl, heart pounding like a voodoo drum, and I didnt want to feel. I never cried as a child, hated hugs (amom said it was so weird) I pride myself on how tough I was, how i didnt need anyone. And I found my mom and she made me just want to crawl in her lap and stay there forever. When she would leave to go to the bathroom I wanted to follow her to make sure she was still with me. I felt like if she would leave that it would feel worse than death, for the first time someone (my mom) made me need them, and it was too much. The only time I ever pulled back I was set to visit, I just couldnt get out of bed, never called to say I wasnt coming I just sat in bed frozen (she must have called frantically fifty times worried that my plane had crashed) I didnt want to give her the power to make me a baby again, to need her, I didnt want to love this stranger so senselessly, so viscerally, so inately to have her leave again. I had a rough time as a transracial adoptee and it was just so odd to me that she "knew" what i was thinking, feeling, needed. It also didnt help that adoptive family didnt like her, friends didnt understand. I was just so overwhelmed and needed a second to just stop for a second and make sure I could get those barriers back up, i felt so helpless and no support from a family made it worse, I was fighting myself them, adoption

  10. Jenn: I understand you 100%. Ditto on everything but having actually met my mother (no hugs, no crying, pride in being strong, yearning for all the things your mother gives you, etc).

  11. No, Kristi I did not!

    Not to worry!

    Oddly enough, I was able to inerpret your comment and did not think it was a problem.

    xxoo to all--

  12. Jenn: You are breaking my heart and I know you are not alone in your feelings.

    We do not understand, and we get hurt, again. That's why I said: adoption is cruel.

  13. Hey--I'm going to make cranberry sauce! Be back tomorrow so if I don't respond tonight, don't freak out, okay?

  14. great post, lorraine -- and great comments kristi and jenn. thank you both for your generosity and candor. your insights help me understand what, as lorraine so rightly says, we mothers can never fully fathom. happy thanksgiving to all of us. i am so grateful for your dedication, and column, and all the revelations it brings forth!

  15. @Jenn, reading your comment, I wonder if that is why my daughter is so violently divided in her behaviors with me.... After all, I raised her for 3 years and she knew me. We were very close. I wonder if she feels all that vulnerability, that change to a toddler again and that is why she acts the way she does.... maybe. I hope you don't mind if I quote you on my blog - you triggered a blog moment.

  16. My mother often pulls back with me. We had a lovely visit this Sunday, and when i mention how much I love her she backs off. She used to text me every morning while she rode the bus, but not anymore. She says because texts are too open to misunderstanding, but I don't know if that's the real reason. She doesn't like me mentioning my loss or pain at all. She sees that as an attack. I did break contact once, for about a week and she took it very badly. She never said she's breaking contact, but she has defiantly pulled back. I don't understand the dynamic at all. She told me I must've had some great fantasy Mom, but it's not her. I hugged her and started crying and she told me, "you can cry if you want, but I'm not gonna". I replied, "yes, I see that". Any insight into that kind of thing from the Moms?

  17. Dear Kristi, I searched and found my daughter, who was taken away from me 39 years ago. (When she was born, I had no choice. My parents had me incarcerated for being sexually active. If I had not gone along with their plans to ditch their first grandchild, they had the option to get electroshock treatments for me. I was terrorized.)
    For a brief time, a few weeks, I was so happy to be in communication with my daughter. Then she pushed me away.
    Now I am glad that I know she is alive and that I have two grandsons. I miss her terribly, though.

  18. Thanks for sharing yourself ladies. I don't understand reunion much. I know I love my daughter with all my heart and all my soul. I want to talk to her every day. I would constantly text her and send cards, and send gifts, and call but STOP, that is very overwhelming for her. I try to hit the mark and often I do. I know she feels loved and I feel loved so that's good.
    But there is a huge wall. No discussion of loss or adoption is welcomed. I need to stay in today which I now try to do. My daughter does not want a phone relationship and we are 1000 miles away. So I communicate when I feel it won't be too intrusive. I invite myself to visit, have never been invited. But the way I look at is I abandoned her. Jeesh, when I was 21 they all told me I was a flippin saint for giving her two parents. Now I know it was all wrong and yes, Lorraine, cruel. I love that girl with every fiber of my body. It so helped to read Jenn's words. There is so much behind that quietness. Hopefully one day we'll be able to go deaper. But I am honored for every word she has uttered, every hug she has given. BTW, she found me. I did a passive search but never pulled the trigger with the intermediary. Thank God she found me.

  19. I dont really know what to say, I guess i started reading the site to get a better understanding of my situation, I'm not a mother who has given up a child, rather i'm a child who has been given up.

    My parents never told me freely, they didn't feel the need, i don't blame them for this because they did what they thought was best, and unfortunately from them I didn't find out until I was twelve and my older brother and I got into a fight and he threw it in my face I was the unwanted adopted misfit. (I hold grudges it seems) This happened in front of my mother and father and when I asked they sat me down and we had a long talk, I was upset, not with them so much but the whole situation, however they offered to help me find my Birth mother (I call her this because of what happens next)

    Oddly enough the woman who conceived me agreed to an open adoption...though she never did make good on keeping in touch, and when I finally got to sit down with her, I was out right told I was a mistake, and for the sake of her new family I should forget her existence.

    Despite being adopted, my mother and father are far more natural to me then she will ever be.

    I was pretty hurt in the end, I kinda felt like human trash after that, and my parents were a pillar for me in this time, I love the fact they were honest with me, and explained they never bothered telling me, because she never made good on her promise to keep in touch.

    I know all situations are different, but what about people in these odd positions, is it right that they know they are unwanted when all they want was to find out the whys and hows?

    I'm not criticizing, just trying to still wrap my head around things, and I know I'm not the only person in the world who has had this happen.

  20. You're not human trash Nadia. You have as much worth as anyone else, sometimes people have to figure out a way to see value in themselves instead of depending on our parents to.

    You're right in saying you're not the only one this has happened to and I think it's important to also talk about the mothers who don't grieve for years and aren't interested in opening their hearts and homes to long lost children.

    Giving either side inflated or unrealistic expectations is cruel.

    And Nadia, I think it's safe to say that a good majority of adopted people were considered mistakes to our biological/first/birth parents and/or their families but we don't have to consider ourselves as mistakes.

    My life and existence is no mistake and I refuse to rely on either of my mothers to provide me with a sense of self-worth. It sometimes takes a concentrated effort but it's doable and believe me, it's extremely liberating : )

  21. I agree with Campbell that most adoptees were considered mistakes. For some first parents we were very much loved and wanted mistakes and for others we were unwanted accidents. I think we all need to keep our hopes in check during search and reunion. I think our perspective can get skewed coming to forums like FMF and other blogs where we adoptees get the message that our mothers never got over losing us and so much want us to be a part of their lives. Likewise, first mothers read our adoptee comments about how we felt out of place in our adoptive families and so much want to be part of our bio-families again.

    From reading many of the comments here it appears that quite a few first mothers and adoptees do not want their missing natural family member back in their lives again. My heart goes out to those who find this reality at the end of their search. I was fortunate to find a natural mother a la Lorraine, Jane and so many others who post comments here. On my father's side I was an unwanted accident although since he died before I was an adult I have no way of knowing if his stance ever changed or how he may have felt about the situation over time.

    Like Lorraine said, adoption is cruel for both the mother and the child.

  22. I know fewer people will be at FMF over the next 48 hours, but I do have a question for those adoptees who pull back and do so in a way that leaves the first a little nuts.

    Are you aware that you are acting towards your first/birth mother in a way that you wouldn't to, say, a friend, lover or even casual acquaintance? And that it might be considered rude or mean behavior? I mean, if you drop someone you have formerly been close too, don't you feel the need to let them know why and what's going on? Mothers get a little nuts when the wall of silence descends and we do not have a clue why. Is it too hard to talk to your mother and tell her the truth, or maybe you don't recognize at the moment what is going on?

    But can you understand that after a while we begin to feel like you punching bag? I am not accusing here, I am just trying to get at what you feel and understand about your own behavior. The adoptees who have commented here on this post are most elucidating for us mothers who have been in the dark when children depart without a word, after an intense reunion.

    As for the first mothers who can't weather the storm of reunion, or tell their families, I'm not addressing them--because they are not reading FMF.
    To those individuals like Nadia who are not welcomed into their natural and original families, our hearts go out to you. I know that this coming from a stranger cannot repair the hurt, but if there is a cosmic sense of acceptance and love, may it find its way to you this Thanksgiving.


  23. Lorraine, you asked about first mothers that can't weather the storm... and I have to say to that this: Sometimes weathering the storm means losing what little self-respect that the entire adoption thing left us. For me, I left the door open, but I will never again step through it. I spent a decade being the one stepping through, being lied to, called names, used for cash, and in general being used as a punching bag for a person that simply won't work through her stuff or even be honest enough with herself to see it is not me (I am currently being punished for caring too much - at least that is what her friends tell me and what she said on a blog she has since deleted). So, the statement that first mothers that can't weather the storm not reading here.... I beg to differ.

    And I do thank those adoptees that spoke up... I always ask questions in hopes of getting insight into how I could fix this mess... and I am learning that I can't.

  24. Luckily I don't feel like human trash, at the time I did when i finally got to meet her, from what I got she saw me as a threat to her new family and way of life, honestly I don't think her husband knows about me.

    It hurt, a lot. but in the end the whole thing kinda made me closer to the family I have now.

    As for my brother talking to him kinda gave me a bit of insight, and even him talking to my mom, I guess he feels that they spare me more love then him, because I was adopted. They never did treat me like I was adopted and if not for that one little issue I would have probably never found out, and hey sometimes i wish i never did find out.

    I wont lie when I say I'm not a bit bitter to my birth-mother, it's only human nature to feel angry at a person who has wronged you, and looking back I'm not even sure what I was looking for him her. An apology? Acceptance? a reason?

    And hey while it could be easier to be a bit envious of the stories of "Happy" reunions, I know not every story has a happy ending, but in a round about way mine did. I have far more a family in the parents I have now. :)

    Some of my friends don't get it though, they think I should be mad that my parents didn't tell me I was adopted until my brother decided to be an arse. But hey given the situation and if roles were replaced I'm not sure if I could have the courage to say what they finally ended up telling me, the reasons for the secrecy, the open adoption that just never really became open because she decided otherwise ect.

  25. The bane of reunions is expectations, the more extreme and unrealistic, the more likely disappointment will follow. Nobody can fix your life or problems but you. There is no magic mommy or fantasy baby at the end of the search. There is only a related stranger, who you may or may not connect with or have much in common with, who cannot offer you perfect love because there is no such thing. It is hard to find rejection or indifference but those who find it are not alone.

  26. Nadia: I know it might be simpler to never know the truth, but it always seems to come out--or at least I hear of some many cases where it did. I've heard of people learning from their spouses that they were adopted (the aparents shared that with the fiance, but not the woman herself--and he "shared" when they had an argument), of the truth coming out at funerals, or when the family jewelry is to be divided, or when a cousin says something because everybody else in the family knows and she assumed you did too.

    So though the truth was an unpleasant jolt, it was probably going to come out somehow, someway. And you do say it gave you some insight into your family dynamic. As somone once posted on a public board: Everybody wants to know the truth about themselves, even if it doesn't come out the way you would like.

  27. Just like the mothers, adoptees spend decades being apologetic for their adoption experiences. Yes adoption is cruel. For an adoptee, we are cruelly introduced as disposable from the get go. It sets us up for failure. My first adad divorced my amom. He quickly replaced her with another woman and a daughter also named Amy. So there were two of us with the same name for many years. I ended up marrying a man who treated all women as disposable.

    It took me several years just to heal from my fmom's rejection of me. I learned that it was about her feelings regarding my adoption. It was about her actions in my adoption. Of course, I still have many doubts about whether or not she was even contacted at all. If I take what was said on blind faith, I was an it to her and I was that baby. I wasn't her child. I have two mothers. One who gave me and the other who taught me how to live it. People need to go into reunion as friends. Now with that being said, I have a parental relationship with my amom but I also have fmom friends who I have that with as well. Musing Mother and Motherhood Deleted are the two I often refer to as such. I believe that if I met my fmom, I would proceed with extreme caution because I know exactly how wounded she is.

    I look at it differently as I have had many years to heal myself and grow from the experience.

  28. Yeah I do agree on that much. As for the Anon after me. when you're 14 years old, it's hard to not build up fantasies of the could be's and what ifs, and the flood gates were opened I wanted answers, i may not have liked what was said, but it did show me who my -real- parents were.

    And at the time I had my head in the clouds, I wanted to know.

    As they say; Sometimes you cant handle the truth.

  29. Anon 1:13 wrote:" Nobody can fix your life or problems but you. There is no magic mommy or fantasy baby at the end of the search."

    Can't say that I agree with this. Just speaking to my natural mother the first time caused 50% of my pain to just melt away. As the relationship grew deeper and progressed over time my heart healed more and more. I certainly didn't find some "magic mommy" but being in reunion healed my heart like nothing else. So much of my pain was from the loss of my mother and it was healing that wound with her that made things so much better not just trying to fix them myself.

  30. Some reunions work out very well, others do not. For those who get some healing it is an extra bonus. But nobody should search expecting a certain outcome, and for those who find rejection they have nobody but themselves to heal their hurts. You are lucky that your reunion was so positive. That is not always true.

  31. Well I still have to disagree with that statement, because the reality IS I did have someone to help heal myself, my parents were a huge support through the tears the rejection and depression, I had them to turn to.
    People adopt (Or at least i hope this is why) because they have that love to give. To be part of a family is to NOT be alone. it may have taken me a bit to wrap my head around that.

  32. Surprise! I agree with Robin, I think that whole there is no magic mommy line is a cop-out. No there is no "magic" mommy but being a recipient of love and nurturing by one's parents makes a profound difference in one's life.

    That is why we have a field called "child development" that is why we raise children.

    I really don't get why people say such superficial things.


  33. I should add that I did not mean to imply in my comment (1:36pm) that I think it is not possible to heal unless one has a good reunion. I do think that an individual can find other methods and people to help them heal. I just felt that anon's comment (1:13) was being dismissive of the great healing that a good reunion can provide.

    It does seem to me that humans have an innate need to be loved and valued by our biological parents and that when we don't get that there will be pain. But I do believe that that pain can be for some people overcome or at least mitigated in other ways if reunion is not possible.

    Your Surprise! made me laugh :)

  34. @ Robin:

    You know I don't know, I certainly hope that it is possible to heal without a good reunion. I certainly hope so, but I can't imagine that there isn't always lingering pain and regret.


  35. Dear Emma, my heart breaks for you. And for all the mothers out there who didn't get to raise us. It's so hard on both sides.

    One thing I will say, even though I have not reunited, is that the pull away/push back is so natural for an adoptee. I've always pushed others away (better to be the first to leave this time!) and I've always wanted someone who loved me enough to come after me, and to stay. No one has ever stayed, from my birth forward, until my husband (who read "A Primal Wound" before I did!) Granted, once I figured out this part of my personality, I've worked hard to change it (not pull away).

    That original abandonment is something many of us just can't get over (birth moms, too, I think - this may explain some of the moms that can't re-engage - who wants to go through that pain again? To face that circumstance again?!)

    But I encourage you moms, even in the pain of push back, keep trying. I know, Lorraine, it is as painful for you as for me, but we associate that wound with you. I fully acknowledge that no one who gives birth (at 16 or 36) can make the choice to raise or not to raise a child without first having raised one, but that doesn't stop adoptees from associating that wound with the mother who "abandoned" them.

    For the record, I know that my mother checked on me three times before I was adopted. She clearly didn't abandon me, but the reaction in my heart is the same.

    Does any of this make sense?

    By the way, I agree with the poster who said "thanks". This is such a great place for me to help understand your feelings and be in fellowship with mothers who are so loving and accepting.

  36. Regarding adoptees as "mistakes": True many children given up for adoption were unplanned. Unplanned, however, does not mean unwanted. Many were very much wanted by the time they were born.

    Human passions and frailties being what they are, I dare say most of the people in the world were unplanned, but mistakes, certainly not.

  37. Kresti et al:

    As I've learned from all of you who comment and others I've met, no matter how you were given up, that registers as a huge abandonment once you are old enough to process it. Understanding this (I do think the Primal Wound concept works to cover this emotional minefield) makes me hate adoption as it is today, where it is seen as a way to "complete a family."

    EVERYTHING ALWAYS SHOULD BE DONE TO HAVE A MOTHER (unless their are truly dire circumstances) KEEP HER CHILD, or at least, keep that child within the family. Look at Catelyn and Tyler; yes, their home lives were what we would call unsettled, but now I feel particularly sorry for all of them--including the little girl. In today's world: If you are going to have a baby, keep her. Don't make the same mistake that I did.

  38. @Jane, thank you for the "mistake" remark as it confirmed my thinking. Although my child was unplanned, she definitely was not a "mistake." Nor was she abandoned although she felt she was.

  39. @Joy,
    Interesting comment (4:12pm). Maybe some of my lingering pain is because it will never be possible to have any healing with my n-father.

  40. I wouldn't be surprised if Catelynn and Tyler "wake up" and see the light and really regret giving Carly up for adoption. Despite the fact that Catelynn has made a career out of promoting the glories of adoption. Sometimes I wonder if she does this to keep convincing herself it was the right decision.

    I still can't get the image out of my mind of their one year visit when Carly kept wanting to be held by Tyler. I have never seen a child that young be so comfortable and demonstrative with someone she (supposedly) had only met the day before.

  41. Nadia your fmother may be an arse. Or she could be so fractured by loosing you that she just never recovered. Women that sign up for open adoption often don't realize what sorrow they will go through and just can't keep their end of the bargain. A friend adopted and her daughter's fmother just can't handle a relationship. She was sold a bill of goods that by relinquishing she could go get her nursing degree. Instead she hasn't done anything. She has been destroyed.

  42. Anon: "The bane of reunions is expectations, the more extreme and unrealistic, the more likely disappointment will follow."

    This rang true for me. It certainly was the ruination of my/my son's reunion — on both sides. I worked hard on mine over several years, to resolve my issues, show him unconditional love, set boundaries (something I'd always had a hard time with). He has not, and as a result we've reached an impasse.

    I honestly think there is no way to make up for (i.e. resolve) what we've both lost, what any separated mother and child lose. We just have to live with it and do our best, for ourselves and each other.

    Beyond that, there are no guarantees. And hence a lot of disappointments.

    Thank you for this post, even though it made me so sad.

  43. @Barbra

    I thought about that as well, I really did. But I guess the way it was worded to me. it came out like "Ok you found me, now never contact me again" Kinda deal.

    She explained she has her own children, and there is no place for me in her life.

    Others here can probably relate as well, I mean with the push and pull. it's stressful and hurtful for both parties. at least I know where I stand I suppose, but then again, I found out at 12, found her at 14 with my parents help. and at 24 I feel like something like this probably made me a better person, if not a stronger person.

    Yet again I'm not saying finding your b-mother is a bad thing, some women are truly happy to find the child they gave, for whatever reasons it may have been for, finding them and trying to build back up, fills a void (if successful that is) And maybe that's what I was looking for at the time.

    I guess because of my personal experience I am pro adoption...depending on the situation. Also my best friend gave her child up for adoption, however it's an open adoption, and they other family have pretty much made her apart of theirs, to the point she moved into the same apartment complex when she graduated high school to just continue watching her son grow up. something i kinda do have some envy in. But more or less, the family who adopted him deserves a huge thumbs up for allowing her to still play an active role.

  44. @Nadia - oddly, I have the same kind of thing with my daughter... I found her - using information she posted - and she was like okay, you found me, now go out and be the Loser/whatever I was told you were and never come back. It was and is crazy!

  45. @Lori

    It's hard, and resentment can be held on both ends. For me, I feel abandoned, and meeting her kinda proved it further, and for her, well I was the mistake that ruined her life.

    But what kinda helps the most is I think, the closure of it all, I know where I stand, and if contact wants to be made, the ball is now on her end of the field, Though I cant be sure if I wont just give the woman the same response she gave me.

  46. After reading all of these comments about negative reunion experiences, I think something else should be added to the post on November 18, 2011, "Thinking of placing your baby for adoption? Think very hard."

    Expectant girls and women should be reminded that developing a relationship with their relinquished child when s/he is an adult may not be possible. That by giving the child up their may never be that "happy ending" where they are back as a big part of each other's lives. I think social workers sell this idea that surrendering the child isn't forever and the truth is it may never be possible for the first mother and child to develop a good relationship ever again.

    I remember on Teen Mom that Catelynn's social worker told her this isn't "goodbye" it's "see you later". Well, it may very well end up being goodbye.

  47. Yes, there is no guarantee of a relationship in the future, and that should be included in the letter. Also warn mothers that nobody can assure them that their children will either thank them for surrendering or need and want to know them in the future. Some mothers were told, even in the distant past, that their children could find them at whatever the age of majority was then, even though records were sealed forever. Dishonest adoption facilitators told mothers whatever they felt she wanted to hear in order to obtain a surrender.

  48. I think the "this isn't goodbye," it's "see you later" tactic is used more in recent years. In 1970, I was told "this is it, you'll never see him again, and never try to find him and interfere in his life." So, reuniting didn't seem like a possibility until many years later.

  49. A number of states had open records as late as the 1970s. Mothers in Colorado and Connecticut might be told their children could find them because the records were available to the children, or, at least, were not totally sealed....and some judges,especially in outlying areas, were handing them out to just about any adopted person who requested them.The old "good cause"law still allowed them to do this.

    And some judges would give adopted people their court records, with the names and all information. I saw these documents myself when adopted people, some born in the '60s, brought them to search meetings.

    When I began working in search/support and legislation in the mid-1990s, I was surprised to learn this...but I knew adopted people who got their records through county courts...and the natural birth parents names were on the court records.

    The state where I surrendered(California) sealed records in the mid-1930s.

  50. "Those of us mothers who want a relationship, who hope for a relationship as soon as we have our wits returned to us, want it to be as normal as possible--phone calls, connection, disagreements that actually can be argued, inclusion in the found child's life-"

    I don't think mothers with such wants or expectations have quite recovered their wits.
    It is unrealistic to expect a situation that is not "normal" - as opposed to "unnatural" - to mimic so-called "normal" relationships, especially early on. Although I am sympathetic to both sides, I believe that the greater onus is on the parent, regardless of the circumstances that led to the relinquishment.

  51. Off topic here: Big thank you to all in this conversation, it's nice to see the stories of others, from both sides. And it's great to have a place to talk about these things in a non judgmental manner. Cookies to you all. Ive been lurking around the site now and then, but never really spoke up until yesterday.

    Back on topic: Responsibility for reunion lies to both parties really, when one makes contact with the other, it's up to the other to either respond or not, accept or not. though initiative on the parents side is a really good start, it kinda shows there is still a place of love in their hearts. I'm not just talking about women either, at one of the support groups I went to, there was a father who's girlfriend died giving birth, the girls family decided to give the child up for adoption, because the courts decided they had the right to make that choice and not him. he himself was sixteen and she was fifteen. young yeah, but he was willing to put full responsibility to himself. Not only that, his parents wanted to help too, she was their flesh and blood as well....eh it's one topic that I rarely see discussed, fathers who have to give up children as well.

  52. I am a mother who was found by my teenage child. I had signed a mutual consent registry and kept my information updated, so the search was easy. I now think it was too easy, as there was little time for reflection on my child's part between the decision to search and contact. He had not done any emotional work and neither had I. I had buried my grief and kept my head down, just as a good little "birth mother" in a closed adoption was supposed to do.

    I was taken by surprise, thrilled to death, and met him with wide open arms. My love, need to know him, and the grief that overtook me caught me flatfooted. He was surprised by his emotions too. His aparents turned quickly from support to disapproval when they saw our instant connection. Once the aparents' insecurities arose and they acted upon them, our reunion was doomed.

    Reunion has been horribly painful for both of us. How sad to think that my desire to know my son and to seek to have a normal relationship with him would be considered abnormal. The aparents have labeled me needy and unstable because of my deep desire to have a relationship with my son. How is the need to know the child of my body "needy and abnormal" but the need to acquire a stranger's child is not considered needy or abnormal?? I have been astonished and devastated by the aparents' reaction. It doesn't seem that they wanted my son to find a normal, healthy individual. I believe that they actually were expecting the crack whore who they could look down upon, who would barely look up from her drug induced haze to acknowledge her son.

    After over a decade of being pushed, pulled, invited in, thrown out, criticized, condemned and raged at, I am no longer interested in the extraordinary pain of reunion. I have done an incredible amount of emotional work. As far as I know, my son has not done any. The onus may be on the parent, but at some point the angry adoptee has to step up and start treating that parent like a human being worthy of kindness and love, and not some demon to take their never ending anger out on.

    I find it horribly sad that those mothers and those adoptees who have done their work and want a good relationship seem to be paired with someone who hasn't. I honestly can't take being beaten up any more.

    I wish the adoption agency who told me as a teenager in crisis how brave, selfless and angelic I was being when they sold me on relinquishment had told me that everyone else in the world, including my son, would instead think I had abandoned him. I thought I was delivering him into "better" hands than mine, not abandoning him. Those adopters who paid the agency to sell me that line now apparently love to tell my child that I abandoned him. I am so very tired of being a part of this horrible system. I wish I could get off the crazy train that is adoption and reunion.

  53. Goodbye vs See you later.... sigh.

    48 years ago tomorrow, a little girl gave birth to a little girl. Me. She was only 14. She kept me for 15 months.

    All of my life, I thought of my birthday as "our" day, because it was. I just knew that at least on that day, she was thinking about me. We were thinking about each other, at the same time. I always thought that was such a cool secret I had. My magical mommy and I, her fantasy kid I guess. :)

    That secret gave me comfort for those long years as an adult, through the fruitless searching, the giving up, the starting again. I always knew I would find her, she was only 14 years older than I was, and I could be patient because we would have plenty of time to figure it all out.

    Nine years ago, I found the rest of her family, the rest of mine. She had passed away at 49, and I think she died of a broken heart. Cervical cancer is totally curable,unless you give up, and ignore it. They scattered her ashes in the ocean, not even a gravestone... just the beach. I pick up the sand at that beach and try to pretend a part of her is in it... just craving that touch. Instead I end up looking at my hands, which are her hands, so they tell me.

    "See you later" can turn into "Goodbye" unintentionally. I knew it probably wasn't a great idea to read a post about reunions tonight, but I needed to be somewhere where someone would understand this, all the normies just roll their eyes. I haven't been able to cry for her too often, because it's hard to reign it in once it starts. I'd kill for a crappy reunion, even to just lay eyes on her once more, see her in motion. They tell me to look in the mirror, since we are apparently twins. She gave me all of herself so they would know me when I came home, that's what my sister says.

    Never give up. As long as you are still on the planet there is still a chance to have something, grab what you can while you have a shot. I love to hear about all of your reunions, and hear the love and caring that comes through, even when you are frustrated and baffled by our behavior. Thank you all for being here.

    Goodnight my AngelMother, tomorrow is our day, and I will be thinking of you. I'm living my life to the absolute limit, just like you did. That's what you gave it to me for. Your great-granddaughter is beautiful, she's going to look like you... like us.



  54. Dear Tamara,

    I am sorry you did not get to see your mother again in adulthood.Just a moment in time would be worth everything.

    My reunited son has been gone for 4 years now. He died from blood cancer,a very rapid death, was in a coma and dead within 36 hours of diagnosis.

    But,I am very glad we had our reunion relationship, which lasted for 18 years,until his death. It was not always easy, but ...life is not always easy.

    Death is harder than a difficult reunion,. You are right, in my opinion.

    I am sure your great-granddaughter is lovely and that your lovely mother knows...you and your great granddaughter are part of your mother.
    You sound like a very wise and good person.

    My son had a lovely granddaughter, too, and she is so very precious to me. We are each a part of him.

    Life and time are all we have, and we never know how much.

    with care,

  55. Tamara, sympathy on the loss of your mother, and Kitta, sympathy on the loss of your son. There is nothing worse than the permanence of death. Thanks for reminding us where there is life there is hope, however slim in some situations. Peace and whatever comfort there is to both of you.

  56. Oh...the comments here have been so true, so poignant. Tarama I was crying by the time I got to the middle of the post, and to all the others posting here around this "holiday." Isabo and everyone, I understand exactly how it all feels because I went through the push-pull relationship with my daughter, though not extreme as in your case. I had some very good times with my daughter.

    As Nadia says, responsibility for a relationship does depend on two people, not just one, and there is no reason to stay around to just get beaten up emotionally.

    We have written about birth fathers here in the past several times. (Use the search function at the bottom of the blog, if you like.)

    There are have been some legal kidnappings of children away from fathers in Utah, where single fathers rights, for all extents and purposes, do not exist.

  57. HeavenstoBetsy wrote:" I believe that the greater onus is on the parent..."

    I agree with that. I made the first phone call to my n-mother but after that I don't think I ever had to initiate contact again. My first mother took the ball and ran with it. Not in a pushy or overbearing way but in a way that reassured me that she wasn't going to reject me (again) and that she wanted me to know that she was there for me. I found it quite healing.

  58. Robin,
    How wonderful for you that you were able to receive the emotinional gifts that your mother gave you and in the spirit they were given. Every person has a different comfort level, and I am reasonably certain that my son would say your mother was pushy and controlling. I say this, as I tried so hard to be loving, giving, reassuring, and reasonable. However, I have been branded pushy and controlling. LOL, he is describing my sister, not me!! Reunion works when one person's actions meet the other person's needs. Unfortunately, that didn't happen in my case. How wonderful for you that it has!! I am always happy to hear about the good reunions.

  59. Lorraine, Tamara and Kitta, I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what you have gone through. To all, I have read these comments over the course of several days, so I am only remembering specifics from recent comments. However, my heart goes out to each and every one of you who has struggled in reunion. I wish that those coveting our children and who are so invested in keeping that adoption machinery fed with the blood of innocents could truly know, understand and CARE ABOUT our loss and pain enough to change their ways. My best wishes to all posters here for a wonderful holiday season, and that you find a way to celebrate and find joy in the season.

  60. I had to read this in two sittings as well. Very tough. But I agree with Tamara as long as everyone is still breathing there is hope.

    But it's hard when you have to refuse to be abused. Lorraine you asked adoptees about behaviour that wouldn't be directed at anyone else but is directed at us. I sometimes wonder if that is because that is how adoptees have been taught to think of us.

    Great post. I'm glad you brought it up. Great discussion too and i appreciate the adoptees' responses.

  61. Three things that my son has said to me that shed a little light on his frame of mind: First, he told me that if he let himself accept how "awesome" I was, that it threatened the rest of the way he sees his life (or something like that, but I do remember he used awesome, LOL). Second, he actually told me that my outlook on adoption invalidates his life. I am no longer a supporter of infant adoption. Third, several years into reunion I asked him to stop pushing the adoptive parents at me. He was an adult, and I wanted to have a relationship with him that did not include constant interference from the adoptive parents. I was very careful in what I said and how I asked him if we could have a relationship between the two of us directly. He interpreted that immediately as a threat and told me, "don't try to make me choose between you, you won't win." Choosing between us was the last thing on my mind. I just didn't want amom calling the shots in a relationship between two related adults. I clearly didn't understand loyalty issues at that time. That was the beginning of the end of my relationship with my son, as I had had the nerve to suggest amom step out from between us.

  62. Thanks for the suggestion, Robin,

    We've added some words about the difficulty of reuniting with your child and developing a relationship to the "Thinking of Placing Your Baby for Adoption" post.

  63. Isabo:

    I'm sorry that when you stood up for yourself, you got knocked down--but it's not good for the soul to be always begging for forgiveness or saying I'm sorry when you don't have an endless list of things to be sorry for, once a relationship begins.

  64. I'm a first mom whose been on the reunion rollercoaster for 20+ years, I'm 51. My daughter's adopted parents somehow had the records "unsealed" when she was 15, we met, within 2 years they died, and she had lots of problems with her adopted siblings till they shipped her to me when she was 19. I was a 30 year old single parent at the time with a 5 year old who was very excited to have a new sister. She on the other hand didn't want to give up being the "baby" of a family. She went into a 12-step recovery program and was sober for some time, but then realized she wasn't an addict and was going thru a phase. ?? My daughter and her adopted family have been playing a blame game with me and held back lots of information which came to a head last years. She basically is extremely jealous and doesn't want to have anything to do with my son (who is a major part of my world today), yet considers herself getting a step-dad when I get married to my fiance. She now drinks and parties a lot. I am not comfortable with a "compartmentalized family" with her that includes my future husband but now my son. I thing she is extremely selfish and had a lot of growing up to do. At this point, I'm not interested in any further reunion communications and want to get on with the rest of my life. She accuses me of abandoning her again, but I was 15 and a child myself with no rights. I'm not going to spend the rest of my life being an emotional puching bag for my daughter as she denies or works thru her issues. Life is too short. I'm was disappointed and sad last year when I realized all this. I asked for space (which she freaked out on me and claimed I was abandoning her again), yet she has pulled away from our relationship several times over the reunion period, once where she got married and had all her adopted family there but didn't invite me and her brother. I wish her all the best that life has to offer, but this reunion isn't working for me. I don't consider myselft giving her up again, I believe it's about choosing to live my life in the present with people who are good for me and not trying to re-do the past (which I cannot change). Thanks for your forum and your courage to share. This is my experience, strength and hope on this matter and I'm not trying to sway anyone to take my side or hers on the matter.

  65. Thank you all for being so courageous and kind.

    Kitta, I'm so sorry for the loss of your son. Life can be brutal, and beautiful too, but I am never ready for the incredible injustice it can provide.

    Anon, no one deserves to be treated like that. "You're abandoning me again" is emotional terrorism. We often get what we think we deserve, even if we have to force others to give it to us. She's hurt and sick and deserves compassion, but your little boy deserves to be protected, and you deserve to be treated with respect. Eventually we all have to confront our demons, and no one can do it for us, not even our Mommies. The good news? There is still hope, she will do the work eventually, and I pray she does, for her own sake as well as yours. Just this adoptee's opinion, not speaking for anyone else.

    Lorraine, you and Jane continue to rock it at FMF!


  66. @Jane (8:58pm),
    I noticed a typo in the new material that I think is important. It says "This may not always possible."

    It should say "This may not always *BE* possible." :)

  67. Isabo wrote "he actually told me that my outlook on adoption invalidates his life. I am no longer a supporter of infant adoption"
    I was recently attacked by my adult adoptee child on Thanksgiving because I have spoken out publicly against adoption. In my opinion the timing was extremely insensitive. I guess my childs opinion is my attack on the adoption system is an attack on their very existence. No more public discussion for me. My child doesn't know how much adoption has ripped from their life and I'm not going to educate. Thanks Lorrane and Jane for speaking out for us. It is frustrating to be silenced but I will do most anything for my flesh and blood.

  68. I became a "mother of loss" for the first time in March 1985 to a son who was born and died at the age of 2 & 1/2 days old. The second time was in February 1992, at the age of 41, when I prematurely gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who was, by my most regretted choice placed for adoption. A third time in October 2005 when my first born son, passed away at the age of 31. I am truly a "mother of loss"!

    I am blessed that my daughter has parents who love her very much and know that I love my daughter just as much! Her parents provided me with many many pictures and updates throughout the past 18 years! I have always looked for my daughter's face everywhere and was blessed three months shy of her 18th birthday to see her face on face book! On her 18th birthday I posted her a Happy 18th Birthday message and received an instant reply from her four minutes later! I was blessed with her presence on May 26, 2010 just two days before her high school graduation, which I attended! I know that my daughter loves me and has always wanted me in her life! I also know that she is young and is confused as to what to do now or how to handle any of this at this time! We are still in contact with one another and I believe always will be and that when she is able to "sort it all out" she will do what she feels is right for her! I couldn't and wouldn't ask for anything more! I know I can never get back what was given to someone else, all I can do is be blessed with what she chooses to give me now! I love you more than words can say Rachel!!

  69. Anon and Isabo wrote about their child treating their criticisms of adoption as an attack on their existence, an invalidation of their life. It certainly seemed that way with my daughter Rebecca.

    I saw this too when I reviewed memoirs of adopted daughters. Not only did they take criticisms of adoption personally, they considered the criticisms as assaults on their adoptive family.

    I've met adoptes who poured out their hearts about how difficult it was to grow up adopted; at the same time they defended the institution as almost sacred.

  70. Isabo and Anon, your reunion relationship stories are heartbreaking and remind me of my own. I, too, was on the emotional roller coaster for more than a decade and finally got off when I couldn’t take being beaten up any more. My daughter’s anger and bitterness was directed at me rather than at the adoption industry. I was just a teenager myself back in 1969 when I consented to adoption as the best choice for my child. As teenagers, we don’t have the wisdom and maturity of an adult and need the guidance of someone who is older and wiser. For many of us, myself included, I relied on a social worker for that as parental guidance was unavailable to me at the time. I remember being told that my child would thank me some day, so I guess I must have believed that adoption wasn’t forever. Needless to say, I wasn’t “thanked” and now that I am older and wiser I must admit that the “thank line” does indeed sound downright stupid.
    Tamara, thank you for saying what you did about emotional terrorism in relation to abandonment. I’m one of the mothers who does not feel like I abandoned my child and my feelings about the issue were never respected or understood. I realize some mothers feel differently and that’s ok. What’s not ok is for a person who is adopted to play the abandonment/rejection card while simultaneously trying to forge a meaningful relationship.

  71. How differently we can feel about the same things. I hate infant adoption, and my Mom does not condemn it. I felt out of place my whole life. I'm very confused by my mom's anger to me. She had called my children wimps, slackers and said my son was stuffing his big mug on thanksgiving! We have been reunited almost 1 year. Why would my mom treat me so shabbily? All I did was get given up. She sometimes texts me and tell me that she's with people who really love her. I'd love to hear from any moms who understand this.

  72. Jen- before I go to bed I just want you to know what a gift you have given to me with your sacred sharing. My daughter doesn't give much of a clue as to what's going on deep down. I think much of what you said is how all of this is affecting her. It helps me be more compassionate to the pullbacks. I have read your share about twenty times now. Than you so much for honoring us with your mist private thoughts.

  73. Isabo wrote:" Second, he actually told me that my outlook on adoption invalidates his life. I am no longer a supporter of infant adoption."

    I don't understand this response. It sounds to me as if the first mother is saying she should have kept the child rather than relinquishing. Isn't being given away what caused the pain? Isn't being kept what most adoptees wanted?

    Unless what the first mother is saying is... I wish I had had an abortion rather than carrying to term and giving you up for adoption. Then I can see where the adoptee is coming from.

  74. Robin wrote: "Isabo wrote:" Second, he actually told me that my outlook on adoption invalidates his life. I am no longer a supporter of infant adoption."

    I don't understand this response."

    Robin, you are correct that I feel that I should have kept my son rather than giving him up for adoption. He doesn't want to hear this, and yells at me that "I never said I wish you had kept me." He tells me that if I had not given him up, then he would have never met them [his adoptive family].

    I think he doesn't want to imagine how his life would have been with me and with other people who mirror him. He doesn't "fit" in their family, as his personality and IQ are very different from theirs. He ran circles around them, and they could not handle him. They keep wanting to "fix" him. I sometimes wonder if he is scared of being somewhere where he wouldn't have been different, where his IQ wouldn't have been unusual, where his intellect would have been nurtured and his talents supported. Instead, he has had to rage and fight to be himself, and now he can't see it any other way.

    The only time I have discussed abortion with him is to tell him that that is the road that my friends and acquaintences took, and that NO ONE I knew was keeping their baby at that time. I was unusual in that I did not abort him.

    My son told me that he looked for me in every woman that met as he was growing up. He never forgot me, but now that he knows me he has embraced his anger towards me. I think he is SO angry because I am not the stereotype that he was raised to believe I would be. My family is normal and loving, and I am sure he doesn't understand why he was given up. I don't understand anymore either. It was religous shame which drove the relinquishment, which has to be the worst reason in the world to lose a child. He thinks it was all about status, but my pregnancy did not stay a secret. My "status" was destroyed before I signed those papers, and nothing could save it. I think he really needed something to be "wrong" with me in order to justify his relinquishment, and there isn't. Therefore, he has to find endless fault with me in order to create that justification. That is my take on it anyway, and it is exhausting and hurtful beyond words to deal with.

  75. Isabo, your idea about the origin of your son’s anger is one that I’ve not thought about in trying to figure out why my child treated me the way she did. I am also what is generally considered mainstream “normal.” I have a successful and rewarding career, a stable long-term marriage, and a close relationship with a warm and loving raised bio child. I searched and found my child and was ecstatic at the opportunity to have a loving relationship which did not happen. I’ve often wondered what might have happened had I been poor and had spent my life wallowing in a pool of grief? Interestingly, she was very kind to members of the extended family and I was the primary target for the anger and rage. How does your son treat his other bio relatives?

  76. Isabo,
    It can be extremely painful to really face all of the losses one has suffered as an adoptee. The loss of one's entire family on both sides, one's genealogy, one's roots. Also we may have been raised in a different part of the country (or even in a different country altogether), in a different socio-economic status (for better or worse), in a different religion or heritage.It can be very hard to reconcile all of this "coulda been" with one's current life. I can't blame anyone who doesn't want to go there.

    This may sound strange to non-adopted people but for adoptees not fitting in and not looking like our family members is the norm. It is within our comfort zone. I remember that I had a very powerful reaction to seeing relatives who looked just like me for the first time. It threw me for a loop.

    Overall, the biggest take-away I get from all of these comments is ADOPTION IS SO DAMAGING. And it doesn't seem that the damage can ever be completely overcome. I am so glad that Jane and Lorraine added a warning to their post "Thinking of placing your baby for adoption" that it will in most cases be impossible to ever have a comfortable, easygoing mother/child relationship again.

    And when I think of all the doctors, lawyers, agencies, social workers, etc. laughing all the way to the bank......why, it makes me sick.

  77. Michele I in no way understand your mothers reaction. The comment about stuffing his mug could just be cultural (I can hear my late father saying that) but the texts make me shake my head. The only thing I can say is to reserve judgement for a while. Most mothers I know go bonkers that first couple of years. If we dont hear from our kids for a while our minds play games with us. I know my daughter loves me but sometimes it feels like she hates me. Crazy thoughts for a very stable woman. I hope your mom starts talking nicer and I hope you can wait her out.

  78. I was coerced into giving my son up for adoption by my family and an adoption agency. Before the coercion, I was very excited about my baby. I was doing normal things, like setting up a baby room and preparing to be a mother. At seven months pregnant, a very traumatic situation happened with the father (he and I were together but not married. We were both 18 at the time). I lost the father of my baby, my job, my apartment, and everything I owned. I moved into my parents' house, which I regret to this day. I would have been better off at a homeless shelter or have gone to a church and asked for help. While I was living with my parents, they complained about the money it would cost to raise a child and how they refused to help me financially and, quote, "Don't think I'm going to babysit your kid for you." Sitting at my parents' house feeling alone, I held onto a five dollar bill, that was the last bit of money I had. I started to feel there was no way for me to take care of a child if I have no "things" to offer it. I look back (I'm now 34) and I wonder how in the heck did I not know that welfare was for people like me!! It really makes me feel like a failure, though. Like I was just really stupid! I lost my kid because I didn't look into welfare! How did that happen? I am such a capable person; I've always had jobs, taken care of myself. I tried to get a job while I was pregnant, just to find out that people don't hire pregnant women. I would like to see a law passed that ALL mothers considering adoption be told of ALL the alternatives to adoption as far as how to get help with raising the child if they don't have the "things" a child may need. I was told I couldn't take my baby home unless I had a car seat. My family refused to buy me a car seat. To this day, I feel like a failure because I feel that I didn't fight hard enough to keep my son. The pregnancy was physically exhausting, too. I think at the time I had forgotten about how I am when I'm not pregnant. I'm a go-getter type of person. After healing from the pregnancy, I would have had a job in no time!! I would have had an apartment, a crib, whatever junk a kid would like to have. I look back and say, "I just don't know how this happened to us." This was in 1996.

  79. @Leah,
    Your story is so sad but I wish you wouldn't be so hard on yourself. The reason you never thought of welfare is because no one ever told you that might be an option. You were physically exhausted from pregnancy and going through a huge trauma losing everthing so soon before you were due to deliver. I can't even imagine the amount of stress you were under.

    I think the real villians in this story are your parents for refusing to help you. I can never understand how grandparents-to-be can be so willing to give up their own flesh and blood grandchild.

    I just hope you will not beat yourself up so badly. There were many factors influencing/forcing you to give up your child. I am so sorry things turned out this way.

  80. 0h Leah...As Robin said, try not to beat up on yourself so much. But I know that is not easy. People who have not been through this experience just do not know the damage that has been done.

    And then I hear from friends of friends (who have adopted): Why didn't anybody tell me? They are talking but the myriad of problems that crop up after the cute baby years. Why didn't anybody tell me? Tell you what, exactly?

  81. How can reunion ever be normalized when all of the cards are stacked against us. My siblings were all very excited to be meeting their found nephew. Here we are in reunion for two years and my sisters son is planning a wedding. Every other family member (and we have a big family) is on the guest list except my son and his family. I went ballistic and they are now being invited. But the hurt is deeper than any slight I have ever experienced. And the crazy thing is my son won't choose to come anyway. Most likely that is. A mother always hopes.

  82. Oh, Leah, all of our stories are very similar. Hopefully with the power of the Internet more and more mothers will figure out that loosing a child to adoption is a life sentence. I'm so sorry your parents were as wrongly convicted as mine. Be kind to yourself. You were young and didn't know what you didn't know. {{{{{Leah}}}}}

  83. I find a lot of similarities to Leah's story,but I do not fault my parents There were 8 people living in our house and they were both working full-time just to feed us all When they said I could keep him, I tried to get my social worker to give him back She said we had to do "paperwork" first and months went by and it's too painful for me to talk about today I was in flashback mode all night(believe me, I know the difference between flashbacks and remembering) I was living in my car with just 5 dollars left(that I spent on a cheese omelette at Howard Johnson's) and as the saying goes, when people have nothing left to lose they lose it. I will restrain myself from telling the rest of the story here.My son wouldn't like it. But today I remember clear as a bell the names of all the major people from over 30 years ago. Cathy Sob...the social worker from Nassau County Dept of Social services, Marilyn Vig.... the social worker from Catholic Charities Steven Ros... my boss who called me into his office and fired me with a smile on his face but I'm trying not to cause myself more pain I'm basically a happy person when I get away from all the tv's,computers,etc and stick to listening to music and reading. But I keep coming back to FMF probably because I do see some purpose these stories can serve While I don't expect outsiders to understand, maybe some of the TV shrinks like Dr Phil and Dr Drew will realize how ridiculous their simplistic views of adoption and the effect on surrendering Moms and Babies is

  84. Thank you, Robin, Lorraine, and Barbara for your kind words and your wishing for me to not beat up on myself. I know I commented kind of out of place on the subject of discussion. I just found this site yesterday. I didn't know this kind of thing existed. I've never talked to anyone about my experiences with the adoption. And now, I do have a little more to tell. I found my son on Facebook. I hope to talk about it soon. Thank you. I haven't been able to stop reading since I saw this site! This is amazing, a place to vent! Yay!

  85. Thank you Robin, Lorraine, and Barbara for your kind words. I found this site yesterday. I know I was out of place in the discussion topic. I have never talked to anyone about the experiences of the adoption. Thank you for listening. This site is great! I haven't stopped reading! I didn't know this kind of blog existed!

  86. Leah, your story is incredibly sad and highlights what can happen when life-altering decisions are made when one is under considerable stress. I hope that your touching story will help people who are adopted understand that there is a strong possibility that they may not have been abandoned. My child has told and continues to tell others that he was abandoned at birth when in fact he was not. He knows that this is hurtful to me and I suspect it’s why he continues to say the things he says. Consequently, our relationship is very strained.

  87. adoption is legal abandonment, don't diminish it. what would you call it? We have a right to feel abandoned! it may not have been a deliberate abandonment, but it was abandonment, his feelings are valid. Maybe it is strained because you refuse to acknowledge that...

  88. and i am not trying to hurt feelings, just being honest. When I was given up for adoption I was abandoned. I didnt just walk out of the womb and down the hall. My mom chose to walk away from me. And that's different because some moms have coersion/lack of support/abuse/neglect etc I get that, its not like leaving your kid on a doorstep and there are ways to not rub mothers faces in it and that can border on abuse, but it is wrong not to realize how he may feel and expect to have a relationship. that may be how your son really feels and sees adoption. I think that letting him know what you went through might help, maybe opening the door to what you may have been treated like or the lack of support. But also realize that adoption reads as abandonment, even a coerced adption and dont take it personally

  89. Trina: It baffles me why any parents would want to make "their" child feel worse by telling him that he was abandoned. Maybe that is the only way they can make themselves feel better...but how do they sleep at night?

    but we have learned here that relinquishment, no matter how it is done, registers to the adoptee as abandonment on some level. It takes a big heart to be able to get over that, and I salute the many adoptees who have.

  90. In my naive thinking when I was 18 and abandoning my child, I didn't think of it as abandonment forever. I was thinking of the immediate situation, that my child needed the "things" I could not give it. But I also -- because I was young and naive -- thought, as I looked at the birthparents before I gave my child to them, that they will never take my place. He is my blood. I love him no matter what. I love him sooo much that I am willing to miss out on his childhood so that he can have a "stable" home and "things". My naivety had me thinking I will find him the day he turns 18 and take him back and he will understand completely and we will be a family. I really had visions of busting down the door and saying, "Okay. Come with me." and to the aparents, "You can back off now. He's mine." Now, 15 years later, having another child that I am raising, I'm realizing it won't be that easy to take him back from the parents who raise him. I NEVER thought of the possibility that he might hate me or disrespect me for wanting him to have the things that I could not give him. Now that I'm older and seeing that the daughter I'm raising now could care less about things and really wants my love and attention, that's when a lot of regret sets in for the loss of my son. If I had only known what is really important in raising a child at that time, I would have walked out of the hospital with my baby in my arms, told everyone where to shove it, and walked all the way to a shelter or some place where people aren't "against" me and wanting to make a profit.

  91. I hope my son realizes that any hurt I caused him was not deliberate. I, in fact, thought I was saving him from a world of hurt that he would have if I raised him. I NEVER thought I would be a bad mom. I just was made to believe by society and life experiences and elders who had children but were running an adoption agency that people with money can offer my child more. The mindset of an 18 year-old and a 34 year-old is so different. I realize now a child could be happy living in a treehouse as long as mom is there and happy, too.


    You mentioned your mom saying that you must have had some great fantasy mom but it isn't her. That sounds to me like her insecurity coming out.

    I know with my situation -- feeling swindled by an adoption agency and pressured by my parents to give up my child -- it made me soooo insecure about myself.

    And her saying she's not gonna cry, maybe she meant she has cried so much that she almost can't anymore. I've gotten to that point before, cried all my tears to the very last drop.

  93. @ Michelle

    "She had called my children wimps, slackers and said my son was stuffing his big mug on thanksgiving!"

    I have a grandma that pops off at the mouth like that. She has this military style about her where she thinks if she "tells it like it is," we will benefit from her criticism. I have no doubt my grandma loves me, though. I just laugh at her and tell her to cool it or something.

    You, on the other hand, are just getting to know her. You might be skeptical of her intentions. She might feel like she has no power and is in some way turning into a drill sergeant all of a sudden. She may not know her place in your family.

    "She sometimes texts me and tell me that she's with people who really love her. I'd love to hear from any moms who understand this."

    I'm hoping she is just having a hard time expressing how she really feels. Maybe she really means that she is with people who understand her. She sounds like a tough cookie!

    She probably is a little kitten on the inside, but she feels she needs to come across as hard and tough or maybe the experience of the adoption made her hard and tough; and it is difficult for her to trust anyone with her real feelings.

  94. Quoting Leah, "The pregnancy was physically exhausting, too. I think at the time I had forgotten about how I am when I'm not pregnant. I'm a go-getter type of person. After healing from the pregnancy, I would have had a job in no time!!"

    I think pregnancy is the most vulnerable time in a woman's life. The worry, hormones, physical changes all lead us to needing strong support and encouragement rather than refusals to help and negativity. Sadly, many families and society in general would prefer to ignore the needs of a vulnerable mother-to-be and descend on her with derision and scorn.

    Leah, please keep visiting here, this is an amazing group of supportive mothers and adoptees! We do have our moments of disagreements and misunderstandings but in the end this is a great place to learn how to cope with adoption's many complexities.

  95. Opps.

    Sorry about not posting these last several comments sooner. Automatic posting was set up for posts less than seven days old, and neither one of these noticed the comments awaiting moderation.

  96. Lorraine wrote:
    "And then I hear from friends of friends (who have adopted): Why didn't anybody tell me? They are talking but the myriad of problems that crop up after the cute baby years."

    I think this would be a fascinating topic for a blog post. Obviously, without any identifying information but just the generalities you have observed.

  97. I don't think any of those adoptive parents read this blog--the kids are in college or...NOT...but I will have to disguise anyway.

  98. Thank you Leah. You are very compassionate. I want very much to understand my mother, but she's very guarded. You help give me insight into her motives.

  99. @Michelle

    I hope it works with you and your firstmother. It gives me hope that my son will want to work things out with me someday. I want more than anything to be in his life. I missed out on so much. He is 15 now. I realize he will be so busy growing up these next few years. The adoptive parents do not want him to speak to me. I hope he will try to get to know me when he is 18.

  100. Let me start by saying I have been searching for a blog/place I could relate to birth mom/birth children for so long. I have read through so many of your stories as I have been looking for answers to my story and can't seem to find anyone in my life who has gone through the same experience as me let alone be able to help me understand my feeling and those of my birth daughter.
    I gave a beautiful baby girl up for adoption over 25 years ago. It was not an easy decision as I am sure you all must understand. I had a great, loving family who believed they were helping me do the right thing for me and my child. The birth father and I were still together and continued to stay together for many years after the adoption. I went to college, married a little later in life and have two young children now. (not the birth father, however we are still in contact)
    3 years ago my very best friend and my mom encouraged me to try and make contact with my birth daughter. It took me a little time and a little searching to find her but I did. I went through an agency to begin with so I had to go back through the agency to find her. I wrote a letter to her, including her parents introducing myself, pretty standard. In no time at all we were writing regularly, I was so happy. I never heard from her parents and she did not talk much about them only that they are a close family and she had a great childhood and never wondered why she was adopted. She was very friendly in her letters but no sign of feelings at all, i tried to express some but did not get the same from her. during the time we wrote back and forth, she had gotten married and a little over a year later, she lost her mom. I felt so bad for her, she lives very, very close to me but we have still never met, we had been writing for over 2 and a half years at this point.
    Things started to look up, we finally exchanged numbers, texted a little, and finally had one quick conversation on the phone. It went really well, very casual. Then all of a sudden all communication stopped. She said her feels have changed towards me and that she no longer wanted to talk to me, that she was sorry and did not want to hurt me but that is just how she feels. I thought, maybe she needed time to mourn her mom it had only been several months since she lost her. I told her that I would never give up on her, that I will always be here, she can change her mind any time and I will be here.
    I continue to send little "thinking of you" e-mails every month or so to her, she has not told me to stop and every once in a while she will send a quick thank you.
    I guess I don't understand how we were starting to make "great" progress then all of a sudden, things changed so much for her. I realize she is a young girl who has been through soo much for a young girl. I feel like there is so much more to her story and I have no clue what to do.
    I miss her so much and thought by now almost 3 years later, that we would at least have met. I long to be in her life but do not want to loose her by being to pushy, I fear I have already done so.
    I think that I was doing the right things then wonder if I did, I want her to so much be a part of my family, I want her to know how much she is loved and that she has a wonderful extended family here for her. When I wrote to her, I did not try to overwhelm and scare her with this info but to carefully let her know we are here for her when she is ready.
    I am really not sure how to proceed, I hope someone may have some advice they can give to me, birth moms and birth children advice would be great.
    I really suffer emotionally, but I keep it in, no one can truly understand my hurt and It's near impossible to explain to anyone. If her and I are not met to be friends/family, I would love to be able to come to terms with it and slowly get over the hurt, again.

  101. Anon,

    What you've written is, sadly, not uncommon. Adoptees pull away without explanation, perhaps unaware that they are breaking their mother's heart.

    I encourage you to join a support group. If you can, attend an American Adoption Conference or a Concerned United Birthparent retreat.

    I might suggest that you cut back on your emails to your daughter and try to focus on other aspects of your life.

    Take care.

  102. What you've written is, sadly, not uncommon. Adoptees pull away without explanation, perhaps unaware that they are breaking their mother's heart.

    Ok, i dont feel that's fair, adoptees pull back, so do birth mothers, and this adoptee didn't search, it is within her rights not to have a relationship, she didnt just disappear she gave an explanation. Mothers may not realize that our hearts are broken when they leave at birth. I feel that statement is unfair because once you give your child up you arent guaranteed any kind of relationship, you dont know how they will be raised, emotions, etc. the adoptee owes no one anything, half the time we were given up with no explanation left for us. (However, i think that it is the right thing to do to try and explain what is going on before one just dissapears/needs break). This is key in preventing unnecessary adoptions, inform potential birth mothers that you arent guaranteed a relationship,

    I just feel that some moms feel that they can dictate who knows about the adoptee, when, how much communication. But if an adoptee decides they can't handle the emotions (which are massive) it is an awful thing. Dont expect a typical relationship with what we have been through (all of us moms and kids) this is different because of the trauma experienced because of adoption (the agencies must love this, they make all of the money, but we live with the cost for a lifetime)

  103. @ Jane,

    Thank you for the advice, I am new to researching help/information. This the first blog I have found with helpful information.
    I will do as you say, it will be hard, I do not write often, maybe once a month but just a line or two. I thought it would be bad to stop all together, I thought she may feel like I gave up on her again.
    I guess there is really nothing more fore me to do, I am sad to hear that this is not uncommon, I really feel for other Birth moms out there that have their heart broken like mine, a heart filled with so much love for their birth child and not to receive the same love back.

  104. Jenn: I know what you say is true--some first mothers can't tell everyone about the found child, but expect the child to be understanding. We do get it that the emotions that adoptees experience at reunion and after are massive and hard to deal with; from our side of the coin, the emotions are just as massive and we hope for forgiveness and thrill when the reunion goes well. Then being rejected is a kick in the gut that is just as massive. We can't undo what happened, we hope there can be a going forward, but the psychological damage is so great that it's often not possible. You hurt, we hurt too--whose suffering is worse? Impossible to answer.

    This is why we are so adamantly against adoption, closed or open, unless there are mitigating factors (sexual abuse/death) that are enormous. Adoption sucks for both parties, the mother and the relinquished. It's a lifelong sentence that is never set right.

  105. Jenn and Lorraine,
    Than you both for your insight, your both have very valid feelings from two perspectives. I appreciate them both, Lorraine, I am glad you can understand, being a birth mom your self, how I feel, I have never been able to speak to anyone who understood my feelings.
    I know how I feel, I don't know or understand how my birth daughter feels, but I understand that she is completely entitled to her feels and I respect that. She does not have to accept me or my love, she maybe feel hurt or rejected, unfortunately, I do not know so I don't know how to proceed. Having feelings of being abandoned or no feeling at all towards me is ok, it is what I have to except and I know it's her choice to voice those feeling towards me, what I am saying, is in order to respect her wishes, I need to know her feelings. After communicating for almost 3 years and all the letters are wonderful letters, to just stop is a little hard for me to understand, I think it would be had for anyone to understand. And I know that I chose to contact her, but she chose to correspond for me all this time.
    If I understood why, I would know if the right thing to do is to leave her alone or to continue to contact her. She does, in fact answer my little notes I occasionally write, so I am throughly confused. A big part of me wants to say I need to leave her alone and let her live her life but another part of me says, you don't give up on your child.
    I was also very young when I gave her up, and of course I was told a reunion was possible when she turns 18, please remember, I was a teen myself, and all I heard was that I will get to see my daughter again.
    I feel at this point is I need to be able to heal and go on with my life and I am not sure how to do it. I am having a very hard time coping. I thought, If I spoke to a few people in the same situation as me, they could share some in site.

  106. Anon 3:51 & 12:25,
    I agree with what both Jenn and Lorraine said. I did want to mention though that something that sticks out to me in your comments is the use of the term "birth daughter". That is not a term one encounters frequently here at FMF. I am certain you didn't mean anything by it but it sounds like adoption industry speak to make the mother feel that her child is not really hers. I know that if my natural mother had referred to me or thought of my as her "birth daughter" (as opposed to just her daughter) it would have been off-putting to me. I am not saying this has anything to do with what happened in your reunion just that I noticed it.

    Also, I am sorry that your agency led you to believe that you would definitely have a relationship with your daughter when she became an adult. This seems like another one of their techniques to get young mothers to surrender. If you read the November 18th post, "Thinking of placing your baby for Adoption" the paragraph right before LEGAL MATTERS covers this very issue.

    I also think Cassi's blog, Adoption Truth, would be helpful to you. It is not easy reading but it covers many of the issues of how agencies operate and just by reading your comments it sounds like you still have the mindset they instilled in you.

    It is so sad that so often one member of the mother/child pair is interested in a relationship and the other is not. Most stories from what I've heard, however, are the adoptee searching and then being rejected by the first mother.

    I am an adoptee not a first mother so maybe I have overstepped my bounds on this but just thought I'd add my two cents. I hope you can find some help and some peace in your situation.

  107. Thanks Robin,

    Your comment and thoughts are welcome, I want to hear from everyone, how they feel and what they think.
    As far as the "birth Daughter" there was nothing met by the term at all, I guess I didn't want to confuse any one when I was explaining that she is not an adopted daughter, some times in reading other posts, I was getting confused with birth and adopted mom and birth and adopted children. I was just trying to keep it clear. I have never referred to her that way outside of this blog, sorry for the misunderstanding.



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