' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: As a first mother it's better to speak up than suffer in silence

Monday, December 12, 2011

As a first mother it's better to speak up than suffer in silence

Jane and Lorraine. 1983
All right, I've been trying to avoid this all day...but what the hell? FMF is a personal letter in many respects to the world, and the friends and acquaintances I've made in the adoption community. Today is the fourth anniversary of my daughter's death and I have been trying to distract myself but it's not working too well.

What I do know is that she seemed determined to die by her own hand as she had tried to kill herself several times before, and that I could not have prevented her death. She was stopped before, years earlier in fact, but something that deep and resolved eventually wins out. Her life was troubled from the very beginning with adoption and epilepsy the double-whammy handed her. So I'm allowing myself to feel blue today--and I'm eating some dark chocolate too. Today, I feel bad. Tomorrow will be another day.

Over on Facebook a woman wrote that she is upset that her youngest brother is having his first child--out of wedlock--and no one in her family is upset. It is 19 years after she gave her son up. Now she is trying to be happy for her youngest brother, yet she finds
herself crying all the time: She wrote: "I just want to tell them all how I feel inside but I can't get the words out--not that it would matter, according to them my daughter never existed it. It is something that never happened."

Oh, don't a lot of us know that feeling? Of psychic loneliness and despair?

Until I got out of the closet myself, I felt the same way about other births in my extended family and among friends. Everybody was married, and so there was not that comparison, but while I was happy for them, their joy brought into relief my own dark emotions about the daughter I had, but didn't have. And I couldn't say a word. I avoided baby showers, was undemonstrative when I heard baby news, turned away from labor scenes in movies...babies were not a subject that I could be involved in. After I came out and told my family about my daughter, it was a whole lot easier, largely because my mother was so accepting and sympathetic and understanding, not only of what happened, but the role I said I was going to play in adoption reform. 

Coming out of the closet--while hard at the moment of truth--was so much easier than being in. It's not unlike being gay and coming out; in some circles, however, it's a lot more shocking. So be it. The more of us who come out, the less shocking it will be, the quicker those noxious laws of the past overturned, the fewer adoptions there will be in the future.

Over at Facebook, I left a comment for the woman encouraging her to speak up--tell someone in her family, tell them all--how she feels. Because maybe the day will come that her child will come looking for her, and instead of finding her (because her name has changed with marriage), that person first will reach someone else in the family. And because she, the mother, has never spoken up about her secret grief, that brother or uncle or father will think that she does not want to be reminded, and tell the caller to go away. We hear about this happening enough to know that it does happen. Brothers and uncles say. Well, Mary (or Linda or Jeanne or Janice) has never spoken about it, so she must not want to be disturbed. In New York Mayor Bloomberg has actively lobbied against open records--sending a paid lobbyist to Albany to work against our bill--and since opening the sealed records will not affect the city budget, I can't figure out why he would do this--unless it were personal. Maybe he has a close relative who relinquished a a child, but she and the family have never spoken of him. 

We do need to let our families and close friends know the truth of our grief. We need to not keep this hidden. As long as we do, outsiders will think we are fine with having given up our children. When I told the wife of one of my husband's college roommates, she was shocked because she had never heard anyone talk about this before, and was rather amazed that it was the source of lifelong sorrow. Did other women feel like me, she wanted to know. This was a woman in her 60s. Of course she knew lots of people who had adopted, and some who were adopted, but she said, she'd never met another birth mother. That you know of, I quickly added. All she knew was that the sister of a college friend of hers had gotten into the same kind of "trouble," but she never heard another thing about it, or knew how the woman felt. 

If you are at any large Christmas parties this year, stop for a moment and look around the room. It's almost a given that there will be adoptive parents, or siblings of adoptive parents, or adoptees in the room with you, and most everyone knows about the adoption. But where do the adoptees come from? Sure, some from overseas, but not so many if the adoptee is over thirty. First mothers will almost certainly be there too, each in her own private closet. If adoption were so damn wonderful, this wouldn't be the case.--lorraine
See also: Telling a Stranger What It's Like to be a Birth Mother
My Daughter's Suicide
Adoption: Then, and Now
Remembering My Daughter on the Anniversary of her Death


  1. Lorraine,
    I am sorry you are sad today. I know how these important dates can knock us in the chops. As you say, tomorrow is another day, but today, just eat your chocolates and allow yourself to feel it. We cannot heal it without first feeling it, and you are allowed to be sad. I didn't lose my mother to adoption but I still feel sad on the day she died.

    You are spot on about 'if adoption is so great, why are we all still suffering?' Also, the question that always runs through my mind when people are touting the wonders of adoption, I want to tell them, "Great, then if you think it is so hot, which of YOUR children will you be donating to adoption?" Their statements show the influence that the adoption industry has invested in changing the public perception in the past 30 years. But, we are the only ones who can counter that propaganda. Thank you for doing so.

  2. Oh, Lorraine, I am so very sorry for your loss. It has been loss after loss for you as it has been for so many of us affected by this ugly thing called adoption. When you talk about coming out of the closet, it didn't escape my notice that when I found my paternal relatives none of them had a clue that I even existed. In the more than ten years from my birth until my n-father's death it appears that he never told a soul. I think when someone has an issue and they never tell anyone it is because it is something they feel very bad about.

  3. Sorry for the second loss of your daughter, the picture is so beautiful though, sending some hugs your way

  4. Thank you for sharing. I too have my own loss of child, but for a very different reason... Dec 10Th, my child would have been 35 years old. Time is not always my friend, silence has been, but can also be very agonizing as well. My prayers go with you and others in my situation as well. I only wish the closet door was a bit more lubricated for me.
    God bless you in your healing.

  5. Im so sorry for your loss. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain.

  6. {{{{{Lorraine}}}}} I'm holding your hand on thus sad day.
    It was probably best I stayed in the closet until reunion. I could gave been one of those women that speaks at high schools about how wonderful adoption is. What a flipping saint I was to be redeemed through adoption. How my daughter was so lucky to get two parents. Belch.
    Coming out after reunion allowed me to realize I did no one except my parents any favors. And they got cheated, too. After meeting my beautiful daughter I realized how I was hoodwinked. I am out now. Thanks to Facebook no one thats my friend can miss my grief. It's embarrassing and empowering.
    What you are going with your blog is very important. I'm convinced that young women come here for information. I hope they can understand that they will only be young and broke for awhile but they will be mothers forever.

  7. ((((Lorraine))))) I am just so very sorry. Of course you would be sad today.

    So glad you are reaching out and speaking up.

    I wish you love and healing...

  8. Lorraine ~ sending you lots of cyber-hugs on this difficult day.

    You are SO right about leaving that "birth mother closet". As frightening as it was to come out, it was that much more freeing in the end!

  9. Lorraine,

    I am so sorry that you had to lose her twice. I had to resd this evral times becuase of the tears getting in the way.
    Because of you and your daughter Jane, your fellow blogger Jane I have no longer been silent. Because of you I am also "out of the closet". It will never stop the pain of adoption loss but it is a very positive step towards gaining back myself. For that I thank you.

  10. Lorraine,
    I am sorry that you must go through another sad day like this one. How hard it must have been to lose your daughter a second time! My heart goes out to you.

    Thank you for getting the word out about first mothers. It is so true that people think that because some of us don't talk about it, it means we aren't affected. I'm glad you brought up this subject. I am going to talk about it more from now on.


  11. Thank you all. On the days I do not feel like continuing with the blog, your comments help me soldier on.

  12. My sympathies to you on this anniversary. I cannot imagine losing my son after finding him.
    I am glad you and your daughter had the time you had together as mother and daughter. She was able to see a young beautiful mother in her prime. Although, she died she did see that strong woman in you. She was able to see that she could become that woman. Her death was untimely.

    The year of the fire horse my son was born on 66 too.

  13. Lorraine. We need you so much. Many of us are silenced by our children. For some, to go out there publically is a violation of our child's well being. For me, his needs come first and I will continue to be anonymous.
    Much love and graditude for all you do.

  14. Lorraine, I feel deeply for you. I also know how right you are. Keeping us shamed, in the closet and self-abusing over decisions that are made by others is something that keeps the industry alive. I will happily/sadly tell my tale to any that will listen. I choose to never be a secret in my own life.

  15. Hugs, Lorraine, and thank you for voicing what we all feel. I truly believe being "out of the closet" is better than staying in and being afraid to share. If more of us speak up, perhaps it will inspire other mothers to come out and receive the support and validation they deserve.

  16. Lorraine, I am thinking of you and your daughter at his sad time. I am so glad you are out here speaking about your experience and letting other mothers know that it's ok to do so. The more we open up about our adoption experiences the better chance we have of making it better for others in the future, and that's exactly what you are doing. Keep up the good work and know that you have friends who are rooting for you.


    Truer words have never been spoken before.

    Thinking of you Lorraine.

  18. It is easy as an adoptee to struggle with unwantedness. IMO there is no more profound rejection than to feel rejected by one's own parents. Given that you searched for Jane and that you wrote a book to tell the world how much you wanted to keep her, she knew that she was always loved and wanted by her mother. And in that way she was truly blessed.

  19. Lorraine,
    I send you a great, big hug. I am so sorry you lost your daughter. Thank you for sharing your sadness.

  20. I am so sorry Lorraine. I read your book, and before that the book your dear daughter was in. You have helped me so much to try and understand my mother's feelings in this horror that is adoption. Thank you. ps, today is the 49th anniversary of my placement, 1 month after my birthday. I hated every minute of it.

  21. Lorraine,
    Thank you for sharing your sadness. It can be so hard at times when people don't want to hear our sadness. Thank you for starting this blog so first mothers and adoptees have a place to share. Sometimes, it seems like a life long sentence of grief. So sad, that you had to lose your daughter twice and, permanently, the second time.

    Eat lots of dark chocolate and cry, if you can. Crying can be such a blessing when the tears come.


  22. I'm sorry for your loss and am thinking of you at this sad time. I wish things were different

  23. Lorraine, I'm deeply sorry for your loss. Take extra good care of yourself during the holidays.

  24. I'm a 40 year old birthmother who is terrified at coming out of the birthmother closet. My mother/family have NO IDEA that 20 years ago I had a little girl I gave up. I've found that little girl on FB (and ancestry.com) and the thought or idea of having to tell my family all this makes me feel like a young dumb 20 year old again.

    I'm sorry for your loss Lorraine.

  25. Thank you everybody for your greetings and mental hugs.



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