' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: September 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Birth Mother to Adoptive Parents: You Make Me Uncomfortable

It’s not Politically Correct but I’m going to say it anyway: I’m uncomfortable when I’m around adoptive parents. I’ve experienced disconcerting feelings at every conference of the American Adoption Congress (AAC) I’ve attended, and those feelings of mistrust and caution were present last week when I attended a symposium sponsored by Coordinators2, Inc, a Richmond, Virginia adoption agency. The majority of attendees and presenters were adoptive parents and social workers; for the most part, they were warm and inviting.

When I learn that someone--an acquaintance, a neighbor, a co-worker--is an adoptive parent, feelings of distrust run through my body. I mentally  suppress a cringe when I hear “my child.” I change the subject.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

If kids are 'better off,' does it matter whether they are adopted or abducted?


“But aren’t they better off”? That’s the question that’s always asked when people learn about the possibility that a child adopted illegally may be returned to his original family. The unstated hubris is that children are always better off with middle class American families than say, with a single Dad in Virginia, poor parents in rural China, or a couple in impoverished Guatemala.

A Guatemalan Court has ordered that seven year old Karen Abigail be returned to her parents, Loyda and Dayner Rodriguez. If her adoptive parents, Jennifer and Timothy Monahan of Liberty Missouri, fail to return Karen by September 29, the Court will fine them $3,000 Quetzales (about $389) and order Guatemalan authorities to work with US authorities and the International Police (INTERPOL) to find Karen and return her to her real parents.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Conversations with my daughter, Part 5

Jane and Lorraine in Sag Harbor, in the Nineties
What I've never talked about before here is that my found daughter Jane was sexually abused by her grandmother's live-in companion. This was not her adoptive grandfather, someone Jane remembered fondly, but the individual who lived with her grandmother at the time that I knew her. I never met the man, or her grandmother. At the time we taped these conversations (that have been posted sporadically in the past few weeks), her grandmother had died.  
       *               *                *

Ed. Her abuser. She says her parents put her in therapy right around the time the abuse started. “The reason I didn’t want to talk to Conni [the therapist] was because I didn’t feel I could tell

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A first/birth mother remembers 'coming out' to her husband-to-be

Tony and Lorraine, at our 25th wedding anniversary party
Today is my 30th wedding anniversary, and I'm in the middle stage of a cold, so there won't be any celebrating today. That will have to wait until next week and then we'll go to the city, take in one of the major art museums, and have an extravagant lunch at some place we can't afford to have dinner. But what is on my mind today is how Tony understood everything right from the first moment he comprehended that I was telling him I'd given a child up for adoption.

It was rather quite easy to tell him because the information came in response to his question, What had my recent book been about?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adoptive parents prefer head-in-sand to real questions and reality

"For Adoptive Parents, Questions without Answers" reads the headline on the front page of the NY Metropolitan section of the New York Times, and I thought--talk about irony there, unintended by the headline writer, to wit: Boy, you ought to try to be a first mother who gave up in a closed adoption or an adoptee yourself. Talk about "questions without answers," such as, How is my child today? Do his adoptive parents make him drink hot sauce when he is bad and give him a cold shower, like that adoptive mother in Alaska who can't bond with one of her Russian "sons?" Is she at boarding school because there has been a divorce? Because she acts out too much?

Or conversely, Who are my real parents, the ones I was born to?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Single fathers today stay to raise their children

Jobs's father, Abdulfattah Jandali
Single fathers are standing by their children, a dramatic turnaround from baby scoop era of the mid-twentieth century. Adoption was the name of the game in 1955 when Steve Jobs was born to a single white woman. Jobs’ biological father Abdulfattah John Jandali, 80, has made news for begging Jobs, who just announced his retirement from Apple, Inc, to get in touch with him before it is too late. Jobs is suffering from pancreatic cancer. Jandali says he is overcome with guilt for abandoning Jobs.

According to Jandali, when his girl friend, Joanne Simpson (nee Schieble) became pregnant, her father forbade him from marrying her. Without a marriage license, she had little choice but to leave her town,

Monday, September 12, 2011

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

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

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

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering those left in limbo by the events of 9/11

File:Wtc arial march2001.jpg
Before 9/11
Today is the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the World Trade Center and my thoughts invariably stray to the first parents who wondered if their children whom they would never know died in the World Trade Center, and to the adoptees who wondered if their birth parents whom they would never meet were in the buildings as they went down. 

I am one of the fortunate natural mothers who never had to wonder. On one of her trips east to visit me, my found daughter and I spent much of an afternoon at the World Trade Center. It was when the open-air floor was available to visitors, and since we both liked heights, we sat there on a park bench for about 45 minutes and chatted while we watched helicopters fly below us and around the buildings. In my mind's eye, I can see the two of us sitting there, happy just to be together.

My daughter was camping in Door County in Wisconsin ten years ago today, and as soon as she was able she found a pay phone and called me. Though I live a hundred miles away from Manhattan and the WTC, she wanted to be reassured that I was all right. I remember how deeply pleased I was to get that call. Though she had been adopted and I did not raise her, we both had the knowledge that the other was safe. Everyone deserves that kind of peace of mind.

Adoption with sealed records is wrong on so many levels, but to leave lives in emotional limbo for ever is enough reason to end it, and end it today.--lorraine

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Adoptee (lawyer) argues for first (birth) mother's right to privacy

The amount of ignorance about adoptee rights can be downright staggering--even among adoptees themselves, but perhaps only among adoptees who have always had their birth certificates. At least it seemed that way to me this week.

I'm at a wake of a relative of my husband in New Jersey, and my husband's niece is also there. She is an attorney, and one of her friends who came is also an attorney has come by to pay his respects for her sake, and husband's niece knows that he is adopted and she thinks I ought to meet him. Though past experience has told me that is usually not a good idea because the most unlikely things can happen, she brings him over near the end of the evening and mentions that he's adopted and leaves. Okay, now what? But dumb me, I assumed that he had some knowledge of the NJ Adoptee Rights bill--he's an attorney and he's adopted, right?--and Gov. Christie's veto, and mention that.

He looks at me and I realize he doesn't have a clue what I am talking about.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Conversations with my daughter, Part 4

Jane and Lorraine, approximately 1990
 In 1986, my relinquished-and-reunited daughter Jane had a daughter and gave her up for adoption. The fact that she would end up, at twenty, another first/birth mother damned near killed me because I knew how emotionally I had been ripped apart when I surrendered her--and now she would have to go through the same grief of giving up a child. It also meant that my act of relinquishment had started a trail of adoption in my line, nearly the worst thing I could imagine--generations of women going through the hell of relinquishment. I was bereft. What would be worse? That my daughter was a serial killer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Adoption is a good thing. Really?

We can't escape adoption. It's like the Wack-a-Mole game, rearing its head in conversations with new acquaintances, popping out in television and radio news reports, bubbling forth in magazines articles. (For those who haven't been to Chuck E. Cheese, Wack-a-Mole is an arcade game where the player hits pop-up moles with a mallet. As soon as the player hits one, another pops up.)  References to adoption, if not overtly positive, are almost always tacitly accepting of adoption as a good thing. Last week fellow blogger Lorraine listened to NPR for five minutes on the car radio and heard a report on how Hurricane Irene affected people's lives. What did she hear? A prospective adoptive father saying that he and his wife had been on the way to the Ukraine where they planned to pick up a baby for adoption--but their Aeroflot cancelled their flight!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Frank talk about adoption with my relinquished daughter, Part 3

I taped this conversation with Jane, my daughter whom I relinquished to be adopted, in the fall of 1998 or 1999. I will be eternally glad that I did. She knew I was doing this for a memoir I was writing. It was the longest sustained conversation we ever had about her life, epilepsy, and adoption.
Lorraine, Kim and Jane in 1994. I love this picture.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Frank talk about adoption with my relinquished daughter, Part 2

Continuing my conversation with Jane about adoption matters, in the fall of 1998 or 1999, at her adoptive parents' home, where she was living with her daughter at the time. How I wish I had taken more pictures--or could find the ones I must have taken that trip. But here is one of her and her husband, Bob, on their last visit to Long Island, in 2007. She would die a few weeks before Christmas that year.
Jane and her husband, Bob, in February, 2007 near Montauk on Long Island. It was a bitterly cold day.

Jane and I are serious most of the time on the tapes, but we found plenty to amuse us. We were ironic, reflective, bawdy. The conversation flows from the serious to the mundane: