' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: People say the strangest things to first mothers

Sunday, January 15, 2012

People say the strangest things to first mothers

As a birth mother you hear the strangest things. And just as adoptees have "trigger" words and ideas that are upsetting, here are a few situations and words that trigger us:

We tell our found or reunited children what a terrible experience giving up them was, and they listen intently, seem to comprehend our pain, but later we hear them saying or writing something to effect that that adoption is such a great institution and they are "glad" they were adopted. We hear: I am so glad you worthless, lower class, fill-in-the-blank person did not raise me. I am so relieved that you didn't get your clutches on me and I was lucky enough to escape. This attitude has found its way into more adoptee memoirs than I can count, starting with Sarah Saffian's Ithaka  and continuing through The Mistress's Daughter by A. M. Holmes.

"Thank you for letting me be adopted." Now they may be saying, I'm glad you did not have an abortion, which of course would be natural to think--even surrogate kids without a chance of finding out whose genes they have would agree because after all, they exist and wouldn't otherwise--but how do we feel when we hear: Thank you for letting me adopted? See above.

We hear that our "found" reunited children are urging anyone--except in some dire situation--to give up their babies. See above.

Given the adoption consciousness of the world today we expect and are not surprised when people from the world at large cast an uncritical and unknowing eye on all adoptions everywhere as A Good Thing. When we hear or read it coming from close relatives, who have some idea of the personal pain our relinquishment has cost, it feels like a personal attack. We feel like we don't count in their eyes, that anything we have said has not made any impression on them. One first mother's sister posted on Facebook that among the things she wanted for Christmas is that all the "unwanted children of the world be adopted." Well, we would hope that all children have families et cetera, but stating that as a comment gives more credence to the idea that there are--you know--millions and millions of babies in, say, Ethiopia, waiting for Madonna (or anyone) to take them. In fact, there is a push on right now to Stop the Trafficking of Ethiopian Children. Despite how pro-adoption people do not like the word "trafficking" in connection with adoption, this is what it is called by the people in Ethiopia trying to stop it: Stop trafficking Ethiopian children.

A close relative saying that she thinks that adoptees and birth/first mothers ought not to search and that  "well enough ought to be left alone." This means: no reunions, no opening of sealed records, no answers to lifelong identity questions, of both mother and child.

"What part was not selfish when you looked for your daughter?" That questioner assumes that the  main impulse reason to look for one's own child who was surrendered and adopted is selfishness, and that the son or daughter who was adopted is so much better of without out. This is an out-and-out total attack on the birth parent who choose to search. I wrote about this happening to me a couple of years ago.

"I wouldn't mind seeing my (real/natural/birth) mother again." This may have been written without a great deal of thought in an awkward attempt at welcoming a visit to or from one's natural mother, but it sends a message of hesitation, uncertainty--Does the (adopted out) son or daughter really want to see his/her mother? Maybe, but maybe he/she would mind, and rather not. I know as well as anyone that the relationships after reunion can be fragile, but I would think it would hurt if a birth mother, contemplating seeing her son or daughter again said..."Well, I wouldn't mind seeing you..."

"You are nothing more than a reproductive agent." Comment superfluous, but thanks for reminding me what you think of me. See blog link below. Birth Mothers Attacked as Usual...or, Maybe I Need New Friends

Heard from an adoptive grandfather: "You (reunited birth mother) are our greatest fear." Well, actually this one was more in line with what a lot of us expect, so it didn't hurt at all when it was said to me at a dinner party while the hostess was in the kitchen getting dessert. I replied before she returned that my daughter had lived her with my husband and me for several summers and, in fact, worked here during the summers, and that to his surprise, I had a good relationship with her adoptive parents. I said it with a smile. I hope he choked on the chocolate mousse. At the very least, I made him uncomfortable.

That's my short quick list tonight before I watch the Golden Globes, hoping that some tipsy winner says something wacky (unlike the Oscars, the actors are having dinner and drinking) and that Ricky Gervais is as outrageous as usual. And what triggers you?


Jane here: Let me add the comment from my niece Janice who was trying to enlist my help in convincing her daughter Beth into giving up Beth's child for adoption.  I told Janice how painful it was to lose a child.  Her response: "That's just you. Other women have no problem with it."

Lorraine here again on 1/17/12: The other evening after I posted this an adoptive grandfather who is an old friend and on Facebook said: I see you still are on that adoption business. You know I am against birth parents searching! and the intent of his comment was to tell me how the blog annoys him. Well, this is a man who became somewhat of an uncle to my daughter Jane, let her stay at his place in Manhattan etc. but the blog just bugs him! Long after he met Jane his (single) daughter adopted from China. Well, get over it! Don't read the blog! (He doesn't, as far as I sense.) But if you are going to keep telling me this, our friendship is in big trouble! This is who I am. Get over it or get out.
see also: A Neighbor Condemns Searching for our Children Lost to Adoption, a friendship ends
Birth Mothers Attacked as Usual...or, Maybe I Need New Friends
Open Adoption is "one free baby-sitting scam"....


  1. I was not better off with my adoptive family by any means. There was nothing wrong with them, I wasn't abused or mistreated. I was loved. I was told as much of my story as they knew although they should of shared more of the info that they had earlier in my life. I think they did what they thought was best. Maybe they just weren't sure. Now there is so much info available on the effects of adoption on adoptees, but no one is listening. No one wants to hear. I cringe everytime I hear an adoptee singing the praises of adoption and devaluing the mother that first loved them. Yes there are some mothers that truly don't want to parent, but why do people have to group all first mothers together? Why do people think that children are interchangeable? If they are then why even bother to give them a matching id band in the hospital. It isn't supposed to matter to me what parents I go home with so why does it matter to anyone what baby they go home with? Why doesn't that make sense to anyone?

  2. Perhaps those who were happy they were adopted are happy because they enjoyed their childhood and love their adoptive parents. Alternatively, they may have some latent hostility towards their birth parents because they were surrendered by those parents.

    I would assume that most mothers in the US and other modern countries who decide to surrender their child for adoption do do because they do not wish to parent. Why would someone surrender a child they wished to raise?

  3. Per my not quite one year old 'reunion', things I've been told are, "Women like you owe women like my mother their babies"; after telling the painful story of our separation the response was, "You DO realize my mother's infertile?" "Thank you for letting me be adopted"; references to making a plan and placing (these didn't happen since I never sought adoption; there wasn't agency involvement). Homelessness is a huge trigger for me, since I had the cops called on me to be taken and hospitalized a few weeks after I signed, thus rendering me homeless. So the intent wasn't lost on me when I was told a story of the adoptress getting married as a teen, being divorced and homeless, but picking herself up by the bootstraps and working her way through school to a successful career and kids and a family.


  4. Dear Anonymous:

    Thank you dear adoptive mother for finding our blog and finding it rattles your insular cage. You know nothing.

  5. @anonymous 10:45pm

    Perhaps it all works out so well for YOU that your Stockholm Adoptee has such "latent hostility" toward their parents and loves you sooooooo much, now doesn't it? That is what you had in mind from day one, is it not, to feed into that hostility, instead of honoring the natural parents of the child you covet (after you most likely promised them you would) when you made off with their infant?

    I would assume that you are just perpetuating a MYTH that a most mothers did not want their children, which helps you sleep better at night, I assume. Most of us did want our children, but were brainwashed and coerced into believing that because we were young and unmarried that our children would be better off with two strangers in a bigger house. I and so many other mothers would have been good mothers to our children that we did want to parent; even better than perfect adopter YOU. Sorry to burst your holier than thou bubble... (not really).

  6. "I would assume that most mothers in the US and other modern countries who decide to surrender their child for adoption do do because they do not wish to parent. Why would someone surrender a child they wished to raise?"

    Because they are coerced to do so, tricked to do so, made to believe that to betray one's flesh and blood is heroic and good. You know child needs family and all that. Post-Natal depression and such is possible too.

  7. Anonymous 10:45

    You obviosly didn't take the time to read anything written on this blog. If you had you would maybe have some undertanding about the reason we gave up our children. So you are either being an a#$ or just don't get it. I am guessing that all of the above apply. And please don't think you have insulted me as a first mother. I have had far more harsh words thrown at me in this lifetime and they tend to just slide off.

    As far as my daughter, she was raised and loved by her adopted family but tells me that it was nothing like being back in my life and being loved by me. So, once again, each story is different. If you are an adopted mother be prepared.

  8. (Lorraine - if you do not post this comment I completely understand)

    Anonymous said; "I would assume that most mothers in the US and other modern countries who decide to surrender their child for adoption do do because they do not wish to parent. Why would someone surrender a child they wished to raise?"

    Clearly you have not been part of the adoption world for very long. Perhaps you should contact a crisis pregnancy center and get the counselling they provide, and the adoption agency they send you to to explain to you why you are the selfish person to wishes to parent, and look at all these unselfish prospective parents who are ready, financially able, and willing to give everything to your child that you, a mere unwed pregnant woman cannot possibly provide. You are selfish to wish to parent and true brave women who surrender their children are selfless. Do that before you spout generalizations that have no basis is in reality.

    Then go back in history and read Ann Fesslers The Girls Who Went Away and Barbara Bisantz Raymond's The Baby Theif...

    Perhaps you will have a more realistic understanding of the fact that mothers who surrender their children do so for many, many varied reasons and the least likely of all is that they do not want to parent their child themself.

  9. Lorraine - my trigger is comments like Anonymous above me.

  10. Lorraine, perfect reply to anonymous! Here's one of my triggers, a sentence that begins with....
    "just because you had a bad experience..... "

  11. To anonymous

    I never said I didn't enjoy my childhood. I never said I didn't love my adoptive parents. They are my parents, but so are my biological mom and dad. Ditto what Lorraine said, you know nothing. I hope you stay around and learn. There is a lot of info out there on how adoption affects adoptees, but you have to search and sadly no one cares enough about our feelings (adoptees) to do so. So many adoptees are afraid to voice their real feelings or are unaware that they are there. I was until my reunion. My adoptive mom was infertile as a result of rape. I am happy for her that she had the opportunity to parent. Which was something she really wanted in life. However, and this has nothing to do with her or my life with her. Her opportunity to parent, that brought her so much joy came at the expense of my first mother who had to give me up or lose her other 2 children to her abusive husband. Women married to abusive husbands had no protection. They couldn't even call the police if they were beaten. My mother became pregnant with me when she tried to leave him. She took her boys with her, but he broke down the door and took them back. She had no where to turn to for help. So she went back to him to raise her other children who she had already been raising. Truly believing that it wouldn't make any difference to me as long as I was in a loving home. Truly believing that anyone else's home was better than her's for me. Maybe it was, who knows what he would have done to me if she would have taken me home. So maybe it was for the best. There is no way to know. But I do know that it would have been better for me and her as well if adoption didn't mean severing all ties with the biological family. Why did I have to give up the family I was born into in order to be raised by another. Adoption is in some cases necessary the way adoption is done is not.

  12. This has nothing to do with the subject of this post - but thought I'd post this "somewhere" here!! LOL!
    There is a TV-made movie coming called "The Pregnancy Project" on Saturday, January 28th on LifeTime at 8pm. Brief synopsis:
    An 18-year old high school student pretends to be pregnant in an effort to discover how pregnant teens are treated.

  13. Lorraine, I do believe that we found our children at around the same time. So perhaps some of the things that were said to me were a sign of the times. I found the following questions strange and perhaps even rude: (1) “Why did you search?” and “Why didn’t you leave well enough alone?” I responded with “How could I not search?” and “How the hell would I know that things were well?” (2) “Do you love your daughter (my found child) as much as you love your son?” Dumbfounded, I naturally said that of course I did. Further probing revealed that the thinking behind this question was that since I had an established relationship with my son, I would then love him more. So I asked, “Do you love your 4-year old more than your newborn? “ And of course he didn’t. (3) When we reunited I was told by others that I “was doing too much and going overboard” (e.g., We sold our expensive car and bought a cheaper one to get money to take our first “whole” family vacation ever to Disney World and to visit relatives )where in my mind I was trying to make up for lost time and create new memories and traditions. Some didn’t get this.
    These are just some of the things that immediately come to mind and I’m sure there are others.

  14. My first mom was mad at me that I *didn't* thank her for relinquishing me.
    She says she gets a great deal of pleasure from being thanked for her "selfless act".
    I guess it all depends on what paradigm you choose for yourself.

  15. I never once thought to thank my mother for letting strangers raise me, it is mind boggling. The thought of being thankful for losing my identity and family is vomit inducing.

    I did thank her for finding me though, I'm glad she didn't wait another minute. I also thanked her (later when I needed it for a passport) for keeping my truthful birth certificate for me.

    Upon reunion I had some unkind remarks thrown at me. Calling me "insane" for wanting to have anything to do with "those people".

    Well, "those people" are my people. I signed nothing, I consented to nothing.

    Both my mother and I were unified in coming together, against the forces that wanted to separate us. I remember hugging her fiercely and crying uncontrollably during our "visits" when I had to say good-bye.

    And now there are no forces trying to separate us; it seems the industry beat us in the end.


  16. I am so very very glad that though my daughter had good parents who loved her and were there through thick and thin, she never thought to "thank" me for giving her up.

    If someone gets good vibes from being "thanked" for giving up her child, their value system is not related to reality. I suppose the slaves "thanked" the Masta for giving them shelter from the cold too.

    Those "thankers" must then think it would be cool to take anyone's baby because the child would be better off raised by wealither, better educated folks, and then the world can "thank" the poor dumb woman for realizing that she did a good dead as a handmaiden and womb mother to the wealthier.

    That's a system that is seriously out of kilter with the reality of human emotions and sensibility. It does sound like the baloney I've read on the Proud to be a Birth Mother Blogs.

  17. You know what is making me crazy now? Friends who are not connected with Adoption but are on FaceBook and see the blog. They don't read it, generally, but feel they have to tell me how much they disagree that birth mothers should search, that well enough ought to be left alone etc. It has not occurred to them that adopted people ought to have the right to find out who in the world they are. These friends, let me tell you, are walking on this ice as friends...if the continue to feel no constraints letting me know just how they feel over and over again about the issue they know next to nothing about....


  18. Interesting... my son and I were reunited through Soundex. They "advised" me to tell him that I never stopped thinking of him and loving him (which was true, I didn't need to be prompted). During our first phone conversation, he said "thank you for not aborting me." I had this weird feeling that he was advised to say that. He never thanked me for giving him up, maybe because he didn't have a happy childhood.

    I wouldn't have liked to be thanked for that. It was not something I wanted to do and would enjoy taking credit for.

    People have said all kinds of weird things to me in regard to relinquishing my child, finding him, etc. But the worst things of all came out of my son's mouth, once he discovered the family he'd missed out on and his anger kicked in. As if I could undo what was done decades before and fix it all.

    So sad, the painful aftermath of adoption. I appreciate FMF for making that abundantly clear.

  19. Hurtful comments from family? How about your own mother, upon the birth of your married sister's child, turning to you and saying: "See there? Good girls get to KEEP their babies."

    Also hate when people assume that because we relinquished children we're automatically anti-abortion. I hate my first mom status being used for Pro-Life arguments.

  20. I find the ignorance of the anonymous (adopter/adoptee?) amazing. Worse, infuriating in its "god given rights" attitude. Worse, I see a lot of mothers, since this is a mother's blog, not responding or simply being ignored.

    My daughter did not thank me. In fact for years I have had ugly things hurled at me (once on here, so I was told and which I then promptly ignored), between bouts of playing "nice." To me, if she was to thank me, I would know that it was just another way to get back at me - to hurt me.

    One of my biggest triggers is when I hear someone say that "there are lots of babies out there that don't have mothers that love or want them and they need homes." Especially since the word is "babies" rather than "children."

  21. "Also hate when people assume that because we relinquished children we're automatically anti-abortion. I hate my first mom status being used for Pro-Life arguments."

    As do I. The mere thought that mine does makes my skin crawl.

  22. To Anonymous:

    Your quote, "Perhaps those who were happy they were adopted are happy because they enjoyed their childhood and love their adoptive parents. Alternatively, they may have some latent hostility towards their birth parents because they were surrendered by those parents."

    I think that someone with hostility towards the natural parents is not really a "happy" person. The hostility towards the natural parents for surrendering him/her, latent or not, obviously means he/she is not totally happy where he/she is.

  23. I was told I was selfless, courageous, and what I was doing was the ultimate act of love, surrendering my child to people who could give more than I had, which was a two-parent home and material things.

    What triggers me now, now that I've searched for my son, is I'm told I am selfish and reckless.

  24. Hello, I'm new to this blog! I'm an adoptive mom who has been in a very open relationship with my daughter's first parents and each of their families for the past 10 years. I would like to join you posting and hopefully won't be chased off with torches and pitch forks! ;)

    When I tell people that we have a very close relationship with our daughter's first parents and families I am usually met with complete confusion! The most common thing I hear is, "I could NEVER DO THAT!". I don't cringe when I hear it, I just say, "Really? How come?!?!". LOL. There is a lot of ignorance out there when it comes to adoption and I think it's probably directed at First parents, Adoptive parents and adoptees as well.

    Anyway, thank you for letting me post here with you!


  25. Ah, the bit about being "selfless."

    My god, they paint us as saints as long as we give "them" our child and stay the hell away! You can't win.

    Nobody told me that I was selfless when I gave her away, but I sure am selfish for having searched.

  26. To 2ndMom:
    How "open" is your relationships with the firstmoms? Do you talk to each other about how each other feels? Why do you want to join this blog?

  27. One thing people usually ask when I tell them we adopted is, "Does she KNOW?!??!". Well, would I be divulging this information to complete strangers or acquaintances if she DIDN'T? A few years ago our daughter was in her first mom's wedding along with her younger sister who wasn't given up for adoption. The girls names were both in the little wedding program, we sat with the family...obviously we all knew each other. At the reception several people asked me if my daughter knew she was adopted! LOL! Or if the girls knew they were sisters. Or if my daughter knew that her first mom was the bride...and had they ever met before! Would we all have really been there together if this was a secret we were keeping?


  28. Jst to be clear: This is an open forum and we have had adoptive mothers come here before and leave comments, some of them are aware good mothers who understand our feelings as well as anyone can who has not walked in our shoes. And if the Amoms leave comments that get up our dander, we sure as hell let them know, and eventually Jane and I do not post their comments.

    2) 2nd Mom (you know right there she is understanding and non offended by first mom, etc) asked me if she could comment here, and I welcomed her. She has been reading FMF and Musings for quite a while and so knows/understands more than your average amom on the street. Not all adoptive parents are the enemy, and she is surely is not.

  29. PS: And people say awful/stupid things to adoptive parents too as she has stated. I mean, the daughter is in a wedding with her sister, and people are asking if the little girl knows who her first mother is?

    How thick is that?

    I know this post was about stuff people say to first mothers, but hey! let's hear it all. Adoptees hear dumb hurtful things too.

    Yesterday a friend told me that about a year ago she became great buddies with someone she went to high school with who contacted her through Facebook, but my friend hardly remembered her. What she did remember--if this was the same person--was that the person she thought it was had been adopted. So that is what she asked in a message: Are you the one who as adopted? She says the adoptee was stunned, but that is the kind of fact we tend to remember, when stuff like, Were you on the yearbook? tends to fall away. I'm sure that if someone hardly remembers me what she would think is: Was she the one who gave up her baby?

  30. added to original post:

    Lorraine here again on 1/17/12: The other evening after I posted this an adoptive grandfather who is an old friend and on Facebook said: I see you still are on that adoption business. You know I am against birth parents searching! and the intent of his comment was to tell me how the blog annoys him. Well, this is a man who became somewhat of an uncle to my daughter Jane, let her stay at his place in Manhattan etc. but the blog just bugs him! Long after he met Jane his (single) daughter adopted from China. Well, get over it! Don't read the blog! (He doesn't, as far as I sense.) But if you are going to keep telling me this, our friendship is in big trouble! This is who I am. Get over it or get out.

  31. My son commented in our first phone conversation back in 1990 that I shouldn't worry...I had made the right choice to give him up. Choice??? I briefly tried to explain that I had no choice but didn't wish to spend our first phone call defending anything or being negative.

    I get irritated when I tell people I have a 43 year old son who had been adopted and that I found when he was 21 and they ask "what do his parents think"? WTF??? That's all they're worried about is what do his parents think?? These are people who know damn well I never had any other children and they ask me this as if both my son and I are incapable of making decisions about our relationship without the approval of the adopters. There is such insensitivity and ignorance around adoption issues. Some times it bothers me and other times it doesn't. I really love this topic Lorraine!

  32. I've never understood why being born is considered better than being aborted. Women who have abortions should be thanked for refusing to bring more misery into the world.

  33. 1)How "open" is your relationships with the firstmom's? Very open. At this point after 10 1/2 years we consider ourselves family and we see each other about as often. The girls (3 sisters now) all know they are sisters and are fiercely proud of that fact. There is no differenciation of natural/adoptive among the members of either family. We have no set rules or guidelines, we just get together whenever we want. At this point the girls get together to play, have sleep overs, attend each others birthday partyies, go to one or anothers sporting events, get together for seasonal projects/activities about once or twice a month. Sometimes the various parents or grandparents just get together without the kids to drink margaritas, go shopping or go out for lunch or dinner. We also text, chat on the phone and post on each others facebook pretty much daily. I have a relationship with first dad and his family as well but it isn't as close as the relationship with first mom's side.

    2)Do you talk to each other about how each other feels? Yes and no. We have discussed our feelings in pretty great depth but it's not something we frequently discuss.

    3) Why do you want to join this blog? I have been reading this blog and a few others for several years and I've found it integral in learning about some of the issues/emotions my daughter, as an adoptee, will face growing up and as an adult. As an adoptive parent I am trying to learn as much as I can in order to guide her into adulthood as a fully formed and adjusted human being.


  34. To 2ndMom:
    Wow! That sounds amazing! I love the fact that you are secure enough to have a relationship with the first families. That is how I was hoping the lady who adopted my son would be, but unfortunately she is not.
    And I asked you why you wanted to join this blog because I was curious if you are trying to understand the first families more.
    I wish that the adoptive mom of my son would just give me a chance and not think of me as such a threat. I'm guessing that's how she thinks of me, but I really have no idea because she won't respond to my messages.

  35. So many of the comments I read on this tonight, I had heard firthand myself. Yes, my son did the "Thank you for my adoption" to me early on in our contact. I ignored it then though it cut me to the core. Like you, I could only take it to me how glad he was that I didn't raise him. Later on when that he said he was glad he was adopted because he would not have been raised in Michigan and would not have met his wife etc. I told him different didn't mean worse.
    Like someone else....when I first found him and would tell people. Often the first thing out of their mouth was how did the adoptive parents feel about it? It was very hurtful to hear this from friends when I was so happy and excited about finding him. I recently lost a couple of family members because my 21 year grand niece insisted to me that she was not ever going to give birth but would adopt her babys. Since she is in college working on a degee as a couselor -- I felt it was worth my time and energy to enlighten her on adoption realities. SHe was quite rude and made the comments on just because I had a bad experience and adoption wasn't like that anymore and she would make sure that the infant she adopted needed a home. And so on. I ended up blowing up at her and ended up with her parents her uncle and aunt having nothing more to do with me because of it. No one thought to tell her she was being insensitive to MY experience or my pain. We don't count.
    Anyway...yes, I have heard mnay of the comments and I have less friends than I once did because of their non-support and understanding. One went to volunteer at a "Pregnant need help..." place to encourage women to surrender. Then couldn't understand or accept why I could no longer be her friend. Joy

  36. Lo, I think your "Anonymous" person is an adoptive father, not an adoptive mother. Don't ask me for details, but he's been recently thrown off a very pro-adoption website for antagonizing natural moms. And I think he's found his way here to your blog. (He's part of the bully clique you encountered here several months ago.)

    To the natural mom who wrote about her own mother saying that "good girls get to keep their babies," I had a very dear friend from Michigan who heard the same exact words from her mother when her sister had a baby. I've never gotten over how horribly wrong it was or how much damage it did to my friend's psyche to hear that kind of crap come out of her own mother's mouth.

  37. Although I treated my daughter as my own for 20 years, there was never a time when she didn't treat me as I am nothing more than a baby incubator for the "real" parents. She has rubbed it in my face how they are the "real" parents and has made it clear that she looks down on me and my family. The adoptive family has a lot of money and she is impressed with that, but her own behavior towards not only us but everyone else is so lacking in ethical standards that my other children won't accept her anymore. Yet she is very religious. God commanded us to honor your mother and our father and regardless of this social myth in our generation that we aren't parents, it isn't true and we are as much parents and as much deserving of respect as God commanded as the adoptive parents. Adoptive parents have earned the right to be called mom and dad because they did the child raising but no one can deny that we are parents too and for the child or society to say otherwise violates God's command.

  38. If I had ever had a chance to meet my first mother, I think I would probably just have said something like "I would like to reassure you that my life was fine", i.e. merely stating a fact and just letting them know that I was OK.

    The phrase "thanks for not aborting me" always sounds to me like the adoptee is saying "thanks for getting rid of me via adoption rather than abortion". One wonders whether said adoptee has ever actually considered whether their parent might have wanted to raise them.

    "Thanks for giving me up" sounds to me like they are saying "thanks for saving me from you".

    I think though that often the adoptee really isn't meaning to be cruel, that they really may feel it is what they think their mothers want to hear, they are often not saying it out of malice.

    This is why I think some sort of counselling for all about expectations etc is important before either party reunites - it is so easy to say the wrong thing.

    In regards to personal triggers, I tend to let a lot of things slide, depending on the motivation of the speaker.

    I do dislike the phrase "my friend is a very happy adoptee and he has no interest in meeting his bfamily" because it sounds like the speaker is implying that it is only unhappy adoptees who are interested in meeting bfamily. When APs in particular say it, it does worry me that they are thinking that searching is a reflection on their parenting and that they may invalidate their child's feelings.

    Things that my bmother might have said that might have upset me would be stuff along the lines of "I never felt that you were mine, I always felt that I was carrying you for someone else". I hear of younger mothers saying that these days - especially when they are involved in prematch birthing. I would dislike it if she had said "I did the right thing" just as I would assume she may disliked it if I said "you did the right thing". We may both mean "I/you did the only thing I could do given the options I/you had and the advice I/you were given" but we could both "hear" "I was better off without you".

  39. "I would assume that most mothers in the US and other modern countries who decide to surrender their child for adoption do do because they do not wish to parent. Why would someone surrender a child they wished to raise"

    The followng was said by a 60s first mother during an interview in the 80s:

    "I couldn't see it at the time but I now realise I was being
    taught a new and important equation. It went like this:
    Keeping an illegitimate baby instead of allowing it to be
    adopted is putting a mother's needs ahead of the baby's;
    Good mothers always put the needs of their children ahead
    of their own;
    Therefore, mothers who don't allow their illegitimate
    babies to be adopted are not good mothers."

    Even now, a lot of counselling I've seen seems to be along the lines of making a woman feel she isn't worthy of parenting her own baby - that it is selfish for her to do so (as pointed out by the adopted ones). Also any counselling on adoption (and it is debatable whether it should even be offered if it is not asked for) should not be done at a vulnerable stage of a woman's pregnancy - she should be counselled about her overall situation so she is able to make whatever decision she needs to make about her child's future in as "good a place" as possible.

  40. Lots of good comments, thank you all. Many comments are said without the speaker being fully aware of how the other person hears the comment, and it's true, probably most adoptees who say the "thank you" bit are not aware how that sounds to us--or have been indoctrinated by society to feel that a "thank you" for letting me grow up with a different family is a good thing to say.

    And birth mothers can be just as clueless, with that I never felt like you were mine comment. Adoptee hears: Why not? Because I'm not good enough? Everyone in reunion needs to slow down and think about what they say.

    As for the "how do your daughter's adoptive parents feel about this reunion?" --Lord if I had a dollar for all the times I answered that I could buy lunch at a bistro in France--and pay the airfare! I suppose I did not get offended because I was able to say that they welcomed me into their home, and I did feel that the question was not so out of line because I did find my daughter and reunite with her when she was fifteen--with her parents' blessing.

  41. My son searched for almost 20 years. We connected shortly after his 40th birthday. Neither of us knew how to relate to each other. Of course he gave me the standard adoptee line, "I had the perfect childhood..." From what he confided later, I concluded that the 3 children I raised were a lot "better off" that he was. We had a very rocky reunion punctuated with angry pull backs on both sides. I could not tolerate his insults, He didn't like that I thought he needed professional help. Then his a/parents died ! He went into some kind of emotional upheaval that culminated with an ugly separation from his wife and children. He was forced to get professional help. He reached out to me in reunion again. We are friends again. This time I am dealing with a NEW man...He's mellow, more empathetic, kinder, gentler...and appreciative of his natural family...

  42. I had a woman into my home that I had just met to go over information about a fundraiser we were working on together. When asked about my kids I told her that in addition to my two raised 7 and 10 year olds I had a daughter living out of state that is 31 and a granddaughter who was 9. Later she started asking questions about my daughter and I divulged that I "lost" her to adoption when I was 21. She stated that that was an unusual way to put it. I started on my I hate infant adoption rhetoric and immediately saw the look on her face and stopped myself and asked if she adopted her kids. She said yes in some adopt speak language.
    She then said something to the effect "Well it was your decision to relinquish". I said I was coerced by my mother. She went on to ask if I was looking at things as I was today or (implied) as how @#$% up I was when I had my daughter. I explained that I was a lovely woman then, as now, and the adoption was completely unnecessary. I tried to get back to work so I could get this woman out of my home. She's a nice person but my anxiety was through the roof and in general I'm not an anxious person.
    BTW, I wish I could join you in France, Lo. I could spring for the Lear jet with the number of times I have been asked about my daughters parent's "feelings". It doesn't seem that my feelings or my daughters feelings much matter to the general public.

  43. "I asked you why you wanted to join this blog because I was curious if you are trying to understand the first families more". Absolutely! I first started reading first mothers stories before we adopted and it changed my mindset of how I wanted my relationship/my daughter's relationship with her first family to be. However, NOTHING could prepare me for the reality of living through/witnessing/participating in the actual process. I didn't mean to sound disrespectful or not wanting to understand the situation from my daughter's first mom's and family's perspective.

  44. OK, here's one I heard after finding my daughter and finding myself being a mass of tears....my sister said to me: I don't know why you are crying. I didn't think it bothered you, since YOU NEVER TALKED ABOUT IT.
    DUH!! My mother specifically told me never to speak about it again on the day I returned from the maternity home. Not to mention all the brainwashing about how I should just "go on with my life" and "never tell a soul" at the maternity home. Some people just don't get it. Some people don't want to get it. It would burst their fantasy to know they got their adopted child really through a form of legalized kidnapping.
    As for Anonymous, what a chickensh*#. Can't even post his name. Sounds so very dense and clearly not very informed about the realities of adoption, both back in the "bad old days" when I surrendered, and many times now as well.
    I hate hearing "at least you didn't abort her" as if I WOULD HAVE, and as if it were even possible in 1971 for a girl in a small town in Nebraska. I hate hearing pro-life people get so excited about saving fetuses and think it's just FINE for my full-term baby to be snatched from my arms. I hated hearing my daughter's adoptress thank ME for "giving her" to them. I responded that her "greatest joy was my greatest trauma" and she looked surprised. I was also asked "What did the adopted parents think?" when I found my daughter. My response was, "I don't care what they think. She is MY daughter, too!! This reunion is about US."

  45. Wow. Fantastic post and comments! I've heard it all, my daughter has heard it all too. Even once while sitting in an airport for a transfer while on her way to visit with me, she proudly answered the "Where you headed?" with the truth...then was asked what her "parents" think about it. Really!? Total strangers with no knowledge or understanding whatsoever throw this ignorant crap around? Poor kid...as if she didn't have enough weighing her down:-< One of the most recent was when I asked a (supposed) close friend if she remembered something that happened back then (something that was a huge catalyst to my being sucked into adoption) and she ranted on some time but the gist of it was "Why are you digging into the past...that was then...you have her now...your life is good now..." Rrrrgh! Because I'm hurt! Because I didn't get to be hurt or grieve...I didn't have a voice and coming together again has it all bubbling up, etc...etc...etc...Even those closest to you, who were there when the horrific & traumatic deed was done, don't get it. Triggers are EVERYWHERE.

  46. @ 2ndmom,
    It sounds as if your arrangement is working out well. As an adoptee I would have been terribly hurt if my first mother had given me away while my siblings were kept. Talk about triggering. I would have simply felt that something was wrong with me and that I wasn't good enough to keep. As a child I would never have understood all the adult reasons why I was relinquished. Obviously, if I had kept siblings then my first mother was able to parent.

    When I was doing my search and reunion, I was asked "Do your (adoptive) parents know? Are they okay with it? How do they feel?" As if the whole thing was about them and not about me and my needs. The underlying assumption seemed to be that I needed my APs permission and approval before I could have a relationship with my first family. Adoptees are treated like perpetual children. It's as if we are Peter Pan. We're never allowed to grow up.

  47. Leah wrote:"I was told I was selfless, courageous, and what I was doing was the ultimate act of love, surrendering my child to people who could give more than I had, which was a two-parent home and material things."

    What you were told is a complete and total crock of $hit.

  48. Robin: I don't usually laugh when I read the comments but yours (above) made me smile and giggle a bit. :)

  49. I agree with you Lorraine. When I read Robin's comment I busted out laughing. And it's funny because it's true! What I was told was a crock of shit!

    Thank you, Robin, for making me smile!

  50. Hey Robin,

    Thanks for brightening my day!!!

  51. LOL, I'm glad you all liked my eloquent comment. This adoption stuff can get so dang serious. We all needed a laugh :)

  52. But in all seriousness, it's not funny at all. I feel like such a dummy for not having faith in myself. The affects of losing him, my son, has really done some serious damage to my self esteem and self worth. There were times that I literally was put in dangerous situations and didn't care about my outcome. I had lost my child. What else was there to lose? I didn't care about my life anymore at times. I honestly feel a little insane at times, too, and I know it is because of the loss. I can't believe how bad this hurts, how I just feel so insignificant to someone I love so so dearly, how I just feel like a total nobody. And how could the couple whom I did such a "wonderful" thing for completely ignore me, like I don't even exist! It really, truly blows my mind!

    But I'm okay. I know how to get a grip, I guess, for lack of a better way of saying it. Actually, to get a grip is to get a grip on reality and I don't like the reality that I gave my son away!! I really feel so swindled, just plain stupid.

    After that experience, I told myself I would not have another child. I thought of it as replacing my son, the one I lost to adoption. I didn't want to replace him. There will be no one else in the world like him. I could never make another him.

    I got pregnant seven years after he was born by carelessness, I guess you could say. I wasn't married and again had no money. I was in the same position as my first child just a bit older and wiser. I thought to myself "over my dead body someone tells me that I should not raise another one of my children, that I should give her up because someone else can offer her more!"

    I didn't plan my daughter, but I think God or an angel had her planned because I was starting down a road of destruction over losing my son. I straightened up when I got pregnant again and it was a way for me to want to live again. I said, "That's it. No more self pity and destruction. Got to get strong for this little girl coming into this big world."

    My daughter is seven now. She often sees me crying for "no reason". I have told her about her brother. She already knows that no matter what, mommy will always be there for her.

    And I no longer am careless with my life. I'm too valuable.

  53. And I really did laugh at the "crock of shit" comment, just because it was put so eloquently! hahaha!

  54. We have to laugh to keep from crying and that, Robin, made me laugh. A crock of shit it all was and still is :)

  55. I came across this today on an anti-choice website:

    I guess I wanted you to know that I love you and I wanted to thank you. You so easily could have opted for an abortion. It certainly was not unheard of back in 1948; there were ways to have it arranged and in many ways it would have been the easy solution for you.

    I'm sorry but in 1948 it was the rare woman who was able to find a way to get an abortion. If she did, they were often extremely dangerous, done without anesthesia, in some horrible place, often not done by a doctor. Women used coat hangers to perforate their uterues, and women died. This kind of talk really bugs the hell out of me.

  56. I wonder whether Australian/NZ adoptees are less likely to say to their mothers "thanks for not aborting me" than US ones? It would never have crossed my mind to say that.

    I wonder whether that is because, in Australia/NZ, the press tends to attribute the great drop in adoption figures in the 70s to more acceptance of single mothers and thus greater assistance more so than the legalisation of abortion.

    Whereas in the US, it seems to be the other way around, i.e the press tends to contribute the drop in adoption figures to the legalisation of abortion more so than the greater acceptance of single mothers and assistance.

    I don't necessarily think though that the reasons that adoption dropped in all three countries was in fact that different between these countries.

  57. CB,
    In the Netherlands it is commonly seen as the result of an increased availability of contraceptives, an increased availability of abortion, an increased acceptance of "other" families, including single motherhood and the becoming available of the first testimonies that adoption sucks.

  58. BD said:

    "I've never understood why being born is considered better than being aborted. Women who have abortions should be thanked for refusing to bring more misery into the world."

    Though I am no bible thumping Christian conservative (I am in fact an atheist), I find BD's comments a little disturbing. Life can of course be less than enjoyable at times but I suspect most people would rather be alive than not and those who would prefer not to be can often rectify the situation.

    I also suspect that the majority of adoptees are at least happy they were not aborted (even if they are unhappy that they were adopted).

  59. "I also suspect that the majority of adoptees are at least happy they were not aborted (even if they are unhappy that they were adopted)."

    Yes, I personally am happy I wasn't aborted but I don't think I was any more likely to be aborted than any other baby whose mother had an unplanned pregnancy at the time, whether those other mothers raised their children or not. Adoption was a parenting decision not a reproduction decision.

    My mother's much younger workmates had unplanned pregnancies 10 years later and raised their children - they may well have considered abortion too but I bet no-one will ever say to their children - aren't you glad that your mothers didn't abort you.

  60. You may expect that to be true anon, but many of us would have preferred to have been aborted. We would not know anything. Being adopted is a life long sentence. I could "rectify the situation" but that's not something I'm willing to do. Suicide and never being born are 2 different things.

  61. There is so much pain and heartache associated with adoption on both the first parents side and the adoptees side. As an adoptive parent I wonder if it makes any difference having true openess? As first parents and adoptees, if you had always had a close relationship with your child/first mom/parents/family, were able to share all the answers surrounding the adoption with full disclosure, etc., would the pain still be as great? Is Open Adoption, even in it's truest form, just a fallacy?

  62. @2ndmom,

    Here is a comment that I wrote previously about my feelings as an adult adoptee about open adoption.

    "This is just my personal opinion, but as an adult adoptee I have never been totally enamored with the idea of open adoption. I did not want my first parent(s) to take me to the zoo, I wanted to live with them and have them raise me. What if they would move out of town and start a new family and not see me as much or ever? Open adoption seems to me that it could potentially set the stage for repeated rejections. I suspect I would rather have only been a part of my afamily until the age of 18 when I could decide for myself. The only advantage I can see is knowing who my natural parents were would have been better than having imaginary figures in my head. It seems that children have an innate need to be loved and valued by their natural parents. I'm not sure that open adoption would get rid of the pain of being given away in the first place."

  63. 2nd mom asked whether the pain would have been as great for those of us in the BSE if we had had an open adoption.

    When I was pregnant with my relinquished daughter, I thought that it would be wonderful if there was some way I could have some contact, perhaps periodic letters and pictures. I knew it was a pipe dream and didn't mention it to the social worker.

    Now that I have met many mothers in open adoptions, I'm not convinced that they have it much better. While I knew I could not have contact with my daughter and should not even start looking for her until she was 18, mothers in open adoption often have a lot of anxiety from day one. They worry about whether they will have contact and how their children will respond. If their children tell them they are happy they were adopted, mothers feel bad. If their children are angry they were given up, mothers feel bad.

    Mothers may live for the day their child turns 18 and they can have a relationship sans adoptive family.

    Mothers tell me that the agency counseled them to put on a happy face. They are afraid to show their emotions because the adoptive parents may cut them off.

    Even where adoptive parents work hard to be congenial, mothers may not feel comfortable talking about aspects of child-rearing with which they disagree. Mothers have the same regrets as those of us in closed adoptions.

    On the other hand, mothers in open adoption often say they believe it is better than a closed adoption.

    Keep in mind, 2nd mom, that you are likely special among adoptive mothers. For many adoptive mothers, openness is just something they tolerate, the price of getting an infant.

    All in all, I believe that fully open adoptions are better than closed or partially open adoptions. However, no matter how great the adoptive parents are, mothers have pain and regret.

  64. 2nd Mom, I'm afraid that open adoption is just as bad. I can't say from firsthand experience, but I know that seeing my mother visit me, and then leave again and again would have been very painful to me as a child. I do applaud you for trying to understand. I wish my amom had been courageous enough to ignore what society told her and try to help me. Now she cries all the time and tells me that she did nothing wrong.

    This is unrelated, but I was born in NYC. I went down to Worth St today to try and get my birth cert. I put my birth name on the form, and the names of my parents. The clerk crossed out the names of my parents in red pen and told me in order to get the long form cert. I had to put the names of my a parents in. I told her, but they weren't there when I was born, isn't this supposed to be a record of my birth? She said when you are adopted that's the way it has to be. She gave me a pamphlet to register for the NY reunion registry. I told her I already knew who my parents were, and the names I put down were not them. I could tell i was making her nervous. I know it's not her fault, but I just wanted her to be aware that I didn't agree with their policy. I will be receiving my long form (amended) birth cert in 10-15 days.

    Just another typical day for an adoptee.

  65. I think what I was trying to say is that:
    the legal decision of Roe vs Wade, the greater acceptance of single motherhood, the greater assistance for single mothers, the wider distribution of contraceptives wouldn't have been possible if people's thinking hadn't changed enough to accept those things. So all of them are a factor in why adoption dropped because they were all a result of subtle changes in the thinking of the general populace. None of the above would have been possible even 10 years before. This is why the constant singling out of Roe vs Wade as the main reason for adoption dropping is irritating to me - because the decision didn't happen in a vacuum - it was a sign of the changing of the times.

  66. "As an adoptive parent I wonder if it makes any difference having true openess?"

    If true openess is not enforced, NO.

    "Is Open Adoption, even in it's truest form, just a fallacy?"

    I would say nay. Though it is used deceptively, there is as long as it is not closed, nothing logically false in it, in that it is Adoption, with its full set of horrors, which is Open, as in that there is more information available than in a "regular" or "closed" adoption. It is exactly what it says on the tin. No fallacy at all. Adoption which will stay open, as in an open wound. It is however compared to closed adoption a good tool to make "tummymommies" sit up and bark on command and deliver their happy show.
    As marketing trick it is used, mirepresented and abused with great success. In between options, between the abandonment of closed adoption and the herculean tasks coming with the acceptance of motherhood, become, being seen as not extreme, very popular, long term foster care as offered in the Netherlands, seems to get such a boost as well, and unlike adoption, it can be fairly easily turned in to parenting again and is bringing the domestic adoption numbers down.



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