' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Should birth mothers shut up and stay in the closet?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Should birth mothers shut up and stay in the closet?

Are birth mothers encouraged to stay in the closet?  

Damn straight they are. Coming off the philosophical pap of Professor Kimberly Leighton last week on the Diane Rehm show*, the other day at the "I Love Adoption" page on Facebook, I ran smack into a poem called Emotions. It is our understanding that the I Love Adoption page, with its more 4,972 "likers" at this writing is administrated by "The Adoption Center." A quick perusal of the website of The Adoption Center yielded no physical address, no last names of anyone, and only 800 phone numbers, so their location requires more digging but a source tells me they are situated in my least favorite state, Utah. Where signing away your baby can be done as quick as you can have 'em.

Anyway, Emotions, have these lines, which I interpreted (with my suspicious mind) as being against reunion: 
Pictures of Roses'Life's puzzle piece
Shall it remain?
Or leave quietly 
As in it came"
 and then these two lines, purposefully cryptic:
"A heart is always a heart 
But then a name, just a name"
And a rose is a rose is a rose, as someone wrote before me. I mistakenly assumed the writer, Susan Van Sleet, was an adoptive mother or someone--for reasons of her own--against reunion. Until I tracked down Mrs. Van Sleet on the Internet, and discovered she is herself a birth mother. She says at the website that she met her first child, that she is a lovely woman, and that meeting her brought Van Sleet "inner peace of the highest order." Yet she writes about how things maybe are best left alone, which appears to be the anthem of adoptive parents and their fellow travelers, adoption-for-profit agencies. Otherwise, why her poem at I Love Adoption?

Some first mothers apparently are able to find great inner peace after relinquishing their children. We have seen other blogs written by birth mothers out of Utah, or the Mormon religion, that celebrate relinquishing children, a mental state we cannot quite comprehend. Maybe they love hearing over and over how they "did the right thing," for the child, and get good vibes off of that. We do not know. We have no quarrel with adoptees who have made peace with being adopted; but we do quarrel with first mothers who encourage others to adopt, or write treacly poems like Mrs. Van Sleet's that discourage reunion.

We read elsewhere about birth mothers who go to healing sites, or healing weekends, and talk about how they are fine with having given up their children, and then have a breakdown when those phantoms finally evaporate into the ether, and they are left with their true emotions that have been long buried. Or maybe there really are hard cold women who can give up their babies without sorrow. Maybe they never got their dose of oxytocin, the hormone that instill love in a women after sex, and especially, after giving birth. Maybe.

But what is most gross of all, after giving up your child, is doing the bidding of adoption agencies and becoming a walking promotion for adoption yourself, as Ms. Sleet has done. Her poem can also be found  on a pro-adoption website called: Adoptions Together Birth Parent Blog: A blog for birth parents or people considering adoption. As far as I can tell, they do not urge you to consider keeping your baby.

I remember when you could call Gladney and talk to a real live pregnant teen-in-waiting--maybe you still can today--who would tell you, pregnant teen, why she is doing the right thing, and you should consider it to. Come on down to the spa-like joint they got goin' here! Smaller agencies without a dorm for pregnant teens also co-opt birth mothers to promote adoption to pregnant women. Doing that could help assuage one's feelings, for then you can be around others who make the same decision, which is kinda of the thinking behind Forty thousand Frenchmen can't be wrong! Oh yes, they can.

Catelynn and Tyler, those stars of the reality TV show, Sixteen and Pregnant, have turned themselves into adoption spokesteens. For a fee, they are available for speaking engagements. This is Catelynn writing at their website: "I’ll be taking classes to prepare myself for a future in adoption counseling. Having spoken at multiple High Schools in Michigan and Tennessee, I’ve already had the chance to help some teenage girls better understand their options in unplanned pregnancies. I’ve also been fortunate enough to share my story at birthparent retreats, supported by the 'On Your Feet Foundation.'" OYFF was started by adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and a birth parent who recognized the need for practical help for women who had chosen adoption for their child. One wishes the OYFF had offered some practical help to young mothers so they might be able to stay on their feet--with their babies. One wishes someone had given Catelynn and Tyler some reading about the kind of permanent scars are left on adoptees for life because of the act of relinquishment. One wishes they had done some digging on the web and a few grown-up adoptee blogs.

By glamorizing their decision to give up their child by appearing on TV, Catelynn and Tyler get this kind of laudatory comment at their website: 
"I hope when Carly [their relinquished daughter] is old enough to realise [UK commenter, UK spelling] what you guys did for her, she will be very grateful that you made that selfless decision for her. I wish you all the best and thank you for sharing your story!
Casey xxx" 
That's the same ole' baloney we mothers were fed back in the Sixties. We wonder if Baby Carly will one day also become a spokesperson for the "selfless" decision of her parents. By the standard of these  countless pro-adoption forces, anyone who wants a baby just needs to go to some poor part of town, or to a poor country like Haiti, and grab one when Real Mom is turned away. Some days you just feel cranky about this relentless promotion of adoption, and today is one of them. --lorraine

See also:  Inconsolable grief


  1. After I found my son on Facebook and saw his picture for the first time ever -- he was 14 years old -- now he is 15 -- I became very emotional and broke down at work to an attorney that I had never met before. But I was so emotional I couldn't hold it in. I was crying and told him that I had found my son on Facebook. His response to me was to, you know, suck it up; what's done is done. And then he said, "But who gives up their kid anyway? You go and be a prostitute if you have to to support your kid. You do anything you can to keep him." And then he walked out the door like he just couldn't handle my emotional state.

    I stared off at the wall for a long time thinking, is he right? should I have become a prostitute? And I thought for a moment, "Yes. I should have. The pain would probably be less being a prostitute than losing my child."

    I just can't get over this hurt. I can't believe I missed out on his childhood. It kills me to the core. When I imagine his little face, I can't hold back the tears. I can't stop wishing that I could go back in time.

    Anyway, now I try not to mention it to anyone and stay "in the closet" because I realize now some people will attack with insults or just don't know the right thing to say, I guess.

    It's just crazy how the agency will tell you you are such a great person for even considering giving your child a "better life" with "other people". Then later after it's said and done, some people tell you you're an "abandoner".

    Who wants to come "out of the closet" and be told that? Who wants to be told that their child might be suffering from the "abandoning" that you did? Who wants to be told that "You could have fought harder if you really wanted your kid?"

  2. But I don't think "birthmothers" should stay in the closet at all as far as letting other mothers know how damaging it can be to give your child away. And mothers should definitely be aware of the fact that everything those agencies and caseworkers tell you is a crock of crap.

    "Birthmothers" have to be the ones to tell other mothers. I don't wish this pain on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

  3. @LeahCorey

    What an awful attorney! to hurt you and give you advice to become a criminal in order to raise your child?

    That lawyer should be disbarred.

    If you had turned to prostitution CPS would have found out at some point and taken your child.

  4. Leah,

    What that person "the lawyer" said to you was cruel. I do find it common for people to react with absurd comments.
    When I found my son a teacher "friend" said he isn't your son. Educated and ignorant most people are clueless when we talk about finding or reunion. Overall, everybody has an
    opinion and expresses it if you share that your joy. It's almost like they are jealous. I really think it is because we were supposed to go away forever and didn't so glad I didn't listen to anybody and found my son. We both needed
    eac other in our lives. He needed to know what happened and why he was taken for adoption. I needed to tell him I loved him and it wasn't my decision to have him taken away.

    I don't think any mother should stay in a closet. I found my son when he was 26 years old. I told everybody and anybody. I remember going to fast food place with him and
    the young person that was waiting on us "said you are so
    happy" I was and now that he is going to be 46 years old I still am so happy he is in my life. We have had so much time together and know each other very well. In fact we can and do discuss anything and everything.

  5. Leah, I'm reading your comment and listening to Nina Simone about being free and finding that my eyes are filled with tears thinking about your pain.

    I had a different but similar encounter with an orphan--I don't believe he was ever adopted but grew up on some sort of group home, so he was not an adoptee. We were sitting in a sophisticated watering hole of the literati in NYC, and I was meeting a possible publisher for my memoir, Birthmark. The publisher had brought along his right-hand man, and when he found out what my book was about he erupted in red-faced, full-throated anger, just as you describe. He called me names, what right did I have, what I did was inexcusable, who in the hell did I think I was, etc.!!!

    I went to the ladies room. When I came back, he was gone. The publisher said he had no idea the guy had been an orphan, and was shocked at his reaction.

    Did you ever see the guy again? Do you have to work with him? My guess that kind of anger comes not from an adoptive father, but from the deep-seated wound of his sense of being "abandoned" by his mother.

    I admit I still sometimes tell strangers about my situation, and so does a birth mother friend of mine, and people are usually sympathetic. Once I told a woman at an airport when I was on the way to a CUB conference. She turned out to be an adoptive mother who was understanding, and after we got on our separate airplanes, I had the feeling that I was supposed to open up to her in that place, at the time, as if our accidental meeting had somehow been prearranged. I'm not a religious person, but I do feel there is something at work in the universe that brings certain people together and they find they amazing sychronistic connections that are too odd to be nothing.

  6. I cannot think of any topic that is more fraught with controversy and suppression than adoption. It's like we are living under a dictatorship. Look at what happened to Lilly over at iAdoptee when she tried to say how hard it is being adopted. The comment section had to be shut down!

    I think that first mothers have made some small steps in getting out their message that giving up a child is enormously painful and that the pain doesn't go away in a year (or whatever the allotted time frame is). I don't think adopted people have come very far in getting out our message that being adopted is not all a bed of roses.

    Do I think birth mothers should shut up and stay in the closet? Absolutely not! Not just for yourselves but for your children, too. It really hurts to think (rightly or wrongly) that your own mother didn't want you. It is healing to us to know that many (most) of our original mothers did not want to give us up and were forced or coerced and that many of you deeply regret it.

    Thank heavens you didn't follow that lawyer's advice. As Kitta said you very well could have ended up in trouble with the law and had your son taken away. How easy for an upper middle class male attorney to say that you shouldn't have let your son go come hell or high water. He was hardly in your shoes!

    It really is appalling this damned if you do, damned if you don't attitude toward first mothers. I have endless compassion for mothers of any generation who realize they were duped and profoundly regret the relinquishment. I know you care about your child.

    So rock on ladies, your voices need to be heard.

  7. Robin, I don't know about iAdoptee, can you send us link? Is it an iVillage thing?

  8. http://iadoptee.blogspot.com/2011/12/please-read-this.html?spref=bl

  9. I just posted a link to this blog at I Love Adoption.

    Facebook friends, check it out. I have a feeling it will be taken down.

  10. I heard a similar comment by an attorney over 20 years ago. He was a relative of my neighbor (and very close friend), and I was introduced to him when he visited her. He said he handled adoptions, so I asked, "Do adoptees come to you, asking for help in locating their birthmothers?" His response knocked me cold: "No. And if they did, I wouldn't help them find some prostitute..." My friend was embarrassed, and I made an excuse to leave her kitchen and go home. I wish now I had been gutsy enough to have unloaded on him. That's one of those 'wish-I-could-do-over' moments.

  11. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately, not just because of adoption and my intimate connection to it, but because I've only begun to speak out and I've become aware that even other mothers have a tendency to tailor the dialogue to be more inline with their own personal narratives. Problem is, everyone has their own story.

    Several weeks ago I saw a thread on a facebook page started by an adoptive mother who told us that we should refrain from speaking of our pain as mothers because it causes our children to suffer more.

    Leah, I've often thought the same, that I should have prostituted myself because that's all I had left and it's obvious that's the only worth I had by society's standards. If I had done that I still would've needed a place to live and 'work', someone to watch my baby while I was 'working', and after realizing even THAT would have been impossible, I gave up, surrendered, and told the extended family I was living with that they should get those people (the people my 'benefactor' wanted me to give my baby to) over here NOW because I couldn't live with myself. This is the end result they were looking for, and it worked. The only way I could let my son be raised by others was to make a deal with myself to suicide, which ended up an unsuccessful attempt.

    Becoming a prostitute would have gotten me NOWHERE, and I would have been murdered and my baby taken or killed along with me. Can you imagine a tiny baby crying to nurse (I breastfed my baby) while in the middle of 'work'?

    Can you tell I thought about it? I thought about it long and hard. I'm still vilified for what happened to both me and my two sons, since I lost both of my older sons at the time, currently told by both that I didn't try hard enough, and currently ignored by both. I'm still worthless.


  12. When I was still on the board of Origins, I started a Support Group for mothers of loss and adopted adults. I worked in the Social Work School at a University, so finding a space to meet was no problem. It was doing fine, until the travel time and gas to and from my work became a problem and I found a job closer to home. Since I was no longer at the University, I could no longer use the facilities for free, and had to locate another. I live in the 7th largest city in the US, and called every meeting place I could think of. Since it was a free group, it had to be a free space. I could find NOTHING, free or otherwise for mothers of loss and adoptees. An interesting note...many churches were eager to be of assistance when I told them that I had an adoption support group...until they discovered it was not for paps and adopters. Then there was no room in the inn...the group is no more.

    So, yes, mothers are supposed to shutup and never, ever, ever speak about their pain, their sadness, their loss. Its bad for business. I couldn't help but be saddened by thinking at the time that not even God cared about the mothers.

  13. Yep. We are gone from I Love Adoption.

  14. Sandy, even I am surprised by what you say about not being able to find space for adoptee/birth mother support group. There was one adoptee group out here where I live, and they did have a free meeting space in a senior center. I don't think it exists anymore though.

  15. @Lorraine

    our local CUB and adoptee groups had a very hard time finding meeting space. And this was in a metropolitan area of 2 million people.

    The CUB group finally found a hospital willing to take the group, about 10 years ago,and allow free meeting space. I got a call from the Hospital community coordinator, who asked me what our stand was on "abortion issues."

    I was shocked and said" we have no such stand..we are a group of mothers and other people, usually adopted people, who have been separated by adoption..and we are either reunited with our family members or we are in the process of trying to do so...that is who we are."

    The hospital person apologized and said they would be glad to have us. She said they didn't want controversial "abortion issue groups" and apparently they just were not sure what the group was about.

    It happens a lot....people keep connecting abortion and adoption. And we keep getting dumped on.

  16. Shut up and never speak about it again. Who else is asked to do this?
    It used to be said to those who were victims of child abuse. Not so much anymore. They have all kinds of support. It really has to come down to the money involved in adoption.
    Last week I "unfriended" my family on Facebook over a "surprise" baby adopted by my neice. I have only heard from one sister trying to enlighten me on modern day adoption and how it has changed from 43 years ago. Did she really think I was going to fall for this shit again?
    I figure that by instantly deleting them from my life it was alot like what happened to our children. Poof, you now have a new family. Live with it.
    I owe alot of my found strength to my daughter for coming back into my life so openly and lovingly. I also owe alot of it to this forum. I started posting here as anon and now post by my real name. Because of all of you here I have found my voice in this and have opened that closet door as wide as possible. If I have voluntarily lost some of my family in doing so that's a price I am willing to pay. My regret is that I didn't have the strength to save my daughter and myself so many years ago.
    Shut up was something that I never let my raised daughter say to anyone. Guess I just realized why I felt so strongly about her ever saying it to someone.

  17. What does poof gone mean? Why would you
    post something like that then not explain?

    "poof It's gone"

  18. Poof! It's gone refers to the fact that I posted a link to this blog at the I Love Adoption page on Facebook. It was gone in an hour or so.

    But...it was in your face to do it and so I am neither shocked or even irritated.

  19. Yo Janet, so glad that you found your voice. I can only imagine how difficult a family adoption must be.

  20. Lorraine,

    When I read your comment about meeting up at the literati bar and hearing the ignorant comments about looking for your daughter Jane and your soon-to-be published book, Birthmark, I remembered back to 1979. I read your book when it was first published, and for the first time in seven years, I felt some hope. (I surrendered my son in 1972...he was 7 years old when your book came out.)

    Your words gave me hope because it was the first time I realized that there were other women out there who had similar feelings and experiences as me. It gave me the impetus to join ALMA and CUB and become involved in adoption reform and adoptee rights. It gave me the courage to walk back into the adoption agency and tell them I planned on reuniting with my son as soon as he came of age and demanding non-identifying information about his adoptive parents, something that they hadn't provided me with at the time of relinquishment. This started the wheel turning, and several years later when his aparents contacted them for my medical history, they were stunned to discover that waivers of confidentiality had already been signed by both my son's father and myself. It opened up the door to an eventual reunion, all without having to search for each other. It just fell in our laps...

    I thank you for having the courage to tread waters that had never been broken before. Your book changed not only my life, but my son's life also.

  21. "What does poof gone mean? Why would you post something like that then not explain?".

    I'm so sorry for the confusion! Yes, I was referring to Lorraine's link on the I Love Adoption site.

  22. cxI was told a plethera of lies too. That these taking parents were the best things in the world who had to take many classes. i ws told I wouldn't be allowed to see my baby if i didn't sign. I was told too, to never sspeak of it. (to keep the baby brokers horrific secret) but seeing adoptive parents mistreat their children, I just had to say something, not that it helped much, but seriously, one day the world will know all the agencies horrible tricks for their blood money.

  23. Of course we are supposed to shut up and stay in the closet, just as any adoptee who speaks of the pain adoption has brought into their lives.

    I have had the distinct pleasure of being a natural mother who relinquished in Utah and within the LDS culture. I don't think I will *EVER* stop getting the smack down when I talk to church members about my feelings about adoption and how we might be better serving single expectant parents and their children. My particular favorite is that my testimony of the gospel of Christ is *CONSTANTLY* called in to question because I don't act like a good Mormon beemommy and "advocate" for infant adoption at the annual Families Supporting Adoption conference. My testimony is intact, thankyouverymuch. I just think womb-fresh infant adoption is a crock o'crap social experiment (like the LDS Indian Placement program) that will eventually meet the same fate.

    A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about speaking out as a natural mother: http://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/i-am-your-mothers-worst-nightmare/ It pretty much sums up my current philosophy of coming out of the birth mother closet in the LDS culture.

  24. Melynda,

    What do you mean by "my testimony"? In legal parlance, testimony means the statement of a witness under oath. The way Mormons use it, it sounds like testimony means "faith."

    Thanks for clarifying.

  25. Jane -

    From LDS.org: "A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement...."

    Faith is, "means relying completely on [Jesus Christ] —trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. It includes believing His teachings. It means believing that even though we do not understand all things, He does."

    Essentially, a testimony, in LDS parlance, is the witness of the Godhead, obtained through spiritual means. Faith is believing and trusting Jesus Christ. Does that help at all?

    And with that little mini-sermon, I am off to church this morning.


  26. Robin, thanks for the pat on the back.

    It was to tell the world about our pain that I wrote Birthmark. That was more than 30 years ago--that meeting at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC would have been in the summer of '78. It's one of those moments like where were you when Kennedy was shot or when you heard about 9/11/. I can tell you what I wore, how Arnold's (don't know last name) face got red with hatred, what the bathroom where I retreated was like. It's not painful to remember; the more recent such encounters are more angry making than upsetting, but angry is upsetting too.

    Thank you for you.

  27. Melynda:

    Hmmm. I'm trying to figure this out to but the fine distinction still didn't make a lot of sense yet to me. How does the Holy Ghost give his "witness?" I may have to stay confused.

    --12 years of Catholic education

    Melynda, I so admire your bravery, to speak out within the confines of your faith. You go girl!~

  28. Both sides have to keep speaking out to dispel the misconceptions (no pun intended). The attorney who handled my adoption told my APs that my first mother CHOSE (ha ha ha ha ha) not to marry my father and that she felt that adoption was the best option for both of us. As if she made some well thought out, rational decision on her own. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

    I like to think that if my APs had known the truth they would have had qualms about taking a child from a mother who wanted to keep her. But hiding this type of truth is one of the reasons records are sealed, isn't it?

    On another topic. I'm glad Komen reversed its decision about funding Planned Parenthood.

  29. Mormon "testimony" as I understand it is an intuitive inner belief that what Melynda said about Jesus and Holy Father is true, and also that the Book of Mormon, the Mormon Church, and the revelations of Joseph Smith are true. Mormons affirm this as part of their church service on Testimony Sunday. Mormons believe this testimony comes from the "still small voice" of the Holy Ghost to each member, after prayer and reflection.

    Kinda like reciting the Apostle's Creed as part of the Catholic Mass, but more personal. Each testimony is individual so in that way differs from group belief.

    Mormon moms and adoptees, did I get that right?

    Melynda, thanks for standing up within your faith. I've gotten much less flack in my Catholic Parish so it is easier to be out to everyone there. An adoptive mom even said she was afraid of me years ago when I made a presentation about being a birthmother, but since then her daughter searched and reunited, everything is fine, and she can see she was needlessly worried.

  30. I'm sorry to say so,Leah, but I fully understand that lawyer, prostitutes, most certainly in jurisdictions where that profession is legal, are more respectable than "birthmoms", at least that is a common opinion, even the general opinion in some places.
    The prostitute thing should not be getting too much attention, it is merely an illustration to the do anything part. One which does not seem to be too rare from a historical point of view. The guy does not even have to have any personal association with adoption, even if he had just some clients deeply hurt by their adoption, even if he is just a dad, his attitude is completely understandable.

    As a "birthmom" you are a freak, having done something going against the "natural order" of things, it seems you did not tell him this as a lawyer, but as a human being, as a man who knew the law and knew there was no solution for your problem, he could not help you and was shocked by what you had done, nothing wrong with that, though he should have tried to show a bit more compassion.

  31. Robin said...
    "Both sides have to keep speaking out to dispel the misconceptions (no pun intended). The attorney who handled my adoption told my APs that my first mother CHOSE (ha ha ha ha ha) not to marry my father and that she felt that adoption was the best option for both of us. As if she made some well thought out, rational decision on her own. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

    I like to think that if my APs had known the truth they would have had qualms about taking a child from a mother who wanted to keep her. But hiding this type of truth is one of the reasons records are sealed, isn't it?"

    My son's adopters DO know the truth because they directly perpetrated the whole thing, sadly. I would be raising my child, but I had that proverbial gun of homelessness and committal to a mental hospital held to my head. Money is such a powerful incentive that even family/extended family will sell out to the highest bidder. There are no records that I can find, either. (Yes, I did go to the police for help, but they refused; I did go to legal aid, but they strung me along for a year.) If my own son doesn't believe the truth of what happened, why would anyone else? His adopters told him they saved him, that I CHOSE to make a plan and place him willingly, and he's sticking to that. I've been blown off as a bitter liar. I have to live with being called not only an abandoner, but a liar.

  32. "as a birthmom, you are a freak, having done something against the natural order of things" says Theodore

    I hope this is a language issue, and not what you really believe, Theodore. Also it seems you are defending what that pig lawyer said to Leah, and agreeing that a birthmother is lower than a prostitute. I guess prostitution is part of the "natural order", eh?

    Is this how you really feel? I hope I have misunderstood.

  33. @theodore

    I doubt if Leah's lawyer "friend" was shocked by "what she had done." I think he was reacting for some other reason entirely.

    Lots of women in the USA have been forced to relinquish children....many more than are represented by "data" and "surveys." THe USA has declared war on unwed mothers/parents/families for a long, long time.

    I have worked in the state legislature for a long time.. and lawmakers have both openly and quietly, told me about child surrenders and reunions in their own families.

    It is kind of an "open secret."

    Possibly Mr Lawyer was a closeted "birth father." There are lots of those...and some of them are angry...

    He could be a man who hates women for some reason. I don't think he was behaving like a lawyer..he was reacting like something else.

    There are quite a few lawyers in my family and they also have their own personal issues.

    Adoption has been a free market and government program in the USA for a long time.

    Prostitution is illegal nearly everywhere in the USA(it is legal and regulated in Nevada)
    CPS will take the child of a prostitute and terminate parental rights...and have the child adopted out. Prostitutes are not generally sympathetic figures in the US....

    My state has a private non-profit Confidential Intermediary program that allows adopted people and their mothers/biological family members to use court-appointed CIs to have access to records for search/reunion purposes.

    However, parents whose rights were terminated because of abuse or crime cannot use the CI system. People whose rights were terminated because of prostitution are treated much worse than relinquishing mothers...under the law, at least in my state.

  34. Anonymous, you have misunderstood Theodore, who frequently comments here and lives abroad.
    He certainly did not mean his comments ata face value conveyed what he thought, but how society looks at birth mothers, treats first mothers, at least in the past.

  35. "as a birthmom, you are a freak, having done something against the natural order of things" says Theodore. I hope this is a language issue, and not what you really believe, Theodore."

    Well, this is not at all how I would describe what I believe, I described something I know about how people from some cultures typically think about this issue, which might possibly apply to that lawyer, nothing about his ethnic background was told, so he might just come from a "birthmother" hostile culture.

    "Also it seems you are defending what that pig lawyer said to Leah, and agreeing that a birthmother is lower than a prostitute."

    Yep. If he spoke AS A LAWYER he was wrong, certainly, if he spoke as a man, loving his children, loving his honor, expressing his ancestral culture, I guess he said nothing than what was in his opinion the truth and nothing but the truth. If he would be for instance from southern Indian descent, there is a good chance that this would be the way his family culture does see the surrendering of children, as the ultimate disgrace, certainly for a woman. Which is of course not a reason to be nasty to her, but yes, millions of people consider a mother relinquishing her child as a woman fallen deeper than a prostitute. Why not? Many prostitutes and ex-prostitutes are are good, nice people too.

    "I guess prostitution is part of the "natural order", eh?"

    At least part of the state of the world as described in the Bible, but that is not the issue. Do you rememer the two harlots in the story about Solomon's wisdom?

    "Is this how you really feel? I hope I have misunderstood."

    Not really feel, I do consider a loss of child to adoption as worse, a greater dishonor, a greater failure than prostitution (as the prostitute, as a John it comes close, but still not that bad), which is not to say that I would at any moment ACTUALLY suggest prostitution as an alternative, and I do not think that that lawyer meant that very really as a job suggestion either. It's more an indication that a real mother would do ANYTHING for her child, and that does include, indeed, even surrendering it, but if a mother has to do that, and certainly when it not a rare event, it is a disgrace to society, the people, the country itself.

  36. @Kitta, There is as far as I know, no reason to assume that a previously unseen lawyer is rooted in the US, that his field of work involves anything to do with the relinquishment side of adoption, or that he had any familiarity with either "birth mothers" who were no longer shutting up, or knew how to deal with the highly emotional state, common in mothers in early stages of "reunion".

    He was a guy, a very emotional unknown woman can be threatening, maybe not in the scary way, but undignified situations could originate. So he may have said things in the "I, a Father? Are you sure it is mine?"-class of stupid-things-men-say-if-shocked-into-confusion-by-a-woman, or he may have tried to create emotional distance with her to escape from the (to him) threatening situation.

    Yes, I am aware that I'm more or less playing the part of the Devil's lawyer. For a reason, that lawyer seemed to react very much like a normal non-lawyer person, not involved with adoption in any way, could very well do. If you aren't paying attention adoption can escape your attention quite easily, especially the donor side, on account of the staying in the closet and shutting up.

    I may be mistaken, of course.

  37. Theodore please don't go into suicide counseling.
    Leah I'm so sorry you are in such pain. Any chance the adoptive parents will open up the adoption? This whole adoption mess is a freak of nature. We were so duped.
    Such an oxymoron. You are esteemed for giving your child a better life... But don't tell anyone.
    Upon meeting my daughter when she was 29 my shackles were taken off. I told everyone that would listen. And it's been 2.5 years and I continue to speak my truth.
    I have not had a bad reaction yet. Not everyone has agreed with me but noone has been nasty like that lawyer. Buy I'm the one telling them that relinquisment is bad for mother and child except in the most dire of situations (child's safety being threatened). If the gospel has a link I stop the priest after mass. I tell beauticians. Sometimes I tell adoptive mothers before I realize their status. Oops, that doesn't go over too well. Anyway I'm happy to be out of the closet. I just wish I had any idea that relinquisment would be bad for me and my daughter. I could have made it work but I was fooled.

  38. @Babs, don't worry. Being counseled drove me suicidal, the PTSD I got from that still can do that to me as well. I stay away from counseling as far as possible.

    All I tried to make clear to Leah, was that she she should not be paying that much attention to the mentioned profession. That will in all probability just have been a figure of speech, though one rooted in reality.

  39. Despite your attempts to explain, I am afraid Theodore has only made things worse with his own words. He was clearly sticking up for the rude lawyer, saying men are made uncomfortable by female emotion among other things. I am afraid he meant exactly what he said and has a very low opinion of any mother who surrendered her child, especially if she was at all willing. I don't understand why you defend him on this, no matter what he has said before.

  40. @theodore

    Leah is living in the USA(she has posted her information). So, the lawyer she encountered also most likely lives in the US.

    Leah works in the law profession.

    My conclusions make sense....at least here in the US.

    No US lawyer would tell a woman to become a prostitute, seriously, in order to raise her child.

    However, I have met many men who had lost their children in various ways and they were angry about it. They sometimes accused the mothers of being prostitutes.

    I once joined a fathers' rights group and I heard this type of talk from time to time.

    Men who wish to demean women...at least in the US..will call them "prostitutes"...and other terms of that sort.

  41. I mean what I say, but I was not talking about my views, I just tried to create a bit of understanding for the common lack of understanding for mothers robbed by, or worse, for adoption.

    And that lack of understanding is indeed, at least in part, both a cause and a result of the silence of mothers. There are some admirable ones who do speak loudly and with influence, thanks!, but nevertheless, the truth is too often silenced.

  42. @Leah,

    I am so sorry that all of this pain has happened to you.


    with care,

  43. Everyone: It seemed to me clear that Theodore was talking about society's opinion and that of the nasty cruel lawyer who lambasted Leah, and whose background or reasons for feeling that way we will never know. I got such a lambasting from an adult who had been relinquished but never adopted; I've also been insulted by adoptive fathers who were lawyers who debated me on television when Birthmark came out, when "Jessica De Boer" was returned to her rightful parents, Dan and Carla Schmidt, etc. Trust me, these mean men held opinions such as that lawyer, and had a very short fuse about it. Adoptive fathers who are lawyers seem to be the meanest and nastiest SOBs about search and reunion, OBC access, and first mothers who do not shut up and stay in the closet. It is as if the human heart is destroyed in the process of becoming a lawyer: all is reduced to the Socratic method. And they must win the argument.

    It was a male lawyer/adoptee who lit into me at a relative's funeral six months ago about how birth mothers have a presumed, and therefore real, legally sanctioned right to privacy.

    A lawyer "friend" cut me deep as anyone could as to my reasons for searching. His comment was crueer than any I'd been asked whenI testified for adoptee rights. This man is only a friend of adoptive parents, as well as the godfather to an adoptee. I'll never trust him again, though I encounter him quite often. His father, incidentally, was the guardian ad litem in Michigan who urged the court to let the DeBoers keep Anna Schmidt, the little girl they had illegally kept for a couple of years while the fight dragged on in the courts. That I would know his son was a surely a joke of the fates.

    I have also heard the lawyers and others who paid a lot of money for their children (through agency fees, extras, etc) also would say things like, If that bitch things she is ever going to come back into the picture, etc. Whew! I'm even surprised at this anti-lawyer rant of mine here. Danny O'Donnell is, of course, a lawyer.

    It seems incredibly clear that Theodore (no giving our commenters cute nicknames, please,...Theo) was not stating her or his own opinion. Please see his/her own blog.

    And Theodore, when you are not stating your opinion but telling us what you think others are saying/feeling, please say so. So much is misinterpreted in blogdom.

    Also, I believe you come here from the Netherlands, which does have a more permissive attitude towards prostitution. Perhaps sometimes you could say that there is a different attitude in your country....

    Finally, I believe Theodore is a woman. But I am not sure.

  44. OK, Lorraine, sorry, I did not know that lawyers were that often nasty towards birthmothers in the USA.

    Indeed in the Netherlands prostitution is legal, to a degree, though liberals do overestimate the normalcy in that bussiness. Seeing a prostitute as a criminal by definition is very foreign to me.

    And I happen to be male. Sorry, it was not my intention to derail the discussion, I just thought that even lawyers should be given the benefit of the doubt.

  45. Theodore, I think this has been asked before but I do not recall an answer. Are you an adoptee, or what is your personal connection to adoption? You certainly have a great many opinions about it, and about mothers who surrender.

  46. Second generation on the most defenseless point of the triangle, also interested in the topic as translator and ethologist.

    More details will not appear on the internet, privacy of others has to be shielded.

  47. Well Theodore, that is ironic and suitably mysterious. I am sure some adoptees and mothers might disagree on which "point on the triangle" was "most vulnerable". Here you are applauding that some of us are outspoken and brave, even when it means being treated cruelly as Leah was and the incidents Lorraine and others have described, yet you appear to be protecting some anonymous relative, be that a mother who surrendered another child but raised you, or a mother or father who is an adoptee, or some connection we cannot even imagine.

    If you work as a translator you need to understand the cultural context of English-speaking countries as well as just the words. Things like what Kitta said about lawyers and what comments are never appropriate to make to women in any context, like suggesting they should become a prostitute rather than surrender a child.

    Sometimes I get the feeling you only understand what you want to, then hide behind "different culture" which gives you the freedom to say outrageous things. This list is English speaking, largely North American women. It is fine for you to enlighten us on how adoption works in your country, but not to assume things about ours that you do not know.

  48. Theodore, I would be interested in reading your blog and hearing your story. Would you consider sending me an invitation?



  49. I believe the lawyer was trying to say that a mother should do anything to fight to keep her child, and he used prostitution as an extreme example of "doing anything" to keep the child.

    And he was pretty much saying that it's over and done with -- you did what you did -- you gave away your kid -- you didn't fight.

    Which did make me feel like a piece of crap because it is pretty much true. I gave into what other people thought was best for me and my child. I feel like I went to the extreme to give him a good life, but really I think I could have gone to a woman's shelter instead. And I kick myself everyday for not thinking of that. But I was a new mother and was more concerned about my baby not having new clothing, which the adoptive parents flashed at the hospital, and it is another case of me feeling sorry for the adoptive family and losing all faith in myself.

    But as I look back, I wish I would have done more to keep him, like a lot of "birthmoms" wish the same.

    Prostitution would not have been the solution to supporting my child, of course. I had just thought about it for a second after he mentioned it because it hit me pretty hard when he said it, like he was right, I should have fought harder.

  50. @ Kitta: Thank you, Kitta, for your condolences. I know we "birthmoms" are all feeling such pain over the whole thing.

    @ Barbara Thavis:

    The adoptive mom feels very threatened by me. I don't think there is a chance that she will open up the adoption. After I found my son and spoke to him, he started misbehaving for the adoptive mom. I haven't heard from him since.

    But I cherish his words to me. He said he loves me -- told me many times, in fact -- and he said that me finding him was "one of the best things that has ever happened to him." Now, I'm hurting so badly because I want to be more in his life and he wants that, too, but the adoptive mom isn't having it.

  51. Leah: He knows you care and that means a great deal to him. You did good, when you did that.

  52. @Jennifer, just click on my name, my blog is poetry only.Of those poems "Working In Faerieland, With Utah Always On My Mind", is adoption related of sorts. Though it is just a description of an actual existing place on Earth.
    "Mothers" and "Mother" and "The Last Night of the Adoptee, Speculative Fiction?" are obviously adoption related.

    "Snow and Ice", is most certainly not adoption related.

  53. Leah wrote:"Which did make me feel like a piece of crap because it is pretty much true. I gave into what other people thought was best for me and my child."

    Because you did not have any guidance, help or encouragement for you to do otherwise. You were barely an adult yourself when you had your son. Things look very different to a teenager than they do to a woman in her thirties.

    As an adult adoptee, I can assure you that letting your son know that you love him and will be there for him will help him immensely. He will be a legal adult himself soon and you will be able to have a relationship with him independent of his adoptive parents.

  54. Hi Everyone,
    I feel for all the stories here. It is hard to believe that in the 21st century with everything we now know about children before birth and the biology of attachment that so many people seem so ignorant about all of this. I have just spent a terrible few days trying to make sense of what the father of my daughter, who I relinquished for adoption, said to me about how "I'm preoccupied with the past," and "he's so over all of that" (the adoption, I guess) and thinks "we made the right choice." He had seemed to understand the things I told him about how terrible the relinquishment of our daughter was for me, the having her torn from me at birth, etc. But apparently not. He sees me as the one with the problems, while I can see that he is clearly in denial about what this all meant for the three of us. Now, he and my daughter have a cozy relationship because they never talk about or apparently think about the past. I don't object to their enjoyment of the relationship I have today. What I object to is that they have ostracized me because I've dared to talk about adoption in ways other than those fostered by the MYTH OF ADOPTION. The best line - from the father of my daughter - "you bring me down." My 17 year old son is more mature and seems to understand the situation better. I am trying not to hate him for his insensitivity and, what I feel, as cruelty. Ideas? Why does this hurt never seem to stop and, when it does, it always seems that there is some landmine waiting to explode that I just haven't stepped on yet.

  55. Angela,

    Our pain is real and lifelong. It is the truth of what adoption can do to the lives of mothers and the children they were supposed to have "let go" of. It is always lurking just below the surface and can be triggered by the most innocent (ignorant) of comments or actions.

    I too try to be positive about all of this but it doesn't work out that way all the time. My opinion is those who expect us to accept the fate we chose, can't always accept the role they played in the choice/non-choice.

    The truth is hard to ignore even when it speaks in a shakey voice.

  56. Angela, would it be possible to have a relationship with your daughter and not talk about adoption, but focus on what you have in common and agree upon? None of us agree on everything with our kids, and some subjects are better just to drop once we have expressed our views once.

    I do not talk about Adoption with a capital A with my son, nor he with me, but he has told me a great deal about his life with his adoptive family. He knows I am involved in adoption reform, but he is not, so we just leave it at that and share other things. Maybe this would work for you.

    As for the birthfather, it must be hard to know he has a relationship with your daughter when you do not, but is a relationship with him for you worth worrying about at this point? I'd say not, if he continues to hurt you. Concentrate on your daughter and let him do his own thing.

  57. @Maryanne, if you really want to know more about me, you could show me alternative ways to send the information to you. I thought I had indicated clearly enough that I had no problem with sharing personal information with you, just with the medium, but there seems to be a lot of miscommunication.

  58. Theodore: You have probably told us before, but for the readers of this thread, and because things were stated by may be the result of a different culture's view of them, would you please repeat your connection to adoption? Are you, like I believe, someone who was adopted?


  59. OK, ignoring, as is often done, the fine points about the development of adoption legislation, and the question whether an adoption without actual legal backing can be considered as an adoption, I would describe myself as a grandchild of a First mother, who was a great grandmother.
    She accepted me and my sibling as grandchildren,though not entirely of her own volition, but NEVER came to acknowledge my parent as her child.
    Case involves in-family-adoption, probably pregnancy as result of rape of intoxicated girl, refusal of the shotgun wedding with suicide threat, church involvement, moving away, late discovery and as usual lots of pain in mother and child. Adoption hurt people I love, in a way I actually would have wished on my worst enemies for about a month or so, but not for an entire life time.

  60. Thank you so much for this post. It really resonated with me. 27 years ago today I gave birth to a daughter that I surrendered to adoption. While it's not a secret exactly, many people who came into my life after that don't know. Until today and beyond. Today I decided to come out as a birth/first/bio/mom. I started a new blog today where I will tell my story and share my feelings, and as I tried to gain courage all day to do so, your blog post gave me the final push. Thank you very much.

  61. I am a birth mother. I was denied AFDC help in Los Angeles for three months. I became homeless, my AFDC counselor, my AFDC counselor advised me to quit my job, made my friends boyfriend sign a paper that he was not the father(to bring to my next appointment for AFDC screening- a month away). I was approved for food stamps that I never received. I started applying for assistance when I was 3 months pregnant. I finally got medical assistance and WIC when I was at the end of my seventh month of pregnancy. I was demoralized, in debt and living from couch to couch. Prime pickings for independent adoption. It was supposed to be open. I have not seen my son since he was 2. He did get sassy and profess anger towards me when I talked to him when he was three. His "mom" thought that was so cute! I asked her why he was angry and she said "you know kids". Yes, I do. I asked her what the hell they were doing to him. And on and on. That was when they told me they had finally successfully conceived(their promise: he will be an only child). They "promised" she would be a stay at home mom. She went right back to work. And I had emotional and mental problems after that, well after they made clear I could not see my son, send gifts or communicate with him. I was crushed.
    He is seventeen now.They send a picture every two or three years and answer emails, but limit info to preserve my son's privacy. I have a point: keep your child. Open adoption is not a binding contract and unfortunatly these perpective parents will say anything. Not to be too one sided I do know of a family that adopts openly and hires the birthmom as a nanny, but you will be hard pressed to find that in the main pool of adoptive parents. The adoptive father is cruel, promising to "do lunch" or they will meet me at a ball game, but won't give a date... BSing. I pray they didn't turn my child into a lying compassion free jerk. Again, keep your child. Also, no one tells you that society does look down on "birth mother's" I have told employers I was a birth mother and in months I began to get write ups, scoldings and generally excluded at work. People will judge you as an abandoner. Your family will have mixed emotions and there will be some changes for you amongst family and extended family. Obviously I harbor anger at the deceit I believe my lawyer and the adoptive parents shoveled my way, I am one person and this may be a one time thing.

  62. Dear Anonymous:'

    No, you are not alone. I'm thinking these days of the s--t sent my way because I am a birth mother and of friends who don't want to deal with the fact that I openly blog about and work for openness between natural parents and children. A very old friend, who I thought I would have until one of us expired (he is going to be 90), is upset with the blog and what I have to say at First Mother Forum; I know that he is worried a daughter who might be his still will come knockingm and upset his kept daughter, and his applecart. Society wants our babies but in general doesn't want to deal with us. Especially most adoptive parents don't want to deal with birth parents. It's not nice, but it's true.



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