' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: First Family Bashing: A sport for some adoptees

Friday, June 8, 2012

First Family Bashing: A sport for some adoptees

First Family Basher Lisa Lutz
Our mothers always said “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It seems too often, though, that adoptees either didn't hear this or somehow internalized that the rule didn't apply to their first mothers, those selfless individuals who loved them so much that they – well you know.

Lisa Lutz joins a gaggle of literary adoptees, which includes B. J. Lifton, A. M. Homes, and Amy Dean, who find what they see as seriously deficient birth parents and feel free to tell the world of their sorry genetic origins.

Lutz, the author of a series of detective novels featuring a sleuthing family, writes about her reunion with her birth parents in the “Lives” section of the May 6 issue of The New York Times Magazine, “Where Did I Come From?" The online version adds the title "I Found My Biological [not natural, real, birth, first, but the icy biological] Parents and Wish I Hadn't."
Lutz locates her first mother when Lutz is 25. Her mother is angry to be found, telling Lutz telling that she had initiated a private adoption so her identify would remain secret. After a brief conversation and an exchange of a letter and photo exchange, communication ceases. Needless to say, Lutz finds little similarity between herself and this woman, and expresses no disappointment. 

Twelve years later, Lutz finds her biological father, a man decidedly not worthy of a successful-writer daughter. She tells us he picked her up in a windowless jeep and drove to a mobile-home park, talking about his motorcycle, his boat, and working out during the two-hour car ride. When they parted he asked her if she wanted him to take her to Disneyland. That was the end of that relationship.

Lutz, unlike many a first family-bashing adoptee, did not have a good childhood. Growing up she felt she was living with complete strangers. They were always unnaturally suspicious of her, checking her for needle marks before she’d ever gone to a party or gotten drunk, she writes. Lutz concludes: “Family is the luck of the draw, and so is how you turn out.”

Frankly, I don’t believe Lutz. If she really wished she hadn't met her biological parents, if they were so meaningless, she wouldn’t have bothered to write about them. It seems more likely that she is dealing with her still-in-the-closet mother and trailer-trash father like the fox dealing with the inaccessible grapes; calling them sour and denying their importance, rather than trying to understand their loss and develop a relationship.

A more irritating question is why the Times selected Lutz’s story for publication in its “Lives" section in the first place. The Times doesn't lack for submissions noting that “because of the volume of e-mail, the magazine cannot respond to every submission.”

Both the Times and The New Yorker which published A. M. Homes' diatribe against her first mother, The Mistress's Daughter, apparently believe that their highbrow readers, which undoubtedly include many adoptive parents, enjoy narratives depicting first families as low class breeders. These essays re-affirm the power of nurture over nature and the value of contrived relationships over natural ones, even where the contrived family is less than optimal. Lutz's adoptive parents might have checked for needle marks but, Lutz notes, if she had been raised by her “genetic parents"..."it seems unlikely that I would have ended up with the degree of ambition that I did, one that surpassed my modest genetic gifts.” I cannot believe that the Times would print an essay where the author criticized her adoptive parents--without also acknowledging their part in making her what she is. And an essay where a first mother regretted finding her relinquished child is unthinkable.

I have never heard of a first mother meeting her adult child and refusing to have a relationship because the child is beneath her in class, intelligence, or in some other way. Mothers who refuse relationships do so because they are in the closet. With patience, they may come out. Mothers in on-going relationships may be critical of their children from time-to-time, just as all of us may criticize actions of family members and friends. However, I've never seen anywhere near the negativity that Lutz, Homes, and other adoptees subjected their mothers to. In fact mothers--Margaret Moorman, Meredith Hall, and Lynn Franklin for example--often present their found children as golden. Mothers whose children do have serious mental problems--Patti Hawn and Denise Roessle--still make the effort to do what they can for their children.

Adoptees seem to have no inhibitions about cutting out and telling the world of their parents' failings via memoirs and articles. Perhaps I should not be surprised. After all if someone cuts you out of their life – in Lutz’s case twice--after giving you life, you may find it hard to say something nice.

I Found My Biological Parents, and Wish I Hadn't

From FMF: Reunion gives birth mothers a 'second chance'
Some happy endings have a twist mothers don't expect

PS. Yesterday I had nothing on my calendar and rather than doing what I should be doing--clean the deck or work on writing a blog, I decided to flip through a stack of New York Times Magazines my neighbor had given me and see how many I would have to go through before I found an article on adoption. The answer was exactly one. The piece which is the subject of this post appeared on the last page of the first magazine. 


  1. Jane,
    Like you, I find it incredibly frustrating that the Lutz story is the kind of drivel that the New York Times chooses to print about adoption, expecially when I can't get a serious article about the inanity of adoption law on the op-ed page to save my life. Most papers do cover adoption in such a superficial way, but you would think that The Times could do a little better. The fact that the media treatment of adoption issues remains so shallow and misleading is truly discouraging.

  2. Lisa Lutz may not wish she hadn't found her biological parents. Headlines are generally written by a copy editor, often for brevity and/or sensational impact. There's nothing in the article itself to indicate that she regretted finding them.


  3. Jane,
    If I every write my memoir I will send you an advance copy. I think I come from a fabulous family on both sides. And I am proud and delighted to be related to them. Unfortunately, my natural father was the exception to the rule.

  4. Jane,
    Like you, I'm disgusted that the Lutz story is the type of drivel the News York Times chooses to publish about adoption. I have tried several times to get op-eds on serious adoption matters published, with no luck, of course. Most of the media covers adoption in the most shallow of ways, but one would think the Times could do a little better. Very discouraging.

  5. Susan P: I too have tried with the Times many times; it's a if they have a blind spot from the POV of birth mothers and adoptees wanting reform. Weirdly enough, when I first got involved with reform--in the Seventies, the Op-Ed Page was more receptive and I was able to get 3 pieces published, displayed right in the top center, once with big art. A woman was Op-Ed editor then, and one is again, but big difference. It feels like we are going backwards in winning the media war.

  6. What's wrong with "biological", and why do you regard it as "icy" when one of its meanings is "genetically related"?
    I know other aspect of relatedness are important, but aren't genetics important too?


  7. How sad.

    I think sometimes when an adoptee does this they are trying to protect themselves from futher hurt. I think back in the day i may have done it also...I think i needed to find a good reason why i was given up and if i could prove that my first famiy was deficient it would be easier to take. It was very wrong, and i was wrong there was and is NOTHING wrong with my first family. Well, don't know the first father but hey....This feelings were all very subconscience feelings..it took a lot of thinking and opening up for me to get here.

    This woman had a bad childhood on top of being adopted...thinking she has grown up with and assimulated some very real anger and with good reason..thats why this is very sad.

  8. H2B,
    In the context of writing about adoption, "biological" is often used to deny any type of meaningful connection. "Biological" is a scientific, clinical term. I liken it to the term "sperm donor."

    If my daughter described me as her "biological mother", I would take that as a put down. Natural, first, or birth parent are warmer and suggest something beyond a physical connection.

  9. As an adopted person, this post is so annoying to read. I'm just shaking my head here. Who are you to say you don't believe Lutz? A person could most definitely wish they'd never bothered to do something and still write about it. Regret doesn't necessarily render an experience meaningless. Having not bothered to read the article again, my memory of it is the same as H2B, there was nothing said by Lutz in the article indicating she wished she hadn't met her biological parents.

    Speaking of the term biological, while it may be an icy term to you, it isn't to everyone and it's not your responsibility to suggest or spread that there is something negative about it. I use it and do not intend it to be an insult or "icy". Biological can be meaningful to those who are short on that particular classification of relatives.

    I also think it's disgusting you've publicly reduced this adopted person's personal story to sour grapes. How dismissive can you be? To me it seems a new low.

    Lastly, you're right, you shouldn't be surprised Lutz isn't impressed with her biological parents. Would you be?

  10. So what is a biological sibling?


  11. I find it interesting, since I do not want contact with my daughter, that no matter what the reason is for a desire for no contact, most people assume it is because the mother is "in the closet." Reality for me is that I spent 10 years attempting anything positive I could think of to have a relationship and finally came to the conclusion that while my daughter is very much like me, she has way more mental issues than I can handle. I can't be her whipping boy and I won't apologize again for something I had NO control over.

    What really slays me is that even the mothers will ignore the fact that sometimes you have to take care of you and we are not responsible for the bs in the adoptees life after the relinquishment. So "Adoption Guilt", much like "White Guilt" is something you lay on yourself - and I will not accept it for myself.

  12. I get concerned when I hear about an article like this. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and experiences without a doubt. I don't fault the author for writing about hers.

    But there is a lot on insecutity that needs to be overcome to embark in reunion. And reading an article like that can scare away some birth parents from initiating or allowing reunion. I think the current US culture discourages adoption reunion and this is reflected in the media. Just my opinion.

  13. Lori,

    If thats the way you feel, thats the way you feel...the only thing owed to any person born is the right to their idenity and heritage...that should be legally available and legally the first parents should give it..freely. As far as anything else..its a crapshoot..relationships are a crapshoot.

    Nobody should be abused/that goes both ways. But what i see happening somtines is that when one person has a bad reunion its blamed on the other person...metal issues/bad blood ect...and that whole group takes the blame.

  14. Of course Lutz can have her own opinion about the people who gave her life but there's no point in publicly bashing them. It's either just plain meanness on her part or insecurity and repressed anger or both.

    Lutz may or may not have selected the headline for the article -- but she could have corrected the online version if it was inaccurate.

    Lutz doesn't tell enough about her birth parents for me to know whether I'd be impressed with them. Lutz' reaction after brief meetings with them tells me a lot about her -- that she's a mean-spirited snob.

    Lori, I can imagine the pain you've had over the past ten years trying to make the relationship with your daughter work. This is far different from casting off someone after meeting them for a few hours because of the type of home they have or the kind of vehicle they prefer.

    H2B, a biological sibling is a natural sibling or a birth sibling. Again "biological" is impersonal and cold.

  15. We'll have to disagree about the term "biological" because, in my opinion, it depends very much upon the context in which it is used, who uses it, and why.
    Also, some people reject the term "birth mother" for very much the same reasons that you reject "biological".

    If the act of giving birth is the deciding factor in what makes a birth mother, then a gestational surrogate would qualify just as well.


  16. Dpen: In this case, I have done everything I can think of, bowed to what I would have normally considered rudeness and cruelty.... The choices made were made by my daughter. The reunion is bad through her choice, not mine. As far as mental health - I say that in the most open light possible. Mental health issues run in my family (something I did not know until I was past 40 years old)... So accepting things that are not "normal" comes pretty natural to me... when it is so bad you can't accept the behaviors, you have to be able to look after yourself. I am not blaming her mental health - I am saying it appears that her mental health issues seem to render her unable to have a relationship with me. At no point does this mean I don't love her... It simply means that I am unable to accept being pounded emotionally by anyone, including her.

    Campbell, hostile much? The fact is that I agree with Jane - if you are going to be negative about someone that is not out there sticking up for themselves, you can't expect others to think of you as a kind or loving person. Also, when you use a public forum to do the same thing you have to expect disagreement to occur. Also, recently, I discovered that most adopted persons do not like it when a mother stands up for other mothers and asks that if you insist on being nasty about mothers, you have to expect other mothers to speak up.

    Jane: Yeah, good luck with this. The fact that the ugliness is now reaching to unreunited mothers and creating fear does not seem to make a difference to anyone... until they are the adopted person attempting to have a relationship with a person that is afraid of becoming a victim yet again.

    It is sad that the blog entry is very straight up and open about how the ugliness that is said in the press by an adoptee about her mother affects us all - adoptees and mothers..... yet, this seems to have been ignored in favor of nitpicking and assumptions...... sigh.... and they wonder why my blog is now private.

  17. I find it troubling that you are so quick to vilify Lutz for rejecting her father after one meeting but make excuses for her mother who refused to meet her at all. Why does the mother get given an excuse for her behaviour? Oh, that's right, it's because you are writing solely from your perspective as a first mother. Playing the blame game really helps no-one. You may know how it feels to lose a child to adoption but you will never know how it feels to be an adoptee stuck in the middle of two different families and the confusion and cognitive dissonance that comes with that.

  18. "And reading an article like that can scare away some birth parents from initiating or allowing reunion. I think the current US culture discourages adoption reunion and this is reflected in the media. Just my opinion."

    What about the countless happy reunion stories also in the media for many years; TV, magazines, newspapers and of course on the internet? I do not think that US culture, or Western culture in general, discourages reunion at all. Some insecure adoptive parents do, as do some religious and conservative adoption agency spokespeople, but they are hardly "the culture". In fact I think "the culture" is more pro-reunion/roots/family history than not. It is the politicians who have not caught up yet. Articles like this are no danger to our cause, just another point of view.

    Nowhere in this story did Ms. Lutz say that others should not search, nor did she even say as the title proclaimed that she was "sorry she searched". What she seemed to be was disappointed in what she found, and if you look around you will see that applies to many who searched, both adoptees and natural mothers, even some who comment here.

    People do find relatives that they cannot relate to, do not like, who have values and lifestyles that the searcher cannot accept. Contrary to the original post, that is not just true of adoptees. There are mothers who are deeply disappointed in their found children as well. That is reality, and it is better that it is out there along with the happy reunions and mediocre reunions, so that people who are searching have a realistic idea what to expect.

    Anyone who would be scared off from searching by reading this article probably is not ready to search. We really need to end the taboo in adoption reform about anyone expressing disappointment or even regret about searching. It is just one possible outcome, not a mandate for all, nor is it personal to anyone except the writer themselves. Her disappointment does not invalidate my happiness. It does not work that way.

    What would be wrong is saying that others should not search, or that unjust laws should stay in place. Expressing a personal opinion about one's own found family members as this woman has is different, and should be welcomed along with anyone's reunion story, good, bad or indifferent.

    The more truth the better. Just as adoption is not all rainbows and unicorns, neither is reunion for some people, and anyone going into a search needs to know that and be prepared for the worst as well as the best.

  19. Maryanne, I see your point, but have we ever seen stories from er, biological mothers (I don't object to the term as Jane does) bashing their found children? In the NYTimes? In women's magazines, and I've seen other stories like this one elsewhere. Met my natural parents, what a disappointment.

    NOte: It's always the editor's perogative to write the headline; the writer may have some input but not a lot, in most cases, amd mever the final word.

  20. Considering that it takes quite a time to establish a robust relationship with a person that you are having a reunion with it is a pity that people on both sides of the adoption gulf are either not willing or able to spend the time working at it. However we shouldn't be blaming either 'side' as I know adoptees who have not been accepted by their birth parents just as some birth parents have been pushed away by adoptees. What would be nice to hear discussed more is how to improve the success rate of reunions. Yes ladies that is a challenge! Hope your up to it.

  21. Why is it "publicly bashing" when an adoptee criticizes her natural family, and courageous truth-telling when an adoptee bashes her adoptive parents? The nature of memoirs is to express the opinion of the writer, and all kinds of family members might be portrayed in a negative light, Why is one kind of bashing ok, another "mean" and verboten ?

  22. Lorraine said: "have we ever seen stories from er, biological mothers (I don't object to the term as Jane does) bashing their found children?"

    First off, Lutz didn't bash them. She said she couldn't relate to her father and she and her mother parted in a mutual moment.

    Second, no, I don't think first parents would be as likely to write about finding children they could not connect with or were disappointed in. But it has nothing to do with an editorial plot by the NYT. I just don't think most parents want to say anything bad about their kids even if they think it. Certainly, if they have any residue of parental or protective feeling toward them, they will not. I am shocked when I see first parents attacking their own children, formerly adopted, on their blogs, impugning their motives or blaming everything in the reunion or non-reunion on them and their bad attitude. It's simply not on IMO.

    Adoptees, on the other hand, had no choice in being adopted and when they confront original parents and who they are, they also confront the choice to relinquish. In one sense, adoptees are always going to be the people going into reunion with most to judge because they were surrendered. I see it as kind of an adoptee prerogative.

    But like Maryanne, I can see how both adoptees and first parents might be disappointed in each other. Just because you're related to someone biologically doesn't mean you have a lot in common.

  23. Jane, in addition to insecurity, plain meanness, or repressed anger, it could also be mental illness. Regardless, though, I believe public bashing and trashing of a family member, and especially of a first mother, is appalling. Readers of such material need to keep in mind that when the voice of the person being bashed is missing, the writer’s story could very well be a piece of fiction.

  24. In response to Lorraine's note (8.15 AM), I would like to know why the original first comment on this thread, in which I made the point that it is an editor who writes the headline and that Lutz never actually said that she wished she hadn't found her parents, has disappeared.

    I cannot find Jane's response to it either, although it may still be here.


  25. On a purely personal note, I must object to your including BJ Lifton as an adoptee "who finds what they see as seriously deficient birth parents and feel free to tell the world of their sorry genetic origins".

    I cannot speak for any of the others, but BJ was my friend, and she never felt in any way that her genetic origins were "deficient" or "sorry". She was angry at her birthmother, yes, because her birthmother refused to tell BJ's half brother or anyone else that her daughter existed, but wanted to keep her the "dirty little secret" and the baby from the past, not the adult that she had become. I know quite a few adoptees who were rightfully angry at that kind of treatment. There is usually a reason adoptees are upset with the person they find, and it is not often trivial or snobbish.

    BJ honored her mother's wish for years, but finally did meet her brother and found that they had little in common. The last time I saw BJ, a few months before she died, she very proudly showed me a picture of her birthmother as a young woman in a nightclub, beautiful and sophisticated like BJ. BJ was proud of her heritage and never felt her mother was beneath her, just impossible to deal with, and she had no guidlines for reunion being one of the first adoptees to publicly search and talk about it. If you actually knew the woman, you would not demean her memory as you have done.

    As I remember, Florence Fisher, ALMA founder, did not much like her birthmother either after a while. But that is not the point, and I really wish you would not tar all adoptees who wrote about their natural mothers in less than glowing terms with the same brush.

  26. Apologies. My bad. My eyes are not good in the morning and I should remember that. I see my comment is there.


  27. Our culture and concomitantly the media are vested in the idea that the APs are the REAL parents. So I'm not surprised that an article like this would get chosen for publication.

    Dpen5's (6/8/12,8:16pm) analysis seems plausible to me. After all, Lisa's first mother said she was angry to be found and had purposefully initiated a private adoption so that her identity would remain secret. Ouch! That's one hell of a rejection. It would be hard to feel good about an original mother like that.

    There's another theme I see emerging, first from Winterson and now from Lutz. Why doesn't the media ever address the fact that being placed in an adoptive home doesn't guarantee that the child will get a great family?

    Our culture still insists that adoption is beautiful, wunnerful, that the child will get a 'better' life. I realize that news stories do cover crimes against adoptees. But mainstream media never wants to examine the fact that the 'better' life premise is faulty.

  28. Both times when I first read the article and again reading it now - to me (only speaking for myself) it came away as said in a third party voice - as if detailing what someone else experienced. Not sure if that makes a whole lot of sense but it is how I speak when relaying something deeply personal without speaking to how I feel. Whether or not that is how it was written - no idea - just how it sounded to me based on my own bias.

    I also wish that people would stop requiring other people to justify why a term sticks in their craw - espeically when it is on their own blog. Doing that just makes people feel the need to disclaim every little sentence and worry more about starting a comment war than talking about what they want to discuss. It stiffles constructive discussion.e Jane does not like biological - her right to dislike - not our right to rebuke - we haven't walked in her shoes.

  29. Fluffy said:

    "I just don't think most parents want to say anything bad about their kids even if they think it. Certainly, if they have any residue of parental or protective feeling toward them, they will not. I am shocked when I see first parents attacking their own children, formerly adopted, on their blogs, impugning their motives or blaming everything in the reunion or non-reunion on them and their bad attitude. It's simply not on IMO."

    You are "shocked" when you see first parents "attacking" their own children? I have not seen anyone attacking her child. I have seen mothers speak of how they have been treated by the adopters, society, the adoption industry and yes, her child. So kind and compassionate, eh? So now they ARE their children, but any other time they are NOT; they are the adopters children. When a first mother does something horrible like vent and share how rotten she has been treated by everyone, including her own child, she IS the child's mother and a bad one indeed. Such a double standard in adopto land.

    When I found my child and he pretended to be so happy to have been found, I discovered postings on various social media sites of him saying vile, dehumanizing and demeaning things about myself and his father, (whom was innocent in this whole mess). There is no doubt his adopters, who also pretended to "admire and respect" us so are the one's who planted this nonsense into his head. They promised me they would honor me, tell my son all these wonderful things of how I loved him so and wanted only the "best" for him. They did the total opposite, so all the love and loyalties would go to them for all of eternity. It was all a bunch of B.S.

    Up until that time I never, ever had one unkind thought about my child and counted the days until I could find him and tell him everything he deserved to know. I was dumbfounded and shocked at the reality of how I was treated by these people, when I did nothing to deserve that. All I did was believe I was doing the right thing as a young vulnerable woman and trust people who could not wait to banish me as if I never existed. Am I supposed to bow down kiss the feet of or be a doormat to people who treat me like that, INCLUDING my own child? Not this mother.

    When we speak of this, we are "attacking" our children? Whatever. It is okay for us to be demeaned and dehumanized but don't dare speak of how everyone has treated you because you are "attacking".

    Throw "bitter", "angry" and "you need therapy" in the mix too. That always sets us straight in the attempt to control the narrative of the oppressed, banished mothers of the world...

  30. I agree; let's let Jane not like biological. As I stated, I don't mind it, and sometimes prefer it because it isn't loaded with "preferred adoption language"

  31. Fluffy, your story is a really sad one and I know of others like it. Did you ever confront your son about the social media discovery? And have you been able to recover from what might have been a severe emotional shock? It's really hurtful to find that one has been used as subject matter material in a way that is vile and false.

    David, I think you pose a great challenge and a worthwhile one at that.

  32. Sometimes I take things too literally (or have a different frame of reference) I thought this article was implying that adoptees like to bash the president's family

  33. While this may seem odd to some, I actually prefer the term biological over birth because it eliminates the donor birth mothers and sort of highlights, imo, that biology is indeed important. Overall though, my preferred term is simply the word mother.

  34. " let's let Jane not like biological."
    I agree. Jane is fully entitled to not like biological so long as she doesn't imply that other people are "icy" because they use it. These things go both ways.

    "As I stated, I don't mind it, and sometimes prefer it because it isn't loaded with "preferred adoption language" "
    Again I agree. To the extent that it is factual it is unbiased.


  35. Why is any adoptee saying anything about their own first mother taken as an insult to all first mothers? I really don't get that piece. Maybe I am not trying hard enough to feel insulted?

  36. Anon said, "I have not seen anyone attacking her child."

    I have. Maybe we don't read the same blogs. If the situation doesn't apply to you, then skip over it. Most things do not apply universally to first parents or adoptees.

  37. I was never told this by my family growing up. My son was told this by his adoptive family. Makes me sad that if he was expressing himself he was told it had to be "nice"
    Even if he felt one way was told he needed to express it another way. I came from a large family and have never heard any of my 10 aunts say this to any of their kids.

  38. Maryanne,

    BJ may well have had reason to be angry at her birth mother for refusing to tell BJ's half-brother about BJ. However, the half-brother issue was not the reason BJ cut off contact with her birth mother for ten years after their first meeting.

    The half-brother issue came up after the ten year hiatus. BJ may have proudly shown you a picture of her birth mother when her birth mother was young but she never said anything positive about her birth mother in her three books.

    I will say in BJ's behalf that, unlike Amy Dean, A. M. Homes and other adoptees who bash their birth mothers, BJ eventually had a lot of empathy for her birth mother.

    BJ's books have valuable insights about adoption and I recommend them all the time in spite of the unnecessary negative descriptions of her birth mother.

  39. Maybe sometimes the adoptees have good reason to bash THEIR firstmothers...while not bashing ALL first mothers...just as many First mothers cry abuse from THEIR adoptee childreen and then tend to infer that ALL adoptees are abusive...

    REally there was a book written and the adoptee has a blog and has been terribly hurt by her biomotherr(the women does not deserve anything else) just because she had the audicity of showing up in her life...called her a stalker, a nightmare ect...hmmm...she didn't actually do anything but be born to this woman who didn't want her.

    When someone is writing about their own experiances why should they not be able to say what they percieve this woman got screwed royaly by the adoption machine...both her BIOfamily failed her and her adoptive family failed her...what in gods name do you except her to write about...this is not something that happened to her when she was an older teen or adult it was her very existance that was affected...but yet she is a "bad adoptee" for speaking HER truth...She was born and existed for the good of her $ frreaken parents that failed her horribley...how about seeing that as opposed to crying that she is "bashing"...if in fact she is meantally Ill she has every good reason to be...where the hell is everyones elses compassion towards her instead of taking it peroanlly as to first family bashing...

  40. Anonymous 1:51 PM said:

    "Why is any adoptee saying anything about their own first mother taken as an insult to all first mothers? I really don't get that piece. Maybe I am not trying hard enough to feel insulted?"

    Hmmmm... and why is it when first mothers speak of what happened to them it is an insult to all adoptees, many of whom come here to "scold" the blog owners and other posters for being out of line? As a natural mother I have never trolled adoptee blogs to scold them for their own truths and thoughts on what has happened to them in regards to adoption. I don't feel I have that right. I DON'T have that right. That same courtesy does not seem to apply to natural/ first mothers.

    We seem to be punching bags and "how dare we" talk about our children, when they talk about their own mothers and families on their blogs. I "really don't get that piece either". It goes both ways, but of course the double standard is alive and well when natural mothers are concerned.

    It is very apparent that the tit for tat, catty, my pain, my story, my life is more valid and worthy of respect and consideration than yours is getting rather old and I am incredibly disappointed that this is what these blogs have come to...

  41. Jane, you read the books. I knew the woamn, was in her home, met her husband and kids and pets and we were friends for over 30 years. She was never anything but sympathetic and concerned for me and other birthmothers she counseled. I understand how she felt about her natural mother and do not blame her as you do. You read her books. I think I know a bit more about BJ and her feelings than you do, and I still feel you have misrepresented her.

  42. Well, personally, I don't mind who does the bashing as long as it is honest and not one-sided. You know?
    Reunion is difficult in part because of the loss but more because of the stranger factor.. Why hide that? Why pretend?
    I also think both authors of this very forum have done their share of what some could consider "bashing" of other parties involved, however if they are being honest, what is the problem? Isn't that the whole point?
    I'd like to think that if either of my mothers didn't want me talking about their antics, perhaps they should rethink their behavior and vice versa.
    Is it "ugly" to be honest?
    Reunion is often ugly and disappointing. People in reunion are often nasty to each other sometimes unintentionally, sometimes not. I have not seen a single reunion where everyone played nice and was satisfied and happy in the end. Let's be truthful about this. I think it is better to get the truth out there than to sugar coat.
    I admire the author of the NYT article for her honesty. You may not like what she says, but she is speaking her truth. Reunion is a lie that was fed to many of us. Reunion is not the happy ending any of us envisioned.
    Let's talk about it.

  43. Hell has frozen over. I agree with Campbell and Maryanne.

    I am shocked at this post. She's writing about HER experience with HER parents. Unless you are her Mother, there's no need to bash her.

    "Adoptees seem to have no inhibitions about cutting out and telling the world of their parents' failings via memoirs and articles. Perhaps I should not be surprised. After all if someone cuts you out of their life – in Lutz’s case twice--after giving you life, you may find it hard to say something nice. "

    Why WOULDN'T they? It is their story. My Mother gave her daughter away twice, both times with the stroke of a pen. Not a whole lot of nice in my story, and Im going to tell it. If it makes you angry, get over it, it's really none of your business.

    Holy God, adoptees cannot win. We are scolded if we say "birth". We are scolded if we say "biological". We are scolded when we tell OUR stories. This gets so old.

    You do not know this woman's Mother. Maybe she just doesn't care. There are some mothers who just do not care. Newsflash, Jane- not every Mother loves their relinquished child. Not every mother who refuses a relationship or even contact with her child is "still in the closet".

    What a disappointing rant, Jane.

  44. Bee: Interesting and truthful. While I often wonder why we can't be straight up and honest, I see that the more honest you are, the more others will pretend offense and vilify you.... Sometimes it just gets old.

    Mothers out there are NEVER ALLOWED to feel anything - unless you count shame and sorrow... otherwise we are unfeeling abandoners that are trying to make excuses for our personal choices.....

    Good grief... this is a no where conversation. The fact is that Jane is right, in no magazine and in no forum is a mother allowed to tell her truth when it comes to being abused by their adopted biological ADULT children. When we try, we hit a wall. But adopted persons are encouraged to write the negative about their biological parents - paid to do so in fact by the very media outlets that refuse to hear the realities of adoption - good and bad.

    Why pretend people? The ones that are arguing one way are not hearing and the others are speaking to the air..... Sigh... what a waste.

  45. Bee said "I have not seen a single reunion where everyone played nice and was satisfied and happy in the end." What's perfect? There ARE good solid reunions out there that enrich the lives of many.
    I never anticipated reunion as a panacea, but it has brought me great joy. I also take comfort in the knowledge that, in some places, adopted people have unrestricted access to their records. Really, I don't see why, except in cases of serious abuse or where the mother absolutely insists on it and will not take no for an answer (in which case, the records should become available when the child is 18), records should be closed at all.

    Revisiting Lutz's article, apart from the misleading headline which wouldn't have been her decision anyway, I don't see anything that deserves to be called "bashing" (unless it's the dreaded "biological"). Her mother didn't want contact, and I got the impression that she found her father quite humorous but they had nothing in common. She simply didn't identify with either first parent. She didn't identify with her adoptive parents either, and no wonder. As far as I can see, she was just saying that family, whether biological or adoptive, is a crap shoot. and that she sees herself as a creature of her own creation, more despite her circumstances than because of. Not so very different from Jeannette Winterson in that respect, except that Jeannette Winterson's mother was welcoming and kind.

    I agree with David that it takes time and effort to develop a robust relationship in reunion, and also with Fluffy that, on the whole, it is the adoptee who has the main prerogative.


  46. Agreeing with Bee, especially "let's talk about it" but with a small caveat: I do know some reunions that have been ongoing and mostly happy for many years. They have, against all odds, settled into pretty much normal for an extended blended family. Not without tensions and problems, of course, but basically ok because all parties really want it to work and keep communicating and working at the relationship, which is always a work in progress.

    But there are also many reunions that fail, that are unhappy, that are disappointing, that never really have a chance. We ALL need to be able to talk about our lives and reality, not a select few who have "acceptable" feelings about their reunion and the family members they have found, and that goes for both adoptees and first parents.

    I have to say that posts like this one are not helpful and really set back attempts at understanding between adoptees and their first mothers. Look at the tirle "First Family Bashing, a Sport...." That is confrontational right off the bat. In fact of the adoptee authors I have read who are mentioned, nobody is "bashing" anyone, and it is certainly not a sport, it is these adoptees' honest feelings about their own reunions. These are women expressing various shades of disappointment in their found mothers, not all Mothers, just as Jane and others have expressed very public disapproval of their adoptees in their blogs. Just because it did not make the NY Times does not make it not public.

    Reunions come in all kinds, yes, let's talk about it, without having to censor others or expect only one "official story".

  47. Anon 12:16 PM said, "I thought this article was implying that adoptees like to bash the president's family."

    LOL, Anon :- )


  48. Jane wrote:"It seems more likely that she is dealing with her still-in-the-closet mother and trailer-trash father like the fox dealing with the inaccessible grapes; calling them sour and denying their importance, rather than trying to understand their loss and develop a relationship."

    Why is it Lutz's responsibility to make a relationship work? Her mother was quite clear that she didn't want a relationship and never did. You can't assume that it is because she is in the closet and that her feelings will change later. My first mother would never have expected me to do all the work to create a relationship with her.

    As for her father, I can see understand why you think she is just being judgmental about his lifestyle. He did seem open to having a relationship with her. Perhaps she did dismiss him too quickly. But this is only a short article and we may not be getting the whole story.

  49. @Bee,
    I appreciated your comment but the following line caused me some concern.

    "Reunion is a lie that was fed to many of us. Reunion is not the happy ending any of us envisioned."

    I would hate to see us go back to the kind of world Florence Fisher (The search for Anna Fisher) found when she wanted to reunite. It took a lot of courageous adoptees and first parents to bring us to a place where search and reunion is acceptable. Where those who search are not browbeaten with the message that they are not grateful enough, let sleeping dogs lie, etc.

    I agree that people need to be told the truth about reunion... that many, many people on both sides get rejected, that the relationship will not be the same as if the adoption had never taken place. I especially think that expectant mothers considering adoption need to be made clearly aware that they cannot simply pick up with their relinquished child in 18 years as if the separation had never happened.

    But there are those of us who have good or at least good enough reunions and would not have wanted to miss that for the world. From what I have read, Florence Fisher had a fabulous reunion with her natural father.

  50. "Reunion is not the happy ending any of us envisioned."

    I was OK with that line, Robin, though my perspective is pretty detached from the real issues adoptees and original mothers deal with head on--admitting that toally. But as I collect peices of info that one day may allow my daughter to connect with her mother and father, it often dawns on me: what if this turns into a bitter disappointment for her, and another heartache? And I facilitated it? Still it is hers to own. Such is life, and adoption. Never easy.

  51. I am sure anyone who has something to gain from separating a mother and child are loving this cattiness. Good going...

  52. I don't have a problem with people searching however I do think they should be aware of the myriad of pitfalls in reunion and the truth of the matter is that most reunions are unsuccessful.
    It will be interesting to see what happens with the upcoming generation of adoptees raised in so-called "open" adoptions. Perhaps they will have a better chance of finding common ground.
    The "bashing" is everywhere on the blogs; first mothers do it. Adoptees do it. Adoptive parents do it. And everybody gets outraged when it happens but It is not going to change until everyone gets past their egos and talks about it. Some of you have done some really nasty things and some of you have been on the receiving end and then turned around and been nasty right back. And then you run to the blogs and get your strokes from your "team". Blech. When does it end?
    People need to get some thicker skins and start working on their real reunion instead of crying on the Internet. And Linda is right...Lutz was not talking about YOU in her piece, she was talking about her own first mother who sound like a mean person. It sucks to search and find a person who is horrible at the end of it. It sucks when it happens to any of us. Why can't Lutz talk about it?

  53. Linda I agree with you on this one too. The devil must be selling ice cubes:-) I am never one to defend all mothers who gave up a child nor to identify with all of them. Like the rest of humanity some are good people caught in bad circumstances, and some are rotten and refuse all responsibility for their own actions and to their children. I do not defend those mothers or see them as "my people or an extension of me. Nor do I see anything that was written in those memoirs as "bashing."

    It sounds like you have every reason to dislike your first/birth/bio/natural mother and it is your choice what to call her, including any nasty name you feel she deserves. It does not insult me because I am not her. I need only worry what my son thinks of me, and right now he is busy sending me lots of pictures of their new puppy and all is well.

  54. Hi Lorraine
    I know this might seem like a strange request but would it be possible for you to offer any direction to a young woman who really seems to be very close to losing her baby.... I'm not personally connected with this person... I literally just came across it but I thought someone here might be able to help. Here's the link: http://forums.adoption.com/birth-family-healing-recovery-success/404356-pain-too-much-bear-times.html I don't even know what state this girl is in but it just seems like a crucial time for her and her daughter. thanks so much for any help at all! Sorry I'm technically anon.... google trouble. My name is Clare (MA). many thanks!!

  55. If I'm not mistaken, an earlier version of this post used the term "trailer trash." It is gone now. Isn't it kind of an oxymoron that "biological mother" is a term Jane finds offensive, yet she used the stereotype of "trailer trash?"

  56. I am in a good reunion with my son. We have been reunited since 93. When I first reunited I had no expectations. We took it step by step encountering all the outside influences trying to input their agendas.
    First, it was his adopter trying to make him feel guilty. I found him. Then she decided since my son wanted to know me and his family she would take his visits with his daughter. One time she didn't even tell him she had his child on a holiday. The ex and the adopter were two of a kind both using child as a pawn. One for money and the other for her own selfish needs. She even asked my son to not take his daughter from her. Ironic, after she thought nothing of taking his own child from him. Of course she also got to raise him without me interfering .

    When I found him I was not attempting to reclaim my son after 18 years. It had been 26 years and he and I had EVERY right to know each other. I do think adopters need to take a real hard look before adopting and realize that adoptee will want to know his heritage. No, matter how grat that adopter is that's reality and only right.

  57. Megan,

    "Trailer trash" is still in the post. I was being sarcastic in referring to Lutz' natural father as trailer trash.

    Clearly that's what she wanted her urban audience to conclude since the only information she provided about him was that he lived in a mobile home park, had a boat, a jeep, and a motorcycle and liked to work out. Lutz uses these few facts to justify cutting him out of her life after one meeting.

  58. Clare,

    Lorraine is out out the country for ten days.

    I really feel for the young woman who gave up her child three weeks ago and is suffering great pain. All I can tell her is if she want to withdraw her consent to adoption, she needs to see an attorney right away. If she doesn't know where to begin, www.findlegalhelp.org. is a good place to start.

    A support group can help. The American Adoption Congress has a list of support groups on its website. The agency which handled the adoption might provide her with some counseling.

    I wish I could suggest more. Readers, any ideas?

  59. I DO believe that reunion is a lie that is fed to us. How many women are told when contemplating relinquishment, "You will find your child one day and all will be fine." Except it's not. While there are MANY adoptees and f Mothers I personally know in great reunions (they just don't blog about it) I know just as many who are in non-existant reunions. As we all know, reunion "fixes" nothing, and many enter reunion as a way to fix things. Not. Gonna. Happen.

    Lori, maybe you are only keyed in on stories from a Mother perspective, but trust me, there are plenty of Mothers who "bash" their relinquished children. Some have even written books about it. I have seen plenty of forums where adoptee bashing is going on. What do you consider "abuse"? Just because someone refuses reunion does not make them "abusive". I did not find Lutz's article abusive, but I have read articles/posts by adoptees/Mothers/ap's that were clearly abusive.

    Moral of the story, once again, is that no 2 people have the same reaction about adoption or reunion. They have every right to tell their story...and use any terms (birth/first/bio/natural) they wish. Their story is not yours.

    My Mother walked away from me 2 times with a stroke of a pen-not someone else's Mother, MY mother. But I will not lump all Mothers into the same category. And while I do not "bash" my Mother, some could perceive it that way, simply because I am telling my story. I dont hate my Mother. After knowing her as an adult for almost a quarter of a century, and knowing how adoption has affected her, I pity her and I hope she finds peace one day.

    My ap's were and are still entitled and will never accept that I am the daughter of 4 parents, but those are MY ap's, and should not lump all ap's into the same category. Again, some may feel I am "bashing" them. But it is MY story, and I have every right to tell it.

    That is MY story, and others should not be offended- not even my own parents.

  60. Linda,
    You write "there are plenty of Mothers who 'bash' their relinquished children. Some have even written books about it." Would you give us the names of these books?

    As I wrote in my essay, I have never seen seen an article by a natural parent in a major publication dissing the child after one meeting. I have never seen an article by a natural parent in a major publication bashing the child for "low class" behavior, i.e. living in a mobile home park (Lutz), leaving dirty dishes in the sink (Dean), ordering the wrong food in s restaurant (Homes).

    While I've seen blog posts and books by natural parents critical of their lost child, the criticism is related to things the child said or did, hurtful, albeit unintended, things or actions like drug abuse or criminal acts.

    I think the reasons are related to differing perceptions. Natural mothers may think of their child as the innocent baby she wronged and she is protective of the child, at least initially. Adoptees may think of their natural mothers as the callous woman who abandoned them and may need to find some good out of it ("I'm glad she didn't raise me.")

    Mothers (other than those in the closet) often want a close relationship -- "my child has come home". Adoptees express their interest in a reunion as a "need to know" and often insist "I don't want another family."

    With these differing desires and expectations, conflict seems almost inevitable.

    Accepting David's challenge, one way to increase the success rate of reunions would be to withhold judgement at least until the parties have the opportunity to get to know each other.

  61. Jane, neither have I seen such a publication; nor have I ever personally known a first mother who was abusive in any way,shape,or form.

  62. @Linda,
    What do you mean by "fixed"? That after reunion the relationship between a first mother and her child will be as if they had never been separated? That the pain from being adopted would be gone? I definitely think adoptees were sold a bill of goods about reunion but I did find that reconnecting with my first mother was very healing. Though obviously it couldn't heal everything.

  63. Gail, One comes to mind...Elaine...her mother wrote a doozy of a book, her husband and her abused her tremdously...pubilcally aand in court....she did NOTHING to desrve it...oh wait she existed.

    also if no one has ever heard of adoptees being used and abused by first families then you have not looked very far...abuse is unacceptable no matter who is doing ...but to stick your head in the sand and pretend that because you have not seen it ...it does not exist is just obtuse.

  64. My son actually lived in a trailer park with his adoptive parents at one time. They had less education than either me or his natural father. They did not have more money. I know a woman whose son was adopted by people with barely a grammar school education, and little money, when she became a PhD in education and was a school principal. Years ago I heard of a mother who found her son living in a car with the adoptive mother.

    The stereotype of adoptive parents being higher class and wealthy does not always hold true.

  65. Thanks for the reminder dpen. FMF has a post on this woman and her attack on her daughter. http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2009/11/wacky-website-of-woman-in-hiding-from.html
    The book is mentioned in the comments.
    Kathleen Hoy Foley and her husband also actively campaigned against adoptee rights in NJ


  66. Yes...Elaine's mother's book was particularly brutal. The worst I've seen from anyone.
    Also Jan Waldron's book was less than flattering of her relinquished child, abusive? No. But on the same scale as the Lutz article.
    And there are endless bloggers who call their relinquished children "brats", "disturbed", "selfish" and even more unkind things on a regular basis.
    The bashing goes both ways.

  67. Let's be clear, Maryanne. I did not write that all adoptees are raised in families whose class is higher than their birth families. In fact, often they are raised in lower class families.

    What I wrote was that some adoptees reject their natural parents because the adoptees perceive their natural parents to be gauche.

  68. The situation with Kathleen Foley who wants to be referred to as "Biological Cunt" is totally different from Lisa Lutz dissing her natural father because he lived in a mobile home park and offered to take her to Disneyland.

    As for Foley campaigning against adoptee rights, some adoptees deny that adoptees have rights and oppose legislation allowing adoptees to have their original birth certificates.

    What book are you referring to?

  69. Bee, As I recall Jan Waldron had a continuing relationship with her daughter. The daughter wanted to live with Jan and Jan thought she should stay with her adoptive family. Again a totally different situation.

    And against, criticizing an adoptee on a blog during a long term relationship and cutting natural parents off after one meeting because of the kind of home they have, etc. is totally different.

  70. Jane asked "What book are you referring to?"

    Woman in Hiding. Not to be confused with the Harlequin romance with the same name. For sure it's self-published - I can't imagine any self-respecting publisher would want to be associated with it - but it's up there on on Amazon, just like any other book.


  71. "The situation with Kathleen Foley who wants to be referred to as "Biological Cunt" is totally different from Lisa Lutz dissing her natural father because he lived in a mobile home park and offered to take her to Disneyland. "

    Have you read any of the Spellman books? I have. Lutz is funny, sardonic.. She makes wise-cracks. I have an entirely different take on her attitude towards her father. The Disneyland comment was funny. I think her father intended it to be funny too.


  72. Jane, Of course it is...its differnt because this mother made her adoptee bashing a real sport and publized it for all to see....ya differnt....right...

  73. "The situation with Kathleen Foley who wants to be referred to as "Biological Cunt" is totally different from Lisa Lutz dissing her natural father because he lived in a mobile home park and offered to take her to Disneyland."

    I reject your premise here Jane. I just don't think you get to decide this. Foley's daughter wanted nothing more than a relationship with her natural mother and she was met with hatred and bile - how exactly is that "totally different". I think Lutz had a far more valid reason to not maintain a relationship with her father because they had nothing in common and she simply could not relate to him. She did not then write a book and accuse him of doing things that he did not do. You cannot ask "when has a birthmother ever done that to their adopted child?' and then say "oh she doesn't count".

  74. Foley wrote a book. It was published. It is the epitome of bashing. You asked for examples and they have been given. First mothers are just as guilty of bashing in published workswhether they have long term relationships or not. They do it.

  75. When you have a relationship with someone, and then for no reason that you are aware, of she or he shuts you out without a word, would anyone who valued their emotional health not be wary when he or she decided to return? I only needed to put my hand in the fire once to learn that it burned--and hurt like hell.

  76. I confess, our keen eyed readers got me. There is ONE book by a first mother bashing adoptees. "Woman in Hiding", self-published by wackos, Kathleen Foley and her husband Philip. It no way stacks up to the many commercially published books and articles by adoptees dissing their first parents.

    I note that Kathleen Foley received kudos from MA. Sen. Scott Brown. All the more reason to vote for his Democratic opponent Elizabeth Warren.

  77. Perhaps not that many natural mothers have published books, but judging from what is on the blogs, just as many are highly critical of their adult adoptee chilren, in ways just as nitpicking as any critical adoptee author.

    Denying that by saying that some criticisms count and others do not does not really take away what people on both sides have said about each other in public spaces.

  78. For so many decades the voices of adoption have come from social workers, adoptive parents, biological parents, and at last adoptees are growing up and questioning and speaking out about their adoptive and biological family experiences. And, as Linda stated, it seems that no matter how we tell our truths and stories which are ours and no one else's versions, it is wrong too. Terminology, wrong again. I guess if you could hear our dialects when we speak about adoption that would be wrong as well. I have listened to my friends speak about their family systems and how they operated for decades mostly because as a twice rejected adoptee I am curious as to how "real" families function. I hear the same "speak" if you will. However, when adoptees tell their truths it is considered "bashing". Well, if that makes us like others, then so be it. It's about time.

  79. The comments here are much more entertaining and thought-provoking than the original article - when I first read it, I thought Lutz is trashing her parents - and leave it to the ignorant NYT editors to post such trash. I learned a long time ago people write to get published - sadly, this is the case with Lutz.

  80. One vehemently critical of this blog and most natural mothers adoptee states:

    "They want their perfect babies back. They’re gone, bitches. Deal with it."

    Done deal. Thanks to people like this, I'm done. She's right. It is futile. Absolutely and utterly futile. Funny thing, this particular adoptee can be seen around blog land being "supportive and empathetic" one day, then say's something like that. A walking contradiction if I have ever seen one...

    One thing for certain, if I called her or any other adoptee a vile name, all heck would break loose. The double standard is and will always remain alive and well. She speaks of civil discourse; then proceeds to call natural mothers bitches and c**** without batting an eyelash. Hypocrite.

  81. Ugh. I hate the entire adoption business. There is just too much room for corruption. Forced adoptions, secrecy, bashing the birth family. The adoption industry needs to be completely reformed. Birth fathers should have just as much right to their child as birth mothers, no one should be able to buy a baby (it happens ALL the time), and lawyers should be taken out of the mix because they are often corrupt and itching for money.

  82. thank you Jane for that link. I forwarded it on to the young woman. A lot of people reached out to help her. She was hospitalized for awhile and sounded very discouraged. The court hearing on the adoption was to have been today. I lost internet access for a few days but thought of her alot. I was not expecting good news. But she updated and was to pick up her daughter yesterday (Monday). She is so overjoyed. thanks for your help! (sorry anon... still google trouble but at least online!) Clare

  83. Glad it's working out, Clare. Thank you for stepping in.

  84. Wow. This post starts with "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," then takes an adoptee to task for sharing her individual experience. If the owners of this blog stuck to saying "nice" things, there wouldn't be too much content on the site.

  85. Can you imagine a birth mother, biological mother, whatever, writing a story headlined: I found my daughter, I wish I hadn't?

    Story continues: She is a low-life mess who drives a windowless jeep and lives in a trailer wanted me to take her to Disneyland? Creeped me out. Yeah, I'm sure the New York Times would snap that one right up.



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