' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: For me, for some, 1966 was a very bad year

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

For me, for some, 1966 was a very bad year

After getting so many emails and letters from so many adoptees over the decades who wish they had not been given up, not been adopted, it's rather...refreshing to learn that some of our readers are so very fine with the situation of growing up in a different family other than the one they were born to. (See comments at previous blog.) Also writing are mothers who feel their children were not negatively affected by being adopted, or saying they did not feel that damaged by relinquishing their children. Certainly all this helps explain why movement on opening sealed records has been so slow in so many states--what's the problem? Also adding to the apathy of opening sealed birth records to the adopted is that more and more of them from the last few decades have full access to, and knowledge of who their original mothers. 

All this is a good thing. If I have been some small part of changing how adoption is done today, I will feel gratified. I must admit I feel a tad weird discovering that some people don't even find adoption painful to some degree, and laugh at us, or chide us who feel differently. I don't mean all the commenters who left comments at the last blog, because everyone is entitled to their own experience and feeling.

It appears I'm an old war horse who found giving up my daughter incredibly traumatic and felt I had to do something about what has always felt like a great wrong for other, future generations. A great many of us who make the most noise about adoption relinquished in 1966, which is an unusual year in Chinese astrology, the year of the Fire Horse (January 21, 1966 to February 8, 1967) which only comes every six decades. (The next one is 2026.) In Chinese, or Asian astrology, it's a strange and possibly difficult year to be born for most. In fact, Asian births took a noticeable dip that year because in countries where such astrology is paid attention to, a great many people did not want to have children. Popular belief asserts that the Fire Horse will make trouble in the home he was born in just as he does in the one he himself has built. What we do know is that the Fire Horse will have a career that is more varied, more exceptional, more interesting than that of the ordinary Horse. The Fire Horse carries within himself the seeds of fame ... or of notoriety!

I haven't found out much about the effect such a birth that year had on the woman like myself (and Jane, Joyce Bahr, Karen Vedder) who had our children in the year of the Fire Horse, and others I have met in adoption reform, but it did seem to have a major effect on us. For me and Jane, it may be accentuated for we ourselves are Horses, in the Chinese astrological zoo. A woman who did Chinese astrology was once doing my chart, and asked this question, not knowing much about me or my daughter, if anything: Did you lose much in 1966?

Hmmm. My daughter. My love. My job. My home. My self-respect.

I'm not intending to convert anyone to believe in Chinese astrology. This is an acutely personal sensibility. I find it, if not comforting, explanatory. In the future I will remind myself that for others, the loss of their child was not so devastating or life altering as the loss was to me. I will remind myself that the losses that were compounded in my life in 1966 may have added to the overall emotional trauma of that time for me. Of course I have came back from the depths of my despair of that year so long ago, but I was changed into a different person by the events of that year, and none were so great as the trauma of losing a daughter. I ask for your forbearance and understanding.--lorraine
 To the mother and child, adoption is always painful

The Curse Of The Fire Horse: Japan’s Ultimate Form Of Contraception
The Strange Fate of Fire Horse Women

The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes remains the definitive, classic work on this fascinating subject, artfully combining the Eastern lunar calendar with Western solar-based astrology. Written by renowned astrologers Theodora Lau and Laura Lau, co-authors of Wedding Feng Shui, this seventh edition of The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes has been fully revised and updated, offering readers a fascinating and unique melding of Eastern and Western philosophies.

Searching for Sugar Man  This movie has nothing to do with adoption. It just happens to be a story I found intriguing about a memorable song writer with music I enjoy listening to. It was the Oscar for Best Documentary of 2012. Contrary to how it must appear to some, I do have a life outside of adoption.

"Searching for Sugar Man  tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest `70s rock icon who never was. After being discovered in a Detroit bar Rodriguez's sound struck 2 renowned producers and they signed a recording deal. But when the album bombed the singer disappeared into obscurity. A bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and over the next two decades he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero."--Amazon 


  1. If I were an adoptee and heard my mother say that she was perfectly fine with giving me up, I would be devastated. It was hard enough being separated from my mother the way I was, only to see her get on with her life as if I had never been in it (or so it looked to me at the time).

    The idea of getting back in touch with my son next year (when he will be eighteen) and possibly hearing him say that he was glad I lost him would also devastate me.

    I cannot be as kind as Lorraine about this. If you DO NOT CARE that your family was torn apart, there is something wrong with you. Period. At least, if your original parents had serious issues such as drug addiction or abusiveness, or if you yourself were the original parent and you know for a fact that you would have been dangerous to your child, at least have some feeling about it. Be angry or be sad or be disappointed. Even if you don't feel those things as strongly as you did when the events took place. That's OK--it means you've healed somewhat. We all need healing when we've been hurt, whether by others or at our own hand.

    But to not care? No. I cannot accept that. That's not right. My question is why the uncaring mothers didn't just go ahead and get the abortion if it mattered that little to them. Even before Roe vs. Wade that was possible in quite a few locales. And I would guess the adoptees would rather not be alive or something? I just cannot wrap my brain around this. I'm afraid no amount of explanation will help. It just makes no sense.

  2. My bad year was 1968. It began with a bang, literally, as I crashed my car in an ice storm driving madly to a New Year's party to which my ex-boyfriend had tactfully invited both me and his new chickie:-( Luckily neither me nor unborn baby were hurt.

    I remember it as a year of utter enveloping darkness; Martin Luther King assassinated days before my son's birth, Bobbie Kennedy two months later, the Vietnam war escalating, my child being whisked away to unknown foster care and me crashing in post-partum depression that was not recognized as such. I remember it as a year of smothering bleakness, grief, and no hope. The song that expressed my feelings was The Doors "The End". "This is the end, my friend, I'll never look into your eyes again..."

    Funny, for me,1966 was a magic year of happiness and love. I was in college, I finally had a real boyfriend I was mad about, everything was bright shining joy,
    "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne"
    Simon and Garfunkle "We walked on frosted fields of juniper and lamplight..." I thought this would go on forever. I was tragically wrong.

    I have no desire to revisit 1968 or its traumas and heartbreaks. As I wrote in a poem, my son is not there, but here in the present, not a helpless baby nor I a helpless mother, but two adults who have come through the fire and out the other side.

  3. I think it is important to understand that some people (birthmother, adopted person, ect.,)may not feel any loss with adoption. Since that is what we are reading from posters then we must accept this is a fact for certain individuals.

    With this understanding comes the old saying "be careful what you want, you may get it". This is especially important when embarking on reunion or thoughts of reunion. There comes the possibility that you may reach out to a missing family member only to be told you are not important and someone did not miss you at all. Devestating to someone who feels loss as this is basically a bitch slap in the face of your grief. Why pretend that you care about a relationship if you don't?

    As painful as the truth is about how someone else feels, it is much better to divulge the truth. I remember on your last thread in which someone responded to having lunches with their "pompous ass" family member. It made me think that they should just tell that person that they thought them to be a pompous ass and then that person could decide if lunches were such a good idea. Why embark on lunches with someone who thinks you care, and then post how they are basically unimportant?

    We can all deal with the end of a relationship if we believe the other party wants it to end. I wish people would grow up and be truthful instead of suffering "pompous" asses and then posting how insufferable their experiences have been.

    The whole thing is that very rarely does a person want to be with someone who does not want to be with them. For God's sake just tell them so that they can move on the best they can.

  4. It reminds me of how so many women of my generation (and younger) like to strongly proclaim that they are not feminists.

    I benefited from the Feminist Movement. I could play sports in high school. I went to college (and it wasn't to obtain my M.R.S.). And, I went onto graduate school. These accomplishments were all easier to obtain because of the feminists who paved the way for me.

    Yet, so many in my generation forget what the previous generations have done for us.

    That's, in part, what I feel is going on now. Many of the adoptees who voiced a negative opinion of Lorraine's last past have had contact with their other mothers. That is most likely due to adoption reforms that have already occurred.

    Because of women, like Lorraine, who fight for adoption reform, some adoptees get to experience less pain. Why? They know who their biological families are. That's huge.

    My greatest sadness surrounding adoption was not knowing. Decades after my birth, I now know. And, there is peace in knowing.

    I may not always agree with you. And, like the adoptees in the last post, I am not a fan of absolutes because exceptions tend to exist. But, I know that without women like you I wouldn't have been able to obtain my OBC.

  5. Dana. I am a 54 year old adoptee. I never searched and never met any of my biological relations. My childhood was pretty good, my adoptive parents were good parents, and my adoptive sibling and I have a great relationship. I can tell you with all honesty that I never felt some sort of deep loss over my adoption. I had some moments of curiosity, but I didn't feel the need to follow up with those.
    My brother searched because he felt the need to, and told me he felt no deep connection to the biological family he found.

    Neither of us have psychological problems. In fact we both have amazing spouses and families. We've been successful in our careers and in our personal lives.

    I found this site a while ago through an adoptee blog that I occasionally read. I find it an interesting look into a certain type of mind-set. Because I know you'll ask....

  6. Hmm, interesting. Fellow 1966er here (adoptee), and I _had_ notice that I a lot of the vocal adoptees I connect with online are from the same time period.

    On the other topic, I used to experience no pain/loss because I was numb instead. Now I feel all kinds of things, but it's actually better. For me, awake is preferable. But yes, as people like to remind me, I am only one. Everyone processes differently.

  7. Rebecca, interesting about the 1966 adoptees.

  8. Interesting that 1966 to early 1967 was so important a year for so many of us. My first son was born only a few days after 2-8-67, so I nearly fit in this magic year.
    Yes, the period ended with the loss to adoption of my child, and with this unacknowledgeable sadness, but the year of carrying him were months of great hope, of finding myself and new awareness, and of involvement in the nonviolent peace movement and in the whole overwhelming sense of a new world and new consciousness, of political-community-personal hope, of the time.
    I cannot separate the two. My son was a child of peace and the peace movement. And he is an extraordinary, remarkably empathetic and intelligent and loving person. Of course, I am sad, even now years since he grew up and found me, to know I'm not his "mom" in the way his adoptive mom is. And of course when we reunited, we were both overcome by tears and sadness as well as joy.
    And I'm not impressed that his adoptive parents want no contact with me even though they had "encouraged" his search.
    But 1966-1967 is the greatest year of my life, and I cannot wish to undo the wonderful way my first son grew up; possibly he would be an even finer person had I raised him, but I don't know how he could be.

  9. I am a 1966-er as well, and I have been "searching" since middle school. I wrote essay after essay about being adopted, dreaming of my parents and became a social worker. I read Lost and Found by Betty Jane Lifton in high school (in secret) and was STILL in denial that my adoption affected me.

    And I have noticed that so many of us who wake up from the numbness were born in this year...completely fascinating!

    My dad, whom I met last year, tells me "I feel sorry for all those stones you are turning over!" I can't leave one of them unturned...comppletely compelled verging on obsessed. I've just about got 'em all! And you know what....I feel VICTORIOUS, but I still grieve. I have lots of resolution but I STILL GRIEVE what might have been. Lee H.

  10. As in all astrology, things close to the date are still somewhat affected by the overall situation.

    Lots of adoptive parents encourage the search, but dealing with the reality of how the actual person found is another matter. I recently heard the same from an adoptee who found her mother, with her adoptive parents' blessing. They do not want to hear about the "other" mother. Okay, I get it. That does not make them bad; just human.

    My daughter's mother could not get over how much alike "our" daughter was with me. I took it as a matter of course. I don't think it is a bad thing if adoptive and natural parents do not meet; it's a choice, a choice for everyone, and there is no reason it need happen unless all three parties (child, both mothers or sets of parents) agree. For some adoptive parents it's just too difficult, and it isn't always easy for a first mother to meet a wonderful, accepting adoptive mother either. And it's hard on the child, no matter what age, too.


  11. Lorraine,

    Personally, I don't believe those who say that adoption hasn't caused pain in their lives. Whether it be a mom, an adoptee, I think they are being lying. What are they coming here for to get a
    laugh. I think not, they too are searching, learning and reading sometimes people don't want to admit the pain somehow that helps them possibly who knows.

    Don't for one minute think that you are an out of touch in what those that have been affected by adoption. EVERY post hits some cord in me.

    I too am a 66 my son born on 4/14.
    I have not done as much as you have but since reunion over 20 years ago I just can't stop reading, posting going to conferences.

    If I could save one mom or baby it would make last twenty years worthwhile.

    Don't believe all you read in posts. Opinions are like assholes we all have them.

    Keep up good work don't let a few posters get you down.

  12. Every year that a mother surrendered under coercion was a bad year for them. No need for astrology to prove it.

  13. I was reading this again and realized that my father has not only one Fire Horse child, but two...my brother was born in May of 1966. I take all of that stuff with a grain of salt, but it is fascinating to me, and so much of it applies to me and my personality which I am just now really allowing to show.

    I don't know if my two sets of parents will ever meet. I don't know if my original mother and father will ever see each other again (not since 1965).

    What I do know is that it IS hard for this child, even at 46, to manage it all, but I am going to...ultimately we are talking about MY life...some things I finally get to decide. I am deciding to have the relationships I desire with all of them. Am I concerned with how it will all affect them...yes. Will I continue to act with only their well-being in mind...no way. Lee H

  14. Hi, I was born 19/11/66 and adopted at the age of 2 weeks I believe. I grew up in a loving family and all my needs were met. I have never hated my mother for giving me up as I believe she must have had a good reason and believe it is unfair to judge anyone when we don't know the circumstances. Even if it was that she just didn't want me and I was an accident that is fine as my adoptive parents could not have children so all is good. But this is only my situation and everyones will be different which is perfectly fine. I am still very curious and would love to know why but if I don't then so be it. I hope she went on to have a happy life and if one day we make contact that would be fantastic

  15. Jill, I hope you will look into the situation regarding birth certificates in your state, and see if you can get your original birth certificate, or if the state has a confidential intermediary system. Your mother may be hoping that you contact her. If you keep up with the blog--this post is more than six months old--you will learn that too many adoptees wait to search until their adoptive parents are dead, and then it is too late to find their original parents.

    As a footnote: I accidentally deleted your post as part of your own google circle but did have a copy elsewhere and so I reposted it.

    Stay with us. There are search angels who can help you also. Not every story ends happily, I warn you, but won't you be sorry if you never tried? None of this means that you love your adoptive parents less; you have a right to your own history, and knowledge of your original family.

    You can find the current post by going to "HOME" under the blog's logo.

  16. Hi Lorraine. I was born 4/23/1966 and adopted when I was six days old. I'm from Connecticut. As of last year, the Connecticut legislature allows adult adoptees born 1983 or later access to their original birth certificates. I'm not sure what the logic for 1983 was.... Like Jill and a couple of those who've commented, I grew up with a most loving, supportive family. "Exceptionally lucky" is how I refer to myself. I grew up believing what I think is the classic adoption story - that my parents walked into a room full of babies in cribs, took one look at me, and knew I was their girl. I was chosen. I don't remember being told I was adopted; I always just knew. At age 5, when a friend teased me that I was adopted, I told her, "Ha. Your parents were stuck with you. Mine chose me." I felt special. When I had kids myself, the idea of giving up a child for adoption became more unfathomable to me; it made me feel how difficult a choice it must have been. And, it made me understand how, having made that choice, a birth mom might have to put it away and never, ever think about it just to be able to live with it. I was never interested in searching for my birth parents - it felt disrespectful to my parents and also like thumbing my nose at my luck, or tempting fate ... hard to describe. But, in the last year, I did figure out the agency I was adopted through and I received non-identifying information about my birth parents. I was very surprised at my reaction to receiving just this information - I cried for two days straight. I don't know exactly why - I think it may have been the first time I felt the loss you describe - but, having also learned that no one had ever contacted the adoption agency about me in the (then 48) years since I'd been born, I decided to let it go for now. Not to search further, in other words. The only thing I have always hated about being adopted is having to leave blank all the spaces on medical forms asking about biological family member's medical history. I have been ridiculously healthy all my life (I barely ever get a cold, never mind anything else), but I'm turning 50 this year, and I'd like to know more about what I may face as I age. I recently sent a DNA sample to 23andme. We will see what I find out .... Re: some other posts, it's impossible for me to believe that there's a woman out there who doesn't wonder, at least for a moment each April 23rd, whether she made the right decision, whether her baby girl had a good life. And, I think it would be nice for her to know that she did.

    1. Jennifer, I appreciate your honesty but I cringe when I read "Re: some other posts, it's impossible for me to believe that there's a woman out there who doesn't wonder, at least for a moment each April 23rd, whether she made the right decision, whether her baby girl had a good life. And, I think it would be nice for her to know that she did."

      Likely, your mother did not make a decision in the sense that she rationally weighed the options. In all probability, she was pressured into giving you up by family members, clergy, social mores, or all of these. The fact that you grew up with wonderful parents doesn't mean she made the right decision--she did not know what kind of home you would go to. Your good home simply means that an action had a good outcome although not necessarily better than the one that would have occurred if she kept you.

      I'm sure your mother thinks of you much more often than a moment on April 23rd. Don't read a lot into the fact that your mother hasn't found you. She may be considering searching for you but hasn't because it was drilled into her that it wouldn't be right. She may also have spent the past 49 years trying to force herself to forget you. She may be searching for you. She may have contacted the agency and it tossed her letter into the trash or misfiled it. We hear from time to time of mothers and their children writing to agencies and not being told the other has written to the agency. Your mother may be dead or incapacitated.

      If, after you get a response from 23andme, you want to know more about your background, I encourage you to try to contact your mother. I think you'll learn much more than just what you will face as you age. There are a lot of resources out there to help you search. I caution you, though, not to begin by telling your mother she made the right decision. Tell her you had a good life--she'll be happy to hear that--but telling her she made a good decision is insulting, akin to telling her the best thing she could do for you was NOT to be in your life.

      Do let us know if you do decide to search.

    2. Jane:

      I see your point; I'm not sure what I will do or say if I ever do meet my birth mother. What I meant to express, though, was my feeling that, if I gave up a child for adoption, I'd want to know if she had a good life and, if she did, I would be relieved to know that.

      It may be B.S., but the information I got says my birth parents were both 19, both in college, he offered to quit school and marry her, and she declined his proposal because she wanted them both to finish college. She was paying her own way through college, working full time. She described her mother as "immature and dependent." She described her father as "rigid." Granted, that's not a lot of information, but what I took from it is that it was important to her to finish college so that she could be financially independent and not rely on a man to take care of her. If that was the case, the proverbial apple did not fall far from the tree and I applaud her and, more than that, I support her decision. There's a chance a couple of 19 year-olds who quit college to get married because they got pregnant by accident could have provided me as good if not a better life than a 31 year-old established physician and his 29 year-old wife, who got married when they were 21 and 23 and tried, unsuccessfully, to have kids for years before they adopted my brother and then me, but I think it's a pretty small chance.

      I hope she did finish college, that her life was/is all she wanted it to be, and that she's alive and well with other children and, maybe grandchildren. And I do hope to meet her some day.


    3. I suspect the adoption agency included information that put the adoption action in the most positive light. Your mother may well have thought giving you up and finishing college was the best but I'm sure she was not aware of the enduring pain mothers who lose their children endure. She was also likely not aware that giving a child to strangers is a crap shoot -- some adoptive parents are great; some are abusive or worse. She was likely not aware that it would be possible to finish college even though she had a small child. (Pres. Obama's 18 year old mother married his father, finished college, and obtained a graduate degree for example.)

      Your mother was likely not aware that for some adopted people, adoption is painful. Knowing their mother put finishing college timely was more important than raising them is a hard thing to swallow.

      Your mother may well have been told that giving you up would be a selfless and mature decision. That she needed to think of her child and not herself. That no way could she be as good a mother as the mature married financially well off couple who would adopt you. In other words, the deck was stacked in favor of adoption.

      While you undoubtedly had more material benefits when you were young than your biological parents could have provided, in the long run you may have been better off both in material benefits and being raised by people who shared your interests, looks, and talents. Of course, you will never know.

      If you start the conversation with "you made the right decision" (thank God you didn't raise me), you may well be starting off on the wrong foot. Think how you would feel if your mother says to you, "Now that I've met you, I'm so thankful I didn't have to raise you."

  17. It never occurred to me that any mother would ever hope for her child to suffer. That is what is implicit in your narrative- a desire that a child suffer all her life from the loss of her birth parents. My life was not just materially comfortable: I was given all the love two people and their extended families had to give, accepted and loved no less than if I had been their blood relative. I feel a part of that family, I look a part of that family, I share the same interests and talents as that family and/or was supported and encouraged to pursue and any all of my own interests, I am a part of that family. And that is what any and all birth parents should hope and pray for the children they lost (or gave up).

    1. Natural mothers don't want their child to suffer. My point is that the child may suffer from the loss of his mother. Mothers are not told this when they agree to give the child up.

      Mothers buy into the myth that all adoptive parents are Ozzie and Harriet, June and Ward Cleaver, etc. Many adoptees were not as fortunate as you to have superior parents.

      Again, let me explain, natural parents want to hear their child had a good life. Natural parents do not want to hear that the reason for the good life is that they were not in it. When you thank your natural mother for giving you up, you are thanking her for knowing that she was worthless.



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