' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: To the mother and child, adoption is always painful

Sunday, July 14, 2013

To the mother and child, adoption is always painful

Lorraine as a three or four year old
I met a woman on a trip last year and while we spent quite a bit of time together--with our husbands too--when she asked what I wrote, I just said "women's issues." We were on vacation, and I did not know enough about her to know whether her children were adopted, or even if she were. And I just didn't want to go there. Say you gave up a child for adoption, and the music stops. Say you write about "women's issues," and you are taken as a serious person. Instead of adoption, I talked about the books I've written about how women are often treated in the legal system, in contrast to men, and a study I did about women in the corporate world.

So much easier.

But we stayed in touch, via email--her name is the same as my daughter's--and a year later, I did tell her about my daughter, my memoir about giving her up, my work today. My faraway friend had searched me on the Internet but hadn't paid much
attention to this aspect of my life until I brought it up. Her response was that in giving up the baby, I did a "heroic" act. More heroic, she wrote, than raising her in a situation that would not have let me give her the parenting she needed; more heroic than aborting the fetus.

I haven't answered because heroic is never how I have felt about giving birth (I did try to get an abortion but it was too illegal, and then too late), nor giving her up. I felt defeated, demoralized, dirty. I felt like a terrible person who did a grievous wrong. I felt like damaged goods. I felt like I did not deserve to be happy again. Of course, in time, I did pick myself up, dust myself off, et cetera, and move on. I made a life for myself. A good life. I am married to a good man, and while we have financial troubles, I've had good work to do, and we have a good life with many friends and family.

My daughter, before her first seizure
But what I did not know when I gave my daughter up--and that is what I did, I "made an adoption plan" to give her up--is that the damage inflicted by an adoption is not just one way. While I was imagining that she would have a family that was so much better than what ever I could give her at the time--as a single woman with a bastard child--what I did not understand, could not know, did not hear of was that to "being adopted" means someone, for whatever reason, did not "keep" you. All the hurt that I have felt inside over my sin--I'm going to call it that for that is how it has always felt--would touch my daughter too in the opposite way. She had good parents--I don't mean she say she didn't--but they were not the people who would have understood and accepted her in a way her adoptive family could not.

Because she had seizures, her parents assumed that I was some dull-witted person who might be institutionalized. There had no basis for this, but they also had no way to counteract that thought until I was reunited with her when she was 15. By the time she was in the early grades, she ended up in some classes for the learning disabled--at the same time she was writing poetry. Who can say how different it might have been had Patrick, her newspaper columnist father, and I had raised her? Or if I had raised her alone, but with full knowledge that her father was a writer with a quick wit and a graceful prose style, and I was a writer too. I would have believed, I think, that she didn't need those classes because she wasn't slow; it was the drugs, the hockey helmet she had to wear to school when she was having seizures so frequently, it was the low self-esteem she had because she was not only epileptic, she was adopted. Someone had rejected her.

Life would not have been easy, I'll grant you that. My parents would have freaked with the shame--it was 1966--but they would not have cast us out or forced me to give her up; I was too old for that, 22. And she would almost certainly have had myriad seizures, because my educated guess is that they were caused by the fact that I was on The Pill for most of the first months I carried her in my womb. So.

Heroic would have been keeping her.

She and I would not have been separated. I would not be a "birth" or "first" mother. Adoption reform would not have been a secondary career. My daughter would not have been adopted. Many of you know that she died of her own hand in 2007.

All of this melancholia today was brought home by thinking about how to respond to the adjective heroic which is not how I will ever, ever feel about giving up my daughter, and watching the video below that had me bawling at about 1.30 minutes. A beautiful young teen "talks" about what her adoption experience has meant to her, how it shaped her life, how peers taunted her because she was "adopted." Families may be enriched by adopting, but adoption--to the mother who relinquishes, to child who is relinquished--is always painful. Every adoption that can be prevented, should be. --lorraine 


  1. I understand my mother's reasons for giving me up for adoption. The reasons were sound. But, let's never forget that adoption is a loss, a loss that never can be recovered.

    And, for the record, adoption didn't spare me from being a bastard. I was born out of wedlock. I am an adopted bastard.

  2. I used to teach 7th and 8th grade math. There was one group of students who were relentless in finding the "flaws" of others. They teased one girl for having glasses, another for being overweight, and a boy because he was short. Then there was this one kid named Caleb. He was painfully shy. So shy, in fact, that he'd often void his bladder when he got too nervous. From 7th grade until 8th grad graduation, they made Caleb's life hell. Teachers and parents tried to stop it, but it didn't stop. Finally, on the night of graduation, Caleb's parents found him dead from suicide. My point? Excessive bullying happens all the time and for many different reasons. Not only adopted kids are bullied.

    I agree that adoption reforms need to happen. I wish that I had contact with the child I gave up, but I don't (despite 20 years of attempting to find her).

    But, I can't go back and change the past. I made my choice and it was mine. So did you Lorraine. Spending hours wondering "what if" only makes the clock move slower.

  3. Sage:

    Of course I can't go back; but I can try to prevent others from thinking that giving their babies up for adoption is the best solution. That is what adoption agencies try to convince women; that is the premise of The Adoption Option put out by the Center for American Progress; that is the mantra of families who can give our babies more material goods.

    Today I believe adoption is only very rarely the best solution, and then not adoption as it is most formulated today.

  4. I knew someone would bring up the issue that kids are taunted for all kinds of things, not just for being adopted. But is wearing glasses really on a par with being given away by one's parents? Being 'rejected' by one's parents can hurt an adoptee to the core, and being bullied for that can be devastating. It is simply not in the same league as being teased because one wasn't born with perfect vision. Sorry, Sage, but your analogy doesn't work for me. It kind of reminds me of when an adopted child is abused and people want to point out that bio-kids are abused, too. So therefore, adoption is not an issue. That argument doesn't work for me, either.

  5. I agree that some aspects of the adoption industry need to change (closed adoptions, changing birth certificates, unenforceable contact agreements). However, I fail to see how giving women fewer options during a challenging time. Things are so different now. Young women have the internet, have chat rooms, forums, and support. Like it or not, adoption is an option. I, for one, am not going to ever try to limit a woman's options.

    My niece gave her first child up for adoption. She was 17, high school drop out, and living with relatives, due to her parent's abusive relationship (she's lived with me here and there over the years). The baby was the product of a drunken night with her ex boyfriend.

    She knew that I had given up my first child, and came to ask me about it. I told her exactly how hard it was, how many nights I cried and wailed, and how (after so many years) I still wonder about that little girl. But, I also told her that adoption was my best option. That I had no money, no family connections that were worth anything, and no job. I directed her to websites, like yours and adoptive parent websites. I showed her the resources we could get for her if she wanted to parent. I offered to pay for counseling (she declined).

    My niece made her choice. And she has an open adoption with a couple just across the state lines. She sees her child 5 or 6 times a year, is called Mamma S by the child, and occasionally goes on holiday with the family. My niece is now 20, in a college program to become a medical assistant and is working two jobs to pay for tuition, food, and rent.

    I think we tend to try to make adoption the villian because it caused us pain. For me, it wasn't adoption that caused that pain, it was the lack of options, support, and compassion.

  6. Another great post Lorraine. Thank you.

    I always question those that so vehemently exclaim they had a choice. Really? So, Sage, you were told of all the adverse affects of how this would damage your child and you still CHOSE adoption? You were told of the higher risks of suicice, addictions, criminality, lifelong feelings of unlovablility in your child and you still CHOSE adoption? You were told that the grief of losing a child to adoption is the only grief known to increase over time and not decrease and you still CHOSE adoption?

    There would be something seriously wrong if a woman was told all the adverse affects that will be inflicted on their child and still CHOOSE adoption. Having this information withheld means that any decision is not based on the facts and isn't a true decision at all.

    If it makes you feel better and in control, feel free to say that you had all the information and you still chose this horror for yourself and child. But, please don't put that on any other woman that lost a child to the adoption industry.

  7. I agree the grief increases over time. Is this in writing anywhere? I'd like to read more about this. Thank you.

  8. Buck Wheat,

    My grief has NOT increased over time. Neither has the grief of my niece or the several other first monthers I know. For many of us, especially those who have reunited, the feelings have mellowed and evened out over time. Frankly, my Zen practice has helped immensely.

    When I relinquished, I knew what I was getting into. I was not stupid or blind, I did what research I could. I talked to social workers and friends. I was simply not in a place to parent my child, and that was MY CHOICE!!

    You seem to think that the potential for harm to my child could have changed my circumstances. That's just inane. I made the choice with the best information I had at the time. I'm not going to sit around moaning and crying over a choice I made. Nor am I going to work to eliminate the choice for other women. I needed to make the choice for myself and my future/health. And that's okay.

    I hope you come to some resolution in your life. And I hope you find compassion for others.

  9. Great post Lorraine - love how you & Jane are look-a-likes as kids. This video is INCREDIBLE - the fact that her "sound" is off made it even more poignant - reflective of how we were silenced. Thank you for you and all you do and THANK You to Sarah!!

  10. Nobody ever teased me as a child for being adopted, ever. Not ever. But I still felt like a piece of garbage that nobody wanted most of my life. I didn't need to be "teased" to feel unwanted and unloved. It seemed loud and clear to me from the beginning.

  11. Sage,

    It's nice to know that you are content with your decision. We don't know about your child however. You are oblivious to the pain that adoption causes many who are adopted, and your condescending attitude is insufferable.

    May you find compassion that extends to those who have been hurt by adoption.

  12. I'm 24 and adopted. I've met my "birth mother" on several occasions and I can safely say I'm really glad I was adopted. She and I have nothing in common and I find her to be a pompous ass, always assuming that I was hurt by my adoption. I wasn't. I had a great life, never felt abandoned.

    My real parents (aka, my adoptive parents) kept in contact with her over the years, and she only contacts me when SHE wants something or needs to feel "connected". And do you know what? I'm just fine with that.

    My sister, also adopted, sent me to this site today because she couldn't stop laughing at it. I've had a good chuckle too. Laughing at how we poor adoptees are always supposed to be in such pain and longing for the women who gave birth to us. Ha! You know what I feel? Happy that I've had a good life. Happy that I have a loving husband, a good career, and a beautiful child.

    Oh, and about the school thing. LOL, you all are so funny. Yeah, I was teased in school......for my curly hair. My sister...for her green eyes. My brother....because he was so tall. We were all adopted and it was common knowledge. Not once were any of us teased for our adoptions. There goes your theory out the window.

    Thank you for giving me something to laugh about today. Adoption made me a better person, and apparently you can't accept that.

  13. Beccal:

    Do you always find other people's pain amusing? That's a strange trait to be so flip about--nearly guffawing.

    I'll be on jury duty tomorrow so comments won't be posted until the end of the day, unless I'm excused early.

  14. BeccaL, I see that you are still quite young. Hopefully with age, compassion will be a trait that you acquire. Laughing at someone's pain? How mature of you. Did your "real parents" raise you that way?


  15. I don't think Becca was laughing at your pain, I think she was laughing at the fact that people so often think that we adoptees are "in pain" from our adoption.

    I am neither in pain, torn up, or feel an urge to search out my "history". I've had lunch with my biological mom on several occasions through out the years. Her pain seems so ingrained and awful to be around. I think she was expecting me to be some hollowed out shell of a woman, who just needed to be loved in order to be complete. Couldn't be further from the truth. My parents were great, loving, and encouraging. I grew up with lots of love, laughter, and closeness. I never felt as if I was missing anything. I was never teased for being adopted (I was teased for my big front teeth).

    Yes I think it's funny when people ask me if I ever miss or wish I knew my "real" mom. No. Not at all. I have a family. My biological mom hasn't given me anything other than a few strands of DNA and 8.5 months of her life. My real family gave me more than life, they gave me love.

    Pain isn't funny. And I don't laugh at peoples pain. But, when one small narrow-minded group of people claim to speak for a larger group of such diversity, I find it sad.

  16. I guess I have heard from too many adoptees not thoroughly content with their situation to find the experience of being adopted as wonderful as the adoptees who are so content and happy and have chosen to comment here and tell us our thoughts are hogwash.

    One wonders though, why or how they stumbled upon this site at all, since why would they bother to be searching the internet for anything related to adoption?

    One wonders if they bothered to look at the video at the end of the post. Would they also laugh at her?

    Until everyone tells me that being adopted is a great state of mind, I will continue to be be part of the "small narrow-minded group" that does not speak for everyone.

    I just hope I never need help from people like them crossing a street. I can already hear them laughing.

  17. I too am astounded Lorraine. The need to have a laugh at the pain of others. What is that? It is not compassion. It seems more like a defense mechanism, a shutting off of some kind. Same as the first mother Sage who insists on her happiness yet futilely searches for the daughter she can't locate. There is something she is missing in her dismissal of others. I hope she finds her way.
    I have come to a point in my life where I do not believe it is either human or humane to ridicule and judge another person's pain.
    I hope your recent commentators find softness and understanding in their lives someday and learn there are many perspectives when it comes to this very sensitive subject, and none of them deserve ridicule.

  18. BeccaL and Adopted and Happy,

    I, like Lorraine, am very perplexed that the two of you discovered this blog in the first place.

    Why would you come here? Why would you even know about this blog? What's your motivation?...

    I, for example, am happy with my weight (even though I could probably stand to lose 20-30 lbs.) Therefore, I am probably not going to accidentally come across weight loss blogs. More importantly, I definitely would not laugh at the people who are experiencing pain because they feel overweight.... In other words, the fact that you found and posted on this blog is highly suspect to me.

    From your posts, I see that you both have had some contact with your other mothers. So, you have not been completely denied your biological medical or family histories as so many other adoptees have been.... You've had a chance to connect with your biology, and you've made a choice not to connect. Great. I want all adoptees to have that CHOICE.

    Apparently, neither of you feels you have a dog in this fight? So, why are you here? Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

  19. I find it odd that teens would tease someone being adopted. When I was in high school, people didn't care that much about something like that, because it had nothing to do with them. Teens are extremely self-centered. I'd dare guess the friends who tormented Sara were probably jealous of her for another completely different reason.

    And how lucky for the people who don't have sadness they were adopted. I spent my life wishing to find my mom because of the adopted family I was brought into. Alcoholism, mental disorders. None of that I deserved.


  20. Adopted and Happy said:
    I am neither in pain, torn up, or feel an urge to search out my "history". I've had lunch with my biological mom on several occasions through out the years. Her pain seems so ingrained and awful to be around. I think she was expecting me to be some hollowed out shell of a woman, who just needed to be loved in order to be complete. Couldn't be further from the truth. My parents were great, loving, and encouraging. I grew up with lots of love, laughter, and closeness. I never felt as if I was missing anything.

    Wow, that is exactly what my daughter said to me! Glad to hear from other adoptees that feel this way, I can now feel relieved that I did the right thing in "giving" her up and she DID have the life that I wanted for her! I still miss not having a face-to-face with her, but it is what it is! Maybe later in her life, eh?

  21. TrulyWonderfulPeepJuly 16, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    So, some of you come here to get a load of laughs. How eloquent and empathetic of you. Getting "laughs" from other's pain seems pretty sick and disturbing to me, but this is what our society has come to, apparently. Those who find glee, humor and delight in the suffering of others. Yes, one sick society indeed.

    I get a "laugh" that some of you seem to have the need to come here in the first place, if you are so happy dappy with your lives. Why denounce the pain of another, if your have none? Makes no sense to me.

    This is hardly a small "narrow-minded group" out here who speaks their very real truths of how negatively adoption has effected them, so I am sure there are many other places to go to get their laughs, too.

    @Adopted and Happy:

    If not for the "few strands of DNA and 8.5 months of her life" your natural mother gave you, you would have no life for others to covet. I think that means more than you care to give credit for. She was no incubator broodmare; but a human being with feelings, just like the adoptive family you so gladly uplift, while you denigrate her.

    Stop the madness...

  22. Adopted and Lorraine:
    I don't mind it when people talk about the pain that adoption has brought them. We all have our own story. What I mind is when all adoptees are grouped together as being "in pain" or as having some "primal wound". And I hate it when people try to tell me that my depression after my college boyfriend dumped me was really "abandonment issues" left over from my adoption (I got over him just fine and married a lovely man...no more depression, thank you). Or my preference for chunky peanut butter and horror movies must be from my biological family, since my adoptive family likes almond butter and docu-dramas.

    Biological families have differences and outliers. My son loves eating fish, even though the rest of us can't stand it. My daughter is horrible in math, even though both father and I have a talent for it.

    And Lorraine, I missed (and messed up) cues from my kids all the time. ALL PARENTS DO IT!! Don't blame it on adoption...When my daughter told me she was having a hard time reading, I didn't think much of it. Finally, after her bugging me for a year, I took her to get her eyes checked. Oh! She needed glasses, except no one in our immediate family wears them. Or, the fact that my son was actually a really good football player, even though most of the family is more intellectual!

    So, please, I'd rather you not lump me together with all the sad, lonely, and misunderstood adoptees you seem think there are. And, no, you don't (and won't ever) speak for me.

    As for what I am doing here? I'm a social worker, I work with birth mothers who have lost kids to the system. I use your forum as a way of understanding some of their feelings and thoughts. And, no, don't need to justify my reason for being here.

  23. Lorraine, I am a loyal reader but I rarely comment. I'm a first mom. And generally, I agree with the mission that you and Jane have to reform adoption.

    However, I think this post went a little too far for me. The title especially. I am one of the lucky ones and have had a very successful reunification with my daughter over the last 10 years. She would strenuously disagree that adoption brought her pain. She is a lovely, beautiful, smart, and engaging young woman. We've had many candid conversations about adoption and its impact on her life. Her adoptive mother and I have become very close friends and have talked a lot about adoption over the years. I've asked both of them (and they have asked me) some very pointed questions about adoptions impact. My daughter says that she never had an issue with being adopted. For her it was like having curly hair or fair skin. She always knew she was adopted, but it never bothered her. Her adoptive mom says the same thing, it was just part of who she was.

    As for me, yes, I wish I could have raised her. I wish there had been resources out there for me back then. I wish my parents had not threatened to kick me out or disown me. And I worried a lot about my daughter. I don't worry about her any more like that. I don't feel the pain I once did.

    It's the strangest thing, with all the brokenness that adoption brought to my life, reunification has brought me so much love back into my life. Her adoptive family is truly amazing and welcoming. When I first met S. (the adoptive mom), she gave me a huge hug. That's what my daughter's family is like, it's like being wrapped in a warm hug. My daughter calls both S. and I "mom", which I find amazing. I asked S. about it early on, and she gave me a warm smile, and told me that "of course she should call you that, you're her mom too".

    I know I'm lucky. I know there are women out there who have not had the blessings I have. Yes, adoption needs reforms. Yes, I was practically coerced into giving up my daughter. But, I don't think painting adoption with such a broad brush is accurate.

  24. K's Mom,
    So much of the general public in the US are unaware of how adoption is an industry here. That is the "real" slap in the face for many mothers who relinquished and for adoptees who were also made to look at their experiences through rose colored lenses. Grief is a feeling of having been brutally wronged by the whole stinking process of coerced adoption in the US. Anger you can get used to, ignore or turn away from. What I feared most was being consumed by grief, not loss or sorrow. Now I have a righteous indignation instead. I now know many others like me were used by the adoption agencies as breeders for their profits even if the agencies were non profits. I do expect an apology from these agencies. Until then I am very grateful for the support of bloggers like First Mother Forum. I've kept my sanity because of their voice affirming mine and many others feelings. My first son was not so lucky to have a good adoption experience to say the least. Ironically he ended up being raised by a single mother after his first adoptive father relinquished his parental rights to a second (ex)step father who abused him. It was far from a happily ever after experience. But our reunion of almost 8 years now is one of love nad understanding for each other in many ways more than words can say.

  25. I have a similar story to K's Mom. My son has a wonderful, loving, and open adoptive family. They have welcomed me into their lives with open arms. My son is a successful, bright, curious, and well-educated/traveled man.

    I wish I could say that adoption harmed him in some way, I can say first-hand that it hasn't. He and I also talk openly about adoption and while he says he missed knowing me, he can't say that the adoption harmed him.

    Me? I'll always live with the what ifs and the pain I went through. I don't think what the agency did to me was right or even legal. I'm all for opening records, OBCs, and agency regulation. But I am another first mother who has a son who is amazing, and I wouldn't change who he is for the world.

  26. I didn't come here to laugh AT you. I came to laugh at yet another adoption myth category that I don't into, nor do my siblings. I work in the adoption industry, although with young kids in the foster system. I found my way here several months ago from another blog I read.

    There needs to be massive changes to the adoption industry. From my end of it, there are so many broken children that just need a good home, but sooner. As an adoptee, I agree that things need to be open, because I know that I lucked out with my parents and others weren't so lucky.

    Here's where we disagree, I didn't experience a loss. As far as I am aware, neither did my sister or brother and we're pretty tight. I've always had normal relationships, never been depressed, or any of the other "common ailments" for adoptees.

    But, my biological mother is the kind of woman I would never aspire to be or even know. Sure, she has a family and other children, but she assumes that I need her to feel complete. That's pretty arrogant. And frankly, I find it arrogant when anyone else assumes that I must be doing X because of Y. The brain and heart are too complex for anyone to figure out.

    So, when I read this, I laughed. Not at you, but at the idea that you know me just because I'm adopted.

  27. I wouldn't call my adoption a perfect match, but it certainly wasn't bad either. Liek the other adoptees I didn't feel a huge sense of loss. I've met my biological father, he seems nice enough but not someone I feel related to. My biological mother died in childbirth to her second child.

    My parents encouraged me to search when I could, but not because I had some sense of "what am I missing", just from the medical stand point. I got some good information from my biological father, but neither of us had much interest in taking the relationship forward.

    I laugh too when people talk about adoptees being emotional skeletons or something until our magical biological family comes and gives us a reason to live.

    Now, my adopted brother, he's got issues. Serious issues, but now that he's in reunion, it makes alot more sense. And that's how I found this site, trying to find answers for him and my parents.

  28. BeccaL

    You don't think that the fact that you worjavascript:void(0)k in the adoption industry has nothing to do with you being adopted yourself? You were attracted to this field because of the high pay?

  29. Yes, Sarah, because everyone who works in the adoption industry is adopted???

    I started off working as a technical writer for a software company right after college. I volunteered with foster kids, as many in our company did on the weekends. From there, I got laid off and the foster agency offered me a job. So, no I don't think that being adopted is what attracted me to my job. But thanks for the snark, I suppose I deserved a bit of that.

  30. As an adoptive mom (who is working toward an open adoption), I'd love to hear from Lorraine, Jane, and others how best to mitigate that sense of loss that some feel.

  31. How is it a myth that Lorraine is writing about when she writes of her own experiences and the fact that her daughter took her own life? How is that a "myth" BeccaL? How could anyone construe Lorraine's pain as "funny" and come here for a good laugh?
    It seems sick and cruel to me.
    I have never heard of a sane person who perceived an obvious tragedy as a comedy simply because it didn't apply to them.
    Your lack of empathy and joy in the pain of others belies your own instability my dear.
    Sadly, it is not surprising at all that you work in the adoption industry, it is clear your strange sense of humor most likely serves you well in your profession.
    But just to make it clear, normal, happy, adjusted people don't usually come to the blogs of those expressing grief and mock their pain for laughs.

  32. I must say, my adoptive parents are pretty amazing. From everything I read here and other places, I think I really hit the jackpot with them. Kind, understanding, loving, encouraging, and patient. I'm young, just 18 and am just starting to think about how adoption has affected my life.

    I don't understand my birth mom. We've had a few "dates" as she calls them, but I don't feel any mystical connection to her. Mostly I feel like I'm on a job interview when I'm with her. It's awkwards as hell!

    My parents kept all information they had on my birth mom, but it still took me a while to find her. I searched for answers, because I was curious. But, I didn't feel a loss. I still don't. Next month I'm meeting my biological grandparents and a few aunts, maybe somethign will click?

  33. Karen Dawber wrote:" Until then I am very grateful for the support of bloggers like First Mother Forum. I've kept my sanity because of their voice affirming mine and many others feelings."

    The word that comes to my mind after reading the next post and the comments on this post is SUPPRESSION. But those of us who have felt enormous pain and damage from adoption must not let ourselves be silenced or suppressed. There is too much at stake.

    Maybe the title of this post should have included the word 'most', since we know how crazy some people go when a response is considered universal. True, people do respond differently to life experiences, but that doesn't make our negative experience with adoption any less valid or important. I also noticed that those who seem at peace with adoption also know who their first mother is. They did not have to live having absolutely no idea where they came from and not knowing whether they would have to go to their graves without ever knowing their own natural mother and father.

  34. Interesting post and comments.

    Astrology is valid. Even insurance companies have been known to use it to try to determine costs.

    Being relinquished is a gamble ... every human is unique, therefore, naturaly some adoptees will fare better than others because some adoptive families are more loving and open than others, and some adoptees are temperamentally better able to process the experience. And always, there are the spiritual reasons for the situation in everyone's life.

    There does appear to be a relationship between the quality of an adoptee's experience and their desire and need to search. Those with less supportive adoptive homes tend to feel more alienated and seem to be more likely to suffer from relinquishment. Also, personality characteristics and spiritual reasons play a role in how an adoptee will feel and react.

    In my experience, the better the adoptee's emotional experience in childhood and the less their predilection for self-reflection, introspection and thoughtfulness, the more likely they are to report "no damage" or "no desire to search/know", etc. This attitude and approach might or might not extend throughout their entire lifespan. Some people grow in wisdom and understanding, others do not. That too is influenced by personality and spirituality, and will vary completely.

  35. In all my years of being a birth mother, I never expected to find my daughter happy when we reunited. But, she was. She is. I wanted her, in some way, to be missing me. To feel like I was "saving" her from something. I wasn't saving her. I have become her friend and I am in her life. But, she was happy before she met me. She never felt a loss, or some deep longing to find her "roots". I come to this site for me, because yes, I had a huge loss and it won't be overcome easily. I find some perverse comfort in knowing that others feel that loss too and I'm not alone.

  36. @ beccal

    It is cool that you are happy with your family and being adopted. I agree with you and your sister that nobody should assume what you feel about your adoption.

    However, would you be so kind as to forward this post to you birthmother aka "pompous ass" so that she can get some clarity to how you feel and decide if she wants to "lunch" with you any longer.

    Don't you think that is fair? I mean who wants to meet with someone for lunch knowing that they are the "pompous ass" who should be suffered? I bet she doesn't and if you tell her then you can be free of her and she can be free of someone who holds her in such contempt. Just saying....

  37. BeccaL and Adopted and Happy,

    How old were each of you when you found your other mother? Did you always know who she was?

  38. BeccaL

    do you work with mothers who relinquish? do they ever learn that you are adopted and happy and think your mother is a jerk? i'd love to see a stat on how many 'adoption workers' are themselves adopted. and i'd like to see how many first mothers are adoption facilitators. i bed the stats don't correspond.

    becca, i don't mean to put down your relationship with your aparents but you seem to have serious issues--evident in your attitude towards the birth mothers who cherish this site. mild case of stockholm syndrome, i'd say.

  39. When I wrote the headline I was reminded of what a therapist said in the first trial I testified in, for a woman who wanted to have her OBC and any medical data she could. It must have been 1977 or so. Florence Fisher testified, and so did Robert J. Lifton and a child psychologistm name forgotten but I probably have it somewhere. I will never forget when he said when he was being cross examined by the attorney for Spence-Chapin: Adoption is always painful.

    Of course, that was only his educated opinion.

  40. Wait, so adoptees must have Stockholm Syndrome if they were happy with their childhood and their adoptive parents? Wow, talk about deluded.

    While my childhood wasn't ideal, it was far from horrible. I truly love my adoptive parents and my biological mom is just not my cup of tea!

  41. You hang around here long enough and you start to notice some patterns:

    1) 90% of adoptive parents are self-involved, abusive, greedy, attention-whores, and desperate. The other 10% are decent, but shouldn't be trusted.

    2) Adoptees are either angry or sad. If they aren't, they are deemed still "in the fog".

    3) First mothers are angry, bitter, or indignant. If they aren't, they are deemed a "happy birth mom" and are not to be listened to.

    Notice the extremes? Yeah, that isn't healthy. There is a whole rainbow of experiences out there. Not one of us can speak for the others and what we might be feeling.

    Some adoptive parents are good, people. Some adoptees are happy with their lives. And some birth moms are content with their choices. I know, this makes your whole bitter world a bit shaky, but it's better than living in a different kind of fog...one where everyone is angry.

  42. Too often adoption is seen through rose-colored glasses. So, from my perspective, it is good to hear someone voice that adoption also causes pain.

    I am an adoptee. I didn't experience unrelenting, gut-wrenching pain as a result of being adopted. But, I did feel the pinch. I wasn't plagued by my feelings, but I always wanted to find my biological connections to this world.

    Adoption, no matter how wonderful anyone thinks it is, starts with loss. And, loss does hurt.

    I don't believe that adoption leads to a sad, desperate life for all adoptees. On a ranked list of the negative factors that affected me in childhood, my adoption would be fairly low on the list.... But, I still wondered and cared about my other family.

    So, for those who say they didn't experience ANY pain (not even a pinch or longing) from being adopted, I'm thrilled for you. I'm certain that there are people who truly don't care about their biological heritage. (And, no, I don't think you are all still in the fog. You just have a different life experience and beliefs than I do.)

    But, it is interesting to me that the adopted women on here who have posted that they have had fantastic childhoods with no pain whatsoever from being adopted ALSO have all seemingly connected in some way with their other mothers. All of you have had the option to get to know your mothers. For me, as a child, it was the not knowing anything that pinched the most.

    That's why I asked BeccaL and Adopted and Happy in an earlier post about when they met (learned about) their other mothers. Knowing something, knowing anything, tends to take the sting away a bit.

    Yes, there is pain in the separation of child from mother. But, I think the most long-lasting pain, at least for many adoptees, is the pain of secrecy.

  43. Milky Way: I wish you had added what part of the adoption triangle you represented. We try not to denigrate the adoptees who are content with their life situation, whatever it is. We do hear from many adoptees who are very unhappy with being adopted; we hear less often from those who are content, but of course we know we are out there and that is a good thing. Yes, it sometimes "hurts" mothers at the same time we know it is the best for our children.

    We do not write about the psychology of adoptive parents unless they have acted in ways that are as you describe. Commenters are on their own there, however.

    But I do think that a woman who goes through a pregnancy, birth and relinquishment and does not feel pain and sorrow is abnormal. Some of them--and I count myself among them--have made peace with our decisions because we would be crazy otherwise, but that doesn't mean we still don't recognize how giving up our children changed our lives, and not in a way that made life easy.

    Would you share with us your connection to this site? Obviously everybody here has a connection, otherwise they would not be here. Without telling us, you comment just comes off as snarky.

  44. I have to agree with MilkyWay. I've seen it for a while too. The trend of most posts and almost all comments is: Adoptive parents are bad and suspicious. First moms need to be upset. And adoptees need to be longing.

    And then when someone deviates from the "norm" of this site, someone is sure to point that out and start throwing around insults/clinical diagnoses/questions that person's sanity.

    I'm a first mom and a regular commenter, but there's no way I want to have my name associated with this statement...backlash would follow.

    Oh, and that adoptive parent who posted a legitimate questions about how to mitigate the pain of adoption was totally ignored. Classic.

  45. Well, there has to be some pain involved for the vast majority of the (birth)mothers at least. My stepdaughter (who has been a labor and delivery nurse in the largest hospital in our area for more than 10 years) and her fellow nurses "draw straws" and flip coins to determine who is going to take the next BUFA (Baby up for adoption) patient. The nurses don't want to handle these cases because they are "sad", "unhappy", have "bad vibes" (their words). If pain and unpleasantness weren't a consistent pattern, why would the nurses resist serving those patients and endeavor to keep their exposure to a minimum? How the mother and baby process it over time, well that is individual. But, I have never heard the nurses speak of a 'happy' BUFA situation ever.

  46. To the Adoptive parent who asked how to mitigate the pain, the answer deserves a whole post, not just something lost in the comments. I am one person. Jane is away. Both of us have lives outside of managing this blog. the income from this blog doesn't buy lunch for two in anything other than a lunch counter. I have other work to do also. Please give me some leeway instead of just saying--Oh, classic," whoever left that comment, but not leave her name.

  47. Thank you KatyP for that observation. I've never heard that before but it makes sense. After I gave birth, I was a total wreck and had to be given a powerful shot of something to put me to sleep after birth as I was hysterically sobbing. The only person there to offer me solace was my adoption social worker, who I have to say, totally understand the pain I was going through. She called the father at work to tell him I had given birth, she held my hand after the birth, and knowing all that she did about how I felt, I think she would have been thrilled if I had taken my daughter home with me.

    But to what home? I was alone in an apartment without any support.

  48. Oh good grief...

    The adoptees commenting that are "laughing at the post" should be ashamed. Much like the person who left a comment on my blog something the effect that "I was lucky because at least I had reproduced biologically" - you know, despite the fact that my son died as infant...I was lucky...

    Loss is loss and perhaps y'all haven't ever felt loss, because you certainly don't have empathy.

    Neither Lorraine, nor Jane, has ever said anything nasty or demeaning when I speak about mom and dad and the values and ethics they held and taught us kids - which included empathy. Perhaps that's why...

    Perhaps next time you comment consider the alternative of just noting that Lorraine should have included either or the words "some", "most" in the title of the post ,and call it a day. Your glee did not reflect well on you at all.

    Keep up the good work Lorraine!

  49. Thank you, adopted ones. Yes, I should have included "Normal" mothers and "some" adoptees and left out the word "always." You know, write a headline that doesn't make a lot of sense but would offend no one.

    Tempus fugit, I have other things to worry about.

    I think the nurses trying to avoid BUFA deliveries says it all. I wish some one would write about that.

  50. I'm a social worker at a very small hospital. Generally I help the elderly or very poor find resources to help them once they are home.

    On the several occasions I've had to handle an adoption case, I have noticed that people don't know what to say to me (most people know that I gave a child up for adoption 10 years ago). I do what I can for these young mothers and try to help them find resources should they decide to parent (4 out of 12 did just that).

    Of course there is pain. Of course there is a sense of loss. But, I don't let it define me. Being a first mother is NOT the only part of my life.

    I find those who let one aspect of their life define them to lack introspection. It also suggests a certain pathology of thinking that isn't healthy.

  51. I saw BUFA the other day and was "thrilled" to see how much adoption has changed since my day - why they added another letter - so much better than "BFA"...

    You know, my aunt was telling me my story and explained that my mother had been moved to a different floor after birth and thought it was to make it easier for her - perhaps it did - but I doubt they did it for that reason - rather to "protect" all the married mothers from contact with an unwed mother.

    The changes appear to not be more than surface level...

    You should do a shout out for L&D nurses to share their feelings - it would be interesting.

  52. Helen: I don't think most first mothers--including the ones who come her for validation and comfort, let that aspect of their lives "define" their entirety. What you read here is a part of their lives and there are few places where they may freely share it. Our lost motherhood does become the prism through which we move forward. I became committed to adoption reform, certainly because of my own experience, an experience that shaped my life. I had my career, got married, got divorced, and married again--coming up now on 32 years.

    Most women recognize that they cannot metaphorically spend their lives wallowing in their grief. We do pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, etc.

    But we still are who we are. Just as everybody is.

  53. "I think the nurses trying to avoid BUFA deliveries says it all. I wish some one would write about that."

    I find this very interesting because I know several nurses and they all say that the maternity floor is their favorite place to work. For the most part the patients are healthy and it's a happy environment. Well, I guess, except for this awful fly in the ointment when mothers give their babies up.

    I am suspicious of young adult adoptees who say they are perfectly fine being adopted and don't feel any connection to their bio-families, yet they decide to search when they are only 18 or 19 years old. Their actions belie their words. It seems that being adopted did affect them profoundly, otherwise why rush to search practically the minute one becomes a legal adult? It's kind of like someone who says she isn't interested in romance or a committed relationship, yet joins online dating services and asks her friends to fix her up. I'm not buying their disinterest.

  54. "Adoption is always painful."
    It is not adoption itself that's the source of pain. It's the separation of mother and child, too often caused by powerlessness, rejection and shame.
    I still think that women who say they made the best decision under the circumstances don't deserve to be second guessed. Surely it's possible put forward a different perspective without resorting to sick vindictive snarky comments like "It's nice to know you are content with your decision" (to a person who didn't say that or anything like it) or "Feel free to say you had all the information and still chose this horror for yourself and you child" (she didn't say that either).

    Lorraine, could you please elaborate on your statement "Every adoption that can be prevented, should be"?
    I do think Veronica Brown's adoption is terribly wrong and am very sad that her real "best interests" have been trampled on and ignored, but I would like to know more about what you mean by that statement. It seems uncompromising. Not all children are best served by staying or even maintaining contact with their original families. Some have even suffered for it.
    Thank you in advance for your explanation.

  55. I'm quite tired, I wrote half the day, and then wrote the new blog this evening, but I will simply say now: that if there are no outside compelling reasons--such as an abusive household where the child is in actual danger, or where the parents are addicts, etc.--the best place for a child is with her or his parents, the one she or he was born to. If an "adoption" must occur it should be open and honest right from the beginning, and the natural parents should stay involved to the best of their abilities, the birth certificate should not be altered.

    We have written about this extensively in the past in numerous blogs, and quoted the experts. See Our Response of the Adoption Option at the top of the blog where that is a permanent page.

    Simply because a parent can give a child more material things does not make that household a better environment for the child.

    And now--good night!

  56. I have alot to say, so it will have to be done in several comments.

    I agree that separation of mother and her son(s)/daughter(s), whether an adoption follows or not, ALWAYS is a traumatic tragedy, and

    that as is a natural/normal response to trauma, there is pain, to if not also the mother, ALWAYS to her separated son(s)/daughter(s).

    Babies do know pain, they do feel it, they just don't have the maturity to say "ow, I'm in pain". So for those who are trying to claim

    as if fact, that they experienced no loss, nor any sense of it, nor pain from it, from being separated from the only mother, the life

    bearing being, whom carried you, nourished you, the first, and most important years of your existence, you're mistaken, in denial, or


    Do you not think that when as a baby, your birth alone, or any other physical procedures, or needles, for say vaccinations or

    medications, caused you no pain, and made you cry out because as a baby that was the only way you knew how to express pain? If you

    believe you felt no pain in any of that, you are either lying, or stupid.

    What you who scoff who espouse you are happy you were adopted, that you felt no pain, no loss, no depression, etc, while at the same

    time, praising the people who raised you, fail to understand/realize/recognize, the truth as it is, is that what you experienced was

    considered by your infant psyche as trauma, and people who experience trauma share similar experiences in how it affects them, and how

    they cope. See, for us humans, our initial response to trauma is to either flee, or fight against it. As immature children, you can't

    flee. You can't run away, to where your mother is, the one from whom you grew in, and were separated from. The one who is familiar to

    you, the one whom you naturally want to be with. And, you can't fight either, for reunification, because again, you're too immature

    and either can't express your demand for reunification, or you aren't listened to anyway. So what do you do? You do the only thing

    you can do. You resign yourself to your fate: that of living and being raised by, the people who have you, good or bad. See, we human

    beings aren't meant to exist alone, we're meant to form attachments with others - relationships, because it's what helps us be, to

    survive, and be healthy, mentally, emotionally, and physically. When we are separated from people we have an inherent bond with,

    relationship with, and we don't get reunited with them, especially when we're immature children who are controlled by adults, so we

    feel powerless, along with grief stricken, to cope, we learn to either accept the circumstance, attach to the replacement people, and

    be compliant, not wanting to ruffle any feathers that could potentially cause another loss, when you are in a grieving process, even

    if you lack the maturity to know that you are, because there is always grief when a human being loses someone significant to them, and

    they have a healthy psyche, one that wasn't damaged so that their neural pathways that are responsible for the functioning of empathy,

    were properly formed, and thus, functioning normally. However, the trauma of separation is most hard on children 5 years and younger,

    infants the worst, because of their lack of maturity, thus their empathy is affected. It could be minute to severe, depending on the

    response to their grief by whatever adults are in charge of caring for them. That is why, the better the adults, the more nurturing,

    affectionate, attentive, responsive, genuinely loving, the better the child fairs.

  57. "Simply because a parent can give a child more material things does not make that household a better environment for the child."

    Nor does it justify the child losing his or her biological connections, ancestral roots, family medical history, living with the people who look like him, have talents and interests like him, etc. Also, don't forget the potential psychological and emotional issues arising from having been given away. I realize that not all adoptees have these issues, but many do. Most (not all) people fit in better and feel a sense of belonging growing up in their original families than with genetic strangers.

    Of course, some children are born into dangerous environments and there will always be a need for adoption. But if biological connections were so unimportant, then why don't maternity wards just pass out babies willy nilly without any concern as to who the bio-parents are? Boy, would there be an outcry over that.

  58. I'm glad that there are some stories of happy, well-adjusted adults who were adopted as children. That gives me hope in my very dark place.

    I was told it would be better if I gave my daughter up for adoption, that I didn't fight the authorities, and my family encouraged me, too, giving the social worker as many negative details about me as they could.

    I was in my late twenties and a professional. My daughter was a bright beautiful toddler, and I had always felt that someone else could do far better than me. I was alone and unsupported and ended up with a problem with alcohol. By the time my daughter was finally placed by the authorities, I was a year sober, and it was too late. The adoption order had been granted, and any involvement by me would slow things down and make things worse for her.
    I am over a year sober now, but still totally broken, I miss her every day, and hate myself for the things I have done. She is settled, now with her "distinguished and wealthy" new parents. The social worker seems to think these are the leading criteria. I am not distinguished, or wealthy, I am disabled, sad, and child-less. Soon her name with change and they can edit me out. Will she be traumatised? How can I know, I pray that she won't be, that she will never have to hurt or feel like this, and that if she lets me, I will be there in any way I can. Of course it hurts. But it is gone, and I hope that time will bring some balance, and some confidence.

  59. Oh, I so needed this. And I didn't even know it.

    I became pregnant when I was 18 and in the military. Since the father didn't want to marry me or even claim our child, I felt like my options were limited. At that time (nearly 26 years ago), I didn't really think I had options. My mother mentioned abortion and I declined. I fantasized, briefly, about raising my child - but "knew" that was "irresponsible" - when there are "thousands of married couples who cannot have children waiting to adopt." The arrangements were made and I was told I was noble, strong and brave - and I felt like I was. Kind of. A few weeks before my son was born, I told my mom I was having second thoughts - she told me to quit...because "his parents have already decorated his room - you cannot do that to them." Even then - even when I still believed that the "honorable" thing to do - the "responsible" thing to do - the "loving" thing to do was give my baby away to a responsible, married couple...I still resented her telling me that.

    For years now I figured that it was the right thing to do - the responsible thing. It is only now...really recently...that I've begun to even allow myself to say - not even out loud and only in my head - that it was wrong. That I was wronged. That he was wronged. That I wish I had been braver and stronger...I have gone from feeling "noble" about this adoption to feeling like I failed my son in my very first task: to protect him and keep our family intact. (He is a wonderful young man - and was raised by wonderful parents. It's not that there was anything wrong with them. It is adoption I find fault with - and a culture that made me think I was unworthy of my son and that complete strangers were more worthy to raise him than I was.)

    I have never said any of this to anyone before. Thank you for the opportunity.

  60. HI I have a question, I have been looking for my son now for awhile, but I have doubts now. After being told I gave up my rights being a mother the day he was born and I gave him up, it wasn't easy but I had to. Any ways couple of people I'm acquaintances with over heard and said I gave up my rights and don't have a right to just appear in his life give it up let it go they said. I'm not searching to barge into his life I don't even know if I will make communication I just want to know the basics is he happy and I'm sure the parents are it was hard to choose a family threw the agency but they stuck out. So really should I search or should I just give up and leave it be?

  61. Since this is an old blog, I suggest you leave your question under the current blog. You will get answers from adoptees,...but yes, you have the right to search. I wrote a post on that, use the upper left search function and you should find it, but also leave a comment at current blog, just say, I know this is off topic...and make up a name for yourself anf use the Name selection, you don't need a url.
    You are not alone.

  62. I too gave up my son he was two with a siezure disorder infantile spasms then progressed from there. I too feel like a horrible person but did not know how to help a child with these needs. He is niw 23 and noone will even answer if he is alive. The agency lied the whole time starting by taking him home with the director until they could find a home then about the adoptive family etc. I have been through serious bouts of depression etc and feel this plays a big part. If the adoptive family put him in a home what harm would there be me knowing if he turned around great and i would only pursue a visit if asked if he's passed what harm is it for me to know. Certwinly if he's in a state home maybe I could be his only visitor. I talked to a private investigator and she quoted 1500.00 to me that might as well be a million. I'm still doing my own research and hopefully I find something out. If you ever need to talk you can fb msg me at stef annie and ill msg or give you my number I don't sleep much so I could really use a person whose been there. Thanks again fb is first name stef last name annie



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