' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: I will always be a woman who gave up a child

Monday, September 1, 2014

I will always be a woman who gave up a child

The other day I was reading a new book, Soldier Girls: the Battles of Three Women at Home and at War, and I came to the section at the end where a therapist is helping one of the women get over the effects of two deployments, one in Afghanistan, one in Iraq. The woman, called Desma in the book, was injured when the supply truck she was driving in Iraq hit a roadside bomb. She ended up with a traumatic brain injury, although she had not been compensated for that disability. The doctor treating her also believed she was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which she was also not being compensated for either.

Desma had a troubled childhood and had been removed from her mother and put into foster care. One of her therapists wanted her to probe into her past but Desma did not want to talk about it because it flooded her with emotion--namely anger. Now that she as back home, she felt a "snarly, pissy kind of rage."

But it was the aftermath of the bomb explosion--she broke no bones--that was the biggest problem.
"Pentagon officials estimated that more than three hundred thousand soldier had come back from Afghanistan with Iraq with invisible head wounds due to the tremendous explosions that had been detonating in both theaters. The armor on their bodies and their vehicles had kept them alive, but the blasts had sometimes caused winds in excess of three hundred miles per hour, and many of the soldiers had been knocked around so badly that their brains had sheared inside their skulls." 
That blew me away immediately--three hundred thousand people with traumatic brain injuries?--but it was when a therapist tried to get Desma past the sense of the immediate moment of the bomb going off that I lost it.
"Rather than avoid her frightening memories, the psychologist wanted Desma to wring them dry of emotion. The bomb blast was accidentally stuck in the present moment, the therapist observed; every time Desma thought about it, it was as though the incident were happening all over again.  Dr. Knock wanted to help her get it safely into the photo album of history, where it would carry less valence."
When I read those words, I thought of the visceral reaction I have every time there is a birth scene in a movie or on television. I shut my eyes, try to drown out the sound of the mother in pain--for the memory grabs me and I am back in that hospital, I am having my baby that I know I will give to someone else, I am living in the sheer horror of those emotions all over again.

I mean, it's time for me to move on, isn't it? My daughter Jane was born in 1966. We reunited in 1981, had a relationship, up and down, around and around, for more than a quarter of a century, and still that moment of giving birth under such terrible circumstances haunts me like nothing else does. Would it be possible for me to neutralize the event so that I could look at it with more distance and less emotion when the emotion is sorrow? Everybody's got something, right? We pick ourselves up, we move on, but this loss stayed with me like no other loss. It's why I feel sad when I think about the young man I did not marry, my first love, who I met in college and our breakup--the fault lies with both of us--leads me immediately to think: If we had married, I wouldn't have given up a child for adoption. 

Maybe the feelings stay so raw because I feel so responsible for not keeping her. I can go on and on about the times, the social mores, the shame, the married father who wasn't ready to start a new life with me yet (but would later), the career I had been working for most of my life up to then blowing up in my face, how I couldn't face my father, but at bottom I feel that none of that exonerates me completely, and I will carry around a certain amount of guilt until I breathe my last breath. Why wasn't I stronger? is the question I that haunts me, even today. Why wasn't I stronger?

I have no answer to that question and I have no tidy solution for myself. I just keep trying to accept what is. Overall, I have made progress. Finding my daughter, when she was fifteen, was a great step forward, as were the years we were able to have together. I think I have become more inured to birth scenes in movies--there was even one in Philomena and I didn't leap out of my seat. There was one the other night in the Sundance TV series, An Honorable Woman. They are actually pretty common today, as if the directors feel they must include one if the story at all relates to the birth. I will see more.

Everybody's got something, right? Cancer, being adopted, being raped, a prolonged period of caring for someone who cannot care for themselves, the death of a parent or a child, the suicide of someone close to you, the drug addiction of a loved one, a traumatic brain injury, the loss of a limb--but all of these things required no act or input from the person bearing the burden. For first mothers, it is not just that we had sex, but we had to give up our children. I gave up my daughter, I found her, and a quarter of a century later, she killed herself. Adoption was only part of her tsouris; she always said her epilepsy was a greater burden to bear, and I believed her. Yet I can talk about her suicide--or anyone's suicide--with less anxiety than I can talk about losing her to adoption, though giving her up occurred forty-two years earlier.

The mothers whose parents forced them to give up their children may be more angry--at their parents--than the rest of us. One mother who left a comment said that after she was forced to give up her child by her parents, but couldn't stop crying and moping, her father said it was "time to put on her big girl panties" and move on. How cruel sounded, how cruel it was.

But in a way, most of us first mothers do put on our big girl panties and move on. Most of us don't lie down and never get up. We do. We get up and carry on. We have our lives to reclaim. Some of us found a cause in helping understand the pain of adoption, and working for change in the laws. Some of us found it helpful to be a soft shoulder to other women going through the same trauma. Some of us have other children. I didn't, but I have a good life--my partner, my family, a wealth of friends, I live near a beach. I did resume my career, and part of it was in writing about adoption. I have found great comfort in being a voice for first mothers, in working for change, in getting states to repeal their laws sealing off adoptees identities.

Yet no one moves forward without the scars of the past, whatever they be. I will grant you that for a great many of us, losing a child to adoption was an immense body/mind blow. To greater and lesser degrees, we carry on with our own post traumatic stress disorders. We don't really get over anything. We do the best we can.

I am still recovering from my ankle-replacement surgery. My right ankle and calf are in a hard cast. I'm getting around on crutches and a scooter called a "knee walker." Many friends came over in the last two weeks bringing not only their company, but dinner as well. I have metal and plastic now embedded inside me. I will always be a woman with a ankle replacement and I will always be a woman who gave up a child.

So it goes.--lorraine
the BOOK that got me thinking:
Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe

A thoroughly engrossing. a vivid and intensely personal account of the lives of three women whose only common denominator had been that they joined the Indiana National Guard, never imagining they might end up in a war zone. Journalist Helen Thorpe, through access to their diaries, emails, Facebook pages, as well as extensive interviews, tells their stories from 2000 to 20013 in intimate detail as they become intertwined in Afghanistan, and how they continue to depend on each other after they return home to a world that feels vastly different than the one they left. The women were all forever changed. The book is meticulously researched, well written, and a fascinating look at what it was like to join the National Guard for a variety of reasons (college tuition, a second-hand car, you want some adventure in your life) and end up in a war zone. Let me second it's almost certain nomination for a Pulitzer Prize. If it's not a finalist, it will certainly be because of gender bias. 

Most of you know that I told my own story in the first memoir from a birth mother: BirthmarkSee picture and link in the right sidebar. Second memoir about to go out to publishers. Fingers crossed. It will be published. 


  1. I will always be the woman who surrendered a child, went through the casual cruelty of a "bad reputation," was raped and surrendered another child. I once believed that I was the only person who had been there twice. I'm not. But that doesn't make it any easier. It defined me for a long time, getting between me and self-respect which I really needed in order to move on with any appreciation of life. Having two other children and raising them helped.However, only after finding other mothers, having the on and off relationships I have with my reunited children and facing the reality that, like Michael Brown, I didn't deserve the death of my sense of self I suffered, have I put those big girl panties on and really lived. This is why my life no longer revolves around surrender and adoption. Good blog, Lorraine.

    1. Thanks, Robin. I didn't know the particulars of your story but oh, that is so sad. and we do survive.

      Michael Brown?

    2. facing the reality that, like Michael Brown, I didn't deserve the death of my sense of self I suffered, have I put those big girl panties on and really lived."

      I think that this is the comment that I relate to the most.
      Thanks for sharing, Robin!

    3. Lorraine...like Michael Brown..an unarmed teen..didn't deserve to be shot no matter how he may have "misbehaved," I didn't deserve the treatment and the theft of my self-worth that I received. That might be an outrageous analogy to some, but on a visceral level, I related to the injustice.

  2. I believe it's important to tell our stories--and to keep telling them, as you are doing and have done. I like what you say: "I will always be a woman who gave up her child." I am such a woman as well, and in many ways it defines me more than anything else, at least in my own mind. I am a mother of other children and a grandmother, but the fact of that first birth is like a boulder in the river of my life. I relate to what you say, here and elsewhere, and I am grateful because your words make me feel less alone. Keep writing, and I'll keep reading what you have to say.

  3. My daughter will always be a woman who gave up a child. I will always be a woman who was not there for her daughter at a time when she needed her most. Yes, we all have our crosses to bear, but it's just amazing how people want the cross you and my daughter bear to be one hidden from public view.
    Ironically, my daughter's grandfather told her to put her "big girl panties on and get over it", too. As long as they don't have to look at her pain and she doesn't make them uncomfortable. The thing is, in our situation one half of his family is benefitting from her pain because his son adopted her daughter. I am unsure how much more you can hurt someone or show them how much you truly do not care about what they are going through.

    Good luck in your recovery and getting your book published.

    1. Your daughter's grandfather's son....adopted the baby...the baby's uncle? Or father of the child. Please explain.

      I love this advice people give when they have no idea what we women are going through soon after the birth and relinquishment. Every fiber in our body is saying: keep your baby....

    2. In case Kellie doesn't see your question:

      If I remember it correctly, Kellie's husband's brother (and that brother's wife) adopted Kellie's granddaughter. She writes about it at All In The Family Adoption.

    3. Yes, Cherry is correct. My husband's brother adopted my granddaughter. It's confusing.
      My daughter's paternal uncle and his wife adopted her daughter. My father-in-law (dad to both my husband and A-dad of granddaughter) is the one who told my daughter to put her "big girl panties on and get over it". A-parents have subsequently ceased contact with us and only allow once a year visits for our daughter.
      I remember my FIL being so happy and announcing to everyone when I was pregnant with my daughter. I wasn't even showing and he was telling everyone I was pregnant with his first grandchild. My daughter was only a year younger than I was when I had her when she had her daughter - who is his first great-grandchild.

      It seems our only value to my husbands family is our ability to provide them with children and grandchildren. My other daughter has already informed these same grandparents they will never know any of her children if she has any.

  4. Yes, we all have our scars and we all carry on and do our best to deal with this part of us. For as your say it is always there. It is a permanent part of us. I like your comparison to your plastic and metal ankle. Although mine are two metal knees that will always be a part of me just as I will always be a mother who gave up my first born baby. It has made me who I am and it a huge part of me that affects me every day.

  5. Gosh, Lorraine, this made me cry. I so relate. No amount of success in my life, no amount of good parenting of my sons, relationships, career, will overcome the dark shadow adoptions surrender casts on my life.

  6. Lorraine : you were not allowed to be stronger. There was no option in those days and you did what you were told. Such a shame. I think of my first mother and I know, in my heart that she was forced to relinquish. Having had two children I cannot imagine your anguish. xoxo

  7. For some reason, this article brought me to tears.

    Thank you for all you do Lorraine.

  8. Yes, we all have something. Thank you for sharing, we adoptive parents need to read things like this.

  9. Lorraine, for me a (FirstMother), I have no answers,wish I did but at 53 and 28 years post ,I don't.
    I for the first time a week ago heard my son's voices and I felt like there were 5 different people inside of me,and not a damned one of them knew "how" to handle hearing their voices for the first time since letting them go at 3 days old.
    I often think,how I will feel, how I should feel.,but most times it is never as one anticipates!
    I often tell myself,I am "dead" inside ,yet frequently I read where it is most likely "denial"!
    I am so sick of that word,I could puke!
    I know I just took your post completely off topic, of which I apologize,but PTSD is another word that I have had embedded into my psyche more than I would care to share!
    Is it not possible to just hurt like hell,when something arises that triggers an emotion of pure bell. A crying baby, walking out of the hospital after ones husband has surgery,looking into your newborn granddaughter s eyes for the first time...all as examples of course! Why must I "feel" anything? WHY can't it just hurt like hell and not be labeled....I dunno,maybe it's PTSD or Denial...it just sucks,and at 53 I am exhausted trying to compartmentalize the loss of my boys!
    I hate t h e social worker,I hate my innocence ,my immaturity 28 years ago, and I hate not being able to HEAR their voices for the first time over the EFFING internet! Thanks Lorraine,when you have answers,please post,so I can finally KNOW;)

    1. Anonymous, I have no deep and abiding answers. With reunion so fresh, you are going through the initial pangs of reunion and like most of us, will feel undone for quite a while. Accept it, tell someone how it feels--that you are back at that vulnerable place when you first gave up your babies--and tell yourself that in time the intensity will ebb. Allow yourself to weep and feel, for the time being. You are now in the healing stage. Let it be. Love yourself. Forgive yourself.
      hugs and empathy

      You didn't take my post off topic.

  10. Lorraine,seriously your title of " I will always be a woman who gave up her child", is the point I was trying to make in my previous post. WHY does it have to be labeled and defined past that point! I remember a few years back,in another group, others in the world of adoption,trying to tell me PTSD is an excuse "we FirstMothers" for the "Regret" we now harbor.....seriously? The reasons are many I why I left those groups,but THAT one remark has been embedded in my mind since.
    Thanks again for allowing my comments , I enjoy reading your thought process:)

  11. I, too, will always be a woman who gave up a child. Such a big story contained in one line.

  12. Telling you that PTSD was an "excuse" for the regret? Srsly? Whoever said that did not want to acknowledge how much you are hurting. Expletive them. Say, you are right! I do regret what happened. I do regret that I gave up my sons! and then walk out. I'm glad that you did.

  13. Thanks all of you for your kind comments. This post has been cogitating in my head for days now.

  14. I have mixed feelings about the article. No doubt, my life is defined by my son. His parents and I understand this and I am as much a fixture in his life as they. However, I did give my chance at motherhood for a greater good. Yes, there are things beyond being a mother, important things. Defining yourself as a woman who gave up your child, allows you to sell yourself short and validate obsession. My son expects more of me, as do I. At the risk of repeating myself, I didn't surrender my son so that I could spend the rest of my life mourning him.

    1. "Greater good?" As an adoptee, all I can think is what did you consider greater than raising your child? ~Mary

    2. so why did you surrender him? What is this greater good that you allude to?

    3. I am a very unique individual. Certain aspects of my personality are not contusive to proper child rearing. I have paranoid schizophrenia and an extreme lack of empathy for others. Until I had my son, I really was not sure love existed. I love him. It would have been selfish of me to half-ass motherhood. At the time, I thought I would be a risk to my own child and for the first time, I put another's needs before my own. My baby changed me, continues to everyday. My life long dreams have changed and my goals have shifted totally. All I wanted to do was have and operate a bakery, I saved my whole life for it. Now, I'm using the funds to open a Crisis Pregnancy Center, one without a religious affiliation. I want to help women make educated decisions, without bias, and with true facts. Whether it be abortion, adoption, or parenting, I want to support them throughout their decision and beyond. I came here to get some different views, as my adoption story is unlike most. It would be awesome if I could hear each of your stories, good, bad, anything. I'm close to my financial goals and only a couple years away from opening my Center. Hearing your stories would be of tremendous use to me.

      Lorraine, if you are out there, point me in a direction where I can get a variety of adoption stories and the advice the storytellers would give a someone in a crisis pregnancy situation. I want these women to know all aspects of adoption. My story is happy, but I know that is unusual. I want these ladies to know all the information, not just mine.

    4. Jenny: I don't know where to go for more stories than this blog and others like it.

      Your having paranoid schizophrenia, as well as a lack of empathy, does make it a different decision for you to give your child up for adoption. Weirdly enough, when I was in the hospital recently for surgery I met a woman whose mother was schizophrenic, and so was one of this woman's daughters. When she got pregnant, the woman I met, her mother, said the decision what to do was up to her, but she had to face the fact that the likelihood that her child would be schizophrenic was very high. After talking to a counselor at a hospital, the woman decided to terminate the pregnancy.

      I must admit, I still find it difficult to find your story "happy" though it may have been the best decision for you and your child.

    5. "Happy" in the sense that I see my child regularly and have an excellent relationship with his parents. As we all know, giving a child is beyond devastating. My adoption story is no fairy tale, but in comparison, it was/is incredibly joyful. My fear for my son was not so much that he would inherit my mental illness, but that I would project my own onto him. Thus giving my child a miserable life. Its hard. I miss him every minute and it ties knots in my soul knowing that I can't just reach out and touch him every time I want to. The experience has changed me in unimaginable ways, yet I refuse to define my life as merely "a woman who gave away her child". I want more for myself, and for my son.

    6. Jenny Reese, thanks for your insights into your reasons and thoughts.

      I don't think anyone here is defining their life as 'merely' a woman who gave away her child. We all do and are much else. But I do think we are saying how deeply, to the core, that experience affected us (due to the feelings we had, and have towards our children, separation from whom caused the 'knots in our soul' you describe). I think that's what many of us are saying.

    7. Jenny,
      Thanks for completing your story. When I read statements from first mothers about how happy they are with adoption, I see red. By telling the happy part without the pain part, their stories become advertising material for the adoption industry and thwart our efforts to end the exploitation in adoption..

      While I am always a mother who gave up a child (as I am also a woman who lost an eye to cancer -- although that pales by comparison), neither defines me. I am a mother to four wonder women, grandmother to six fabulous children, a wife of 45 years, an attorney, an activist, and a so-so bridge player. I'm compassionate and I'm hard-- and I am much more.

      I write about adoption not because it defines me but because I hope to do some good through my words.

    8. Jane wrote:"I write about adoption not because it defines me but because I hope to do some good through my words."

      And you do, Jane. You most certainly do.

  15. Like I said earlier....I can not imagine giving up a child. I was brainwashed all my life to believe that it did not matter to the first mother. The girl would forget and move on. Now, of course, I know differently.

    My adoptive mother, in rare moments of lucidity, has said that when the caseworker came to our apartment before the adoption was finalized, she was very worried that I would be taken from her. She agonized for days every time the caseworker showed up. Every time the phone rang she thought someone was coming to get me. How, then, could she never understand that my first mother might have had some feelings about this whole thing. She does not get it to this day. The girl left me and moved on, and my AP's honestly think that she never thought about me again. Such twisted logic. The lack of understanding in adoption is astounding!

    1. I have very mixed feelings when I hear adoptive mothers, often during reunion, say things like:

      I'm scared I'm going to lose my son/daughter.
      I fear I'm going to be replaced.
      I am afraid I won't matter anymore.
      I fear I will be forgotten.
      I worry that my son/daughter will see me as second best.
      I don't want to share my son/daughter.

      These are just some of the things I've heard adoptive mothers say, and when I do, I think 'you fear these things but they actually happened to me. What you fear actually happened.'

      I don't know why this doesn't lead to more understanding of the first mother's feelings.

  16. Lorraine, Thanks for your posting - it resonated to every part of me as adoption always does. I lost my daughter to the world of adoption in January, 1969 and it profoundly changed me at the core of my being - from that experience every choice I made and didn't make was from the loss of my first born baby - how profoundly sad. We were reunited in 2002 and the reunion has had its ups and downs but we are now very secure in where we are in the journey. She is stunning and perfect and so much more then I could ever have imagined - we talk almost daily and live in different countries. In May of 2013 I married her natural father - my high school sweetheart. That has been wonderful but has also come with its complexities as I now know I have deep wounds that have never been healed. Thank you for posting. I always enjoy your readings.

  17. Jenny, when you get as old as Lorraine and me you just might look at things differently. I do not see Lorraine's post as validating obsession. Instead I see it as validating the cellular level - something a woman in her youth can deny, however with time, we understand the force of mother nature. I am my daughters mother, nothing a piece of paper or any number of diaper changes can change. Of course she doesn't claim me as mother and claims another. I understand and honor the relationship with her adoptive mother. However, from her beginnings until eternity I will be her mother. And how disappointing when your own mother turns her back on you when you are born. No, their is nothing more important than being a mother.

  18. I considered myself one of the "lucky" ones because I did go on, married, and raised three subsequent children. When my son found me in 2000 after searching for 20 years, the reunion was hard because I realized I'd buried all the anguish and I had to dredge it up and live through it again to find myself and heal. My son and I lost years together but he is where he belongs now.

  19. I am a first time commenter (but a faithful reader) as well as, an adoptive Mom.

    This post is almost haunting for me and I need to say this before I lose my nerve, with understanding it might sound trite or not worthy of saying at all......I just fervently hope it doesn't come across as patronizing for that is my last intention.

    Here goes.....

    Please know that along with being a "woman who gave up a child" you are seen by myself and many AParents as unsung heroes, women of incredible strength, fortitude, selflessness and grace. Far more than just one label, women of vast capabilities well beyond the sum or scope of one accolade or moment in time. For me......you are the cornerstone of my children's past, heritage and legacy. I guard it carefully for you and for them, so that when they are ready, it can unfold with clarity, understanding, empathy and love. They already know of you and love you.

    I have nothing but admiration for First Mothers - how could I have anything less for the Mother's of the children I have been blessed with to raise. An awesome responsibility and one I take to heart. I couldn't let them down and I won't let you down either!

    Did you know that sometimes I think of you when we celebrate simple milestones? When I catch a reflection in this precious child's eye, an echo of you, and I wonder if you gave them their artistic flair or yen for Math? I consider that while I bask in their innocence of daily simple joys and revel in who they are and who they will become, you have missed out on those cherished little moments. It breaks my heart.

    I hope you know they are loved, healthy, happy and confident. (and smart) Yes, we can read copious story books, be active at their schools, nurture their innate abilities and help them always strive to their best, but YOU are there too. In their blueprint - in their very being.

    I hope you know that every year we take photos beside the tree that was first planted for you when our two were young. The tree is thriving, as are these two entrusted to my (our) care. It shelters us and brings hours of happy play in climbing and picnics beneath it.

    Do you understand that for me.......thoughts of you shelter our family during hard days. When I'm blurry eyed with lack of sleep or mothering through the flu, I think of you and all you gave up and endured, and know I can do this. AND KNOW it is nothing compared to your sleepless nights of wondering about your children. I mean really wondering, beyond the updates, photos or calls. I wish peace of mind could be your sheltering; I wish I could give you that over and again.

    AND even if you have been told otherwise, just know there are plenty of us out there who respect you and know.....really KNOW....you are yes, a woman who gave up a child BUT so much more too.

    Just needed you to know.......all of you.

    1. I hear what you are saying and thank you for joining the ranks of the amoms who understand that a child comes from somewhere other than the agency stork.

      But I shudder when you describe us as "unsung heroes, women of incredible strength, fortitude, selflessness and grace" because that does define us as "brave" baby producers for those who want to adopt. We are generally scared, vulnerable women without the ability at the time of the pregnancy to care for our own child and so, painfully, turned to the adoption system in this country amid a bucket of tears.

      We first mothers could salute the women who care for our children as "brave, selfless women of incredible strength and fortitude, selflessness and grace" as we thank you for taking our children.

      Sounds a little different when it is turned around, doesn't it? I say this with no rancor, because I know that if you are reading here and had the courage to leave a comment, you are understanding and aware of the pain of the other mother of your child. But understand, most of us, nearly all of us, wanted desperately to keep our own children and gave them up out of desperation. That does not make us brave and selfless, that makes us human. I fear that "brave and selfless" language comes out of the agency world and is part of the overall cloud of gobbledygook used to encourage young and vulnerable women to give up their babies.

      Just see us, just call us, humans in desperate straits.

    2. Thank you so much for writing this perspective. My daughter I surrendered on Sept 4,1986 turned 28 on August 31 this year. I want so much to be reunited with her. I have asked God and have heard His answer. I will meet her (yet there was no indication of where, on earth or in heaven.) I have a strong faith and have a very hard time with the wait. I have searched but have not paid anyone to find her. I truly believe when the time is right, a call will come from a lovely woman younger than myself asking for me by name. Until that call, I suffer this HUGE HOLE in my heart. Her conception was unknown to me until four months later and I have forgiven the man but not forgotten his sin. Truly I love my daughter with every breathe I take. Thanks again for your post.

    3. I just wrote a post to the Adoptive Mother to thank her but signed it anonymous because it was my first post and I was unaware of the circumstances. thank her for me if my Anon post doesn't make it!

    4. Lauren, I think you mean well and I accept that you're intention is good.

      But what you say isn't really how it is.
      I hope you will read around this blog and understand why.

  20. Lauren: good to know you. I'm glad you are here.
    Unsung heroes? Not in the eyes of my AP's . My first mother was the girl who gave me up and HAD TO DISAPPEAR, lest she unravel the happy little adoptive family. No, my first mother was not a hero, she was a nothing, according to my AP's.
    I see her far differently. And I am still struggling with the position I find myself in.

    1. I struggle deeply with feeling like a nobody, and that I don't matter.
      I'm sure that has come from having lost my baby to adoption while I was so young - the messages I picked up about myself during that pressurizing process.

    2. Me too, Cherry. Me too. :(

  21. ((sigh))

    @ Lorraine,

    I do. Many of us do. I get that most (maybe all?) felt forced, helpless, desperate, isolated. I do.

    But I don't think that negates what I said. Can't you be both? Does one period of time and set of emotions define you forever? This didn't come from an agency, it came from me.

    I almost didn't share because I knew it could be misconstrued. I think had I gone to a public forum for adoption and shared those words my motivations could be said to be as a voice box for an adoption agency BUT I chose to leave my remarks here, for First Moms. I've never shared these thoughts publically before this post.

    Yes, I see you as human, flaws and all. I have them too. We all do. But there are facets to all of us and sometimes you don't get to define what others see. I see bravery, tragedy, recovery in various stages, rage, selflessness, grace, pain, loss. I think from your tragedy came some of those characteristics you call agency gobblygook.

    I want my girls to know their First Moms were strong, brave, desperate and without options. One doesn't cancel the other. They need to be able to understand it all someday. I don't want them to only see their Other Moms as victims. Or rather not only as victims or victims for life. I feel like then the gobbledygook will have won out; they will regard their FM's as one dimensional tragic characters, not as real humans.

    Respectively submitted.

    1. Lauren,
      I gather your girls have closed adoptions. I know you mean well but your comments do come across as patronizing.

      The girls' mothers may be strong and brave -- or they not be. They may have been swindled by a slick adoption practitioner, pushed into giving up their daughters by selfish relatives or bad government policies, terribly misguided, or uncaring.

      My story would sound better if I had been strong, brave, desperate, and without options. The truth is that I truly believed that my child would be better off without me and therefore made no effort to look for options.

      Although this was in the dark ages when adoption was an obligation for middle class single women, it still happens today. "Jenny" has been posting comments, bragging about giving up her son. She's an educated articulate woman with lots of options as she has pointed out. Yet she became convinced that she was not good enough to raise her son -- or else she just wanted a 24/7 baby-sitter, not clear which. Certainly NOTt a strong brave woman.

      Lauren, instead of trying to create some kind of model mothers for your children to answer their questions "why was I given up", tell the the truth "I don't know." Tell them "I hope you can meet your first mothers. Tell them--I'm sure is true -- your mothers think of you often and miss you with all their hearts.

    2. You're right in that how people see each other is a compilation of the entire person over time. Who I am today is quite different from who I was at 22 when I surrendered my daughter to adoption and genetic strangers I would not meet for 15 years.

      What we are saying however is that the single act of surrender does not quality for "selfless" or those other good adjectives. So simply be honest with your own child, as you have indicated that you are. That is all anyone can ask for.

    3. Hi Lauren. I'm also an adoptive mom, to a little girl. I'm always thrilled when I see adoptive parents here, reading and learning and being willing to hear what first moms have to say.

      I typed out several comments in reply to your statement over the past two days. None seemed quite right, and I kept deleting and going back to pondering why it is your comments really set me on edge.

      Then, today, someone saw a picture of my daughter, who is adopted, and said that she must get her lovely smile from me. Sometimes, I let things like that go, but sometimes, like today, I correct them. I said, "Actually, she gets that lovely smile from her other mama. We adopted L as an infant. All her beautiful traits I must fully credit to her amazing mother, and father, too, of course." I said it all with my own smile, and in a definitive way that was to try to make them feel they as thought there was no need to respond. Instead of simply responding with an "Oh!" or even a "how nice," I got this: "Oh, that's so wonderful that you adopted. It takes a real special person to do that. Wow, that's just really nice of you!"

      Now, some of that came from not knowing what to say, and I get that. But the rest of that came from the idea that adoptive parents are saviors. It's the general societal attitude. That these are broken, needy children. That they are not "blood of my blood, and flesh of my flesh," and are, as a result, second choices or a fall back plan.

      I am never so irritated as when I am treated like some sort of goody-goody for adopting my daughter. I wonder if you share this irritation? I am sure you didn't adopt your children as a charity project or because you are just such a good person. I am sure that you don't feel like an especially good person simply because you adopted. I am sure you do not appreciate being titled as a savior to your children.

      People who haven't adopted just don't understand. They don't get it.

      So can you imagine how it feels to a first mom to be called a hero for giving up her child when the truth is, she was faced with insurmountable circumstances, or she had no support from family, or she believed her child would be better off in a married, stable family? Can you imagine how that frustrates and irritates and even hurts to have that title applied by people who just can't even imagine the real emotions you went through?

      People who aren't first moms just don't understand. They don't get it.

      I understand what you were going for, I do, but I think it's equally important to listen to the people you are trying to speak to. You said some really lovely and true things, but when called out on something that the first mothers here cannot agree with based on their very personal experience, you shut Lorraine out (that little 'sigh" at the beginning was sooo patronizing, especially in response to such a politely worded reply) and insisted that you are still right in how you view first moms, and by extension, her. You insisted you still view them as brave in spite of Lorraine saying that is not the case for her and many first moms. To me, that's similar to that person today insisting to me that I was amazing and charitable to adopt my daughter. I absolutely, 100%, definitively was NOT. Someone else insisting that I am is only going to anger and frustrate me because they are trying to tell me they know me, my feelings, and my motivations better than I do.

      If I have learned anything about adoption, it is to shut my mouth (figuratively, of course, in blogland) more often than I open it, and to really, really and truly, listen to the voices who have been there.

    4. Tiffany, I respect you so much. You have thought so much about all of this, and listened so deeply. I am so glad you are in the world.

  22. @Lauren.

    Thanks for planting the tree for me. Oh and waiter? I'll have whatever she's having.

  23. "I hope you know they are loved, healthy, happy and confident."

    The prevalence of adoption reunions these days allows many First Mothers to know that "they" are not always loved, healthy, happy and confident. To think adoption is a guarantee of that result is to be very naive.

    Lauren, I don't mean just you are naive, I mean I was also naive because there was a time when I thought I could not provide all that for my child and adoption could. Many of us now know that was a very false promise and we were foolish to believe it. It was an equally false assessment of us in many situations.

    I agree with Lorraine... "brave and selfless" language comes out of the agency world and is part of the overall cloud of gobbledygook used to encourage young and vulnerable women to give up their babies."

    What is the first question an adoptee asks on reunion - "Why did you give me up?" I don't think "I was being brave and selfless," would satisfy them as an answer. Many of them just don't see it that way even if that is what they have heard from their adoptive parents all their lives.

  24. I asked my mother why, and she said, "you were given up out of ignorance and stupidity". That's why i lost my entire family. It makes me weep.

  25. Jane is right. I urge any adoptive parents out there to try your best to tell your child the truth about their first mother. If you do not know the answer to their question, just say so. It is so much better than fabricating stories. Stories and lies don't do any good.

  26. Jane did say it right. Others may see me as I do not see myself, but calling someone "brave" or "selfless" for the mere act of giving up a child...just comes off as patronizing and demeaning.

    I can't imagine adoptive parents want to be called "brave" for adopting. Yet there are some who do take children that are impaired and who were left to be adopted because they are less than perfect. It's complicated.

  27. As a survivor of the Baby Scoop Era, I’d like to share a couple of thoughts.

    First, as always, Lorraine, you hit the ball out of the park once again. Even before reading this post, the title brought me back to a day last June when I stood by my lost-and-found daughter’s casket (complications of lupus). There are many things I could have whispered to her as I stood there, comforted by my son, but what came out was a total surprise - even to me. I said, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t take you home with me. I WANTED to take you home with me.” Indeed. I will always be…

    Second, I often compare losing a child to adoption to having a son drafted into the army (not ‘enlisted’) and sending him off to the unknown. Yes, the Army will train him for survival and provide the best protections possible. But just suppose you will not be allowed to correspond with him at any point to know how he is. The Army will tell you nothing; it’s not their job to tell you anything. You read horror stories about terrible things happening to soldiers, but there’s no way you can know whether your son was one of them. And in that respect, losing a child to adoption is worse than this: even if your child dies, you will not be notified.

    The military analogy provides yet another valuable comparison. And maybe it will help Lauren understand what she has stumbled into on this blog:

    Imagine volunteering to help pack Christmas gift packages for military personnel. You have that warm, fuzzy feeling of doing something special for our “boys in uniform.” You have a picture in mind of a roomful of delighted soldiers opening packages and sharing cookies. Now imagine yourself going into a military hospital, walking past room after room of soldiers with missing arms and legs, head wounds, PTSD-related disorders.

    For an adoptive parent to discover this blog is to walk into the equivalent of a military hospital. Here is where the ‘wounded warriors’ have come for whatever measure of healing they might find in camaraderie. It’s not a roomful of delighted soldiers opening packages and sharing cookies. And in all honesty, admiring and thanking a double amputee for his selfless service to our country doesn’t address the magnitude of the problems that face him for the rest of his life. He will always, always be an amputee.

  28. Jenny Reese, I commend you for your commitment to a crisis center for pregnant women. Having said that, however, I cannot help but notice that your comments reflect a rather one-dimensional view. For those of us who have been following this blog for a while, the posts talk about all aspects, all emotions, all facets of one's personality and/or make-up associated with surrendering a child to adoption. In the past, Lorraine has posted about living in the moment, enjoying what is around her, not dwelling on the pain of lost connections. But that does not mean her status as a mother who surrendered her child will leave her core. As human beings, we are not one-dimensional, we have lots of important things that define who we are. In this post, Lorraine is writing about one important aspect of who she is. Which, by the way, Lorraine, moved me to tears.

    I am curious, Jenny, whether your child is still relatively young. One of the things I see in Lorraine's and Jane's writings are the experiences that come from years of navigating the "first mother" path. Like decades of living that path. Your comments read comparatively inexperienced to me, but I could be wrong.

    Lastly, unrelated to Jenny's comments, I wanted to add a thought concerning "bravery" and adoption. All adoptions stem from crisis, from despair - period. You are acting in response to a crisis, in desperation that there is no other option. The "bravery" angle, in my opinion, is a tactic used to cheer vulnerable "birth mothers" (and I use the word "birth" on purpose in this context) on to the end result desired by adoptive parents - the acquisition of babies.

    1. Amen, Jade. I didn't want to come down hard on Lauren, but the "brave" comment in regards to simply giving up a child does not sit right with me. I think it is like telling an adoptive mother she is a "saint" because she adopted when she knows that she adopted a child because she wanted to raise a child, to be a mother. The "sainthood" is misplaced.

      What people do after the adoption may be brave, but that is a different story. And to someone who thinks we are dumping on her with "vitriol," I fail to see how that word even applies in the comments.

  29. I want to be nice because you seem really nice Lauren. But for all that is good in the world never think of me as an unsung hero. That means I did something valiant. I did not. Taking care of the children God places in our womb is valiant. Abandoning said child does not make me a hero. Sure your dream came true so you could have a family. But my worst nightmare started the day I left the hospital without my oldest daughter. I am no hero. Smuck, idiot, rule follower, stupidest woman on the planet, yes those words describe that 21 year old that believed that other people were better for my daughter because they were (temporarily) married. I was no &^%$% hero. Never!!!!!!

    1. Barbara, your words ring true for me...I was all those things including romantic, naïve, trusting and unable to accept that the man I adored would leave me..Years later I couldn't tell my Mother I'd had a affair with a married man. I was pregnant, backed into a corner and surrendered my son because I didn't know what else to do. I didn't want my beautiful child to be called "a bastard." He and I are reunited. He always felt like "a bastard" anyway. He was raised by ignorant people who "did their best" but it wasn't good enough. The adopters "thanked me " the only time we met. She only wanted to meet me to "put me down." My son did not have "a better life." He didn't even have as good a life as I was able to provide for my 3 subsequent children. My child is part of me. He looks like me and mine. When those adopters looked into his eyes every day, they had to think of me because he is the only brown eyed person in an entire blue eyed family....

    2. Anon: (please make up a name, any name will do, but it make it easier for everyone):
      Your story is a bit like mine, in that the father of my daughter was married...we had a big affair, professed love, he would leave his wife and other family as soon as he could...after we gave up my daughter. He did finally leave, went back, and then left but it was too late for us. Maybe that was a good thing. All will be revealed in the memoir...hole in my heart.

      I think your experience is not that unusual. I had the same idea about my daughter not being a "bastard." Women who chose to raise their children were not treated kindly. Everyone talked. and looked down on them and the children. What an awful time! Sounds so fucking Puritan! They might as well put us in stocks for the whole world to see how we "sinned." !

  30. i am a birth mom, and i was not able to raise my child at just newly 17 with a confusing home life and weird fears of my sinful nature. I had faith in the process...of adoption and the church led adoption agency. I did not know what I was giving up, because no one in my family made it clear to me. I shouldered the burden of my sin and quietly hid it away feeling broken and alone and unsure of anything...and not even able to pin point some of the cause being that I placed my baby. I clung to my boyfriend and married him,the birth dad... we had ups and downs as I struggled with my own identity...yadda yadda. Now our birth daughter is in our life...it's been hard because I too had long buried wounds reopened...and anger along with feelings of hatred for my parent and parent in laws who seem so oblivious to what they were allowing me to do. Specially since I kept the adoption secret form most folks and was encrouraged by my in-laws to do so for reasons that seemed important to them at the time. Today we are working through it all... I would not change a thing, though on my worst days I would tell you the opposite. I am blessed to have her in my life now, and must try to be stronger than my feelings of shock, anger, and even hatred (the dreaded condition) for others who benefited the most from my suffering when they knew how much they loved their own children. . if you talk about it too much surely you are seen as selfish. it's a confusing position. But I am happy my daughter is in my life today.

    1. Patience: I understand what you mean--if you talk too much about it, you are criticized. But you sound as if you are working through the problems but --I too was happy I found my daughter and had her in my life, despite all the problems that came with reunion. Hugs
      from FMF

  31. Wow, just wow.

    Sorry Lauren - you tried to share something real and from your heart and clearly came to the wrong place. Heaven forbid anything positive come from this post other than more vitriol and self pity from so many commenters. Oh well.

    I thank you and I appreciate that you regard your daughter's First Moms in such high regard. Honestly I doubt they deserve it - on this most of these commenters are spot on. Often times the responses here prove that - ha!

    Really @ K - nasty and sarcasm when someone attempts to play nice here, especially an adoptive parent as they are rarer to share. Oh that's right.....you would have preferred she came here finger pointing, sharing all the private details of her girls' stories for the world to see, act selfish, guarded and insecure, THEN you would have felt right at home with her comments.

    Don't worry y'all, I'm sure you effectively chased her right away. Cuz after all, "K", planting a tree for another is beyond heinous when clearly Lauren should have and could have SAVED you from your pain and grief and is partially responsible just because she parents.


    Adult Adoptee

    1. What an ugly post. And possibly the most vitriolic on here.

      An adoptive mother comes on here and says 'A' about us.
      We, who would obviously know more, say 'Actually, it's B'
      And you yell your head off, spewing hateful derogatory contemptuous comments. Vile.

  32. Thank you Jay for your commentary. I agree. I was not brave, strong, or courageous. I was naive, frightened, and ignorant. I believed what the adults told me and hung my sanity on those lies until the day I found my daughter (who prefers I do not exist). I am deserving of no praise. Those who suggest such are likely trying to make themselves feel better - not me.

    1. Hi Suz, nice to hear from you. I continue to follow your insightful blog, BTW.

      I wanted to add to the comments of others that I believe Lauren meant well in the sentiments she expressed. And I think several of the first mothers were polite in pointing out they don't want to be called "brave." It is reasonable for people to request that they not be labeled a certain way, I think, and I certainly did not find the exchange to be vitriolic. Lauren, I hope you will continue to post your thoughts.

      Lauren appeared to refer to first mothers being defined in different ways ("brave," for example) at different periods of time. I can understand using the word "brave" to describe first mothers, not because they surrendered a child, but because they forged ahead despite that trauma and often found ways to change what is wrong about the adoption industry. Like Lorraine and Jane. And like you, Suz, who do so much in support of adoption awareness and family preservation. That is brave, because you are looking past your losses to make things better for others. It is hard to help others gain when you have lost so much. There's where I will call many first mothers brave, courageous. And that could be what Lauren really was thinking.

  33. Let me be clear: though I said it in the post, I am much more than simply a weeping woman who gave up a child when I was vulnerable and did not have a father for my child and a spouse for our family. Many people I know don't even know this side of me: I am a journalist, I am the former chair of the Zoning Board in my village, I am a former magazine editor, I have a handful of national awards for my reporting. I have a lot of very good friends and I feel quite less than a pathetic person. But I am still, a woman with an ankle replacement and a woman who give up a child. All of the above is a part of who I am.

    And I know Jane, who has different accomplishments, feels the same.

  34. Jade--Wow? just wow? I don't get your anger at the comments.

  35. You know, I know that it sounds like mothers are callous and horrible from the responses to some of the adoptive mothers. The truth is more like the inability of one group to understand another group in the truest sense because they are NOT the other group. Like a white person can't possibly understand what it means to be black and vice versa. However.....

    Jade, you are the most angry person I have seen post here. Your comment shows either a complete and utter hate for your biological mother or yourself or both. Your assumptions and rudeness show a lack of manners and understanding of others. You sound like my biological daughter...... which is not a compliment.

    For the Adoptive Mother, I see your comments as attempting to understand and be kind. Nothing more or less. I hope you see that the responses were not of dislike for you, but for the industry and society that has taught you how to respond in that fashion.

    Thank you,

    Mother/Abandoned Child.

  36. One thing I have noted in this blogs comments and other mother's blogs - the rudest commenters are always people that don't give their true name and whom make sure there is no link back to find them!

  37. I think words like "strong," "brave," and especially "selfless" are trigger words for a lot of people. These are the buzzwords that adoption agencies and crisis pregnancy centers use to manipulate vulnerable young women. They have emerged as the principle language of coercion. To many, I think they have become hopelessly stigmatized, and untrustworthy, when used in the context of adoption.

    1. Yep, Steve, you hit the nail on the head.

    2. I think the words are also triggering because when the scales fall from a first mother's eyes, she realizes that these were just the words used to make her feel good about 'choosing' to be a 'birth mother'. When in reality she was merely being used as a supplier of the 'product' that the adoption industry so desperately needs.

    3. Even if they don't act as triggers, they feel mystifyingly wide of the mark.

    4. Along the lines of this post's military theme, those words -- strong, brave, and selfless -- are also heavily used in military recruitment.

      I knew a former Marine. Once someone praised her, in my presence, for her military service, using some of those words, and then adding "patriotic." She swiftly and matter-of-factly disabused them. She was none of those things. She joined the military for economic reasons. She needed a job. She needed to earn a living and have money for college. Otherwise, she would not have joined the military, and often regretted her decision. Receiving plaudits from others often made her uncomfortable, sometimes angry, because she had seen so many terrible things and disagreed with many of her assignments.

      Her comments reminded me so much of the bogus praise that is sometimes heaped upon surrendering mothers, at least up until they sign the relinquishment papers. After that, the girls are basically cannon fodder for whatever abuse and anger their parents, family, partner, child, the culture, anyone, wants to place upon them.

      The word "trigger" is an apt one. Young women are literally put up before a firing squad and shot down, emotionally executed, after they've surrendered a child, no matter the circumstances. No reprieves for them. No reprieve for me.

      I recoil at execution scenes. I think of that walk down the hospital corridor, leaving, huge tears rolling down my face, trying to compose myself as my mother ordered me not to cry. Trying to hold myself upright, amid the pain, walking away. There was no wheelchair ride for me, no hospital escort, they had procedure to follow, after all. I did not feel alive. I did not feel as though I deserved to live.

      Recently, I read Ann Fessler's powerful "The Girls Who Went Away." Those evocative stories of all those girls, walking to their own executions. That's how I interpreted it. Walking towards a type of death, sometimes knowing there are people cheering you on, wanting you to die. It's no wonder we can suffer from PTSD. No wonder.

    5. I was wheeled out of the hospital to the car of the father of the baby we were leaving behind. I was holding in the tears and started to weep when I finally got into his car. Don't, he said, please don't. I was in love with the man but he couldn't deal with anything emotional. I still remember those words of his and I wish to high hell I had just told him to fuck off at that moment. And allowed myself to weep.

      That all came later, after he left me at my apartment. The next day was Easter.

  38. Oy. I know Lauren meant well, and her comments truly came from her heart. I get that. But I'm always perplexed when I hear words like "brave, strong, heroic" because believe-you-me, I was NONE of those things...not 29 years ago and not now. I always say, when giving up my daughter for adoption (and I dare anyone to correct me and ask me to use the "made an adoption plan" bs) that I SURRENDERED...waved the white flag...threw in the towel...submitted myself to defeat to the powers-that-be. The "brave" thing would have been to tell my parents and the adoption workers to F*&K off! A stronger girl would have done what she felt and knew, KNEW, in her heart to be right and would have done whatever it took to keep her baby. I don't know if it somehow eases adoptive parents' consciences to believe that we did what we knew to be the right thing, called up our super-hero strength, kissed our kid good-bye and rode off into the sunset, patting ourselves on the back all the way. Oh wait...we didn't *ride* off into the sunset! We sprouted our angel's wings and fluttered away! NOTHING could be further from the truth. I got pregnant again and had another baby only 21 months later. My broken heart and shattered soul naively thought that another baby would ease the pain.

    I got into a huge fight with my mother last night over her and my Dad's role of forcing me to give my daughter up for adoption. Yep, after 29 years I still get triggered, and things got ugly. First time this has happened in quite a few years. They refuse to tell the truth and admit it was their shame and embarrassment as well as my well-planned out life of college and a successful professional career (BY THEM) that drove the "decision." My mother in particular wants to point the finger at my now MIL (then bf's mother) and the agency yadda yadda. I asked her a very pointed question that had been on my mind for years that I was afraid to broach with her. I asked "What were you guys thinking when you walked me into that agency, knowing the plan was that I'd probably never see my child again? That I would suffer something very close to the death of my baby at the vulnerable age of 17, and that was going to be OK with you both." She then goes into victim mode and cries "Well, we just hate you and wanted to ruin your life of course!!" It becomes all about her, and then she pulls this, "You shouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place." Oh.my.God. That shame and guilt came FLOODING back full-force...something I haven't felt in quite awhile. I am still reeling from that statement tonight. I don't know how long it will be before we speak again. I apologize for rambling, but the repercussions and broken relationships will last for decades...probably until my death. I will always be the girl who gave my baby away to strangers. I was anything but brave, and I pay the price to this day.

    I really like Adoption Digger's comparison of being a "birth"mother to going into a military hospital and witnessing the fall out from war injuries. Very compelling. We are the walking wounded also, with a chunk of our hearts amputated.

    1. Oh Amy--I can see just how that argument was triggered, and it's like I said in the post, first mothers who were pushed into surrender of their children are rightfully so the most angry with their parents. We all feel we should have been stronger. You were seventeen and needed your parents financial support. many hugs...

    2. Amy, my mother said the same 'You shouldn't have got pregnant in the first place."
      She is right, I am responsible for the consensual actions of my own body.

      But many females who got pregnant didn't lose their children to adoption. Some kept them, because they had the support to do so.
      I still think my parents owe both me and my son an apology for him being adopted. Had they supported me, in the early years, I could've kept him.

      I rarely speak to my mother now, and have a highly superficial relationship with my dad. I wish it was otherwise. I wish they were brave enough to be open, and then I could forgive their stupid humanity. But remaining closed, and leaving me and my son alone to assemble the pieces following the impact of his adoption - I am angry with them for that. I wish I could love them as I once did, but it's impossible.

      I look at how Kellie C is, on All In The Family of Adoption, and wish my parents had her profound courage to look at what they are responsible for. It would allow me to forgive them.

      Hugs too, Amy.

    3. Thank you, Cherry and Lorraine. Hugs right back.

      And that's what I tried to tell my mother...that yes, I would have been happy to accept the consequences for getting pregnant...by keeping and raising my child. Isn't that what *usually* happens with an unplanned pregnancy? I wish more than anything that I wouldn't have gotten pregnant at 17, and I take responsibility for that part of it. But adoption was NOT my idea, and I was "threatened" into it. Not going to accept responsibility for that part.

      An apology would be so nice from my parents. We've been exchanging emails throughout the afternoon and all I'm getting is excuses, confused timelines, my mother making herself the victim, and some history has attempted to be re-written. I told her all I wanted was for them to admit the truth...that they were embarrassed and ashamed and that's what drove the decision to make me give up my daughter. Nothing doin'...they're holding steadfast to pointing the finger at my husband's "crazy" parents. Ugh. I've dropped out of the back and forth for now. I told her I could forgive them once they own the truth...not happening.

      The bitter irony to all of this...the adoption eventually became wide open. My daughter's adoptive parents urged and encouraged my parents to continue the 'grandparent' role in my daughter's life. They essentially lost nothing! Where did that leave my husband and I? We have basically no relationship with any of them now...our daughter included. It's very sporadic and superficial at the moment. Maybe it will change, maybe not. We lost and we lost BIG.

      Sorry to unload yet again! I'm just wound up and hurting right now. I'll suck it up and plow forward, because afterall, it's what we "birth"moms do to survive!

    4. Amy, how you wish your mother would just own up to the fact that they pushed you into giving up your child and just friggen' apologize without a bunch of BS excuses that covers up their involvement. It reminds me of those apologies: I'm sorry if you were offended by what I said...rather than: I'm awfully sorry I said that. I know it must have hurt and I was an ass to say it.

      Once at a CUB retreat I heard Nancy Verrier say that it might be/would be a good thing to tell one's adopted child (any age child! we are all someone's children)
      I'm sorry you were adopted. I'm sorry I gave you up.Period. No excuses. Even if your parents were standing over you with a metaphorical gun.

      It kinda clears the air. I did it with my daughter. I don't know if it really changed things because she wasn't over pulling another disappearing act.

      What I think is so sad is that your parents assumed the grandparent role but left you out. I am so very sorry. Unfortunately, your mother and father could go a long way into helping breach the chasm between your child and you and your husband--is he the father, it sounds like that?

      But until your mother or father will explain what happened to your daughter, you are between a rock and a hard place. Can you make her understand that? They were the parents who needed to be the strong ones if you, the mother, was going to keep your daughter. it sounds like they are saying --his parents made US "urge" (that is, give you no choice) give her up. I saw a similar story unfold in the bed next to me when I had my daughter. The kids had run away (16 years old) and tried to elope. The police in another state found them before they got married and brought them back. The 16 year old has the baby. Everyone comes to visit in the hospital--his parents, the teenage boy himself, her family--the decision seems to bounce back an forth.

      Two weeks later, my social worker told me, the teenagers showed up to sign the relinquishment papers, by themselves, and went into say goodbye to the baby.

      They kept him.

      I will never forget that story or their courage.

    5. Not that you particularly care, Amy, but I envy your courage.

      My mother as a teen in 1971 had wanted to keep me and wouldn't sign the papers for four months while I stayed in foster care. She eventually signed when she realized her parents weren't going to change their minds and help her. She never had another child.

      She never "had it out" with her parents and remained best friends with them. Her father died in 2008. She and I recently had our first phone conversation in 14 years. She just moved to a retirement community 100 miles away. Her mother is still alive but has dementia, and my mother kept talking about how she wants to move her mother to a care home closer to where she just moved to so she can visit her every day.

      I have no idea why she thinks I'd be interested at all to hear about the woman who banished me from the family or the fact that she's 61 years old and still bends over backwards for the woman who made her give away her only kid. I just can't understand it. I think that hurts me more than being given away in the first place.

    6. zygotepariah: I think that your mom might understand that her parents were victims of the morals and beliefs of their time. Back then, girls relinquished. It was supposedly best for the baby and the mother.

      It is possible that they later apologized and expressed remorse. Or maybe they never came to terms with what they did to their daughter. But I am certain that your mom never forgot, or stopped thinking of it as a big deal.

      At the end of the day, I think she decided to forgive, even if they didn't understand what they did wrong. She decided not to define them by that one action, born out of ignorance. But I doubt that forgiveness in any way reflects on how much she loves you.

    7. @Lorraine...yes, my husband is her father. We married not quite 2 years after she was born when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I only want an acknowledgment of what is true...that my parents were embarrassed of my predicament and wanted "it" to disappear so we could all go on with life the way THEY had planned. My Mother has a heart, and I know she loves me. Could it be she feels *so* guilty, that she's convinced herself that it wasn't her and my Dad's fault? See, my MIL is borderline personality disordered as well as a flaming narcissist. She has done horrible things to us over the years since my husband and I got married, and my mother has kind of used her as a scapegoat to blame our first daughter's adoption on. "She is crazy...see? That's why we urged you to give "A" up!" The craziness of MIL didn't surface until AFTER we lost our daughter to adoption. Follow? It's a mixed up mess, but the adoption cannot be blamed on the IL's. Many other things, yes...adoption, no. The truth is, before I even met my husband, both of my parents had remarked that if I ever got pregnant before marriage that the baby would have to be given up for adoption. It was their plan from the get-go.

      @Zygote...I actually do care, and thank you but I don't *feel* courageous. Maybe in your Mom's situation with her parents, she felt like she needed to prove to them that she *was* a good daughter, and went out of her way to win them over? Her guilt might have made her want to "make it up" to her parents possibly. I agree with Steve...I doubt it has anything to do with how she feels about you though. But I do understand your feelings towards your grandmother. I wouldn't have wanted anything to do with someone who was solely responsible for me being banished from my family. I have a hard time understanding why my daughter doesn't hold anything against my parents! Maybe she likes being with the family she's with, and is grateful to my parents for getting her to them. I don't know and I don't understand...but it hurts.


    8. Amy, of course it hurts! Your daughter probably has guilt feelings of gratefulness to the two people who have raised her with love, and being more open in her heart is not something she can handle or do at this point. If you had been allowed to be more in her life as she was growing up, the situation would probably be different. People don't really understand the damage they do when they interfere so greatly in the lives of others. I feel for you, I feel for your daughter.

      As for your mother's inability to admit her responsibility for your losing your child, I don't know what to say. It reminds me of Julia Emily's parents--her mother especially--who doens't want to know that JE is even curious. Blind, deaf and dumb.

      Enjoy the people in your life and let those go who hurt you. Trying to make them do something they don't feel they should, or trying to make them understand will jut hurt your more. Begin to walk away mentally. None of us can go back and re live our lives the way it might have been.

    9. Thank you, Lorraine. I think I *did* mentally walk away from my parents a long time ago. But for some reason, the conversation I wasn't prepared for happened, and everything I'd kept in for so long came spewing forth. She's ignoring me right now...haven't had a email in a couple of days. I need validation, but I realize there's a chance I may never see it.

      We actually did have more frequent contact with our daughter from the time her aparents opened the adoption ("A" was 9) until she was about 20. (we saw her once or twice a year for several days at a time since we lived in different states) She and I were pretty close for awhile, and she revealed some of her feelings regarding being adopted to me. She never did to her Amom. But, 10 yrs. ago while I was at A's graduation, her Amom said she'd like to take our "very positive open adoption story" public. I sat on that for a little bit, and spoke to my psychologist about it. I told her no way could I go public with a bunch of lies. My husband and I had been anything BUT fine for all those years, keeping it to ourselves to not look unbalanced or "mental." Couldn't risk losing visitation. We put on fake smiles and played like everything was "a-ok!" So, with the help and suggestion of Dr. C, I wrote a 5 page letter, revealing our feelings finally. I made very sure that I didn't point any fingers at them, which I wouldn't, because there was really no reason to. It was OUR feelings, OUR struggles, along with our kids'. Amom never even replied, or spoke to me about it. She did, however, discuss it with my mother. (I found this out when my mother asked me to log in to her email account and check on something, but I saw some emails between her and A's amom. My Mom clearly sympathized with amom, even suggesting my psychologist put ideas into my head...nice,huh? This is something I brought up to her recently as well. She claims to not remember) ANYWAY, that was the downfall of our relationship with the aparents. My daughter said her parents were so upset over that letter, and that they took it as I was accusing them of stealing her from us. I have read, re-read, and read again that letter, and there's nothing even CLOSE to that in there. I indicated it was my parents and the social worker who forced me. I bring all of this up because I believe that's when my daughter really started to feel divided loyalties. Her mother told her things that just simply weren't true, without letting her read the actual letter. It's a big mess, and I don't think there will be a happy ending.

      For those who believe open adoption is the panacea, think again. It's a repackaged version but still as damaging, if not more so in other ways. We deal with "reunion issues" once the "child" is able to think like an adult, and ask the difficult questions. Please don't be fooled.

      Sorry to take up so much time and space here! It's the only place I can really say what I want to say :)

    10. Oh Amy, your story gets more painful with each revealing comment. What happened is a good warning to all first parents to not reveal too much to the adoptive parents because, at least in your case, they could not handle the truth about the depth of your feelings. They wanted a happy face put on everything because...that is how they saw the adoption, and certainly then made your daughter feel guilty. But she sees behind the fact that they did not actually show her the letter--and why not? Too bad that you did not mail her a copy of it at the same time, or write the letter about not going public to both of them.

      Around my daughter's parents I said very little but of course they had Birthmark to read and understand that losing my daughter was like losing a limb, and they were from the same era of course, so they understood the mores of the times.

      What I fervently hope is that one day your daughter will be able to confide in you again and that you will be able to resume some sort of relationship. But that will be up to her. As one of my close first mother friends said to me: We lost them when we gave them up. Accepting that is perhaps the beginning of healing.
      hugs and empathy--

    11. Thank you, again. And yes, I am putting these details "out there" to serve as a warning about many different aspects of open adoption. I didn't send a copy of the letter to my daughter because I didn't want to overload her with my difficult emotions as she left home for the first time to go to college. I felt she had enough to deal with, and she already knew that we wanted her always, and regretted giving her up. The devil was in the details however, and I felt the aparents and I had a close enough relationship to finally open up and tell the truth. How dreadfully wrong I was! I still have a copy of the letter, but my daughter didn't seem interested in reading it. I told her my condensed version, and maybe it was enough. She simply said, "well, that's between you and them." My daughter's amom always said she encouraged "A" to talk to me about things she didn't feel she could talk to amom about. NOT according to my daughter though. When "A" came out as gay, we found out over myspace! She didn't let me know ahead of time so I could talk to the kids first or anything. It hurt, but I didn't want to make it about me. I asked her about it, and she indicated her aparents were having a very difficult time accepting it. (very strict Roman Catholics) I said that I wished she would have felt like she could discuss it with me, as I could have maybe helped in some way. She said she couldn't, because her amom got upset if I knew anything before SHE did. When there was ever a big revelation over anything, amom's first question was "Does Amy know this?" and if "A" said yes, amom got her feelings hurt or she got mad. So, from amom I get one story, and "A" gives me another. I tend to believe my daughter.

      As a side note, can I ask a question? Would anyone else be upset if their almost 30 year old daughter moved back in to her aparent's house? My daughter was living in a different yet neighboring state from her aparents. They had recently moved, and "A" stayed behind with her gf. After a few months, her aparents enticed her home with a promise to pay for her to go back to school (3rd or 4th time) but only IF she came back home to live. School will be another 2 or 3 years to finish, so I'm assuming she'll be living with Momma and Daddy until she's almost in her mid-30's! She packed up and left her gf behind to do this. I am disappointed because neither side seems to be able to completely cut the apron strings. I understand wanting to help your kid finish up school, but "A" wasn't even TRYING to go back when they made the offer. And why make her move back in with them and pay high out-of-state fees? Couldn't they have helped financially while she remained independent from them? I am just sick. Am I over-reacting? I have four other kids, younger than her, who are out on their own. One has a family, the others working, going to college part-time, and supporting themselves. I have 2 at home...a 19 yr. old who attends college (and is on the Dean's and President's list) and works part time, and a 15 year old who is obviously still in high school. "A" has never achieved full independence from her aparents, but at least while she was living in another state from them, she came very close! What makes a 30 year old WANT to move home to live with their parents? Can anyone shed some light? I apologize for the change of subject here! (recently found out she's only taking 2 classes, and isn't even working at the moment)

      I thought she'd have a better life...I was told she would. Yet, she hasn't...:(

    12. "For those who believe open adoption is the panacea, think again. It's a repackaged version but still as damaging, if not more so in other ways. We deal with "reunion issues" once the "child" is able to think like an adult, and ask the difficult questions. Please don't be fooled." WELL SAID AMY!! I'm an adoptive mom who hasn't been here in a while. My son is nine and I can see him struggling to understand his place in each of his families: adoptive, maternal and paternal.
      He is so smart and sometimes you can just tell that in his own little nine year old way he wants to say "WHAT THE HELL DID ALL YOU PEOPLE DO TO MY LIFE?!?" (I include my husband and I in that statement of course - not just his biological family.)

    13. Had to break up my reply into two parts...sorry!

      We are honest with him and yet we have found ourselves simply saying "I don't know" on occasion. Better than lying I hope.

      I dread the day when he's old enough to realize just EXACTLY how much he's missing out on with his biological family. I mean he gets to see them as much as possible but one set lives five hours away and last year they excluded him from a vacation in which his great-grandparents, grandparents, father and siblings all attended. He wasn't invited. Four freaking generations of his family and they didn't ask us to bring him. (He stays with them about four times a year and we meet them about halfway so they can pick him up and they know we would have gladly met them - especially for something as special as that!) Anyway, I only found out about the vacation because we are all friends on Facebook and suddenly these pictures of them at a resort were posted and I quite honestly was like "What the F--K???"

      Not trying to bash them - luckily he has no clue what transpired. But I'm thinking if this stuff happens when he's sixteen THEN what?

      My point is, I SO TOTALLY agree with you - open adoption is no panacea, no solution. And very few people seem to truly get that! For expectant women who are deciding whether to place or parent the solution is to parent! For families like yours and mine who are already in the middle of this "thing" called open adoption, all we can do is roll with it as best we can. Closing relationships is not the answer. The pain and confusion that being split between two families will bring our son (and already HAS brought him) is surely better than not knowing his family at all.

      I do not use my name here because of the many relationships I have with our son's family (both branches) I'm afraid of hurting them by discussing the frustrations I feel. They're in the same boat we are, just trying to cope as best they can with one of the hardest situations to ever be in. They (at this point) are too overcome with guilt and they cannot acknowledge that being adopted is causing him problems.

      Example: He came home from a visit and said his younger brother told him that they weren't really brothers. And I had to explain that yes they are brothers and that little brother's mom doesn't know what she's talking about, that she's just trying to be mean because she isn't married to his dad "S" anymore. So then I call grandma and tell her about it and she just kind of chuckled nervously and said "Oh I told him not to pay any attention to that stuff" like it was just a small blip on the radar and to me it was a BIG blip on the radar. I couldn't imagine how my son must feel to have his brother say that to him. I mean the child is young and is just parroting what his mother told him, but still, MY child is young too and shouldn't have to hear something like that! One good thing was that the older sister told the younger brother that he was wrong and said it in front of my son so I know that made him feel a little better. It's just too much to have to deal with at NINE YEARS OLD.

      Open adoption is MOST DEFINITELY NOT WHAT IT IS MARKETED TO BE!! The adoption machine doesn't know or care what it's like to be in my son's shoes - you know??

      Well I guess I got my point across - sorry to be so wordy. And Lorraine can vouch that I'm a real person - lol - and not an internet troll - she's friends with me on Facebook. Anyway thanks for reading my rambling Amy and I wish you luck with your daughter. (((HUGS)))

    14. Oy Vey, how complicated is that? The first family is not handling this well and your son is caught dealing with all the issues that they have not worked out. Or Little Brother may simply be jealous of his Older Brother, and it's possible he dreamed up that line by himself. It may appear to Little Brother that Older Brother, living with you, Second Mom, actually has a better life. Are you, for instance, better financially fixed and able to give Older Brother more...er, stuff? A nicer home? Kids are quite mercenary and Little Brother may be only focusing on some new game Older Brother has, and wants to hurt Older Brother, however he can.

    15. No we are solidly middle class just like little brother's mom - no rich a-parents here! :)

      I should have clarified but I was running out of character space and it was late. My apologies. Little Brother didn't think it up on his own. His mother is just an evil b----! Right after she married my son's father I reached out to her on Facebook since I was already friends with everyone else in the family. She politely but firmly told me she had no interest in knowing me or her husband's son - can you freakin imagine?!

      Then two months after they were married she had Little Brother and told my son's father that it was either her and their baby or my son. He couldn't have both. She essentially FORBADE him from seeing our son. And as he told his mother, "I've already lost one son, I don't want to lose another" so he went along with it and my son didn't see him for more than a year.

      When he finally stood up for himself to her, the house of cards went to hell and about a year and a half later they were divorced.

      So that's the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say. She's a mean-spirited evil person. She even tried to get my son's dad to give up rights on his daughter who he has actively parented since the day she was born. She was six at the time! Really? You want him to walk away from ALL of his children except for the one he has with you??

    16. Thank you, secondmom! You are definitely a rare find! You actually "get it."

      My daughter's aparents didn't open up the adoption fully until she was 9. When it was presented to us by them, we jumped at the chance! My husband (her bfather) and I could "partly" have our child back, and our siblings could have their sister in their lives, and we could be "one big happy family." All of the kids could "kind of" grow up together, and not experience a loss at all! Win/win/win all around! We had been in such deep grief because of our all-consuming loss, that we naively thought that would be the answer. How wrong WERE WE?? I never, ever expected "A" (birth-daughter) to feel a loss, or a special connection to us. Stupid, maybe, but I assumed what I was told...we had been replaced, she was healthy, happy, and thriving, and now she would have her "curiousity" about us eased by knowing us. We would become like extended family, which we did for awhile. My children have no relationship to speak of with "A" anymore. I have 4 sons and 2 daughters born after "A." The boys are older, then the 2 girls came along. Well, there is some definite animosity between my first and second born daughters. They really don't even like each other. My youngest daughter doesn't know "A" well since she is 14 years younger, and the relationship had kinda "gone south" by the time she was old enough to participate and remember visits. But she holds no ill feelings towards her like 2nd daughter does. 2nd daughter feels very rejected by "A" because "A" never reached out to her and made it clear that they don't have anything in common anyway. We've all kind of just given up for the time being. I've tried so hard to make 'A' feel included and wanted, but I think it's impossible. She was the one given away, and made to be an outsider in her own family's life. Some things can't be changed no matter how hard we try. She was given up, and I believe that sometimes creates a divide that can't be bridged.

      Thank you for the hugs, and I surely do hope your son will have a better experience with OA. Communication is so very important. Please keep trying to convey how your son feels to his birthfamily, and how feelings can get so easily hurt and misunderstandings are so prevalent in this sensitive situation. TALK, TALK, TALK and talk some more. My daughter shuts down, and becomes non-communicative...always encourage your son to get his feelings out and that it's okay to express them even if people might get upset or hurt. It's his right! This situation was created without his consent, as you well know.

      My thoughts are with your son and with you!

    17. Amy: It's likely that 2nd Daughter--who thought she was your special "first" daughter feels a lot of antagonism towards the 1st Daughter, who dethroned her (from 1st for 2nd place) when she came on the scene. I'd talk to her about this, and reassure her that your feelings for her are no less than they were before. When a lost child comes into the family fold, the mother (and in this case, the father) may have focused so much attention on the returning Prodigal Daughter, that the ones who have been there all along feel neglected and rejected. Suddenly the returning child is seen as receiving more love, etc. Talk to 2nd Daughter about this and reassure her about her place in your heart and see where that goes.

      As for 1st Daughter, I am not sure there is any more you can do. Adoption is, well, adoption. 1st Daughter may emotionally be less grown up than your other children, and living with the adoptive parents and accepting their financial aid may be all she can handle. Yes, it does make it harder for you and your husband.

      Adoption causes lifelong scars.

    18. Thank you for the supportive words Amy - it's an uphill battle to try and get his family to understand how terribly he misses them between visits and how much happier he is right after seeing them. I truly think that they think I am either flattering them (i.e. exaggerating how much he enjoys his visits) or that I'm trying to guilt them into making visits happen more often.

      I can't win! Any suggestions on your part are welcome. My email address is: secondmom2005@gmail.com if you'd like to become acquainted that way. Would love to hear from you!

      As Lorraine so aptly summed it up: "Oy vey it's complicated."

  39. Isn't it odd how, on this teeny tiny speck of the blogosphere, when we say thoughts and feelings we have never told anyone and that have hurt us so deeply and for so long, that when we do a great big foghorn sails in from somewhere to call us self-piteous. The absolute inhumanity of that revolts me. It's subtext seems to be 'Just shut up!'. The answer to that is no.

    1. Exactly how I feel Cherry. I finally felt able to talk about my story 29 years after the adoption. It was like a floodgate opening and I felt a need to tell everyone and anyone who would listen. I then went into a complete meltdown - had counselling and medication (probably something I should have done years ago). As soon as I returned from the hospital after giving birth to my daughter it was never spoken of again. My father was too scary!! He and my mother have now passed away so I cannot make my peace there - sometimes a good thing - sometimes not. Thank you so much for all your comments on here - I need this so much!!!

    2. Warm hugs to you Clare.

  40. Adoption Digger: how I wish more adoptive parents would read this blog, as you stated. It would be a real eye opener, but it is one that I think they need, as well as the rest of the world who thinks adoption is wonderful. It is an impossible subject to get people to understand. Your analogy was perfect.

    Cherry: "inhumanity." Perfect word for the treatment of so many first mothers. For a while I really thought only my first mother was treated so inhumanely. This blog was one of the biggest factors that helped me see otherwise. Again, EVERYONE should do some reading here.

  41. "One thing I have noted in this blogs comments and other mother's blogs - the rudest commenters are always people that don't give their true name and whom make sure there is no link back to find them!"

    Just a word about posting anonymously. I posted a comment on this post as Anonymous on Sept. 2 at 5:59 pm. I am not worried that my comment was thought to be rude but I do want to explain that I comment anonymously sometimes because my biological offspring has been known to find my comments and attack me for them or start attacking me to the owner of the blog. There is a desire to hurt me in any way possible. There is a lot of anger. Sometimes I put my name and a link to my own blog when I comment, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I am up to dealing with it, sometimes I am not.

    1. I get that - and understand. The fact is that this is the common behavior.

  42. Thank you Julia Emily. I've learned masses from you too, and am so glad you share here.

  43. I read all the postings here with a sorrowful heart. I know that my daughters are with me, only through their first mothers’ pain. I have great respect for what happened to those mothers, not in the sense of admiration, but respecting the overwhelming forces arrayed against their ability to keep their children. I never assumed that they wanted to “surrender” their daughters, but that they were not allowed to keep them.

    People I’ve just met sometimes try to compliment me, saying what a generous thing it is that I adopted these girls. I have responded, “it’s the most selfish thing I have ever done”. The conversation usually stops there, stunned. I have learned a lot from you at FMF, and know it is not my place to comment much here. Even my closest friends, but who haven’t done much thinking about adoption, don’t understand the perspective I have developed from reading FMF and Gazillion Voices. So we just stop and agree that “adoption is a very complicated issue”.

    Thank you for allowing me to listen to this community.

    AP, foreign/closed adoption, daughters age 17 and 21 now.

    1. CardaMom:

      It has been gratifying for both Jane and myself to hear from adoptive parents like you. And I think I speak for many of our readers who are hungry to hear from adoptive parents who "get it." Thanks for stopping in and commenting. We hope to hear from from you. And thanks for doing your personal best in educating the people around you. When people say you are generous, what they are really saying is, Goodness, I could never have taken someone else's kid to raise!

  44. @Steve, your response, imo, is spot on. My parents were unable to help me (mother in hospital - critical condition); if circumstances had been otherwise, I most likely would have had the support I needed to keep my child. My boyfriends parents, however, were very non-supportive and when I ended up marrying my boyfriend our relationship was cool. Over time it improved as I grew to realize that , like you said, they were under the influence of the morals and beliefs of the times.

    @Amy - perhaps your parents are telling you the truth. In reality, only they know.

    1. @Gail...no, they are definitely *not* telling the truth. I distinctly remember conversations about me having to divulge the "secret" of my first pregnancy to the man I would someday marry, while my boyfriend (now husband, who they never thought I would marry) could hide it from his future wife. I got sent to live across our big city with a foster family so I could attend the pregnancy school. I was only allowed to come home in a large overcoat under the dark of night to visit my parents. No one in my family was allowed to know except my mother's mother since she lived down the street from us, and my mom needed her to talk to about everything. 2 weeks after my daughter was born, I was pulled out of the pregnancy school (where I would have been allowed to stay and finish up the year since it was so close to the end of the year) and sent back to my regular school so that the rest of the family could see my "walk" with my class on graduation day. I begged to stay and finish up at the other school where everyone knew what happened, and I didn't have to lie or hide my grief. My parents were more worried about the rest of the family getting to see me graduate. If that's not shame and embarrassment, I don't know what is. It may have been 1985, but it might as well have been 1975. The attitudes were still the same. Even if I am totally misunderstanding their motives, my perception of their actions was shame, embarrassment, and disgust with my situation and the child that resulted from it. A person's perception is a person's reality, and there hasn't even been an apology for giving me the wrong idea. Just flat out denials and re-writing of history. My mother has confused what happened with my first pregnancy, with events that happened in my second one. She is either not being honest, or she has felt so guilty that she has convinced herself of the lies she is trying to convince me of. But I know better. I remember things well, and I have notes written back and forth between my husband and I recounting events that were happening at the time. A sad documentation of the darkest time of our lives.

      I wish what they were saying was true because it would make things easier. But they're not coming clean, and I can't move on with them until they do.

    2. My husband was eleven when his favorite cousin, who was 15, came to live with his family. She had gotten pregnant with the boy friend. She came from upstate NY to New Jersey, to keep it a "secret." The boy in question got several other boys in school on the football team to say that they are all slept with her, when it wasn't true.Tony's mother kept her in the house except for putting a big coat on her and whisking her off to the doctor. The shame was intense.

      She had absolutely no choice at all as to what happened to her and the baby, who was naturally given up for adoption.

      Her life was rather messy after that, and she died a few years ago. One of her kept children has been trying to find her sister, but so far, no luck. Tony's brother died knowing who it was, but did not tell the mother. There may be a paper in his law office with the information, but no one has unearthed it, or it may have been destroyed.

      But this is why when I told Tony about the subject of my book--we met a little more than a year after Birthmark came out--he was nonplussed. He understood a great deal.

  45. In looking over old clips, I just read this sentence: "A young reporter becomes pregnant in the '60s, an era when out-of-wedlock births could devastate a single woman's life."--Marilyn Goldstein, Newsday, July 21, 1983.

    Oddly enough, my daughter's father worked for Newsday at the time this was published. The reporter never asked about the father and I always wondered if she quietly knew who he was. The gossip mill among reporters works pretty well, as you might imagine.

    1. That sentence is the whole shebang (pun intended). Such a birth could devastate a woman's life, not a man's.

      I am awaiting the companion book to Ann Fessler's "The Girls Who Went Away" --- "The Boys Who Stayed."

    2. Lorraine, has your granddaughter ever been able to meet her paternal aunts, uncles or cousins? (Meaning Jane's bio-siblings and their children).

    3. Oh yes....the granddaughter I have known since birth knows her cousins, aunts, uncles (sorta). And she definitely knows that the art predilection comes from my side of her family--last time we were in NYC, we met up with the niece at art school and her BF and we all went to the Guggenheim.

      The other granddaughter, who ended contact after a year and half, hasn't met anybody else. I am from Michigan, and the rest of my family still lives there, while I live in New York.

    4. But my daughter Jane never met her half-siblings (her father's other children)--or her father. His choice. My two granddaughters did get together once (as far as I know) in Wisconsin, where both were raised.

  46. Muggery Pope:

    Keep on waiting for that book. Nothing happened to the boys who stayed. They went on with their lives without breaking into a sweat.

  47. "Nothing happened to the boys who stayed. They went on with their lives without breaking into a sweat."

    Lorraine, I don't believe that can be true of all the "boys who stayed". It is probably true for many, but I am sure some of them were very conflicted, so that while on one level they wanted to do the "right thing" they were scared away by angry parents or fear of fallout from betrayed spouses.
    They too, like some first mothers, may have feared the harm that accepting their responsibilities would do to their education or careers.

    That they didn't have the courage to step up to the plate at the time may have weighed heavily on them too, although I quite agree, not nearly so much as on the women they let down, the women who felt they had no viable alternative other than to relinquish their children for adoption.

    1. I know 3 birth fathers IRL. Not one of them searched. One knows who his child (a man in his forties) is but has done nothing to contact him. The other doesn't want to do anything, and isn't, and hasn't told his kept son, who is in his 20s. The third didn't even know he had a son who was adopted out until the first mother found the son and contacted the man I know. All I know is that father and son had lunch, my friend saw amazing similarities, down to the obscure brand of cigarettes they both smoked. The man's wife didn't want him to tell his father (that might interfere with the inheritance) or their two children. I don't know what happened. I did not feel like keeping up contact after that.

      My daughter's father's ex-wife and family found out Jane was born when Birthmark was published. If Patrick felt bad, he sure kept it to himself.

      That's four. Five would be the teenager who impregnated my husband's cousin.

      Yes, I am sure some men/boys are conflicted but their lives are not ruined. "getting caught"--unless they got married--wasn't their problem. It was that "bad girl" who went "all the way."

      If I sound cynical about how the men who stayed felt, at least you understand why.

    2. Based on anecedotal evidence from first mothers I've met through CUB and AAC, about 20 percent of fathers married the mothers after the child was given away. They would have married her and kept the baby but adults insisted they were too young, etc. These mothers have told me that they never spoke of their lost child until the child found them or the mother found the child.

      First fathers Gary Coles and Gary Clapton wrotebooks about their experience. I've met several fathers through CUB and AAC. In general, the fathers felt guilty about abandoning the mother but felt they had little choice--not ready, too young--to get married and no help from family. It wasn't until much later that they felt concerned about the child. Some have had good reunions and others have been rejected, much to their sorrow.

      Now obviously, only concerned fathers go to CUB and AAC and write books. So these experiences don't tell us much about the vast majority. My daughter contacted her father several times. At first he refused to have anything to do with her based on the advice of his then wife. (A real man!). After his divorce, he agreed to meet her and tell his daughter about her. After their meeting, he agreed to stay in contact but didn't. He is very much someone who lives in the present and and is an alcoholic.

      I have also met men who tell me they think about their lost child but "can't do anything about it" although a few have tried to search.

    3. As I mentioned in a slightly later post - my daughters bfather is in contact instead of me. We were kept apart by my father. Dave didn't actively search but made sure his name was out there. A search fro me proved fruitless as my maiden name was a common name and no records were updated with my married name. Dave's surname is slightly more unusual and therefore easier to find. He did not have any other children and is so proud of our daughter and they have a great realtionship.

    4. @Clare,

      Our daughter's must be the same age? 29? A little experience has shown me that my "adopted away" daughter (A) is more comfortable and (when we actually had a relationship) had an easier time relating to my husband (her birthfather). I believe it's because we, as the mother, are unconsciously held more responsible for them being given up. There is more baggage between the mothers and the adoptees, and I guess your daughter isn't ready to deal with that? It must be so incredibly painful for you! Has the "birth"father tried to facilitate a relationship between you and your daughter? It has been difficult enough with my daughter having a relationship with my parents when she has little to nothing to do with us. If she was in contact with my husband but refused to speak to me, well...I don't know. I'm afraid it would create some bad tensions between my husband and I. At this point, "A" seems to hold our whole immediate family equally in "contempt."

      I'm sorry for what you're going through, and hopefully it will change soon. I wish it wasn't so hard for all of us...adoptees included of course.

  48. "Blind, deaf, and dumb." Yes, Lorraine, that says it all! A-mom can't even think about my wanting to know about my history. VERY insecure.

    Just look at all these posts about parents forcing girls to relinquish, about adoptive parents who can't even entertain the idea of their child's curiosity, and about reunions gone bad. No one wants to see anyone else's side but their own. Secrets, lies and big money is what adoption has been about for decades. It's disgusting.

    By way of an update: my DNA test hasn't matched me with anyone further. But my friend found two half sisters through DNA, and had another test done to confirm it. And....even though DNA does not lie, the two sisters are calling her a liar. They have already backed out of any relationship, and are accusing her of all kinds of things.

    How can people act this way? I was so happy for her...now I don't know how this is going to affect her. The whole secret adoption machine really stinks.

    1. JE: I am so sorry to hear all of that. About you--and your friend. The half-siblings are undoubtedly freaked out and don't want their lives changed in any way.

      It is amazing how closed up and fearful some people are. Wouldn't everybody want to know if they had a sibling and what that person was like? The man who wrote a book about searching after his found out his mother had died found several siblings and they were receptive. Richard Hill. Can't remember name of book right now.

    2. I will try to look up the book you mention. I will do anything to help my friend, because she is so upset that she has been emailing me all day. How could the sisters turn on her this way? The DNA was conclusive....they share a father. Maybe one does not want to know that their father had an affair, but that is life, I'm afraid.

      My a-mom said to me (about this friend) that maybe the truth she will discover will be hurtful and it was a good thing her AP's hid it all from her. I could not believe my ears! A GOOD THING?

      She is so destroyed by this whole thing, I really don't know how to help her.

      She has said to me that I am the only one who understands her. Only an adoptee can understand an adoptee. Only a first mother can really understand a first mother. Why, then, are all the other people in the world telling us what we can do, what we can feel, what is right and what is wrong? Who are these people and who put them in a position to judge and dictate to those hurt by adoption?

    3. Julia Emily, I don't know how to answer your last questions as they mystify me too.

      But about your friend? I imagine that having an understanding friend like you is absolutely invaluable to her right now.

      I also bet her sisters' reactions actually say a lot about themselves, not about your friend, but I know this will probably be of little comfort to her right now. Could she also get any support from the online adoption community?

      I don't know whether you saw my post on a different thread but I was thinking about what you said about your heritage being Scottish, Irish and Spanish (? - hope I've got those right).
      If your family of origin DID actually leave the US, would they most likely have returned to one of these countries? And if they did, would they have adapted their surname to ones fitting the country they went to? Just a suggestion.

    4. Hi, Cherry: Thanks so much for your support.

      My friend is all over the online adoption community. She has a lot to deal with, and I wish I could help her more than I am. But, she says she is thankful for my support, so that is what I will continue to do. Her entire life was ruined by this black market adoption. Right now she has no adoptive family, her first family seems to have turned against her, her children are not supporting her, and her husband left

      No one can deal with this. I am all she has..

      As for myself, I do not know anything about my first father. I know he is the Scottish, Irish, trace of Scandinavian heritage that I share. From the sound of my first mother's surname, she is the Spanish/Portuguese side.

      I feel that she must have been forced by her family to flee to their original country. I can find no records. There are certainly no records of her in the US after I was born.

      I guess I will wait a while and see if anyone submits their DNA for testing, and possibly matches me. So far, nothing. But, I have waited this long, I guess I can wait a little longer.

      Unicorns and rainbows? Nope.

    5. Even the unicorns and rainbows are sick of the whole adoption thing...

      I have no idea how society manages to sustain the idea of adoption as anything other than a disaster.
      Even when children need shelter, why did/does their entire history need to be erased in order for them to receive it? What a terrible bargain.

      Over here in the UK, we've just had a report showing that huge numbers of siblings are parted from each other when they go into foster care. Surprise surprise, they suffer lifelong feelings of loss and abandonment afterwards as a result.

      Unbelievable, how the connection between biological relatives is sacrosanct for everyone except the desperate people who get sucked into adoption's orbit. Then such ties are given no respect at all.

      I am sending your friend the warmest thoughts I have. I don't know her, but I care about her immensely.

    6. Thank you Cherry. I appreciate your support, and will pass it on to my friend. She certainly needs some people in her corner.

      Interesting how you mention siblings in the UK being separated when they go into foster care. It's disgraceful, but I'm sure it continues to happen. It brought to mind a case of identical triplets right here in NY many years ago. They were separated at birth by the Louise Wise Adoption Agency. I remember them finding out as young men that they were separated for research purposes, as were quite a few sets of identical twins, all by the same agency. Apparently caseworkers would visit each adoptive home under the guise of conducting a "child development study." Their adoptive parents were not told they were adopting one of a set of triplets, the adoptions were closed and they received no further information. The truth was hidden from all involved. The young men reunited, but could never come to terms with what happened to them. One of the triplets committed suicide.

      This was many years ago, but, sadly, I don't think too much has changed. I remember following this case like crazy. It was one of the first times I ever started to have an inkling that adoption was wrong.

      So yes, the saga continues to this day. Here in the US we now have Thanksgiving being hailed as Family History Day. Yippee! What are adoptees from closed adoptions supposed to do with that?

      How do we get the all-powerful lawmakers to read this blog? No one wants to know the truth.

      Thanks again, for listening and for your support.

    7. What happened to those triplets was a crime. To treat their integrity with such contempt.

      And the rebranding of Thanksgiving? No thought given at all, as you say.

  49. JE: the book is called Finding Family
    Jane wrote about it:

    but it may not help you or your friend because Hill found people who were not surprised to be his ...sibling and welcomed him.

  50. I am another 'woman who gave up a child'. But I am in the more unusual situation of the bfather having the contact and relationship not me. Due to adoption services not updating their records my married name and change of address was never held on file. Dave met our daughter ('Lucy')9 years ago and they now speak and meet regularly. I found out 3 years ago and am now living with Dave (longer story). Lucy feels still unable to meet new people and so I sit here waiting while Dave and his family join in with family celebrations..........

    1. I'm so sorry Anon, that must be so painful for you.

    2. So you are living with the father of the relinquished child (not adult) who stays in contact with him but won't allow you in her life? So very fucked up and wrong. I am so very sorry to read this. many many hugs

  51. Thank you Cherry. I must admit that I have done a lot of crying over this, but finding this forum has brought me some peace to see other peoples stories and realise that I am not 'weird' for feeling the way I do.

  52. Thank you Lorraine - so nice to connect with people who understand. 'Lucy' is an adult (31) and has 2 children of her own. Dave is called grandad by the children. And as you say very fucked up!!!



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