' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Should 'adopted' be mentioned when people are in the news?
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Should 'adopted' be mentioned when people are in the news?

Special bond: Peter was very close to his sister, Jana (pictured), whom he nicknamed 'Little Punk' 
Peter Kassig and his biological sister, Jana
The news the other day about Grace and Matthew Huang, who were finally cleared of starving their adopted daughter to death, in Qatar always mentioned: adopted daughter. They are Americans of Asian decent, the daughter was from Ghana, as were the other two children the Huang's adopted. But as the media followed their story, the word "adopted" always preceded "daughter."

Qatar does not allow adoption, and so the family was rare in that country. The Huangs were suspected of having adopted the girl to harvest her organs or for medical experiments. The couple was arrested, jailed, freed but unable to leave the country for
nearly two years until a judge finally decided that the girl was not starved to death. According to the couple, she always exhibited a strange food patterns, having been adopted from Ghana at four after a traumatic early childhood, and had a parasitic condition that is difficult to eradicate and impairs the body's ability to absorb food. Today the reunited family of two remaining children and the Huangs are back in the United States.

Perhaps because the girl was African, and black, the news stories never failed to mention that she was: adopted. 

Contrast that with the news about the American aid worker, Peter Kassig, who was beheaded by ISIS. I watched his parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, on television talk calmly about their son; the news media covered the story thoroughly. I thought the Kassigs were unusually calm and composed, but I figured, everybody's different; don't judge. But until after the beheading, it was never mentioned that Peter was adopted, and had another family that he had a relationship with--mother, brother and sister--for the past eight years, and apparently he was quite close to them.

After Kassig was killed by ISIS, the Kassigs took to Twitter to mention that Peter was adopted, as they thanked his other mother, Rhonda Schwindt, in a tweet, later mentioning his two natural siblings, Jana and Sam. Rhonda Schwindt, his natural mother, is an assistant professor of nursing at Indiana University; her son Sam is a freshman at DePaul University, and Jana is working at a humane society, after graduating. On her Facebook page Rhonda notes that she "Had a Child" on February 19, 1988.

That would be Peter.

When I learned that he was adopted, I thought of how his first mother was suffering, but unlike the Kassigs, she and his siblings were in the shadows throughout the whole ordeal. The State Department did not contact them, I read somewhere earlier, and put the thought of his adoption, and his natural, biological family's pain, mentally aside. But then the Huang's story reminded me again: one can't be written about without saying "adopted," and the other's true history practically passed by unknown.

To mention or not to mention? Some adoptees want it mentioned in obituaries; others don't. If the parents are famous, it is impossible to keep the facts of birth from the media. Yet in some accounts of the life of Herbert Lehman, the governor under who sealed records were enacted in New York, the fact that his children were adopted is not mentioned. In others it is. For historical figures especially, I strongly am in favor of reality--and accuracy. When the race is different, of course it is obvious, and so it might as well be included. For some adoptees and first parents, including that information--adopted--in anyone's obituary will make search and reunion possible. It's hiding that birth information in the first place that is the cause of so much grief.

In my daughter's obituary, there was no mention of "adopted," but under the survivors, I was listed as the (birth mother) and my husband's first name (not her father) was included. I had been a part of her and her adoptive family's life for 26 years. Because I could have been obliterated in her obituary, I was simply glad to be included.

What do you think?--lorraine
Parents of aid worker Peter Kassig beheaded by ISIS tweet they had adopted their son at birth and publicly thank his biological mother and two siblings by name

For Americans exonerated in Qatar, the law worked. Eventually.

Son (Giver Quartet) By Lois Lowry 
 ...a Handmaid's Tale for the young adult reader, but it is beautifully written and with an absorbing story on its own about a young woman who overcomes great obstacles to get back to her son. It needs to be in the hands of more young women before they are seduced into giving up their babies. Those who do don't realize what adoption does to the mother, to the individual handed over to others. They just don't know, and too often they don't want to know...and then they find out, but it is too late. 

Part of a very popular series. The other books are The GiverGathering Blue, and Messenger, with Son the last in the series. Gifts? Yes, great gifts. 



  1. i think adoptees who have strong feelings about whether it be mentioned in their obits should have that honored...but,it's sad for their first moms who might never know that their child had passed. My own daughter's mother INTENTIONALLY keep all obits out of the newspapers so i would not know that my daughter died and not show up at the funeral. It's very cruel. I have known mothers who thought of their child being in kindergarten, graduating HS, etc only to find out their child died in infancy. It's cruel. One mother I know if was banned from being at the trial of the ap who killed her kid!! We are UNRELATED to them by law - strangers! How ironic when it is the aps who are the strangers.

    1. Mirah, how cruel of the adoptive parents to do that to you. And yes, it is inhumane when adoptees die young and first mothers continue to think they are alive...the whole old system seems designed to hurt mothers and children--but what else is new?

      Banned from the trial of the adoptive parent who killed the child?The stupid judge was probably afraid of an outburst and lost sight of basic humanity.

  2. I honestly don't know how I feel about this. It did bother me when David Berkowitz was finally caught in NY in the 70's and all the newspapers harped on the fact that he was adopted. As if being adopted might have made him a serial killer.. But, Other than that case I really have to think on this a bit more....

  3. Added to the post this morning:

    For historical figures especially, I strongly am in favor of reality--and accuracy. When the race is different, of course it is obvious, and so it might as well be included. For some adoptees and first parents, including that information--adopted--in anyone's obituary will make search and reunion possible. It's hiding that birth information in the first place that is the cause of so much grief.

    In my daughter's obituary, there was no mention of "adopted," but under the survivors, I was listed as the (birth mother) and my husband's first name (not her father) was included. I had been a part of her and her adoptive family's life for 26 years. Because I could have been obliterated in her obituary, I was simply glad to be included.

  4. As an adoptee, I've personally had enough secrets, thank you very much! I was reunited with natural family in my 20s, and was mentioned in my natural father's obituary, but not my natural mothers or sisters. Ouch! In making prearrangements for my eventual passing, I wrote some things I'd like in an obituary, along the lines of "born to XX, adopted by XX". In the tragic situation of Peter Kassig, I would have personally found it more compassionate and just for the adopters to embrace all of his loved ones from the beginning of the tragedy. Thanking his natural family in a Tweet? More than passive-aggressive.

    1. Agreed. I found the tweet business unsettling, and felt that he was adopted--and who his original family was--should have been part of the story from the get go. I sure as hell would have argued for it if I'd been covering the story and known about it, but unelss it comes up, reporters are not likely to say, BTW, was he adopted?

      And nasty business about your natural mother's obit--ouch! is right.

  5. I have two adopted and adoptive brothers, Sam and Dale. Sam, had two daughters who were adopted by his ex-wife's 2nd husband. So, legally Sam is no longer the father and the children aren't members of our (adoptive) family anymore. But our adoptive mother and father had a close relationship with the girls when they were young. They were wonderful grandparents, despite no blood relation. One girl of them even got a tatoo in her grandmother's honor.

    When my adoptive father died, I wrote his obituary and included Sam's two daughters in the list of survivors. My other adoptive brother, Dale, was angry that I included them because 1) they had been adopted out and 2) our adoptive father hadn't included them in the will. He claimed that because they were not in the will, our father didn't consider them family and therefore I went against his wishes by listing them.

    The crap I have to put up with from people over adoption etiquette! I think I did the right thing, and will always stand by my decision. In my obit, I want both biological and adoptive family listed as survivors.

    1. Brazil, You did the right thing. The girls would have been hurt to be left out. Their adoption could not have extinguished their connection with your father. Your brother sounds incredibly narrow. I've never heard that being in the will is the criteria for being named as a survivor in a obituary.

      I'm curious, when your first parents die, would you want to be included in their obituaries and if so, identified as having been adopted?

    2. Betty, I am easy, will go with whatever. I doubt I will be mentioned in my first father's obit, and I'm fine with that. Most of his family does not know about me, and it would be insensitive to reveal my existence at the time of their loss.

      I believe I will be mentioned in my first mother's obit. If she writes it before her death, I believe I will just be listed as "daughter." If one of her other children write it after he death, I may be listed as "adopted daughter." I am fine either way. To insist that I be listed as a "daughter" equal to the others might upset her other children. The time of acute greiving is not the time to fuss about that.

  6. I didn't know Peter Kassig was adopted How doubly sad for both his families. I remember when the state legislature was thinking of informing a "birthmother" if her child had died Maybe I'm weird, but I remember thinking this was especially cruel- telling us if our child was dead but not letting us have any knowledge of him when alive. They ended up doing nothing. Personally, I wouldn't want to know,preferring to live in my happy fantasy world imagining what a great life he was having Isn't that the way the social workers said it would be? When I searched for him my biggest fear which I had to face was that he might be dead(not the most likely outcome but definitely a possibility in this uncertain world)-but he wasn't.

    1. What state was that in? I never heard of such a bill before.

    2. I never heard of that bill, either. Do you have any more information about it?

    3. Lorraine, the State of California has attempted several times to make it law that if an adopted child, under the age of 18 dies, the natural parents must be informed. There was a Lifetime movie about the search by a young woman and her husband - the natural parents - only to find that their son had been dead since age 3..... she was a moving force in the "Adoptees/Biological Families Rights" in California since 1975. I am surprised you did not know it. I can't remember their names, but I am sure you could find out easily.

  7. Every time I read about the death of an adopted person, my heart breaks for the birth mother. It seems like a no-brainer that, if the adoptee has been in reunion with parents, siblings,or any birth family members they should be mentioned in the obituary or in any news article that lists the bereaved just as we would for non-married partners or significant others. I hope that once there are open records universally and most adoptees know and have some contact with their families of origin that this will be less of an issue. Lorraine, in the case of the tragic loss of your daughter, since you had been part of her life, I think to have omitted you would have been the utmost in callous behavior. To lose a loved one is excruciating. Acknowledging that loss (which we did not experience when we lost our children to adoption) is a prime example of human compassion.

  8. @lorraine It was in New York State- I don't remember exactly when-the years are all a blur to me now-maybe 20-25 yrs ago

  9. I see two different issues here. On the obituary front, I think the adoptee should leave his or her wishes as to who s/he would like mentioned in her obit. When my APs pass, I would certainly hope to only be listed as their daughter. Since I grew up with several bio-kid siblings it would, imo, just be another way of emphasizing the fact that I'm the kid who isn't really one of the family. Not something I feel any adoptee needs at the time of an adoptive parent's demise.

    The other issue is mentioning a person is adopted in any and every news story about the person. Something I feel happens too often to children adopted by celebrities. Always mentioning that someone is adopted has the effect, in my mind, of reminding everyone that the child isn't REALLY the child of the famous person. And in so many cases, there really is no need to reiterate that over and over again, although sometimes it is germane to the story. I guess if the biological child of every actor or actress, every politician, or any person in the news was always referred to as 'the biological' child of" it wouldn't bother me so much. But it sounds absurd to always mention that a bio-child is, in fact, a bio-child. I remember reading that Michael Reagan asked the news media to stop always qualifying him as the adopted child of President Reagan, and I can't say that I blame him.

    Here's an analogy. Let's say that eye color was given for any person in the news but only if the person had green eyes. As in, the green eyed world famous actress, the green eyed politician from New York, the green eyed criminal. But if the person in the news had blue eyes, brown eyes, gray eyes, violet eyes, or any other color eyes, his or her eye color would not be mentioned. This constant mention of eye color for only those with green eyes would isolate and stigmatize those with green eyes. And no matter how much people would protest that there's nothing wrong with green eyes, that they are no better and no worse than any other color eyes, it would fall on deaf ears. Because if green eyes really are equal to all other color eyes, Why would they constantly need to be pointed out?

    1. Interesting analogy. At one time the media mentioned race only if the person being written about was not white. If the article was about a crime and the defendant was black, mentioning his race fixed in the reader's mind that blacks were more likely to be criminals.

      Again, gender was often mentioned only if the person was female. I remember reading that the Watergate grand jury had something like five black members and six women. The rest were presumably white males, the norm.

    2. Good comparisons, Jane. Our culture gives lip service to the idea that being adopted is equal to or even the same as being a bio-child but the media's only mentioning when a child is adopted does belie that belief.

  10. I think it should be mentioned. Adoption is different, not the normal way of life and it should be acknowledged. One of the things that bothered me as a child was that people would think my adoptive mother was my real mother. I wanted the difference to be clear. i used to envy the little Korean adoptees I saw! At least, in my child's mind, they didn't have to live a lie like i did.

  11. @Lorraine: I don't think you'll ever see a consensus on the question you ask, even if you limit it to the responses of adoptees themselves (and not birth/first parents).

    What stood out for me in this comment: "I watched his parents, Ed and Paula Kassig, on television talk calmly about their son; the news media covered the story thoroughly. I thought the Kassigs were unusually calm and composed, but I figured, everybody's different; don't judge. But until after the beheading, it was never mentioned that Peter was adopted..."

    You do not know these parents. You have no idea what they've been through. I watched the Youtube video they made after the beheading. Yes, they are extremely detached when they talk. But who knows? Maybe they were in a state of shock or denial. Maybe this stiff upper lip way of dealing with trauma is all they knew.

    I felt, however, that your description made an unspoken but nonetheless not very subtle suggestion that the a-parents were "unusually calm and composed" because Peter was not biologically their child. That seems to be an extreme leap.

    Should the birth/first parents have been mentioned to the media? Well, maybe. It sounds like Peter has a relationship with his first family. But do we know if the a-parents ever discussed the issue with the first family? Perhaps they did, and the first family *asked* to stay out of the limelight. We just don't know. It's not an unqualified good to be included in a media circus surrounding someone who is being held hostage.

    Undo blame is being placed on the a-parents in this blog post-for their lack of outward emotion in discussing their son's death with the media, for not mentioning the first family (who may or may not have wanted mention).

    I agree with about 99% of what is posted on this blog. But this post felt like a-parent bashing in the face of very little supporting evidence.

    1. Super sensitive, Ms. Anonymous. Adoptive parent "bashing?"

      This blog by and for first mothers (First Mother Forum) is unusually sensitive to adoptive parents and what you are dickering about proves how incredibly sensitive you are. Lorraine pointed out that she tried not to jump to conclusions, that there might be other factors involved, yet she was correct in her first impression. Kassig was adopted.

    2. @H. This is funny...I am NOT an adoptive parent or an adoptee. I have a bio-child and complicated reasons for being on this board, which I am not ready to disclose. I also can't figure out how to do a name, rather than anonymous, so it wouldn't matter anyway.

      As I stated, I agree with 99% of what's written here. But I took exception with two things: 1) the lack of public *expression* of grief (which is individual, and strongly influenced cultural, and religious beliefs) means the family didn't love their adopted son as much as they would a biological son; and 2) the lack of media and State Department involvement with the biological family was because the adoptive parents didn't think to mention it. We don't know if that lack of involvement was because the a-parents hid it OR because the media and State Department chose to ignore that Kassig was adopted and had close ties with his b-family.

      Since I agree with so very much that is written on this blog, I recoiled when I read these assertions, which aren't grounded in fact--and yes, come across as unnecessarily bashing the a-parents.

    3. Now Lorraine is being bashed because she expressed how she felt when she saw the parents on tv. Maybe she's psychic. But bashing her for stating what she noticed and how she felt is a now reason to bash her and say she is being unfair? Loraine never said that they didn't love him, she said she had a feeling that something was off. And that's illegal now to state on a blog called First Mother Forum? because adoptive parents feelings are being ruffled? Have you read any blogs by APs about birthmothers?

    4. For more details on how the natural family was treated: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2849110/Peter-Kassig-s-biological-family-say-FBI-let-down.html

      "The biological family of US aid worker Peter Kassig, who was beheaded by ISIS militants have claimed they were let down by the FBI who did not tell them he was missing or support them.

      Last week Kassig's parents revealed on Twitter he has been adopted as a newborn and thanked his birthmother, Rhonda Schwindt, that she chose them to be his parents.

      But now Rhonda says the FBI has not supported her and her two children because they do not meet the agency's legal definition of next of kin.

      Rhonda also says they were denied federal assistance in finding grief counseling and told by the FBI to keep quiet even after his parents and friends were encouraged to speak up in an unsuccessful attempt to save him."

      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2849110/Peter-Kassig-s-biological-family-say-FBI-let-down.html#ixzz3LbeAGA6i
      Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  12. Actually, Kassig apparently had a very close relationship to his biological siblings, if you want to do a little more digging. I'd read other stories too, about how they felt completely left out when the state department was dealing with only the biological family.

    As for your other comment, I did think the Kassig's reacted strange and wondered if he was their natural child--and I tried to convince myself I was being super critical. Yes, you are right. I thought they were too calm and unemotional.

    1. @Lorraine: I didn't see that in my initial digging. Obviously, the biological family should've been included--if it was their desire to be included. But again, was this because the a-parents didn't want them included, or because the State Department chose to deal only with the legal parents?

      We don't know--or at least, I have yet to see evidence--that it was the a-parents keeping the b-family out of the loop. The media and the State Department may have had the information about the b-family and chosen not to act on it.

      I also still think it's a stretch to say that the a-parents' unemotional affect was because Peter was adopted. First, they may have been raised to grieve in private (do we know their cultural background?). They may have been so shocked and traumatized that they could display no emotion at all. Listening to the clip on Youtube again, I sensed that the couple was very religious (Christian) and that they found peace in their son being with God, and trusted that they--and the crazy political situation that led to Peter's death--would be healed by God.

      This sort of religious passion is not my thing, but I have met people like this who have suffered the death of one--or more!--biological children with the same sort of seemingly unemotional affect because it's "all part of God's plan" and their children are in heaven now.

  13. I didn't expect consensus on an issue this sensitive. I come from a journalism background, I am aware that adoptees should get to call the shots on this one (while they are alive), and because having it out there as aduptmuss says would make a lot of search and reunion easier.

    I also think it is worth noting that much of the opposition to unsealing birth certificates, at least in NY, comes from...an adoptive father in a very powerful position in the Senate. I think that is a item worth knowing.

  14. WE ask that commenters choose a name and use it rather than anonymous. Anonymous comments are more likely not to be posted.

  15. When you adopt, the child is supposed to be part of your family. Its not supposed to matter. I've been told my entire life, still told to this day, that it does not make a difference. However, my mom still tells strangers that she did not have me, and that I am adopted. I don't think stating that your child is "Adopted" is relevant, in many situations. Its sad that anyone would feel the need to tell the world their child is "Adopted" especially in death. I think you should have been mentioned as a family member, your title could have been avoided, and your husbands name should have been listed simply, as your husband. When this sort of thing happens, it makes me wonder how honest people are being with the subject of adoption, and it makes them uncomfortable. Otherwise, why the need for these types of titles. I can see saying the titles when speaking with others that don't really know or understand "Who's who" but in an obituary, I'm guessing most people know if a person is adopted, so why give a label such as "Birth Mom."???

    1. I have to agree with a lot of what Meow said. I know an adoptee whose a-mother would never refer to her as anything but her adopted daughter. My friend found this very hurtful. It was as if her a-mother was always telling everyone that she isn't really her child. It is not necessary for an adoptive parent to mention the fact that the child is adopted to every person they meet. As someone who had only bio-kid siblings, it would have been hurtful if my APs had felt the need to always point out that I was the kid who wasn't really one of them (and that's what the constant mentioning of a child's adoptive status does).

      I know a couple who have several bio-grandchildren and one adopted grandchild. It drives me nuts how they will never refer to the adopted grandchild as anything other than our 'adopted' grandchild. They refer to their bio-grandkids either simply as their granddaughter or grandson or by their first names. It is so clear that they don't consider the adopted grandchild as an equal member of their family. I know another adoptive grandmother who only refers to her a-grandson as 'my grandson'. He is a different race than his APs and it is clear that he is adopted, but the way she speaks of him makes me feel that she is much more accepting of him as family than the couple I just mentioned.

      I can certainly understand in the case of your late daughter, Jane, that you (Lorraine) would be included in the obituary and your relationship acknowledged. But each situation is different. There may or may not be a reunion and I still think it should be up to the adoptee if s/he has made her wishes known.

  16. Meow:

    Speaking for myself and as someone who was a part of my daughter's life (and her adoptive family's) for 26 years, I was pleased to be listed as her birth mother. All the survivors in obits are usually included as to who they are: brothers, sisters, etc. To leave out why I was included would have been at least odd, since I was not her brother, aunt, uncle, parent. Of course my daughter's family and friends knew who we were--in the paper, at the wake, at the funeral Mass (I sat next to her adoptive mother) and the reception afterward.

    First mothers have been marginalized in the adoption process--once the baby is a "get"--that it was in some measure salubrious for me to be included, and I suspect, it would be that way for most--if not all--publicly reunited mothers--with whom the life began.

    Your mother's constant mention of you being "adopted" does not lessen her love for you, just that she did not give birth to you is on her mind constantly, especially as she ages. I'm sure it is annoying, if not somewhat hurtful, but it is her reality. She clearly feels the loss of not having given birth to you,

  17. Meow : being adopted DOES matter. There is a world of difference between an adopted child and a bio child. Took me very long to realize it, and that's because adoption, as you stated, is anything but honest.

  18. I appreciate where you are coming from. However, I have to agree with anonymous. There always seems to be a desire to demonize the adoptive parents. Haven't you ever seen a loved one deliver a eulogy without breaking down? It's not uncommon for people to hold it together in public, while feeling completely destroyed inside. Whether I agree with you or not, I generally feel that you try to be fair. I don't think that you are being fair here. For example, when I saw the father who left his child to die in his car earlier this year and was found to have googled something about how long it took for a child to die in a hot car, I found him as well as his wife to be cold, distant and uncaring in public. But many people defended them, stating that it just may be how they deal with things publicly. Based upon the article I link to below, the adoptive family did value the birth family. People deal with grief differently, and I would not want to be judged based upon how I deal with grief. I grew up with my birth family (and there is no doubt about that, so no, I am not being lied to about being adopted). I never felt like I belonged. I felt like I was different from everyone and I didn't fit it. I feel like that to this day. I used to dream that I had a different family out there, starting as long as I can remember. My family became the people who I connected with. I think it's understandable that it can often be that way, but genetics are not always the be all and end all. I maintain a relationship with my family, but they will never understand the kind of person I am, we will never seem like family to an observer, and this is not unusual in my experience. I know it's comforting to think that someone looks like you when you never experienced that. However, I would trade someone looking like me for someone understanding or accepting me for that any day.

    This seems to be a more fair account:


    1. Justine wrote:"However, I would trade someone looking like me for someone understanding or accepting me for that any day."

      Well, there is certainly no guarantee that you would have had that sense of understanding and acceptance that you seek if you had been adopted. I think in general it is far more likely that a child would fit in better with his bio-family than random strangers. But, of course, that isn't always the case, as your story points out.

  19. Why are adoptive parents demonized in the adoption reform community? Because they are the reason for infant adoption. If there was no market for infants, infants would not be sold. Every adoptive parent adopted because they wanted something, someone else's child.

    Some people try and be so careful, and always mention how much they love their adopters, and how they are the real parents, who cared for them when they were sick, yadda yadda yadda. But what about the fact that those loving people were willing to separate infants from their mothers?

    There is something very wrong with a woman who takes a baby from a poor, desperate hurting woman. It's not right.

    Do we demonize adoptive parents, or did they do it to themselves?

  20. Well, that makes this sickening tragedy even worse, that there were more people who loved this young man who was so senselessly murdered. I did not know he was adopted, but feel terrible for all his family, birth and adoptive. I too think it unfair to characterize his adoptive parents as unfeeling or less loving for the way they express grief. I come from a very reserved and private family, which does not mean we are unfeeling or do not care as much as more demonstrative and dramatic folks. This was a huge loss for all who loved him, no matter how they express genuine grief. Remember, there are people who can cry on cue and make a huge show of every emotion who may feel less than those more reserved underneath it all. Outward expressions of emotion are not always a good barometer of inward feelings.

    1. I want a "like" button for your comment, Maryanne.

  21. Thought provoking post, Lorraine. To your original question, "should adoption be mentioned in news stories..." I would say no, unless it is somehow particularly relevant or important to the story. Case in point Ronald Reagan's son... why keep mentioning it in the news if it wasn't part of the story?
    I feel differently about obituaries though, as these are an important source of information for future generations when compiling family histories and genealogies. In an ideal world it would be acknowledged by all families... if only for accuracy's purposes. But in the real world emotions are so heated, especially due to the secrecy and shame, that many families still won't feel comfortable.
    I follow this blog because my husband is an adult adoptee reunited in middle age with his first family members. However his mother refuses contact, but his father accepted it and welcomed him. Both parents are in their 80s and he also has a sibling. The father is internationally known in his field in the performing arts. So will his obituary mention my husband, when it would be a shock to those who know the father, but don't know about the relinquished baby? The estranged birth mother would certainly pitch a fit as she is deep in denial and still hiding it all. I have a feeling his sister, who is very compassionate and is already estranged from their mother, would indeed list my husband, her brother, as a survivor, and just let the questions come. But others are too fearful, too private, or too secretive.

  22. I have been ruminating a lot over this post and the insightful comments. As an adoptive parent, the issue of where, when and how the "adopted" aspect should be featured has been an ongoing dilemma for me. As far as anything getting published in newspapers, my obituary would refer to my son, not "adopted son." While I convey to my son the knowledge that he is adopted, because that is the truth and reflects a big part of who he is, I feel that calling him my "adopted" son in my obituary would take away from the love I feel for him with every ounce of my being. So, he is simply my son - in my heart and in my obituary.

    As far as what should be published (or in an obituary) from the adoptee's point of view, I agree with Robin that it should be up to the adoptee.

    My day-to-day dilemma really stems from when and how to share with others the fact that our son is adopted. While I am sure we made the right decision in telling our son about his adoption (that was never a question), my husband and I regret telling some people he is adopted. These people include some neighbors and a few parents of our son's classmates. These people have made statements to me expressing surprise at my son's abilities, given "where he came from" (I guess they are assuming that because he was in foster care his genetics must be crap?).

    We have now decided not to talk about his adoption at school, unless specific questions are asked of us, because we do not want teachers or other staff, parents, etc. to wrongly assume abilities (or lack thereof) about him simply because he is adopted. We won't lie, we just won't go out of our way to talk about him being adopted. And this is why I also get really irked when the media goes out of its way to mention that a celebrity's child is "adopted." It definitely reads to me as if they are saying the adoptee is less of a person in some way.

    1. Jay, I agree completely with your decision--and that of anybody--to not mention adoption unless it comes up first. But since people are people and do mention it--because it is on their minds--think of the good of you saying, over and over again--yes, he is really bright! Since you are in the thick of it, you might as well do all you can to destroy their stereotype.Answer quickly, change the subject, let them know the question is one you have heard over and over and that it's rather tiresome.

      I too get tired of talking about adoption--and sometimes go so far as to shut it down, it still elicits an emotional response in me, it's still a trigger, no matter what--but there are times when answering: do all birth mothers feel like you? is a worthwhile thing to do.

      But I do disagree that saying "adopted" in an obit takes away from a declaration of your love. in fact, it enhances it.

    2. Lorraine, the good news is there are lots of people associated with my son's school community - fellow students, parents, teachers, staff, the school principal! who adore him. If ever a situation arises where I feel there is prejudice directed at my son because of assumptions about his background, I will fight it fiercely.

      As for comments from those who set him apart in an insulting but relatively harmless way because of his adopted status (like expressing surprise at some of his abilities, as long as they express them to me and not directly to him), I do respond that in my opinion his genetics are superior and that it is unfortunate his parents didn't have a chance for their gifts to be recognized. And I leave it at that and change the subject.

      Your comment about mentioning "adopted" in my obit is interesting. I had not looked at it that way but, at least right now, I am still leaning toward simply using "son." I could be wrong, but I believe it is possible my son will think I loved him less if my obit publicly proclaims the "adopted" aspect.

    3. Lorraine wrote:"But I do disagree that saying "adopted" in an obit takes away from a declaration of your love. in fact, it enhances it."

      I have to respectfully disagree with you 100% on this issue and totally agree with Jay's initial comment.... "So, he is simply my son - in my heart and in my obituary." Your comment is clearly written by a person who is not adopted and what is triggering you, imo, is that you feel that if being the 'adopted' son isn't mentioned then it minimizes the importance of the first mother. But the sad reality is, you and the other first mothers did give your children up, for whatever the reasons. Jay has previously mentioned that her son has had issues with his adoptive status. People in Jay's real life already know that her son is adopted and it is my personal opinion that mentioning this in her obit is unnecessary. Saying 'adopted' son does make it sound as if he is somehow less her child.

    4. One thing this thread has made me do is give some thought to how I would like my obituary to read! Never really considered it before.

      I think I would like it to say that I was privileged to have the opportunity to love a lot of people during my time on earth, especially: my parents, my husband, my mother-in-law, my closest friend since kindergarten and- most of all - my son, Nina and Rayna. For me, it does not matter how the announcement would come across to the public as long as it expresses the sentiments of my heart toward the people whom I got to love. And, for me, "son" feels right in that context. I would not intend it as a public "brag" that I have a son, just as a message conveying to him what I felt when I was alive (and beyond).

      Now it is possible this might change as my son gets older because his input would matter to me. He is 6 years old now, a little boy who very much wants to feel that his family is just like everyone else's. So, at least right now, the signals I get from him are that he would not want me to refer to him as an "adopted" son as that would somehow degrade his status in our family.

  23. I have to admit that I am vaguely uncomfortable when an adoptive mother brags that she has this or that number of children when I know some of the children are adopted. It makes me think of the woman who brings a chocolate cake to a pot luck which everyone raves about, neglecting to say she bought the cake at a bakery. It seems dishonest.

    I agree that she shouldn't mention their adoptive status in front of the children, but otherwise, I think she should.

    I understand that this may be a controversial statement.

  24. On an opposite note, I once heard a grandmother brag at a beauty parlor about the musical talent and ability of a grandson (he had come in for a minute and was gone)--and then add, He's adopted, so I can't claim any of the credit--none of his talent came from my family!

    I thought, thank you, lady, that's real.

    1. That's funny. My mom once said of our son: "There is no way your genes could produce such a marvelous child!"

    2. My husband and I joke that it's a dead giveaway that our youngest isn't genetically related because she's very coordinated and athletic. She most definitely did not get that from us! I'm super clumsy, which I sadly passed on to my oldest--- it's our long legs, I think. I can trip myself just walking! I tell my youngest she takes after her mother in athleticism, and her innate sense of rhythm comes from her dad, who played drums.

  25. On the question of obits, my surrendered son was in the obituaries for both my parents as grandson, as they would have wanted. He was even numbered in the great-granchildren when my grandma died years ago. He was listed as "son" in the adoptive mother's obit, even though he had not been in touch with her for years. I would hope he would be in mine, but that is really up to the survivors. What matters is what happens in this life.

    I pretty much just refer to him as just " my son" when talking to people, unless I have to differentiate which one, then I would say "the son I gave up." "My oldest son" works too.I consider all four equally my sons.

    I think the issue of identifying someone as adopted is really something for adoptees to comment on, as they are the ones who should have some say about that in their own situation. I don't think that saying a child is adopted necessarily makes them lesser or not as good, but I am not an adoptee. I would defer to their wishes about that.

    1. It feels and sounds right to me that your oldest son is listed as "son/grandson" in the obituaries of both of his families, biological and adoptive. It's not really a question of being a lesser person but being considered less a member of the family.

      As an adopted person, having any say in my situation is heavenly.

  26. If just mentioning some on is adopted makes them feel like less of a person's child, it's because being adopted does make you less of someone's child. In fact, it makes you not really their child at all, in a very real and important way. In the most basic, biological way. It's not a good thing. That's why it's considered in bad taste to mention it.

    Being called adopted means being called rejected. Of course it hurts.

    Personally, i want it out there. I have nothing to hide. I didn't give myself away. I want people to see me, and adopted people as different. I want people to know that adoption causes great pain in peoples lives. I hope this will discourage infant adoption.

    I want witnesses to the pain.

    1. adoptomuss, I hear you. I want witnesses to the pain too. BUT
      if there were witnesses to the pain--adoption would lose its sunshine, rainbows, and unicorn standing.

      if there were witnesses to the pain--the TRUTH would be seen and it would end all of the fluffy feel good that comes for those in 'we benefitted' adoptionland. (oh crap!can't let that happen.)

      if there were witnesses to the pain-- it would stop the gross promotion of child abandonment. (aka adoption)

      if there were witnesses to the pain--it would stop the condoning, coercing, ''encouraging'', forcing, paying for and praying for child abandonment. (so I/we can adopt or make a bucket o money from it.)

      if there were witnesses to the pain--it would stop the ripping of a child away from their mother (and father)

      if there were witnesses to the pain--others would come to understand that this thing called adoption is based on lies and expects people to -live as liars. How many people like being lied to? How many people want to be expected/forced to lie?

      if there were witnesses to the pain--people would start asking why is this done? It causes great pain and suffering.

      if there were witnesses to the pain--the world would learn and know being abandoned and adopted/loss of a child to adoption is an excruciating pain and sorrowful grief to bear, and dehumanizing, as in-you have no feelings, needs or wants, or worth except what I allow you to have.. if any.

      if there were witnesses to the pain-people would ask, 'what's wrong?' and the answer would be-being abandoned-adopted/ losing a child to adoption hurts.

      Many people saw and still see and know of the excruciating pain that mothers feel when their child is taken from them ... they did not and truly still do not care because we were and are considered less than human. Not good enough, not worth hearing or seeing. Not good enough or worth anything resembling human to be a mother and raise our own child. We are better. The child is ours. We have to make you disappear. The child is ours. Not yours. Never will be yours. Records must stay closed. If they don't we cannot be forever families. If the records don't stay closed, the dirty truth of many, many more forced adoptions, deceitful practices, corruption and betrayal will come out and we cannot have that truth out there. When will adoptees come to understand that most mothers do not willingly hand their children over to others? Answer: In large part when adoption records (not just OBC) are opened. Unless of course they have been: lost due to fire, flood, mice, (the not so nice person who decided to destroy them), altered/falsified (they're proficient at falsifying documents).

      Yes adoptomuss, adoption causes great pain in people's lives. I'm with you in hoping infant adoption will be discouraged!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Sometimes - being called adopted can be called stolen or kidnapped. It's hard as anything to sit there and play nicey, nice about your child being taken against your will.. but you're expected to just ''shut-up about it and can't you be GRATEFUL because your child got a ''good life'' (sure how did I know prior to reunion and it was a different life not better.) or be GRATEFUL now they are -back in your life". No. I can not and will not just shut-up. Because if I do other mothers and their children will continue to be separated. Others may continue to think that it is ok in the long run to do what they're doing in separating mothers and their children. I don't want them to think that at all. Because it's not ok. It HURTS, IT HURTS, IT HURTS AND REUNION DOESN'T MAKE THE PAIN AND GRIEF GO AWAY. It answers some questions.. and ends the emotionally and physically draining wondering and searching. It hurts and it's hard to get through a day. pick one. any one.

  27. I don't like labels, and I don't like division. My daughter is only my "adopted daughter" online when I am talking about adoption and trying to make that distinction. But that's the same as her other mom is only "first mother" online. In real life, she is "your mom" or we use her first name. My daughter has two mothers and two fathers. I don't see the need to provide any kind of distinction in this type of case. Should it cause confusion to those reading it, well, it's not about them anyway.

    In the situation I pray to the depths of my being that I am never, ever in (even thinking it wrenches my heart), I would say "[daughter's name] is survived by her mothers, Tiffany and X, her fathers, Y and Z, and her sister, P." People who know us know our youngest is adopted. People who don't know? Doesn't matter because it isn't about them.

    I am always offended by any implication from anyone that my daughter is less than because she is adopted. If other people view her as less than my daughter, then screw them and they matter nothing to me because they are wrong. By the same token, if other people view my daughter's other parents as less than to her, then screw them because they don't get to decide that.

    As a sidenote, I got the comment (again- I hear it constantly :) yesterday when showing a picture of my daughters to a colleague - "So your youngest gets her dark hair from you and your oldest gets her blonde hair from your husband?" I just answered "Looks like it" with a smile. I'm not ashamed of my daughter being adopted and am pretty open about it, but neither do I feel the need to constantly correct people in their assumption that we are genetically related. I want my daughter to grown up knowing her adoption does not matter to me (I am not saying it won't matter to her and that I won't be ok with that- just that it doesn't impact my love for her or her place in my heart as my child). But I don't want to constantly be telling people she is adopted because that can make a child feel singled out. It's a balancing act between being ok with acknowledging it as a matter of fact and making it a daily reminder that she's somehow different.

    1. I thought about this more after typing it out immediately after reading the article, and I realized that I actually couldn't do this (including other parents in an obit), at least right now. I think this adds an additional insight that sometimes, the APs don't mention other biological relationships because they need to honor the wishes/needs of the first parents or else protect the privacy of the first parents.

      It's another thing for me to file away to discuss with my daughter when she is much older. I would think this is something that could be discussed with an adult adoptee to find out their personal wishes.

    2. Protecting 'privacy' of the first parents is a so very oft used myth. What happens to us when we are once again excluded, forbidden, unacknowledged, banned from our own child's life is we feel even less human than before. ...if that's possible. It amounts to one more blow, one more abuse, one more instance of neglect... on top of all the others that often began long before our child was even born. Thanks for 'dehumanizing' us even more. Way to ''love your neighbor''.

      I feel a more honestly written reason why one couldn't -include other parents in an obit- would be, ''because we (aps) need to honor the wishes/needs of ourselves or else protect our own privacy." --That-- sounds like an honest statement to me. (disclaimer--this opinion is from my own personal experience with aps) If this seems to come from an unfeeling human being.... whoever said I was human? whoever said I had feelings?! I was treated as a trashy wrapping paper for someone's nice little =="""gift""""== and none of my HUMAN feelings were considered AT ALL. So excuse me if I act at times as I have been treated for the past 30+ years.

      p.s. Hey """""""""""""""goody"""""""""""""""""" an adoptee died and I being second generation can get his birth certificate now and FINALLY learn the names of my true ancestors.... thanks for all the abusive control and MY DADDY having to die before I could have the truth. My Daddy's dead. IT HURTS. I loved my little broken adoptee Daddy. SHAME ON ALL YOUR SELF-ENTITLED BULLSHIT to claim ownership of a child/adult and their children and and and ... You aps and agencies etc, don't seem to care who you hurt or how bad you hurt them..... please. We have feelings too.

    3. Hi Cindy, I'm sorry that this has been your own personal experience with APs, and I can totally see how that would have been the case- I see it so often. But I think if you read both of my comments, you would see my first inclination was to include my daughter's parents. My privacy statement that I made on further reflection is the truth, and it has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with my daughter's parents' situations. And my respect and love for them.

      My daughter's parents are indeed as much a part of her life as they wish, which I am sad isn't more right now, but that isn't by my choice. I love them, and I want them in all our lives. I see them so much in my daughter, in our daughter. I absolutely do not want banned or removed from our existance, and especially not hers.

      This was posted in reply to my post, but if I misunderstood that it was directed at me, then I'm sorry. I absolutely do think that many APs feel exactly as you described. I think your anger is justified and you have every right to it, but I just don't think it's justified in being directed at me as I don't fit any of the descriptions you used. You do have feelings... I am very sorry for the pain that has been caused to you.

    4. Tiffany, yes, part of my comment was directed to you.. as well as the general 'assembly' of adoptive parents and ''facilitators'' and those that want to continue the fallacy of amended/falsified birth certificates and closed records and obits that do not contain genealogical truth and dismiss other human beings as nothings. I may be wrong, but my 'adoptoland alarm' rings with pretty fair accuracy I have found. When you did a 180 on your willingness to include your daughters other parents along with some of your other comments set the alarm off. ..such as your telling a colleague ''looks like it'' in reference to the picture of your daughters and their genetic inheritances... that reply may have seemed harmless and 'honest' to you... but what happens when or if your colleague shares their understanding from your reply that your oldest gets her hair coloring from your husband and the youngest from you... they would be speaking a lie. I know the comment 'looks like it' with the emphasis on -looks- is what you ment. ..it 'looks like it' (however on completing an honest sentence) 'but no, my youngest is adopted/gets her coloring from her other dad/ mom.'' We can make another person -a liar- so quickly by withholding truth, by withholding honest information. ... I think sometimes we don't realize that. Not forgetting to mention that you could appear deceitful to them, if/when truth comes out.
      I understand you don't want her to feel 'less than' I get that and I understand how some adoptees want to hear the words son/daughter without the word -adopted being used to feel a true part of the family. But your daughter/s were not present. Just you. right?

      Wait until she is ''much'' older to discuss this. Why? Even at the age of 7 or 8 children are capable. ..it's often the ''adults'' who are unable or incapable of discussing hard things/truths. Why let 'fantasy' or it's a ''''dirty secret'''', or it's taboo (when no one talks about it) to set in your daughter's mind and --maybe-- fester, when honest discussion can go a long way in helping an adoptee process THEIR reality/truth. Hear what adoptomuss says in her comment from Dec. 12th @8:31PM.

      Even if your daughter's parents were axe murderers I can't think of any reason not to list all parents as you originally intended, for -truth and accuracy's sake. Not to forget compassion towards the parents who lost/gave up so much. So are you saying *they* would be ashamed or harassed or abused if you mentioned them in your daughters obituary? (God forbid that should be necessary) I just don't understand why you changed your mind. Other than saying 2 mothers and 2 fathers might have some people thinking you all, as her parents, are lesbian and gay when you are not... but then confusion comes from not speaking -accurate truth.

      Protecting privacy of (first) parents is a convenient way now for adoptive parents and agencies/facilitators to continue the secrecy.... first, adoptees were the excuse, now that adoptees are searching and speaking out... they use us as an excuse. They want truth... we parents want truth.... those making excuses are running out of them. Wouldn't it be easier, simpler, kinder all the way around? Open the records.. Isn't it time for truth?

    5. Of course the records should be open--that's a no-brainer that the legislators don't "get"--but in regards to not including the birth parents' names...the truth is some would be horrified to be so named in obits because they are in the closet and do not welcome being outed, and I think that is who Tiffany was talking about.

      In respect to her saying: "Looks like it" when a colleague said something about physical resemblances...it was only a way of avoiding at that time any talk of adoption. She didn't say, Right. That would have indicated she agreed that her hair coloring came from her or her husband. Tiffany's response is ambiguous and came to mind at the moment--it wasn't something she planned or had a script ready for. Tiffany is one of the more open adoptive parents--if there were more like her, all birth certificates would be unsealed.

      Well, maybe not. All those anti-open-records legislators hide in the skirts of the in-the-closet birth mothers, and it's my guess that a fair number of them actually know a birth mother in the closet. All those babies out there from the sealed-records era were born to...someone and some of them are the siblings and cousins and aunts of legislators.

      Tiffany's comment is analogous to someone asking me if I have children, and I say, Yes, but she died." I have not told the whole truth, as in "but she was adopted [and thus I am not worthy to have full grief, as one adoptive mother indicated when my daughter died] and I didn't meet her again until she was 15." I don't want to go into all that. I want to move on and not have an adoption discussion because adoption is such a deeply emotional and interesting,matter that it naturally leads to questions. To not answer them, one has to usually add: "But I don't want to talk about it," which is interpreted either as off-putting or eliciting sympathy, neither of which I want. I would imagine that when a lot of adoptive parents say, So-and-so is adopted....there are questions that immediately follow from the person hearing the news: Couldn't you get pregnant? Where is she from? Was if hard to adopt? Etc. And there are times you just don't want to get into it.

      Cindy, your own situation was and is horrendous. You were coerced and drugged and barely knew what was going on. All of us here have much empathy for what happened to you. Sometimes the pain is so great it is difficult to walk in another's shoes, and see something from their point of view, but we can try. I hope Tiffany can understand why your response triggered such a strong reaction in you. I manage to be friends with an adoptive mother who once corrected me when I referred to my daughter's "adoptive parents;" she said, they are her "parents." Yes, I wish I had done something other than feel anxious and weird at that moment but I didn't.

      There are many times first mothers and adoptive parents may feel strange about, but at least here let us try to understand where the other is coming from and carry that into the world.

  28. Yes, dishonest. I wanted my adoption to show. It was so BIG to me that i wanted it to be obvious, but it never was. It was a hidden shame, my shame, my birth mother's shame, my adoptive mother's shame at being infertile.

    I envied trans racial adoptees, because their adoption was obvious, honest, in your face. Mine was subversive, hidden, as-if-born to lies.

    If I could have worn a sign, i would have.

    If you did this to me, at least we can all be honest about it. If it's nothing to be ashamed of, then don't hide it.

    1. Yes. 1000 times.
      - Baby Girl Nelson. Not Anonymous.

    2. Baby Girl Nelson: Your comment can read as that if you choose the "Name/URL" choice if the pull down menu when you comment instead of "Anonymous." Ignore the URL if you don't have one or don't want to use one. Just put in "Baby Girl Nelson" and that is all you need. You can check it out under Preview.


  29. I never mention that my daughter is adopted. it is obvious but I never bring it up and if asked I am very careful to respect my daughter's privacy and right to share her own story. I think identifying a child as "my adopted child" is wrong. She is my child. How that came to be is not public fodder and I don't feel an obligation to satisfy casual curiosity. If people are close to us and want to have a conversation that is different, though I always keep my child's right to her own story and privacy in mind.

    Jane Edwards I truly suspect if that women said I have six children and XX are adopted, you would be posting that here as something wrong with the AP that she had to identify her adopted children. I truly believe that you would. I never ever say I have a child and she is adopted. I just say I have a child. I'd find it really weird to say more at that casual level.

    I think obits should reflect wishes of adoptees. the obit truly is not about anyone but them. Sometimes I think that gets so lost in this blog. An adopted child's life is not about the birth mom, or the adopted mom. It is their life! it is about THEM. the narcissism of some parents bio or adopted is creepy to me.

    Lots of assumptions are made about stuff here - do you expect people to say I have three children but one is the result of an affair, so he/she has a different father/ I have two children but one is from an egg donor ....

    1. Your comment reminds me of something I read about singer Marie Osmond. She was always upfront about the fact that some of her children were biological and some were adopted, but she was never willing to identify which were which. She said she did that because she knew the media would insist on always referring to the adopted ones as Marie Osmond's 'adopted' son or daughter. She did not want her adopted children to feel isolated or stigmatized by this common media practice. Of course, after the tragic suicide of her teenage son, Michael, his adoptive status became public knowledge.

  30. Adoption is about the mother, the child, and the new mother.

    We do try to stay away writing about the "adopted child's life" (as Edith put it) but we are all interconnected, and the adoptee's life does impact the mother's. We try to keep this blog (First Mother Forum) as a place where first mothers (and fathers) should be able to express their feelings without being jumped on for having their feelings. Yet that often is not the case.

  31. Should adopted be mentioned when people are in the news? Yes. For any number of reasons. It would be the truth. It is well known that adoptees make up a goodly percentage of those needing extra care,.. why? Because they went through abandonment, because they are living a in a split world and because they often don't have access to the truth/their roots/answers and people need to learn that adoption is not all fluffy unicorns and rainbows. It is for parents and their children often a very hard, difficult, damaging experience, with sometimes tragic or struggling results that if the world were to see a more complete and honest picture of adoption than what is the usual fair on the adoption topic permitted table perhaps the number of children 'abandoned'/adopted would decrease. However, If the adoptee says no then no, that should be up to the adoptee.

    Obituaries I feel are up to the deceased. or they should be, according to their wishes. Whether adoptee or adoptive parent or parent. They should be able to list who they wish, how they wish. Hopefully it will be honest and truthful because no matter it's not all about any one of us exclusively. There are many others and other generations that are/will be needing and wanting truth too. There should be no shame in adoption if it's all so great and wonderful. Which is it?

  32. Somewhat off topic: Last night I met a new GF of a friend, and adoption comes up and she has two sisters, one who adopted from a South American country, and another who had two children by sperm from a paid donor. That sister was asked when she got the sperm if she wanted the children to be able to know who their father was at 18. She checked..."No." The woman I was speaking to said she was surprised.

    I did say something about how that was a choice she made for the child for the rest of her life....and it wasn't fair to the child. Her sister, my new friend (I hope) agreed.

    As for the adoption from SA, I said that a lot of those adoptions come about because after kidnapping. Sometimes you have to say what you have to say. The good point was that she was not offended and believed me. I must be anonymous today. Sorry.

  33. Cindy - there is no shame in adoption to me at all. Our adoption is very obvious and we have not encountered anything shameful. It is just who our family is. But I think people often use the term adopted as a bad adjective to imply that the adopted person was not as loved or as much a part of the family or is messed up inherently and that it is hurtful to the child if it used this way. I do think that Lorraine in this post used it that way, to guess that perhaps the parents expressed grief stoically because the child was adopted. My parents lost a child and my dad did not cry for days. He was totally heartbroken. My sibling was not adopted. My dad just could not bring himself to cry; I think he thought he'd fall apart and not be able to do all that he had to do to make arrangements, be a husband and father to the rest of us. I cannot even imagine the added pressures of being in such a public situation, having to be on the national news. My dad grieved my sibling's death deeply to the day he died. Would he have passed the "biological parent expression of grief test" if he had had to hold a press conference? Maybe not to the satisfaction of some on this forum. But I know he was heartbroken.

    I don't think adoption should be used unless it pertains to the story at hand. I don' think it usually does. When Ronald Reagan died, I felt bad for his son Michael that he was constantly referred to as his adopted son. Why differentiate?. I think Marie Osmond handled it right when she'd refuse to identify which child was adopted. Because it is about the child, not about a news story facts, or satisfying whichever lobby or cause you support. The child is part of the family. we don't have a public duty to explain how our families came to be, and I think we especially have to be respectful of the adopted person's wishes and their right to tell their own story as they see fit.

    1. I agree with your second paragraph.

      I think being listed as my adoptive parent's daughter in their obits is the truth. Just as being called my siblings' sister is also the truth. I'm glad my natural mother always considered my adoptive family as being my family, too. And not in a "I've always thought a child's real family is the adoptive family sort of way", but that both sets of parents are, in fact, my parents and that the siblings I grew up with are, in fact, my sisters and brothers.

      I thought one of the reasons to support Family Preservation was because adoptees are often discriminated against both in the a-family and the larger society. And yet, here are many people saying an adopted daughter or son should not be listed simply as the son or daughter in an obituary after spending their lives in that family.

      I have seen obits of people I know personally-- where adoption is not even part of their story--and something in the obit is wrong. I doubt that obituaries have ever been a 100% reliable tool for genealogists.

      I am glad at least that the consensus seems to be that the decision should be up to the adopted person.

    2. Edith is right that there are all kinds of reactions to tragedy, but she also doesn't want me to express my feelings when they aren't in synch with her adoptive-parent narrative and that is her objection to what I wrote. She's been allowed to express her feelings several times but it starts and ends with: I Don't Like Lorraine expressing her feelings on a blog that I can read.

    3. Lorraine,
      I agree with you 100% that everyone who comes to this blog has to be respectful that this is a forum for first mothers (and fathers), their experiences, their feelings, their concerns, etc. And while in ideal parenting, the focus is on the child first and foremost, that's not what this blog is about.

      While I agree with a lot of what Edith said, I do also have some concern as to whether or not she is allowing her child to express her feelings and issues with being adopted. I would not want this to be a case where she is using old era thinking and the child's own experience as an adoptee is being swept under the rug.

    4. Lorraine I totally don't mind you expressing your feelings; I was just expressing my reaction to the post and how I interpreted it. I don't think I ever said "I don't like Lorraine expressing her feelings???? I just don't agree with what I saw as the premise of the post. and I spoke up because of my daughter. I don't want her to think being adopted means less love from the APs. So I will speak up on these types of issues.

    5. Edith: In regards to my comment, how many times have your expressed you irritation with my thought when I saw the Kassigs on the tube? Initially, I even wrote: "I thought the Kassigs were unusually calm and composed, but I figured, everybody's different; don't judge," in an effort to dismiss my initial thought--that they acted cool and I wondered if he was adopted. I have been told that I am psychic; I'm one of those people who often knows who is calling before the phone rings or whether or not I'll hear from somebody before I open my email.
      So I chalked it up to that, and you responded again. It's actually turned out to be, er, rather amusing now.

      You have mentioned several times how this bothered you, amply implying how very irritated you were, rather than let it go.

      Quod erat demonstrandum.

  34. I've noticed on this thread that adoptive parents are opposed to "outing" their adoptive children, all the while assuring us that the adoption doesn't make a bit of difference.

    I think they are saying it doesn't matter to them, they love their children just as much.

    It mattered to me though. I hated that my adoptive mother pretended that I was her child. I had to pretend too, because I had no power as a child.

    My adoptive mother told me she didn't tell anyone because she "didn't want anyone to know her business". She didn't want anyone to know she was infertile. I wasn't interested in keeping her dirty little secret, but again, i had no choice.

    I'm all grown up now, and I have no problem sharing my status. I'm not proud of being adopted. I wish I wasn't. I share to promote awareness of the pain of adoption.

    I worked at another branch of my office, and told a woman there I was adopted. She said, "you must be happy that you were chosen by your adoptive family". I said, "no, I'm not happy that I was given away by my parents." She sprouted all the adoption cliches that we've all heard, and I knocked every one into the dirt. I don't know if I changed her mind about adoption, but I sure didn't reinforce her beliefs.

    1. Adoptomuss, usually I agree with AP generalizations or else let it go because I understand it isn't about me, but you specifically said "APs on this thread," so I'll reply to this: "I've noticed on this thread that adoptive parents are opposed to "outing" their adoptive children, all the while assuring us that the adoption doesn't make a bit of difference."

      I specifically said "I want my daughter to grown up knowing her adoption does not matter to me (I am not saying it won't matter to her and that I won't be ok with that- just that it doesn't impact my love for her or her place in my heart as my child)." I think I have always been very clear here that I support whatever reactions and emotions my daughter will go through as an adoptee. I anticipate that at various points in her life, adoption will matter a great deal to her, and at other points, it may not. She is the one who will live it, not me, but as an individual, her experience and feelings will be unique to her. Just because another adoptee, or even many other adoptees, feel a certain way does not mean she will, and I try to learn and listen from other adoptees while always keeping this in mind.

      I don't "pretend" my daughter is my child. On the contrary, family, friends, and many acquaintances know my daughter is adopted. I do not, though, respond to the random person riding the elevator with us who comments on how alike she and I look with "She's adopted." I don't tell every co-worker who looks at the pictures on my desk and comments on her dark hair vs my older daughter's blonde hair with "My youngest is adopted, that is why she has dark hair. Not because of me." Why should I? I think that would be really weird and making it out like her adoption is of primary importance to me and the most important thing I could convey about our relationship, and it's not. Will it be to my daughter? Maybe. And that's ok with me if she wants to correct people on their assumptions and state her adoptive status. I am assuming (please correct me) that it was a tense relationship with your mother regarding your adoption? Whereas that isn't the case for me- if my daughter expressed discomfort with how I handled these situations, I would adjust to her desires. My daughter's adoption truly only matters to me in the lens of how she views it and how it impacts her. It has zero impact or meaning to me outside of this, except to consider her other mom and how it impacts her.

      I didn't personally adopt because of infertility issues, but I imagine the majority of people assume this when I say we adopted. It doesn't matter to me in the least- it isn't something to be ashamed of, anyway, so if they assume I am infertile, that doesn't bother me. I'm not, but either way, it just doesn't matter. I'm not concealing adoption to cover any shame, either way. I don't tell people "We adopted, but it wasn't because I'm infertile." They can assume all they want. Again, though, should my daughter ever want this to be said, she's of course welcome to correct me.

      I think your experience is valid. And I think it speaks to the experience of many adoptees. I don't disagree with you that in some (many?) cases, there can be baggage from the APs that influences how they respond to people regarding adoption. I suppose I am in a unique position of not having brought any emotional baggage into adoption, so I feel like I'm very neutral and all my concern is focused on how my daughter will perceive my responses to other people. I just wanted to clarify since this statement was more directed to people posting on this thread, and I think my intentions were misunderstood.

    2. Oops. That should say "I don't "pretend" my daughter is my biological child."

    3. Actually Tiffany you are just more eloquent than me; I handle it the same way and I am in the same situation as you. Edith

  35. One more comment, It reminds me of a saying i heard once about adoption, "It's nothing to be ashamed of, just don't tell anyone about it".

    1. I try to do for the first mothers myths (that we are all dead or in hiding or don't care) whenever I can, but we first mothers can not knock down the "you must be so glad/etc." myths about adoption because we, you know, are the spoil sports who have a biased point of view.

      As you say, you might not have changed her mind, but you didn't reinforce it.
      Keep it up, AMuss.

  36. Here is an adopted person whose story I feel is handled appropriately by the media. Nicole Richie. The majority of stories written about her are about her fashion business, her husband and children or the fact that she was the BFF of Paris Hilton when they were growing up. She is almost always referred to simply as singer Lionel Richie's daughter. Whenever a story includes her biography, it does mention the fact that she is adopted and the circumstances of her adoption. Also, I once read an article by a famous psychologist about celebrity's adopted kids and Nicole's story was included. This is, imo, how it should be. She is generally just considered Lionel Richie's daughter (which she is ), but when adoption is germane to the story that part of her background is included as well.

    1. So what is Nicole Richie's "story?" Your comment had me wondering.

  37. I missed a lot of the comments here. It's a good thing I did. People with attitudes like Edith's infuriate me.

  38. I am so with you, Adoptomuss! I'm a BSE adoptee who has a BFF who is as well. We both scan news stories of killers looking for the word "adopted." It appears there so often, I wish I'd kept a file on all the serial killers, rapists, matricide/patricide adoptees over the years. We've both become so jaded, we're surprised when it's not there.

    Steve Jobs' various personality issues made perfect sense to me when I found out he was adopted at birth. So when my BFF called and told me Kassig was adopted, I combed every article I could find on him. It was all there; explosive relationship with nmother, seemingly enabled relationship with adopters, dropped in and out of college a couple times, a failed marriage, dropped out of an EMT program, participating in Ramadan months before his capture, people describing him as "lost." When filling in the blanks of his recent history, everything went 'click' for my adoptee friend and me.

    It's as if there are a couple boilerplate varieties of adoptees. Mr Kassig (can't remember his name change, another stab at finding an identity) had many hallmarks of a depressed male adoptee. If I had to guess why he went to the Middle East, I think it was to feel alive--not numb--as so many adoptees do.

    I'm sickened and sad that he felt so alone. We lost another one!

    So yeah, I wanna KNOW.

  39. Tiffany, why did you choose adoption? I know it wasn't infertility. I know you have no issues about adopting. What makes a woman with children choose adoption?

    My adoptive mother was very insecure. She tried for her own for 10 years before she resorted to adoption. She didn't want the neighbors to know i was adopted. We all kept our mouths shut. i didn't tell my closest friends.

    I finally statred talking when I was a teen, and I started to drink.

    I found my family 4 years ago, and it's been a terrible expereince. I never imagined how much all this would hurt.

    Knowing how adoption felt to me, I would never do it to another person.

    Why was there a need to sever your daughter's legal ties to her family? What made you decide to take another womans child into your home, and raise her as your own?

    1. Adoptomuss, Tiffany is not your adoptive mother, neither are the others who post here. The birthmothers are not your mother either. Why are you venting your anger on people who did nothing to you? You have every right to be furious at your adoptive parents and your birthparents because of what happened to you. But generalized fury at all parents who surrendered or adopted is not fair nor realistic. Hate the adoption system, sure, but not others caught in it for reasons as varied and individual as the people themselves.

    2. Hi adoptomuss, I feel a bit like I would be entering a rabbit hole with answering your questions. It's not that I don't want to, but this really isn't the forum. This is a place for first mothers, and I feel a bit like a visitor who tries very hard to be on my best company behavior. :) I replied to you originally because it was in the context of Lorriane's article and directed at APs in the comment thread. But your questions aren't so much.

      My daughter's story, and that of her parents, is hers, and I do not publicly share it because that would be very inappropriate of me to do so. I will say that we did not go through an agency to meet (although we utilized an agency to finalize at the choice of her mother) but met through a mutual acquaintance. I sincerely wish that we lived in a perfect world where adoption was not ever necessary, but we don't, and it sometimes is for various reasons. I won't get into specifics regarding the reasons related to my daughter and her parents. The choice to sever ties legally was not mine, so I don't really understand that question. We were there for our daughter, to be her second family, when she needed one.

      I have pretty crappy parents. I relate to how you said your mom was insecure and how it had an impact on you. My parents have their own issues that had a detrimental impact on me that took me into young adulthood and many therapy sessions to work through. I can not even begin to imagine the double whammy, so to speak, that comes from having parents with issues AND being adopted. That must have been, and probably continues to be, so very hard. I hope to spare my daughter from that, but I fully acknowledge that she will have adoption issues to work through, and that makes me very sad for her. Reality though is sometimes super crappy, and she could not stay with her other parents.

  40. Maryanne, I'm not you child either. Since when is "fury" as you describe it fair or realistic? I think Tiffany did a wonderful job sticking up for herself, and her decisions.

    I'm glad that she can understand that adoption will be painful for her child. Coming to this site is not for cowardly adoptive parents, and I commend her on sticking it out, and facing hard truths.

    1. Adoptomuss, I like you saying how it is for you.

    2. Adoptomuss wrote":Maryanne, I'm not you child either."
      That is a circumstance I'm sure we are both mutually glad and relieved about.

    3. Wow Maryanne, that hurts. Actually, you remind me of my mother very much! If you were my mother, I would love you, no matter what, as I love my dear mother.

      My mother also thinks I'm not worth bothering with. I just rub her the wrong way. I've tried everything, but I can't make her love me. i just have to get used to the idea that i may never see her again. The time we had together was way too short. I'd give anything for another day with her.

      All I ever wanted was unconditional love from the woman who means everything in the world to me. I was denied that. You seem to think it's my fault, and maybe it is, but I still can't change it.

    4. Adoptomuss, if me writing to your mother, from my perspective as a first mother, would help, please let me know and I will do so. Lorraine has my contact details and I would make sure that whatever I did felt right to you.

  41. Adoptomuss, I am sorry your mother has treated you badly. One thing I have learned it that you cannot make anyone love you, no matter who they are.You have to make your own life and find joy in other things rather than letting being adopted ruin everything forever.

    It is ironic that I remind you of your mother, because if you actually knew me I doubt you would think that at all.

    Did your mother search for you when you were a minor child, and wait some years before making contact? Did she contact you at 16, risking the wrath of a crazy adoptive mother? Did she hang on through 18 years of silence as I did, loving my son the whole time and continuing to communicate at birthdays and Christmas, but never pushing for anything? Did she devote a good portion of her life and talents to adoption reform? One thing I certainly do is love all 4 of my sons equally and unconditionally, and I am proud of all of them and most thankful to know and see and communicate with my oldest son whom I lost but never forgot, not for a minute. Does that sound like your mother? No? Then do not compare me to her.

  42. @ adoptomus, you said " But what about the fact that those loving people were willing to separate infants from their mothers?
    There is something very wrong with a woman who takes a baby from a poor, desperate hurting woman. It's not right."
    I would agree, except you know that's not always the case, don't you? Sometimes babies are not taken away by the person who later adopts them. Sometimes they have been taken away from their parents for very good reasons, which sounds like might be the case with Tiffany's child's adoption. Sometimes although not often their mothers give them up voluntarily. Or occasionally even abandon them. What do you think about that? It is certainly tragic when that happens, but children who don't have extended family willing or able to take over still need love, home and family. It's not the same, but it is a better alternative (in my opinion) than being raised in an institution.
    Perhaps you don't mean it, but it does rather seem as if you generalize and try to impose your perspective on others without thinking of adopted persons who might feel differently from you. But that may be because both your mothers tried to impose what suited them onto you without giving a thought that you might feel differently from them.

    I disagree with you that the adoptive parents on this thread are saying they are opposed to "outing" their adopted children.I think what they are saying is they don't feel it would be right for the children they are raising to shout it to the rooftops as if through a megaphone. There are other ways of being open and honest to the child and the world without doing that. Like Robin said about Nicole Richie's adoption, "She is generally just considered Lionel Richie's daughter (which she is ), but when adoption is germane to the story that part of her background is included as well."

  43. We all know that some children can't be raised in their families. I'm very opposed to infant adoption. I'm also opposed to changing birth certificates and sealing records. I'm opposed to adoption agencies that work to convince women that their children will be better off with strangers. It happens everyday.

    Maryann, I just mean you're cruel like my mother.

    It's never been a secret that nicole Richie is adopted. I think that's right.

  44. Why don't we just listen to what Adoptomuss has to say?

    Instead of trying to change it?

  45. I haven't "let" adoption ruin everything, forever. Adoption has done that all by itself. I do have a life. I find joy in many things. I'm actually happily married, with 4 great children. We own our own home. I work full time for the government. I went to a comedy show tonight, and laughed my ass off.

    Adoption has taken a lot from me. The holidays are very hard. The worst is knowing that my parents are celebrating with the children they kept, while my children and I don't even get a card. I don't know how to get over it. I was raised an only child, and I had a brother. He was around since I was 5. Do you know how much I needed a brother? Wy was he kept from me? We are strnagers now. He has 4 siblings from his father. They are close. My brother lives on the same small island, in a big city where he and I were born. His other siblings live there. My parents were born there, my grandmother, her mother, going back for many generations. Their bodies are buried there. I don't belong on my home island, and i never will.

    Sorry if my fury is offensive. My mother has told me that I, "play the victim card". She's told me if I read the same self-help books as she does that I'll "live in the now" like she does.

    I don't think so. I live in the now, but the now is painful. I can't help it. I lost everything. Everything my brother has. Everything that makes the holidays special, and I'm furious.

    I've tried therapy, drinking, pills. Some things help for awhile, but there's always a quiet moment, when I let myself think.

    It's much worse since i found them. Ignorance was bliss. Now they are real, and just a few miles away, but still as far away as ever.

    I have to smile and pretend all's well, for my children and husband, but some days i wish I lived all alone. I just want to crawl into a dark place and not have to put on a show anymore. I will feel this way until i die. Some days i hope it'll be soon.

    1. I am not cruel, just direct. Adoptomuss, it sounds like your mother is giving you good advice, to live in the now. It took me many years and no self-help books to learn and accept that lesson. What is it you want from your mother? Maybe she does love you, but is frustrated and exasperated with your dwelling on the past. What could she say to you that would matter? What could she do? You are no longer a baby, and she cannot relate to you as one. But maybe you could have a relationship if you changed how you relate to her.

      Remember, neither I or the other mothers here are YOUR mother, so anything we say to you is not going to make much of a difference. It is clear that you are hurting badly and have tried all kinds of remedies. I do not know what, if anything, would help, but maybe communicating with your immediate family about how you really feel would make for more support and better relationships there. I've been very depressed, at times and pretending everything is fine with those you live with does not help and can make it all worse. I hope you find something that helps.

    2. Sorry Maryanne but I thought what you said to Adoptomuss was mean.

      I also thought that your sentence above, about her mother, that '...you are no longer a baby, and she cannot relate to you as one' was full of assumptions that you cannot possibly know.

  46. Perhaps cruelty is in the heart of the beholder. It's like someone hitting you, and it hurts and they say, "well, I didn't hit you that hard, that shouldn't hurt you". If I feel it was cruel, then to me, it is. You don't get to define that, for me.

    I'm sure my mother is frustrated and exasperated with me. i don't know how we can't dwell in the past. I am her past. I represent the worst time in her life. I've been accused of giving her nightmares. I guess I'm responsible for her dreams, somehow.

    What could my mother do to help me? She could wish me happy birthday. She could come visit me when I'm in the hospital. She could come to visit me and her grandchildren. She an treat me like an important family member.

    Maybe I could have a relationship if I changed how I relate to her, but how? How can i not be the thing she fears the most? She says I want to drag her back to feeling the worst pain of her life. I don't want to do that, but I can't help it. I am her pain! I can't not be that.

    She is terrified of me. I can't change the way she feels. She's happier not seeing me or mine at all.

    I've communicated with my immediate family so much that they're sick and tired of it. No one wants to hear the same old sob story over and over again.

    I know there is little hope of my mother softening her heart to me. I posted a picture of me and my children on facebook. Her comment was, "a united front". This is a picture of her long lost daughter and 4 grandchildren. Why the hostility? Why towards the children? they've never done anything to her.

    1. AM--I hate writing out your nom de plume, it is too sad, so I will go with AM.

      One can never understand the heart or pain of another, or why their actions can hurt us so much. We hear from both sides of the adoption picture here, and we do hear of a lot of pain. All I can say is that I am sorry that you have to live with so much hurt. It is good that you have a life and family and can laugh, but I know that does not change the basic hurt that is part of your life.

      I am so sorry. And Christmas is so near.

  47. Yes, that's all. I don't expect any answers. I know there's nothing that can fix it.

    I was writing out my christmas cards tonight, and thought of sending one to my parents. But what to write? To Dad and his family? I thought of sending one to my mother, but she's told me how terified she is of seeing my name on a return address label. I don't want to do that to her. So I decided not to. Another Christmas we won't contact each other. I don't know how many we have left.

    It's so nice of Cherry to offer to contact my mother, but I think she'd make mincemeat out of her! My mother is mean. Her life made her that way, but I wouldn't want anyone to have to deal with that.

    Thanks to all of you who try and understand. you help a great deal.

    1. Adoptomuss, my offer still stands, if or whenever you'd like me to.

    2. Lots of people in the same boat regarding Christmas. I have two granddaughters. One I sent off a nice package to the other day; the other (sadly relinquished by my daughter) wants nothing to do with me. As the years pass, her rejection has less to do with me than her.

      AM, your story is different, I understand how great is your pain and I hope that in the coming weeks over the holidays you can push it somewhat out of your heart and revel in the people who do want you in their lives.

    3. Adoptomuss, I'm sorry. I think you have every right to your feelings, including fury or anger or frustration or depression... whatever you feel is an accurate reflection of what you went through and how it wounded your heart. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you aren't entitled to how you feel.

      Me getting into all the stuff with my own parents is just really off track here. But suffice it to say, I've learned that unconditional love is not always a default feeling for moms and dads. You would think it was, wouldn't you? I stopped looking for it because I'm never going to get what the child in me will always need from my parents. I have spent a year making peace with this painful truth, and it's not easy, and making peace doesn't mean that I still don't hurt. It just means I am acknowledging that my mom and dad are not capable of being the parents I need them to be and I need to stop expecting it.

      I don't think you can find this in any self help books. "Living for today" doesn't help me (someone who really is a natural optimist) because I am almost daily reminded of what I lack compared to most people - a relationship of any kind with my parents. It wounds, again and again, like a scab that continues to be ripped open on a daily basis. I am working on letting it go, and I'm finally finding peace, very gradually, with it.

      I'm so sorry... like I said, I cannot imagine dealing with all of this on top of the difficulties of adoption. My heart goes out to you. I've had this one song on repeat for a few weeks now since I heard it on the show Nashville. It's called "Disappear" (sung by Hayden Panettiere as the character Juliet Barnes) and maybe you can youtube it and give a listen.

    4. Tiffany, I commiserate with you regarding your parents. It is the same with me and mine - your second and third paragraphs reflect my experience very closely.

  48. I've known Maryanne for many years and she doesn't have a cruel bone in her body. Conversely, she's got a kind heart and has done a tremendous amount of work in the area of adoption reform. While she is direct and to the point, I agree with much of what she has to say, particularly when it comes to reunion - related issues. A big smile, a cheerful, positive attitude, a lack of anger and much compassion and understanding for a first mother can go a long way in making a reunion work.

    1. Thanks Gail:-) I may be sarcastic at times, but no, not deliberately cruel. Your support is much appreciated.

      Anything I have said to AM comes out of my own experience as a depressed and needy person in reunion, and how that did not work for me and scared my son for many years. Feelings can't be helped, but acting on them and expressing them can.
      If the person you find is hostile and hateful, there is not much one can do, and after a while you just have to accept that it is what it is. But a reasonable but wary or scared person can be worked with and may change if you change.

      I have learned not to lay my own misery on my son, which involves biting my tongue often. Reunion relationships are difficult from both sides, but when one party goes into it very needy, that can ruin it. I learned I had to work on my own grief, not expect my son to fix it, and taking responsibility for my part in the surrender opened a door for me with him, as has living in the now, not rehashing the past. This worked for me, but of course may not work for everyone.

      I only know as much of AM's story as she has shared here. I do not know if her mother was raped, or hated the birth father, or how the initial contact went or why it fell apart. I do not know how the mother's other family members reacted, but that can be a complicating factor. Or AM's mother might just be a mean lady as stated, It is very hard to disappointed by the person you find, which can happen from either side.

    2. I want to add to what Maryanne said: Not rehashing the past. It is good to give a complete story once to what happened, and how you, as a first mother, felt at the time of pregnancy and relinquishment, and what was going on with the father, and your family, and simply apologize without qualifiers--I'm sorry you were relinquished/adopted/given up--but realize that the child returning is hearing the story of the beginning of his life, not feeling it as you were living it, and not feeling it from inside our beings. It's a story he or she has been wanting to hear since they learned and understood they were adopted. But once you do that, do not keep dwelling on it in you relationship, you need to move forward. Don't let the wake behind the boat you are driving direct where you are going. Trying over and over to make an adoptee "understand" your pain is not going to help the adoptee want to be around you.

      And I too will add that Maryanne has been involved with adoption reform as long as I have (practically from the beginning of time), and has provided much emotional support to first mothers especially while she herself was in deep pain. She is direct, but she speaks her truth. She and I do not always agree, but I respect her.

      AM, as before, much sorrow over your natural family's rejection. It hurts and I'm sorry you are in such pain.

    3. Thanks Lorraine! That means a lot. Merry Christmas to you and your husband.

    4. Gail wrote:"A big smile, a cheerful, positive attitude, a lack of anger and much compassion and understanding for a first mother can go a long way in making a reunion work."

      Well, that comment certainly rubbed me the wrong way. I don't believe an adoptee can make a reunion work using your suggestions when s/he hears something like, "I'll meet you one time and then I never want to see you or speak to you again", or "I'm sorry but I'm not the person you're looking for", or "How did you get my number? I don't want to speak with you. Please don't contact me again." All of which I've heard adoptees say were their experience when they first contacted their natural mothers. Or how about when the CI says "I was able to reach your 'birth' mother and she does not want any contact. She is not willing to release any information"?

      It is not up to the adoptee to make a reunion work no matter how cheerful and understanding s/he may be. As a matter of fact, no one can singlehandedly make any relationship work.

      I don't think Maryanne was being cruel.

      As for Tiffany, she does not have to explain or defend herself. I highly doubt she went to the first mother's home and stole the baby out of her crib. I am just glad that there are adoptive parents like Tiffany and Jay, and even Edith, who want their adopted children to be full members of the family, while not denying the enormous loss the child has suffered and not denying that a large part of who the child is comes from his or her biological heritage.

  49. Here's my story, sad but true.

    My mother's mother was a barfly. She had 7 kids with 7 men, and illegal abortions too. My mother was abused from a very young age. Mom lived with a foster family from 5-11. She was regularly sexually abused by the man in the house.

    At age 11, grandma wanted her back, to care for the bunch of kids that had been born while mom was gone. Mom couldn't go to school. She couldn't leave the babies alone, and grandma stayed gone for days, often retuning beat up when her latest boyfriend turned violent.

    Mom met dad when she was 14 and he was 17. He was the most elidgeable guy in town, from the rich family with a big house and acres of land up on the hill. Grandma encouraged mom to go for him, thinking she would get in good with the family.

    Mom got pregnant at 16. Grandma recommended her abortionist, who took care fo Mom's problem. Dad worked all summer to pay for it. Mom got pregnant again at 18. this time dad married her. They were going to raise me in the big house on the hill.

    Then something happened. Mom went to a church that had a sign out front advertising help with crisis pregnancies. They advised giving me up for adoption. Mom went home and told dad, and he loved the idea. They moved to another part of town and concealed the pregnancy from their friends. The families knew though. Mom says dad worked on her, and convinced her that i would have a terrible life if they kept me. Dad says they were heroin addicts who had group sex and mom didn't want to quit.

  50. When i was born no one was told. My mother cared for me in the hospital for 5 days. when we were released, dad came and picked us up and drove us to the adoption agency. My parents took turns holding me while the paperwork necessary for my relinquishment was completed. Then they turned around and left me there. They went home and told their families that i was stillborn. No one asked any questions, or tried to claim my body. They returned a week later to complete more paperwork.

    Mom and dad lived together for awhile, then seperated. The marriage was annulled when i was 6 months old. Mom is part black, her father was passing as white, but everyone in town knew.

    My parents have been in each others lives all along. they have continued their sexual relationship on and off.

    Mom and I started off OK. I had no idea that she was upset until she snapped at me about 6 months in. I said that there must have been a fog hovering over the island where i was born back then, becuase no one could remember anything. we were texting back and forth and she called me little miss fucking know it all. at first i thought she was texting someone else. I said, "Mom, this is me, AM"

    It got worse. She said I was abusive. I guess abusive is in the heart of the beholder too, because I didn't think I was. I did ask her why she didn't keep me and get child support from my well off father. I told her that dead babies in the city where I was born were sent to potters feild and buried in mass graves. That's what my family did to me.

    I lashed out at my father's family too. i don't understand why they couldn't have supported me and my mother, and kept me in the family. They were the Kennedys of that small town. They were Masons, well regarded in the community, grand marshalls of the town July 4th parade.

    My mother was angry that i insulted my fathers family. My mother seems to worship my fathers family. She tells me how they are not used to trauma and disfunction like her family was. She is close to my fathers sister. She called and screamed at me. She made me a bizarre art project on a brown paper bag. it was covered in horrible, hurtful things directed at me. It's hard to explain it. It was vicious. Writing on a opened up paper bag in colorful marker, outlined with little magic marker dots. She called it "Reunion Communication". It scared the crap out of me. I took it home and burned it.

    We didn't communicate for a long time after that. I sent her a mother's day present 2 years ago. My 16 year old daughter and i picked out a nice vera Bradley bag and wristlet. i wrapped it and shipped to to her at her son's house. At the time she was babysitting for his son everyday.

    I didn't hear anythng about the gift. My mother invited me out to her friends beach house. Whilel i was there we went down to the beach to talk. She told me she thought i had purposely gotten her the ugliest present i could just to hurt her. I was devested. I just don't understand. I know i've done things that were wrong, but do i really deserve this?

    The last thing I've heard from my mother is the "united front" comment on my facebook pic. I still miss her everyday. Her sister tells me she is mentally ill, and I don't doubt it, but how can she be mentally ill and care for her grandson so well? How come she's only mentally ill with me?

  51. I know but, saying you're glad you're not my mother? Why? So personal.

    1. It was just a sarcastic comment, not personal at all because I don't know you personally and you do not know me. Try not to take everything from people on the internet personally. I had no idea what you have been through, now I know more, Thanks for that.

      Given what you have now shared about your complicated and terrible family history and three generations of pain and abuse, it was in poor taste and I apologize.

    2. Maryanne, What difference should it make whether you 'knew' Adoptomuss' life history or not? It --sounds like-- what you're saying here is, ''Now that I know you've had an awful/difficult life I'll be nicer to you and apologize. Are you saying that if Adoptomuss had had a merry-go-round kind of life -except- for the pain abandonment/adoption/reunion have created for her, that your comments would have been acceptable and easily dismissed or overlooked? that an apology wouldn't have been necessary? That's how it reads to me with the ''Given what you have now shared......it was in poor taste..'' line.

  52. Sorry Robin it rubbed you the wrong way; the truth is, it takes two people with cheerful, positive attitudes to create a healthy relationship of any kind, including reunion. There really is no room for anger, revenge, and the "you owe me for what you did" mentality. I could write a book on what makes reunion relationships go south; however, very little is written about how to make one work. I often wish Amanda (from declassified) would share her insights as she has been able to juggle both families seemingly successfully.

  53. Sons and daughters have very real questions that deserve very real answers. Honest answers to heal and to help them move into ''the present''. As if they're not already living there but there are things, hurts, wounds or very deep questions that need to be answered so they can let go of them. To have the truth, to make that a part of their present. Their reality.

    I become irritated with people who dismiss questions with the ''I don't/can't remember'' line or the ''that's in the past, leave it there'' line. Those questions are -very much- in the present for the one who is doing the asking. If something is causing another distress we should be willing to answer honestly... no matter how much discomfort or guilty feelings it creates for us. I understand so well what adoptomuss is saying when she said, ''there must have been a fog hovering.....because no one could remember anything.'' I have had the same experience with someone who I initially thought had only turned a ''cold shoulder'' to me and my unborn son.. I started questioning about if they remembered or knew anything (so I could possibly use that information to search...) what I got back from this one, and the hospital social worker and my son's paternal grandparent was ...guess what? Yup. I don't know/remember anything.... Only -now- I'm finding that a great deal more was known and there was HUGE involvement in the removing my son from me... yeah, ouch. But. It **feels** honest, truthful, real. Lies and secrets and cover-up do not ever help someone live an ''authentic life'', or to live fully in the present or to be HAPPY. Although the person being asked may want to shove the questions into the --forget it-- bin, that is only going to harm the relationship.. and likely harm it more so than an honest, painful answer ever would.

    Adoptomuss, I have found that in pressing for answers to questions I too was attacked .. till finally some of the 'truth' came out in the statement that ''I was making them feel guilty, that somehow I was blaming them, and had not forgiven them'' by asking questions on things that directly affected --me--.... I have forgiven what was done... what I'm 'not' forgiving is the continued deceit and lack of honesty and truth.. and lack of facing reality.. even if that 'reality' is -mine-. It sure doesn't help a person to feel worthwhile. Nor does it do much when the person you want answers from wants a relationship with you.....but only on their terms. ie let's only talk about the 'fluffy stuff'. Doesn't work for me. If the ones being asked questions are feeling guilty then -they-/we/I have not come to terms or dealt with reality/truth. I need answers because the hospital kept me in such a drugged state from labor to release 5 days later that I have few semi-clear moments or any idea who authorized the drugs to keep me 'sedated'? who authorized the drugs to dry up my milk? Who decided that this drugging was such a great idea?.. I need answers because being in that drugged state with the removal of my son against my will has done great harm and answers may -I hope- continue to help reduce and remove some of the trauma from it. The feeling violated. Not to blame. I need/ed to understand why I felt so violated and still do. Just knowing that this one had, by their recent admission, known -much- and had, apparently, great involvement in the situation has given me some relief(truth). Instead of the -can't we leave that in the past? and never allowing me to even talk about it. It has opened greater understanding and compassion for me towards them and a hope for honest, real dialogue in the days and time to come. A greater closeness, I hope. Truth is beautiful even when it is sometimes painful or hard.

    1. Cindy: Amen. Truth in adoption--no matter how hard to admit to--is a reality that we can all live with--both first/birth mothers and adoptees/foster children.

    2. "...Truth is beautiful even when it is sometimes painful or hard..."

      I absolutely agree with you.

  54. I am loathe to comment anymore. I feel adoptee shamed here. Not from the owners, but some of the commenters. Still the controlling comments, I was just kidding, that shouldn't hurt. That’s the way abusers convince their victims that it's all their fault. Thanks to all who supported me.

    1. People I like and respect on here speak well of Maryanne, so I listen to them because of who they are.

      Despite this, I have to say I would've been devastatingly hurt if she, or anyone, had said she was glad she wasn't my mother.

      I also recognise that, if I ever said that same sentence to someone else, I would definitely be intending it to hurt.

      Adoptomuss, I know you are hurt and I am so sorry.
      I hope you will continue to write here.

    2. AM: We do understand that comments here, not said face to face, often sting. I've felt burned here now and then. Through comments from you and other adoptees, I have learned much, as I am sure that others have. In real life, I've often let my mouth speak faster than my brain, and said what I wish I hadn't. I can apologize but I can't take back the words.

      Your voice is an important one for all of us--especially first mothers and adoptive parents--to hear and learn from. I sincerely hope that you continue to comment. Your voice may be the one that reaches someone who is still in the closet and unable to accept a reunion because SHE DOES NOT REALIZE HOW MUCH REJECTION HURTS.

      Big hugs from us; your pain is palpable through your words. Don't leave us for good.

  55. I just want to say to Cindy and Adoptomuss, please keep writing. I learn a lot from you.

    As adoptive parents, myself included, I feel we need to own the fact that we adopted and not write as if it is something that "just happened" in our lives. We adopted, and now it is up to us to do the best we possibly can for our adoptee children. There is a huge burden associated with that, regardless of the circumstances of our adoptions (be it due to infertility, because we just "always wanted to adopt," or even if it just happened when we weren't seeking it). None of us - fertile, infertile or otherwise, foster-adopt parents or accepting the children of voluntarily relinquishments, are exempt from it.

    I respect a lot of what Tiffany says on this forum, but when I see statements like "I suppose I am in a unique position of **not having brought any emotional baggage into adoption**, so I feel like I'm **very neutral** and all my concern is focused on how my daughter will perceive my responses to other people." (emphasis added, by me), it rankles. Unless we are newborns, we all bring emotional baggage into everything we do, including parenthood. And as adoptive parents, we bring a whole lot more baggage into the parent-child relationship. That awareness needs to be there - otherwise there is a false sense of security, smugness even, that we are doing the best possible job of raising adoptee children when in fact we could be doing better.

    I accept responsibility for my role in adoption, and I hope I can help my adopted son by learning from your stories. Thanks for bringing your perspective to this forum.

    Regarding obituaries, my opinion is what I have stated previously. I will decide what will go on my obituary and my adopted son gets to decide what goes on his. I pray hard that I don't ever have to deal with the question of his obituary but, in his case, if I am faced with that horrific situation, his first parents will be mentioned. But I am speaking for my situation, I cannot presume to know Tiffany's or anybody else's (Tiffany comes across as empathetic, from what I have read thus far, so I cannot imagine that she will do anything other than follow the wishes of her daughter and her daughter's first family).

  56. Jay, again, I think things sometimes get misinterpreted when written instead of in tone and in person. I used those words you quoted very surgically to respond to something Cindy said to me, in part. I try so hard to pick the correct words, but sometimes I don't. Every person has baggage, me included, and it definitely impacts me as a parent and it is something I am so conscious of! I specifically meant in terms of adoption because Cindy was saying that I have issues or personal hangups with my daughter's adoption that keep me from including her parents in the obituary. I do not. I was trying, apparently badly, to explain that I agree with her as a general statement, but this isn't true for me- I am not saying I wouldn't include my daughter's parents because of me as I don't have any issues with our adoption. I try not, as an AP, to take every statement made about APs as personally directed at me. That one, I felt, was, as Cindy later confirmed. I obviously explained myself very poorly since smugness about parenting is the last thing I ever feel, and especially not about adoption. I'm here, and at other adoption blogs, because I don't know enough! Not because I do or because I am somehow exempt. I think I probably still explained my words very poorly.... Phone commenting is so hard!

    Cindy, I don't know your story, but from your comment, it sounds like a terrible one... I get your anger. I agree with everything Lorraine said. What you are inferring and gathering about me isn't true at all. I do not and will not share my daughter's parents story publicly, especially not on the Internet. So I can't explain further to you. But no, leaving them out of the obit (after talking with them first) would never be for my personal gain or benefit. I hold no insecurity in being a second mother. I have no desire to pretend away my daughter's parents. That is what I was poorly trying to convey. I agree with you on the BCs- you are right! I support first open records and second a manner in which amended BCs never have to happen. I believe in the truth. But not every single person I interact with has a right to all of my family's truths. What Lorraine said is true- we do not tell the entire truth to everyone at all times because privacy matters. Privacy? That's not the right word... I'm not sure what is. My brain is all jumbled. When a casual acquaintance asks me if I am spending Christmas with my parents, I say, no, we are going on vacation as a family this year. I don't say, no, my parents were horrid to my children last year, they think they were in the right and refuse to change, we aren't speaking right now, so no, we aren't spending Christmas together. That's oversharing. And often would be wildly inappropriate. Neither do I constantly share my daughter is adopted and why we adopted and never, except to family and friends, do I share her parents reasons for her adoption. I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say. I think that you would find you and I agree on many things if we could sit and chat in person over tea. Or a glass of wine. Your choice! :)

  57. Tiffany Thank you. Thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for trying to find words that my brain, upbringing, experiences, attitudes (whatever this wiring of mine comes from) can understand. I'm smiling and thinking I would very much love to 'sit and chat'... because I, believe it or not, have learned a great deal from you and been encouraged by your caring approach to others. Well, yours and Jays and others. I'm thankful today. I've been trying to ''grow up'' for a long time. I still have a long way to go. I'm thankful for the people in my life. All of them, even, and at times more due to what I learn, the ones I can ....hmmm, butt heads with for lack of a better way to put it. I understand and appreciate what you have said. Looking forward to someday meeting IRL.

    1. Thank you Cindy. This was really heart-warming to read.

  58. Nine years ago I buried my mother, an adoptee. What guided us with her obituary was what she wanted. She was 80 years old when she died. 72 years post placement. It was her life, her story, and we respected how she wanted it told. We need to respect what adoptees want. We may have given them life, but it is their life.

    1. Just curious--what did the obit say? She was adopted at age 8? By someone outside of her family? That sounds like the first eight years of her life may have been troubled. Or she was adopted after being in foster care. Or she was removed from her parents' care. Everybody's different. I want mine to say I was adopted.

  59. Hi Tiffany, actually that quote was not from any of your responses to Cindy, and it was not in reference to obituaries. That quote was from your comment to Adoptomuss in response to her observation, directed at "APs on this thread," regarding adoptive parents being opposed to "outing" their adoptive children. The gist that I got from your comment as a whole was you wanting to assure Adoptomuss that you are raising your daughter with full knowledge of her adoption and that you do not pretend she is your biological child.

    A couple of paragraphs into your comment, you had a paragraph discussing how you did not adopt due to infertility, but that you didn't care if people thought it was the reason you adopted. The paragraph immediately following your reference to fertility contains the quote that I excised. In its broader context, it reads:

    "I think your experience is valid. And I think it speaks to the experience of many adoptees. I don't disagree with you that in some (many?) cases, there can be baggage from the APs that influences how they respond to people regarding adoption. I suppose I am in a unique position of not having brought any emotional baggage into adoption, so I feel like I'm very neutral and all my concern is focused on how my daughter will perceive my responses to other people."

    Coming from the context of the immediately preceding reference to fertility, the way I read the above paragraph was as an implication that fertile adoptive parents somehow carry less emotional baggage than those who adopt due to infertility. That you were setting yourself apart as better than many other APs, with strongly affirmative language.

    Anyhow, this is my attempt at being less "surgical" regarding your comment which, like mine, tend to be long. It is not intended to be accusatory, it is just an observation of how it read to me, a fellow adoptive parent.

  60. Jay, I'm confused and a bit at a loss of how to respond. I already stated to you that in typing, things can be misunderstood or explained poorly. I readily admitted I explained myself poorly.

    I was wrong in who I said I replied to. I was replying from my phone, where scrolling up and down is tedious and difficult. Both Cindy and AM questioned me regarding fertility and asked if that could be an issue for me in regards to including my daughter's other parents in her obit. Hence the mixup. "Surgically" was obviously a typo from my auto-correct as that makes no sense. I meant "specifically." I do tend to leave long comments hoping I am being clear in my explanations, but that is not always possible. I can write things wrong, people can read things wrong, and tone is lost.

    I would hope that all my other comments here support the fact that I don't think I am better than anyone else. I do think that it is widely accepted here at FMF that adoptive parents with fertility concerns can bring that issue into adoption with them. I have seen that openly mentioned here by adoptees and first moms many times, and I have experienced it in real life, so I thought it was acceptable for me to state that. I sincerely do not believe myself to be "better" than APs with infertility issues. My response was to AM saying, as she said later, in part directly to me: "I've noticed on this thread that adoptive parents are opposed to "outing" their adoptive children, all the while assuring us that the adoption doesn't make a bit of difference. I think they are saying it doesn't matter to them, they love their children just as much. It mattered to me though. I hated that my adoptive mother pretended that I was her child. I had to pretend too, because I had no power as a child. My adoptive mother told me she didn't tell anyone because she "didn't want anyone to know her business". She didn't want anyone to know she was infertile. I wasn't interested in keeping her dirty little secret, but again, i had no choice."

    Please take my response to AM in the context of what she was saying, in part, to me. I wasn't saying it as an overall random statement, but directly to the "some APs on this thread" and the insinuation that I didn't want people to know that I have fertility issues. I was simply saying that I don't, that I think that makes me unusual because most do, and that it doesn't have an impact on how I make choices for my daughter because it is simply not the case for me. I do not carry that baggage (and I should have been more specific with "that" baggage- again, this is what typing comments can do) with me. That's all. I would hate for anyone to think that I somehow believe myself to be better than someone else simply because of my fertility- that is an awful thing to think, and it is certainly not a reflection of my true feelings, but rather a miscommunication.

  61. Thanks, Tiffany, for attempting to clarify your words. It is interesting that the words "surgically" or "specifically" can apply equally readily to your sentence: "Surgically" would refer to me excising your quote and interpreting it out of context and "specifically" would refer to your intent behind the quote. Neither choice is meaningless, really.

    And I will assume that you meant to say you do not carry "that" baggage, meaning, baggage associated with infertility.

    However, and I am now making a general comment and not addressing it to Tiffany in particular, if there really is a perception that baggage brought into an adoption by infertile adoptive parents is worse than what fertile adoptive parents bring into it, I strongly disagree. When you adopt due to infertility (as I did), you bring into it the baggage of a strong desire for a child. When you adopt and you are fertile, the strong motivation usually is that there is a child in need of a home and you want to adopt so you can give that child a home. That "rescue complex" brings with it its own biases and baggage.

    In the end, we adopted. I adopted because I could not have a child and wanted one, and Tiffany, a fertile adoptive parent, adopted because, as she said in response to my query once before, she has always wanted to adopt. Regardless of whether our adoptions were needed, we adoptive parents bear the burden of a very big decision when we adopt: one that resulted in loss for our adoptee children and their first families and where we ended up the winners. It is a hard thing to admit, but it is true.

    When I first started commenting on this forum, one commentator asked me whether I was participating so I could let everyone know what a great adoptive parent I was, whether I was looking for a Parent of the Year award from the first mothers. Although dear Lorraine immediately came to my defense, I have not forgotten that comment. I admit I am just as human as the next person and love to hear kind and complimentary things, but that commentator has helped me introspect from time to time and make me inspect whether I am commenting to: (a) tell everyone how great I am, (b) be informational, or (c) learn how best to accommodate the baggage associated with our son's adoption and our decision to facilitate that adoption. I try to mostly comment for reasons (b) and (c), but I am sure (a) squeezes in there sometimes.

    In the end, adoptive parents bring baggage to the adoptions, no matter what the situation. And sometimes it is very damaging, fertile or not. Two situations immediately come to mind: The first one is that of the Capobiancos, whose desperate need of Veronica Brown was fueled by their infertility, causing the needless destruction of a first family. The second situation was the parents who were hell-bent on adopting Terry Achane's daughter (and I believe they were a fertile couple who had other children). Luckily, in the second situation, Terry Achane got his daughter back.

  62. Hi Tiffany, Please could you help me out here. I'm trying to find where I "questioned you regarding infertility". I hope no one thinks/feels I'm not understanding of infertility. I lost two more children before birth after the loss of my son and never had another child... I get it.. Some days I wonder where the loss of my son "''ends'"' and the infertility/childlessness begins. I do feel for those who cannot bear children. I get it.

    In regard to obituaries I'm in the process of writing my Dad's full obituary (belated though it is). I want to mention all adoption links in our family with generality of great-grandchild (no name included) as the adoptee is under 18 and can not/does not have a voice in the matter. What I'm planning to do is write what I desire and believe Dad would want asking the family members involved to see if they want to be named or not. Otherwise it will be 'titles' (grandchild, step, etc.) only.

    1. Cindy, I meant that it was questioned on if that impacted my decision to not include my daughter's parents in the obit, and by this point, I am so thoroughly lost on who said what and when and what I was thinking and to whom I was responding... lol. My youngest has been sick for several days and my brain is a mess. I am also hoping no one thinks I have no compassion for people with fertility issues as that is the furthest from the truth. Or that I think I am better than anyone else. In any case, I didn't take it that either you or AM or whoever said it and I messed up meant that you don't have compassion. Just justifiably questioning if that impacted my decisions with my daughter and her family, as it very well could. In my case, it doesn't, but I carry different baggage with me, as I tried poorly to explain.

      Oh Cindy, I am so very sorry for your additional losses... pain on top of pain. I'm sorry sounds so incredibly feeble, but words fail. My heart goes out to you.


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