' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Post your adoption experience on the Washington Post

Monday, April 13, 2015

Post your adoption experience on the Washington Post

Here's an opportunity to publish how you feel about adoption! Syndicated columnist Carolyn Hax of the Washington Post has asked first mothers to respond to a woman whose daughter is considering adoption for her unborn child. The mother wrote: 

"My 20-something daughter is single and pregnant. She is considering adopting the baby out. This is a decision she alone can make and we fully support whatever she decides. However, I know she looks to me for input and advice. Never having been in a place to make this decision, I don’t know what to say.

I’d really like to know how woman who have been in this position feel now (presumably some years later). She has made an appointment to see a counselor but beyond that… anything I can say?"
Below is the link to the Hax column. While you're working on your comment, it would be a good time to develop an adoption elevator pitch.  An elevator pitch is a talk you can give to a stranger in 30 seconds or less--a typical ride in an office elevator--that gets your point across. Politicians, salespeople, policy-makers--anyone in the business of convincing someone of something--use these short spiels to move someone to their side. Google "elevator pitch" and you'll come upon free sites offering to help you create your pitch. I've linked to one site--Mind Tools--below.

Send FMF your comments and elevator pitches. We'll post them.--jane

I gave up a daughter in 1966. I have always regretted it. I did well, became an attorney, married, and had three more daughters. Still grief is just below the surface. I reunited with my lost daughter in 1997. I have a reasonably good relationship with her and her children but nothing makes up for the loss. I know that I could have done all the things that I have done if I had kept my daughter.   
Losing a child to adoption affects many aspects of your life, how you raise your other children, a subsequent marriage, your relationship with your own family members. Adoption agencies and adoptive parents will paint a pretty picture and some birth parents will agree -- initially until they realize the enormity of their loss. Agencies will tell you it is all different today because you can have an open adoption. Having an open adoption may be better than a closed one but don't kid yourself. You're not the parent. The adoptive parents can close the adoption.
Adoption causes many problems for children. It's painful to realize "my mother gave me away." The spiel "your mother loved you so much you gave you away" doesn't fly. Children in open adoptions often became angry and confused when their mother visits. In spite of their pleas to stay, you must leave at the appointed time. Children have a hard time growing up with people who don't look like them, think like them or share their interests and talents.

You need to know that even though a couple seem like perfect parents for your child, they may suffer the same problems as other couples, divorce, lose their jobs, abuse alcohol, and so on.

You're fortunate that your mother is supportive. Think how difficult it will be for her to lose her grandchild, perhaps have no right to see her grandchild or even send birthday presents.
I know many birth mothers who regret giving up their child. I know of no mothers who regret keeping their child. 
Hax Philes 
Mind Tools: Crafting an elevator Pitch
The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories
Thirty women write essays about the experience of adoption: natural mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents. Though this book came out several years ago, it is a valuable addition to adoption literature, and would be a great gift to someone considering adoption, either as a woman considering it for her child, or someone wishing to adopt. It will present adoption in a whole new light. The editor, Susan Wadia-Ells is an adoptive mother. Full disclosure--Lorraine has an essay in the collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.



  1. I relinquished in 2012, and it was the worst mistake of my life. Any agency that tells you how brave and selfless you are, how this is the best thing for your child, etc. is not telling you this with you or your child in mind, but the potential adopters. The majority of open adoptions close, and there is rarely a way to enforce that they stay open either. You will always have a huge hole in your heart that cannot be filled. Your child as an adoptee will likely have issues as well. Adoption destroys families. You are already going to be a mother by giving birth-placing does not absolve you of this. You have no idea how much you are going to love this kid until you meet it-and if you sign papers now and decide on adoption, by the time you give birth you are likely going to feel you "owe" these people your child. Children need their mothers. No one is truly ready to be a mother the first time around. I think most of us just sort-of wing it. I have talked to so many birth mothers who regret adoption, and we all live with the lifelong pain of losing our child. Even in reuniting down the road, we still lost all those years together when they should have been with us, and it is never what it should have been. Adoption will have a lifelong impact on both yourself and your child, and it will cause so much damage to you both. Do not do this to yourself, and do not do it to your child. You are good enough for this baby. They don't need a two-parent home, a rich couple, someone "better off". They need you, their mother.

    1. In Australia your baby's adoption would be classed as illegal due to coercion. We have had an apology for Forced Adoptions in the 50s,60s and 70s. Adoptive parents in the labor ward is coercion, as a mother has to have time here to make an informed decision, without any pressure from anyone else. Adoption is big business in America, nothing is going to be done about it until enough mothers, fathers and adoptees speak out

  2. Finally figured it out and was able to comment. Thanks.

    1. JE--I saw your comment there, please copy and post it here. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for alerting us to this, Jane. Below is my comment, one of almost 300 others already! One thing, sad to say, I do know of mothers who regret raising their child, for a number of reasons. These are rare but they do exist, and like so many adoptions, it is the child who suffers. There is no 100% perfect solution to every dilemma. But of course surrender should always be the last resort in bad situations, not the first or best choice.

    8:11 AM EST
    This is a very hard situation to be in for both you and your daughter. 47 years ago my mother and father and I were in that same place, and all came to regret what transpired. My parents, may they rest in peace, regretted for the rest of their lives not helping me to bring my firstborn son home. I do not know the details of your life or your daughter's so can't presume to compare my life to yours, but one thing that I can say is that unless your daughter truly does not want to raise a child, nor do you, or she is in some way unfit to do so, I would not consider adoption as first choice, but rather as a last resort given your family situation.Losing a child to adoption never ends and never goes away, even many years later, and if one feels they were pressured into a choice they did not want to make, it eats at the soul and mind of everyone in the family who were involved. It can be a good choice, but only when entered into with eyes open and knowing it is the best of bad options for your daughter and you. If keeping the child is possible, that is often the better choice for all, but only if it is what you both really want. Also be aware that there are no guarantees that adoption will continue to be beneficial to the child, as many others here have pointed out. Adoptive parents can divorce, die, become mentally ill or substance abusers just like anyone else. Adoption will give the child a different life than staying with your family, but it may or may not be a better life. Whatever your daughter does it will impact her life forever, so do not go for a permanent solution to what may be a temporary problem, and beware of adoption facilitators pushing surrender as the easy, good, "right" choice for all unwed mothers. Every situation is different and deserves to be considered as such. The opinions here come out of a myriad of lives and circumstances, and only you and your daughter know what is in your own hearts and lives. Do not do something you will always regret.


  4. Lorraine Dusky
    9:01 AM EDT
    I have to say that giving up my daughter for adoption was the worst thing that ever happened in my life--and hers too. There is never a day that I think that I made the right decision for her, or myself. At the time I was impoverished, ashamed, beaten up emotionally and felt I had no choice. Nonetheless, the decision changed my life in a way I could never imagined--and not in a good way. Like a great many women who give up their children, I never had another.

  5. I lost my daughter to adoption in 1981. I was depressed and attempted to drink myself to death. I never had other children and did not believe that I was a good person. I found my daughter in 2002 and discovered that not only was she not adopted by the supposed couple that the social worker said she adopted by, but that she had been abused and neglected for most of her life. The adoptive parents were older, my parents ages, and had no idea how to even change diapers. After reuniting, there has been nothing but rough patches, anger and rage at being abandoned for 12 years +. I spent years in therapy and avoided anything that remotely resembled parenting. After a short span of approximately 7 months in which I thought all was well, I got pregnant and miscarried at age 47. It has taken me most of my life to come to a place that I love and where I can do the most good teaching. I have grandsons that I adore, but who look at me as if I am the "nice" lady that gives them gifts.

  6. Adoption ruined not just my life, but the man I married was never a father because I was terrified that I was not worthy of children. He was a wonderful man. When I did get pregnant, after over 30 years, it was a surprise. But the anger at being lied to, the pain of not having my daughter, even though I know her, will never go away.... I weep over silly things and often find myself wondering if I am worthy of anything. I am a very good teacher. But it has taken a lot of work, emotionally, to allow me to function and be around children. I still do not like shopping for baby things or being in a room full of infants or toddlers. I start to panic. The pain never ends and the myth of reunion or open adoption is just that - a myth. NEVER listen to someone who is being paid to facilitate adoptions. If they are paid by the agency or PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) they are not working for the mother. NEVER believe your child won't need you, they will. They need you.

  7. Here's my comment:

    Not being able to raise my daughter is the greatest tragedy of my life. I cannot even put into words what the neverending grief feels like. It hits me from out of nowhere even though I am reunited with her now and over 25 years have gone by since she was adopted. I see a mother walking down the street holding hands with her little girl and I burst into tears. For weeks around her birthday I am depressed and cannot function properly. I also am one of many surrendering mothers who never had another child.

    Worst of all though is how adoption affects your child. No one tells you that adopted people may feel abandoned or like they don't fit in. No one tells you that your child may not get the better life that you think they will because there are no guarantees in life. And no one tells you that your child will miss you and wonder how you could have left her.

  8. My comment:
    Please do not relinquish your baby. You will
    suffer grief that can never be resolved. An open adoption can not be enforced, and closed adoption is hell. I am an adoptee from a closed adoption. You have no idea how traumatizing it is to know my mother gave me away, and the people who raised me are genetic strangers. I have a false birth certificate. I have no medica history. I do not know my true ethnic background. Please keep your baby. Adoption is a huge social experiment that failed.

  9. Pschecafe.com is where you can read of my story. Being raised by a stranger is a scary thing indeed. It is so hard to figure out a stranger. I grew up ok, but the trauma of loosing my Mommy was excruciating. I secretly looked for her each day to come and take me back. I wanted to go home everyday, and that just suck for my Adopted Mom, because she got sold a broken kid who just wanted her Mommy.

  10. Today, is my son's birthday it has been 49 years ago, that I gave birth to him and lost him to adoption all in the same day.
    I am reunited with my son and he knows the truth. Not what he was told by his adopter that I didn't want him. So cruel to say she was trying to hurt him and me because we had found each other only a mother could understand the pain of separation.
    My son and I are in a good place although raising him would have put us both in an even better place, the place we were meant to be together.
    Cruel and inhumane punishment taking a newborn from its mom at birth. They don't even do that to animals.

  11. Here's mine:

    I was 16 when I became pregnant with my son. He was adopted as a newborn by strangers. When we reunited 30 years later, I realised that he was deeply and devastatingly wounded by the fact that his own mother, his whole family, had given him away. That has wounded him so deeply. At the time of his adoption, I really believed that there was a family out there who could provide a far better life for him than we could (as we were a struggling family at that time) and that's what I wanted for him. I also felt no confidence in my own maternal abilities because I was so young. My son understands all this with his head, but his heart cannot comprehend it. Now, thirty years later, neither can I. I simply cannot understand how I ever thought it was okay to let go of my son and allow strangers to adopt him. Whether good or bad, the people who adopted him were arbitrary whereas there was nothing arbitrary about us, his natural family - he arrived as the latest of a long ancestral story, with attributes that are evidence of that story. With us, it makes sense why he is as he is, and he fits in. It is clear from what he has said that, since meeting us again, this is the first time he has ever felt like he fits in anywhere. It is also the only time he has ever experienced unconditional love.
    No-one mentions the unspeakable and enduring pain that adoption brings but really, it's obvious when you think about it: separating a mother and child is absolutely devastating and both suffer profoundly as a result. As for me, I feel like I am in a hell of endless mourning for the son I lost.

  12. I lost my daughter to adoption in 1982. I was led to believe that it was my only option and was offered no support from my family. This decision has shaped my whole life as there has always been a piece of me missing - like an incomplete jigsaw. I did remarry and have two more children. I feel guilty because they should be enough for me, but I still need that one more thing and always will. I have had counselling and am on anti-depressants, which I would dearly love to give up, but my attempts to even reduce the doage have taken me back to being a crazy emotional bitch. Please, please if there is any other option than adoption - take it!!

  13. I lost my son to adoption 50 years ago. This was the worst and most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me. Please do not put your child up for adoption. You will regret it for the rest of your life. My son DID NOT have the wonderful life they promised me he would have so we both have suffered severe damage. Please read "The Primal Wound" by Nancy Verrier for a better understanding of how adoption effects children.

  14. If you relinquish your baby, you become used as a breeder mare, a birth vessel, a rented uterus, or a handmaiden who gives birth for a stranger (who is usually infertile !). If you relinquish your baby, you also become like a pruned tree, whose fruit has been snatched away (many times while still wet !). You will bear the emotional (and many times physical) scars forever and ever. The tears of your loss will flow from you forever like the sap from a pruned tree. If you relinquish your baby, you will become a shell of your former self who has been robbed of your most valuable possession. You will be forever negatively changed, scarred, and trapped in an emotional nightmare if you hand your baby over to complete strangers. Your feelings, hopes, and dreams will be trampled on, disregarded, and forgotten. This is all about the entitled adoptive couples, not about you or your baby's best interests ! Adoptive parents are "touched" by adoption, but birth mothers are "torched" by adoption. Our torching sears down through every layer of our body and mind, and the burning pain is never extinguished. The burn leaves a gaping wound right through the heart. Adoption punishes the birth mother for her fertility and rewards a complete stranger for her infertility. How violent, bizarre, and unnatural is that? No one, absolutely no one has a right to anyone else's womb-wet baby. Our babies were NOT "gifts", and they were NOT unwanted. When will the theft of infants in this country stop? It is an unethical and immoral tragedy for both the birth mother and her child. Blood is not thicker than water in adoption. The adoption exploitation, coercion, and manipulation continues even today, even though it is one of the worst failed social experiments of the last century. The absolute WORST things about adoption is that your child will FOREVER believe that you didn't want him or her, and you didn't love him or her. The lost years will be gone FOREVER. All that will remain are the fragmented, broken pieces for both you and your baby. Please keep your baby.

    1. You actually sent this as a comment to Hax Philes at the Washington Post, Anon?
      Did they publish it?

    2. Per the above, "Send FMF your comments and elevator pitches. We'll post them.--jane"
      I believe Jane will post my comment. I am having to stay "anonymous" as part of the condition of my reunion.....our reunion is a secret, as he has adoptive parents who thought and had hoped the birth mother had disappeared off the face of the earth forever, and he doesn't want to hurt his adoptive parents....an all-too-familiar scenario with insecure, entitled adoptive parents from the closed adoption baby scoop era....adoption is a make-believe world full of secrets and lies.

    3. If Jane did send in your comment, it didn't get accepted.
      Hax Philes allows commententaors to use pseudonyms, so there is no need to be concerned about your real identity being disclosed.

    4. We are not sending in comments, but urged readers to post their own and then post a copy of it here.

    5. I meant we'll post your comments and elevator pitches on FMF. Readers who want their comments on Hax's site need to post them there. It's easy. None of the usual rigmarole that sites often require before you can post a comment.

  15. Replies
    1. I guess I misunderstood. I was responding to the statement, I believe Jane will post this comment. There are so many comments at the Hax Philes site that if it that other comment was published, know not where.

      still working like a mad woman...will try to read for another hour now....hoping to find every last typo!

  16. I stumbled across your blog a while ago and have carried on coming back for the excellent thought-provoking posts and the fact I am incredulous that in America there is industry that is allowed to prey on vulnerable women and manipulate them into giving up their children. Not being an adoptee or first mother, I have little to contribute myself, but I thought I'd look up the process of adoption in my own country (New Zealand). There are relatively few adoptions here (only about 100 a year in a population of 4 million, I'm not sure if that figure is only newborns or includes older children adopted from foster care) mostly I'm sure due to the fact there is good social welfare support for single mothers. Adoptions are handled by a government agency, after reading many of the posts here I was relieved to see that they advise mothers thinking about adoption not to meet any potential adoptive parents until after the baby is born and state 'Giving birth can be an overwhelming experience. You are likely to need time and emotional space to be sure that adoption is still your decision.' They also don't let mothers sign the consent for adoption until the baby is at least 12 days old, and warn on the information page 'However carefully the decision is made, most birth parents who place their child for adoption have feelings of grief and loss.' http://www.cyf.govt.nz/adoption/placing-your-child-for-adoption/ Interesting how another first world, English speaking country does it so differently...

  17. As a Birthmother who is in reunion with my son who I placed for adoption 29 years ago, I would say to anyone, DO NOT DO IT. While it may seem like a solution, the pain involved is indescribable. I was willing to live with the pain for myself, however when I realized how much pain and suffering this has caused my son, it has been a hard pill to swallow. Until I met my son 5 years ago, I was unaware of how much this adoption has caused a severe issue with 'abandonment' that I had to face. When adoption is offered by agencies and people who have their own interests at heart, they will make it seem like a fairy-tale..."what a selfless, loving decision to make". I would not let anyone relinquish their child if I could help it. I caution anyone that enters into an adoption to be sure to have their own attorney, get everything in writing, and do not 'trust' anyone's word. Even if they seem like the most generous, kind people, they have an agenda and that is to acquire 'YOUR' child. Hardships are temporary, but living with adoption is a lifetime of pain, it does not go away.

  18. Looks like the entire thread and the hundreds of comments have been taken down. Can't say I'm all that surprised. Comments deteriorated once things passed the 200+ mark. Lots of fur and accusations flying. There were some really helpful and insightful comments too, though, that described a range of experiences.

    To be honest, I wondered if the question was a set-up and if the Post sussed that out. It didn't sound quite real to me. I wasn't sure why the mother described her daughter as 20-something unless there was some reason not to state her age. Most parents would state the age without dancing around. The other issue was why the young woman's mother was asking, not the young woman herself.

    Don't bother going to chat. Once you go there, there's still a message that it was “sent to Philes” but that just takes you back to the no-comments page.



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