' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: A natural (birth) mother's secret--time to let go

Friday, July 31, 2015

A natural (birth) mother's secret--time to let go

The rape, the MULTIPLE RAPES, the woman slowly coming forward, then faster, then in great hordes, accusing the Great Bill Cosby of rape, often with the use of drugs. One of his attorneys tries to make the case that Quaaludes, a strong sleep medicine, was widely used for sexual pleasure four decades ago.

Oh please. The attorney, Monique Pressly--female, black, attractive--pleading his case in public is obviously designed to make us feel--what? That all the women are liars? Sympathy for The Man? I feel nothing but disgust. Another guy who thought he could get away with sexual assault because the women were afraid to come forward, and when they did, people didn't believe them. Until there were too many to deny.

From the amazing photograph of 35 of the women that grace the latest cover of New York magazine, one does notice that most of the women are white. Many are blonde. There are 11 more victims who are not photographed, adding up to 46 known women who were sexually assaulted by Cosby. Take a moment and watch some of the videos of the women talking about what happened.

I'm white, I'm blonde and I too was raped. Not by Cosby, not by a celebrity, but someone I had dated briefly and then wanted to break up with him. What did he do?

He came to my apartment--the lock on the outside door was broken and he could walk up to my apartment door on the sixth floor--and he stood there, banging on my door after midnight shortly after I told him I didn't want to go out with him anymore. He kept hollering, "I know you are in there." I knew he was waking up the neighbors. I heard someone else open a door in the hallway and shut it quickly. He kept banging on the door. He said he wasn't going away. The longer he pounded the more I knew he would wake neighbors up.


To quite the clamor I let him in. To not embarrass myself with my neighbors I let him in. After all, we had dated three or four times, he was reasonable (I thought), he was nice (I thought)...but not ultimately someone I wanted to continue seeing.

We talked. He got angry. We talked some more. Then he pushed me around and assaulted me. He pushed himself onto me. He held me down. He was strong, he was big, I was afraid. I gave up.

I never saw him again. He had done what he had intended to do--no (white blonde bitch) broke up with him, and to prove his point he would assault me and walk away.

I did not call the police, or tell anyone--not even a girlfriend. Not for several years, more than a decade. It wasn't until I saw the Jody Foster movie, The Accused, more than a decade later that I was able to really, fully admit to myself that I had been assaulted that night. That I had been sexually assaulted. I was at the movie with a girl friend--not my husband--and I started sobbing. What's wrong? she asked.

It's embarrassing to admit this. Why wasn't I stronger, why didn't I protest, why didn't I let him bang on the door and call the police? Well, I was afraid that if I did that, the repercussions would even be worse, since he knew where I lived. I felt he would assault me on the street, beat me up, somehow extract even worse revenge. I was afraid of him that night, and I was afraid of what could happen later.

But admitting this secret today is a lot easier than it was once to tell anyone I had a child and gave her up for adoption. That secret came slowly out of me, at first to only trusted friends, then in print, then with Birthmark, but even with all that, it was still hard to admit that I Did That. Of course, time has made it easier for me, and with this last book in my personal life nearly everybody I know, and people I don't know, know. Time and the stories about adoptee reunions in the media, in the movies, has made our story less shocking. Someone had to have all those babies, right?

Birthmark ends in 1979 two years before I found my daughter. Once I did, I knew I would one day write another book, but I did not know when. My daughter knew too, and that's why I interviewed her for the book on tape. I hope her legacy helps others; I believe it is what she would have wanted. Underneath her pain, and the turmoil that pain caused her and others, there was a good soul who understood much.

We, like the women Cosby assaulted, must tell our stories. We have to stand up and tell our neighbors and our legislators that we are not afraid of our children lost to adoption, and that most of us want desperately to know them. If Hole In My Heart plays a part in letting the world know this, in helping women come out of the closet of adoption secrecy and shame, in moving the legislative clock forward on our cause, it will have succeeded. If it makes one woman feel less alone with her pain, it will have succeeded. If it makes one woman, a dozen women, twelve dozen women come forward, it will have succeeded. Like the women in the Cosby saga, we have been in hiding far too long.

I know that the women who have kept the secret from their families and friends have a difficult time owning up to the child they, for whatever reasons, for whatever pressures they faced, lost to adoption. I remember the awful first times I talked about it, the time I could have told someone and didn't, the reticent way I was around children for years after, the way I still don't want to see dozens of pictures of your adorable grand children. One will do. I will be polite and exclaim over his or her adorableness.

To anyone still in the closet, know that the time has come to let go. Doing so will lift a great weight from your psyche. You won't be fearful wondering if your child will find you in hopes of a reunion, and worrying how you will tell your family. If you've kept the secret for years, the biggest hurdle will be admitting that you have kept the secret for years, because some will feel that you have been...less than truthful about with them. I'm not going to sugar coat it, they will have to get used to the idea of The Secret. Do tell them why you kept the secret, the shame that kept you paralyzed, the great embarrassment you feel in fessing up. Humbly ask for their understanding and forgiveness--not because you gave up a child, but because you didn't tell them you had, because you kept this part of you secret from those closest to you. 

I'm urging this today because in time the records for most adopted people are going to be open. They were never closed to "protect" (birth) mothers like us or to let us feel that we could make new lives with this secret; they were closed to keep us from interfering with the adoptive family. Now years have past, the point of "interfering" with the life of a child is past, but they, the adopted, are still supposed to live with this senseless, awful and unnecessary hole in their identity--and a lack of real, updated medical information.

Adult adopted individuals are going to come knocking on the doors and sending letters and making phone calls, and natural/birth mothers need to be prepared. If your social worker somehow promised you anonymity, she didn't have the legal right to do that. Even if you believed that you were promised anonymity from your own progeny, it was a "right" you never had, and have no "right" to today. The adopted person's right to know everything and all about her/his background is the overriding "right," the moral right, the absolute right that supersedes all others.

There will never been a "right" time to tell your story. There is only time. Better late is better than waiting in fear.--lorraine


  1. I was raped by someone I thought was a friend. This happened after I had my daughter and was forced to surrender her for adoption. The word was out and this guy felt entitled. Where our stories differ is that I became pregnant from that rape and was forced to go through the same thing again. If anyone wants to know why I am pro-choice, let them ask me. I can fill their ears with a lot of information.

    1. You are strong to have lived through it twice and survived. That is because you are strong and brave. No one knows what strength it takes but each other.
      Love you, Robin! Joy

  2. This happened after I had my baby and the guy didn't know. But I too am pro-choice and make no apologies for that.

    1. Don't you think that all mothers who lost a baby to adoption became pro-choice? I haven't met any that aren't anyway,
      It seems to make sense though that we think all pregnant women should have choices.

    2. Rather unlikely for "all": I see no reason why a devout Catholic, whose legitimate child has been abducted for adoption would change her position on the -to her - unrelated issue of abortion. First mothers come in a near endless variety.

    3. I think it was Lorraine who said "the only thing all first mothers have is common is that they all had sex." So true, On other issues, abortion included, we are all over the place, liberals, conservatives, far right, far left, moderate, pro-life, pro-choice, not sure, rich, poor, virtuous and evil, selfish and selfless, brilliant and dull, religious and atheist. Even in the realm of adoption, some search, some do not, some long to be found, some fear it. To some it defines our lives, to others it was just one chapter. Adoption reform first mothers are a small subset of all the women who have surrendered a child. What is true for one is not true for all, no matter how real and vital our individual beliefs seem to each of us.

  3. Lorraine, you are so open. I can only begin to imagine how many women you reach and touch with your words, assuring them that they are not alone. Not in being a first mother. Not in giving up their child for adoption. Not in being raped. Not in the emotional fallout from any and all of these terrible life experiences.

    From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate you.

    To you and the many other women enduring the fallout of rape, my heart goes out to you. Women must come together and support one another in these cases, and I am angry at how much tearing down I have read from other women towards Cosby's victims. The first reaction ,even from women, was to discredit and disbelieve the accusers, and that's wrong.

    1. Yes, about the others who were not believing the women, I started getting angry right away. I knew they were not making it up. No one wants to admit they were raped. It's too large a violation to admit easily.

      thank you for your kind words, Tif.

    2. I knew it was the truth. How could you not? And I was mad at Whoopee for standing by her friend for so long before she caved to the truth.

  4. @Nene, I,too,gave up a baby and I'm almost afraid to say I'm pro-life-for fear of being verbally assaulted I realize,however, that there will always be abortions, but having been in the medical field , I also realize that the "fetus" "baby" or whatever has all its organs fairly early on and I definitely think 24 weeks is way too late to abort 8 weeks may even be too late preferably never Nothing in life is perfectly timed. As John Lennon said "Life is what happens when we're busy making other plans "I told my family "It's better to have a live baby than a dead baby. My original plan was to keep him at home with me I made an appointment with a female ob-gyn(hard to find 40 years ago) When I went in for the appointment the doctor I had the appointment with was out on maternity leave so they gave me another one-another female one.There were 3 of them all in a nicely painted pink house-too pink-that alone should have sent me running. Anyway, since I was unmarried,unemployed,on Medicaid and had been hospitalized for depression before I was pregnant she thought she was doing me a favor by suggesting abortion even though I was in my late 2nd trimester. I was horrified Thank goodness I didn't listen to her or my awesome son would have been turned into research tissue. Anyway, at this point I felt like my only goal was to give birth to him so I went to a Catholic Charities home because I knew they wouldn't want to kill him. Only thing was I was on the adoption track now and when he was put in supposedly temporary foster care in conjunction with the county I live in, they wouldn't give him back to me. So, that's my story,but no I'm glad I didn't let that evil doctor prey upon me and my baby just because I was in a vulnerable position and through it all I am still pro-life

  5. Anon, I sympathize with you, as I am personally pro-life but would not want to make that choice for other women. I think it wrong to push either adoption, abortion, or raising the child on other pregnant women because of what I would have wanted. Real choice should involve knowing the positive and negative possibilities of each choice, not what someone else thinks is the right thing to do because it would have been right for them or because they would benefit, as with some adoption or abortion providers.

    I would never have had an abortion with any of my children, and if anyone had suggested it I would have run away. I too am glad my oldest son is in the world even though I did not get to raise him, because he is an awesome guy who is doing so much good. I suffered from severe post-partum depression after his birth, and know how that could have been used to urge abortion with my subsequent children.

    I feel terrible for women who have been raped, and fortunate that never happened to me. I am glad that the awful abuse Bill Cosby perpetrated over the years has come out and that the victims are being believed now, but I was uncomfortable with the "glamour shot" photos of the victims as identical women in white. I would rather have seen photos of them in their real lives, at work, at home, with their normal dress, makeup and hair; as individuals, rather than as the same hyper-glamorous type over and over. It may be a minor point, but somehow it dehumanized them again to me.

    I find it hard to imagine pregnancy from rape, any woman who went through that has known a special hell. I am glad the morning-after pill is available now and hope all rape victims have access to it. I am pro-life but do not know what I would have done if pregnant from rape. My feeling about abortion is that it is sometimes a necessary evil, but should be done early and only after serious consideration that a life is being taken. Late-term abortions should be banned except for the most serious medical considerations like anecephally(sp?) where the child would not live anyhow. I would not join either pro-life or pro-choice groups because I feel both of them at the extremes lie to push their agenda regardless of what mothers feel, and both dismiss and trivialize those whose experience and feelings about their own lives are different.

    Adoption should not be pushed either, but it should not be forbidden; for some mothers it is their real choice and the better option given their individual circumstances. Not all surrenders are coerced, despite what some anti-adoption activists say. The important thing is that mothers considering either adoption, abortion, or raising a child have real facts to enable them to make a free choice, not scare tactics from those with an agenda to push, and that those who want to raise their child are offered support to do so. It is clear that mothers who surrendered have different feelings about abortion, and hope all can be respected here.

    1. "Glamour shots"? They are nicely dressed women sitting and looking straight at you through the camera. Some of them were models and actresses IRL and so this is normal for them, as are the photos. What did you do to make your high school yearbook photo look interesting? Did you submit one of you doing homework or editing the school newspaper or in a waitress uniform because you had a parttime job as one? Maybe you are prejudiced against attractive women?

      As for using your postpartum depression as a reason for abortion the next time you were pregnant, I assume then that you were in the same unmarried circumstance? Otherwise that statement makes no sense and a woman of your intelligence should be able to see why.
      --an art director tired of superior attitudes

    2. I did not like the concept either of the *women in white* but I did very much like the B&W group photo of everybody in hard-back chairs. Everyone is entitled to an honest reaction to the layout.

      Also understood the point Maryanne was making about post-partum. The fact that she suffered pp could have been presented to her as an excuse to terminate and had she been in a vulnerable state, maybe she might have--and maybe she would have regretted that. Or maybe not. Whatever the case, her story.

    3. Severe post partum depression, if untreated (as it often is because it's not as recognized as it should be), can turn into post partum psychosis. It would not be unusual for a doctor/midwife/therapist of a woman who suffered from severe post partum depression to suggest no further pregnancies. it wouldn't matter if she was married, unmarried, divorced, in a lesbian partnership, whatever. If the doctor follows the school of thought that the severe post partum depression can recur with future pregnancies, if the woman comes to the office and she's pregnant again, I can easily see a doctor suggesting an abortion to "solve the problem" because, well, post partum depression can only happen after the partum period. Of course, there is now evidence of depression after abortion, along with other health effects. Abortion has been in the closet so long, even though it is now legal (though restrictions are always coming down from the politicians :X ) abortion wasn't something that was bragged about, or screamed from the rooftops, so much like the trauma a first mother has endured, it hasn't been studied much until recently, when the closets began to crack open. So yes, a woman of intelligence might have an abortion suggested to her if she has a history of severe post partum depression. (For further information, please see the Andrea Yates case, where the doctors specifically told her with her history of severe post partum depression, she shouldn't have had as many kids as she had, and she certainly shouldn't have been left alone with them.)
      -an adoptee who has a midwife sister in law who just got cross examined by said adoptee to make sure I was fairly accurate

  6. Hey anon art director, just expressing an impression and opinion of those photos, other people may well have other impressions. Nothing to get nasty over. I hate my high school picture with the ridiculous "special" hairdo, and now wish that it was a picture of how I normally looked, yeah, writing or painting or as part-time waitress. I think attractive women are great, but there are many ways for women to be attractive. Those photos did not show that, at least to me. But the really important thing is not the photos at all, or how attractive or unattractive the women were; but that as rape victims they spoke out publicly and were believed.

    As a matter of fact, I was still unmarried with my second child, like a lot of other women who got pregnant again after surrender, but that boyfriend stuck by me and we got married later. We are still married and have two more kids, and I am in reunion with my oldest son. Did you actually read what I wrote? I NEVER wanted an abortion so I certainly did not need any excuse for one. I was terrified when I had my next child, still unmarried, that post-partum depression would strike again, but it did not, maybe because I kept my child and breastfed him and did have a man by my side and my parents support, none of which I had with my firstborn.

    I did have a miscarriage between my third and fourth child, and since my husband was away on business, my Dad took me to the emergency room. I still looked like a young hippy girl even though I was 30, and one of the doctors in the emergency room, said " looks like you are going to lose this baby, if you want we can just take you up and do an abortion." I was horrified, this was a wanted child but all he was reacting to was how I looked and making assumptions about what I would want.

  7. I liked the group photo of the Cosby victims on the front cover too, they were shown as different individuals, dressed differently, and the sheer number of them together made an impact, one jerk raped all those women! It was the individual " woman in white" shots inside that you could click on to read their stories that I was not so fond of, although the stories themselves I read were infuriating and heartbreaking. All in all wonderful that this came out, opinions of the pictures aside. Cosby and all abusers and rapists should rot in hell.

    I only mentioned my one bout with post-partum depression in sympathy with anon Aug1 12:40, who had been urged by a doctor to have an abortion late in the second trimester because she had previously been hospitalized for depression. Here in NJ the wife of former Governor Cody brought the problems of post-partum depression out in the open, as she had suffered from it and wanted mothers to be aware and seek help, as it was another thing not talked about, like the bad reactions some women had to abortions, thanks, Mashka:-) The truth is always complex and many-sided, not simple black and white.

    I never was able to put a name to what happened to me after the birth of my first son in 1968 until I heard Mrs. Cody and read up on PPD. I was deeply ashamed and never used to mention exactly what happened to me after my son's birth or why he was in foster care so long until I finally gave up and surrendered. At the time, I was treated as if I were depressed for no reason. I did not know there was such a thing as PPD, I just knew I was defective. The fact that my child's father, the love of my life, had abandoned us, that my son went into foster care right from the hospital because I could not bear to sign a surrender, the fact that my life was a ruin was never addressed or spoken of at all by the quack psychiatrist from the clinic I was seeing, who just filled me full of primitive anti-depressant drugs, shock treatment that further messed up my mind, and just wanted to hear about my then non-existent sex life and urge me to go out with guys I did not like! I know it sounds like a bad soap opera, but I could not make this stuff up. It was never even mentioned that part of the problem was that I was leaking milk and grieving for my child who was in foster care with people I was not allowed to know anything about. In my case the hormonal issues were greatly compounded by situational grief and loss that was never addressed. I had three more children with no PPD, although like many birth mothers I suffered from low-key chronic depression on and off for years which decent SSRI anti-depressants helped, and now I no longer need even that. Our stories are all different, but like the rape survivors we have to tell them so they do not keep on happening to further generations of women.

  8. Postpartum depression, a result of a quick dip in some hormones, affects many if not most women who have babies, but that is different from the long term depression that affects many if not most women who give up their babies--you me and everyone who comes to this blog, I'd venture.

    Maryann, your whole scenario sounds dreadful, but it went beyond PPD. The fact that you had a shrink you didn't understand the shock of giving up your baby is reprehensible and probably made your mental state worse. If our babies had died, we would have been allowed to grieve, but you were told you didn't even have that right. (Well, I wouldn't have as I was in hiding and had to get a job as quickly as possible, and my family didn't know.)

    The resident in psychiatry at the Albany Medical Center I saw gave me much better sympathy than you got, but he too prescribed uppers--Dexamyl that I took for a while.What did help was throwing myself into a job. At least I had to focus on something other than what just happened to me and my baby.

    No matter how we react after losing our children to the times and adoption, we all hurt, and hurt plenty. I hope the young women who are considering adoption today realize how painful it will be in the long run.

  9. @Maryanne August 2,8:33 AM I'm not pushing my opinion on anyone just stating it, which isn't often allowed here if it differs from the party line I used to consider myself a feminist and certainly believe in equal pay for equal work, and unlimited education for all who are so inclined, but I don't understand why some people get so foaming at the mouth lathered up and insistent that in the case of abortion it's either us or them meaning if we let the baby live we won't have the life we want and if we kill it then we will I'm still trying to figure this one out Maybe because we and our fetuses,babies are so intertwined physically it is hard to separate the two psychologically-like where do I end and he begins? I don't know. But I got pregnant right after Roe v Wade and it was assumed that unless the conditions were perfect abortion was the answer The pressure now is even worse. Believe me, I'm not some naive fool and I realize there are many reasons a woman might feel that is the only option left for her in this stressfilled, non-supportive country we live in Everyone on his own here unless you're lucky enough to be rich or have a very supportive family or network of friends. I don't tell anyone else what to do but one thing that shocked even me was the realization that maybe that doctor wanted to abort my 20 something week old fetus to use the more well-developed organs for research Even I would have laughed at that idea and thought I was crazy back then Or maybe she just wanted her money quicker and didn't want to wait another couple of months until he was born As my Dad used to say What a world. I never had another kid and another line from a song comes to mind "Life gets much more precious the less there is to waste"

    1. I want to echo what you're saying, Anon. Cases like this are real. They happen. MDs will push for abortion for safety, sometimes, but it is a slippery slope. I have had two friends abort in the second trimester because of severe mental illness: one with Bipolar disorder, who could not deal being off the meds for pregnancy, or even on the meds they let her be on; and one whose MDs actively, *actively* encouraged her to abort, and she did. Both friends had uncontrolled suicidal ideation while pregnant, which is unsafe, and could have presumably become worse later. Even on medication. It was tragic and horrible in both cases, and both friends deeply mourn the losses of the pregnancies and future children.

      I work in the OB field, too, and my feelings about abortion have become more queasy over time. I fully support Roe v. Wade and want women to have access to abortion; it should be available, safe, and rare. Absolutely. But some of the later abortions are difficult for me personally. It would be very, very hard for me to participate in providing abortions after 24 weeks, the age of viability. I had a difficult time watching the film, "After Tiller," about the one clinic that does provide third-trimester abortions. We do full resuscitations on infants that deliver at 34 weeks, and they often are fine with minimal support. What a heartbreaking choice to have to make, stopping the heart and delivering a near-term fetus. I support the choice, but how awful to have to make it.

  10. I am strongly pro-choice. Every woman should be able to choose whether or not to have sex; no rape. Every woman should be able to choose whether to continue a pregnancy; few restrictions should apply. Every woman should be able to freely choose whether to raise her children; no economic or religious coercion.
    Yes, I want utopia. But face it, utopia is a goal worth fighting for.
    (My apologies to editors everywhere for my grammar.)

  11. I am also a strongly pro-choice feminist...not allowing a woman to terminate a pregnancy results in "forced pregnancy"...Valerie



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