' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: When you give up a child...

Friday, February 5, 2016

When you give up a child...

What was life after relinquish a child to adoption? What did we natural birth mothers do in those early years? How did we cope?

One day at a time. I had come to the realization in the hospital that I could either be a crazy woman weeping on the floor forever, or I would have to stand up and move forward in my life. It actually felt like a viable choice.

I was alone, in a city (Rochester, N.Y.), far from family (in the Detroit suburbs), and my only support was the (married) father who had been paying my rent and all other expenses for the past four months. I needed a job, and quickly. Going back to The Democrat & Chronicle, where I had been working as a feature writer and reporter, was out of the question; I turned to a temp agency--and was promptly offered a job there as a proof reader.

No way. While the city editor had suggested that I take a leave of absence when I left the paper--lying about quitting because my father was ill--there was no possible way I could go back, even though I'd had my dream job, breaking out of "women's news," which every newspaper had at the time. 

Within a couple of weeks I fit back into my old clothes and got a job as a receptionist at an office-furniture store in downtown Rochester. Trouble was, it was near the D&C's offices so I had to sneak in and out of the rear entrance, lest I run into anybody I knew from the paper. Sounds like I was living in the era of Downton Abbey, but in truth, it did not feel much different for me than what Lady Edith went through when she was pregnant! 

I had written a long letter to my child--somehow I had assumed it was boy--while I was pregnant. I don't know what I intended to do with that letter at the time, but later, a large chunk of it became Chapter 3 of Birthmark, my 1979 memoir about relinquishing my child. Unconsciously I understood I would write about the experience for more than myself. 

But in the beginning, I was so focused on getting together the bare necessities of life--a job in another city, moving, a place to live--I did not have much time to focus on my loss.

It was once I was settled into my new job in Albany where I fell apart more--even though I had a job that kept me exceptionally busy that first summer after my daughter's birth in April. Now at The Knickerbocker News, I covered health and science during the day, and at night I took on ballet reviews at the newly opened performing arts center in Saratoga. So after a full day of work, I would grab a snack and drive 45 minutes up the Northway, watch a performance, drive back and write the review for the next morning's paper. I was often still in the office well after midnight, and had to be at work the next morning at 8:30 a.m. I was always exhausted, but somehow that frenetic schedule kept my mind off of the internal disaster and kept me going.

Yet that is the summer I got the huge rash on my leg, thought to be the result of emotional stress by my doctor; took uppers prescribed by a resident in psychiatry at the Albany Medical Center (who happened to live above me); was suicidal at times, and almost crashed into another car as I went through a stop sign on a particularly bad day. Only the other driver's quick action prevented me from smashing into him broadside. He was extremely pissed off; I apologized profusely, he did not call the police. I knew my mind had been elsewhere.

Two years later I married someone I shouldn't have (and did tell him about my baby when he asked me to marry him). I wrote poetry about the baby I did not have. I told him that I would never have another child, and he agreed. A few years after that, I began writing about the experience of giving up my daughter, at first under a pseudonym in a magazine called New Woman.

After I read about Florence Fisher and ALMA in The New York Times, I joined ALMA, and wrote pieces for Cosmopolitan and Parent's magazines (odd pair, right?) about the injustice of sealed birth records. MS. magazine--which seemed like a natural for the subject--turned down my proposals for stories on women like us, and the injustice of sealed birth records. The women running the magazine and the feminist movement were the very individuals who would later want to adopt--or at least have it as an option. But never mind, MS. focused on blue-collar salaries, but didn't want to know about the women who were stupid enough to get pregnant and not have the smarts and connections to get an abortion.

I had my first Op-Ed in The New York Times in 1975--which is where I first came out of the closet with these words: "I am a natural mother." The story was about an accountant who had gone to court to get her original birth records and her agency file too. I testified in her behalf.

That led to my finally 'fessing up my secret to my mother and brothers--my father had died by then, I was divorced--and came out of the closet--again--as a natural mother who had relinquished a child in the pages of Town & Country magazine (of all places) in October of 1976. This caused more of a commotion than the New York Times piece.

I was a senior editor at T&C at the time, and had put together a special section on children. Aware that wealthy people adopt, I included a story about the nascent adoption-reform movement, and planned to write the piece myself. The minute I sat down to write this is what came out of my keyboard: "Ten years ago I had a child whom I gave up for adoption." That landed me on the Today Show; Jane Pauley interviewed me, and not unkindly, but with understanding. By 1981, after I found my daughter and we reunited, I was writing Op-eds for The New York Times about the pain of relinquishing a child to adoption, the injustice of sealed records, the joy of reunion.

That's part of my life in brief, but leaves out the many many teary nights, the many thoughts of suicide along the way, the inexplicable part of me that would never go back to being fully focused on a career, the way I had been before. For those new to First Mother Forum, I found my daughter in 1981; we reunited; she died in 2007.

As I wrote in the last chapter of Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption:
"One never knows how one’s life story will go at the beginning, when you are young and full of yourself. Since I did not slide into first boyfriend's arms one steamy hot summer night so long ago, I ended up with a far different life than the one I would have had with him. I who had vowed never to be ensnared by biology, ended up exactly that way, by chance in cahoots with choice. 
"Certainly I had no idea what that young Asian woman who read my palm in Rochester meant when she said: You have one child, but there is a problem, like he’s adopted.  If I had known the meaning of that prophecy I surely would have tried to outwit fate, but he undoubtedly would have found me nonetheless, keeping his own appointment in Samara. 
"Relinquishing my daughter changed me and not simply because through that act I came to a cause that shaped my life; but the giving up of her made me feel apart from the great forward rush that is a normal life. No one wants to end up like me. No one wants to grow up to be a woman who gives up a baby. No one would wish that for her daughter. Tell someone this fact about yourself and no matter what they reveal, you feel their shudder. You are stabbing at the status quo, disturbing the peace."--lorraine

Jane will be writing a companion piece next week.


How do natural mothers end up?

"Sprinkled with touching and revealing flashbacks to her youth in Michigan, her hopes, her dreams - fishing with her father...Birthmark is not just the first, it remains to this day far superior to other memoirs written by mothers who have lost children to adoption. 

"Quote from the book: 'I may look normal, but there's something a bit off. I cry much too easily, for starters. I am a mother without a child.' Dusky, a freelance writer who has written for many magazines and the New York Times, is bold, brazen and holds nothing back."-
-Mirah Riben at Amazon

Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
"As a life coach, originally therapist, I read Hole in my Heart by Lorraine Dusky, to continue to help me understand the impact of the adoption process on my clients.To my surprise, as the daughter of a Polish Catholic mother and the oldest of a large clan, personal issues and insights came to the forefront of my thinking. Having spent time in the workforce, in NYC, during the time that Ms. Dusky's life experience was unfolding, her story resonated as a story of a time with few choices due to cultural and religious norms and dictates. Well written and compelling, I have recommended Hole in my Heart to many single parents, who did not marry birth partners, as well as those who have adopted children for other reasons."--Denise Grenier, President of Denise Grenier and Associates



  1. Every time I learn that mothers going public use a pseydonym, I feel more validation for using mine. Thank you for sharing more of your story Lorraine. I am very much looking forward to meeting you in May at the SOS Summit, and hearing from your book H❤ole In My Heart!! I am so excited that you will be there kicking supporting family preservation! Much love, Lynn

    1. Lorraine very quickly dropped the pseudonym, which she states here, as did Lee Campbell whom before she founded CUB and did her first interview in shadow under an assumed name. I never used a pseudonym, it never occurred to me to do so, but I understand why some others did at first. All of us early activist natural mothers were part of ALMA, and Florence Fisher stressed the idea that we had to show that mothers who surrendered do not want or need anonymity. This was something that was thrown at us by legislators and our opponents as a reason to keep adoption records sealed from adult adoptees, that they had to protect the anonymity that surrendering mothers wanted and needed. When we became public enough to be testifying to legislators, writing books, starting a national group as Lee did, we all had to overcome shame and used our real names and took the risks that entailed in the 70s.
      Hopefully you will be able to do the same as you become more active and visible in your reform efforts.

    2. Maryanne is right; I used the pseudonym once in a story for New Woman magazine in a story in 1972. The editors made me Phyllis Bernard. the story contains this sentence: "the guilt that I carry with me today, because she is not with me, weighs me down, doing somersaults in my head every time I talk to a child her age."

      By 1976, when I came out in that magazine piece in Town&County that landed me on the Today show (no more going back after that) I was divorced. I think that made a difference. My firsts husband's family had been against our marriage, and I don't think I could have become who I did if I had stayed married to him. They would have been horrified--not his wonderful sisters--but his father.

      Lee Campbell and I once emailed about this--the being married part made coming out harder. As I recall, both of our marriages ended roughly the same time.

    3. Lorraine, you are so right, I think the marriage and husband's attitude makes a big difference. My husband and my parents when they were alive were all very supportive and proud of my work in adoption reform. My kids knew from the time they were very young. All my good friends have always known.I am still with the same guy after all these years.Had he not been supportive, that would probably not be the case. We have learned to put up with each other:-)He is delighted to be grandpa to Mike's adopted kids.

  2. The early years were horrible, I am lucky to be alive. Thanks for introducing this topic. The following is from my story that appeared in the Dec.2015 CUB Communicator if anyone wants to read the rest. I hope this is helpful to others with a painful story to tell:

    From "A Different Adoption Story" CUB Communicator, Dec 2015:

    "From the beginning, my story as a birthmother has always been a bit different from the norm. I was a little older than the typical teen mother when my son was born, 22, although very sheltered and naïve. I would not even discuss adoption with the social worker when I was pregnant, so I was talked into putting my child into "temporary" foster care. It was never explained to me what this meant legally, or all the things I would have to prove to get him out. He was never with me, went straight to state foster care from the hospital, and I developed what I learned years later was severe post-partum depression so my chances of retrieving my child went from slim to none. What happened to me was called a nervous breakdown at the time; in Victorian times it would have been called a broken heart.

    At the time, I was treated as if I were just crazy for no particular reason by an incompetent and dishonest psychiatrist I had been assigned at the clinic. He acted as if being abandoned by the man I loved, my first boyfriend who left me for another woman, and losing my child, had nothing to do with why I was depressed, and just kept giving me primitive anti-depressants and shock treatments whose only effect was to make me gain weight and screw up my memory. His uncaring care did more harm than good, and eventually I gave up all hope and surrendered my child. I did not care at that point if I lived or died. I did not promise my child I would find him someday or think that was even possible, and I did not expect to live much longer anyhow. I saw no future at all.

    Unlike a lot of surrendering mothers, I was never able to block any of it out and never really kept it a secret that I had surrendered a child. There were no years of denial for me, although at times I wished there had been. It did not occur to me to lie, especially not to boy friends as I had so many stretch marks I figured it was obvious, nor did it occur to me to lie to medical professionals as I thought they could tell. I went around telling people my tale like the Ancient Mariner, the albatross of having given away my own child always around my neck. I went from nice Catholic college girl who expected a Church wedding with my one true love to the kind of girl who "drank with sailors and slept with bums" as the silly ditty "I'm a Juvenile Delinquent" we giggled at in Jr. High proclaimed.

    I went through a self-destructive period after the surrender, hanging out with low-life people I would not have even talked to previously, but I felt now that was what I deserved. I was never suicidal but did risky things like drinking and driving because I did not care any more what happened to me. I was mostly afraid of drugs, only smoked some pot, which was a good thing because I was around a lot of people who used anything they could score. I thought drugs would only make real the nightmares that were already in my mind; I would not see stars and angels, but monsters and the gates of hell where I was headed.
    I got involved with some lousy guys because I did not think I was worthy to say no to anyone."

    What saved me was getting pregnant again, having a guy who stuck by me, my present husband, and bringing that baby home. I knew right away I did not get my baby back, but now had two sons, but one was still missing. Like Lorraine, I got involved in adoption reform, ALMA, then CUB, as soon as heard there was such a thing, found my son young, and was "out" as a birthmother since the early 70s.

    1. I stayed away from shrinks for many years. When I did try one (medical insurgence at T&C) I joined a group therapy that was both "movement and mind," a concept that appealed to me. I rather found it enjoyable, made a friend, and later decided to try individual therapy with the woman psychiatrist who was the "mind" part of the group therapy. I went about 3 times, but quickly realized that she was going to take me into Freudian analysis, and that was a proposition of several years...and that is not what I needed or wanted. Nor did she fully understand the impact of giving up a child.

      So I quit, and never went back.

      Maryanne, your behavior in the early years sounds as if you were unconsciously suicidal...I managed to continue with my newspaper career, but as I said, I did marry the wrong man. But the idea of him seemed like a savior for I felt so worthless for such a long time, and getting married would help my self-esteem. I remember one of my friends saying, why don't you think more of yourself? I didn't answer, but I knew what was at the bottom of it all. It took decades before that feeling really left me.

    2. Yes, I would say I was unconsciously suicidal because I did not really care if I lived or died. But to actually consider suicide meant I would go straight to hell. That Catholic upbringing sticks with you. I would have married any man who would have me, just happened to get lucky that the one I ended up with was a decent person.I hope I never again meet some of the guys I was involved with in that bleak time.

  3. Lorraine, Firstmother forum rates in my top 3 blogs for reading. (Your book is also one of my favorites.) I'm grateful for places like this which have given us so much validation for our feelings.
    This morning, after reading the first sentence however, I had to walk away and allow myself to "feel" what that was like. As firstmothers, we do not go "there" often. Picking up the pieces after losing a baby to adoption is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. And doing it at 17 years old? You are right. When people hear of our stories, they shudder... but they have NO idea what it was like for us.
    Not only does it leave a hole in our hearts, it makes our heart beat with such an irregular "beat" that we're never sure what a normal heart feels like.
    Thank you for this piece. Revisiting those places does promote inner healing. Something we first mothers never have too much of. <3 Brenda

  4. My dear mother said she cried every day for 10 years. The tears could overtake her anywhere, at any time. Then she said she stopped crying. She said she could not cry anymore. By the time we met, she had stopped crying, and I never saw her cry for me.

    But she did cry in the hospital, when she was dying, from the pain.

    I remember thinking, "so, I guess you can cry after all, Mom". But I didn't say it.

    1. Adopted one, your story, and your mother's story, are so sad! I remember some of your posts from the past (I've been on FMF for about a year + 1/4.) It sounds like your mother was not able to express her love for you, due to her damaging childhood and losing you, and other unknown events in her life. Drinking and drugs can help to reinforce a hard, safe shell and it certainly seems to keep great psychic pain at bay - but unfortunately it does not allow any new happiness to float in, either.

      I'm so sorry that her end was so physically painful, it hurts to even read about it. But the fact that you were with her at the end of her life must have given her comfort, and it speaks volumes about your character and judgment, and love for her. It may not help much what I say, but since this is First Mother Forum, I would like to say it, from the point of view as a first mother.

      As for crying, as a first mother I can say that the well of tears flows continuously nonstop for many years, and then the fountain does dry up. I think perhaps being post-menopausal contributes to this also, at least for me that is the case. It might have helped if she had been able to cry for you in your presence - it would have been affirming for you - but I can tell you that my son recently visited, and I cried for hours after he left, and could not get out of bed. The next couple of weeks were very bad. But the thought of letting him know I am crying seems inconceivable to me, as I think it would make him feel bad and would make him hurt. Maybe your mother didn't want you to see her cry, or felt it would just portray as weak character on her part (which is also my feeling about crying in front of my son). My husband disagreed about this, and said maybe it would be a good thing and my son could cry too? But just the thought of that gives me shivers, and it seems quite inappropriate, to my way of thinking.

      What I'm trying to say, very clumsily, is don't assume she did not mourn your loss since you didn't see any tears. Her perspective is so different than yours in this situation.

      I think your mother may have loved you much more than she could express, sadly. Please know (in the opinion of a birth mother) that none of it is your fault, and you couldn't help her, more than you did. You may have been the one person who proved to her that she was loved, and deserved to be loved. And if so, that is phenomenal, in every sense of the word. Even close family members and friends bail during a time of terminal illness, as it is not a pleasant thing to witness. But you didn't, and you gave more than you got - but I think your mother could not help herself, to be more pleasant and open with you, in reunion. She probably did her best, as much as she was able. Not knowing, that is my hope anyway.

      Best wishes to you.

    2. Adopted one (used to be adoptomuss)February 10, 2016 at 5:25 PM

      Thank you so much. I think she loved me too. Her son does not. I never heard from him since the day he kicked me out of hospice.

      Your sweet words help me.

  5. Being an unmarried pregnant teenager decades ago was the most shameful, tragic thing that could happen in a conservative, Southern, middle-class family. Forced into silence and hiding by shame, I was twice shamed--first, by getting pregnant, and secondly, by "giving away" my baby (although I had no control, power, or say in my baby being taken from me). Silence and shame suppressed my grief, and for over forty years, I have been imprisoned by shame.

    I was so traumatized by having my baby taken against my wishes and then accused of giving him away. It was a cruel double-edged sword, a no-win. I was left with a lifetime of fucking grief and had to pretend I wasn't a mother. I had to slip back into a new life and a new way of thinking, abandoning a big part of who I was and who I had been. I had to transform myself into a new false self, always hiding who I was before from others, lest they find out I had been "one of those girls".

    I went on with life, but I faked life and faked living and keep pushing my traumatic experience deeper and deeper down into the pockets of suppression. Suppression became a survival technique, and I realize now it was the only way I was able to push on through life. Otherwise, the pain and shame would have destroyed me. I was always afraid someone would find out my truth and, after all, how could a mother "do that"?

    There will never be a happy ending for a first mother. My son who found found me 40 years later still cannot wrap his head around the fact that a parent can relinquish their baby. Even though we have reunited, he cannot understand how a mother could "do that". Our loss is not even fully understood by our children, and we will never understand their loss either. My grown adult son's truth is that his first mother abandoned him as a baby. My truth is that I relinquished my baby, irregardless of those damned circumstances and power imbalance. Yeah, adoption sucks for first mothers and adoptees, maybe not so much for the strangers that got our babies.

    1. Sue Ann, your last paragraph is so right. My oldest son has stated (not to me, he wants nothing to do with me) that he will never understand how anyone can give away their kids. My perspective is so different than his. I remember I hated my mother so much, when she had a stroke (I was a teenager) I went to stay with another family for couple of weeks. I wish so much that I could be a part of that other family, and was very sad to come back to my mother. A few years later, I found myself divorced from a man who was abusive to me and our 2 babies, and I was becoming abusive over time. With no child support, I was working and making too much to qualify for government help, but not enough for us to live. I didn't want my children to live life with the mindset that I had, from my upbringing. So from my perspective, I know well what it is like to be "out there" with a single parent who is abusive, not a good role model, and not equipped to function as a person.

      I am sorry that I placed my children for adoption, but I do not regret it, meaning I still think after all these years, that it was the only right thing to do. As bad a mother as mine was, I was 10x worse. My children deserved a stable home with two parents, who were responsible and help them develop and feel loved.

      I like your comment about "faked living." It certainly rings true.

      No one wants to think that they have been rejected or not wanted. So your son's point of view is completely understandable, and so is my son's. But the situation is so multifaceted, every birth mother has a reason, or several reasons, and reliquishment is not voluntary really, but as a result of pressure and lack of confidence as a person. It isn't because the baby is not wanted, far from it.

  6. Lorraine, thanks for making this post. I think it may help a lot of us. Please know that I am in the process of reading "Primal Wound" - I had to stop, as it made me very sad. I see too many things in it that are descriptive, maybe of my two children, but the behavior it talks about definitely defines me. It makes me realize that I have never lived life the right way. I hope to read "Hole in My Heart," but am not sure I can handle it yet. But I definitely will.

    I placed my children for adoption in 1980, and in 1981 came to a large city, with the hopes of knowing my siblings - 2 of them lived here, and one in a nearby city. They are all older than me, and I did not know them growing up. It did not help me and after 14 years I decided not to pursue any further relationship with them, as they did not want to know me and assumed I was going to impose upon them. Their fears were unjustified. They were "against" my coming to this city, but they couldn't build a fence around the city to keep me out.

    I also pursued my dreams of going to college, and met and married a wonderful man. We have been happy together for many years. Still, it has seemed like something is not right, something worries me and causes much fear constantly, but it isn't possible to know what it is.

    When I still had my children, I was constantly in therapy. But no one ever suggested psychiatric treatment. It might have made a difference back then, and may have saved us, although there's no way to know. A doctor suggested in 1993 that I consult a psychiatrist, (not in connection with my children) - which I did, and it completely turned my life around. For the first time I was able to function, and the violent impulses I had eventually died down and disappeared, although it took 12 years of therapy and medication.

    With reunion with my younger son, all those old feelings, anger, rage and the desire to do violent things have come back, albeit in a very mild way. I'm still in therapy and still taking meds, and trying to do everything I can to tamp down these thoughts. I do feel though that I am sick, and I'm glad my children don't seem to have any of me in them - at least it doesn't sound like it - and they are able to function. My mother was mentally ill, and most of my behavior is based on the upbringing I had. My family fled to escape my mother, and left me with her. They then saw any contact with me as a package deal - they would then have their mother back in their lives. Her ability to have a relationship with a child was nil. I think this cycle would have been repeated, had I kept my children. Of course their birth father was even more abusive and violent than I.

    The onset of reunion with my son, and the benefit of perspective now that I am much older, has helped me to see why I did, and realize that I did the best I could and did care about my children, and cared about what happened to them. A lot of other things are going on emotionally that I can't really understand. It might be mourning the loss of my children, I can't say what it is. In a way it is good that the relationship with my son is very distant, at least he will not know about a lot of the thoughts in my mind. It seems like this all happened to someone else. I was looking at photos of my two children (when we were still together) and it's hard to believe they are mine. It's hard to come to terms with.

    But they both seem to be stable, and that makes me happy. This is thanks to their adoptive parents. At this point I hope to be someone they can talk to, confide in and be a reasonable person who they feel they might like to know. That's all I'm capable of processing at this point.

    1. Oh, I hope the title of H♥le in my Heart doesn't put you off--and make you afraid to read it, because like life, it is not all tears and sadness--funny and wonderful incidents happened to. Many people have commented how the book both made them laugh--and cry. I love it when I hear that people found the humor in it too. There's always a touch of the absurd in life.

  7. Not at all, no worries. In fact I think it's a perfect title, that accurately describes what it feels like! I have read a "preview" of HIMH on Amazon (first few pages in first chapter), and your writing is colorful and humorous, with a good sense of self-realization and recognition of reality.

    Don't mind me, my mind doesn't feel well right now. My older son's birthday is less than a week away, so this is always a sad time. We are planning a trip to visit my younger son in a couple of months, and I'm just scared and nervous, I guess. It will be like this for a few years, I think. That's the reality.

    It was great to see that while typing my response, several other people have posted theirs! This forum is wonderful, thank you for starting it.

    I must correct what I said before, the violent urges were cured after 9 years, not 12. It may seem silly to point that out, but it makes a great difference in my mind. If there are any first or expectant mothers out there who doubt their ability to tamp down any destructive impulses they live with - it can be done, but most likely with professional help. It's not impossible. But it's something that is always in the background, and must be monitored.

    I was hoping to gain more insight into my son's perspective with "The Primal Wound," but wasn't expecting that it would shake me to my core and point out my own deficiencies and failures so clearly, as an aside. I don't expect your book to have the same effect. I'm so sorry you lost your daughter, and admire you and am grateful that you have shared your story, to help others, both emotionally and to help change the current legislature regarding OBCs. It's a great contribution, and when I do read it, I expect it will give me much to think about.

    Perhaps first mothers "collapse" and then they "un-collapse" after awhile, from time to time? In terms of being able to process what happened and what it means?

    1. Now I have to look up and see what you might have read! I have no say over what amazon chooses to preview and I didn't pay a lot of attention to it!

    2. New and Old, I read 'Hole in my Heart' over the holidays & wasn't sure what to expect, if it would be triggering. I usually can't read adoption related books at holidays, mothers day and birthdays. But I was so glad I went ahead & read it, I actually found it to be very healing. It really helped me to understand my son's behavior as we have gone thru many ups & downs. The book is very humorous & relatable, & it will definitely help with understanding an adopted person's feelings, from their perspective. I read it twice.

  8. One of the reasons I wrote H♥le is so adoptees could fully understand the social situation of the times that compelled so many of us to give up our children, the family pressures, etc.
    Adoptees (including men) who have read the book say they come away with a new understanding of what it was like for their mothers.

  9. I guess when we think of our real mothers as adults before we meet them, during...we see them through the eyes of a child, and children see their parents as Gods, Superman and because of that our hearts tell us you could of found a way, you could of found a way. To keep us, if you really wanted to, we hear our whole lives growing up if there is a will there is a way. We don't of course know or knew that unwed mothers were pressured to abandon us. When we first find each other we are the self-conscious children terrified of rejection and you revert to the powerless young woman being looked down upon so the chance of a healthy relationship beginning from there is nil. What adoptees have to do is forgive our parents, gain strength from being with our moms now and our moms have to be respectful, uncritical of us and gentle with our hearts. From there we should all hate who should be hated. Georgia Tann and Lehman for starting this, adoption agencies and social workers, AP's who want the records still closed and who go out of their way to try to ruin of our relationship. Anger has to be directed at the right source and by doing that real moms and adoptees can be strong within our souls and in each others arms.

  10. New and Old, I would put away Primal Wound, as I do not think it even applies to your unique situation. The theory of Primal Wound is that it occurs when a baby is removed from its mother at birth or shortly thereafter. A lot of the concept that it is "Primal" has to do with the fact that it was inflicted when the child was pre-verbal, had no language, so has no way to articulate the pain. Certainly your children at 3 and 4 suffered trauma, there is a wound and a loss, but they were with you from birth until that time so they did not lose their biological bond at birth. Everything you have written shows you to be a brave and thoughtful and bright woman battling mental illness and finally winning, and you did what you could at the time to keep your children safe. Don't let any book make you feel worse, especially when it does not really apply to your own life. Lorraine's book will not affect you that way, go ahead and read it. It is a sad story but does not inflict guilt on mothers.

    1. Maryanne,
      I disagree with your steering New and Old away from The Primal Wound. Yes, its main focus is on children who were placed as infants but that is not the entirety of the book. It also covers what the author (and many of her readers) believe are the psychological/emotions aspects of being adopted, for adoptees of all ages. Also, you have on many occasions mentioned your prejudice against the primal world theory and Nancy Verrier. I found it disingenuous that you did not include your personal animosity toward this work in your comment. As an adoptee, and one who is a supporter of Ms. Verrier and her Primal Would theory, I would recommend it to New and Old, albeit with the caveat that it may not apply 100% to her and her sons' situation. I believe it can still be useful by creating more understanding of the effects of adoption on the adoptee.

      As for not reading something about adoption that may make the reader feel bad, I have not found most things on the subject of adoption to be a barrel of laughs. I would also highly recommend that New and Old read Lorraine's new memoir, and Birthmark, if she hasn't yet read that.

    2. maryanne, thanks for you kind and sensitive comments. Like you, I was very lucky to meet and marry a wonderful, supportive man who has helped me get through all this, and who has been able to see issues clearly, where I have not, as the years have gone by. I realize in that way I am very lucky.

      I do realize that Primal Wound was not written to make anyone feel guilty, but rather as an affirmation and verification of an adopted child's sense and feelings, as dictated by Mother Nature and science. Some people want to think that newborns and parents can be mixed-and-matched, with no noticeable adverse effects. This book disproves that supposition. By chance it just triggered me in the wrong way, but I certainly would recommend it to others. I look forward to reading Lorraine's book, and will do so soon.

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    4. I do not believe the theory of a universal inescapable primal wound inflicted on all adoptees at birth as posited by Nancy Verrier. I do believe that many adoptees suffer pain and feelings of abandonment and loss, some more deeply than others. Kaisa's suggestion that we each ask our own adoptee how they feel and respect that is a good one.

    5. Prior to hearing about the Primal Wound (according to the gospel of Nancy Verrier), I thought a primal wound (according to the gospel of Karl Jung) was something which afflicted everyone -- that it was a part of the human condition.

      It is an idea that has its roots in mythology. It has been appropriated by Nancy Verrier to apply solely to adoptees.

  11. There are NO circumstances in which is is right to permanently steal a child from a woman who only needs our help as a society.

    And I don't care if that upsets well-heeled adopting parents, 95% of whom plain outright stole a child from a fellow citizen with the help of thuggish goons in church and law. And I don't care if that upsets the politicians from all sides who have their own adopted children and are thus extremely biased actors.

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  12. My wordpress ID was not accepted

    1. I don't know about that, but you can put in a name...in the NAME/URL place and that should work.

  13. Reunited with my children that I thought I was going to get them back.Telling them that I was sorry for that decision the today haunts me forever and that I am still in pain like it was just yesterday when the parental rights were taken away. I have been writing letters for years and telling them how sorry I was not there for them all these years. In hopes to establish a better understanding and acceptance plus forgiveness from them. At my oldest daughters wedding, I was having fun dancing at my daughters wedding and my other daughter stomped off the dance floor like she was embarrassed and ashamed of me. I have been reaching out through texts, phone calls, facebook, letters, apology letters in hopes to build a bond and receive a response "I forgive you, Mom". Instead I get rejections, lies, deceptions, them being ashamed and embarrassed of me, and they all get together while I have paid the hotel bill badmouthed me encouraging each other to treat me the way each other treats me. Again, they only spent one day with me and that is it. Just recently, I was told by my son that he was on his way to fly which one day he lead me to believe he was on the plane and later we made plans to visit 4 days prior of him flying back to Utah. Also he told me he was here in Washington for one week. Later, I have found out that he was here in Washington for 3 weeks. They keep secrets what they really truly feel about me. I wish that there is something out there to allow me to forget and stop these feelings of emotions of rejection, ashamed, losses, grief, endless of pain, forgiveness, wishing these memories would go away. Wishing the children just say "I do not want to see you or talk to you anymore" instead of lying about things. I rather they just say our goodbys and tell me to just forget them and they want to forget about me. Instead of lying about how long they were in Washington or about how long they want to visit with me only 2 hours after being here for 3 weeks. Endlessly in pain and endlessly regret of making that decision that constantly haunts me till the day I die.

  14. anna, I have much to say, but it will have to wait until I return home from work today. But your children are adults now, and their behavior is inexcusable. It is important to help you realize that you did your best - some people don't. Our best is all we, or anybody, can do.

    Your children may never forgive you, and there may always be resentment - and that is their right. But I would like for you to understand that this treatment is wrong, not only because you don't deserve lies and being taken advantage of, but because it reflects a a very serious lack of character on their part.
    Hang in there. You have been in the wrong, but you have also been in the right. It may be time to stop being hurt, and start being angry with them. Maybe the honest talk you mentioned is appropriate. Shame on them for lying and letting you pay for the hotel bill!

    Have you considered therapy, to help you work all this out? It sounds like you could use some support. Your viewpoint has been skewed out of proportion by guilt and a need to be officially "forgiven". It is not realistic not kind to you - you are a person also.

  15. anna, it isn't right for me to assume very much, but it is a reality that your children may never "forgive" you. I think if you can accept that, you will be more at peace. It's not as bad as that may sound - They have a right to their feelings, as does everybody, and they are not under any obligation to forgive. I also have a son who may never forgive me (he wants nothing to do with me and I haven't had any contact with him yet).

    What your children DO have an obligation to do though, is to refrain from lying to you, and letting you pay for the privilege with your own money, out of your pocket. It is tempting to lie to manipulate a situation, there has been much of that in my (birth) family also. It is tempting to take advantage of someone if the opportunity arises. For some people, conscience and character intervene, for some they do not, and it's a lifelong habit to just lie because it's easy.

    I think a direct plain-speaking conversation with them might help you, but it doesn't have to be "see me or don't see me," I hope. Maybe you could say that their lying not really necessary, if they want to spend a short limited amount of time with you only, they can just feel free to say so - at least that would be honest.

    Don't do anything purely out of guilt. Again, I think that although what happened was wrong - and it was no fault of your childrens' - If we fast-forward to today, they have a responsibility to treat you decently. You did the best you were able at the time, no matter what the circumstances were.

    As far as a place to forget the feelings you describe, it may not be possible to forget those particular feelings, but here on FMF you will see an array of diverse perspectives, and it can help you get more steady on your feet, in how you feel about your situation. Some new feelings may come to you, regarding your worth as a good person, and if you are able to hurt less, things may come into view that will help you gain a more practical viewpoint. This is my hope. You can talk to us, instead of reaching out in futility to your children for approval. Hope this can help.

  16. Hi Lorraine:
    I am dealing with a new situation. I was reunited with my first daughter 18 years ago. I was a big disappointment to her and she let me know that immediately. I wanted to hug her I was so grateful to have found her. She was very cold towards me and later told me she wished I had been more poised and polished. I had been waiting 28 years to see her again.
    She has never called me Mom. My grand daughter is allowed to call me Grandma. Recently within a month of one another, both adoptive parents died. They were quite a bit older than me. So now she is grieving for "Mom and Dad". Now I understand that grief, but she has always told me how she never felt loved by "Mom" yet she wants to call her and talk to her. I am also an adoptee-I found my entire birth family 10 years before finding my birthdaughter. My adoptive parents did not have a problem with that. However her adoptive parents resented me being in her life. She treated the adoptive grandmother as the REAL grandma-my grand daughter is only 6, and my daughter is 46, so there will be no more grandchildren. I recently sent my grand daughter a Valentines gift,but I never even heard from her whether she got it or not. I guess I will always be considered a second-class citizen-I thought in some way we had grown closer since my granddaughter was born. Now I am the only grandparent-my granddaughters paternal grandma died before she was born. I would like to be closer to both of them, but it seems like I have to be like a puppet with her holding the strings. I have told her many times how much I regretted the whole thing, but it is not enough. I just don't how much more I can do-I have told her right from the start how much I have loved her. She just can't seem to love me back.

    1. Linda--I have been through a great many ups and downs with my daughter, as I retell in detail in H♥le, and so I won't go into them here. Your story is sad, but there is really not much you can do to change the situation. Any relationship is like a friendship or a romance--how it will be depends always on the person who is the least invested. In my darkest moments, I remembered this: The people who want to be in your life will be. You don't have to go chasing after them.

      My daughter usually called me Lorraine; only did she address cards to me as "Mother." That is something that you will have to learn to live with going forward. Know that you are not alone in these kinds of relationships. Hugs.

      Many hugs.



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