' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Why do some first/birth mothers reject reunion?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why do some first/birth mothers reject reunion?

Why do some first/birth mothers reject reunion?* Or even resist acknowledging a lost son or daughter? It's a question that won't go away, and at the holiday season the slings and arrows of adoption and separation hit their mark ever more keenly. With families every where planning celebrations, the hurt of every rejection by a natural mother is magnified.

Adoptees call and write us asking for suggestions on how best to reach their mothers, especially when the mothers are not responding to a letter or email--when other first mothers are praying and waiting and hoping for that phone call--and so I've done a fair amount of thinking about why do some mothers reject when others rejoice. There are multiple causes:

So many of us were told to bury the thoughts of our child when we gave them up. Many families made it clear that the child was never to be brought up again; natural mothers were not even allowed a grace period to grieve, but were supposed to carry on as if nothing had happened, as if their baby had never been born, did not exist. This was especially true in families where the parents insisted upon the adoption, which was more often than not the case for teenage birth mothers who gave up their child until, say, until the Nineties. And even that is not a definitive cut off date, because families and situations are different. Even today one family could be supportive of a teen keeping a child, while the family across the street could have the exact opposite reaction. A teenager without family support can almost never find a way to keep a child. And while this is a horrifying statistic, we know that pregnant teens who are adopted themselves are much more likely than the general population to have a child and in turn, give them up for adoption as they were themselves. It is an appalling cycle.

So the young mother "forgets" in public, buries any mention of the lost son or daughter, never mentions it to friends, never lets friends she made after the birth even know she had a child, never tells boyfriends, never tell coworkers, never tells anyone. Now thirty, forty, fifty years later, a child comes knocking, hoping for reunion--or at least asking for medical information--and the woman who has been living in her own dark closet of secrecy finds it impossible to walk out into the light. She can't imagine telling her husband, or their grown children, or her best friend; she is living in a locked-up world and feels that she has moved on and is managing quite well. She hopes--she imagines--that her child has had a good life with good parents, and tells herself it is best if everyone leaves well enough alone. She doesn't want her life upended, and she feels that meeting her child will do that. She avoids being humiliated the way she thinks she will be if she admits to a child no one knows about--a child she gave up for adoption.

She fears the rush of emotions that coming face to face with her child--of any age--will unleash. One will relive the feelings of the pregnancy, birth and relinquishment when coming face to face with the lost child, now grown, and some know, some decide, they cannot handle it, or do not wish to go there. They imagine that everyone will look at them differently. The truth is, they will. True friends and good people will be sympathetic and understanding; there might be gossip--in fact, there probably will be. So the scared woman hides. Refuses contact. Doesn't answer phone messages or letters. Just hides, hoping the child will heed the refusal to respond and go away.

Despite how public I am and have been for years, I still meet people who don't know this salient fact about me, and as I've written. explaining it always turns down the music in the room. No one hears my admission and says, That's great, let me tell you about...my trip to the Napa Valley or this fab little bistro in Paris. It's still a shocker to admit I gave a daughter up for adoption, found her, had a lengthy relationship, and then she died. How did she die, you ask? Ahh...where do I start?

Last week I avoided telling someone at a cocktail party what my book was about (You're a writer? What do you write about?) because I just didn't want a long discourse on the nightmare of giving up a child. I knew this man would be sympathetic--he's turned compassion for the downtrodden into his life's work--but I wanted upbeat cocktail-party conversation, not to inject a downer. If I told my story, I knew he would have questions; I knew the conversation would involve me peeling away and exposing the most damaging, hurtful, awful part of my life all over again. Of course it drives people crazy when I won't divulge the subject of my life's work to a stranger, as I did not and as he had been, but so it goes.

Yet I know that adoptees are not asking that their mother reveal them to everyone they know, or to strangers in passing conversations at a cocktail party--but these rejecting mothers imagine that everyone will know, or might find out. And they they have to be a different person to their families, to their friends, to the world. They have to be one of "those women." A woman who elicits gossip and sympathy, or perhaps pity. Who would choose that?

The story of a child's conception may be less than pretty, and the mother find it horrifying to have to relive the story, which is likely to happen if she meets the child. Through Facebook I've encountered women who were gang raped; women who were sexually assaulted by near strangers, or someone they dated; and women who don't know who the father is. That may make an amusing story for the plot of Mama Mia! but in real life, it's not that charming to relate, and stand-ins for Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth of the movie are not likely to be the possible candidates for fatherhood in real life. The story of conception may be so incredibly painful that the woman who has the opportunity to say No to reunion will simply do so.

There may be other permutations of these two reasons for rejecting reunion, but most of them will come down to one or the other. Embarrassment is actually too small a word to encompass what some mothers feel they will face; utter and deep humiliation is what they imagine. The shame they imbued at the time of birth and separation comes back in their minds as an encompassing fog that they can not revisit, even for their child.

This one was a real surprise for me because I had assumed that couple who stayed together after their child was given up would be thrilled to be reunited. But in fact confidential intermediaries say that the opposite is more often the case than not. When they seek to make the connection at the behest of the adoptee, they dread hearing that the birth parents are married and are still together. I can only hazard a likely cause: Both of the couple share a deep grief and guilt over the lost child, and if there are other full siblings, telling them that they could not find a way to keep their first child is a mountain they cannot climb. In day to day living, they are a constant reminder to each other of what they had lost. Parents who interfere in close and loving relationships and tell they couple they "can always have another" do not realize the grievous harm they are doing, and that the son and daughter will never get over the loss.

The stories that women like Jane and myself--neither of us had a partner to marry us--have to tell our lost children seem much more reasonable and excusable than admitting we just didn't have the strength to keep a child. Saying "we were too young," or "we listened to our parents who were against us," or "we were in college" or whatever pales in comparison to the awfulness of giving up the child when the couple clearly were in love and stayed together. The guilt must be overwhelming. I've only met one such couple--with their reunited daughter--when lobbying for unsealed records in Albany. They told me that they never talked about their lost daughter, and when adoption stories were on television, they changed the channel. However, they responded with grace when contacted, and there they were, lobbying with their reunited daughter. I salute them.

This last point however brings up the third issue: intermediaries. Legislators love then, adoptees sometimes find them comforting buffers out of fear of rejection, but mostly we find them intrusive and the wrong way for anyone to go. The difference between turning down a reunion to a stranger who makes a phone call, and someone on the phone who is actually one's own flesh and blood is as wide as the Grand Canyon.

However, none of these reasons are morally adequate to reject a meeting with a child returning and seeking reunion. Notice I am using the word child here to hammer home the reality that the person on the other end of the phone line or who has written a letter is not just any adoptee, but someone's child, someone born of one's body, who carries one's DNA, who represents the next generation in the cycle of life. Some intermediaries are cold and efficient, some intermediaries are sympathetic to the person reaching out, but whatever their bent, adoptees are always more likely to get a No to reunion than if they make the call themselves. Saying No to a stranger is a lot easier than saying No to your own child. An intermediary should only be used when there is no other choice.

There are many other permutations and issues involved when mothers turn down children who wish to reunite, and I'll address them in a later post. This post is the result of counseling someone whose attempts (registered letter, messages left on answering device) to reach his 74-year-old mother in a distant state have been met with zero response. Knocking on her door may be his only recourse. He says that even if she slams the door in his face, that at least may be an answer. I doubt the woman reads blogs like this, and he doesn't know if the woman is mentally alert enough to understand who he is, or even if she actually has gotten his messages.

Her lack of any response--a void about which I've heard from others, including from the children of celebrities--is enough to drive anyone to the woman's door. I understand that completely. I surely would have done it if my phone call to my daughter's parents left me no option when I reached out to them. For those new to First Mother Forum, my daughter was 15 at at the time, and so I felt honor bound to contact her adoptive parents first and tell them who I was, a mother longing for reunion. Fortunately they were hoping to contact me. My daughter needed me.

Despite any reason to reject reunion, the adoptees hold the moral ace here. Most first mothers, save those adopted themselves, know their history. Adoptees from the closed-adoption era do not. Everyone deserves their own reality, their own ancestry, their own story that began long before birth. The question of our own birth is a question as old as time, as constant and definite and true as the movement of the earth around the sun. No matter the circumstances of the birth, no matter how messy the story, no matter any excuse at all, everyone deserves their own story, the hole in their existence filled, their own true reality. To foist a falsehood on anyone--and insist they accept it for all their lives--is the greatest sin of all. The social engineering of closed adoption is a wrong that has harmed untold millions of mothers and children.--lorraine
Damn, I hate SEO (Search Engine Optimization). More people will search for "birth mother rejection" than "first mother rejection" by a ratio of at least fifty to one. "First mother" isn't what newbies to search think of.


How shame keeps birth mothers from embracing reunion

THANKS SUPPORTERS OF FMF! Who order anything through the blog at Amazon or through the ads by clicking on the book jackets or titles to get to there. No matter what you order, room humidifiers or books or movies, we thank you for your support and hope to keep FMF going. 

Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
"Dusky disproved the myth of the natural mother in the closet in 1979 with Birthmark; now she exposes the hard realities at the core of adoption before--and after--reunion in her haunting memoir. Hole In My Heart will change the way people think about adoption."--Florence Fisher, founder of ALMA (Adoptees Liberty Movement Association) and author, The Search for Anna Fisher
Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience
By Betty Jean Lifton
"Looks at adoption from all sides of the triangle: adoptee, birth mother, adoptive parents.... A provocative, comprehensive inquiry." - Kirkus Reviews "Important and powerful.... [the author] is concerned not just with adoptees but with the experience of adoptive parents and birth parents." - Psychology Today "An articulate and convincing account of people Lifton has interviewed, men and women who feel crippled by not knowing who their parents were. Included are reports on dealers in black-market babies and equally disturbing information on supposedly reputable adoption agencies." - Publishers Weekly"
Waiting to Forget: A Motherhood Lost and Found
By Margaret Moorman
on May 23, 2000
As a newly reunited birthmother, this book was recommended to me by my birth son. How 
many poignant memoirs like this will it take to bring us all out of the closet? Moorman's emotions 
run the gamut of a typical birthmother in that era. As it was described to me, adoption then was totally
barbaric. Proof of this is the now generation of adoptees searching for their roots. Wonderful book
and definitely recommended reading for anyone in the adoption triad.


  1. My case was one of being thrilled and then watching it all go downhill from there. I did not fit my daughter's niche nor meet her expectations and it became too fraught with drama to endure. I was being punished. My son is so deep into his alcohol addiction that I cannot communicate with him. It's enervating and my health has suffered. There have been issues with alcohol and drugs with my daughter as well. I do have a wonderful granddaughter that is the good that came out of an emotionally debilitating reunion. Sometimes, things just don't work out, even if the mother is welcoming. Please be careful, kind, respectful, honest and reasonable in your expectations. You are dealing with a real human being....not the mother or adult child of your fantasies.

    1. Robin, did you give away your son and your daughter to adoption?

    2. Kaia's...NO...my infants were taken for adoption. I was 16 with my daughter by my first boyfriend and 17 with my son. He was the result of a date rape but I still wanted to keep him as I wanted to keep my daughter. It is difficult for people to understand that era but young, single girls were completely under the thumbs of their parents. I was GIVEN NO CHOICE. That question always hits my sore spot because it blames and over-simplifies.

      Lori, it is traumatic for all of us and we are all human beings...neither perfect nor sluts. To be honest, I was very naive and insecure. I worked hard to become the person I always knew I was on the inside. What I said still holds true. Have realistic expectations and don't expect anything other than a human being. You are no longer a helpless infant and she may not be in the same place she was when she lost you. But, and I say this from the heart, don't thank her for things that were probably beyond her control. Just be honest, open and you two can go from there. Those "Thank you's" for losing our babies kind of hurt. I would have been a good and capable mother to my surrendered children with just a little family support.

    3. Lori, I hope you are able to connect with your mother. I also urge you not to make any assumptions about your mother's past. Your mother may not have abused or neglected you or your siblings. She may have been a victim of abuse or poverty or both and over zealous social workers. "Being beaten in front of her children" was, for example, grounds for removing children from their mothers in New York until a few years ago. Leaving children unsupervised while a mother shopped for much-needed groceries or had a medical appointment could be the basis for a neglect charge. I wouldn't trust information in the child welfare files since social workers knew how to write things up to put parents in the worse possible light. Your mother may very much wanted to keep you and your siblings but was beaten down by the system.

    4. Robin, i don't blame you or assume that your situation is simple. if i made you feel that way, i'm sorry. but without knowing anything it is hard to know what kind of question to ask. thanks for sharing.

    5. What most of the birth mother's perspective thoughts do not include is that they created something wonderful and probably wonderful grandchildren that they are not able to enjoy or at least see the wonders of their creation whether it was from a bad experience or not. It is a shame that birth mothers only few the adoptee as a product of a bad situation instead of just trying to view their child as something good that came out of a bad situation.

  2. This was so was well said as always..

  3. Re: first/natural parents who marryeach other after a relinquishment. I have known several of these couples, having met them through search/support groups and also through work in the state legislature.
    But the couple I knew best I met when I was in college. The mother was one of my college roommates. She had been sent to a Flo Crit home after becoming pregnant in 1966, when she was a high school senior. Her boyfriend wanted to marry her, but was not allowed. He was a teenager, also....I think he was 18 which was still underage at that time.
    A few years later, in 1969, they married.
    What I recall, was that she was very depressed. She was also openly furious. She raged against the school system that kicked her out and almost denied her a high school diploma...even though she had completed her course work. She told me how much she loved her baby son....and wanted him...she told me his name.
    From what I knew about this couple...and others who married later...they have a lot of pain and emotions of different kinds. They have feelings of loss, violation, helplessness from the time of the relinquishment, as well as wanting to make their relationship work. They are not always on "the same page" at the same time.
    This couple was a constant reminder to each other of what they had lost. I realized this, because she talked about it.

    1. 1966 was the year I lost my daughter to adoption. It is an explosive year astrologically. Someone who does astrology who knew nearly nothing about me...looked at my chart and said: Did you lose something big in 1966? Looks like it was a bad year.
      Yes. I lost my daughter, my love, my home and my job.
      Sometimes I am amazed that I survived.

    2. Reading your comment again, Kitta, after a busy afternoon of assembling, packing, wrapping and getting to the post office on time, the last sentence caught my eye: This couple was a constant reminder to each other of what they had lost. I realized this, because she talked about it.

      I'm going to add that thought to the blog. The couple I met were lovely, and their daughter was too. They had a good relationship, and I really admired them for lobbying for unsealed records.

  4. Why do some first mothers reject reunion? TRAUMATIC LOSS. Not even the adoptee can understand this great loss. Reunion simply perpetuates the culture of shame, sadness, loss, guilt. We were "taught" and brainwashed to hold all those things in, suck it up, suffer in silence, and pretend "it" never happened. I don't believe most people understand how unwed pregnancy was in those days, a totally different shaming mindset and era. Unless the adoptee has done his/her homework, they will not have a clue of what their first mother has endured.

    Many of us first mothers were literally broken with the unwed pregnancy, shattered like a beautiful vase that hits the floor. The damage from losing our newborn is so traumatic and so intense, only a few can imagine. Then if the adoptee shows no compassion, empathy, understanding, acceptance,or forgiveness upon reuniting, a first mother goes back into her "protective shell", like a turtle.

    My outer protective shell is what has shielded me from the fallout of the traumatic loss. I have taught myself to forget, but my heart and mind never do forget. It's complicated, this huge traumatic loss.

    When an adoptee finds his other mother, the meeting rips a scab over the wound, and the bleeding begins all over. The shame and guilt begin anew, and if the adoptee is not compassionate and understanding, the wound is all the more painful. Many of us have been reminded that we did something terribly wrong (by society's standards) to get pregnant while young and unmarried.

    Reunion means revisiting the traumatic loss and being shamed all over again, and for some of us, reunion means a second loss, with all the shame, guilt, and additional trauma. For me, I had no say in losing my baby as a young teen, in reunion, I again have no say, as now the adoptee has all the say.....traumatic loss sucks.

    1. I'm not a first mom, so I certainly can't say from actually knowing, but Edna said what has always been my thought too- because it hurts so much. I think it can get really complicated (like in Robin's situation) in terms of how the hurt comes about, but at the core, I think pain is why some (many?) adoptees and first parents reject reunion. It's human nature to want to protect ourselves, and breaking the connection between mother and child is one of the highest degrees of pain a human being can endure. We have so much empathy for mothers who lost children to death or children who lost mothers to death, but we often cannot find it to share with mothers and children who lost each other to adoption. While not the same thing as death, it still deserves recognition of a bond being torn apart and the individuals having to proceed to life bearing that wound. I can only imagine how difficult it is to surmount that kind of pain to try to come back together again after years of distance. Easy is the last word I would use for it, and it's no small wonder it isn't always successful.

    2. I can't agree that so much of the failure of reunion lies with the adoptee not being understanding and compassionate enough. I believe Lorraine is talking here to a large degree about first mothers who refuse to have any contact with their relinquished child or even to acknowledge her. How can a first mother blame the adoptee's lack of empathy for problems in reunion if she has never responded to, never once spoken to, let alone ever seen her relinquished child?

      If you are referring to after a reunion starts and then goes south,the adoptees I know have been very concerned about hurting their first mother's feelings and have tried to be especially sensitive. I've never heard of an adoptee screaming at their fm for giving them up for adoption, but I wouldn't doubt that such a thing could happen. Although I agree, it would be pretty much impossible if you were born in the 1960s or later to truly understand the baby scoop (and earlier) mindset. And maybe some adoptees are uninformed enough that they would be (unintentionally, I hope)hurtful or rude.

    3. Robin, one issue i have with the BSE is that when it's mentioned, it is a blanket for all and every situation in that time period. No, i don't know what it was like. but it was not uniform across the country and not all families or situations are the same. (Robin, I know you know this and i'm talking to the choir.) I am glad that first mothers are communicating with each other and lending support to each other, but their individual stories are still individual. No, an adoptee cannot understand everything about what it was like in the late 60s. It would be a daunting task for anyone. Even those who lived through it have very different recollections of what happened and why, and what things were like.

      Luckily, as BSE adoptees, we each have only ONE first mother to get to know, and don't have to know the entirety of what happened in the BSE - just as our birth mothers only have each of us individually to get to know, and don't have to understand and empathize with the entirety of what it's like to be and have been an adoptee raised in a closed adoption.

      I'm not meaning to in any way suggest that I know the pain that any mother went through - but i guess i do get tired of the sometimes dismissive claim that no adoptee could possibly understand, (which seems to imply that we should, even though we can't)- because the task of understanding the BSE and what it was like for (all) mothers back then is daunting and impossible for anyone. as if it were our job to understand and somehow we're failing miserably ! (and therefore don't deserve a reunion?) can't we adoptees simply be kind and approach reunion with a kind heart? isn't that enough? why is SO much more required from the adoptee (seemingly)?

  5. What about those poor women who were well into adulthood and chose to screw around on their husbands? How come the refuse their children? Oh wait, I think I already know. Adoption, the ninth month abortion.

  6. I can't speak for other mothers, but Robin has it right in many ways. When I tried for 15 years to make reunion work, I found I was being punished for anything and everything that anyone did to my daughter in her life. I honestly love her, I just can't be someone's whipping girl. I have no expectations, just hopes. But for now, I am good with her not speaking, seeing, visiting, anything with me again. I can't be that person that takes it until I kill myself. I have to be me.

    1. Can you explain what she did that you experienced as a punishment?

      My first mother informed me several years ago that the real purpose of my 15-year search for her was just to punish her. She said I had outed her in front of family and friends also just to punish her. I truly did want to know my siblings. I did and asked her to tell them about me. Eventually she decided to do so. I didn't know who her friends were and didn't care. I just wanted to know my siblings and waited until she was ready to tell them.

      I was also accused of asking to be a part of her family just to punish her. i discovered I was responsible for guilting her into making amends to me. I was never told what these amends were that she made to me. She didn't tell me how she felt or what she was thinking except in a letter after 20 years. I was afraid of rejection whenever I was with her. I tried so hard to say and do the right thing. I felt more like a frightened schoolgirl than a villain.

      In her letter she told me that I was a source of great shame to her. She asked me to have more empathy for her. I read the "The Girls Who Went Away" to try to understand more about her experience. I try to remember she was a 17 year-old girl when she had to relinquish me and that girl still lives inside of her. When I hear her hurtful accusations and feel kicked in the teeth, I try to remember how old she was when she was badly traumatized. That is who I believe is saying and doing hurtful things to me, not the adult she became years later. In her files, I see her. She is a beautiful, brave young girl of 17. On the day she entered the maternity home, she performed a written exercise for the staff. She wrote, "My mind is my own." They broke her. They broke my beautiful mother.

    2. LCT-you are a beautiful person. Thank you!

  7. Let's see: I colluded with culture and social mores (demands) to kill off my flesh and blood, offering her up for another infertile couple as sacrifice for my crime of having sex and/or allowing myself to "get raped" and now, this child, this beautiful being from my body and spirit, torn from me, has returned from the grave and one wonders why we mothers have lost our frickin' minds at the prospect of reunion. Although, in my case, I desperately searched for my daughter when she was ten and only reunited when she was much older. To date we are unreunited. There are no words. Hugs to all my sisters who bear this suffering placed onto their lives by sinister adoption systems worldwide.

    1. whirling dervish, did you ultimately reject a reunion with your daughter?

    2. Absolutely not. All that has been written on the damage to the psyche of child and mother seem to have trapped our lives as well.

  8. The BSE covers a lot of time and a lot of people. It lasted about 30 years or so, starting in the 1940s. Many of the WW2 first mothers are no doubt, deceased, and more and more are dying from later decades.
    I have never gotten the impression that anyone who writes seriously about the BSE implies that all mothers whose children were adopted, or "informally placed with kin" during the BSE shared the same story and circumstances.
    I worked in search/support, and legislation/public policy for decades. One thing I learned was:
    We are individuals and our lives are not all the same. We don't all share the same circumstances or even the same emotions. We don't even share the same beliefs or values.
    And, there is NO consensus of opinion regarding what the appropriate responses are to some of the problems in our "family system."
    We can speak for ourselves, as individuals, and for people we have worked with and know well.We can cite good research....if it exists.(BSE research is often weak...due to lack of hard data and secrecy built into adoption).But, there are government documents that back up the reality of the adoption program.
    Historical documents can be found in books by historian Rickie Solinger, who researches,writes,and teaches about women's issues....such as the "baby scoop era."
    (I realize I am preaching to the choir here, but thought perhaps it might be important to mention again)
    The BSE has never really "died"..there are those who want very much to restore shaming to our family system and requiring that all parents be married. This would include changing the divorce laws, as well. Adoption would, of course be promoted for children of single parents.

  9. " can't we adoptees simply be kind and approach reunion with a kind heart? isn't that enough? why is SO much more required from the adoptee (seemingly)?"

    I agree! And I don't think that you, or any adopted person is required to be a life-long student of the BSE. However, most of the adoptees I have known, and I have known many hundreds, have said that they wanted to "ask their mother why they were surrendered for adoption" and "what happened" back then? It was an historical period, that had roots in Cold War era ideas. It is hard to understand, without knowing that maybe it wasn't simply a "personal choice" or caused by a "lack of money" since many families had money.(But all eras have their issues)
    Some reunited persons spend a lot of time talking about "what happened back then" and some reunited persons don't talk much about it at all.
    My own opinion is: if the adopted person asks questions of the mother, that go back in time, then she will have to dig deep into herself and answer. Some mothers are eager to answer. Others are uncomfortable.
    But, if the adoptee has a "kind heart" as you say, it can go okay. And that is good. And, of course, kind-heartedness must be on both sides.
    The situations that do not go well, that others have written about...or will write about..should be theirs to explain, as that is their truth to tell. But, I think that Lorraine is making the point that sometimes people avoid reunion because it causes too much pain.
    This can happen to adoptees also. Even adoptees who were not abused by anyone previous to adoption sometimes just don't want to "go there." Reunion brings up painful emotions that many didn't know existed.
    Reunion is overwhelming for many people. The older I get, the more I can see that.

    1. If you read Lorriane's book she talks about what it was like for her in the sixties and gives some background about the whole picture. If you didn't have someone to marry you, you were pretty much sunk. I got a lot out of her story. It helped me understand my mother.

    2. It should also be remembered that parental permission to marry was often a legal requirement.

    3. Yes. When I was in the hospital after the birth, the teen I shared a room with had tried to marry her boyfriend. They drove out of state--I don't remember where they got to--but they were picked up by the police and returned to their parents before they could get married. As I recall, Maryland was the state that people went to in order to get married at 15 or 16, but they didn't make it that far from Rochester, NY.

      Both families--the father's and hers--had come to see the baby, a son. The father also came alone. He was not deserting his girlfriend or his baby. Yet when she left the hospital, it appeared that the baby would be given up. When I went to sign my termination papers at the agency, I asked my social worker what they did in the end. She said the couple came into sign, and went to say goodbye to the baby one last time. Instead of signing termination papers, they took their baby home. It had been clear that both families--the girl's and the boy's--were going to be supportive.

      I have often thought of them. I was so into "better life" with older, married parents, at the time I thought they made the wrong decision. Time soon changed my mind. They made the right decision.

    4. Another BSE practice that has rarely been mentioned, was the "planned shotgun wedding/subsequent annulment/with relinquishment of baby"...which I recall hearing about in my youth. Then I saw it happen to people I knew.
      Couples would be allowed to marry with the idea that the "marriage" would "cover up the illegitimacy" of the child. After the birth, the child could be surrendered. The marriage could be annulled. There would be no legal record of the marriage.The child would disappear into adoption, or be raised by kin in some strange kinship arrangement that might be even more mysterious.
      My father, who was an attorney, explained to me that it was pretty easy for a shotgun wedding/marriage to be annulled due to the fact that such marriages were coercive. If the father(and it often was the father) was "threatened) into marrying, he could still claim coercion and get the marriage annulled.
      Somehow, I don't have any sympathy for those "coerced" fathers.....

      I have also met parents whose own parents broke up the marriage, and forced the relinquishment. Apparently, some states allowed parents of underage(under 21 usually) youths who tried to marry out of state, to annul the marriages.
      I have also heard of situations where the grandparents signed the relinquishment papers in the hospital....and I knew one mother, whose own father took her sons to an agency and relinquished them while she was at work. She was living with her father, who had offered her and the grandchildren a home. He offered to watch them while she worked...

    5. hi kitta, thanks for the thoughtful and informational reply. very interesting. i have read it several times on my phone but have not been anywhere where i can reply - busy with the a parents. have a good holiday everybody !

  10. Robin was right, in the blog I was only addressing the issue of those mothers who refuse initial contact, not those who end or walk away after reunion.

  11. Marriage, in and of itself, was not a solution. Two destitute, poverty stricken teenagers without an ounce of family support or decent employment opportunities did not hold promise of a rosy future for anyone.

    1. You're' right. Young teens absolutly need family support.

  12. Kitta, thanks for posting that listing of the weird permutations of legitimacy that occurred during the "good old days." Florence Fisher's natural parents were married but the marriage dissolved shortly after at her mother's, or her mother's parents, behest, and Florence was given up for adoption. When she found her mother, the woman initially said she wasn't her mother, but left her wallet behind in the restaurant. She admitted that indeed she was Florence's mother. Their relationship was rocky. When Florence found her father, he welcomed Florence and they had a wonderful relationship. He had never wanted the marriage to dissolve; I don't remember if it was an annulment or a divorce. Without knowing the history it is impossible to understand the conditions under which under which some were given up because those situations sound so medieval.

  13. Following is a link to a heartwarming story:


  14. Colleen O'Grady JohnsonJanuary 5, 2017 at 7:25 PM

    As an Adoption Search Angel who strives to locate and reunite birth moms and adoptees, I have solved 196 cases. I have experienced everything - birth moms who 'turtle' when I approach them about their child, birth moms who scream at me for interfering, birth moms who cry out with joy at the first mention of their child. There is one thing that is common to all cases - FEAR. Birth moms are afraid, and rightfully so. Many were shamed, forced to move away from home, and stigmatized. The trauma from being ostracized never leaves them. That's precisely the reason I'm not surprised at any mom's reaction. (Not to say that making a phonecall to a birthmom has become easy for me; I do gulp a large glass of wine before I dial that number.) I have so many beautiful stories of reunions, many of them involve reluctant birth moms who, after many hours of discussion and reassurance over the phone, agree to let me arrange contact with the child they gave up. More often then not, these women need someone to talk to ... they need to know that they made the right decision at that time, that they acted in the best interest of their child, that they should be proud of bringing a new life into this world and that people understand and are far more forgiving than in the past. I plan on writing a book about these reunions, both positive and negative. Here's an article that was written several years ago: http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2015/06/15/former-woodstonian-colleen-ogrady-johnson-helps-reunite-adoptees-with-their-biological-families-and-birth-moms-connect-with-their-children

  15. I made telephone contact with my birth mother this past June. She had me in 1966 and according to what I found out she married my birth father....they are still married. However, she denied over the phone that I was his even though my adoption non identifying info matches all his descriptions and according to my intermediary after I found her on my own confirming his name on my original birth certificate. So I don't know if she is lying to me about him not being my Dad. They went on to have 4 more children (one died in 2011)...I found all this on my own but my birth mom and I talked for 20 minutes...I heard sentences like..."It caused a big problem with my family." "I don't know how I would ever tell my children." "That was a very long time ago." "I've worked hard to move on." "You were a very pretty baby." Her final words to me...."Lori, you may hear from me again or you may not if you do it will not be for a very long time." Stinging heartbreak....and now I just glimpse at Facebook pages of her and her children and sometimes the extended family I have found who live just within miles of me and wonder....why? Why can't she see I'm a good person, she did what she had to do. I am not angry...I just want to know....I want to know them. I told her that I think she might like me and my children. One thing I noted was the lack of emotion in her voice...not mad, sad, happy or excited. I'm not going to lie it hurt like hell after that phone call...it's less now but the pain is still very real.

    1. Lori, I am so so sorry. Of course the pain is real. Since she never told her other children, she can't imagine doing so now. Jane, who blogs with me here, had to tell her 3 other adult daughters about her first. Women like your mother need counseling to help them understand that life without such a secret is so much better. Some women swallowed the teachings of the time that they had to "forget" and buried the fist child so deeply in their consciousness that they can't pry it open and let light in. I know my words are inadequate to the pain.

      However, if you read more at the blog, you will see that you do have a right to know your sisters if you want. I know it is hard to recover from what you heard, but you might give her time and then let her know that you intend to contact your siblings. Not out of hate for her, but for yourself. You might tell her why you are doing it before in as kind a way, but determinedly, as possible. Fingers crossed for you.

    2. Lorraine,
      Thank you for your response. I don't think I could ever meet my siblings without knowing her first. I would feel like I am betraying her secret. I long to know them, however, I am so afraid to make her angry and what she may say to them and how I have disturbed the family dynamics. I guess I can only hope she has a change of heart or, unfortunately, passes away or suffers from dementia before I get to meet these 2 sisters and 1 brother I have discovered after all these many years. Thanks you again for your kind and compassionate words.

    3. Meet your siblings. You have a right and as I found out from my husband's experience. They felt jibbed that they were not aware of him sooner. My husband's birth mother has rejected him. She is 85 and cannot deal with the trauma of the past. My husband has bonded with his older sister and it has been very fulfilling for him. Please reach out. Your birth mother had a child. It is a fact. You have a right to know your birth family.

  16. Some just want the additional intrusion and issues in their lives. My cousin is conflicted. Several friends of hers who did reunite with their children they gave up have had problems and heartaches when they just didn't need any more at that age. Not too many cases, where the reunion becomes a full family. Things like inheritance and family obligations come into the picture too. Also the entire thing could have been a big bad memory that is not something that anyone wants resurrected. I would not, I know

    1. Some just want the additional intrusion and issues in their lives--Rebecca, did you mean, Some just DON'T want the additional intrusion and issues in their lives?

      I understand all you say but giving someone life should mean that they are at least entitled to know their true story. Relationships (and inheritances, etc) are two-way streets, but everyone deserves to know where they came from, even if it doesn't turn out the way you want it.

  17. When hearing things like, 'I don't hold any judgement toward her now', that was in the past'(saw that in a local news story), or 'she did what she had to do'(when it was not her choice AT ALL), 'she made the """best decision""" she could at the time'(once again often was not any kind of "decision" on the mothers part), or 'I want to thank her for giving me life' (as if we contemplated abortion, NO), or any of a 100 other things that mother's hear and read prior to any reunion or possible reunion....or even after years of the mother herself searching and running into continual stone walling, the pain of having to endure more lies and pain in having to listen to the shitty myths and lies that have been indoctrinated into our kids by the prevailing adoption win-win-win, I think, is more than some mothers can survive literlly. The ones that were forced to give up their babies and have to endure that congitive dissonance mind mess that no-one cares to hear once again putting the mother in the position of you give it all and get over it and the 'let me (adoptee) tell you how it was'.

    How many mothers go along to get along with their reunited child and hold back the tears and heart-aching grief that threatens to drop them where they stand because they /we don't want to add any more burden to these sons and daughters? Once again putting ourselves on the floor and letting the status quo narrative walk all over us... again. I think some mothers see that and know up front they can not endure it. More grief for the adoptee, oh yes, adoption is such a healthy, beautiful, wonderful thing. (not)

    I'm rambling, maybe some will understand. The point is, maybe if the lies and the myths were not ingrained in society, if adoptive parents and social workers would stop telling adoptees all the sugar coated shit that they come back saying to us that doesn't even touch the truth of what happened or how (but oh we're so grateful to even know our children exist that we accept what we're told) I think some women just can't handle it. It's like an incest or rape victim being told 'you asked for it' or 'get over it', or 'it never happened', how cruel to the soul is that? Does that make a way for healing?

    How is a mother supposed to 'heal herself', as I've heard some say, when she's kept trapped in this prison of lies and myths? Lies make a person sick. Who wants to be sick? If you can't get the truth you have to keep the door closed or close the door later on that reality. If you have to live with lies, why not keep living in the lie that the surrendered child isn't ours? That we never gave birth to that child. They don't exist. They vanished into thin air and we became non humans. Don't be so surprised that some mothers....just can't be. The trauma and pain is too deep to survive. yeah adoption.

    Can people see how much this hurts?

    Edna you said it all so well. So true.

    1. Thank you Cindy, rambling yes, but stream-of-consciousness true.

    2. I cringe when I hear 'I don't hold any judgement toward her now', that was in the past,'she did what she had to do', 'she made the """best decision""" she could at the time', or 'I want to thank her for giving me life'. Add to that "I want to find my birth mother so I can thank her for giving me the wonderful life I've had."

      The adoption industry must have originated this stuff to perpetuate the myth that mothers make rational decisions and give up their children because they love them sooooo much.

    3. Lorraine, you're welcome. The rambling is coming from the distress of the recent stories in the news of the adoptive mother and her boyfriend and all the vile things did, including murder of their adopted daughter. Plus what her ex-husband did. Auugh! Then the story of the woman that stole the newborn 18 years ago. That one just hits too close to home in the way adoption is and how the child is never truly, fully ours again. Some of the comments of, "well she raised her well", "she raised her with love" send me into a tailspin. How is it love and raising a child well when you lie to them everyday, when you 'steal' the child from their real parents everyday (because you could return the child...but ya won't)? How is it love when you can't or won't look down the road for the day when/if the stolen child learns the truth and has to try to keep from coming unglued? I'm so sick and tired of the "she's the only mother/they're the only parents the child knew". Something for them all to remember is, the mother that the child is taken from at birth ***is the only mother the child has ever known***. They cry wanting that mother until they -give up- and surrender to the needs of survival.

      So right Jane. Cringe is the right word from feeling the need to recoil from the blow. I completely forgot the one you mentioned. "I want to find my birth mother so I can thank her for giving me the wonderful life I've had." It translates to, "I would have been worse off/or had an awful life with you". For many of us parents we could easily respond with, "don't thank me, thank the social workers, the doctor, the church and oh don't forget to thank your grandmothers/gparents." All those folks you should thank as they made it happen, don't thank me, I wanted no part of it."

      Then there are those that thank you or 'forgive you' then tell you they were abused by their adoptive parents. What kind of cognitive dissonance are these adoptees enduring for the sake of 'not trying to hurt anybody's feelings'?

      Personally, I think adoptive parents need to find some greater strength and greater emotional maturity to endure, as we biological/real/first/parents are expected to do, the slings and arrows of the real emotions and feelings of the adoptee. Maybe if the adoptee was allowed to be REAL, true, honest with feelings from childhood on, there would be fewer with the distress and splitting
      /fracturing of self, that so many adoptees (attempt to?) endure and overcome.

      Sorry, just like a river in flood, going all over the place. ..and some folks wonder why the (biological/real/first) mother's are found such a mental mess. A few folks who commented on the stolen child story get it how being involutarily separated from your newborn infant could leave a woman a mental wreck...just not in the case of adoption. Why is that? What is different between the two? Truth be told, not much other than the fairy tale that we all "made a loving adoption plan".

    4. Cindy, you may never read this reply, but I do want to thank you for telling it like it is. We need people like you. As Lorraine said, sometimes a stream of consciousness tells the greatest truth. Too often, we hold back because we are afraid of offending someone.

  18. Love ya Lorraine but a lot of these are just excuses. Some are just heartless and would rather blame their baby they gave away instead of acting like a grownup.

  19. they cannot handle it,

    Too bad. They must.

  20. he story of a child's conception may be less than pretty, and the mother find it horrifying to have to relive the story, which is likely to happen if she meets the child. Through Facebook I've encountered women who were gang raped; women who were sexually assaulted by near strangers, or someone they dated; and women who don't know who the father is.

    And your point is? I have zero sympathy for the first mothers, including rape survivors, who act like this to their adopted out child because it's 100% blaming the baby, now adult.

  21. The shame they imbued at the time of birth and separation comes back in their minds as an encompassing fog that they can not revisit, even for their child.

    They can. They choose not to. So everyone has to be miserable cos of their self centeredness.

  22. To anyone who has zero empathy: "Walk a mile in [her] moccasins." Mary T Lathrop, 1895



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