' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Adoption--Is it the new normal?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Adoption--Is it the new normal?

Is adoption "normal?" The question isn't asked because of course adoption is not normal--in the normal order, babies stay with their mommies and daddies are nearby, one hopes, if not actually right there changing diapers and sharing the middle-of-the-night feedings.

But adoption seems so prevalent today that it no longer seems abnormal. In my world, everyone knows someone who has adopted, or who is adopted, or who is thinking about adopting.

Consider: The other night I learned that a woman I see a couple of times a year at some gathering--and is a rather well known psychotherapist in New York--is adopted.  While she herself is almost certainly not ancestrally Jewish, she keeps a kosher household and according to our mutual acquaintances, has made clear that she is most decidedly NOT interested in learning the identity of her natural parents.

One of the workers who moved us into our new house was a young man. I had a couple of conversations with the black men who moved us about how we had moved into an integrated neighborhood from an all-white one, and about my growing up in a racist Northern community (Dearborn, Michigan) in the Fifties and Sixties. At some point when this young man and I were alone, he announced--without knowing my connection to adoption--that he was adopted from Trinidad and writing a book about his experience.  I asked him how his adoption came to be, and he said that he had been sexually abused in Trinidad, and he made the decision himself to separate and seek a new life here in America, for which he was grateful. I've got to find his email address which he left me because after I told him my connection to adoption, he wanted to be in touch.

A week or so ago I learned that one of my husband's cousins found her biological family through DNA. I don't know how that is going, but an adoptee in my village found her father's family (he is deceased) through DNA, and her relationship to dogs (which was evident by her Facebook postings--she has a dog-care business) is part of the family's acceptance to her. Even before the DNA results came back, when her uncle saw her involvement with dogs via Facebook, he said, I guess there's no doubt...as that whole extended family has posts of themselves with their canine friends. She's been invited to their family reunion; I urged her to go--and take her dog. He will certainly be an ice-breaker.

A close friend of mine (Jennifer, in Hole In My Heart) involved in search-and-reunion recently sat next to a woman on her way back to Detroit to pick up a baby she is adopting in the hospital; it will be, at the adoptive mother's insistence, an open adoption. It would have been otherwise because, it turned out, the biological mother (who has five other children) had been reluctant to ask for openness--less that upset the adoption to this particular woman. But when the prospective adoptive mother said she wanted an open adoption, she admitted that was her preference. For sure that exchange alone shows how modern adoption is changing for the good. 

For adoptees growing up, this normalization is a good thing.  At school, they don't have to feel like the odd kid out--someone else is the class is probably also adopted; teachers, I presume, are more careful about sending the class home with the assignment to do a family tree, or at least talk about the different kind of families there are. Two daddies, two mommies, sperm-donor babies, adopted, one parent, divorced parents, etc. Television has shows like Modern Family and This Is Us have adoption as a running plot line. Adoption as a theme had gone way beyond Lifetime movies. 

But the overarching problem with the normalization of adoption is that it will lead to more adoptions. We believe at FMF that except in the most trying of situations, women who have babies should keep them. Yet as more states are dominated by conservative Republicans, abortions are harder to get unless you are affluent enough to travel far, stay overnight, submit to anti-bortion "counseling," etc. I recently heard on NPR that seven states have only one adoption provider. And the "adoption not abortion" line is repeated as if the two were equal, as if adoption did not cause such emotional devastation to the primary participants, mothers and children. While some rail against our pro-abortion stance, consider that nearly a third of women who give up a child to adoption will never have another; surely many would have had children they keep, individuals who would grow up always being secure with their first mommy and first families, people who look and act like them.

Update since first posting this morning : Met a friend for a drink this afternoon. Another friend of hers is there also. She is an adoptive mother who decided 19 years ago not to seek an open adoption because she "couldn't handle it," she said, she would "get too involved with the birth mother." I stayed for a while, I was polite, I left. (I have written about her before.) 

Adoption is becoming the new normal. We might know all the problems it causes, but because of the tidal wave of adoption engulfing the world today, it feels unavoidable. At least more adoptees will be raised not in the secrecy of the past, but in open adoptions. Yet despite that, relinquishment by one mother and adoption into a new family will always cause a sense of dislocation and abandonment to a varying degree. Some will feel that adoption loss greater than others. That is unavoidable; humans are humans with feelings and thoughts; we are not fungible beings.--lorraine

Ah! Moving. It has been traumatic to say the least. My husband and I lived in the same house since 1983, and until I moved to a home that was closet-deficient (this one), I was unaware of how much stuff we had collected over the years by going to yard sales, antique stores, and the like. Dear Reader, it has been a revelation.

Even a yard sale, admittedly cobbled together quickly, and bags and bags of stuff donated to thrift shops, only scratched the surface. Then we moved into a house with some of the furniture left, by design. Only after getting here did I realize I didn't want the furniture! I am in the process of getting rid of it, and getting new stuff (not new as in from the factory, but in new as new to us) as this house is modern; the last was an Arts and  Crafts house built in 1930. Our old furniture and decorative items seems out of place here.

Yet I find myself thrilled to be getting rid of and finding the new for this modern house. Tony and I both have gotten into the decorating; for us, the move has been rejuvenating. I've been a modern girl all along, and am able to release the hidden person who wanted modern fixings since I was say, twelve, when I first became aware of moderne. And I'm loving it.

Reunited: An Investigative Genealogist Unlocks Some of Life's Greatest Family Mysteries
by Pamela Slaton

In this poignant and heartwarming narrative, renowned genealogist Pamela Slaton tells the most striking stories from her incredibly successful career of reconnecting adoptees with long-lost birth parents
After a traumatic reunion with her own birth mother, Pamela Slaton realized two things: That she wanted to help other adoptees have happier reunions with their birth families, and that she had the unique skill to do so – a strong ability to find what others could not.


  1. A thoughtful perspective, Lorraine... thank you. Normal is (and will always be) in the eye of the beholder, however, our perspective is that adoption overall is on the wane and will continue in that direction (even as child abuse statistics and child protection numbers, sadly, continue to rise.) Yet as we all know, adoption is no "cure" for child abuse anymore than infertility is a "cure" for unplanned pregnancy. The normalization of openness and transparency in adoption practices is perhaps the silver lining in all of this, yet open adoption does not cancel out adoption loss, and it is vital that we continue to educate the society around us about this important truth, to ensure that the needs of adoptees are kept at the forefront for as long as adoption does endure.

  2. "Some will feel that adoption loss greater than others."
    No, some will be in the fog at different times than others. Not feeling is a sign of the fog...

  3. We have no idea how this open adoption thing is going to work out. I we supposed to visit our mothers on the weekends like they are zoo animals? I guess this is like after a divorce.

    Look adoptive parents, just help my mom keep me. Is that so hard?

  4. The genealogist pictured in the book cover above"Reunited" is the one who found my son several years ago. We never met in person, so it's interesting to see what she looks like. I was given her name and number She was going to be in my area and I offered to take her out for lunch , but she declined .Anyway-all's well that ends well and I'm glad things have worked out well for her and my reunion has been good as well

  5. Glad you're back Lorraine! - missed you during your move. Re the psychotherapist who is "most decidedly not interested in learning the identity of her natural parents,"many professionals in the psychiatric field, I have learned, have chosen this career in an effort to work out their own angst, so not surprisingly some continue a rigid either/or outlook. Years ago, when in group therapy myself, I revealed privately that I had surrendered my child and have deep regrets. Her response was that I ought to accept this as a good thing. Later I learned she was an adoptive mother. So it pays to research, before blindly "surrendering" your pain and regret to any therapist. Normalizing adoption continues to relegate women as mere producers of human beings for others deemed more worthy without any consideration for the new findings on infant and mother bond and separation trauma. So many of us natural moms learned too late the depth of the attachment and damage experienced by both baby and mother. I understand that there are those who truly benefit from loss of parents and family. This is, however, not what I see driving adoption. The adoption industry/system is subject to mass abuse in human trafficking, religious moral mandates, familial expectations and rejection, economic deprivation, human rights, inappropriate government influence and unethical laws passed due to pressure from lobbyists positioned by senators with affluent, salivating constituents working to crush women with little support and means from rising up. Rising up is, however, exactly what we need to do. One look at the technological robotizing of our world is clearly a strong message that dehumanization is the goal. The ongoing success with test tube babies, frozen eggs, surrogate mothering, etc., is driven by demand and profit, and there is no stopping the powers that be in continuing "grow" humans without a human female involved, while the designation of Mother and Father wil also l become obsolete. Thank you for your research and support for all of us women past and present experiencing the abomination of adoption. As a mother, I appreciate your tireless work in keeping a bright light on the darkness of adoption.

    1. I had my third and last session with a therapist today. I did not ask to meet with him. I saw a new GP for weight, depression and being tired. I told the Dr that I was adopted. Seeing this guy was part of the treatment options and was a no cost.

      He spent almost the whole session trying to get me to say that I was angry at my mother and and that I was wrongly putting the aggression (displaced aggression) on my Amom. I was very clear that I knew who made me angry and about what and that just because I was against adoption and spoke out about it, did not make me angry.

      Now I have spent the rest of the day angry at him. The only consolation is that I do not ever have to see him again. I am way down the road of healing from this evil and my thyroid was out of whack.

    2. Thank you, whirling dervish. And Yose Mite...I tried therapy once but it was the wrong thing for me. Writing was my way.

  6. I struggle to envision a "silver lining. The child abuse statistics you mention, do they include research studies for child abuse/murder to adoptees, and violence/murder by adult adoptees? Meanwhile I would attribute abuse and violence as a symptom of our culture which condones violence toward others as a norm. We are experiencing acts of open violence in the news and comedy world as
    never before.

  7. I wonder how this degree of normalization will affect the reunions between first mothers and their lost children? My reunion with my child born in 1969 was largely unsuccessful due to her unrelenting anger toward me despite repeated apologies from me and a failed attempt to describe life in the 60’s. If my now adult child could not understand the obstacles I, and all the other women in the same boat faced, then imagine how a child born today might feel in 15 or 20 years! Back in the day when I surrendered to adoption (my child tells people she was abandoned and tossed out like a piece of trash in a dumpster), I felt, thanks to my social worker, that I was making a huge sacrifice by allowing my child to have a much better life than I could provide as I had no job, no money, no family support, no place to live and my boyfriend was facing the prospect of going to Vietnam. Many people forget this Vietnam factor, but for those of us who were affected, it was significant. On December 1, 1969, the Selective Service System of the United States conducted two lotteries to determine the order of call to military service in the Vietnam War for men born from 1944 to 1950. These lotteries occurred during a period of conscription from just before World War II to 1973. Additionally, the teenagers like myself had limited access to information so of course we were unable to make informed choices. I actually, again thanks (sarc) to my social worker, expected my child to feel “thankful” for having giving her a better life. I never, ever expected to be ridiculed for my decision and then treated like crap when reunion became a reality.

    1. Sarah, I was told the same things: that I would ruin my son's life if I kept him, that it would be completely selfish if I did so, and that he would definitely have an absolutely wonderful life if I relinquished him for adoption. I was also told by the social worker that I was just a vessel, and that the adoptive parents (though yet to be chosen) were the real parents.

      I gave my son up because I believed I wasn't good enough to be his mother (I was 16); and because I believed he would have a happy life if I did so (and have his life ruined if I didn't).

      It really angers me when I hear those repeated images - 'thrown out in the trash/just walked away' and all variants of that. That was not my experience or intention, nor that of many many women like yourself.

      I actually think that odious imagery has been subtly promoted by those awful adoptive parents out there who will do anything to destroy the connection between a mother and child. Apparently, my son's female adopter used to point to unappealing women in their street and say 'Would you like HER to be your mother instead of me?'. Suggesting to his mind that I might be just like them.

      To keep on with the 'thrown away' imagery is to completely disregard what women have been saying so repeatedly and for so long. It is to disregard the Magdalene Laundries scandal, the Australian Apology for Forced Adoption, the UK apology from the Church (not yet from the State) and the multiple books written by those women who experienced the BSE and also the later Coercion Era. I also think it reiterates what many adoptees erroneously think about themselves - that they were worthless and uncared for, when mothers like me were psychlogically tortured by the terrible choice: keep and ruin your child's life, or relinquish and lose your child. That is absolute torture.

    2. Oh Sarah, sad to hear your story and others like it. They do make me aware that though my daughter had issues and our relationship had periods of silence (from her), it was smoother and closer than most. Maybe because I found her when she was 15, and we reunited then with her parents' blessing.

      Yes, I do wonder how adoptees who were adopted in today's mileau or in the last two decades will react to reunion. It is hard to explain the level of desperation that at least my generation felt, and since so much information about the issues of adoption to both adoptees and mothers has been available since the mid-Seventies if you looked for it, I don't have a clue how those adoptees will react. Educated guess: it will be a very personal reaction, some of it depending on how the adoptive parents handle it. I keep thinking of the educated adoptive parents who are "surprised" their children are not in the least interested in their natural origins. Don't they realize that is obviously an unreal construct? Shaped by their environment, that is, what they intuit about being adopted by their parents, and how the parents would react. Too many grow up stifling the natural instinct of genetic curiosity to not "kill" their adoptive parents.

      I feel a new blog coming on, but it won't be today.

    3. Mid-Seventies is wrong; I meant mid-eighties. ! Quell difference!

  8. Hi - haven't posted in a while, but have been keeping on reading here!

    I, too, started having thyroid problems when I started looking for my daughter... Went from 160 lbs to 97!! Yikes! But it's all cleared up, took some pills for 6 months. That really put a stress on me - looking for her, finding her, and having no communication what so ever since our "initial" contact. It's been 10 years.... But my door is always open whenever she would like to come in! 2 more years and she'll be 50!! Wow! 50 years ago.... I have put together a letter of updates - mostly medical stuff for a 50 year birthday email. I do get to see pictures of her and her family - Facebook! Just can't get over how much she looks like me!

    Hope you are getting settling into your new home Lorraine! And buying new (to you) furniture is always fun! I recently moved half way across the world, so I know how moving goes!

  9. Lorraine, welcome back. Congratulations on your move. My husband and I have done something similar, but we have moved across the country to be nearer to my younger son and his family. We moved to a city that is a few hours away from where he lives. It has made it easier to visit them; things are not going along at a very steady clip, but it is definitely going somewhere. Best wishes to you and all at FMF.

  10. I am adopted. I can remember so many times in my youth people would comment about how I didn't look like anyone else in my family. The other annoying thing was school teachers and church people who, upon learning I was adopted, tried to give me impromptu therapy about how special I was and how should really feel good about myself even though I was adopted. They brought it up, not me. I think that happens less now to adoptees. It's so normal people minimize emotional issues.

    For the past year my husband and I have been parenting a 16 year-old male who is a different race than us. We are not adopting, but we are the legal parents. A judge signed a court order giving us full custody until he is 18 (similar to a legal guardianship arrangement). Anyways, I've been pleasantly surprised at how accepting strangers are of him as my son. Neither he nor I appear to be bi-racial at all. I doubt anyone assumes we are biologically related, yet no one stares or questions.

    At his request, I introduce him to people as my son. The alternative would be to introduce him as just a kid who lives with us, but then he feels like a waif. No one has ever asked him or me if he is adopted.They seem totally accepting of me as the mother. This is as true when we are with white people as when we are with black people.

  11. Great blog post Lorraine. As usual, you provide distinctive food for thought on this crazy journey. So glad you are back! Yeah 😊

  12. I find it possible to be against adoptions that are coerced and not necessary, yet I see the concept of wishing adoption were seen as "abnormal"or "unnatural" problematic. Dividing human actions and ways of living this way ignores the complexity of human relations and creates a black/white good/bad dichotomy. Even the idea that everything "natural" is good and pure and harmless is false. Nature is indeed "red in tooth and claw", and many natural substances like arsenic can kill you.

    Society considering something unnatural or abnormal does not stop that behavior, it just drives it underground to the shadow world of secrets, lies, shame and suffering. Look at prohibition, the war on drugs, the way GLBT people were treated when all those things were considered abnormal and anti-social.

    In general it seems a good thing for anyone involved with adoption that it has become normalized. Less stigma on adoptive families and natural parents is a good thing. What is not good is that it has been mythologized into a fairytale solution with no problems and no pain that is always the best choice. That is just not true. That is what we really are working towards, not to make adoption and adoptive families be seen as abnormal. After all, how much would any of us feel if there were a campaign to make our kind of family, whatever that is, abnormal and "less than" whatever someone decided was the norm? Adoption is not going to go away even if it were not seen as normal by society. It would just go underground, left to unscrupulous brokers and those who could pay the highest dollar for the top commodity, and we would be back to the days when adoptive parents did not tell their children they were adopted because it was shameful, and adoptees and natural mothers would also be back to the world of closets and shame.We do not really want that.

  13. My cousin and I were discussing this today - she is an adoptive parent and I a First Mother. When the statement was made that pro-life was not about life, but birth, I replied that it was also a way to provide unlimited babies to a multibillion dollar industry. For the first time ever, she stated calmly that "while I would not have admitted this or wanted to even believe this years ago - it is the truth! It is about providing babies to people - not about what is good for the babies." I almost fell out of my chair. While they did not adopt infants, and never would have, it was a surprise to hear her say that she agreed.

    Others have stated that their child has "unrelenting" anger - this does not surprise me. My daughter is now facing her own fear - she is the unwanted mother as her son has booted her out of his life - abandoned his newly married, very pregnant wife and made sure that no one that is in his life will help the girl. My daughter set the stage for this.... her anger. I reached out and will help my great-grandson, his mother and half brother as much as possible. I fell so sad for the whole mess.... nothing that was promised when they were busy tearing us apart.

    1. Lori, it is so wonderful that you have reached out to your future great-grandson's mom. It is good that you are trying to break the cycle, even as your daughter and grandson seem determined to perpetuate it.

      Congratulations on the upcoming addition to your family!!

    2. Steve, I actually was raised that family was the most important thing.... this is my family. Thank you so much. I know that if my daughter finds out or her son, it will be a nightmare.... but I won't leave the girl trapped by what I know is going on.

  14. Lori, So sorry to hear what you are enduring. It comes as no surprise though as this is the "gift" (not!) that keeps on giving from separating mothers/parents and their infants and children. This is the "best interest of the child" shining through.

    I would to God that these unlearned (deliberately or otherwise) would see what this shit does. They (promoters, agencies, most adoptive parents, the media and others) want to sing the adoption idol's praises while blinding themselves to the reality that in so. very. many. cases it is not in the *best* interest of the child, or any other children in the future.

    My dad packed soooo much rage from being surrendered and adopted. We ALL (everyone in the family, extended, stepkids, etc.) paid a very heavy price for "his best interest" once upon a time. Only it wasn't *his* best interest. It was my grandparents having a lot of difficulty and instead of anyone helping THEM, someone decided to move the child to my grandfathers step-sister and her husband (who could not have their own child). My dad hated his parents for that. HATED them until near the end of his life when he started to make peace (mentally) with his dad. Lotta good that did the rest of us. We are all still picking up the shattered pieces.

    But then an angry adoptee is JUST an anomaly...right? What child wouldn't be angry!? If these clueless ones that promote this garbage would take some time and put themselves in that position... or just listen to the adoptees and their children for once.

    There was a song from way back I can't remember if the title is the same as the line I remember but it went something like; "listen to the children while they play, skip a rope". It might be the title was 'Skip a Rope'. Sadly, so-called adults do not care to listen to children and they blunder on ahead dragging those children into oblivion with them. "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!"

    This practice damages so many families for generations and I AM QUITE SURE that any so called cost benefit of separating a single /poor /young/ destitute mother/parents from her/their child instead of providing for them is less than a drop in the bucket compared to future costs to all involved, including society and the government, monetary and otherwise. They are blind to what this practice does to many generations and ultimately, society as a whole.

    1. Probably you mean Henson Cargill's "Skip A Rope", (1968).

    2. Thank you, Cindy. I appreciate your thoughts. I am quietly watching the world of my daughter and her sons - from a somewhat distant seat - and realizing that my daughter's mental health (emotional) issues are firmly seated in her rage at the adoption, adoptive parents and her life experiences. None of which I had a choice in and none of which I can fix. Unfortunately, her subsequent abandonment of her sons (she fled an abusive relationship and could not take them - her story), is nothing more than a continuation of that pattern. Because she is unable to understand, with any depth, that my "signing away my rights" was not voluntary and that no matter what happened in life, she has more value than what others placed on her, she is never going to let go of all the behaviors that perpetuate the problems. At least this is what I see.

      A couple of years ago, the grandson came to live with me - and his behaviors mirrored his absentee mother's behaviors almost to a "t". So, when he left, while I will always love him, it was a relief in some ways and heartbreaking in others - I cried for days.

      This new baby, I will do everything in my power to make sure that baby stays with the mom - even if it means taking on my daughter and her son and the group of crazies that are "family" to them. I want to break the cycle and make sure my family has a chance to survive this craziness.... I have seen too many fail.

    3. Theodore, I'm not sure which artist it was for sure. I think it might have been Bobby Bare's version. Dad had a lot of BB's music. I heard '500 miles away from home' so often that, sigh, now I wonder if adoption and being away from *true home* had something to do with that. That goes for a lot of Dad's other favs. too.
      Back in a minute....

      I went and looked up '500 miles away from home' and it was Bobby Bare. Oh God, all I could remember of the song was the refrain and when I saw the actual lyrics the tears started pouring down my face. The words are heartbreaking for mommy's and their (grown) babies. Oh Daddy, I wish you were still here so I could tell you how much I love you and let's talk about how shitty adoption is, and how much I wanted my son and I know with all my heart your mommy wanted you too!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm soooo sorry 5 generations of our family have been blasted apart by this, this..thing!

      Lori, It is so very hard to want to 'make everything better' but how do we fix what we did not break when those that did break (us apart) won't say so and continue to do everything in their power to lay the fault entirely at our feet by the narrative they continue to spew and put out in the msm? Our children grew up hearing the p.a.l. version. When so much of the .....oh, what's the use? They (the main, controlling narrative) are big, bad and strong and powerful... we are not. They cannot allow the *dark side* (aka the reality and truth) to come into the light for it would end much of this practice when it is shown to cause so much lasting harm, for so many and is, in fact, not a goody, goody feel good (except for those on the receiving end?) but something that is so damaging, hurtful and wrong for children and their mothers and fathers and families on down the line. Sorry for rambling. Seeing so many mothers and their children and grandchildren suffering. and. for. what!? just, oh when will it end?

      Oh Lori, I so very much hope for the very best for you and new baby and mom! With all my heart I hope. I think I understand what you mean about the relief (of distance) and heartbreak that all this was so unnecessary and not at all what we wanted and this is broken and it SHOULDN'T BE. This is so hard. hugs.

  15. Yes, adoption is normal. Has been for years and years. My mother, over 90 years old, spoke of those adopting back when she was a child. Not new at all.

    1. Over 90 years ago an adopted person's original birth certificate was not sealed. There is nothing normal about sealing and locking away a grown adult's right to have 'their' own information about where they came from and their heritage. No one but an adopted person has this scenario happen to them. There is nothing normal about sealed OBC's, which makes adoption completely 'abnormal'.

  16. In Sweden, abortions are both free and legal, also we have a welfare-system supporting those in need so if a young woman gets pregnant she can either get support to keep it or have a free abortion. National adoptions in Sweden are extremely rare and needless to say we don't have any adoption agencies, I think that gives one a hint of how few women gives their child away for adoption is other options are availible.

    1. Thanks for the information. The Swedes are ahead of Americans in so many ways!



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