' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Another adoptee suicide makes the news

Monday, July 3, 2017

Another adoptee suicide makes the news

There was a time when adoptee suicide was a matter for other people. I could hear about this one or that, and feel it was part of some "other" category than the one I was in: first mother, found daughter, complicated relationship.

My found daughter was alive; struggling, yes, but making a life. After more than the usual share of hiccups--epilepsy, sexual abuse by someone part of her unofficial adoptive family, a neurosis that led to continual untruthfulness, a daughter she gave up to be adopted--slowly but surely she emerged on the other side. Now she was happily married, and had a smart and sassy daughter who did not share her emotional or physical problems. After being shuttled off to learning-disabled math classes in high school, now she had an
associate degree with honors from a community college. She won a Toastmasters award for a humorous speech. Yet she had trouble hanging onto any but the most menial jobs; despair from that was always lurking around every corner. Despite that, there were times when she was clear and cogent and quite smart. She organized and ran--completely by herself--a benefit for the Epilepsy Foundation in Madison,Wisconsin, and all seemed pretty well. When I interviewed and taped her for the memoir I would later write, she was perceptive and honest about her feelings about adoption, and that chat and her words became a chapter in Hole In My Heart.

All that was not quite a mirage, but eventually, it was clear she was hanging on by a thread. She had made a couple of feeble attempts at suicide, once took so many Tylenols to help her sleep in a 24 hour period she was hospitalized for a week. She saw a therapist; she was given some anti-depressant. In 2007, six months after the successful benefit, she committed suicide.

So now when I read of another suicide of an adoptee, I relate more than I did before, no matter where, no matter how, no matter who. Another reunited first mother upon hearing my story wanted to be assured that "adoption" had not been the major factor in my daughter's death. How to answer that? I didn't want to sound crazy, and say, yes, it was the factor, but I did say that it was an important factor, probably the underlying factor.

Consider: The LD classes which trampled her ego left an indelible mark most likely that would not have been her lot; her adoptive mother thought I was probably in a mental institution and had to be convinced that mental illness did not run in my family when we first met. Certainly it was easier to let her difficult child simply go off to those LD classes, than get to her considerable brain underneath the fog of anti-seizure medication. The man who abused her would not have been in my daughter's life, and it's pretty clear that he considered her being "not really family" fair game. The lying--an often noticed trait of some adoptees as well as those who have been sexually abused--is likely also to not have been a familiar crutch for her. Her suicide came at a time when she was dealing with severe PMS, something she had inherited from me. Due to modern medicine, I found relief with large doses of simple progesterone, and I had seen it work for her also when she was visiting me once about 15 years before her death. But I, the distant mother, could not convince her that she had the same problem as I did, or to treat it. Then, boom, she was gone. She and I became another kind of statistic.

So today when I read of an adoptee suicide in Korea, I thought, yeah, right--What did the people think when they dislocated so many people and sent them wholesale from one side of the world to another, where everything was foreign, the food, the language, the smells, the sounds, the culture--and then didn't even see that they were properly taken care of? Both the governments of South Korea and the United States, as well as the omnipresent adoption industry in both countries, colluded in the recent suicide of Phillip Clay, 42. According to the New York Times today, after battling bipolar disorder and alcohol and substance abuse, he jumped from the 14th floor of an apartment building north of Seoul.

After being adopted from South Korea to America when Phillip Clay was eight, he had been deported back to South Korea at 37 in 2012. According to the records of Holt Children's Services, he was found abandoned in Seoul in 1981, a fact that may or may not be true, knowing what we know about the lies that the agencies in South Korea fabricated, and Holt did not question, as they exported children willy-nilly from the 1950s on. Estimates of how many children were so adopted abroad from Korea vary from 110,000  (the New York Times number) to 150,000, the estimates of others.

Mr. Clay's first adoption did not work out; within a year he was living with another family. More trauma, more dislocation. Neither family who "adopted" him had bothered with the paperwork to make their "son" a citizen. So after "accumulating a lengthy criminal history dating back nearly two decades--the most serious of which included criminal convictions for robbery and multiple theft and drug-related offenses," he was summarily deported from the U.S. and sent back to the country that gave him up as a child. He arrived as a stranger in a strange land: Phillip Clay did not speak the language, did not know a single person, did not receive appropriate care for his mental problems. Five years later, he jumped out of 14th story window of an apartment building near Seoul. Who can blame him?

In 2000, the U.S. government granted automatic citizenship to children adopted by citizens; but the law did not retroactively do the same for adoptees who were then over 18. No one knows how many unfortunate people fall into this category; in 2015 the New York Times Magazine reported that at least three dozen international adoptees had been deported or were likely to be. South Korea has lobbied to have the U.S. grant citizenship to all adopted before turning 18, but the bill--who's surprised?--has stalled in Congress. Last fall we wrote about another adoptee, Adam Crapser, who had gotten into some trouble as a young man--and also had broken adoptions in his past--but he had turned his life around and when he was deported, left behind a wife and children.

Suicides usually do not have a single cause; many things in a person's life seem to add up to impossible odds. I can tick off the list for my daughter; so can we all for Phillip Clay. But underneath them all is a constant and disturbing theme: adoption. Goggle "adoption and suicide rate" and here is what you find:

Studies have found that the suicide rate of adoptees is four times greater than the suicide rate of non-adoptees. My daughter, Phillip Clay in Korea, all part now of the same sorry statistic. Quite different stories but with the same sad conclusion.--lorraine
Also see:

Adoptees more likely to commit suicide

.....and...to order anything from AMAZON, click on any of the links. Thanks to those who remember First Mother Forum when ordering.

Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful mother daughter memoirApril 21, 2017
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hole In My Heart: A Memoir and Report from the Fault Lines of Adoption (Kindle Edition)
I came to this book looking for adoption memoirs. I was given up for adoption as an infant and this singular act has cast a shade over my entire life. My longing for answers, my curiosity about the woman who made that decision and how her life could ever just continue on without ME.
As an adopted child I have met many other adoptees and we have shared our feelings and desires, but rarely have I ever met a mother so willing to open up and share this experience with me. I found this book to be SO important to me on many levels. I was gratified (as perhaps as shallow as that may sound) to hear about how difficult it was. I never wanted to think giving a child away was easy despite the 1960's era of "putting it all behind you" and I was so grateful she allowed us on this journey to connect with her daughter. Connecting isn't easy, even when you share DNA, but you DO connect on levels you never expected. The similar way your hair falls, the way you wrinkle your nose when you laugh together. What takes longer is the easy banter, that gets more difficult over time, not less.... now where do we go? Ms. Dusky handles this with honesty and compassion. I am forever grateful to hear the mother's side. This book opened my eyes and my heart.


  1. And I wonder how many mothers succumb to the despair of having lost their child - a child who may be their only child. Every holiday, I think of family I have right here in this area and while they are my flesh and blood, we are not together as family. I feel so sad for all of us: mothers and children.

    1. The first mother of Oscar, the baby whom Deborah Lee-Furness and Hugh Jackman adopted, died of over-dose. Perhaps, despair played a big role in her death. DLJ/HJ went on talk shows and were glowing with details of how they adopted Oscar in an open adoption as a newborn. They were all in LA. Within a few years, they move to Australia, so of course that makes it difficult for O's first mom to keep in contact, but what can she do? I think she OD's when Oscar was about 5.

      Henceforth, DLJ is a major endorser of bringing back a version of Aussie's horrific Lost Generation and importing children to meet DLJ's marketing demands.

      Real classy. Not.

    2. No words. Hugs to all.

  2. In May, 2017, there were 3 publicized suicides by international adoptees. One was a teen girl (14) adopted from S.Korea to Western NY; 2) Philip Clay, adopted from and deported back to S.Korea, as mentioned in NYT article; 3) Gabe Proctor, an avid runner, adopted from Ethiopia to Vermont.

    Just last week, June, 2017, another adoptee from S.Korea to Pennsylvania, came to NYC and apparently committed suicide in Times Square.

    And not too many people are aware of this, but one of the 8 children Harry and Bertha Holt adopted, Tae Holt, committed suicide too. Perhaps his suicide was such a blemish on Holt's family record, that his Holt family membership seems to have been erased.

    Too many suicides in adoption, we're definitely survivors, those of us who survive.

    1. K--do you have links to stories about these adoptees? Please email me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com.

  3. I remember reading your daughter's words in "Hole in My Heart." From following you over the years, I knew what was coming and it was a tough read to know where it was all heading. It's helpful that you (and she) share her story of compounded trauma, starting with placement.

    Thanks for this post that recognizes "suicides usually do not have a single cause; many things in a person's life seem to add up to impossible odds." And we also have come to understand that unacknowledged and unaddressed grief from trauma doesn't just go away. You've left me much to think about.

  4. The quotes from studies simply do not mean what they are commonly said to mean. Beyond the fact that small studies don't necessarily apply to different groups of people, i.e. Netherlands is different from America, etc; and the fact that there is mediation by factors known to be associated with suicide, irregardless of adoption status; and the fact that genetics play a role, as seen in studies that find higher risk for suicide in genetic siblings of adoptees; beyond all of that, the absolute risk is not as great as relative risks imply. In short, from the lead author of the oft-quoted 4x-higher study (sounds like a big effect....), "The study's lead author cautioned, however, that the increased risk did not characterize adopted children as a whole. 'The majority of adoptees are psychologically healthy,' Margaret A. Keyes, PhD, told Medscape Medical News. Dr. Keyes is a research associate at the Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. 'With elevated risk, we are talking about a very small number of people.' " It is definitely not true that "...underneath them all (?ALL SUICIDES?) is a constant and disturbing theme: adoption."

    I absolutely agree, suicide cannot be ascribed to a single cause, and listing of various "symptoms" or "risk factors" misses the wholeness of the person, and their context - treating a "disease" fails, addressing the whole person is what is needed. There is basically a kind of presumption and pointlessness in trying to explain what leads a person to this completely personal choice, whose legitimacy must not (but of course always is) be questioned by others, including religions or states. We are all so disconnected from each other in this atomized age, we don't even understand the damage done to all of us by our modern lifestyle, nor how to reach out to support each other. People are afraid to reach out for therapy because of the stigma attached to it, or because of the lack of health insurance. In Robin Williams' words, “There’s a voice that tells alcoholics we can drink,” he told a guffawing audience. “It’s the same voice you hear if you go up to the top of a very large building and look over the side. There’s a little voice that goes, ‘Jump!’ And for someone who has no tolerance for it, that's not the possibility. It's a voice that just lays there, waiting." At some point, some of us find that the voice has gotten more frequent, and we find ourselves in a moment when we simply give in. The woman who wants to be assured that adoption is not the "major factor" in a suicide, is the inverse of the woman who wants to believe that all adoption will lead to to suicide or that all suicide is somehow related to adoption. This is ultimately self-punishment, in my opinion. I'm so very sorry for your loss, and ask you to consider that this argument is bound to cause additional pain to yourself and to other members of the triad. May we all find healing.

  5. I lost my Mother to suicide. We had been reunited for around ten years. I myself, have also considered suicide at some low points in my life.

    My Mother went home after seeing me just once post birth. Submitting her natural desire towards mothering, to the coercive and punitive actions of the church and state.

    Then, I was left alone in a hospital, for three long weeks. A tiny infant, without a primary caregiver. Then my identity was changed and secreted away from me by the state under the threat of law.

    If these things alone, are not a recipe for lifelong emotional and psychological consequences then i don't know what is?

  6. There's some new research in the UK I was reading about that is focused on trying to find predictors of suicide. They've found a link between suppressed cortisol response and suicide ideation. The suppressed cortisol response is owing to chronic stress dysregulatiing the HPA Axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal). Apparently the body typically then uses its sex hormones to manufacture its cortisone instead, leading to sex hormone dysregulation. Chronic stress is the underlying factor. Reading 'the body keeps the score' shows how early trauma changes babies' brains permanently. Biological bases of Primal Wound, I'm wondering..

    1. Thanks Crystal. That's really interesting information. The sad reality is that only those with a vested self interest, would suggest that removing babies from mothers can not result in serious negative consequences for both parties. The critical period when infants are, quite rightly I would suggest, expecting to transition from the womb, into the care of the mother they have been hearing, smelling, feeling in-utero is of vital importance for wiring brain circuitry. History will judge current relinquishment practices as simply barbaric.

      In Australia the peak of the Baby Scoop era was in 1971. Australia saw the youth suicide rate almost double by 1990. Very difficult to research as Death Certs wouldn't show adopted status.

      Only fools would suggests that removing babies from mothers and their families will have no emotional consequences. And then, depending on their genetic markers for mental illness, individuals will react accordingly.

    2. Thank you, DWG. Death certs never show whether adopted or biological family member. That is a pity. Real stats would be useful.

    3. Working toward changing or augmenting statistic gathering practices, could be vital to making these connections. I was surprise to learn that the Donaldson Institute does not push to maintain such statistics as these.

  7. According to the links sent by K, Holt did not want to acknowledge Mr. Clay's death with a service until pushed to do so and then it turned into a debacle.

    Adoptees, at the service Wednesday, raised issues with Holt regarding its handling of Clay's funeral, which may be summed up in three arguments.

    First, they argue that Holt Children's Services had resisted holding the funeral for Clay until the Korea Adoption Services intervened and said it was necessary and co-hosted the event.

    Secondly, the agency refused to have the service in English, the common language for the adoptee community. Even when an official from the Ministry of Health and Welfare pleaded with Holt agency, it allegedly refused. Later, an English translation was provided by an employee of the Korea Adoption Services.

    What sparked the greatest anger happened during Clay's cremation.

    At the cremation, John Compton, a board member of the Korea Adoption Services and a fellow adoptee expressed his discontent with the adoption agency.

    "We stand here today, to honor another fallen adoptee, a life an adoption agency vowed to protect. It is with regret they have failed Phillip."

    He also said that "this funeral is a perfect example that, as adoptees, our best interests are still being ignored."

    for more, http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2017/05/113_230055.html

  8. Well, I just heard about this now, the latest about Phillip Clay...


    On a slightly different issue, too many people getting deported (or threatened with deportation), too many families unnecessarily separated because of where they or other family members were born. Parents, grandparents, teachers, hard-workers, etc. getting threatened with deportation and family separation.

  9. A most important topic and one that provokes an intense amount of annoyance from those who are not adopted as well as those who promote adoption. I have been told most emphatically on several occasions that it is impossible to isolate adoption as the variable that leads a person to commit suicide, and that many other issues could have been the contributing factor. I say "ha!"

    Here are some of what I consider contributing factors...1)Being given away by one's own parents is the most profound rejection any person can experience. Even though in many (most?) cases the n-parent is not in fact rejecting the child, it certainly feels that way. 2) Feeling like the Sword of Damocles is always hanging over one's head by never feeling completely secure and frequently questioning whether the adoptive family is really one's family or only a temporary connection while growing up.

    There are many more damaging effects of adoption, so yes, being adopted itself can most certainly be the main precipitator of an adoptee's suicide.

    1. Hi Robin, It's been a while...but strangely enough I was talking to my husband this morning about my daughter, and missing her but not missing the continual chaos, and I said, if ever there was an individual who should not have been adopted, it was her. With her epilepsy...adoption jut piled on one more thing. I will answer further in a blog post.
      thanks for writing.

  10. Looks like you reside in Oregon. Open Adoption is an experiment in my view. We should have not told our adopted child, now an adult, that she was adopted. She would be way more happy. Our adopted child is over 25; we adopted her as an infant in Portland. We signed a commitment to inform her she is adopted, like good little socialists. This knowledge has been ripping our family apart as she has established a relationship with the birth mother who is antagonistic and disdainful toward us. It's a nightmare.

    My mother and grandparents never gave me info about my bio father. I'm glad. It's human to be sad about missing things.

    Please stop blaming parents, adoptive or bio, for everything under the sun. It's Adoption-phobic bloggers like you who spill their guts out and turn adoptees against good people like us! Find another hobby.

    1. @ Anonymous

      Wow, as an adopted person I am so glad I did not get stuck with Aparents like you. You are the one who has the issues, not the adoptee forced to live with you while growing up. You do not own us. Adoptive parents never get the truth. We can't afford to tell you how we really feel.

      Late discovery adoptees (you know the ones that do not get told, but find out anyways), have the hardest time of all of us adoptees.

      Sounds like you are still angry about having a "bio" father.

      As Rachel Lynde would say from Anne of Green Gables. "That's the kind that puts arsenic in the well".

      Lord have mercy on your black heart.

    2. Anonymous:
      I think that no matter what, you did the right thing, on a moral level and a humanistic compassionate level. If there is an important truth, every person hss the right to know their origins, even if there is confusion and sadness as to their place in the world. That is far better than living the "big lie" and finding out later, feeling that they had been betrayed at the most elemental level by their adoptive parents. Who among us doesn't value the truth, even if it is not pleasant, or makes us question our stability? The truth does set us free (sorry if that sounds trite - but it is so).

      As a fellow birth mother, I think there is NO excuse for your daughter's birth mother to be antagonistic and disdainful toward you. NO excuse, and her birth mother is wrong to do so - wrong, wrong, wrong! Shame on her!

      How long has your daughter known her birth mother? Is it a fairly new relationship? Things may settle down with some time; she is looking for something and may think her birth mother alone has the answers, and the key to finding out who she is. (This is true in some ways, but not perfect - There is no magic that can undo the fact that she gave up her infant. There are reasons, but they cannot fully alleviate the pain of this fact.)

      I wish you the best. I hope your daughter will see the clarity of the entire situation, in time, meaning all the viewpoints of the adoption triad.

      You may regret giving that information to her, but I predict the regret will not last forever. You did a generous and kind thing, the moral thing, the right thing. Your daughter has a right to know, everyone hss a right to know. I'm so sorry there has been fallout as a result, and I hope things will look better for you and her at some point.

    3. Anon--your "adopted child" is also an "adopted adult." I understand that the use of the word "child" covers all ages, but most bio parents stop calling their children a "child" at some point. She has a right to her own truth, and while you are upset now, you did do the right thing but your anger toward everyone involved (including the writers of this blog) is likely what the birth mother caught on to.

    4. Anonymous,

      "My mother and grandparents never gave me info about my bio father. I'm glad. It's human to be sad about missing things."

      Maybe your mother and grandparents have their own secrets to hide. Perhaps some of them were never told they were adopted. Or perhaps you were never told you were adopted.

      Who knows. Perhaps the impetus to lie to people runs in your cultural ancestry. That's so sad that you were never told the truth.

    5. Have you considered that perhaps your bio father is someone related to you in more ways than bio father. DNA would reveal. Or keep your "missing things."

  11. Suicide is at epidemic proportions. Get some solid facts before you go around blaming adoptive parents for suicide!

    1. There are solid facts by respected researchers. Adoptive parents are not to blame; separation and adoption by genetic strangers in secrecy is. For more data, see hole in my heart. The stats are footnoted.

  12. Good grief! You regret telling your child she was adopted? That thinking went out 70 years ago. Even if adoptees are not told they were adopted, many adoptees find out eventually. The discovery as an adult is traumatic. Google "Late Discovery Adoptees" and read what these folks have written.

    You should rejoice that your daughter has a positive relationship with her first mother. It would be cruel to deny her the right to know her original family, where she came from, her medical history, the reasons she was surrendered.

    Rather than ripping your family apart, your daughter's first mother is enlarging your family. She may be antagonistic and disdainful because she knows you hold her in little regard.

    When adoptees turn against adoptive parents it's because they never fit in the adoptive home or were mistreated or both. Adoptees who grew up in loving adoptive homes all say that finding their first mother has made them closer to their adoptive parents.

    With good counseling, you may be able to bring your daughter's first mother into your family. I bet if you did that, her disdain would vanish.

    Fellow Oregonian.

  13. I am an adoptive mom. I know many adoptive moms. We love our children and do all we can to give them the best lives possible. All of us (that I know) worry about the abandonment of their first moms. We don't celebrate that these precious children lost their parents! we strive to give the the best that we can. We hate that they lost their families. I am not ashamed of adopting my sweet child! Not at all!! He/she was alone in the world and had no family! I don't care if first moms on this blog go after me for my choice. A child alone in the world now has a family! That is way more important than blogging in a wealthy safe home about the evils of adoption! Children need homes and families!!! I hate that my precious child has to grapple with the fact that his/her birth family could not raise him/her. I don't blame the birth family at all. I just want this person, this child to have the best life possible, given very hard circumstances at birth. She/he has no real interest in birth family but I always talk about how wonderful they just be, to have produced this person worthy of love.

    1. "That is way more important than blogging in a wealthy safe home about the evils of adoption! Children need homes and families!!! " Adoption is evil. Sure, children need to be cared for from time to time, but we do not need to give you a parenting experience. We can never "be your child" My Amom used to talk about how wonderful my mother must have been to produce me. My Amom has no clue that I have my family back, because she thinks I have no interest in my mother.

      Here is a wonderful place for the Aparents (on the outside of the forum as they are not allowed inside the forum) to learn a little from those of us who have no interest in our families. There is a reason why it is called a "safe place" for adoptees to be. We need safety from all this "best life possible" http://adultadopteesupport.org/

      "Being adopted hurts. Being adopted is hard. It is not beautiful; it is brutal, it is tragic, it is a cause for great sadness. For in order for a child to even be available for adoption, that child must first go through some sort of tragedy; whether that be abuse, hunger, homelessness, neglect, or even the simple fact that he or she is losing the life and family he or she was born into. This makes adoption a thing to mourn; not a cause for celebration or joy. To be joyful about adopting a child is to be glad that this tragedy happened..." http://adultadopteesupport.org/wanttoadopt.html

      "I am not the happy and grateful adoptee that you want me to be. Don’t get me wrong. I was happy and grateful for almost 45 years – or so I believed. Had you asked me then how I felt about being adopted, you might have heard something like, “Great! I am so grateful to my (adoptive) parents for all they did and, no, I am not interested in finding my ‘real’ family. My adoptive family is my ‘real’ family, thankyouverymuch, and they are a wonderful family. I’ve had a wonderful life. Of course, I am grateful to my natural mother for giving me life. Oh, you’re adopting? How wonderful!”... http://www.adoptionhealing.com/SmilingAdoptees.html

      "Adoptive parents are some of the most insecure, jealous people on the planet. As I grew, I kept my end of the unwritten bargain that every adopted child makes (even though they never knew they were making it), stuff your real feelings down so deep that you mostly stop thinking about your mother in exchange for a place to live. Do not rock the boat, and for god’s sake, don’t ever, ever, say that you want your family back. DON'T GO LOOKING FOR YOUR FAMILY! To add to this, adoptees have an impossible task to accomplish and that is to be the child that their adoptive parents could not have..." https://adultadopteesupport.blogspot.com/2016/

      Gosh, there is so much more for you on the "outside" of the forum.

    2. Hi Anon, I'm an Adoptive mom, too. I hope you stick around as this blog is a source of information and sharing that you and I could never hope to gain since we haven't experienced adoption from the side most impacted by it (I'm assuming this on your part since you only mention being an AP, not an adoptee or first mom.) If you do stick around, I hope you can come to realize that it is so very important to talk about the ugly parts of adoption, not just about how much APs love their kids.

      "She/he has no real interest in birth family but I always talk about how wonderful they just be, to have produced this person worthy of love." This usually, but not always, changes at some point in an adoptees life. While you write in one breath about how amazing your child's (are they young or an adult?) natural family is, on the other, you are insulting the author, Lorraine, when you say "That is way more important than blogging in a wealthy safe home about the evils of adoption!" Is it? Can't our children be loved and safe AND we can talk about the rampant corruption in the adoption system, the lack of support for family preservation, and the fact (yes, fact) that adoption is run as a for profit system that does not have the best interests of the children in mind. I know I can. In fact, it is because I love my daughter who is adopted so much that I speak out about it, write letters to legislatures about opening adoption records, and refuse to accept the narrative that adoption is just a super beautiful thing.

      I believe you when you say that you are sad that your child lost their family of birth. I believe you when you say you love your child. I hope that you can see the way towards accepting the responsibility we have as APs to do right by our kids, and that this includes self-education on the very dark parts of adoption, its impact on our kids, and that true acceptance of our children lies in not just saying their birth family are good people who produced a great kid, but actually examining your true feelings. Because attacking first moms here on a blog doesn't really make it out to me that you really believe first moms are valuable people with complex stories.

      "He/she was alone in the world and had no family!" Except that they did. They did have a family. They do have a family. And for whatever complicated reason, that family was not able to stay together. But it will never, ever erase the fact that our children do indeed have a family when we adopted them, and adoption cannot ever erase that family from existence.

      I truly hope you stick around... I have learned so much, but you have to be humble and realize that you have to do some serious self-examination and acceptance of your role in breaking apart of family, even if the choice was made before you entered the picture. I know I have had to do that, and I have to every so often revisit that place and examine my own privilege.

    3. Thanks, Tiffany. I am so used to being attacked by APs over the years, that while I did get a little pissed off her Anony's throw away comment--having withstood a lot of really nasty stuff since I started writing about adoption in the 1970s--I mostly blew it off. But there are still times when I can wish I had chosen a more secure and lucrative path for my life, and that it had not dominated by writing life. Chosing to write about my experience and speaking out has been costly. My husband would be very angry if he read her statement. So I thank you for noticing it and noticing that the slur is really a slur against all natural mothers, no matter what lip service she is paying to her child's other mother. It sounds as if she is new to the whole idea that all APS are not saints and adoption is not simply a Good Thing but a often harrowing, always complex life experience for both mother and child united by blood and birth. And that statement takes nothing away from the love and experience of adoptive parents but she and others like her probably won't see it that way. Thank you again for checking in here and commenting.

    4. Please take this feedback constructively and not personally. Adoptee here, and would kindly like to suggest to avoid stating,"how wonderful they [must] be, to have produced this person worthy of love." It can sound as if some people and children aren't worthy of love, and they're "lucky" to be adopted. By itself, that status isn't lucky, it's a loss and experience on a primal level that an infant or small child cannot comprehend. Unless they express feelings of unworthiness specifically due to being adopted, resist emphasising their worthiness. If they do express those feelings you could say something like,"You are loved, you have and always will be worthy of love, and I love you." I'm curious why you state how wonderful the first/birth/natural/real mothers must be? Do you know they're wonderful? Are you trying to build the child's esteem? If she isn't wonderful, a reunion could be a letdown. I'm not saying you don't mean well, it's just that not all reunions are wonderful and it might build up expectations. If they say they don't want to pursue reunion, support their decision by not pushing it, and let them know you're there for them and support them either way. They may want to pursue this privately, and you need to be ready to accept that possibility. It's not about excluding you, keeping secrets, or trying to hurt you-it's about them, it's very personal, and it can feel like the only way to control a situation they had no say in or control of. Just follow their lead. Really hope you take Tiffany's advice.

    5. Lorraine, I appreciate your professionalism, as always, which constantly shines out here on the blog even when people make very nasty comments or personal attacks. It really burns my toast when APs come here and say awful things.

      You could have chosen a more lucrative path, I've no doubt, as you are clearly very talented. I'm so thankful you have chosen to use your talent to make a difference in the area of adoption. I couldn't even begin to imagine the high personal cost it must have taken. I can only speak for myself, but over the years, you and Jane have provided me with a wealth of information and thoughts to ponder that I would not have found anywhere else. I honestly think it has made a difference in parenting my daughter. As loving and good as my intentions would have always been, thanks in large part to you (and some other great adoptee blogs and podcasts), I have been educated and informed. Good intentions are nice, even when we mess up. Making the right decisions the first time from a place of conscious and educated awareness is so much better.

  14. Tiffany, you've served forth another combination plate of very important (and for some folks, indigestible) home cooking/home truths. I can only applaud from the sidelines, as neither an AP nor a relinquishing mom--just a biomom in whose extended family a well-intended but clumsily handled adoption has caused a lot of hurt feelings and extreme disruption for three generations... and counting.

    That was then, starting in the '60s, the '70s. The only excuse for duplicating my family's actions these days, in my opinion, is willfully closing one's eyes and ears to possibly distressing FACTS. There's no real excuse for that in 2017. We know much more and much better today, or at least we should.

    1. "We know much more and much better today, or at least we should." Absolutely agree. There is so much information available now. I can spend hours reading info willingly shared by adoptees. There is no excuse for pretending, as you said, that facts are not facts. However, we live in a post-truth society where anyone can find confirmation somewhere of any belief, no matter how ridiculous. The flat earth society is growing in numbers, and while it seems to be the height of ridiculous stupidity to contend in 2017 that the earth is flat, not round, there are a large group of people who do indeed do just that. APs can do the same. We can find confirmation from others online that there is no real difference in being adopted, that adoptees do not have an interest in finding their natural families, that we should not tell adoptees they are adopted, that adoption is a beautiful thing, that there is no corruption in adoption. They can find confirmation for these and continue to cling to their ignorance because we now live in a society where your truth is your truth, regardless of facts to the contrary. It's disturbing, and I am finding this cropping up around every corner now in almost every topic.



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