' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: The new adoption narrative: 'I love you so much I gave you away'

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The new adoption narrative: 'I love you so much I gave you away'

Lorraine
Have you seen the video of the woman who gave up her son in march of 2016? The handover is that day, and she videos her infant son telling him that she is making the video so that one day he will watch it and know that she loves him. She is weeping the whole 9 minutes and 36 seconds of the video. It is hard to watch. 

I had to force myself to see it all the way through, as I stopped a couple of times at a minute or two, as it is repetitious and in the category of "I loved you so much I gave you away." In today's zeitgeist, making such a video is the logical expression of this 18-year-old's pain as she prepares to give him up. The woman, Hannah Mongie, now 20, is a Mormon in Utah--she mentions her boyfriend's mission--and so to simply say that in today's world she would not have endured the severity of the opprobrium of women of earlier generations like my own is not appropriate. I assume that Mormon women, if they do not marry the fathers, are encouraged to give up their babies rather than keep them. From what she says, it appears that the couple would have gotten married; nothing is said about her parents, or if they were involved in her decision.
  

To have the chutzpah to make, and then promote via the internet such a video starring her infant son--more than 4.2 million views and counting--indicates Hannah is getting much more praise for giving up her son for that elusive better life rather than keep him and thus, have the love and security of his natural family. Adoption is seen in a holy white light today there is a tendency in many narratives to make us natural mothers to be some kind of heroes, which we are not. We gave up our children because we could not find a way to keep them. That should be the only narrative the world knows about women who relinquish their children. The gauzy stuff about we did it because we loved them so much is poppycock.  

As Hannah Mongie tells the story in the video, one day, "I woke up and just knew that you [baby Taggert] were supposed to be with someone else." God does work in mysterious ways. She went on adoption.com, a website not surprisingly based in Utah, found a couple she "fell in love with" and two weeks later set the process in motion to let them adopt her son. 

Soon after the video went viral, I was down with a nasty sinus infection, watching daytime television. I happened to catch Hannah on Megyn Kelley Today, along with the adoptive parents and starring--the little boy--now nearly two and walking. He seems like a happy little kid, and I was looking to see if he went to anybody. He seemed comfortable simply walking around, and he did walk over to his natural mother--who was the nearest to where he came out, so I don't take too much from that. Dare I say he seemed like a performing monkey? All in the service of promoting adoption. He's too young to know what's going on, but now he was being paraded on TV as an example of how great this adoption is, and what else is one to think? 

However, to be fair, it is clear that this is a truly open adoption, so kudos for that. Hannah visits as much as she apparently wants to--at least once or a month, often more. Including Taggert, the family has three sons, all adopted. In interviews, she has called Emily her best friend. In fact, the adoptive mother, Emily, told KTVU:
''Having our boys’ birth mothers so involved in their lives means they will never have to wonder if their birth moms loved them, they will never have to feel abandoned. They are all wonderful mothers and will always be our boys’ first mothers.'"
So this is a open arrangement that works for the parents, and if it helps other adopting parents accept and adhere to open arrangements, that is a good thing. 

Yet I found the whole thing kinda creepy. It is likely some pregnant women and teens will see the video, know the follow-up story, and be encouraged to give up their children, all hoping for the kind of openness this adoption has. Many will be bitterly disappointed. My educated guess is that this video will play well among Mormons and evangelicals. 

As for whether the boy will appreciate the video in the manner that Hannah hopes, that remains to be seen 10 years from now. I imagine there will be questions, no matter what: Why didn't you keep me? I know my daughter thought it--she said it once--and I know she was not alone. I am reminded of the adoptive mother who told me that adoption was relatively easy until the child reaches puberty. Then the full impact sets in, traits in opposition to the adoptive parents' become more noticeable, the differences in character and personality all the more obvious, and difficult, for both adoptee and parents to accommodate. This is a truism not appreciated in modern adoption circles, though its obviousness should hit anybody in the face if they think adoption through and have the barest of knowledge about the nature/nurture dichotomy.  

Right after this video surfaced, we received an email from another first mother who wanted us to share her similar "loving" story here, video and all. I don't know what her aim was, but her website was religious. I declined in rather strong language. As for the requests we get from pregnant women or scammers to advertise babies for adoption, we also ignore those.--lorraine 

Jane here: The LDS Church promotes adoption to single mothers-to-be. At one time articles about the value of adoption printed in the Church Magazine "Ensign" were written by Church leaders (all men). I quoted them in this FMF piece.  Now the Church has switched course, displaying articles on its website by mothers who gave up their child to promote adoption.  

The Church also uses the media to advance adoption as a loving decision, "Selfless surrender of an infant or snow job?"

The myth that giving up a child is a courageous act is wide-spread. Here's advice columnist Carolyn Hax from last week: "Hiding it is to treat her actions actions as shameful when placing a child for adoption is at its core a courageous act."   
_______________________ Video: https://www.facebook.com/lovewhatreallymatters/videos/1803464573009266/ 

TO READ
Second Choice: Growing Up Adopted
"A sensitive, moving, intelligent and much need contribution to adoption literature." --Betty Jean Lifton, author of Lost and Found, the Adoption Experience

"Dr.Andersen guides us on an incredible trail that will help everyone better understand the complicated realities of the adoption experience."--Joyce Maguire Pavao, Founder and Director of the Adoption Resource Center.

Lucky Girl 

Mei-Ling Hopgood "writes with humor and grace about her efforts to understand how biology, chance, choice and love intersect to delineate a life. A wise, moving meditation on the meaning of family, identity and fate." Kirkus

”A journalist by trade, Hopgood pushes herself to ask tough questions. As she does, shocking family secrets begin to spill forth. . . Brutally honest. . . Although Hopgood’s memoir is uniquely her own, multiple perspectives on adoption saturate the book.” Bust magazine

55 comments :

  1. Lorraine:

    Thanks for your help, always, helping to flip the script.

    As is so very often the case, I agree with your post, but this time, I must quibble with the headline. This narrative is not new for many of us adoptees who grew up hearing, repeatedly, that our first mothers "loved us so much" they gave us away.

    Yes, for the adoptee, love = relinquishment. Think about it.

    That narrative around adoption is so warped and so ingrained -- entrenched really. No wonder non-adoptees can't seem to understand why so many of us struggle with self-worth and the ability to build healthy relationships.

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    1. Yes, Terri, the adoption industry has pushed the "adoption is a loving act" malarkey for years. The difference now is that the industry has seduced mothers to carry the message and do it in public.

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  2. Social Media Meets Adoption Linguistics. While I agree with this stage event made possible and encouraged by social media, a platform which is designed to form a pseudo cocoon of support for this mother, I recall my own cognitive dissonance as I repeated to myself during my pregnancy with Joanna that my baby will have a better life, two parents, and every other socially constructed notion fabricated for the requirements of childbearing. This, essentially, de rigeur of the day results of shock, fear, panic, shame, and no seemingly other way out, in order to keep my baby. For the first year of her adoption, I was numb and deadened to any feelings. When I emerged, I experienced episodes of hysteria, rage, and bitterness. I crawled out of these dark days over time, but I've been haunted ever since. There was no option of open adoption. There was only a permanent split and anonymity. Who know how long open adoption would have lasted anyway. Whether Hannah can regain some of her motherhood, I can't say. Time needs to pass in order for many of us to experience the full cruel brunt of our aberrant and often unthinkable decision.

    P.S. Sympathies for your sinus infection. My family and I experience sinus issues which years ago was a non issue. Organic Spirulina and Nettles a godsend.

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    1. RE the sinuses: I have a physical condition that makes not having an infection when I get a whiff of a cold difficult. I have a lot of quite effective herbal remedies but when it gets bad, antibiotics are the only meds that saves me. As in this time.
      thanks for noticing...

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    2. ot: but what do you do with the organic spirulina?

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    3. Lorraine, I'm taking a break today and found this vintage 1955, Ricardo Montalbaum and Anne Bancroft vintage film, "A Life in Balance," a classic case of a single parent, (Dad), pressured to allow a relative and wife to adopt his young son. Main reason: child's hygiene and the fact that the couple always wanted children.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvU2ZyIjaGc

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    4. Dear WD--Tried to watch this the other night, and got about a half hour in when the movie froze, so I have not seen the end. Yet.

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  3. In the late 70s, I had it drummed into me that giving my son up for adoption was the only loving act I could do for him. That to even think of keeping him would show I didn't care about his wellbeing because it would ruin his life if I did.

    What's really being said by the phrase in your headline is 'You are not good enough to be your child's mother'.

    To those without support, resources, confidence or self-esteem, it will simply confirm what they already think of themselves. It did me.

    It's so manipulative it's criminal.

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  4. I think we all felt and accepted and even found comfort in the fact that in the rationalization of our child have the "two-parent family" was the "better." Rationalisting that helped assuage our grief.

    Of course two-parents are "better" than one, but not if that means under normal circumstances (by that I mean, no addicted mother) you get a set of parents that are not your genetic family. Based on what I've heard and seen, if feels as if women who relinquish are being schooled in that "love" language more today than they were yesterday.

    It's so much better for adoptive parents just to say your mother couldn't keep you rather than the BS about loving "you so much she gave you away." That's jut f*&King twisted, and any seven-year-old can understand that.

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    1. The trouble with adoptive parents just saying, "your mother couldn't keep you", is the question that naturally follows, "why not?"
      Um, cause she was too young. Well she got older didn't she?
      She was too poor. Well why didn't somebody help HER get on her feet?
      She was forced/had no choice. Why?/why not? Cause she was young, poor/homeless, unmarried. i.e. (she was) unhelped, unwanted, unloved...but oooh (we) someone wanted you.

      Mommy gets tossed aside like trash. Is it any wonder some of us feel so bad and struggle so much?

      Adoptive parents, agencies etc. shouldn't be answering that question anyway. Unless they know for certain what happened and why. The mother and father are the only ones who can answer that question as to why *they* did it. People on the outside looking in or with their own agenda's cannot answer that without prejudice.

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    2. Cindy--My granddaughter, when she was about 10--and spent summers with me and my husband, asked all the same questions. She couldn't figure out why I couldn't have gotten help from the "bank," etc., and finally I had to say: I made a mistake.

      I recount the whole incident in hole in my heart.
      It was an eye-opener.

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    3. Cindy is right. We never tell our daughter her parents gave her up because they loved her. That's a very sick and twisted way to present love. We say they gave her up because they couldn't take her home. When she asks why, we are honest: "We don't know." I know some of it, of course, but not enough to form an entire narrative for her and be certain it's fully accurate. We encourage her to ask her parents herself (and I tell them she has asked so they are prepared), but she's not ready to do that yet.

      Even with all this, my daughter still fears being left by us because she was left by her other parents. It just came up again this past week. In the middle of Disneyworld, she broke down crying and afraid that her sister was going to trade her in for a different sister. Her sister had innocently said a long time ago that she wished her best friend could be her sister- at no point did she ever say she wanted to trade her existing sister for her best friend. For whatever reason (she was hot, hungry, and tired, which makes her emotional), my younger daughter recalled that and was upset by it all over again. My older daughter sat down right there in the middle of the walkway and hugged her little sister and told her she wouldn't trade her for any other sister in the whole world. She kissed her and hugged her and told her how much she loved her. In spite of all that, our younger daughter still sobbed and said she was sure we were going to trade her in or leave her. When I said we loved her and would never leave her, she said, through sobs, "But my parents did."

      And there you have it. No matter how hard we try, how much we love, we cannot fix that initial wound that comes from breaking the mother-child bond. I told my daughter that I understood that she feels that way, and that's ok, and my older daughter and I just held her.

      I can't imagine what a video like this would do to my daughter, but I know it wouldn't help her. Adoption sucks and it isn't fair and love isn't always enough even when it should be, and that's the truth of it all. Broken and unfair and painful- we need to allow adoptees to feel these things so that they are somehow able to move through it, and trying to pretend it's all some pretty and sweet loving act isn't helpful. From a very young age, they feel that love equals abandonment. We can't ever help them feel any differently if we don't allow them to feel those emotions first and just sit with them in that.

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    4. A mother has to be persuaded that giving up her child is a loving act. It is not a natural thought, and any glance around will show that no-one else is doing it.

      Who puts those thoughts in a mother's head, when they don't naturally occur there?
      Who reiterates them?

      Perhaps I had a different experience than you, Lorraine.
      I never had shame attached to my pregnancy, and I never felt it.

      But the message that it was a loving act to give my son up to adoption so that he could have 'a better start in life, a better chance, an opportunity not to be picked on by having two parents instead of one etc etc', was deafening. The message was clear: keeping him was proof of me not caring. These messages were repeated by parents, doctors, social workers, neighbours, family friends. Even my adoptee friend said it was 'so brave' (this phrase bewildered me; it was the last thing going on).

      I feel I was manipulated.

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    5. I was manipulated by the times, the baby's father who I was deeply involved with, not the social worker. The cultural assumption was that any baby was better off with two parents behind the proverbial white picket-fence and a puppy than anything I could give her. I think the social worker would not have tried to change my mind at all if I changed my mind at the end; she understood what an emotional mess I was and that Patrick was on the very Irish Catholic fence about leaving his other family. For me, it was the whole situation, and the times, not the social worker. That's all I meant.

      Every adoption experience is different from every other. They may share some things, but they are all different as they involve specific human interaction among people.

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    6. The problem I have is that adoption always seems boiled down to the individuals involved, rather than being seem as the piece of social engineering it was (and the business it now is).

      A raft of women your age felt like you did and heard the same things, and a raft of women my age felt and heard similar things.

      I thought the conversations that I heard surrounding my unplanned pregnancy were unique to my situation. It was only when the Internet was invented and I found women online repeating exactly my experience, and often actual phrases that that I'd heard, that I understood I was part of a time, part of a social experiment which was built on the judgment of women.

      The problem I have with saying 'I made a mistake' is that it assumes there was individual free choice, and that you chose the wrong one. I certainly don't feel that. I feel like the choice to keep my son, while I believed it would ruin his life if I did so, was closed to me because no mother is going to choose to destroy their child's life - particularly if there is one other option, namely to give them a wonderful life by allowing them to be adopted. Of course, now I'm mature and experienced and resourced, this is clearly ludicrous.

      But what I was told back then is STILL being told to women now, almost 40 years later, and it's still working. What that woman is saying with her mouth is not matched by the outpouring of tears from her eyes. It will probably take her many years to realise she has been manipulated. I notice Catelynn from Teen Mom is waking up, and her heartbreak is visible for all to see in her latest visit with her eldest daughter Carly.

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  5. I hope other adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents read your comment, Tiffany. Thanks for your thoughtful and sensitive input.

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  6. Much as this blog post was depressing to read, the travesty needs to be talked about and the awareness spread. Terri Vanech is right, the mantra of sacrificing your baby out of love is not so new. Terri's words about this time honored message of "love" are succinct and potent: "Love = Relinquishment." What a horrific legacy for an adoptee to live with. My son has enough to handle just with grieving the loss of his first family. I cannot imagine adding to that the message: "Did you know you were given up out of love?"

    Sadly, I find that to this day, the mantra is alive and well and used by adoption agencies to persuade young women to relinquish. I don't really look at adoption or adoption agency websites - but, recently, a former student of mine contacted me and asked if we could meet for lunch to talk about progress in her and her partner's adoption plans. I have exchanged emails with this student before and made my thoughts about adoption, especially infant adoption through a private agency, clear. I also have told her that having an adopted child is not "as if" the child is your own, that this baby grows into a thoughtful human being who often (like my son) has acute feelings of missing identity.

    Anyhow, I find out at lunch that she and her partner have signed up with a private adoption agency. They told her - get this - that the wait period depends on how many "birth mothers" they are able to "recruit!!" I asked her whether, at a minimum, she did not think it an anomaly that a relatively wealthy country like the US, with more resources than the countries she and I grew up in, has so many young women who feel that they have to take this extreme step of giving up their babies. She replied that the threshold of what people consider to be financially difficult circumstances in this country is higher than in the countries we came from - and if the mothers feel they need to give up their babies, not her problem. I said it is really sad that women facing unplanned pregnancies are not sufficiently counselled about options other than adoption nor offered support to help take care of their babies, leading to the travesty of agencies separating babies from their mothers. That ended the conversation - she wants that baby and she is going to get that baby, from this agency. *Sigh*

    While my student didn't tell me the name of the agency she and her partner went with, sufficient details came up in our conversation for me to find it online. Like most private agencies, while they claim to "counsel" the mothers, the overriding message is "thank you for choosing this gift of love." All the "birth mother" stories they have on their website talk about giving the child a "better" life and allowing me to go on and finish college, etc. I wish I could track the lives of these babies into the future and find out how they feel about being "gifts of love."

    Going on to that agency's website made me realize that nefarious adoption practices (and manipulating young women) are alive and well.

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    1. Hi Jay, it never goes over as expected when people ask me to talk with them about our adoption experience, either. They definitely aren't anticipating the truth I level at them, and sometimes, it has cost me friendships. (Sidenote, when that happens, I always think how much harder it must be for adoptees and first moms in these situations... I feel so angry and passionate, and I can't imagine coming at it from a place of being the one impacted by it to the highest degree and still having people be so dismissive.)

      It's frustrating to feel like you aren't getting anywhere with people, but I want to keep hoping that we can if we just keep speaking about it. Adoptive parents (unfairly) hold so much power, and I want to believe we can make that matter for something. If even one person gives it a second thought or changes their parenting tactics with their adopted child, then it is worth the continued rebuffs we get.

      And to Lorraine so I don't keep clogging up comments, I can only hope someone reads it and pauses to think. If we keep speaking out, all of us, I believe we can turn the tide.

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    2. Hi Tiffany, I agree with you that we should speak up and educate whenever we can. Part of the difficulty in doing so as an adoptive parent is it often is dismissed by prospective adoptive parents as "well, YOU adopted, so isn't this a bit of a double standard to turn around and tell us we shouldn't adopt?" With this student of mine, I did suggest looking at foster care and she didn't want that - she wanted the "sure thing," not reunification as the first goal, and she also wanted a newborn. Nothing I said would dissuade her. Frustrating, so I appreciate you as a fellow adoptive parent reaching out in response to my comment.

      In positive news, I do believe I dissuaded one couple from adopting. The husband, who has no ties to his family (biological, he is not adopted), was of the "clean slate" mentality, i.e., we will adopt a baby and his/her family wanted to give him/her up so why should there be any contact at all? He did not consider the biological relationship to be of any value whatsoever ("we will be the baby's only parents, period"), probably because of his own nonexistent family ties.

      Fortunately, I could tell I reached the wife on some level. She has a son from a previous marriage - that marriage ended acrimoniously, but she saw the value in never saying bad things about her son's father to her son. As she said, "to say bad things about his dad is like saying bad things about my son, because he is partly his dad." So she understood what I was saying about the importance of biological family. When I saw them a couple months later, she said they were not going to adopt. I didn't ask why, but I'd like to think maybe what I said percolated a bit. I know that after we talked, she was bothered by her husband's insistence that they would not allow any contact with the child's first family.

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    3. Wow Jay, sounds like you helped some kid duck a bullet with that father.

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    4. Friends--Ah yes. My public voice on adoption has certainly changed the dynamic around some of my acquaintances and lost some friends. Since my life is one of being dropped into the highly educated, two-career couples who adopt, I have a lot of acquaintances with adopted children, many now in college or already out. Unlike you and Jay and a few others I can talk freely with, mostly they do not want to speak at all about adoption; they are more open than previous generations, but more old school than progressive. And there are times when I've avoided people and gatherings (and they don't invite us) when the adoption situation is too close for comfort. I'd tell more but the blog has already gotten some acquaintances upset in the past.

      The world of New York writers and journalists is indeed a small community of its own. It's like a small town, where everybody knows everybody else, or has connections to them. And of course that includes people who write books about their wonderful experience with adoption.

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    5. Tiffany, I always find your posts moving and restorative, and your empathy often moves me to tears. Thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. It really does help x

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  7. Hi Cherry, the reason you feel you were manipulated is because you were, just like I was. When I reunited, my daughter never bought this line of thinking and told people I was a "momster" who threw her out like a piece of trash. Considering the fact that my supposedly "brave and loving self-sacrifice" decision (as I was counseled to believe and believe I did) was made almost 50 years ago, I can't imagine how today's adoptees are going to feel knowing their mothers made the decision in the year 2018!

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    1. Hi Gail

      I remember your experience well. How utterly sad, for both you and your daughter (and her father too) that the typical and well-worn adoption narrative won out over what really happened.

      How is that story given so much power?
      That, no matter how much we mourning mothers say we desperately wanted to keep our children but lost them anyhow, largely through being powerless at that time in our lives, that trotted out adoption narrative - that we did not care, or that we rejected our babies - swamps everything. So that no-one can pick over what actually happened and thus see everyone involved as ordinary and very vulnerable individuals.

      Perhaps it's too frightening, for people to think that the state is not neutral or benevolent but casts judgment.
      Perhaps it's too frightening to think that we can be manipulated to do alsorts that we would not ordinarily do, unmanipulated.
      Last night I watched a Derren Brown programme called 'Push' which showed how easy it was to manipulate an ordinary and nice person to push someone off a building. I'm sure almost everyone would say 'I would never do that' but 75% of those in this little experiment did just that.
      I look back now to my 16 year old self and think 'How could I have given my little lovely baby away?'. I want to tear myself apart for having done that. But as I piece together the elements that led to that decision, I understand how vulnerable a human being is, particularly when they are in an especially vulnerable part of their lives.

      I'm so sorry that your daughter cannot hear you and what happened to both your and her life. Perhaps it is simply too painful. I feel it is as a mother, and veer very close to the edge of the 'can't take it anymore' cliff. Luckily I have counselling which keeps me here. But it is so painful, as you will know. Perhaps our children simply find it too difficult to face the fact that their mother and father gave them up. I sometimes think 'If only you could truly absorb what really happened, you would blmae neither yourself nor I. You would see the judgmental hand of the state'.

      I'm really sorry adoption has hurt you so much x

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    2. I am based in the UK so it is not big business that governs adoption practice here, it is the state. The latter's division of mothers into 'worthy/unworthy' follows the traditional categorization of women into madonna/whore by the church and other systems of thinking.

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  8. Right Gail--not just in 2018 but I'd say going back a couple of decades, after which it became not so scandalous to keep a baby and be single.

    Sorry your experience was as it was.

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  9. 'I love you so much I gave you away'.

    Yes, mothers do love their children that much and when they believe /are convinced, that the child's life was in /or would be in jeopardy if kept by them, they will surrender them to a "safer/better" environment no matter how much it hurts and goes against their great longing and love for their child. Devaluing mothers to not be good enough to keep their child safe and well, oh but you can surrender them and you'll be the "bestest mother ever". Bull beans! One of the biggest lies ever told.

    Another question. If she loved me so much that she gave me away, does that mean that the kids that parents kept are hated? ...............Sigh. Adoption mind mess. Forget ADD, how about AMM?

    A mother's instinct is to protect her child. The system is designed to zero in on that mother's instinct. The system, unfortunately, does not go on to explain how much harm and hurt can come from being surrendered. It has a tendency to be rather one-sided.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tiffany, my heart aches for what you are all going through. As sad as it is, what you have shared is so touchingly beautiful in how you allow her to share these hardest of feelings and being there to comfort her. To be able to share what they feel in a safe and loving environment matters so much, it's truly one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.

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  10. Honestly, this adoption worked out so well. The adoptive parents are excellent. The problem with promoting this nearly perfect adoption are the sociopaths out there who will use it to get a kid, lie about open adoption, and then close it within a few months.

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  11. Yes, I've heard those words you all have expressed.... 2 parents, better life, you can go to college, no one wants to marry a woman with a child....

    49 years ago this May I gave up my precious daughter....

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  12. When you work with so many children living in terrible hardship because they were born to mothers unable to care for them but kept them nonetheless, you understand why giving children to those ready, able, willing and so wanting a child to raise. Adoptees do so much better than the bulk of children born to Mothers too young, not ready, not supported, not educated, scant resources to give a child a good home. Many of these women have difficulties that are only intensified with an addition of another person with needs. They are not able to care for themselves, let alone another. And many grandmothers not in the position to help or flat out do not wish to do so. Yet, of course, one wants to keep this adorable baby. It takes a truly selfless person with knowledge of the odds of the better life for that baby to make that difficult choice to give up the baby. Aided in 3 such cases last year. And many in prior years. The babies over time that stayed with their mothers, far worse in their lives with a number in the foster family shuffle for years.
    This site gives a great insight to the other side of the story and a viewpoint all unexpected mothers should consider. However, the interests of the baby should come first. It’s not even a close decision for many of these situations.

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    1. Rebecca, I agree with you that the interests of the child should come first. The problem I see in this country? In the name of the so called "interests of the child," the fundamental rights of the child (as an individual who comes with a history) and indeed of the child's natural family are being flagrantly violated through emotional manipulation of the mother (and, sometimes, parents).

      I fail to see, in the philosophy of adoption agencies and law firms, a consideration of the best interests of the babies. As Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy put it, they are "trolling for babies" so they can line their pockets. Someone I know who is adopting through a private agency (actually a law firm) wishes with all her heart that they "recruit" sufficient numbers of mothers so her wait won't be too long. The agency said that - that it depends on how many birth mothers they are able to recruit! And the hopeful couples on their website almost all start their letters with, "Dear Birthmother..." Really?! Let's call her "birthmother" from the moment of conception, shall we, so we can groom her to forfeit the baby well before he/she is born?!

      As long as a parent has the wherewithal to keep a child safe, there is NO "terrible hardship" that you mention "too young, not ready, not supported, not educated, scant resources" that is permanent. I come from a country with 100-fold or more greater poverty than the US. You mean to tell me this country cannot provide the resources to offer that temporary support, instead manipulating young mothers into thinking that giving up their babies FOR LIFE is the highest expression of love and ripping babies of their fundamental identity? My parents in India currently support a poor young boy and his family - some financial as well as helping him with homework, providing meals, etc. This boy's mother offered up her baby to my parents for adoption. By providing support instead of ripping a family apart, the situation ends up being as it should for all concerned - brings my parents joy, and keeps that family intact. I have friends from college in India who have offered their homes to poor children in similar ways - provide the resources without taking away the child's fundamental identity as the son/daughter of their natural parents. Why is this not encouraged in the US, a country far wealthier and with far more resources than India?

      My son is adopted. Without going into detail, within his biological family, he was faced with threats to his safety from a long legacy of abuse. His parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles were not able to rehabilitate - so he could not be adopted by a family member (certainly the next best thing, if adoption has to happen). So now here he is, our adopted son, whom we love dearly. I can tell you that the grief and emptiness he deals with despite having a loving relationship with us is NOT something I needlessly would wish on a child. My son's safety was compromised, he needed a home. What he has is second best to being able to be with his natural family, I see this in the conversations HE periodically initiates with us (other than telling him he is adopted, we do not initiate conversations about adoption with him so the fact that HE takes the lead to express grief about not being raised by his "real mom and dad" is a clear message to me that we take away something big from a child when we lead him/her into adoption).

      As a society, it is our duty to ensure that children are safe and have their basic needs met. To say that the only way we can do this, especially when safety is not an issue, is by convincing mothers that allowing your baby to assume the identity of total strangers is the selfless thing to do, is heinous.

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    2. Rebecca, no one has come up with a way to determine at birth which parents can raise their children and which cannot. I know and I'm sure everyone who reads this blog of people born into horrendous circumstances who do well well. Ditto with poor teen moms who raised their children successfully.

      It is only after the fact that social workers can say that the child should have been adopted. And of course many infants have gone to horrendous adoptive homes. Even many of those with good homes have not done well.

      To say giving up a baby is selfless is nonsense. Its industry jargon to make mothers feels good. Once you give up a baby you have no guarantee he/she will be well cared for -- or even cared for at all. The selfless mother keeps her baby and does everything in her power to care for the baby.

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    3. My reply above is aimed at Rebecca.

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    4. Rebecca, If the interests of the baby were put first, wise people would be scrambling to find every resource to help keep that baby with its mother and extended family. Building a family up instead of tearing it down is the way to a healthier society.

      To further the point see, "Call For Major Adoption Review as Research Argues Children Need Closer Ties To Birth Families".

      Some people are beginning to open their eyes and ears and are listening to what adoptees and their natural families as well as the adoptive families included in that research are saying! This story is from Britain. Most other countries are getting the message. I don't know why the U.S. is so far behind.

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  13. Rebecca, one more thing: You said, "Adoptees do so much better than the bulk of children born to Mothers too young, not ready, not supported, not educated, scant resources to give a child a good home." Can you support that statement please? It is so "all or nothing" I find it hard to believe that is true. Especially because the factors you list bear no relation to whether the mother/parents can keep their babies safe (i.e. we are not talking drug addiction, physical/sexual abuse, etc.).

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  14. Honestly, being manipulated, emotionally played during a time when a woman is her most vulnerable is probably the only way people can acquire babies.... or they can pretend that adopting out of foster care is better (which it is not). But the truth is, no one really cares.

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  15. "Mothers too young, not ready, not supported, not educated, scant resources to give a child a good home"

    Thank you for highlighting how little our country and society values and supports mothers. All the things you listed are temporary issues for many women that can be improved with the proper support structures.

    Our education system is lacking.

    We do not have good maternal health care.

    We do not have federal maternity leave for appropriate lengths of time for women to recover and bond with their new baby.

    We do not have employment safeguards in place for women to keep their jobs, especially minimum wage jobs, when they are pregnant.

    We do not have appropriate services in place to help young mothers manage the stress that comes with motherhood, and too many of these women are left to struggle through a very difficult time (difficult for even the most supported woman) all alone.

    We do not have good care for PPD or even health care providers who are skilled in recognizing the signs.

    All these above issues are greatly magnified in negative impact if the mother is poor.

    "the interests of the baby should come first"

    I agree. It is terrible that children pay the price for a society that has no interest in valuing their family of origin. If we supported mothers more, then that would truly be putting children first. Better education. Better support. Better healthcare. You only need to look at the nations who are successful in this to see the immense difference it makes for children.

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  16. Last evening, I had dinner with one of the lawyers who mentored me when I first transitioned into law. She did not have the easiest life, growing up, but is smart and tough and nails and went on to become a very successful trial lawyer. She and her husband are now retired and devote their time and resources to philanthropy.

    One of the causes she engages with big time is a local school for homeless children. She was telling me how happy these children are to have a school they can call "home." The school provides meals and meets a lot of their clothing needs as well, and most kids will pick up some food and/or clothing each day to take to their family (living in shelters or, more often, in cars). She talked about one young lady whom she has supported through graduate school. This young lady, at 15 years of age, was impregnated by her father. Being Catholic, she had strong feelings against abortion. She left home, lived in a friend's car and attended this school, raised her baby with the help of the school community, and is now getting a graduate degree (her daughter, now 11, is in school and with her mother). Obviously it is tragic that she was horrifically abused by her father, but - she was able to keep her baby close to her, thanks to the support of her school, and is now well on her way to being self-supporting. Maybe her story is unusual, but we really ought to focus on providing such avenues to keep families together.

    I only recently found out that my mentor suffered many late term miscarriages. She channeled that disappointment into a determination to help children in need. A high school friend of mine who couldn't have children channeled her depression into becoming an expert on prenatal genetics and treatment so more moms have healthy babies. I wish that, like them, I had considered a more society-focused calling than turning to adoption. There is no excuse for us not being able to provide such support in the US.

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  17. I assume many already knew that Frances McDormand (2018 Oscar winner for Best Actress) is adopted. She was born Cynthia Ann Smith in Chicago, Illinois, was adopted as a toddler by Noreen and Vernon McDormand and renamed Frances Louise McDormand. Fran McDormand has said that her biological mother may have been one of the parishioners at one of Vernon's churches where he was a pastor. She has a sister and brother, both of whom were adopted by the McDormand's, who had no biological children due to many miscarriages.
    McDormand harbors great resentment toward her original Mother for surrendering her for adoption--the concept of "she loved me SO much she gave me away" was apparently, and understandably, totally lost on her as it is an almost untenable notion. I came across this NYT 03/2017 interview where she described how her adoption has heavily impacted her life/career. She is also an adoptive parent to a grown son (adopted as an infant from Paraguay). Not sure what your rules about copy and paste but here are some interesting paragraphs taken from a recent interview with her. This Academy honor now affords Fran a unique platform for speaking the truth to some of THE most powerful movers and shakers and believers in equality in our modern culture ~ i.e. "rider inclusion". That she would use it to shine some light on the industry who revels in swapping babies around would be refreshing.
    From the nyt interview--"...Recently, at a benefit for her local radio station, McDormand introduced herself this way: “Hello. My name is Frances Louise McDormand, formerly known as Cynthia Ann Smith. I was born in Gibson City, Ill., in 1957. I identify as gender-normative, heterosexual and white-trash American.” She explained: “My parents were not white trash. My birth mother was white trash.”

    The interview continues.. "...McDormand was the last and, she thinks, ninth child to be taken in by Noreen and Vernon McDormand. Vernon was a pastor with the Disciples of Christ who had a talent for starting new outposts of the church. He and Noreen moved between working-class communities in the South and the Midwest every few years, and because Noreen was never able to carry a pregnancy to term, the couple fostered children wherever they went. They adopted two, a son and a daughter, through the foster system. In the late ’50s, they adopted their third, a 1-year-old named Cynthia, who, as far as anyone knows, was born to a young woman in Vernon’s parish. They changed her name to Frances. In her late teens, McDormand was offered the chance to meet her birth mother, and she refused. The anger she felt at being unwanted had become too important a part of her psychology, she thought. Still, she sounds proud when she calls herself “white trash” like her birth mother, and she has spent much of her career playing women who, in one way or another, resemble that description."
    And lastly, ..."The day before I flew there to CA to visit her, McDormand decided, after some deliberation, that I was not invited to her house. “It is mine,” she emailed me, “and I also don’t like articles where actors reveal their private lives.” This was part of a longer missive about her complex relationship to anger, and the pain of being adopted, so I pushed back. She was unmoved. Her reply was a link to the online portfolio of the architect who helped them with their last renovation and a dare: “Guess which is ours.”
    I don't know the story behind her being surrendered..but it sure seems she wasn't too pleased with any reasons she was given...in spite of her success in life.




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    1. Really sad. Birth mother is white trash, and not worth any consideration. It was obviously too painful an experience for her to face, which would have brought up a lot of hurt. She has a right to her own feelings.

      Still - since her birth mother kept her for awhile, there was obviously something bad going on at the time of relinquishment; a birth mother can bring clarification and answer the question of "why". This can't make things all right, but it could bring some peace of mind - at least it is no longer a mystery.

      I wonder who put the idea in her head that her birth mother was white trash, or any kind of trash? Her adoptive parents, surely.

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    2. Wow, I did not know that. Since we have seen play out the connection between the adopted and the natural mother resemble each other in many ways, her portrayal of women like she imagines her mother is at the very least, interesting.

      I know at least two women past the age of sixty who profess absolutely no interest in meeting or knowing about their natural parents. One is a therapist whose first name is very Irish she appears to be; but she is scrupulously Jewish, as her adoptive parents were. However, now she is in a long-term relationship with someone very not Jewish but very waspy. I have trouble imagining her as a therapist to an adoptee who is curious.

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  18. If I may--I have since read the McDormand "is" a proponent of adoption--presumedly 'infant adoption' since that's the route she took. Since she identifies so strongly with the Mothering instinct, I can't help but think she could evolve her position to one of more acceptance of her son's family of origin and of his original Mother if she allowed herself to consider current studies and data and work to share the findings with those who chose to ignore it. Sadly, Pedro's Mother may have been simply too impoverished to care for her new baby...and wealthy Americans were more than happy to relieve her of her child and raise him as THEIR OWN. I'm sorry for him that they are so far away-- I hope his birth name was Pedro.

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  19. I think one reason adoptive parents tell their children that their mothers loved them so much that they made the hard decision to have them adopted is that it is very hard to not tell a child that their mom loved them. It is not an esoteric discussion but a real talk with a flesh and blood innocent child. I think it is human nature to console and tell a child yes your mom loved you.

    I am an adoptive mom. I have told my child that his mom loved him. I don't know for sure if that was true as I did not have the chance to meet her, but I base my answer upon the idea that I have that moms love their children. It is not part of a nefarious plot to push adoption, it is just me in that moment dealing with a beloved and vulnerable child who was separated from their family of origin. I want love to pour down upon this child, I want him to feel deeply worthy and deeply loved.

    I am an adoptive mom, though I may not fit the profile of the adoptive mom I see on this site - I am single, I am fertile and I adopted because this child needed a home or would have grown up in the system. I am very blessed, and all I want to do is give him the best life I can. I don't want him to feel defined by losses created by others.

    I know lots of adoptive parents, I have made it a priority to have other adopted children in our circle so he does not feel alone or weird, to know other kids are adopted too. These parents that I know are motivated by love for their children as far as I can see. I have never heard any of them say anything negative about their children's parents. Adoption is hard, I don't think anyone wishes for a child to lose their family but I think a child deserves a family if they have suffered that loss.

    I read this blog from time to time because I want to know as much as I can to help him thrive and face his life and his challenges. Thanks for letting me post

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    1. Of course it's a good thing to tell a child that his natural mother loved him! It's the rest of the line that makes us throw up--that a mother loved a child so much "that she gave you up." That's where the BS sets in. It's much better just to say nothing, or say she couldn't keep you for whatever reason. The child has to know that the "she gave you up because she loved you" doesn't make any real sense.

      And Green, thanks for posting. If you come by often, you'll see that other adoptive parents also post.

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    2. [ I want love to pour down upon this child, I want him to feel deeply worthy and deeply loved.]

      Speaking as an adoptee, who has always known she was adopted, I have to say that *feeling* worthy means being kept, as it does for many children.

      I wasn't dumb as a kid. I had eyes and ears and a brain, and I could observe that many children who are "deeply worthy and deeply loved" are the ones who are kept.

      Obviously this is a child's perspective, and adult me knows that no amount of love can pay hospital fees, medical bills, reverse shitty laws, or magically overcome shitty economic wages -- but still. To be kept is to be worthy of BEING someone's child, preferably our mothers. The ones who carried and conceived us.

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  20. Gawd the bullshit from the adoptive parents. Don't rescue us. Don't act like you are doing us a favor. Don't act like we "needed" a home and how convenient it was YOUR home.

    When are you going to say "we need to stop adoption"? Never probably. When are we going to demand that you can not take someone else's child into your home unless you also take in a woman and her child. Then you can say to us "see, nobody would help your mother keep you and that is why I get to have you" It should be a requirement. You can't have someone else's kid without helping a family stay together.

    You build your family on the misery of my mother and you want me to love you? How is that supposed to happen? I will love you alright, with my fingers crossed and I the older I get the more the fingers will cross.

    We live in a world where nobody wants us to love our mothers. We are the only ones of our kind and we have to be the brave ones.

    Bring back the orphanages, make them like high end boarding schools and keep all of us together and stop farming us out adoptive parents. Let it really be about us for once.

    and no, nobody loves their child so much. Load of crock.

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  21. I have to weigh in on this, & perhaps, I can offer some insight in to the castastrof*ck otherwise known as Utah.

    In all likelyhood, there’s a reasonable chance Hannah will still marry the guy who is serving an LDS mission. Part of the thing is that he has received what Mormons call, ‘endowments.’ This means that he went through a bunch of interviews with his bishop & church elders & deemed ‘worthy’ enough to go through the temple & be given the so-called ‘power’ of becoming a messenger of God—the ceremony where he gets the endowments of garments (often known as magic underwear.)

    Part of the interview process is all about his ‘purity.’ Depending on when he left, he may have already confessed & claimed to be sorry, blah, blah, blah. The church wants those missionary numbers to stay high, so if he was paying them 10% of his income & all of that stuff, they most likely accepted his repentance & sent him anyway.

    The girl, however, is compared to a piece of used gum. No one wants gum that’s been used. In order to show her sorrow/repent, protect any semblance of virtue she may have & possibly get to marry her return missionary (assuming he doesn’t actually dump her &/or hasn’t been forbidden to contact her at all—it’s her fault he committed a sin that’s second only to murder) she gave the baby up for adoption.

    If all goes well & their church elders think the two have repented enough, eventually her missionary bf may be able to marry her assuming they stay chaste.

    Here’s the thing I think you may be missing... many may be missing... her viral video may be the only way that kid does end up learning who she is. Mormons seal Utah adoption records. I couldn’t get mine unsealed even though I have life threatening medical issues. When it became common knowledge that people were using Ancestry DNA to try to connect with biological family members, the church blocked the information that one could obtain.

    If you go to a family history library, you absolutely cannot mention the word, ‘adoption.’ They will kick you out. Because Mormons believe in the idea of ‘eternal’ families, one of the rituals they have is being sealed for eternity in their temples. The baby will be sealed to his adoptive family. He does not exist in Hannah’s family tree any more.

    I realize this likely sounds nuts, & there is admittedly a lot I’ve left out for the sake of space, however, from a non-Mormon (never Mormon) who spends part of their time in this god forsaken state & who has dated former Mormons, I’ve learned an awful lot about their true beliefs & practices. It’s really quite disturbing on many levels. I’m happy to add clarification or additional info if someone is interested. While not all Mormons are the same, Utah Mormons & Mormons in other states are nowhere near comparable. Take the Vatican—the Mormons legitimately believe that Salt Lake City (well, the whole state, really) is essentially their Vatican, & they don’t play by any rules other than their own. No, they won't admit to it because even questioning the religion is considered ‘anti’ and grounds for excommunication. You do the math. :/

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    1. Jay, Hannah's BF died unexpectedly and that was the reason she was alone.

      We are well aware of the Utah/Mormon record on adoption. There are few good attorneys in the state, however, who have helped men who want to raise their own children. But yes, the system there is rigged against natural parents and birth outside of marriage.

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  22. Does anyone recall seeing the old, and I really mean OLd... movie..."Stella Dallas" starring Shelly Winters? Must be about 70 years old..maybe older than that. The theme of the movie is that a loving but low-class poor mother gives up her daughter to live a higher-class life with her father's richer higher class family "because she loves her daughter sooooo much..."
    Sounds familiar, doesn't it.. well yes...the theme of the "loving mother" who gives away her child and then remains "hidden" in "shame" is old, not new.
    And I call BS to that.
    I also call BS to martyrdom. It does not help.
    We need to keep loving families together.

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    1. Ah, yes, I remember Stella Dallas although the heroine was played by Barbara Stanwyck. The selfless mother giving up her child was a popular theme going back to the Victorian era. Movie like Stella Dallas, To Each His Own (Olivia DeHaviland, a single mom gives up her son), Three Secrets (three mothers who gave up their babies), other movies. These movies reinforced the notion that single mothers had to give up their babies. The mother and child had to be spared the shame at all costs. The movies also glamorized giving up a baby, a noble woman with tears in her eyes. A woman with a dark secret.

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    2. "The mother and child had to be spared the shame at all costs."

      But separating us didn't make the 'shame' go away. It created shame. Enormous amounts of shame that dive deep in the soul.

      The damnable 'you're forbidden to know where your child is and you won't ever be able to find out or to know them', THAT is what created shame. The, 'you're not good enough', 'can't be good enough', 'won't be good enough', 'you're not worth helping to be good enough', is what heaped on mountains of shame where none had existed. The, 'your not even worth getting a picture of your baby to carry with you' is what hammered shame into every cell, along with an ocean of sorrow.

      And everybody gets told it's all our fault they have to keep records closed and birth certificates sealed to protect us. More blame and shame dumped on us.

      But that's ok. We're strong and selfless and brave, right? (Total snark)

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    3. Those films were as manipulative, and probably as insidiously effective, as those that promoted smoking by having glamorous film stars always with a cigarette in their fingers.

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  23. And there's that one with Loretta Young, who "adopted" her and Clark Gable's daughter, to keep the fact that she was Young's natural daughter secret. I wrote about it a while back:

    Loretta Young's 'adopted' daughter wasn't adopted at all

    For a while it was a universal theme; now we have Juno in a more modern idiom. Abortion rarely exists in movies, as if it were not the choice of more than 650,000 in 2017. Yet in the movies? It neva happens.

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