' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: PTSD--Everyone else can have it, but not birth first natural mothers

Thursday, July 12, 2018

PTSD--Everyone else can have it, but not birth first natural mothers

I love that the 13 people got out of the cave in Thailand. I love that they are all right, basically. But now on TV they are talking about how they boys will have PTSD. However first mothers are supposed to give up our children and not even talk about, yet it is a lifelong arrow to the heart that bleeds and bleeds....

Personally, if I tell someone my story in a single sentence, they immediately understand the pain involved, and that it must be a lifelong tragedy. It's just not supposed to be talked about because it is still shameful, no matter that there are "proud birth mothers," or that we have supposedly progressed as a open society. It is still understood as a terrible blot on the trajectory of one's life, no matter how the agency-speak gobbledygook tries to obfuscate and diminish the pain of losing a child to adoption.

I watched a program on PBS last night and it showed a yaks in Nepal being herded to the summer pasture down a dangerous steep ravine, and some of the calves had been born prematurely and the trip was incredibly difficult for them. One of them was only a day old! One of the calves was hurt going down and had to be carried the rest of the way by the herders. So the woman picks up the calf and begins walking, and of course she is immediately followed closely by the calf's mother. Whether mammal or man, it is nature to stay with our babies. Besides, we are mammals too.

Another time I was horseback riding, and a mare and her foal were in a pen as we were coming back to the barn. Two guys came along to take the foal back first and the mare went absolutely nuts as her foal was being pulled away, all the while the foal is also resisting being separated and making a huge fuss. The whole process was heart-wrenching to watch. The woman who runs the place ran out and started yelling at the guys to not separate the mare and foal and get the mare back to the barn right away. The foal was probably less than a week old. I was there with my daughter, and I don't know if she got the same feeling I did, but all I could think of was how it was when she and I were separated. We never spoke of the incident yet it burns in my memory.

How can we ever tell the world out story? The media has gorged, rightfully so, on the stories of the separation of mothers and children at the border with the insane policy that Trump inaugurated. Nearly everyone has agreed that it is inhumane; it reminded me of how the Nazis got started. One step at a time. And yet, when I've tried to get out story into the mainstream media--about the pain and and long-term effect of losing our children to adoption--I have been rebuffed. One time even after I spent months working with an editor who thought the story was a go--until she passed it onto the top editor. I never got an explanation of why, but I knew. Nobody wants to know about our pain.

Recently I even heard that an academic who has written a great deal about adoption questioned if birth mothers actually suffered so much, where was the research? It is there, but you have to look for it, and if you want to call it "garbage" for some bogus reason, you can ignore it. At a conference once with the academic Rickie Solinger, who has written in depth about the milieu of the Baby Scoop Era, as well as the women who relinquished their children, I and others there felt that she treated us all as lab rats for her research.

No one really wants to know about a birth mother's pain. Because doing so would hurt adoption. Not just the adoption industry, but our pain being noted would put a damper on all those people who want adoption to be available to them "should they need it." And many of them run the media, run publishing, run the flow of information to the world. Hearing about our pain, suggesting that we need counseling for PTSD, would upset the apple cart of adoption. --lorraine
Thanks for ordering through FMF!
Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
on June 1, 2018
Dusky spills her heart on the page in this account of relinquishing her daughter and reconnecting with her years later. Her experience provides a window into the world of adoption as it existed in the 1960s and for many years after. Her tireless efforts to shed light and truth where only secrecy existed before is so very appreciated by this adoptee. This story that will stay with readers long after the last page is turned. Thank you for being bold enough to share.


  1. I can understand that this is a constant pain. Losing a child is the worst pain. That you do so for hopefully a better life for the child than you can provide m, doesn’t necessarily mean no pain.

    Some mothers do move on. Life continues with so much that not much left to dwell on the lost child. Yes, there are such

    For those in pain, sometimes it’s worse when the child is found. Most often the child has bonded with adoptive parent and they are the true parents in heart and soul and mind of child. Shanara Mobley whose infant was Kidnapped is hurting badly over the reality that her daughter still considers the Kidnapper as her mother. But there is no winning such arguments

    Prayers for salve on those pains. You did the best you could at the time.

  2. It's true, birth mothers have done the unthinkable - given away their child. But of course there are many good reasons why. It isn't a decision made in haste, and most of the time, is imposed by family members and society. Yet any "explanations" on our part are interpreted as "excuses". It's a scarlet letter of the worst kind, and we are the lowest of the low.

    I do think that reunion is always a good thing though, no matter what. Every child (every person) deserves to know what the reality is - and often, it isn't as bad as what they think, what they've been told, or what their fears have made it to be.

    I agree, we did the best we could at the time, and mostly - with no support, sympathy or caring from anyone. People think that if a woman is foolish enough to get pregnant, even within marriage, then she gets exactly what she deserves. And they don't hesitate to express this to a mother, whether married or single.

    1. Oh so true to be damned for getting pregnant married or not! The truth hurts but it does give you a much broader base to stand firm on your own.

    2. Giving up a child is not unthinkable. Had been done as long ago in time as there have been babies.
      In Far East cultures, I know often done within families particularly.

      Of course anyone can get and all sorts of people and situations get PTSD. You don’t read or hear of it as much in Mothers who give up their newborns in an unwanted pregnancy.

    3. Rebecca, you keep using the phrase 'unwanted pregnancy'. I would submit that that term is only accurate in some pregnancies that resulted in loss of the child to adoption.

      Many were --unplanned-- yes. Some were even 'planned' in the sense of wanting a child.

      If yours was an unwanted pregnancy fine. You cannot speak to every pregnancy that ended in adoption as being an 'unwanted pregnancy'.

      Or if you do, elaborate by saying that it was often those around the mother who did not want her pregnant.

      The pregnancy, the child, the son, the daughter, was certainly NOT unwanted by the mother. You have been around long enough to know that MANY mothers have stated they WANTED their child /never wanted to surrender, ergo, WANTED pregnancy.

  3. The separation of mothers and children started long ago and that's just the thing. People act as if it is something new. It's not new at all. They have been kept in the dark due to the dark side of adoption being kept from them. It is dismissed. They dismiss our trauma and pain because 1)people must be made to believe it's almost always a voluntary, fully informed, non-pressured, supported either way she goes, mothers -choice-, 2)they MUST continue to have a supply of newborns and small children to place with those that want same. Loss to adoption cannot be a lifelong, extremely painful suffering that effects daily functioning. People might start making a fuss and calling it inhumane if they knew. It seems most cannot even begin to associate adoption with what is happening at the border. Many mothers can. It's called PTSD. Though I would say to hell with the disorder part. The others were disordered, out of order, out of line, cruel, selfish, and inhumane(?) and created my post traumatic stress.

    If it does not cause PTSD, why do they strongly recommend that mothers have access to lifelong counseling? I'd hardly think they would if it was simply a matter of being sad from time to time. They know better but won't admit it as it's bad for business.

    The shutting up and minimizing of the suffering involved is a very large part of why this inhumane shit is going on at the border. Babies and toddlers desperately needed to fill orders. To hell with the lifelong trauma, suffering and heartsickness of mothers and fathers and family members. To hell with the extreme trauma and suffering of the children. We'll distract the kids and teach them this was a good thing... and they'll come to love us. No matter how much difficulty they have and no matter how much their parents suffer for the rest of their lives. Who cares about that... after all, adoption promoters say mothers get on with their lives. It'll all be OKAAAAAAAAAY. The kids will bond with others and it will all be OKAAAAAAAAY. Destruction of family. Minimizing the importance of mothers and fathers. Substitutes are fine. A Handmaids Tale.

    Promoters don't see it, but the rest of the world is seeing clearly how this nation can rip mothers, fathers, infants and children apart and do everything in their power to separate and make reunification difficult or impossible. Separation permanent. Lost in the mists of time. Yup. Sure sounds like adoption to me.

  4. Rebecca Yourig,
    Did you surrender a newborn infant for adoption? I did. I do not consider the pain I continue to feel or the PTSD I have had for more than 30 years (flasbacks, nightmares, etc.) as "dwelling on the lost child". Signed Nicolas' Lucina

    1. Rebecca: Certainly, you drank the Kool Aid of industry propaganda. That "better life" is designed for mother and child to experience support from family and community to remain together no matter what.

    2. Lorraine: I too thought of the Nazi separation of families and their children - a perfect system for profit by the adoption and child trafficking industry.

    3. A lot of women did choose the route of giving up child for adoption back in my day. It was common. Many do not dwell on it. Do not want to see the child.

    4. Rebecca, what is your perspective from which you see our story? Because your comments are such a different perspective, it would be helpful to note every time you comment. You could be a natural mother who does not want contact but are fascinated by reading from others.

  5. Richie Chiger, a man who has spent his adult life promoting the welfare of elephants told me a horrific story about a young elephant taken from her mother to populate another zoo. In nature female elephants stay with their mothers for life; male elephants leave the herd about the age of 14. When zoo staff took the two year old female elephant from her mother, the mother's rage was so great the staff had to hold her down with chains.

    The UK, Australia, and Ireland are way ahead of the US in recognizing the wrongs of forced infant adoption. In a recent speech in Parliament urging the UK to apologize to women coerced into surrendering their babies, MP Alison McGovern told of Sara: "Since that time, my constituent Sara, an adult whose mum was also treated in this way, has been in touch with me. Sara now runs a small charity that helps people to trace family members. She has explained to me how long-standing distress caused by the practices we will discuss today can cloud a person’s whole life. Sara has suggested to me that the Government might want to consider a small specialised service dedicated to the group affected. ... It is estimated that about half a million British women were treated in this fashion, all of whom have families who are affected and all of whom must have been profoundly changed by the experience." https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-07-12/debates/6F6A5DB8-85C8-4AF8-B627-4A8776AD7843/ForcedAdoptionInTheUK

    Thanks to Australian mum Evelyn Robinson for sending me this link.

  6. I just wanted to give a heads up that Caitlin, from 16 and pregnant is going to be on "What would you do?" on ABC tonight at 9 PM EST. The show is going to involve scenes where actors playing the parents of pregnant teenagers try to pressure the kids into going through with adoption plans after the expectant mothers start to waiver.

  7. Many of my friends are involved with social justice issues and some of them have been screamingly angry about the separation of immigrant children from their mothers at our southern border. So far, their social justice fervor has not extended to the loss of family we vulnerable mothers of the 1960's and prior have suffered. I will keep talking about my situation when it seems to fit into the many "ain't it awful" political and social policy discussions in which I find myself. And, since I also find myself in the situation of having my attempts at reunion rejected, I will continue to speak up, in general, about early childhood trauma. In accepting that, in the unchangeable past, I was exiled from my own child, I still do not accept that I remain silent about the insidious gender bias and socioeconomic bigotry involved in that exile.

  8. Talking about my younger daughter is always a touchy subject. I'd long ago accepted the choices I'd made in relinquishing her, but never really made peace with it. I'd never gone to therapy for it or even considered it really. My older daughter and I have recently been working with a family therapist who, upon learning about the relinquished daughter, started pushing with more questions about it. I admit I shut down. I didn't want to talk about it. The more she pushed for answers, the more agitated I got about it. Even my daughter was surprised at how quick the gears shifted in my responses.

    I know I have triggers and other issues from the relinquishment. My dad has suggested I most likely have PTSD from the bad marriage and the adoption just added to my triggers. I don't know if I do or not, but I'm sure many other mothers do indeed have it. The hard part is seeking help for it because most people don't want to believe adoption can be this traumatic.

  9. It's been said in the comments here and many times before that the first mothers are blamed and shamed by society and the family. It is an inarguable fact.

    I was shocked to find out that this blame is carried through from the moment of conception to the present day, even when the adoption was half a century ago. The bio family can transfer that blame to the adoptee even in the happiest of reunion circumstances. In other words, the adoptee 'deserved' to be adopted for having made Mom pregnant with him or herself - or for having been an inconvenient child.

    This transfer is further proof that the blame and shame sometimes never goes away, it's always there right below the surface, ready to be used against Mom at anytime, or the newer and only other possible focus - the adoptee - and is placed upon the adoptee when they appear (or cause 'problems' with the status quo).

    It is no wonder then, with this constant pressure as evidenced, that Moms have PTSD. I'm 100% convinced that the situation makes PTSD the most likely outcome. The 'gaslightee' may not be able to recognize it and call it out for what it truly is for a variety of psychologically sound reasons.

    Shame to the bio family for their lack of support and human compassion! The energy they put into the shaming and blaming could have put to much better use!) They are the real ethical and moral embarrassments! And yes, i'm talking about you too, Grandma!

  10. Wonderful discussion here. I too have PTSD and didn't even know it. I had a major episode in my mid-20s with a crying jag that lasted for days. I had so swallowed the fact that I should just move on that it never even occurred to me at the time what it was I was responding to. I thought it was simply exhaustion from poverty and the final end of my relationship with my youngest' father (alcoholic and parasitic at the end). I never tried to 'forget' and had always told close friends about my experience, but it never occurred to me that I might have PTSD since there is no narrative for it. A few years back, after reunion and some very upsetting details about my son's life were revealed, I had a similar episode which left me catatonic for days. Fortunately, I was see a counselor at the time and she told me I had mild PTSD. I've learned through the years from that and other struggles to keep quiet about my own struggles, because no one wants to hear it - not even the social justice folks.

    I think there is a deep rooted misogyny in our culture that is even internalized by feminists, especially when it comes to reproduction. There is SO much focus on pro-choice with no room in the narrative for pro birth and parenting. I have been very disappointed to hear about Rickie Solinger's attitudes when invited to speak. Her historical writing is so critical to uncovering our story. But academics have their own set of issues and can get swept up in PC politics. She recently wrote a book with Loretta Ross, _Reproductive Justice: An Introduction_. While the book is filled with discussion on the injustices suffered by Black women, there is absolutely no mention of the Baby Scoop Era or the continued practice by the adoption industry of coercing young women into relinquishing their children. As Loretta Ross is a Black woman who was pivotal in raising her voice on the injustices suffered by Black women, this is not suprising. And that is a critical reality to be addressed. And that is not what concerns me. What concerns me is that this book is being written as a primer to be used in college women & gender studies classes with no mention of the full spectrum of injustices. That Solinger has a long history of examining the issues and yet chose not to push for their inclusion in this publication, is very troubling.

    She is the invited speaker to CUB in October and I will be addressing her public on this glaring omission.



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