' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Lies in Adoption: You will have another child and other fallacies fed to first mothers and their adopted 'children'

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Lies in Adoption: You will have another child and other fallacies fed to first mothers and their adopted 'children'

"You will have another child and put this one behind you." Around a third of all women who surrender a child will never have another--more than half because they chose not to; the rest because they cannot get pregnant again.

"I am so sorry to tell you that your baby died right after birth." Could be true. Could be a convenient lie--who's ever going to know the difference? 

"You must forget and think of your child as dead." Not necessarily a lie, but a directive instead, an order impossible for most to follow, though some seem to come close. A priest told this to one of my friends. She found her daughter shortly after I found mine.

From the past: "The neighbors don't know and they aren't going to." Actually, they almost certainly already know. 

"We have a wonderful, professional couple for the baby." In closed adoption--maybe true, maybe not. What we do know is that the profiles and pretty pictures of waiting couples are burnished to a welcoming gold as they appear to anxious women planning to relinquish their children.

"The young woman is a college student who had a brief affair after her fiance died." This malarkey was fed to a couple adopting through the now-closed Louise Wise Agency in New York City, while the truth was that the mother was a lobotomized schizophrenic and the father was also a mental patient. The child born also became schizophrenic, and at his request, his parents sued Louise Wise and ultimately that led to that truly awful agency closing. Wise is also the agency in the movie Three Identical Strangers, where identical triplets were separated as part of a social experiment (straight out of a Nazi handbook, I add) and given to different parents. No one knew but the monsters at Louise Wise, whose minions always fought against unsealing birth records. The agency closed in 2010. While this is one story, there are countless variations on this theme, making up stories both about the natural birth mother, and conversely, about the adoptive parents to the woman considering adoption.

"She [avoids the use of 'your mother'] didn't want you...." How terribly convenient. 

"She loved you so much she let us have you...." Again, various ways to phrase this to sugarcoat what feels like abandonment to the adopted.

Lie of Omission: Not telling husbands and children born later about the firstborn. Look for deathbed confessions, as happened to a family I'm close to. DNA is making this option less ironclad, even if you kept the baby secret from family and friends and the one person who knew died last year.

Daughter Jane with Lorraine, 1982
We are looking into our own wills, and the attorney told us the story of someone who came in and an adopted person had recently popped up in another client family--in this case, even the husband did not know about his wife's firstborn. Family drama ensued. Everyone upset, especially the other children. Now they have to share the family fortune with an unexpected sibling.

The big lie of omission: Never telling someone they are adopted. Then they find out and all hell breaks loose. Mom and Dad, just what else have you been lying about?

Amended birth certificates: Big lies. Names not related to birth, but adoption. Date of birth and place may also be altered in some circumstances. It happens.

"It's the same as if you were born to me." Until the relatives see the will, or want the family heirlooms, especially the valuable stuff, because you know, "you aren't blood." That three-carat diamond brooch with the pretty blue enamel inlay that was grandmother's really ought to go to my daughter because...it should be kept "in the family."

"It's the same as if you were born to me." Until you overhear Grandma say (when she doesn't think you can hear) to your mamma--Don't you wish you had one of your own? Or when mamma drunkenly says at a natural child's funeral: He was my favorite. Both of these happened to my daughter.

I'm in a pique today about lies, brought upon by a story recently in the news about 88-year-old Genevieve Purinton of Tampa who recently learned that her daughter did not die at birth. Ancestry DNA put the daughter, 69-year-old Connie Moultroup, in touch with a relative. The media report doesn't say how daughter Connie had her birth mother's name, but the name did pop up on Moultroup's  DNA match list. She called the woman, asked if she knew a Genevieve Purinton, and the woman said: That's my aunt. A tearful reunion soon followed at the nursing home where Connie lives. Genevieve's daughter was not dead afterall; nor did not have a fairy tale adoption.

Then last Sunday, the Ethicist columnist in The New York Times, Kwame Anthony Appiah, whom we excoriated previously for his pronouncements to a birth mother in hiding, came out in favor of Truth about parentage. Name Withheld wanted to know if his 82-year-old father, who is preparing his will, should be told that Name Withheld's brother likely is not Dad's biological son. NW stated that his siblings, as well as the brother in question, and their mother as well (divorced from dad) all suspect this. Should his father be told before he dies? Note that it was the writing of a will that prompted this question.

Appiah was quite definite in his response: "You may think that the pain the revelation might give your father would be a strong enough reason to let him go to his grave in ignorance. I'm inclined to doubt it--in important matters, we usually do best by defaulting to the truth...." Appiah also noted that NW's father might not be as unaware of the situation as imagined.

Hurrah! Then I was reminded of a similar story among my own acquaintances: Dad's too frail to hear about the son my friend fathered, said his wife. Ha, I said to myself, she's worried about the inheritance of her own two children. We were not close any longer when the birth father phoned me, full of excitement about meeting the son he never knew about until a few months ago, sharing how they both smoked Kent cigarettes, how his son was not only at the same university he attended, he was majoring in the same field, what a great lunch they had! His wife, whom I also knew, wanted the whole story--and the long-lost son--kept secret, not only from Grandad with the big bucks, but also her two children--half siblings of the adopted son.

Some natural mothers--especially in the era of closed adoption--were fed a passel of lies, but they could either cling to them, or see them for what they are worth. Adoptees face a different world: they are fed lies about their life, their origins, and some must feel as if they are living a fake life, while it is the only life they know. It's no wonder that unfortunately some end up with a loose relationship with the truth: so much of their life, and identity, is based on a hidden reality.

As psychologist David Kirschner wrote about treating adopted adolescents: "The fantasies, reflected in projective personality tests, were usually spun around two sets of parents, one set being viewed as the good parents, the other the bad. There were also elaborate themes of loss, abandonment, and rejection; and the child's behavior problems often including lying, as they felt they had been lied to; stealing, to compensate for the theft of their identity; running away, a symbolic effort to find their biologic roots and an environment in which they felt they fit and belonged."

That reveals the biggest transgression of all in adoption: that adoption is not damaging to the soul. Some people survive it better than others; my daughter was not one of them. Today is the tenth anniversary of her death. Many factors contributed to her suicide, but she is one who never got over the incredible trauma of being relinquished by her first mother.--lorraine
Tears Flow as 88-Year-old Finally Meets at Meets Biological Daughter She Though Died at Birth

Safe-Guarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birth Parents

Do I Tell My Father That My Brother Might Not Be His Son?
Adoption: Uncharted Waters
By David Kirschner, PhD
Carol Chandler
Should be mandatory reading for therapists....
Adoption: Uncharted Waters... a fascinating and sometimes chilling depiction of how profoundly the experience of having lost one's mother can impact some adoptees. This is an important piece of literature that should be in the library of anyone who counsels or even loves an adoptee.


  1. It seems like a big "duh" to say that Truth has to be the better way to do things.

    Lorraine, I am abiding with you on this day of remembering your daughter.

  2. Sending you love on this difficult day

  3. Sending support those anniversaries of the heart are very hard days. It seems like it never gets easier you just get stronger.

  4. Today, around the world, First Mothers suffer with you for never ending loss of their children, as there is no end to the aberration of the adoption industry.

    I send you my prayers in memory of your beautiful daughter.

  5. My thoughts and prayers are with you during the anniversary of your daughter’s death. Suicide is so painful for those of us left behind. My first mother took her own life almost five years ago now. She never got over how her family treated her when she was pregnant with me. While I know that she had other problems leading up to her death, the toxic family cycle that began long before her unplanned pregnancy continued until her last breath.
    I send you love and light in this difficult time.

  6. And thank you, Lorraine for being here for us.

  7. It kills me all the priests said to unwed mothers while they were molesting alter boys...Hypocrites and assholes (who should be in jail). I thought Christians weren't supposed to lie or bear false witness against each other either. Hmm, this whole religion is a joke to me. As for the adopters who wanted to sue for the "defunct product", I must ask who the hell do natural parents sue if their child is mentally ill? God? The atrocities committed by the members of the adoption club against you mothers and we adoptees never cease to amaze me.

    1. Anon, 5:38 PM Agreeing with you.
      When we give birth, and especially in the past, before it was possible to map genes, parents were really rolling the dice. Very little was known of medical conditions, and a great deal of shame was attached to any possible "mental oddness" that a person might exhibit.
      I was born right after WW2, and grew up during those years. All I recall was that most "conditions" were thought to be environmentally caused or psychological. Very little was thought to be genetic. It wasn't until decades later that the thinking began to reverse.
      Oddly, the adoption reunion movement helped to prove the case for genetic influences. But we have a long way to go.
      Thumbs up for your comment, if I could!!!

  8. The people who sued Louise Wise did so at the behest of their schizophrenic son--for the lie about what his parents were told. In this case, the adoptive parents are not the bad guys; Louise Wise was a terrible agency that hid files, separated identical twins and triplets without telling them or the natural mothers; destroyed files--and then fought tooth and nail until they went out of business to keep adoption records and original birth certificates sealed. They used words like "catastrophic" and "disaster" if the records were opened; a disaster for the agency is what they actually meant.

  9. I just caught that your daughter took her life. I didn't see that before. I'm sorry. I'm glad those adopters weren't suing for themselves, it's refreshing and weird to see two of them do something selfless for a change. I'm glad Wise went out of business. They remind me of those aholes like Silver in NY you've written about. I hope he ends up in jail so he gets a nasty taste of the oppression he hands out to all of us without pause.

  10. I was fed many lies. The first was that there was no help for me to keep my baby. That the adoptive parents would let me have an open adoption. Visits, pictures and updates on an ongoing basis. They told me that they would keep my daughter's name that I picked out for her. That they would call me from the hospital when they picked her up so I could say bye to her.

    And, I am sorry for your loss Lorraine.

    What I learned since, was that they were not planning on telling her she was even adopted. They changed her name. They didn't call me from the hospital. They planned on closing the adoption after 3 years. They never were going to allow visits.

    These lies then transferred to the child I gave birth to, but was denied motherhood thereof. She was told a version, their version, which has omitted me, and my truth. Lies so vile that she doesn't want to know me.

    I had a child later. It took me 15 years. The first ten I was infertile. I'm still not sure that having another child was the right thing. The scars from the adoption rape of my body has left scars forever in my heart. I know that my ability to parent has been affected negatively.



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