Dear Adoptive Mother

The only times I seem to post lately is when I am running on pure emotions..usually not the happiest of emotions but emotions none the less. Lately I am taking the time to read the blogs and the words of other women who share my adoption journey as a mother of loss. The raw emotions in the words of these women often leave me feeling bruised and cleansed at the same time. There are others who feel my pain, there are others who walk this path and while our experiences are unique the majority of us a united in one bond of sisterhood.

What often strikes me as alarming is the same stories continue to repeat themselves over and over ..so many women and girls were forced to relinquish due to lack of support from family and friends, so many women and their babies abandoned and made to feel less than by the people who are supposed to love them best. The deeper tragedy is in how the adoptions are handled..women in the pre Roe Vs Wade era shuttled off to maternity prisons and treated like second class citizens ..told to forget what happened and move on with their lives their children better of without them. No names, no information, often times not even knowing if the baby they just birthed was a boy or a girl. The women in the post Roe V Wade era, some victims of the old closed adoption system others promised “open” adoption where they choose the parents of their child. Hopeful adopters who more likely than not have yet to resolve or grieve their infertility and willing to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to achieve their goal of parenthood.

Open adoptions filled with “Dear Birthmother” letters, booklets (and now online profiles)  and meetings filled with promises of joined families, blessings and love for a yet born infant. SO many promises are made in those days before the baby arrives. The potential adopters more often than not look so happy in their wonderful home surrounded by family..their lives perfect. The only thing missing from these pictures is your infant. This is all presented in such a neat package I swear I want these people adopting me. Most women who get caught up in this are reminded by their agency or well meaning family members they simply cannot change their minds seeing that the adopters will be hurt. So trying to do the “right” thing and not wanting to hurt these lovely people many mothers sign the consent to adopt shortly after birthing their babies heavily medicated and in physical and emotional pain. In those moments mother is an angel,a selfless being but who knows when the tide changes but she suddenly morphs from an angel to a person adopters would rather not deal with. Pictures and texts become infrequent and often disappear .promises made are quickly and easily forgotten. I read a quote where an adoptress talked about “no more adoption phone” and settling into family life. That adoption phone was probably the only number or way to contact the adopters the mother had . so tonight I am thinking about my own letter addressed to adopters..the ones who adopted my child and all the others who break their promises, turn their backs and close adoptions …

Dear Adoptive Mother,

I want to know how it is you decided that I and my fellow sisters are no longer a part of your family? While we were pregnant you actively pursued us, said things to make us like you and made promises to us in hopes we would hand our hearts and souls over to you a/k/a our babies. You told us we are angels, you told us all about your dreams of parenting and showed us how a baby would complete the pictures in your profiles. Your hurt became our hurt, we fell in love with you and chose you based on your words and actions. We believed you.

Then baby was born and we allowed you into one of the most intimate moments of our lives and often times allowed you to share in the cutting of the cord and holding baby soon after it was born. You hugged us, kissed us, took photos with us and held your breath until we signed the papers and filled with physical and emotional pain we said goodbye to our babies filled with hope because you made so many promises. We left the hospital with broken hearts, empty arms and lives that will never be the same again..you walked away with our children and from that moment you were different as well.

While we were pregnant you called or texted every day..now it is maybe once a month if at all. All those photos you promised have yet to arrive. We are hurting and those photos that you choose to send to your family and your friends mean more to us than you can fathom. Suddenly you are an expert on our babies and we are nothing..do you forget that we loved and nurtured that baby for 40 weeks? Do you forget that our babies are mourning as well?  Who are you to decide that we are no longer welcome in our children’s lives? Do you forget that without us you would not have that baby you longed to have?

Who are you to break your promises and to lie to us? While you may not think much of us..we love and respect you for nothing more than you are the parent of our children. You have no right to treat us with the indignity that you often do. Instead of making us walk on proverbial eggshells around you attempting to preserve what bits of a relationship we can in order to see our children..treat us with respect and dignity since we are the mothers of your children. Honor your words and honor your promises. You have no right to close any adoption unless we are abusing our children. Of course we want to know what is going on in their lives more than once or twice a year and no we are not going to come back and kidnap our children from you. Give us a little more credit than that old stereotype ..because for every little stereotype you have of us there are just as many for you. The only thing we fear with you is you packing up and running with our children leaving us to ache and wonder where they are and if they are alright. Remember this …we chose you..honor our relationship for no other reason than it is in the best interest of our children.

So Adoptive Mother I leave you with this ..we have held up our end of the bargain for the most part and now it is time for you to do in kind…let go of your fear and insecurity ..grieve your infertility. ..the little person you hold in your arms and in your heart is flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood. Those children are us..Our children deserve so much more than this..they deserve to know the truth

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It’s November and It is National Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Month. I am reminded of this tidbit almost every day when I turn on the television or read something on the internet regarding adoption. The Today Show has jumped on the bandwagon and highlighted Dr Nancy Snyderman who, according to the story, never thought she would parent and then a sixteen year old girl came on her radar and was willing to relinquish her child. A European couple met the baby girl they adopted from the US on the show and then there were the adoptions finalized as part of the series.

How did this morph from finding homes for children truly in need of parents ..ie.. true orphans and foster children available for adoption..to this becoming about newborn adoption? Newborn and infant adoption feed the multi billion dollar adoption industry that preys upon people who are suffering. Women who are unsure of their ability to parent who are often times made to feel less than..who are told once they contact an adoption agency, you would never want to hurt this couple. Women who are told they are selfless angels doing the right thing by their child because this couple has so much more to offer than she does. Then there is the other side who is just as vulnerable…People desperate enough to pay upwards of $50,000 to adopt  a child that they believe is the answer to their infertility nightmare. Desperate people willing to buy /pay fees for a child they believe is a blank slate and the answer to their prayers. People who have convinced themselves of the notion … don’t they deserve the chance to be parents like that 17 year old who is pregnant? I actually saw this little gem posted in a group on Facebook recently (written by a desperate hopeful adopter) and needless to say the reaction/comments reflected what side of the equation one is on (adopter vs real mother)..

” We are waiting to be a matched. I have a question for Birth moms. Every time I see a teen mom I get this overwhelming feeling that I need to let them know we are wanting to adopt. Is this a turnoff to Birth mom’s or is it “OK” to mention it to you? I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings but want to let you know we want to adopt if you choose to place.”

All I think of is who the hell are you to assume that is OK to tell someone who is pregnant that you are hoping to adopt? Is a pregnant woman that you assume is in crisis expected to look at you and say oh you are looking to adopt..well I have been waiting my whole life for you to come along and rescue me. Seriously the above sentences put into black and white what is wrong with newborn and infant adoption..the entitlement. I want a baby, you look young and you are having a baby so why don’t you just hand that little one to me so I can fulfill my need to be a mom. Sorry but it just does not work that way.

The funny thing regarding that posting was the comments were all based on who responded…here is what one adopter said “..HUGS….you are in a frustrating place right now. Just know that the wait is worth it…God will place the right child in your path at the right time. He rarely lets us in on His plan though….” They always go to God. Adopters post things like God put the child in the wrong womb or just pray and God will bring the child to you. I do not know about any of you, but I do not believe God places children in a woman’s womb for the sole purpose to give another woman who is infertile the chance to be a parent..I also do not believe God would want a woman to lose her child and suffer the traumatic loss both she and her child feel after an adoption.

Other comments to this post from women who have lost their children are more like this one..”You should never tell a pregnant woman of any age that you are wanting to adopt. Sure tell your friends, tell your family, start a blog, do what you have to do get the information out there. But you can not solicit a child just because you think a woman “might” be a good candidate for adoption.” AMEN AMEN AMEN

AT the end of the day what we have is people who are victimized by the lawyers and agencies who profit off the pain and suffering of people. The way adopters/hopeful adopters tend to deal with their pain is to turn to God and pray for a miracle. They make dear birth mother packets and market themselves as the greatest people a woman could want for her her child. Mothers expecting and unsure of what they are going to do or where they are going to turn often get caught up in the hype of look at us, we care so much about you ..you are angel sent from heaven..you are so selfless..you are a hero..you can not be selfish and think about your needs, you need to think about and put that baby’s needs first. This is the rhetoric that lately sends me over the edge.

How is it that a woman who lacks resources and support temporarily is selfish for wanting to parent HER child..yet it is completely unselfish for people willing to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to take that child from her and raise as their own to satisfy their need to parent? How is it that adopters are the heroes in all of this? How is that the adopters are the good people, the ones who deserve this child and the pregnant woman if she places is temporarily a selfless angel and if she parents a selfish whore? Answer me these questions, someone..anyone.

We never will know all the circumstances how every child is conceived..some girls have their one moment of being “bad” finally and pay the ultimate price..some are raped…some the birth control failed and some it just happens. If 2 people are married and have an OOPS pregnancy, families rally around them often times and say baby was meant to be and what a blessing this new little person is..if the woman is not married there is more often than not radio silence, some get the well do not expect to bring that baby into my home, some get the guilt trip of you are bringing shame upon the family and what will the neighbors or members of our church think? Here is what I say..no matter what the circumstances of conception, your family is blessed with a new person and instead of expecting your daughter/sister/cousin to hang her head in shame lift her up. Support her, help her to be all she can to parent her child. Show the woman love and compassion and welcome her child, your kin into your hearts..babies do not need the best of material things..what they need is a few basics along with food and diapers and a lot of love and support. There are some women who are not capable of parenting and for them adoption is more ideal than hurting and/or abandoning their children but for the most part, infant adoption should be discouraged and families supported to remain intact.

So in November let’s remember that adoption is not about finding babies for people longing to parent, but finding homes for children who need parents. Foster kids may have a story and may have some scars but they are children who are just as vulnerable as babies..they are people who deserve love and a home where they are welcome and supported.  Stop preying upon vulnerable women and lining the pockets of lawyers and adoption agencies and start helping children truly in need.

 

Out of My Adoption Coma

Ever have one of those moments when you know exactly what you want to say, but when you try to speak the words which echoed so eloquently in your head get jumbled up and barely come out? One of the most frustrating experiences you can go through right? Writing this blog is often like that for me.  Often times, I find myself mulling over topics in my head, thinking about my adoption journey and how my life was profoundly affected by a chain of events that often roll into one continuous memory. Sadly, the words in my head often times fail to translate into the computer screen and I leave many posts unfinished. Today is one of those days the words are flowing and making their way into something coherent.

The more I think about how my pregnancy unfolded,  I realize that Open Adoption was still in its infancy and secrecy still prevailed in the waning years of the 1980s …despite all the so-called progress in society. I am not a victim of the Baby Scoop Era in so much that I was not forced into a maternity home, nor was my son taken from me  against my will the moment he was born. My son was born and taken from me almost immediately because my health was in a bit of a crisis  due to  the fact I was bleeding out and needed immediate care. I was also in crisis thanks to the midwife wanting me to suffer and not handing me off to the physician for a much-needed cesarean section. However, what I realize now is that I am a victim of the Baby Scoop Era mentality when it comes to adoption and unplanned pregnancy.  There was a raging attitude of the boy scores and the girl is a whore when it came to being pregnant. At some point  someone actually said to me “well if you had not opened your legs this never would have happened”.  Touche..very true, however the difference between me and many of my friends and peers..I got caught and they didn’t. So in reality I was no better and no worse that any of them..I simply carried the evidence of my “sin”for all the world to see and judge. At 44 years old I also realize that those who judge the harshest are the ones with the most to hide. People judge others for the same things they do or have done and just not gotten caught. ..(many who are “saved” feel they are entitled to this right.) all I can say is…Stop judging people and think of all the times you got  away with speeding, you passed the test after not studying, or the pregnancy test was negative and be grateful because the difference between you and THAT person is an ounce of dumb luck.

As life unfolded and the baby went from being mine to theirs, people older and supposedly wiser than me told me that the adoption was a good idea.  The best of both worlds was the initial agreement/thought… how blessed was I?  I could walk away and get on with my life knowing my son was in a loving family that included a mother, father, 3 sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and dogs all things I could not give to him. I could go back to school, be 19…and unlike those poor girls before me I could visit my son, get pictures of him, know that he was alive and well.  People told me what a lucky girl I was to have such generous people who cleaned up my mistake.  The question I mull over now is was I really lucky? Or can I say I was just another girl who caved to societal pressure? Yeah I did what I believed to be the loving thing, I put aside my own needs and feelings and gave my child all those things I desired in childhood..stability, safety, family… Those sentiments are what got me through 17 years of separation..or so I thought. Problem was yes I was 19 but I no longer related to most of my peers. I lived a thousand years from the moment the pregnancy test was positive to the day I signed the final adoption papers.Time did not necessarily heal my wound as much as I prayed it would. I tried to get on  with my life and I did things like any 19-year-old. I  went to a few parties, went to college, acted stupid,went to the beach, wore a bikini. However, although I looked 19, unlike my friends my belly showcased where my baby once lived, I had stretch marks..my hips were rounder, my breasts were fuller  there were scars not visible to the naked eye physically and emotionally. I longed to have a family..I longed to replace my empty arms , mend my broken heart and sooth my hurting soul. I was definitely not the same..different and changed forever. I fell into what I like to think of as a 25 year coma ..the world happened all around me but I was suspended, going through the motions. Not much changed until…

The day my son wrote me a message on facebook this past April I awoke from my 25 year adoption coma. I felt feelings once buried away in a grave filled with shame and fear resurfacing . At last I  understood how delicately the pieces of me were patched together over the past 24 years. I FINALLY understood that the life I built..and it is a wonderful life for the most part that includes a loving family that my husband and I share with our children etc…teetered upon this secret remaining buried in its grave.  The beast was out of its cage at last, and for a time threatened to undo everything that was done..but it didn’t. What surfaced along with all the other feelings and emotions was an opportunity to look back at how I came to lose my son. The woman (his adoptress) I once believed as my savior was resurfacing as less than savory and yet still I love and respect her for the love and care she bestowed upon my child. Not so sure how she feels about me but that is another post all to itself.

Once I woke from the coma..I saw things with a new set of eyes and a mature and wiser outlook of a woman who is no longer the terrified girl with a baby. I am no longer the girl who feared she would damage her child by her very presence …No I began to see as a woman who has won, lost, failed, made mistakes, done some good and is learning to forgive and accept herself for the imperfections that shaped her life.  With just one message I connected with a part of my heart and soul shut off for the past 25 years. It feels good to be alive once again I must say.

The day I saw my son walk through the doors of the City West Hotel in Dublin, Ireland this past June  was filled with intense anxiety. We had been talking daily for almost 3 months and yet I was terrified of losing myself in emotion, terrified that I would not live up to any expectations he had of me. He walked through the door and all I saw was the wonderful answer to my prayers.

I knew he is all kinds of wonderful in large part thanks to me…not because I allowed another woman to parent him and be called Mom..No the reason he is so many kinds of wonderful is due to all the wonderful traits he inherited from me. Standing before me in that moment was the missing piece of my soul reconnecting at last…I knew in that moment we were where we are meant to be..together at last at the start of a new journey ..I was lost and now I am found..once I was still and now I am wide awake ..

Pie Crust Promises

I have a question to pose..how many of us actually form opinions based on facts vs feelings? Many years ago there was an adoption case that took place in Michigan known in the media as  the “Baby Jessica” case. For those of you not familiar with the case the synopsis is a young woman got pregnant and made the choice to place her daughter for adoption with a  couple in Michigan. After the mother signed a Termination of Parental Rights agreement (TPR) and falsely named another man as the father of her baby she had a change of mind, informed the true birth father of his paternity and from there things got heated. The father of “baby Jessica” informed the courts he never terminated  his parental and sued to regain custody of his daughter. The couple who at the time were in the process of adopting “Jessica” fought long and hard to keep the little girl they grew to love in their custody but ultimately lost. During the days when the story was a highlight in the national media I followed the case since it was very close to home for me. Three short years before this case was thrust into the spotlight I was “Jessica’s” birth mother in many ways and agreed to allow another family to adopt and raise my son even though I doubted my decision every step of the way.  By the time the “jessica” case was national news, I developed a sanctimonious attitude towards adoption, believing that I had done the selfless thing and gave my son a better life than I was able to offer him at the moment. I hated this birth mother and father for ripping that little girl out of the only home she knew. I believe I used the words selfish and despicable when I spoke of the birth family. Looking back, I think I needed to feel that way otherwise what I did was all wrong and the reality of my situation would haunt me.

I recently read interviews and facts that were published on this case and see it with a different set of older and wiser eyes. I can understand the perspective of the couple who invested much time and money into adopting a child they brought home and bonded with. I also now more than ever understand where the biological family came from as well. So many people looking at that case or anything else to do with adoption think once a woman places her child that her ties to the child are severed..she should simply move on, she did the right thing (in their opinion) so now it is time to step aside and allow the “real’ parents to live happily ever after.

Just imagine if you will, how you would feel if someone came in and took away a child you just gave birth to? You are still hurting from the pain of physically giving birth, your hormones as dropping fast and furious and have just met this little person who until this moment was really an abstract concept? Then imagine there is a woman on the other side of you telling you “you are an angel”,  “you will always be a part of our family”..trying to hold the baby, taking pictures and all you can think is please hand him to me. IF you go through with passing the baby into this woman’s care, you are still hurting because by now your milk has come in and it is painful and you are feeling not quite yourself emotionally and it is time to say goodbye. Another woman walks out of the hospital with your baby, she will give him a name she has chosen out for him, his birth certificate will say that she and her husband/partner are his parents and all traces of you are erased.  Can you imagine what it feels like to give birth and walk away empty handed?

Imagine still, after you walk away agreeing that even though the other couple will be known to your child as mom and dad that you are promised to be a part of his life. In those days before the baby is really  real you are an angel, you are giving an infertile couple the thing they want most..a baby. The truth is to quote Mary Poppins..those are “Pie crust promises..easily made…easily broken”. So many women walk away thinking the people who adopt their children have everyone’s best interests at heart and truth is most adoptive parents do what is best for themselves, for their circumstances and their lives. Many Birth mothers find themselves cut out f their children’s lives, the adoptive parents find ways to demonize the natural mother and contact is lost.

In my adoption story, Kevin’s mother promised me that I would always be a part of his life. She agreed to raising Kevin in the Catholic faith, she agreed to a lot of things that she never followed through on. I have come to find out that she told Kevin that I loved him enough to give him up, she turned me into just that “poor girl” who had no other choice than to allow them to raise him as their own. I am left what did I do to be cut out of his life? Am I that horrible that she felt the need to protect my son from his mother? I never challenged her parenthood of him ever and I can think is Carol like most adoptive mothers become fearful and threatened by the presence of the child’s natural mother. Carol had nothing to fear then, I adored her..today is a different story.

I ask that those of you who truly have not experienced adoption to save your opinions for one side of the others since there are 3 sides to every adoption story, the parents, the adopters and the child..no child is selfish for wanting to know where they come from, mothers are not wrong when they ache for their lost children and wonder if they are warm , healthy and happy…infertile couples are not wrong for wanting to raise a child ..they just need to realize that simply giving a child a name, a home and raising said child in their image is not enough to erase the mother/child bond, it does not diminish the need we all have to know “Who am I “?  They need to realize that a child is not a possession rather they are human beings with feelings, curiosities and genetic ties that do not change when their mother signs a TPR. Promises made in the early days of their adoption process need to be kept  and honored ..adoption and parenting are hard work and all sides need to consider that the only person who matters most is the child.

Finally ..speaking of children..I am going to reunite with my child in Ireland of all places in exactly 1 month from today..wish me luck and send me strength

 

 

 

Anyone BUT Them…

I have been all over the map emotionally when it comes to my adoption journey. At the onset, there was a sense of relief , a sense that my son was going to be safe and well cared for and with that relief there was a sense of sadness. Scratch that..there was an overwhelming sense of grief that I can not put words to and I bottled up because I was expected to move on. Everyone in my life told me I did the right thing, I gave my son life in more ways than one and he was better off without me. I suppose I was grateful, I still had contact with him, I still got to see him on a regular basis and know that he was cared for and loved this was a new concept of adoption to me since most adopted people I was exposed to knew nothing regarding their families of origin and never to my knowledge met their mothers. I considered myself lucky, blessed even by the people who adopted my son since they said they wanted me to always be a part of his life.

Things were alright for the first few years of his life,but there were subtle signs (well maybe not so subtle but I was still drinking the kool aid) such as things said to me about already agreed upon terms of the adoption or little remarks made in my presence. Then the adopters closed the adoption and that was it, no more pictures, no more visits, no more phone calls..nothing for seventeen years.

My son and I recently reconnected thanks to Facebook. He told me he is grateful  I made the incredibly difficult choice to place him for adoption. I know looking back at my 19 year old self that decision was the best thing for both of us but I wish I could rewrite our history just slightly. In a few short emails and Facebook messages seventeen years melted away but for me I am stuck in a new wave of guilt and regret.

We shared bits and pieces of our stories and where life has taken us in the years we have been apart. He is a magnificent young man, in love with life and a wonderful young lady. My son has his whole life ahead of him. He recently took up the greatest adventure of his young life and moved to a foreign country to start life in her native land. We discovered that despite our time apart and his time in his adoptive family we are more alike than different on so many fundamental levels. We have similar quirks and habits, we get annoyed by the same traits in people, and our sense of humor is oddly off kilter , this truly dispels the nurture vs nature argument in my opinion. This certainly is more than I ever expected. However there are moments like today when we talk and I hear things from him regarding his adoption journey and I feel the air being sucked out of my lungs slowly and painfully.

My son (and yes he is still MY son) was never told much about me except that I was young and his adoption was good for me and good for the adopters. The family told this young man that they always wanted a son but C did not want to give birth at her advanced age. The adoptive mother was 43 when my son joined their family and according to C things all worked out the way they were meant to. For reasons beyond my comprehension they refused to to tell him anything as basic as my first name. K told me a story about finding an old photo album during a recent visit home and saw a picture of himself with 4 girls in his driveway, three of the girls are his sisters and the fourth he questioned C if the girl was his birth mother. I am told C stumbled her words and said yeah maybe it might be, K had to ask her why she could not even give him a straight answer because that girl in the picture is his mother and she gave him a half assed answer. I am asking WHY is this necessary? C knows my name, she even knows where I live, I never challenged her motherhood of my son, I never questioned her love or devotion to him but I ask why is it that I am so awful and unworthy that even my first name can not be mentioned?

If I could rewrite our history knowing then what I know now, it is possible adoption might have still factored into our story..however I would choose ANYONE BUT THEM.  K’s adoptive family all but manipulated my decisions from the moment they got involved with me. K’s adoptive Family told him as I found out today that he often reached out to the more than he did me. They filled his head with their version of the truth and in turn diminished my role in his life to that poor (and I mean in the financial sense) who needed them to rescue him from a terrible life of poverty and despair had I not been brave (stupid) enough to give him to them.

Let me set the record straight..MY son more often than not reached out to me for comfort, I was often blocked by them or told oh honey let me take care of him, you rest, you go back to school..oh let me get that messy diaper, see how easy it is to do this. Yeah it was totally easy for a woman with nineteen plus years of parenting experience to do all of those things versus a young woman with no mother and very little parental guidance. After a while you lose your confidence and think maybe i am not good enough and believe that the only person who can do take care of the baby is the person manipulating you and eventually you just give up..