Another Birthmother’s 1988 Adoption Relinquishment Story – Guest Post by “L”
I think it’s really important to tell your stories. Each and every one of us. There is not one that is more valid than the next. Together, they paint the truth in broad stokes that no one can deny. This mother sent me her story to share. What changes? It’s 1988 in Utah, but other than that, it’s the story of being pregnant and without power.
Please, feel free to send me your adoption stories and I will post them here. I can give you credit or keep you unknown; whatever works for you.
Do you even love me anymore?
This is the question I asked ” A ” as I was gasping for breath, with tears running down my face. This is the question, I should have asked my own Mother. This is the question my Son, who was given up for adoption, would want to ask me. Unfortunately the answer is not a simple one.
Only One Son; Lost to Adoption
I am 42 years old and feelings from 25 years ago of giving up my son to adoption have never left.
I recently found out that I was two months pregnant. It was a complete shock. I went to the drugstore for a pregnancy test. Reading the instruction’s and waited for the hi-tech blinking digital words on the stick, ” Pregnant”. As fast as those words blinked “Pregnant” the pain of giving birth so many years ago returned violently. It knocked me on my knees. Just like that, another child was gone. The doctor’s did not know if it was a regular miscarriage or a dangerous ectopic pregnancy. So I had a very long, painful 5 weeks of tests and procedures. The pregnancy ended itself.
I never had another child after giving up my son. It was not right in my mind to do so. My circumstances were different. I was still with the same man “A”. I know for some people it is fine to do so and I do not judge that. In fact I think how brave and strong that person must be. For me it was not okay. I felt It would not be right by my son. If I ever had the chance to meet him one day, I could never tell him that I had another child after him. How would he feel? I just could not bear to do this to him. This was to be my very long punishment.
When I found out at this late age that I was pregnant, it felt different from what I had previously thought. The pain of punishing myself all this time came to a halt. Somewhere I found the strength to say “It just might be okay to have a child”. This could be my last chance. Is it time to stop punishing myself? Have I suffered enough? Very late one night I decided to tell “A”. Afterwards there was an awkward silence and then the simple words came from his mouth, “Maybe it is time”. That is all I needed to hear. It just felt okay, a sense of direction. Something to press me forward so I could move on from stale time. That night we stayed up pretty late joking about names that could possibly go with the ending of A’s last name. Laughing out loud with some pretty funny one’s. I think finally I liked “Victoria” for a girl maybe “Victor” for a boy. Deciding they were strong names because that is what this child needed to be. Sadly though ,it did not happen. I was once again denied the gift of being a Mom. My punishment was reinstated. This time just not by me.
Years Lost to Adoption in the Blink of an Eye
All these years have passed in a blink of an eye. It really does not seem that long ago. Growing up in Utah; the year is 1988. I am trying hard to remember my son’s birthday. Gasping at the thought I could have forgotten it. This has to be a temporary block. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Picturing his little plastic wrist band from the hospital neatly placed in a little silver cardboard Nordstrom jewelry box. It is hidden somewhere with my life’s collection of furniture and house hold items in a lonely storage unit. I focus in on it and it comes back to me. I know for sure it was 1988 either March or April. The 18th of April stands out the most. No, I remember it is March 18th 1988. Yes, his Birthday.
I graduated High School at age 17 in 1987. In my High school graduation picture you see a girl in a long blue linen skirt and long sleeved blouse. My blonde sometimes reddish hair ever changing from the 80’s New Wave faze. Barely a smile across my face. I left my last year of High School over a fight with my best friend. Graduating from a whole different school. This incident and one other, stumbling upon a childhood diary really makes me wonder if somehow I already knew my fate.
The First Event Down the Adoption Road
The first being an event with my best friend. She and I were partying one night with some friends in a hotel room and she started making out with this guy. It became pretty intense and I begged her to leave with a group of us to go have coffee. Dragging her, pleading with her, doing everything I could at that time to get her to come with me. I could not stop her. In fact “A” who Is my adopted son’s father was there that night also. He tried everything to stop the guy. Pleading with the both of them. It even turned pretty physical between the two guys quickly. “A” tried his best. But despite all efforts we lost. In that one night, she became pregnant. I was furious and angry because I tried to stop her. I felt like she had betrayed me. I was so hurt and angry at her. She was so determined, seemed possessed that night and nothing short of calling the police would have changed the events of that evening. Had I been more mature that is what I would have done. I was so full of anger at my best friend, I told a mutual male friend in one class we had together, that she was pregnant. I know this was an absolute horrible thing to do to my friend. I regret it even to this day. My best friend overheard me and told her mother what I had said after school. Her mother then called up my mom at home in a rage. She insisted on speaking to me. Yelling at me “why did you tell that boy?” I lied and said that I did no such thing. She then screamed at the top of her lungs Liar, Liar, Liar! Those words pounding in my head. I learned a great lesson from that day and I grew up pretty fast.
My best friend did have a baby and gave it up for adoption, I found out later. I used to see her mom and sister at a department store I worked at occasionally. One day my co worker helped them with some items. I overheard them whispering something to her and glaring in my direction. After they left my co-worker would pretty much never talk to me again. I asked her “what did they say to you?”. She would never tell me. I don’t know what was said and looking back I guess I deserved it.
A few years later my old best friend called me up out of the blue. She wanted to meet. She kept repeating over and over again that she forgives me. I agreed to meet with her. Later that night she picked me up and we drove around the neighborhood in her mom’s Audi. She kept talking and talking again repeating that she forgave me. I did get to tell her that I was very very sorry. Unfortunately, I was not able to explain why I told that boy or to convey my deep anger and disappointment with her. I wish I said more than just how sorry I was. Explain, but not justify what I did . We both had come from a strong Mormon upbringing. We started partying and going to dance clubs quite a bit. Just having fun for teenagers back then. The drinking was, of course, against Mormon rules But pretty tame compared to what other drugs were available then. I started about age 16 to pull away from the church. In fact, I felt like if I stepped foot in the church I might be struck by lightning. I feared the church. I stopped going and my world completely changed and opened.
My old best friend told me that evening that she had her baby for the ” Angels”. This shocked me a bit and I found it quite strange. This is what she must have been told from the Mormon adoption agency. I did not agree or understand this but it must have given her comfort. I was very quiet after the “Angel” revelation that night. She kept saying to me that I had changed and was so quiet. She was right and I had changed. I never told her that I had also gone through the same thing, but very different. That night is the last time we saw each other. Someone of a mutual acquaintance told me she was married and had a bunch of kids. Good for her. I wish her only the best.
A Child of the Future
The second event of was again years after the adoption, I stumbled upon my little blue childhood diary. At around age (7) I wrote a page in my diary that made me stare and stare again in utter disbelief. I wrote on a page of that diary that if I ever had a boy, I would give it up for adoption.
I know I was just a child and could not see the future. It again came from so much anger. I know that I really did not mean it. I was just so angry at my 4 younger brothers. Being the oldest of 4 boys was tough on a little girl. I was in charge of them quite a bit. My mom worked and I turned into their second little Mom. I had a really hard time with my oldest brother. He was a year and a half younger than me and tormented me physically and mentally most of my life. We would often make up over the years but his violence was always rearing just above the surface. Often times when we were older he would just break down and apologize at the most awkward times. But then he would do or say something stupid that would end our relationship once again. The last words recently we had before I decided to stop talking to him for 2 years, were about losing my son to adoption. He and one other brother are the only ones who know very little about it. What he said that day to me, will never leave my heart.
Another piece has been ripped out and thrown across the room. For someone who has given up a child for adoption it was venom. He told me that what happened, happened a long time ago and that I should just forget about it and move on. We’ll the truth is you cannot move on. You never ever ever forget and move on. If anything it gets even harder and harder to deal with. In fact, it can haunt and disrupt every important decision you make in your life, for the rest of your life. Sometimes even without you knowing. Then one day you wake up look at your life and realize the consequences of your action’s. All those horrible decision’s you can never take back. And you are so empty and lost and left literally with nothing. Barely holding onto a string of who you are. So lost to your life’s direction you cannot understand what it is and if there is really is one.
Seventeen and Pregnant
I was 17, almost 18, and pregnant. I had not told anyone but “A” the father. I should say that “A” is the only person I have slept with in my lifetime. Finding out I was pregnant was very scary. Hoping it would just be a bad dream to awake from.
Then the reality of it all came full force. No more hiding it from everyone but “A”. My parents had received a strange bill in the mail about 4 -5 months later. That night they called me into the front room. You know the serious room in the house that only get’s used on special occasions. They asked about a doctor bill that came in the mail. There was no denying it any longer. This was real and starring at me square in the face. I had left work early one day because I started bleeding and got really scared. After confessing to my day-shift manager at work, she insisted we go to the hospital. So I jumped in the car with her and off we went. She was very motherly and kind. I needed this at that time. I can’t remember if I called “A” the father at that time or later. At the hospital the doctor ran tests and checked everything. Luckily he told me the baby was okay. This was my first visit to the doctor and I was about 5 months pregnant. What a relief.
I guess I needed that bill to arrive because I never could have faced my parents on my own. How long could I have gone on from hiding it from everyone? I do not remember all that was said during that conversation with my parents. I know there was terrible pain and embarrassment for them. Many tears from me. Being from a Mormon family did not help. I also had a non Mormon Asian boyfriend. Unheard of at that time. This was just all too much for them.
Enter Adoption on a Trusted, Yet Feared, Mother’s Direction
A few weeks had passed after telling my parents about the pregnancy. My mother approached me to say that she had found some adoption agencies and that she had made some appointments. Adoption? I never thought of Adoption before that day. I do not know how she came up with this information on Adoption. Somehow she convinced me to go to Catholic Community Services with her. My Mother thought I would like to talk to them because she knew I was not into the Mormon thing. She liked the counselor she had talked to and felt it would be neutral territory.
Why did I go along with it? All these years I keep asking myself this question all the time. All I can say is that I was lead in this direction, by my very own Mother. Trusted her, yet feared her. It is true one’s influence over someone else. Especially one’s own Mother. I had a very hard relationship with her. I wished all the time that I was a boy because she had no idea what to do with a girl. How to love a girl. How to be my Mother. One example of our relationship; I used to get just sick to my stomach to tell her when I needed feminine products and ran out. It would take days to get up the guts to ask for them. Literally I would get so stressed out and just scared. Good thing I got a job at age 15 and could purchase them myself. What a huge relief.
You could say my Mom was not very approachable. In all honesty, I never liked my Mother. It was just the way it was. But she was my Mother. She loved the boys and with me there was always jealousy and contempt. Something I figured out way too late In life. I trusted my Mother, yet was so scared of her. I think our relationship was full of such Bi-Polar moments. Her dominance overshadowed me. This young, weak girl. This time in my life I turned into a “Zombie girl”. The definition of Zombie seems to fit how I felt: a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli. Yes, this was me. There but not there.
One day we headed downtown to the catholic community services building. It was a huge white old bungalow style house turned into an office like so many other houses on the street. We climbed up the stairs and into a little room and waited for “T”. This was the adoption counselor my mother had talked to earlier. I vaguely remember what was said that day. She was very calm and laid back. She looked like a professional hippy. Flowing long skirts and kind of medium red brownish bouncy hair and tall and always wore sandals. Different from stuffy Utah. I liked her instantly. Her calm voice and energy was very appealing. But not really understanding the consequences of that visit and what lie ahead was a huge irreversible life changing event. It seemed everyone else had plans for me. “Zombie Girl” just went along with it.
The strange thing is, Adoption felt like it was the only thing being offered. It was so casual like it was the blue light special at Kmart. Come to this corner for the blue light special. Only 10 minutes left. Hurry up! I do not remember hearing or being presented anything else by anyone. Maybe someone did but they must have been ” whispering over the screams”. I did not hear it. The adoption counselor “T” and I easily became friends. I did her hair, went to the zoo with her, lunch , etc.. I had her phone number and even knew where she lived. This was all of course after the adoption. I even saw her probably 6-7 years ago.
“A” and I decided to make an appointment at Catholic community services to talk to her. See if she could tell us anything, anything about our son. This time I think we must have caught her off guard. Maybe she could not believe we were still together. Could there have been a small sense of remorse? I can only hope so. I will never know. All I do know is she does not work there anymore and at the time we visited her, she was not involved in adoption’s anymore. We used up about an hour of her time. I could see the uneasiness of hearing us talk so painfully after so many years about the adoption. We told her about our regret our constant pain.
I even mentioned the fact that my mother had told me the most haunting words to ever come out of her mouth. She said “If you keep this baby I will do everything in my power to keep “A” away from him”. “T” was shocked. I think almost mortified. She said she had no idea. No idea. This was something I was too scared to tell anyone. She meant those words and I knew what could have happened. This was not an option for me. I loved “A”. How could my mother hate me so bad? These words from her will haunt me forever. What if “T” had just done the right thing and steered us in the right direction? I guess that would be too much to ask of an adoption counselor.
Nothing became of that meeting other than I think a name of a lady who had a birth mother group and the “yellow paper” you can send in to something called a “Registry”. Send money and your birth certificate and hope that the person behind the desk really does their job. I’ve been told good luck with that. If your child fills one out, I think they have to be 21 years old and everything better be exactly right or they will not search for anything remotely similar. Wow this does not give me much hope. We were asked to leave. I felt the relief from her face when we left. Leaving as empty as when we first came in.
So here I am almost 18 and pregnant. Having a boyfriend 6 mo. younger. I’m not going to lie and say things were not tough for us. “A” had been kicked out of his house, he did something to piss off his father. He never told his parents about the baby or adoption. To this day they do not know and probably never will. It would kill and shame them. The way adoption is done in America is unheard of in their home country. In their culture you just take care of each other period. No questions asked. In fact we were lucky enough to visit their country in Asia and meet some of “A’s” relatives. They showed us the cutest 3 year old boy. Someone, a stranger from a village knew “A’s” family and asked them to raise their son because they could not afford to. So they took in this little boy and are raising him as their own, because this is what you do. This is why we cannot tell “A’s” parents they would never understand. I would be hated. Looked at as an ugly person. Our relationship would never be the same again. It is today “A’s” biggest regret not telling his parents in the first place. If he had maybe things would have been different. I know it would have. Many times he brings this up with much pain and regret. But you cannot go back and change time. That is our biggest lesson of this life.
An Early “Open Adoption”
Our adoption was, for this agency, at the time, History making. It was to be one of, if not the First “Open Adoption”. We were allowed to meet the parents a few weeks after the adoption. We were to receive photos and have some kind of writing or correspondence over the years.
This is what really happened: One meeting after the adoption and 2-3 sets of photos later during the first year. With only a few words written from the Adopted Mother. Then not another word ever. The last thing I heard was they moved. Who knows where after that first year. I know their first names, professions and that is all. I sometimes wonder if that info is real or made up. Absolutely nothing like open adoption’s today. In fact I don’t believe you can even call this an Open Adoption. I really don’t know what you could call this adoption. Heartbreaking, wrenching, painful ,misleading, damaging to say the least.
Convinced adoption was our best choice, the only choice. It was time to pick the parents. The way you pick them is from white sheets of paper. There were small descriptions of the couples like their occupation’s, if they already had kids. Very little information. No pictures, no interviews. Not even close to the information that would be on a work resume today. Thinking back on this it is quite disturbing. You really have no idea who you are choosing. Somehow we were down to three sheets of paper. POTENTIAL PARENTS. The first family on the list were presented as wealthy, already had other children and were okay with a mixed race baby. It never thought that would be an issue. All I can remember about the next couple was something again about the race of the baby. I think this was not okay for them. Then the third couple Bill and Rita. Bill worked for the forest service department and Rita was an elementary teacher, no children. I was told they were okay with a mixed race baby. So we chose Bill and Rita. It is unbelievable to have to choose someone to replace yourselves from so little information. Unbelievable.
The Reality of Birth
The contractions started very early in the morning. Just like I recently felt a month ago. Something hard to describe. But you live thru it. Work thru the pain. I think it was even more intense, knowing that I would never get see my son again.
“A” was at the hospital and I was just about ready to push out my son. My mom said she asked if I wanted “A” in the room. She thinks I said no. I do not remember saying that. Sadly, I gave birth without him there. He has recently told me how he wishes he was there. Oh, I wish he was also. The nurse checked the baby and said don’t worry honey, your baby is only about 5lbs. Little, very small. My son was almost 9lbs. The doctor who delivered and cared for me was pregnant herself and really struggling. The episiotomy was the absolute worst. I swear they did not stitch me up right after that. I lived with pain for many many years later. Another reminder.
But there he was this beautiful baby boy with all this thick dark hair amazing. Beautiful, just beautiful. Someone in the room helping deliver the baby asked if they should put him on my stomach. Just writing this I am holding back tears. They did, and I lost it. Tears just ran down my face like they are now. So painful these fresh tears. I wish they would just run out. Run away. I asked for “A” and my mother said he left. The second round of tears by now were flooding out. Are you right? There is no way he would leave! No way…….Later I would find out that she stood on her hind legs and said the most awful things to “A”. She chased him out of the Hospital. To this day he has never told me what she said. I know he keeps these words between them and has never forgiven her. Despite all of this he managed somehow to still show respect to my mother. I really think his pay back is to show her only kindness. Keep your enemies close right? Sometimes I feel he stayed around taking care of me and providing such an amazing life, just to prove to her he was not a bad person. Maybe a 25 year reminder.
Well that night at the hospital she lost. He snuck back that evening with flowers and crawled into the hospital bed with me. Looking back “A” and I should have took our son, hopped on a bus and never looked back. “A” brings this up running away together all the time. If only I could have not been so weak, just a little bit stronger. Girl and boy and son lives happily ever after. THIS DID NOT HAPPEN…Only in distant dreams.
Instead the next day we we’re lectured by a nurse about co-dependency. Maybe she had my room confused with someone else. I did not understand. That was a new word for the time. Maybe she was sneaking some of my pain medicine. She had no idea who she was talking to. What she should have seen and everyone else was a young girl and boy who really loved each other. Who, against many odds, managed to stay together. We just needed a little help. Just one person to stand up and say guys you can do this, you can raise this baby. It won’t be easy but here is a little help. I believe in you.
“T” the adoption counselor was on vacation during the birth. The agency sent another counselor over to see me. She tried to get me to sign the papers at the hospital. I was told that this would not happen this way. This lady was as cold as ice. I think her soul was trying to run away from her. No way would I sign the papers. I would wait for “T”. The actual day we signed the papers is to painful to talk about. All I see in my mind is to keep rewinding that day and never ever sign those horrible papers. It was signing for us a death sentence that was just beginning.
The Aftermath of Adoption Relinquishment
I held my son, almost for the last time in the hospital. There would be just one other time a few days later at the foster house. When I returned home from the hospital all I did was change into my red pajamas and curl up in my bed and just cry myself to sleep in the basement of my parents house, feeling like someone just died. I died. A piece of me had died.
I wish I could elaborate more on the pain I felt. But I don’t think it would be possible to put it into words. Just imagine the worst thing that ever happened in your life to be the way I felt for a very long time. This pain pops up all the time and never goes away. No, it does not get better like they told me at the agency and several counselor’s. No time does not heal it. You learn to live around it but bump in to it constantly. No, I did not give Bill and Rita the greatest gift ever. That is what Rita told me while I was sobbing uncontrollably at our one and only meeting. All I can wish and hope is for someone not to do the same mistake as I. For you will regret it as I have for the rest of your life. Till death do you part.
After the adoption a few weeks later we were allowed to meet the parents. This was part of the “Open Adoption”. As I mentioned before this may have been the first meeting of its kind for this agency. No one was prepared. It is another of those days I will never forget. It took place behind the old building where I first met “T” the adoption counselor. It seemed like we were in an above ground basement of this separate out building with tiny windows up high in the corners. The furniture was old and 70’s like and it was rather gloomy inside. It felt like we were entering a secret meeting. Well, in a way it was.
We were led into a cramped room and the first person we met was their adoption counselor. She tilted her head back and said “hello” to both of us and then rather oddly said that we were both a nice looking couple. I know for some people this would seem a complement. But it was not. The gesture was with pure shock on her face. I was not flattered.
Later the new parents came in. They were on one side of the room us on the other. Bill and Rita. Bill was rather tall, very quiet, with a beard and looked kind of like a cleaned up mountain man. Fitting because he worked for the Forest Service Department. Rita, I remember, was small, had short brown hair and looked like everyone’s mom back then. She was talkative and asked a few question’s. Bill sat there and looked at us with confused eyes. I cried the whole meeting. Barely was I able to compose myself at all. “A” tried to keep it together and did most of the talking and controlling of the emotions. He was the strong one as usual, but he was hurting inside.
One question was asked what would have we had named our son? We told them and they really liked the name and were considering to use it. Later though we were told they had changed their mind and named him Timothy. What a disappointment. I think their counselor advised them of that decision. I believe in their hearts they wanted to use our name. A few more questions were asked and then so quickly the meeting was over. The whole time between my sobs all I could do was picture my son. Was he in the building? Was he close? Will I hear him crying? Can I just grab “A” and run and find him and steel him back? Where is my son! What have I done? We were told they had a few hours drive to get back home. Sometimes I wonder if their names were really Bill and Rita. I just have a feeling it was made up. All a giant lie.
On the way out Rita gave me a huge hug and uttered those infamous words I have already repeated. “You gave us the most precious gift anyone could have ever given us in our life.”
This did not make me feel better just more confused. The meeting was not comforting. But it and the couple sets of photos of Timothy are again; all that I have. That was the end of our “Open adoption”.
So I cling on to those moments their faces are fresh in my head. The pictures are hidden away somewhere safe. But his image will never leave me. His beautiful face, big brown eyes and dark wavy hair. I can only dream of him when I close my eyes to sleep. I look over and there he is. Our eyes will meet and I will know the man standing before me is my son. Forgive me son.
To the man, I’ll never know
May one day, you can understand
Decision’s made ,I cannot change
Stupid youth, Elder’s power
Fate forever sealed
Sign the papers, numbing pain
Years to come, never sane
Woman’s gift gone for good
Oh I wish I understood!
Implication’s, sorrow, undue crime
forgive me son
Your heart is with me
From the beginning to the end
Never forgotten all this time
I hope you are the man you want to see
One so loved could never be