When a Birthmother Doth Protest Too Much
So last night, I was combing Twitter searching for new Adoption Tweets. I found an expectant mother who was all but gushing over Tyler and Caitlyn from MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. Like seriously, you could see her all star struck and actually seeming to be excited to relinquish. I’m not being critical. I’m not. She is 16 and only 17 weeks along. She is already matched and talking about how wonderful the prospective adoptive parents are. What does she know? Nothing. I’m betting she already has some agency telling her how wonderful she is, is calling herself “Juno” and then is reading all the unicorn fart crap produced by the Bethany Relinquishment Poster Child couple. The poor thing is just a baby lamb and cannot see the that she is heading to the slaughter house.
Anyway, not want to overwhelm her or anything, I send out a simple Tweet:
Now I know Twitter is public and even if it wasn’t, I always set all my accounts to public anyway. I expect, heck, I count on, other people seeing what I say, but I did not expect the rest of my evening to be hijacked by a obsessively happy birthmother. I say obsessive because she ended up replying at me over 60 something times. I was actually really holding myself back because I just do not have the need to drag someone out of their happy place anymore. It’s not up to me to make people “see”. But it was hard, oh so hard, coz this girl would just not let up.
Shut Up Shutting Up
We went in circles of conversations. I tried making some sense out of the flow to share, but it’s just so convoluted. For every one tweet of mine; she answered four times. And they we’re not always replies in conversations and it was repetitive. It was more like ‘Stop saying negative things” with the typical “adoption isn’t all like that” and “MY situation was different”. Ok. I honestly really do not care. I’m not trying to be mean, but I really don’t. Ok, you think adoption is wonderful and are convinced your child is way better off. Great. I did once too. That doesn’t make my experience any less valid or negate the negative view with the positive. And it doesn’t automatically change my experience into a bad one because I speak about the realities of adoption.
I really have to almost get a chuckle out of it when people try to tell me to shut up. Really? You are going to tell ME to STOP? And you think I will listen to YOU? How’s that working out for you? Yes, it IS FUNNY! You did not bother to find out who you are talking to. I take my rabble rousing VERY seriously.
Anyway, we went on.. eventually there was a “yes, people need to be informed and be educated” Ok so if people need to be informed and be educated, why can’t I say the negative aspects? If there is no guarantee that adoption will be “bad” just because I talk about my experience, then there is no guarantee that another mother will have a positive experience just because you did either. Isn’t it about letting people know ALL the facts so they can be truly informed?
What is Wrong With Saying This About Adoption?
- Is there really anything wrong with letting this New Juno know that open adoption are NOT legally enforceable in most states.
- What’s “bad’ about knowing the reality that no matter how nice and wealthy the prospective adoptive parents are, once she signs the papers, they CAN do whatever they want even if that means closing the adoption.
- Is there anything wrong with saying many adoptions, that were promised to be opened, DO close.
- Is it wrong to warn a young girl who is glamorizing the idea of adoption that the grief and pain from the loss can be so overwhelming that many birthmothers feel they can barely breath?
- What is wrong for saying watch out; not all agencies are ethical and there are quite a few that really do not have your best interests at heart?
- What is wrong about saying that indeed, many adoptees are hurt by the feelings of abandonment?
- What is wrong about saying that you cannot guarantee that your child will be happy because you legally have no right to influence that happiness anymore once you sign off?
- What’s wrong with saying that it is not your job to make another families “dreams come true”?
- What’s wrong with saying that your child, if adopted, will be discriminated against by our legal system and will be denied their civil rights?
- Shouldn’t a person know that the risk of secondary infertility increases for mothers who have relinquished?
- Or that PTSD and complicated grief are frequent risks of relinquishment, too?
- Shouldn’t someone be aware that adoption is a for profit industry, not a kindly social institution?
- Shouldn’t they be aware about how relinquishment affects subsequent parenting of the kept children? And other relationships?
- Shouldn’t a potential birthmother expect to be informed of how society will talk about her noble sacrifice so she is aware of the stereotypes she will fight the rest of her life?
Again, if education and facts are agreed on to be necessary, then why is saying any of this “negative”. It’s not like I can write out a disclaimer in front of every tweet. We only have 140 characters! Why should I have to preface everything with “some adoptions” or end with ” but not all adoptions are like that”. Fine, you want fair and balanced? You go tell her how great it is and I’ll keep stating facts. I’m not telling you to shut up, so stop telling me to stop! (And I am “lashing” out?). And I WAS told to stop:
- “stop being judgemental &negative”
- “Stop making it seem like it’s always the worst thing in the world”
- “just cause someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them wrong. Stop lashing out at people. It’s not right or helpful”
- “don’t talk about a situation you don’t know about.”
I refused to comply.
Yes, I Know – Your Story is Different
Ok. Whatever. Maybe it is. Again, I just don’t even care. I mean, I am glad you are not miserable. I am glad that the parents of your child have honored your relationship. I am glad you have access to your baby and he or she is happy right now.
I won’t bust your bubble and explain how the seemingly happy face of a 8 year old is way different that the complex emotions spoken by a 35 year old adoptee. I won’t speak for my many adoptee friends who can well enough say how they thought they were happy and not affected by adoption when they were 8 or 15 or even 28. I won’t mention the studies that show statistically that the adopted are over represented in the prison and metal health fields. Or how many therapists fail to identify adoption issues because they too are woefully uneducated about things like the Primal Wound or Adoptee Loyalty or the importance of genetic mirroring.
But I am tired of saying the same things over and over; I get it. I really do. I felt the same way once as well. I understand that you feel you escaped the yucky stuff, but seriously, it’s because you are spending all your energy trying to convince me that you got it so good. Did I mention that I just do not care?
Justification in Birthmothers
Ok so you want to share the “positive” aspects of adoption relinquishment with someone who is considering adoption? To this I ask why? I mean really.. why? And don’t give me the “it’s only fair to know both sides”. Most of the freaking world thinks adoption is this lovely win win scenario where the poor ‘unwanted baby” is lovingly taken in by the “worthy, so sad without a family, more deserving adoptive parents”. There are enough people who think that birthmothers just negate their responsibilities and go party on down the road. There is a plethora of people who are convinced that adoption saves children from dumpsters, abortionists and welfare mommas on food stamps beating children nightly. There is market research saying how “Birthmothers are Good Mothers” and national training classes that go with it. The numbers of people aware of and presenting FACTS about adoption so there can be INFOMRD CONSENT and real decision making is already completely inadequate. So tell me why you feel the need to present a hallmark card version? Because that’s YOUR reality? If you KNOW how great it is, then why try so hard to convince me? What do I matter? If you don’t know this Juno girl or her deal then why is it the right decision for her? Because it was right for you?
No, tell me what you GET when another woman makes the SAME decision YOU did?
You are reassured that YOUR decision was the RIGHT ONE. It’s a case of “Good enough for me, so it’s good enough for her”. It’s called justification and it is another tool that the adoption industry uses to get women to convince other women that adoption is a loving option. And here’s a fact; these are direct quotes from the recommendations in “Birthmother, Good Mother” where they are telling others how to convince women to consider adoption:
“Continue reassuring birthmothers by putting together a book of interviews with birthmothers and how they worked through emotional minefield of facing in unplanned pregnancy”
“Deliver the message through birthmothers that sometimes choosing adoption is what it means to be a good mother. Using the media and public relations to help potential birthmothers understand adoption in advance of unplanned pregnancy.”
“Include birthmothers in messaging by having them speak directly to pregnant women considering adoption. Show women who have gone on in their lives and become successful, both professionally and personally. This message will assure potential respondents that they can choose a personal path that ends in success and happiness for everyone, including them.”
“Respect and honor birthmothers after adoption using media. Reassure them that they are good mothers who made a loving, responsible decisions in the best interests of their child. Reassure birthmothers that their babies will appreciate their sacrifices.”
Did you ever notice that MOST of the “testimonials” from other birthmothers who speak about the glories of adoption have pretty young children? The ones that speak out at schools or to adoptive parents groups or other birthmothers are still filled will feelings of pride? Did you ever notice that the older a birthmother gets the more of a chance she is called “bitter“? Not because she is, or had a “bad” experience but because she has been able to gauge the FULL experience of adoption relinquishment over the course of her life. And maybe, just maybe, she too did everything by the book and followed all the birthmother rules and she can still see that adoption didn’t pan out quite the way they said it would. Or maybe, she realized, like so many of us, that she could have done it way too late. Maybe she just learned a bit more than she did when she thought adoption was so worth the tears because her child was “better”. Maybe, we change our minds when we see that “better” wasn’t needed and we were way good enough to parent our own children.
When the Kool-Aid Wears Off
I know that using the word Kool-aid is about as condescending as throwing around the word denial, yet, it seems to be so true. As I have stated, yes, I was a Kool-Aid drinker and I thought adoption was win win for many years. Then, I began to listen to the adoptees and I learned that the very thing I thought would be better for my child, could have actually hurt him. So I relearned what I knew. It would have been foolish and stubborn to hold fast to the old views when presented with new information. I might be a Taurus, but I’m not stupid. I grow. I learn. I evolve.
Now some people never take the initial dose. On some of us, it seems that the magic potion wears off very soon. I notice in open adoptions, when they are closed by the adoptive parents, that a sure Adoption Kool-aid antidote. At first the moms are confused, they try to work it out with the adoptive parents, pleading to the adoption agency for guidance,, but eventually, it seems the realization that they have been duped or misjudged or just downright dropped like a hot potatoes becomes clear. No more Kool-aid! For other moms, it tends to be when we see our children gain in reunion and maybe note that their “perfect” adopted life was not quite as we were promised. I’m not about telling adoptees that they should be grateful, but I can imagine what a shock it must be to expect your kids to thank you for choosing life and they are instead met with a real, righteously pissed off, adoptee! That wasn’t in the playbook!
Now I have always attributed the coming of the internet in my house as a catalyst to my personal unfogging. However, I would be amiss to say that I haven’t noticed that I tend to see more moms defogging naturally around year 10. Maybe it’s just the weight of years. Maybe it is the marching of time while still balancing a load of grief that wears us down. Maybe it is the slow realization that it will never be over or becoming the women that we are and learning to know yourself. Maybe it is the other life experiences that have come to our journeys that make us go.. “Wait a minute.. I COULD have pulled it off if I had been given half a chance.”
I’m not sure, but I have been watching those thought patterns for many years now, and I think there is some trigger around year 10…sometimes earlier, sometimes later, but from around ages 8 to 15, I have been seeing a whole lot of melting. Granted there are older moms of middle aged adults who still maintain that adoption was the best decision that they could have made at the time, but the numbers of “positives” have certainly decreased when you get to the age groups populated by older grown adoptees and their mothers.
Bottom Line: You Know This Hurts, Why WANT Another Mother to Go Through Adoption?
Let’s play devil’s advocate. Let’s imagine the most perfect adoption scenario we can think of where mom was more or less informed, got an open adoption that stayed open, had nice visits with her kid and had a swell life. Even under the best case circumstances, there is no way in hell anyone is going to convince me that they mother did not have sleepless nights. Seriously, look at me and tell me that you never once shed a tear. Tell me that all the positives just dried them all up and it was great being separated from your baby. Can’t do it, can you?
So WHY would we want anyone to go through that? Why expect another mother to choke on her sobs and feel her skin crawling with birthmother grief IF SHE CAN AVOID IT? AS I Tweeted in the “conversation”; “If I have a choice over encouraging a mother to parent or surrender, I choose mom.”
So, I choose to encourage a women to parent rather than relinquish while warn them of the pitfalls that the adoption agencies will not. Things that we know can only be learned by living it. In that, I am recommending that women make a different choice than I did because I did not have all the information at the time. I give them that which was withheld form me. And I admit that I made a mistake. I confess that I have regrets. I take responsibility for the error of my ways and hope that others can learn from that.
Do people think that warning of the pitfalls means that they must admit a mistake? Are they so worried that that perhaps adoption was not the best thing ever that the very idea of questioning their decision creates a frenzy of 70 something defensive Tweets? Why does the reality of my opinion mean that one must defend their own? Who are you trying to convince?
It’s not going to be me. I already walked the path you are on. I know where it ends. I’m good now, thanks.
But your all a flustered aren’t you? Your hands shook when you typed out those tweets. You were so angry at me for just knocking them down, having answers. You answered in duplicates. Even now, you are insulted when no insult was intended. Yet, you keep coming? For you own sake, please stop. You don’t want me to hit you with what I know. You don’t want me tweeting quotes. I just do not feel like rocking your world today. I am not going to haul you in to reality kicking and screaming.
You’ll come when you are ready and I’ll still be here. Like adoption, you have very little choice.
Coz, honey, you protest too too much! Maybe you cannot see the cliff of reality looming ahead of you, but I sure know the signs. You have doubts bubbling up inside of you and you are desperately trying to put them all down. You’re not crazy, you don’t seem like an ax murderer or an abusive welfare momma. I bet you could have managed to parent your child, too. And that reality will hurt like hell, but it WILL be ok in the end. You’ll be one of us. And really, we are some damn fine pretty awesome women.
So go ahead, and continue to convince yourself while you still can. Just leave me out of it. I went to Kool-Aid Al anon and I will not enable your adoption fantasy. But I do promise to be here when you fall.