The Good in the Negative

This is adoption poetry

Why Focusing on the Negative Creates Positive

The other day I was distracted by the cries of bitterness. In the midst of the Facebook drama that ensued, there was a question thrown my way.  Believe it or not, even when someone isn’t going to listen to the answer, I often think more about the questions that I probably should. You know, like a self reflection checks and balances kind of thing. So I was thinking about this , which really isn’t a question, but more of an accusation about the messages put for this on this blog:

” I never said grieving was wrong, but continually focusing on the negatives instead of moving forward in life knowing you can’t change the past by talking about it or dwelling on it doesn’t do anyone any good. there has to be a strive to find the positive instead of literally letting your lives wallow in unhappiness of either your choices or the choices of others against you.”

The question I got from that was; “What good does it do always focusing on the negative aspects of adoption?”

And that’s actually a valid question. Like that is something that I have to periodically ask myself. I know I can be rather obsessive and if left to my own devices, I could be even more fanatical, but wouldn’t that just be unbearable? For instance, I try to keep adoption stuff in check in real life for fear I will bore everyone around me to tears. And then, I think it’s human to wonder if that maybe, things will hurt less if we stop thinking about them. Denial is a real survival mechanism.

Why Spend So Much Time Looking Back

So, I gave myself a rundown of why it is with it to focus on the negative aspects of adoption all the freaking time.

And my answer was, as follows:

“I AM moving forward in a direction that IS positive. I cannot change MY past, but we all work to change the future. It DOES do people some good. The POSITIVE is that we are not alone in our feelings anymore. The POSITIVE is knowing that there are mothers and children TOGETHER because they listened and rethought adoption. The POSITIVE is change laws in this country so that our children are not treated as second class citizens. If you understand the systems downfalls, then clearly you can see that there are things that need fixing. THAT’s what ‘continually focusing on the negativity” does. It calls attention to the ISSUES that NEED CHANGE.”

And then, I just happened to have checked my email at that moment and found this message. And I think it was the Universe telling me that I was right on track.

When the Negative Works

Dearest Claudia,

I found you through the NY Times article.  You are truth, love, justice, honesty, and the pure essence of a mother’s love.  It’s been a month and your example of brave sharing planted a seed.  I wrote a poem– for you, for me, for all of us.  You are hope in a sea of despair and overwhelming loss.  I can honestly say I love you.

I am with you and I will be in touch.  Please don’t stop speaking truth.

With deep gratitude,


Here is the poem Rebecca wrote for us all which she has given permission to print here:

Baby Thief

By Rebecca Arends

They made it clear that I had no choice

womb slit open before her jealous eyes

They took away my son, my life, my voice

To her, my perfect baby was the rarest of toys

PhD, wealth, and white skin—she was entitled!

They made it clear that I had no choice

To them my pleadings just became white noise

She eagerly offered him her dry breast

They took away my son, my life, my voice

Alone and bleeding, crushed by grief, lost joys

Discarded, I am a satellite, space junk incubator

They made it clear that I had no choice

There are many stories that are so much like mine

Other women like me, wounds that don’t heal with time

They made it clear that we had no choice

They took away our child, our life, our voice

Thank You, Rebecca

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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine,, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

17 Comments on "The Good in the Negative"

  1. I love you too, Claudia, and so do many others for giving them back their voices and passion and permission to be real and heal. I am so thankful for ALL the adoption-reform community online. Bless you and thank you for writing and sharing this post!

  2. “What good does it do always focusing on the negative aspects of adoption?”

    I get this assinine question thrown at me regularly as well. I had friends on a support group I moderated tell me I was too negative (I no longer moderate).

    Um, hello, duh, easy answer. Adoption needs change, work, reform. You dont make the case for that needed change by stating what is awesome about it.

    Are people really that dense or just that avoidant of the very real trauma of adoption?

  3. I too hate the charge of “dwelling on the negative.” I’m a 46-year-old adoptee who is dealing with post-adoption issues now precisely _because_ I didn’t allow myself to even consider the negative earlier in life. My grieving process has been going on for about 2 decades but I’ve been resisting it. Denial didn’t make any of my grief go away; it just suppressed it. It seems like such a lovely idea — just focus on the positive — but it doesn’t work and is actually harmful (I believe) in the long run. Turning and walking straight into the hard stuff is what has finally gotten me to a place where I am truly starting to feel balanced and good. It’s like what they say about dog bites, that to get the dog to release its grip you have to push in to the pain rather than pull away.

    • Thanks for the insight, and I am an adopting birthmother. We all have pain from this separation in our life. I have to take care, not to be overcome by grief, leading to nightmares, anxiety attacks, and depression. i have been in contact with my daughter for 9 years, but it is hard, still as we do not live in same city, and distance does not make the heart journey to each other easier.

      • are you adopting from foster care? I seriously hope you are not trying to adopt an infant and inflict the same pain you and your child experienced

  4. Well, you sure helped ME a lot. I would have gone on and on not understanding what was wrong with me if you hadn’t found me. *hugs* <3 <3 <3

    And you’re right, of course. It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Happiness requires no effort, not if it’s real happiness. Things that cause unhappiness are issues of imbalance and it ALWAYS takes effort to regain that equilibrium. It’s the difference between you being able to stand upright and you having to pinwheel and stagger and struggle to get back upright after someone tries to shove you over.

    People who NEED to focus on the positive are people who need distractions, I think. Usually not from anything good.

  5. I am with Rebecca. I suppressed the negative and not only did it not go away, it got bigger. As we share our pain and the negative aspects of our experiences, we help others to acknowledge that there are problems. This is the way to achieve Positive change.

    Generally people will not throw that “focusing on the negative” bomb at people who have experienced other losses or tragic events but sometimes they do. It is not helpful to stick your head in the sand and pretend away your/society’s problems.

  6. Claud,
    No matter how much flak you are getting, you are telling the truth. And that truth threatens a great number of people.

  7. People just simply don’t want to hear it. After 18 years of being the “good little birthmommy” in an open adoption, I finally had to let down the barriers and tell the adoptive parents of my daughter the honest truth about my experience of losing my daughter to adoption and it’s surrounding issues. I made sure I in no way attacked THEM as people or as parents, but the industry which cost me my child. They basically cut me and my family off, after supposedly loving me and enjoying our presence in their lives. Luckily, my daughter didn’t hold it against us but I was accused of “living a lie” by the aparents and of course, that was true in actuality. I did love and care about them and I guess in some ways I still do, but they had no trouble booting us out of their lives…and even got angry at me for speaking MY TRUTH.

    Never, ever “shut up” because we live this tragedy, and we deserve to have a voice as *negative* as it might be. Losing a child is something we can’t just “get over” and “move on” from. It slaps us in the face often because it doesn’t have a true resolution or finality. I am speaking from the experience of being a first mother as well as the daughter of an adoptee. It’s easier for people to stick their fingers in their ears and sing “la la la la I don’t want to hear you” but if we keep on talking, eventually SOMEONE will hear us and change can come about. That’s what I hope anyway.

    Thank you for all that you do!

  8. i doubt many pregnant women considering adoption ever read my blog, but if they did, i would hope they see that an ill-timed, unplanned pregnancy can usually be worked through and giving a baby up is something you NEVER get over. to me, if there’s some positive to being negative, this would be the very best possible outcome.

    • “everyonactdead” (((big hugs))) to you from one first mom to another. You’re very obviously in the first stages of this, and your pain is clear and raw. I remember it so well, even though it’s been almost 28 years. Nothing I can say will make this better or easier, but life *does* go on…you will eventually find a new “normal.” We’re survivors if nothing else.

      Just wanted you to know there are others who feel and remember your pain, and lived to tell!

  9. What a beautiful poem ~ it brought tears to my eyes.

    So many things in all the comments above that resonate with me also…

    I hit the internet looking for help in finding out what was wrong with me after the high of being reunited began to lift the fog of denial. I truly thought something was wrong with me till I found you and Suz, other moms of adoption loss on a forum for moms. I thank God for you guys ~ I truly don’t know where I would be today if not for you and the other brave moms of adoption loss speaking out your truth. I am proud to speak my voice along with yours now ~ I refuse to go back into the silence of shame and fear.

  10. I won’t shut up about the pain because it onconveniences others. I know my truth. My truth is that this heart within me deserves to ache every bit that it does in the absence of my daughter. I deserve to mourn, to weep, to sob bysterically unto the heavens for my empty arms and the years of memories lost that can never be recreated.

    I am more fully in the present, more connected to myself, and more connected to the truth of love and compassion when I honor the truth of what I feel and what is deep within me. I died when they took my daughter. Figurative, yes but also literal. Aspects of truest self, my nature, my innocence, my hopes and dreams, died and excruciating and painful death. I was a left in agony, in a hell that I can not describe in words.

    I deserve tos peak that truth every day I breath. You can take my daughter but you can never take my love, nor deny me my right to honor what wrong was done or the wounds and scars I was left in to flounder in agony and barely able to care for myself.

    When I see the truth of what I needed, what I deserved, I am loving myself fully. No mother who loves and wants to care for her children deserves to lose them. If a mother is without resources, mentalhealth support, disability support, financial support, community support– these are limitations of resources. They do not mean a mother deserves this hell.

    AND THEY ARE RESOURCES WE COULD PROVIDE if enough of us decide that this level of pain is worth saving women from. I believe that it is. Let us believe women are worth more than this. I will not shut up, I will not pretend every thing is fine to please arrogant assholes who want me to be “at peace” so the displeasant realisity that this is NOT A JUST WORLD and that what happens to humans within it is NOT “for the best” or “all part of a sweet wonderful plan”. Really? The holocaust? Rape? Child death? All part of sweet wonderful plan? I call bullshit. If there is a god, god is the force that is AGAINST these forms of suffering happening to human beings. Stand up against outrageous suffering, against torture and suffering and disease and early death. Stand up against women in need being left without resources and losing their children because of it. Stand up against women being left altered, broken inside, in ways that will manifest over time regardles of how much she pretends the wounds don’t exist.

    I will not stuff it down, because I believe I deserve more. Because I love myself. I honor the pain of what Ihave been through, of what Igo through, because of how much compassion I feel for myself and all humans who are tormented in such ways.

    I love joy. I love the sun and I love the feel of water on my skin. I love growing vegetables and planting flowers. I love beauty and I love hugs. Ilove smiles and I love human beings. I can love all of these things better when I cry my tears honestly, when I let myself be exactly who I am, and feel what I need to feel.

    And Claud, I canhonestly say I love you to. You are one brave, headstrong, awesome, wonderful, kick ass human being. Don’t let the pharisees put you down. They know not what they do.


  11. I just want to add, since so many people who say “focus on the positive” tend to be either riligious or new agey—

    If there is a god– s/he’d be on your side Mrs Claud. To face the suffering, to look at it and to do something about it. That takes guts. That is courage. That is to be a true hero.

    Shoving your nose in a bunch of feel good sayins about how nice the world is doesn’t get resources to the poor, it doesn’t change social pressures that result in terrible suffering, it doesn’t help the lonely feel more connected, it doesn’t help the sick heal.

    It’s the most narcisstic “spritual” path you could lead. “I live in a bubble of happiness! There is no suffering if I just focus on the positive!” By that you mean ignore what others are experiencing? Rich people have been doing that for centuries and what are the results to the rest of the world? That’s a “spiritual” path? Yeah if you’re follwing the cult of self absorption.

  12. Focus on the positive? You mean like the majority of adoption blogs that do nothing but sugar-coat adoption to the point that people who should NEVER EVER ADOPT are adopting children who cannot be helped with hugs and love alone?

    Makes perfect sense!

  13. I would also have to say . As first mothers, that we need to have a chance to speak , to share , to acknowledge our feelings . They aren’t warm and fuzzy , they are painful . I am tired , as I am sure many of you are , of being a dirty lttle secret that allowed someone else to become a happy family ? But the cost to myself as a person , as a mother to my other children is huge . This blog in particular has given me an opportunity to see thatt I am NOT alone . I am not ALIEN in my feelings of guilt , remorse and agony . Navigating the reunion process has for me as well opened up a very large pile of ” stuff” under my emotional rug that I have to deal with . Thanks Claud for being our voice and giving us a place to voice what we have carried silently for too long

  14. anonymous | July 4, 2013 at 8:29 am |

    arriving here late, linked from your current post. some years ago, I wrote quite a bit about the “negative” aspects of adoption. Why? So, maybe, I could stop them from affecting those mothers and children who came after me and mine. What if civil rights activists had stopped focusing on “the negative?” It’s a tired argument but, apparently, one that still needs to be addressed. I’ve reached a place where I seldom look at birthparent blogs and information any longer. My personal adoption-related grief finally found some closure. But I wanted to tell you that you’ve made a difference. Your putting up with attacks, etc. has taken guts and tenacity… and it’s made a difference.

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