“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.” – William Shakespeare
There are some emotions that render us exquisitely vulnerable. Grief is one of those.
These last few days, the grief that only a mother of adoption loss can know has been my constant companion. I am left feeling raw and wildly exposed to the vicissitudes of others, unsteady and unsure of what direction to take next. Reunion has a way of doing that to a woman.
Fortunately, grief also brings with it information about ourselves and others, information that can transform us and our relationships. Grief can empower us, if we let it.
And so I am letting it.
In response to the excessively adoptiveparent-centric calendar created for NAM 2015 by the group “The Adoption Exchange,” I give to you this:
If you don’t know about the 501c3 organization “Saving Our Sisters,” you should! It is a grassroots network of mothers of adoption loss and family preservation activists helping expectant and new mothers and their babies avoid the trauma of adoption relinquishment. You can read more about it on the Saving Our Sisters Facebook page or make a donation through the CUB website’s donation page (donations are tax deductible).
It’s that time of year again when, by Presidential proclomation, we Americans get to “celebrate” t
he destruction of the natural family National Adoption Month. Yipee and pass the streamers?
Today, my news feeds on all of my social media sites have been full of blog posts written by adoptees who are working to reclaim their voice and #flipthescript on National Adoption Month. It’s been incredible to read them as they have come across my feeds. There have been many, but here are a few I thought I would share:
From Kevin H. Vollmers’, “Before you wish someone happy National Adoption Awareness Month…”
Here’s a PSA to those of you who “celebrate” National Adoption Awareness Month: Remember that many adoptees like me are not so keen on it. Adoption isn’t just about love. It’s not based in altruism. It’s a multibillion dollar business where there’s a clear buyer, seller, and product. It operates within violence, especially violence toward women.
As an institution, adoption has a history of telling lies, like it did to my mother. As an institution, adoption has a history of taking advantage of women in vulnerable situations, like it did with my mother. As an institution, adoption has a history of favoring privileged women at the expense of disadvantage women, like my mother. As an institution, adoption has a history of erasing the lives of women, like my mother who passed away in November of 1985.
From Chelsea Westfall at the blog, “How Does it Feel to Be Adopted?”:
“Being adopted has always been something I’ve had an internal struggle with. The greatest aspect of my struggle to come to terms with being adopted is feeling as if I cannot talk about the fact that a struggle even exists. Adoption is such a wonderful thing for so many individuals, myself included, but that doesn’t mean it is without consequence.”
From the blog No-Name Changeling in a blog post titled “Bad Seed and Split-Feathers: November’s Happy Adoption Month”
“I am close to sixty—I’ve lived more years, than I have years to live before I die. And I know now, I will die without ever seeing my mother’s face or being accepted by my tribe.”
And released just in time for National Adoption Month, a new anthology of adoptee voices, “Flip the Script: Adoptee Anthology Project (The AN-YA Project).” Get it. Read it. Learn from it.
“As I look back on what I’ve learned about shame, gender, and worthiness, the greatest lesson is this: If we’re going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. To set down those lists of what we’re supposed to be is brave. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
Dear Ms. Feverfew –
I don’t write many letters to you lately, but today I echo Dr. Brown’s words: If we are ever to find our way back to each other, past the shame that is the essence of adoption, it is because we support each other in the process of becoming real to each other again.
So today, I set down the list of what a “good” LDS birth mother is supposed to be. I set down the stony expectations of my religion and my culture. They have sought to invalidate our connection, to convince both of us that we are no longer real to each other.
But you are real. Just as Poppy is my real daughter, so are you. You are not a ghost nor a lost daughter. Your presence in this world carries weight and significance.
You are real. You are worthy. You are loved.
Just as you are.
Know that you are supported in your quest for wholeness, that my love for you is an ever burning blaze, even in your darkest of moments.
You are real. You are worthy. You are loved.
Just as you are.
Dear Anonymous Search Engine User:
In short, no.
It doesn’t make you a bad person, per se, to give your child up for adoption, especially if you have not been told the full truth about the potential risks adoption brings your relinquished child’s life, not to mention anything about yours. What you need to know is that adoption will break you in ways you did not know you could be broken. Adoption can also break your child in ways that you had no idea a child could be broken. This damage – this breaking along the fault lines of your soul – compounds across the years. It is not a one time thing. It gets bigger as it spreads, like a tsunami traveling across a deep ocean.
And while you are not “bad” for choosing to relinquish your child for adoption without full knowledge of the truth, you will be treated as if you were “bad.” The moment you sign the voluntary termination of parental rights paperwork, you will be treated like there was something defective in you, which is why you don’t deserve to have any kind of relationship with your child. After all, what kind of woman gives their baby to strangers????
And when you wake up from the adoption-industry induced anesthesia and discover the depth of injury you have caused your child and you are crazy with grief, society (and even perhaps the adoptive parents and your once-upon-a-time child) will point at that grief as “evidence” that you were “bad” and didn’t “deserve” your child.
So think carefully about the adoption “decision” and the potential long-term devastation you are inviting into your child’s life, even if you think you are choosing “good” adoptive parents. Your child wants only you. You and you alone. Be your child’s hero. Not some white infertile couple who has a slick advertising book on some corner of the internet, boasting about all their Stuff and all the Things.
Your. Baby. Wants. You. Your. Baby. Needs. You.
And, if after saturating yourself in the true facts of the cost of adoption to your child’s long-term mental health, you still relinquish your child for adoption? Then yes, yes you are a bad person.
One Who Wishes She Had Been Told the Truth 23 Years Ago
Hmmmm….This sounds a lot like the LDS church and the LDSFS’s treatment of single expectant mothers. It also parallels the church’s teaching that adoption “blesses” the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity and that it should be considered a gift to all involved. Sacred, even.
Is it really a gift and blessing to be severed from your heritage, your ancestors, your people, and your mother for eternity, thanks to the sealing ordinance? Is it really a gift and blessing to be severed from your child, your future grandchildren, and your descendants for eternity? Is having your existence expunged from history, a complete and total annihilation of your motherhood – from a legal and a doctrinal point of view – really a gift?
Most of us with any heart or conscience would say no, those are not true gifts nor are they blessings.
Yet these are the gifts and blessings a Mormon god and his people give the most vulnerable of among the church, single mothers and their newborn children. She asks the Mormon god for bread, but is given a stone instead.
After all, she got herself into this mess. She can live with the consequences.