Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I am a first mother. This is another voice out there in the void hoping to be heard and understood. This is another voice hoping to make a difference and maybe even prevent another young mother from going through the hell that is being a mother of adoption loss. I'm not going to tell my whole story right here, right this minute but it will come out in dribs and drabs, sometimes even in big messy Jackson Pollock-ish plops. Maybe if more of us speak out, tell our stories and talk about what people do to other people, something will eventually change.

Adoption is a word I wish I'd never heard. 30 years ago I found out what it meant and unfortunately I only had an inkling of how devastating that word could be. I lost my daughter to adoption in 1980. Recently I read a comment on a site by a man who was quite annoyed at that phrase - lost to adoption. Yes sir, I lost her. No, I didn't misplace her. Yes, I signed the surrender papers and NO, it was not what I wanted to do. So many people have this notion that because we signed the surrender papers we actually made the choice to do so.

One option and one option only does not = choice.

The word choice implies there are multiple options. That's not the case for most mothers of adoption loss. We were backed into a corner and that's a very scary place when you're young and pregnant. When you have no money, job, support, husband or place to live you are in a desperate situation. Signing those papers wasn't noble and loving it was coerced. These scenarios are still happening today. There are familial, societal and religious forces coming together to create the perfect storm. Even just 2 of those 3 can alter the course of not just the mother's life but an entire family and not just immediate family but generations on down the line. I know from my own experience what it's like to be caught in that storm and only other mothers can really comprehend what it's like to ride those waves.

Yes, she was lost to me. I lost the first 22 years of her life. I have her back now but I'll never have those first 22 years. I can now hug my adult child but I'll never hold my baby. That gift was taken from me. She wasn't a gift I gave another family. Adoptive families may feel grateful to be able to raise a child and I understand that but I'm certainly not a mother who can say you're welcome.

There are many eloquent voices out there and they can tell the history of adoption so much better than I can. Some are simply sharing their own history. Take a look at the links I've added. I'll be adding more as time goes on.


  1. What a damn fine start! Welcome and thank you for adding your voice to our sad symphony!

  2. Thanks! it's a little scary taking the leap to put this stuff out there but now I figure.... what the hell. Since I started the painting series on this topic it's time to start talking about it too.

  3. Just go for it! You are doing fine....

  4. Just as I've had trouble commenting on some other blogs, Lexi had trouble here so she emailed it to me. Here's her comment.

    I am so sorry you have had to travel such a hard road. I am sure your painful story is repeated in many versions in other people's lives. There is another side to it all though. My cousin went through the anguish you describe. Her adult daughter did find her and they developed a good relationship. My cousin's response after meeting the adoptive family and getting to know them was that she had made the right decision. She could not have given her daughter that life quality.

    Furthermore being around her own parents, the grandparents of this baby, would have carried the family dysfunctions into the baby's life, which my cousin emphatically did not want. That was a key component of her decision for adoption of her baby. Not all situations with unexpected pregnancies are the same. Different people may need different solutions. Yet that painful ongoing loss is built into the process of giving up one's baby, even in those situations where it does lead to the most positive outcome for all concerned.
    Lexi Sundell

  5. Lexi, there are as many stories as there are people. They're not all the same. I'm certainly not claiming that they are. I'm sorry for what your cousin went through and I'm glad that it's all worked out in the end especially their reunion. It sounds to me that your cousin had a choice. That's the key here. She made an informed decision. Although people think that things have changed since the time of closed adoptions like mine, they haven't changed much. Women are still being coerced out of their children.
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  6. No, it sounds like the cousin was coerced--by a bad family situation. No one gave her an out, they just said Give us your baby. In a bad situation like that, the mother AND child BOTH need to be helped.

    I got my son out of a bad situation too. I didn't know just how bad til later. But it was a matter of a whole bunch of other people neglecting or ignoring their responsibilities to me. If mama ain't supported, the whole family falls apart.

    If a mama can say with a straight face "I'm glad I gave my child up because ___ would have happened if I hadn't" then she was coerced, period. Not being coerced is "I gave my child up because I felt like it. No particular reason."

  7. You make a very good point Dana. Had her situation been different she wouldn't have had the need to lose him to adoption.