Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is there enough rubble yet?

This picture reminds me of adoption. So many thousands of us suffered damage and so many more continue to suffer from past separations or current adoptions. A mother and child are separated at the baby's birth. The damage is done. Like a crash to the floor, this one act happens and the history of both mother and child is drastically and forever altered. And this act is no accident, it's well orchestrated by the powers that be, by society's attitudes, by churches, by agencies and by social workers.

For 40 weeks mother and baby were one being, connected physically and emotionally. The baby learned the voice of her mother, the heartbeat of her mother, the laugh of her mother, the rhythm of her mother. For 40 weeks the mother felt her baby inside her, felt her kick, felt her move, felt her bounce when she had the hiccups, felt her turn around, felt the love she has for her baby. Then, the manipulated mother goes through the motions and the system, believing what she's told and doing what she's told is best.

Some people believe that mothers are interchangeable and that an adoption happening at or soon after the baby's birth means that the child won't know the difference. Some believe that the mother can just go on with her career, new life and have more children. The adopted baby - as if born to the adopters. The mother - as if never given birth. Some think this is a win/win/win situation - what's to complain about? The damage done is what there is to complain about. Infant adoption is really a win/win/lose/lose situation. The two winners are the brokers and the adopters. The brokers make the money and the adopters get the coveted baby. The baby and the mother are the losers in the scenario. 

The winners don't want to hear the complaints from the losing side. How can they preserve the winning strategy for future brokers and adopters if they actually listen to what the losers have to say? If they listened and listened sincerely, they might be expected to do something about it. Adoptees aren't supposed to complain. Gratitude is expected of them. Damage? What damage? You would have ended up in foster care anyway. Did you want to end up in a dumpster? Look at the great life you got. Aren't you concerned about your adoptive parents feelings? Why would you want to search for your family, you have a family. Mothers aren't supposed to complain either. We weren't even allowed to grieve the loss of our babies. Just move along. Get a life. Get a job. Get a new family. Forget all about it. Now, even if the mother can see her child occasionally, she'd better tow the line. Don't be intrusive, don't nag for pictures, don't have any say in what happens to your child, just suck it up if the adopters change their minds about visits. He's not your child anymore, remember? Don't be a pest and the adoption won't close. No recourse for you.

This is what damage means. It means trauma, loss and heartbreak. It means hiding how you feel. It means pretending and lying. It means living a facade. It means doing whatever it takes to have contact with your child. It means secrets. It means doing whatever it takes to have contact with your natural parents and not hurting your adopters in the process. It means searching. It means grieving for decades. It means not knowing who you really are. It means years of birthdays and wondering. It means no medical history. It means loss of self and civil rights. For me, there was my life before the pregnancy and my life afterwards. The experience of losing my child was not just a matter of suffering damage, it was nearly a fatal blow. I'm not the same person I was before I lost my daughter and never will be again. That girl is gone.

The damage done is permanent. In order to survive I had to fill the cracks. Some were filled with the wall I built between me and my family. Although some healing has happened in the last 3 decades, I don't think the wall can ever come down completely. It's still needed in places to hold me together. Other breaks were filled with the family I created. My love for my husband and the 2 children I had with him cemented in me a will to keep going. Painting and love of art was the soft filler that let me expand and contract with whatever emotional state I was in at the time. The memory of my daughter's cry in the delivery room - the only sensory connection I was allowed with her - filled me with determination to find her.

It's hard for me to find beauty in this kind of history but I did find gold when I found my daughter and my 3 children were finally together. I know I'm stronger now. I have my voice and my power back but after being this broken, the repair work is an ongoing project. The pieces are everywhere, the fallout extreme. Selfishness and greed keep the aftermath of adoption invisible. How high will the rubble have to be before it's seen?


  1. Carlynne, beautifully written and tragic. From another mother of loss to adoption.

  2. Thank you Ros. I wish more of society saw the tragedy in separating mothers and babies.

  3. Wonderful post. The photo and quote took my breath away for a moment. My son lost to adoption is a ceramic artist ~ makes beautiful things that look very much like the cup in this photo. I have thankfully been able to fill some of the cracks in my life with gold ~ first and foremost of course the reunion with my son, but also the growing relationship with his mother, as well as the wonderful people I have met on the www who help me fill the cracks.

    Thanks for the gold you have added to my life Carlynne!

  4. Oh Susie, so sweet <3

    You and all the mothers and adoptees I've met online have given me so much strength. I don't know that I would have been able to talk about all this without the support of the community. Thank YOU for being such a source of support and caring.

  5. Great post, Carlynne. Your stomach will surely turn when I share in my next post some of the reasons the New Jersey State Bar Association (and likely all state bar associations) oppose adoptee rights bills. You are so right that it is purely business concerns that motivate them. Did you happen to see my last post at You were featured!

  6. Thanks for giving me the link to the post. I missed that one, thanks for the mention! And, thanks for the comment on my post.

    I'm looking forward to reading your post about the NJ State Bar. I'm originally from NJ and am also a step-parent adoptee. I have a NJ amended BC but of course no access to my OBC. I haven't been following the news from there about the issue though as I've been focused more on writing about my role as a natural mother. My daughter was born in FL and she can't access her OBC either. It's beyond ridiculous!

  7. Beautiful post Carlynne and so poignant! Its like that, adoption damage. It is a shaking and destruction to our very core and when the shaking or storming is done, all that is left are the remnants.

    "The damage done is permanent. In order to survive I had to fill the cracks. Some were filled with the wall I built between me and my family. Although some healing has happened in the last 3 decades, I don't think the wall can ever come down completely. It's still needed in places to hold me together."


  8. Wow, just WOW! No one could have said this better.

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