Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sit Down and Shut Up

"Negativity is going to . . . deter possible adoptive parents from going forward.”

Ah, the comments that always come flying from others. Aren’t they fun? Sometimes I just let them pass. Sometimes I allow them to affect me more than I should. And this time . . . I have decided to pick it up and add it here on my blog.

Yesterday was . . . plain and simply . . . one of those “hell” days. A day when I so desperately wished I could just pretend that I knew nothing about adoption and it’s “other” side. A day when I simply wanted to be “normal” like all those other moms I see at the school, on my block, everywhere I seem to look.

I wanted to be one of them. Someone who could look into the faces of ALL her children and never have to know what it felt like deep down inside to know there was always one missing. Always a gash in the heart for the son that was yours but you couldn’t claim as your own. I didn’t want my arms to ache anymore to hold him. I didn’t want that “knowledge” in my heart of what it felt like to lose such a vital part of myself.

It was a pity party in every way. One I toasted with a couple glasses of wine (Okay, it was more like three or four but I have strong Italian blood running through these veins, so I’m going to hold that as my justification.) I forgot for a while the adoption debate existed. I gave myself permission to just “BE” without all the extra tags that come along with it.

And today dawned a new day. With renewed determination and a banishment of all self pity. And as the sun rose in the east, so did my realization of what I’m fighting for and why I can’t ever quit. Why I have to remain strong in the face of comments meant to push me back, shut me up.

Like the one above.

The tears have cleared now, giving me the clarity to approach such an accusation with rational thought and understanding.

It’s called fear. Not mine, but that of the one who posted the comment. What she calls negativity is actually truth – my truth. The one I lived. The experience that was mine.

And because I’m here. Because I actually exist to stand up and speak out about what happened to myself and my son all those years ago, she is terrified of what it might do to the “fairy-tale” image of adoption.

Deterring adoptive parents away from the current trend of adoption is exactly what I hope for. I want them to think, to rethink, and then to rethink again before they sign that check, write the disgusting, “Dear Birthmother” letter and hold their arms out to take a baby from his or her mother.

I want them to wonder with every step they take if their adoption is indeed ethical. I want them to question the affects it might have on the first/natural mother and on the tiny, innocent baby they so desperately want to call their own.

THAT’S why I’m here. THAT’S why I find myself spending so much time speaking out about adoption, learning the stories of others. Researching always every side, every angle I can find.

I don’t do it because I have nothing better to do. I don’t do it because it’s fun or easy or gains me any kind of compensation. I do it because I want my voice to be heard. I want to somehow make a difference and help another in ways I wish I would have been helped.

The accusations and arguments can come from all sides. It will never change what is the basic fact . . .

In adoption, I lost, my oldest son lost, my husband – his father – lost, and my three other children lost. We can never know a day that was not shadowed in some way or another by our truths of adoption. Everything we are, everything we’ve been, has been guided in some way or another by adoption. It has always been the heavy fact hanging over us. The dark cloud that never truly disappears.

At times . . . yes . . . there will be those who can push me hard enough to get me to sit down and shut up. But it’s a temporary setback. One I know will never be permanent because I have too much to fight for, speak up against.

Those who want me silenced because I put a glitch in their goal to gain more will simply have to live with the fact that I cannot be silenced forever.

Never again will I allow someone else’s ugly ways deter me from what I know to be true in my heart. They can fight me all they want. They can tell me what I’m doing is wrong, proclaim the worst of all dooms because I am daring to be heard. It WILL NOT affect me this time. I will never again doubt what I feel simply because another tells me I’m wrong.

So for those who believe like the comment above, you are wasting your time if you hope I will sit down and shut up for good. I did that once. I fell into the trap. And for it, I, my son, my husband, and my other children, have suffered a loss greater than you can ever imagine.

And see, where you might think your arguments and insults carry weight, you have no clue to the truth of what I face.

In my world what carries weight is the suffering of my son. A suffering that fills my heart and weighs on my thoughts every minute of every day. You can go on believing the “fairy-tale” of adoption but, for me, my truth lies in the eyes . . . the eyes of my oldest son. Eyes that are mine and reflect the same pain and loss caused by that one moment in time when I actually let the selfish, greedy voices around me control the lives they never had any right to.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Voices To Be Heard

During my internet “stroll” this morning I visited AdoptedJane to see what new and interesting things she had posted since my last visit. A couple posts down and I found myself reading and shaking my head in disgust.

NEVER will I understand this. I don’t believe there is ever justification for attacking an adoptee for expressing their feelings or sharing their experience. And the saddest part of this is, it comes at them from both sides, adoptive moms and first/natural moms alike. The very people who should understand above anyone else the unrestricted rights they have to stand up and speak out!

Why do us “moms” feel as if we have the right to do this? Is it because they say things we don’t want to hear? Well, that’s life, right? We are all grown up and mature enough to realize there will always be those who say things we don’t want to hear.

What’s that term . . . C’est La Vie.

Many of us “moms” are out there ourselves, blogging and posting things some don’t want to hear. It certainly shouldn’t surprise us when we come across an adoptee’s voice that is doing the same. EXCEPT, we ALL have a responsibility toward them to listen and actually hear what they have to say. Even if we don’t like it. Too bad! They are the ones caught between us, placed where they are by circumstances they had no control over. To be hurtful and cruel in any way to them is plain and simply wrong!

Is there any other person in this world who is told they are wrong or suppressing feelings if they say they had good parents and a happy upbringing and are content with their life? We don’t question them. We take their words on fact. But let an adoptee say those words and – sorry, but it’s true – there are some first/natural moms who will take it upon themselves to tell them they don’t know what they are talking about, are only fooling themselves and hiding from their true problems.

And on the opposite side of that, we hear about others who had an unhappy childhood or are perhaps confused or unsettled with decisions that were made for them when they were young, decisions they say made a huge impact on the rest of their life. We offer them comfort when we hear these tales. A kind word or supportive shoulder. So why, if an adoptee utters the same words, the same thoughts, some feel the need – and yes now it’s the adoptive moms turn – to tell them they are being ungrateful or causing trouble. Some will even go so far as to accuse them of lying.

It’s no wonder some of them feel trapped between a rock and hard place. They already have so many other liberties denied them. Do they deserve another to be added to the pile?

Of course, I can hear it now, those that want to accuse me of believing we should go backwards and not even discuss adoption with them. But that isn’t what I believe . . . far from it. I think sheltering them and treating them as a fragile china doll that might break into pieces is just as much of an insult.

But there is a line between sharing our experiences, our truths and attacking an adoptee when they don’t agree or have a different opinion. I fully believe we should be open and honest about what has happened and what our feelings are. There are already way too many lies weighing down adoption. But honesty also comes with respect.

It rips at my heart whenever I hear an adoptee refer to his or her first/natural mother with words of hate or resentment. But even more than that, it places a deep fear inside me. A fear that my own son may now or someday feel that way about me. That fear though, does not give me the right to allow it to dictate my responses to the adoptee who has expressed these feelings.

In this area I believe the “moms” from both sides can stand together and do what is right. We are all grown up enough to recognize the difference between sharing our opinions and experiences compared to responding in a hurtful or angry manner because we ourselves may be hurting or angry.

If nothing else this is the one thing we can do for any adoptee who is standing up and speaking out. We need to recognize them as the adults they are and give them the respect and understanding to hear their every word no matter how it may or may not make us feel deep inside.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Predators and Prey

If you've cruised the adoption blogs lately, you've more than likely come across this story . . .

Expectant Mom Upset By Offensive Offer

The very sad thing is there are many adoptive parents out there that don't see anything wrong with this type of soliciting towards a pregnant woman. They don't understand, or refuse to see, the disgusting, degrading attack this is on another human being. It's a violation of who they are. A dirty, ugly violation of a person who carries the same rights, deserves the same respect, as everyone else who walks on this earth.

But the very sad truth is that, in today's society, there are those who will not see anything wrong with this kind of action. They will justify it by their own desperate need to have a baby. It is very sad that the basic rights of a young, pregnant woman get tossed aside in pursuit of another's selfish needs.

Those who believe and practice this disgusting act are predators in every sense of the word. They are violating the pregnant woman much in the same way a person can violate a young woman sexually. The only difference is . . . one act is illegal, the other is not.

And the saddest part is the prey these predators seek. It's not the pregnant woman. She is nothing more to them than the "vessel" they must go through to reach their ultimate goal . . . the unborn child she carries.

That baby, who knows nothing of real life yet, is hunted in the same way a wild animal seeks warm blood. Secure and safe in his mother's womb, he isn't aware of the wrongs already being brought against him. Of the attacks his mother faces by those who do not regard her as a living, breathing human being. But instead see her as the means to give them the child they desperately seek.

She is an object, nothing more. Undeserving of the child she carries, protects, and loves. Lowering her own worth, making her feel dirty by the simple fact she is pregnant, does not matter to the predators. As long as they get the baby inside, they don't have to give a second thought to the terror and trauma they put the mother through.

It is a sick and disgusting reality, especially here in this great country that was created on equal rights for all. Self entitlement has become a curse. An ugly excuse for the most horrid of acts. Predators decide they deserve another woman's baby. They believe they are more deserving because of the size of the their pocketbook, the square footage of their home. And they will do whatever it takes, violate whoever they can, in their quest to attain that which they believe they have a right to.

And their prey - that innocent unborn child - has no clue to the sins they've taken on another person . . . on their very own mother. Sins they don't regret if it means they can hold that child in their arms, call him theirs.

It's what we had to do, is their excuse. It's the only way we can be sure we will get a baby. Violating a pregnant woman is necessary in order to reach the prey she carries inside. It's my right to do whatever I can, regardless of what is right or wrong, because I deserve my "prize." And nobody can tell me different.

And that poor innocent child is brought into this life and sometimes, sadly, lost to the predators. To a couple who will become his parents. Who will tell him how much they loved him and wanted him. But will they ever tell him the full truth? Will they ever admit to that child they hunted him down through his own mother.

Will they ever look in his eyes and admit they were the predators and he was their prey?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Evil Secret

I live everyday with an evil secret. A dark monster that dwells inside with long, guilt-ridden tentacles winding through my thoughts. Always there. Never letting me forget the mistakes I made.

I spent so many years living and learning to hide the pain and self-hating that took root the day I placed my oldest son into the arms of someone else to raise. I became a master at shoving my true feelings deep into this hole where I didn’t have to face them. Didn’t have to deal with the deep, stabbing ache they created.

When asked about adoption, I’d smile, give the “sugar-coated” response programmed for so long inside me. It was better, after all, to follow along with the “rosy mary” belief of all was good and life was bright and sunny. To voice the true words buried so deep inside would only provide an opening for those frightful emotions to return.

Except, something happened that I never counted on. Those emotions gained strength, fought harder and harder with each year to be released. They were boiling over, slowly refusing to be denied any longer.

Eighteen years after losing my son and they were gaining a strength I could no longer battle. The questions and doubts started filtering through. The reminder of that self-hatred found a soft spot and took hold, shoving me toward a realization I was terrified of facing.

And then that day in December came when I sat at my computer and came across a myspace page with the frightening and exciting thought – “Is that my son?” I watched pictures flip through in a slide show, one after another, hope and fear building, until that one.

A close-up . . . his eyes so close, so clear. And I knew I had found him.

I was staring into my own eyes. Same shape. Same color. Same everything. My son. Grown up. Eighteen years old. So big. So different than in that Kindergarten picture – the very last picture I ever got of him.

He was so handsome. And other than the eyes, looked just like his father and his youngest brother. He was there. Real. Alive. With friends. At school. Hanging out. All the normal things teenage boys do.

As I yelled desperately for my husband, his father, the last of my control slipped and the force of those long denied emotions swelled like a tidal wave crashing over me. Guilt and regret. Pain and loss. And the strong, constantly pounding self-hatred.

But mixed in was a joy. An amazing excitement. That was my son. I could look at him. See him. I read through everything on his page, getting to know him from afar. Piecing together everything I could.

He was there. Closer than he’d been in a very long time. I knew where he went to school. Where he worked. What his friends looked like. So much information after so many years of not knowing. Of always wondering.

My husband, too, grabbed every bit of information he could, saving it, remembering it. But his intentions were so different than mine. I can remember the almost uncontrollable fear that surfaced the minute he mentioned going to our son’s work, seeing him, talking to him.

NO! I was terrified by the thought.

How in the world could I face him, see him after what I had done. I could no longer even explain it to myself what had happened eighteen years earlier, how could I explain it to him.

He would hate me. After all, I didn’t deserve anything else. Look at what I had done. An act I could never make up for. I let him go that day in the hospital when I so desperately wanted to keep him. I believed the professionals, believed their dire predictions and I surrendered him because my life was supposed to be so screwed up. I was supposed to be a terrible parent. Someone who never accomplished anything useful and would have stolen everything that was good from my child.

Except that’s not what had happened. He had two brothers, one two years younger and one four years younger. He had a sister, nine years younger. They hadn’t suffered. They weren’t abused, neglected or desperately craving what I couldn’t give them as their mother.

My husband and I had actually worked hard, struggled and sacrificed to be good parents. And yet, somehow, in my mind, that was my biggest deception against my first son. That sweet, adorable baby I’d held in my hands in the hospital. Loved and cuddled. Wanted so badly to keep. To be the one to tend to his scraped knees. Kiss away his tears. Walk him to school and help with his homework.

I wanted to give him the mom I gave my other children. And I didn’t.

After that, how could I ever have the right to walk back into his life. I didn’t deserve to see him again. The monsterous creature I believed I was didn’t deserve even the tiniest hope for that kind of happiness.

My husband, thankfully, followed his own heart and within a week went to where our son worked. He talked to him. Told him who he was and even went over to where he lived with his adoptive mom to visit with her.

And at that very moment, my life swirled out of control. Because my son was coming to see me. In a week. On a Saturday. He would be there. Flesh and blood. This baby I loved, held so tight in my heart, wanted to meet me.

And every emotion there was to feel came in a rumbling avalanche, burying me deep under it’s weight. And in response, I did what I knew best, I grabbed desperately for those feelings and I buried them all over again.

And that is where my evil secret resides.

Instead of finally dealing with what I was feeling, I took the easy way out AGAIN, and in doing so, ultimately kept a distance between my son and I when we were reunited.

I can remember the silent lectures in those days leading up to my son’s visit. I couldn’t cry. I wasn’t going to cry. I had to hold it together. Hold my emotions in check because to let one free would let them all free.

And so I didn’t cry that first moment I held him in my arms. But I didn’t want to let go either. I just wanted to stand there and hold him. Forever. But that was an emotional desire and I wasn’t allowing that kind of thing.

I would watch him as he talked with his brothers, his sister. Listen to his every word. And the surge would well up. To reach out. Touch him. Grab and hug him again. But I buried those needs with everything else.

In my head, it had to be done. To let my emotions show to my son would give him a hint to the monster I was and he’d know, like I did, that I didn’t deserve to have him back in my life for any reason. So I continued to bury, to hide every feeling that crept up.

Instead of giving my son everything I was, every emotion I had for him, I held back and failed him all over again.

Not that I didn’t experience the happiness and joy of having him back in my life. It was amazing to talk to him, to spend hours on the telephone after that first reunion, learning about his likes and dislikes, discovering how we were alike in our passions and talents.

My love for him, which I had never needed to hide, remained strong and constant, but guilt and regret continued to rule the fearful need to keep all the other emotions carefully bound and hidden. And in return cut off a part of myself my son deserved to know.

It’s been a year and a half now since that miracle in my life. The emotions, in time, returned with an even stronger roar, refusing to be quieted again. And because of that I have started on my own path to finding answers to what happened all those years ago and coming to terms with what I’ve learned.

With the help of a therapist and amazing support groups I now understand some of the truths of the coercion and manipulation I went through all those years ago. I’ve learned it was carefully planned to make sure I didn’t keep my son while in the hospital. And I’ve discovered so many moms who were told they would be no good and encouraged to give up their children as well.

I’m not alone in my feelings anymore and that has helped more than anything. But still I must live everyday with the evil secret of what I did when finally reunited with my son. And now, as he has backed away, I will forever second guess if the distance I kept played into that and if I again failed him as I never wanted to do.

Intellectually, I know I can never go backwards and change what has already happened. But on those dark days when the monster is stronger than normal, reminding me of my secret, I wish desperately for a chance to reverse time and right the wrongs I have made.

And I pray, everyday, for one more chance to hold my son. To finally have that one time to have him in my arms and allow every emotion to surface without fear.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Adoption Manual

When a confused and frightened woman enters a pregnancy crisis center she is seeking help. A hand to hold. A person she can trust to help her through the dark period of unknown that looms ahead of her.

It is one of the most difficult times of her life, she needs a counselor who is unbiased in his or her opinions. Is willing to openly listen to the woman, understand her and provide her with information for ALL options without pressuring her into choosing.

Unfortunately, the reality is much different. Many counselors are encouraged to push the “goodness” of adoption. To say the right things and speak in a positive tone in order to “persuade” the confused, pregnant woman to ultimately choose adoption as the best choice for herself and her child.

Many would like to believe these facts of pressure and coercion are nothing more than moms trying to find ways to absolve their own guilt. Our escape, perhaps, from having to “own up” to what we did.

It does sound good on the outside, especially for those eager couples waiting to adopt who don’t want to play with any thoughts such as the fact their precious baby might have come to them in a less than ethical manner.

A majority of society would like to see it this way as well. It’s much easier to believe in the “fairy-tale” goodness of adoption than to dig deeper and learn the ugly secrets hidden below the surface.

But what if you do dig? What if you take the time to search for the truth?

If you are brave enough to take that first step, you might stumble across a simple-looking, small manual that is distributed to pregnancy crisis centers around the country. A “guide” for counselors to show them the right steps to take when a pregnant woman reaches out. Steps NOT into providing her with unbiased information from which she can make what is the best choice for herself and her child. But instead, steps to ensure she will choose adoption.

The recommendations inside this manual are frightening and follow directly into the path of coercion and manipulation against pregnant woman.

In their OWN words . . .

- “These recommendations are INTENDED to DIMINISH the elements that inhibit women from contemplating adoption and to ENHANCE those that MOTIVATE them.” –

- “A review of these findings will typically generate more specific steps to achieve the OVERALL GOALS of INCREASING the INCIDENCE OF ADOPTION.” -

- “A long window of OPPORTUNITY is available to reach these women with messages that will MOTIVATE them to consider adoption.” –

- “There must be solid COUNSEL and ENCOURAGEMENT of adoption readily available.” -

Change the “pretty” words the adoption industry likes to use and you can clearly see the intention is from the start to pressure a woman into choosing adoption.

And this manual knows exactly where to strike at a woman. How to get into her inner most worries and fears and turn it against her for their own good . . .

- “Address the fact that women who keep babies they do not really want are much more likely to neglect or injure them.” –

- “Explain that women, too, suffer when they keep children they are not prepared to raise.” –

- “Give women sound REASONS that will COUNTER the desire to keep their babies. One example is to REINFORCE the notion that it takes a strong, mature woman to place a child for adoption.” –

Again replace their “pretty” words and the truth is very clear. Attack a women in her most vulnerable places. Fill her mind with the negative. With doubts and insecurity. Work on her until she is so low she’s willing to grasp onto any idea to bring her back up.

Their ammunition is plentiful . . .

- “Counselors must be IMMERSED in the MINDSET of women who choose adoption and understand the rational and emotional MOTIVATORS and BARRIERS that affect what these women do.” –

- “Counselors should be given the TOOLS to carry the discussion beyond the initial, “I couldn’t give up my baby,” objections.” –

- “She SHOULD NOT be immersed in an atmosphere that assumes that being responsible means that she should raise her child. She will instead see information about adoption ON DISPLAY.” –

- “She should be able to read a list of center services that PROMINENTLY includes adoption.” –

- “She will be guaranteed at least one VERY POSITIVE EXPOSURE to adoption on her first visit, even if LOW-KEY.” –

This could continue for pages and pages. That simple-looking and small manual is full of suggestions on how to manipulate and coerce a woman toward adoption. These are their own words, not that of us “moms” who are standing up and speaking out.

What we have said for years is truth. The answers are right there in front of you in black and white.

And before I end this, just one more “suggestion” from this manual. A frightening suggestion. One that shows their manipulation does not end with the mothers. Instead it spreads into the culture, into our very children who might someday grow and find themselves facing the same situation . . .

- “As important as INFLUENCING adults is on this matter, INFLUENCING CHILDREN must be the HIGHEST PRIORITY. First impressions of adoption tend to last a lifetime. To be effective, any public-relations effort must encompass programming and media that are CHILD-FRIENDLY. A CONSISTENT, NATIONAL MESSAGE directed toward the next generation could help PERMANENTLY CHANGE the value this culture places on adoption.” –

I will let those disgusting words speak for themselves!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lost and Found

Dedicated to . . .

The mothers
And children
Who have been lost
Through adoption
And have been found
Through reunion

Two hearts
Beating together
Two souls
Bonded forever

Only a moment to hold
In that first step of life

A step into silence
So empty, so cold
So many questions
Answers never told

Until the miracle comes
One soul
Finds the other

And in healing
Comes truth
And a final understanding
Of who you are
And who you will become

Cassi Ward

May 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Adoption is Great

Something struck me today as I was reading through some posts on one of those giant "get-together" websites. Many times the question is asked . . .

"What do you think about adoption?"

They basically want to know if it's a good or bad thing. Do you agree with it or not. Now granted, for the most part, those that answer don't have personal ties to the adoption industry. What they have is a media and society fed view of adoption being the loving option.

Still it strikes me how often women will jump into these questioning posts and hail how great they think adoption is. They would of course adopt. Think it is a wonderful thing. They are one hundred percent behind it and everything it's created for.

NEVER, not once, have I ever heard any one of these women stand up and announce they are in such support of adoption they would step up and surrender their own child to this "fine" institution.

I dare anyone to find me a response where a women has stated that adoption is such a great solution that she would willingly lose her own child. Nope. Such a response doesn't exist.

What does exist are statements like, "I completely agree with adoption. I could never give up my own child but I agree with it."

Excuse me!? You recognize the pain and suffering it would take for any mother to be separated from her child and yet you agree with adoption? How is this possible? Under what branch of logical thinking does this fall?

It's okay, a great thing, as long as it doesn't happen to me.

Doesn't that seem to be the underlying theme here? As long as some other women is forced to suffer the trauma of losing her child, it's okay in your world? I grasp desperately for any kind of sound reasoning behind that.

It can no longer be said that adoption in this country is about children needing a home. If that were true, we wouldn't have TRULY orphaned children still waiting for homes. With the demand that exists, ALL children would have a home if adoption applied to that brand of thinking.

Except it doesn't, does it? We all know the truth, even if we choose not to believe it or feel it when it slaps us hard in the face.

Adoption is about providing couples with a child they can call their own. It's about filling that deep need to have a baby of your own. To feel "complete" by sharing in the joys of diapering and late nights and story-telling. That is the truth!! The very fact that there is an ABUNDANCE of couples waiting for every ONE baby born proves it without doubt.

So if you full-heartedly support adoption, are you not supporting these very truths. And if these are the truths you support and you believe in providing babies for couples desperately wanting them then why not stand up and say, "Sure, I'd sacrifice my own child . . . my own flesh and blood . . . my very soul . . . for these poor, needy couples."

Hmm . . . nobody likes that idea, do they? But by supporting the very act of a young, frightened woman surrendering her baby to strangers is supporting this very thing . . . no matter how much sugar-coating you try to lace it with.

So next time you feel the need to jump up and support adoption, you might want to think twice about what it is you are supporting. If it's something you yourself couldn't imagine suffering, how can you possibly support some other women going through it?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Adoption Warfare

Why do I call it adoption warfare? Because in war, there is a winner and a loser. There are tactics used, strategies practiced to ensure one side walks away triumphant and the other side falls.

And yet how could this be in adoption? A “win-win” situation? An option based on love? It sounds good, almost convincing if you are on the outside looking in. But what about those of us who have been on the inside, fought the battle, and come out bruised and battered.

We are the ones who know the tactics and strategies used in warfare are practiced in adoption as well, and for the same reason, to win. They are well hidden, impossible to catch unless you know what you are looking for. But they are there. Used over and over again on young, unknowing women facing one of the hardest decisions in their life.

At sixteen, I faced this battle with the billion dollar adoption industry and lost. Their tactics were subtle, but effective. Until my son was born. Until that moment in the hospital when I first held him in my arms, looked into his eyes, felt a love I never knew existed.

At that point the “facts” I had been fed during my sessions with the adoption agency faded away into nothing more than forgotten whispers. This was my son. An intimate part of me I had never known before. My entire world shifted in that moment. I was suddenly a mom and giving him away to someone else to raise was the very last thing I wanted to do.

But my knowledge of warfare at sixteen was limited. I didn’t know how to fight against the giant who had manipulated my life for so many months. I didn’t see where their final, and ultimate, battle resided.

In that hospital, my doubts surrounding adoption became fact. I began to realize what had been around me the whole time . . . parents who would help and had themselves fallen instantly in love with their grandchild. A group of supportive friends who I knew would stand beside me, regardless of my decision.

I wanted my son.

It should have been that plain and simple, but it wasn’t. The adoption agency had already planned for this and was well prepared. They had been building their own defenses against this development long before the hospital. I just didn’t know it.

For months before the birth of my son, I was encouraged to get as close as possible to the couple hoping to adopt my child. It was the best thing, they told me, for myself and my son. Forming that relationship would help him, help me and in the end be better for everyone.

So I faithfully followed their suggestions. I trusted them, believed everything they told me was in the best interest of myself and my baby. I allowed the couple to pick their own names for my child rather than naming him myself. I invited them into the delivery room, didn’t protest their constant visits to the hospital. It was after all what was best for my child. I knew this because that is what the “professionals” told me.

And they were good, very good. Because in the end my son went home with that couple. Not because it was what I wanted but because I felt trapped, unable to disappoint these people who I had grown so close to. I saw their excitement first hand, knew how desperately they wanted a child. How could I deny them that. How could I take away what I had promised them. Ruin the joy I saw in their faces, heard in their voices.

And the war was over. I went home without my son and with a huge guilt I have not yet been able to push myself past. For years I privately hated myself, lived with shame and disbelief as I struggled with the fact I had ultimately given my son up not because I believed I was incapable of giving him what he deserved but because of the feelings of his adoptive parents.

What kind of mother would do that? How low of an individual could you be to make those choices when it came to the life of your own child? I was messed up, screwed on my priorities somewhere. It was the only explanation I had for my actions.

And then the day came when I held my son again and the feelings I had buried, denied and struggled with for so many years hit a point where I could no longer control them on my own. So I began to search, learn about adoption. No longer with the innocence of a child but that of an adult who had suffered a loss unlike anything she’d ever known.

And I discovered the ugly truth.

Those feelings in the hospital, the very ones that haunted me for so long, were exactly what the adoption agency was counting on when they encouraged me to form such a close relationship with my son’s adoptive parents. There was documentation on this. Books written about it. Details given as casually as sharing a favorite recipe.

Over and over again, as my heart ripped apart, I read the ugly words. Adoption experts proudly encouraging the contact between the natural mother and adoptive parents to ensure she doesn’t change her mind. To make sure she feels exactly what I did and keeps her promises, not because of her own belief for the well being of her child, but because of an awareness for the adoptive parents feelings.

Warfare, just like I said. You don’t care about the aftermath, about the state of well being of those you leave behind. You care about winning. About reaching that triumphant stage at any cost.

And I sit here on the other side . . . the loser. I see my son and his losses too and try desperately to make some kind of sense or reason out of it. My pain is enough but knowing my son’s pain is unbearable. Two lives forever changed by the tactics and strategy of warfare – better known in the adoption industry as coercion and manipulation.

So I read everything I can find. Web sites, blogs, others stories. Every book there is I buy, read it from cover to cover. Always searching, hoping somewhere out there I will find the right words to give my son to take the pain away. Something, anything, that will erase his battle scars and help him start the process of healing.

And as I search, as I learn, I find I must share what I discover with others in the hopes of saving another young women from suffering the life-long suffering of adoption warfare. If not for herself then for the innocent baby who has no voice, no choice.