Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dear Birthmother


The picture is actually the front cover to a book titled, “Dear Birthmother.”

Two decades ago I was handed the first edition (it’s in its third printing) on my very first visit to the adoption agency where my school nurse sent me for help in deciding what was the best option for my unborn child. Though they never gave me anything on options for parenting my child, they made sure I left the agency with this book, full of just how wonderful adoption is, of letters from grateful adoptive parents, praising how great their child’s first/natural moms are. From first/natural moms radiating how great the adoptive couple is for adopting her son or daughter. Page after page of the amazing life that adoption is.

Yuck!

I hate this book. I hate it with a passion. And I know several other first/natural moms who share the same feelings. I even know of one who burned hers. Turned to ashes all that disgusting sweetness and gratitude oozing from the pages.

For me, I sit here now at my desk, staring at it on the bookshelf next to me. For many years, I hid the book away in a box. Hating the sight of it, the memories it brought back. The sick feeling it turned in my stomach whenever I thought of the nights I spent resting that book on my pregnant stomach, reading chapter after chapter about the happy tales of adoption, naively believing every word.

It’s been less than a year since my husband found the book again. The minute I saw it, the sick feeling returned. And anger. An anger so strong I wanted to take the book and hurl it at those who first put it in my hands. I wanted to scream at them at the top of my lungs. Call them the liars they were. Demand they tell me why they never informed me about the other side. The side that isn’t all roses and sunshine. The side that exists in the real world, outside the fantasy world they create inside those adoption agencies.

I wanted answers I knew I would never get. I wanted to release my anger, my pain on a shadowy figure I knew I would never see again. I wanted someone to hurt as I had been hurt, as my son had been hurt.

Instead, all I got was the book, the reminder, that for reasons unknown, I placed on my bookshelf where I would see it day after day. Never sure what good I was doing by keeping it out instead of hiding it away once again.

In time though, it dawned on me – the good that came with the memory of that book. Every time I read the cruel words an adoptive mom had to say about her child’s first/natural mom. Every time the anger and even sometimes hatred reared its head during discussions about adoption and those involved, I realized just how different that reality was from the one portrayed in the book that stared up at me.

Inside the cover of “Dear Birthmother” a pregnant woman is given an insight to a loving, kind relationship and led to expect that is how it will always be. She is never made aware of the other side. Of the other truths that exist in the world of adoption. The two sides are such a drastic contrast to each other that it’s hard to imagine when you are confused and frightened that what you are reading on those pages might not be the truth. Or to even imagine that two adoptive moms (the authors) carefully crafted the “best of the best” in what they included, steering clear of anything that might cast a negative light on adoption.

But, since I don’t believe in only sharing the “best of the best” when it comes to adoption, I have decided to share some of the OTHER comments that exist out there in the real world of adoption. Some of the ways adoptive parents view first/natural mothers.

These are the words they must have forgotten to add. The actual words from adoptive mothers in public forums. Words the authors obviously couldn’t find a chapter for . . .

** I definitely would not want the birth mother to know where I lived. Many birth mothers have serious issues and can be very unstable and I would be worried about her being around my child.**

** You birth parents need to calm down and get over the child who is no longer yours, just move on with your lives and let these children have normal lives.**

** To all you bmoms ... please get a life! If you wanted to make sure your child was in good hands, YOU would be raising them!**

** Why should I honor an open adoption? She's giving the baby away because she doesn't want it, right? If she's giving away the baby, I don't care what she wants....she's not getting it.**

**I'm "sick of" adoptive parents, like me, being put in the position of trying to explain as gently as possible to their wounded child, why their so-called "mother" threw them away like yesterday's trash**

** Please stop saying it's your baby, you gave her up, maybe that 's the problem, you are obsessed over someone else’s child.**

** If you give up your child, you do NOT have the right to call yourself a mother. You are no longer a mother. Any woman can give birth.**

** So please don't belittle what being a mom is. You might consider yourself a mom but, the adoptive mom is that child’s mom.**

* *Adoptive parents need to be free to cut ties to birth families.**

** If a birthdad does not sign a registry or does not pay for any prenatal care then most states are moving towards he has no rights. That is the trend and I am glad.**

** I have a question.. why should you be allowed to see her? Why screw up her entire life by coming back into it because you had a child you couldn't care for, so she found a new family that could. **

**Legally she does not have siblings. They want to be a normal everyday family and having to add in a birth mom, sisters etc would destroy that. **

** I can't imagine having to have the birthmother in my life on an ongoing basis. I think I may be better off this way than to have some hateful, hurtful, poison spewing woman in our lives.**

** Well... that's the shit you have to go through for giving up a child. **

** Sorry bmom, many adoptive parents are worried about the scary behavior of birth parents, they are obviously not very stable people and I will do everything I can to protect my child and not expose him to unstable people.**

The list could go on and on.

Do all adoptive mothers talk this way? Of course not. But many of them exist with the same feelings and opinions. Many of them poured love and tenderness over their child’s first/natural mom while she was pregnant only to turn around and treat her in the same way as these adoptive mothers once the adoption was final.

“Dear Birthmother,” like so many other things in adoption, doesn’t say anything about the risks. It doesn’t tell you that you just plain and simply NEVER KNOW what life you or your child will find. All the promises in the world, the kindness, the words of assurance that you will always be a part of your child’s life, mean absolutely nothing in the end. That amazing, sweet, hopeful couple who has been with you and supported you through your entire pregnancy might be the very first ones to cut you off and treat you or even your child terribly once the papers are signed.

It’s always important to remember that, just like the book, potential adoptive parents, adoption attorneys, counselors, agencies, are only going to offer you “the best of the best.” They will only offer the sweetness, the roses and sunshine. And you have no way of knowing the truth you and your child are walking into until you turn that last page, close the book, and walk into the reality that awaits in the world of adoption.

7 comments:

  1. I HATE this book as well.
    It was given to me by the couple that were going to adopt my son. (I decided to parent)
    I like the thought of burning it!
    It is so not a book to give to an expectant mother considering adoption!

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  2. rondidondi - I agree completely. It is NOT a book to ever give an expectant mother and I hate that it is still handed out to this day. On a lighter note, I loved hearing you decided to parent. I've bookmarked your blog so I can go read your posts. I can't wait to hear more of your story.
    I'm considering following in my friends footsteps as well and burning the damn thing since I've now found it's purpose and no longer have any use for it.

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  3. Oh Cassi, I have not read this book but can see in my mind just the sort of crap that would spill from its pages... it is all over the net, the vomit inducing LIES about what adoption is really NOT.

    And the comments you have posted, wow, they are the nicest ones I have ever seen! No kidding, I have seen some that are not fit to be posted. And the scary thing is they are posted by 'people' (can we call them that when they are so foul and evil?) who are raising OTHER women's children and have lied their way into getting those children.

    Adoption, from my experience and my observations over the past 11 - 12 years, brings out the worst in people; mainly those wanting to adopt. It becomes a lust driven factor for PAP's and a money driven factor for agencies. The child? Well, they are just a commodity these days, something to boost one's marriage, to say 'hey look at my beautiful family', a statement of success. WHileI know some adoptive parents who do truly love their adopted children, this number is so small I can count them on one hand!

    Adoption makes me sick. Makes my head, heart and every fibre of my being hurt by merely existing.

    Thanks for posting and showing a little of what it is like in adoption-land. Even if it is the nicer end. Says something if this is the nicer end!

    Hugs,
    Myst

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  4. Myst - you are so right that all too often the child becomes the comodity caught between all the hell that adoption can be. And the book is a disgusting repeat of what is out there all over the place about how great adoption is and how wonderful ALL relationships are between all side in adoption. Lies. Lies. And more lies piled on top.
    I think, one of the large problems that plays into the attitude that I portray here is that need of "Mine. Not yours." Even adoptive parents who might actually start out in the very beginning intending to keep their promises and respect their child's first/natural mom, do often, as I have seen over and over again, fall into this mindset of he or she is my child not yours and the very fact that you dare claim to have any connection to my child now makes you the enemy.
    Of course, like you, I do know of a FEW adoptive who really are concerned only about their child and what is best for them and realize being able to have and accept all parts of their life is a good thing. Infact a friend I consider one of my closest and dearest friends is an adoptive mom.
    But, unfortunately, she, and other adoptive moms like her seem to be few and far between which means the odds of a first/natural mom facing comments, feelings and treatments such as those I added here and the crueler ones you pointed out that exist, are high and more likely to happen than not.
    The fact of the matter is, I and so many others have learned that there are so many parts of adoption that involve hate and anger, not love, and it is time every expectant mom knows about these risks and facts before ever being expected to make any kind of decision.
    And if you want to be absolutely sure everything that you imagine for your child actually comes to happen, than you can only count on yourself and your own love for your child. Believing anyone else will be what you "dream" as good for your parents is believing in the unknown and putting your child into the world of that unknown without ever knowing what will TRULY happen after all is said and done.

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  5. Over the years I have come to realize that adoption today is no different than it was 30 years ago. The only difference is we BM's are LIED to, (straightforwardly & with a smile no less too) and given the illusion that "open adoption" is MUCH better. It really is not. The same theory applies now as back then: You are giving YOUR child to someone else! I have come to realize that when considering adoption we BM's are never told the truth. The truth is regardless if if you have an open adoption or not, when you "relinquish" a child, it has to come from a place of similar to that of organ donors; You have to do it with NO EXPECTATIONS WHATSOEVER! You can't take it back, you can never undo it, it is PERMANENT. You have to let go from day one, otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure. I think that is an ENORMOUS expectation for a BM to even attempt to live up to. Hormones alone are a B!%*#!

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  6. etropic - YES! It is so unfair to ever put such an enormous expectatation on a pregnant woman to understand the magnitude of adoption and the truth of what it really means. Like you say, we know the affect hormones during pregnancy can have on a woman, both physically and mentally and yet it is considered okay by so many to play with her emotions and encourage her trust during this time. And it is so sad to say that you are right - the honest fact is, adoption means having no expectations whatsoever and to never believe what you imagined or through will come true. Plain and simple - adoption is FOREVER losing all rights to your child and leaving it in another's hand to do whatever they please - including breaking promises for so many different reasons.

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  7. Excellent post, Cassi.

    My gosh... reading some of the comments that adoptive mothers make towards the woman that bestowed this "gift" (as they like to call it BEFORE the baby is born. That was the case in my situation, anyway). After the baby is born and they have managed to swindle it away from it's natural mother with LIES of openness and ongoing contact, we are trash, unstable, have no right to know how OUR children are, need to go away and let them live their lives...etc. I love the AP's who go on an on about how unstable a mother is. "We can't let "her" around OUR child, because she is unstable and may hurt OUR child." That is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard.

    No, it is not HER that is unstable. They are the unstable one's, who want to strip a child of his heritage and cut his mother out of his life like she does not exist (because they wish she DID NOT exist).

    People who say such things about the woman who lost everything, while they gained everything are despicable. It makes me sick to my stomach to hear these types of comments.

    I love your blog, by the way. Keep up the good work here~

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