Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thou Shall Forgive

It’s interesting how I take comments about needing to forgive myself.

There are those times, in an adoption forum, a heated bout of questions and answers, when I am told by someone to forgive myself, move on, and realize I did what was best for my son.

Whenever I see that, I instantly see it as someone trying to discredit what I have to say. Trying to silence me by suggesting that I am not one who has an importance in her words because I have problems, like needing to forgive myself and move on, that keep me from truly being taken seriously.

These are the ones I see as frightened of what I have to say. They are offering their suggestions of “forgiveness” not because they give a damn about me but because they are afraid that if someone . . . anyone . . . might actually hear me, it threatens the belief they carry about the “roses and sunshine” version of adoption. And they just can’t have that so they must do whatever they can to take away any and all belief in what I might have to say in contrast to what they want others to believe.

Hence, the old line . . . forgive yourself.

But there are also times when those I respect and listen to (even when they disagree with me or have different opinions) suggest I forgive myself. When I know they are not tossing the suggestion out there to silence my words or make themselves feel better. But are doing it because they really and truly believe I need to take that step for myself and my own peace of mind.

And it is those that get me thinking . . . again! Those that nudge me back to the whole issue of forgiveness and adoption and how both play such a major role in my life.

Perhaps it’s just me, but when it comes to putting the thought of forgiveness into play within my experience of being a First Mom in adoption, there is no easy answer. No black and white solution that dictates either I forgive myself or I don’t.

It’s just not that easy.

And there are many areas in my life where I have sought and found some forgiveness.

Compared to the emotional wreck I was before I sought help through a great therapist and found support in so many other First Mom’s who were, or had, gone through what I was, my ability to forgive myself in today’s world is a huge accomplishment.

The woman who sits here today, shares her feelings and experiences on this blog, opens up in areas she never would have dared just a few years ago, is one that has moved past some of her worst demons and has learned to find forgiveness for what happened over two decades ago.

But, that forgiveness still does not, and may never, come as a clear and absolving declaration for what happened back when I gave up my son. It does not suddenly free me from all guilt and regret, all knowledge of the past and the results of it.

Because there are still affects of the adoption mind games that linger, continue to jab painful fingers into the memories I carry.

And it’s hard to explain to others who have never been there. Hard to get them to see and understand just how well the “words” of the adoption industry can work in manipulating a pregnant woman into believing she is making a “choice” because she loves her child.

Being led to believe you made a choice makes it very difficult to fully forgive yourself for what you did, even knowing and realizing you truly had no choice at all.

I’m not a stupid woman. I wouldn’t even label myself as a foolish one.

I believe, in most areas of my life, I am intelligent enough to not simply believe because I’ve been told. To automatically take the words of others without question. To place trust without hesitation.

I like to research, learn and find my own answers before believing anything, or anyone. I want to know, for myself, that something is true. I don’t want to simply be told it is.

And when I take that woman and place her back in that time twenty-two years ago, it’s hard to believe we are even the same person. It’s difficult to imagine, in the most important decision I ever had to make, I was foolish. I was stupid. And I didn’t research and learn everything I could before blindly following those who told me adoption was the best thing for my child.

And by realizing and knowing that, I am, in turn, accepting that I gave all power to those who wanted me to believe adoption was my best and only choice.

I understand and have learned in all my research and learning, that it is exactly what they wanted from me. That they knew the tricks, the right words to say, to make sure I gave them and their “suggestions” the power over all.

But that still does not, and will never, be able to fully give me full forgiveness of myself.

Because there is still that small part of me, that lingering voice that insists I should have known better. I should have seen what they were doing. Questioned their tactics. Known, in the end, that it was absolutely crazy to ever consider the feelings of my son’s adoptive parents when it came to giving him away. To believe that anyone was better for him simply because they were married, had more money, or a better career.

And that is, in every way, the true mind games the adoption industry has played, and continues to play, with mothers facing unexpected pregnancies. They know, without question, that the best way to go about their desires is to make mother’s feel as if they made their choice. To take every risk, every consideration, into account, and plan ahead for it so that a mother who has lost everything will still feel as if she made a “choice” in what happened and will find only herself to blame when she realizes the true horror of what happened.

And it works. Trust me, it works!

Here I am, twenty-two years later. My oldest son is back in my life in every way possible. I have a great therapist, a wonderful support system of other First Mom’s who share the same experiences. I have read the adoption industries own disgusting research on how to convince mother’s to give up their children. Have found, way too often, the same old script, the same repeated words, they said to me still being used to convince mothers to give up their children.

And yet, I still have not found full forgiveness for myself because I still battle against what they made me believe so many years ago.

I am, in many ways, their greatest product of success (if you take out the fact I am not still their robot, repeating their script for all to hear.) Because I have come to learn different from what they told me. I know now, the lies they told, the manipulation they used, the coercion that became the final act in losing my child, and yet, I still cannot find it possible to fully forgive myself for that because I still hold on to the fact they were able to make me believe them, trust them and go along with them without question or hesitation.

My hesitation, inability, to not only forgive myself, but to realize their manipulation and coercion, in truth, left me nothing to forgive myself for, is exactly what they hope for when it comes to us poor, poor souls who might actually turn around and realize just what bullshit it all was that they fed us.

Because we give them the doubt they need to declare that we are the ones in the wrong. We are the ones who had some failure, some wrong twist of reality inside of us. We’re just bitter, regretful and really shouldn’t be heard at all. I mean, after all, if we truly believe they had been wrong in what they did to us, we wouldn’t fight to forgive ourselves. We would know that the blame rests on their shoulders only.

But because we still struggle with our own forgiveness, then we must, obviously, be absolving them from any and all wrong doings on their part.

And if you think, for even a minute, that isn’t something they count on, prepare for, then I have plenty of readings and research for you to check out, from their own words, their own findings, to guarantee First Moms like myself face such struggles and questions so that they won’t be held to blame.

And it has worked so well for them that they haven’t changed their tactics, their ways, in many years.

Even today, I hear it. In the voices of new First Moms (or birthmothers as they have been told they are to be called) who say and repeat, word for word, what I said over and over again so many years ago.

Who were guided and counseled in the exact same way I was. Always being careful to make sure that they will always believe it was their choice and their choice only.

It hasn’t changed. And it won’t change. Because they are good. Because what they said to me over two decades ago still has power. Why would they ever try to change that same direction with the new First Mom’s they create.

They wouldn’t. Not when they have gone so far, spent so much money, done all the research, to know, without question, their manipulation works, not only in convincing a mother to give up her child, but in keeping her believing that it was all her choice in the first place.

Forgiveness is a hard thing in the world of adoption. It’s been carefully crafted and created to be that way. Like I said, there is no black and white, at least not in my world. And I don’t know if there ever will be.

Because, as much as I hate to admit it, as hard as it is to face the fact, there are still powers from the adoption industry that loom over me, restrict me from ever taking that full and final step.

And, I know, without doubt, without question, that there will be First Mom’s in today’s world, who will face the same struggle, the same understanding that forgiveness is not as easy as some think it might be. Because they too are products of the mind games that are played against mothers in the world of adoption.

They too will become, as I have, the proof of what it means to do such horrendous things to another human being for no other reason than to have another baby to supply to the demand while pretending it is all the mother’s choice.

They are proof of what happens when you lead a mother to believe giving up her child means loving her child. And that every thought like that comes from only them and not from the heavy pressure of society, media, and the very well researched “counseling” the adoption industry piles onto them day after day after day.

Forgiveness . . . I would love to know it in its full power. I would love to never again have to waver between the truths and realities I know from who I was then compared to who I am now.

But the reality is . . . that is my life now. That is what was planted inside of me, just as it is planted inside of so many others, even today.

Will I ever know full forgiveness . . . who knows.

Especially since, the truth of what is adoption and what mothers are told in adoption . . . it shouldn’t be about forgiveness but about seeing and realizing how we were, and are, used to create the supply for the demand that just keeps getting greater and greater with every passing year.

So maybe, the answer, for me, and others who have been there or will be there, isn’t about forgiving ourselves but instead, about fully knowing and accepting that the situations we were in, the choices we were restricted, offers nothing of forgiveness because forgiveness means choice and in the world of adoption and First Mom’s there really isn’t any choice to start with.


  1. And you have adoptees out here who fully support what you say and believe in the truth of it.You have been brave enough to say what others cannot.
    Disempowerment comes to all of us at times, even those of us who feel we are strong.It's usually at the hands of some professional who is skilled in manipulation for ends other than ours.
    Forgiving ourselves is a bit like being told to love our pain. You may see from my writing on chronic pain, I never learned to love my pain, I hated it for what it did to me and my family and those around me.Like you I'm in a different space, through hard work and determination and the right support.As you say, some forgiveness, in some situations is possible, those who insist on it haven't been to the place where it can't happen and they will never understand or access those feelings.They make it sound so easy don't they? As if we're just being stubborn or stupid.
    I'd really like to post this to my blog..are you ok with that?

  2. "So maybe, the answer, for me, and others who have been there or will be there, isn’t about forgiving ourselves but instead, about fully knowing and accepting that the situations we were in, the choices we were restricted, offers nothing of forgiveness because forgiveness means choice and in the world of adoption and First Mom’s there really isn’t any choice to start with."

    Fabulous post Cassi... and I particularly love the above quoted paragraph. I completely agree. It is more about acceptance than forgiveness.

    Very thought provoking... forgiveness is a word I struggle with, not so much the concept but the way it is bandied around by so many whom use it as a way to discredit or disregard your voice. Like the term "find peace", I doubt those using it in forums etc use it in a caring way but in a patronising manner. So it is a word I do not trust because its meaning has been worn down and twisted.

    Again, great post Cassi and eloquent as usual.

  3. Cassi-it is about more than forgivness-it is about being made a fool of-of having people go over your head and stay over your head-to be owned. The Adoption Industry wants to own us. All of us. To kick us around, and bend our emotions and feelings like that old Gumby I used to play with as a child, so we sacrifice our true feelings and what we want to do. And when someone wants to own someone they want to treat them like a child-boss them around, force them to psychologically be a doormat to be walked all over. Those who are sick enough to have to own other people use tricks to begin the process. They need to get you in, so they start the backstabbing to do it. This doesn't happen just in the Adoption Industry-many other people and Corporate Industries do the same thing. So what it comes down too,is to to find a way not to forgive yourself, but to find a way in your head to GO OVER THEIR HEAD so you don't have to feel the fool anymore. I think in order to do this, revenge is what is needed, not forgiveness and exposing the Adoption Agencies for what they did to you is the path you need to be on. Maybe you should think about suing them too-at least that way you could get some justice, and you'll finally get the one up you need.

  4. Von - of course you can link to this post. You don't need to ask. I'm honored when you include me on your blog.

    And you are right, it is sometimes like asking us to love our pain. It just can't always be done. And I imagine it is hard for those who have never been there to understand what that is like.

  5. Myst - yes, "Find Peace" is another one that is thrown around so often. You had a great post about that on your blog.

    I believe acceptance has a lot to do with it. And I also believe, finding peace or forgiving yourself is not the healing balm so many believe.

    I think, understanding where we are and how we feel - and why we feel that way - is much better on our souls than to be expected to simply find peace, forgive ourselves and move on.

    It just isn't, and honestly I don't believe should be, that easy.

  6. Anon - your image of Gumby was a perfect one.

    And yes, there are times when you feel like you've been made a fool of by others who are projected as holding the power. It is wrong in so many areas.

    I could only imagine what it would feel like to sue the adoption agency. Unfortunately, the agency I went through, Adoption Connections, closed down many years ago. So there is good that they are unable to put more women through such horrors, but they will forever be out of my reach for any kind of "fight" against what they did.

  7. I needed to read this today...thank you for so eloquently voicing a very real, very raw struggle in my own life right now.


  8. Cassi-Then track down indiv. employees who played a part in manipulating you to give up your baby and sue them at the very least for personal injury. All you natural moms should do that. You should sue the state where it happened to.

  9. There are some great and truthful posts here.Thanks for your permission I'll post it when I leave here.I really appreciate this opportunity to bring your story to others.I will never post without asking, you've been shown too much disrespect already.
    The more we all speak out, support each other the stronger we'll be.
    The adoption industry needs radical transformation, in your country I think it will be long, slow and hard.There is so much opposition.Revenge isn't it, suing and punishing plays the same demoralising games.An individual never wins against a corporation or big business.
    Good wishes, thinking of you......and thank you.

  10. "The adoption industry needs radical transformation, in your country I think it will be long, slow and hard.There is so much opposition."

    Isn't that the truth!!!

  11. you have to love yourself not forgive yourself and thats what truly radiates.

  12. I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ........................................

  13. I have scraps of paper on my desk
    - they have various thoughts written of what I'd like to blog about

    Cassi, I read this post intently
    because you have said to me so many times that I need to forgive myself

    and I very much realize that you are not telling me that in the dismissive sense at all

    but because you've said that I have a yellow scrap of paper that has thoughts of forgiving myself...
    and what do I need to forgive myself for?
    -forgive myself for being victimized?
    no, I don't think I can forgive myself, because what is there to forigve really?
    I did what I did with the best of motives...with the hightest of hpes...with the sincerest of intentions.
    Was I wrong? oh, absolutely!
    But should I continue to dash myself upon the rocks for trying to do what so many parents try to do ... I was simply trying to give my son The Best.

    What he really needed was My best instead.

    No, I think forgiveness needs to be applied to those who have wronged me. But I can't really forgive an organization - can I?

    Even if I were to forgive them, that would not mean that i am going to lie down in silence so they can continue vicitmizing families.

    and maybe you'll just think i've fallen out of the coocoo nest for good this time

  14. My first reaction to someone who would try to tell me to "forgive myself" is to ask them "What is it that you feel I need to forgive myself for?"

    I am genuinely curious as to what their answer would be. Because their question implies several things:

    1) They believe that "what we did" was a sin or an act of evil.

    2) They put the BLAME squarely on our shoulders as being "perpetrators" and

    3) They believe we feel guilt or regret.

    Ironic, as most of the people who casually throw out the "forgive yourself" line are adoption industry proponents, customers, and hacks. If adoption is such a great and noble act, why would we need to forgive ourselves?

    When a mother is struggling with feelings of guilt and self-blame, I do not tell her to forgive herself. I explore with her the events of what happened to her, and see whether it is the case that she had just as much "control" in the situation as any rape victim. And we KNOW that, in the case of rape, anything other than "yes" means "NO." Coerced "sex" is not sex but is rape, the same way that a coerced "decision" is not a decision.

    You were not to blame. The truth about coercion is that they applied enough to ensure surrender. If you had resisted, they had other methods they would have applied until you broke. There is NOTHING you need to forgive yourself for.

  15. I am so impressed with your writings! You are speaking my language Thank you. Thank you!