Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Don't We Sacrifice Enough

Letters to Ms. Feverfew has a new post, Some People Rob You With a Six-Gun, about a new mom who not only had to go through the pain of losing her child at birth to adoption, but now has to suffer the heart-wrenching reality of losing her son all over again because the adoptive parents have chosen to close the adoption after promising her an open adoption.

And their reasons for doing this . . . because she is speaking out and sharing how badly she has been hurt by the loss of her baby.

For the last few weeks, through this First Mom’s blog (which she has now set to private) my heart has ached, not only for the grief she is suffering and the loss she is struggling to deal with, but also for the cold-hearted comments she has received in response. Blaming her, attacking her feelings as wrong, accusing her of doing wrong and deserving what she got, as this particular commenter felt he had the right to do . . .

***And this, my dear (****), is why you wait to be intimate until AFTER you find and marry your (***).

You call it corrupt that a committed couple is willing to take (****) as their own? and provide(****) the loving environment he deserves? that you were unwilling to wait until you were ready to fully provide?

You say you felt like you had to place (****) - and you were right to do so. As soon as you have sex you invite a life and if one comes, your own life, your own wants become secondary.***

And another particular commenter, who I am unable to copy exactly what she said so will have to paraphrase, told her all about everything the adoptive couple had to put up with from this First Mom while she was pregnant (always love how, after the adoption finalizes, it goes from we love you and are here for you for whatever you need to, look at everything we had to put up with just to get our baby) and made sure she, over and over again, capitalized “you” to emphasis that it was all in this First Mom’s control. She made all the choices. Everything happened because of what she wanted. And, because of that, she had no right to be upset or angry now that she has lost her son.

This mom, who has already been victimized (she was against adoption until, as seems to happen way too often, she was “counseled” by LDSFS) and beat up on enough, is going through it all over again, in the absolute worst kind of way, and all for one reason . . .

Because instead of being the good “beemommie” she is expected to be, she is actually grieving the tremendous loss she has suffered. Is angry over what happened to her. And is speaking out about her true feelings in an attempt to heal from what has been one of the worst traumas she has experienced in her life.

She is doing and feeling what so many of us never had the courage to do. What so many of us First Moms wish we had been brave enough to feel, to say, to be against everything expected from us.

After losing my first son to adoption, I was too frightened of what it would mean if I actually expressed the terrible grief I was suffering. I wasn’t brave enough to admit to anyone how badly I was hurting, how much losing him was affecting me. Instead, I stuffed all those feelings deep down inside of me, did my best to ignore them, and concentrated only on being the good “beemommie” I was expected to be. The one everyone would like. The one they wanted me to be. Happy and content with losing my son. Admitting that I wasn’t good enough and loved him so much I gave him away to a couple that was better than I could ever be.

And it is First Moms like who I once was and many of the ones you see today who have a part in why this particular mom is being met with such hostility and anger. Why the adoptive parents expected her to be happy and content and couldn’t imagine the loss of her son would hurt so bad.

Because, though not intentionally, we set the standard that is expected from moms who have lost their children to adoption. We give the belief that it’s okay. That it doesn’t tear us apart, rip everything from the very depths of our souls. Change everything we are and everything we are yet to become.

We provide the proof, for those who seek it, for something that, when truly thought about, doesn’t make sense in any way. We justify what is unjustifiable – the terrible pain of losing a child. We become the balm over that deep, forbidden knowledge that losing a child is a horrific event that nobody should ever have to suffer through.

We become the poster child for what they want, what they so desperately need to believe.

And, just as the post at Letters to Ms. Feverfew pointed out, many of the happy “beemommies” who do this, who create that image of happiness at losing their child, really don’t have much of a choice. Because if they were to even dare to show even a sliver of the true grief that comes with losing your child, they could very well face the same terrible fate this First Mom now must live with, having their open adoption close because they are not reacting in the way they are expected.

That’s the sad reality of the vicious cycle that adoption creates. It inflicts the worst kind of loss on a mother then demands she be happy and content with that loss and threatens her with losing her child all over again if she dares to speak the true depth of her feelings and her grief over losing her own flesh and blood.

And yet, because she cannot express her true feelings and must be happy with adoption, she lays the foundation for more mothers to step into the same cycle, because those who don’t know and are told over and over again that adoption is the loving option, believe that they will be just as happy, just as grateful to be separated from their child. And once such a loss becomes a reality, they face the same expectations of having to be the perfect “beemommie” or being cruelly rejected if they feel otherwise.

It’s a sick fact that exists in the world of adoption. And what makes it even sicker is that whether you are a happy “beemommie” or not, you are still being treated in the worst of ways. Because, the simple fact is, even the ones who are loved by adoptive parents because they are so good with losing their child, are being abused and used as well.

Think about it this way, my husband’s grandmother, over fifty years ago, had a son who died at birth. It was a terrible tragedy in her life, one that still affects her today. In all the times she has talked about it, her grief comes through loud and clear. To this day, she still mourns that loss. Still feels the emptiness inside.

But what if, right after she had lost her son, she proclaimed she was happy with what happened, and never expressed any grief or loss from such a tragedy in her life?

Such a reaction would have thrown up red flags to everyone and anyone near her. They would understand immediately she wasn’t processing or dealing with the trauma she had suffered. They would clearly see something was wrong and seek help for her so that she could begin to deal with it and heal from such a terrible event in her life.

And one of the ways she would have been encouraged to deal with it was to allow herself to be sad and angry. To question what had happened. To share whatever she could in an attempt to heal.

But in adoption, many don’t see a happy acceptance over the loss of a child as a red flag. And they don’t, because of their own feelings, their own need to believe the separation of mother and child was a good thing and meant to be.

Adoptive parents claim to love and care for the First Moms of their children. They proclaim, over and over again, how they are part of the family. Special to them. An important part of their lives.

But are they really? Do they truly mean that much to them?

Because the fact of the matter is, if adoptive parents love and cherish the First Moms so much then why are they so eager, so willing to embrace and believe that the ones that mean so much to them are perfectly happy and okay with the loss of their child. Why do they not see the same red flags they would hopefully never miss if a spouse or child, sibling or parent, proclaimed such an unrealistic acceptance of such a terrible loss in their lives?

Because, in the truth of it, the acceptance of such a terrible loss and denial of feelings by happy “beemommies” serves to make adoptive parents feel better. The red flags that would be so obvious to them in other situations, are ignored and explained away. Not because of their love or concern about the First Mom of their child. But because such reactions make them feel better. Offer them the proof that their adoption was for the best.

And in that, they use the First Mom who has already lost and suffered through so much, to make them feel better about the very real fact that their happiness comes at the terrible loss of another. Such a happiness reassures them and helps calm their doubts. It gives them proof that, though they would suffer from the loss of a child, it just has to be different for that mother who gave them her child and she obviously doesn’t feel what they would if they ever had to suffer such a loss.

It’s a cruel, cruel box First Moms are shoved in to with no escape. Either they are everything expected from them and adoptive parents love them and allow them to be a part of their child’s life as long as they continue to be happy and content and satisfy the adoptive parent’s own fear and doubts. Or they show the true grief and struggle that comes with losing your child. They are honest with themselves and their feelings. And then they risk losing any and all contact with their child because they threaten the beliefs the adoptive parents desperately need to cling to and give them a glimpse of the very real fact that losing a child is hell and it is far from normal for anyone, for any reason, to be okay with such a deep, painful wound.

And it’s wrong, and, to me, it’s an abuse in every way against women who don’t deserve it. Having sex, getting pregnant when you aren’t planning it. Being unmarried or poor does not justify such treatment against any living, breathing human being. Nobody should be used in such a way. Nobody ever deserves to be treated like so many First Moms are.

And nobody, ABSOLUTELY NOBODY, should have to continuously, whether through giving up their own flesh and blood or burying and denying their feelings, be expected to, over and over again, sacrifice in such terrible ways for the happiness and acceptance of another.

Losing a child is one of the worst experiences any mother can go through. No excuses, no “but ifs.” It’s a terrible fate for any person to go through. And adoption is not an excuse to ignore or punish mothers for such a terrible grief.

First Mom’s already sacrifice their own flesh and blood. Should they really also be expected to sacrifice their own feelings as well so that adoptive parents can feel better about their own feelings?

(I feel I need to add the disclaimer - though I mention adoptive parents in general, I hope it is known that I am not trying to clump any and all adoptive parents together. I am very much aware and have a great respect for those adoptive parents who don't fit the mold of what I portrayed here.)

17 comments:

  1. So glad you did this post Cassi and Melynda did hers. I too have been following this young mother's blog and the vile comments in utter rage and disgust.

    I have chosen not to blog about it as my response would not be nearly so kind as yours or Melynda's. Because personally I feel these people do not deserve anything. They are the perfect example of what happens in adoption; from the adopters in this case right down to those in the LDS community. To me they are everything we in adoption reform and those who are seen as anti-adoption fight against all the time. The little regard for human life, the vile judgements from those who cannot see past the end of their own noses.

    What this young mother and her own mother has had to put up with is so immoral and so wrong and yet, society has decided it is okay to be this cruel because morality has been slowly eroding away. Ethics and faith are twisted in order to justify evil and cruel actions.

    A really needed post and I am glad you are getting this message out there.

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  2. I am also glad you wrote about this. I've been following this story and have been outraged, sickened, and heartbroken over it.

    This is a great post, I completely agree with everything you say here.

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  3. As an adoptee who ALWAYS wanted to find her birth mom, I am saddened by these adoptive parents. I know the pain and suffering the child will feel his whole life because he does not know and can have no relationship with his n-mom. And when he's old enough to go looking and finds out the truth... they WILL be sorry.

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  4. The whole thing is just awful.

    And those who fixate on the sex issue (pre-marital, etc) seem to have an obsessive, if not downright perverted, interest in the sex-lives of others. Creepy.

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  5. Cassi -

    Thank you for this post, insightful as always. You have hit the nail on the head with the issue of disenfranchised grief and natural mothers.

    To compound the tragedy of this whole story is the reality that Alyssa is an adoptee herself. She knew of the difficulties of being adopted and she was completely against adoption until her adoptive mother required her to attend "counseling" at LDSFS to "help her explore her options."

    Once they got their NCFA-sharpened claws into her....well, you see the end result. A pre-birth matched potential adoptive mother who hovered over Alyssa in the delivery room and then trailed after Owen to the NICU. Adoptive parents who told her giving her baby away was the only loving choice she could make. A young mother who desperately wanted her baby but was terrified to disappoint the PAP mother and her adoptive mother if she backed of the adoption. No legal representation for Alyssa.

    The untold portions of this story are simply too harrowing for me to discuss right now...maybe when I can write about it with a clearer head or perhaps Alyssa and Jeannette will tell their whole truth on their newly closed blogs.

    Once again - thank you for this thoughtful and thought provoking post - it is making me re-examine how my silence has been a complicit voice in the perpetuation of infant adoption practices in the LDS culture.

    Melynda

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  6. This entire nightmare proves that coercion is alive and well in the adoption industry. "Adoption is different NOW", is something new ap's & the industry claim.

    No, it is NOT!!! First Mothers have the coveted prize. She is promised the world...until these people get their claws on her baby- then she is demoted and in many cases, called a whore.

    I think adoptees who find themselves pregnant before marriage are even MORE vulnerable to the adoption machine. Their ap's have NO IDEA as to how powerful the bond is between a natural Mother and her child. It is no big deal for them to coerce their adoptling into surrendering. After all....that baby is not THEIR relative.

    LDSFS is the most coercive baby broker out there- even more evil than Bethany & Gladney. They need to be stopped.

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  7. Is there any way we could get this in the papers? Or raise hell in another way?

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  8. Unfortunately, Teddy, this is just the typical modus operandi of many LDS adoptive parents (thank full NOT all of them). Remember, this adoption occured in a state that does not require the mother to notify the father she is reliquising his child, she does not have to notify her parents (regardless of her age, even if she is 12), and voluntary termination of parental rights is irrevocable IMMEDIATELY upon signing.

    Mind you, this is a state that also allows people three days in which to change their mind about buying a vacuum or set of knives from a door to door salesman.

    Sadly, there isn't much that can be done about this particular case, other than extend our love and support to Alyssa and her mother. However, it can be and is becomin a catalyst to move many people forward to press for reform within LDSFS and the culture at large.

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  9. Myst - I couldn't agree more. Our society not only accepts such cruelty against human beings, but many, as I have seen myself in the comments this First Mom received, encourage it and are quick to blame the victim (this young mom) for how bad she is being treated.

    There is definitely something very wrong in our culture that such actions can happen without question or control and so many will atually stand behind and support such horrors.

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  10. ***And when he's old enough to go looking and finds out the truth... they WILL be sorry.***

    Just Me - I couldn't agree more. At some point their son will find out the truth and then, hopefully, they will be forced to face the true cruelty of their actions.

    I know, my son's adoptive mother never told him she closed the adoption, instead she told him that I never even saw him right after he was born. That he went right into her arms and that was the very last time we were ever together.

    What she didn't count on was the first visit she and my son made to our house where I have always had pictures up of my son, including ones where I was holding him, his dad was holding him and he, at two years old, was actually holding his younger brother who was only a few weeks old.

    It was then that he first started to realize the lies he had been told for so many years.

    At some point, these adoptive parents are going to have to face up to what they have done as well. And I won't feel sorry for them in the least bit when that happens.

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  11. *** it is making me re-examine how my silence has been a complicit voice in the perpetuation of infant adoption practices in the LDS culture.***

    Mel - I am just so thankful you are no longer silent. Your voice has gone far to challenge many of the old LDS beliefs when it comes to adoption. And from what I have seen, it is very hard for LDS First Moms to be able to stand up and speak out because of the hostility and anger they receive when they do.

    And, yeah, as one who fell right into the ranks of an NCFA puppet, I can definitely see where all their coercive techniques came into play with this situation. It is so sad and frustrating that this continues to not only happen, but be accepted in our world today. I would have thought we had come so much further than this. I was obviously wrong.

    I am so glad you are speaking out about this. I think your knowledge about LDS culture, your faith and your experience will go far in educating others as this story continues on, sadly with a mother and child separated unnecessarily.

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  12. Linda - yes, it does seem many more adoptees become victims to the adoption industry and lose their babies as well. The NCFA, itself, encourages this while also encouraging First Moms to adopt later in life (you know, once they are deemed worthy enough and fit enough to be a mother.)

    And in my opinion, LDS adoption is one of the most coercive and manipulative out there. And it seems they are only growing stronger with their ultimate agenda to separate mother and child for the benefit of that eager, desperate couple willing to write the big check to have a baby to call their own.

    It actually frightens me how powerful and persuasive they have become.

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  13. Theodore - I couldn't have said it any better than Mel did.

    And even if we were to get such a story to press, the unfortunate fact is, many . . . way too many . . . would see nothing wrong with what has happened.

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  14. Cassi - I made that particular blog post private upon request of the individual's involved. The adoptive mother is giving Alyssa a tremendous amount of grief right now. :( I don't want to make things worse for Alyssa or Owen.

    I hope you can understand. (Though I will never understand this adoptive mother's behavior!!!!!)

    M.

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  15. OK - I was able to work around the issue with needing to make it private. Jeannette and Alyssa were both fine just with removing their names. I had to cahnge their names in everyone's comments as well. If hope people will understand because I have never messed with/edited comments before!

    M.

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  16. Thank you for this post. I cannot believe the timing of this. Tonight I was ranting about a similar topic during dinner out with my husband.
    We have a bit of a different viewpoint on this than what it seems most of the other readers do. I have 1 bio child, have had infert. issues for years. We've always known that we were not interested in seeking adoption. We do foster care and are open to adoption in this situation if circumstances take us there.
    I am disgusted that there is a state that allows adoptions to be handled in this manner. Nothing pisses me off more than when "christian" organizations get involved in peoples situations. Present themselves as saints that can "save" the "sinner." I've seen too many times the child is their street cred. that they are true christians.
    The bottom line is that too often the adults involved in these situations forget that each of these cases is a life, a human, a child. We're not dealing in textiles or produce. There is no simple solution, no two cases are the same. The only certainty is that this system is a freakin' joke!

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  17. What a tragic story. Alyssa did not want to give her son up for adoption because she knows firsthand the pain that being adopted can cause. I wonder if some of her adoptee abandonment issues came in to play here. She may have been afraid of being abandoned by her own a-mother if she didn't go along with the a-mom's wishes and give the baby up.

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