Not literally, of course. She’d have to wait till Chicago to have a chance at that.
She hit me with what she had to say in her post, Australia’s Adoption Apology, on her blog Musings of the Lame. I read it, tried to comment, couldn’t. Closed up the window, walked away, came back and read it again, still couldn’t comment and closed it up a second time.
And so now here I sit, already in the beginnings of another post, needing to write this instead. Because I can’t stop thinking about what she wrote. Can’t stop working through my brain the painful realization of the truth her words spoke.
Even as I’m writing this it’s still working through my brain so I’m not even sure I’ll make any sense in the end. That was why I found myself unable to comment on Claud’s post, because I couldn’t make sense of what I wanted to say. Couldn’t put to words my feelings in any way that would be understandable.
When I read these worlds on her blog . . .
- - It's not me. That's not my story. I am not like them. - -
It made sense to me finally. Where I was. Why I kept myself, until reading Claud’s post, separated from it, from any idea that I was in any way affected by the horrors that happened to so many pregnant women and their children.
Though I have spent years reading blogs such as Musing Mother and Motherhood Deleted, learning the experience of those here in the states. And have followed what is happening in Australia through, Once Was Von, I rarely dared to write myself about that era, about the tragedies that happened to so many women.
How could I when, as Claud said, it wasn’t my story. How could I even try to bring justice to their experiences when I knew nothing about what it was like for them? How could I rightfully share anything through the eyes of my experience without feeling as if I was somehow lessening theirs by suggesting what I went through was anywhere close to what they went through, that my knowledge of adoption can even touch the tip of what their truth is.
So, like Claud, I supported from afar while living with the belief that adoption was better by the time it was my turn. Because that’s what we were told, what I think even pregnant women of today are told. And I still struggle with that now . . . right now . . . as I continue to try and grasp the feelings Claud’s post brought forward.
Because we weren’t tied down to beds, shipped off to be hidden away in maternity homes. They didn’t tell us our babies died or refuse to let us see them until after we signed the adoption papers.
So that’s better, right? It has to be. I can’t, even now, wrap my mind around what that must have been like. How completely terrifying such experiences were.
My “better” experience doesn’t even come close to that. I walked into the adoption agency without being forced by anybody. I sat and listened to their counseling when I was free to stand up and walk out if I wanted to. And I wasn’t tied down, threatened or tricked into giving up my son after he was born. I carried him in my own arms to the nursery. I gave him to his adoptive parents. Handed him over by what, at that time, felt like my own free will.
But did that make my experience with adoption better or just different? To me, the answer has always been better. It had to be. How could it not?
Except now, Claud’s “hit” has forced me to step away from that, from what I have always held as my truth and look at it all differently. Every bit of it, from my experience, her experience, to the experience of the many mothers and children who were so cruely separated from each other.
And it was this bit of wisdom from her that challenged me to think differently than what I have known and accepted since coming out of my denial and facing the true cost adoption had on myself, my oldest son and the rest of my family . . .
- - No, it's not my story. It's my preamble. It's the very foundation of MY adoption experience. It’s the foundation of ALL our adoption experiences. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US who has had some sort of adoption journey should know that the start of the road began with CRIMES. - -
Better or just different, perceived choice or no choice, we will never be able to change adoption today or in the future until we tell the stories of the crimes committed in the past, over and over again. Until we too, here in the states, bring about an acknowledgement and apology for the horrors so many mothers and their children were put through.
Because, in reality, adoption has not changed for us. Not in the core of what it is and always has been.
What changed was women having more power and say over their bodies. Society working – slowly – into becoming more accepting of single parenthood and no longer accepting the treatment that was brought against pregnant women in the past.
But the adoption industry . . . there was no sudden realization of the wrongs they committed in the past. No change of heart that brought them together to see how they could make it “better” for pregnant women.
There was only a desperate need to do something because adoptions went from almost 90,000 in 1971 to less than 48,000 by 1975. Because they began to lose the advantage of being able to force women into giving up their babies. (Or actually, more honestly, outright stealing them away.)
So in 1980, the NCFA was created. Not to promote change because they had learned from the crimes they committed in the past but to find new ways, new strategies to increase the number of adoptions back to where it was when their crimes against pregnant mothers and their unborn children went largely unrecognized.
And that is exactly where Claud and I, and so many other First Moms, began our journey into adoption. Became a part of what she so accurately called the “repackaging” of adoption. And even my oldest son was brought into that because he became – as he so often calls it – one of the test tube babies for open adoption. He was the beginning of their experiment into learning that offering open adoptions to mothers increased even more the likeliness they would give their babies away.
It wasn’t change, it was adjustment. It was necessity, desperation, to keep the profits of adoption going.
To this day, I know, after going through the torture that is their training for birthparent counseling, that the message they sell is still the same – adoption is the solution to single and/or poor pregnant mothers. Their beliefs, the values they teach to anyone who comes into contact with women in crisis pregnancies is no different than exactly what was taught to those who were a part of what happened here in the states, in Australia and in Canada.
I’ve heard it often as I have read and followed the stories about the Australia apology and the beginning of investigations in Canada. Those who were part of separating a mother from her child – in the worst of ways – admitting that they were told what to say, and how to say it, to pregnant women and did so because they were led to believe that it was actually for their benefit. For what was the best interest of their unborn child.
That is still a very real, very powerful reality here in the states. I know because I just went through that training. Training created by the NCFA and funded by our government and provided to . . . and trusted by . . . just about everyone who comes into contact with pregnant women who are single or poor or lacking the resources and support they deserve.
Australia has taken the time, the effort to look into, research and learn from past adoption practices and they have determined that such practices are criminal in the U.S.A. and Canada as well. Canada is taking their first steps into the same process and investigating adoption practices in their country.
But here in the states . . . we are nowhere. There is no acknowledgement, no realization of the crimes committed against pregnant mothers and their children during the BSE. And these crimes, these acts by the adoption industry will continue, from generation to generation, until our government finds the courage to follow in the footsteps of Australia and Canada and conduct an investigation of its own.
And to make that happen, I, and others, must change how we have approached the horrors that existed during the BSE. Thanks to Claud, I now see that being silent because of fears and guilt isn’t doing any good. Isn’t making any changes.
Like she said, their story – their experience – is, and continues to be the preamble to mine, to Claud’s, and to every other First Mom that has come after that era of our time.
We need to accept where that has played a role in our reality with adoption and recognize the fact that if we don’t speak out and demand recognition now for the crimes committed against the moms from the BSE, we only help create another generation – long after ours – that will find themselves too believing that our story isn’t there’s and there is nothing they can say about it to make changes.
It is long past time for us to follow the paths of the fighters in Australia, and now Canada, and see where our stories intertwine and recognize the importance of telling our stories from the past so we can make a difference for the stories that are yet to come.