Monday, June 11, 2012

Label Me This

"The pain of adoption doesn’t end.  It may ebb and flow.  But it is always there.  Always waiting.  A shadow lurking until those moments when it comes sweeping in with a powerful force, knocking you back, sucking the air from your lungs and pounding against your heart, over and over again, with the reminder of all that adoption takes from your very soul, leaving you feeling empty and lost inside.”

It’s been one heck of a long couple months.  I didn’t set out to neglect my blog as I have.   In fact, I have tried, many times, to write and post, but haven’t been successful at doing so.

The last half of April was just, plain and simple, busy.  So busy.  I had a deadline for line-edits to meet that I had been avoiding like the plague and a silent auction to pull off for my daughter’s high school.  For those last two weeks, it was impossible to get any kind of post written.

But I did give it my best effort.  Especially when, after all the "Circle Fun," the anti-adoption label came back with a new force.  After I stumbled across this post . . . Brouhaha Over "Adoption Truth" . . . and read in great detail why I was anti-adoption even though I have never claimed to be.

Trying to follow the great examples of some of the others who confronted the anti-adoption label . . .


I started but could never finish a post in response to explain – in many ways defend – who I am and what I believe in.

And then May hit. 

In just the first week (after completing my one and only post) I learned my Aunt Thresa was losing her six year battle with cancer and was being sent home from the hospital because there was nothing more that could be done for her.  And, just a few days later, I sat with my husband – one of the strongest, toughest men I have ever known - as he cried at his grandmother’s bedside, knowing it could very well be the last time he might ever have the chance to see her.  Struggled with the realization that, in so many ways, she was already gone, the multiple strokes she had suffered over the last nine months leaving only a shell of the wonderful woman she once was.

And as we sat there in the room with her, my husband’s aunt decided to play the video her son had made for his grandmother.  A picture memoir of her life, from the young girl she was back in West Virginia – the baby of ten – to right before she suffered her first stroke.

And as picture after picture flashed on the screen, as my husband and I ached for the loss of one who has always been such a huge part of our lives, our children’s lives, another pain began to form as well.  The one that never really goes away.  That is like a simmering ember, always there, just waiting for the spark to give it strength again.  Bring it back to a burning fire.

The pain that is the constant reminder of what adoption takes away, not just from a mother and her child, but from an entire family.  Because, regardless of what is so often claimed, blood DOES make a family.  It DOES create a son, a grandson, a great-grandson.  A continuation of a heritage, a history, bonded together by each new generation born of their ancestors, connected in a way that can never be replaced.

And to see that bond of family denied, broken, missing . . . hurts.  Hurts in a way that words just can never adequately describe.  In a way that can never be truly understood unless you have lived such a loss, known it deep in your soul where it is always a reality, a reminder of what should be but never was.

Hurts when you see the pictures of family memories.  Pictures of your two youngest sons cuddled up and napping with their great-grandmother.  Of your daughter, just barely learning to walk, holding her great-grandmother’s hand as they tend to the beautiful rose garden together.

Pictures that remind you – remind me – that I can never go back and make up for the loss my oldest son and his great-grandmother, his “Nana,” missed because I gave him away to another family.

I can never go back and give either of them those small yet so precious memories they were denied.  Can never make up for taking away what they should have always had. For what my three younger children were given, never knew different than, because they were never forced to live a life separated from the family they were born to, will always be part of.

It wasn’t until the end of the video when my oldest son was finally a part of the memories of his family.  A part of the pictures with his Nana.  A part of what should have never been denied him in the first place. 

Because he deserved the family that was just his, good or bad, because he was born in to it. Instead of having to first lose that family to be adopted into another.

And that loss of family, one that was forced on him in the very start of his life, hit my oldest son hard this past month.

By mid-month, after it became so clear that my husband’s grandmother – my kid’s “Nana” – wouldn’t be with us much longer, we learned, cancer was destroying my Aunt’s body quicker than the doctor’s predicted and she was being given less than a week to live.

And that news, heartbreaking to all of us, hit my oldest son the hardest.  Not only because he was facing the reality that she wouldn’t be with us much longer.  But because he was facing such a reality after already losing, in the last two years, a great-grandmother, a great-grandfather. And an uncle who died a tragic death that took him from our lives way to early.

Because, as he said to me as he was struggling with the news about his Aunt Thresa  . . . “It feels like I finally get to know and be a part of my family and then they all die.”

Then just a few days later, we lost her.  Lost an amazing, creative, loving soul who meant so much to everyone in her family.  And in that week as we struggled with the realization she was really gone and mourned her death (with all the tradition of a good Irish, Catholic family) my oldest son and I spent many late nights talking.

He needed to share his memories.  Not just of his Aunt Thresa but of the others he had lost in both our family and his adoptive family. 

And in those talks I learned more about the struggles adoption brought into his life.  Struggles that left him feeling as if he didn’t have a right to truly mourn the family members he’d lost during his life.  Not even his adoptive grandfather who he was closer to than anyone.  Who was there for him after his adoptive father walked out of his life when his adoptive parents divorced.

They were so close, he was such a huge part of my son’s life, and yet, with his death when my son was only fourteen years old, he struggled with feeling as if he didn’t really have the right to hurt so much from his grandfather’s death.  Not when all his cousins, who were born into the family, were having such a hard time losing their grandfather.  In his mind, he had less of a right to mourn the passing of someone who meant so much to him, because he was the adopted grandchild and couldn’t possibly know, or expect others to believe, his loss was anywhere as important as his cousins.

And yet, even in the loss he has experienced in the very family he was born in to these past couple years, he still struggles with the thoughts that his loss, again, can’t be anywhere as bad as those of his brothers and sister, his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Feels selfish if he brings any attention to how badly he is hurting because he doesn’t have the “right” to mourn so deeply such losses when those around him have a lifetime of memories compared to the short amount of time he’s had to build his own memories with his family.

My oldest son, thanks to adoption, is caught in this undeserved, strange reality of two families that he was forced to, before ever having a voice of his own, live the rest of his life with.  He is living the reality of so many adoptions that have never been about finding families for children truly in need but instead about acquiring children, in any way possible, to satisfy the desires, wants, needs of adults.

A reality that creates wounds that can never fully heal.  That is the source of so much unnecessary loss for every mother and child . . . every family . . . who has been a victim to so much of what is wrong in the practice of adoption, past and present.

And I have lived the spectrum of it.  I was that pregnant mother facing an unexpected pregnancy, believing I wasn’t good enough, couldn’t possibly offer my son the life he deserved, denied the true help and counseling I deserved so that I was left unaware, and yet trusting, of the very ones who only profited and gained if I gave my son away to another couple.  A more deserving couple.  One able to afford to pay the $15,000 price tag (almost twenty-five years ago) for a healthy, white, infant male.

I was the one who had the hopeful couple at the hospital, in the delivery room.  Who smiled through tears when flowers were delivered to my room for my son’s adoptive mother.  Who prayed desperately for a miracle that last night in the hospital when I only wanted to keep my son, take him home with me, but never said a word.  Never fought for him in the way he deserved, because I was too afraid of hurting his adoptive parents.

The mother with empty arms and a breaking heart who clawed herself up on to the pedestal reserved for us “selfless, loving” types who give our children away.  Who survived by being good and accepted by adoptive parents, by society in general. Praised for giving my son up for adoption.  Held up as an example for what every mother facing an unplanned pregnancy should live up to, strive to be.

And then I became the “other” mother.  The one ridiculed, labeled and hated once I slipped out of my denial, found the strength to finally be honest about the loss that adoption had brought to my life. Found the need to learn and research everything I possibly could about adoption and its practices so I could try and heal.  Try and figure out what happened all those years ago.  Grab on to some kind of answers to why I would have ever been the kind of woman who gave her child away to someone else to raise.

Then came the mother in a reunion with her son . . . who in his own words, described himself as - -“A product of the whole open adoption craze" . . . A mother who screwed it up so bad in the beginning stages of reunion.  Who will always be so grateful to the many Adoptees who gave their own time, relived their own experiences, to help me, help my son, so that I could finally be – after all these years – the mother he TRULY deserved.

And then lived the hardest part of the spectrum as my oldest son began to find enough trust in me to finally take those first steps into opening up and honestly sharing just how adoption had affected him, his life.  To see, through him, just how much he was forced to pay with his own life from that moment when I placed him in the arms of strangers and walked away.

So forgive me, as I have come to this point in my life, if I just don’t have it in me anymore to defend myself to those who have gained from adoption, who will never know, choose to ignore, or even outright deny the loss that is a reality for so many on the other side.

Forgive me if I am tired and weary of having to explain myself. Of having to justify why I’m not “positive” enough about adoption. Dare to talk about the loss it causes while believing mothers and their children should be protected from such pain if at all possible.

Perhaps it’s easy for those like the writer of Brouhaha Over "Adoption Truth", who, through adoption, have children to kiss goodnight, hold tight with all their love, to see what I fight for, believe in, as such a threat that it’s not even a second thought to label me as . . .

- - “The definition of anti-adoption.” - -

But that label is theirs.  Not my own.

I am “anti” in many areas of adoption . . .

I am anti-the billion dollar adoption industry that profits off of unnecessary separations of mothers and children.

I am anti-the accepted coercion of pregnant mothers so they will not see how important they are to their children and are left viewing themselves as less worthy to be a mother than some other woman.

I am anti-mothers being denied the help and support they deserve so that they give up their babies because they feel as if they have no other choice.

I am anti-marketing for pregnant mothers, treating them like prey in hopes of getting their child.

I am anti-turning a blind eye to the child-trafficking and kidnapping that exists to keep up with the demand of couples wanting to adopt from other countries.

I am anti-falsified birth certificates.

I am anti-adoptees being denied their equal rights.  The very rights the rest of us take for granted.

And I am anti-the fact that there is expected limitations and boundaries on the loss mothers and children are allowed to feel when adoption is involved.  That anyone feels they have a right to tell us we should be positive over something that has caused such terrible pain.

Women who have experienced the pain of infertility, mothers who have suffered through miscarriages, the death of a child, are not expected to be “positive” about their loss.  No one expects them to encourage others to go through such a terrible experience, to be supportive of anything that may be responsible for creating such horrible losses.

Children who have lost parents, siblings, family in their life, are allowed to grieve, feel the pain.  No one would ever expect them to , once they have reached adulthood, go around telling others they are grateful for losing a mother or a father, a sister, a grandparent.  To support the very thing that took their family away from them when they were young.

But adoption has different rules we are meant to follow.  Rules, so often, placed on us by those who gain, through profit or a child, from our loss.

Rules that, when broken, bring out the same, tired accusations and labels in an attempt to encourage us back to the boundaries created for us.  For our loss, our pain.  Boundaries that dictate just how much we are allowed to grieve our losses, hold us to expectations of being “positive,” of encouraging and supporting others to struggle with the same life-long pain.

Rules and boundaries I refuse to ever be controlled by again.  Refuse to have shoved at me by anyone who believes, the gain they have experienced through adoption, gives them the right to lessen or deny the very real loss and pain that exists when a mother and child are separated.


22 comments:

  1. I dislike that if we're not singing of rainbows and unicorns when it comes to adoption, we're absolutely anti-adoption.

    I'm so sorry for your loss too.

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  2. Cassi - hugs for all your recent losses. Incredibly heartbreaking. I do have and have had similar feelings to what it sounds like your son has. In between.

    I missed that post you linked to - oh my...words are failing me. What a load of nonsense.

    Glad you are back.

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  3. Im so sorry for your loss, Cassi. You are such an amazing woman.

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  4. (((Cassi))) You sure have been through alot in the last few months. I am so very sorry for all the losses - compounded by adoption.

    This post was fabulous - welcome back! I am with you on all those things you listed to be anti about in adoption. In fact I would think anyone with a heart and a brain would be!

    Much love,
    Myst xxx

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  5. Bravo Cassi! I am right there with you on your anti- list. As should everyone with a heart...

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your grandma and aunt. Sending you lots of love.

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  6. Cassi, I am so sorry for all the losses your family has experienced and my heart breaks for all that your oldest son is feeling. Everyone has the right to feel and grieve however is best for them. There is no pecking order.

    I support your anti-list as well. I really wish more people would get off the labels.

    Best wishes for you and your family.

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  7. Hey Cassie-- I don't know about the blog you linked to in this post-- she kind of comes across as a bumble-head who is bored and looking to add some drama to her life-- this is her venue. Sad, but these people exist--in all kinds of blog forums. Stepfamily themed forums and some of the college themed ones. There are some really bored and crazy people out there.

    I think some of the more "well known" and "adoption palatable" blogs latched onto what happend with Circle of Moms as a way to get even more comments on their blog because their blogs are monetized-- the more hotbed of issues and comments-- the more money that comes in. One blog in particular really stood out for me in this action and I lost quite a bit of respect for the blogger.

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  8. I'm so sorry you have had so many losses upon losses recently. But I am glad you're back to the blogosphere. Boy, could I relate to your son's feelings about questioning how much he really fits into each of his families. It always affects me when I read about another adoptee having feelings and reactions so similar to my own. While we each handle being adopted in our own way there are many similarities to how we deal with it and feel about the endless issues in the adopted life.

    I don't feel offended when someone thinks that I am anti-adoption. To me it means that I am pro-family, pro-mother and child. I don't see what's wrong with wanting mothers and children to stay together and acknowledging the huge negative consequences of their separation. I am anti... the myths of adoption, the lies of adoption, the belief that adoption always gives the child a 'better' life and all unnecessary adoptions. I absolutely think there are situations where a child needs to be placed in an adoptive home. When s/he is being abused, when s/he is a true orphan and has no extended family who will take him or her. But I don't see adoption as the beautiful, wonderful thing that American culture likes to make it out to be. Even for those necessary adoptions, they are based on some tragedy in the child's life and while adoption is a good thing in these cases, it is still based on enormous loss.

    Have to admit this post brought me to tears.

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  9. Dear Cassi,

    I am really sorry that hurtful criticism arose from your involvement in the circle of moms debacle. I am also really sorry for all the heartache that has coincided with it for you. I didn't know about your blog before then, being only 2 years into reunion with my son and living across the pond. I may not have known about it for quite a bit longer, without all the fuss.
    Having just read your stunningly eloquent post, I am so glad to know about it and very sincerely wish that you will keep going. You have articulated our shared feelings so well.
    Please keep writing Cassi, you are a hero.
    With warm thanks,

    Jeannot

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  10. Just a huge THANK YOU for this right on post!

    Sorry for you and your family's losses.

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  11. I think perhaps one of the biggest obstacles you face in this fight, is that so many of the people you’re trying to get through to have never had a biological child of their own.

    When I try to imagine what it would have been like to lose my daughter to adoption, the pictures that form in my head flow directly from my memories of her birth and the days that followed. Memories of being so captivated by her that I sat and watched her sleep for 12 hours straight the first night, vowing to protect her from everything always, even though I knew I could do no such thing. Memories of feeling like my world had caved in on the second night when she cried and cried and I didn’t know why, feeling like I had failed as a mother already because I couldn’t protect her from this. I remember the immense weight of responsibility which took my breath away, and the flood of emotions so intense they had a physical presence in my body. Every fibre of my being was screaming at me to love and protect her, and it was deafening. I remember trying so hard to stay awake in the hospital, petrified someone would take her while I slept. The mere thought of being separated from her was terrifying. Obviously everyone knows that mothers love their children, but does anyone really understand what that means, what it feels like, until they experience it? Just putting it into words feels a bit like trying to describe colours to a blind man.

    And similarly, the idea that a tiny baby could also feel a deep sense of loss at being separated from its mother (the primal wound theory), must also be much harder to imagine when you’ve never experienced that bond. If you’ve never seen how being close to its mother’s heartbeat soothes a newborn in a way that nothing else can, never learned of the fact that such contact regulates everything from the baby’s heart rate and breathing, to its temperature and the stress hormones in its brain, never learned that a baby can recognise it’s mother’s voice and smell from birth, and never heard the screaming that ensues when a baby of just a few weeks old is left with a stranger, even if just for a few moments. If you’ve never had the strange sensation of being always half awake even when asleep, ready for any sign that your baby needs you, never felt the ‘fog that descends’ (as one mum put it) whenever your baby cries, so that your brain turns to mush and you can’t so much as string a sentence together until you’ve soothed them. If you’ve never experienced any of these things, how can you really understand how much a newborn needs its mother? How pregnancy and childbirth prepare her body and mind for motherhood in so many weird and wonderful ways?

    I think it’s this divide, between those who have experienced biological motherhood and those who have not, which is at the heart of the disconnect between what first mothers and adoptees are saying, and what many adoptive parents are hearing. They get that adoption was a traumatic experience for YOU, but what most don’t seem to see, because they’ve never experienced it, is that the trauma of separation flows directly from the very nature of the mother-child bond itself, a bond whose very existence is nature’s valiant attempt to keep mother and child together, and which is more than enough to guarantee a lifetime of grief should that bond ever be broken.

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  12. What even fewer people recognise, because newborns do not have a voice, is that there is also loss involved for the baby too, when the mother-child bond is severed. They lose the one person in the world whose mind and body have been prepared over nine months to be uniquely attuned to their needs, they lose their only true source of comfort and security, the voice, smell and heartbeat they know so well. They lose, in short, their entire world. Nature has prepared them too, to expect the familiarity of their mother’s presence, to be soothed by it, to know at some primal level that if their mother is there then they are safe, and through adoption they lose it all. Is it any wonder that so many adoptees grow up with an indefinable sense of loss and trauma that they can’t quite put their finger on?

    And so the ‘anti-adoption’ label gets flung around like some kind of insult, and the problem to me is not that the term is used inaccurately (I think most first mother and adoptee blogs I follow could reasonably be described as anti-adoption, so long as it is understood that a more accurate description would be anti-unnecessary adoptions, since virtually everyone seems to agree that there are certain extreme circumstances (abuse, neglect, drug use, severe mental illness etc) in which adoption may be necessary in the best interests of the child), but that it is presented as an accusation, as something to be ashamed of, when really, how can anyone who recognises the true source of adoption trauma, the separation of mother and child, which is the very foundation of adoption, be anything else?

    After all, the maternal bond that carries with it so much potential loss, is not just one of many possible reactions to childbirth, something which a mother may or may not feel depending on her character, culture or past experiences, or even something which depends very much on her feelings about becoming a mother prior to giving birth. It is a force of nature, the inevitable result of the swirling mix of pregnancy and childbirth hormones, a near-universal experience which, with a few rare exceptions (usually related to extremely traumatic childbirth) hits almost every woman, rich and poor, young and old, black and white, prepared and unprepared, in pretty much the same way. For anyone who is unconvinced, I recommend Lorraine Dusky’s ‘Birthmark’, the memoir of a career girl who didn’t even really want to be a woman, let alone a mother, and who had never wanted children, and yet was still shattered to her very core by the loss of her daughter to adoption, and who never ‘got over it’.

    And if the mother-child bond is universal, and cannot be broken without trauma, then adoption is the problem, not the solution, in all but the most extreme of circumstances.

    At the heart of the anti-adoption accusation is the belief that adoption is only traumatic when handled badly, when dealt with poorly by the individuals involved, or when explained inadequately by adoptive parents. That adoption doesn’t necessarily have to be founded on loss, but is sometimes just ‘the right thing to do’, and that being (supposedly) the right thing to do somehow magically immunises mother and child from the traumatic effects of the separation. That when a first mother is still grieving decades later, or an adoptee is struggling with trust and identity issues well into adulthood, these are just the personal failings of the individuals involved, caused by ‘bad adoptions’, or by their ‘failure to adapt’, to get over it, to move on.

    And I’m left wondering, are we expecting too much? Are we waiting for a blind man to see? Can anyone truly understand the damage done by adoption loss, when the very thing that is broken by adoption is something they have never known?

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  13. I don’t know what the answer is, except to say that tempting as it must be to want to make adoptive parents see the damage their ‘purchase’ caused, maybe you don’t actually need them to understand, in order to bring about the change you are fighting for? I think it’s safe to say that most social change movements throughout history have succeeded IN SPITE OF those who had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, rather than because anyone managed to perform a miracle and make them see the error of their ways. Far more important I think, are the views of policymakers and public opinion, and the encouraging thing about that is that there are many more people out there who have experienced biological motherhood (and fatherhood) than haven’t. Time and again we hear the classic response of the general public to adoption ‘Oh I could never in a million years (give up my baby)…’ reminding us that we are all anti-adoption when it comes to our own children, because adoption truth is something we already know deep down inside. Only in relation to other people’s children does adoption become a ‘wonderful gift’.

    And now the Australian government is issuing apologies, momentum is growing for a Canadian enquiry, and the UK system, while not perfect, is much closer than the US to the ideal of ‘finding parents for needy children’ rather than the other way around. The tide is turning, reasonable and compassionate people with no connection to adoption are starting to listen, and many PAPs and APs may never understand, but they will be swept along with the tide regardless, whether they like it or not.

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  14. People want adoption to be "the best."

    The problem is, adoption in itself - the very reason why it exists - can never be best.

    It can be *better* - but not *best.*

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  15. @jenrcg,
    I can't totally agree with you that APs don't get the consequences of adoption for first mothers and adoptees because they are all infertile. Many APs do have biological children and some even BEFORE adopting. Many seem to have the mindset that the adopted child was somehow fated to be in the adoptive family rather than their birth family. And even though the APs probably think that they could not or would not want to give their own bio-child up for adoption they are most likely getting the message that the natural mother made this choice freely and that relinquishment is what she wanted.

    Also, you mentioned Lorraine Dusky's book. Are you aware that Lorraine is one of the bloggers at First Mother Forum?

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  16. @Robin

    I know that not all PAPs are childless couples and some already have biological children before adopting, but I guess because I’ve been through infertility myself (our daughter was conceived through IVF after 2 years of fertility problems, as was our new baby, due in January) that is just the perspective that I tend to see things from. The experience of infertility caused me to think ALOT about motherhood (and to a much lesser extent adoption) before having kids, so I guess that has made me very aware of the difference in my thinking about motherhood before and after actually becoming a mother, and how not really understanding the reality of motherhood before my daughter was born, would have affected my view of adoption had we ever ended up going down that road.

    It really struck me how the anti-adoption label carries such an implication that adoption itself is not the problem, but only particular individuals’ responses to it, and it seemed to me that anyone directing that label in an accusatory way at someone like Cassi, presumably really doesn’t fully understand her central argument that adoption is traumatic by definition. It’s inconceivable to me that anyone who has experienced biological motherhood could not understand that, hence the idea that childlessness might be a big part of why being anti-adoption (even when that is really just the flipside of being pro-family preservation) is so often seen in such a negative light. So I guess I wanted to try and put into words what the experience of new motherhood is like, and why separation cannot exist without trauma, but I didn’t mean for my comment (essay!) to imply that I think childlessness is the ONLY reason why PAPs and APs don’t ‘get it’, although I can see how it could be read like that.

    The whole ‘fated to be’ thing is totally beyond me, as I’m not religious, but even if I was, I could never in a million years believe in a god that would purposely cause that much trauma and heartache to families and children, in order to build another family somewhere else. And I understand that the ‘family somewhere else’ might also be in a lot of pain from infertility or pregnancy loss, or some other obstacle to completing their family, but this is god we’re talking about, couldn’t he just fix those problems instead, so that nobody would have to suffer?

    And of course, the fact that people are being led to believe that relinquishment is entirely voluntary, when in many cases it is anything but, is also a huge problem, and a big factor in why people see adoption as the solution rather than the problem. I’ve read somewhere (on someone else’s blog) that the number of domestic infant adoptions in the US is in the region of 15,000 – 20,000 per year; the equivalent figure in the UK is approx 60 per year, a huge difference that cannot be accounted for by population size. To me that immediately gives the lie to the idea that most babies in the US are relinquished truly voluntarily. In a country with adequate support (eg social security) and no-one with a vested interest in persuading mothers to relinquish (eg no money to be made), people do not give up their babies in anything but the most miniscule of numbers.

    Also, I did know that Lorraine blogs at the First Mother Forum, and I realise that I’m basically preaching to the converted here, and that most readers already know her book and her blog, but I guess that part of my comment was directed at those who might not be so familiar. Anyway, thanks for your response, it’s good to be challenged and made to think things through again from another perspective, and have the chance to clarify things that maybe weren’t too clear.

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  17. Jenrcg wrote:"that would purposely cause that much trauma and heartache to families and children, in order to build another family somewhere else."

    But you see, Jen, in the U.S. we don't for the most part acknowledge the enormous pain and heartache that adoption causes. I read something by a so-called expert that said first mothers should expect to grieve for about a year after relinquishment but that they could counter this by realizing what a wonderful thing they had done by giving their child a 'better' life. From what I've seen from real live first mothers, their grief goes on much longer than that. And the debate goes on about whether or not children are in any way harmed by being given up for adoption. Some experts say adoptees are just as well-adjusted as non-adoptees and are grateful for their 'better' life and others say that adoptees have more psychological and behavioral problems as a direct result of being adopted. There doesn't seem to be any general consensus except that adoptees must have been in some kind of terrible situation that required them to be placed in another family for their own good. So in the end adoption is still a good thing.

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  18. I think that’s the most perplexing part of it all for me, why is there so much resistance over there to the idea that relinquishment is painful for first mothers? I get that people can be ignorant of the many ways in which relinquishment can be far less ‘voluntary’ than it appears, but what I don’t understand at all, is that even people who actually read first mother and adult adoptee blogs can STILL not ‘get it’, as evidenced by the ‘anti-adoption’ accusations, which seem to suggest that the central argument that separation = trauma by definition is just not getting through to some people. I remember watching the Catelynn and Tyler relinquishment episode completely by chance when my daughter was a few weeks old, and even though it was clear that the relinquishment was voluntary and the parents were convinced it was in the best interests of their child, I still knew without a shadow of a doubt that that poor girl (and guy) must have been in agony. Since discovering adoption blogs I’ve mentioned these issues to several people in real life, all mothers, and every single one of them without exception has ‘got it’ instantly without any need for further explanation. I know that British and American culture are different, but they’re not THAT different, we’re all still human beings at the end of the day, and I just don’t understand how people can convince themselves that the pain is somehow magically cancelled out by the fact that the relinquishment was (supposedly) voluntary, and the parents (possibly) believed it was in the best interests of the child.

    Of course you’re right that pain for adoptees is much harder to establish, as it usually happens at such a young age when the child is not consciously aware of it, and it’s so difficult to prove conclusively that any psychological or other problems later in life are a direct result of being adopted. I read somewhere the other day that until quite recently medical science believed that newborns nervous systems were too underdeveloped to even feel pain, so if that’s an indication of the state of our understanding of newborn babies, then it’s no wonder the general public has trouble getting their heads around the idea that newborns could be aware of or affected by separation. Although again, regardless of how babies experience the original separation, I would have thought that the number of adult adoptee blogs out there clearly stating the many ways in which the writers have experienced pain and difficulties in life as a result of specific aspects of being adopted, would count for something?

    It all comes back to the money issue for me, as where there is no money involved, there is no incentive for anyone to persuade a mother to give up her child, and so the vast majority choose to parent, and the number of infant adoptions is extremely small. The way I see it, nature knows that babies need their mothers, even if us human beings haven’t quite figured that out just yet (or can’t agree on it at least), and so it has various powerful tricks up its sleeve to ensure that most mothers won’t want to be parted from their babies and will do everything they can to stay together. And so without outside interference (eg multi-billion dollar industry skewing everything all over the place) mothers keep their babies, and the whole debate around how much pain adoption really causes becomes unnecessary, because it just hardly ever happens (I’m talking infant adoption here, adoption of older children who end up in care due to abuse/neglect etc is a whole other matter). There is little need for so-called experts endlessly debating whether adoption of newborns is ‘really’ traumatic, when nature has already made sure that adoption of newborns virtually never happens in the first place.

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  19. I have no idea how American culture ever ended up in a place where anyone thought it was OK to place a price on a human being’s head, and make money out of removing a child from a family that wants them, but that seems to be the root cause of the whole mess to me. I really, really hope that one day there will be enough first mothers and adult adoptees out there, all saying the same things, that your voices will be impossible to ignore any longer, and the profiteering will come to be understood as the underlying cause and stamped out for good.

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  20. Cassi, I meant to say in my original comment that I'm so sorry for all the horrible things your family has been dealing with this past month, I hope the rest of the summer brings better things for you all, and some peace after all the turmoil.

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  21. Cassi...this is my first time reading your blog, and I am so sorry for what you are going through. I so identify with your oldest son. I just met my original dad at age 46. It was love at first sight for both of us. He did not know about me until I was 2 years old as his parents covered my both mom's pregnancy up. He and I have a wonderful kinship,and already I worry that I am going to lose him as he is 70 years old. I am having a very hard time and miss him to pieces....how will we being to see each other and make up for that stolen time? I am trying to contain my anger at his parents who he loved and are both now passed. It is very confusing at 46, or any age to learn all this about yourself, but at the same time, thank God I have, and I have a dad who loves me more than anything, and Iove him.

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  22. Thank You! I needed to hear your truthful words, In my desperation to find some hope in my growing emptiness. I am your son, my losses
    my life, my existence as a human being is all invalid. I have no worth to morn my cruel adoptive father's recent death 6/27/2012. In my undeserving sadness,did not attend his funeral, and I was not missed.

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