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.