So, we've all been there. We've all heard it at some point or another . . .
When you dare to talk about adoption outside society's accepted views of rainbows and sunshine, you will be told, more than likely many, MANY times, that you need to seek help. That you are somehow sick and unhealthy for your views and opinions and should seek counseling so you can just be "happy" and accept adoption like everyone else does.
It's ironic, to me, when someone makes such a suggestion because I have actually sought help twice in my life.
The first was when I was sixteen and pregnant and trusted my adoption counselor to help me make the best decision for myself and my unborn child. At that time, I never imagined that their counseling was the same counseling they offered every pregnant mother who walked through their doors.
It was not about my own personal situation. It wasn't about me or my child. It was about how best to convince me to see adoption as a loving, selfless option so I would give up my child to the waiting couple who was willing to pay to adopt him.
I could have been Jane Doe from Anywhere, U.S.A. It didn't matter. The counseling would have been the same. Just as it still is to this very day for any vulnerable, pregnant mother trusting her counselor to help her make the right decision for herself and her baby.
But, I suppose, for some, such help was successful. It did keep me in that mindset of believing I had to be happy about giving up my child. Held me in place for many years as another good, cookie-cutter bi$#hmother, praised for knowing I could never be good enough for my child. For giving him away as a "gift" to a more-deserving couple.
Their help made sure I never had a bad thing to say about adoption and could repeat the same script, that’s repeated even today, of just how happy I was whenever asked about my feelings, my experience with giving my first born child away.
It also made sure that I never once considered that my deep fear of losing my younger children in some way or another had anything to do with the loss of my first child. Never imagined that my self-doubt of my worth as mother was tied in to being led to believe I wasn't a good enough mother for my oldest son. Never even considered my heart wrenching reaction to even the smallest form of loss was a direct result of suffering the loss of my own child.
I suffered with severe depression every year. It always set in on Christmas night and would last well into the new year. But I had been helped so well that I never realized the trigger was my son's birthday - December 27th - that tossed me in to such dark, almost unbearable pain, year after year.
And fifteen years later, that help, that counseling, kept me from even admitting to anyone - not even my husband or closest friends - that I was suffering and struggling as the denial began to wear off and all the pain and loss was threatening to come swarming in. I didn't admit it, didn't even want to acknowledge it, because in my mind, it was a sign that there was something wrong with me because I was no longer happy about giving up my child.
And that wasn't right. That wasn't how it was supposed to be. I had been counseled to believe different. And I DID believe it. To the point where, for five years, even with internet access and Google as my best friend, I never even thought to go online and search for anybody else who might be feeling like I was feeling.
Because, I didn't believe they were out there. I was counseled that mothers who gave up their babies, even years down the road, were happy with their experience and never regretted it. And so there had to have been something wrong with me when, fifteen years later, I was hurting worse than I ever had, unable anymore to feel anything but heart-wrenching grief and shame that I had actually given my son away.
I went through reunion with my son in that state of mind. In that isolation of refusing to share my struggles, my pain, with anyone.
And that is when I plummented to the worst place I have ever been in my life. It was the first, and only time, I ever considered what it would be like to just go, just end my life and be free of all the pain, the heartache. There were days I cried from morning to night. Times when I struggled to even get out of bed, left my husband and children without a wife or mother because I couldn't face the day living with the pain.
If I had never stumbled across the Bi*$*mom group on CafeMom while looking for ideas for my daughter's birthday party, I may have never known what it was like to recover from that dark place in my life.
It was my first light in the dark tunnel I was traveling in. My first step into healing from all the pain and suffering I had hidden away for so long.
And that is when I sought help for the second time.
I was so very lucky when I did. My therapist was one who specialized in depression and trauma. She had no pre-set judgments on adoption or on how mothers who had lost their children were expected to feel, to act, to show themselves to the outside world.
So I never got the disgusting practice of being reminded of why I gave up my son. I was never encouraged to find a way to be happy with what happened, to find a way to somehow see that it was all for the best.
Instead I was treated and helped for the depression and trauma I was suffering from because of adoption.
And it was all about me. It was my situation that mattered. There was nothing for my therapist to gain from, so I was helped just as I should have been helped all those years ago . . . without bias and with a true concern on empowering me to find the strength I had inside of me so that I could see, finally, that I was good. I was worthy. And I was never deserving of what happened to me all those years ago when I was young and trusting of those who claimed to care and offered their "supposed" help.
She also helped me see that, regardless of what others suggest, it is actually very healthy to find support and understanding with those who share similar experiences. That the myth of "choosing" not to dwell on what has hurt you and to just be "happy" is actually very damaging. And that acknowledging my pain, my experience, talking about it and using it as reason to try and make a change, is actually a very important factor in healing from the emotional trauma caused all those years ago when I gave up my oldest son.
What happened to me, to my son, was wrong and I have EVERY right to stand up and speak out against it. To fight for change so others might be spared the same pain. I deserved better, my son deserved better, and I refuse to ever go back to that place in my life where I believed otherwise.
And yet, when someone suggests I "seek help" that is exactly where they want me to be. They want me to seek the kind of help that would take me back to that unhealthy woman I was for so long, through the years of my denial and being the "happy" bi*#*mother I was expected to be, to the silent suffering I endured, believing I was wrong for my feelings, my pain.
That kind of help is there and easy to find. With adoption agencies now offering post-adoption counseling to try and keep mothers in their destructive belief of having to be happy about giving up their children. And so many therapists blindly accepting adoption for what society perceives it as instead of taking the initiative to learn for themselves about the coercion and manipulation that exists, it's not hard to get the kind of help most would prefer I have.
Because that kind of help is the kind that helps them feel better. Takes away that uncomfortable feeling they get when I speak out about pain and loss. About the trauma of losing my child. About the coercion and manipulation that exists in the counseling given to vulnerable, desperate mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy.
And yet, what I say, would make sense, wouldn't be so threatening, if adoption wasn't a part of the equation. As I've said many times in the past, what is logical doesn't exist when it comes to the world of adoption.
Because logic is knowing how ridiculous and heart breaking it is for any mother to even suggest she is happy she gave away her own child, her own flesh and blood. Logic is fighting for the protection of a mother and her unborn child, understanding the damage caused by separating such a strong, natural bond.
But in adoption, that logic is mocked, criticized and tossed aside as nonsense.
In adoption, mothers are expected to be happy that they gave away their children. And their children grateful they were given away to strangers.
In adoption, denial is considered healthy while actually feeling and acknowledging pain and loss is viewed as reason for someone to get professional help.
In adoption, those who encourage taking a newborn baby from his or her mother are held as respectful while those who fight to support mothers and their babies are viewed as the troubled ones.
And in adoption, there is nothing wrong with encouraging someone to go back to the painful, unhealthy life they struggled with as long as it guarantees society's views will not be challenged, or even worse . . . changed.
But change is what is needed. The reality of the pain and trauma adoption can cause can't continue unnoticed. And one way we can bring that change to reality is to realize how damaging it is to suggest someone hurting from the very real loss of adoption is somehow wrong or unhealthy because of their feelings. To cease the expectation of happiness when one experiences the loss of a child, a mother . . . a family.
So many mothers and their children are living a life where they believe, to be good, to be healthy, they must be happy. Must believe adoption was good for them, for their life. It's long past time to accept and allow them to truly mourn, hurt and grieve the losses they suffered from the moment they were separated.
It's time to stop the advice of "seek help" and instead see and understand that the coercive, manipulative counseling of pregnant mothers, the expectation of them and their children to be happy with one of the most traumatizing losses a human being could ever suffer, creates a tragedy most will never understand.
A tragedy deserving of pain, of sadness, and of the need to find healing in seeking support, speaking out, and fighting to save others from such a dark, heart breaking reality.