Adoption narratives rarely focus on the original mother from whom the child was taken. I do believe both of my grandmothers experienced regret over giving up their babies.
I believe the one to suffer the most was my maternal grandmother. She was honestly victimized by a lot of different factors, the Great Depression, a charity fatigue caused by the response in Memphis to a SuperFlood that sent thousands of refugees, many from Arkansas, into the city as well as a husband with conflicted loyalties (to the children of his deceased wife and to a mother who he was always the favored son of) who was WPA and fighting that same flood and not responding to her dire calls for help.
In my mom’s adoption file it is clear how hard she fought, though she lost, to keep my mom. She suffered a secondary infertility which is not uncommon among women who give up a child to adoption. Her childish nickname for Elizabeth – Lizzie – was on my mom’s birth certificate and though for much of her life, she would sign her name Elizabeth and nieces and nephews called her Aunt Lou – on her gravestone is the exact same name that she gave birth under. I think it not a coincidence. Just as my mom yearned to know her original mother, I believe her mother never gave up hope that my mom would find her again.
It was left to me to find her grave near the small town area that my grandmother grew up within. So sad and tragic.
My dad’s mom also lost him though it seems to have been less damaging in some ways than the exploited pain of my maternal grandmother. It is believed that she did sorrow for her firstborn son but she went on to have 3 other children. It does not appear she was as devastated though certainly carrying regrets, I think especially so, as she raised other children and probably believed it should have been possible to raise my dad.
There is a shift in adoption thinking that it really isn’t a beneficial choice. A variety of reforms attempt to make the situation better. Family preservation is probably the best – where caring individuals seek to support and encourage an intact family.