Caught In The Middle

Some circumstances in life are just plain hard to judge. I understand the point of view of this adoptive mother, even so, where is the compassionate middle ground. I haven’t decided. Here is one adoptive mother’s point of view –

I had to discuss with my son’s biological mom that there are boundaries and if she wanted to be involved in any way then she needed to understand them and honor them. My son is MY son, not hers. We came up with a special name that we refer to her as. Never mom. Also we discussed social media. She is never to address him as her son. He is not her son. She is to call him by his given name. I understand that biological moms have to deal with the emotional aspect but so do the adoptive moms. She is no longer his mother. A mother is far more than giving birth. A mother raises you and puts you first. I am very close with his biological mom. I have a great relationship with her for my son’s sake and it was a surrender. She was not forced in any way. But she is not his mother any longer. I am. I accept her role in his life as a special person who loves him. But I am his mother, not her. And she understands and respects that. She is thankful that I allow her to be a part of our family. I didn’t take his mom away from him. She took her role as mom away from herself including by making bad choices and choosing drugs over parenting. I’m his mom and will always be. She will always be a special person in his life but never his mom. Advice to other adoptive moms – set boundaries and don’t let biological moms walk all over you. Let them know their role in the family now.

The person who revealed this mindset commented – I find this very sad and very controlling. What if the child decided one day to call his birth mom “mom” ? She can’t call him her son ? This is sad. Birth parents grieve too. They hurt too. Even parents from foster care. They grieve. They lost their child. I wish we can offer empathy to birth parents especially from foster care instead of looking down on them and using innocent children to hurt them and the child.

I do feel that putting a child in the middle of this situation isn’t fair to the child. The same kind of thing happens very often in divorce. I remember trying to walk that difficult middle ground. “You still have a mother who loves you. And you still have a father who loves you. But we are not going to all live together anymore.” Life is complicated enough. So how to simplify the situation suggested above ?

I do agree with this perspective – “I’m sure the only reason the biological mother agrees with this is so she can have something to do with her son. There is a difference between a ‘mom’ and a ‘mother’ but it is ultimately up to the child to decide how to view each one of these women. Not the biological mom or the adoptive mom.” These two should not be playing their own issues off with the child caught in the middle.

Someone else disagreed and I do see this point as well – No difference between a mother and mom to me. I have two moms and two mothers. Same difference. It’s not confusing. I see no reason to distinguish a difference or set them apart.

And in fact, this is a valid point – If it wasn’t for the biological mom, the adoptive mom wouldn’t even have her son in the first place. I don’t give a damn if the biological mother’s rights where legally severed, she is still his mom at the end of the day and always will be the woman who gave birth to him.

I am still seeking what I sense is an important middle ground. I understand the need for the adoptive mother to be the final say in most of what happens in this child’s life, to maintain her parental authority to make decisions – at least for a minor child. Yet, emotions and feelings are less clear. I believe that most children actually are capable of keeping the two women in a separate yet proper perspective. My heart tells me that is the truth.

What I am sensing is a possessiveness, an ownership of one person over the love of another person, by putting the magical role of motherhood into the middle of this situation. As the divorced mother of a daughter who’s step-mother married her father and so, the two of them raised my daughter, I already understand what a difficult balancing act these situations are. I did attempt to put my daughter’s feelings and interests ahead of my own. My daughter and I have discussed how similar her childhood was to that of someone who was adopted.

A Belief That Enables

When you make a decision, you make that decision consciously for only 5% maximum, the rest of your decision (95%) is controlled by your subconscious mind. The decision to adopt a child is conscious but there are subconscious factors below that which are influencing or will influence your experience as an adoptive parent. Some couples adopt for the same reason some couples decide to have a biological child – in order to save a marriage by bonding it with a child. Of course, the couples who adopt generally have other factors – most especially an experience with infertility and failed attempts at using reproductive medical assistance to have a child biologically. In other words, many adoptions actually start out on shaky ground to begin with.

So today, I came across something else that is more than a little bit disturbing. I hasten to add a trigger warning at this point for anyone for whom child abuse discussions might be too emotionally upsetting to continue. Having done my due diligence in this regard – you can proceed reading or leave this blog warned and saved the painful recollections.

It is sometimes asked – Why did they adopt just to abuse them. There is an assumption that adoptive parents wouldn’t abuse their adopted children because they went to so much effort to adopt them. All parents are capable of some degree of abuse – even with a great deal of love and often from ignorance or poor examples growing up. Therefore, it is dangerous to put any adoptive parent on a pedestal because sometimes adoptees are abused. It is a sad fact – and sad anytime any child is severely abused by any adult person for that matter. When the abuse starts… the people around them often say: well, those kids are very troubled and acting out. The adoptive parents are doing the best they can. Who can really blame them for doing what they have to do in order to control that child ?

One reason that it doesn’t shock or confuse me that some adoptive parents might harm their adoptees is that I have become aware of how common a trait of narcissism is among adoptive parents. Wanting a child doesn’t mean you’re going to treat them well. Adoption is inherently a selfish act – regardless of what you believe is motivating you. An adoptive parent may expect their adopted child to be compliant with any of their expectations or demands. That parent may lash out at their adoptee when they don’t meet those. Adoptive parents are not exempt from having anger issues and abusive tendencies.

Sometimes this abuse doesn’t begin immediately but when that cute baby becomes a rebellious teen. One adoptee shared her example – my adoptive mother actually said to me when I was 7 yrs old – “We wanted a baby, and you’re not a baby anymore.” That is how she explained they were going to adopt a baby boy.

Abuse is about possession and control. And in a weird, twisted kind of logic many abusers don’t actually think are they abusive. An abusive narcissistic parent may think they are a really good one. Being abusive goes against the savior narrative that so many adoptive parents have accepted as their reason for adopting. Adoption seems to be a process that attracts people who need to feel good about themselves. And once they’ve completed the adoption, they feel effectively immune from criticism because, after all, it was such a “selfless” act to rescue a child in need.

People adopt simply because they want kids. However, they may not actually have any idea of how to raise those children, once they have achieved that primary goal. These kinds of adoptive parents may have difficulty accepting that the child they adopted is an individually separate person with ideas of their own, desires, wants, and needs that do not necessary mirror the adoptive parent. In fact, often don’t While nurturing plays a role in the kind of person we each become – adoptee reunions with their birth parents after they reach maturity often prove – there is more to the genetic influences than many in the adoption industry want society to believe.

Another example comes from an adoptee with an emotionally immature mother – “She wasn’t able to have children and I think she thought a child would fix her. I was adopted at birth. I believe she thought I’d be a mini version of her but when I had my own emotions and interests, she couldn’t handle it. In came the weird emotional games.” It is way too common for adoptive parents to adopt a baby as a way to fix their own issues. It never works that way.

The abuse somehow feeds into these adoptive parents’ need to feel like they are doing something good. They are a “strong” parent and showing these troubled kids “tough love.” And then, there’s always the go-to excuse so many adoptees have hard – They should be grateful. They could have it so much worse. Never say to an adoptee sharing their experience something like – Just because you were abused by your adoptive parents, that’s why you hate adoption. Or sorry you had a bad experience. An experience sounds like a short term event. Adoption is lifelong.

Dismissing any adoptees’ discontent and trauma is victim blaming, also called gaslighting. It is an attempt to control the adoptees’ story in order not to break their happy, little “adoption is rainbows and butterflies” illusion.

Is It Safe ?

Good intentions are not enough. Heartfelt desires could still be in a place where impairment makes it not yet entirely safe. Today’s story –

This weekend we had a visit with adopted daughter’s parents. Her mom has expressed to me several times that she wants to take her back some day and that she is willing to fight legally with another family that has her siblings to get her oldest daughter back one day too (as in adopt them back).

I have a few issues with this and I know you guys can help me put it into the proper perspective and stop centering myself:

1) her mom is still heavily under the influence to the point of extremely impaired judgement and does not have stable housing/income/jobs.

2) she has been asking for sleep overs (which I am not opposed to if she didn’t have impaired judgement and her daughter wants them)

3) she says this only about the youngest and oldest daughters and fails to express this sentiment for her youngest son and middle daughter

4) her daughter is sometimes extremely hesitant and afraid of her due to her past behaviors under the influence (think screaming/crying/hiding from her).

We maintain visits regularly with daughter’s parents and extended family. She should know her family, her history, her siblings, her heritage.

What factors would you consider before you allowed sleep overs? I would love for her to have this kind of relationship/time with her mother if it can be done safely and she wants it. Daughter is often hesitant to go to visits with her mom. I stress family is important, knowing them is important. I express that I am not a replacement for her mom and that I never expect to be. That her mom is her mom.

I’m not sure how to best navigate this. Daughter is 7. I want this kind of relationship for her but I keep seeing it as a “someday” kind of thing because of concerns about her physical safety and mental wellbeing. Daughter’s therapist thinks visits with her mom should only be at her request (I disagree) because she shows signs of fear towards her. I do often ask daughter if she wants to call her mom and she consistently says no. I ask her if she wants to visit and she often is on the fence, sometimes yes sometimes no.

I would love to get an adoptee perspective on this. I need to hear it. Thank you.

Some responses –

Safety and impairment are deal breakers. They are the fundamental necessities for any child. Agree with what was stated about the child driving this. Perhaps a middle ground would be to continue regular visits but remain present so daughter feels the safety of your presence and yet there is opportunity for them to develop their own relationship. You are her responsible guardian. Staying by her side, and yet allowing them to have an opportunity seems like it accomplishes all goals. You can provide safe get togethers that are fun activities. A park, a children’s museum, zoo, picnic, etc…

This may not be the popular answer, but here’s my take: If it were me, I’d take daughter’s lead on this. Let her have control over her visits. That said, if there is any safety concern whatsoever, I would absolutely not allow unsupervised visits. Child’s safety must be the number one priority.

In my opinion, one of the worst things a parent can do is force a kid to do something they’re uncomfortable with, especially if they have trauma in that area. It makes me very uncomfortable that she has to go see her mom because you feel that’s important. If my parents had forced me to see my biological parents, it would have undermined my trust in them and pushed me away. Just another adoptee perspective.

On a cautionary note – Adoptee loyalty is a huge issue. They can sense how you really feel. Unless you are able to develop a genuinely loving and caring perspective towards her mom and show that; your daughter won’t have the comfort level she needs to re develop that relationship.

As an adoptee, I agree with the therapist. Do the visits at her request. So often I tiptoed around my adoptive mom’s feelings and would lie and say I wasn’t comfortable with searching for my mom, I didn’t want to meet her, I didn’t want this or that, when in fact I really did. I was too worried about hurting my adoptive mom’s feelings to consider my own. I wouldn’t ask your daughter if she wants call, visit, etc. let her come to you when she wants to. Asking puts pressure on her.

A Life in the Shadow

Actors – Rose Byrne as Rebecca Skloot and Oprah Winfrey as Deborah Lacks

On Friday night, my husband and I watched The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on dvd. It is one of those occasional unexpected finds that impacts me deeply. Oprah Winfrey plays Deborah Lacks in the movie based upon the book. Since my name is Deborah, I connected with this powerful, at times tragic, portrayal of Henrietta’s daughter. Since the title of my blog is Missing Mom and that is what drove Deborah, who lost her mom at such a young age and who she was always missing, needing the truth about her, felt somewhat like I how felt about my missing grandparents (both of my parents were adopted). So, I am happy to share Deborah’s story here. I highly recommend either the book or the movie.

The only surviving daughter and fourth child of David Day Lacks and Henrietta Lacks, Deborah “Dale” Lacks Pullum spent most of her early life wondering what happened to her beautiful mother and worrying about what it could mean for her own life and identity. Day was Henrietta’s first cousin, neither had living mothers and were being raised by grandparents who had them sleeping in the same bedroom. No wonder by the age of 14, Henrietta was pregnant. Day married her 6 years later when she was 20.

It is hard for Rebecca Skloot, an independent science writer, to gain Deborah’s trust given her early life of familial abuse, followed by the general disregard of the scientific community for Henrietta’s family. Deborah’s need to connect with her mother’s story is intensified by her difficult childhood and a non-existent relationship with her father, whose lack of attention has disastrous effects on her emotional life:

After Henrietta’s death, Ethel and Galen move in with Day to “help take care of the children.” But Ethel always had a hatred for Henrietta because Galen was attracted to her, and she transferred that with gusto to the children. She forces them to work the farm all day without food or drink and beats them if they disobey. In spite of Deborah’s protests, Galen sexually molests her as often as he can.

Despite the beatings by both of these guardians and the molesting by Galen, Deborah felt closer to Galen than she ever had felt with her father. When he wasn’t hitting or molesting her, Galen showered her with attention and gifts. He bought her pretty clothes, and took her for ice cream. In those moments, Deborah pretended he was her father, and she felt like a regular little girl.

Enter Lawrence’s (who was Henrietta’s oldest son) wife, Bobbette. She insists that they take in and raise the younger Lacks siblings to get them out of the clutches of the abusive Ethel and Galen. Bobbette makes it pretty darn clear that if that couple ever touches Henrietta’s kids again, she’s going to open up a can of ??? on them.

In Henrietta’s absence, Bobbette also acts as a mentor and inspiration to young Deborah. She tells her to stay in school because that’s what will get her success in life. She also encourages her to fight off the advances of her boy cousins because, she said, “That’s uncalled for.” She warns Deborah about the dangers of first cousins having children together.

Deborah reads articles about HeLa cells (named after an abbreviation of Henrietta Lacks name) with a dictionary in hand and learns to use the Internet to make sense of her mother’s immortal life. Her brothers don’t understand her need to pursue something that has been so hurtful to them. Deborah is quite clear in her mission: “All this stuff I’m learning,’ she said, ‘it make me realize that I did have a mother, and all the tragedy she went through. It hurts but I wanna know more, just like I wanna know about my sister (her sister Elsie had defects that eventually institutionalized her, where she later died young). It make me feel closer to them, but I do miss them. I wish they were here.”

The need to know and to be in control of her past is always stronger for Deborah than the need to forget her past and protect herself from future harm.

Her older brother, Lawrence, never stopped taking care of Deborah. He put $6,000 on his credit card to pay for her funeral. She died less than a year before the book, written by author Rebecca Skloot, about her mother was published.

“Henrietta had been chosen by the Lord to become an immortal being. The immortality of Henrietta’s cells had something to do with her telomeres and how HPV interacted with her DNA.”

The Damage Done

I came of age in the early 1970s. I will admit that I have way too much life history with drug use. In fact, addiction was the primary cause of my first marriage’s failure. So many children are removed from their parents due to addiction issues. The money that should be feeding and housing and providing all the basics for their family goes into drugs. I understand. I remember food and housing insecurity because of that in my first marriage. Today’s blog was triggered by this story of a foster care child.

My 11 year old foster daughter is (understandably) having an incredibly hard time coping with feelings of abandonment by her mother. While I don’t agree with it and have advocated otherwise, she is not allowed to talk to or see her mom until she takes a drug test. Mom has refused and my foster daughter is feeling unloved and abandoned. I’m at a loss for how to help her cope. She often asks me to validate her feelings by saying things such as “If she loved me, she would just go do the drug test, right?” or “She must be on drugs. She loves them more than me, doesn’t she?”. She wants me to answer her yes or no. I don’t know how to answer to help her. I don’t want to speak negative about her parents by agreeing with her but I don’t want to make her feel like her feelings aren’t valid by saying something like “She loves you but drugs are powerful and affecting her choices.” I have reached out to mom and tried to get her to take the drug test so they can have contact and let her know what is going on with her daughter. She always says she is going to but hasn’t yet. It has been over a year now.

She ends with this request for advice – Those who have been through similar situations, how would you recommend I help this child?

The first answers are good ones. Is she in therapy? She needs somewhere to process feelings and learn about addiction. Does she have a therapist? If not, that would be very helpful. Someone who is trauma informed, addiction experience, and foster care and adoption competent would be a good thing for her. Sounds like you and her therapist need to have a discussion about addiction with her.

I didn’t know about this person but it sounds like reasonable advice – I highly recommended listening to and reading Gabor Mate and as an addiction expert and particularly his compassionate, scientifically based approach to addiction. It will help you (and your subsequently foster daughter) understand with compassion rather that judgement, anger, exasperation or frustration.

Personally, I saw this perspective immediately and am glad this was said – Her mom probably can’t pass a test and doesn’t want to make things worse. I would start by explaining that. We wouldn’t make an illiterate person pass a reading test for a basic human right…sad. Being a child of an addict there is a lot of pain and hard days for sure but she should be able to see her mom. All the therapy suggestions are on point and hopefully the therapist can also advocate.

I had not heard of this concept (except from link below) but it also seems right to my own heart – I would advocate for safe use with the social worker on the case about safe use, and creating a safety plan. Passing a urine analysis doesn’t equal safety and not passing a urine analysis doesn’t equal unsafe. I don’t think “she loves you but drugs are powerful….” would invalidate her feelings. That statement and her feelings can both be valid at the same time.

Traditionally, the substance use field has focused simply on substance use and ways to measure, prevent and treat negative consequences. This has led to a continuum of laws, policies and services that runs from restricting supply to reducing demand and, for some, continuing on to harm reduction.

Various versions of this simple continuum have been used over time, all of them beginning with a focus on a disease or harm that must be avoided. While this may seem completely sensible at first glance, it makes less sense when considering that many people use psychoactive substances to promote physical, mental, emotional, social and/or spiritual well-being. In other words, people use substances to promote health, yet substance use services focus on how drug use detracts from health.

Health promotion begins from a fundamentally different focus. Rather than primarily seeking to protect people from disease or harm, it seeks to enable people to increase control over their health whether they are using substances or not.

Since many people use drugs often or in part to promote health and well-being, health promotion along these lines involves helping people manage their substance use in a way that maximizes benefit and minimizes harm. (Indeed, this is how we address other risky behaviors in our everyday lives, including driving and participating in sports.) It means giving attention to the full picture—the substances, the environments in which they are used and in which people live, and the individuals who use those substances and shape the environments.

Someone else shares their personal experience – My kids (adoptees) parents have issues they go through and are not always on the up and up but we make time together happen. It’s always (right now) supervised etc. However soon my daughter will be 16 and she will likely want to drop by their house when she’s driving etc and I have helped her understand enough on ways to stay safe emotionally and legally by going to see her family and having open discussion with her on addiction. Some may not agree but they eventually grow up. I prefer to help her work through it now than stumble more later. She has a therapist who is mainly focused on addictions as well.

One more from personal experience – I would probably say screw the social worker’s orders and let them have a visit. My adopted daughters’ mom had the same type of demand and I followed the rules. Their mom died, and it had been so long since they’d seen her in person. I frequently regret not breaking the rules. Life’s too fucking short and unpredictable. Using drugs doesn’t automatically equate to being unsafe. It’s going to be way harder for this mom to get clean and sober if she’s not allowed to see her child.

Addiction is a VERY complex issue. My heart breaks for the young girl.

Not The Same

Raising adoptees is not the same as raising biological kids. An adoptees reactions are not the same. Their emotions are not the same. Their needs are not the same. They SEE and FEEL things differently. They process interactions with others differently and often in a way that is negative towards their own selves. Adoptive parents NEED to know this and recognize this.

You need to weigh your words and actions before you do them and think about what you are saying and talk through in your own head how your words and actions might be received by the adoptee in your life….and adjust accordingly.

Just because your child seems happy and outgoing or in control on the outside does not mean she/he isn’t struggling on the inside. Adoption creates trauma and from what I learned from many adoptee accounts is that trauma usually creates a person that struggles a lot with self esteem, fear of rejection and control. Those seem to be pretty consistent.

Here’s one first person account of how it feels –

My adoptive mom was running errands and so was late to pick me up from an after school activity. Everyone was gone and it was just the teacher and me. First I was super uncomfortable and embarrassed to be the only one still there. As each minute passed, I was petrified she was not coming. I had pretty instantly started writing this script in my head..”she’s not coming, the teacher is going to have to call the principal, what if something terrible happened to her, I am sure my dad will not let me stay with them, where would I go”….and in and on it went. It didn’t end when my adoptive mom finally showed up. Those feelings that invoked, turned into a week of crying, and others in my family thought there was no reason for my behavior. That is was just random crying at literally everything. It would come out of nowhere.

She ends her sharing with this appeal –

Don’t let your kids be me. I don’t wish that on anyone. The emotional toll is immense. It changed my life in ways I wish it didn’t. Learn all you can about the trauma response and help meet them where they need you to be, not where they tell you or where you or anyone else thinks they should be. If you are listening, you will eventually get it and your actions and reactions with your child will come naturally to you in beneficial and supportive ways.

Not Good Enough

Today’s story –

I am a adoptee. Here is the issue, My daughter just had my first granddaughter on Sunday and she is absolutely perfect. But the problem is this, I now am living in daily fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of something happening, fear my daughter won’t need me anymore, fear I won’t bond or connect with the baby. I feel like I’m going crazy . Like today she told me to come over and then a little while later she said I could go home.. not in a mean way.. just wanted time with the dad… well, I didn’t let it show in front of her but I literally got in the car and balled my eyes out and then had a panic attack, feeling like I wasn’t good enough, that I wouldn’t see her again, that she didn’t need me or want me around… I know all of that is completely crazy but my mind won’t let me accept that. Is this normal for adoptees?, is this even normal for non adoptees? What can I do to get through this??

The first comment was – I am donor-conceived and my mother is not, but her own parents were absent/abusive. My mother is like this but she doesn’t have the courage or self-awareness to say it out loud. You did great by not putting this on your daughter’s shoulders.

The next one was – I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I’m not an adoptee but I do have an adult daughter and sometimes it’s hard when it seems like they don’t need you. But they do and they reach out when they do. We raise them to be independent but it hurts when we did it too well. She’s definitely going to need you.

Here is the next one – I’m not an adoptee and I’m answering because you asked if it’s normal for non-adoptees. I have TOTALLY had these exact feelings with my oldest; however I’m from a trauma background and have zero relationship with my bio mother – I think it may be normal for anyone coming from a trauma background. What I did was just be honest with my daughter and told her that I’m sure it was from my background and that I didn’t want her to feel responsible for my feelings but I wanted to be sure it was me and not true – we talk a lot and have a fabulous relationship. I have these feelings SO MUCH LESS NOW because she reassured me I had nothing to worry about – she accepts my worries and I accept that she is a private person and just has me around less than I originally thought would happen – I hope that helps you. And congratulations grandma!

Then there was this – That’s a totally a trauma reaction. The level of emotional response is way out of balance with the request.. and you know it… which only makes you feel even crazier, right?

So I’m gonna say something major in you baby adoptee brain has been triggered by the birth (sooo normal! ) and you now have a wonderful opportunity to find that wound and heal it. And it sounds like very expected abandonment stuff.. not being worthy of what you now see in the mother-child bond. The baby in you is crying for that experience and mourning you didn’t have it. Let your baby self cry it out and at the same time, mother yourself and know that you are worthy and deserved what your grandchild has. An adoption competent trauma informed therapist can help!

Then she adds – I used to believe that I had done enough work that I was always going to be in control.. and then, I lost my mind one day in the middle of the SPCA over a kitten. Like I became this crying, hysterical, screaming Karen .. and that is not me! That’s the day I learned that no matter how much you think you have healed.. sometimes the weirdest thing worms it’s way in! And boom.. you’re a sniveling mess lying on the kitchen floor.

Yet another shares this – My mother spent several years in an orphanage as a child and she is like this—if I reschedule a coffee date or something like that she feels abandoned and devastated. It breaks my heart. I love her so much and never want to cause her pain. I know therapy has helped her some.

A second woman confirmed – It is a trauma based response. I experienced the same sort of thing when my daughter got pregnant with my grandson. I was terrified and an emotional wreck thinking I wouldn’t have a relationship with the baby when it was born. Everything triggered me and despite my daughter reassuring me she wanted me involved – internally I felt it would all dissolve because of course, as an adoptee how do we trust we will be loved, included, not rejected ? I now have a wonderful relationship with my grandson and he is the joy in my life. I still feel that fear sometimes but I have gotten more confident that we can get past the bumps and not every bump means the end a relationship and bond.

Another woman shared – I am not a adoptee, my biological dad left and my biological mom got me and my sisters out of foster care. (Just for back ground) I just had a baby 6 months ago and my mom felt the same way. She was raised by her grandparents because her parents didn’t want her and couldn’t provide for her or my uncle. I think it’s definitely a trauma based thing, but I can tell you from the other side, I would cry for my mom at night when things got hard. I never once thought I could do it without her but also telling her was hard. Your child needs you always, a baby doesn’t change that.

A woman who gave her baby up for adoption writes – I feel like that about my daughter and she’s 31. (Found her when she was 18.) I am in therapy and am working on it. I think the important thing to realize is that these are thought distortions. They are your mind’s way of protecting itself, but this time it went out of control…. Like emotional keloids.

An adoptee writes – This is trauma talking! Trauma lies. It’s the brain telling you your trauma will repeat itself. My therapist has me do several things to combat this. One is I talk back to myself, out loud, as if I’m defending young Andrea or sometimes a friend. It feels really silly but we’re so hard on ourselves, so defending a child or a friend is so much easier! Another activity is to write down all those worst case scenarios and plan them out. What would you actually do if it happened? Then it might not feel so realistic and you’ll feel some measure of being in-control again. Also, my brain demands proof that it’s lying or it won’t shut up.

Who’s Child Is This ?

A woman asks – Do you have to hand over your baby to a potential adoptive couple shortly after birth ? There is a prospective adoptive couple who is extremely obsessed with taking my baby shortly after birth in the hospital. It’s my baby. Why can’t I take some time to make a decision ?

One response was this – Although it is typical for adoption agencies to push for this, it is NOT necessary and does NOT have to happen. You can take as much time as you want. There is no time limit for how long you can take, it can be a couple days, weeks, months. . . how ever long you need. To which someone else added – or never.

Someone else said bluntly – Do not hand over your baby, do not allow any hopeful adoptive parents at the hospital. 

Another woman speaking from experience said – Don’t do it. I didn’t, and I’m so glad. I was still debating keeping or giving away my baby until the day he was born. And I had a couple lined up. Thank god for the Coronavirus because the hospital didn’t allow them in. After he was born, I said I’m gonna keep him. Then the adoption counselor kept bugging me. but it didn’t matter because I didn’t break any rules by changing my mind.

Someone else admitted – This is part of classic coercive tactics, trying to make sure you don’t change your mind. Once the baby is in their hands, it would be so much harder to get the baby back, if you had second thoughts. Take your time. Trust your instincts. Someone who is railroading and coercing you right from the start will not be a good partner if you seek an open adoption.

The truth is a baby is just as adoptable at 6 months or a year, as it is at birth. There are tons of people who want to adopt. If you are contemplating surrender, take all the time you need. This is YOUR baby and every day you spend with them is precious regardless of whatever decision you eventually arrive at.

This is a choice that is 100% up to you. You are able to take your baby home and make a decision later. Any potential adoptive parents that try to push your choice should be grounds enough for you to reconsider them. If this is how they are, when YOU have control, how will they be towards you after the have your baby ?

Just Don’t

Some honest advice from someone who has been where you may be now . . . .

Just need to get this off my chest. Any expectant moms reading this that are considering adoption, please do not do it, not even an open adoption. My daughter has spent this past two weeks with us and she was so happy. She went home to her adoptive parents today and asked to spend another two weeks with us. Well adoptive mother just sent me a message that they spoke to a social worker and that their attorney will contact us this week, so I guess they are getting a restraining order. My hands are tied as legally I can’t do anything because of a piece of paper I signed 13 years ago. So please never consider adoption as the better choice for your baby because it will torture you the rest of your life and your child’s life as well.

And this child won’t have more rights in adolescence.   Adoptees do not have the same rights that non-adopted people have. For some reason, the courts care more about making the adoptive parents happy with their purchase than they do about the best interests of the child.

Someone asks this woman – They sent her to you for two weeks and now won’t let her come back ? Why is she involving an attorney ?

So, some more of this sad story – my daughter threatened to hurt herself, if she can’t be with us – so they sent her to spend two weeks with us. Picked her up today.  Now because she wants to stay longer with us, they want to get restraining order. I have evidence of some physical abuse that she has suffered being with them.

Expectant moms – you do NOT want this to happen to your precious child !!

Some good legal perspective with which I agree – They may find that they can’t get a restraining or protection order over this, depending on the jurisdiction. Simply because your child wants to spend time with you doesn’t rise to the level of an order against you in many places.  Also, if they try to get a protection or restraining order against you, you have the right to defend yourself and be involved in the court case.

On the other hand – People get restraining orders all the time for frivolous reasons. Courts pass them out like candy on Halloween. You don’t even need to have any evidence. Orders of protection are used more often to harass and control people than they are for actually protecting people.

Another woman added more cautions for expectant moms – Anyone who wants to terminate your legal rights to your own child does NOT have your child’s best interests in mind. Nor is that ever in your best interests.  Someone who truly wanted to help a child, would’ve stepped in as a mentor, God parent, adoptive aunt/uncle figure. Don’t trust anyone with your children. Once you do, there is NOTHING you can do to protect your child from that person.

And for adoptive parents who may be dealing with a situation like this – consider what stopping visitation does to your adopted child.  That is guaranteed to cause resentment against you and heap more trauma on them.  Consider your next steps very thoughtfully.

 

 

Choosing to Remain Child-Free

A conversation that came into my awareness this morning went like this –

I have a friend who recently underwent a procedure that will permanently sterilize her at 21 because she is certain she wants to be childfree.

Recently laws have passed that allow drs to deny this based on “good conscience”. It was already difficult enough to get it done.

What I’m surprised about is the different comments I have heard on this being said and the amount of uneducated people…

Some of the comments I’ve seen/heard –

“What about all the infertile women? You would never do that if you knew how many infertile women wanted babies!!”

“I can’t believe you would do that. What if you marry a man who wants children?”

“Sterilization should be illegal when there’s so many desperate good families hoping to adopt a newborn baby!”

Tell me – Why this is problematic ?

(I know why…I’m ready to protest it. I’m tired of laws going backwards. I’ve spent 2 years fighting with insurance over my own body just to have surgery because I’m at an extremely high risk for life threatening pregnancies.)

My body is not a political opinion nor is it my job or another woman’s job to be an incubator to push babies out for you because you’re infertile.

One woman shared – On Mother’s Day at my job I was asked if I have kids. I said no and I never want kids. Everyone acted like I’d just said something so heinous. One co-worker told me I should have babies and sell them. Like WTF ?!

She added –  it really pisses me off how many stories I’ve heard about women who want to get this procedure and can’t because doctors say they need to have at least one kid already, they need a man’s approval, and/or they’re too young. Meanwhile, women have to put up with the side effects of birth control methods. It’s really belittling of women to think they can’t make these decisions for themselves. And misogynistic to leave it up to the husband to give his approval for the procedure. Or to not do it because there’s no male significant other to ask for permission. Like women can’t have their own bodily autonomy. As if we’re just possessions for men and only have value as breeders (a term that Georgia Tann used – dehumanizing).

One woman put it rather simply – If you don’t want children, you don’t marry someone who does. That’s basic compatibility.

Then there was this woman’s personal story –  My older sister, now 40, still looks for a doctor to do a sterilization for her. She has never wanted a baby and asked at her first gyn appointment, when she was about 13, when she could have a sterilization. She never once wavered but it looks like she will never receive her desired treatment, because every doctor she asks, thinks she might change her mind. This so f***s me off! It’s her body, her decision, her money. Why does nobody give a f**k, when a man has a vasectomy??? Even childless men seem to be allowed to have one without questioning. That’s so biased.

My personal perspective ?  It is our body, given to us to utilize however we want to while alive on this Earth.  Every person’s decision should be honored as long as it is within legal boundaries – that includes abortion, sterilization, divorce, etc.