Words Matter

I hadn’t fully realized until just the other day what the phrase often encountered in adoption issues – “given away” – indicates.  The truth is most original mothers did NOT give their child away.

Many were coerced in some manner.  My maternal grandmother was definitely pressured by Georgia Tann after falling into a trap.  I’m fairly certain my paternal grandmother was pressured by the Salvation Army.  I know one of my sisters was influenced by our own adoptee mom as unbelievable as that seems now that I know more about the emotional wounds most adoptees suffer to some degree or another, even when they end up in a “good” adoptive family (which I can say about all of the adoptees in my own family).

The truth is, however, in all of these cases the babies were “taken away” from their original mothers for some “reason” or other.  That has a very different connotation from a mother actually, willingly, consciously, wanting to “give away” her baby.

When a child ends up being raised by anyone who is not their original parents, they have been separated from family.  It is true that some children end up abandoned and that is a truly sad state of affairs when it happens.  And some mothers simply do not believe they are good enough, worthy or deserve to have the child they birthed, for whatever reason.

Anyway, I realize better now that words matter.


Parallels of Life – ART by Lena

The most fascinating thing for me about learning the truth of my family’s origins has been the parallels.  Both of my parents were adoptees.

Both of my grandmothers lost their own mother at a young age.

Both of my grandmothers fathered my parents with a man much older, 20 years older, than they were.

Both of my grandmothers lost their children due to a lack of their family’s support and lack of paternal support.

There are contrasts as well.  My maternal grandmother was actually married.  Her father even signed the marriage license.  Why then, did her husband leave her in her family home after only 4 months of marriage and her 4 months pregnant ?  It is a question I will never be able to answer.

My paternal grandmother had an affair with a married man.  I doubt that she knew he was married when she first began dating him but of course, he knew.  His wife was over 20 years older than him and a private duty nurse.  One can imagine he had the luxury of many nights when she was sitting at someone’s bedside.  My grandmother was self-reliant and took care of the reality that she was pregnant on her own.  He may have never even known . . . but she knew precisely and outed him in a photo album as a breadcrumb for me to discover many decades later.

These parallels may be a coincidence or they may somehow be part of the picture, the meanings, the reasons that things happened the way they did.  I am simply grateful to be able to tell their stories now after 60+ years of not knowing about their actual existence.