Joni Mitchell’s Daughter

Joni Mitchell reunion in 1997
with Kilauren Gibb

Adoptee reunions with their birth parents happen almost daily it seems to me in the adoption related groups that I am a member of. My adoptee mom wanted such a reunion but sadly hers never happened (when she tried to get her adoption file from the state of Tennessee, while denying her that information which would have brought her so much peace, they told her that her mother had died several years earlier).

This morning I’ve been tracking down the story of the daughter that Joni Mitchell gave up for adoption because she wrote song lyrics about that experience in Little Green a song on her album Blue which is 50 years old today.

~ lyrics

Born with the moon in cancer
Choose her a name she will answer to
Call her green and the winters cannot fade her
Call her green for the children who’ve made her

Little green, be a gypsy dancer
He went to California
Hearing that everything’s warmer there
So you write him a letter and say, “her eyes are blue.”
He sends you a poem and she’s lost to you
Little green, he’s a non-conformer

Just a little green
Like the color when the spring is born
There’ll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow
Just a little green

Like the nights when the northern lights perform
There’ll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there’ll be sorrow

Child with a child pretending
Weary of lies you are sending home
So you sign all the papers in the family name
You’re sad and you’re sorry, but you’re not ashamed

Little green, have a happy ending
Just a little green
Like the color when the spring is born
There’ll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow

Just a little green
Like the nights when the northern lights perform
There’ll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there’ll be sorrow

Both mother and daughter were searching for each other when a series of coincidences finally brought the two of them together. It would be a very typical adoptee search and reunion with her birth mother if her mother had not been so famous. Most adoptees do not have to deal with that kind of media frenzy. It would be a typical adoptee reunion with her birth mother leads to a reunion with her birth father but for all of the fame involved. And it would be a typical adoptive parent anxiety about losing the child they raised if not for all the media frenzy that followed. On Joni Mitchell’s own website you can read the details in Joni’s Secret: Mother And Child Reunion and fully appreciate the complications.

My all things adoption group seeks to encourage young, unwed mothers like Joni Mitchell was to keep and raise their children. This is because, like Joni, adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Joni’s problems were poverty and the baby’s father being unready to parent and so abandoning them. Within 3 years, Mitchell had a recording contract, a house and a car, and could have raised her child but it was too late by then. The adoption was closed and so when the daughter began her search, she was only given non-identifying information, which is typical as well.

Things actually went surprisingly well considering it was way back in 1997 when the reunion occurred. Like my good luck in uncovering my own original grandparents, something of their stories and connecting with biological/genetic cousins and an aunt, it was as though one door opens and the pieces begin falling into place. And as like attracts like and as intentions seek to fully fulfill the desire that gave birth to them, sometimes in the adoption world we get lucky.

It is somewhat interesting and all too typical that the adopted person also has their own struggles that somewhat mirror their birth parent. Kilauren claims that she did not find out she was adopted until she was 27. “She knew when she was a teenager,” her adoptive mother, Ida Gibb says. “Her friends told her. But maybe the full significance didn’t sink in.” Kilauren’s adoptive father, David Gibb says, “The mistake we made was in trying to say she’s not adopted, that she’s one of us and let’s forget the whole thing and put it away somewhere, because we wanted her to be part of the family.” Then he adds: “People are born. They are a life. They belong to nobody.”

Kilauren’s biological parents, Joni Mitchell and Brad MacMath, were both art students in Calgary when she was conceived. They moved to Toronto during the pregnancy and discussed settling down but as he says, “We were not communicating.” and he moved from Canada to California. Mitchell says her main concern at the time was to conceal her pregnancy from her parents. And what would her parents have done ? Mitchell’s mother, Myrtle Anderson says, “If we had known she was expecting a baby, we would have helped. I’m sure we would have encouraged her to keep the baby, but we didn’t know anything about it until several years later when she and Chuck (Mitchell) separated and she was home and told us about it.”

Like many birth mothers, Joni Mitchell regretted losing her child for 30 years before the reunion finally occurred. Like many birth mothers, she might see a couple with a daughter about the age hers would have been at that time. Toronto music manager Bernie Fiedler who was a friend of Mitchell’s remembers being with her at the Mariposa Folk Festival about four years after Kilauren’s birth. “There was a couple with a little girl wanting to speak to Joni. We went over and talked to the girl, who must have been 4 or 5, and afterwards Joni turned to me and said: ‘That could be my daughter.’ I will never forget that. She was obviously suffering tremendously.” Kilauren (at the age of 32) ended up separated from the father of the son she is raising. Broken relationships seem more common with adoptees, and often with their biological parents as well, than within the overall population in general.

The thing about adoption is that it changes trajectories. Joni Mitchell may not have become as famous as she did had she kept and raised her daughter. Her daughter’s life would have been different had she not been raised in the well to do home that she was. Both mother and daughter suffered and that is always the case (whether acknowledged or unconscious) when that separation takes place. It is always the case as well, that no matter how loving the adoptive parents are or how good of a childhood that adopted child has, a yearning to be made whole again is universal. Not all reunions go well and this one has been bumpy like many of these are.

Typically, the adoptive parents feared this as well. Losing Kilauren to her birth mother “was our greatest fear,” her adoptive mother Ida Gibb said. “It was a nightmare that this would happen to us when she was little and when she was a teenager. Now, it is easier to take. But it’s still hard.”

You Never Owe Someone Else Your Baby

In my all things adoption group, the prime mission is to keep mothers and their babies together. To discourage them from choosing a rash permanent solution to whatever their temporary problem is that has caused them to consider relinquishing their baby to strangers. The pressure to do so, due to a shortage of newborn infants available for adoption, is huge. Today’s story –

An expectant mother in Illinois has received assistance from some hopeful adoptive parents since end of March. She’s uncomfortable with them, wants to back out and keep her child, but is afraid. They are already threatening her with things like being sued if she backs out.

Now for a reality check – She should absolutely back out. Keep her child. Sued for what? Money? It would be a waste of their time. She could have a judgment against her but then, they would have to file to collect. If she received assistance from them, she may be lower income and therefore, the likelihood they would be able to collect at all isn’t looking promising. Maybe she signed a contract, but so what ? She still doesn’t owe somebody her baby. She cannot be forced to sign over the baby. Stop contact. Breathe. Stress is no good for the baby.

Nothing they can legally do would be worse than mom losing her baby.

I’d say “take me to court then!” Your gut feeling is correct. Keep your baby!

Even if they paid her a lot of money, it qualifies as a gift because otherwise, it would literally be considered bribery and/or extortion to obtain a child. There is no valid contract available to give your baby to someone for money and it would probably be them getting in trouble if they did have one written up and signed. It’s not illegal in any way to decide you want to parent your own child.

They can’t take her to court. They can’t do anything. If they were to try, they would get themselves in bigger trouble because it means they intended to buy a baby. The law prevents adoption agreements before birth. She should cut all contact and ignore them.

To get them to leave her alone, she could in writing, sent by certified mail, send them a letter stating that any further contact will be considered criminal harassment. She can send them a cease and desist outline warning them that any future contact will result in legal action, including a no-contact order. Any assistance they provided is legally a gift. She could also remind them that paying money or goods in exchange for a child is a federally a trafficking charge.

You can’t buy a baby, and that’s what they are trying to do. If they are with an agency, the agency might try to make her think she needs to give them the baby, but that’s also illegal on their part. Gifts are given with no assumption of anything in return, and items given to “birth moms” (hate that they use that before birth – totally grooming) are expressly and legally classified as gifts. Also, just in general, even if she still was considering adoption, this is a major, massive, huge red flag that these are not good people and should not be parents to anyone’s child. Maybe not even their own biological kids. This is really sick behavior and indicative of people with serious issues.

And why is this so important ? Here’s a true story from another woman in this same kind of situation.

I received some money when I was considering that same choice. I backed out and everything seemed okay. The hopeful adoptive mom showed up at the hospital unannounced, after the baby was born. She just walked into my room (I forgot to terminate my release of information, so when I had the baby she was notified and flew in from California.) She had these baby clothes with her that she had embroidered with the name she had chosen for my daughter. I honestly thought she was going to kidnap her. She ran when I pushed the call button. After that the hospital heightened security and no one could find us without a code. It was a scheduled c section, but it wasn’t scheduled until that last month. I wasn’t in contact with them by that time. It was pretty scary, but the hopeful adoptive parents never retaliated nor were they able to sue me or try to take my child. I’m mentioning this story so hopefully nothing like that happens to anyone else. If you change your mind, don’t forget to tell the hospital to terminate releases of information! You don’t owe them your baby.

It’s A Matter Of Being Supported

A woman in my all things adoption group writes – I have seen a lot of hopeful adoptive parents lamenting recently how agencies are turning them down as clients, foster care in some states has stopped licensing people and generally that adoptions are down.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this past year has brought many low income families greater financial resources by way of government assistance. When I share this, there is always a plethora of “well that’s only temporary and what are they going to do when the stimulus, credits and extra unemployment stops ? That’s when we will see more kids available for adoption.”

This is how they pacify each other – yet they fail to see this for what it is. Money matters !!

Why is this not a waving RED FLAG for them that finances are a major reason women place or lose their children. A lump sum as many have gotten could be the down payment on a home. It could be rent for months, while they get on their feet. It could be replacing an old car with a more reliable one or getting a vehicle when they did not have one.

Any of these things that most of these hopeful adoptive parents take for granted could be what makes the difference between someone keeping their children or losing them. But no, they are unable to see the truth of this.

They cry that families are not being separated, so that they can create a family of their own. We should be rejoicing about this change in the old status quo. We should be recognizing that this reduction in children available for adoption during the past year plus means that helping families with real support IS an answer to keeping families together.

Those who wish to adopt don’t want to hear that though because that does not meet their selfish goals of acquiring someone else’s child.

The Fog

In adoptee centric communities, one quickly learns about “the fog”. This is the feel good narrative that adoption agencies and adoptive parents “feed” their adopted child. Many adoptees never come out of the fog. Most do not come out until maturity, maybe when they give birth to a biological child genetically related to them and begin searching the adoption related literature, a prominent one is The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier. This is the preverbal, subconscious trauma experienced by a baby when they are taken from the mother who gestated them and then gave birth. It matters not a lot whether this separation occurs immediately after birth or months later. My parents were 6 mos and 8 mos old at the time they were separated from their mothers – so preverbal. The trauma is real and has ongoing effects.

So, I was attracted to an article in The Guardian titled Brain fog: how trauma, uncertainty and isolation have affected our minds and memory in the Health & wellbeing section by Moya Sarner. A feeling of brain fog has become more common as a result of the collective trauma of the COVID pandemic. It is described as a feeling of being unable to concentrate. There’s this sense of debilitation or of losing ordinary facility with everyday life.

It could be helpful for an adoptee to understand that this feeling isn’t unusual or weird. There isn’t something wrong with you. It’s a completely normal reaction to a seriously traumatic experience. This can affect you ability to problem-solve, your capacity to be creative in the face of life’s challenges. There can be a lot of different factors that taken together and interacting with each other, can cause these impairments, attentional deficits and other processing difficulties. Humans have effectively evolved to stop paying attention when nothing changes, but to pay particular attention when things do change.

For an adoptee, it is life changes such has giving birth that can begin the process of waking up from the fog. The adoptive parents dying, so freeing the adopted child from a need to remain loyal to the people who cared and nurtured them growing up that may kindle a need for their own personal truth. Who were the people that gave them life ? Are they still living ? What is the background story ? Are there other genetic relations ? What can they learn about their familial medical history ? What is their cultural identity ? Waking up to the reality of who the adopted person actually is.

Brain fog is a common experience but it’s very complex. It is the cognitive equivalent of feeling emotionally distressed; it’s almost the way the brain expresses sadness, beyond the emotion. One needs to think about the mind, the brain, the immune and the hormonal systems to understand the various mental and physical processes that might underlie this consequence of stress.  

When our mind appraises a situation as stressful, our brain immediately transmits the message to our immune and endocrine systems. These systems respond in exactly the same way they did in early humans – with what may feel like an irrational fear.  The heart beats faster so we can run away, inflammation is initiated by the immune system and the hormone cortisol is released. A dose of cortisol will lower a person’s attention, concentration and memory for their immediate environment. 

An experience of the fog is one of the most disturbing aspects of the unconscious. Recognizing the fog is our body and our brain telling us something, a signal – an alarm bell. We should stop and ask ourselves, why am I feeling this way ? What is the trigger ? What is the source ?  The idea is that we have a force inside us that is propelling us towards life. What has been hidden from us is now pushing us into a discovery. To make connections with our familial tribe and seek to expand the meaning of our very own life with the truth. 

The mental weight of our unknowns becomes harder to drag around. We have – at some moment in our lifetime – a will to know something about ourselves and our lives, even when that knowledge is profoundly painful. Paradoxically, there is also a powerful will not to know, a wish to defend against this awareness so that we can continue to live cosseted by lies. An adoptee might chose to live in the misty, murky fog rather than to face, to suffer, the painful truth and horror of their origin situation because the truth of the experience of how and why they were separated from their natural mother is too hard to bear.

We all experience grief, times in our lives where we feel like we can’t function at all. If you find yourself here, may it be mercifully temporary and may you recover from the shocks of reality and move forward, feeling a new wholeness in an expanded identity of yourself.

Glitter Birthmoms

This is a new term for me this morning but I will admit I struggle with this now. At one time, I wouldn’t have but I have learned too much related to all things adoption to go along with the denial or self soothing perspectives that the adoption industry puts forth and way too many mothers who surrender a baby to adoption absorb and then believe it. These birthmoms speak about adoption as some win/win scenario.

Someone asked the obvious question – What are glitter birth moms? And here was the response – Someone who is glad they adopted out their child and doesn’t regret it.

One woman talked about the ones she sees that are proudly proclaiming their child is in a closed adoption for their own “privacy” but are also Extremely Online, using their full name and photo, IDing themselves as biological moms. Uh, that’s not really how privacy works but they’ll find that out when the adoptee does DNA and matches with close relatives. (And this does happen increasingly these days – in fact DNA and matching has revealed to me my adoptee parents’ – both were – genetic families).

Just recently, I saw one like this from a Christian agency and the woman has gone into counseling unwed mothers to surrender after getting a degree in some social work area. I just couldn’t . . . Here is how someone describes a similar situation – The ones whose stories adoption agencies/adoptive parents trot out in adoption circles to reinforce the narratives they want. They usually talk about how young they were or what obstacles they had, how they picked the adoptive parents (blogger’s note – and I actually supported my youngest sister during a pregnancy where she sent me the profiles to give her a second opinion but that was before I learned all I have learned), what wonderful people the adoptive parents are, how they have thrived since then, sometimes how their child is doing, and saying they know they “made the right decision.” They paint adoption as “giving my child a better life than I could offer.” All of this is very typical.

One adoptee said about such women – my guess is denial and a way to deal with guilt, they can safely live in the fog. I hate the way adoption is always about the parents, adopted or biological.

Another adoptee shares this –

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I don’t **know** this is how my birth mom is for a fact… but at least on the surface she fits the bill on
paper;

She had me at 16, before her 17th birthday

& Because she placed me for adoption

(and that she escaped the stigma,
as she didn’t show and no one knew she was pregnant)

She was able to easily graduate high school

Get her bachelor degree

Married the “love of her life”

And have two well behaved sons at the appropriate time deemed by society

She is a pillar of her community, a kindergarten teacher

She is head of PTA and very active at fighting for kids rights and services in her community (ironically)

It hurts more because I was always
fed the narrative “she did this for me” “she wanted you to have a better life”

No.

It was always about her

She wanted a better life

She wanted to escape stigma

It was never about me

Another adoptee shares – My “unfit” biological parents both went on to have more children and raised them in stable, loving families, unlike the adoptive one I got. Like we always say, placing your child or adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and nothing to be proud of. My biological parents can insist they did it out of love for me all they want but all I would ever hear is “we couldn’t be bothered to get our shit together in time to keep you in the family but look at all these lucky siblings we did do that for!”

And this was an important piece of advice – Please don’t start framing adoptees as either having a “negative experience” or “bitter and abandoned.” This will only silence your child and make them feel they cannot share complex feelings. The best thing I ever did for my daughter was tell her she had every right to feel however she wants over a situation she had no control or say over. Its quite possible for adoptees to love their parents but find parts of their adoption traumatic or challenging. For Example my daughter mourns not growing up with her siblings I get to raise. That doesn’t make her bitter or negative – its a completely normal response to an abnormal situation.

Someone shares this, which I alluded to above about a Christian agency – There are glitter birth moms who make a career out of it, by becoming an “adoption professional” and are paid by agencies to speak at events, promote adoption to other expectant mothers, etc. I follow them closely. It has a two fold impact – not only is the birth Mum able to turn their relinquishment into an income stream but it continually reinforces to them that they made the right choice. And this is far easier to live with than being open to considering the alternative. I have seen one of them do a complete change – she was actually featured in national articles supporting adoption. I’m not exactly sure what happened – whether the openness reduced, the reality of what she had done started to sink in as her child got older, however I have seen her talk about how her she has really struggled with her mental health. She hasn’t come out and owned her past but I have seen her commenting against adoption now.

And this very honest assessment that has some balance integrated into it – I don’t know if I’m considered a glitter birth mom, I don’t regret placing my daughter given the circumstances of my life at that time and the circumstances of her current life. However, I wouldn’t preach that it’s the greatest thing ever either. I just feel it was the best choice out of the ones I had at that time. I didn’t do it all for her, yes she was definitely a consideration but I’ll admit my choice was selfish too.

That’s part of why when I see women being praised when they are considering adoption that it irks me so much. It’s not selfless and brave and giving some couple a chance at parenthood. It’s hard, and emotional and traumatic for everyone and people don’t want to hear that. My daughter is 9 and it breaks my heart a little. She told me she never wants to be pregnant and have biological children. She wants to adopt children like she was and I wonder if this is her way of reacting to her trauma. I see her often, I’m pregnant with her little brother and first biological sibling, and she’s so in love with him but I worry how she’ll feel when he’s here, the relationship that they could have had, if she hadn’t been placed.

Lastly, in the realm of Welfare Queens exploiting a system, I need to include this sadly misguided perspective on it all – There is a glitter birthmom in my life. She was a former foster youth who aged out and has been having children since then. Her oldest is 24 and she is pregnant with #12? now. She has raised none and actually believes she is doing good by giving infertile families babies and encourages her biological children to do the same with her own grand babies.  I believe it is a survival narrative. She knows how to get housing and WIC and medical care and all sorts of benefits. She does not see the impact of her decisions on her children – even those who have been vocal with her about it. And the trauma of knowing they have siblings all over the country that they may never meet. It is a sad cycle being repeated by the next generation.

Family Separations and the Judge

No child should be separated from their Mother, rather we should work on means to keep them together!! No matter what. There are very few children who wind up truly unwanted. Most of the issues their parents face are temporary and, with proper support, the family can be preserved.

Republicans have suggested that one of the reasons she should be given a lifetime appointment on the highest court of the land is that she has seven kids. Constantly bringing up how many kids she has is part of an attempt on Republicans’ part to (1) draw a distinction between Barrett and what they view as childless heathen Democrats, (2) claim that any opposition to her confirmation is anti-mom, and (3) suggest that since she’s a mother, she must be a good person who couldn’t possibly issue rulings that would hurt millions of people.

One of the problems with Coney Barrett is her own worldview – according to her own opening statement in the Judiciary Committee hearing, her own biological children are super intelligent but the black children she adopted were damaged, ie she “saved” them. This is known as white saviorism.

In one of the only discussions of immigration to arise during the confirmation hearings, Barrett declined to say whether she thought it was wrong to separate migrant children from their parents to deter immigration to the United States. “That’s a matter of hot political debate in which I can’t express a view or be drawn into as a judge,” Barrett said in response to a question from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Booker said he respected her position but asked again: “Do you think it’s wrong to separate a child from their parent, not for the safety of the child or parent but to send a message. As a human being, do you believe that that’s wrong?”

Barrett told Booker she felt as if he was trying to engage her on the Trump administration’s border separation policy. Under the policy, immigration officials applied a “zero-tolerance” approach to undocumented immigration and separated families crossing the border through Mexico. “I can’t express a view on that,” Barrett said. “I’m not expressing assent or dissent with the morality of that position—I just can’t be drawn into a debate about the administration’s immigration policy.”

Booker responded that, actually, he was simply asking “basic questions of human rights, human decency, and human dignity,” which one might think a staunchly pro-life individual and mother of seven might be able to answer.

Jill Filipovic described Barrett as “Pro-life until birth” which is the real problem with a lot of Pro-Lifers. Filipovic goes on to say about the Judge – “Booker wasn’t asking about the family separation policy as a legal matter. Like her views on abortion, she could presumably separate her personal feelings from her legal ones. She’s been happy to put her views on abortion forward. Why so quiet on family separations?”

Dear Adopted Child

Dear Adopted Child,

I see so many letters addressed to birth parents and hopeful/ adoptive parents. Again you’re left out. The most import part of this equation and yet you’re continuously left out.

I really fucked up, I went against nature, I altered your brain chemistry, and I’d go as far to say committed and act against humanity. Yet I am the one likely to get sympathy. While you internally struggle. People will mourn for me and chastise you for being “ungrateful.”

I reached out to the agency, I allowed them to strip your birth father of his rights, and I chose your parents. I allowed the opinions of strangers to seep in and convince me that I was not good enough. I knew in my gut that I was making the wrong decision, that this didn’t feel right. I selfishly thought of myself. How could I possibly be a single mother of two if your father left me? How could I provide the life you should have? As if the quality of life is measured in what physical possessions one owns. At the end of the day I selfishly said I was putting you first, when really cowardly I was putting myself.

When we found out your gender, I felt ecstatic and devastated. A girl, what I had always wanted. Yet I couldn’t find the courage to keep. I knew it was wrong when your adoptive parents did a gender reveal. I chose not to speak up, as if offending them would suddenly make myself undesirable. I broke down at home and doctors appointments. Instead of viewing that as a sign that I was making the wrong choice I got prescribed anti depressants.

At your birth I asked your adoptive parents to be there. When I checked in I begrudgingly asked if the hospital had my adoption plan. There were so many times I could of said no. I could of not chose this path to take. I let them whisk you away after birth, I let your adoptive parents keep you in their room. I could’ve demanded you be brought back to me, thrown a fit that this wasn’t right or acceptable. I chose to selfishly crumple into myself, to say that our pain was worth it so two strangers could be happy. I didn’t advocate for us, for you.

I signed the paperwork, I didn’t make a peep during my revocation period, I congratulated your adoptive parents on the down fall of our family. I let them strip you of your names. I let you become a legal stranger to us.

Nothing can undo what I’ve done, or the choices I made. At the end of the day I’ve caused your pain. Your trauma was hand delivered to you by me. I’m sorry.

I can’t rectify this wrong, nothing I say or do can fully heal it. I can promise I won’t leave you again, and that everyday I’m learning, I’m listening to grown adoptees so I can be the me you will need.

With Regrets,

The Furious First Mom

Think About The Mothers

The family I was born into is heavily affected by adoption.  Until I learned about the truth related to my mom’s adoption, I never thought much about how the mothers who gave up a baby to adoption were affected by what happened.  I never thought about how it might have affected both of my sisters who each gave up a baby to adoption.

My first exposure was reading Lorraine Dusky’s book A Hole in My Heart.  We have since become friends on Facebook and I know a lot more about what happened to her than only what she wrote in that book.  She has been an activist for opening the sealed records in the state of New York.  The effort was recently successful.  Almost half of these United States continue to obstruct adoptees from knowing the truth of their origins.  Adoptees are treated like second-class citizens denied the basic human rights that most people unaffected by adoption never give a second thought.

A friend in my writer’s guild once asked me at a conference as we were discussing my manuscript project, what does it matter if someone was adopted if their adoptive parents were good people and their childhood fortunate ?  As I explained it to her, she understood in her own way that her genetic origins were simply something she took for granted.  Whether she cared to know anything at all about her heritage, it was accessible to her.  Not so for the adoptee.

The more contact I have with women who have lost their children to adoption, the more I understand the lifelong regret, sorrow and pain this causes them.  Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  Too often people think the problem that is today will always stay a problem forever.  Change is constant, so that perception is never the truth but it is easy to lose sight of that in extreme need.

Not only do many mothers never know what became of their child, many adoptees exist in a black hole.  If they know they were adopted (which is generally the case in our modern times and even for both of my parents, adopted in the 1930s, they knew they had been adopted even though they never learned anything about their own origins), there is this strange kind of existence and knowing they are not related to the people who are “their family” and genetic heritage ? the heritage that is their adoptive family’s possession, it isn’t their heritage.

And sadly, when one finally does know the heritage, as I have been blessed to discover my own (know all 4 original grandparents and something about each of their stories) and have contact now with true genetic relations, I don’t feel fully as though I belong to these families.  We have no shared history.  It is as though I’ve been robbed twice.  Though I am grateful to at least have the truth now and not a false identity.

In The Fog

When I first started learning about all of the impacts and issues surrounding the practice of adoption, I didn’t know what this concept really was like.  Both of my parents were adopted and both of my sisters gave up babies to adoption, adoption was the most natural thing in my life.  I really didn’t see a problem with it and while this concept more commonly refers to the adoptee who discovers the reality and “wakes up”, what I didn’t expect was that as the child of adoptees, I too was in the fog.  And I have woken up as well and that is the purpose of this blog, to share these new understandings with whoever is moved to come and read these little daily observations.

Learning about adoption trauma can be a big surprise for someone like me.  For the adoptee, this can prove to be a nagging feeling that you didn’t know how to name.  This concept answered your question as to what it was.  For some, their love and/or gratitude for their adoptive parents can make them not want to learn about adoption trauma, even though generally speaking, it affects every adoptee to some degree, whether consciously or unconsciously.

“Happy” may not be the right word to describe coming out of the fog. It’s more accurately about being able to authentically traverse and articulate the variety of effects that adoption had on your life, good or bad, but the bad often does far outweigh the good.  In my case, it is a sorrow that for over 60 years I did not know about my own biological/genetic relatives.  Now I do have some contact but it is like being slightly removed and an outsider no matter how kind they are to me directly.

It can be easy to be judgmental.  Rationally, you may know your original mother was struggling and yet still find it impossible to understand that she could ever give up her children.  In my own life, I lost physical custody of my daughter, even though that was not my intention but that I was struggling financially was the reality.  Seeking to find a way to support us, I left her with her paternal grandmother temporarily.  That decision with the expectation that it was temporary became permanent and I can never get back the years I lost.  My mom told me of her perspective on my situation – she would have just toughed it out.  Maybe true but then she coerced one of my sisters to give up her own child.  I guess my mom’s fog was quite thick.

In the end, I lost my daughter to my ex-husband and a step-mother.  He had refused to pay child support but ended up paying to support our daughter.  I ended up paying a steep price to gain that support.  I have never stopped grieving and have tried to come to terms with it, through accepting that it is simply our reality.  So much damage is done when a mother is separated from her child, no matter why or how.