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.