When I was told I couldn’t stop my son’s adoption I emotionally broke down and even today I haven’t completely got over it. To the outside world I was getting on with my life and I ‘wore a mask’ I also started suffering from severe depression but just put it down to postnatal depression. There was no way I could talk about how I was feeling and certainly not to my mother. I went through periods of wanting to die and would self-harm as it was the only way I could release the emotional pain I suffered. I felt ashamed of how I was feeling and believed if I told my family that wouldn’t understand or believe me.
For years I was determined that I would never marry or have any more children as I was so scared that I would be forced to surrender again. I felt so lonely even though I had friends and I loved my nieces so it was my way of self-preservation.
Eventually, I met my husband in 1993 and after a few months of dating, we got married. He made me laugh and I could be myself. The big but was I couldn’t tell him about my son, again I felt too ashamed to tell him and I didn’t need to tell him unless my son found me. I don’t know how I would have dealt with that but it was taken out of my hands. One day I went for a long walk after an argument with my husband. When I got back he confronted me about it as my sister had rung up, didn’t believe I wasn’t in and told my husband about my son.
When we had both calmed down I told my husband the basics and told him there was no point in talking about it unless my son found me. I should have talked and been willing to talk but I couldn’t risk going to pieces. It was my way of dealing with it whereas I should have been talking. It took another 12 years before I started talking and it was the end of my world of pretending all was well in my life.
My life ended the day I was told I couldn’t stop my son’s adoption. Unless you have been a victim of forced (illegal) adoption you cannot begin to understand the profound feelings of loss. It is heart-wrenching and for me, I emotionally broke down and from that day forward I mask. I also lost my trust due to what my mother and the adoption agency did to me. To the outside world, I was fine but inside I was an emotional wreck. My friends used to joke I was an ice maiden towards men and kept them at arm’s length. I vowed I would never get married or have any more children as I was so scared that I would be forced to surrender again.
I became very lonely as I was too scared to tell anybody how I was feeling nor did I understand I was severely depressed. For too many years I was accused of being a drama queen, moody and that there were people who were far more in need of support. In the early days, the closest my mother came to showing she cared was when I received a letter from my son’s adopters. I broke down in tears and my mother hugged me tightly until I stopped crying. Even then I couldn’t talk and suffered in silence. Adoption is like an invisible amputation and every part of my body ached for and missed my son. It was another 23 years before I could start talking about my son’s adoption.
It wasn’t until more recent years that I realised that I suffer from P.T.S.D. although I have never been formally diagnosed with suffering from it. Doctors don’t seem to understand the trauma of forced adoption or make a connection. My son will be 39 years old this year and I still suffer from the trauma of losing him, sadly it will be with me for the rest of my life. I also have a history of self-harming as it was the only way to release emotional pain and I have tried overdosing over the years.
Since opening up about forced adoption I started educating people about the effect of forced adoption on mothers. It really was tough going for the first couple of years particularly when I got the courage to state that the term birth mother is offensive. I had never heard of the term until 2004 having joined up with adoption forums and groups. It is a stupid term because mothers don’t just give birth they go through nine months of pregnancy. Fathers don’t go through pregnancy or giving birth so it’s a ridiculous term to give them. It’s also stupid to give the extended family the ‘birth’ title as they can’t collectively go through pregnancy and childbirth. The real truth is it’s a term invented in America to make adopters feel better about themselves and came over to the U.K. A couple of years ago I had a disagreement with a friend at bible study as she referred to herself as a birth mother. I asked her not to as it’s offensive to mothers who have surrendered a child and why the term was created. She really didn’t ‘get it’ and used the argument that as she had had children that made her a birth mother. I explained why the term was invented but if all mothers had always been referred to as birth mothers it wouldn’t have bothered me. In the end, I got so annoyed I had to walk away from the situation. We have never talked about it since.
I am still friendly with other mothers who have surrendered babies. adoptive parents and adoptees although these days we keep in touch on Facebook. We all still learn from each other for all sorts of reasons.
I was pregnant at the age of 19 years old and knew I was pregnant after I had split on bad terms with the father of my son. Even so, I knew I wanted to raise my baby and I had a job so I knew I could afford to raise my child. I was scared and didn’t know how to tell my parents but eventually, they had to know.
It went badly and my mother was determined that my baby was to be adopted but I refused to agree to it. My father didn’t say much at all, he simply let my mother get on with it. It was a horrible time and I suffered from low self-esteem and lacked confidence. I didn’t even see a social worker from the adoption agency until after my son was born. All I knew was that I wanted to be a mother and raise my child.
Infant adoption was slowing down by the start of the 1980s but it didn’t stop social workers from being pushy over babies being adopted. I was one of many mothers over the years who were pressured to surrender without knowing my rights. My mother made me feel worthless, I wouldn’t be a good enough mother yet I was capable of looking after my niece. She was born just over two months before my son was born. My mother continually put me down and made threats such as;
I would be kicked out
I would lose my job because I would be homeless
I wouldn’t be able to get rented accommodation
I wouldn’t be able to get any benefits
My son would be taken off me because I was homeless so I may as well agree to the adoption.
It was relentless brainwashing to try and convince me adoption was the best option. The first time I saw the social worker I told her I didn’t want to give my son up and it was my mother who was all for adoption. She said she would put a stop to the adoption but ‘it would be a good idea for my son to go into foster care until I got myself sorted out’. I did manage to see my son once before I left the hospital and I will never forget that.
Today has felt really strange due to covid-19, self-isolating and trying to deal with Mother’s Day. Normally I really hate the day and will do my best to avoid anything that will make me sad, today hasn’t felt Mother’s Day even though it’s been talked about on Facebook. Of course, with all the churches being shut has added to the strangeness of the day.
It’s now 38 years since I first hated Mother’s Day and all because of forced adoption – I wouldn’t wish it on anybody as it is soul-destroying. Nobody has really acknowledged that I am a mother as the only child I had was adopted but I am still a mother. There are people now who know about my son but it was 23 years before I really started talking about him after I found him. It was a shock as I wasn’t actively looking as I believed what I had been told that I would never be allowed (legally) to search for him.
He was also shocked as he had been searching for me and had found my family quite quickly. For about 18 – 20 months my family didn’t know where I was due to an argument I had with my sister and I stopped talking to them. My parents knew where I was from late 2001 but still chose not to tell me he was searching for me nor did they tell him they had contact with me.
I’m not sure what’s worse – the not knowing anything or to go through reunion then falling out, it’s an ongoing struggle that will only go when I die.