I am giving credit back to this post https://medium.com/@Flip.Side/phrases-from-adoption-ideology-ad3caf09c6a2 for giving me the material to write about.
After spending so many years of hiding my feelings of loss and not dealing with my son’s adoption my eyes were finally opened up. The support has been great and I wish I had known about it years earlier ago. On the other hand I also found out people can be very cruel and hurtful by their words and actions. I was shocked in the early years how judgemental people can be towards other sides of adoption. After 16 years I am much more ‘hardened’ to the unkind side of adoption and naivety of people who think surrendering a baby is ‘the right thing to do/mother to young to parent.’
One of the early comments that made me laugh as it is stupid. It’s when adoptees are asked if they know their real parents. Even if I didn’t have an adoption connection I would still think it’s a ridiculous question. A real parent to me is the one raising the child whether they are the mother, father, adoptive parent, foster carer, family member to the best of their ability. All parents make mistakes and not all parents are decent.
My son’s adoptive parents are real parents and so am I.
In the early days of the reunion I got sick to death of the ‘you were chosen’ lines given to adoptees. Adoption in the UK has evolved since the 1940s but even so, adoptees haven’t been ‘chosen’ they’ve just been the next available baby. Over the years changes have been an end to private adoptions, the number of babies adopted has dropped, and, open and semi adoptions have been introduced. Since the contraceptive pill, abortion easier to have, changes in benefits and social housing has made it easier for mothers to either raise their children or not to have a child.
Telling an adoptee they were wanted is terrible because the person asking doesn’t know the circumstances behind their adoption. The mother could have died in childbirth, the mother (or father) may not have been given the chance to prove they could be a good parent. Not all adopters should have adopted in the first place. Just because a single person or couple has been approved to adopt (in the UK) doesn’t mean they will be good parents. There are cases where adopters have killed their adopted children or abused them, it’s not just natural parents who abuse their children.
Telling an adoptee their mother loved them enough to give them up is cruel as far as I’m concerned. I loved my son so much I didn’t abort him but neither did I plan for him to be adopted. His adopters believed the adoption agency when they were told I wanted him adopted. It took a reunion for them to find out I never agreed to the adoption. In fact they found out the three letters I supposedly wrote to them were written by someone else and I only received one of the letters they wrote. That was bad enough as they thanked me for allowing them to adopt my son. It was devastating to read that as they didn’t know the truth. Yes there are mothers who choose adoption but I’m not one of them.
Adoption isn’t a selfless sacrifice generally – I get back to my comment that some mothers do choose adoption. I felt worthless when my son was adopted, that I didn’t matter and it reinforced what a family member said to me that I wasn’t capable of raising a child. It has been a lifelong feeling of worthlessness. Nobody knows what kind of a mother I would have been because I wasn’t given a chance. There are other reasons why I didn’t have other children but that is going off-topic.` I was a victim of forced (illegal) adoption and had I known my rights I would have raised my son.
I don’t like the ‘adoption is in the bible’ argument either. Yes I know Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus but Mary was his natural mother. Oh and Joseph didn’t pay a huge wedge of money to buy Jesus he stepped up as a father figure as he was commanded to do. For Jesus to fulfill a prophecy he had to be born into this life and God wouldn’t have been in the physical world as nobody could look at his face and live.
Moses isn’t, like Jesus, an example of adoption as we understand it. His mother placed him in a basket and put in water to save his life. He was raised by a pharaoh’s daughter and his mother was part of his life, in other words he wasn’t officially adopted. Later on, in life, he killed an Egyptian, returned to his family, and led the chosen people to the promised life.
Telling adoptees they were given up is quite commonly used alongside placed. I didn’t ‘give up or place’ my son he was in effect stolen from me. I never agreed to him being adopted and as far as I know I didn’t sign the Consent to Relinquish form. If I did I didn’t know what I was signing and very conveniently nobody can find the form so I can’t prove anything.
The blood/DNA doesn’t matter argument is open to debate but they do matter. If they didn’t then parents wouldn’t care what baby they had as long as they were raising one. Apart from that people have a right to know who their family is with medical information high on the list for being important. I have had mother figures in my life but they’re not the mother who carried me for nine-months then raised me. They have been important in my life but can’t be compared to my mother. Some people should never have children but that doesn’t mean any child of theirs who has been adopted doesn’t have a right to know who they are.
I hate adopters referring to the mother of their adopted child as their birth mother as she didn’t give birth to either of them and it’s a type of entitlement. When these people feel offended when they are pulled up about it they should then educate themselves. I am not my son’s birth mother, I am his mother the same as his adoptive mother is also his mother. Parents can love more than one child so why can’t a child love more than one mother?
I shall continue with this another day.
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.