Heavy Heart

I wrote The Mothers Project after I came to grips with my failings as an adoptee who didn’t “get it” about adoption and the incalculable sorrow felt by my natural mother ... who was lied to and taken advantage of so that my infertile adoptive mother could buy a child.

I had a good life, a generous adoptive family and many advantages. I have lovely relatives. My rants are not about them, nor about my adoptive parents. They did nothing wrong. Adopting is legal, beloved, treated as the best thing since sliced bread.

My adoptive parents and millions like them, then and now, bought, loved and raised millions of us whose own grandparents would not risk society’s censure for their daughters and themselves. Middle-class girls having babies out of wedlock was not allowed, back in the old days and in the decades after. It still isn’t, really.

Today it is tolerated, but many mothers still don’t support their unmarried daughters’ desire to keep their babies. Often, they push for open adoption, insist on it, refuse to provide any financial help, thus making it impossible for a young mom to support herself and her child.

That is despicable. I understand the heartache of thinking your daughter will “ruin her life” ... by keeping her child, but I think it is despicable that mothers and fathers/families do nothing to help the pregnant daughter or niece or cousin, that they do everything in their power to make sure that baby doesn’t come home with her.

Your refusal to help your daughter and your grandchild is, truly, heartbreaking. I understand it, that need to look good to family and friends and to save your daughter’s reputation, but I also know that such a demand will be devastating to her. She will never get over the loss of her baby; never.

She may not ever tell you that, but I know about that heartache from late-night conversations and emails and phone calls. I know about it from the girl/mothers of 40 years ago, and those of the 70’s, and of recent years ... the many young moms today ... frozen in place, limited to a few photographs, cut off from seeing their sons or daughters by the adoptive mothers who, of course, don’t want the competition.

What I don’t understand is why any woman talks her own beloved daughter into one of these open adoptions and has the gall to tell her that it is a good thing. Herself a mother ... surely she knows that no woman who buys a child and presents him/her to the world as “mine” is going to tolerate one bit of bonding between the child and his/her natural mother. It ain’t gonna happen. All that will be tolerated is the bare minimum ... and the child’s mother damn well better be cheery and respectful or the lines will be darkened and the contact limited, cut back, or ended.

Why do mothers of the girl/mothers pretend that the open adoption is best? Why do they demand that their daughters surrender their precious babies?

I think they don’t know, or don’t want to know, the truth. I think they want to stay in the little white middle-class envelope of lies:

1. Good girls from good families don’t have sex until they are married.
2. Girls who “give up” their babies will get over it, put it behind them and marry a nice fellow, someday.
3. Babies who are surrendered and adopted will not remember their mothers and will adjust to their new families.

Unlike the girl/mothers of past generations, who were shamed into surrendering their babies to closed adoptions, today’s young mothers are schmoozed and befriended into open adoptions and promised ongoing information about and periodic contact with their child.

Fat chance ... unless the young mother stays on the good side of the adoptive mother, who bought the baby, fair and square, and is not about to share the mother role. If the open adoption succeeds it’s because the young mom knows her place and stays in it, for all time.

Please, if your daughter is pregnant and young and unmarried ... please, help her keep her child. Surely, you and other family members can all pitch in to get her through her rough times. Surely, you want to know that you did your part to help her ... and your grandchild.

I think women who adopt infants and toddlers are taken advantage of for their money, but not as much as the girl/mothers who are shamed and schmoozed into surrendering their infants.

Most woman who lost their infants to adoption in past generations never got over the loss. We know that, now.

Why don’t we presume that most girl/mothers will change their minds, no matter what their own mothers want them to do, or how much they like the proposed adoptive families, or what agreement they signed when they were terrified and pregnant? Most have no idea how motherhood will change their minds.

Why don’t we forbid adoptions to happen until the young mother has had sufficient emotional and financial support and she — and her family — have had two months with her child?

Well, of course, we know why. Adopting is about money/donations for the adoption business or agency. Adopting is about women wanting a baby and having the money to get one. And, as in the past, adopting is still about mothers-of-young mothers not wanting to raise another child. It is rarely about a young mother not wanting her child.

This is why I urge women to not adopt infants and toddlers. This is why I say, adopting is woman’s inhumanity to woman. Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary situation.

I urge grandmothers-to-be ... to support their daughters and not force them into lives of regret. You — who demanded/insisted that they surrender their babies years ago — owe your daughters an apology.
And, I hope to God you haven't demanded/insisted the same of younger women in your family. I hope you have the courage to speak up ... tell them to keep their babies ... help them to keep their babies.

More about my heavy heart:

Out there are thousands of people looking for their children and parents, and thousands more waiting to be found. I get emails from both sides, I read blogs by people who are searching and by others who are hoping to be found.

And, there are sad stories by people whose mothers or adopted adult children refuse to meet, or who have cut off all contact after reunion.

And others who, having been refused reunion, continue to wait ... and wait ... and wait.

And others, still ... who will not stay stuck in that abyss of refused reunion or closed reunion ... who have picked up their lives and are moving on.

They, too, will never get over the loss; never.

Adoptees, I do not understand refused reunion. I understand incompatibility, different lifestyles, different behaviors, different social and economic classes, etc. I don’t understand how an adoptee can cut off contact, refuse to meet his/her mother. One mother said it, perfectly, “I mean nothing to her.” Her daughter, a medical student, has a lot to learn about compassion.

And mothers, I understand fear and keeping secrets. I don’t understand refusing to put aside that fear and refusing to tell the truth when your child wants to see you, wants to find and know his/her natural family.

Perhaps, you didn’t tell your husband/friends/relatives that you had a baby 30 years ago and you don’t want to risk your reputation or security by telling the truth. I understand.

Be willing, at the very least, to tell that to your son or daughter about your fears, so he/she doesn’t spend the rest of his/her life looking for you. Maybe your first child will have the maturity and compassion to honor your request for silence. You must have the decency to at least be honest with him or her.

Please, free yourself from the bondage of lies and secrets. Tell the truth about your baby and your life. If you won’t risk that, then, at least, be truthful with your now-grown son or daughter who has found you and wants to reunite.

And adopted ones, please .... please have the decency to honor your mother’s need to stay in the closet about her past. What matters is that you get to know who she is, who you are from, who your natural family is. Be very compassionate and have faith in her willingness to do what she must do to pave the way for truth-telling. You owe her that time and space. You really do.

Life is short, folks. Have the decency and compassion to reunite with your mother or child. If you don’t have much in common and don’t want to meet often, fine. At least have one face-to-face meeting and send occasional updates on your life.


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