We, the Adopted

When the truth unfolds about your birth and subsequent surrender, you must be brave and compassionate. You must listen to it all ... no interruptions, no quick insistance that your adoptive parents are wonderful. Of course they are.

I am of another generation, when "unwed mothers" were an abomination in middle and upper class societies. The very rich had abortions; the rest of us were adopted.

I have yet to meet a mother who wanted to give her child to another woman. I have met many who wanted to keep their infants, but had no way to do so, no money, no courageous middle-class boyfriends, no happy middle-class mothers/grandmothers eager to show us off.

Our mothers were forsaken, their babies were taken
... and we, the adopted, were never a gift!

You ... must ... acknowledge that, in your heart. That is the truth -- your truth and your mother's truth. She had not one person in her life who would help her to keep you, feed you, support you. Every adult in her life was telling her she mustn't be selfish, that she was selfish for wanting to keep you. She was hounded and threatened and emotionally abused to surrender you. Some did it with harsh words, others with a smile.

And, remember: your mother was not a 25 year-old woman who had a job and self-confidence to tell her mother, her world, her church -- and her culture -- to "f**k off!" She was young, and polite, trusting ... and terrified ... with nowhere to turn.  She was coerced to surrender her child. She was shamed into it. Why? Because her family, church and class did not abide single, never-married mothers and all refused to help her to keep you.

She never got over losing you. Never.

Please, find your mother. Do it for her because she deserves to know you are alive and well. Do it for yourself because you have always wondered who you are, really.

I support reunion in all circumstances. You don't have to stay in contact if you don't like each other, but at least you know who and where each other is. At least you know. Millions do not know, and never will. Mothers who found their children only to discover they had been killed or committed suicide or died of illnesses tell me that knowing where their children are is more bearable than the limbo-years of not knowing.

When you meet your mother, make a separate, sacred place in your life for her. Don't squeeze her into a corner of your adoptive mother's life. Make a place for her in your life. That takes maturity and courage. If you are ever to know the truth about her life and about you, you must be willing to create plenty of time and space for you two to talk, to get beyond the surface, to share. That won't happen if you are always accomodating your adoptive mother's insecurities -- expressed or concealed beneath a veneer of civility.

Adoptive mothers were assured that your mother would never find you, come looking for you, get you back. Your birth certificate is false. Your adoptive mother probably has your original birth certificate, naming your natural mother and where you were born. Ask her for it. If she won't supply it, look for it. You deserve to know who you are, who your mother is and where and when you were born. There are many ways to find your mother via public records and the internet.

Make plans for you and your mother to meet, have meals together, talk, share stories, laughter, etc. Hopefully, you will enjoy her company, feel safe with her and enjoy hearing about your natural family, seeing photographs of relatives and noticing familiar physical characteristics. One of the surprises reunion provides is the answer to our age-old question: Who else is very much like me in appearance, gifts, talents and habits? Adoption can give us many advantages but it will never provide the inborn, natural characteristics, talents, quirks and physical features that make us unlike our adoptive parents and relatives.

What if your mother and your kin don't fit the fantasy you have created? Grow up. Get over it. Get a backbone  ... and spend time with her, anyway. The two cardinal rules for reunion are these: Mothers must have no expectations that their child will want to see them again. Adoptees, must put aside all fantasies and have compassion for this woman who is your mother, warts and all.

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