December 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
No matter what they do to us
No matter what may come, my dear
Remember when I say
We’re never apart
We’re never apart
Feeling and dreaming on
We’re never apart
We’re never apart, yeah
Wherever you may be, love
When storm clouds appear
Just think of me
Wherever we may run
Remember these three words
We’re never apart
We’re never apart
November 30, 2014 § 4 Comments
Just in case consulting a real birth mother is too hard or too scary, adoptive father Lawrence Morton wrote this piece of fiction about what birth mothers are like. He attempts to contrast myth with reality, although there is nothing new or fascinating here. It’s the same sticky-sweet birth mother tale that adoptive parents and adoption agencies have been telling for ages. In calling out myths about birth mothers, the author only perpetuates a different set of adoption myths, except this time they are myths used to acquire more babies for adoption. Being called “selfless and loving” or “brave” is more insidious, but not any different, than simply being called a slut.
Since Morton is an adoptive father, not a birth mother, I figured I would do a better job picking apart birth mother myths.
Myth: Birth mothers are selfless and loving.
This is the most pervasive birth mother myth I know of, based on the number of terrible ads that blare, “Adoption is a selfless, loving choice!” Those words were said to me, over and over and over again when I was pregnant, and I believed it. Try to stop and comprehend the true meaning of that slogan for a minute. Isn’t parenting selfless and loving? I don’t know how other people are raised, but I’m pretty sure it’s common knowledge that parenting is tough shit. My mom and dad never let me forget it. We all hear about the troubled teenager who selfishly gets pregnant so she has a baby to love, but I have never met anyone like that. And yet, every expectant mother considering adoption is implicitly told that raising her child is selfish. Pretty sure most women are not fulfilling their own selfish desires when they parent alone and without much money. They are simply doing the work that every parent does, no matter the joy or the exhaustion. Undoubtedly, parenting is loving. There is nothing shameful about that.
It’s not always possible for mothers to raise their children, but adoption shouldn’t be higher on the pedestal than parenting. It shouldn’t be made out to be the best possible solution for mother and child, in all circumstances. If adoption is “selfless and loving,” then whatever obstacle the mother is facing in parenting her child, no matter how temporary–safety, money, marital status–is BEST solved by relinquishing her child forever. All other solutions are implied to be selfish and less loving. Apparently, it’s not even worth a conversation about how, in the future, choosing adoption may seem incredibly selfish to the one who was adopted. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t seek out any adoptee voices when I was pregnant. I was told that adopted people are always happy and grateful, and that was that.
I came across a discussion of my blog on an adoptee forum, about the part where I wrote my cringe-worthy reasons for choosing adoption, and some of the adoptees who commented said, “At least she realizes how selfish she is.” Just because the adoption agency calls you “selfless” doesn’t mean you are, nor does it mean your child will feel that way. And if you choose adoption for a murky reason like not being married or not having a college degree, like I did, you will probably be called selfish at some point. I’ll admit that there are birth parents who are entirely deserving of the negative “myths” that Morton tries to debunk. The truth is that giving up your child doesn’t make anyone loving or selfless automatically.
This myth assigns the mother such worthlessness, that the best way she can show her love is by leaving her child’s life. It assumes that the adoptive parents will be better than the birth parents in every possible way, that the child will prefer being raised by the adoptive parents, and that the mother has nothing to offer her own child. If she keeps her baby, it is for no other reason than to satisfy her own needs and desires. There is no way to show her love and care except by relinquishing. And of course all adoptive parents are perfect–they are never abusive or flawed or any of the things birth moms are.
Moreover, the cheer of “b-moms are selfless, rah rah” takes on a different meaning when it comes from APs or PAPs. I’m sure my son’s parents were more than happy to rescue me from the horrible fate of Parenthood that so many will pay thousands of dollars for, and yet I was expected to just throw it all away. But in adoption, everything is opposite and backwards. “Adoption is a loving choice” makes as much sense to me as WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
Myth: Completing someone else’s family (while destroying our own) is a birth mom’s job.
Consider the common phrase “our birthmom” used by adoptive parents. I always hear that flung about, online and in real life: “our birthmom.” Really? Did she birth you and your spouse as well? Is she a human being with a name, or is her only purpose in life that you care about to give birth for your benefit? When adoptive parents call their child’s birth mom “our,” it makes me realize she is yet another lower class person in their lives who performs a service for them–our birthmom, our pool cleaner. Like she was a handmaiden assigned to serve them.
A lot of women buy into this. We’re told to feel happy and proud that we are building a family for people who can’t. But that’s not our job. No one should be made to feel that their baby is for someone else, which brings me to…
Myth: Birth mothers were destined to get unexpectedly pregnant for the benefit of infertile couples who “need” babies.
I’m not religious, and yet this myth plagued me for a long time. The ladies at the agency fed me the idea that by looking through parent profiles, I would find the perfect couple who was just MEANT for my son, thereby setting me up to choose people with hopes of parenthood so I would feel obligated to go through with the adoption, rather than chill out and think more about my options as my pregnancy progressed. After I picked C and L, they told me over and over that I found my son’s perfect parents by “fate” and everything happened for a reason. After I told C and L that I chose them, the agency encouraged me to sit back and relax with the knowledge that everything was as it should be. This marginalized the guilt I felt and made me feel content for the time being. After all, you don’t mess with destiny.
The idea of things happening for a reason can be comforting, I suppose, but it’s made-up bullshit. People love to tell you “everything happens for a reason,” especially at funerals. It’s difficult to face the fact that life and death are chaotic, senseless, and unfair. As infinitesimal specks in the universe, it’s comforting to believe in an underhanded arrangement out there, but it’s for this same reason that we shouldn’t presume to know what is meant to be or not meant to be. We are just too small and too stupid. When I look back on my pregnancy, I see now that there were signs everywhere that I shouldn’t give up my baby and that I was being used. I just didn’t pay attention. It was too stressful to deal with any cognitive dissonance, so I buried it.
It’s usually self-entitled adoptive parents who believe that adoption is God’s plan for them. They probably don’t realize that for God to plan an adoption, God planned for a mother to lose her child. If so, God is a real asshole. They also don’t understand the vast improbability that “THEIR child” is waiting in another pregnant woman’s belly. The principle of Occam’s Razor suggests there are more likely possibilities that involve fewer assumptions. And if an adoptive parent doesn’t realize that the biggest difference between them and birth parents is money, they are probably assholes as well.
Myth: Birth mothers did the right thing in giving their child up.
Like the “loving/selfless” myth, this one does not allow for any complexity to be present in the situation. Adoption is ALWAYS “the right thing.” It is as black and white as right and wrong. This implies that choosing adoption is taking the moral high ground. It’s as simple as saying no to drugs in your sixth grade DARE program. For adoption to be the right thing, it has to be the right thing for everybody. My son is not living a better life with his adoptive family, just a different one. And if adoption were the right thing for me, I wouldn’t be crawling out of my skin wishing I could be with him.
This reminds me. I always get a kick out of adoptees who don’t know anything about their birth families, but they wish they could thank them for doing the right thing. How do you know your adoptive family is better, or that your birth family didn’t relinquish you for adoption because it was “right” but because of sad, difficult reasons? Anywho.
There are times when adoption is wonderful and necessary. My son’s adoption wasn’t one of those times. Giving him up was not even close to the “right” thing to do, and don’t tell me I should find peace, either.
Myth: That everyone thinks birth mothers are selfish in the first place.
Dear Lawrence Morton, we’ve been bashed in the head with this propaganda long enough. 90% of the comments read, “I never thought birthmothers were selfish! They are so brave!” True, plenty of people think birth moms are selfish whores who discard their children. But we’ve all heard the “selfless and loving” narrative for so long, that’s what people believe now. There is something seriously wrong when adoption, which should be avoided if at all possible, has become widely known as the MOST loving option POSSIBLE, even for women who could realistically parent. In this day and age, young single women parent successfully all the time, and that’s what the adoption industry is afraid of.
Let’s be real, being a birth mother is not a source of pride or a badge of selflessness–it’s just the only way for adoptive parents like Mr. Morton to acquire healthy babies.
September 28, 2014 § 4 Comments
In August, I made it through his birthday and relinquishment day feeling okay. I thought of him on his birthday, but not too much. It’s too sad and horrible to go there, if I can help it. Nothing good ever comes from remembering those days in the hospital. I wish I could just erase the memories. I really thought they would fade at least.
I did get an update and photos after his 2nd birthday. They’re doing well as usual, traveling a lot and living their WASPy lives. I don’t hear much about their personal lives at all, actually. C mentioned in the letter that they have a soccer ball and a goal in their garage, and he has taken an interest in kicking the ball into the goal. I perked up at this, because David used to be a soccer champ. C wrote that he must’ve been inspired by the World Cup, but I know better. She also apologized for sending it late; she said she just wanted to include pictures of the birthday party. That’s nice of her, because last year I didn’t get any pictures of his first birthday. Anyway, the adoption agency takes so long to send the updates that I didn’t receive it until September.
David and I will probably break up, and I will probably have to move away and figure out a new living situation. Looking back, it’s easy to see that moving in was never a good choice. I just thought that once we moved in, David and I would slowly become so sweet and domestic we’d have a baby, and live happily ever after. Early this year, I so naively believed this that I told my blog about it. Turns out that was a huge misunderstanding. A few months later, we talked about it again and David doesn’t want kids for like a decade, if at all. He only told me we could have another one to make me feel better.
As for why we will probably break up, it’s because his drinking has worsened. He has been a social binge drinker for a long time, and since we moved in together, it has taken a turn into legitimate alcoholism. I wish I had seen that coming. I’ve done everything I can to stop him, but there’s nothing I can do. Not only that, but he becomes horribly mean and cruel, an altogether different person. I lost hope long ago that anything will change, but I can’t move until our lease ends and I’m just trying to keep everything together until then.
I’m not used to opening up about personal stuff. There is a lot I don’t share with anyone, and even though I’ve shared intimate thoughts in this particular space, it doesn’t make it easier to talk about such a stressful situation. It’s even more embarrassing. “Well, thank heavens she didn’t raise her baby,” people will read this and think. “Her boyfriend is an alcoholic and she dropped out of college!”
If I played the what-if game, I honestly believe that while we would’ve faced problems if we kept him, those problems would be much different than the ones we currently have. I would certainly not have dropped out of college. My relationship with David may have fizzled a while ago, as I’d be way less likely to tolerate unstable behavior. Or he may never have gotten so heavily into drinking, because he was simply too busy with parenting (which I know he would have taken part in, despite his assumption that he would hate it). Whenever I think about the what-ifs, a dark and scary sensation creeps over me, like I’m coming too close to a parallel universe, a world I can’t reach, but jealously observe.
It’s maddening to know that world likely exists out there, if all possible quantum outcomes can be realized. Somewhere, we are all together. That world will always be more desirable than mine.
July 29, 2014 § 5 Comments
I’ve been doing everything I can to distract myself this summer. I really try not to think about adoption things and to stay busy, keeping up on my to-do lists and staying productive. Even relaxation needs to feel purposeful, such as going on a run, or reading a book. Last summer was the exact opposite–I stayed inside my sweltering hot little apartment, crying/sleeping/eating, barely even got a tan. I was always on my computer or my phone, reading adoption articles and blogs and googling adoption-related phrases, trying to ease questions in my head. I took no part in the long, fun-packed sunny days that summer should be.
Now this year, I’m oddly detached. Could I be the first person so awful that his upcoming birthdate doesn’t matter to me? It would matter to me if I thought more about it, but I don’t. I just want to enjoy this summer. I’ve started thinking that my son is dead, or that I never had him, so I can block out thoughts of him and the adoption. I will miss him for the rest of my life, and sometimes it’s just better to let it go for the moment.
For the last two years I have purposefully made no effort at any friendships, to avoid having to tell someone why I’m sad or explain any of this. But that approach becomes lonely and I’ve started pursuing friendships with other girls, especially the ones I work with. None of them know I had a baby or will ever know. When making new friends, not giving a fuck is important, as is being happy. No one is attracted to moping or desperation. And I am actually happy most of the time.
How is that okay? I often wonder. I shouldn’t be happy–not because I don’t deserve to be happy, although that may be true as well, but because, logistically, I shouldn’t be able to live with such a loss and reach past the sadness for something else. If I start feeling happier, what if that justifies everything that happened? Just because my current situation is great, does that make everything right? What if it means I don’t love my son anymore? My heart protests fiercely, no, nothing could make that okay. Saying goodbye to my son forever when he was 2 days old will never become okay, no matter what happens. As for loving him, that is absolute and unquestionable, a law of the universe. But time and distance wears on our ties.
After so long, I love him dearly but we don’t know each other. We’re not in each other’s lives. Even if the photos and updates were more frequent, this would still be true. The substance that a bond is made of, the kindling if you will, doesn’t exist. I’m tired of feeling around in empty air for something that only makes me miserable. Missing my baby, feeling sad, even awaiting the updates…I don’t want to do it anymore.
July 9, 2014 Enter your password to view comments.
February 11, 2014 § 21 Comments
Recently someone suggested that I write letters to you and save them for when you’re older. I don’t think I’ll do that. It’s hard to find the right words, to say what I mean without coming across too depressing, or disrespectful of your current life and family. And you might be surprised that a stranger you don’t know and don’t care to think about has written letters to you. But you’re not a stranger to me.
I feel like I’m not allowed to love you. But I do, so much. I cried when I realized you will be 18 months old. Your babyhood is over, and I missed all of it. I missed an entire stage of your life. I will continue to miss many more stages, I will miss out on everything, but this is the first of them. Days and milestones will keep flying by. Before I know it, you’ll have a lifetime that I don’t know about.
I wish I had even one way to express my love for you. Sometimes I think about sending presents for Christmas and your birthday. It’s scary to consider asking your parents’ permission to send a present, and I’m reluctant to pursue it. Your parents seem non-confrontational, so they might agree that I can send gifts, and then throw them away without opening them. Or give them to you without disclosing who they are from. Or they will think the worst of me, that I want to “have it both ways” or I’m trying to buy your love. Maybe you’ll think the same thing, that I’m being pathetic.
But, I always think about what I would get you.
On your first Christmas, in 2012, I looked enviously through patterns for booties, hats, and blankies. I don’t know how to knit or crochet, but I remember wishing I could make you something warm and soft. These booties look easy to make and they have a drawstring to tie them on…so adorable!
On your first birthday, I longed for a cutesy themed birthday party and I did your astrology chart. You’re a fiery, dramatic, big-hearted Leo, with an emotionally impulsive Moon in Aries, and just like me, your Ascendant is Sagittarius. I love astrology and I’ve put together in-depth natal charts for my friends and family. I hope I get to see your birthday party pictures. Your parents told me they were doing a joint celebration for you and your grandma who turned 70 on the same day. I think you should get a party for yourself; a first birthday is monumental. But it sounds like it was a big family gathering, which is good too.
And this most recent Christmas, I went online and picked out this sweet angora bunny for you. He looks so soft and classic. I’m sure you are in no need of toys, but I wish you could have him. When I was your age, my lovey was a stuffed leopard, and he’s still with me. I was attached to many of my childhood stuffed animals, in fact.
So now, you are 18 months old. I know I’ve been long forgotten, but I miss you so much. I think about you every day; special occasions are further devastation. If I did send you gifts, they would be a small speck of everything I have inside of me that I wish I could give you. I hope I get to see pictures and read about you soon.
I love you,
January 12, 2014 § 10 Comments
Nothing I do or say matters. I will never be taken seriously. I cannot make anyone see what it’s like to be a birth mother.
I don’t like using that simplistic term, but I say it now because that’s what other people say, and often disrespectfully. They will not say you are a mother who lost her beloved baby shortly after birth. They will not believe in your love, in your tears, and your grief. They won’t understand what the big deal is. You made a lucky couple happy, you gave a child a “better” life, you get to pretend none of it ever happened. Win-win-win! Go back to whatever you were doing before. It doesn’t matter that you and your child are separated. You’re a BIRTHmother. You’re just a vagina and a belly pouch. An egg donor. That’s how you are viewed legally, medically, and socially, but worst of all is that your own child may be taught to view you this way, as less important, as someone not worthy of respect.
I am addressing a young lady I stumbled across who is planning on adoption for her unborn son. She is obviously middle-class, young, and LDS. As I live in a state that is 62% LDS, I am familiar with the religion and the culture, and the enormous value that they place on adoption is one of my strongest gripes with them. They are not simply a church that needs to move past their 1950s stance on single parenthood, they are also a global corporation that makes a handsome sum from infant adoption. So I don’t think I’m incorrect in saying that bishops and elders are extremely biased and therefore inappropriate people for an unmarried, pregnant woman to speak to.
I feel bad for this girl. I can only imagine the coercion present in being LDS and contemplating adoption. I merely had the grave misfortune of living in an adoption-friendly state and having the entire quality of my life affected by those same unjust laws, where sweet LDS ladies are allowed to separate families at the same speed as a fast food drive-thru window. But for this girl, the choice is already made–with plenty of input from her family, church, and community. And afterwards, there will be continuous pressure to be happy, obedient, grateful, to justify that pain to herself as being worth it. Is it really?
I’ve noticed that my most-viewed page, right after the home page that shows my most recent posts, is September 2012. Immediately after clicking on my blog and developing a morbid interest in another person’s grief storm, people want to read the beginning. I’m glad. My first few posts are the only ones that matter. Ever since then, there is nothing new, just the same pain, over and over and over again. I might gain some new perspective, I might suffer some new injustice, but I will always be marked and changed by that same fresh pain I wrote about only six weeks after giving up my baby. It still hurts.
If an expectant mom is considering adoption and reads this, that’s all I want them to know. That giving up a baby hurts. It hurts like nothing you’ve ever felt. That pain is not worth anything. It’s not worth your child being raised in a rich family. It’s not worth the freedom and mobility of being childless. It’s not worth the extra chances to move up the socioeconomic ladder. It’s not worth receiving those photos and those letters that are everything you will ever know about your child. It’s not worth making another couple happy.
Yes, there are some moms who think it was worth it and claim they are happy they gave away their children. They’re entitled to their beliefs. Just as I am entitled to my belief that they are often too brainwashed and scared to examine the situation honestly.
But which will you be?
Will you be at peace with adoption? Or will you be like me, who laughs at the thought?
There is no way to know while you are still pregnant.
I thought I would be fine with it. I believed I was different. I was sure I could handle it. I wouldn’t listen to anything that challenged me and made me sad or uncomfortable. I was just like you.
I understand the influences this girl has in her life, from her church and community, and I don’t expect to go against that. I didn’t jump all over her and criticize her. I never hoped to change her mind. All I suggested was that she waits before signing an irrevocable consent to relinquish. Wait longer than 24 hours or 72 hours, because they will want her signature as soon as legally possible. I said that you cannot process everything for days after giving birth, so give yourself that chance to leave the hospital and parent your baby at home. The adoptive parents have lots of time to bond with the baby if you choose adoption. And don’t worry about bonding “too much” with the baby, as I did. Adoption is not like pulling off a band-aid. It doesn’t hurt less just because you do it quickly.
Respectful advice, or so I thought. I never knew these things. I thought I had to sign after 24 hours. There is nothing bad that can come from having additional time to recover and make the decision with a clear head.
Instead I was criticized for being negative and for extrapolating my “bad experience” onto her.
No, we will never learn. We will keep believing what we want to believe until it’s too late.