Love You Forever

I'll love you forever
I'll love you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be...

This morning, I spoke to a friend who pretty much announced that she was ending an almost 15 year old reunion.  She is sending her son a letter that draws a line in the sand, and stating that the behavior that has been status quo in the relationship between them for the past decade and more is not acceptable.  It never was, but the mother, fearful of losing what little she had, accepted behavior that would, if it came from one of the children she raised, ended in some tough talk or more.  However, according to the common wisdom, adoptees must have control over the relationships in reunion, since they had little or no control over the circumstances that led to their adoptions. 

Another friend, one who is reunited for 10 years, and had one of the 'better' reunions with her daughter, inadvertently said something on her blog, which resulted in a note from her daughter severing their relationship.  She said nothing to her reunited daughter, but spoke only of her feelings about one aspect of adoption and the impact it had on HER life.  That was the one thing too much that, at least for now, has caused an insurmountable rift in their relationship.

I know an adoptee whose 10 year reunion closed a while ago, because she went against her mother's wishes and introduced herself to her siblings.  I am not sure why the mother didn't want it to happen, if she was still stuck in the shame, if there was a reason, or simply her paranoia.  For whatever reason, it is apparently at a standstill....mother not speaking to the adoptee.

I know another mother, who was reunited with her son.  The mother did everything for the young man, paying his education, his home, paid for his wedding, etc.  She had never had other children, so when reunited, this one was the world to her.   She even divorced her husband because of her son.  Possibly she and her husband would have divorced anyway, but he definitely precipitated things.  The mother and her adoptee have had an off-again-on-again kind of reunion, much like the rest, except that this mother about broke her arm doing her penance.  She wore the responsibility for his loss like a hair shirt, and defied anyone to say that she wasn't responsible.   She allowed all his bad behavior because he was the adoptee, and he felt abandoned.  She made a misstep and her reunion, another 20 year one, also ended abruptly.

Next week will be the 20th anniversary of the reunion between my son and I. 20 years ago on September 7, 1990, while I was fixing dinner, the phone rang. I answered the phone and the woman on the other end, the social worker who handled Post Adoption Services at the Baby Fold, in Normal, IL called me to tell me that she had received a call from a young man that day, "looking for his mother." She remembered that I had also called that day to check, as I did on a regular basis, to see if there was any change, any interest, any updates in my file about my son. She put the two of us together, called and asked me if I still wanted contact, and five minutes later, I spoke to my son.

It has had its moment, both good ones and bad ones. I have been in his physical presence exactly one time in all these 20 years. I have made the 1000 mile trip, now, 4 times only to be stood up or to find him 'too busy to get away' after he encouraged me to come. I understand that he is afraid, overwhelmed by my nearness. I get that. The last time we spoke I reminded him that we have 20 years almost, and we haven't come very far in all those years. He said he knew that and sighed.

I am sure that there must be a normal relationship between reunited family members somewhere, but the ones  I know are often not healthy relationships.  I see mothers grieving online for their now adult 'children' and bemoaning the fact that, in order for them to continue the relationship, we accept crumbs.

If we are dealing with damaged inner children in our reunited children, then the inner child cannot be in charge.  The inner child of our children is an infant, crying for their mothers, and need a strong hand and a mother with clear boundaries who will set them aright when they cross them.  But, mothers don't do that.  You cannot do that to another adult, even though the adult is our child.

As I spoke to my friend today, one of the most clear-eyed women it has ever been my pleasure to know, she said something that really, truly resonated with me.  She said, "I have put up with awful behavior from him, that I would NEVER have accepted from my other children, because I was afraid.  I was afraid of losing him.  But, I already did."    I did, too.  I put up with my son's accusations, his pullbacks and other behaviors that would have put my raised children's noses into the corner, even grown up!  I would NEVER have allowed the things from them that I did from him....because I was afraid of losing him, too, but the sad truth is...he's already gone.  We already lost our babies.   They can never, ever come back to us again.  

How long is long enough to give to a one-sided relationship?  Is 5 years enough?  Is 10 years not quite enough?  Do they need more time after 15 - 17?  Is 20 years too much?  Who knows?  And, often times, who even cares?  I guess I do, for now. 

When my children were young, my favorite book to read them was Love You Forever.    I loved the refrain in it, quoted above.   Somehow, I could never, ever make it through the book without crying, so they didn't hear it often.  But, I read it a lot.  I hate adoption! 

Happy Anniversary, Son.  I love you...


Sinners and Saints

The Yellow Emperor said ''The principle of Yin and Yang is the foundation of the entire universe. It underlies everything in creation. It brings about the development of parenthood; it is the root and source of life and death it is found with the temples of the gods In order to treat and cure diseases one must search for their origins."

The Yin and Yang, as it represents the dual nature of life, also represents the dual nature of adoption.  While the common concept is of the Adoption Triad, I have personally never found that concept to be very satisfying, very accurate or even very true.  There seems to be an assumption of equality in this, as if there are only three parties, with equal power and equal impact.  This has never been the case, nor does it include the others who gain from adoption, including the attorneys, the agencies, the states who wield the power over records, the lobbyists and the other parties who have created an entire industry around adoption, and they are, arguably, the seat of the most power and influence.

Others have argued that adoption would be better represented as a plane, where all sides and possibilities are present, but that never resonated with me, either.  It was sterile and seemed to imply that all things are possible, all experiences are equal.  That is imply not true, either.

Personally, I have always felt that Adoption, at least from the standpoint of the mothers of the EMS, was better represented by the Yin/Yang...the gainers, and the losers. 

The mothers lost, no question.  We lost our babies, we lost our sense of stability, the power to influence our own outcome, the right to be our own women, the right to parent our own children.  We also lost our trust, our youth, our naivete, our innocence, and the women we were destined to grow into. 

Arguably, our children also lost.  Many will admit, especially the adoptees of the EMS, that they were bewildered by the loss of their mothers, a bewilderment from which some adoptees never recovered.  They all lost their heritage, their lineage, their history (both medical and family) and they lost the adults that they, too, were destined to become when they were created in their mother's womb.

The other side of the equation, the side of gain, the side that profited from adoption, include, but are by no means limited to, the adopters,  who most directly profited by gaining a child.  They will argue that they lost their imagined child, the child of their dreams, the shadow child that never was, and the loss of whom they hope to correct by adoption, but never the less, they gain a child to love and care for.  No matter that it isn't the child of their imagination...it is a child to love.

Another party of gain in adoption is the Adoption Industry, that includes the attorneys, the Agencies and social workers, and the brokers who locate possible children to be surrendered.  These are some of the immediate beneficiaries of adoption, the HAVES, or the ones who gain and profit by the mothers' and adoptees' losses.

Other, more shadowy and less direct beneficiaries of adoption loss are also represented on the gainers side of the equation.  Their less direct connection makes them less obviously recipients of the bounty.  One such group, The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, has become almost mainstream and totally acceptable to some mothers.  Their opening paragraph from their website, on the surface sounds so benign, so cerebral, but when you read it from the standpoint of loss, of one side or the other, it is less so...
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute conducts original research on critical issues in adoption designed to inform, educate, and most of all, to change reality on the ground in ways that tangibly improve both people's lives and adoption practices. In addition, the Institute provides resources for researchers and anyone interested in obtaining reliable, unbiased information about adoption.

The E. B. Donaldson mission is to re frame adoption.  The do so by  tweaking the language to encourage women to surrender.  They do research to find better, more positive sounding ways of subtly encouraging women to relinquish their newborns.  They also have changed their approach to seem much more empowering to women who are faced with an inconvenient pregnancy, with terminology designed to encourage the most positive outcome for the industry that pays them.  Their subtlety is their danger for mothers, desperate for allies, because it camouflages their intent.  One only has to remember their full name to be reminded.

Another such organization, the NCFA or the National Council for Adoption, is more direct.  They also do research to try to identify ways to entice women to Surrender.  They are more overt, as their membership, the Adoption Agencies, are in business to make a profit, and the NCFA is their lobbyist arm.  They also, taking note, I believe, of the efforts of Donaldson to soften their message have now brought in Chuck Johnson (blog from earlier this month) who is a much softer sell type than the Infamous William Pierce, or the more recent Tom Atwood.  Johnson, who privately seems an affable "nice-guy" who really earnestly WANTS to do the right thing, is still the shill for the most open enemy of mother's rights.  They have begun to tone things down, soften their message, show some "compassionate concern" for mothers well-being, and their possibility for "heroic redemption" by sacrificing their infants for adoption. 

It is easier to dislike the NCFA as an organization than the E.B. Donaldson Institute, because they are a bit more flagrant in their focus, which they outlined in what amounted to their manifesto (shown at left) in the summer of 2006.  In it they outlined everything they would be doing to increase the numbers of domestic infants surrendered for adoption in the United States.  They gave a point by point summary of their plan, and they have followed through on it, and yet, despite that, mothers and others are continually surprised and outraged at their audacity.

The yin and yang also indicates the dual nature of the participants, the Saints and Sinners...for example, if the adopters are The Saints, taking in "unwanted" children, the alternate side is the Mothers or The Sinner, a woman who doesn't want the child.  They can be cast as students trying to get a degree, women who are in a difficult place in their life and typify surrender as simply a choice, like not aborting, to place their children after crafting, with a social worker, an adoption plan for the infant.  These are the ones who are "restoring their honor", "redeeming themselves, heroically, as noted in the NCFA's publication, "Birthmother, Good Mother: Her Story of Heroic Redemption". 

The more saintly adopters, those who earn their wings by adopting from foster care have as their alternate the the more sinful crack whores, the slatterns who would rather drug, drink, carouse than be bothered with getting her act together to parent her children.  "After all, women don't lose their children to CPS for no reason, do they?"  Unfortunately, while this is no longer a fact, either in the US or the UK, or likely other countries, these stereotypes die hard.  Especially when there are people whose careers and livelihoods depend on the stigma remaining. 

Unfortunately, adoption is so well-entrenched in our society that it is difficult to impress upon a people who have been allowed few remaining heroes.  America WANTS to believe that adoption is indeed the loving option that the industry paints it to be, that it is a win/win/win situation, that children don't notice the switcheroo played on them, that mothers who surrender their infants really do go on to lead better lives and truly do forget.  But, deep inside themselves, in a place where they don't want to see, they know that it simply isn't so.  Given a moment to think about it, to even consider it, they know that the other side, the dual nature of adoption is the grieving mother and the bewildered infant searching for its mother.

In everything there is a darker side. Adoption is no different. There are winners, there are those who profit, and then there is us.

*Note: When spell checking this before publishing, I noticed something odd.  The words, Adoptee, birthmother, crackwhore are not recognized by my spell checker.  However, the word, Adopter, is what they suggest as an alternative to Adoptee.  I thought that was interesting.