A Story

After a couple weeks of "phone tag" I got up with my mother.  She talked a bit about being at the maternity home with me, even though she couldn't remember the name.  Apparently her mother wrote either Ann Landers or Dear Abby for a recommendation as to where to send her.  I may have made the paper before I was even born.  Thanks Ann -- not!

So after she got pregnant she and my father talked about getting married.  She's Protestant and he's Catholic.  They went to see the priest, who would only marry them if I was reared Catholic.  My mother balked at that, and the wedding was off.  Thanks Roman Catholic Church -- not!

But she says my father knows about me and is a real nice guy, and offered to call him for me if I gave her his number, which I did.  That's a relief off me.  It felt good, until everything slotted into place.

Because if everybody and his buddy knew about me, and everybody and his buddy were all real nice people, then the problem comes down to this:  none of those real nice people was willing to fight for me.  Not one.  And that fact is an absolutely devastating thing to have to face.  I haven't stopped crying, and I don't think I will for a while.


nothing personal

I can appreciate the type of pain you have been experiencing, once you learned your birth parents were seen as "really nice people".

The hard thing for most of us adoptees is that the decision about our adoption wasn't as personal as the impact it has upon us.

In fact, when we were placed we didn't have much of a personality. We were babies a decision was made over.

Later in life when we have formed a personality and look back on the decisions made about us, we tend to take them very personal and view upon them through the moral lens of our own time and place.

Apart from certain pockets, inter-religious marriage is something of the past, something we no longer consider giving up a child for, but that is a relatively recent development. Forty years ago the sentiments and the social structures were very different and people subsequently made very different decisions.

Very nice people a couple of decades ago frowned upon inter-religious marriages, just like very nice people a century ago were probably blatant racists.

It may be hard, but we cannot always judge the people from the past through a contemporary moral lens. If we do that all the really nice people from the past have to be viewed as complete assholes.

In the end we will have to live with the present. Nothing can be undone or done over again. We know ourselves like our birth parents have never known us. We know our strengths and sensitivities, but none of that was known to the people who placed us for adoption. They made a decision right or wrong, over a child they hardly knew,  in a context that no longer exists.

All we can do is find a sense of closure over it and move on with our own lives.

Finding closure

I remember when I was going through my own adoption mourning-process, I was taking the whole "parental abandonment" issue very personally. I was too pained by family rejection to consider what it was my first-mother was experiencing as an unmarried pregnant woman with a successful career. I was too angry about my own abusive adoptive-family situation to forgive anyone who, at the time, thought they were doing "what's best for the baby".

Eventually, I finally got to the point where I could grieve the loss of "what could have been" with the understanding that no adoption is made in a vacuum where the surrounding circumstances surrounding the birth of a child are good or ideal.

After having children of my own... and experiencing many hopeless and helpless periods within my marriage... I learned there are some very difficult times and circumstances almost every person has to get through, with (or without) the strong support of family members and friends. I have found, if one does not have a strong family support-system during a crisis situation, that person will be more likely to make life-changing decisions (that would otherwise never be made or considered), had temporary living conditions been more supportive and not so terribly negative and seemingly permanent.

For many of us, the choices made for a baby - with no voice and no established personality - have been made during a period high stress and desperation. Desperate people are known to do desperate things... like relinquish parental rights to a complete stranger through the use of an adoption agency or lawyer.

If I were to be honest with myself, I really do not believe my first-mother ever intended to relinquish me to people who were unfit to parent. I also don't believe, 45 years ago, the agency both sets of parents used had any idea just how complex adoption issues can get for the adoptee put in an abusive home. Coming to these conclusions has enabled me to find closure to my own unwanted adoption story.

Now don't get me wrong: none of this rather calm rationalization should negate or diminish the intense mourning and grief adoption often brings, but I do think such open-mindedness can help a hurting angry individual work through the grieving process and learn to accept nothing about adoption is ever really "personal" or "ideal".

In the end, I believe feelings of helpless desperation felt by the first-families and adoptees need to be heard by both the powers-that-be in Adoptionland, and by members of the general public. I thank you Lioness, for bringing these common growing pains (felt my many adoptees) to light. I have no doubt your words and shared stories bring a lot of comfort to those adoptees who believe they are all alone in their pain and experience.

Pound Pup Legacy