another step

Over at Birth Mother, First Mother Forum they’ve been talking about “coming out of the closet”.  That has been a lot of what blogging has been about for me the past few years, airing my thoughts and feelings.

The first year after Joy was born I talked about losing her all the time.  Everyone  got to hear my story.  I was looking for someone to help me figure out how to go on after the most traumatic event of my lifetime.  I don’t remember much response at all, from the wandering crowd I met.  Almost exactly a year later, a young man looked at me and said “You should never have left your daughter.  She needs you.”  That slammed me back on my heels.

I started being more circumspect about who I told my story to.  It was still the major event of my life and more important than anyone or anything else.  So if you were going to be a friend of mine, you heard it.  As time went by it moved to the background behind years of new events.  When most of my new contacts were moms in my raised kid’s playgroups, sharing my history of giving up my firstborn was no longer an intro.  Only those that got close to me knew about Joy.  But yeah, I always included her birth in my answers to medical personnel.

A couple years ago an old acquaintance of my husband’s came to visit.  DH suggested that I’d have a lot to share with this guy because he is an adoption worker.  He travels all over placing children for adoption.  This was the first time I was really dumbstruck.  I could not speak of my loss to this stranger.  I was hosting the enemy for dinner but I wasn’t going to let him know.  I just watched him.  He effectively ran the conversation that evening and on his agenda of their childhood memories.  So I really don’t know exactly what he does.  Maybe he is working with older children in foster care?  IDK. I don’t think so.

I don’t plan to invite him back to find out.  But he is on the fringe of family events.  If I do run across him in the future, I feel more prepared to find out what he’s doing.

Perhaps that’s the good news in my response to the movie Juno and the Kitchen commercial Nicole blogged about, and most of all being able to read and write here in the blogosphere.    In the ’60s and earlier, adoption was a secret, shameful thing.  In this new presentation it’s an option, like whether to drive a minivan or an SUV, a style preference.  There’s no shame.  It’s just whether you like red socks or blue socks.

Talking to a friend about open records legislation she was puzzled as to who would oppose it and why.  I told her imo adoptive parents feel as though they’ve paid good money for their adopted child and don’t want their title questioned.  She took that in with little surprise.  It wasn’t until later that I realized I had put it in terms of human trafficking.

I’m still unpacking the language and the standards and the inconsistencies of my experience of surrendering my own child to adoption.  My inner wolves are still fighting.


3 responses to “another step

  1. Wow…. need to digest this one some more, but…

    My initial reaction is this: the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. ” It’s just whether you like red socks or blue socks.” Indeed, it is presented this way. And we certainly could look at that and say, “the bright side is that it’s better than the secrecy and shame of the old days.” And don’t get me wrong, I don’t pretend to know anyting about the BSE or horrible it was, and I believe any mom who tells me that what we have now is better than what we have then.

    At the same time, I’m not sure THIS is the way to eliminate the stigma and shame. This isn’t honest, either. There’s still a secret. It’s just that now the secret isn’t “I gave my baby up,” the secret is “Actually it’s not at all like picking out a pair of fucking socks, but no one will believe me because society says it’s no big deal.”

    And all of this, obviously, says nothing about the effect on our children. Can you imagine the reunion conversation between the “natural mom” in that Kitchen Sink commercial, and her abandoned child? “Hey ma, why’d you give me up?”

    “Well darling, you know children are annoying, you cried all the time and needed diaper changes and I just didn’t want to deal with that.”

    Talk about placing faux responsibility squarely on the adopted person.

    I think maybe we are just shifting the blame. Away from us and on to our kids.

    That’s terrifying.

    (P.S. Just to be clear when I say “we are shifting the blame onto our kids” I don’t mean you and me personally, I mean society.)

  2. WAY to far. No I don’t see it as better than the BSE. It’s a different presentation, based on “normalizing” or habituating people instead of shaming them.

  3. “There’s still a secret.” I get that totally.
    In fact it’s double super-secret, like something written in invisible ink that most people can’t read because they don’t have the formula to make it legible.

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