Reunion: Throwing away the ball-and-chain.

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I read a post today on proving one’s love to the child one lost to adoption. Suz describes how some natural moms have approaches to reunion — to try to show their love to their found child — that don’t work at all and in many cases can actually do damage to any post-reunion relationship. Some of these approaches that Suz describes include smothering our children with love or presents, acting like a doormat, and having a double-standard such that we will put up with being treated badly in ways we would never dream of treating another person. I would also lob in there: “letting the adoptee make ALL the decisions.”

I have a theory, based on what I have heard many natural mothers state in support groups, and what I read in their blogs: Many of these unhealthy approaches to reunion are based on guilt.

If a mother is to want a healthy reunion, then perhaps part of the preparation is to work on any guilt, shame, or self-blame she may be feeling regarding the surrender/loss of her baby.  As long as she has no idea about the dynamics of coercion, she may always carry a ball-and-chain of guilt and self-blame that will damage her chance of a healthy post-reunion relationship.

That is a whole huge issue: Why do mothers blame themselves? Why do they take this burden onto their shoulders instead of placing it firmly at the feet of the baby brokers? And if you surrendered a baby for adoption post-1955, and still blame yourself, you may wish to look into what systemic methods were used on you to “persuade” you to surrender your baby.

Many mothers are reconsidering the idea that they “had a choice.” Especially in light of information found by mothers who have turned the tables, putting the adoption industry under a microscope in the same way that they studied us to find out how to get us to surrender our babies. Perhaps in the majority of cases, surrender was not by choice. Read the stories of other mothers who may have experienced the same thing.

Read up on some things that adoption industry “professionals” did and said to us to get us to surrender our babies, and remember that a coerced decision is not a decision at all. After women began keeping their babies post-BSE and agencies were faced with going out of business, they even engaged in research to ensure that open adoption would get more mothers to surrender their babies. Other research was aimed at getting teen mothers to surrender.

Ask yourself: Did you love your baby and want to keep him/her? If so, then somehow, something was done to you to ensure that this was not going to happen. And it was NOT your fault. Check out how social workers even in the 1950s thought they could “play God” with us. And, did you know that it was because white babies were “marketable” that they only pressured white mothers to surrender, not African-American mothers? If not, check out Solinger’s book “Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade.

“By the early 1940’s, social workers became convinced that adoption was preferable to”keeping mother and child together” . . . Rejecting the idea that all women who had borne children were suitable mothers, social workers maintained that they must individualize each case . . . and decide which women should or should not put their infants up for adoption.” And Sin No More: Social Policy and Unwed Mothers in Cleaveland 1855 to 1990, by Marian J. Morton, Historian, 1993 (quote from the BSERI website)

“An agency has a responsibility of pointing out to the unmarried mother the extreme difficulty, if not the impossibility, if she remains unmarried, of raising her child successfully in our culture without damage to the child and to herself …. The concept that the unmarried mother and her child constitute a family is to me unsupportable. There is no family in any real sense of the word.” – Principles, Values, and Assumptions Underlying Adoption Practice, by Joseph H. Reid, 1956 Nation Convention for Social Work (quote from the BSERI website)

We need not feel guilt.
We need not take the blame.
We loved our children and wanted to keep them.
We had no choice.
The blame is with the baby brokers, not with us.

Once we shed this guilt and stop blaming ourselves for being pressured to surrender our babies (and if you don’t believe that a pregnant/birthing woman is seriously affected by hormones in such a way that she’s left vulnerable to coercion, then you have never given birth) then we can work on a reunion that won’t consist of years of hopelessly trying to “prove” our love for our children.

And as long as we continue to feel guilt and take the blame for having “given away” our babies, we cannot expect those rejected children to believe that we love them. People do NOT give away those they love (See “Andy and Marcie” for an allegory about this). The fact is that 99% of us did not “give away” our children — but our children will not believe this as long as we feel guilt or act as though we did (example: did you apologize to your child for not keeping them?)

Shed the self-blame and the guilt, for your own sake, not only in reunion but to be free to live to the fullest in other parts of your life as well. Do not blame yourself or feel you have to “make up for” something you had no control over at the time, no way to prevent. You do not need to bear that burden. You do not deserve to carry that pain.


4 thoughts on “Reunion: Throwing away the ball-and-chain.

    marionmcmillan said:
    August 28, 2008 at 11:10 am

    ‘To try to show love’

    How can a mother TRY to show love to her child,SHE HAS NEVER STOPPED LOVING ALL HER LIFE.
    I feel Suz, must understand, many many mothers seperated 30/40/50 years,love to take something precious to their son or daughter,NOT TO VALIDATE THEIR LOVE,but as a timeless moment of joy.
    Do we not as nations celebrate marriage with wedding gifts,new home with gifts,new baby with gifts, and here in Scotland, our tradion, we take tea,coffee and cake, every time we visit family and friends, or have family meals,where we bring starters main course or dessert,or afters.
    Do you not when you fall in love, mark this beautiful time with flowers, jewllery etc,before a precious stone ring is bought to celebrate the engagement and pending marriage.
    Adoptee’s that take umbridge to their MOTHER bringing gifts, should understand these are tokens of a precious moment, and tokens of each precious moment, her soul cried out for during the seperated years. THEY ARE NOT HER BUYING HER SON OR DAUGHTERS LOVE, that is an insult to the integrity of every mother that has the tsunami of joy,when embracing her son or daughter,after the cruel act of adoption separated them for so long. It is the most natural thing in the world after 40 years of seperation to embrace the moment,and each mother embraces it different.
    My friend made a beautiful hand-made teddy, and knitted a trendy jumper, that was very emotionally,yet lovingly received,by her son.They were seperated 35yrs.
    I am aware of another situation where the natural mother froze, and the gift so tenderly thought of,and wrapped in hand made and hand inscribed wrapping, still lies within her walls.
    She is just beginning to come to terms with this horrendous pain and grief that reunion brings, and I beleive in time when she addresses this psychological cannon-fodder, that has been fed to us for decades, and our lost children, both will embrace the moment,and share this precious gift.
    Adotees,please take heart, that moment is so so so very precious, every mother and her lost son or daughter, has a way at reunion that is TOTALLY unique to them both, yes we might learn from blogs, and get info, from support groups and books, those that are fortunate to access this medium, but here in Scotland some women aged in their 50’s/60’s/70’s have no internet access due to logistic’s also can you imagine ABSOLUTELY NO COUNSELLING AVAILABLE TO PREPARE THEM FOR REUNION,only available through THE SOCIAL WRECKERS THAT STOLE OUR BABIES IN THE FIRST PLACE.And nothing on this earth will make them cross that threshold for help, I must EMPHASIS THIS NOTHING,also most of the post-adoption agencies are run by SOCIAL WORKERS, how the hell are they equipped to even begin to reach the depths of pain and despair, regression, and all that reunion brings.

    I visited a mother in the most rural of places in the highlands of Scotland miles and miles and miles of single track road, with passing places only,my friend and I were the first mothers she had ever shared her past with–since 1959— her only medium,TELEPHONE, and that is when there is no interuption to her service.
    So please remember each situation on its merit, and is unique,BUT MOTHERS NEVER NEED TO BUY LOVE, they have 30/40/50 years of STORED LOVE AND LONG FOR THAT TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED,AND EMBRACED.
    Allow natural emotion love and caring to prevail, and in whatever guise it comes, whether gifts or no gifts, STAND ON MT.EVEREST, and sing how much you are on top of the world, at the joy of reunion, and fight the DRAGON,ADOPTION on all sides, FOR LOVE WILL WIN.Marah66

    Lapsed Catholic said:
    August 29, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I must admit that I was pretty blunt about this issue when I found my son. I simply said that the only thing I wanted was for him to hear my side of things – then he could walk away forever if that is what he wanted.

    It turns out he was told a huge pack of lies.

    He was told that I didn’t know who his father was – imagine his surprise when his father wrote to him telling him that he had been helping me for years to look for him.

    I could go on about all the lies that my son was told but you get the idea.

    He was very shocked and said that he had not realised what depths people would go to deceive him about what really happened (btw, the CAS now admit that there was no consent to adoption and that, ironically, I was a good mother according to their records).

    I guess that was my way of losing the ball and chain. My son now realises that my human rigthts were completely ignored. If anything, this has brought us closer.

    Our reunion is now 5 years old and going strong.

    Part of the success of that is that I will not allow myself to be treated like a doormat anymore and I let my son know if something he does upsets me. I have told my son to do the same – it seems to work well and we now know our boundaries with each other.

    maybe said:
    September 15, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Cedar, I’m re-reading this in light of your post on Suz’s blog.

    I see that shedding the guilt is crucial, working on that now (and it gets a little easier every day).

    Thanks also to the commenters, above. Helpful insights for all.

    ankara said:
    October 7, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Cedar,
    Our (mother-daughter) relationship disintegrated under the burden of crippling guilt.
    I did not love, or like, or even tolerate being pregnant (by rape) – I HATED every second of the invasion that culminated in another rape by the medical profession, then the social-work profession. Too late I have come to terms with the fact that a pregnancy is not one’s child… I never had my child, only a horrid pregnancy. Every opportunity for me to know and love my child has been subverted and that’s were I was lost for forty-plus years. I feel hopelessly in love with my daughter the moment I met her. But learning that she had needed me and had suffered astonished me. I’m still confused and still in pain. Abduction/adoption circa 1965 was genocide: the disappearance /extermination of a whole group of white, unwed, pregnant girls.

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