Adopting-Back My Son

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This is the first time i have “come out” about this on-line. Last summer, one year ago in 2007, i adopted-back the son who was stolen at birth for adoption from me when I was 17.

I say ‘stolen’ because the coercion that was used on me left me with no choice at all but to surrender him — it is not a “choice” or a “decision” if there is only one viable option given or allowed. To say i “placed” him denies the reality that keeping him was NOT an option I was given and thus there was NO choice. I loved him, I wanted to keep him, and i never wanted to lose him. I was NOT unfit! But unwed mothers where i lived, in 1980, had babies removed at birth by hospital staff if they were unwed minors with no family support for keeping their babies (I have plenty of testimony from other mothers that it was done to them as well). It was truly a form of rape — just as traumatic.

Looking back, I felt so powerless at the time, so much without choice, that I had no way of fighting what they were doing to me. Plus I was entirely naive. I had no idea that nurses taking and withholding my baby from me was not what was done to all mothers. It was only when I “woke up” from the medicine-induced fog I was in, several days later, that I realized they had not brought my baby to me, and that this was not right. I was allowed to see him (but not touch) for about 5 minutes, under the gaze of hawk-like nurses (but I found out much later that they then moved him to another hospital to prevent me from finding him — he told me he had been picked up from the Jubilee, when I had given birth in St. Joseph’s). And I now now first-hand that only when a mother has given birth, has fully recovered from birth without her baby being taken from her or coercion being applied, can she make any decision about adoption.

My 62-yr-old Fundamentalist parents made it clear that they considered it rightful punishment for the sin of fornication, and the social worker had a waiting list of clients she was under pressure to provide babies for — i was forced to sign papers in her office under blackmail that unless i did, my baby would be indefinitely held in foster care. I was not told about welfare or any other resources and my abusive parents (they would use the belt on me if i so much as “talked back” to them) made it clear that i was not allowed to bring my baby home.

After 19 years of searching, i found my son again, and we hugged for the first time one day before his 20th birthday.  It was the first time I was allowed to touch him.

His adoptive parents first told him that they supported our reunion — but he found out as time went on that their view was that “reunion” meant a one-time or limited-time event, that his curiosity would be satisfied and he would say “thanks and bye” to me. Their attempts to control him, to force him to end contact with me, escalated into abuse — culminating in 4 hours of confinement and torture (his words) one night when he was 21 yrs old. He eventually left their house one New Years Day on the advice of the Victim Services units of two police departments.  He was so traumatized by this that he could not speak at all until one year later.

We began talking about me adopting him back. After several years of discussion, and after the complete breakdown and ending of the relationship between him and the people who raised him, we decided to go ahead with it.

So we did it. And we have not looked back. It is a dream come true for both of us.

Reunion can go places beyond what one first expects. It can restore a family which has been involutarily torn apart.

But separated families reuniting again shows that the bond between mother and child can endure past the worst of separations. And it also proves that anyone who is promised by an agency or other adoption business that adopting an infant will provide them with a “life-time guarantee” of “a child of their own” should sue their broker for making false promises. No-one can make promises on behalf of another human being, especially an infant who cannot speak for themselves.

But the best thing of all is that we are back together again, and both of us have reclaimed what was taken from us

14 thoughts on “Adopting-Back My Son

    suz said:
    October 4, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    amazing story cedar. congrats to you. made me smile and cry at the same time.

    Denise said:
    October 4, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Oh would that I could. We may get there one day right now our son still has major loyalty to his adoptive parents, but is slowly coming around and I believe in my heart that this could happen one day for us. Thank you for giving me concrete proof that my dream could one day be a reality.

    Be Well,

    Denise Roessle said:
    October 5, 2008 at 3:36 am

    During the first year of my reunion, when both I and my husband were still joyful over the finding of my son, we talked about and research adopting him — and me adopting my husband’s on, my stepson, whose mother had been deceased for many years. It was going to cost $500 per (in Calif., 1996). My son and his wife at time’s behavior during the visit we were going to announce this was so awful that we had major second thoughts and then dropped the idea. My stepson and I are very close, no legal action needed to prove that. As for my son… things have gone downhill and I hope they will improve. But I don’t think adopting him back would change things.

    Congrats to you! I’m sure that means a lot to your son. And to you.

    Linda Webber said:
    October 5, 2008 at 6:15 am

    I am soooooo VERY happy for both of you! I am also a Mother who lost her baby to the adoption industry and have since reunited with her.I would love some day to adopt her back legally.As my daughter told me ” I don’t think of us in reunion now I see us as doing life.
    I see the “together family” term all around the adoption sites and I just shake my head knowing in truth, that really they are trying to take away the true natural bond of natural families to claim for their own.Sorry,peeps, no matter how many times they say it ,they can’t have what God joined together and is and will be will be the ‘Forever family!
    May you both continue to grow in love as you spend the remaining time in Joy!

    unsigned masterpiece said:
    October 6, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Incredible – I think my son is going through something similar to what you describe with your son and his adoptive parents only more subtle and the dark side seems to be carrying the day. They always told him they were supportive of reunion but were not to pleased when I showed up and had managed to get my self through law school to boot. No quivering teenage girl.

    I am not in your end of the country but my son is. Maybe I can have you two go in and do an intervention. I am starting to feel that either everything he told me about them was a lie or he is really in serious trouble. I guess I should tell you this too – we were in reunion for 18 plus years before the wheels fell off the bus.

    Cassi said:
    October 6, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so sorry for the abuse your son suffered. It is wrong in every way.
    But I am so happy he is where he belongs – with his family.
    I look forward to my day in November when my son and I and my husband – his father – will have our day in court to finalize adopting him back.
    Your words have always given me so much insight and encouragement and carried me through difficult times and given me the hope for the wonderful days ahead when my son is adopted back into the family where he has always belonged.

    marionmcmillan said:
    October 20, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Wow Cedar, I am over the moon for you and your son—YES—-YES—Cock-a-snoop—at the perpetrators of this evil exchange,I am sending vibes for a long and happy life together, please do all the things you never were able to do,during the seperated years,I am weeping now for joy, what a lovely lovely story,Wow I will need to see if there is a HAPPY EVERAFTER TARTAN, LET’S HAVE A CEILIDH.Tartan Hugs.Marah66.

    cheerio said:
    October 29, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Beginning of your post made me cry.
    I’m sorry. I’m sorry your son had to endure a life and treatment he did not deserve. As his mother, I know it broke your heart a thousand times over to know of it.

    I am so glad you were able to adopt him back.

    Your description of ‘their view of reunion’ – never considered that before…and I’m afraid you’re onto something there.

    Wow. Thanks for sharing.

    Dana said:
    October 11, 2009 at 12:22 am

    My son was four when he was adopted by his paternal grandparents after a horrible breakup between me and my husband. Mike broke into a parachute rigger shop at Fort Bragg, NC on New Year’s Eve 1998 and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of computer equipment and various and sundry other things. He brought it all back to our house and I turned him in two days later. The Army would not confine him to barracks so I was trapped away from home with my son, who was then almost three, and had to flee the state because Michael was so angry he would call my stepmother long-distance and verbally abuse her, demanding to know where I was.

    I hadn’t been a very high earner and Mike was court-martialed later that January and immediately got knocked down to E-1 from corporal, with suspended pay. My stepmom had been assaulted the same week I’d gone to the military police and her mental health had been shaky at best for years anyway–she was very little help to me and we were under tremendous strain every time I stayed with her. My brother was going through a marital breakup of his own and his wife was none too fond of me or any of his family. The rest of my family was in Louisiana and it never occurred to me to travel there. I should have. I wound up running out of money fast with a small child to care for, no idea where to go for welfare and completely unwilling to take it. I asked my in-laws for help and wrote up an in loco parentis to care for him. They came to get him on my ex’s birthday. Not a month later they were suing for custody.

    It was presented later on that since Michael was a convicted felon and I was still struggling, they knew neither of us would be able to pay child support so if they adopted my son, we could both still see him and neither of us would get into legal trouble. But if we divorced and Sean was in their custody, both Mike and I would owe support and the last thing we needed was to have that rack up when we already had financial problems. It seemed reasonable enough and anyway, they were in Florida and I was in Tennessee and I had no money to fight them. Legal aid didn’t cover custody issues. Anyway my son was behind in his verbal skills and at that point I was convinced it was my fault, so I figured I would not have a prayer if it went to court. I signed him away and he was adopted Halloween 2000.

    Come to find out three years later that he has a central auditory processing deficit, which means he can hear, but he has trouble comprehending. Little kids have the basic ability to understand what they are hearing well before they can repeat it back to you. He lacked that ability somewhat. It’s actually a fairly common disorder, in fact I think I’m slightly afflicted with it myself but not enough that I couldn’t acquire speech somewhat on time. But I was furious as I came to realize that they could have found that out if they had taken him to a speech therapist after the pediatrician assessed him. And they told me later on that they really adopted him so that I could never get him back.

    Michael was adopted by his own grandmother when he was seven or eight, and as an adult his mother has adopted him back. I had already been hoping that I could do the same with Sean. If what it takes is me moving residence to Florida, where (I think) Mike’s re-adoption took place, I’ll do it. I’m happy to see someone else who’s been successful with it. This is not a subject often addressed in debates and discussions about adoption.

    Dana said:
    October 11, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Er, what I meant by finding this out three years later was that it was three years after they took him. He’s thirteen now, not six… it doesn’t really matter but I wanted to make sure the details were straight. It’s so weird, feels almost like I’m talking about someone else now, not me. I’ve only seen him twice since he left me, once in Florida for his fourth birthday and one more time after his sister was born. My mental state after I lost him did nothing to help me get back on my feet. I would have been better served keeping him so as to light that fire under my own butt to get up and do for both of us. Hindsight’s 20/20.

    Ashley Ann Eubanks said:
    April 27, 2011 at 3:39 am

    A question on Cafe Mom linked to which linked to your blog. I’m sorry that you went through the pain of a forced separation from your child so many years ago. It is wonderful that you were able to be reunited and be a family again.

    Carlynne said:
    September 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    So glad you were able to adopt him back. I would love to do the same with my daughter but I don’t know that she would want that. I’m afraid she would feel she was hurting too many family members by doing that.

    Your experience of coercion was very similar to mine and it was the same year. I see so much written about the BSE ending in 1973 and it frustrates me because I personally know that it didn’t end there. How many thousands of us did it happen to in the decade following that. I’ve also seen testimony from mothers who say it happened to them well into the 80’s. It was 1980 for me. Unfortunately, when the BSE is constantly referred to as ending in ’73 people may tend to dismiss our stories because they don’t believe that coercion was still going on after that time period.

    Congratulations on reclaiming your son!

      Adoption Critic responded:
      September 29, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      “. Unfortunately, when the BSE is constantly referred to as ending in ’73 people may tend to dismiss our stories because they don’t believe that coercion was still going on after that time period.”

      I agree.

      Carlynne, I think that the term BSE has been coined as it’s the only period of “surrender history” that has been studied in any great depth. There has to be a lot more work, a lot more research done, in order to even properly define “The BSE” and what it meant. But the statistics are very much lacking — in a large part due to the lack of any accurate record keeping by state/provincial bodies. Looking at the “stats” for the BSE, “after” the BSE there was not a drop of even one order of magnitude. Numbers dropped from approx 75,000 to 25,000. Definitely more research needs to be done.

    barb thavis said:
    May 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    After going to a screening of “The Girls that went Away” I understand better why the BSE ended in ’73. I surrendered in 1980. I was coerced. But I did have choices. I could have kept and gone to work or finished my degree. Before ’73 women couldn’t go back to school or work with a child. It just wasn’t allowed. They really had fewer choices than we did.
    This is why I try to do what I can to change things for pregnant women in crisis today. Yes they have lots more resources than we did, but the same dagger is being thrown at them. If you love your child enough you will give them a mother and father, blah, blah, blah. They are being told they are not good enough for their child.

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