Adoption Loss: About “Closure”

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This post was inspired by Mei-Ling’s recent post on her blog, where she spoke of a person who adopted who hoped that Mei-Ling would “find closure.”   One more adoptee gets patronizingly fed this line, once more.

How many times have we heard that, over and over again?

This continual reiteration to adoptees and natural parents about closure, when i hear it, admittedly pisses me off.  it invariably is from someone who has never experienced adoption separation/trauma/loss.   someone whose only connection with adoption has been GAIN.

“Closure” is a word thrown around a lot in “adopto-land,” and I sometimes wonder if it is such for one reason:   Because if adoptees or natural moms get “closure” then maybe the two parties in the adoption transaction that “gain” from adoption do not have to feel guilty as they would feel if the “losers” in adoption are “still hurting”?   No-one with any conscience wants their joy to come at the lifelong expense/pain/torture of another person.   So, there is the hope out there that we will get “closure” somehow.

The problem that this ignores is that “closure” is closely tied to such factors as whether a loss is finite or ongoing, simple or complex, ambiguous or complete, sudden or expected, traumatic or voluntary, etc..   I held my father’s hand in the hospital as he died peacefully in his old age — that was a nontraumatic, unambiguous and completed loss with closure, finality, resolution, completeness.   But adoption loss is ONGOING and overwhelming.   If a loss is continually compounding, how can there be closure?  It hasn’t ended yet!   Every compounded loss of a day in life lived “elsewhere,”  every birthday apart, every moment separated, all the years and minutes apart … and the ties that are not ties, family that is not family, ambiguity of family boundaries in our society that only recognizes “what is on paper” as being valid … and always the hope/chance/dream of eventual “having my child/parent back again” because after all they are still breathing … no closure means unresolved grief, ongoing pain, ongoing loss.

But, if you’re not there in the middle of it, if you’ve never experienced it, then can you truly understand it?   That glib line about closure, I just wish they would stop trying to foist it onto us, and then imply that we’ve somehow got some psychopathology if we don’t achieve it. 




16 thoughts on “Adoption Loss: About “Closure”

    Jenny Frazier said:
    August 31, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Adoption is a lifetime sentence…..I will never get over losing my daughter to adoption, until I am dead…and even then it continues because hopefully she won’t be….

    fadedfootsteps said:
    August 31, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Actually, I’d like to clarify that the person who wrote that to me did not do so in a patronizing manner in the least.

    Also, you can keep the link up if you wish (I have no problem with it), but I am not going to remove the password protection.

    unsigned masterpiece said:
    September 1, 2010 at 12:38 am

    As with many things adoption, I think closure is about not easing but eliminating guilt for those who have profited from adoption – adoptive parents and adoption workers/agencies. And as with many other things adoption if the adoptee or mother has a problem and has not achieved closure, it is clearly THEIR not our problem. There is something the matter with them not us. Kind of reminds me of reactive detachment disorder theories.

    Mama K said:
    September 1, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Hmm. Always making me think…Thanks ;o)

    Something I have been chewing on that has come up in my gut over and over within the past several months since my daughter found me online….pertaining to her adoptive control freak of a mother… now, this may be grossly assuming, but the more i come into contact with ignorant adoptive parents, the more true it rings…


    So i venture off…to the place that made these women unable to conceive in the first place.
    This may sound mean, but i feel safe here saying my findings b/c most adoptive moms will not venture here…..b/c reality lives here…xox

    Stress. Illness. Miscarriage due to stress. Illness related to stress. Endless attempts to fill a “VOID” for personal and emotion gain. Selfish, Selfish Selfish Gain. Why would the universe give a child (naturally) to a woman who thinks only of herself??
    Now, i know it happens…but the patterns i have witnessed with adoptive mothers ALWAYS seems to lead here.
    (***Man, Hindsight really is 20/20 isn’t it??**)

    Fear. Control. You name it, my daughters adoptive mom suffers from it.
    I know for certain that neither myself or my daughter will EVER have this psychobabble of a thing called “Closure” b/c it only exists for people who subscribe to it.
    Of course THEY have closure. They have no intrinsic emotional ties to the Bond. None.
    They may be higher up in the tax bracket, but what the hell does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart….NOTHING. Nada.

    My daughters adoptive mother refuses to communicate with me.
    What did i ever do to her? NOTHING.
    Actually i filled her VOID!…U think she’d show a little gratitude?? jeez.

    AND…I left them alone. Well, kind of. I actually had to call the agency to request my annual pictures and letter…after M turned 5, I think she thought I had…..yep….CLOSURE. hahahafreakinha. whatever.

    Any mother, natural or not…who has a child who wants to have a relationship with someone they love and who loves them in return and is not ALLOWED….well, that’s Fear based Narcissism.
    THEY have “closure” because “they” are in control!

    These women…are SO incredibly jaded. I think they believe that we want something from them. That we want to take their control…GOD FORBID…and that just cannot be allowed! Their poor husbands , but most importantly THE CHILDREN!!! 😦

    I’m rambling now. forgive me.
    Yesterday was M’s 15th birthday. I sent her a big birthday box filled with whatever i could fit in there…i would have sent 10, but that would have seemed a little freakish…lol…
    You see, it is the FIRST Birthday i have shared with her since i gave birth to her! 15 years AGO!!
    And the kicker…We had to share it in secret.
    I had to send the box to her best friends house 3,000 miles away…b/c we are not allowed to communicate….says A-Mom, b/c that would not be appropriate at her age….WTF!
    This woman has no clue does she. So…I spoiled her, ROTTEN! And her two younger sisters ( well, half sisters …but we don’t say that, just clarifying ) made her birthday cards also to put in the box and yesterday morning before they left for school we all shouted HAPPY BIRTHDAY M!!!!
    But we are not allowed to “communicate”.
    Because we are her horribly loving OTHER Family!…
    I guess b/c we are evil? Or Beneath her? Or…Insert Whatever Suits Her Deluded Mind HERE……Christ!

    The only time i cried was when i wrote to her about when she was born. About our last time together…so she could know that i knew every minute, every detail, that IT MATTERED, and that i will never EVER Forget.

    I will NOT be bullied. They WILL NOT make me depressed, or make me cry ( well, not anymore ) …i REFUSE to play their warped game of Who’s The Boss. F*** them all!
    I have recieved letters from the agency, telling me to cease contact, threatening me…they have called me, tried to rationalize with me…i am respectful…i tell them what they want to hear…hang up and shake my head in disbelief. I will NEVER play their game. Not Ever.
    3 more years and it will be up to M. And I fear that we may have some “stuff” to get through together b/c of all her wacked out “conditioning” by crazy lady….but , i will make it okay…for both of us, actually for all 4 of us, her sisters included – b/c the past is done. I hate it, I hate the way we were all duped. And the ONLY thing we can change is right now…but i will feel the pain inside forever…the regret,,,no matter what anyone tells me b/c its there, and its real…so i must embrace it the best i can…and when i can’t…well…i’ll just cry…and not for me, but for M…b/c she is the one who really has to live with being adopted.
    Noone ever said it would be like this huh?
    What a Fairy Tale. What a CROCK!

    I know this is a lot. I apologize. It’s been one hell of an eye opening year for me in this deluded world of adoption.
    My love and respect to all you women for living in truth…i know it hurts like hell, but its the only way to be. I’d rather be dead than be a phony.

    All The Best….Oh…and “Closure” is the clasp at the end of a necklace. lol

    :::::::Mama K.

    Margie said:
    September 1, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I see a direct connection between the notion of closure as you describe it here (which doesn’t exist, in my opinion) and the closure of adoption records. Both are designed to make as much of the reality of adoption go away: close off access to OBCs and persuade mothers and children to come to closure on the losses, and we all move to happier, simpler ground.

    Except the only ones who do that are the adoptive parents. It’s frustating, really frustrating, to continually see APs suggest that this is even possible.

    Mama K, I am so so sorry that an adoptive parent is doing this to you. It’s just plain wrong.

    Denise said:
    September 1, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Great post, Cedar.

    And I love Mama K’s line: “Closure” is the clasp at the end of a necklace.

    CJW said:
    September 2, 2010 at 3:13 am

    I have a question. Im an adoptive mom. Yup, I ADOPTED all four of my beautiful kids. So tell me this–my 11 year old’s biological mother has contacted us and wants to see S (my daughter) S doesn’t want to see her or have anything to do with her. What should I tell this biological mother? I totally support my daughter and understand why she doesnt want to see her and Im not going to make her do anything. Also, have any of you thought about the feeling of your biological kids that have been adopted out might have? This blog is just so negative about adoption in general and you make parents who have adopted out to be these horrid baby snatchers, which is totally not true. I must admit that I do know some of those myself –those parents who cnat have kids and just decide to adopt and hope that “no one ever knows” and just pretend the child is not adopted–which I think is ridiculous–but not all adoptive parents think that way.

      Adoption Critic responded:
      September 2, 2010 at 6:33 am

      “Also, have any of you thought about the feeling of your biological kids that have been adopted out might have?”

      This is an interesting question and I am glad you asked it. I cannot speak for other mothers, but my oldest son reads my blog regularly. In fact, I show him many of my posts while i am still writing them, to get his feedback and input. The rest he reads after they are published. “Right on!” is one of his usual comments. 🙂

      You are right that not all adoptive parents are “baby snatchers,” and I have not applied that term to adoptive parents as a whole. But i DO criticize adoption practices, and IMHO adoption as an institution is entirely flawed and this cannot be compensated for by any adoptive parent no matter how good their intentions. The flaws include falsified and sealed birth records, total termination and of legal natural filiation, and how NO adoptee of ANY has equal rights in ANY state, province, or territory in North America. Then, compounded onto this is the fact that adoption has become a huge for-profit industry involving baby-selling, coercion of vulnerable mothers, human rights abuses, and reproductive exploitation.

      How can any of us answer your question about your daughter’s natural mother? I would first ask though, as to what promises you or the agency made to this mother prior to the surrender. Was an open adoption promised or implied? And, what were the mother’s experienced? Was any form of coercion or manipulation applied to her in order to get her to surrender her baby? Does she pose any threat to the welfare of her child? And, why does her daughter not want to see her? Does her daughter feel she “abandoned” her?

      Mama K said:
      September 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm

      CJW –

      There was a time when i too thought that well as a few other blogs were negative. I used to get so incredibly upset about it, b/c adoption …well…hits you on a very deep level …and it is so important to us and our individual stories that we delude ourselves into actually believing what we need to to/have to as to not soil and disrespect our union – on whatever end that may be –

      I was very positive about adoption, an advocate of adoption, until….my 15 year old biological daughter searched and found me online and then after a shocking and heart wrenching ” online reunion ” i was beaten down by her adoptive mom.
      I wrote her letters, trying to reason and support how she may be feeling…but nothing.
      I started recieving calls to STAY AWAY. To ignore her communications if M had tried to contact me.
      Are u kidding??? It was so emotional. It was awful.

      As for your question. Just tell her first mother the truth. The truth is all we want. We don’t want to be ignored and cast aside , and as for thinking of my daughter’s feelings…well, thats all i do.

      She is the MOST important person in this triad. The adoptees need to be listened to and heard. They need guidance support and love, and shame on anyone who tries to negate them .

      Kindest Regards::::

      Mama K said:
      September 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm

      also CJW,

      I am curious to know why you would come to this blog and write things patronizingly like ADOPTION and ( my daughter ), do you have ownership and entitlement issues as well?
      you wrote ADOPTION like u meant to use the word in a cutting way…why?
      Maybe b/c of what I wrote in regards to what i have seen from adoptive moms who have control issues?
      I would like to know, truly.
      There are a lot of adoptive moms who are giving you a bad name out there. I would be upset too.
      But if you are not like them, then why the verbiage?
      Can you see why I, personally, have been hurt? Can you see how M is being hurt by her adoptive mother?
      I think maybe if you had to walk a mile in our shoes right now, you would be upset and confused too.
      See, i did not go searching for M, she came to me.
      She actually went behind her mothers back and at first I thought about her adoptive mom and told M she needed to tell her, talk with her and tell her right away that she had found me.
      Boy, did that backfire on the 2 of us.
      Can you offer me some explanation as to why she did this to us? You may have some inside knowledge I could use…since you have ADOPTED 4 children…. to come to terms a little better with the roller-coaster i have been on the past 9 months…
      I let them be, I honored our agreement, but everything changed when our daughter found me.
      Did you notice how i said our?
      See, I have no entitlement issues. D is her mother just as i am her mother. Does that bother you?
      Would you be happy that your children’s first parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc… want to love your children…maybe even just as much as you?
      Would you enjoy seeing you children have more love, or just your love?
      Only you can answer these questions. And when you answer them, answer them honestly to yourself , and then you will see….you will see how adoption REALLY affects us…oftentimes unbeknownst to ourselves and who we “think” we are in the triad.
      We find that when we are truly honest, we are not the people we have thought ourselves to be.
      And this is a good start…b/c the more awake people involved in adoption become, the better off the adoptees will be…the better off we all will be.
      May the truth set you free:::::


    unsigned masterpiece said:
    September 2, 2010 at 11:13 am

    a) I find the term biological mother offensive.

    b) I have met my son and heard all about his experience in adoption. He says any adopted child who says they don’t want to meet their parents is lying (or is perhaps receiving the message from the adoptive parent either directly or by implication that having a relationship or wanting to know their parent is not OK with the adoptive parent.)

    c) I too wonder what promises were made to your child’s mother. Even if there were no promises made by you they may have been made by the agency or maybe her mother was coerced into the adoption by family, didn’t really want to do it and now that is manifesting itself.

    d) Please believe adoption is not what it is presented to be.

    fadedfootsteps said:
    September 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Unsigned Masterpiece, you should have met me a few years ago. I would have told you that my mother was nothing but an abandoner and that I had no interest in trying to search for her. She gave me up; that’s it that’s all.

    And no, that wasn’t fed to me by my mom. It was something that I had fed myself long ago as a very young child, despite being told my mother loved me.

    Mama K said:
    September 3, 2010 at 11:50 pm


    I just wanted to say, i’m so sorry. sorry for everything that you have HAD to live with. That your life was/has been chosen for you and that you have been victimized by everything that is bad in adoption.
    I really am. I know you do not want pity, and that is not what i am giving here…my heart truly goes to you.
    I have read a lot on what you and other adoptees have had to experience since M found me in November, and well, you know how hard it hit me at first, and the denial I had carried with me for so long. the ignorance.
    I am still learning, and probably will for many many years and it is due to you, cedar, lorraine, and many others who speak the truth that hits hardest.
    It has been a big BIG pill to swallow, but thanks.
    Your words are heard, and a little more everyday….Understood.
    I KNOW that adoptive parents can influence their children as to what to think about their natural parents, but that is with everything in life. But adoptees also have their own minds and feelings and will chose to do what they want or need to as well.
    Clearly, as in me and M’s situation, she does not agree nor share her adoptive mom’s sentiments towards me, so that speculation is not so in my case.
    I would understand if M did hate me. And i would have to accept that. because I did abandon her. cohersed or not. an apple is an apple.
    Question? And not sure if you can even answer this, but, i would like to know your thoughts….
    If your natural mother tried to hunt you down relentlessly and wanted to try to make things as right as they could be….while accepting her role without dismissing it and making excuses….would you consider forgiveness?
    Thanks and Love,
    Mama K.

    Mei-Ling said:
    September 5, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    “I KNOW that adoptive parents can influence their children as to what to think about their natural parents”

    But it wasn’t my mom who influenced my thoughts. The whole reason (as a child) that I believed I had been adopted was because my mother did NOT want me and never wanted me to begin with. Otherwise, my childish intellect indicates she would have kept me.

    “If your natural mother tried to hunt you down relentlessly and wanted to try to make things as right as they could be….while accepting her role without dismissing it and making excuses….would you consider forgiveness?”

    You… do… know I’ve been through reunion, right?

    I know that she wanted to raise me but felt she didn’t deserve to raise me because she couldn’t save my life. So as much as I am “angry” with her decision, I know it wasn’t her fault.

    Does that answer your question a little better?

      Mama K said:
      September 6, 2010 at 2:16 am

      Oh, I totally agree with you on the influence part. i know it can happen. it happens outside of adoption, it has happened over and over again in my family for generations. I have gotten to the point now though, at age 35, that i will not allow myself to be influenced and i form my own judgements now.

      As far as your reunion with your natural mother goes….

      I was aware from some of what i have read from you that you had contact with your brother and sister?
      I have not read all your posts.
      Can u shoot me a link to your post where you have written about it?
      i would love to read it.

      Thanks :o)

    fadedfootsteps said:
    September 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    My reunion archives are here:

    Post-reunion archives:

    “I was aware from some of what i have read from you that you had contact with your brother and sister”

    Yeah, but I also went back to live with them during the summer, as well as “interacting” with my parents. All that info is contained in the above links.

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