Friday, July 22, 2011

Ask an Adoptee: "Do you realize that you were not 'given away'?"


I would like to know if those of you that have been reunited with your mother, realize that you were not 'given away'. I keep seeing that in most of your blogs and it must have been a terrible thing to have inside one's head, especially a child's head.

Most of the the mothers of loss that I know, including myself, did not EVER give you away. Most of us were coerced and had absolutely NO choice in the matter. Most of us had our babies ‘taken away’, never did we ‘give them away’. I would love to say to the children in you all, NO your mother did not give away. Be interested in hearing your comments.

Julie's Response:

As a reunited adoptee, I internalize the statements above in a few different ways. My immeidate, gut reaction is to roll my eyes because I am once again finding myself being told what my mother thinks from someone who is not my mother. And much like when adoptive parents say "she loved you so much that...," statements such as the ones made above are not informed with knowledge of my particular circumstances. Hence the eye rolling. This person has no idea if my mother gave me away or not, had choices or not, or was coerced or not.

For the record, it is my feeling that my mother did have choices. This is my personal opinion regarding my own mother based on my interactions with her over the past 13 years. And in no way do my personal feelings about my own mother represent how I view the mothers of all adoptees. Other women may not have had choices. My mother simply was not one of them.

That said, do I think that my mother chose to give me away? No, I do not. I think that she was not strong enough to stand up to her parents. So as far as I'm concerned, my maternal grandparents were the ones who actually gave me away and decided that I was not wanted by my own family.

Here's the thing though. My mother now has all the choices in the world. No one is coercing her into anything. Yet for the past 13 years of our reunion, she has made it clear that I am not welcome in her life. She has had 13 years to take control and face the past. And she has chosen not to do so. Therefore, at this stage in our reunion game, I am holding her responsible for her decisions and how they make me feel. Her continued distance and silence makes me feel unwanted, unloved and, yes, "given away."

This is why my eyes tend to roll when I'm lectured to about my mother's thoughts, intentions and experiences by someone who is not her. Because in my world, the only person who can speak for my mother is my mother--and she has made herself very clear to me.

But then I have to step back and really consider what this mother-of-loss is truly saying with the words expressed above. She is speaking of herself. She is speaking of her lost child. She is speaking of her own experience. She sees her own child in us and does not like to see that so many of us are hurting. She wants to help relieve our pain. Because she is a mother. And that's what mothers are supposed to do.

Unfortunately, however, she simply cannot assume that all mothers are like her or feel the same way she does.

~ Julie