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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


  1. Julie I agree totally with your response. As hard as it can be for first mothers/parents to hear we feel "given away" it is exactly how many adoptees feel. Even though my first mother told me I was wanted, thought of, and loved through the years, she still refuses to release her identity, meet with me in person, or allow my siblings to know I exist. I was given away twice, and it's a pain that lingers no matter what words you are told, actions speak louder.

  2. Yes. Words are powerful, but actions are more powerful. I have learned much from the many fmoms I've met IRL and online, and I appreciate their willingness to share their stories with me. But their stories are THEIR stories, not the stories of my mother and me.

    They may love their children deeply. Their children may have been brutally stolen. It's terrible. But adoption is complicated, and love is complicated, and how it's expressed is complicated, and how our relationships with our mothers develop (or don't) is complicated. A year ago, I wouldn't have dared think I could call my mother on the phone and that she'd call me back. Small steps. But it's not about love, at least not yet, on her part. No one can speak for anyone else.

    Thank you for writing your story. Love you.

  3. Wow! What an interesting and important post. I think that both of my n-parents had choices. They were both adults and chose to have a sexual relationship outside of marriage in a time period when this was unacceptable in society. There was no rape involved. Being two young healthy adults pregancy was pretty much inevitable. As an unwed mother of the time and white and middle class I don't think my mother had any choices except giving me up for adoption. Her only choice would have been not to get involved with my father in the first place. And after reunion first parents do have free choices and they are responsible for their actions.

  4. i had a daughter in 1978 inever was allowed near hear after that and they called that adoption i told them i wanted to keep her but they never gave her to me baby for adoption written all over her medical files.....thatwas my baby from my body what right did these people in these hospitals have to kidnap babies for adoption.....i met her 18 years later a infertile couple adopted her and another one she calls them mum and dad and they changed her name she lost me her mother and she lost her identity....she is the loyal adoptee calls them mum and dad i opened my life to her but she rejects me she wont believe me when i tell her what happened.....her adoptive parents have a hold on her they dont have a heart its a very cruel and selfish thing to do to take a child for your own needs just because you canthave a baby....babies have every right to be with their mums as nature intended.....they wont do this anymore in our hospitals no one has the right to give away their own child they are our gifts to raise and love they do not belong to anyone else.....unfortunately adoptive parents think they own them and they wont let them go to their natural families which i think is inhumane.....

  5. This is the aspect that breaks my heart the most and the one that I find most haunting. That she feels like I gave her away and didn't want to keep her.

    The tragedy of adoption is that years later when we are powerful women and not vulnerable pregnant girls is the realization that we really did have a choice. If we had been stronger and had that inner core of self belief and trust in ourselves, we would not be living with the shadow called adoption.

    If there is anything that you know of or words that could be said to make my daughter feel loved and wanted by me please would you share them. Maybe nothing can take back what was done.


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