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Adoption and Child Separation at the Border

On June 1, 2018 Rebekah Henson published an important thread on Twitter critiquing the hashtags #FamiliesBelongTogether and #Ke...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ask An Adoptee: Given Away or Taken Away?


The question was for a reunited adoptee from a first mother.  She was wondering if we ever realized that we were not “given away”, but rather that our mothers were coerced and had no choice in the matter.  So I’m answering the question, did my mother give me away or was I taken away?

Reunited Adoptee here!  I figured I’d tell my story because sometimes I think that stories like mine get overlooked online.  I see a lot of first mothers who swear that first mothers don’t give away their babies ever, never had a choice, and were coerced.  I feel for those mothers.  No mother should ever feel like she doesn’t have a choice in raising her child.  That being said, there are mothers out there who do have a choice and who choose to give their children to others.  Mine is one of those mothers.  I know this because she told me so.

When I found my mother, I thought that we would enter a wonderful reunion.  I sent that first letter to her and wasn’t sure, but when she responded back and said she’d love to keep in touch, I felt like I had crossed the mountain and was now in happy reunion land.  I mean, getting that first answer is the hardest part right?  She wanted to get to know me!  Yay!  I had one of those great first mothers and things were going to be wonderful and she was going to love me and accept me and we’d live happily ever after!  Um, yeah.  I was a bit delusional.

We started emailing and I learned why I was given up.  My first mother kept her pregnancy with me a secret from everyone.  She was afraid her parents wouldn’t approve.  She didn’t tell my father, she didn’t tell her parents whom she was living with, didn’t tell her friends, just kept it all a secret.  I have yet to figure out how nobody knew that she was pregnant.  I was a seven pound baby.  While not huge (like the sixteen pound baby that was born recently) but I wasn’t a peanut either.  Yet they all just thought she had gained some weight.  Nobody coerced her because nobody knew.

Her parents found out (because let’s not lie, our parents eventually find out everything when you live in the same house more often than not) and they gave her a choice.  They wouldn’t let her continue to live in their house with a baby but it was up to her.  She and my first father considered getting an apartment (though I’m pretty sure they told me this just to make me feel better and really never seriously considered it).  They did have a choice.  They talked it over and decided that they didn’t want to raise a kid at that time.  They decided together that they would give me up.  She told me that there was never really any question in her mind.  She didn’t want a baby.  She wanted to be a 21 year old and live life.  She didn’t want to have a kid that young.  Yes there are women out there like her.  No she’s not a witch, does not fly around on a broom, and does not wear a big black hat.  She was a normal girl who made the mistake of sleeping with a guy without any birth control.  Remember kids, don’t be silly, wrap your… you get the picture.

Furthermore, my first father has explained to me that she doesn’t see me as her daughter.  She severed that link mentally the minute I was out of her body.  Once the cord was cut we were done being mother and daughter in her eyes.  She doesn’t love me like a daughter because she sees me as someone else’s child.  I was given away in that sense.  She and my father picked from three families.  They picked parents for me and in her mind, they are my ONLY parents.  She never thought I would come back.  She wondered about me, but was hoping I’d stay away.

My first mother really did not want to raise me.  My first father was more on the fence but he didn’t want me to grow up the way he did, with parents who had no money and were poor.  He “gave me” to people who were married and who had nice things.  There was no coercion, nobody forced either one of them, and they truly did not wish to parent.  It does happen.  People like that do exist.  And they aren’t bad people.  They are good people who made a decision that maybe wasn’t the best.

I know that I have four parents.  And they are all real.  She may not love me, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love her.  Do I wish things were different?  Sure!  I wish that she would agree to meet me.  I wish she would tell her family about me.  I wish I could call her and ask her advice on shoes (we’re both big fanatics), jackets (our closets are both full of them), and when the time comes, on pregnancy.  But unfortunately I wasn’t dealt that hand in life.  And I’m getting to be ok with that.  We can’t pick our family… right?