Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mothers who "Place"

Of all the more specious of the examples of "correct adoption-speak" that has come down the pike in recent years, the term "placing" a child for adoption is right up there with the demeaning "birth" prefix. You "place" an item in the paper, or you "place" a figurine on a table. You, whether willingly or not, LOSE a child to adoption.

It is discouraging and sad to see the mothers of today that do go along with the nauseatingly cheerful "making of an adoption plan" in order to "place" their precious child with adopters. I have seen many of them awaken down the line to just what they lost and how deeply they were affected and the sight is gut-wrenching...not pretty at all. These mothers have grown up in the United States of Adoption, in a culture besotted with the treacle-sweet, warm and fuzzy mythology that says you can go ahead and use adoption as some sort of after-the-fact birth control and it will be just peachy, wonderful for all concerned. That, of course is total bilge. The grief and regret that will hit them in the heart and mind down the line will be beyond anything they ever thought possible and that doesn't even take into account the probable damage to the child who was lost to adoption.

I remember an employee where I worked, a young college student, who said that, should she become pregnant before she finished school, she would LOVE to "give" her baby to an infertile professor of hers. It was said with no more emotional impact than if she said that she would share her winnings with a poor friend if she should win the lottery. What has caused this mind-set among the young women of today? Where do they get the idea that their motherhood is disposable and only worthwile if it happens at their "convenience?"

I can think of several of them being the clout of the $1.4-billion-plus-a-year adoption industry, their spin doctors and the fact that lawyers, as elected legislators, and who stand to make money from adoption, support adoption in our government. The media, both print and electronic, is top-heavy with those who were so career-oriented that they put off child-bearing until it caught up with them. Hence, there are a large number of adopters controlling the things you read, hear and see.

There is also the celebrity adopter, the person who might not want to ruin a figure with child-bearing or who needs a good "appearance" or who just thinks that they should have what they want and have the money to get what they want. These people adopt children like they buy accessories...whenever the whim hits them. Our young people watch and learn.

There is also your non-celebrity adopter who places the "dear b(lech)mother letters" in the papers and magazines and presents themselves as Ward and June Cleaver, cookie-baking mom and wise, patient dad, able to give a baby "the best money can buy" and who are so much more perfect than a single, young, less affluent mom could ever hope to be. In the case of those who are dealing with the admittedly sad and traumatic fact of infertility, there is also the implicit suggestion that they DESERVE a baby by virtue of their infertility pain.

Then, here's a surprise, there is the complicity of us, the mothers of the BSE (Baby Scoop Era, 1945-1972 app.). By our fear, our silence, our secrecy and our reluctance to "rock the boat," we have kept the truth of the real impact of loss to adoption in the shadow world of our own uncertainties. How many moms might have been saved from the grief and pain we endured if more of us had spoken out, more clearly and more honestly and sooner than now? The fact that we are now speaking out doesn't negate the fact that this information should have been known by the general public long before Ann Fessler's wonderful book came out.

The "Frozen Mother" and the Mother of Loss who is still steeped in shame and is hiding from the light of truth make us, as a group, some of our own worst enemies. A lot of newer moms, who have seen the light, are doing the "eggshell dance" in order to keep their open adoption as open as possible. To the adopters and facilitators, they show a "happy-happy, joy-joy" face and with good reason. It has been seen that often, if an adopter gets wind of the mother's regret and yearning for her child, many of them will slam that open adoption shut so fast that the breeze will knock the mother off her feet. I know of one mother who took her own life after that happened. Open adoption is really nothing more than an industry carrot, an attempt to circumvent the impact of the emerging truth about the pain of adoption loss, and is just as painful a loss as that to secret, closed adoption. Many young moms get the incorrect notion that this entails a form of co-"parenting" and nothing could be further from the truth. You are tolerated as an outsider and any hint that the natural bond is asserting itself is a cue for the adopters to cut off contact.

While there is a lip-service kind of counseling available to these young and painfully gullible moms of today about the ensuing grief, that counseling is done by adoption agencies and/or pro-adoption social workers. It still treats that unending pain as something you can "get over" or that "time will heal." Not so, and when we few who speak up do try to warn our younger sisters, what we say is dismissed by the agency person who is "advising" the mom-to-be (and already calling her a "birthmother" which conditions her to "place") and then she is told that we are angry and bitter and our "experience" is not the norm. Adopted people who try to step forward and tell how adoption adversely affected them, are called "ungrateful" and "disturbed."

These young women have bought into the mind-set that motherhood will take away their access to an education, a career and their "life plan." Got news for those of you with "plans." There is an old saying, "Man proposes, God disposes." Life HAPPENS and having a baby is simply a result of sex without benefit of birth control. Now, I know that this happens and will continue to happen as long as humanity is human and hormones are active. I have no real problem with that. BUT, if, as a result of sex without birth control, a pregnancy happens, it is NOT the end of the world. I personally know quite a few young moms who are successfully managing their education, new jobs AND caring for their children. All it takes is a little bit of support and love and determination. And you won't always be in school, without funds, unmarried, etc. because things always change. Nothing is forever, including some non-sensical idea that's it's a "crisis" when pregnancy occurs.

So, you say you are not "prepared to parent" (another crock of crap..PARENT IS A NOUN!) and that "a baby just won't fit into my life at this time?" TOUGH...that baby is your baby. That baby needs the smell, the feel, the sound of his/her mother. That baby needs to feel welcomed and valued by his/her TRUE MOTHER. Ask any HONEST adopted person if you don't believe that one. This is about responsibility in a big way, and before you make any comparisons with those of us from the BSE, you won't find many of us who wouldn't have loved to have been charged with the responsibility of the care and nurture of our children. WE weren't given the choice. If you are old enough and responsible enough to have sex, then shouldn't that sense of responsibility extend to giving your child, the result of your decision to have sex, the best possible parent, YOU?

Don't give me that song and dance about you not being "mother material" or doubting your ability to be a good mother. Women from day one have felt the same kind of insecurities when they think of being a mother. No matter HOW well-prepared a mother thinks she is, those doubts creep in. You are no different. Remember, if you surrender you WILL feel grief, guilt and pain. You child stands an greater-than-average chance of being damaged by the primal loss of the mother to whom he/she bonded in the womb and from feelings of rejection. I would think that even a slight chance of that happening should make a mom think twice before jumping on the adoption bandwagon.

So, to the adopter who sent me the angry comment the other day, yes, I know there are mothers who "place," because they are under-informed, brainwashed by the same adoption-besotted society mythology that tells you that you have a right to the child of another woman and bombarded with pro-adoption pressure by the media, facilitators, government, adopters and our own "Frozen" sisters. I just wish that I didn't have to include myself and my sisters from the BSE, but I do. We have waited, in silence, too long to save many. Hopefully, now, we can save some.

Robin Westbrook
True Mother of Four
Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Kathy said...

Hi Robin,
One of the reasons that I really
like your idea of guardianship is
that it removes all the correct
adoption speak that is so demeaning
and that encourages pretense.
We who adopted are continually
trying to convince society of our
validity as a family. I think
adoption terminology is used to
convince ourselves of the pretense.
I also think that guardianship
takes so much pressure off the
family trying to constantly reassure and convince ourselves
of our role as parents.
You are a fantastic writer. Your
honesty is humbling.
I will admit that I am still trying
to digest a lot of what you have to
say and I am trying to figure out
how to make changes in my family's
life that will make it feel more
real and honest.

butterflybyz said...

Robin... you ROCK! :)

jana said...

Hi. I just found you recently, and wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your blog. Your posts are full of such conviction. It's a challeging read, sometimes, but always thought-provoking.

I know that just sounded like a girl who is described as having "a good personality" instead of "not that attractive." In blog terms, the phrases "thought-provoking/interesting/blah blah blah" probably seem to be a cover-up for "yes, but I think your point of view is WRONG."

That's not what I'm sayin'.

What I'm sayin' is, sometimes I have to reread your posts a couple times to let them sink in. They're meaty. I like that in a blog.