Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Visit

This past weekend, I had the wonderful experience of meeting up with three of my sister Mothers of adoption loss at Hilton Head Island in SC. It is a beautiful place and full of history. We had a terrific time, watched "Loggerheads," cried, ate seafood and chocolate and talked....a lot, mostly about our adoption trauma and our reunions.

Just down the road from Hilton Head is Savannah, Ga., home of Paula Deen's "The Lady and Sons," beautiful, historic old homes, the setting for "Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil," former home of song master Johnny Mercer....and the setting for my second loss to the adoption machine of a newborn child, my son, that I would be forced to endure within a 14-month span. I gathered my courage, much like the mother in "Loggerheads," took out the directions that I had been holding for a few years, since I found out the building still existed, and went to visit one of the sites of my incarcerations. (*Interesting note..in "Loggerheads," the mother went to visit the home in Charlotte, NC where she gave birth...that is where my daughter was born and I would be willing to swear that it is the same building that was shown in the movie...that front door is "very distinctive." Whoa!)

The road that led to the former Florence Crittendon Home/Savannah is now paved...it was dirt when I was there as are a lot of coastal community roads in the deep southeast. But there was no mistaking the long, low building, now a bit spiffed up, with the inlet out back and the shrimp boats docked on the other side of that inlet. What used to be a place to hide our "sins," is now a rehab/short-term nursing facility. The area over to the side of the east wing where we "girls" used to go to sit in the grass and enjoy some sun was given over to paved paths and benches and wheelchairs were moving up and down the paths.

I only meant to walk around the outside, but found myself going up to the door and going inside. There was a receptionist and I just blurted out to her why I was here. She had worked there for nine years and she told me that I was not the first mother to re-visit the place. Some cried, she said. I didn't until I got back into my car. The large, 6-bed room where I stayed is now one of the physical therapy rooms. Where my narrow bed stood, there is now a raised exercise mat. The little bathroom off to one side is still there, 43 years later, but quite a bit modernized and there is a whirlpool where the large closet once was. Where there was once cold tile, there is now carpeting or parquet flooring except in the PT areas. But I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise as I looked at that exercise mat. That was where I had sobbed my little bit of "allowed" grief before I just shut down, emotionally.

The visit was brief, I thanked the very kind woman who had helped me, and left for home. I left something behind me, though, and that was the last shreds of any trust in or respect for ANY of those who would have had me believe that it was OK for me to act as a walking, disposable incubator for someone else. These people from then and from now who predate on the vulnerable, are nothing but shriveled, dead souls as far as I am concerned. I cried as much for the fury as for the sadness.

Once the tears stopped, I thought about my poor, damaged son...conceived in violence but gestated with love. I thought about the man he might have become had he not been used as a prosthetic "cure" for an infertile couple...if I had raised him within his true family. I thought about my daughter, as well, wondering what direction her life might have taken had she never been separated from me. Both of them have struggled and we, all three, have lost so much.

I found what I was looking for, though, in both the weekend with my sisters and my visit to the place of my second great sadness. I know what we all have lost and we moms have not just lost our babies. We lost the adult children we would have had because the ones with whom we reunite have been altered from their natural course and influenced by other forces. No wonder the adult adoptee is so conflicted. If I had spent my life being "adjusted" to fit in with a clan that was not my natural fit, I would be confused and pissed as well. We, also, were forever altered by our loss and our mistreatment by those we should have been able to trust.

Some might ask why I would "torture myself" by visiting the Savannah Florence Crittendon site. Others would want to know why I couldn't just leave it in the past. The truth is that, as mothers grouped together for healing, we learned that very few counselors really know anything much about loss to adoption, other than the usual platitudes that we were force-fed from the first. No one but other mothers really understands the wrenching, soul-deep pain and anger that this business of adoption engenders in us all. So we find our ways to come to terms with things. It's a life-long process and that's OK. We are allowed happiness along the way of this process.

I'm glad I went. I smiled with love at the shades of all the girls I could remember...Susan, Cathy, Frannie, Deidre, Alice...cried for my beautiful, lost baby boy and the sad, defeated girl that said good-bye to him, and I drove home to Florida where husband and happiness awaited. I'm sending my children some "Thinking About You" cards, today. No matter how it turned out, my two oldest children, you are loved just as you are. Mama just had to go lance an old wound.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Revisiting Our Youth

I love it when truth intervenes in and disrupts the flow of adoption mythology. As hard as the pro-adoption factions, adopters and wannabe adopters and the ultra-elitist eugenicists try to keep the skewed lore of the culpable, sexually careless slut-mom alive, it is being slowly eroded into farce by more and more concrete information on what actually went on and goes on in the private lives of women and men.

New studies have shown that we weren't the only ones who "couldn't keep our pants on." It seems that nearly everyone, including the saintly adopters, were "doing it," too. I think the figure quoted was 95%...that's 95% that didn't anymore reach the hallowed marital bed with virginity intact than we did. Who'd a thunk it?

The only difference with us is that we showed the results of our passion and emotion. In the Baby Scoop Era, there was no access to birth control, period, for the unmarried woman. The guys could have used condoms, but you know what they say about the erect phallus and its lack of a conscience. As we have seen in the present day, prudish parents-in-denial and other super-conservative influences try to bar the availability of birth-control measures for the young. And, sometimes, even the best birth control doesn't work.

Some of these girls were just lucky, others had well-to-do families with good connections that could obtain safe abortions for their daughters, even to sending them to other countries where it was legally available. Others were pushed to marry when a pregnancy occured. I attended one or two of these "shotgun weddings" when I was in my late teens. The presence of a wedding ring on their finger when they gave birth to these "6 and 7-month" babies kept these women out of the pre-marital sex stats for some reason. More than that, it kept their babies out of the adoption pool and home with their moms where they belonged, so, even if the marriages didn't turn out great, maybe those forced nuptuals weren't so bad if that was achieved. And, lest we forget, adopters have bad marriages and get divorced, as well.

A great many of these daughters and sons contracted STD's, which, along with delayed childbearing, lifestyle choices such as smoking, overeating, drug use and botched abortions, are cited as the main causes of infertility (look it up). Clamydia and PID were prevalent if not talked about much, and I remember that, during WWII, there were a lot of GI's rendered sterile by the "mumps." I assume that gonnorhea just got a different nickname back them. The numbers of those rendered infertile by "no good reason" is a small one. (That "delayed childbearing" really gets me, as well, since there have also been good, scientific studies to show that our most fertile years are not in the mid-30's t0 late 40's but much earlier in our lives. I mean, Well, DUH!)

These are the same adopters who will now chastise the mother for "choosing to have sex" and will jump at every woman who has an unplanned pregnancy that comes at, perhaps, not the best time in her life and court her until they have divested her of her infant and her heart, then do all they can to dump her. When some of these people, especially the wannabe adopters, start telling us that we "should have kept our legs closed," I want to say, "You should have taken your own advice." And talk about your double standards. Has it been forgotten that there was someone lying between those "open legs?" The unmarried, young or financially challenged pregnant woman is the target of all this criticism while everyone else, who did the same damn thing, gets off with a wink, a nudge and a "Whew!"

Wake up, world! Adopters are not chaste and saintly. They are as subject to all the shortcomings of humanity as any of the rest of us. They have tripped over their own peccadillos and made their own mistakes just like everyone else. They get divorces, abuse, batter, have affairs, steal, cheat, and lie in the same proportions as the rest of the population. They have done nothing outstanding to merit the children they covet over the mothers of these children. Something is very skewed when these people can judge us moms as morally unfit or unfit in any other way..lack of funds is immoral???

I was very naive for a very long time. I bought into the idea that I was one of just a few stupid girls who should have said "no." I didn't protest my heartache or even address it, because I let a very unjust society decide my worthiness to do so. I compared my inner truth to the outer lies of those around me. I weighed my worth on a scale that was tipped against me. Well, now things are back in balance, big time! I will talk about how horrible it is to have children taken for adoption due to a fallacious idea promulgated by facilitators and their clients. I will tell young women to reconsider, to keep their babies, to spare themselves and their children the pain of that unnatural separation. I will tell the truth of what happened and what continues to happen and if the truth hurts...well, so did losing my children.

I also have to address the most recent self-delusion of the adopter...the "Paper Pregnancy." And they have the nerve to make trite remarks about the terms WE use...! It seems that once the home study is complete and their names are in the pot and things start proceeding, the potential adopter will declare herself "paper pregnant." OK..how delusional is THAT? Perhaps, then, we should call them "paper parents." We could give them a red crayon so that they could properly color their "paper labor and delivery." Or, better yet, just give them "paper babies," pictures they can put on the wall or paper doll babies whose outfits they can change by bending the little paper tabs. It would save a lot on education, diapers, you name it. Then we could start giving attention to helping a mother keep and raise her own child rather than having to fight against those that encourage her to surrender that intergral part of her own being.

Maybe there is a new truism in this. "Those that can, do. Those that cannot, try to do it on paper."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Please Take a Moment....

....And sign this petition to help Stephanie Bennett, her supportive parents, and her baby girl, Evelyn, taken for adoption by unethical means. The adoption industry and its supporters and those who benefit from their practices are starting to hear our roars. Let's keep the pressure going. It only takes a minute to sign and you will also speak for yourself and all the rest of us.