I think one of the most insulting and inane things that has ever been said to me has to be when an adopter tried to THANK ME for the "gift" of my children to the women who adopted them. Hearing my children referred to as "gifts," especially since I was coerced into surrendering them, was appalling. Yet, I have heard that sentiment over and over again, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, especially from the senior adopters who raised the children we Senior Mothers surrendered during the EMS.
I don't know where this vapid, specious, condescending idea got started, but I know that I don't like it. During the first few days of my reunion with my oldest daughter, who searched for me, I was told by the woman who adopted her, "Thank you for ****. Now this reunion nonsense must cease!" THANK YOU, now go away??? That's sort of a really good summary of what those who adopt expect from us Mothers of adoption loss. We are selfless heroines when we surrender, then we are lepers.
They wanted to believe we wanted to give them our children and then they hoped we would die, disappear or crawl in a hole and hide. In fact, at one point, my daughter's adopters told her I was dead. The phenomena of search and reunion has caused some really nasty responses from the people who adopted our children. Some of our adult children were put on guilt trips worthy of every Jewish mother cliche'. Others were given ultimatums and still others just didn't want to be told about it. For many Mothers, we became our children's' dirty, little secrets..something they couldn't share with the people who supposedly loved them unconditionally and only wanted the best for them. I saw a lot of conditional love when I reunited. I saw even more of it when I started talking to my sister Moms and we got to the subject of adopters and their reactions to reunion.
I can understand that the woman who adopted my daughter was filled with fear and that is why she reacted the way she did. It doesn't excuse it, but it explains it. The reason she had that fear was because, she, as a women, knew in her heart that I loved my daughter and would pursue a relationship with her. I had given my daughter some things the adopter couldn't....life, roots, a heritage. And, being from that era, she also knew how we were treated by our families and society and that we did not go willingly to surrender. It might have only been on a sub-conscious level, but she knew.
If I could give any adopter advice that they would actually hear, the first thing I would tell them would be, please don't say "Thank You" to your adoptee's mother. A gift is a check or a nice candle or a gourmet basket...not a human being. That child you are raising or have raised is neither a "gift" nor a "bequest" nor something to which you were entitled by virtue of your desire for a child. To obtain that child, a mother had to be broken, diminished and desperate, with no other choice than to surrender. After what I went through in the early 60's, "Thank You and get lost" is not only an insult, it's a disgusting display of arrogance. It would be better to say, "I am sorry that our joy was your tragedy." At least it would be accurate.
The restrained compassion and "attempts to understand" and descriptions of the love and care they have given the adoptee is, I still firmly believe, a need to justify taking our children and wanting our (and this really blows my mind) approval! They want us to see them as Mothers! This is where my grandmother would say, "want in one hand and sh** in the other and see which one fills up first." Then, of course, failing to gain the big okay from us, we get the other thing...you know, the crackwhore mom thing? That is equally funny because there was no crack in our era. Heck, where I came from, drinking a beer was daring. Those few, pitiful addicts are in the minority, but to hear adopters tell it, you would think that the country was filled to the brim with druggie moms.
There is also the misunderstanding that we came from the careless era of "free love," were flower children and danced naked among the marijuana fumes. Again, most of us were just typical, middle-America, middle class teens and young women who had never seen pot, much less indulged (for me, that came later..self medication for grief). Now does that sound like someone who would think to themselves, "I think I will have sex, get pregnant and give some more worthy couple the gift of a child?" The entire premise is past ridiculous.
I do agree that a baby is a gift from God/dess.....to the woman who gives birth to that baby. A human being is a gift that the Almighty can bestow on a human woman. But one woman cannot bestow a gift of a child to another unless she is very, very weird. No woman that I know is so altruistic that she would "donate" her child to another woman like an item for a charity auction. The Senior Mothers with whom I associate are all in agreement. We did not GIVE our children to anyone. We surrendered out of pure helplessness and hopelessness and with our backs to the wall.
We wanted our babies.