Friday, February 19, 2010

Schisms and Stand-Offs

Sometimes I feel like the dog chasing its tail AND the tail being chased. In all the emerging activism, begun by the phenomenon of search and reunion by those from the closed-records era, there seems to always be all manner of clashing and cross-purposes going on. It's making me dizzy.

I really hate it when these heated debates break out between adopted people and mothers. We should all be arm in arm, but that isn't happening. I love my reunited, adult children, dearly, and, as an extension of that, I have special feelings for people who were adopted. I ache for them, especially now that my eyes have been opened to the real consequences of closed, secret adoption on  both mother and adult child. The adopters got the kids, the facilitators got the dough, the social workers got the smug satisfaction, our parents got "re-virginized" daughters back without the neighbors knowing, society got their self-righteous 'I-told-you-so's' and we, mothers and children, got the shaft. You'd think we would be together on the same side, wouln't you?

Well, I didn't factor in a few realities when I was in early reunion. One was the fact that we moms still are being seen as the villains of the piece. That has been bolstered by the many lies told our children, either deliberate or from misinformation and assumptions. Another was the resentment caused by these lies and a lack of understanding of the tenor and disparities of the times and our experiences. When our own children call us "birthers" and treat us like naughty secrets and whipping girls, it can get painfully discouraging.

Another was underestimating the industry, itself. In the effort to cover their clupable arses, they have managed, once again, to present the mother as the goat with skewed tales of "guaranteed privacy" and anonymity. The fact, of course, is that the anonymity was there for the benefit of the adopters to protect these righteous souls from the intrusion of the slutty beemommie. The agencies and workers were also less than thorough in getting medical histories, there were some unknown factors..things we didn't know would crop up until way after we surrendered, and when the adopted person became ill with what could possibly be a genetic problem, the adopters cried "foul." For instance, I was 43 years old when my father developed Type II Diabetes. Until then, none of us had any idea it ran in the family. I have it. The agents and agencies are just trying to lay it all on us to avoid lawsuits in the future.

Many of the movers and shakers in the industry are attorneys, who also make up the majority of our elected officials. There's a lot of power there and they feel free to manipulate and wag the dog with impunity. Now there is a debate raging about the proposal that mandatory family medical histories be required from, you guessed it, the mothers. Now, there are many things we didn't know about our families and their medical histories at the time of surrender. There are also things that are no one's business but our own...things that we don't need to even tell our raised children.

If our adult children would give most of us a chance, we would, as I DID, give all the important information, in person, without coercion or legal pressure, voluntarily. Yes, there are mothers that are going to decline contact. Hell, there are adopted people who decline contact with their mothers, It goes both ways, M'Dears.
But we don't OWE you anything more than we owe our raised children. Respect and caring should be a two-way street. We were coerced, browbeaten and punished enough when we were made to surrender. I am tired of it and will not put up with any more. I am not a servant to any of my children, I am not a villain, I am not a slut and the rights of others end where mine begin.

Just as those who wish to adopt are not entitled to a child just because they want one, our adult children are not entitled to a pound of their mother's flesh. They ARE entitled to their original birth certificates and the right to seek us out and see if we can answer their questions. By the same token, we are entitled to the amended birth certificate and a way to learn how our children have fared.

I have good friends who are adopted and I respect them. I have good relationships with my own adult children, reunited and raised. I have shared more than medical information with my reunited children. I have shared my love, stories of their grandparents and great-grandparents on my side, and my care and attention to their issues. I even sought out the families of their fathers to get medical info when they needed it. It was asked of me....not demanded and I was not made legally liable for their illnesses. My daughter has Lupus. Actually, there is no history, at all, of lupus in either my family or her father's as far as I know. Should I be forced to pay her medical bills because it wasn't in the records when she was adopted? Should I be subject to legal prosecution if that wasn't included in any information I gave her? Why are we still being punished?

I was a decent person then, who was caught up by forces over which I had no control. I am a decent person now and support human and civil rights for everyone. But I have self-respect, something I wasn't allowed to have as a pregnant teen. I have the self-respect to stand up and have a say in what happens to me and my life and the strength to follow through. For me, this issue is a moot point. I can't see my two, adult, reunited children making this kind of demand on me. We know it all, now and there is no need for them to sue for medical information. I do want them to have the right to their original birth certificates. They are not that interested in it. I am.

But I represent a marginalized, repressed group of women, and many of these mothers are just now getting their sea legs in this ocean of issues. They deserve respect, as well. They have suffered, differently. but no less than their children have.

Plus, you can catch a whole lot more flies with sugar than with vinegar. Cliche' but true.

(*reminder...this blog remains an argument/debate-free zone, dedicated to offering the perspective of a specific group of EMS-era can pick me apart, elsewhere...have at it)


Lori said...

Robin, well said. I always try to be succinct, but somehow my brain gets in the way.

joy said...

I think it is great you have the self-respect you do Robin. I think it is important for adoptees to see mothers with self-respect, esp. your own children who were adopted but also for other mothers. You are an excellent role-model that way and your writings have meant a great deal to many people.

Sandy Young said...

Well said, My Friend. Marginalized, repressed and depressed, but getting there, and I hope I get there while I still have the oomph to be pissed off!