Tuesday, March 02, 2010

You Don't Own Me

We moms have had some lovely and enlightening interactions with adopted people, lately. That is why I am so dismayed by this kind of thing.

The mother-haters are alive and kicking and spitting their acidic venom over at Yahoo Answers. THIS is why so many moms think twice about letting our adult children into our lives. Some of us can take it and give back as good as we get. Other mothers are still dealing with delayed and repressed grief and the re-living of the trauma of coerced surrender. They are one, woman-sized, exposed nerve and this kind of thing hurts...a lot. It hurts no less than the pain of the adopted person. It's just a different kind of pain for different reasons.

So, when  the newly-awakened mother of adoption loss sits down at her PC and Googles "adoption," she often gets smacked in the face with a lot of frightening and hateful posts. If I were an unreunited mother and I read this stuff, my reaction would be, "to Hell with this crap. I'm outta here." I would fear for my health and life where some of these posters are concerned.

What amazes me is the attitude of entitlement. Some of the middle-age mommie-haters act as if they own all mothers (not just their own) and that all mothers OWE them something. Guess again, Kiddies. Those of us who went on to have and raise other children wouldn't take this from the children we raised, much less from the children we didn't. We don't owe you anything but civility, courtesy and whatever else we choose to share. If you strike me, I strike back. Being an unmarried mother doesn't, regardless of the Puritanical and punitive attitudes of some, make me a second-class citizen or a spineless wimp.

Let me make one thing clear. All the truths about coercion and force, aside, when a mother tries to do what is best for her child to the best of her knowledge and ability at the time, that is not, repeat NOT, abandonment. I know that there were some mothers who did just casually leave their babies (although that number is miniscule in relation to those of us who were coerced), but you cannnot paint us all with the same brush. I don't call you names. Why call me names? You don't know me and you don't own me.

I have many adult, adopted friends with whom I enjoy mutually respectful relationships. The same is true of my relationships with my adult, reunited daughter and son. I know that you hate-filled people are a minority, as well. But, you are a loud, obnoxious minority. And, to the one whose mother, after 22 years, backed away, I can see why she did. I wouldn't want to have anything to do with you, either.

We are not here to be the objects of your punitive attitudes and actions. We are not responsible for the fact that you prefer to carry the blackness of resentment around inside you. We are not perfect, but guess what? NEITHER ARE YOU.

I thank the Goddess for those many adopted people who are willing to open their minds in understanding and hold out their hands in friendship.  We are all part and parcel of a traumatic tragedy and we all carry our own bit of emotional damage because of it. I can understand the "feelings" of being abandoned, but you have adult minds and the reality does not support the feeling. Embracing the truth is quite a concept, and it can be done.

But hear this and hear it well. I don't owe you anything but what I choose to give and you don't owe me anything. That is the adopter that thinks they are owed something by the children they raised. I will treat you with respect only as far as you show respect for me.

We are not your possessions. You don't own mothers.

*I am finding it necessary to add a postcript to this post. NO, feeling abandoned, and "emotional abandonment" are NOT true abandonment. This is what, in a 12-step program, would be called "stinking thinking" and a barrier to real emotional health. This post is not here to argue the issue. It is here to state, in no uncertain terms, that we did not abandon our children, that we are not obligated to be their servants and that the idea that most of us had any kind of choice in the matter is erroneous. And, to one commenter, my parents were not abusive, but, in that time and that culture, they WERE boss. I was old enough to be forced to sign surrender papers but not old enough to have any say in my children's futures. If you want to hold on to erroneous emotions, be my guest, but put it on your OWN mother....not the rest of us.


Sandy Young said...

I am sick to death of this bullshit, Robin.

I am sick of people telling mothers that their rights must be sublimated to the adoptee rights and the fears and insecurities of the adopters. I was told that working on mother's rights, a clouding of the adoptee's issue, was too threatening to adopters so it should wait until after the adoptees got their OBC, you know, the one with OUR information on it, and THEN, then we could start working on ours.

I guess, unlike other people, mothers are also immortal. In case these whippersnapper adoptees have not figured it all out yet, we are their amother's peers for the most part and are not going to live forever. Our time to fight is limited by the passion not yet quenched by ill health and other things that relate to aging.

And, when we die, that is the end of the activism, since we are the ones who can testify to our abandonment and the issues that surrounded it.

I cannot believe that if what I have heard recenly is an example of how much adoptees care about OUR issues, when we die, so will our issues...maybe that is what they are waiting for...they wait for the adoptes to die to search, and they wait for us to die to get what they want, the paperwork. Have fun with that....

Robin said...

Yes, Sandy, and I am equally tired of the guilt-laden, insecure mothers who support this kind of treatment of mothers. If they want to lie down and act like a rug, let them. I'm not going to go that route. I have too much self-respect.

Lori said...

Bravo Ladies! Well Said!

I tried the "lay down" part - it made me unhappy and her confused with feelings that did not make sense.

Now, I am who I am. Be there or be gone.

I stand for mothers, women and girls - don't you all think it is time we remembered our sisters? The ones that are always there? Those that are not always related, not always the same.

I do.

But to allow anyone to say they have more rights than me - they wish! Everyone should be equal and I will be damned before anyone tells me that I have to kiss anyone's ass to be equal or even recognized.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

This is a great post! So many things said that I have felt before.

I think that the internet allows some of these people to be much ballsier than they would in a face to face confrontation. It seems to me that it is very easy for them to sit down and type awful, hurtful things because there is no real time interaction, they put it out there and just wait for us to come back and take part in their anger. But like you, I choose not to live in the blackness. I will read it, but not take it with me.

Thank you for speaking out, and for the fantastic read!

M. said...

Robin said, "So, when the newly-awakened mother of adoption loss sits down at her PC and Googles 'adoption,' she often gets smacked in the face with a lot of frightening and hateful posts. If I were an unreunited mother and I read this stuff, my reaction would be, 'to Hell with this crap. I'm outta here.' "

This is exactly where I am this very moment in my life...my daughter turns 18 in a few months and I am *terrified* to contact her. I am still feel so green, so raw, so un-whole in my own adoption-loss healing that I have serious concerns about being able to manage a chaotic and punitive reunion relationship.

I want to contact her, I long to contact her but I wonder... She most likely will turn out to be one of the (in the majority) lovely adoptees who wants a relationship with her mother as much as I want one with her. But what if she isn't?

And that what-if-she-isn't fear has me paralyzed at this point - I don't know if I should contact her the moment she turns 18 or if I should wait. *sigh* I wish I had a magic 8-ball to tell me what I should do.


P.S. I sat down at my trusty and beloved Mac when I googled "adoption." No offense to all you PC users out there, just wanted to set the record straight. :)

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

thank you Robin. I have been working with adopted people in legislative work since 1994, as I am a "family preservationist", and some of my work has involved access to records. Adopted people use as their primary argument the "reasoning" that they were 'babies who had no choice" whereas we were 'adults" who "signed papers" when we could have just "not signed" the papers.

Actually, some of these attitudes are spoken in testimony before legislative committees. The anger and hatred towards mothers are clearly expressed.

One lawmaker told me, in private "I don't know how you can stand to work with these adopted people. The way they treat you is terrible."

Lawmakers take an oath to preserve the peace and safety of the populace. They are obligated to serve the public and they must look at all people involved in an issue. Mothers of adopted people are part of the primary (primal) relationship.

When adopted people express hostility against their own mothers and mothers in general in testimony, this does not go down well with lawmakers..who also have natural mothers in their families, or who may even be natural mothers.

Lawmakers also realize that young mothers did not 'abandon" their children during the BSE.Maternity home practices and social work practices were well-known, and under-age mothers had no power to stop a gov't program. We were under the power and control of our own parents...who made arrangements for ours and our children's lives...and did that legally...or illegally..whatever they could do.

Our civil rights were violated, and our families were separated deliberately by the gov't.

Signatures on papers, long used as emotional blackmail to blame mothers, have little validity in a coerced social program that is historically documented. Mothers who were confined, recovering from child-birth, under duress, suffering undue influence from other person(s),threatened by social workers or lawyers with involuntary court terminations, denied their due process rights..did not sign surrenders under the required legal standard for binding legal documents.

These conditions of coercion had to be remedied in the case of forced confessions, and that was how we got the Miranda Rights for prisoners.

A coerced signature is the same as no signature. It is not legal.

and some mothers never signed anything..some mother's names were forged.And some states didn't require the mothers to sign... they terminated them in court...and the judge signed the relinquishment.

Mothers who were abandoned by their own families, and violated by the gov't did not abandon their children. They were separated by "legal process" from their children...and everyone knew what was happening during the BSE. It was no secret.

Sandy Young said...

What M said is exactly what we have been saying for the longest time! Mothers, even BSE mothers, are computer savvy, even if they are NOT in reunion. They are reading, they are taking these words to heart. And, they are saying to themselves, "Who NEEDS this?!" At this time in our lives, who does?

Cassi said...

I have to say right off, I do not know, nor will I ever pretend to know the horrors you, and so many other women, faced during the dark times of the BSE - EMS.

My experience comes from the first wave of the "open adoption" lies. And I was, for some time, one of those "guilt-ridden" moms who believed I had to simply lie down and allow anyone and everyone to walk all over me, because I gave up my son and deserved no better than that.

But, the thing is, I've learned, that even though what I faced was nothing compared to what you went through, I still don't have to give my flesh and blood to make up for what happened during my era. Yes, things changed and there were differences, but not an ounce of that makes me, or any other mother, worthy of being used, walked on and abused by anyone.

There are SO many adoptees I have a tremendous respect for, who I would do all I could to help if they needed it, stand at their side for whatever fight they might face.

But, as I have had to learn, as a mother from the years after the BSE - EMS, even though I didn't face the very worst of the outright violations used on mothers in that time, I still have just as much right to demand that I not be treated as a punching bag or allow anyone to demand from me sacrifices I would never willingly give to anyone, even my oldest son who I lost to adoption.

birthmothertalks said...

I contacted my daughter shortly after she turned 18 years of age. So far, I haven't seen anything close to anger or demanding information. If anything it's been the other way around. She just doesn't seem to ask or care about much at all. I found her through a social network and it's been really slow. While, it's been hard on me, because of the grief from years ago. It's also been really great.