Thursday, September 09, 2010

Nothing Says It Like "Distraught"

dis·traught   /dɪˈstrɔt/ ;–adjective 1. distracted; deeply agitated; distressed. 

This is always the word I think of when I try to describe how I felt when the social worker brought the papers in for me to sign while I was still recovering from the birth of my firstborn. It's hard for me to get past that and into what was on those pages. I read them through a blur of tears, knowing that I had to sign them or the consequences would be dire for both me and my newborn. I had caved, surrendered, given up and presented my sword. There was no more fight in me. I was emotionally and mentally defeated. I had been abandoned by the father of my child and isolated from my family and friends by my parents. Now, all that was left to me was to wish my child a loving farewell and trust that the people who got her would treat her like the treasure she was.

I don't remember signing anything when I lost my second child. I tried to hold out a bit longer and I think they just got my mother's or father's signature or forged mine. I don't know. I'm still waiting for the paperwork and am getting a royal runaround from the state of SC.

Musing Mother has posted about the fallacy of "Anonymity" on her blog. Rightfully, she calls those who state that we were, by law or any other contract, promised anonymity, privacy, confidentiality or any other such nonsense from our own children the Liars they are. That entire argument is a myth and an excuse to delay and deter the availability of the Original Birth Certificates of our adult children. The ONLY reference to any kind of protection I remember was a thinly veiled threat of legal consequences should I try to find my children.

On Bastardette's blog, she has posted about the claims of the ACLU's Deborah Jacob's that she has a "pile of anonymous letters," praising the ACLU for their efforts in  keeping the putative letter-writers' shameful secrets safe. I have two questions about that claim. First, if the letters are anonymous, how can she prove that they came, indeed, from mothers of adoption loss? Second, I think that the thousands of us who signed the old MORE (Mothers for Open Records Everywhere)  letter, when it was online, would outnumber a "pile" of letters.

The ACLU and others interested in keeping the OBC's under lock and key are using a lie and twisting any truth in an effort to keep a government-sanctioned BUSINESS going. I guess those with the money and influence can say anything. When we were sent to the maternity homes, our parents were told that no one would know we were there. That was only for the duration of our stay in the maternity prisons. Once we left those places, we were on our own and no one was protecting any of us from anything.

The ones who are the recipients of any considerations of privacy are the adopters. They were more worthy of that commodity that most of us mothers didn't even want. They were the righteous saints that rescued our endangered infants from us sinning sluts. Boy, talk about the Bad Old Days. Whenever anyone tries to claim a legal "right" to confidentiality for mothers, I have to, like Musing Mother, scream "LIARS!" They are lying to an entire nation and getting away with it if we don't speak up.

While I have found a measure of recovery from the pain of my experience, 17 years of reunion have brought it all back to me in crystal-clear memories. I remember the grief, I remember the lies, I remember the emptiness of my arms when I left the hospital and I can remember a somber girl, now a childless mother, just going through the motions of life for a long time.

She was hurt, she was helpless and she was distraught.

4 comments:

Sandy Young said...

Thanks, Robin. What more is there to say. You are spot on, about the whole thing. Distraught, that covers it. In the most literal sense of the word....

Laura in Mobile said...

"Distraught" is a very apt word. I remember that day so clearly and vividly, down to where I wore, and where her father and I went for lunch afterward. That morning, there had been coverage on the news regarding mass slaughter in some refugee camps in Lebanon; to this day, I always associate that country's civil war with that awful day and the traumatic aftermath. (No, I am not in any way equating my experience with the slaughter of thousands of innocent people, but that was how it affected me at the time...to say I was not thinking straight is an understatement. Postpartum/grief induced psychosis is a terrible thing.)

This was 1982, and I was given copies of all the papers, which I kept for many, many years, even carrying them with me wherever and whenever I moved. Yet, when I went on a desperate search to retrieve them upon reunion, I could not find them anywhere. I tore my own house apart, my mom's house, and even looked in a couple places at my Grandma's house where I thought they could have possibly landed. In my mind's eye, I could clearly see the manila envelope with the words "adoption papers" written in blue ink, but they were nowhere to be found. My best guess is that I was upset and drinking one night and threw them out.

I would like to have them just to see what I promised and was promised. The only thing I remember was the agency's attorney spelling out that she lost all right's to inherit from me, and I from her. (Good thing ADULTS in a free country can will anything they want to whomever they want!) It would be interesting to see if any anonymity was promised, but I doubt it was. I didn't want it anyway, ever. And, I have always had a hinky feeling that the adopting family knew a lot more about me than I about them.

Just Me said...

Hey Robin! Great post.

Being that the adoption of your daughter took place in SC, are you aware of this bill (and if it's gone anywhere since 2007)? The last info I can find on it says it was referred to subcommittee on 5/7/2007.

H-3172: Unfortunately, it would not apply to adoptions prior to June 30, 2008... which I find incredibly unfair having been born in 1976.

"ADOPTEE TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER
MAY OBTAIN A COPY OF HIS OR HER ORIGINAL RECORD OF BIRTH FROM THE STATE REGISTRAR UNLESS WITHIN THE PAST THREE YEARS THE ADOPTEE'S BIRTH PARENT HAS FILED A NOTARIZED FORM WITH THE STATE REGISTRAR PROHIBITING RELEASE OF IDENTIFYING INFORMATION. THIS ACT APPLIES TO ADOPTIONS FINALIZED AFTER JUNE 30, 2008, AND APPLIES TO ALL OTHER ADOPTIONS
BEGINNING JULY 1, 2011."

Anyway, my birth mother did sign some papers but when asked if she had those papers, she said she wasn't given copies of anything. I think her mother may have been given the paperwork and just never told "D". Doubtful she bothered to save "evidence".

Robin said...

Records in SC were not sealed until 1964, which I didn't know until a couple of years ago. My daughter's were illegally sealed to accomodate her adopters. The bill to which you refer is, I believe, a dead duck. There are some in SC trying to revive it or offer a new one.