Thursday, September 14, 2006

Journey to Respect In NYC

Today, all across America, a lot of very committed people will be boarding jets for NYC and the conference. "Shedding Light On The Adoption Experience V" promises to be another good opportunity to educate and to be educated. For all that there are those who like to consider themselves the mavens of "adoption reform," you'll find the REAL deal this weekend in New York. A lot of brave, outspoken people will be giving their all to this effort.

For many, it will be a chance to meet friends they have only known on the Internet support groups and over the phone. I'm so envious, but wouldn't begrudge them the experience for anything. They will be in a place where mothers are respected as mothers, where they can actually be concerned about THEIR issues as being as important as those of the adopted person's and where they won't be called "birth-things." I feel a thrill at the prospect and joy for my sisters who are attending.

For all the hoopla surrounding the terminology, I can't see that the controversy hurt the conference in any way. There were some intimations that other presenters had walked away in a huff, but that just wasn't true. The fact is, that there just wasn't enough interest shown in some of the worshops to justify keeping them on the program. That happens to a lot of organizations when they put together programs for conferences. No biggie and no massive protest or walk-out to soothe any egos has been observed.

There was a rather condescending attempt at some sort of conciliation, I noticed, when someone else posted a supposed missive or a "paraphrasing" of some letter to the conference organizers from BJ Lifton on the CUB list. Said post is now missing, but in her defense of the "b" word, Lifton supposedly made the comment that, by using the "birth" prefix, we were denying anyone the right to take away from us the birth of our surrendered children. ....ahem.....say what?

Believe me, Beej, if the adopters and facilitators could, they would try to take that as well. Many adopters have tried by simply never telling their adoptees that they are adopted. But the fact remains that we don't just want to have the fact that we gave birth acknowledged...we want the HEART of our true motherhood respected and that can't happen when we are pinned to a board and classified with that specious prefix. "Birthmother" still relegates us to the ranks of the "un-mothers." I personally don't give a rat's ass whether or not the adopter is offended by our title of "mother." The days of pretending that we don't exist or that our ties to our child are only biological are over and that conference, with its gentle insistence on respect for the mother of adoption loss, is another milestone in putting the lie to the concept of the non-mother.

The angry adoptees, the ones who have called us "Birthwhores," Birthers" and worse, are no longer finding their vitriol effective. Many mothers are no longer giving their blood and bone to the cause of the adopted person that summarily excludes the cause of the mother of loss which is just as important. I am not a birth-thing to be sacrificed for the good of all adoptees. I only care about two of them...the daughter and son I lost to adoption. I will uphold THEM, but they know better than to ask me to do so at the expense of my dignity and worth. We have a relationship. I am not a hostage to their anger and refusal to grow. I am their mother...not their doormat. I expect and receive respect from them and give them respect in turn.

I can only assume that the good "birfmudders" who think they are only in this world of adoption reform for the good of the adoptees must be so guilt-laden and mind-screwed by adoption mythology that they can't stand up for themselves and demand the respect they deserve. I had my self-esteem ripped from me when I was 16 years old and I fought long and hard to re-gain that feeling of being OK with who I am. I'm not going back there to soothe any egos and certainly NOT to maintain an unsuccessful status-quo. So if I don't have BN breaking down my door to give me pats on the back for being a good beemommie, Hey, them's the breaks. I'll live.

A mother who loses an infant to stillbirth or early childhood death is still considered a mother even though her child is no longer physically present. For those of us who lost children to the adoption machine, that motherhood is still in our blood and our bones, even in those of us in denial, and no assumed term or legal writ can take that away. It's time for that fact to be recognized and the "b" word delegated to the trash heap of outmoded and insulting sobriquets with good grace. Compassion should outweigh ego here, but then we are dealing with human beings and we do all have that failing of wanting to be right, even after we no longer really need to be.

Now, if we who decry the "b" word are "Word Nazi's" than I suppose that Dr. King and the entire Civil Rights movement of the 60's were, as well. Time will tell whether or not the language controversy was worth it. But I am not sorry to be holding on to the belief that, if we fight hard enough, all that hoopla will be worth it, at least in the area of treating the mother of adoption loss with just a little respect. Those moms joining in the conference in NYC are of that ilk...the ones who demand respect. Sing it, Aretha!

(PS: A side comment about an issue that arose from this topic; someone really got it wrong when they said that the original Origins was created for the adoptee's issues. Origins, which began in Australia, was all about the injustices done to the mother of loss as well as open records in that country. Origins USA and Origins Canada follow that model. OUSA and other affilliated Origins groups are, in no way, related to or part of a support group with that name in, I think, NJ)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me.. (Gotta love Aretha) Robin this is spot on, thank you for speaking what I and many other mothers are thinking.
Mary aka Miss Meggles