Saturday, January 08, 2011

Nothing Ventured...Nothing Ventured!

To escape criticism - do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~Elbert Hubbard

A friend on Facebook posted the little gem above and it got my wheels turning. I am in my 18th year of reunion and 15th year of discovering the Internet community of Natural Mothers. I have watched the ebb and flow of alliances and recombinations as this disparate group gets its bearings.

After what amounted to, for many of us, three or four decades of silence, with some going deeper into the secrecy than others, it has been an effort just to get to the point where we speak out. And, when we came out of the closet, we learned that having a child appropriated for adoption is about the only thing most of us have in common. When it comes to socio-economic status, education, religion and political leanings, we are all across the spectrum. As a friend is fond of saying, we are "every woman."

How we view our trauma and what we feel needs to be done differs from one Mother to another, as well. So we have NMoms working in every area from open records to search and reunion to family preservation to acknowledgement and redress for the EMS. I'm in the latter group and it's fine if there are others in the other groups. I wish us ALL good luck.

What I don't like is the message we get from some detractors that we are spinning our wheels and  nothing will EVER come of our efforts. It's true that adoption is an American institution right up there with apple pie and reality shows. It's true that adoption is a political darling and a money-maker for too many. It's also true that the ones who don't want us to be heard have more in the way of means and influence to use to make us sound like loonies from the fringe. It's an uphill climb and a hard one.

Those of us who are concentrating on the surrender and the abuse mothers suffered during that process are probably facing the biggest mountain of all. There are still intolerant, arrogant and judgmental people who will make the comment that we "didn't have to spread our legs." (And isn't that sweetly said?) So to say that we are not given a lot of hope for success, even by many who totally agree with our POV, is an understatement.

But I think our reward is going to be in the initial effort, in the venturing out and speaking out about our experience. I have a very old afghan here that is unraveling. That started with just a little thread coming loose and over many years with much washing and use, there is now a large hole in it. Soon, it will be damaged far beyond any use. I like to think of us as the ones who loosened the first threads in the fabric of lies and propaganda. I like to picture a future when we and the pain, abasement and loss we were forced to suffer are all revealed by the insistent pulling at those threads.

Sooner or later, and probably later, the general public is going to look at the issue with new vision born of our insistence on speaking out and will see that the emperor is, indeed, naked. Whether I am alive to see it or not, I think that whatever remains of me will know and will smile.

So, for me, the personal satisfaction comes from telling my story and putting my opinions out there. We are only a few decades into some big changes, so we have a ways to go. But not a word we post, not a letter we send to the editor of print media, the producers of television shows and to our elected representatives is wasted or useless because someone, somewhere will read what we have to say and it will make them think.

Some might wonder why I would press on with this issue when I have so little chance of a major reward for my efforts. I guess I could avoid a lot of criticism and wrangling if I just said nothing and I wouldn't have  my widdle feeling hurt as, if I am honest, happens very occasionally. I think of Paul Simon's "I Am A Rock," where he sings of closing himself in his room and not participating in life in order to spare himself any hurt.

It depends on what you might see as a major reward. For me, the reward is in knowing all these wonderful women who survived the indignities and punishment heaped on our heads for a non-crime. The rewards have names like Sandy and Chris and Karen and Gayle. Rewards come from seeing many of our children and some of our neighbors and friends begin to understand and question what they have always believed about us and our plight. And most of all, it is being able to look myself in the face in the mirror and say, "You're doing the right thing," even when the critical messages are flooding in.

THAT'S the real reward.


Von said...

And it helps you to sleep at night no doubt! Like the old afghan idea!sadly here in Oz it seems a new afghan is being knitted in the shape of The Babes Project, adoption based on the American way.They are pro-lifers who see adoption as a solution to fertility and a way to decrease abortion numbers.

Unknown said...

@Von, I am sure that they also see a big, fat proftit to be made, too.

Robin, I see you as one of my blessings, too. When I think about what Mothers have in the past and continue to deal with with grace and dignity, I am honored to call them my frends.

Thanks for saying this so well.

ms. marginalia said...

Thank you so much for speaking out! Every voice matters. I have felt so honored over the past few years to learn more about the experiences of nmoms and make wonderful friends in the adoption community. And to try to find my own voice, as well.

You are inspiring.

Robin said...

I am glad there are people working for acknowledgment and a redress of the EMS. I am (was)a BSE baby and my n-mother never wanted to give me up for adoption for a moment. Nor did she have any "choice" in the matter. I don't think your efforts are in vain, they are very much appreciated :)

maybe said...

People are hearing your message, as evidenced in the comments to the recent column by Ross Douthat in the New York Times. The gist of his column was that it's too bad young women aren't giving up their babies for adoption as they did in the past. In his mind adoption is the solution for every challenge faced by women: single motherhood, abortion, infertility, blah, blah, blah.

I expected the comments to turn into an adoption love-fest, but surpisingly they were heavily critical of his ideas. Many were disgusted by his suggestion that young women should give their babies to older/richer/married women, that this idea was exploitive of women with less power in our society. So the message is being heard, slowly but surely.

Robin said...

Thanks for referring me to this, maybe. It's nice to know that we are chipping away at the old way of thinking about mothers and their children.

Robin said...

I am so surprised by those comments, maybe. I saw that article, too and assumed the response would be; Right! Why should a young unmarried, financially stressed woman have an abortion when there is always some career-minded gal who forgot to go off birth control until she was nearly middle-aged who would just love to raise the baby. Mr. Douthat wrote the article as if he was the first person to ever think up such a solution. Maybe he has never heard of the 1940s through the seventies.

Anonymous said...


Your voice is powerful and heard by those who agree with
every word mothers who had our babies taken in Era of Mass Surrender. Those that want to silence you are those
who want to keep us silent after all it protects their faux
adoption world. Those that feel threatened are trying to deny
the reality of what happened to we mothers. Keep up the
great blog our truth may not be others truth especially those that were able to take advantage of our youth our
all but forgotten due processes. The right to legal representation the right to go before a judge. Even
criminals get their rights. We weren't criminals we were
young women who loved and lost. Taken advantage of by
those that could and should have protected the very basic
mother and child. Shame on everyone WHO took advantage of us that's who should hanging their heads
Instead of playing the card that we shouldn't have had
our babies or got pregnant.