Friday, April 25, 2008

Activist: Part II

I found my daughter when was only twelve years old. Many of us were doing that at the time.
Once you found a "source" you weren't about to wait until they were 18 and risk the source no longer being there. Many of us found and just drove by to get a glimpse, needing to at least confirm that they were alive, and waited and waited...

I had also been hearing by that time of more mothers than I care to recall who found their child in far less than an ideal homes, and some found graves of children who either died in infancy or as teens. How could I wait? What is she was in a bad situation and needed me? One of the mothers in our group, when she approached the adoptive parents of her pre-teen son, was told "If you want him, you can have him." They had virtually abndoned him at boarding school. Julie regained custody and her story was in one of the women's magazines at the time. How could I wait? My daughter might never even have been adopted since I left her foster care for six months trying my best to get my life together and keep her.

I didn't wait too long before contacting her a-parents and making myself available to them if they needed or wanted medical information, etc. I met her a-parents perhaps a year later. But they were never very interested or receptive and told me that my daughter wasn't interested either. I discovered otherwise, and proceeded to meet my daughter when she was 16.

We met about 3 times and spoke on the phone perhaps twice as much, sometimes for more than an hour, during her H.S. years. After she graduated, her a-parents found letters I had written her and freaked out. She subsequently went to college and we lost contact. While I sent letters and gifts to her in college, we spoke once after she graduated college and she told me she never received them.

In 1990, my life was to change yet again, very drastically. I made the decision to end loveless marriage to a workaholic/hoarder. I never imagined what the man who had far more interest in work than in any personal relationships - even with his kids - would do. How could I have ever guessed that the man to whom my first book is dedicated because of his 18 years of living with my pain, his support of my work in adoption reform, my search etc...would turn on me and go after custody of my three kids, now 12, 15 and 17, accusing me of being unfit because I had "sold' my firstborn! I was in shock and at the pits of suicidal depression at the thought that iIcoudl lose my kids to the man who had all the money and I, none. During the years of continued court battles, he even attempted to remove my visitation rights! This then took precedent over all adoption work and any contact with my daughter.

Because my husband out earned me 3 to 1, and because the kids were teens and had a say in custody, their father persistently brainwashed my kids against me and successfully bribed them. My divorce was finalized in 1992, and I moved from my four-bedroom house in 5 acres to my one bedroom apartment - alone.

My mother died suddenly in March, 1995, while I was still alone with just my daughter now visiting on a fairly regular basis, my sons still alienated. Two weeks later I learned - by chance - they my eldest daughter took her life at the age of 27 two weeks before my mother died. There are no words to describe it, but in many ways it was very surreal as I heard about after the fact and was denied (intentionally) knowing of her funeral, etc. How do you mourn a child you had - and didn't have? How do you bury the hope of what might have been?

Pictures are some of the many memorial attendees (l-r: Janet, and Origins co-founders Evelyn, Allison, MaryAnne, Lucy, and me)

I was comforted by all my (birth)mother friends and others who came from as far as Maryland to a graveside memorial service. I am forever indebted to those who got me through my darkest times for their compassion and understanding. I later made her an online memorial.

While reeling from that, my father died eight months later after a brief bought with acute leukemia.

Although 1995 ended with my moving into a 2-BR townhouse so my daughter could live with me (my sons were on their own by then) it was the worst and most stressful year in my life, topping even 1968. I took a ten year or so hiatus from all adoption issues. When I returned, I was devastated to find that the Internet had not brought us all together, but actually do just the opposite. It had become increasing easy for anyone to start their own group online. Email lists abounded. People were talking but not many were doing much. Anyone could start a blog and become an instant expert! But few seemed to know about who others were or what they had done. There seemed far more divisiveness than ever existed before. there was much anger expressed not only between by mothers who surrendered aimed at aps, but at one another!

And, adoption had actually worse not better. It was far more privatized and the entrepreneurial moneyed aspect of it was is far more abhorrent to me than any error of judgment made by society and/or workers. I was horrified and began work on my second book and simultaneously tried to create civility between bickering factions.

I wrote several blogs. Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote: Monday, April 24, 2006, “Adoption Langauge and DisUnity: Response to ‘Why Birthmother means Breeder’” followed by Thursday, April 27, 2006 “A Plea for Unity”

Since then, I continued to grow and learn and came to the very clear decision that all prefixes - whether natural, real, original, first or whatever - are unnecessary! I then wrote "Motherhood is Forever."

To this day, I am called too anti-adoptionist by some CUBers and accused of using the "B" word and other "sins" by the anti-adoptionsist!

But I have not given up and will not! Some famous Rabbi said: “It is not your duty to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

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