Thursday, May 8, 2008

We are ALL Mothers on Mothers' Day...and every day.

With Mothers' Day approaching and all of us who have suffered a loss through adoption feeling tense and not our best...I hope that we can get be extra supportive of one another through this difficult time.

For some of us it will be a wonderful and very exciting day with a cloud over it as always, and for others a totally sad one that will require our full strength to get through.

Let's put aside differences and ALL be there for one another!

Since the late 70s I have met and networked with, "known," and helped thousands of mothers who lost children to adoption find their children since completing my own search in 1977 or 8.

Based on my experience women are not all of one mind based on the era they lost their child. If we were all of one mind, we wouldn't have as much discord among mothers who lost their children during the very same period in history. Some might say that those who do not feel their child was "kidnapped" or "stolen" are in denial or deluding themselves, and perhaps so...the fact remains that not all mothers share the same feelings about their experience and feel the same as all other mothers based on the era of their loss.

There are many varying factors that go into how mothers feel about their loss. Many variables other than the year the loss took place. We all come into the experience with baggage: good supportive parents who want the best for us, abusive parents, etc. For some of us it was a first love, for some it was rape, others may have had many sexual encounters and/or abortions or children, prior to their loss to adoption.

And each of us came to the experience with our own individual coping skills. Some of us went into long periods of denial, or waited patiently to be found. Thousands of others did not.

Some mothers lost more than one child, some had subsequent children and some did not. Most all have been reunited but some were never able to actually connect and meet their child for one reason or another.

Some are convinced to this day that they made the right decision. Some have gone on to become social workers and some have adopted themselves because they see nothing wrong with adoption.

If you speak to adoptees who have searched you learn that there are totally cold-hearted mothers who lost children to adoption who do not want to be found. Some have hired lawyers when found and gotten restraining orders on their own children.

YES...the social mores of past decades were different than they are now. No one denies that. But we cannot make hard fast rules with dated demarcation lines or arbitrary generalizations that during that period there were less options. I know of MANY mothers from the BSE whose mothers offered to help and they refused. So SOME had options, others did not.

Conversely, if an expectant mother today is very young, or from a religious family - particularly a fundamental religion or Mormon - for her it is still 1955! She has zero choices!

There are now many VERY ANGRY mothers of the second wave of mothers who lost their children to so-called open adoption and were duped! Many of them are far more angry than some mothers of the BSE….and for good reason! Their hatred for adoption is based on the way things are today. They were lied to and duped – not told they’d forget as we were…but COERCED with a new sales pitch that was designed to meet the social climate of today. Origins-USA advocates for mothers’ rights and keeping families together. That is our mission. That means we stand for the rights of ALL mothers and treat them all with the same support, no matter if they lost their child(ren) 50 years ago or yesterday.

Most importantly, it is a slippery slope of inferring - or outright saying - that some mothers had it "worse" or "suffered more" (as was said to me in email this week) because of the era.

We are a DIVERSE group. Diversity honors differences, while not making any individual or group superior or another inferior. Otherwise we get into many “pissing contests”: Is someone who has “other” kids is “luckier” than someone who doesn’t or couldn't? Do those who have been rejected suffering more than someone who has a good reunion?

It’s just kinder not to go there and to embrace all of us as mothers in pain than to make distinctions.

A loss is a loss and any mother who feels that loss and seeks our help deserves to be treated equally and not made to feel that her loss was any lesser because she did not suffer the trials and tribulations of the BSE.

The circumstances were different. The pressures and coercion was DIFFERENT. But different does not imply that either was WORSE, nor do all mothers in a similar situation share the same thoughts or feelings about it.

We need to accept, respect and honor those differences without question. We have all suffered being asked: "Why did you give away your child?" with a judgmental tone of "How COULD you?!" We cannot allow ourselves to ask those kinds of judgmental questions to one another.

We need not - and dare I say must not - ostracize those that do not fit neatly into a generalized stereotype of a mother who lost a child to adoption: a teenager forced by parents with no options, as those of us who were not teens need not feel extra shame or "shoulds" - as in "we should have known better" or been more able to resist the pressure. We are marginalized enough - let's not do it to one another!

We are all MOTHERS with no prefix!
For me - a mother who lost my firstborn to adoption in 1968 - that includes not using an era defining and limiting designation prefix either.

* "Diversity" means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating difference. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:

- Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.

- Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing;

- Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others;

- Building alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.

Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. These include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression, educational background, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status, and work experiences. Finally, we acknowledge that categories of difference are not always fixed but also can be fluid, we respect individual rights to self-identification, and we recognize that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another.

Wishing you ALL the best POSSIBLE Mothers' Day - or the least miserable one!


Suz said...

I completely agree.

Third Mom said...

This post is terrific. Much love to you this Mother's Day, Mirah!

lamecherry said...

We certainly are all walking in the same shoes whether we like it or not.
Happy Mothers Day Mirah!

AdoptAuthor said...

Same shoes? Yes and no.

Some of us experience those "shoes" differently however.

What started this "rant" was having one mother assume that all of us felt the same way about our experience. As I pointed out, that is not true. There is quite a variety of ways we experience our experience and react to it.

Evelyn said...

Thank you for your article, Mirah. It's been hard enough dealing with the judgments of those who have never had the experience of losing a child to adoption, but even harder when we have to deal with judgement from those who have.

Directors said...

This is so true.

Wishing you the happiest Mothers' Day possible,


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