Monday, May 10, 2010

Those who Take our Children Take our Happiness Forever

These words: "Those who take our children take our happiness forever" and my expression of my pain at reading - on Mothers' Day - about the happiness adoption brings, set off a firestorm among some adoptive parents.

And now I have been asked why I was surprised by such a strong reaction to my expression of my loss and pain - that there is no paradoxical happiness in adoption for those of us for whom it is nothing but a loss....There is no joy in Mudville.......nor any happiness in losing a child to adoption.

Why was I surprised that my words were twisted and I was attacked?

I was surprised because since the 1980s my networking has always included adoptive parents. Back then it was a group called Adoptive Parents for Open Records. Jane Nast of AAC was among the members I have known since that time.

I have never been a broad brush or black and white person who believes that ALL of any group are bad, and certainly have known and been good friends with many adoptive parents over the course of my lifetime.

I work and respect a great many more, seeing them not as all enemies but as along a continuum of views on how to best improve care of children who need out of family care, while respecting and supporting the sanctity of families.

I have an excellent working relationship and respect, for instance with a-father David Smolin, though he and Adam Pertman do not lean as far to the left as I do in wanting to replace adoption with guardianship or enforced open adoption and end all international adoptions, they are nonetheless allies in the fight and are certainly not in the same category with Bartholet.

ALL THREE of my Family Preservationist of the Year Awards have been given to adoptive parents:

Dr Richard Boas, Jennifer Hemsely and Tracy Mazuer to reward and encourage those who put the needs of children before their own.

THAT is why it surprised me that I was accused of being some kind monster who hates all who adopt. Oh yes! I was accused of HATING for simply expressing MY TRUTH, and of DENYING others their happiness.

"Those who take our children take our happiness forever."

One would think that would be an accepted fact not open for debate or argument, that there is no happiness in losing a child. There is pain and loss in adoption. For some the pain is mitigated by some benefit, happiness, even joy. Not so for mothers who lose their child. We are left with nothing but grief, guilt, shame, sadness, anger....and a host of PTSD symptoms that get worse, not better with time, are often not alleviated by reunion, and are experienced universally (see*).

I make this statement having 1) walked for 40 years in those shoes, 2) having met and spoken to hundreds and hundreds of mothers over the course of 30 years and having never heard ONE say there was any "upside" of or happiness in adoption for them, and 3) being aware of the research of experts who studied populations of mothers who lost children to adoption.

All of that gives me the RIGHT to express my - and our collective - feelings. One would think that like anyone whose loved one has died speaking of their loss, or a rape victim describing their pain - emotional and physical - it would be accepted with compassion.

But not so in adoption. Because adoption is the only maternal loss which creates a gan for another...and a marketable product. It's the sad reality, that I and others have written about that adoption only exists on the backs of resourceless women, that adoption involves women in humanity to women.

And those who have done so, and know that we know - sadly - live in a defensive mode. Thus my recognition of my truth set off a firestorm of anger among some adoptive parents and I was accused of denying their happiness by expressing the pain it caused me to hear it.

Instead of compassion for my expression of my LIFELONG irresolvable pain, I experienced the most extreme case of victim-blaming I have personally experienced since my parents refused to hear about my adoption loss because it was too painful for them...and why was I bringing it up again, just to hurt them?

The statement I made: "Those who take our children take our happiness forever" was interpreted, by a mother of four - one of whom was adopted from Russia - as an accusation that it implied that those (all?) who adopt steal children from their beds or is only appropriate for those who dealt with a black-market baby broker. (HUH?!)

"Those who take our children take our happiness" does not imply that my child was stolen. I have never made that claim. Nor is the method of the taking relevant to the end result: lifelong, forever loss and pain. There was no accusation of illegal wrong-doing in my statement of my feelings of loss. Was it perceived that way or was that claim a red herring to divert from the facts? I don't know.

Does it matter how one's loved one died in order to feel pain and grief? Is a death only sad when it is the result of a crime and not natural causes or accidents? Do rape or incest or spousal abuse victims only have a right to say they were traumatized if their attacker had a weapon? That once was the norm.

Is my daughters' adoption, accomplished through a "reputable" agency and not one that would be called a baby broker is not supposed to be as hurtful a loss? She was taken from me and she is not lost to me (another word that some who adopt dislike). It was the AGENCY who TOOK my child and who in turn chose who to give her to, and when. That's who took MY child and my happiness. My agency - which I have written about on this blog - is the focal point of my anger...

The fact is that the definition of adoption is "to take as one's own." Adoption involves TAKING and in fact nowhere in the definition is it about GIVING, nor about the joy or happiness of receiving.

Anyone who thinks it's painful to hear our pain...it's far worse to suffer! Someone suggested that it is like an infertile woman at a baby shower hearing of another's joy. It is NOT! It is a reminder that someone else had the joy of hearing YOUR CHILD's first words and seeing her first steps. Someone else was at YOUR CHILD's graduations and wedding. Someone else reaped YOUR joy! Someone benefited from YOUR LOSS.

Many who adopt want us to hear their pain of infertility, the suffering of indignities they experience in treatments and then adoption...many adoptive parents and those trying to adopt very publicly share in great painstaking details their daily trials and tribulations online pouring their pain out for all the world to see, seeking - and often getting - sympathy. The public - including many mothers who have experienced loss - is expected to hear their pain of loss of fertility - with compassion and sympathy - and also share in their joy when they adopt...as we are subjected to day after day after day on blogs and in the media.And in all my writings, never have I ever denied or downplayed the pain of infertility or childlessness.

Now, like my parents, some want us to also hear how our expression of our pain causes them additional pain - and feel sorry for them and the pain we caused them. We should hear, with compassion, of their suffering as they live in fear of being able to express their happiness. One mother actually asked if she must "mope" around her adopted child instead. A bizarre extreme martyrdom reminiscent of those who oppose limits on state sponsored prayers and displays in public, alleging that such limits infringe their freedom to practice their religion, instead of being able to separate the private from the public.

Regarding the happiness enjoyed by those who benefit by adoption, I made the analogy that even people who commit heinous acts of exploitation and abuse upon children - pedophiles - experience pleasure, joy and happiness but that obviously does not justify the act. This is no way implied a comparison of adopters and pedophiles. But it was a good sentence out of a two page comment to focus on as my being unreasonable, mean and just plain stupid had my intent been to imply that all adopters are pedophiles as some read into my analogy and fueld the fires....to my utter shock, horror and surprise!

I will not be silenced and will not go away quietly into the night...

I spent the past 30 years helping mothers out of our closets and lifting the veil of secrecy...giving voice to our losses. I will not be silenced because our pain is painful to others.

And now as increasing numbers of adopters choose to adopt internationally, intentionally to avoid dealing with their child's family (among other self-serving reasons), they need all the more to hear the pain their joy brings others. Unless we speak to that very aspect of women creating Handmaid's, we will never find more humane way to deal with the problems of children in need of care than to allow them to be commodified to meet a demand.

We owe it to mothers in parts of the world who are living with conditions that we lived through here in past decades and far worse - having no voice at all. We MUST speak up and speak out about the lifelong pain of adoption loss for those who cannot! Those who have adopted and understand this need need to put their own feelings aside - difficult as that may be - and work with us. They need to suppress their defenses and allow our voices no matter how painful, as long as their is mutual respect.

* Toward this end, I encourage all to view and share widely "The Universality of Grief Experienced by Mothers who Lose Children to Adoption" available as a PDF download here by scrolling down to it, or here on google docs. To share, you can use this link: http://tinyurl.com/universal-grief

Those who took my child took my happiness, buy they did not my strength and my power: my words, even when they sometimes may hurt. Truth is often painful to her but unless and until we are able to work through that pain, there can be no change.

My pain is my truth. If it hurts to hear my pain, so be it. And I do not need to be subjected or reminded of the happiness my loss and pain gave another...that someone else benefited from my loss and reaped all the pleasures I missed. Be happy for and with your child. Rejoice with your child but please don't rub my nose in your happiness. Keep your private blogs, private. And if you chose not to, then accept the consequences of your choices.

I will always speak my truth, and the truth is that demand drives adoption. And the truth is that our pain is hard for those who desperately want babies to hear. Those few who work to change these things are - with one exception- doing so after they have gotten their kids! Yes, they have had epiphanies and yes times have changes and I am grateful they see things differently, but it also safe for mothers who have adopted from China, etc to NOW say...I wish I had known... and I would have done things differently...

But then don't we? So, I have a heart and I understand that too.

35 comments:

Von said...

Wishing they had known doesn't see them sending those kids home though does it?
The adoption industry is immoral, exploitative and inhumane, all need to speak out who have a voice.Those who have been conned, brainwashed and exploited themselves and now have children placed with them will hopefully one day see the truth.

cedartrees said...

"Those who take our children take our happiness forever."

That sums it up, entirely. I can think of no truer or better way to phrase it.

Anonymous said...

Mirah, You wrote, over and over again "THOSE [plural] who take OUR [plural] children [plural] take OUR [plural] happiness forever."

This was not a personal statement of YOUR pain and grief. It was a global statement.

I personally believe that a major problem in this exchange has been that, while you claim not to be universal in condemning adoptive parents (kind of a "some of my best friends are those people"), this statement as worded appears to be speaking for all birthparents and about all adoptive parents.

Can you see how many could have read it that way, and, apparently, misinterpretted you?

Pat Johnston

Andrea said...

I don't have a problem with anything you've said. You have every right to feel sad and pissed off.

Mirah said...

Pat -

SEE NUMBER TWO:

"I make this statement having 1) walked for 40 years in those shoes, 2) having met and spoken to hundreds and hundreds of mothers over the course of 30 years and having never heard ONE say there was any "upside" of or happiness in adoption for them, and 3) being aware of the research of experts who studied populations of mothers who lost children to adoption."

I have never claimed to be anything other than universal in my condemnation of adoption practices! I have no idea why you would even question that or feel I have in any way been dishonest to that.

“THOSE” is plural because I am not the only person suffering the unnecessary loss of my child. There are MANY: brokers, practitioners, agencies and those whose fees support it all, and whose demand created it and perpetuates it.

While I have forgiveness - not hate - for those who knew not what they did and repent and work or change, I universally condemn those who CHOOSE to be part of the problem and not part of the solution. Unlike relinquishment, there is no question that the act of adoption is a FREE CHOICE! I condemn those like Madonna who KNOWINGLY take children who have parents and those who chose to ignore and not ask…

And I universally condemn anyone, anywhere who seeks to silence the truth because it is painful to hear!

I have no hate for you or Marge... I hate what is done to mothers and our children in order for others to have the happiness they seek. These are the paradoxes of adoption for me.

One more time: I hate what is done to mothers and our children in order for others to have the happiness they seek. And I hate that many know it and do it anyhow.

It’s easy to find reason to dismiss me as a bitter, angry person. But consider this: Does E.J. Graff speak with hate or honesty in her universal condemnations? Does she speak from personal animosity or bitterness? Are she and I not saying the same things about a desire to perpetrate myths and silence the ugly painful truths of adoption loss and pain?

When David Smolin speaks of child trafficking for adoption, is he speaking from a place of personal regret without condemning all who adopt? When Richard Boas supports unwed mothers in Korea, is he recognizing and admitting his regret in being part of the problem and WORKING to change it not giving lip service?

Pat, when I hear protestations of racism, I take no personal offense. WE PLURAL - all with white privilege - have been and remain been guilty as charged. My hands are clean in that I have never taken part, consciously, in any racist act. I feel nothing but compassion and empathy for those who are oppressed. But I am able to accept my role as a person of white privilege and join those who suffer prejudice in any form in speaking out against it.

The truth sets nothing back; it opens doors. I have been WORKING for change for more than 30 years and I dare say I do more to help reform adoption before breakfast each day than any who condemn me have done in their lifetimes.

Truth is painful. If the truth results in feeling the stinging bite of condemnation, it is cause for self-examination, not shooting or silencing the messenger in defense.

Pat Johnston said...

No one has suggested that you be silent! I so wish you could listen with your heart open enough to understand that if you could just chose your specific words more carefully you might draw people to your point of view more easily.

BTW, I've never suggested that you "hate" me. Since I first communicated with you in 1982, I think it was, we two just seem unable to "hear" one another well enough to forge an alliance. Every now and then I think to myself, "Just give up, Pat. She won't hear you." But then time passes and I try again. Ah well.

Mirah said...

Cedar,

The adoption "triad" or "triangle" was a step forward from total obscurity of the role of natural mothers, previously known as "the silent [read suppressed] figure in adoption."

That it is being re-examined critically as an artificially and unrealistic - too equally distributed - picture of adoption is an excellent step forward in the natural progression of this human rights movement.

It is a symbol enlightened family preservationists have outgrown. Recently on Facebook, Robert Wilson Harrington McCullough, jokingly (?) suggested we replace the triangle with a pyramid....perhaps like the ever-evolving food pyramid with natural families at the foundation?...but that still puts false reconstructed models above it.

Or perhaps concentric circles - such as a target - with natural families at the center and all attempts to deconstruct that basic, natural, universal unit and attempt to replicate it, on the perimeter...or the arrows that assault it?

My own evolution and growth are documented in my first book written in 1988 where I called for the triangle - with its sharp points of intersection into be "softened" into a "circle of love."

Well, I was (am?) a peace & love Flower Child whose Love Child was born in the summer of love...

But it clearly goes to show my lifelong efforts at building bridges and working together, not against one another. (Pat, et al., I hope you're still reading.)

Mirah said...

Let's pause and reflect:

The word "take" is objected to as it denotes to some "stealing"...

The word "those" is objected for because of its plurality...

But we are not being silenced... just having every word we utter examined under a microscope for hidden agendas and told that we shouldn't use them as to not offend someone or other!

Again I ask, would you say these things to Graff or to Trenka?


I am amazed that no one has taken a shot at the "our children" part of that statement!

Anonymous said...

I totally get what you are saying and don't understand why you are being attacked. Your words have indeed been twisted. You have further attempted to explain yourself and it seems many still don't get it. Beats me, you were very clear to begin with. Sorry you had this bullshit to deal with on top of an already difficult day. Thank you for speaking out.

Cedar said...

The concept of "adoption circle" is being used by some 'more-enlightened' baby brokers and social workers as consisting of the "adoption triad" plus the broker as equal and concerned parties. Extend that and you get the "adoption constellation" as well.

I tend to call the whole relationship the "adoption transaction." A 4-party transaction with 2 parties having social and financial power and 2 parties lacking it. No equality here what-so-ever.

Mirah said...

Cedar,

Adoption, in most cases, involves an "unconscionable contract" or unconscionable transaction...in that in all other legal contracts or transaction at least one dollar is given in exchange for even non-material goods or favors, but mothers are given NADA, zilch in exchange for our kids...unless of course you count pain and suffering!

Also unconscionable for the time limit in most states for the ability to rescind, minors being allowed to sign relinquishment without parental consent; lack of independent legal counsel; signing papers while under the influence of anesthetic.

In international adoption mothers being asked to sign papers in languages they cannot read; forging DNA results and other papers' labeling kidnapped babies "abandoned"...

And none of this even begins to speak to father's rights which are simply non-existent.

And, finally, unconscionable because some, like myself, were never even a copy of what we signed and agreed to.,..and have not been able to obtain same for FORTY YEARS of requesting it! What other legal contract or agreement compares??

And what about the morality of the predatory vulture approach? Imagine undertakers sitting at the bedside of terminal patients, speaking of the patient as the "late" Mr. or Ms. so-and-so...and the spouses as widow or widower!

Imagine ambulances sitting waiting outside to transport organs!

Yet all this and more is tolerated, no accepted policy, in adoption!

Ya' gotta love the insanity!

But, don't call it "taking" our children...

Anonymous said...

Children are a blessing...not a right. I also do not believe ALL of any group are bad, and certainly do not believe for one moment that adoptive parents are evil, wicked people who steal children; but the truth is that they are desperate people who sadly cannot have a child and want a child and this becomes their driving force. Privileged infertile couples seeking children become natural predators to young, vulnerable pregnant women and children in our society and in underdeveloped poor societies around the world. They are the driving force of the adoption marketplace. One must always remember the words of Dian Wellfare Founder of Origins "In order for an adoption to be successful you must first destroy the mother". This is our truth. This says it all. This is why it doesn't work to try and work with Adoptive Parents. They are in part our Perpetrators. They are in part our Destroyers. The old "triad" model simply does not work because at some point mothers will be compelled to compromise their truth, or "be quiet", or become "Birthmothers" and this is simply not acceptable. Our truths are too far apart; it is akin to having the fox in the henhouse in sheep's clothing. When push comes to shove, the fox will emerge and that fox has emerged here. And by the way, Pat, Mirah DOES speak for mothers when she says "Those Who Take our Children Take our Happiness Forever".
Valerie

Mirah said...

Clearly no one wants to be a predator. No one wakes up one day and says I'm going to pressure someone out of a child anymore than we wake up and decide, I'd like to have child and give it away to a stranger to raise.

However, many who adopt say they thought about adopting since they were quite young, which is because it is so mythologized and romanticized as an altruitsic act of rescueing a child in need...an "orphan" just waiitng for them!

Adopters are the last link in the chain that creates the demand...but there are underlying causes that propel them into that choice e.g. being convinced they can delay childbearing and engage in other behaviors that increase the risk of infertility and then "just" adopt.

So, there is a great deal that needs to change to break the cycle.

An important step IMO would be infertility prevention added to H.S. health ed classes, for both genders.

And no one speaks for ALL of any group...you can actually find some mothers who will say they are content with their "decision" to place a child for adoption, even if 99% of them are still in an open adoption honeymoon phase.

Margie said...

Mirah, in your reference to this weekend's altercation, you leave out an important fact: You were the attacker, not the attacked. You made the decision to leave two out-of-proportion comments, to post here, and then to continue your diatribe in additional comments.

Disliking my post (which you willfully misread and misinterpreted to make your point) is one thing; lambasting as you did is another. From my side of this event, I do not see how you can claim not to be a "broad brush" person; your brush was mighty broad this time. Your recent awards to adoptive parents does not balance your behavior.

If, as you say, you didn't know who the author of the blog was, why take a post that talked to an adoptive parent's conflict regarding adoption, conflict stemming from the pain and ugliness that parent had seen, and skewer them as you did? If that blog's author had been someone less committed to the issues, she would have dismissed you immediately, and you would have lost one more opportunity to reach the people you need to reach.

You know as well as I do that I am on your side when it comes to justice for women and children. Stop engineering opportunities to make yourself the victim, show a little manners, and you'll be able to reach a broader audience.

Mei Ling said...

Why do you keep dragging Trenka's name into this?

I'm sure her book can speak for itself. ;)

O Solo Mama said...

You and E. J. Graff do not speak with the same voice; nor do you speak in a similar tone. In fact, you do not even hold the same views. She is not anti-adoption.

Mirah Riben said...

Obviously E.J. and I are two different people, but we agree on the fact that there are a lot of myths and a lot of ugly truths that are very hard for people to face. Period. She has said many of the same things I have said in my book.

Likewise my mention on Trenka's books is not "dragging her name" into anything. It was in fact a good plug for her wonderful books which I TREASURE, as I do Jane.

Whether these two people agree with one or with me on everything - which would be absurd to conclude or expect - my only point in mentioning them is that they do speak out against pain and atrocities in adoption and are not attacked for it.

You can conclude that it is because of my "tone" and you may be right. I am grateful that we have a chorus full of many tones abd voices! Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke with one voice - his - and others fight racism with different styles and perspectives unique to them. All work together, hopefully, toward positive change.

Mirah Riben said...

PART ONE OF TWO:

Marge,

Improve MY manners? How many times can I apologize and have them refused, ignored, not returned, and instead stand accused of your judgments of my intent?

I never once implied that you intentionally or willfully chose your post on Mothers day or eve. I said it hurt me seeing it on that day.

I never would imply that you would do anything willfully or intentionally to hurt another, Marge. In fact I used the word “uncharacteristic” to describe what happened. I have sung your praises. In the comment just above your most recent, I recognize you – again – as “one of the good people” in adoption reform. (And, BTW, I have been giving awards since 2007 and do so not to “balance” anything.)

Marge, the first three of your friends to comment on your blog pointed out that the timing was inappropriate and understandably triggering. Yet you never once took any responsibility. Instead you defended and blamed me which escalated the situation.

In hindsight, even if I knew it was your blog, what I said needed to be said for me and for any others who might read your blog. I might have said it differently and expressed surprise at your timing had I known it was you, may have softened it, I cannot say…but I would have still expressed the hurt it triggered for me and other mothers.

I am not the AAC, or Donaldon or Ethica all of which work to please all the people all the time. I am not a national organization nor do I represent any. I am just one person. I do no fundraising and do not need to increase membership or conference attendance by kissing up to anyone or taking middle-of-the road positions. I am an activist and I am a mother who lost a child to adoption. I speak from and for just one perspective and do not pretend to be or do anything else.

Having said that does NOT mean, however, that I would ever intentionally hurt you or anyone either.

I understand that what I said hurt you, Marge – felt like I was raining on your parade. I do. I really do. That is why I have apologized ad nuseam on my blog and yours. You have not once in all of this showed me one ounce of compassion or understanding, only judgment, blame, and accusations of ill intent.

Your comments are still on my bog…saying “you didn’t ask for an apology” instead of accepting mine….saying I “chose” to read it on Mothers day….your unapologetic denials of any inappropriate timing… it’s all there – all of your blaming of me as are your very current judgments and accusations of me still… as are all of my apologies, here and on your blog.

continued...

Mirah Riben said...

PART TWO OF TWO:

We cannot go back and change hurtful things that have been said. But we can choose to continue to perpetuate anger and blame and judgment and intent…or forgive forget and go on…or not, Marge.

I have chosen to use this entire unfortunately painfully experience – for both of us - as a learning experience. I am admittedly slow and dense at times. Last night I finally ‘got’ why the word “take” struck such a cord. Adoptive parents want to believe that their children were GIVEN TO them, destined by God or fate to be theirs; or that they were chosen by the natural mother.

Women of my generation – and the women in other countries today - did not choose the parents of our children nor did we chose to lose them; they were taken by agencies (or baby brokers, or worse.)

For me the word is my truth and is as benign as it is in wedding vows when each party promises to “take” the other as his or her spouse, or when a lover says “take me.”

This discourse has led me to a deeper understanding of how words have very different meanings and trigger different emotional reactions for different people with very different perspectives on the same act or event and color how we read and interpret others’ words.

I have chosen to forgive, learn and move on. Having been over, under and through this issue inside and out, I am DONE with all blaming accusations and analysis of who said what to whom and why, knowing that I have done all I can do to reach peace. I have moved on and am three or four new posts beyond it. I am not going back to your blog – nor posting on mine – with inflammatory accusations, nor have I ever accused you of any ill intent whatsoever in any of this, Marge. I have chosen not to close this discussion but am limiting it to the ISSUES and not to personal criticism or judgments.

I hope that in time you can put this behind you.

I wish you peace now and always, and hope you find it.

Campbell said...

Two things stand out to me here that I would like to comment on. The first one is how you, Mirah, keep ranting about being attacked by adoptive parents. Your comment on the blog post in question was not only ill received by adoptive parents. I wrote a very strong comment in reply to your original words on the evil blog post in question. I am an adopted person who's never adopted.

Second, I sure as hell hope there is paradox for biological mothers. I know there would be for me if I were one.

I would hate what had happened to me, but would hope my child did NOT hate what had happened to them all the while struggling with the feeling of wishing they hated that they were adopted as much as I did.

I would want my child to love me and want to know me and reunite, but intellectually I would also want that same child to love the parents that raised him or her as much or more, yet all the while still fighting the selfish desire to wish it was me and only me, that I was better than their adoptive parents. But then, what kind of a mother would wish for something like that?

These are very conflicting feelings and as an adopted person and a mother I know it's what I would struggle with if I'd lost a child to adoption.

Even amidst the pain (some) biological mothers feel is it not their hope that their child is happy in spite of it, and is it not difficult to feel this way? Is a woman who's lost her child to someone else not happy if the child is happy, even if she herself is unhappy?

maryanne said...

Yes Campbell, there is a paradox for mothers who are able to see beyond their personal loss, I wish my son had gotten the kind of parents I imagined he did. I was devastated to find out how he felt about his adoptive mother who apparently was mentally ill and somewhat abusive. But he is ok now, a happily married man, and I am much relieved to see how well he turned out, however he was raised.

I always wanted to know him, but did not expect him to want to know me, and for many years after being contacted he did not. Giving up my son caused me great pain and messed up my life, like so many other mothers, but I cannot say my joy was "taken forever". I did not feel that the adoptive parents "took away" my child. The agency did that; they were just next in line for a kid. I am very grateful my son's adoptive father was a good person, and honor the love my son still has for him years after he died.

Even though I have suffered on and off from depression, which existed before I surrendered, I have also had and continue to have joy in my life, especially with my other kids I raised.

I feel that my son and I have come through in more or less one piece, even if we never have a close relationship, and for that I am grateful.There are many paradoxes for some birthmothers just as there are for some adoptive mothers. Another person's happiness does not diminish mine, especially not an adoptive mother writing on the internet whose life has nothing to do with mine, and who has done a lot for adoption understanding herself.

Mirah Riben said...

Campbell,

I "ranted" about feeling attacked. I do not think I identified by whom...but thank you for pointing out that some adoptees were likewise upset at my expression of my pain or a perceived attack on Marge.

More importantly...

"struggling with the feeling of wishing they hated that they were adopted as much as I did."

Are you suggesting that I feel that way or ever wished that conflict on my child?

If you are, I have no idea where you would get such an opinion from. I always hoped and prayed that my child was well, safe, cared for loved... as you said, what mother wouldn't?

But whatever struggles, ambiguities or paradoxes you or my daughter or any other adoptees feels are THEIRS not mine!

I stated that for me as a mother there is no ambiguity in my pain, no joy, no happiness.

But you are right - there are paradoxes for me as a mother who lost a child to adoption:
That I am a mother without my child and that another is. That I am her mother and a stranger at to my own child.

None of which brings me happiness.

I hope you read the presentation on the universality of grief as it explains how reunion does not always make it better and sometimes exacerbates the grief and loss of one's child's childhood.

Every one of us experiences these things in our own way...

Campbell said...

"Are you suggesting that I feel that way or ever wished that conflict on my child?"

No

KimKim said...

Campbell, bell of camp or bell that is camp, sorry can't resist..

are you suggesting there are mothers who feel no pain at all? Just give the baby away and fell nada, nixs, niente? Nothing?

Even amidst the pain (some) biological mothers feel is it not their hope that their child is happy in spite of it

Is it not better if we just speak of our own experiences?

People who haven't experienced losing a child to adoption, would you mind awfully not talking about women who do this and don't feel a thing? Really you don't know so don't you think it's rather insulting to us mother who did feel something?

Is that asking too much?

I think it's very rude to write some in brackets.

I was also offended by the other comment about mothers abandoning without a backward glance.

Now really, if you think about it, how appropriate is it to allude to the idea tha mothers do this without caring?

It makes me want to slap your face. Lucky for you I have some control and even luckier I can't slap your camp bell face through the computer.

All this drama has brought out the worst in everyone. Including me.

What we focus on gets bigger, perhaps it's time for me to go focus on good stuff again.

Mirah Riben said...

That's a relief, Campbell. :-)

The loss of a child to adoption or to death leaves a hole in a mother's heart that no other child fills. So while I have experienced happiness: love, children, work, fun, music, a grandson...

I lost FOREVER any happiness attached to THAT child's life growing up. Those joys are gone FOREVER. Someone else shared them and reaped that happiness.

In my personal case, I have had even my Facebook memorial for my daughter threatened with being taken down by her legal family and was subjected to hearing them say that "it was all is just a bad memory" for them. Did they mean her whole life? I don't know. If she brought them any joy they have chosen not to share it with me. I guess I don't even deserve any vicarious joy...or perhaps she was just a disappointment to them. I don't know.

It seems clear, however, that her too short life was not filled with joy or happiness, at least not in the end.

Mirah Riben said...

KimKim...

I know it is upsetting to have someone who has not shared our experience speak about us and our feelings...but..

"are you suggesting there are mothers who feel no pain at all?"

I don't think Campbeel did. You even quoted her saying:"Even amidst the pain"...so clearly she is not dismissing all of our pain.

and as I read her comment, it was what she would HOPE we would feel.

I would simply like to out that I am not fond of being called a biological mother, and it is overall the LEAST popular term among mothers who have expressed opinions about it.

Campbell said...

Well, I apologize for using a term you're not fond of but for me, it's the most meaningful. If I comment here again I'll try to remember your preference.

KimKim...I have nothing to say to your comment.

Mirah Riben said...

Campbell,

Are you reunited?

KimKim said...

You're right I over reacted to Camp-Bell's comment, I see that now.

Sorry Campbell, I was a bit overly dramatic.

I read it again and see what you mean.

Mirah Riben said...

KimKim,

I am SOOO very sorry for the pain this has caused you.

I think we have ALL over-reacted. I said that in my very first apology to Marge.

I have understood Marge's reaction from the first and I have never held any of this against her and never asked anyone to take sides. I pray that you don't.

We have all been harmed and our bruises too easily re-open in ways that are so very painful that cause us to ooze with over-reactions and emotions flaring.

May you find peace...

KimKim said...

No dearest Mirah, it's not that I take sides and I really don't blame you for any of this. It just that the whole drama kind of blew away the smoke screen and then I saw things differently and don't feel safe anymore.

In many ways this is a gift because if my vision is clearer then I can only get stronger right? I just don't see Margie as a safe person anymore that's all. She hasn't done anything wrong either.

It's not that I'm not at peace it's just that I am always running from feeling pain about adoption. I want to keep running because I like to be happy.

You didn't do anything wrong.

Mirah Riben said...

KimKim,

After my daughter's death I was refused membership on two email support lists for mothers who lost children to adoption. i didn't have wither a good or bad reunion story, and I had met my daughter before she died and so did not fit on the "found a grave" list.

I KNOW what it is like to feel like a leper in the leper colony!!

On that note - I cannot help wondering, if I had posted: THOSE of US who have deceased children have lost our happiness FOREVER" if it would have been questioned, challenged, torn apart as this statement was??

KimKim, I wish you well and would like to call you a friend and stay in touch, in whatever way you might find comfortable doing that...

Mirah Riben said...

To all opposed to broad brush pluralities, that actually use the word "ALL" (as opposed to having it read into where it was not stated)...:

"All birth parents must deal with grief."
http://www.adopting.org/impact.html
http://www.adoptiononline.com/aecimpact.cfm
www.birthmotherhelp.com/grief.htm
www.birthparentblog.com/2009/11/grief-process.html

Cedar said...

"All birth parents must deal with grief."

I would be inclined to go out on a limb and qualify this as:

"All *coerced* birth parents must deal with grief, which is not only an indicator of coercion by its very existence, but the severity of the grief indicates the level of coercion that was used on the mother. Mothers who were not coerced feel no grief.

Mirah Riben said...

Cedar,

I disagree. That might be said about PTSD, possibly...and I have read that the less control one has over a decision the more regret or even anger is felt...

But as for GRIEF, that seems to me to be a direct reaction to the loss and the loss is the same whether it was coerced or not. Whether a child was taken by they state, or as in my case the relinquishment was pressured but not coerced, or even mothers who have described their entrance into an open adoption as totally their willing choice -- I have heard all such mothers express grief over the loss of being there (as mommy) and knowing how their child is fairing...

I mean grief is experienced by loss to death and that has nothing to do with coercion...

Grief is sadness...

Defined as: "mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow"

Wiki defines it as: "a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed."

I don't see how it's tied - or limited - to loss that involves coercion...

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget