Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The "Not Good Enough" Legacy of Adoption on Mother's Day

At the height of our adolescence when we are struggling with self-awareness many adoptees and mothers who have lost children to adoption are struck a lifelong traumatizing blow.

For the adoptee who has been told they are adopted, adolescence and biology classes bring a new awareness of the flip side of having been chosen. Someone - the most important in our psyche - didn't want me, gave me away, rejected me. The result can be anger, depression, denial, addictions or a need to over-achieve and difficulty forming relationships.

For mothers, it is often around this time, or early 20s, that we are facing losing our children which all too often in the past was accomplished through dehumanizing us as sluts, an embarrassment to our families, and not fit to parent. Undeserving, even selfish to think about it. Today, the messages are subtler and put more of the onus on the mother allowing her to feel more in control by making decisions like to whom she hands her most precious child, so she may even greater regrets and less others to blame later on. Many mothers relinquishing today are also faced with out and out deception and feel betrayed, but that's another issue for another blog post.

We too suffer from all the above named, from anger to addiction, to deep depression, to lives of having to prove ourselves and surely difficulty with relationships.

For myself I see the lifelong scarring these negative messages has done as deep and powerful as the loss itself - a loss we weren't even allowed to grieve! A loss we were made to suffer in silence, acting as if nothing had happened which only worsened it's traumatic effects.

No matter what I accomplish in life, those voices of my not being good enough remain crystal clear. I can over shout them at times, ignore them, but they are always there, albeit on the back burners of my conscious mind.

Our adult lives are built on a foundation of UNWORTHINESS and SHAME because adoption is so surrounded with secrecy and unworthiness are shame are extremely TOXIC, traumatizing messages.  They are insidious and effect every aspect of our lives.

MOTHER'S DAY for me is a constant reminder of my failure as a mother of my firstborn, while for adoptees it holds it's own special painful reminder of the woman who didn't scale the tallest buildings to keep her.

As this dreaded weekend approaches, I wish all my peeps the best it can be. 

My wish for all of us is a toast of forgiveness. Forgive all of those who caused us pain. Forgive all who tear families apart. Hold them responsible for their actions, and keep healthy boundaries, but try to forgive to lighten your load.

And most of all forgive ourselves!!  No sappy cards or gifts. Just be kind to yourself and know that your E-N-O-U-G-H  just the way you are!!!

Affirm yourself. Empower yourself. Take back all that adoption has taken from us, emotionally. Our family tress are irreparably broken, but just as Katrina and Super Storm Sandy victims rebuilt lives, we too can work to rebuild our storm ravaged psyches. For most in New Orleans that did not mean ever coming back home. Their homes have never built rebuilt and never will be. Their pasts and everything they had totally destroyed, annihilated like and adoptees pasts, genealogy, lineage.  It meant starting over. And we must, too.

Know that you are no more responsible for having been given away than any child is responsible for any childhood abuse or neglect. Mothers, know that you did the best you possibly could with what you had at the time in terms of physical and psychological support as well as knowledge of what it all would mean down the line. Forgive yourself for not being a psychic and seeing the future, for, for many of us that would have meant fighting harder.

REJECT THE SHAME and RECLAIM YOURSELF as a wonderful human being.


Anonymous said...

Nah...uh no Mirah I love you and your blog but this is one adoptee that isn't going to forgive the adoption people. Especially since they aren't even sorry. First moms forgiving themselves, yeah and personally as an adoptee, well like the song says (Baba O'Reilly) I don't need to be forgiven. Nice sentiment you expressed but you know what? Some things are unforgivable.

Mirah Riben said...

OK, I was not clear enough.

When I say forgive "for yourself" that is *not* forgiving yourself - mother or adoptee. Nor is it granting abstinance to anyone.

It is a philosophical/psychological practice of LETTING GO of anger that only hurts the angry person.

It doesn't mean becoming saintly either. And anger will pop up from time to time, but it's working on letting it go - that which eats at you from the inside and can make us physically ill. That is what I mean by forgive. You don't ever have to tell the other - ever! Because it's not about them, it's about YOU!

And I disagree with you that birth mothers need to forgive ourselves. We need to share the guilt and take reposnsibility only for what we are truly responsible for, but no one needs to forgive me, not even me. I did nothing wrong. I was exploited and pressured. I regret the result that had on my daughter, but she and I were both victims of the adoption industy.

Anonymous said...

Oh I know-I said First mothers should forgive themselves because I thought that is what you were implying. ie: rather than feel shame, etc that none of you should feel anyway. The people that tried and still try to make you all hate yourselves should feel shame. They should feel shame for how it drove your daughter to take her life too. This post, it just I don't know. You are implying forgiveness and the stupid adoption people never forgive any of us. And look at all the tragedy that comes because of it, yet they turn a blind eye. More proof that you are the better person and always were. You just wanted to love your child which is normal and they wanted you to leave her which isn't. Ditto for all the other First moms and adoptees who want to know and love our natural families. They take love and turn it into ugliness. So again we are the better people because love will always be better than hate. Hugs to you Mirah, I wish I could take all the pain they caused away from you because you don't deserve it. I wish I could take it from the rest of us too.

Mirah Riben said...

Thank you. I guess what time has done for me is allow me to understand this concept of forgiveness as soething we do to help heal ourselves so as to NOT let "them" continuje to take one shred more of my soul!

With time, I have become able to separate. I was able to have THE BEST Mother's Day ever this year celebrating the joys and milesstones of the family I raised with pride and joy, but never hace I or will waiver in the righteous fight against child traffickers, the exploiters of povery and crisis, and those who deny adoptees rights.

In an odd way Alicia's death also helped bring peace because it brought closure. I am no longer eaten alive worrying about her or hurt by rejection or any of that. I know that she is at peace and so I take some refuge in that. I believe that in krama for those those who harmed her and contributed to her suffering and death. She is at peace. Her tortured life no more. I focus on the photos of her on her FB memorial page that reflects her in a happy time...a tooo short life that wa shappy on the outside and painful on the inside. She hid it well. Played the good adoptee. Now she doesn't have to placate anymore...

Mirah Riben said...

But, actually, I was ALWAYS able to separate the personal from the professional and the fight for what is right.

Neither of my two books nor any of my articles are about me or my personal adoption journey or plight. Whether things were good in my reunion or after she passed away.

I wrote my first book in 1988, LONG before my daughter's death. Nothing I wrote was out of personal bitterness. I was always more taken by the suffering of others.

I feel for the mothers today duped into open adoptions with lies. And I feel for and write about the mothers in Guatemala and Ethiopia whose children are stolen from them.

My WORK in adoption is driven by a moral, social wrong that needs to be righted, not by personal animosity. So I can allow healing without lessening my impact.

I can enjoy the children I've raised without shadows or ghsots hanging over a wonderful Mother's day.

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