An adoptee rights bill is up for voting in Connecticut. Please, please, please (pretty pretty please) write an email to: PHC.Testimony@cga.ct.gov in support of the passing of this bill which would give all adopted persons over the age of 21 in Connecticut access to their original birth certificates. More information at Access CT’s website here: http://www.accessconnecticut.org./
Here is a sample email (pretty easy):
To Public Health Committee Co-Chairs Senator Terry Gerratana and Representative Susan Johnson, and Members of the Public Health Committee:
I am writing to ask for your support of Raised Bill 5144, An Act Concerning Access to Birth Certificates and Parental Health Information for Adoptive Persons. I have a (friend/family member) who is (an adoptee, adoptive parent, birth parent, etc.). I strongly believe that ALL adult adoptees should have access to their original birth certificates, and the bill should be both retroactive and prospective.
Thank-you very much for your consideration.
1. You have given the adoptive parents such a gift.
A human being is not a gift to be given, period.
2. You can always have more children.
Human beings are not interchangeable. Even if I go on to have more children, they will never replace my child that was given away for adoption. If you wouldn’t say this to a mother who lost their child to death, don’t say it to a mother who relinquished their child.
Also, this statement may not be true. Secondary infertility is a known issue in birthmothers.
3. Your child will always know how much you loved them.
There is no way to know how an adoptee will feel about their relinquishment. Some feel that adoption was great, some do not. Some harbor righteous anger against their birth mothers, some do not. Some live with pain and anxiety their whole lives. There is a higher risk of suicide among adoptees. There is no way of knowing how an adoptee will handle their adoption status.
4. Time heals all wounds.
Maybe it does for some. For me, it has not. For many, it has not. The grief I experience today is different than the grief I experienced when I first relinquished, but it has never left me. The wound is more like a festering sore that opens and closes without provocation. It will never heal. Again, if you wouldn’t say something like this to a parent who has lost a child to death, don’t say it to a first mother.
5. Take solace in knowing your child has been given a better life.
Adoption can never promise a child will have a better life, only a different one. Although this statement probably represents the main reason most women give their child up for adoption, it just is not true. The only person who can promise to give their child the best life is their biological parents. Once the adoption is finalized, the life is out of their hands.
6. Everything happens for a reason.
Okay, but maybe it is a piss poor reason. There is no reason that I would be comfortable with that would explain why my child had to be given away to strangers.
7. Thank you for choosing adoption over abortion.
This has been covered many times, but again, the choice is not between abortion and adoption. Don’t assume that a I am pro-life just because I gave my child up for adoption.
8. You are so strong, I could never give my child up for adoption.
So wait, am I a better person than you or a worse person because I just can not tell what you are thinking here.
9. You need to move on with your life.
Please do not give me a timeline to grieve. Moving forward is inevitable, but moving on…well that’s tricky. I have not moved on, I probably never will move on. I think what you really mean is that you are uncomfortable hearing about my grief and do not want to talk about it any longer.
10. Your child’s birthday must be so hard for you.
Hmmmmm, yes it is, but guess what? So is every single other day since the adoption. Some are harder than others. I’m sure it makes you feel more comfortable to believe that I only think about my son on that one day a year, but that is not an accurate representation of my grief.
When I gave my son up for adoption I was led to believe that he would have no feelings of abandonment. I was led to believe that he would be “as if” born to his new parents. It was my understanding that it would be best to sign the relinquishment papers as soon as possible (here in Connecticut you can not sign until 48 hours after the birth). I wanted him to bond immediately with his parents so that he would not feel abandoned by me. I thought that “trying to parent” him would be detrimental to his mental health. I did not want him to go to cradle care because I wanted him to feel safe with his new parents. I was led to believe that if I did not sign at the 48 hour mark, there was no guarantee that he could be adopted by anyone and he might be forced to live in foster care. I assumed that he would have no emotional attachment to me, his mother. It turns out, I may have been very wrong.
The Separation of Adoptee and Mother Can Be Traumatic
Karl Stenske has written a thought provoking article at Adoptive Voices Magazine, entitled, “Adoptee View: What Can a Tiny Baby Know?” Here is a little about the author:
Karl Stenske shares a rich and compelling story as an adoptee. Being one of the many who had a great adopted family, he never thought being adopted had a big effect on his life. But at 37, Karl began to unravel the true impact adoption did have on his life and the lives of those who loved, and tried to love him. A sought after speaker and educator, Karl offers insights into the wounds created when any child is separated from his birth mother. In The Hidden Life of an Adopted Child: Understanding the Impact of Adoption, Karl explores the traumatic experience suffered by that separation and its influence on self-esteem, value, worth, and identity.
His article describes how adoption is not only a trauma to the birth mother, but also to the adoptee. We have no way of knowing this because a baby has no language. He can’t tell us what he is feeling except by crying or lack of crying. It stands to reason that if a baby knows their biological mother through smell or their voice that if they are taken away from their mother they would mourn. It must be traumatic, being taken away from everything you have ever known.
Stenske also goes on to explain that many adoptees carry this trauma with them throughout their lives. Sometimes without ever realizing that their fear of abandonment, depression, relationship issues, low self-esteem, etc. could stem from the original trauma of being given up for adoption. It is troubling to learn that the incidence of attempted suicide is higher in the adoptee population than in the general population (7.6% vs. 3.1%) as reported by a 2001 study*.
Adoptee Trauma Must Be Part of the Conversation
It concerns me greatly to hear Stenske’s point of view. Concerns me because as a naive 21 year old who was told my child would have a better life I was not told about the potential for a negative impact on my son. The entire premise of giving my son up for adoption was based on the notion that he would have the best life possible, much better than what he would have with me. If that wasn’t the truth, than I would never have considered it.
Information on the life long negative impact of adoption trauma to adoptees must be presented to expecting mothers considering adoption. A person considering adoption must be made aware of all the facts of adoption, not just the sunshiney picture of it most agencies and adoption counselors like to present.
*Slap G., Goodman E., Huang B. (2001). Adoption as a risk factor for attempted suicide in adolescence. Pediatrics Aug,108(2)E30.
Bravelove : A Fountain of Adoption Misinformation
Claud over at Musings of the Lame has written an informative piece on Bravelove. Their mission? Yeah, I’m her
stalker superfan. She’s got mad investigating skills, check out what she dug up on Bravelove.
Bravelove Uses Adoption Propaganda to Get Fresh Infants
I want to address Bravelove’s video (seen below):
So, what’s wrong with this video, you ask?
1. It is written from the supposed viewpoint of a child and presumably an adoptee. This would lead someone to believe that all adoptees are thrilled they are adopted (false) and that all adoptees view their birth mothers in a positive light (also false). An expectant mother would view this video thinking that adoption is what is best for the child (yup false). Of course we want what is best for our baby, but adoption is not always the answer. The only thing adoption can promise is that our baby’s life will be different, not better. It is also disturbing that the agency is speaking FOR adoptees through this child.
2. Birthmothers are called superheroes. If I am an expecting mother watching this, I’m probably thinking it would be really cool to be a superhero and the only way to gain that status is to give my baby away. It is much more heroic to raise your own child when faced with obstacles. So, if I’m a superhero for giving my child away, what am I if I decide to keep him? A super villain?
It also implies that the adoptee will view their birthmother as such. Take a look at all the adult adoptee blogs out there. There are many, many views about their first mothers. It’s never as simple as, “she was a superhero.”
3. If we replace the weird super hero jedi kid running around and mouthing off about adoption with a prospective adoptive mother the entire tone and attitude of the video changes. It would sound like a person who really really really really wants to raise someone else’s baby. It would sound like they were entitled to raise someone’s baby. It would be offensive.
4. All the double-talk Mom-mother speak is confusing. Which one am I again?
5. Quote from the masked jedi, “She can turn 9 months into a lifetime…” The first time I watched this video I literally yelled, “OF PAIN” at the computer. Tell me, Obi-wan Adoptee, what exactly does a lifetime without your child feel like? What exactly does a lifetime of being separated from your first family feel like?
6. MAYBE that’s easier said than done??? MAYBE??? But being a superhero always is. There is no maybe about it. Giving my child away was the most traumatic event in my life thus far. I could not have chosen a more painful path to walk on in this lifetime. I assure you that giving my baby away is far more painful than raising him on my own could have ever been.
Bravelove Needs Expectant Mothers to Believe They are Saints
Could this company try any harder to make women think they are saints for giving up their children? Since when is it an expecting mother’s DUTY to make a couple a family?
What is even worse than this video is Bravelove’s facebook page They offer up statistics, never citing where they came from. They have nauseating “fill in the blank, adoption is….” posts which of course have adoptive parents lining up to tell us what adoption means to them. Their entire page and website is visual ipecac.
Just yesterday, the mission on their facebook page and website was stated as “increasing domestic adoptions”. Funny how today it has been changed to: “To change the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption.” I guess the PR peeps thought that stating they wanted to increase their supply of fresh out of the womb infants for the growing demand of adopters with tons of money to throw at their agency was a little too truthful.
My final thought on Bravelove: Their website and facebook page is only presenting the image of the “happy adoption.” There is no exploration or communication of the fact that there are many people out there that have been through or are still involved in adoption that don’t view adoption in a happy light.
18…the magic number in first mother land. It is the age of adulthood for adoptees and for me, the age when I can finally reach out to my son.
My head keeps dreaming of the day when I am able to contact him. I know this is probably a fantasy though. The fact of the matter is, I have no idea what kind of 18 year old my son will grow up to be. He is 14 now so I have 4 long years to ruminate and think about every possible outcome to contact, if I am even able to do so.
My greatest hope is that he will be open to a relationship on some level. That he will be a happy 18 year old who is curious about his roots. That his adoptive parents will have nurtured his curiousity and not stifled it.
I pour over every adult adoptee’s blog I can read looking for an answer to how my son will feel about me. The truth is, there is no one answer. Most reunions have their ups and downs and there is just not one right answer to what will happen.
My greatest fear is that he will not be the least bit interested in getting to know me and his siblings. My greatest fear is that he will be angry and feel that I abandoned him.
It is so difficult being in a closed adoption. I have no idea what my son has been told about me. I don’t know if he ever asks about me. I don’t even know what his parents had been told about me, or if they even cared. The only thing I know for sure is that his parents don’t want me in his or their life right now. This hurts on a primal level.
I have read so many articles about how adolescents can experience identity crises at around his age now. I want so much to tell him he was wanted. He was loved. I am so sorry I gave him up for adoption. If he is angry, I want to let him yell at me. I want him to scream insults and profanities. Anything is better than not knowing. Anything is better than this blank fucking hole in my soul.
I can’t imagine what it feels like to go through life not knowing your own “birth story”. Not knowing the circumstances surrounding your adoption (other than your parents wanting to raise you). Not knowing that I held you for 2 days when you were born, that I named you, that I loved you to my core. I still love you, I will always love you.
I feel like I have been white knuckling through the last 14 years, waiting for that magic 18. My heart says 4 more years to go. But the truth is that no matter what my heart tells me, there is no guarantee that my son will even respond to me when I contact him. There is no guarantee that he will acknowledge me at all. This is a reality that I am going to have to face over the next 4 years. But for now, my soul is hanging on by its fingertips to the hope that I will see my son again.