I participated in a discussion about birth mothers giving their children up for adoption on Huffpost Live on Monday. It was the first time I have ever spoken in such a public way about my experience and it felt good to get some of it out of me. My adoption experience is like this weight I carry around and I don’t even notice it is so heavy until I let a little of it go.
My husband and I don’t talk about the adoption very often or at all really. He has tried to understand my feelings, but up until now, he hasn’t gotten it. We had a conversation about the adoption last night. Okay, it was more like a Chernobyl level meltdown.
He asked me why it was so important for me to speak publicly about it and then uttered one phrase that opened the flood gates. He said, “I don’t understand it, no one put a gun to your head.” He didn’t say this to hurt me, of that I am sure. He said it out of utter frustration because he just could not understand. The amount of anger that I leveled at him was unprecedented in our relationship. I screamed at him:
IT WAS NOT A CHOICE! I WAS LIED TO! WHAT HAPPENED TO ME AND MY SON WAS NOT RIGHT!
I went on, crying, stammering, blubbering about all of the things that were withheld from me, all of the out right lies that were fed to me. How I was pushed to feel sorry for the adoptive parents who would be heartbroken if I changed my mind. How no one, not even my own family, supported me enough to at least explain to me my parenting options. I screamed that I was made to feel ashamed, and still do feel the shame of my so-called decision. What kind of mother gives away her child?!?
My husband, seeing me in this state, cried right along with me. For the first time, he understood. More than that, he got ANGRY. I could feel his raw emotion, the absolute disgust he felt with my family, with the agency, with everyone I was close with at that time in my life. For the first time, I felt like I had someone in my corner, someone who loved me and supported me. He finally understood why I can’t “get over it”. I love him for listening to me, more than that, for hearing me. I love him for not trying to solve me. Adoption is not a problem to be solved, at least not in my lifetime. It is not ever going to go away and all he can offer me is a partner to go through it with.
In this season of Thankgiving, I am grateful for my husband.
As seen on Craigslist New Haven this week:
We are a married couple who are unable to have children of our own and are looking to you to help us with your generous gift.
We will offer your baby a lifetime of love, support, and caring in a great home environment.
We’re looking for a private adoption and have already had our home study completed by a reputable licensed agency.
We work with a great adoption attorney who has adopted children himself and is a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.
Please visit our website to learn more about us. http://www.IreneandGreg.com or call us at 1-888-292-2003 (our direct line)
Thanks for visiting and we look forward to meeting you!
This one included pics of a beautiful home, an empty, fully loaded nursery, and wedding photos of the couple:
Our baby boys passed away as infants due to unforeseen, unrelated health problems. Our love of children and the desire to build a family has led us to adoption. We have a completed home study and are waiting to give an infant an excellent home.
If you, or someone you know, is considering placing their child for adoption please review our website at http://www.DanaandBobby2Adopt.shutterfly.com to learn more about us and contact us at DanaandBobby2Adopt@yahoo.com or 973-223-6453 when you are ready. The decision you are considering is a selfless act of pure love, strength and courage. We admire you more than words can describe and hope to join you on this journey together.
Craigslist Adoption Ads are Unethical and Disturbing
Dear Irene, Greg, Dana, and Bobby,
Stop it. You are so much better than this. The fact that you are posting ads on craigslist in the hopes of bringing home someone else’s precious child seriously calls into question your ethical and moral boundaries. Actually, it flat out screams you have none. Even if it does work, do you really want to have to explain to your child that you placed an ad for him on Craigslist? Or that his original mother decided to look for his parents on Craigslist?
Irene and Greg–
A child should not be gifted to anyone. You give gifts on birthdays and holidays. You wrap them up with a pretty bow. Children are not things to be gifted.
What in God’s name does YOU having a wonderful adoption attorney have to do with anything? I seriously hope you are not suggesting that this attorney can represent both yourselves AND a potential birth mother. That would be highly unethical and a big, fat conflict of interests.
I also find it strange that your “direct line” is a toll-free number. So you want this woman to potentially give you their baby, but can’t bear the thought of her having your home phone number…sketchy.
Dana and Bobby–
I am so sorry for your loss. Nothing, not even adopting a new baby, will make that loss easier to cope with. The fact that you are using the death of your sons to try to coerce a mother into giving you their baby is disgusting. The entire reason you bring your dead sons’ up in the ad is to pull at the heart strings. Take a good look in the mirror and decide if that is the kind of people you want to be.
You call the decision to give a child up, “a selfless act of pure love, strength and courage.” So, if that same person decides to keep their child is that a selfish act of pure hatred, weakness, and cowardice? Choose your words carefully please.
You say that you hope to join this mythical, as of yet unidentified, pregnant woman on her journey. It is not a journey, it is a pregnancy and you should keep the hell out of it.
I especially like the longing pic of your empty nursery. Well played, adopters, well played.
Please go troll for babies elsewhere. You aren’t even supposed to place ads for adopting dogs on craigslist, let alone infants.
A Fed Up Original Mother
P.S- If you haven’t already, please consider participating in the Craiglist Adoption Truth Project, it’s super easy and guaranteed to piss off a few people (always a plus!)
Before I start, first head on over to the First Mother Forum and read the rage levied at everyone over there from 16 and Pregnant reality TV star, Tyler Baltierra (of Catelynn and Tyler fame). If you don’t know who he is, he and his girlfriend are the current poster children for Bethany Christian Services and the adoption industry in general. They have starred on every season of Teen Mom and were in the original series, 16 and Pregnant. They are first parents.
I have commented over at FMF but I still have so much grrrrrr left in me that I need to vent it out. And so…vent commencing…
An Open Letter to Tyler Baltierra
I have tremendous empathy for you, Tyler and Catelynn, really I do. I was once a newborn first mother trying desperately to justify giving away my son. Had I read FMF back then, I probably would have been angry at first too. FMF does not discuss the virtues of adoption. It is not all rainbows and unicorn farts (which smell like cherry lemonade by the way) over there. Loraine and Jane are in the trenches, talking about the hard topics, trying to make a difference. If just one scared pregnant mother reads through FMF and decided to raise their child, it is well worth their efforts. Tyler, calling these women bitter and ignorant is incorrect. Angry about the adoption industry, for sure. Ignorant of it, absolutely not. The word ignorant does not apply here. In fact, Tyler, I am unsure if you really know what the word, ignorant, means. It seems that you believe it to mean: does not agree with Tyler. Many people disagree with me, but they are not all ignorant, although I would like to believe they are. It might be helpful to have the actual definition in front of you. Just click on ignorant and voila!
I think it’s great that you now know the last names of the people raising your daughter and their address. I haven’t kept up much with your reality show, but last I saw neither of these things were true. I’m glad your daughter’s parents decided to give you this information. However, this minor detail (sarcasm intended) probably should have been discussed with Dawn (oh I’ll get to her in a minute) before you handed over your child. In all actuality, in most cases, open adoptions tend to start to shut but it seems yours is going in the other direction which is wonderful.
In the next paragraph you say you are fully aware that the a-parents can close the adoption at any time and that is apparently fine with you. You say you chose them and they have complete control. Wowzers. I’m not sure that most people would be okay with others exerting that much control over their lives. I’m not quite sure I believe that you would be okay with Carly’s parents deciding to close all communication with you and moving to another country. You go on to say that you have FAITH and then proceed to define FAITH as, “believing in something when everyone surrounding you tells you not to”. It seems to me that everyone around YOU in particular was/is counting on you and Catelynn having faith that things will turn out wonderful. I’m not sure that I would rely on having faith when it came to having on going communication with my child. I think by faith, you mean that you truly have no alternative at this point but to believe the a-parents. I mean, you can’t do anything about it now if they chose to close the adoption. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen, for Carly’s sake. You should know that her a-parents have plenty of reasons to close it at this point, primarily the fact that you and Catelynn could be seen as doing harm to Carly’s mental health by appearing on a reality show centered around her adoption. Just keep that in mind.
You say that you researched “everything about adoption” prior to making your decision. So let me get this straight, you knew beforehand that the best thing for an infant is to stay with its mother. You knew about the life long repercussions for Carly even if she had a wondrous, rainbow filled life? You knew that there was no guarantee that the adoption would stay open? You knew how much money BCS would be making off of your daughter if you placed her? If all of that is true, I commend you because I certainly did not have any of that information nor was it offered to me by my “counselor”.
Now onto the reality tv portion of this diatribe. You say that no one knows everything about your life just because you were on tv. I agree. However, isn’t the purpose of you being on reality tv to show us, the viewer, how adoption is affecting your lives? If not, I’m just not getting it. You really can’t have it both ways. You can’t act all shaken and angry when someone comments on your VERY PUBLIC personal life. It is your choice to be in the public eye. You make money from being in the public eye. You should be aware that there will be scrutiny. Welcome to the 21st century.
Some of the comments on FMF refer to Dawn, your counselor extraordinaire. If you haven’t already, you both really need to go to a therapist or counselor that is separate from your adoption agency. Dawn had a vested interest in getting your daughter. She is employed by the agency, she earns a paycheck from the agency. Ask yourself if she would still be employed by that agency if she failed to convince women to give up their children. She also has a vested interest in you and Catelynn being vocal supporters of the adoption industry. She has no vested interest in your ACTUAL well being. She is the agency. She needs you to stay positive and vocal about adoption. You are their spokesperson and they MAKE MONEY FROM YOU being positive about adoption. Adoption agencies make money from adoption. A lot of money. Billions of dollars in fact. Please understand this and be informed. Whether or not you did the right thing for Carly in the long run, they still make money from you. Don’t let them use you both like this. Don’t let them profit from your misery. The Adoption Industry is making money from convincing women they are making a selfless decision and choosing a loving option. In what other context is giving a child away selfless or loving?
Lastly, I need to address why I, personally, take issue with you and Catelynn. People take issue with your circumstance because you are using it to coerce other birth parents into giving away their child. And since I am a birth mother, no I did not make an adoption plan, I gave my son away. No amount of positive adoption language is going to change that. If I may ask, how many birth mothers who have given their children up for adoption 10 plus years ago are ever present in your support groups or panel discussions? Close to zero, I’d wager. Do you ever wonder why that is so? These are very important questions to ask yourselves.
Please, at the very least, do some research into adult adoptee issues. Listen to the people who have gone before you, listen to their truths. Consider the facts and decide if you and Catelynn really want to be a part of contributing to the misery of other children and their birth parents by touting the virtues of adoption. Don’t react, take a deep breath, and seek out the truth of adoption. It will be painful to read what others have to say, but it will be worth it.
Catelynn and Tyler are Adoption Industry Pawns
No, my open letter is probably not the kindest. I do empathize with them to a point. However I do harbor my fair share of anger at them for being pawns in the war against scared expectant mothers. In my view, a woman who is truly sure that adoption is the right choice for her isn’t going to give a crap what the Tyler and Catelynns of the world say. It’s the women who are scared and unsure that I worry about. It’s the women who are so much like I was that break my heart. They need someone to guide them in the other direction, not toward adoption. They don’t need newly made first parents singing from the hilltops about adoption, they need fully versed first parents like Loraine and Jane to tell them what they may not want to hear, but what they NEED to hear.
I love my Mom. My Mom loves me. We have a wonderful relationship now, but it wasn’t always this way.
When I got pregnant our relationship was probably at the worst place it has ever been. I was a different person then. I had no direction in my life. My main priority was partying it up with my friends. Everything else came in a distant second place. Looking back, I think my pregnancy was the culmination of every bad decision, every fuck up, every irresponsible thing I had ever done in my life. I can see so clearly now the path that I had taken starting from bad choices in my early adolescence. There was a trajectory to my life then. It was like being caught in a current and I did not have the life skills to swim out of it.
I understand why my mom thought that adoption was the best option for me. I understand that she was not trying to be cruel. I understand that she thought it was the right thing. I was not the most trustworthy person. I was definitely not a pillar of responsibility. I had a terrible track record of laziness and self-involvement. Here’s the thing…I know why she thought adoption was the best option for everyone involved but I have anger.
I resent her because the fact is, she brought up the adoption option. She started the process. She made me think that I could not possibly be worthy of keeping my child. If she had been firm and made me accept responsibility to parent my child, everything would have been different. Me keeping my son was never given a second thought, at least not said out loud to me. I am sure she considered it, but it was never talked about out loud. When I think about it, I get very angry with her. Not the person she is now, but the mom she was then.
Now, I need to be quite clear in this. When I say “partying”, I am not talking about drugs. I am talking about going out dancing and drinking. I am also not talking about being promiscuous, there was only one man I had an ongoing relationship with and he was the father. That is a very complicated story and not all mine to tell so I won’t get into that here. I want to be clear because too many times we are judged as being crack whores from the whole of society.
Getting back to the point now. Wait, what was it again? Oh yeah, anger.
My mom did not force me into anything. I am not delusional in that. If at any point I disagreed with her and stood up for myself, I think we could have worked it out. I did not and I am ashamed of that. Goddamn it though. She should have told me I needed to get my shit together and parent my child. She should have told me that I could get child support from his father. She should have told me that accepting help from the government while I got my shit together was not the worst thing in the world. She should have told me that I could do it. She should not have given me an OUT. What I needed more than anything was someone to tell me I could do it and they would help me figure it out.
When I gave birth to my son, my mom was there. She saw what I was going through. She saw me hold him and she saw that I loved him beyond all measure. She held him for hours as well. I know she loved him. If she had just said, let’s not do this, let’s bring him home, my god I would have done it. That’s all it would have taken.
The anger I feel towards my mom is troubling to me. I love my mom. In truth, she was just as much a victim of the adoption machine as I was. She was made to believe that adoption is the loving option. She didn’t know any better. Recently, I have started talking to her about my feelings NOW on adoption. I haven’t expressed my anger towards her because it’s not really fair. How can I have anger towards my mom when she thought she was doing the right thing for me and my baby? All I can do is educate her and hope that she can see how wrong we both were.
I do a fair amount of venting about adoptive parents here. Yeah, some of them are adoptoraptors, but not all of them. I vent at them because they are a part of the adoption machine. The same machine that made my mom think adoption was a loving choice. Instead of focusing my anger on my mom, I’m trying to focus it on the people that set up the circumstances surrounding the adoption. Hopefully, I can start turning all the anger I feel into something positive. Hopefully I can turn the anger into a way to prevent mothers being separated from their children needlessly. I am trying. It’s a process.
1. I hate that I can not talk about it with most people.
The few friends I have spoken about it with have given me the pity “cancer” face. Holy Christ how I hate that fucking pity face. I get it, most people don’t know what to say and so they default to “the face”. So what would be better than “the face”? It is so hard for me to talk about my experience and so if I brought it up, please ask me questions. It does not hurt less not to talk about it.
2. I hate that most people think we are drug addicts, abusers, neglectful, uneducated, and ignorant.
In my experience, most people assume one if not all of these things about us. Yeah it’s true in some cases, but not in most I would wager. These stereotypes make it even harder to talk about the pain I feel. I can’t feel comfortable discussing issues surrounding adoption if I’m looked at as a junkie welfare momma. In some cases, it’s easier for people to label us this way in their heads so they don’t have to deal with the fact that we are the same as adoptive parents in many ways.
3. I hate that I have built up these emotional walls around myself because of the pain of giving away my son.
Giving my oldest away has permeated every facet of my life. The trauma of not bringing home my baby made my brain change. My brain is trying to protect me from ever having to feel that pain again. I can not tear down these walls. I love my children and my husband more than I can say, but I know there is a part of me that expects them all to leave. Being a birth mother has made me an eternal pessimist, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am unable to accept and fully experience happy moments in my life because I’m always looking for “the catch”. I’m just waiting for something to happen to make that pain return. Living this way sucks balls.
4. I hate that someone else is raising my child.
Selfish, right? Experiencing the joy of watching my other 3 children grow up has made me realize everything I have missed with my oldest son. I thought that when I gave him up, eventually when I had “children of my own” I wouldn’t miss him so much. At least, that’s what I was led to believe. I’m here to tell you, the opposite is true. Having “children of my own” has made me miss him more.
5. I hate not knowing that my son is happy.
I really have no clue. I have only had contact with his mother once in the 14 years since I gave him away. I can only know her side of his life and her perspective. If he isn’t happy, I highly doubt she would tell me that. And when I say happy, I don’t mean la la la it’s a beautiful day out and I love playing outside. I mean on a primal level. Happy with his life thus far. Happy to be alive. It feels so wrong to me that I won’t know what my own flesh and blood is feeling about his own existence.
6. I hate that my son doesn’t know his birth story.
I really have no idea what my son had been told about how he came to be in this world. How I came to be in this world is such an important part of who I am. I know from my own mother what her labor and delivery was like, how she loved me and bonded with me instantly, how she was so thankful to have me. What can that be like for my son? Does he know how I bonded with him after he was born? Does he know that I held him and kept him with me for the 2 days post birth? Does he know that I loved him? Does he care? Or is it a non-issue for him all together? Is the only pertinent story for him the story of how his parents came to raise him? I just don’t know.
7. I hate that being a birth mother has made it so incredibly difficult for me to express my feelings.
Here is my MO. Something in my life is difficult, a situation or a relationship. Instead of dealing with my feelings at the time the event is happening, I push them so far down inside my soul and refuse to admit I have feelings about the event at all. These things could be small or large, the procedure for dealing with them is the same. Fast forward to some time later and KABOOM! An explosive outpouring of rage and emotion is expelled upon those around me and they have no clue why I’m so upset. The way I deal with emotions is directly related to being a birth mother.
8. I hate that I can not find a qualified therapist that can help me deal with these issues.
Adoption loss is not the same as other losses. I’m not saying it’s worse or easier but it’s not the same as having a child die. It’s a special kind of pain related to an incredibly painful and never ending experience. There is no closure for me. My child is still walking around out there. To this day, I have not been able to find a therapist that specialized in post adoption issues. Oh sure, I had post adoption counseling (if you could call it that) right after the birth. But that counseling only dealt with the short term issues. The long term effects are largely undocumented and much more research needs to be done. I have had therapists that have told me I need to move on with my life, i.e. it was a singular event that happened in my past and I need to essentially get over it. Losing my son to adoption was not a singular event, it is a continuous string of emotions that only seem to be amplified over time.
9. I hate hearing friends play up the loss that adoptive parents feel when an adoption “fails”.
I have empathy for people who are unable to have children. But when I hear people say their adoption fails, my mind goes to the mother who decided to parent their child and I just want to let out a big YAHOO! Of course, I’m not a total asshole so I don’t do that. But honestly, I can’t wrap my head around the way these friends talk about their potential adoptions. Why can they not see that by inserting themselves into an expectant mother’s pregnancy they are only setting themselves up for heartache? Why can’t they see that by becoming so involved before papers are signed they are only participating in the coercion of the mother? I can’t say these things because if I do, I’m told that I’m only speaking from my own experience and why am I so angry anyway? Gee, I don’t know, why are YOU so angry about not being able to raise someone else’s baby?
10. I hate that I hate myself.
Now if that ain’t circular I don’t know what is. I hate myself for not having strength of character. I hate myself for being such a people pleaser that I gave away my own child. I hate myself for believing the lies about adoption for so long. I hate myself for believing that other people were better able to raise my child. I hate myself for not believing in myself. I hate myself for not exploring every option available to me to parent. I hate myself for giving up my son.
There are very few things on this earth that get me rattled as much as crazy Christian speak. As soon as I read something like, “It was God’s plan that we adopted this baby. Thank you, Jesus!”, I feel like Mrs. White from Clue (see video below).
Let’s entertain this notion that God had something to do with you getting “your baby” for a moment.
Even in the best of circumstances in adoptoland, giving away a baby is tragic. Even if the mother has never had a second thought about giving you that baby, it is a TRAGEDY. A baby not being raised by their mothers and fathers is a fucking CALAMITY!!! I’m not big on God, but let’s say he does exist. So if it was God’s plan that you were able to adopt a baby, he planned for some poor, probably unwed mother to not have access to the resources she needed to raise her own child? That kinda seems like a round-a-bout way of doing things, no?
If it was “God’s Plan” for you to have a baby, why not just knock you up??? Why did he make you infertile to begin with??? Seems like an awful waste of energy. I bet you have a snappy comeback to that too…lemme guess…God works in mysterious ways? BINGO! Well, if that’s true, God is ONE FUCKED UP DUDE.
Please adoptive parents, I beg of you, spare the world your crazy Christian diatribes about how God chose you to parent our children. It makes you sound like uneducated loony birds. It also makes you seem inherently better than the mothers from which “your chosen children” came. Like their mothers are somehow BAD and were punished so that oh-so-wonderful you could have the child you were chosen to raise. It’s insulting.
It seems to me, and hey, I’m just spit-ballin’ here, that perhaps if your God truly does exist, that maybe he would want you to spend all that time and energy you’ve invested in procuring your “chosen child” into helping a mother raise her own child???? I’ve heard it takes a village. I could have sworn I’ve read a few things about that Jesus dude wanting all of us to help each other, but maybe I’m wrong. It’s been quite a while since I’ve set foot in church.
I wonder if people really believe that God chose them to raise someone else’s child or if it’s just something they say to make themselves feel good about the horror of stripping a baby from his natural parents. I guess it’s reassuring to believe that it was all part of God’s divine path, so I’ll say it again…God is one fucked up dude!
“You are the most selfless person I know.”
“Don’t you know what a gift you gave those people.”
“You did what was BEST for your baby.”
“You would never have the life you have now if you kept your baby.”
TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE…yes yes I am selfless, more please…You’re so right, I am a SAINT, keep it coming….
I have never felt comfortable when well-meaning friends and family have said these things to me. I wanted to believe them, I desperately needed validation, but deep down inside it just never rang true.
I was selfless in one sense. I had no sense of self worth when my adoption took place. I was a people pleaser and the only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to be the slut who got knocked up anymore. I wanted to make my family proud of me again. I needed to show everyone that I wasn’t the irresponsible whore who couldn’t do anything right. If everyone thought that giving my baby away was the right and good thing to do, well then who was I to argue?
Yes, it was a gift I gave to the adoptive parents. I wish someone would have told me that babies should not be given away as gifts. I wish someone had told me that if a baby was a gift, then I was just as worthy as the adoptive parents to receive that gift.
I didn’t do what was best for my baby. This is a truth I have just recently come to in my life. What was best for my baby was to be with his mother, me. I had formed a bond with him when he was inside me. He knew my scent, my voice, my body. The only differences between me and his adoptive mother were money and a ring. I wasn’t married and I didn’t have any money so I wasn’t worthy.
No, I probably wouldn’t have the life I have now if I kept my son. I have 3 children and a husband who loves me. I am not rich, but we get by just fine. I more than likely would have never met my husband if I still had my son. I am not negating my children who I love or my life by saying I wish I had kept my son. My life wouldn’t be the same, it would be different. DIFFERENT does not equal worse or better, just not the same.
The reason I never felt comfortable with being put on a birthmother pedestal is because none of these things were true for me. Most of the time these things are said out of love for me and I get that. But what I wish everyone would understand is that these were also things said to me by people while I was pregnant who should have been giving me support in KEEPING my baby. These things were said to me to make me feel GREAT about giving away my baby to strangers. These things were said to placate and coerce me into giving up the holy grail of babies, the womb-wet, white american infant by an adoption counselor who I trusted.