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Birthmothers: did you have severe reasons for giving up your baby?


Hi everyone.  I have been seeking birthmothers who gave their newborn for closed adoption due to severe hardship.  Examples might be some of the following, but there could be many other possibilities:  rape; birthmother has major emotional problems and knows she would be a bad parent; she was physically abused for “discipline” as a child, has no support network, and knows no other way to raise a child AND would never hit a child; extreme poverty; lack of stamina; mood swings; no support network; unable to hold a job due to extreme circumstances; birthfather a criminal she’s afraid of—or other members of his family are.  I have a blog called No Regrets Birthmothers.  I wonder how I could get visitors there?  I have never seen any online discussions on this issue.  http://www.noregretsbirthmothers.wordpress.com/

Replies

There are plenty of FB pages out there where reasons for adoption get discussed - perhaps you should join one of them.

It sounds like you are saying “you have no regrets under the circumstances” which may be different to having “no regrets full stop”. 

The reason many bmoms don’t just say “I have no regrets” is because they are thinking of how that might sound to their child.  Although you may be saying “I have no regrets choosing adoption because I feel that I wouldn’t have been able to provide a good life for you”, the adoptee may be *hearing*, “I have no regrets about you not being in my life”.

It IS important to know how to explain your reasons to your child.  I note that your reunion didn’t work out and I wonder how much is due to your insistence that you had no regrets, perhaps making her feel that you were glad she was gone from your life?

Posted by catherinenz on Jul 23, 2017 at 11:33pm

Oh, I just realised that you have in fact commented on the NY times article.

Reading what you said there:

**My story: I had a closed adoption (legally!) in 1964. When my daughter was 24 years old, she called me at 10:00 at night. My husband that the time was outraged that I took a call that late. She asked me a “riddle” question—“Do you remember [such and such date]? It was her birthdate, but I had long since forgotten that. She followed the lead of several “finders” groups, and their advice was terrible from the standpoint of the feelings and situations of the birthmothers. **

First of all, “riddle question” advice is from birthmothers themselves, i.e. rather than just say “Hey are you my bmother”, the question “do you remember such and such a date” is designed FOR the benefit of the person being asked.  So it seems a bit weird to mock your daughter for asking this way as she probably felt she was being respectful by doing so.

” She was sure I would be overjoyed to see her. I was terrified of blackmail!”

Yeah, because all adoptees are out to blackmail their bparents.  Sigh - that really does show a lack of respect towards adoptees. 

“I felt it would ruin my career if it became known that I had given birth as an “unwed mother” in those old oppressive days.”

The vast majority of adoptees I know have no wish to hurt their bmoms and are often very respectful towards their bmoms after being found - perhaps too much so sometimes (by that I mean, some adoptees have been in reunion but kept a secret for the rest of their lives).

“She said something odd to me, “I am NOT a narcissist.” I wonder why she said that, right out of the blue. At that point, I had never heard the word “narcissiist,” but, as I think it was Shakespeare who said, “Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.”

Umm, I think probably what she was meaning to say was “I am NOT a narcissist like you”. 

Note I am NOT implying that you actually are a narcissist but rather that I suspect HER comment was implying that.

Posted by catherinenz on Jul 23, 2017 at 11:54pm

Dear Catherine, Thank you so much.  Wow.  You have been much more successful than I have, finding links and sources like the ones you’ve sent here.  My heart is open to these women’s experiences.  I’m particularly fascinated by, and can relate to, this one:  http://www.fortheloveofbirthmothers.com/?p=185 where Emily says, ” I did not know how my bipolar would progress. I did not know if the birthfather would come banging on my door to threaten us.”  That is exactly how I felt, although at the time I did not know I had bipolar disorder.  I only know my moods were extremely disabling, and would cause me to be a bad parent, the way my dear father was to me—good and bad, extremely good, and extremely bad.

Posted by flowerbells on Jul 23, 2017 at 11:54pm

Dear Catherine, Thanks for the discussion, but please, I don’t need more judgmentalism against me.  Sigh, please don’t try to read more into my NYT comments than I intended, nor imply resentment against me by my bdaughter.  I think people in the adoption triangle know how complex the whole thing is, so judging or trying to read people’s minds and movitives is very hard.  As for believing she might have blackmailed me was scary for reasons I wrote (that as a teacher my livelihood was threatened if my status as birthmother—IN MY GENERATION—were known).  I hope I did not imply that “all/most adoptees are blackmailers.”  I have no way of knowing how she feels/felt about me.  I only know that she ignored me, once she came into my life, even though I was thrilled to meet her, even though I was terrified.  She spent time in my home, and invited me to hers, and on both visits, she shut herself away from me. This was very hurtful on her part.  It seemed like she was not interested in getting to know me, and I was open and warm toward her in every way, including introducing her to my extended family and inviting her to my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary whole-weekend celebration.  At first, she was warm and loving to my parents (her grandparents), then shunned them and split the family into two camps—the bdaughter camp, and the other camp which was myself and my parents.  She was very manipulative and it was, to say the least, a very strange experience for all of us.  I don’t know exactly her reasons for wanting to meet me, but I do know that one very wise reason was to find out her biological heritage.  At the time, I knew nothing about that, because my family is very secretive about heritage except for what’s positive, colorful or otherwise noteworthy in our ancestry.  But over time, I have learned much more about it, and a few months ago, I wrote her about a lot of things it would help her and her children/grandchildren to know.  I never heard back from her.  Catherine, I’d love to continue our discussion if you would not object to being more kind in your comments.  Whatever we decide to do regarding future discussions between the two of us, I’m very grateful that you’ve read my pieces and the links you sent.

Posted by flowerbells on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:07am

Are you seeking traffic for your blog?
Most women who surrendered their children for adoption, unless they are sociopaths, did so because of extreme circumstances.
And even if they believe it was the right, or maybe the only, option, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have regrets.
Is your blog for women who surrendered who feel as if they are being judged? I can understand wanting that connection, but as Catherine said there are many FB groups for mothers who surrendered, and they can share their feelings and experiences.
“I have a blog called No Regrets Birthmothers.  I wonder how I could get visitors there?  I have never seen any online discussions on this issue.”
There are tons of online discussions of this issue. How you could divert them to your blog—well, most will probably go the FB groups.

Posted by Maryam on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:11am
Posted by Maryam on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:11am

Dear Maryam, Thanks so much for writing!  Yes, I would like to have visitors to my blog.  I don’t do Facebook, for reasons of personal privacy, and not just about being a birthmother.  I know many people do Facebook, but others choose not so do so.  I’m mostly not connected in what I think are called social media in many ways. I do use and post to blogs and websites a lot, though.  Technology moves so fast that I can’t keep up.  I don’t spend a lot of time online.

Posted by flowerbells on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:14am

“Dear Maryam, Thanks so much for writing!  Yes, I would like to have visitors to my blog.  I don’t do Facebook, for reasons of personal privacy, and not just about being a birthmother.  I know many people do Facebook, but others choose not so do so.  I’m mostly not connected in what I think are called social media in many ways. I do use and post to blogs and websites a lot, though.  Technology moves so fast that I can’t keep up.  I don’t spend a lot of time online. “

Many people use pseudonyms with FB pages - you could join one with a pseudonym.

Posted by catherinenz on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:42am

Hi Catherine, can a person have more than one pseudonym on Facebook?  Also, can you suggest some search words or phrases I can use to find some of birthmothers’ Facebook pages?  I am hoping for some elder women’s discussion groups, perhaps.

Posted by flowerbells on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:48am

“Dear Catherine, Thanks for the discussion, but please, I don’t need more judgmentalism against me”

I did post those original articles because I thought they explained the complexity of other bmother’s feelings of regrets.  The following blog post is by a yyounger bmom who has different levels of regrets about some things and not about others.

http://www.fortheloveofbirthmothers.com/?p=185

I didn’t in any way mean to judge you for your reasons for choosing adoption - I can certainly understand that those particular reasons contributed to why you personally did not regret choosing adoption.

“Catherine, I’d love to continue our discussion if you would not object to being more kind in your comments.  Whatever we decide to do regarding future discussions between the two of us, I’m very grateful that you’ve read my pieces and the links you sent. “

Thank you for sharing what you did in your last comment and about your mixed feelings. 

I think it does sound like perhaps both you and your daughter could have benefitted from some sort of counselling and advice to help understand the complex feelings that arise in adoption reunion.

It certainly can be a minefield of emotions.  I’ll try and find some articles or blogs that might help you understand why things might have gone so downhill.  Right now, I’ve just arrived at work so will get back to you.

Posted by catherinenz on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:53am

“Hi Catherine, can a person have more than one pseudonym on Facebook?  Also, can you suggest some search words or phrases I can use to find some of birthmothers’ Facebook pages?  I am hoping for some elder women’s discussion groups, perhaps. “

I think you can have one FB page per email address. 

There are many closed/secret adoption discussion groups and some which are for older birthmothers.  I will ask one of the birthmothers I know whether she can recommend one for you.

(again it might be a while before I can back to you)

Posted by catherinenz on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:56am

Hi again, Catherine, Thanks for this, in your first reply at the top: “Note I am NOT implying that you actually are a narcissist but rather that I suspect HER comment was implying that. ”  When bdaughter used the word “narcissist” about it not being her, I had never even heard the word.  That some 30 years ago.  Now, the word narcissist is an actual mental health diagnosis, with very specific characteristics and behaviors. 

Mayo Clinic says:  “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”  -MORE -  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/definition/con-20025568

This certainly does not describe me at all.  I have very strong empathy for other people—so strong that it used to be almost disabling.  Over the years, I have learned to be stronger and not dissolve when others are in pain, nor allow others’ pain to “suck me into” forgiveness at any cost.  Yesterday, my good man and I were watching the video “The Internet’s Own Boy” about Aaron Schwartz.  Near the end of the film, was a photograph of a prison ward, with imprisoned men sitting or lying on cots that were end to end, with very narrow aisles, in a huge warehouse like room.  It was shocking—I had no idea, and started to cry.  I cry when I hear children being hurt in a hospital.

Posted by flowerbells on Jul 24, 2017 at 1:00am

“Regrets.”  What does this word mean to different people?  To different birthmothers?  To adoptive families? To adoptees?  The meaning is as varied as the people who are involved.  Regret that the child you’ve adopted is not your own blood.  Perhaps regret that the adopter mother was unable to give birth, or that the adopter father does not have enough sperm, or whatever reason may be for not being able to “have their own children.”  Regret by the adoptee and the birthmother herself the she was unable to be a good parent. Regret that the birthfather was a criminal, a rapist,or otherwise a jerk.  Regret that one’s body shows forever, the stigmata of stretch marks for all to see such as a husband, lover, or women at the gym locker room.  And on, and on and on. 

One fear I had was, that had I decided to keep my baby daughter, I might have had to, of necessity, to give her to foster care due to my own lack of physical and emotional energy.  I’m so relieved and happy to know that my bdaughter has a loving adoptive family. Not every adoptee has fared as well. 

In fact, I have a cousin who did exactly what I feared might have happened to us [myself and my bdaughter] —she was unable to cope with her two sons, when they reached early teen years.  Her parents eventually kinda sorta took over their care, which was too much for them, too, and they disowned my cousin.  A terrible, terrible tragedy for everyone concerned.  My aunt and uncle have long passed away, and my cousin has cut off from our entire extended family, although at one time she and I were very close.  So the fate of her and her two sons is unknown to me or any of the rest of our family.

Posted by flowerbells on Jul 24, 2017 at 1:20am

“So the fate of her and her two sons is unknown to me or any of the rest of our family.”

Probably the mom won’t want to weigh in on “no regrets.”

Posted by Maryam on Jul 24, 2017 at 2:58am

Yes, Maryam.  I’m sure she has plenty of regrets.  But the reason for my own blog is mainly because my “no regrets” was in contrast with the many other blogs/articles/commentaries I have read by or about birthmothers (before this discussion, which I truly appreciate!) who pined and grieved because of the reasons they gave up their babies.  The reasons were varied, but some were that they had their babies forcibly taken from them.  Or that they grieved so much for their decision that they were sure their child was grieving and hunting for them.  Those were two that I heard a lot about.  Until I wrote my blog, and until I was referred to this forum/blog here, there was no discussion that I ever found, that talked about serious problems that many birthmothers have that impede here own ABILITY to parent, OR the reasons I stated above concerning some perceived or actual threat from the birth father or his family.  My own regret is that I never had a stable man in my life and was not stable myself.  I always wanted a loving husband and large bunch of kids, but it was a pipe dream.

Posted by flowerbells on Jul 24, 2017 at 4:14am

Hi flowerbells,

A lot of the potential reasons for giving up a baby which you gave examples of in your post apply to my situation.

The birthfather was a criminal. I wanted to protect the baby from having to have visits with the dad if I kept him. I knew the dad would have visitation rights and my son would be exposed to drugs, neglect, and several crimes that he was involved in.

I was also unemployed. During pregancy I was a college student, so I had money from grants and loans, but I really wasn’t emotionally stable enough to consider raising a baby on my own, nor did I want to. My dad left his family when I was 16 and I felt forever like an orphan after that, because the only parent left was my mom, who was severely abusive.

I think the deciding factor in my decision-making was a conversation I had with a pastor, asking him for advice. He told me his own story of his mom being a good mom but being constantly in survival mode. He said, “Yes, you could be a good mom, but you would be in survival mode.” I personally believe that one of the reasons my mom was so abusive to us is that she was always in survival mode. I did not want to run the risk of being a stressed out, emotional mom, unable to give my child the attention he needed because of always being focused on where to live, how to pay the bills, etc.

I have post-traumatic stress disorder, which makes it hard to hold down a job. I end up getting triggered when I work with kids (like if I see that a kid is being abused at home, etc.) So “mood swings” certainly have played a part in my decision, as well as assured me after the fact that I did make the right choice.

This is my story, by the way: https://freeupyourplate.com/2018/02/21/i-gave-up-my-baby-for-adoption/

Posted by SaritaKing2018 on Feb 25, 2018 at 8:39am

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