Free Form Responses: Natural Mother Perceptions in Closed Adoption

The voices of approximately 140 mothers. Unedited.

We are listening.

“Forced Closed adoption was an horrific experience , that I’ve never been able to get over and I think it, as well as surrogacy should be banned. People who are buying babies via surrogacy are doing the same thing. They’re taking advantage of poorer or less fortunate people so they can get a baby. They don’t care 2 hoots about the mother, she is disposable in their eyes, and they are making babies a commodity”

“I think closed adoptions can be cruel. I fell in love and got pregnant and my punishment was that I was supposed to never have the opportunity to know my child. Fortunately i was able to find my son on the internet and our reunion has allowed me to finally heal.”

“My daughter took her own life 10 years after I found her!”

“Made me feel worthless.”

“I live riddled with guilt, for what I did.”

“It ruined my life, it’s inhumane”

“Everlasting guilt and shame even though my daughter had a wonderful family, or so she says.”

“Destroyed the life that I should have been entitled too.”

“never should happen”

“Closed adoption is an insidious practice that harms mothers and children. Reunion unfortunately doesn’t restore what is lost, but instead turns a closed adoption into an open adoption (and we all know that has its own set of challenges). Closed adoption has caused a grief in me that I would not wish on my worst enemy. I suffer from the trauma of having been abandoned/neglected/cast aside by my parents and having my motherhood invalidated by them and by society. They have tried to apologize, but it’s too late. I am in reunion and am able to see what happened through the eyes of a grown woman who has experienced life. The sorrow of understanding now that I was taken advantage of by my parents, (they knew I felt so guilty and that I wanted to make everything “right”) and the adoption agency, (they used my maternal instincts against me) is somedays overwhelming. Some days I can think of nothing else except the horror of this tragedy and I wonder what the remainder of my life will be like. I was a dean’s list college student — intelligent, creative, hardworking, responsible (except in that I allowed myself to be seduced), kind and compassionate. I was treated like a criminal by my parents who pretended afterwards that it never happened. After I came home from the hospital, my father flippantly said, “Time heals all wounds.” Yeah, right. Not when your child is still alive and you have absolutely no closure. The wounds compound and the pain increases. And not only was I never given any resources to parent, but I was also not informed of the possible repercussions of adoption for my child and myself. I know now that there were studies done back in the 1970’s. If only we had had the internet in the early 1980’s. I only wanted to protect him, but instead I aborted myself as mother. I turned myself into the anomaly, when in fact, it was this couple that was an anomaly, (because they could not have their own children). If only somebody had said to me, “Your baby needs YOU. Protecting him means holding him close and raising him yourself. He will suffer from genetic bewilderment and issues of abandonment forever.” It was just assumed that the PAP’s were going to be better for him than I would have been. I truly believed that I was so shameful, so bad, that he would never even give me a thought his whole life. In reunion, I learned the truth. How can anybody predict that a child will have a better life with parents different from his natural ones, with people who are absolute strangers? I chose to carry my child to term even though abortion was legal and even though I knew my parents would be vicious in their judgment/treatment of me. My maternal instinct was strong — I took my prenatal vitamins (my child was touched when he learned of this. How sad that this news was a surprise to him.), I didn’t smoke or drink. I ate healthy. I wanted to protect him from any harm. This is the proof that I was a good mother, but nobody wanted to acknowledge it. So sad that I was too young and too clueless to have been able to acknowledge this myself. And by they way, the adoptive father smoked in front of my baby. The adoptive mother has (severe) mental illness in the family and once one of her relatives threatened her with a weapon while my baby was in the room, in her arms. Better life? Yeah, right. Because of my experience with closed adoption, I am unequivocally opposed to adoption, in any form. It goes against nature and is misogynistic, and is therefore not in the best interest of the child. Maybe someday I will have the courage to speak out without fear, but the shackles of shames are strong. First there was the shame over getting pregnant “out of wedlock,” but now it’s the shame of being duped into giving away my child to adoption and by doing so, putting a complete stranger into a power position over my child and allow her to claim the title “mother.” How can anybody understand the pressure woman like me were under. If you’ve only experienced “approved of” pregnancies in your life, you can never imagine in a million years how a woman can hand her baby over to a social worker, never to see him again. I loved him, but yes, I was afraid of becoming a mother. Everybody jumped on that in order to encourage adoption, and I also “chose” adoption because I didn’t know the full truth of it. Now I know that just about every woman is nervous about becoming a mother for the first time! That’s why they publish books about it, to help woman. Nobody told me that it’s a learning process. Because my circumstances were not ideal, the discussion was simply closed. Closed adoption has made me the anomaly, the freak, the weirdo that nobody understands. I guess I’m the fool who got suckered into becoming just another cog in the machinery of the billion-dollar adoption industry. The bible says, “the first will be last, and the last will be first.” God is my vindicator. I’ve read the bible from Genesis to Revelation and I know that God never answered a barren woman’s prayers for a child by giving her the child of another woman. I have to believe that God will vindicate me, so that I can be present for my family. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts. As you know, it is very rare indeed that the voices of women like me are given an outlet. The world loves to drink the kool-aid.”

“Totally affected my life, I have major trust issues. Adoption was part of the Forced Adoption era in Australia. Hospital file marked BFA upon registering at maternity hospital because I was unwed.”

“Losing my daughter in 1983 destroyed me. Adoption was supposed “to solve the problem” and then I could go on with my life. The opposite happened. I spent years abusing alcohol, in bad relationships and felt completely worthless. I mean, what kind of person lets others talk her into relinquishing her baby, never to be seen again? I could never forgive myself. I could never tell anyone because my SHAME was relinquishing my own baby. Not knowing where she was or being able to see her was barbaric and cruel beyond words.”

“Without having to parent any children myself, I was able to straighten out my own life. I brought harm to my other kid’s lives and becaue of that, we don’t have a relationship now. I feel I made the best decision.”

“It is the worst feeling of unknown. Is he alive? Dead? Happy? Healthy? Just horrible !!”
“It’s a lifelong sadness”

“The not knowing whether your child is alive or dead well or sick is a hard burden to bear, the psychological effect on both myself & my son at 6 weeks old, due to relinquishing was evident when we reunited when he was 19 yrs old at his request after he searched. It affected both of us equally, today we have after 20yrs healed the gap.”

“Regarding revocation period: I don’t recall being counseled on this but thought that I could revoke at any time. When I tried to revoke on day 5, I was told he was already with his new family and that I would have to go to court to prove I would be a better parent than his new married, successful parents. I asked where I would need to go to court to do that and was told they couldn’t tell me because that would be considered identifying information. I believe my parents and boyfriend at the time (who I later married and remain married to) were lovingly trying to do what was best for me, but they were coerced as much or more than me. Closed adoption stole my confidence and held me back from my full potential career wise and in parenting subsequent children. Adoption is the greatest sadness of my life. Even with a wonderful reunion, our family will never be what it should have been.”

“it’s a fucked up system where society abandons mothers – no animal sacrifices a child willingly, finding out the impacts of adoption on those adopted are almost as bad as being judged not being good enough to parent”

“It affected my entire life,nothing felt worth doing,ever.I gave my son away I will never forgive myself.”

“I became a woman, a childless mother who never told anyone for 12 years. I mother left before I signed.”

“Pug a hole in my soul that will always be there”

“It is awful amd unnatural. Everyone loses. It is not in the childs best interest. Its misogynistic”

“I have never gotten over this. The older I get the more details I am remembering. It just keeps getting harder and harder. I have suffered from depression all of my life due to this tragedy in my life!”

“Was not easy, but given the options at the time, it was the best option for my baby, I thought.”

“Bad system.”

“Closed adoption is a worst case scenario, but it is soldiers to young girls as a viable, healthy and necessary decision. It is a tremendous and terrible loss, and rather than help a girl, it tears an entire family apart for generations.”

“I felt robbed of my child. I needed financial support to raise him. I was only a year away from graduation. I did graduate and got a job within months.”

“Although I have had the best possible outcome (reunion with a wonderful and generous adopted family) there are days that are still painful. Despite a good relationship with my beautiful daughter and I now have a an amazing granddaughter. We are both in the process of healing.”

“Wish I was older when she was born and raise her”

“Closed adoption should NEVER be allowed unless the child is in danger. It is cruel to close the doors to the child knowing everything about themselves and for the 1st mother to know her child is safe. (mine wasn’t safe – she was neglected, physically and sexually abused by her A-parents and the A-mother’s extended family.”

“Ruined my life. I struggle everyday. Like I have a split mind. It’s worst now that she has closed me out again. I finacial paid for her college and so MUCH more yet closed adoption did it’s damage!!!”

“It’s not been a positive influence in my life.”

“All of my long term relationships 4 of them have ended on my child’s birthday”
“Everyone told me it was the right thing to do. But no one told me they would all shame me later. Before they said it was “selfless”, but after they said “what kind of a woman would do that?” They purposely didn’t look for the father so that he wouldn’t have any rights. No one wanted to know that I was raped.”

“Despite a good reunion of twenty-eight years, I still suffer grief and flashbacks on a daily basis. I feel that I am a tortured soul because of the loss of my daughter, and will never recover. While she allows me the privilege of being in her life and being a grandmother to her children, I never feel truly authentic. I wish I had been stronger and more defiant all those years ago.”

“I don’t know if my life would have been better or worse had I kept my child, but it would have been my choice. Adoption wasn’t.”

“I had no understanding of the life-long ramifications adoption would have on myself, my family or my baby. I was very ill-informed and thought I was doing the “best thing” for everyone. It is wrong to erase a child’s identity and I believe adoption should be the very last resort”

“I didn’t have an adoption plan when I was in the maternity home; the SW knew I didn’t plan to relinquish. My plan at that time was foster care until I could reclaim my son.”
“My drug of choice was sexual promiscuity”

“It has been torture. I was young and did not understand that I might never see my son again, and that I was no longer legally his mother. It has been a form of psychological and emotional torture from which I do not believe I can ever recover. And this suffering is ignored or derided by society and, most painfully of all, by some adoptees.”

“it really made me feel bad about myself my dirty ,little secret”

“Every aspect of my life has suffered!”

“Totally changed my life path. I wanted to,travel, but nothing has happened, just do not believe I am worth it.”

“It affected my child much more than it did me”

“It has devastated my life.”

“I believe it has contributed overall to mental illness and depression in my life and overall life failure.”

“Closed adoption is extremely cruel. It was needed to keep all the ‘lies’ in tact. Closed adoption only benefits the agencies and people who want other women’s children.”

“i regretted it every day”

“Reunion was a Tsunomi. I’m surprised I made it through. Today we are rock solid.”

“It seems impossible to live an authentic life with this secret. All my family knows & they feel the loss too, but they don’t bring it up so as not to hurt me. I rarely tell anyone because I would have to explain that he isn’t ready for reunion still after 19 years, so they just feel sorry for me or usually make some other kind of remark that I find hurtful.”

“it has destroyed me and my daughter”

“I’ll never know what I might have been and done in my life, had I not lost my first child. The experience changed who I was and stunted my maturation at the moment of loss.”

“There is, and will always be, an physical aching in my heart. I have never stopped missing my son. I have always and will always love him, as only a mother can. Letting my baby go was and is hard. Respecting his decision for no contact was, and still is emotionally as heart wrenching as the last time I held him.”

“There is no part of myself that has not been affected by adoption. I would say it is extremely traumatic and no one is ever the same after such trauma. I lost my child and any ability to have a that bond with him. It is a pain that never lessens with time. It will be with me until the day I die.”

“In failed reunions we continue to struggle”

“PTSD for myself & My Beloved Man whom is an adoptee…I see how tragically it has affected his life & I pray my Son is okay”

“Loosing my little girl, being shamed by my family and rejected by bdad affected every part of my life going forward. I wish I had never lost my babe….or, myself.”

“It left a hole in my heart that won’t mend”

“Hindsight it has affected my relationships both personal and romantic. It has affected my self esteem.”

“No matter what bad things may happen to me now I seem to have no trouble over coming those problems. I realize that the worse thing that could ever happen to me had already happened when I allowed myself to place my child for adoption. Only the loss of my husband and other children would be that bad. Or the loss of my newly reunited son.”

“It was hell not knowing anything. I found my son after he was of age and we met. He has never responded to me again, which is awful. But it is so much better at least knowing that he is alive and well. It also saddens me that my daughter (born 10 years later) feels rejected and is hurt by that. I may be wrong, but I feel that his rejection of us is a sign that he did suffer the primal wound, which is deeply sad. And, lastly, I struggle with having grandchildren that I can only watch from afar and have no claim to. It amplifies the loss. I will cry forever.”

“The guilt of placing my child is still overwhelming to me. The fact that everything was done illegally and my child was actually bought and taken out of the United States illegally just adds to my sadness and guilt. I learned that the attorney was a baby broker from my child when we were reunited 5 years ago.”

“It altered the entire path of my adult life. It became my main cause and focus of my life until I successfully participated in opening sealed records in my province.”

“Yes! My first son hates me— if I died tomorrow it would not matter to him in the slightest!! Nor to his adoptive parents!! I mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to my child!! His adoptive parents took the love that I had for my child and twisted it into something black, and rotten!! They raised my son to be a pompous ass. He looks down on me, and treats me with utter disdain!! I wish I’d never heard of adoption– let alone closed adoption!!”

“it ruined my self confidence.my self worth”

“It just really sucks”

“It took decades before I could hold an infant. I never felt I was able to be a good parent so never had another child. No one told me how traumatizing this would be for both me and my daughter. Now that we are in reunion we are both becoming whole again.”
“Couldn’t be around other children. Wouldn’t attend baby showers, very jealous of my sister having kids. Reunion hasn’t helped much.”

“it was brutal”

“It has negatively impacted relationships with my family of origin. My raised kids are affected by the loss. I hate adoption and think family preservation is a better option. Mothers should have real options, not be coerced.”

“Adoption destroys families”

“I believe it is not a solution to infertility, and an excuse to not help heal the family unit, or figure out why a girl finds herself in that position in the first place. We, as society, should rally around the parents and repair the ‘village’. In hind sight, I can see that the fact that I was abused sexually as a young child led to the many choices I made that led to pregnancy when I wasn’t able to parent.”

“It has been the singularly most horrible thing I have ever been through. It has affected my ability to manage my emotions, feel worthy, and be true to myself.”

“It has completely affected who I am today. Some good and some bad. We are in reunion now so my answers may have been different had I filled this out pre-reunion.”

“It affected my entire life, and was the worst thing that ever happened to my lost child and I.”

“It has raped my soul and I can see that it will never mend.”

“It left me for 40yrs full of anguish as to my child’s well being /fate.A form of living hell”

“The most horrendous event in my life and hers; within 10 years I was a “single-again” divorced mother anyway. It almost destroyed me and her as it turns out. Wasn’t the best for anyone, least of all my daughter/child.”

“Kids belong with their natural parents”

“I buried my thoughts and feelings and post reunion have suffered from more depression and anxiety”

“Ruined my life.”

“It should be abolished. All adoption should.”

“I didn’t know it would be a life sentence.”

“I find it hard, 32 years later, to live with the resentment my son holds for me because I gave him up. His A-mom got pregnant later and shoved him to the side but there was good people there to help him develop. He said I gave up too easy”

“It is something that will affect me for the rest of my life”

“It hurts. I wish I’d died instead.”

“I regularly have dreams where people are indifferent to me and will not help me in the slightest way. I attribute this to adoption. Have struggled with vague health issues since than. Made me realize how expendable I am to society. Realized adoptive mother always puts her needs ahead of his. His job is to reassure and please her. I can’t give up replaying it all over and over looking for where I missed the opportunity to keep him. It shook my self confidence in being able to solve problems. I feel shame and grief for letting him down. Had reunion but he dropped me after his adoptive mother got cancer. She tried to undermine the reunion with not only me but his siblings. The adoptive father said something to me a year or so after the reunion that indicated they wished I was dead. I was not the hero after all who put my baby’s needs first. I was actually a sucker who let him down. The first two weeks after his birth I felt as if I had descended into Hell. Than I just went on auto pilot. It has gotten harder over the years. I think I am actually getting some acceptance or maybe it is just resignation. It has made me hang on to things way longer than I should have because I don’t want to be wrong again. I have felt at times I deserved to die when I realize what adopteea go through. I have worked through that though.”

“The full effects of closed adoption weren’t manifest until decades later, when I found my son and experienced all the grief that had built up over the years. I will never be reconciled to what happened, the lack of support I received from my parents, and the absence of concern for my feelings or desires. Everyone was kind, but nevertheless I was forced to give up my son.”

“Ruined my life”

“Totally devastated me and changed the entire course of my life”

“It has Always hung over my life like a big dark shadow of sadness, people have commented that since reunion the sadness is now gone… However I don’t feel it truly is gone… There are still times I struggle with what I lost and will never get back.”

“It has affected my entire life as well as my other children’s lives, and has deeply affected my ability to maintain close relationships.”

“I learned compassion and how to cope with a life changing mistake”

“Closed adoption for the mother sucks!”

“find a way to keep your baby–it has to be better for both of you in the long run.”

“Horrible depression suicidal thoughts and attempts sabotage relationships. My son ended up taking his life due to not feeling like he belonged anywhere”

“Both my surviving twin son and myself suffer shocking abandonment issues”

“Life-shattering.”

“Many questions did not offer enough choice and i selected indifferent but meant my feelings change over time.”

“Horrible experience, felt bad about it and really, reunion doesn’t help but made me feel worse.”

“Was like a big black hole, felt totally broken for whole time until found him. Still hurts even after reunion!”

“I have a problem with authority figures and I am an angry person now.”

“It greatly impacted my life outcome, my health, my mental health, my relationships, for the worse”

“It is the single worst ever – My neighbour just doused herself in gasoline and set herself on fire – she is dead in 2016 – that is what it feels like”

“Self worth shredded.”

“It left me broken and worsened as the years went on. It nearly killed me.”

“It occupied a great deal of my time, energies, thoughts and more that could have been spent on my subsequent children or personal pursuits.”

“closed adoption is a lifelong negative experience.”

“It has caused great pain, depression and regret; I have had to struggle against being overprotective with my subsequent children; has affected marital relationships from time to time, and has branded the importance of family – especially the mother/child bond- into my being. Children first, then other relatives (including husband), then friends…..”

“Yes, I felt a sense of responsibility to the a parents. Almost like my child was their child and I was responsible for their happiness.”

“ruined my life, my child will have nothing to do with me, even after meeting, i will probably commit suicide, it has made me mentally ill and an addict.”

“Counseling was horrible!! Felt like I was not told of other options or allowed to ask to meet the parents. Upset cuz it is not easy or free to start looking!”

“I feel I was misled and I was naive. I was told she would still be my child. Almost as if the adoption was temporary and when she was old enough she would come back to me and be my child. Obviously that is not true.”

“I do not trust doctors as i later discovered that my ob/gyn was a freind & colleague of the potential adoptive parents and was advising me to disregard my maternal insticts all the while she was working to get a baby for her friends. I have also had terrible flashback episodes while in hospital for infertility surgeries.”

“It depends on what the birth parents want. I didn’t want to be a part of the children’s lives. I wanted to keep doing what I was doing. They would’ve gotten in my way.”

“It was the saddest event I’ve ever experienced. Even sadder than the loss of my own mother when I was a child. The only trauma it is comparable to is kidnapping. Your child is gone and you have no idea of where or whether she’s dead or alive. My sisters keenly felt this loss as well.”

“It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. My mother was murdered when I was 11 and I was the only one in the house who wasn’t shot and still adoption was worse. It’s haunted me for 35 years and is a persistent horror. I found my girls when they were teens and we have a great relationship now. It’s very complex and they both struggle with issues related to their adoptions.”

“Closed adoption affects me every single day.”

“It has destroyed my life.”

“In hindsight I would never have done it”

“It colored my entire life. Even more than the loss of my next child who was stillborn”
“I wish it had never happened.”

“We were not advised of our rights. My son sat in foster care for 10 months without me being told because there were no Catholic families.”

“It stole my life.”

“The adoption has not only affected my everyday life and who I am as a person but it has affected my other biological children. If I knew then what I know now, I never would have given my child up. The idea of a better life was a myth.”

“It is a living hell. Death would have been more peaceful.”

“adoptions should not happen”

“It affected every aspect of my life – negatively”

“The adoption not only affected me but all my relationships. It changed who I am, it affected who and when I married and affected my other children. It has done nothing but damage to so many people. There are not enough words to express the cruelty of leaving a mother to wonder for decades whether or not her child is alive or dead, well or sick, cared for or abused. Some people liken the grief of closed adoption to a death of a child but to me it was just like a kidnapping. When she was born, she was whisked away, wrapped in a blanket so I couldn’t see or hear her. They wouldn’t even tell me the gender of the baby I had just delivered. I found out accidentally when a nurse came around getting consent signatures for circumcision. The hospital staff was also cruel, including the doctor who delivered my baby. I was treated like a criminal. No mother should have to experience that.”

“Every minute of every day I long for my child – she has been renamed, she has been brain washed by the adoptive parents and she is unwilling to emotionally relate to her first/natural mother and her two half siblings”

“One mistake ruined my life. The lies I was told… I will never forgive.”

“Closed adoption is the worst thing that ever happened to me. It is torture to wonder if your child is dead or alive, if your child needs you.”

“I killed my soul”

Current Survey:  Intercountry Adoption Survey

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