This in an update to the post Newly Minted Birthmoms. It is in response to me flipping out over yet another Newly Minted Birthmom with her head in the clouds claiming that she’s at peace with her decision and that she has no regrets. Then I ask the question “how old is your child?” and I get the answer I was fully expecting…Yep…under 3 yrs. For those of you who haven’t read Newly Minted Birthmoms, here is the link. This post will make so much more sense if you read that first. https://adoptionbirthmom.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/newly-minted-birthmoms/
Here’s the thing. Newly minted birthmoms are a whole other breed of brainwashed. I don’t say it to be cruel, only to say that the brand of koolaid the adoption industry is peddling now, I think is the most dangerous batch ever made. The changes to the “formula”over the years have made the physiological effects of adoption so so much worse, unconsciously. Now instead of being shunned and secreted away, you get pictures taken, and video’s made, and comments from family and friends on your Facebook page “We’re so proud of you!” The industry realized it made a huge mistake with birthmoms in the past, as shown by this quote about closed adoptions on the canadaadopts! website
Until recently, closed adoption was standard practice. It was a process marked by secrets and lies, where information was scarce or knowingly withheld. Instead of allies, adoptive parents and birth parents were treated like adversaries, creating much hurt and bitterness on both sides.
They admit it, but notice how they don’t themselves admit they were the ones who encouraged things to be this way. Nope, no responsibility on their part, they just change the formula. So The adoption industry learns that having no information available is bad. Even worse is when there is information available but the industry has knowingly withheld it.
oops! well, lets just forget about that and preach a new way of thinking!!! Enough time had gone by that the birthmothers who were talking were scaring the expectant moms and encouraging them to parent. On the other hand, more and more people were wanting to adopt and well, there just weren’t enough babies to go around. So the industry started promoting open adoption, as more women would be open to thinking about adoption if they still got to see their child. The adoption industry now brainwashes mothers into believing that their children were never meant to be theirs, and in some serious cases convince them the child they are carrying isn’t theirs! They believe they are just a “vehicle” for their children to get to the right families, such as this anonymous new birthmom:
I feel that birth mothers are a very special breed, We are like beautiful rainbow bridges supporting these amazing and special, absolutely wonderful traveling souls and their little human bodies. We are helping to guide them so that they can find their way home to their rightful families.
THAT is what Koolaid looks like. Remember though, the SITUATION hasn’t changed. Adoption is still the same thing. You relinquish your child, and you have no rights. But they started to paint it as a pretty picture. A pretty misleading picture at best.
In some instances, the prospective adoptive parents and birth mother may hit it off so well that the adoptive parents will be invited to witness the birth and, in some cases, even cut the umbilical cord. After the placement, it’s not unheard of for the two parties to share family dinners or to go away on vacation together.
This formula has been tweaked in such a way now that the industry will do anything to get a woman to surrender her baby, including carefully worded blurbs that speak of a closely knit family. Vacation together?? Really? That is a rarity. This quote in fact, was almost identical to what I was reading twenty years ago, and why I did have my sons parents in the delivery room. This was the way it was supposed to go wasn’t it? I mean that’s what they said? We had become so close, that I was in fact picturing the vacations and family dinners together. For the newly minted birthmom, she will read those words though and take them to heart, and if the adoption of her child doesn’t go that way, she will feel that she must have done something wrong, and she’s going to start feeling like she’s been taken for a ride….because….she has been. I myself went through what many birthmoms go through. After the revocation period had passed, my sons adoptive mom pulled away. She stopped calling me. She sent out the progress notes but they were sterile and factual. In fact, she didn’t even use my name anymore. It was addressed “Dear Birthmother”. That broken illusion can sometimes snap a birthmother out of the fog, but sometimes it doesn’t. So I’m gonna get real.
Us Veteran birthmoms have a hard time with these Newly Minted Birthmoms. We know from years of experience that they have “chosen” a very, very difficult life path. They come into Birthmotherhood all happy, full of love and gratitude, and wearing their “selfless” badges. We are also absolutely heartbroken for each and every one of them who slowly, or sometimes suddenly, watches as their child’s adoptive parents begin to pull away, and don’t send the pictures promised, or cancel visits, or move with no forwarding address. We watch as these poor girls fall apart, and say things like “I thought they were different, they said they loved me!, they said they wanted openness” and all of us veterans sigh deeply and painfully, as we watch another newly minted birthmom get the cold dose of reality. The realization that promises can be broken and often are, and that there is absolutely nothing they can do about it…for the rest of their lives.
Open adoptions close…more frequently than they stay open. Two years seem to be the magic number, but it can happen as soon as the ink dries, or as late as ten years like in my case. Talking to a seasoned birthmother can really help, but we can’t help you if you’re sure you know everything, and you only want to hear the positive. Actually, just that line alone “please I don’t want to hear negative only the positive” tells me that you are in an acute amount of pain, you don’t fool me. Getting real about what is really happening is whats going to help, not confining yourself to your escapist world of Happy Bmom.
What you’re looking for is validation that you did the right thing. You need some cooling salve for that festering wound. We can’t give you that. We know that the kind of wound you’ve got, it doesn’t ever heal.
Telling yourself you “chose” is going to wear thin after a few years. The Newly Minted Birthmoms, the ones who fastidiously cling to their claims of being “at peace” are the ones who lash out at us, calling us “negative” and “anti adoption” really don’t see that just those statements alone identify you as most needing our support.
RESPECT YOUR ELDERS KIDS! We’ve been through this. Your disrespect, and name calling will get you nowhere with us. We know better, because we used to be you. We have now got enough time under our belts now to know that we should have shown more respect to the women who came before us, but we acted just like you and missed out on the wisdom they could have shared with us. You Newly Minted Birthmoms are lucky to have us. We know better than anyone the path you walk. I drank the koolaid and lived in “happy little bmom world” for three years. Then I realized just how much pain I was in. I don’t regret my son, not at all, I have never regretted bringing him into this world. What I regret is that I didn’t reach out earlier, I could have saved myself so much pain, by having someone older and wiser and who had been there to guide me on the path. I could have learned from these women. The women who are from the Baby Scoop Era. I shunned those women in the beginning, because I thought that because they were in closed adoptions that their opinion was not valid to me because my adoption was open. How very wrong I was. It’s kind of like being a mother of a teenager. They know everything and you can’t tell them different. The mothers shake their heads, and call their own mothers and say mom! I totally get what you meant by “your turn is coming”. I’m so sorry I didn’t listen. And now I, almost 20 years in, have my own “teens” to deal with who are claiming they know everything. It’s a cycle.
A birthmom friend of mine did a survey for birthmothers recently. It’s very clear when you look at the results just where you are in your adoption journey. She said “99% of women after about 15 years think like we do. That’s what my survey showed. I believe it, can’t argue with statistics.” I totally believe it. In the words of another very wise birthmom friends of mine “ It really takes that long to grasp what happened“. That comment sat with me for a long time, in fact it was one of the reasons I’m writing this post. Shes right. When your child is a baby, you see them change so much the first year if you get pictures or visit. As time goes on the list of things you’ve missed gets longer and longer.
When you become a birthmom, you’re not seeing the whole picture. You can’t. You see the immediate. You have your child, you sign papers to relinquish that child, and you enter an open adoption. You get your pictures, and they’re always bittersweet. (I loved getting pics, but it would also make me cry.) You think to yourself (with the help of all the adoption industries grooming about how brave and selfless you are, and how you created a family) “I can do this, I’m fine. Those other birthmoms don’t get it, I made a choice, the best choice for my baby, I feel at peace with my decision.” Yup, I did that for three years too. But when your only a few months in, how would you know what you’re doing is simply a coping mechanism for the absolute grief, and psychological damage that happens when a mother is separated from her child? You DON’T.
That knowledge only comes with time. The more time you spend away from your child the more painful it becomes. The psychological issues happen over time. We cope in different ways, but alot of them aren’t healthy. Birthmoms, no matter what era your from, stuff adoption feelings. The feelings are overwhelming at times, and the only way to survive them is to stuff them. If we didn’t, we would be dead. I’m not kidding. Every birthmom out there has, at some point, had a moment of “I just wish I could end this pain I’m in”. There is a difference I feel, between “feeling” suicidal and “being” suicidal. Most Birthmothers will reach a point in their journey in that, even if things are going well, they feel that they just can’t go on any longer. It just hurts so much.
Not too long ago now, I was watching a documentary on WW2. It included interviews with some of the men who were in the war and their experiences. The quotes are all from this same documentary. I was stunned to realize how much being a birthmother is much like what these men went through coming home from the war. The quotes affected me so much, I had to go back and watch them again and transcribe them.
There are casualties in war that never show up as casualties, they’re internal casualties. We all changed, we went out as a bunch of kids, wars were fought by kids, and we came back, looked maybe the same, but inside we were so different.
It describes perfectly the transition from young woman to birthmother. The innocence is gone. You realize just how different you are from all your friends because you have become a mother. How it changes you. You feel alone and out of sorts because everything on the outside looks the same, and yet, you are a totally new person inside.
To forget the war would be not just impossible, it would be immoral. ( he breaks down ) It doesn’t ever go away, it’s something you have to endure like you endured the war itself. There’s no alternative, you can’t wipe out these memories, you can’t just wipe out what you felt at the time”
Birthmotherhood is like coming back from the front lines of war. You have felt your deepest, most primal feelings, and they stay with you. It’s not something you “forget” or “shake off”. You learn to endure. There is no alternative. In the beginning, the “professionals” have groomed you successfully and you are full of the language they have downloaded into your brain. (they blend really well with those pregnancy hormones.) Us veteran birthmoms choke on those words. We were fed those words. We were fed those exact phrases. But time has a way of clearing your head. You, the Newly Minted Birthmom, have a lifetime to go. Six months or even two years in, the awareness of the magnitude of your “choice” starts to wear on you. The rose-tinted glasses crack. I came across this birthmother blog written by a mother 2 yrs in, it shows the fog starting to lift, and the anger coming up. This is where you really need to start talking, because stuffing these emotions will make you sick down the line. https://nosuchthingasover.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/one-thing/. It’s this piece that gets me:
I am only really, one hundred percent positive of one thing, two years into this: I am really, really angry, and I really don’t like being told that I shouldn’t be angry. Anything that I want to feel or that I feel like I should feel is almost completely clouded and blotted out by my anger.
My well-meaning friends and family would tell me as well that I shouldn’t be angry. My son was in a good home, and had everything he could ever want in life (ya except his mother), and the conversation was usually closed with “Well at least you get to see him” and that would usually shut me down. I would stuff everything else, because I knew they wouldn’t get it. They didn’t understand that I was happy that my son was happy, but that I have never been happy about having been given “no choice” BUT the “choice” of Adoption.
I asked in one of my birthmom groups, what types of behaviors were used to help you stuff your emotions about adoption. They were very forthcoming about the different ways we cope during times of stress, grief and trauma. Here are a few of their answers:
- I became addicted to PC games for a while…specifically the Sims games, in order to escape life. I would always make a character that was my daughter in the game. I did this for years.
- Money – I would buy anything and was heavily in debt. I also was a daydreamer, I guess you could call it. I would make up an alternate life and only focus on that life – sometimes for years at a time. When I was upset (which was pretty much all the time), I would go into my fantasy life and think of little else.
- I am a cocaine addict and have used alcohol food and shopping or a combination of all (to cope)
- gaming, daydreaming, pulling my hair out, literally, always wanting to have another baby and another…5 after the one I placed… I constantly wanted to fill that baby void…Facebook now, not sleeping at night, but sleeping A LOT during the day…
- I stretched my ears, got piercings, and am about to start on my full sleeve. If it causes me some sort of pain I do it.
- cutting, I would visualize the pain leaving my body with each cut and it gave me enormous relief. I started when I was 15, stopped when I got pregnant and after the adoption is when the cuts finally landed me in the hospital.
- Running, achievement-oriented goals that come with a medal or certificate or something I can wave around – “Look, I’m not unworthy!” It doesn’t work but it keeps me busy.
- I became obsessed with organization. Everything has a place and if it is out of order I melt down. I also never felt complete with the number of babies I have (part of the reason why I initially became a postpartum nurse and then did labor and delivery and now midwifery..I get to hold the babies) and I did the attachment parenting thing before it was called attachment parenting. Wore the babies in a sling, breast fed in demand and well past age 2, co slept with the munchkins, used cloth diapers, made my own baby food..anything to be that perfect mommy
- for alot of us, just new in our birthmother hood we were numb. I only know for myself that it took twenty years for me to really acknowledge the damage that had been done. Things that I had considered to be caused by other stresses in my life, were in fact a spin off of the emotions I had suppressed through the initial stages of adoption and then in later years the things I did to stuff it down.
- Started out drinking and sleeping around. That lasted about 4 years (while I was in college). Then threw myself fully and hardcore into school work during grad school and got a 4.0. Insomnia started about halfway through that, tried Prozac for a spell but it didn’t help. I think now I just cope by throwing myself headfirst into whatever needs doing. I’d say I’m far better off now than I was 16 years ago, but part of that is reunion too and actually having people to talk to that get it
The effects of stuffing your emotions for years comes out in the following diseases:
- chronic pain
- kidney and liver issues (traditional Chinese medicine tell us this is where we hold all our unresolved anger…who knew?)
- Thyroid issues ( I have recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, the symptoms didn’t begin in earnest until I started talking about adoption 20 yrs after the fact.)
- Drug, and /or Alcohol Addiction
- Diabetes, and the complications included
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Heart Problems
These are just a few things you will be looking forward to 5-20yrs down the road. You newly Minted Birthmoms who keep spouting the industry whitewash you’ve been fed? You might want to check yourself, cause Adoption ain’t that pretty when it’s not all that new and shiny anymore. This is a long post, I know, but it had to be said. So many of you come into support groups pregnant wanting information and “advice” about being a birthmother. We tell you the truth, and if we don’t scare you away, and you still feel like adoption is still the right answer, you go through with it. Once your on the OTHER SIDE of the fence? This is what we hear most
It hasn’t even been a week since I signed and I’m regretting my decision!
Lately one thing has been repeating in my mind over and over again: I wish I had never signed those papers.
By then, it’s too late.