On Coercion

Over the past twenty years since losing my daughter to adoption, I have read a great deal on coercion and intimidation. I am always intrigued by those that deny the existence of coercive tactics in adoption. The people I most often hear this denial from are usually the parents of the natural mom and also the adoptive parents of the child. I can only presume that they deny this because they cannot accept fact that maybe, just maybe, something wrong was done.

I denied my own coercion experience for many years. It was my fault. Right? My choice, right? My way to right a wrong? I deserved to lose my child just like a rape victim “asks” for it, right? (Of course not!) My choice to give a good baby a chance at a life better than the one she would have with her “bad” mother? I was easy prey. I believed it all. All the terrible things they told me about me, about raising my child alone, about what she deserved and I did not.

OriginsUSA has an extensive list that outlines coercive tactics. It hurts to see much of my self and my experience there. More than 80% of the items on the OriginsUSA list apply to me. That hurts. Even still. I shoulda known better.

The things that bother me THEE most about my own situation is the following:

  1. Before surrender, before they even took me from my family and home state, they made my parents sign a document saying they would pay them back for any monies given to me.
  2. They took me out of state and told me I HAD to go to Illinois. If I stayed in my home state my child would be in foster care for a year. This was a lie. They were having licensing issues and legal battles with my home state. To get my child, they needed to remove me from that State.
  3. I stayed 1000 miles from my parents home. Phone calls were restricted. Pay phone only. The Caseworker advised me NOT to talk with my family as they were “damaging” to me. (Translation: They might find out how I was doing and might actually offer to let me come home)
  4. The Caseworker met with me almost weekly. Offered me money, clothing, food. Yeah, she “bought me”. I liked her. I thought she liked me. I realized afterwards she liked my stomach ad its contents. Me? My heart? That was not part of the equation at all.
  5. When I asked about keeping my child, I was told that my parents and I would be sued if I did. That I would have to pay back all the money they had given me. It never occurred to me to ask “What money?”. The flight out to the Midwest? The weekly lunches? The salary for the caseworker time? I just did not ask. It also failed to occur to me at that time, that I would be 18 at the time my daughter was born. My parents were not legally responsible for me.
  6. My daughters father was instructed to surrender BEFORE my daughter was born. Since he knew about her, they said he HAD to sign before.  Told me that if he signed afterward or did not at all, it would jeopardize the adoption. (Truth? If he was present with me afterwards, he and I might have felt differently once we had her and ourselves together, right?). It was truly a task of divide and conquer. Keep him away from me and vice versa. Fill my head with all the thoughts of how he failed me and MAKE HIM SIGN.

It really, really saddens me to think about the girl I was then. Sure, I was book smart. I was also naïve and had the worst self esteem imaginable.

I cannot change the past. I work daily on forgiving myself. The only thing I can do is share my story, is try to help others.

If one drop of my pain helps another, than it is worth it somehow.  Some good does come out of it.

5 Thoughts.

  1. Yup. These are all of our stories, slight variations, but ours nonetheless.
    This speaks volumes to the institutionalism, the tactics of oppression, the capitilistic obsession, and societal intention.

  2. That is just so shocking. I know you have endured so much in your life. You are helping people through your talent and the way you express yourself so truthfully and honestly. I wonder if my b-mom ever went through any of that. I know my parents paid for her lodging and I was really surprised by that. Honestly, I think there are some things I would rather not know. Sometimes it’s too much.

  3. After reading articles about coercion, I realized my mother had used what was listed as the “professional” methods!! Keeping me isolated from family members who were in favour of me keeping her and making me feel guilty if I wanted to keep her, undermining my confidence. I agree with Stacy, you do help a lot of people with your words. You are such a good writer, glad you are here with us.

  4. *nods* Yes. I denied my own coercion for a very long time. It’s strange coming to terms with it now. I’m trying but I still argue with myself.
    Thank you for sharing this so that people WILL know that coercion DOES and STILL exists.
    It’s such a shame.

  5. Wow. It’s amazing how insidious coercion is, how it’s built right into the system. What easy prey I was, with my low self esteem, guilt and need for redemption.

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