Mixing Ideas for a School Paper

I need to write a research paper for my psych class. Should be not surprised that it will be adoption influenced.

I am still baking the actual details, outline, angle etc but am fairly certain it will be on one of two topics:

Operant Conditioning (increasing or decreasing the probability that a specific behavior will occur in the future) and Adoption Surrender – Forcing a mother to surrender her child to adoption to stop her “deviant” sexual behavior.

Negative punishment and response cost (another way to make behavior less frequent). This angle is somewhat related to the fact that I am currently reading Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. The main ideas of Discipline and Punish can be grouped according to its four parts: torture, punishment, discipline and prison. I feel compelled to draw some parallels to unplanned pregnancy, adoption surrender and lifelong loss toΒ  the same four parts.

As part of my processing/planning for this paper, I ask my readers to comment on their own experiences.

Did you feel surrendering your child to adoption was due, all or in part, to a need for your family, church, society, or other to punish you for your deviant sexual behavior (e.g, unprotected sex, sex outside of marriage)?

How do the four parts – torture, punishment, discipline and prison – relate, if at all, to your own experience of adoption surrender and life following same?

Thank you for anything you are able/willing to offer as I further develop this paper.

8 Thoughts.

  1. I don’t think that my Mom made me place my daughter for adoption as in a way to punish me for having sex. It was never said, but my Mom probably saw a baby as a inconvenience to her life style. If my Mom had allowed me to raise my daughter and sent me to live with my Dad, then she wouldn’t have had round the clock babysitting for my brother and sister.

  2. Absolutely playing a part in my choice for adoption was the fact that my family, church, and the view of society in my town was that teen mothers did not keep their babies born out of wedlock. We were not even allowed to attend our public high school once we started showing ~ we might be a bad influence on other innocents.

    I do believe that if this was the only reason for looking into adoption, I would have fought it. However, my family dysfunction was the biggest reason for me to choose adoption.

    I would define the time of my pregnancy as torture, as it was an “unsaid” rule that you did not go out in public and “flaunt” the pregnancy. Nor was I to make my pregnancy a widely known condition. Although the biggest torture was the medical treatment at the maternity home and at the hospital. Being herded into a hallway along with all the other unwed mothers. In hospital gowns. Waiting in line for our turn in the “exam room” for our checkups. At the hospital being left alone in a tiny labor room.

    The punishment came after my son was born. Not being allowed to see my son in the hospital. Being treated like a pariah by the nurses. Cold. Hard stares. No smiles. No visit from parents. No visitors at all.

    Discipline. Being allowed to see my son for one hour at 3 weeks old. Then being told I was not allowed to look for him. Ever. Or I would be breaking the law. Go on with your life. Be a “normal” teen. Enjoy the rest of your high school years. But don’t “get in trouble” again.

    Prison. The rest of my life. Not knowing if my child was even alive for almost 30 years. Even in reunion it’s still like prison. Society tries to “keep me in my place”. Says I’m not really his mom, as I didn’t parent him. I cannot fully embrace him as my son, as I feel that he holds back ~ in order to protect his adoptive mother. Therefore he has to keep me in my place also. Below his adoptive mom.

    Sorry for the novel! This just came spilling out…

  3. Did you feel surrendering your child to adoption was due, all or in part, to a need for your family, church, society, or other to punish you for your deviant sexual behavior (e.g, unprotected sex, sex outside of marriage)?

    Absolutely. By my parents, in keeping with society’s mores of the time. And by the hospital staff, isolating me, not letting me see my son, treating me like a “bad girl.”

    But only in part. My parents’ main objective was to solve the problem and keep the secret: sending me away, forbidding me to go in public or tell anyone who didn’t already know, and give up my baby.

    Their behavior toward me during and after was punishing. Not so much re: losing my son (I don’t think that loss even occurred to them), but re: my slutty ways. Since they made me live with them, even though I was over 18, I was constantly under suspicion and accused.

    torture, punishment, discipline and prison
    I don’t know Foucault’s work, but this sounds interesting. I could certainly draw parallels to the torture (of being isolated, going through labor without knowledge or support, giving up my baby); punishment (as above); discipline (ditto); and prison (during my pregnancy and after at home). I felt punished for the rest of my life, even after reunion.

    Let us all know if you want more emailed to you privately. πŸ™‚

  4. “Did you feel surrendering your child to adoption was due, all or in part, to a need for your family, church, society, or other to punish you for your deviant sexual behavior (e.g, unprotected sex, sex outside of marriage)?”

    If a young, single woman is pregnant she has obviously broken the “no sex before marriage” rule, and worse, the evidence is in everyone’s face (swelling tummy for all to see). She is brazenly deviant and punishment is called for by all social instituions in this case. Versus the young, single woman who is sexually active but avoids pregnancy through contraception or abortion – people may assume she is breaking the rule, but there is no hard evidence, no in-your-face display of sexual activity; she breaks the rule covertly so punishment is avoided. So yes, I would agrue that adoption is a punishment for breaking sexual mores and an attempt to rehabilitate both the woman’s and the family’s reputation as non-deviants.

    “How do the four parts – torture, punishment, discipline and prison – relate, if at all, to your own experience of adoption surrender and life following same?”

    It’s my understanding that the four parts were Foucault’s attempt to explain how the prison system came to exist is its current form. (I read some about his book but by no means am I well-versed in his theory). Adoption seems to fit into his prison model in that there is coordinated set of institutions that work together to perpetuate adoption (social workers, agencies, clergy, courts, etc). The social fraemwork in which adoption exists will always find a way to create more prisoners of the adoption system. They do this by continuing to promote the idea of pre-marital sex and single pregnancy as deviant behavior and by fighting to maintain the system’s legal rigidity (sealed records, altered birth documents, etc). Adoptees and mothers are locked in the social prison of adoption and we are kept there by those whose professional status and incomes are dependent on its continued existence.

  5. I didn’t feel pressured by anyone, except in the hospital; others’ religion forcing me, as the doc was a reborn catholic; and also the “counselor” & lawyer. I felt the complete lack of support, which I suppose could be indirect force of family / community.

    torture: Them taking my daughter was torture. Some days are easier than others, but when it hits me, it hits me in force.

    punishment: I felt that they took my daughter, not as a punishment for my sexual behavior, but because I was just a radical in general. After they took my daughter from me, I continued my own forms of punishment for many years for not being stronger than them.

    I guess I did feel punished by the nurses, not being able to breastfeed my daughter, because they had already forced me to sign away my rights, though the nurses thought I was only “considering” at this point.

    discipline: My body, as a means of protecting itself, made itself completely infertile for 12 years so that I would not have another child stolen from me.

    prison: for the first couple of years, I was in silence of my position, and that was prison. Not being able to have a relationship with my own daughter is like a prison. In a lot of ways, having the fear looming over me stating that if you don’t do everything perfectly, we will take away any future children you may have, is like a permanent state of prison.

  6. WOW…what an interesting and complex question!

    Did you feel surrendering your child to adoption was due, all or in part, to a need for your family, church, society, or other to punish you for your deviant sexual behavior (e.g, unprotected sex, sex outside of marriage)?
    – The madonna/whore complex is alive and well. Although I placed just this year- in 2010, a year where single parenting and children born out of wedlock are common, the fact that I was actually pregnant by a boyfriend who chose to cut and run and had no probability of a marriage to go into, the pressure to “fix” the problem (aka the baby) was immense. A lot I put on myself. However in my demographic, peer group, etc, married, 2 parent families are the norm. That is how I grew up. Even as a 30 year old woman, old enough to be a suitable single parent, the stigma of pregnancy and having a visible reminder of the consequences of failed birth control was an “in your face” example of premarital sex. I truly believe that friends, aquaintances, etc. were uncomfortable that I chose to carry the pregnancy and did not choose abortion. A way to “wipe the slate clean” was to do the “selfless” thing and place my child for adoption. Only then did I feel that people were okaying my choice to have gone through the pregnancy. Yes I got “knocked up” but I correctd my “wrong” by becoming a selfless, altruistic birthmom by placing my child in a conventional, two parent family. I have plenty of friends who lived together before marriage, had been sexually active before marriage, yet since their birth control actually worked, there was no physical reminder that yes they were sexually active. For some reason if you don’t “get caught” (get pregnant), people in my friend/peer/demographic group are ok with premarital sex. You just better not get pregnant…and when someone like me comes along, a single woman determined to keep her baby (I only decided on adoption in my last month) it is awkward and hard for all involved because nobody wants to accept that birth control fails, accidental pregnancies happen, sex is prevalent outside of marriage.

    How do the four parts – torture, punishment, discipline and prison – relate, if at all, to your own experience of adoption surrender and life following same?
    – The torture was all of a sudden having two options; raise and keep my child or place with an adoptive family. In a way, I feel that I opened Pandora’s Box. I looked into adoption and all of a sudden was confronted with couples and families that had so much more than I did- a marriage, two incomes, big nice home, pool in the backyard, siblings, relatives, financial means. After I compared myself to these couples I felt horrible. I had locked myself into my own prison. I couldn’t deny my child all of the resources, love, comfort and things that these amazing, married, two-parent families could. Discipline….I took steps to force myself to go through the placement. I told friends to remind me my reasons for placing even if after the birth, I changed my mind. I refused to name my child, even just to myself, because I didn’t want to get “too attached” to her. I allowed the adoptive parents to hold her more than I did while I was in the hospital. I didn’t nurse so that I wouldn’t get “too attached”. I tried to detach from her in order to be able to let go. I am sad about that, yet I was determined to follow these rules in order to ensure that I did go through with placing. Punishment….I repeatedly told myself that it was I who dated the wrong guy, that I should have known better, that I should have not been sexually involved with him, that I created this pregnancy. When he walked out on me and rough times came about I blamed and punished myself for getting myself into this situation. I turned it into a scenario where being an unwed, single mother was not good enough and I truly believe that I punished myself for this by choosing adoption.

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