The Cost of Change

The tweet on my twitter feed read:

Any authentic work of art must start an argument between the artist and his audience.” -Rebecca West (b. December 21, 1892)

The quote struck me as it reminded me of Jane Edwards post on First Mother Forum. In her post she writes about the newly published book by first mother and author, Denise Roessle titled Second-Chance Mother.  As is to be expected with any book about adoption, particularly one that paints a negative picture of the sacred bovine, First Mother Forum posters challenged Denise. They objected to her sharing such personal details about her reunion story and her son’s life-long challenges. They questioned her integrity, her love for her son and her morals.

The critical commentary did not surprise me. I was around Denise’s adoption blog, Write-o-Holic, when she was eviscerated by several adoptees for sharing parts of her reunion story along with a picture of her son.  At that time, Denise retracted several of her posts, edited a few others and removed the picture.  With the book now being published, I found myself wondering, what, if anything she would do in reaction to the commentary on Jane’s post.  I realize all works of art are subject to criticism and personal interpretation. However, adoption related media (photos, blogs, books, etc.) seem to attract more negative attention and generate more arguments over what is appropriate to share and what is not. The thought of arguments over adoption blogs, memoirs and the like once again took me back to Rebecca West.

Rebecca West, or Dame Rebecca West, is the pen name for Cecily Isabel Fairfield.  Rebecca was an author, journalist, travel writer and literary critic. While she wrote in many genres she was most committed to feminist and liberal principles.  I had no idea that West had a thread run through her life that was very similar to the challenges faced by those of us who dare to speak candidly, and publicly, about adoption and the state of our reunions.  West and author H. G. Wells had a son, Anthony Panther West. Anthony, also a writer, published a fictionalized auto-biography titled Heritage. In the book, Anthony West highlights a relationship between an illegitimate son and his world famous unmarried parents. The mother in the story is portrayed very poorly and it is assumed by Rebecca West and others that Anthony was referring to his own mother when he developed the character. The depiction of the maternal figure in Heritage so wounded Rebecca she broke off all relations with her son. Their relationship was rocky from that point until her dying day where when asked if she wanted to see him, she refused, citing his apparent hatred for her.

The similarities between West life story and that of those of who write about adoption, particularly difficult adoption reunions should be self evident.  A mother lost her relationship with her child due to the publishing of a story. The mother was upset about the way she was portrayed. The mother tried to block the book from being sold. The parent child relationship remains strained until the mothers dying day. 

Individuals outside of adoption, those that have never written about a personal relationship, or had text written about them, probably cannot relate. Adoption bloggers, writers, we can. Consider the following scenarios (totally made up, btw, they do not refer to anyone I know personally. Any similarity to real life persons is coincidental.):

  • Adoptee writes long scathing nasty blog with details of reunion. Posts include references to natural mothers bathing habits, housing (or lack thereof), alcoholism and more. It is all true and from the adoptee’s perspective she is venting, looking for support from the adoption community and highlighting for others what reunion might mean for them.  If you are an adoptee, even a general adoption blogger, you may understand. You may say been there, done that. What if you aren’t? What if you are the dirty, housing project drunkard being written about? What if you are the kept child of that parent, the half sibling of that blog author? Will you be able to forge a relationship with the adult that wrote the blogs?
  • Mother writes about reunion and shares intimate personal details about reunion including mental illness, drug use, and prison sentences served by adopted adult. She is confident her reunion is over and that her now adult child will never speak to her again. She bases this assumption on the behavior; written correspondence and the fact that child has taken a restraining order out against her for her repeated attempts at contact. It has been many years since she has heard from her child. Mother feels others, particularly those considering adoption, should know what adoption might do for their child and what it may mean for their life. Mother is compelled to change adoption for future generations and uses her own experience and life story as an example.
  • Adoptee in reunion makes up a lengthy completely false blog about natural parents. Blog is found by natural parents and half siblings. Natural parents are startled as they had no idea their child was feeling this way about their reunion.  Moreover, the accounts were so grossly off base the natural parents begin to question the adult adoptees mental health. When confronted the child (really, adult) denies the blog and later deletes it.  Adult adoptee then turns the tables on natural parents and calls them liars because the blog can no longer be found. Adult adoptee tells all extended family members and even goes so far as to mail a letter to natural mother’s employer, a banking institution, that she is dishonest. Natural parents are not technically savvy enough to disprove the statement.  Lacking ability to produce it, they appear to be liars. Adult adoptee rages at parents for years for not only abandoning adoptee as an infant but for making up lies about the blog,  a blog that a more technically savvy person could have retrieved via archive.org or other service.

Venting, blogging, looking for support, activism. Call it what you will. What are we doing and what is the price we pay for doing it?

Lorraine Dusky alludes to a similar topic in her January 5 posting on First Mother Forum. A post on the blog generated much commentary and the focus of the commentary seemed directed at Lorraine’s grand daughter. Lorraine, much like Denise, was criticized by others for her statements.  After some thought, Lorraine removed certain comments.  She acknowledged the possible pain the commentary could cause her granddaughter. She also acknowledged something that is the real point of my post here.

How can we, adoption reform activists, illustrate the need for massive change if we do not show, discuss, share, how it damaged us?  If blogging is not acceptable, is it acceptable to speak at conferences? Conferences are often recorded. No? Perhaps writing books is okay? Maybe under a pen name? Oh, but wait, individuals who have pieces of their identity stolen from them tend to be resistant to changing names.

Our silent voices brought about this mess.  Silence should be no more.

Or should it?

Does it depend on your situation and personal motivation?

I don’t have any answers for these questions nor am I am innocent myself of the possible emotional crimes I am referring to.  While I have taken care (frankly, too much care in my opinion) to keep my daughters identity a secret (at her request), I know for certain she is not happy about my being so “out” about adoption. She has visited here at least three times that I know of and while she has never told me to stop writing, or threatened me if I did not do so, her discomfort was obvious. 

She told me this blog made her puke. I tell myself it is her cognitive disequilibrium. What she might read here is completely at odds with what she was raised to believe. Therefore, she prefers I not write about it. She wants me to support her version of the story. She believes one thing about adoption and I believe another. Can our differing opinions co-exist? Can we not agree to disagree and still have a relationship? I want to think so.

Would closing up my blog make a difference in my reunion? Zipping my proverbial trap, effect any change?  Would ceasing all efforts I undertake to help single mothers, have any positive correlation to my reunion? I believe, strongly, the answer is no. My blog is not the source of the contention or difficulty. The topic of it, what generated the need for it, is.  My blog is a symptom of the larger dis-ease affecting my reunion. I firmly believe, at this time, there is nothing I can, or more importantly, should, do. So I continue on.

Holding that belief so firmly, I do blog and I do speak and I do share (with some degree of reservation). While I feel I can effect no change be it positive or negative with her, I do feel I can make some change for others. Shouldn’t I do that? How can I not? How do I do that, establish credibility, if I don’t use my own story as the backdrop? If I wish to sway the oppositions opinion towards single mothers and adoption, the burden of proof is on me, no?

And yet, in doing so, I cannot help but wonder at what cost? What if I am wrong? What if there was something I could have or should have done differently?  What if I my work that I thought was so well intended actually ends up leaving me on my deathbed with someone asking me if I want them to call my daughter? Will I say “no” because I don’t believe she would care?

Or would I say “yes, please do”.  Will I reflect on all the mothers and children I helped or will I still long to meet my daughter?

 

38 Thoughts.

  1. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time. Thank you for your thoughts on it.
    I find I go back and forth about what I write in my blog, and I do have some deep seeded fears about it.
    I have become paranoid, on a few occasions, to the point where I have to read it all, and decide if I should keep it up.
    I am simply writing from my own experience, no, not everybody who reads it will like it, and yes, I could make a few people very upset. I am telling the truth– according to me, and how I lived, but not all parties would probably have seen it the way I describe it. Due to their own blinders, and level of denial, not to mention inability to face their own pain, and it’s convenient to tell themselves that the truth according to me, is not the truth according to them.
    I take a risk in writing it, but on some accounts, the freedom I gain, from being able to write what I lived, and how I experienced it, far outweighs the fear.

    Thanks Suz! xx

  2. Not everyone will like anything anyone writes. What Suz writes is completely at odds with what I was raised to believe of any first mother but it is her truth, more real than any fairy tale told by hopeful yet anxious a/p’s. This blog is a service to an adoptee like me as are all other first mom blogs, even those written by moms I don’t agree with.

  3. “I tell myself it is her cognitive disequilibrium. What she might read here is completely at odds with what she was raised to believe. Therefore, she prefers I not write about it. She wants me to support her version of the story. She believes one thing about adoption and I believe another. Can our differing opinions co-exist? Can we not agree to disagree and still have a relationship”

    Brilliant observation Suz and very generous in spirit. I totally agree with you and it’s a real conundrum for those of us who wish to effect change but have to deal with activists who are all dancing in different directions. Thank you for a most excellent blog today!

  4. I can relate to a lot of what you say here Suz. For me blogging was a way to release years of pain that I held inside, with no outlet. Blogging allowed me to release much of that pain. It helped me heal to a certain degree.

    I commend you and other bloggers, you have important voices that need to be heard, against the roar of the pro-adopts. You, and others who keep blogging, are the minority voices. The majority thinks adoption is nothing but sunshine and roses.

    But at what cost?

    The cost is dear.

    I learned that the hard way.

    • No doubt Liz. Clearly I use blogging for that purpose as well (in addition to activism). I find myself also wondering (and this is tangential to my original point) if we also use it as an excuse NOT to deal directly with the other parties in our relationships. Are we viewed as passive aggressive? If blogging was not an option, what would we do? (I am asking rhetorically, not directly to you)

      What did the mothers before me (that did not have benefit of internet) and were they better off in reunion because their other parties could not read all their thoughts online – and in fact, had only real contact with them unfettered by public blog opinion? Or were they worse off lacking the community and support we have?

      I have no answers. Obviously. Just lots of questions and concerns.

      • Good question Suz. As for me I tried for many years to discuss my adoption trauma and I was always shot down. I was told to get over it and smile. Two years of blogging helped me more than 20 years of mostly stuffing my feelings.

        Sadly, I do think those who reunited before the internet were probably much better off navigating their relationships.

        On the flip side, of course, the support I have received via the internet has been immensely helpful.

  5. Wow, all I can say is wow to this.

    There are so many levels that could be addressed. As one of the few people that I know of that had the adoptee and mother blogging at the same time, I find this to be an oversimplification.

    As far as Denises’ blog, you are leaving out the parts that she made pretty much every post about how she thought her son was a p.o.s. loser and attached his smiling visage to her header. To describe this as being eviscerated vs. as being really insensitive on her part is really one-sided. That could have impacted his employment, his day-to-day life and was really uncool.

    As far as scenario three: How would the natural parents recognize themselves in such a work of fiction?
    It doesn’t make sense logically.

    I mean it makes sense if natural parents are simply victims and are never cruel to their adopted out kids, but we know that doesn’t happen. We know that adoptees are the favorite scapegoats, the holder of both mantles the natural parents failure to parent and the adoptive parents demand to own.

    Please explain, as I am reading this you are giving natural parents a license to be jerks, why?

    Why, I was 17, why do natural parents get to be jerks and those of us who keep do not?

  6. joy-joy

    Please explain, as I am reading this you are giving natural parents a license to be jerks, why?

    No. But the very fact that this is the way you interpreted my post supports what I was attempting to illustrate. A natural parent using their experience to make change in adoption makes them a “jerk”.

    If we do not use our experience, do not highlight how adoption effected us and our children, how might we make change, Joy?

  7. Suz, thank you so much for taking time to write this post. I never knew about blogging until one day I received a phone call from someone dear to me telling me that I was the subject of a blog. I was horrified. I started to read the blog and had to stop due to the deep emotional pain I felt reading the lies that were written about me. I literally started shaking and the tears were streaming down my face. It took me hours to recompose myself and continue reading. When I finally resumed reading and finished the blog in its entirety, I felt numb with shock and disbelief. I had sleepless nights for over a year. It’s been since 2008 and I’m now beginning to recover with the help of my family and friends. If what had been written about me had even an ounce of truth, I could have dealt with it. It was the knowledge that someone had so much hate toward me that it was necessary to spend three years fabricating a blog about it that created the deep pain.

  8. No matter what kind of life an adopted child has, I believe that somewhere in the back of their minds is a feeling of having been rejected by their first mother…. A feeling of being unwanted or accidental, set aside and forgotten. The fact is, I’ve never met a natural mother yet who didn’t have regrets, depression, sorrow and a wounded soul. I think their children need to know that they were thought of…many times a day since that fateful day we handed them over to someone else. No matter how much your daughter doesn’t like your blogs…She now knows she is valuable to you and that she has always been loved and never forgotten…you never wanted to let her go. That has to be a relief to her psyche. You did the right thing letting her see your true sorrow and grief and isn’t it good for other adoptees to see that in all likelihood, their own mother feels the same, thereby giving them some added self worth?

    Unfortunately, the truth is often inconvenient for the adoptive parents and also for the adoptees that love them. At least one person loses, sometimes more. Your daughter didn’t want to have to feel sad for you, but, I believe she does. She just doesn’t want to be in the middle and feel like an ungrateful, disloyal, unloving daughter of the people who raised her. She just doesn’t know what to do with you yet. She may feel that adding you into the picture would mean she would have to choose between you, which is so untrue. One thing she does know is that you hurt and she is uncomfortable knowing that the woman who gave her life hurts, but, she needs to know that she is precious to you and worth that much to you!

    I am grateful that my child was well taken care of, and I even honestly love the adoptive parents for that, how could I not love them for taking good care of my child? ( and that may be a starting point that will work for our children), but, I suffered almost unto my own death over losing my daughter. The adoptive parents had told me I could visit her via an “Open adoption” but then changed their minds after I no longer had any legal rights. Women need to know that in an “Open adoption”, they really have no legal rights at all and yes, I do think it’s my job to tell them.

    I think deep down inside, even the adoptive parents have also taken to heart that an adoptive mother’s pain and loss was their gain and I believe, feel guilt over the fact, but, they’d sure like to forget it as much as possible. It’s not our job to be easily forgotten. It’s our job to make sure that people know that we never forgot, not even for a day.

    These are personal stories and it takes courage to tell them like they were. We would wish that no harm would come to another through these stories, but, if we do not tell these stories, there will be more like us, making a permanent decision over a temporary situation. You know, this phrase was first coined by people discussing suicide. “A Permanent solution to a temporary problem.” It’s only natural that we would use it to describe a situation that is emotional suicide. You see…we died a little bit the day we let go of our own flesh and blood and for some of us, we just kept dying a little more each day thereafter. We want to stop other “jumpers”, and let them know there might be another way and that they will regret it. It’s that serious. In fact, I have read a story or two where the natural mother committed suicide over the grief and I very much get this. So when you’re asking, in a way, if the end justifies the means…Would you tell your story to another “jumper” to help them avoid the pain you and others have endured? Right now, there are other mothers sitting on the ledge. It’s not just ok that you tell your story, but, a moral imperative that you do. If not, people will believe that every story has a happy ending, that it will be easy to get over this, and that their children will live happily ever after. I would venture to say that the fallacy of happily ever after almost never happens.

    I believe that the writing is sometimes a subconscious apology to our children as well. Yes, we are sorry we let you go, so very sorry. We have loved you since before you were born and we will love you until the day we die. We paid for our temporary desperation with an eternity of broken hearts and injured souls. We want to know if the day will ever come that we have paid enough for losing you, and yes, if we will ever get the chance to love you in person.

    • Darla :

      We want to stop other “jumpers”, and let them know there might be another way and that they will regret it.

      Darla – I love that analogy. Exactly.

      • “You did the right thing letting her see your true sorrow and grief and isn’t it good for other adoptees to see that in all likelihood, their own mother feels the same, thereby giving them some added self worth? ”

        I so agree with this Darla. Sharing our pain with our kids, seems like it would at least let them know, if even on an subconcious level, that we didn’t just “forget about them, and get on with our lives”. I would think there would be some comfort or healing in that.

  9. Darla, indeed a powerful comment.

    Especially: These are personal stories and it takes courage to tell them like they were. We would wish that no harm would come to another through these stories, but, if we do not tell these stories, there will be more like us…

    That’s what we’re doing: telling our stories, expressing our pain, sometimes venting, in most cases in hopes of stopping “jumpers” or educating others… what might happen, whether it’s relinquishment or reunion.

    This is not like journaling. It goes out on the Internet and the public has access (unless you require subscriptions and the like). There’s not “do overs” or “take backs.” Even more so with a book. It’s pretty much permanent.

    Suz wondered if I would feel compelled to do anything after receiving some criticism on FMF. The answer is no. I worked on it for several years, considered what to include, what to leave out, with fairness and respect for everyone involved. It’s a true story — yes, from my perspective in terms of feelings — but everything reported did happen.

    I stand by my work. Not everyone’s going to like or approve. I can live with that.

  10. Darla,
    I found your comment to be very thoughtful, sensitive and insightful. Every mother I’ve ever met has had a great deal of love for their child. How could it be otherwise. I agree with your “jumpers” analogy and our stories do need to be told. It wasn’t until I read Fessler’s The Girls Who Went Away that I realized that I wasn’t alone. For a long time I suffered in silence and I’ve just recently begun to use my voice. Although my reunion did not work out despite years of putting forth an enormous amount of love and devotion , I’m hoping my story will help someone else down the road.

  11. Pingback: Privacy,Reform, and Adoption Blogging « Joy’s Division

  12. Contrary to belief not all mothers loved or wanted their babies or love and want them now they are adults.This has been proven by adult adoptees’ experiences in ‘reunion’
    I believe it is possible to be true to ourselves, to write with integrity and to be respectful of the ‘other’. Unfortunately some mothers have not yet realised what is acceptable, respectful or how to achieve the result which keeps reunion going.

  13. Von :
    Contrary to belief not all mothers loved or wanted their babies or love and want them now they are adults.This has been proven by adult adoptees’ experiences in ‘reunion’

    Valid point Von, and also applicable to adoptees as well. Many don’t want or need or care about their natural families and feel zero connection.

    Where I become challenged is when we enact legislation to protect those that dont want something – i.e, reunion – rather than assist those who do. Can those that don’t want reunion not handle that themselves? I am not adopted and have bio relatives I prefer not to associate with so I dont. I don’t need laws to help me do that.

    Must our state and federal governments regulate relationships? Policy makers like to hold up these mothers and adult children that don’t want to to be found as if they speak for all of us. They do not and should not be used as such. Seems to me if that mother or adoptee does not love, care for their other family members, they should be be able to handle that on their own. The fact that adoption separated them should not give them special rights under the law – nor should it withhold rights from others.

  14. Von :
    I believe it is possible to be true to ourselves, to write with integrity and to be respectful of the ‘other’. Unfortunately some mothers have not yet realised what is acceptable, respectful or how to achieve the result which keeps reunion going.

    As Joy suggest above in my post, I think this statement is an over simplification. How does one realize what is acceptable – until it may be too late? What one considers respectful another may not? It feels to me that we are trying to suggest that all reunions/all parties – worldwide – will feel the same and that we should all follow the same rules. Is that the case? Can it be? Should be? There are times I feel many of us are so stuck in this belief that all babies are the same, all mommies are the same, and as such we can, and more importantly, should, follow the same set of rules.

    Such a misstep. We are all unique individuals with different actions and reactions. Sharing the trauma of adoption does not mean we will share everything. At least, it doesn’t for me.

    • “There are times I feel many of us are so stuck in this belief that all babies are the same, all mommies are the same, and as such we can, and more importantly, should, follow the same set of rules.” How very true that is and I believe a great deal of the problem that exists in reform and in personal belief, particularly here in Australia, is because mothers believe in a set of rules and are stuck in that damage of adoption.
      During the recent time of our Inquiry into forced adoption many adoptees have been bullied, shunned, ridiculed and belittled because they tried to tell their own stories and would not follow the rules laid down by one group of mothers on how the story of adoption goes.Those mothers you mention did indeed use their stories, only one of those in the end beneficial to adoptees because she takes diversity into account and does not insist on conformity to a viewpoint.Naturally mothers work for reform for themselves but damaging adoptees further in the process can never be right. Surely we can all be guided by our basic principles, our sense of what is moral, ethical and right and will not hurt others?
      Re your country, there seems little point in directing energies into what will not change. I have sufficient contacts and am sufficiently in touch to have some understanding of the complexities of your situation.

  15. It doesn’t for me either, Suz. No two stories are the same. You’ve made excellent points.

  16. Suz, amazingly enough, I just read this now, after our exchange this am. Thanks for articulating the central problem of writing personally. Yet unless we do, we cannot move minds and hearts and get those damn laws repealed, for a personal anecdote is worth a thousand words that is just wonky policy.

    It is impossible to write about what happened to us first mothers without revealing at least partially details about the “other” once we know the other. For our stories are about our reaction to other people who interact in our lives.

  17. Since I don’t live in country that has laws to repeal other than in my own State where we have a number of adoptees vetoed, I view what is happening in America from a distance.I don’t believe any ammount of telling the stories of adoption will move the hearts and minds of those who are set against reform.Their stance is immoveable when it comes from a religious viewpoint.I don’t believe it is necessary to hurt others so badly in the telling and if the story is so painful to the other why tell it? What is more important, our own flesh and blood, or reform which others will carry on or take up without us if we step back?

    • Von – i did not realize until i checked your recent comment that you are Australian. Is it your position that the victims of adoption (mothers and children) should remain silent? For if they dont show via their own stories, what do they have?

      Admittedly not an expert on adoption in Australia but I was under the impression Lily, Dian, Evelyn and many others did indeed use their own stories as part of their work? Is Australian also not religious? How did Aus make such great progress?

      Also, I believe you wrongly assume the only person we direct our stories to is religious conservatives in the states. I am involved in two organizations that work with those most at risk – young, single, expectant mothers. Their particular demographic has much to gain from the stories of mothers who surrendered to adoption and the adoptees trapped in the miasma of it. I personally do not direct my time and energy on the religious zealots of USofA. As you state, I let others do that. My focus is cutting off the supply and supporting the mothers most at risk.

  18. Von :

    Re your country, there seems little point in directing energies into what will not change. I have sufficient contacts and am sufficiently in touch to have some understanding of the complexities of your situation.

    I would like to believe you are incorrect here and hope we can learn from social efforts that did make change – slavery, womens right to vote, work, rights for gays to marry and more. Those groups never gave up and I hope for the future of American mothers and children our groups do not either. They deserve better.

  19. I’m struck by the common thread of the damage caused by adoption. Yes, we are all different — the mothers, the adoptees, and our reunions or non-reunions — but we are also all traumatized by this ridiculous and unnatural practice. Every now and then, I hear or read something about continuing to talk and write about the Holocaust, lest we forget, or our children/grandchildren don’t know about it. Not the same thing, I know, but I think the basic principle applies. We must never stop sharing. And try not to hurt others along the way, although that can’t always be avoided.

    • I agree and get your analogy Denise (largely because my father was born in a WWII concentration camp, out of wedlock, and my gramdmother said the same thing to me we must keep talking. She was referencing the holocaust whereas I reference another type of genocide) we must talk and document and share.

      I count small wins. Where Von and others thinking nothing but sweeping change makes a difference, I find comfort in helping one mother, then two, then three and have them AVOID being eaten by the adoption monster. Save one mother and her child you save generations of that family from the trauma that has so deeply effected us all.

  20. One way to control people is to isolate them. I think we were pretty isolated in our feelings before the internet. It worked to everyone’s (AP’s, adoption agencies) advantage except ours and our children’s.

    Most of the mothers I know personally are in successful, if complicated reunions. Coincidentally all of them are in reunion with female children. Something I often wonder about but it’s not a simple question and for another day.

    Only on the internet did I come to realize that some behaviours were not unique to my personal situation.

    I have been the subject of private and public attacks by my son. I think that when someone goes on Twitter, follows your followers, and then tweets 6.5 pages of info about you over as many days, including some very personal stuff, they have pretty much given up the right to talk about privacy.

    You must come to equity, (i.e. what is just, not just what is the law,) with clean hands. Even having said that though, there are lots of things I don’t put on my blog.

    But I think it is part of our education mandate to let other people know what our experience in adoption has been. A big part of that is that all the things we were told about how much our children would appreciate what we had done was a lie. Inadvertent or purposeful, I know not which.

    And as a writer, I have to say that whenever I get personally uncomfortable, I know I have opened that famous vein.

    Whenever any one wants to shut me up, I want to say, been there, did that for 18 years. It was hell.

  21. “I count small wins. Where Von and others thinking nothing but sweeping change makes a difference”. Sadly there Suz you made an assumption about me, my motivation and my work in adoptionland over many, many decades.I have done the work of reuniting adoptees and mothers, I have supported adoptees, mothers and occasionally troubled adopters. I have been an activist and have made my contribution to our recent Inquiry in a very personal way through my own submission and by appearing as a witness with my family before the Inquiry.There are countless small and large ways in which I think progress towards reform can be achieved.In some countries it is harder than others for reasons too long to go into here.Things are not always as they appear, those who shout the loudest and make the most noise are sometimes the least effective and as we have seen in my country sometimes likely to discredit themselves.
    Many adoptees appreciate the contribution of mothers in the wider sense where they may not always like the outing and betrayal on the personal front.When mothers truly understand the damage of adoption and adoptees understand how damaged mothers are by it, we might be getting somewhere.

    • I am aware of your story Von. If I “sadly” made an assumption about you, it was rooted in your choice of words that suggested the immovable religious Americans will never change thereby suggesting working towards reform in the USofA was pointless and a waste of our time. My apologies for interpreting your words incorrectly.

      Speaking of your words (When mothers truly understand the damage of adoption and adoptees understand how damaged mothers are by it), I would also offer that I, as a mother, truly understand all too well the damage adoption has done to me, my relationships and my subsequent children. My daughter claims she is not damaged.

      I hesitate to think I should expect to understand the damage it has done to adoptees – as I am not an adopted person. Not only does the experience among adoptees vary as widely as it does among mothers (many adoptees are fine with adoption as some mothers say they are fine losing their children), but I do not believe I can understand fully the impact unless I lived it. I can however acknowledge and respect the pain and the individuals effected by it but I feel uncomfortable stating I could ever fully understand what it is like to have lived it – unless I were an adopted person. Similarly, I question if adoptees (unless they are also mothers who surrendered to adoption) can fully understand what it means to be a mother.

  22. Suz, you link is to but a tiny part of my story.It is infinitely more complex, as most lives are.
    Reform is never pointless on a micro or macro level except among those who will never change their minds because their lives depend on it.
    While we can, if we’re lucky, try to walk in the shoes of others, we will never truly know how it is to be them or live their lives.Sadly there are those who do not understand this and try to speak with assumed authority, about what they don’t know. Many adoptees are also mothers of children either raised or taken in adoption. We have that connection to what is is to be a mother. A mother of an adoptee will never, fortunately, know what is is to be an adoptee unless she is one.
    To answer you question about how Australia made progress in reform – we have a much closer connection to legislators than you do, since we have such a relatively small population and legislators are very accessible. Mothers have worked for the reforms they want to see for themselves, for changes to benefit them and for compensation. The price they have paid is in repeating their stories over and over and never leaving the damage behind in order to move on.That has had it’s impact on adoptees as we have particularly seen in the last year since the Inquiry.Adoptees have at last been able to come forward and recommend changes they want to see which will benefit adoptees. It is very new for us and we’ve learned fast. We have been discouraged and in every way felt unwelcome in supporting mothers or speakinf for ourselves, by a small group of mothers who consider they have influence, or in coming forward to tell it really is uniquely for us.Many adoptees have had to be very courageous in telling their stories, making submissions and giving evidence.There has been a cost, which will become more obvious in time. Fortunately our legislators see it differently. It has been very sad for us to see attempts to further damage us by those so damaged themselves.
    It’s good to see dialogue being opened up and hopefully the results will be more productive than they have been in the past. There are still taboo areas and once they are broached openly we might see progress.

  23. Suz, I have made the mistake of reading too much of your blog all at once and so my ablilty to have a thoughtful comment is slipping away. I look forward to reading Mom C’s book when she finishes it. I expect there will be parts that do not paint me in a favorable light and I can write my own book/rebuttal. However, I find some comfort in the fact that most people realize there are three sides to the story. Mine, hers and the truth. 🙂 No matter how much A_ _ _ _ _ has rejected and hurt you, I believe that if she wanted you, you’d embrace her and not keep her at arms length or make her beg to come back like Mom C did to me. Love you.

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