Retiring from Adoption

I have been debating a “retirement” from adoption following my presentation at the American Adoption Congress in Denver this week. I shared this fact on my Facebook and all friends were quite supportive though a few remarked they doubted if it would be possible for me. One friend, who has seen adoption find me over and over again, suggested I could retire from it but it may not retire from me. Another friend suggested I would come back from AAC re-invigorated. First friend might be correct. I am hoping the second one is wrong.

I am not sure if I am completely retiring as much as I am stepping down or back another level. My daughter will be 30 this coming May. I found her over ten years ago. Prior to that I was obsessed with adoption search and reunion. Over the years that obsession has waned a bit by design and somewhat organically. I am very conscious each time I pull back a bit more. Early on I pulled back due to wanting a different vibe. I had taken what I could from the actively angry adoption community (and I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with angry, just that for me, it was a phase I needed to go through and then sought other voices). I then pulled back from friends who did not support my feelings or position. I pulled back again when my marriage fell apart and I realized how much my involvement with adoption had contributed to the demise of my marriage. Yet again I pulled back when my therapist pointed out my mothering style (or not) as it related to my sons and my adoption trauma. If I was to use medical terms, I might suggest I am administering a step down therapy treatment, that is, a staged reduction in the dosing and agents used to manage my adoption trauma condition.

These days I find I want to devote energy elsewhere. I would like to make real progress on this memoir I have stopped and started and stopped and started again. I am hoping I get into a local college’s Creative Writing program. If I do, I will need time to dedicate to my studies and my writing. On the less tangible side, I find myself so very tired of the chronic anxiety adoption causes me. I realize this may never go away. It has been 30 years after all. However, I feel in some ways I create it by actively seeking out adoption matters, by sharing them, by engaging in dialogue. I am curious if my anxiety will lessen at all if I take yet another step back and focus my energy elsewhere. My thinking is much like my friends, it may still find me but I can, and should, make better choices in self care.

At least that is my current thinking. As a Gemini (known to flip flop easily), I may indeed change my mind post Denver.


5 Thoughts.

  1. Suz–I had to do this after I found my daughter for quite a while. It was just too emotionally draining to continue. Do what you need to do for your own mental health. You’ve been a support and help to others, now take care of yourself.

    PS: I didn’t give you anything for AAC, will you email me? and ask me whatever?

  2. Okay Suz, When I tried to think about what I would say about “mitigating” the panic and fear and guilty and sorrow and agony of those early days after relinquishment. I couldn’t come up with anything! As you know I did not tell my mother, or anyone in the family for six years. And did so then only because I was beginning to speak up and knew I would be public, so public that my family might find out through a source other than myself.

    I didn’t have a regular therapist then or ever, but a psychiatrist in his residency lived above me, and I did fess up to him, but that mostly resulted in me breaking down and crying. I think I got through the first year and then the second by simply living one day at a time, having a job that meant a great deal to me and allowed me to work long hours, and a few friends –I’m actually only thinking of one–I met at the new job. Of course I had to move to a new city after birth and start my life all over again, while the father of course went on, business as usual. I don’t mean to trivialize his involvement, as he was with me throughout the pregnancy, but he did not have to leave his old life and start again.

    Would a support group have helped? I don’t know. A group of women who ho had recently relinquished children might have turned into a pity party, to use my granddaughter’s lingo.

    If we had all been allowed to grieve publicly, it might have cut down on the number of relinquishments during that time. All that hue and cry surely would have reached the ears of others.

  3. Hi Suz,

    I have been semi-retired from adoption for a number of years now. It started when I discovered the bogus online blog my daughter wrote using me as a subject. That pretty much knocked the wind out of me and in some ways was a wake up call. Over the years my anger has slowly faded and I found myself reading less about adoption and spending more time focusing on the areas in my life that give me pleasure. This has been good for me and I wake up each morning with a firm resolve to have a really good day. Living a non-adoption centered life works for me and I hope it will for you as well. Thinking of you and wishing you the best as you begin this new chapter in your life.

  4. I’ve wondered the same thing as Lorraine, about us all being allowed to grieve publicly. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much my acquiescence to keeping the grief silent (even though anyone looking at me knows there is a heaviness there) has likely contributed to the continuation of this practice and the loss of children for many other mothers and fathers and their families.

    I don’t believe it is ever a “good thing” to bury feelings about hard or painful things. Look at all the veterans who returned from previous wars and did the same thing. They kept quiet because those over them and around them didn’t want to hear the hard and painful truth. Just wanted to hear and think about the good stuff. The war is/was over, they were home, everything will get back to normal now. They were labeled, blamed and shamed into silence. Sound familiar?

    So many of us, whether mothers or adoptees or vets (or anyone else harmed and shamed into silence), often go into ‘hiding’, suffer PTSD, depression /anger, shame, unremitting grief. Not allowed to speak of it. So the next generation comes along and endures the same. Why?

    War and being a warrior is said to be an ‘honorable’ thing. A ‘good’ thing. The ‘right’ thing. Same with adoption and being a “b…. (I can’t even write the word) mother. Good, honorable, noble, sacrificing… Is it truly? How much harm has come to generations from both of these practices?

    The perpetuation of evil… when those that know the harm keep /OR ARE KEPT silent. We keep silent because we have been harmed so badly, that we give those that perpetrated it (by policy, practice, ‘authority’, power, or force) way too much say so and power over us afterwards. Due, in great part, to the fact that we KNOW these CAN hurt us… because they did.

    Does speaking up take away THEIR ‘power’? Does speaking up change policy? Does it change practices? Can speaking up counter or negate their ‘authority’? Can speaking up take away their power? Can speaking up stop force by those with money and power and position? Yes and no.
    Suz, You have been a voice crying out in the wilderness… to warn, to educate, to comfort. Do be kind and gentle with you. Enjoy your retirement, long or short, with a contented heart knowing that you have done well and helped many.

  5. As an adoptee just “getting into” all of this it does make me sad that you’re thinking of stepping back. I need firstmother and adoptee voices and it seems there are so few out there. I find a lot that last updated years ago or that update infrequently.

    That said, my desire to continue to hear your voice isn’t a factor (nor should it be) and I do fully support you doing what is best for you!

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