Facing Pride of Abandonment

Despite the number of times she said it, I do not think she was “proud” she gave away her child. At least I do not think she was proud in the literal sense of the word. Merriam Webster gives a simple definition of proud:

“very happy and pleased because of something you have done, something you own, someone you know or are related to, etc.”

Could she actually be very happy and pleased she gave her child away to strangers? I suppose anything is possible and it is not for me to challenge someone else’s truth but I spoke to her in depth following a session and my suspicion is that she is struggling and has been trying to make sense of what happened to her and her child. She wants to be okay with her decision and who she has become as a result of it. Proud she overcame some challenges? Proud she made something of her life after surrendering her daughter? That seems more appropriate.

Also important to note that she recommended a birth mother workbook that was published by a well known Mormon/LDS birth mother that regularly promotes mothers abandoning their child to adoption. This was very telling. In that author’s world view adoption is a wonderful thing. The Church of Latter Day Saints says so, right? Quite possible the proud mother was also Mormon. The intoxicating power of the LDS kool-aid cannot be understated.

Never Proud
I was never proud or happy or at peace with giving my daughter away. I was rather miserable from day four of her birth (with day three being the last day I saw her). I have spent 30 years trying to make sense of it. I have blogged, talked, read, cried and more for many years. Through those years I have encountered many people who objected to my particular approach to my very personal experience. My mother tries to explain it away, suggest it is a good thing. Friends will say I did the best I could given the support I had. Still others will focus on the wonderful gift I gave to an infertile couple. Each one of these encounters results in one thing – invalidation. Intentional or not, when others try to wish away, fix, enhance or pretty up my experience you are telling me my feelings are wrong. Read Just Sit There for more on that.

I clearly disagreed with this proud mother but I tried hard to meet her where she was at. There may be very good reasons for why she is there. I did not like where she was but it is her story. She might change her mind. She might need help in the future. She might hit that wall many of us have hit and suddenly not be so proud of her actions. Should that day come, I hope she is surrounded by individuals who can just be with her. Should the day never arrive, I hope she finds a child that is as happy about being separated from her as she is from him or her. Reunions work well when both mother and child share the same world view, no?

8 Thoughts.

  1. The pride train of thought is shoved down the throats of today’s birth mothers. I rode the train for awhile, but I’m mostly angry with myself (working on it) and embarrassed (working on it) that I couldn’t be the mom I needed to be at that time. I’m also angry and embarrassed that I was so gullible at the time. I couldn’t see the facilitator for what they really were.

    • That fact was noted by those of us that were struck by her pride statements. Meaning it is a modern day thing shoved down current expectant moms throats.

      What is interesting is that this mother surrendered 30 years ago. She is not what I would call “modern day”. However her employer, colleagues, etc. are definitely of the modern day cheerleading the birth mom variety

  2. I would like to think that she’s proud that she overcame some challenges, proud that she’s made something of her life post-adoption. Despite that it’s been 30 years, I feel that her career is keeping her in the mindset of the modern day birth mom. For her to face the reality of her loss, it will not only change her mindset, she will also have to change her career ~ and face the reality of the part she played in any other mother(s) “choosing” adoption and their grief and loss afterwards. The makings of some heavy items in front of her closet door that will need to be removed before she can come out…

    I truly hope that if/when that happens for her she feels able to reach out to some of the amazingly strong moms who have come out of their denial before her. I hope she knows most would still help her, despite the pride she was spewing at the conference.

    • Agreed on the career thing. Proud she gave away her own child and proud she helps others do the same. Again, my world view versus hers? I cannot wrap my heart around what kind of damage that does to ones soul once you wake up or if you wake up.

  3. Suz, this is a great piece. I have said that the very worst lies, the ones that do the most damage are the ones we tell ourselves. Unfortunately we often lie to ourselves out of self preservation, telling/seeing the truth might just kill us. That’s the fear at least, that truth is fatal.

  4. I have never, ever once ever felt any sense of pride or happiness because I surrendered my son. For me, the entire experience was shameful because I was not able to stand up to the system that attempted to make me try to believe I was doing the right thing for my child. Once I found him and learned how impacted he had been, it was even worse. I also cannot wrap my head or heart around this woman’s feelings; but I suppose anything is possible. I think Christine Murphy nails it – some people lie to themselves out of self preservation.

  5. What is this woman’s career, and is it at an adoption agency or in some other way persuading pregnant moms to surrender? It sounds that way from Susie said in her comment. This certainly is the new story that is used to get moms to surrender today, not only are you doing a noble thing for a couple who deserve a child, you are heroic, you are better than unwed mothers who selfishly keep their children, your child will thank you some day for the opportunity for a better life, and you should be proud, not ashamed, of being a birth mother. If this woman works for an agency, especially an LDS agency, she is hearing this and repeating this to others every day, which reinforces it in her own mind. An LDS slogan is “doubt your doubts” whenever you begin to question what church leadership tells you to believe. If it any kind of religious agency, the concept of surrender as doing God’s will is also a factor.

    It is really hard to imagine being proud of giving up a child. Accepting that you did it, and that the reasons you had at the time made it seem like the better choice among bad choices is about as far as I can go with that, but pride does not enter into it. Speaking for myself, it is the one act I am most ashamed of and regret with all my being. I was never ashamed of giving birth to my son, and am insanely proud of the man he has become, but the surrender was the worst most cowardly thing I ever did. I think this woman was selling a product, adoption, and trying to convince herself as much as others that she did a great thing.

  6. It sounds like a defense mechanism. Pride to cover up the shame and grief. I can’t imagine any mother who has surrendered truly feeling this way.

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