AAC Denver This Week

12801632_10153940329805482_4964420836487733328_nWednesday of this week I will be travelling to Denver, CO to attend the American Adoption Congress. I, along with three others, will be speaking on Friday at our session titled  Mitigating and Managing Collateral Damage : Impact of Adoption on the 1st Family

My highly qualified panel participants include:

Susie from Finding Christopher, Finding Myself – Denise, reunited mother and author of Second Chance Mother, was originally slated to join us but had to back out a week or so ago for personal reasons. I knew Susie was attending the conference. I also knew she shares a similar experience and outlook on adoption and the impact to first families. I asked her to join us and she was kind enough to agree! Check out her blog if you are not familiar with her or her story and of course, stop by to meet her on Friday.

Kathy Aderhold – Reunited mother, long time adoption activist and midwife, Kathy will speak to all our topics but has a passion (if that is the correct word) and knowledge for PTSD following adoption surrender. Look forward to her sharing her experience and ways we can mitigate and manage similar for future expectant and vulnerable mothers.

Rich Kish – Husband to a first mother (that first mother being me!). My husband was kind enough to agree to join us and share his perpective as someone married to a woman traumatized by adoption surrender and a (non)reunion. I believe my husband has a voice that we do not usually hear from in adoption circles – true collateral damage. He will share how his view of adoption changed up meeting and marrying me, how he handled conversations with his mother and his sons as they related to my experience and how my search and reunion support of others has impacted our marriage.

Should be a great session all around. Even if it is not, I believe, firmly, the most important thing we are doing is keeping the first mother voice present. Susie was worried she might cry, might not be able to speak. I told her that would be perfectly okay if that happened as the most valuable contribution she is making is being right there, present, showing her very real human form. She, like Kathy and I, make mysterious, usually forgotten and overlooked mothers, visible.

Our session is Friday, April 1st at 2:00 PM. Session is (401) Mitigating and Managing Collateral Damage : Impact of Adoption on the 1st Family. Attached photo is of me and my husband. Please introduce yourself. Look forward to seeing you.

Let’s Talk Management of Collateral Damage

We have talked about collateral damage and how to mitigate it pre surrender. Now let us move to management of collateral damage. Consider this scenario, one that is all too real for many of us:

Mother was sent away to give birth alone. She received little or no options counseling. Her only info on adoption was provided by the agency that stood to profit from the sale of her child.  Informed consent was limited to an explanation of the final and irrevocable surrender to adoption. She was told she would “get over it”, have other children and move on with her life.  Post surrender she experiences something vastly different.  Immediately she suffers from nightmares, anxiety and depression. She finds it hard to be around children or see images of children.   Relationships are difficult for her to maintain.  She finds herself drawn to men that abuse her and is unable to keep a regular job due to her anxiety and depression.  Her relationships with family and friends at home are strained.  All refuse to discuss her child.  Her own mother gets angry at her when she brings up the subject. All she wants is her child back.

Where does she go for help and support?  What would you tell her to do?  What has worked for you in attempting to “heal” from the loss of your child to adoption?  Please be specific.    For example, instead of “get therapy” please share what type of therapy you recommend (or not).


Let’s Discuss Mitigation – Pre Surrender

This week we will talk about Mitigation and Management of Collateral Damage.

Monday and Tuesday will be Mitigation. Wednesday and Thursday will cover Management. Friday will be pot luck.

Before we begin, let us define mitigation. See below definition from dictionary.com


1. the act of mitigating, or lessening the force or intensity of something unpleasant, as wrath, pain, grief, or extreme circumstances

2. the act of making a condition or consequence less severe: the mitigation of a punishment.

3. the process of becoming milder, gentler, or less severe.

4.a mitigating circumstance, event, or consequence.

Thinking about mitigation in the context of an expectant mother considering surrendering her chlid, unborn or born, to adoption, what can we do to lessen the possible impact of collateral damage?

The most obvious response you may have is for her to parent. Do not surrender and you do not set loose the plague of adoption trauma locusts. I would agree. Family preservation avoids this. However, since there will be mothers who will choose surrender, what counsel would you give them in advance to lessen possible collateral damage? What should a therapist or social worker share with the mother to mitigate the wound of adoption surrender post placement?

Let me give you a few commonly heard suggestions to get you thinking:

Informed Consent

  • – Expand the “informed” to include more than just the inability to revoke. Offer (require?) resources that include talking to adoptees, exploring parenting options, understanding PTSD that some mothers experience
  • – Explain that adoptive parents are no better than biological parents over the lifetime. They divorce, struggle with substances abuse, even abuse and murder children — just like biological parents do. They are not a supreme being rather human and fallible just like biological parents.


This old post of mine, White Flag Realities, might also be useful.

Okay, your turn.

What more might we offer to mothers considering surrendering their child to adoption to help them understand possible side effects of adoption on both her and her child?