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?

Wallowing in Grief

Yet another great piece on grieving from Tim Lawrence at his blog The Adversity Within.

Link to full post below. A few of my favorite quotes also below.

“The pervasive cultural image of the grieving person is of one who is tucked away in the corner, doing nothing but weeping all day and “wasting” their time with suffering and pain. For the overwhelming majority of grieving people, this is bullshit.”

“If you’ve ever heard some explicit or implicit version of “oh come on, why are you still sad?” or “I can’t be around all this negative energy,” then you’ve been subjected to what I call conformist wallowing. People who view any sort of “negative” emotions or experiences as “victimy” behaviors are themselves playing into an unconscious desire for control. Paradoxically, this desire for control is often borne of unresolved trauma in their own lives.

If you find yourself in the presence of these people when your world’s been torn upside down, remember that you can make the choice to ignore what they say. You also have the right to remove them from your life. “

“If you find yourself grieving any form of tragic loss—whether the death of a loved one, a broken relationship, a devastating injury, or any other loss, please, do not, under any circumstance, fall into the “I can’t grieve because I’ll look like a victim.” If you do this, you are setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary suffering. Instead, please remember the following:

1. If you’re not happy or “getting better” all the time, don’t worry about it (no one is anyway).

2. If you fear that the people in your life will think you’re wallowing because you don’t conform to their norms of what you should “appear” to look like, make the choice to ignore these fears and grieve. It’s never worth it to base your choices on the expectations of others, and this is even more important when you’re grieving.

3. If life feels like hell one moment and then you’re caught in a wave of oh shit I might actually work through this and then the next day you can’t stop weeping and then a few days after that you help another wounded soul and you feel like you’ll still be of service to the world, keep it up and keep going.

Why? Because this is the nature of grief. It’s one of the messiest, nonlinear, paradoxical experiences we endure in this life. Some days you’ll feel like you’re moving forward in confidence—even in hope—while other days your pain will penetrate you to your core. This is normal.

4. If you are terrified of what you might see, experience and feel if you allow yourself to grieve openly and vulnerably, you might be tempted to seek out advice on “how” to grieve. While solidarity and community are essential in grief, don’t go looking for some sort of formula, as that is often just an avoidance mechanism.”

Read the entire post Grieving Isn’t Wallowing.

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).