Evening Reading

The "care" they received from the medical and legal communities, from the adoption agencies, and from counselors were generally described in terms of lack of awareness of or concern for their needs, an attitude of coldness and scorn, being deceived about the placement of their children, and the insensitivity with which they were treated. "….And I remember going up to the nurse’s station and saying ‘I’ve changed my mind. I want to go see my child’….well, they could tell me no, and I was dirty. That’s the word they used. You’re off the OB floor so you’re contaminated and you can’t get back in. So that kind of reinforced the idea that I was dirty–unclean." – Davidson, Michelene K. Healing the Birthmother’s Silent Sorrow. Progress: Family Systems Resarch and Therapy, 1994, Volume 3, (pp. 69-89). Encino, CA : Phillips Graduate Institute.

It is astounding to me that with the wealth of research available that supports how damaging surrendering your child to adoption is to a woman, society still supports and encourages this painful practice.

Source of the following excerpts: http://www.txcare.org/surveyab/stats/phillips/davidson.html

"I would say that I didn’t learn very much about myself as a result of the relinquishment until I found her; and then I learned a lot, and I am continuing to learn. I found a voice that I didn’t know I had. I found myself. I learned about love. I learned about the prices we pay for allegiance to our secrets, the prices other people ask you to pay for their comfort."


The birthmother’s primary source of pain has been in the area of loss. She has not only suffered the loss of her child/ren, but the loss of her sense of wholeness, her sense of control over her life, and loss of self-esteem. In some cases she has lost a home or has lost or suffered damaged relationships with members of her family. Often she has lost identification with her mother as a role model. She has suffered loss of being accepted by society and loss of her adolescence, as well as loss of her sense of trust and self-worth.

This magnitude of loss is, to say the least, difficult for her to overcome. Sometimes the best a birthmother can do is to remain in denial and numbness for the rest of her adult life, unconsciously encumbered by her silent sorrow. For those who seek help, it is up to the mental health community to give them the permission and tools for grieving that they have long been denied.

4 Thoughts.

  1. I’ve just spent the evening adding to a running list of the literature on this subject. I’m especially interested in pre-1984, the year I lost my son. I just cannot believe that the adoption “professional” who got my son from me had never read anything about the impact on mothers! She’d been in the biz for about 10 years by that time. On the flip side she was either a pap or ap then as well, so I don’t imagine it was a case of her not knowing, just her not telling. She works heavily on the legislative side of the pro-adoption quagmire.
    This is one of my favorites that I ran across:
    1993. Marianne Berry. Risks and benefits of open adoption. Center for the future of children: Adoption, vol3 no. 1 Spring pg 127.
    “Also, the ability to have some continuing knowledge about a relinquished child may encourage birthparents to choose adoption, thereby increasing the number of children available and decreasing the wait for an adoptable child. In a very general way, therefore, openness may benefit prospective adoptive parents by ***increasing the pool of adoptable infants.”***
    The above is from the CENTER FOR THE FUTURE OF CHILDREN! Ironic at best.
    Thanks for the link, I hadn’t read the article yet.

  2. Two points
    I find it very interesting that there is a resounding silence from those who worked in adoption whether private for profit or government-run organizations.
    I worry that when adoptees hear us talk about this that they worry their job is the “Fix You” to quote Coldplay. I hope they know it isn’t. We are responsible for healing ourselves.

  3. thereby increasing the number of children available and decreasing the wait for an adoptable child
    Now this is really sad… I thought we were going the other direction.

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