On Authenticity

The word for the day seems to be “authentic” as I was reminded of it not once but twice today.

Say This But Not That

In her earlier comment on my Atelaphobia post, Maryanne suggests I have damaged my relationship/possible reunion chances with my daughter by speaking out so publicly about my experience.  I have been mindful about how much information I share here despite the fact that others find it too much or in some cases, not enough.  The inference here is that if I want to meet my daughter I should keep my feelings to myself or say nicer things about adoption.

Refer to Jenna’s recent post again for thoughts on this.  What Maryanne alludes to has come up many times in the more than ten years I have been blogging or speaking at conferences.  You can search this blog and find many posts that speak to voice, using my voice, sharing my thoughts and the possible impact on my reunion.

I am genuinely okay with all I have shared on my blog through the years. I stand by it, my feelings, my words, my experience.  Nothing has been embellished, made up, or intentionally vengeful (as some blogs are). My name is my real name. I am not hiding behind a made up persona.  My words may be raw and painful for some, but it was never my intent to “damage” my daughter or my chances at reunion.  Is it possible I did? Of course.  It is also possible that the reasons my daughter does not want to meet have nothing at all do with this blog.  Only she knows.

I am teetering on the edge of repeating myself but want to ask the question again.

How do we (mothers or adoptees) make change if we do not share our experiences? Equally important, what message do we inadvertently send to our children if we keep things to ourselves? If I do not share my very real feelings with you, do I not tell you, even indirectly, that your feelings are not welcome to be shared with me?

Please Remove Me

It has happened numerous times over the years. Each time it does, I am annoyed but not necessarily for the reasons you might expect.  This is how it plays out.

“Hi Suz.  Friend here. Been a while since we spoke.  Hope you are doing well.  Writing to ask you if you will remove all my comments for the last ten years from your blog. See, I mistakenly used my real name and now my clients/friends/parents/etc. are googling me. They do not like my position on adoption and my connection to you. They feel my position is too strong and it makes them uncomfortable. Could you spend some time removing all references to me from your blog? I do not want them to read my thoughts and I do not want to be connected to you.”

In every single case this has occurred the request has come from an adoptee, almost all of them now working professionally in the adoption industry.

I understand (well, sort of) their conflict.  I have had those professional situations as well (see this post and this post).   Where I struggle, maybe I should say what makes me sad, is the fact that in all cases these individuals genuinely believe what they have posted on my blog over the years, their thoughts have not changed, but they must pretty up their online presence for the comfort of others.

If we continue to make adoption look pretty and comfortable for others, can we ever make progress?

What would happen if the world truly spoke honestly about the pros and very real cons of adoption?  Why is our kneejerk reaction is always “Ooh, sorry, did not mean to make you uncomfortable. Let me sweep my own feelings under this rug here so you can be more comfortable in your position”.

What if we said something like “I understand my feelings make you uncomfortable. How about we talk about them and how they differ from yours and why.”

Am I too idealistic?  Delusional?  Something else?

Photo credit: Joanna Fisher


11 Thoughts.

  1. Yeah, no.

    The “maybe you shouldn’t share” thing isn’t okay. We perpetuate stigmas by keeping silent. When we speak up, we help others think broader about a subject that has been subject to forced silence for decades. While I took down my adoption-centric blog awhile ago, it wasn’t because I didn’t like what I’d said. It was a needed thing at that time for my well-being. I’ve moved over posts that I believed to be better written or necessary to my “main” blog over the years now. I’m happy with how it turned out.

    Silence helps no one. Silence doesn’t foster necessary change. Silence doesn’t help our children, either. Open dialogue is what we need for all of these things.

    Good job, Suz.

  2. I do not feel I have been silent in my almost 40 years in adoption reform, and have told my story over and over to legislators, on TV, radio, newspapers, conferences, and now on some adoption lists and in blog comments, but I have tried (and not always succeeded) in keeping it my story, not my son’s who has different feelings about his own life and adoption than I do. This is a personal choice, not a mandate for anyone else. I chose not to have a blog or Facebook presence. This does not make me or others who make the same choice silent or afraid, nor is it meant as a criticism of Suz or anyone else who speaks out in a different way. There is more than one way to have an open dialogue on adoption issues.

  3. “There is more than one way to have an open dialogue on adoption issues.”

    Absolutely agreed. All channels need to be used.

  4. As you know, my daughter’s blog didn’t contain an ounce of truth about me or her father; It was the extreme level of dishonesty that damaged our relationship and it has taken years to repair and we’re still working on it. I would not have been upset had my daughter written the truth about our reunion relationship. I think the fact that you are a writer and your writing reflects the truth should allow you to write freely without worrying about how others feel. I don’t recall you ever writing anything that your daughter might find upsetting.

  5. I’m with you Suz. i am a believer in openness and authenticity in ALL of my dealings; unless of course something I would share publicly could be hurtful to someone else. But my sharing of my experience and my relationship with my son is mine to discuss anywhere I choose. You are a gifted writer and a major part of your appeal to other mothers as well as adoptees; is your ability to share from the heart. I wasn’t comfortable with the suggestion that your writings could be affecting your relationship with your daughter and it sounded to me a bit like ‘blame the victim’… but that same person also publicly criticized a friend of ours who was too public last year about her dealings with her cancer ‘on her own blog’…. so when i read the thinly veiled criticism of you sharing your truth here about your feelings; I felt squeamish thinking that this is not constructive feedback to give you or anyone who wishes to be authentic in sharing their life experiences. just my opinion.

  6. A lot of adoptees are very uncomfortable about feelings. It makes sense. The whole world has told them how they are supposed to feel all their lives. It makes me sad that adoptees who have expressed strong views about adoption in the past on this blog now work in the adoption industry and from what you are say now feel they have to hide those views they expressed. Like once again they have to prop up the institution’s fragile ego by becoming part of it.

    I also think they are very conscious of the fact that their conception, birth and adoption (well maybe some of them are not so convinced of the last one) caused their mothers a lot of pain and they are afraid of that. In reunion, I think a simple acknowledgement of that fact is all most mothers would like. They don’t want to cry for years about the past they’d rather have a nice, loving present day relationship with their son or daughter. But the long-standing adoption narrative, myths and downright lies sometimes makes it hard for adoptees to accept that.

  7. What Jenna said.

    And what you said: “If we continue to make adoption look pretty and comfortable for others, can we ever make progress?”

    If your daughter doesn’t like what you write on your blog, she should say so. If you weren’t authentic and wrote things she did like, and she wanted contact because of that, how real would your relationship be? Not very, I suspect.

    Thank you for your authenticity, and for writing your truth.

  8. Whoever told you that you ruined your chance at reunion with your kid by blogging and being outspoken is out to lunch.  Would they say you ruined your chance at an ongoing relationship with the kids you raised because you pissed them off…and you don’t even know for sure if you pissed her off.  You are the only mother she’s ever going to get.  Of course it would be wonderful if she liked and loved you but that is not the point of being in contact with her is it?  Your her mom for crying out loud its your job to look after her make sure she has what she needs and to make her feel wanted welcome loved and safe.  Its your job to raise her and provide guidance so that she becomes a confident secure well adjusted adult with good self esteem.  Kids don’t always like their parents.  In fact all their nagging persistence gets them called bitch or asshole more than a few times over the course of a lifetime which is typically way way longer than 18 years.  Kids slam the door in their parents faces but that does not mean their parents go away.  And unless you actually threaten some kind of harm no cop or judge ever calls it stalking or harassment when a parent keeps calling and writing their adult child.  Don’t worry whether she likes you she deserves your support and attention and her fathers she always deserved it adoption may terminate your authority when she’s a kid but it did not terminate what she deserves from you or her dad.  Tell her that the two people she absolutely is owed attention and support from are you and her pop and you are so sorry she did not get all she deserved from you as a child but let her know it does not matter if she needs or wants anything from you she’s owed it.  Tell her she’s owed it whether she loves you or likes you.  You put her on this earth and you’ll do whatever she needs if its in your power.  One day she might want to take a class or send her kid to a cool camp..ask you.  One day her transmission might blow out ask you.  She might be broken hearted or just need to vent, call you.  And don’t expect anything in return be happy to start providing for her.  Start a life insurance policy, write her into your will.  Send her a cherished family heirloom or write her one good thing you liked about her father.  Send her up dates on her brothers and tell her it would be lovely if she liked you but your the parent and its your job to make her feel secure not the other way around.

    If you do this your reunion will be a success because you’ll be the mom you really are and you will likely end up very loved.  But don’t do it to be loved do it to raise your child.  Your child.  Be a mom.  You are a great mom, you can’t mess that up its permanent in case they have not noticed.:

  9. Also you can get a copy of the hospital birth record and even her obc they will give it to you then send it to her. If you don’t have current contact info for your child I’ll help you email me. I reunite all kinds of separated families free. Don’t listen to bitter people. Don’t let anyone stop you from being a mother to your kid. And it’s great your outspoken that won’t interfere with you being a mom. You can always respectfully ask her and say your passionate because you and your family miss her so much. Joy and good luck to you Momma.

    • Thank you for your comments and support Marilynn. I do have her OBC. She was born in Illinois and their laws changed a few years back to allow natural parents a copy of the unamended certificate. It was comforting to receive.

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