Let’s Talk Collateral Damage : Pot Luck

Today’s final post on Collateral Damage is a pot luck post. You tell me anything I may have overlooked in relation to the impact adoption surrender had on your life.

It can be anything from your relationships to family and friends, your children, your health, your marriage, you emotional well being.

Next week we will talk about ways to mitigate the damage. Mitigation is the the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something. If we know surrendering mothers might experience some of these challenges, what can we do to reduce the severity of them post surrender? I realize the obvious mitigation is to avoid surrender completely and preserve the family. However, in the cases where this cannot happen, what can we offer to those expectant mothers prior to surrender?

Finally, managing the damage post surrender. The adoption surrender has already happened. Mother is in throes of post traumatic stress disorder. What improvements need to be made to help mothers manage this? These are all topics for next week.

For today, share your pot luck damage.

Have a great Friday.

6 Thoughts.

  1. Being emotionally stunted. Inability to feel or express. Out of fear that a) others won’t understand, and b) once that door is open you’ll never be able to close it or live any kind of normal life. That you’ll fall into that deep hole and never get back out. Feeling like damaged goods, and hence unworthy of anything good, including having more children. As if once a “bad mother,” always a “bad mother.” Fear of getting pregnant and being left again, losing another child.

    So, fear, grief, guilt and lack of self-esteem/respect.

  2. One of the main points I want to get across to anyone considering an open adoption with the idea that there will always be an ongoing relationship with their child, and that there will be no issues since “all the questions are answered, and my child will know me and feel my love up close and personal” is NOT guaranteed. Guess what? Sometimes that ain’t enough. Sometimes the child actually doesn’t appreciate being given up, and becomes resentful towards you. Sometimes they’re in pain but don’t feel free to express it to either set of parents because “this is the ideal situation” and everyone else seems to be so happy with the way things are going. Sometimes birthparents put on a happy face, for fear of upsetting the adoptive parents thus giving them reason to keep the kid away from you…because you’re not mentally stable and handling things well. Sometimes seeing your child and saying “good bye” over and over and over is too much to bear, and you want to stop seeing the child just to make the pain stop. But you can’t, because you’ll upset the “birth” child as well as your “kept” kids because they enjoy the visits. You and the adopted away child deal with “reunion issues” all during their growing up years, and there’s no healing for you because the wound keeps getting torn open with every visit or phone call. Every time you hear that child call the other woman “Momma” when you wanted nothing more than to take your rightful position as “Momma” to YOUR OWN CHILD. And no one understands. And even other “birth”mothers think you’re whining because you’re not grateful because “at least you know where your child is and that they’re alive.” No one understands this special kind of torture, and when you finally say “ENOUGH” and open up about your pain to the adoptive parents (even though the adopted child is now 18 and an adult) they cut you and the rest of your family (who they claimed to love sooo much) off like you never mattered at all…because maybe we never did. THAT further reinforces that we were no good in the first place…not worthy…not truly a “good” person.

    And once you’re child is a full-grown adult, they confess problems with self-worth, self-esteem, rejection…that they actually MISSED growing up in their rightful family, and knowing there is nothing you can do to fix it. The guilt is overwhelming. Realizing a relationship that should be easy and natural is fraught with misunderstandings, resentments, long silences, awkwardness…it never ends. And lastly, fearing that you will never again know “peace” until you take your last breath on this earth.

  3. These are good topics, families affected in various ways by the surrender. I will try to cover my family experience as briefly as possible. I have one sibling, a brother, he knew about my surrendered child, was delighted when we finally reunited and had a relationship, and I do not think was affected at all except for feeling sorry for me. He is three years younger than me, was in college when I got pregnant and in no position to do anything.

    My parents regretted till the day they died not helping me keep my son. My dad always kept his name and birthdate in the family history, and when my grandparents passed away they listed the correct number of great grandchildren in the obituaries. They were supportive and proud of my work for adoption reform and of finding my son. When I lost touch with where my son Michael was, my Dad on his deathbed said to find him again, and I did, and that began a relatioionship finally after years of rejection.

    I never kept it secret that I had given up a child, especially not from potential boyfriends, so my husband knew soon as we met. I got pregnant again, this time my boyfriend stuck with me and eventually we got married, and are still married today. I now have three sons we raised. I think the damage my husband had to contend with was my frequent bouts of low-level depression and lack of confidence and self-esteem. My husband was always supportive of my work in adoption reform, like my parents.

    I think the children I raised may have suffered from all the time I devoted to adoption reform and the missing child. I regret not spending more time with them, and less on what seems a less than worthy cause in retrospect. It is ironic that while I finally have a great relationship with Michael, he has no interest in adoption reform, and says he does not know if he would have searched for me, as adoption was not a major issue for him. He has only met one of his brothers so far. I do not know if he will ever meet the others, the youngest especially has no interest in connecting with any relatives including him.

    Michael is the one who is adopting, not my raised kids. This past year I went from no grandchildren to three, one biological born to my youngest son, and two adopted from foster care by Mike and his wife. They are half-siblings, African American, age 4 and 7. They call me and my husband grandma and grandpa and we love it. My son and wife are getting all the information about their biological families for the kids to do whatever they want with when they are older. I am totally fine with this. I love all my grandkids, and hope to have more, and feel especially blessed as I never thought I would have any.

    All in all, I feel adoption has had a negative impact on my life, some things could have been different if only I had been helped to keep my son, but that did not happen and I can’t keep looking back with regret. I am now trying to look forward with hope, and to appreciate where I am today with all my kids and grandkids. For me the mourning is over, and the joy has begun.

  4. Can you add another category: What is a mans responsibility to women?
    Who teaches men the history of all this collateral damage? Or who should? Their mothers didn’t.
    Regardless of any religion, men are not educated to understand their bodies.
    And for certain, men have never been educated to understand their sexual responsibility to women. Consider the 27,000 rapes in one year reported by females in the US Army.
    Any thoughts on this?

    • HI Virginia. This could be a good topic for this coming week when I discuss mitigation and management. More to come!

  5. I have not surrendered, but have been surrendered. I shut down a lot of my feelings at a young age. i used drugs and alcohol to cope, and still do.

    I developed a hatred for my adoptive mother because she didn’t allow any discussion about adoption, or my feelings about it when i was a child. I learned how to hide my feelings, and am still pretty cold about many things. i don’t cry like other women.

    I did not attend college, it was not a priority in my adoptive family. I married young and had children, so I could finally have a real family. That has worked out well. I am a good mother, and now have a full time civil service job, since my children are all adults. I still have a lot of anger and hatred.

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