Now That I Know

Whenever I attempt to tell My Story I can feel the hands of a giant threatening to strangle me to death if I continue talking. I turn down interviews and offers to speak because I can’t tell My Story. I don’t like people looking at me and I certainly don’t want people looking at me when I cry. Perhaps it’s shame.

So, maybe I’ll write. My friend Anne tells me writing is cathartic, another step towards healing. I resist. I have this notion that it’s irrelevant. How does My Story have anything to do with activism? It doesn’t. What it might do, however, is resonate with someone who shared a similar lived experience. Knowing we aren’t alone is something.

I never said goodbye to my mother and I don’t know where I was for the first months of my life. I arrived in my new family at just under 9 weeks old weighing the same as a newborn. I had holes in my skin from my unchanged diapers. They thought I was a “contented baby.” I never cried. Hungry and silent. I suppose a baby learns pretty quickly if their cries go unanswered they might as well stop. (writing this makes me shake) I think about my own babies, how I wouldn’t put them down. This is why.

I was loved. No one told my parents that love wouldn’t be enough, that no amount of love would erase the precarious start of my life or any of the aftershocks that came later. At night the terrors were relentless. Hidden away under my bed waiting for sleep so they could “steal me away”. They don’t come as often and they no longer hold the same power they once did, now that I know why.

From a young age I heard the voice, whispering, repeating the same sentence, “This will happen to you.” I would respond defiantly, “Never!” But, I was reckless. It was just a matter of time. I gave birth to my daughter at the exact same age my mother was when she gave birth to me, within days of each other. I didn’t know this at the time. Maybe it was prophetic. Maybe it was recreating mother-loss, who knows? Our cellular memory keeps track.

I kept her with me for 4 days, until her new parents stepped in. I thought they were saving her, that she would have a “better life,” just like the life I was told my parents were giving me. I believed this even when I missed her so much I thought I might die. I believed my suffering was a sacrifice made so she would have everything.  Things.  I believed this for 25 years. We didn’t know.

Her parents, like my parents, are kind-hearted people. Now that I know what I know, I suppose it was luck. I see precious members of my tribe who weren’t dealt a good hand, adopted by monsters who passed a home study and called themselves Christians. God doesn’t work that way, only favoring those who pray the right way or to the right God. So, my daughter and I, we were just lucky.

Or were we?

If we were truly lucky then no adoption would’ve taken place at all, right? (I feel disloyal writing that.) If I hadn’t been adopted I wouldn’t have had this family, and I love them. The tug and pull. The place in between. Now that I know what I know, the truth is, if we hadn’t been adopted we wouldn’t have known any different.

I was an adoption pawn. I lost my first family and my firstborn at the hands of an industry who masquerades as a noble solution to an untimely predicament. Adoption loss is unrecognized by a society who believes babies are blank slates, that mothers and families are interchangeable, and that love is enough.

Now that I know what I know, I’m angry; a righteous rage that emerges when I see vulnerable women being manipulated and coerced out of their children, or when I see anyone glorifying adoption at all. These children come at a cost, a cost much greater than the price tags on their heads.

Photo credit: Anne Heffron

 

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13 thoughts on “Now That I Know

  1. I too feel that rage. There are those who think babies need to be adopted because they’re in danger especially from their families. While that is true for some (although permanent guardianship is a better alternative to adoption, in my belief) the majority are simply abductions via coercive methods of children from vulnerable mothers.

    The majority of abused children I see in my society (Australia) are still with their natural families as the welfare system here focusses upon keeping families together. Those parents really don’t give a damn about the harm they’re causing their children. Yet a pregnant mother, perhaps with the father of the child present also, can express to the department their fears of inability to meet the needs of their child, thus showing genuine care and understanding of responsibility, and the solution they are offered is to TAKE the baby away from them!!! And more often than not, in the name of Christ!

    Oh yes, I feel the rage too. It comes from pain. Only God’s comfort brings relief.

    I too wonder if it’s worth talking about the experience of adoption loss; doesn’t seem to be a point when very few seem to give a damn about the “suppliers of children”. Tough to live with. Thank you for writing – it’s good to know we’re not alone.

    God bless you and fill you with His peace.

    Laurie

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Gazelle's Scirocco Winds and commented:
    There are two faces of adoption in which one face cannot survive without the other face; the face that is separated from its greater genetic part and the one that facilitates that separation-both are the hideous and cruel side of life that agents of the system known as adoption don’t want the adopters, the adoptee and, most of all, the public to see.
    Please read this woman’s narrative… in her lives as both adoptee and birth mother… and searcher for self and daughter. Then do all within your power to change the society that nurtures and fosters the tearing of the fabric that is true family.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think too much about what might have been, and not enough about what is. Like a catchy tune though, the thought stays stuck there . . . what if. We are condemned to wander alone with that feeling of not belonging where we are, nor where we came from. A sort of stranger to ourselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am immensely grateful for everything you’ve written. I didn’t know either, I thought letting my son go was my punishment for getting pregnant. I was made to feel ashamed and worried what others would think. I thought I would die without my son, so I planned to get him back within the time I had to change my mind. My mother talked me out of it. She didn’t want to hurt the infertile couple who had him for two weeks. I too am angry. His father and I stayed together and married two years later. We had three more children together and recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. Fortunately, our first born son was here to celebrate with us. We’ve had him back for nearly three years now, just before his 25th birthday. When I came to the knowledge and understanding that my son’s adoption was not want God wanted, that it was unnecessary and shouldn’t have happened I was outraged. So much so that one day in particular I became very dizzy and began vomiting. It was through your writings and other bloggers and therapists that have helped me. I’ve also been in counselling for over two years. I had no idea how losing my son would impact my family. No one told me what this would be like. I am grateful that our reunion has been amazing though. This is getting long but I’d like to share something I listened to recently by pastor Jack Hayford. It’s powerful and deeply moving. In a Christmas message he spoke about the miracle of God coming to the human scene as Jesus. Jesus is God’s promise of a redeemer and redemption has to do with God recovering human brokenness. Forgiving human sin. It has to do with God’s ability to bring things back to what He originally meant. He has never forgotten the original plan for our lives. For our relationships. Things get messed up because of our fears, our sin, our stumbling, our misunderstandings, all the things that are true of our human failure. Adoption dismantled my family 27 years ago and nearly killed me. Today we are all very close and spend a lot of time together. I am grateful to God for redeeming and restoring my family. It still hurts and I still cry, but God is good. I pray fervently that others will experience His love and redemption too.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Thank you so much for sharing. I feel the same way about writing, about telling my story. Part of me feels like if I even attempt to start, I will be eaten alive by the pain. Part of me is afraid I won’t do it right, (my adoptee perfectionism.) Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh Lordy, this socked me in the gut. My understanding of adoption shattered into a million pieces when I came out of the deep freeze. I’d known for a long time that adoption ruined my life, but I wanted so badly to believe my sons were happy and better off than they could have ever been with me. It was excrutiating to learn during my thawing out process of the damage caused by adoption, to adoptees themselves. And then meeting them, I saw with my own eyes what they had suffered.

    Fast forward several decades into my work with families impacted by adoption, where I repeatedly saw young adoptees who got pregnant about the same time their 1st mothers had conceived them. What got my attention was that in every single instance, the adoptive parents strongly encouraged their daughters towards adoption. Or did so, until they were advised that duress was one of the conditions that could invalidate an adoption.

    If you can bring an objective attitude to the situation, it’s understandable that any parent would be fearful that an unplanned pregnancy might derail their young daughter’s life. The difference is that adoptive parents expressed a deep gratitude towards adoption and identified with the couple who would receive the infant. And daughters who are scared and full of shame for disappointing their families, are easily influenced. The cycle repeats.

    Thank you for writing this heart-wrenching piece. It helps to know we are not alone, even after suffering in isolation for so long. Finally, we’ve found one another and no longer have to grieve alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you! That took a lot of courage and I am so proud of you! You are a Warrior in the adoption silence game! Never stop tell others! Never! I stand with you! Big Hugs, Adoptee at birth 52 years ago in California, USA

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stephanie, Thanks for sharing your story – I’ve learned a lot from reading your blog. I’m the Communications Coordinator for a journal called “Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics” that publishes personal stories from patients and healthcare providers with the aim of improving healthcare. We are looking for people to contribute to an issue called “Healthcare Challenges Faced by Adopted Persons Lacking Family Health History Information.” I wondered if you might be interested in writing? Or possibly you know of others who would be? Email me at maryclick@wustl.edu and I can give you more information. You can also visit our website and see the story call (under “submit,” then “calls for stories”): nibjournal.org.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary, thank you for taking the time to read. Lack of medical history is just one of the many ways adopted people are at higher risks, therefore requiring more medical services and support. Adopted people are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide. We are also over represented in jails, drug and mental health facilities. Having access to our medical history/information is a basic human right. Adoptees are the only people group not given this information. I’m so thrilled to hear of articles being written to address these issues. I will email you and I will share with a few others who will bring helpful contributions. Thank you again.
      -Stephanie

      Like

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