Friday, May 18, 2012

Adoption Loss & Grief. It's Forever.

I have been enjoying a wonderful few weeks adoption-wise.  Long enough to have me off guard, totally surprised by the slap back into the reality of living with adoption loss.

I suppose it probably started the other day when I first learned of that new show on TLC.  I didn't watch it, I could barely read about it on fb and in blog-land.

This morning as I was washing my hair, I had a sudden remembered snippet of a dream during the night.  A hug, that felt so real.  A hug that included a whisper in my ear "I love you"...  Three precious words I have yet to hear from the son I couldn't raise.

I feel that there was a lot more to the dream, but the hug and whisper are all I remember.

I can't wait till that dream comes true...

In the mean time, I find myself lost in thought and sadness today.

Even though.  Even though things are going well in my reunion.  Even though I am so blessed in my life in so many ways.

That's just the reality of living with the loss of a child to adoption.  No matter how long you have lived with the loss ~ it never goes away.  No matter if you are reunited or if your relationship with your lost son/daughter is going well.  The loss is there.  The grief is tremendous.  The hole in my heart is still there.  

I wish that the mothers considering adoption on that damned show could feel in their hearts what my heart feels 33 years later.  I wish that the mothers considering adoption on that damned show could feel in their hearts what some of my adopted friends feel in their hearts (even the ones who did get a great adoptive family!).  Why is it that only the joy of the adopters is taken into consideration in adoption?  Why isn't the life-long loss and grief acknowledged, much less understood? 

Danielle wrote a post a while ago about the life long grief that comes from losing a child to adoption.  It's a fabulous post, as usual, you should go read it in full if you can.  Here is just a part of what she says that rings so true for me today:

I will always live with this. It is a huge part of who I am.  It always will be. 

I will always be a “birthmother”. I cannot take back anything that happened to me almost a decade ago. A thought that both comforts me and renders me feeling so helpless that I wish I could crawl into bed and sleep forever. I cannot undo the pain that still sears through my heart. I will never be able to erase the memories or the feelings associated with those memories. I will always have moments where I feel the debilitating sense of grief that comes associated with adoption loss, and I will have moments where I feel like it’s going to be okay.

I will always carry this with me, until the day I die.

No matter how many words I eloquently splay onto this screen, no matter how many posts I publish to the internet, no matter how many times I see a therapist, or how many pills I am prescribed to take to help with the anxiety. It will always linger. It will always be color on the inner walls of my soul. Always....

...Because I know that this will be a part of me as long as I walk this earth, I’ve more readily accepted that I need to navigate through the muddier paths of this journey so I can use my voice to join the multiple others who have been traumatized, or isolated as a result of adoption. I need to speak so women, many women know that adoption isn’t always a miracle and that there are many hidden aspects, crucial ones that could impact your life in so many incredible ways, not always positive.  Because I know that this is who I am, I understand me a little more.

Adoption has been written, etched into my DNA. Maybe it wasn’t willingly, but it’s there. And it’s shaped a good part of the woman I am. I won’t change any of that, not because I don’t want to, but because I simply can’t undo it. What’s done is done; I am a birthmother.

I will always live with that.
I'm not the only one with this life-long effect of adoption on my mind.  Today Rebecca (an adoptee and adoptive mother) author of  "Love Is Not A Pie" also wrote about this subject.  She writes:

In pre-adoption counseling, mothers who are considering placing a child for adoption are sometimes told that they will "get over it" and move on. Not so surprisingly, many mothers who relinquish find that moving on is not a simple matter. The following posts are not easy to read, but they are an important part of the adoption story.

Those Hands
Grief Remains
Missing Him
The Scars of Motherhood

If you didn't click on the above links to read the blog posts, you missed another great link.  The post "Those Hands" was inspired by this post by a natural mom "coming out of the adoption closet".  It is heart wrenching, it needs to be read by all. 

So if you are one of the people who enjoyed watching that show on TLC, if you are someone who promotes and advocates for adoption, please take the time to go read some of the links above.  At least acknowledge the deep loss that occurs in adoption. 

If a mother in your life is facing an unexpected pregnancy and considering adoption, please have her read this post.  Please make sure that she makes a fully informed decision for or against adoption.  Don't let her fall for the false beliefs that encompass adoption in our society.  Don't let her make a decision based on fear or lack of confidence in her ability to be a wonderful mother no matter if she is young, or single, or poor, or whatever. 

Adoption loss is forever.  Even if it's an open adoption, it's still the loss of motherhood.  Forever.  For the mother, for the infant, for the entire natural family. 

My heart aches for my son.  My heart aches to know my grandchildren.  My heart aches to know my son's wife, the mother of the grandchildren I also lost to adoption.  I don't wish this heart ache on anyone...


  1. Just today I was thinking that this grief is a disability. It is so hard to work. All I want to do is surf the net and try and make a difference for the women that come behind me. I have my own business but I find it very difficult to do my job.
    Thanks fir blogging, Suzie. You are so correct. Adoption takes away our motherhood. Subsequent children do not fill that void if the child that is gone.
    I too am in a good reunion. But I am held at ATMs length. I understand why. Really it's appropriate. I hurt her too badly. And all the adults told me it was the only loving thing to do. Why did I listen to them??? I hope young mothers will understand what they ate doing to their children and themselves and make another choice.

    1. I also find myself getting lost on the net, trying to make a difference. I'm glad that I'm not the only one that has problems with that...

      Thanks for sharing part of your story here.

  2. Good post Susie. I also could not watch that show. I'm angry lately and finding out about it just about sent me over the edge.

    1. Yeah ~ I get that. Wish I could help you disperse some of that anger. Like maybe over a pitcher or three of margaritas!

  3. (((Susie))) Yes, it is forever. It is not something that is validated either in the world outside - the whole "you will get over it" is an outright lie as there has been enough research and evidence that shows how this affects a mother lifelong and yet they still peddle this out to mothers expecting and in an unplanned situation.

    I am so sorry Susie, that you, that I, that our sisters in loss - other mothers, have had to learn how to carry this load. One that we cannot seem to lift no matter how we try.

    Take care my friend xxx

    1. If not for you and the other "sisters in loss" out there, I would not be where I am today. While I hate that others are out there living with this loss also, I am so very thankful that others are out there and I'm not finding my way alone.

      You take care too Myst ~

  4. My entire life was shattered in losing my son. The last just-over-a-decade was basically me trying to navigate through the pain and get back to something like functional again. There was a lot going on with me to mess me up, but the grief was front and center. And no one understands. They literally do not understand. If you tell them what happened they'll say something like, "Well, you chose to sign your rights away, right?" Like you're not supposed to feel bad. Like anyone would make that choice on a lark. This is going to sound terrible but it's worse than losing a child to death. There is no closure at all. And you don't even have a right to bury them or attend their funeral.

    I have a daughter now and that's another part of it. Having to explain to Little Sibling why Big Sibling doesn't live with us; not wanting to lie about it because they will find out anyway. The possibility that Little Sibling will develop a neurosis around fear of abandonment because after all, you already did it once. At first I wouldn't talk about the circumstances much with her; the little bit I did talk about them, she misunderstood me. (She's seven now.) Now I'll talk, but haltingly, afraid she'll misunderstand again. It's not fair that she has to grow up without him. And his adopters (his paternal grandparents) didn't think about the fact I was still fertile, any more than I did at the time.

    In my case it wasn't a matter of thinking adoption was wonderful. I was married when I conceived him and married when I gave birth to him and still married when I had to turn my husband in for two felony crimes when my son was close to three years old. Ex went to prison for most of a year; I was the one who really got punished. I trusted the wrong people with my son and was in no position to fight them. We need better laws around this so that parents can't be bullied into signing away their rights without a judge's direct intervention and a declaration of unfitness. Which I never had.

    It would help, though, if fewer people thought adoption was wonderful. I had that working against me too. My son's been raised by a crazy woman and a drunk but by gum, everyone still thinks they're heroes. Why? Because they adopted. No other reason.

    1. Oh Dana... I am so very sorry about your son. I will never understand people who can take advantage of a sad/bad situation to acquire a child.

      I didn't talk to my raised kids about Christopher as they were growing up. That was one of my biggest regrets after reuniting with him. As hard as it is now for you and your daughter, I think in the long run it's going to be so much better.

      Thank you for sharing so much. Only by speaking out about our pain will the truth ever become known, acknowledged, and finally believed.

  5. Adoption loss is forever I agree. I am glad that we mother's of loss can help prevent others from making our mistakes. We trusted when we should not have. We thought we were putting our children's needs above our own and then found out we put adoptors needs first. I really think people's opinions on adoptors as heroes is changing. I used to believe that this was everyone's opinion but I know now that this is not the truth. Our experiences and words are being heard. Check out the UK forums for adopted people and birth families and you will see calm discussion and empathy. The US forums and blogs that speak our truth are met with hateful responses and vile outbursts. Because we who speak our truth our threatening. Ghandi said first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, and then you win. We are past the ignore stage and subject to ridicule. Next we win when the truth is known.

  6. I gave my child up and it was the most selfish think I have ever done. No regrets, I could never have given here the good life she had. We have recently reunited after 48 years.She is like my best friend now. Her mother is who raised her.I come second and am fine with that.

    1. But that doesn't mean everyone feels the way you do and you are in a very rare minority so please don't invalidate the feelings of others just because you cannot relate.

      I am sorry you fell for the industry rhetoric.

    2. I'm happy that for you it has turned out so well, that you have no regrets. I hope it stays that way.

      As for me and most other moms I have come to know, the grief and loss is unbearable ~ no matter how well our children's lives or our lives have gone on to be. This is something the industry doesn't tell mothers considering adoption, and is something that any mother considering adoption should absolutely be aware of.

      That is why I write my heart here on this blog. To be the voice of how adoption loss effects your life ~ forever.

  7. Proud birthmom I don't believe you. I think you have very low self esteem.

  8. Sometimes some folks need to believe that they sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of their child and it's what gets them through their lives. Judge less, love deeper. Good for you Proudbirthmom