Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Beyond "Philomena"

I wish that everyone would watch the movie "Philomena". 

I wish that everyone who saw the movie would know that there are millions of Philomenas ~ not only in Ireland but also in the United States of America, Canada, Australia and many other countries. 

I wish that everyone knew that the horrors shown in "Philomena" are not just of a time gone by.  Mothers and their adult children are still kept apart, are still outright denied and also lied to in order to keep them from finding each other. 

I have read many wonderful articles and blog posts about Philomena ~ the book & movie as well as the strong woman speaking out so many decades later.  I am linking to a couple of posts that have been written in the last couple of days that bring attention to not only Philomena's story, but also the story beyond Philomena.

Yesterday Kathryn Joyce had an article in  RH Reality Check "Philomena Reminds Us That The "Baby Scoop Era" Affected Millions".  If you don't want to read any spoilers to the movie, skip reading the first section, start at "The "Baby Scoop Era"".  Kathryn's article is an excellent review of not just the movie, but of our own Philomenas here in the United States.

This fall, I sat in a room full of mothers at CUB’s annual retreat—women who had relinquished children for adoption ten, 20, or 40 years before. It was a room moved easily to tears, as panel after panel included personal testimonies from women who, decades later, were still hoping to reconnect with their now-adult children, or who had found their children and reunited, only to have them later pull away, overwhelmed by the weight of emotion. No matter how many years they were removed from that loss, the women I met still mourned. And many were still angry.
Representing that anger might have perhaps made Philomena a less palatable film for many mainstream viewers, but as the Post’s review suggests, even a modicum of anger over the sacrosanct institution of adoption can prompt blinding defensiveness.
I thought of this moment when I read that review, imagining that there was no way someone could sit in the midst of that much collective grief and come away to claim that what happened to these women was charity, or remotely a choice. And I thought about it again when I later watched Philomena myself, in a matinee screening in an outer borough of New York, where two women in their 60s remained in their seats, staring at the credits, long after the theater had emptied.
Today Lynn Grubb has an excellent post "My mother is an American Philomena".  She also writes about Kathryn Joyce's article and goes on to write about her own mother, another "Philomena".  Her words brought tears to my eyes.  It was so validating to read an adopted person's words that speak so eloquently and with such understanding for what us mothers faced.  Please go read her entire post, but I am sharing some of what spoke to this mom's heart:

Society shunned people like my mother. My mother was only being human -- doing what people do -- having sex with someone she cared about. The people around her (family, society, authorities) said that because she was single and pregnant, she was bad. That message took root and created the shame that many original mothers live with today.
I do not accept how my mother was treated nor will I stand by and stay silent while new women every day are being shuffled into the Adoption Machine.

"But it was HER choice" . . . you say.

What kind of choices are truly available to women when there is no family support, no societal support and no financial support?

Even today, there are women who fall into this category. I disagree that these women should be persuaded to relinquish their flesh and blood. Instead of feeding the Adoption Machine, we need to have more compassion for women in a crisis pregnancy.

A woman does not need pressuring for or against adoption. . . she needs support in believing that she is good enough to parent her own child, regardless of marital or financial status.

When she believes that she is good enough for her child, then she will begin to look for the resources to parent. If she decides to relinquish, she will have (hopefully) done so from a place of empowerment, not desperation.

Let's stop acting like relinquishing one's child is a panacea to moving on with one's life. Let's acknowledge and embrace the Philomenas walking among us.

They deserve to be heard.


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