Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Adoption: It's Like Trying to Rhyme With "Orange"

PLEASE NOTE: I have friends who never chose adoption for their children; women who had the choice made for them or who were threatened, tricked and manipulated into signing papers. When I talk in this post about "walking away," I'm not talking about you, and I'm sincerely sorry if my choice of words causes you pain. This post is not to criticize choices made. It is for me to find my way through another phase of my development as a parent, as an adoptive parent, as my kids' Mama. I am an adoptive parent, and that is the only perspective on adoption I can ever have. This blog is my place to share my reality. Sally

No matter how I talk with my children about adoption I can't change the fundamental truth that they were de-selected. We can call it "She was too young" or "She wasn't able to take care of you" or "She wanted a better life for you" - all of which may be true - but it doesn't change the fact that she made a choice to not remain in their lives. They were, on some very intimate and primal level, "given away."

And though I've never had even a fleeting fantasy that my children would be unaffected by adoption, lately I find my heart breaking.

What am I going to do when my daughter, one of the most loving, free-spirited, joyous, genuinely kind people I've ever known realizes that She decided not to be her mother?

And what am I going to say to my son, truly the essence of sweetness and light and goodness, when he asks why She decided not to be his mother?

I don't imagine that any adoptive parent has the answer, because it's not anything we can answer. It's not about us. It's about the women who share breath and blood with our children and later walk out of their lives.

This post makes me feel sick.

The weight of loving my children through this realization makes me feel sick.

The idea that they may think themselves "unlovable" even for a split second makes me feel sick. And weep.

I hate that some adoptees do think themselves "unlovable." (My kids never have. Will they ever?)

I hate that some first mothers tell their adult adopted children "Lose my number. I don't want a relationship with you." (My kids' haven't. Will they ever?)

Mostly I hate that no matter how close our family is and no matter how much I love them and no matter how completely I celebrate them for being exactly who they are, I can't protect them from their truth.

It's like trying to rhyme with "orange."

Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective, in softcover, hardcover, or e-book formats.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
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LoriLyons said...

I hope my daughter never feels that way -- unloved and unwanted by her birthmother. We have an open adoption and she knows her first mother. So if she ever does ask, she will get to ask HER directly. But she also knows how desperately she was wanted by US. We've always told my daughter, "She didn't give you away. She gave you to ME."

Anonymous said...

Wow. As an adult adoptee I am very touched that you would think about your child experiencing that pain. I have experienced that pain in my own heart and I have always assumed that my adoptive mother didn't realize my hidden pain. I think your children will someday be comforted in knowing that you understand how being abandoned by their first mother could be painful.

Catherine said...

I did feel unloved, and probably unlovable for many years, until about year 2002. If I had not gone through a simple course, that ended up being not so simple, I may not have ever known that I indeed had a serious problem I was keeping from myself. It was then I realized it is possible, to go through life, not knowing you are an As* Hol#. Sorry for the language, but its really what I tell people when discussing this subject. It is possible to go through 35 years of your life and not know the burden and deep issues you are hiding from yourself.
Its more complicated than having a birth mother that gave me away, then found me only to want nothing to do with me and my beautiful family. Its about the relationships with my adoptive family, and the deep issues that resulted because of adoption and the refusal by many involved to get honest and real. It can be debated, to the core. Would this happen if you were their birth child? Who knows, and who cares, because my reality is, I was and I am the adopted child.
Anyhow, each issue has a process ive found. And I would have to say that my largest issue in the process of all this mess has been the refusal of my family members to be honest and open up about all of it.
It is sad, and I can understand how it could make you feel sick. I did not go through life thinking that my birth mom would abandon me a second time. I thought it was going to be rosy and sweet, and I thought I was going to get my "Fantasy birth mom" most of my life....the model on the cover of the fashion magazine. It wasnt until seeing that movie "August Rush" that I was literally forced to realize my issue regarding this fantasy. At the beginning of the movie when he is talking, is when I realized. This was after going through a lot of loss and grief work on myself.
Im writing a novel. It is good that you are open about the possibility that your children may have issues, regardless of what they are, and why. Its wonderful.

Tonya said...

I, too, worry about whether my children will feel unlovable. My daughter (6 1/2)already expresses great sadness at the loss of her birth mother and has told me she wonders if her birth mother just didn't love her. It's a hard conversation to have, and my heart breaks for her.

Reena said...


Another amom who is asking herself the same questions as you are and doing my best to prepare myself and my daughters for the same questions you listed in your post.

It is heartbreaking to know this is our children's reality and there is nothing we can do to prevent the pain-- we can only be supportive to them.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. Your blog is a unique place to visit. It's sometimes painful to read but I always end up being glad I did. Adoption is confusing no matter what your role is in it. People like you help a great deal.

Catherine said...

I have to add that I felt great sadness at a young age. I did not understand why and would sit under just about any piece of furniture looking for a safe place and probably some comfort. I was always silently searching for my birth mother in the crowd. Most of it was a fantasy, and that alone has been the biggest problem for me with reunion. Trying to keep the fantasy away from the reality of who my birth mother really is.

Myst said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Myst said...

Sally, I really love thw way you are so open and just so very compassionate. I have ALOT of respect for you and for the way you loveyour children; they are sooo lucky to have you!! I just wanted to tell you that because you nned to hear it. You are a rare gem (to me anyway) and I wish there were more parents who adopted like you out there than the ones I frequently encounter. Thank you for this post and being so switched on (((Hugs))) xxx

Sally Bacchetta said...

Myst, you have the nicest way of making me cry. Thank you more than you know!! xoxo

Sally Bacchetta said...

Anonymous #1 - "I have experienced that pain in my own heart and I have always assumed that my adoptive mother didn't realize my hidden pain." When adoption was new to me, I didn't realize it either, and now I can't imagine NOT realizing it. I think that a-parents have a responsibility to educate themselves about adoptee and first parent adoption experiences. We owe our children that.

Anonymous #2 - thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you are aware of the pain your children are going through. This acknowledgement can definitely be the starting point of their healing, and their ability to grieve not only for the lost relationship with their natural mother, but also for a part of them that will never be because of the loss.

It is refreshing to me that there are adoptive parents out there who understand (and are writing about it!)

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can avoid the pain, nor do I think denial in the adoptee is good either. Reality sucks sometimes. What you can do is try to ensure your children do not feel like there is something wrong with them and that is the reason they weren't kept. It wasn't so much that I wasn't kept but that I had to have some fatal flaw that others could see that I didn't - that can be discussed...if that or any variation is how your child feels.

Maru said...

Sally, once again you have shared your feelings and they are exactly like mine. Thanks for posting this. I know I'm not alone. Sending hugs.

Anonymous said...

I am a birth mother who is trying to better understand the adoptive mother. I don't want to hate her, but she is turning everything into a competition for love, or a contest. A child will be naturally curious about the birth parent, and should not be made to feel disloyal just because they have that curiousity. It doesn't make the "adoptive" parent not a mother. It makes them mature. I can no more forget the last 18 years than the child can. She remembers who was there for her everyday, and as much as I wished it were me, it wasn't. Please, adoptive mothers, and birth mothers, don't make it a competition. Do what's best for the child. (oh, and if anyone has advice on how to properly handle that, I'd sure love to hear some.)

Anonymous said...

I am a birth Mom and I've always experienced competition with the adoptive parents. The adoptive Mom said they are not the adoptive parents, they are his Mom and Dad. I last saw the son I gave up for adoption in 2004 for a visit. The adoptive parents said I made mistakes again during the visit. I don't understand why so much importance is placed on titles especially when the adoptive parents themselves changed my Mom's title from Birth Grandma to just Grandma. The adoptive Mom also said I have not respected other boundaries they had. The boy is now 13 yrs old and and I have no idea what the boundaries are now at this age when he contacted me first on facebook. I have also experienced the adoptive Mom not respecting my boundaries. When my Mom was laying in bed dying the first person I saw at my Mother's bed side was the adoptive Mom. I was shocked to see her at my Mom's side after I had said I have nothing further to say to her. I once again have chosen to end the relationship with them because the boundaries are so strange and told them the son I gave up for adoption may contact me at any time.