How can something go so right?  

Friday, May 30, 2008

I have read several dozen stories about how adoption can go terribly wrong and I think about our story, mine and my daughters. Although I feel very strongly about adoptee's rights and placing children for the right reasons I don't want anyone to think that our story is another one of those didn't have the fairy tale endings like it was supposed to. Even with all the pain the three of us felt, my daughter, her father, and I. Adoption basically worked very well for us on levels I wasn't even aware of until just a few weeks ago.

Even though my adoption plan was at the tail end of the baby scoop era, I really hadn't heard much about adoption. I knew one couple related by marriage to my brother who had an adopted daughter. I was fascinated by this whole family, mostly because it was so different from my own. I was in a unique position to study their family practices from afar by being invited to all of their family functions. How that story ends I have no idea as I have lost track of these people over the years. My brother is no longer related to them by marriage and we have all grown up and gone our separate ways. But these people unknowingly set the standard of what my idea of adoptive parents were. Not should be but were. I honestly thought ALL adoptive parents were exactly like them. They were the image of Ozzy and Harriette, Ward and June, something right out of Father knows best, all popular television shows in the mid to late 60's. Television shows I grew up on. Nothing like my real life, but my dream of what a family could and should be.

When I became pregnant in 1972 at the age of 16, my mother was obviously furious with me. After all I was the first one on the block to create such a scandal. I remember her asking me what I intended to do with this child. Abortion wasn't legal yet but my mom worked for a doctor who could pull some strings, since it was literally a matter of months before Roe vs Wade would be settled in a court of law. The thought of coke bottles and coat hangers wasn't something I thought I deserved so I told her I was going to put the baby up for adoption.

The look on my mom's face was priceless. She had already dug in her heels and was ready for one of the famous mother daughter battles that seemed to be our interpretation of a relationship. Her eyes grew wide with surprise, her shoulders loosened, and her posture immediately relaxed. I can still see that look today. I had said something that not only threw her off guard but actually pleased her. Oh, with an upward tweak was all she could mutter as she walked away. I got her, I threw her right off track, I was so proud of myself, but more than that I was serious. I wasn't looking for her to say oh no that's okay you can keep the baby. That was actually the last thing I wanted. For the first time I felt in control of my life.

I had already talked to Jim, the father, about what we thought was best for this child. I still remember his words, "I will honor what ever decision you make". To this day I respect him for those words. I gave him my thoughts on adoption and my reasoning's and he agreed that it probably would be best all around. Although he was worried because of our age difference, he stayed with me secretly for the next several months. I refused to talk about who I was pregnant by to anyone. That made me a target for gossip, especially since I refused to stay in the house. I saw no reason to hide the fact that I was pregnant, everyone already knew, what was the point. I also took great pleasure in publicly humiliating my mother in front of her friends. Remember I was first. Ohhh but I had company shortly down the road.

My step father was a quite man who was by far the scariest person I had ever met. I would take a beating from just about anyone as opposed to one of those glares of disapproval from Henry. My mother did ask him if they should keep this child, (I found out much later) he said no. Thank you Henry from the bottom of my heart, for your insight and wisdom. He actually picked the agency I was to use. Being as my family was raised literally without any form of religion Henry went through his church to find Lutheran Social Services of Detroit.

I remember so little about so much. I do remember my case worker had the same last name as one of the local grocery store chains and that she was pleasant to me. I remember refusing to go into a home for unwed mothers, and I remember going to court after my daughter was born to sign the final papers.

I didn't have to grow thick skin to cope with this situation, I was convinced that I was making the most appropriate decision for all involved, Rachael, Jim and myself. After all who wouldn't want their child to go to Ozzy and Harriette, June and Ward? As the reel to reel tape player slowly turned in the corner recording everything that was said, I remember the judge and my case worker trying to convince me to name this child. I REMEMBER them saying that it would be virtually impossible to find her later on without a name. I declined. I figured her new parents were going to change her name anyway and I didn't want her to grow up and find out that she would have most likely been a Rachael instead of a Katy or Marsha. Yes Rachael is probably what I would have named her. I say probably because I didn't actually name her so anything could have happened. I did have other reasons, I didn't want to be tempted to start looking for her and I didn't want my family to either. I did not want my child raised by my family.

Now either these people were very good at their jobs or I really did have control of my situation. I had suggestions made that I either accepted or rejected. I felt so big. I was so confident, but I don't remember being coerced. I had made up my mind what I was going to do. It was explained to me that there was no changing my mind once I signed those papers. I was told that I was not to look for her, that she was going out of state, that I had to wait until she was 18 before having any kind of contact with her. But I do not remember being coerced. If I didn't like something, like the home for unwed mothers, naming her father, naming her, I simply said no, and they would come up with an alternative.

Now after meeting my daughter Rachael 28 years later. I found out that the agency lied to her parents about me and that I was lied to as well. She grew up right here in Michigan. For the most part an hour away from me, but at one point for about a year and a half only 15 minutes away. We could have actually been in the same store at the same time we lived so close. To them I was a 13 year old girl on drugs who had no idea who the father of this baby was, nor did I care because I had run away from home.

All in all, I have to admit that everything I had planned on, happened exactly the way I had hoped it would. Although her parents did want another child to compensate for the loss of one of their own and another pregnancy was out of the question for her mother, my daughter got a great home, good solid parents who were the television image I so naively expected, and a sister who she built a bond with that will last an eternity. This relationship with her sister came to light for me a few weeks ago when Rachael could not hide how devastated she was over her sister recently falling very ill. I simply wonder sometimes with all the stories of adoption gone wrong, human trafficking, sex slavery, indentured servitude, inhumane conditions and treatment, how could something I saw in my minds eye, that I naively believed, turn out so right?

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2 comments: to “ How can something go so right?

  • Angela
    Monday, June 2, 2008 at 3:11:00 PM PDT  

    I love this~"The thought of coke bottles and coat hangers wasn't something I thought I deserved..."
    What wonderful self-worth, strength and courage you had beyond your years. I'm so glad to hear that everything worked out for all of you. What a blessing!

  • Anonymous
    Sunday, December 21, 2008 at 1:26:00 PM PST  

    I am glad to read about a fellow birthmom who did not feel coerced in any way to surrender her child.

    Like you I made a choice that I did not want my birthson to be raised by my mom or any member of my family, especially me.

    Unlike you I have an open adoption. I know exactly who his family is, I picked them! They know exactly who I am, although I don't think they 'picked' me.

    I guess I am part of a new generation of birthmoms who do open adoption. I decided to do it all on my own because I learned about it long before I became pregnant.

    I hope it goes 'right' for my birthson. I am glad things worked out for you.


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