Writer-Counselor-Wellbeing Coach

Tag: adoption (Page 2 of 2)

Sacred ties

Sacred is a word tied to religion or God and I don't like my writings to contain words or phrases that may present a barrier to people who have different beliefs or no beliefs in this regard.   So I searched for another word.

I couldn't find one that had the same depth of reverence that I wanted to discuss.    But not reverence in a religious respect.  Reverence in the valuing and respect worthy of it.  Maybe even in the bond of mother and baby itself exists a kind of spirituality and that's why the word seems to fit the best.

The only other word I found that said something in a little more  secular way was 'indissoluble', but it really doesn't sound as special.    It is however a perfect descriptor for the perpetual nature of the bond between mother and child.  It cannot be dissolved by death or by separation.  I am sticking with sacred, and hope those who aren't religious will hear the word as describing an otherwise indescribable depth and value.

We now know amazing things that may contribute to this longing for biology with scientific discoveries that fetal cells are found in the bodies of mothers decades after pregnancy.  Perhaps this contributes to the physical and emotional yearning we have toward our children when we hold within our bodies the very cells of the children we carried in pregnancy

When I listen to stories of mothers who have lost children to adoption, I try to imagine what my life would have been like if the same had happened to me.  As a 17yr old mother the road wasn't easy, however I cannot even begin to imagine how much harder it would have been knowing my daughter was out there somewhere needing me.  It feels as though every cell of my being would have been yearning for her in every moment of my life.

When I hear stories of adult adoptees, some of whom yearned for their family of origin even as children and even if they were loved by, and loved their adoptive family, I imagine that as well.    My own mother had just turned 17 when I was born, at a time when unmarried mothers often endured huge coercion, and sometimes force to give up their babies.   My mother was fortunate that my then 19yr old father married her.   At that time it was the only saving grace for a pregnant teenager.

Would I have yearned for my mother?   Would I have known something was missing?  I have no doubt about it.   As I've grown older I see the significance of my maternal line as the roots of my entire ancestry.  I see the strength of my maternal grandmother who endured great hardships during the war and who emigrated to Australia from Germany with my then 6yr old mother in tow.   I see my own strength and resilience in my mother who spent her life working full time in an environment not always supportive of women who chose this path.   I see her commitment.   I also see myself when I look at them, something people who grow up in adoptive families can never do; search the eyes of those who love them and see something of themselves to connect them.

The grief I hear from both mothers and adoptees  is palpable.  The not knowing where your child is, how they are, is they are even alive, an added layer of complexity and trauma to accommodate.   Even in reunion the loss continues.   Meeting an adult who grew up in a different family, with different values, a whole different view of the world, is not the same as healing the arms that longed for a baby, a toddler, a child and all the milestones of your child's life.   For adults meeting a mother who may reveal that she never wanted to lose them, or looking for a mother who to this day has kept them a secret and now can't meet them, the road is paved with more pain and confusion.

What prompted me to once again address this issue is the concept of the sacred ties.  When do they begin?   When do cells from a fetus make their way in to the mother's body where they can remain for her life?   Is it in the first weeks of pregnancy?   The final weeks of pregnancy?  We know that pregnant women, even very early in pregnancy and even when they are contemplating, or have decided on termination will cradle their wombs with a hand, often unconsciously.   I've heard the confusion in the words and tones of women talking about whether to have an abortion or not.  The move from words of 'this pregnancy is just too hard' to 'I don't know how I will support this baby'.   From 'I've always been pro-choice so this should be easier' to 'I can't think of it like a baby, even though I guess it is'.

I've heard women describe sitting in an abortion clinic waiting room saying they had to force themselves not to think, not to look at anyone else, to stay focused on just getting 'it' done and getting out of there.   I've heard dozens of descriptions of other women and girls in waiting rooms, crying, staring blankly, also looking determined not to make eye contact or be swayed from what they are there to do.    I've yet to hear any story of women smiling, encouraging, expressing a sense of autonomy or freedom as they sit and wait.

What of their sacred ties to their child?  Do they already have fetal cells from this baby circulating within their bodies?   I know that many of these women also yearn for and mourn their lost babies.    Their grief is as palpable as the grief of mothers who lost to adoption.   I have been in a room with women who sob as they tell of nightmares of crying babies they can't find, women who relive that moment of 'what am I doing here' just as they succumb to anaesthetic for a termination, women who wake after a termination and wail about what they have just done, already wishing they could undo it.  I hear from women regularly who have begun a medical abortion and now wish desperately to stop it.

What binds all these women except the sacred ties; to their children, to each other, to our maternal history; one that so many of us have forgotten, or been forced to forget as we devalue all that is womanhood.  We moved from the forced removal of women's babies to shame them and provide children for more 'suitable' parents, to the forced removal of women's babies through abortion.   We sold adoption to earlier women as the solution to their shame and a way for them to get on with their lives with a 'fresh start'.    We sell abortion to women as a sign of their independence and autonomy and as the only way in which they can fully participate in the social world. 

In both of these situations we use the time of a woman's greatest vulnerability, to undermine her greatest strength.  When she is feeling alone, anxious, scared about her future, we reinforce these by telling her the best and easiest solution is to not have her child.   We sell adoption through words like 'selfless' 'brave' 'loving' and that her baby will have a better future, with loving parents, as though the future she could give her own child is too terrible to contemplate.    We sell abortion in the setting of fetal medical conditions as 'compassionate' and 'loving' and 'saving your baby from suffering'.     We literally turn the woman's love, compassion, courage, and strength to do all she can to protect her child and give him/her the best, against her by convincing her that she isn't 'best', that her love is deficient, that she could never cope.    We sell abortion in other circumstances by undermining her sense of what she can accomplish, that she will never get her promotion, her degree, the right man, if she has a baby in tow, that children are an interruption to life.  

How did it happen that women led the charge to freedom by telling each other that there are no sacred ties; that the only way to have all that men had was to give up all that women had?    How is it that women attributed so much greater value to men's worlds that they not only willingly gave up the value of their own, but now they encourage other women to do the same no matter what the cost?   How is it that we lost touch with the strength and value of ourselves as women and allowed these to be labelled and demeaned as weakness?

Why didn't women demand that society move to accommodate them?   Why didn't they demand educational opportunities that accommodated their pregnancy and parenting needs, workplaces that allowed flexible practises for both parents and support for one another to achieve all that they are capable of?    We live in a world where we perceive greater gender equality now, yet women are still forced to choose between motherhood and education or motherhood and career.    Motherhood has become an isolated, unsupported journey that so many undertake, bewildered, overwhelmed, and alone in their own homes. 

Women got us here.  Women must get us back.   We have to take back everything we lost, including our dignity and value as women.   Women are slowly being erased, both in language, our reproductive capability, and our equality.   The major contributor to infertility is age, with so many women still uneducated about their own bodies and the fact that child bearing is a time limited option.  

We are already living The Handmaid's Tale where fertility was lost and only a few left to reproduce.  At the moment, the rich predominantly buy their babies from the bodies of poor women in developing countries.   There have already been media stories of gay couples asserting their 'right' to children meaning their 'right' to use the bodies of women to produce them and stories of celebrity couples expecting 'their' child, produced from the body of an unidentified, irrelevant woman.  

How far down this path to we have to travel before it will be too late and all women will be subject to reproductive laws totally outside their control?  All  because they bought the lie that in order to have any kind of life you need to deny, suppress or destroy sacred ties or at the very least that you should see your reproductive capacity as the enemy.

I want a different world for the generations of women to follow me.  I want them to be able to see generations of women following them and I want them to know their value, in every sphere of life.   It is going to take an uproar.   I hear the rumblings in the voices of those women and men who recognise the deception they succumbed to or that was perpetrated on them.   I hear it from mothers who lost children to adoption or abortion.  I hear it from adult adoptees, who lost their family ties and even as adults have few rights to regain them.  I hear it from professionals who bear witness to the suffering and silencing of these women and men in their consulting rooms every day.   Until we break the silence and demand the voices be heard, each of them will continue to feel they are alone, again buying the lie that their greatest strength doesn't exist: in this case their strength in numbers.

We must reclaim our womanhood for the future of both women and of men.






Advertising babies

Mothers and adult adoptees alike are angry about an adoption system in the USA that they describe as coercive and run on profits.   With a privatised adoption and what appears to be little regulation, the following advertising of babies, by advertising the qualities of their pregnant mothers is not uncommon.

"Tanya is caucasion, 26 years olf, 5f 5in tall, 140lbs. She has brown eyes, brown hair and describes herself as compassionate and energetic."
What follows is her tragic childhood history and the fact that she is 'open to all families' to adopt her baby.
"Karen is a very pretty young lady with a beautiful smile. She is 33 years olf, of Italian/German descent 5ft 2in tall, 189lbs with green eyes and brown hair"  
We then learn that Karen already has one child she is unable to support so she too is open to most adoptive family types.

"Gina is 30 years old, 5ft 2in tall, 120lbs, with hazel eyes and light brown hair."

Perhaps this is a way of getting around posting photos of actual babies, which could look a little more like the selling of human beings, and of course we'd be pretty unhappy about that.

It is hard to tell what is being sold here until you read the entirety of each sales pitch.   It sounds much like back page advertising for prostitution or perhaps surrogacy advertising where couples want to find someone similar in appearance to themselves.    In fact, surrogacy appears to be a lot closer to the way in which these mothers are treated with their babies made 'available' to others before their mothers have even given birth.    

There are many arguing for more adoption in Australia today as though this addresses the social problems of women in any way.  I've argued vehemently against the idea that adoption is a solution to abortion here and here (basic maths tells us this isn't so), but it is also time to consider if the USA path is one we really want to travel.

Children have an absolute right to loving stable, 'for life' families.  They also have an absolute right to the truth of their identity, connection to their family of biological origin, and the right to have their needs prioritised over the needs of adults who believe they have a 'right' to have children.   Until we have agreement on these most basic positions, we are in danger of further drifting from any value for the mother child bond, and toward marketed distribution of children from the needy to the rich, no different from teh exploitation of women in developing countries who are so desperated to feed their families that they are forced to sell their children to wealthy Westerners.  

Someone somewhere has to stop this commodification.   Women and children are not worth more when they are for sale.  They become worth less

Adoption coercion

I've found myself having a few conversations about my position on adoption lately, specifically in relation to my stance that adoption should not be proposed to abortion seeking women as a solution to their current 'problem'.   

When we do this, we are telling a woman that we also don't believe in her capacity to parent, which further reinforces whatever feelings she is struggling with.    We are in effect saying, 'hey, of course you can't have a baby, but don't have an abortion, it would be better to give your baby to strangers to raise'.    

What we need to be saying is, 'how can I best help you to manage the circumstances you are in today?'    'How can I best help you to mother your child when he/she is born?'   'You'll be okay, we will help you'.

These are very different words to those that would propose adoption as some kind of solution.

Adoption promotion can also be incredibly coercive, even when wrapped in otherwise empowering language.   Take this example from a US pregnancy support agency

"However, adoption is not “giving up”; it’s not “giving away”. Adoption is making a parenting plan for your child by choosing another family to raise him or her. It is a brave choice. It is a courageous choice. It is a selfless choice. It is a choice that will not only change your life, but the life of your child and the life of the family that you choose to raise your child. Adoption can be a fresh start for everyone. Women who choose adoption give their babies a hopeful future in a loving home, while creating a hopeful future for themselves."

Not only do they use words that suggest a woman is a better mother by 'making a parenting plan' then by parenting, but they emphasise them.  


They are telling a woman her baby is without hope with her, that she is without hope raising him or her.  They perpetuate the long-told lie that adoption is a 'fresh start', something that women move on from with barely a backward glance.   In the era of forced adoptions in Australia and elsewhere, this was the expectation of mothers, to move on, to forget about their child.  When they weren't able to do this, they felt that there was something innately wrong with them, that they were somehow failing.  

We need to do better than to advocate for the separation of mothers from their children, whether through adoption or abortion.  We need to acknowledge the drivers to a decision that a woman feels she is not good enough, or doesn't have any resources to parent.  We don't address inequity by taking babies from their mothers, either during pregnancy or after birth.

It is brave, courageous and selfless to be a mother.   It isn't something women need to be doing alone.  Children need more than one or two primary people in their lives loving them, so do mothers.   What are you doing to be part of a village for someone?  

Newer posts »

© 2024 Debbie Garratt

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑