When you are too late…

05 Sep

The end of my search came on the day I received a cold factual statement telling me my mother had already died.  I had no warning that the next update from my searcher would contain such stark words.  I do remember eagerly opening that email expecting to hear that either she couldn’t find her yet and was working on other avenues, or that she had found her.  I wasn’t expecting she had already passed.  She wasn’t that old.  I never expected that at her age she would already be gone.  That my mother had already passed away from the same event I had just experienced.

I don’t know how to grieve the loss of my mother.  How to let my dreams go.  How to make peace within my soul of never getting to meet my mother.

This is the ending of the story of how adoption “benefited” me.  My story isn’t all negative and has many positives.  I can’t do any type of “what if” scenario about if I had never been adopted, because it has already happened and you can’t go back and wipe away what was.  It doesn’t work that way.  I do believe reunion allows you to combine your two lives and find peace, and provides an opportunity to regain a relationship that was lost.

When you weigh the good and the bad, I don’t think the scales are tipped in favor of adoption being the better option when there are no concerns over safety.  There was no reason for my adoption except for the pervasive religious fervor and ideology of the day – conveniently combined with the rising rates of infertility.  I am scared for the future as I see that same misguided thought process raising up again, and the infertility rates even worse.  I am scared by the promotion of adoption as the superior option over parenting for unplanned pregnancies.  I am scared for women like my mother and for their children like me.  They won’t have a choice either.


Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child


Tags: , , , , , , ,

23 responses to “When you are too late…

  1. Rebecca Hawkes

    September 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    “My story isn’t all negative and has many positives.” This describes my situation, too, but I can’t subscribe to the view that “everything worked out for the best.” Like you, I have no way to make a comparison because I only really know the life I got. The ghost lives I didn’t live remain shadowy. But I can’t believe it was “best” for you to never meet your mother, or even for me to be completely separated from mine until adulthood. And I can’t ignore the pain and heartbreak that is still being caused by the institution. I, too, worry for the future.


  2. Rebecca Hawkes

    September 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    My initial comment doesn’t reflect the emotional impact of learning that your mother was dead, in such stark terms, and just when you were expecting to find her. Ugh! I can only imagine!


    • TAO

      September 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm

      Rebecca – you don’t have to because I know you understand and also a very empathetic person.

      Thanks for talking – I really like feedback…we all do I think and I need to comment more often instead of reading and stop being shy.


      • Rebecca Hawkes

        September 6, 2012 at 12:22 am

        Thanks! I know what you mean. I love feedback, too. 🙂


  3. cb

    September 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    “I don’t know how to grieve the loss of my mother. How to let my dreams go. How to make peace within my soul of never getting to meet my mother.”

    You’ve summed up how I feel. As you know, I’m in a similar situation to you. My mother died a few months before her 40th birthday from a heart attack over 30 years ago, while I was still at school. In some ways, I am thankful that when I did decide to search for my mother, the very first thing I found out was that she had passed away (the first googling of her name revealed a cemetery record). I felt disappointment but also thought “oh so that’s why she didn’t contact me”. Of course, I now realise that she might not have made contact anyway but back then, that thought did sort of help. I also had another very fleeting feeling of relief that I am ashamed to admit “oh well, at least I don’t have to go through the emotional effort of having a relationship” but that feeling didn’t last long and now, I’d love to have had the opportunity for a relationship.

    4 years later (3 years ago), after thinking about whether or not to make contact with other relatives (I’d “found” them within a couple of days) because I suspected they wouldn’t know I existed and didn’t want to disrupt their lives, I finally decided to make contact and have never regretted it and hope they don’t either. However, I didn’t expect that getting to see lots of photos (I think she was beautiful though of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder) and learning all abou ther (she sounded really nice) would be so emotional and now I really do feel a loss but one I can’t really ever talk much about. I assumed I had no siblings until I leant that she in fact had twins but one sad second later found out that they had either been stillborn or passed away. Anyway, 3 years later, although feelings about my first mother are more settled and things with my family are pretty good, I do still find it hard at times. I did read an article a couple of years ago about closure not always being possible and that really helped because I realised that it is OK to feel sadness. It doesn’t interrupt my life in anyway, I llive a fairly content life but it is just part of whom I now am.

    “It doesn’t work that way. I do believe reunion allows you to combine your two lives and find peace, and provides an opportunity to regain a relationship that was lost”

    I agree. You can never go back. However, I do feel more complete that I did before because now I know more about who I am, something I didn’t really expect. Though there is sadness in my story, I wouldn’t want to go back to not knowing anything about my bmom or not knowing my bfamily. I try to be very respectful of them as Ii know it is all new to them too and they could have happily lived their lives without knowing of my existence. I do think knowing about me has maybe helped them to understand their sister a bit better.

    “When you weigh the good and the bad, I don’t think the scales are tipped in favor of adoption being the better option when there are no concerns over safety. There was no reason for my adoption except for the pervasive religious fervor and ideology of the day – conveniently combined with the rising rates of infertility.”

    Same here.

    “I am scared by the promotion of adoption as the superior option over parenting for unplanned pregnancies.”

    I agree. You just see it everywhere. And then there are those promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion, even though they are two different decisions. There seems to be an aggressive push to counsel women straight out of an abortion into adoption without considering the emotional toll it might take treating a women like a surrogate. And what child would want to know that their mother went straight from aborting them to carrying them for someone else. Btw I get tired of APs mentioning that their child was saved from abortion (even when it wasn’t considered) and one wonders whether they tell their child that as well.


    • TAO

      September 6, 2012 at 2:07 am

      C – I wouldn’t want to go back to not knowing either. The not knowing bothered me something fierce. I do believe APs that say that also intent to use that knowledge to ensure the gratitude and wouldn’t want to know her anyway.


  4. Rebecca Hawkes

    September 6, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Oh, and here’s part of the equation of today, too — blaming/shaming and creating other obstacles for young parents who choose (how dare they!) to parent:


    • TAO

      September 6, 2012 at 2:16 am

      That breaks my heart when you stop and think about it – no support at school – how dare you miss time to give birth – you can’t make up the assignment – and the flip side derides them for not having education. Really glad to see the ACLU involved. The “cost drain” they quote is stupid – work with the women to get their education not shame them out of it and then your tax dollars will come in.

      Perhaps the NCFA who claims family preservation as one of their tenets should be providing scholarships for these young teenage women who parent. I know, I know they don’t mean that type of family preservation…

      I’ll get off my soap-box in a minute – this country exists because generations of women had children in their teen years…yet today they want to banish that and then complain that the necessary number of births is way down in the US and it can’t sustain itself. Right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing or what.


  5. nnkato

    September 6, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Wow-I read this and nodded my head. I have a similar pain inside. In my late 20’s I think it was, I was told that my father was dead. I was so sad to not have gotten the chance to know him. You can imagine the grief that I still live with today, when I was then told that he had actually come looking for me, with a priest I think, to the Children’s Aid Society, and I wasn’t told about this. I COULD HAVE MET MY FATHER! Turns out, he died a few years later, never knowing that I wanted to hold his hand. Today, many years later, I am trying to find peace, compassion, forgiveness about so much in my life, but I just can’t get past my anger at the nameless, faceless, heartless social worker who took it upon herself to deny my opportunity.

    Thanks for sharing TAO.


    • TAO

      September 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      nnkato – I would be angry too – once again a social worker who decided to play God – instead of having compassion, concern, a moral compass. That would be hard to get through.


  6. Pami Woods

    September 7, 2012 at 1:24 am

    I am very sorry for you. not ever knowing what could have been. My mother found me when I was 31. I have had the chance to know my entire family. I am loved by many people. My adopted father is very sick and could be dying as I type this I am praying for a miracle. He needs a 4 way bypass and his heart has adhered to the chest wall surgery is going to be very risky but if he does not have it death is certain. So it is in God’s hands. I have given my adopted family a lot of grief but they love me. I am their child. My adopted mother acts like a mother bear when I talk about my bio mom. She is the only mom and always will be. She says ” She gave you up for adoption.” “She gave up her rights.” Of course my bio mom was 15 and was forced to give me up and does not like how I was raised. I am not to happy either with it. I have grown up and I have forgiven and I love them. My bio dad says ” She says I was to rough with her growing up.” I guess we will leave it at that. I still love them very much they have always been my parents. I also love my bio parents I see myself in them. I know why I have a lot of my quirks. I see my children in my brothers and sisters children. My children and my brothers children share same birthdays. My oldest daughter has my Mothers birthday with the year reversed. We have many things the same. Maybe some people adopted do not have so many things in common with their birth families as me. I don’t know. I just know I have a huge connection. We fight just like families and we still love each other. It’s been 17 yrs since they found me and I could have never gotten through my life struggles this far with out them. My sister, My mother and my Daddy. My adopted parents all of them. God has been so good. Even though the bio’s don’t want to meet the adopted they are praying for them right now because they love me. I use to hate I was adopted. Now it is a lot of people who love me. Who really care about what happens to me. What is in my best interest. That want me to be ok. I don’t know what I am going to do if my dad dies. I know it will break my heart. after all he was my first daddy.


    • TAO

      September 7, 2012 at 2:12 am

      Pami – I am really sorry to hear your dad is facing such a health crisis – I wish him the best and hope for the best. Even just the thought of losing someone is tough. My dad passed a few years ago but he was ready for it and was okay with it (hard to explain but he was at peace with it) – but my memories are there and that has made the difference. I hope your dad pulls though this so you have many more years. Take care. I’m signing off for the night but will be back in the morning…if you need to talk.


  7. Pami Woods

    September 7, 2012 at 1:27 am

    when I said my bio dad says I was to rough with her growing up I meant to say My adopted dad. Sorry for that.


  8. shadowtheadoptee

    September 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Trying again: I wonder sometimes if, we, adoptees, have this subconscious thought that finding our first families will somehow make it not hurt, or at least not hurt so much? I dont know. I think finding them makes it hurt more, or maybe it just brings the pain to the surface. It makes it harder to deny the grief? I agree, knowing, is still better than not knowing, even after all I’ve been through with my BPs. I wouldn’t change any of it, but maybe that’s just me. I can’t imagine how I would have felt if I had gotten the news AO, and CB found


    • TAO

      September 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      I think you are right that we expect it to make it hurt less but then realize that we only allowed the tip of the hurt to peek through before and then the wave hits of everything we have really lost happens.


  9. Kumar

    September 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    TAO, I enjoy reading and following your blog. I hope I do not offend you with my ignorance, but I am confused by your last sentence “I am scared for women like my mother and for their children like me. They won’t have a choice either.” and the talk of women’s infertility.

    I assume you are saying your adoptive mother chose to adopt (you) because she was infertile. So are you saying the rise in infertility increases the number of adoptions because those women cannot “naturally” concieve? I take your word for it that that is true, but it sounds like what you are saying is that the reason you were adopted was because your adoptive mother was infertile and wanted a child, am I correct? It is very likely I’m mistaken, but wouldn’t you have been adopted anyway if you had been put up for adoption?

    I really do not mean to offend at all, I’m just a bit confused and very interested. I too am adopted, and am aware of the multiude of different adoption experiences and so I do not presume to know anything about your own experience. I write this from a place of genuine interest.

    Thanks for writing!


    • TAO

      September 7, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      Kumar – not offended in the least.

      Prior to WWII the mindset was that mothers and babies should be kept together and charities worked hard to provide safe places for mothers for the first year or two. After WWII there was a lot of women who had infertility and the religious dogma changed to separating mother and child – clean start for us little blank slates. The solution for both illegitimate babies and those with infertility became adoption. In my birth year alone in the US there were according to the CDC 90,000 “white” illegitmate babies born. Not all were placed for adoption but most likely were. Note that the same requirement did not apply to babies of color – no adoption agency cared about obtaining them. Mom and dad were all done with adopting but the SW asked them to adopt me because they met the requests of my mother. I would not have ended up forever in foster care – the SW would have been forced to place me in a home that did not meet the three requests my mother made.

      All that to say is that isn’t what I was talking about. The religious ideology and the demand for “healthy white babies” coupled with no social services combined to create the perfect storm so to speak, so mothers who wanted their babies had no choice simply because of societal mores. They could be refused employment, housing, education, there was little to no social services available – nothing like today – no welfare, no medicaid, no options. Society assumed they were feeble minded and of no value. Society ensured mothers brought shame on the families so if they wanted to hold their head up they kicked out the daughter, plus society dictated lack of services. THAT is the attitude I am seeing resurfacing today. Republican mantra is to stop giving a hand up and slashing both funding for preventative services, and to single mothers. If that happens mothers choices will not be real choices and even today with the services there are – they still limited choices. That is what scares me.


      • cb

        September 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm

        Kumar, you might find this website interesting:

        These two pages in particular talk about the reasons why adoption became so popular after the war.


      • Kumar

        September 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm


        Thanks, that certainly helps me better understand what you mean by “I am scared for women like my mother and for their children like me. They won’t have a choice either.” You mean that their ability to decide whether or not to keep their child was made incredibily difficult by social stigmas against “illegitmate” births and lack of social programs to help support single parents. I guess I had never made the connection that cutting social programs that benefit single parents could lead to an increase in children being put up for adoption when their parents actually wanted to keep them.

        I suppose I never really thought about my biological parents wanting to keep me but being forced to give me up because of lack of resources and certainly a strong negative social stigma with out of wedlock births (I was born in India almost 25 years ago). I sort of assumed I was an unplanned birth (which very well could be true) and therefore was somewhat of a burden. Interesting.

        Well thank you so much for your explanation and your writing! Free feel to check out some of my stuff and I look forward to reading more of yours!


        • TAO

          September 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm

          Kumar – you understand what I mean and the cause and effect is very real. Very sad.

          If you are at all interested to delve into how your biological parents felt – I have a couple of suggestions. You can order The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler from your library or book store, it is based on the US in the 50/60’s which I would guess would be similar (not the same) as the societal attitudes in India when you were born.

          If you want to talk to correspond with someone who would have a educated understanding of your era in India then I would recommend you correspond with either Desiree or Prof. David Smolin at Fleas Biting. They are adoptive parents of two girls from India close to your age and would be an amazing resource to you.

          I like your blog but am behind in reading lately – you are in my blog-roll and I try my best to keep up on all of them.



          • Kumar

            September 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm

            Thanks, I’ll try to check out those resources. Thanks for the heads up! This is why I started blogging.


  10. mad momma moogacat

    September 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Loved this post, TAO. As you can expect, this speaks to me re my daughter’s situation, and I’m going to save it for her for when she older.


    • TAO

      September 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      I do think it helps when you find out others have been there as well. Take care.



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