Reunion stories and feelings of loss

15 Apr

An adoption reunion story generally creates comments that run the gamut…

  • so happy for you,
  • how sweet,
  • warnings about not liking what you find,
  • the grass isn’t always greener,
  • not all reunions work out.
  • how do your parents feel about you finding your birth parents,
  • don’t forget who your real parents are.

Last week’s adoption reunion story that hit all the mainstream news outlets didn’t elicit those same typical comments – link to the NBC story here.  It appears that because there was no mention of the mother considering adoption, the assumption was that she was going to parent, and I’m not saying that isn’t the correct assumption.  What is interesting is that assumption apparently changes how people feel about that story, and changes it to a ‘reunion only’ story, despite the daughter being adopted.

It’s an interesting shift in both the public and adoption communities perception, and to me, says that some (most?) people, deep down, still see an adoption reunion as a slap in the face to the adoptive parents, and disloyalty by the adoptee and parent(s) by birth.  With this shift in perception to a ‘reunion only’ story, it seems to focus on the loss of all those years (49/50 years) for both, hardly any comments mentioned the adoptive parents, and of those I read, none reminding her (the adoptee) who her real parents are.  I do want to note that it is highly unlikely that the adoptive parents, would have known anything other than what the adoption agency told them was ‘the story’ of why the baby needed adoption.

I’ve talked about the lack of acknowledgement of the lost time here in the story of the separated for adoption reunited twins – even in that story people didn’t comment on the time lost between twins who shared a womb for 40 weeks, just the warm fuzzy feelings of them being reunited after about the same number of years as the ‘reunion only’ story.  It appears, that if adoption is part of the story then whatever happened – there is no need to recognise the loss of the time that would have created so may memories – it’s a subject that can’t be mentioned because adoption is included in the story.  Perhaps it’s time to mull on why it is more important to protect adoption, a legal construct, than a human being with feelings.  Can we not recognise both the value adoption can play, and also recognise the cost to those within the adoption story?

This story sparked that recognition of the lost time, decades, because the mother was told her baby died.  That made it different to the readers, and yet, how different is that mother’s story of being told her daughter died, versus being told your baby will be adopted out in the grief felt?  That is the reality for some mothers in adoption, especially from that era, whether it was her parents, the matron at the maternity home who was in charge of the ‘counseling‘ that told her how terrible she would be to keep the child.  As to being told her baby died, that happened too, that came out in the testimony of the Kefauver subcommittee hearings in 1955 (pages 115-120), it noted the baby was going to be adopted, but the person in charge told her that her baby died, the papers she thought were burial papers, were actually adoption consent papers.  Imagine her shock down the road when she received adoption papers for her baby she had been told passed away…

Things back then were so different from many adoptions today, whether it was the more benign story of compliance/acceptance to her parents wishes, or the absolutely cruel story, one thing remained, many mothers had no viable choice other than adoption.  When you only have one viable choice – is it really a choice?  Next time you read an adoption reunion story from that era – consider that the story may be like mine, one of the more benign stories – to the other extreme – recognise that for many mothers it was the only ‘choice’ they had, that they see the adoption as forced (wouldn’t you?).

Acknowledging the loss of the years, takes nothing away from the lived adopted life, it’s just recognising human emotions…


Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , ,

12 responses to “Reunion stories and feelings of loss

  1. Jess

    April 15, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Yes, the mother’s intentions seem to steer the story in one direction or the other, as in, “She never intended to surrender so it’s like still her kid–plus she was told a lie.” So feel free to reunite without any stupid questions from the peanut gallery. On the other hand, if there is any sense that adoption was the intent and adoptive parents have entered the picture because adoption was the intent, the aps seem to occupy way more space in the reunion picture. But you are right to point out that for women of a certain era, the two situations may be emotionally the same. They may be the same in almost every way.

    Here’s something else: I do know of a couple of first moms who say the reaction to their reunion is a) uniformly bad, and b) uniformly positive. Two different people consistently generating, it appears, two entirely reactions about the basic facts. How do we figure that? To some extent, it’s in the telling. Perhaps it is also in the expectations. One expects the negative; the other expects the positive. I do think these things are at least partially about the story you tell yourself. But I think that about most everything in life and have certainly been slapped down for applying it to adoption. 😉 Nonetheless, I’ll probably keep on thinkin’ it.


    • TAO

      April 15, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      “So feel free to reunite without any stupid questions from the peanut gallery. ” – I could have just said this…

      I do think expectations going in bias how you view an actual reunion – the back story and the personalities also play a role.

      Thanks for commenting – at least a few seem to like my rambling observations about reactions…


  2. eagoodlife

    April 15, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I love your ‘rambling observations’, wouldn’t miss your views for anything! One point, is any adoption ‘benign’? If there is something I have learned in these last few years it’s that there are many half truths, lies and assumptions in adoption. No-one is innocent except the baby.


    • TAO

      April 15, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Probably not Von – but – as far as the changing of the truth – it wasn’t anywhere close to some of the stories, closer to white lies than outright falsification, in that way, it was benign – does that make sense?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. L4R

    April 16, 2015 at 1:11 am

    Good post. You need to stop putting yourself down, though. I don’t think you made “rambling observations.” I think you made keen ones.


  4. terrelibanaise

    April 16, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Reblogged this on Terre Libanaise and commented:
    Les histoires de retrouvailles avec les parents biologiques ne sont pas seulement des histoires de plus dans le monde de l’adoption. Ces histoires nous révèlent le pur sentiment de perte et l’émotion extrême que traversent ces familles tout à fait incomprises


  5. Unathi K.

    April 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Your posts always leave me ruminating after reading them. Thanks. I relate so much to the “don’t forget your real parents” comment. I could say more but let me rather leave it at that. Great post.


    • TAO

      April 16, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Thank you and welcome.


  6. Eileen

    April 20, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Thank you, I learn from each one of your posts. I find them very insightful. With thanks from an adoptive Mom who is always trying to learn more.


    • TAO

      April 20, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to say that -especially on a Monday morning…


  7. Jess

    May 16, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    And here’s another one! Beautiful story, but check out the comment by Lilly and follow-up.


    • TAO

      May 16, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      I read this today and also notice the comment about what about the AP’s…

      It’s sad that they weren’t raised together. So much loss…



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