Open Adoption and Playing God

Another birthday has come and gone.

Each year, it feels like that baby, MY baby, becomes more of a stranger. I dreamed of her my entire childhood. I carried her for 41 weeks, labored with her for 36 hours, and held her tightly against my chest in our remaining 32 hours together.

What does “Open” Adoption feel like for a mother, or more frequently what we’re referred to, a birth mother? I would gladly shed some light on the matter, but only as a warning to others.

Its an important question to answer in this day and time. Especially for anyone who feels the need to present it as an option, yet has no firsthand experience. The promotion of Open Adoption frightens me. It is a subculture fraught with corruption, deceit, trauma, and delusions of mass proportion.

Of course, with 2 decades of experience, its impossible to chronicle all of the psychological acrobatics one must perform to navigate Open Adoption in a healthy manner. But, I can assure the reader that “healthy” is subjective when it comes to Open Adoption. After nearly 20 years, I consider it healthy that I haven’t killed myself. Does suicide frequent my thoughts? On occasion, especially during “anniversary” days. The fact that a birth mother hasn’t killed herself should be no indication of health. The fact that most birth moms I encounter admit to having thought about suicide on at least one or more occasion pertaining directly to her Open Adoption experience, should be a guidepost to those who consider traveling this road. It is a suffering that cannot be expressed, but worn. And once the Birth Mother cloak has been wrapped around you, any illusions that you will ever be healthy again vanish. From that point forward, its all about survival.

Survival. That is what we “birth” moms know how to do best in Open Adoption. We survive a pregnancy that either began in crisis or was made into a crisis. We survive our child being removed from our arms. We survive the first year, we are erroneously told by professionals that it will be the hardest. We survive the following years, finding anywhere in our subconscious to stuff all the trauma of losing our child. We survive from that point forward either denying, bargaining, or raging. There are no 5 stages of grief when it comes to Open Adoption. There are only 4 that play on random for years on end.

If I had a Unicorn, her name would be Acceptance. I would feed her Rainbows.

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There are some really good deniers. We veterans can spot them quickly. They’re usually the newbies. They’re the moms who are fresh off the Agency boat. They still live in a theoretical world where they’ll get to watch their child grow up. They may get pictures, perhaps even an occasional visit with their child. They will happily promote Open Adoption on an agency’s behalf through a Birth Mom Testimonial. All the while, not realizing they have lost their child. That is not their child. They are watching another child grow up.

In a few years, the denial wears off. My denial took 16 years to wear off. Denial is an important survival mechanism in  Open Adoption. I would never tell a new mother that she is in denial. I know that unveiling it could be a life or death matter. Denial can serve as protection from self-harm. I must admit, I do get angry with these new moms. But my anger should be directed at the agencies who exploit their loss and use it to sell Open Adoption to the next unsuspecting victim. I know it may seem counterintuitive to say, but don’t listen to a new Birth Mom. Ever. She has suffered the greatest trauma of her life. She lost her child. If she is mouthing off agency speak; let her. She is surviving. But don’t take her words as a testament to the “beauty” or the “virtue” of Open Adoption. Take it for what it is; a mother in incredible pain from losing her child and she is simply surviving.

If you want to know Open Adoption, speak to a veteran mom. A mom who has more than her fair share of war scars. Speak to the moms who have their Open Adoptions close nearly as soon as they were opened.  Speak to the moms who were promised one form of Open Adoption, but have experienced something entirely lacking. Speak to the moms who come to realize one day that the love for their child was used against them as a carrot on a stick. Speak to the moms, like myself, that come to realize one day that their child “died” nearly 2 decades ago.

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Bam!

That’s what our denial is protecting us from. Psychological death. Open Adoption is psychological death. We are not created by God, as mothers or children, to cope with the psychological death of each other. Open Adoption is a man-made answer hiding behind the pretenses of Christianity. It grieves me that the Church seems to be the biggest proponent today of this institution based on faulty psychiatry, not scripture. It is unnatural and Biblically unprecedented for a mother and child to live in an Open Adoption arrangement.

ie- This is your mother, but she’s not your mother. This is your child, but she’s not your child. Now, have a healthy relationship.

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Most of us have experience with physical death. I lost my second daughter to physical death. It was terrible grief. Leaving your child in a cold grave is a pain that I can’t communicate. Even so, my mourning for my daughter was done in a healthy way. She died and was buried. It took me quite some time to grieve. But I’ve accepted that she is gone. Physical death, as ugly as it can be, offers mercy in the form of closure.

In Open Adoption, there is never closure. It is complicated, unresolved grief for years on end. You survive because it simply becomes a part of your makeup. It took me nearly 18 years to realize that the child I gave birth to no longer existed. She died the day she was taken from me. I can only relate it to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.  As crass as that may seem. Forgive me for my lack of better references.

My point is that she would have been an entirely different person had I been given the opportunity to raise her. She would have had a different culture, religion, upbringing, experiences, etc. Literally, everything about her would have been different. So that makes her a different person altogether. She grew up with another family’s idiosyncrasies, not mine. Open Adoption with its pictures, phone calls, emails, letters, and visitation; she still became a stranger.

The same goes for me. I died the day she was taken from me. I became a stranger not only to her but to myself. For years, I tried to find my way back to normal not realizing that I was living my new normal. Parts of my personality died that day. There were open wounds that would be protected by sarcasm, cynicism, and denial for many years. My life became the cliché trauma experience of before and after.

No one at the agency felt the need to warn me much less offer me counseling. Thanks for the baby, now have a nice life. I was a hot mess for years to come. Looking back, I’m astounded by my resilience. I thank Denial for most of that. It protected me for as long as it could.

Open Adoption has become a way for Christians to play God. Many Christians see a problem of an infertile couple and a problem of a pregnant woman in crisis and believe themselves wise to put the two together. Throw in a few out of context biblical references about Moses or Esther and voila a catchphrase is born “Adoption Saves Lives”.

They aren’t there for the fallout though. They aren’t there when the mother grieves the loss of her child for years to come. Loving the child that she is watching grow up, but also missing the child that would have been. It is an exercise in psychological maneuverings that the strongest of us couldn’t surmount.

There is a story in the book of Kings about Solomon judging the rightful mother of an infant. He decides to cut the child in half and give a portion to each woman. The rightful mother is taken aback and relinquishes her child to the imposter. Her actions assist Solomon in making the correct judgment.

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What would it look like if Solomon had gone forth with cutting the child in half and giving a portion to each mother?

“One that would give you up – that’s all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.”

A “Legacy” if you will.

I would argue that would look like Open Adoption. Every time I hear a Christian promote Open Adoption, Solomon’s judgment comes to mind. Solomon knew that even a prostitute was worthy of being with her child. There is no scripture encouraging a poor and/or young woman to give away her child then adorning her with a crown of “brave” and “selfless” as a consolation prize. It is a perversion of scripture, not a fulfillment of it. I wonder how long this can go on.

How much longer are we going to play God?

How many more children have to be cut in half?

If you ever witnessed a mother in that moment of “giving away” her child. It would certainly feel like someone or something was being cut in half.

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23 thoughts on “Open Adoption and Playing God

    1. Good q’s. Well, adoption in general was hardly my choice. Coercion and threats played their part.
      But as far as Open. I battle with that very question. What hurts more losing your child, but getting to watch them become another’s child (open)? Or losing a child and wondering if the person they become is even alive (closed)?
      I don’t know. I personally think they both suck. Either way, you’re losing your child.
      What would have eased my pain would have been moral support from my family. Perhaps, a handful of years to help me get on my feet- with my daughter.
      In regards to easement in Open Adoption. I think if I had a much more open situation, I would probably have come to this post’s conclusion sooner. Then battle with the idea that my presence was some form of child abuse upon my daughter. I think open adoption is an adult invention that children are ill-equipped to navigate. If it had been more closed, I suspect I would have gone to some extreme. Either blanking her out of my mind for survival’s sake. Or the other direction of self harm.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I appreciate your comments! The fact that it wasn’t your choice seems like a huge part of the issue that I never considered. I really would want my adoption to not cause anyone lasting pain. You have given me a new perspective on this to think about.

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  1. Thank you. I am an adoptee. I try to imagine who my birth mother was as a woman and a living being. She’s gone now, I lost that opportunity to truly know her, twice.

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  2. I’m BSE (1966), no open adoption, and I am glad in some way. It’s been a painful 51 years, even though 33 have been since I found my daughter, 31 since I met her. Open Adoption may put off the grief, the horror, the loss — but it is true. The child you see, or find, is not the child you would have raised. Your child is gone forever. I read of open adoptions closed quickly, or after a few years — but they closed. The promises are broken, which just adds to the grief. Like you, I see comments from new mothers extolling the virtues of adoption, how happy they are their child is with the perfect parents — and think — wait, your time will come. Find a good support group; you’re going to need one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You said it all.
      I’m so sorry you were in the BSE. I’m currently reading “The Girls Who Went Away”. Single hardest book I’ve ever read. It’s very triggering for me and I can only read 2-3 pages at a time. I’m a firm believer in support. I have online support. Lucked up and one of the moms lives in my town. We have forged an incredible bond. We get each other like no one else can. Best to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You took these words right out of my head.
    Today is the 6th anniversary of signing those papers even though I did not want to. I so desperately wanted someone to tell me what I needed to hear. That never happened…..and it took me 2 years to really realize what that was.
    It would’ve been the truth that this was really all about for everyone else.

    The truth is this was never about my child for everyone else except for me. For them, it was about the money that would be paid, it was about the fulfillment of a desire of those who could not have a child of their own.

    It was never about the truth, an informed decision or the best for my son. Thr loss, trauma, or the suffering that my baby was going to be forced to endure in order to survive by being separated from me was never disclosed. That he would cry for me until he broke, that he would be denied what was best, me and my milk that was made specifically for him so he wouldn’t suffer.

    He would suffer.
    That is all I needed to hear.
    The industry never tells mothers that their children scream for them until their spirit is broken. Just like their mothers scream for their infant until they break, and just as you said begin to die.

    I began to die 6 years ago today.
    I am forever changed and so is my family.
    All because I reached for the wrong help.
    I trusted the wrong people and they sold my son, and never looked back.

    Thank you for writing this.
    Sending love, I am so sorry for all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The amount of suffering caused by adoption for the mother and child is truly hard to comprehend for anyone who hasn’t experienced it. I’m an adoptee, turning 46 soon (BSE era), and I help run a support group for adult adoptees – most of us from closed adoptions, and we thought open adoptions would be better – until we started getting adult adoptees from open adoptions who set us straight. We all suffer. We long for reunion, and then it’s either really difficult and emotionally wrenching, or we get rejected entirely (as I did, it completely broke my heart). Even those of us who truly love our adoptive parents (and gosh, so many of us don’t!) are crushed by the weight of our losses. We lost our mothers, our fathers, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins – all the genetic mirrors most people take for granted. I hope women who are facing crisis pregnancies will see your message – and mine – and consider doing whatever it takes to resist pressure to relinquish. Mothers and their children belong together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your message punched me in the gut. “Baby Girl Nelson” was my daughter’s Original Birth Certificate name.
      To see that name pop up. It just took my breath.
      I faintly hoped for a moment that my baby had found this blog and pieced it together.
      I’m so glad you’re here.
      But, wow.
      I’m kind of a mess right now.
      Thank you for your comment. I am so sorry for your suffering.
      Baby Girl Nelson.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sorry to have shocked you that way – it was, of course, the name on my OBC, too. I’m sorry for your suffering, as well. I’m sorry the agencies are so disgustingly manipulative and society is so onboard with this damaging practice.

        Sending you a big hug.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m an adoptive mom of three, and a Christian minister. Thanks for giving your perspective on this. Thanks for taking the time to write this in such and open and raw way. I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through and are still going through. It was good for me to read this.

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  6. I am an adult adoptee. In 2007 when the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services found my Birth Mother, she did not want contact, and she has since registered a Disclosure Veto. It’s rather like getting rejected a second and third time. I did get some medical information, and was given the name of my one-year younger birth sister, whom I have since found. So it was not all a loss.

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    1. Laurel, That is heartbreaking. I am so sorry. I can only assume there must be tremendous trauma on her end to do such a thing. I’m happy that you found your sister, but I know that doesn’t make it ok.

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