Hope is Not a Mercy in Adoption

It’s that time of year again that I cannot be held accountable for what I say or do. I keep my contacts with the outside world short and sweet. I refrain from all sad stories and troubles that are out of my control. I put my blinders on and focus on the day to day- get out of bed, eat, breathe, bathe.

This time of year- Thanksgiving through my lost daughter’s birthday in February- leaves me lost at sea in emotional wreckage. Like clockwork, I know its first claims on my generally sanguine disposition; that heavy dull ache in my chest settles in just days before the holiday season begins. My sharply-crafted strength of sarcasm loses all its defenses. That heavy dull ache is here to stay for a third of the year, then a brief respite, back to preparing myself for it the following year. We have become so familiar with one another, that I have even given it a name.

“The Big Suck” is here.

I used to think I could bargain with it. Or that I could trick it somehow out of existence. That if I ignored it, it would just go away like futile hopes against a determined bully. I have come to an acceptance of its presence. Strangely, this year, I almost find myself embracing it. I’ve had visions of artwork in my head, something I’ve dabbled with in the past. A desire to start painting my visions of adoption- a young naked woman with a plump belly and engorged breasts being torn piecemeal by ravenous wolves. A small dinghy in the middle of a black ocean, on a black night, with a towering wave in the distance only noticeable by a small break of star light. You better start rowing, girl.

No, don’t give her hope. That would be cruel. The wolves and the waves are coming. There is no escape.

And that’s where I am this year of The Big Suck.

Hope is a lying bitch.

Hope is not a mercy in adoption.

I was young and dumb and full of hope. As I’ve said somewhere before in my blog, the professionals erroneously told me the first year would be the hardest. I can’t recall all the nonsense told to expectant mothers by adoption professionals, but that is one of the nonsense lines I held on to for far too long. That the first year would be the hardest. That line gives unavailing hope to someone in desperate need of real hope. The idea that things will get better. Spoiler alert- they won’t.

In adoption, there is no hope. Giving a mother hope is a cruelty, not a mercy. It sets one up for years and years of emotional suppression. Stuffing down feelings. Living a parallel life. Always “hoping” things will get better. That the next marriage, child, or that even reunion with the adopted child will be the cure to this all-encompassing grief.

Hope only taunts. There is no getting back even a glimpse of what has been lost. Instead of grieving the loss in the moment (or finding a way to avoid that moment of loss altogether), one morning, twenty years down the road you wake up in a sweat and realize “my baby died.” The flood gates open and your world turns upside down yet again. Your spouse and your subsequent children get to pick up the pieces of your fruitless grasping at sanity.

A mercy all those years ago would not have been to give me hope. It would have been pulling the trigger to the proverbial gun at my head. Exchanging it for a real gun, with real bullets, and real death. Not this psychological, hopeless, slow death bullshit.

There may be hundreds of smiling pictures of me over the last 2 decades. They are the evidence of my vain belief in hope. But I know that whatever event it may be; a wedding, a baby shower, a birthday party, that the smile was a fake and me sobbing in the fetal position on a cold tiled bathroom floor later that evening was very real. Another event, another picture, another memory without my precious girl.

And for what? For what did I sacrifice our whole lives together? I was young, poor, and unmarried. A grave sin for sure. Oh, to go back to that young dumb girl full of hope.

If we can live the rest of our lives without our babies, who else or what else can we live without? Everyone and everything. The sacred has been breached.

If you’re considering adoption for your baby, do your research. If you’re a half-way decent human being who can function emotionally even in the most mediocre way…if you’re certain you would not physically or emotionally harm a child…if you can prioritize your child before a substance…adoption is probably not for you.

You would be just as brave to parent.

There are plenty of cheerleader birth moms out there, but on further inspection, even their own blogs speak of their failed relationships, institutional commitments, strained “open” adoptions, and substance abuse that they willingly admit are the symptoms of adoption itself. They too are surviving on the vain promises of hope. Unfortunately, they are sacrificing the next generation of unsuspecting expectant mothers and aggrandizing a profit-driven machine. They are romanticizing tragedy.

Whatever your circumstance. Enjoy your pregnancy. Enjoy your baby. Find help. Comment here for help. I don’t want to find you in the same boat as me. I’m not going to be like those cheerleader birth moms; promising that hope is always just around the corner. It’s not. There will be no cat-poster language here. The first year is not the hardest, it’s the easiest. But that truth isn’t good for business or the moms who, like me, are in this for a lifetime.


Some moms in this adoption life have to believe in hope in order to function. But if there is no compelling reason for you to be in the adoption life, then I suggest you find whatever help you need to avoid it altogether.

The waves come for us all, whether we put on a brave face or not.

dark_wave_by_mistyrydia-d5sapkj art by SabinaE






20 thoughts on “Hope is Not a Mercy in Adoption

  1. “..another year, event, picture, memory without my precious girl….” are your words, words and thoughts that you convince yourself are only your experience, only your conditions…. your scheduled annual anniversaries of November to February of each year to exacerbate seasonal depression… and finding that all of these feelings are not ameliorated with the reunion of your daughter… I can understand only too well… but more to the point, I understand that so many others have had similar experiences, and that some have learned to look beyond themselves and past such horrendous times-not to forget, but to look at the past with a different lens, the one of healing and of reunion-of self, of child of society of humanity.

    So let me tell you briefly of the loss of my daughter -who lived not quite four months and who I would have given my own heart to save if it could have kept her alive. September 1st thru December 26th 1969 and of ten years after were my bête noir-withdrawal, teetering on the edge of a dark and deep whole which threatened to drag me over its edge, unimaginable pain, and self -pity enough for the world’s population of mothers separated from child by death or because they relinquished him/her, or abandoned them in a moment of folly and lived tot regret it.

    Because someone was finally able to make me understand certain things, I was slowly able to end my self-pity parties, get my head back where it belonged, and back to being a productive human able to perhaps help others.
    September 1st to Boxing Day are still not my favorite times of any year, but I no longer end of wallowing in grief or railing at fate or Allah or at others who have had a far better life as a whole than have I and others.

    Yes I missed my daughter’s milestones because she never had them; I will never se her get a PhD or have a Grand Tour, or win an Olympic Medal or share her hopes and dreams with me, nor will I ever help her with her wedding plans, watch her father take her for that last walk down the aisle to join the man who would have been her husband and who together would have given me my first grandchild (being older than her brother born five years later and who is now a father of a son just a year old.)

    My daughter would not be found again nor would she suddenly walk back into my life at any age. She was the first person I ever loved unconditionally and the first person who looked like me, the abandoned adoptee who despite everything never gave up hope that she would find her roots and who she was and that she would find her sibs and at least one or two of her family.

    In 2010 I found a paternal uncle (dead in June of this year), some first cousins; later I was able to build an extensive family tree-at least via my father’s side of my heritage. DNA testing scared up a first cousin-also and adoptee- and confirmed my lineage to my paternal family; another match cemented my relationship to maternal ancestors via another first cousin.

    I doubt that my mother -or even my father-ever looked back once she severed all ties with my sister and I. I never knew their names until I was in my mid-thirties. By the time I could discover anything about either of them, they were dead.

    I have yet to locate my younger sister -but still have hope that she will have her DNA tested and have the results in the many databases where mine is stored. My brother who was 8 mos. younger than I died in 2011-a year before I found where he was located.

    I lost an entire family, immediate, close, distant and ancient, languages, religions, cultures and nationalities that were mine, and my dearly beloved daughter to Congenital Heart Disease. She did not ask to be born without a good strong heart any more than I asked to be abandoned and be separated from my sibs and adopted by worse than Dickensian adopters.

    You most likely won’t agree, but there is a marvelous line from a classic Christmas-themed movie I want to leave you and the readers with: You had a Wonderful Life (in comparison to millions who live in poverty, deprivation, homelessness, ill health, ignorance, conflict, confinement, and/or war, devoid of human touch or human compassion …loveless and truly helpless.)

    Peace to you and to your daughter. Happy holidays to all. In life there are things that we simply have to accept and to make peace with, if only because they are things we cannot change, no matter how we try.


  2. “If we can live the rest of our lives without our babies, who else or what else can we live without? Everyone and everything. The sacred has been breached.”

    This spoke to me in the most horrible yet comforting ways. I can’t even explain it because it feels so wrong…but it’s so true. Everything sacred is lost without her…I can love but everything feels…temporary. Breakable. I’d never considered it so blatantly before but now this truth is blinding me.

    Thank you for your heart.


  3. Reblogged this on FORBIDDEN FAMILY and commented:
    Here are the words of a mother-of-adoption-loss. Her grief compounds with each passing day, and year.

    It is important for the general public to realize that there is a MOTHER who grieves silently behind the scenes when you see a “happy” adopted child, a child who is so very “well-adjusted” that surely there can’t be anything wrong with adoption!

    If adoption is so wonderful, then why is society creating misery by separating mothers and their babies?


  4. “If we can live the rest of our lives without our babies, who else or what else can we live without? Everyone and everything. The sacred has been breached.”

    This is so true. How can we continue to be held to the “family is everything/foundational” when they tore our family apart and said it was nothing and we were nothing, not a mother?

    Our families and society still expect, if not demand, that we continue on as if all is well when they blew us and our little family, the continuation of family, to hell. They destroyed the very meaning of family, ‘the building block of society’. The sacred bond. mother and child.
    Gazelledz. How can you minimize a mother’s grief and mourning? Wrong just wrong. Sharing the aftermath of adoption IS important as maybe one day this world will stop such an awful practice that causes so much harm and suffering. Even though the grief is intensified part of the year does not mean we don’t have productive lives most of the time.

    It sounds like someone minimized your grieving. “self-pity party? really? Your reaction to this post says you have not ‘put it behind you’. The words you used sound cutting and cold. Not the words of someone who has understood grief and loss of a child. They sound like the words of someone who is sick and tired of watching/hearing another person grieve the hardest loss and having no patience with them. I don’t see how those can be your words. Are you stuffing your grief to ‘survive’ in a manner acceptable to those around you? I’m sad for all the losses in your life. The loss of your child. Your family. How hard a journey you have had.


  5. I had a thought this week. When “the church” talked to me about “what my baby deserved” – I thought it meant giving her a childhood as good as mine was. Well, what I had was:

    Married mom and dad
    Christian Faith
    Nice, middle-class economic status

    This is what “giving my child what you had” was boiled down to. Two decades later – and only a year out of the fog – I realized: my childhood was not even remotely a sum of the above three things. What an insult to my family to suggest that they were only good because they ticked some census boxes! My childhood was good because my family loved me. Because they encouraged me to be myself. Because they taught me to “stay in the ring” with each other when we had conflict. My childhood was good because I felt known and valued and loved and secure. Those things were not given a weight on the scale of “what baby deserves” – but that is exactly the world she deserves and because that is what was given to me – OF COURSE that’s what ONLY I could have given her! I was what she deserved. Instead, she got the three tickmarks above – and those parents came with a side of physical and mental abuse, shame, betrayal and a culture of lies. And I got labeled a brave hero for throwing her to the wolves.

    Had anyone asked me in the past 19 years to speak to what being a birthmother meant, and they have, I would answer almost verbatim the party line. It looked true! I was doing great since being a knocked up 16 year old! Look at me and my college degree! My good relationship with my family! My handsome husband! My beautiful 2 additional daughters! Everything really DID work out great. But I didn’t have all the information. A yearly letter with pictures of my lost daughter didn’t tell me of her anxiety and depression and self-harm. They didn’t tell me how I was hidden from her. How she hated me – or the idea of me – because she had no other information to base her judgement on. Now I know.

    I have a story to tell. Thank you for telling yours. Maybe we can save the next generation.


    1. I could have written your words verbatim. Except…I didn’t have a happy home even with the boxes checked. My home was one thing on the outside and another on the inside. These counselors, church leaders, whatever are just as guilty of materialism and narrow thinking as the next. My daughter was and still is deeply loved by me. I was a very capable mother, I just needed a little help at the time. What new mother doesn’t? Our society’s response is also very misogynistic in that way. We don’t even accept the realities of a mother’s biology and social needs.
      Thank you for your response and if you have a blog, I would love to read your thoughts.


      1. It is late evening on July 24th. I’m approaching the nadir (or is it the apex?) I feel like I have just been wrestling the “heartbrake hill” of my own “big suck”. I am held prisoner by it for about one third of the year too. It typically culminates with my 12:01AM happy birthday wish for my son via facebook then a respite through the winter until it starts up all over again in the spring. My son will turn 31, this year, surely the pain must lessen with time? Nope. This year has been especially difficult as I finally read my diary covering the first 5 years of my life without my newborn son; reliving the discovery, at his tender age of 10 months old, that he was living two streets away from me; and all that followed: the joy, the heartache, the reality. Viewed from the distance of so many years it hit me like a tidal wave.


      2. I understand your words so well. I am so sorry. The only comfort I find is speaking with other moms.


  6. I am so sorry that you have to go through that. I am an adoptee and my heart breaks for you. I have recently reunited with my mother and I only hope that reunion will help her to heal.


    1. Congratulations on reunion. (There are resources for navigating reunion in case things get bumpy) I wish you many happy years together!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s