From the very beginning my story is one born out of shame and when I'm unable to sift through the should ofs, could ofs and rational thoughts I let the shame become me. I am shame. I am the thing that was so terrifying and heartbreaking to a family that my mother was sent 1,500 miles away from her family home to live with her oldest brother while she carried and labored a baby without being seen and known. I was the thing that was never mentioned again when she returned home by her parents. Out of sight, out of mind? I kind of think it doesn't work that way.
Brene Brown, researcher on shame and vulnerability says shame is the fear of being unlovable. It is the opposite of owning our story and being worthy. She goes on to say:
The truth about shame is
1. We all have it
2. We are all afraid to talk about it
3. The less we talk about it, the more power it has
So let's talk about shame in adoption!
1 Secrecy. We need to know our truths and this includes our stories of where we came from, our medical history, any information you have. Fight with us for open adoption records because you love us and you believe this is a basic human right. Remember that there is no fear in love, so holding onto information out of fear of losing us is not love....it's ownership.
2. Listen. The biggest outcry I hear from my brothers and sisters fellow adoptees is that we don't feel heard. We hear " oh I'm sorry you had a bad experience" " the people I know were happy to be adopted" "you are lucky" " just be thankful you weren't aborted." It's mind boggling how someone who has never been in my shoes would tell me how I should feel.
3.The Church. Personally I have found myself really struggling with the message I was told my entire life. My mother always said it was God's plan and something about that made me a little upset with God. What if God's plan was for my biological family to not place shame so heavy on an emotional and distressed mother. What if it were God's plan for the family, and church to rally beside her and say we will care for this child.
Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
I have never adopted a child, so I won't even begin to be an expert here. I can only guess and use empathy that you too know shame in adoption. Please join in on the conversation because I'm certain you will do a better job at representing
1. Expectations: Will it be an instant attachment on both ends? Will my baby bond with me? Will I feel the same for my baby as I would a biological child? Will I be enough to meet my child's needs?
2. Ethical or unethical, adoptive parent or baby stealer? Just stroll the internet and you will find all extremes of adoption stories and beliefs of what is defined as acceptable and just plain evil in the adoption industry. The truth is you probably didn't steal a baby. You probably hurt deeply for the mother who gave you her heart, gave you her child. We know your heart, and intentions are good and of love- and that yes those evil things DO in fact happen, but it's not every adoptive parents story. That's why we have to advocate together.
3. So where are her real parents? Ever heard that one? Ever let the weight of that carry heavy on your heart? Listen! My parents were as real as they could get. They were there when I cried in the night, they kissed my boo boos, tucked me in at night, oh lord they put up with me during my hard, hard teenage years. Never forget your worth. Biology AND love make a family.
Once again I can only guess and piece together the bits of the story from my own birthmother, but we know you are touched by shame also.
1. Relinquishment. I can imagine that the decision to place is one that never leaves your mind. Whether you felt like you had zero options, no support, or felt at peace that it was the best choice for you and your child I'm sure the shame can feel lonely and defeating.
2. Labels: What kind of girl gets herself into this situation? Are all birthmothers drug users who would consider abortion had someone not rescued them? Please!!!!
3. Isolation: Many birthmothers like I mentioned above not only were shipped off to have a baby in secrecy, but they returned to never speak of the baby again. As I began reunion with my birthmother, and started building a relationship, I realized she had stuffed so many feelings and emotions that her wall was so high. The skeletons in her closet were suffocating her and she's having a hard time releasing their grip. What if the shame wasn't present and she was allowed to grieve?
I'm certain we can add to the lists here, as shame is interlaced between the triad of adoption. As Brene said above, the less we talk about it, the more power it has......and I am through giving power to the role shame has played in my adoption story.
Peace out shame. I'm writing a new story