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Posts Tagged ‘birth mother’


I’ve been reading both “The Primal Wound” and “The Girls Who Went Away”.  I’ve also been talking to adoptees and birth mothers from around the world since starting this blog.  It’s amazing how one thing leads to another, to another, isn’t it?

One of the topics we were discussing on a Facebook group I belong to was memory – Is it possible to remember being born?  Is it possible to remember the first months of your life?  You would think not at first, but could it be possible?  Here is a link that was posted to an article discussing this:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,,-2899,00.html

I was visiting my parents today and asked them for more details about myself as a baby.  Something my mom told me stopped me in my tracks.  When I was very small – maybe 5 – we had a conversation where I told  her “my mother has black hair” (and my birth mother did).   Isn’t that odd?   I feel as if there’s “something” buried in my memory.  I don’t know what that something is, but the feeling is getting stronger.

“The Primal Wound” discusses the repercussions of a child being taken from their mother.  It got me thinking.  Birth mothers went through horrors of which most of us can’t fathom – and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives.  Adoptees suffered trauma by being taken from their mothers, but they, of course don’t remember their birth and relinquishment.  But it’s got to be buried in there somewhere – doesn’t it?

Our adoptee group discussed hypnotism – would it be possible to access these memories?   What would happen if we did?

I have lots of other questions.  What was it like being a baby living at St. Joseph’s?  Who took care of us?  I’ve contacted St. Joseph’s to find out more.  I will be blogging about these questions and more in days to come.

 

 

 

P.S.

It annoys the crap out of me that everywhere you type in the word “adoptee” it’s unrecognized as a word.  Type adoptee and it’s underlined in red.

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I haven’t talked to Jeanne in 13 years.  Life went on.  Nicole is 16 now, and I have a wonderful husband and life.  Yet – I’ve felt something missing, and I’ve never attributed it to being adopted.  Being adopted was just something I was – like being female, or being funny. 

Writing this blog has seemed to open things up for me that I’ve never considered.  It’s made me think more about the circumstances surrounding my being and it’s making me realize that all might not be as it seems.  Maybe there’s something to the “primal” theory – that a person is irrevocably changed when removed from their mother.  That a mother is irrevocably changed when forced to give up their child. 

Being a mother myself, I cannot begin to imagine how my life would have been ripped apart if my daughter was taken from me at birth.  How could a person ever recover from that? 

Women – especially women “back then” – didn’t even get to talk to anyone about their pregnancy – they were shamed and sent into hiding.  Who could they talk to about their feelings?  My birth mother, like many – was “sent away” – as a young girl – to experience pregnancy on her own, and forced to “behave” by not even crying.  They went through one of life’s most changing experiences – alone, and then were expected to just go home and get on with living. 

There is a book called “The Girls Who Went Away – The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children in the Decades Before Roe vs Wade”.  I intend to read it. 

I believe now that something that happened to you at birth, of which of course you have no memory of, can have effects of which you won’t understand – unless you try to understand – if that makes sense.

I have been having conversations with my sister – Jeanne’s daughter, which has made me realize that Jeanne never recovered from her experience as a young woman.  I don’t think Jeanne realizes it herself.  I will talk about these conversations with my sister in another post.

Maybe, in trying to understand Jeanne – I am trying to understand myself.

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We came back from Michigan, and now we would discover what our “settling in” period would be like. There is a “honeymoon” phase that you read about with adoption reunions, and I think Jeanne’s trip to Scranton and our trip to Michigan were a part of that phase. There’s so much excitement in the beginning, and uncertainty, and emotions – it’s all sort of a whirlwind.

We lived far away, and this was before the internet really took off. So, we talked on the phone. We exchanged gifts for holidays, birthdays, etc.

I came back from Michigan armed with (finally) what my family medical history was. I wanted to become pregnant, and I knew now that I (and my then-husband) would have to get genetic testing. I won’t say why – maybe I will in future postings, (I’d have to find out if it is okay) – but not now.

Luckily, everything turned out okay, and I was able to go ahead and try to become pregnant. It was a long road – so it seemed at the time, and after 10 months of trying, I was thrilled to find out I was finally pregnant.

I don’t recall a lot of phone conversations with Jeanne at this time. I was, of course wrapped up in my life, and being pregnant.

I think it was then that I noticed that Jeanne was a little – “off”? For lack of a better word. She seemed very self-absorbed in this phase of our relationship, and that seemingly self-absorption would only increase as time went on. Things were very superficial, and I didn’t understand why. I was learning a bit more of her own family dynamics, and I remember at the time, being grateful for being in the family that I was in.

My birth mother didn’t seem “connected” – with me, or my pregnancy. This seemed surprising to me. And, as time went on and my delivery date drew near, this surprise would only deepen.

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Jeanne and I first met in Scranton, as I have written earlier.  Our first meeting went quite well.  My parents were sweet and welcoming to her.  My mom always said she felt thankful towards Jeanne, and she gave her a special gift.  We all got together several times, Jeanne met my family – my brother, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Jeanne and I exchanged gifts.  She also brought me a photo album of her past and her family.  She brought me a pin that was her mother’s.  Things went as well as anyone could  have hoped for. 

I then travelled to Michigan to meet Jeanne’s family.  Her husband, son and daughter as well as her brother – my Uncle Leon. 

Michigan was great – as was meeting everyone.  Jeanne loved cats and had two beauties :).  My brother and sister, Tracy and Todd and I hit it off.  Everyone was so nice!   

Here are a few photos from our trip –

Meeting Tracy and Todd for the first time 🙂

Tracy, Jeanne, Me, Ray, Uncle Leon, Todd and Jack

Jeanne and Uncle Leon had also arranged for me to meet my birth father, Charlie during this trip.  We would meet the next day at a local restaurant.  Time to get nervous again!  I had no idea who, or what to expect.  As a woman, you can sort of relate better to what your birth mother went through.  I had no clue whatsoever how Charlie was feeling about all of this, but he HAD agreed to meet me – so that was a good thing – right?
 
 
 
 
 

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re·linquish·ment n.

    Synonyms: relinquish, yield, resign, abandon, surrender, cede, waive, renounce
    These verbs mean letting something go or giving something up. Relinquish, the least specific, may connote regret: can’t relinquish the idea.
    Yield implies giving way, as to pressure, often in the hope that such action will be temporary: had to yield ground.
    Resign suggests formal relinquishing, or acquiescence arising from hopelessness. Abandon and surrender both imply no expectation of recovering what is given up; surrender also implies the operation of compulsion or force: abandoned all hope for a resolution.

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Two weeks after giving birth, Jeanne had no choice but to surrender all hope, and it was decided that I would be relinquished to St. Joseph’s.

She went back to Michigan with her mother, and life went on. I don’t know, nor can I imagine her heartache.

I was in St. Joseph’s from October, until December 22nd. Which is where my story began. I was adopted by my wonderful parents. Merry Christmas Mary Christine! They had applied for adoption in August, and surprisingly, they got their baby four months later.

I have pictures of the day I was adopted – red-haired baby bundled up in my grandmother’s laundry basket, where we were visiting. I will look for them, and post them here. I will also post pictures that pertain to individual parts of this story:)

Jeanne and I parted ways in early October of that year, and we wouldn’t meet again until 31 years later….

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Jeanne had avoided going back to St. Joseph’s. She gave birth to me at a hospital in Scranton. After a few days, she and her mother and I went back to their apartment in Clarks Summit. It was still her hope that somehow, she’d be able to keep me.

She had me baptized at a beautiful church in Clarks Summit – “Our Lady of Snows”. The gown I was christened in is the gown she would keep for 31 years. The gown she gave me when we met. It was the gown I had my beautiful daughter, Nicole christened in.

She had named me too – Veronica! (I will say, I’m happy my name didn’t stay Veronica! lol)

Jeanne kept me for two weeks – all the while hoping that she’d somehow be saved. Hoping that my birth father would come through. She knew her time was up and decisions would have to be made.

One day, Jeanne was holding me and was going downstairs. I guess an argument with her mother ensued, and her mother pushed her on the steps while she was holding me. I can’t imagine what she must have been going through all these months, feeling trapped, hoping she wasn’t in this alone.

But she realized she was. She was a 19 year old girl, with a baby and no support system. Her mother apparently wasn’t the answer. My birth father wasn’t going to come through.

With that push on the stairs, Jeanne knew it was over.

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Jeanne was left with no alternative but to tell her mother. I don’t know much about that conversation, but I do know Jeanne was “sent away”. From Michigan to St. Joseph’s in Scranton, PA. The “home for unwed mothers”.

We drove to St. Joseph’s together and sat and talked. It looks so institutional there.

She described a desolate place filled with unhappy girls and strict nuns. You could go out for a walk – if you were “good”. Being good meant that you sucked it up and didn’t CRY or show emotion. Very Christian place. So, you’d cry at night after the lights went out, and hoped that you weren’t caught “being bad”.

Jeanne begged her mother to get out of there. She couldn’t come home, but her mother agreed to come to Scranton. They got an apartment together in Clarks Summit. This is where she waited out the rest of her pregnancy.

In the meantime, she held out hope that my birth father would somehow come to her rescue – you know – “do the right thing”. I believe his parents were supportive of her, and I imagine, but am not sure, that they would have encouraged him to step up. She told me they were extremely nice people. So, she held her breath, and waited.

I was born on September 15th.

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