Friday, June 03, 2005

Thank you for Giving Me Life

This is the letter I put on file at the agency, in case my birth-parents ever came looking for me:

Dear Wonderful People,

I want to thank you so much for giving me life. So far I have had an incredibly wonderful life thanks to your deep love and unselfishness. There is so much I want to tell you--but it all boils down to THANK YOU--because I have truly been blessed.

I supposed I should start at the beginning. After I was born I was sent to several doctors because I had a birth defect in my neck and they were trying to figure out what could be done. Then--on a hot summer day--my parents came to get me. I became part of a caring, loving family. My parents were able to massage my neck back to normal. We discovered in my pre-school years that I also had a severe hearing loss in one ear, probably connected to the other defect. The doctors operated when I was five, but my hearing is still the same. To me -- it’s normal.

I remember a childhood filled with beautiful memories. I am a middle child and I love my siblings very much. I have always been very outgoing and got involved in everything. I loved camp in the summers and I have always been interested in animals and nature. All this time I knew I was adopted. I knew ever since I can remember. And it’s a very neat thing. I don’t look at it as someone didn’t want me -- In fact, I know that someone loved me so much that they wanted me to have a better life than they could give me. I also recognize what a fantastic thing it is that my parents wanted me so much that they went through several interviews and a year of waiting to get me.

Yes. I wonder what you look like. Yes. I wonder if I have other siblings out there. Yes. I wonder what you’re like and the circumstances in which you had to give me up. But to be honest, I don’t think I ever want to meet you. You have gotten on with your life and I have gotten on with mine. I must admit, I have fantasies about what you’re like--and you probably feel the same--but I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for reality--sometimes it doesn’t work out like our fantasies.

I do want you to know that I think about you often. I devote part of my birthday to thinking about you, because I know you’re thinking about me, and somehow I feel connected to you. I am now happily married to a wonderful man and I look forward to having children someday. Who knows? Maybe we’ll adopt!

Please let us know if there are any medical concerns that we should know about now or in the future. I thank God you made the right "choice," because as far as I’m concerned, there is no other choice. I’m proof. Thank you very much, I’ll always love you for this great gift of life with such a wonderful family.

Love, Me
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A year later my biological father sought me out. I kept my identity a secret, using the adoption agency as a go-between.
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Note: The first 11 comments below (through 8/16) were in response to a previous post called "No Reunions Please," which was about why, in general, I didn't want to reunite with my biological parents (Pandora's Box).

20 comments:

Karen said...

Parker-
Our daughter will be adopted from a China orphanage, so we will not even have that option open to her. She will enevitably go through similar thoughts someday though, I'm sure.
My son is 21 yrs old now, but his father never wanted to know much about him. He was not adopted, but he went through the same type of musing about his father.
Thank you for sharing your perspective.

Anonymous said...

i am a birthmother. they call me that because they want to make me feel like alls im good for is breeding. well i am a natural mother. i love my baby very much. i have her name tattooed on my neck. the name i would of given her. i am insulted that the people who have MY child dont celebrate her birthday. thats the day you were born. that day wasnt given to you by your adoptive parents. your natural mother obviously loved you. agencies prey on us to to breed them children so that they can have money. when i look back on it i feel scared that my daughter will feel like you. my daughter has to meet me or i will die inside. thats a piece of me. she has my blood. she has my instinct. i think you are making a mistake by not wanting to know your NATURAL parents

Parker said...

I don't know about your child's situation, but I do know that we always celebrated my birthday, and my parents often made time to point out how grateful they are to the people who gave me life.

My biological mother did love me, and I'm sure that she still does. As you read upcoming posts, or the book, you'll discover that perhaps my instincts are correct. I have a strong suspicion that she has moved on with her life, gotten married, and maybe even had kids. But perhaps she has never been able to tell anyone about me. Far be it from me to upset her world. If she wants to come searching for me, she knows how to find me through the agency. I won't say unequivocally that I'd never meet her, but I'd want to be comfortable that she understands my point of view. The people who raised me are my mom and dad. Nobody can ever take their place. The people who gave me life are also special people, and nobody can ever take their place.

I'm sorry that you're hurting. To say "my daughter has to meet me or I will die inside" puts an enormous amount of pressure on your daughter--pressure that could actually scare her away. I hope that you can find happiness in your life now, and if it's meant to be, you'll have a positive reunion with your daughter.

I pray that God will bless you, and help you find some peace.

Anonymous said...

As an adoptee, I have always wondered why "birth" mothers claim that thier children were stolen, and that they had no say, no voice. Do they really think that they could have raised thier children on thier own, and really given them everything they needed. I know so many "birth" moms who kept their children, who did such a crappy job, the system should have stepped in. And as for "reunions" where the hell did they think we were all these years? Camp? europe? Leave well enough alone already, what was done was in everyone's best interest. Medical Info? yes. A relationship? Be careful

Anonymous said...

I gave my son for adoption when I was 20 in 1973. Over the years, I looked for him in every baby's face, every little league player, each time a young man stood behind me in line. I began posting on the internet in 1994 when he turned 21. It was not my intention to actively search for him, but to allow him to find me if he chose to search. I knew what I was doing when I let him go and I accept responsibility for the decision I made. In 2003, his mother gave him the adoption documents and he found me. I never changed my name (though I married), my phone number has always been listed. In case I was not alive when he came looking, my other children have known about him their entire lives, we celebrated his birth every year, I have kept a journal for many years in the hopes he would one day read it. We have waited almost 2 years, though he would have liked to meet sooner, because I told him I could not stand to meet him as a stranger, and now he is not a stranger. Yet, the decision is his and the final thing I can do for him is tell him the circumstances of his birth and fill in the blanks. This is not about me and my needs, but about the child who is now a man and a father. Now, he is coming to meet me, the "real" mother, and I will give him his sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmother, cousins, just like I told him where he could find his father, whom I kept track of (from a distance)because I knew he would ask. It is his need that must be considered, not mine. I began this 32 years ago and I will not walk away until he is satisfied and his questions are answered. I have waited so long and on Columbus Day weekend, please think of us, because he is coming.

Parker said...

Thank you for your beautiful note. Your writing reflects a caring person with a good head on her shoulders. I will definitely keep you in mind as the Columbus Day weekend draws near. If you're open to it, I'd love to hear back from you after you two have met in person. I'm sure it will be wonderful! Good luck! :)

Anonymous said...

In response to "anonymous" who cannot understand why "birth" mothers claim that their children were stolen, or that they had no voice: Because, sadly, that is how it was handled and what happened. Mothers were coerced, medicated, and lied to.

Thirty years ago, I was 18, pregnant, unwed, and my parents had thought that adoption was the "right thing to do". They have deeply regretted listening to the social worker and ignoring my desire to parent my daughter. I was certainly willing and capable of parenting my daughter and giving her all she needed in life. She is in my thoughts and prayers daily. She is my child.

Yes she has her family, and they will always be her family, and I have always been and will always be her mother. And if someday I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet my daugher, I will be most thankful and truly blessed.

Parker said...

To the most recent "Anonymous" response. Thank you for your post. I had honestly not heard much on the matter, so I did a little research.

I think most of us know that 30-40 years ago it was much less socially acceptable than it is today to be an unwed mother. However, I'm betting that there are a large percentage of people who aren't aware of this idea that mothers were coerced into giving their children up for adoption beyond the normal pressure from society and family.

Here are some interesting links I found on the matter (I'm in no way endorsing any of these sites or books, but simply passing the information on):

From Adoption.com, one of the most significant statistics that might support the above post is this:

Of White women with premarital births,
From 1952 to 1972, 19.3% placed their children for adoption.
From 1973 to 1981, this percentage fell to 7.6%.
From 1982 to 1988, it fell further to 3.2%. (Bachrach, Stolley, London, 1992) See http://statistics.adoption.com/information/adoption-statistics-placing-children.html for more.

Another statistic that may support this, but unfortunately doesn't go into detail:

For a variety of societal and economic reasons, there have been dramatic fluctuations in the annual number of adoptions. For instance, adoptions skyrocketed from a low of 50,000 in 1944 to a high of 175,000 in 1970 (see http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/FactOverview.html)

This website speaks specifically to what was posted above: http://www.originsusa.org/. I found some of the information to be overstated. Certainly not ALL children who were relinquished for adoption during that time period were products of coercion.

At the end of the day, it does appear that there was a spike in adoptions 30 some years ago. Whether it was societal pressures, people trying to "do the right thing," or something more sinister, it probably varies with each situation. Also note, that Roe V Wade was decided 1973, about the same time that this spike of available adoptable children subsided. So did society "wise up" and stop coercing unwed mothers into adoption, or did the unwed mothers take the abortion route instead?

Thankfully, as a whole, our society seems to be smarter and more accepting than it was 30 years ago, and hopefully things will only continue to improve, as I think we still have a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

In 1973 when I gave my son for adoption, I knew exactly what I was doing. I was 20 years old, contacted Planned Parenthood for information on adoption myself and made the decision for myself. It was a defining moment in my life which has contributed to making me the person I am - strong. I am accountable for my actions and, while others gave me their opinions, I was in no wise coerced or pressured. The decision I made was for the good of the child and for my personal good. Yes, some of us were unduly pressured to "get rid of the problem", and the ramifications of this pressure continue to fracture families and leave mothers bitter and broken by the process, yet we can hold on to the fact that somewhere out there is a living, breathing person. The number of children available for adoption dropped dramatically after the intro of Roe v Wade. Those children who might have been taken in adoption were disposed of in other ways. For them there is no hope of reunion. Yet, women must have the right to govern their own fates and make their own choices. Each of us must reconcile ourselves with the choice we made.

Anonymous said...

In response to 08/02/05 anonymous: How very fortunate that you had the choice to make. Many single mothers were not given any choices--only one option--adoption. Their babies were taken simply because they were pregnant and unmarried. Society must be made aware that this happened and continues to happen; today's coercion is clearly evident in adoption propoganda.

mamalizz said...

My husband and I adopted my 10 year old grandaughter when she was three years old, although we cared for her off and on (mostly on)since her birth.We encourage and facilitate her relationship with my daughter who is 31 now.She doesn't see her biological father much, mostly by his choice.
However, I would never advocate open adoption in other circumstances. Frankly, I find the animosity of biological parents toweards adoptive parents shocking and so unfair I feel like crying. My husband and I are in our 50's now and we have devoted our lives to caring for my granddaughter/daughter. We love her dearly, and we deserve to be her parents. Her biological mother and father haven't gotten up with her at night when she's sick or when she has a nightmare, they haven't helped her with her homework, or cared about her mdeical needs. They don't even know her favorite color. Why on earth do I have to feel guilty for wanting the role of parent when I've done all the work and consequently love my child the most? It is the daily physical and spiritual tasks that form a family. Biological parents are living in an irresponsible dream world. And for the record? No one could ever make me give up my child. That is nonsense. Believe me, people tried with my older daughter.

Dan said...

I think that too little credit is given to parents who are in a situation where they realize that they can not care for a child and decide to let the child be adopted. That selfless decision goes against every message that society gives to people. Any encouragement that these people get is good.

Tricia said...

I have never talked to anyone that has such a similar train of thought as me. I am one of six adopted children, I was 3 weeks old and my siblings ages at adoption range from 2 weeks 9 years old. The anonymous method of communicating with your biological father is a great idea. I too have written some poetry but I'm no professional!! I look forward to reading your book. Best of luck to you, you are in my prayers.
Tricia

Anonymous said...

In response to mamalizz: "And for the record? No one could ever make me give up my child. That is nonsense" Perhaps if you were 17, unmarried, sometime during the 1950s, 1960s, early 1970s, your experience and opinion may have been different. Society, in general, was not so accepting of unwed/single mothers, and social work manuals and training encouraged that "giving your child up for adoption was the BEST thing to do for your child". Mothers were lied to, medicated, shamed, and coerced by tactics them any merit to parent their children. I grew up in a middle-class Catholic family, and when I was pregnant at 17, I had no one supporting my desire to parent my child. This just was not how it was handled by Catholic Family Service and social workers during this era. My parents are now ashamed that they did not support me as a parent. By support, I don't mean financial support--I mean the encouragement, guidance, and understanding that parents provide their children.

Anonymous said...

I was 18. My parents tried to force me to give my child up for adoption. They even offered that they would adopt the child. I refused. They threw me out of the house when I was pregnant (like I'd EVER give my child to someone who does THAT to their child!). Talk about pressure. And yet, I did not give in. I forced myself to grow up quickly. For a while I lived with friends. I accepted charity. I used to be in a middle-class family that gave to "Santa Anonymous" every year. I later became a recipient of "Santa Anonymous." I was thrilled just to have a new winter coat, and some things for my baby.

So people did try to force me to give her up. But I didn't. I kept her. It was a huge struggle, but she has grown into a fine young woman.

Anonymous said...

To most recent anonymous: I wish that I would have had the personal strength and courage to stand up for my daughter and myself, but I did not. And I am so glad to hear of mom's who did. I hate what adoption has done in my life and my family.

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like alot of unresolved anger and a rejecting of the people who you feel rejected you.

I will not meet them, I had a good life Thank you very much, seems to be trying to convince someone, make it right somehow.

If your mom is like most who lost kids to adoption, I doubt very much she has gone on with her life, yeah maybe from outside appearances, you kinda have to, but I would be willing to bet there is a part of her that has never moved on.

Parker said...

Interesting analysis. If anything... at the time I wrote that letter... it was more of a feeling of PROTECTING... a need to protect my parents... the ones who raised me and held me at 2 am when I was sick.

I was also protecting myself from the complications of a reunion. As you get to know me through the book, you'll understand why I felt the need for protection.

Just wait until the book unfolds. The letter you referenced was just the beginning... a lot more has revealed itself over time. Hopefully after you read the book, you will see that there is absolutely no anger here. Nor is there a rejection.

Anonymous said...

I am 44 and am adopted and I have known this all my life. 15 years ago I found my biological brother, 4 months ago I found my biological father. My brother and I are always there for each other. My father, he and I have very quickly became close, we are so much alike that it is sometimes scary.
To my adoptive family, I will always love them and they will always be my family, now I have two families that care about me deeply. I love it!

Anonymous said...

Why does this subject bring up such anger on both sides? I am a birth mother, to a 16 year old son. Due to strange circumstances(this is not an open adoption), I have had knowledge of his whereabouts most of his life, including now. In fact, he attends school with one of my other children, and yes they know about each other and are friends and talk all the time. My son and I have even talked online quite often. Obviously, he was curious about why he was placed for adoption and about where he comes from. But as for the question of one day meeting each other...that is HIS choice to make; and I let him know that. Of course I would love to one day meet him, but I realize that he has his own life and he has his own family. He has a family that gave him the kind of life that I could not give him at the time of his birth. How can I be angry about that? I'm not. Although I've missed out on all the special moments in his life and will miss out on many more; I know in my heart I did what was best for him. And that's what it's all about...the child. If he ever chooses to meet me I will welcome him with open arms. If he never chooses to meet me, I will respect his wishes. I made the decision that I had to all those years ago and he will have to make his own decision about ever meeting me. Either way, he will always be in my heart and have all of my love. His will being is what is important.