Empty Cereal Box

Views From Inside an Adoptee

June 18, 2006


What I have to write today is harsh, but I need to write it. I place this as a disclaimer at the top so you can click out before reading if you choose.

Reading some recent posts written by Mom Seeking Peace, I discovered a corner of my mind that has been asleep in the dark, something I'd never considered before about my own feelings and about the crime that is adoption. She's been drawing comment about a profound question posed on Screams in the Dark:
If adoption is such a wonderful thing, which of your children would YOU like to give away to strangers ?
From an adoptee's point of view, I can say that that I would unquestionably rather have been raised by my natural mother and family than by strangers. Having a "nice" or "normal" home" isn't everything the machine pounds on young new mothers (mostly poor) about their babies. My "nice" adoptee home wasn't overtly abusive, but it was missing something crucial: the irreplaceable connection to my roots and my self. My center died, and that death will NEVER NEVER NEVER come back to life. It is a hollow nothing-ness that pervades every aspect of my life, that defines me to myself. Imagine losing your legs and arms. That would be life-wrenchingly agonizing. But so long as your blood family kept you as a person intact within its boundaries, you still have a solid core because you know where you came from. Natural moms also lose that irreplaceable connection to their baby. Something dies within them, too. It's a death for both mother and child.

Under the authority of the adoption machine, mother and child become objects used by the well-to-do to fill a void that will never be filled. The zero is multipled by three--1 barren woman (x) 1 new mother (x) 1 baby = 0. What affluent barren people don't ever seem to get is that you can't fill a void with a void. Yet adoption agencies are profiting nicely from the void they create with these manipulated objects--a vulnerable mother and a helpless baby.

Despite the "for the good of the child" pressure couched in guilt that bleeds all over the adoption agency sites, no adopted child is guaranteed a "nice, normal" home. (Peter is probably the poster boy for that truth.) There is just as much potential for abuse and neglect from an adopted family as from a natural family, so that "do what's best for the child" is a scam and blatant extortion. No authority can ever know the outcome of any child's experience.

How is it that a new mother is put in a position to override her powerful maternal feelings in favor of doing "what's best for the child"? I can answer that in three words : guilt and shame. She is immersed in those two emotions from all sides rather than getting the understanding and support that she needs. She is objectified with shame by being called a slut and by guilt by being told she'd make a bad mother. How many young women are strong enough to "just say no" to that? Society's guilt, shame, and denial are heaped on her and she becomes one of its numerous scapegoats.

The truth is that the adoption machine and the well off who use it must objectify vulnerable human beings so that they don't have to face the crime that they are committing. Isn't it the same mentality that allows for the torture of innocent people? Last week in the news the Whitehouse spokesman said that our military casualties are "just a number." Really? How about the times we go shopping and at the check out there's an exchange of goods for money when neither the cashier nor the customer exchange as much as a glance? Or the clearcutting of ancient forests and the damming of mighty rivers for profit? Such objectification is everywhere and it allows people not to see what's really going on, provides a thick shield against emotion, and causes a numbing down and a dumbing down so that the truth doesn't have to be wrestled.

By law corporations must make a profit for their shareholders, increasingly by any means possible. Baby trafficking has to do with getting babies by any means possible. Any similarities here? Could the problem have to do with mind-warping denial?

Not long ago I read a post on Saving Grace she called "Asshat Cafe." What she wrote about infuriated me. Apparently this sort of thing is an epidemic. N, our younger daughter, gave R money to buy movie tickets and dinner for him and me for Father's Day yesterday. We went to see An Inconvenient Truth, a critical must-see about the state of global warming (watching the polar bear unable to find ice and having to swim hundreds of miles before drowning wrenched my being into a knot) which sad to say, didn't even make it on the top ten box office sellers for the weekend. Movies like Cars and Nacho Libre still hyjack the national consciousness. Don't get me wrong. People have a right to watch whatever movies they please, but advertisers still back what they think people want to see and it all becomes an endless loop of empty entertainment.

Then, we walked across the street to a grill that caters to people who like light, healthy food where we planned to dine. Just when we arrived at the door, a couple who had been sitting at an outside table got up and left their table with a plate heaped with cubed chicken and pasta along with an entire fresh green salad. We watched them walk quickly away with guilty glances over their shoulders. Other people passing on the street slowed as they saw the table and commented, some jokingly, some incredulously. Still spinning from what I just saw on the movie screen, I felt as if I'd just witnessed a rape. The table person collected the plates and said, "Oh, they were arguing." Oh. Kay...So, since when did an argument keep you from asking for a take home container?

When R and I sat over our salads he nodded to me to turn around and look at a table behind me. Another guy had ordered a huge plate of something he had covered with a napkin and then abandoned it. Is the food there that bad, I had to wonder. Or is it a new sickness that's infecting the population? Order a heap of food, then leave it for someone to toss. Food is a commodity, a resource like trees, water, animals, the Earth itself--our right to exploit and if we choose to toss it, we can.

I sort of feel like a plate of tossed food myself. Someone ordered me, than realized they didn't really want me after all, but since they had me, they raised me through intolerable guilt, and visited that guilt on me. The thought of owning someone else's child wasn't the fairy tale it is claimed to be.


Anonymous sheri said...

Very very well written!

My husband said something when we were discussing how people today are so wasteful. He said people, at least Americans take food for granted, it's too easy to get.

It seems that works for babies as well. All over the world! Can't have your own baby? Just take someone else's. ....

Blogger Joy said...

Hey Marie,
I left a long comment on this, did it was into the ether?

Just wondering if you got it, Joy

Blogger Marie Jarrell said...

Sheri-You really got what I was trying to say here. Adoption is just one symptom of a much, much bigger illness. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Joy- Oh no! I don't have your comment (at least I don't think so). I hate when that happens. I really should make my settings send me an email to back up peoples' comments. Could you somehow rewrite it? I'd love to read it.

Blogger Joy said...

I have to start rereading what I type, I am so careless!

Well originally I said something to the effect that I think child abuse is much more likely in the adoptive home, because of the lack of physical bond, and that on some level the adoptee experiences a second rejection from the adoptive family, whether it is subtle or overt, when the realization is there, that you (the adoptee) will never be more than an "as if" child, as if we gave birth to you.

It is funny rereading your entry, what stuck out at me this time was the name Peter, my adoptive brother's name, Peter has been one of those adoptee's that carries the party line, and what a price he pays, he is so disconnected from himself, his relationships, and while touting the wonderous nature of our adoptive family so MIA in it. You know I have been the one with the big mouth, but I have also been the one that remembers to show up.

It's like the world is so balanced, when you protect yourself from you scary feelings, you protect yourself from you safe ones too.

Oh and I hope your daughter is having a wonderful time in Guatamala.


Blogger Marie Jarrell said...

Joy-Thanks for trying again! And I think it's the "as if" part of being an adoptee that's the most insidious of all abuse because it's like constant background noise or a life-long, low-grade fever. Subtle and slow and ever-present, it wears away at the stump of what's left of you.

There are so many people who "carry the party line" like your poor brother, who are so disconnected to themselves, anything better than to face an explosion of reality in their heads. Too many adoptees drank the cool-aid.

Thank you for your good thought for my daughter. When I talk with her, she sounds really happy in Guatemala. She's posted some wonderful photos on her site (http://khamillemobile.blogspot.com)to give some idea of what it's like down there.

Blogger Joy said...

Yes, did you ever read "unattended sorrow" by Stephen Levine?
From the flap:
"it is like a low-grade fever; it troubles our sleep and drains away our days; it scatters intuition and creates and underlying anxiety; it sours the eye and ear and leaves a distate in the mouth; it's the vague uncertainty that permeates every thought before every action it's the heart working as hard as it can"

It's really good, I read it before I decided to revisit my issues...

Blogger Marie Jarrell said...

Joy-That quote says it all. Is that a book? Is it on adoption issues? Gotta go find it and read it.

Blogger Joy said...

Yes, it is a book about dealing with loss, not specific, I believe it was originally meant for 9/11 survivors.

He writes a lot about dying and grief.

He is really insightful and on my good days, helpful

Blogger suz said...

superb post Marie. Awesome. I agree completely.

Blogger Third Mom said...

I want to thank you for writing so honestly. It's not easy to look at adoption through the eyes of those who have been hurt so badly by it - no one wants to believe that something they thought was good, was help a child and a mother could have in fact caused so much pain. For what it is worth coming from an adoptive mom - I'm trying hard to understand, and to act accordingly.

Blogger momseekingpeace said...

Hi Marie,

You know I hate that quote and like it at the same time, It sounds so distasteful and yet it's true. People think it's a great idea until you tell them to give up one of thier own.

The way you described yourself is alot like how I felt, that book quote was so right on. I wonder if the feeling is the same for mothers and babies who are seperated.

Blogger Umbilicly Challenged said...


I understand fully what you mean about disconnected people and it is so frustrating to deal with them because between the lines you can really see where they are at, they just don't want to admit this to themselves because the safe little world they have built for themselves would come crashing down around them. The only way they keep from losing it (as you and I do) is to extoll the "virtues" of this horrible thing that happened to us at the very beginning of our lives. I can see the purpose, it shields them from the pain. However, they are the ones who "feed" the machine, too. Not as sinisterly as the brokers, but I'll be damned if they don't dump a few full plates of unwanted food down its gullet.

Blogger Umbilicly Challenged said...

What affluent barren people don't ever seem to get is that you can't fill a void with a void.

So true. Adoption, surrogacy, egg and sperm donation does NOT cure infertility, but it is touted as such by the machine. No wonder my mum was so disappointed with me. I wasn't "hers" just like everyone promised I would be.

Blogger Marie Jarrell said...

Suz- Thanks for stopping in again and for your comment.

Third Mom- I wish all adoptive parents would "try to understand and act accordingly" like you do. I so appreciate your reading and commenting. In a perfect world, all people who turn to adoption would have your attitude and since the pressure to relinquish would disappear, so would the machine because where's the consumers and profit?

Momseekingpeace-Thanks for stopping in. I wonder if the feeling is the same for mothers and babies who are seperated. Absoluteletively!

Umbilicly Challenged-You nailed it. Keep on ranting sweetie.


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