In the summer of 2007, I adopted-back the son who was stolen at birth for adoption from me when I was 17.
I say ’stolen’ because the coercion that was used on me left me with no choice at all but to surrender him — it is not a “choice” or a “decision” if there is only one viable option given or allowed. To say i “placed” him denies the reality that keeping him was NOT an option I was given and thus there was NO choice. I loved him, I wanted to keep him, and i never wanted to lose him. I was NOT unfit! But unwed mothers where i lived, in 1980, had babies removed at birth by hospital staff if they were unwed minors with no family support for keeping their babies (I have plenty of testimony from other mothers that it was done to them as well). It was truly a form of rape — just as traumatic. This was not a “child protection” action, it was outright abduction and was illegal.
Looking back, I felt so powerless at the time, so much without choice, that I had no way of fighting what they were doing to me. Plus I was entirely naive. I had no idea that nurses taking and withholding my baby from me was not what was done to all mothers. It was only when I “woke up” from the medicine-induced fog I was in, several days later, that I realized they had not brought my baby to me, and that this was not right. I was allowed to see him (but not touch) for about 5 minutes, under the gaze of hawk-like nurses (but I found out much later that they then moved him to another hospital to prevent me from finding him — he told me he had been picked up from the Jubilee, when I had given birth in St. Joseph’s). And I now now first-hand that only when a mother has given birth, has fully recovered from birth without her baby being taken from her or coercion being applied, can she make any decision about adoption.
My 62-yr-old Fundamentalist parents made it clear that they considered it rightful punishment for the sin of fornication, and the social worker had a waiting list of clients she was under pressure to provide babies for — i was forced to sign papers in her office under blackmail that unless i did, my baby would be indefinitely held in foster care. I was not told about welfare or any other resources and my abusive parents (they would use the belt on me if i so much as “talked back” to them) made it clear that i was not allowed to bring my baby home.
After 19 years of searching, i found my son again, and we hugged for the first time one day before his 20th birthday. It was the first time I was allowed to touch him.
His adoptive parents first told him that they supported our reunion — but he found out as time went on that their view was that “reunion” meant a one-time or limited-time event, that his curiosity would be satisfied and he would say “thanks and bye” to me. Their attempts to control him, to force him to end contact with me, escalated into abuse — culminating in 4 hours of confinement and torture (his words) one night when he was 21 yrs old. He eventually left their house one New Years Day on the advice of the Victim Services units of two police departments.
We began talking about me adopting him back. After several years of discussion, after the complete breakdown and ending of the relationship between him and the people who raised him, we decided to go ahead with it.
So we did it. And we have not looked back. It is a dream come true for both of us.
Reunion can go places beyond what one first expects. It can restore a family which has been involuntarily torn apart.
But separated families reuniting again shows that the bond between mother and child can endure past the worst of separations. And it also proves that anyone who is promised by an agency or other adoption business that adopting an infant will provide them with a “life-time guarantee” of “a child of their own” should sue their broker for making false promises. No-one can make promises on behalf of another human being, especially an infant who cannot speak for themselves.
But the best thing of all is that we are back together again, and both of us have reclaimed what was taken from us