Paneled

On Saturday, I spoke as part of a birthmother panel that I mentioned on the blog briefly and some time ago. There were four of us: one woman who relinquished 52 years ago and has no contact with her daughter; one woman who placed a son as a teenager 25 years ago and is now working through a pretty rocky reunion; one who placed a son in what she thought was an open adoption 12 years ago (it was closed by the adoptive parents for apparently no good reason); and me. I was the only one who didn’t cry, although my voice did start to shake when I talked about Eric Clapton (yes, I am the weirdo). The audience was made up mostly of adoptive and prospective adoptive parents, although there were some adoptees and a couple of birthmothers present. There was only one hostile question, and I don’t think it was intended to be mean—that and a few other questions asked by adoptees felt a bit awkward because I heard them as asking questions they really wanted to ask their own birthmothers. Like “How often do you think about your placed child?” I think she got the answer she wanted: Every day. Even the woman who relinquished better than fifty years ago said it immediately: Every day.

After the question and answer period, a number of adoptive parents came up and thanked me—more than talked to the other women, I assume because I’m the only one talking about open adoption, and also, honestly, because I’m the only one who had anything nice to say about the adoptive parents. I did mention that I regret the adoption, but I don’t blame Ruth and Nora for that. I also got the only laugh: someone asked why birthmothers walk away from open adoptions, and I talked about how hard it is, and how it is advertised as easier, and then you start and it’s complicated and sometimes awful. I used as an example how complicated gifts can be, and talked about the car, and worrying about being the heterosexual people giving the heterosexual present—and I got a round of laughter. Somewhat surprising. I really hope it was helpful to some people, and some told me that it was, so mission accomplished, I guess.

Later that night, the Mister and I watched one of those goofy History Channel specials on how aliens built the pyramids et alii. He wants to believe but can’t, because these “expects” just make the most ridiculous leaps of logic—I just flatly don’t believe in aliens, and I get really frustrated (in an entertaining way) by the people on these shows. At one point, one expert explained that people would not have built these structures without help because it is hard, and people don’t choose to do hard things; he later explained that while it was technically possible for ancient peoples to have built whatever structure he was ranting about, it would have taken a great deal of effort and years of experience. A function of my mood: I started seeing this as an analogy for open adoption. Yes, it’s hard, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen, or that it only happens with bizarro, extraordinary circumstances—it just takes a lot of effort and benefits from years of experience.