In a recent Elle online article entitled “I’m Not What’s Best for My Baby,”* a relinquishing mother tells her story. There’s plenty of tragedy in this story, but here’s what caught my attention:
Julia had chosen a couple to adopt the baby, and the wife was there—she cut the cord.
On FB’s Adoption Network, a post asks whether or not first mothers allowed adoptive parents in the delivery room. Ten of the affirmative answers mentioned an a’parent not only being in the delivery room, but cutting the umbilical cord. In nine of these, the cut was made by the adoptive mother (the other was performed by the a’father).
And that shit gets on an urchin’s spines, hard. Because it’s coercive and it’s mean.
I’m being silly, right? Surely a’moms just want “their birth experience” to be just like a natural one despite the fact that it is not and never can be? Isn’t that screwed-up enough without my having to speculate about ulterior motives?
Nope. My evidence?
No natural mother cuts her own cord in the delivery room, so letting the a’mom do it doesn’t “replicate the natural birth experience” at all.
It’s a blatant, symbolic act of ownership, a cutting away of that inconvenient first mother you wish had never been necessary.What do we mean when we say “cut the cord”? The Free Dictionary says it means, idiomatically (i.e., symbolically),1) to stop needing someone else to look after you and start acting independently
2) to end support of someone or something, esp. financial support
So in adoption, cutting the cord is
1) cutting away the mother you no longer need to look after “your” baby and
2) not having to pay any more of her expenses.
Cutting the cord is taking ownership when no adoption has been finalized. It is a symbolic and celebratory act performed in order to insure future ownership of the new baby. It’s just one more coercive thing, like calling pregnant women “birth mothers” months before they’ve given birth, let alone relinquished.
Speaking of which–once in awhile I hear some fool who believes I’m a bigger fool insist the term isn’t coercive because “It just means the woman who gave birth to you. I call my mother my birth mother and I’m not adopted.”
No you don’t.
No. You don’t. You fucking well do not, and if you did and your mother were in earshot, she’d be within her rights to smack your ungrateful little chops. Nobody refers to a mother who raised her infant as a “birth mother,” ever, because it’s a slur.
Getting back to Facebook, the reply “I allowed the adoptive parents at all doctors appointments, ultrasounds and the delivery room” got the most “likes,” twelve. Adoptive parents cooed and gushed and said what a wonderful bonus gift that was (the baby being the main one), and one a’mom had this to say:
I was able to be in the room with my birthmother when my son was being born. I was not only able to be there for her but I know every second of my son’s life. We don’t have any gaps. He doesn’t have to wander about any time of his life. He was always with us. It was such a blessing!
You’re not fooling anyone but yourself, Honey. You weren’t “there for her;” you were there for that baby. I suspect that if you could have, you’d have snatched it newborn and covered with vernix and run, like Michael Jackson said he did with at least one of his babies, and for the same reason: you didn’t want your baby to ever have had any parent who wasn’t you. But he did, and your denial can’t change it. Most of us do wonder all our lives, whether consciously or not, and you can’t change that either. You may not even know it’s happening, because your son “has no reason to wonder.” He’ll absorb that message from you, and he may well keep his pain to himself all his life like so many of us have.
Just to complete the idiom, read what the a’mom typed again: He doesn’t have to wander about any time of his life. Dr. Freud to the delivery room, please. Dr. Freud, to the delivery room stat.
A’mom made her own umbilical cord so junior will never wander from her side and, perhaps, veer in the direction of the perilous birth family search. She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.
You can’t cut adoption away. You can cut away a mother, a family, a heritage, a name, an identity; but your child will always have a Chapter One, however short, that didn’t include you. if you can’t handle that, don’t adopt.
*It should have been entitled “His Lying Cheating Dangerous Father is Not what’s Best for My Baby,” but let’s overlook that for now.