Symbolic, Innit?

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 or

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.

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24 Comments

Filed under AdoptoLand, Sad and beautiful, Those Wacky PAPs

24 responses to “Symbolic, Innit?

  1. I find it so sad that a mother cannot be permitted even those few minutes to appreciate alone the magnitude of what she has done in creating a new life, even that is taken from her.

  2. Not a word about how the child may feel.

  3. Mostly I don’t subject myself to American politics or adoption. I did read that story though and I felt sick, sick, sick and you have articulated why Laurel. So wrong and sick. I’m glad you spoke about the birth mother evil also. There has been alot of angst between adult adoptees and mothers in Oz in this period leading up to our Australian Federal Senate’s Inquiry into the federal government’s role in the terrible history of ‘forced adoption’ in Australia. When we should be standing together stronger against the bureaucracy’s we are fighting. Instead the term ‘birth mother’ seems to have become a political tool to divide. Thanks for the song too….perfect choice and that song has always made me cry eh. 🙂

    • Christin, adoption in the US is not for the faint of heart. It’s really, really terrible. I think I’ve barely scratched the surface.

      In the US, we’re still mired too deeply in denial and misogyny to apologize. I’m sure there are many people here who, upon reading nightmare stories from the BSE, respond with “That’s what she gets for spreading her legs.”

  4. Sick, sick. Calling the mother “our birthmother”? The ownership even extends the poor mother who is losing her child.
    I have no words for how badly I feel for that baby losing his family, how wrong this is. No gaps in his history? good grief. I wonder how he will feel about the aparents cutting the cord and trailing his mother to her dr. appointments when he grows up.
    Ops I forgot that what the little purchase feels is not important. What a festive life he will have with these people who live in delusionland.

  5. My child’s adopters were nowhere near me or my child when I gave birth, although he was whisked away from me to another floor (the baby brokers doing, I am certain) as soon as I had him. He was deliberately kept from me after I gave birth to him, this I know.

    Words can’t express how grateful I am that I did not allow his adopters to weasel their way into the delivery room when he was born, just as the adoptress did to a couple of my doctors appointments. When she did accompany me, she kept overstepping her bounds, suggesting what I should and shouldn’t eat/ drink and talking to the doctor like SHE was the one pregnant. I look back and feel sickened that I allowed this woman into such a private, personal and intimate part of my life. The fact that she remains a part of my life (thanks to me trusting her and her now hoarding my child like he is a piece of property) is even more disgusting. I wish I could erase it all and never have met these people…

    • gypsyqueen, how violating that must feel. )-:

      One of the things I find most heartbreaking about adoption is the way it pits woman against woman.

      • Yes, I was very violating, now that I look back on it all. It was all happening so fast and once it was over it took many years to realize how badly I was coerced and manipulated.

        I never saw her as the ‘enemy’ or that I should be pitted against her, but that is how it turned out. After the way she treated me all of these years and by lying to me and subsequently to my child, that is exactly what she became. She saw me as the enemy from day one because he was my son and will always be. It took me many years to realize that. Even the birth of her own child did not take away her entitlement of mine…

  6. It’s been a rough week for me in adoptionland, and it started by reading the article to which you refer. I am angry, but even more than angry, I am deeply saddened by the calloused treatment of women and their children in the U.S.

    My ex-husband and his new wife have not been able to have children. The first child they adopted was exactly as described: His wife cut the umbilical cord and he was the first to the baby after she was cleaned up. I haven’t had a civil conversation with my ex’s wife since I found out what they had done to their adopted daughter and her natural mother.

  7. First to hold the baby, I should have said. Guess that’s what I get for typing with a 20 month old on my lap.

  8. I never clued in on why they would want to cut the umbilical cord – all I could think was “yuck” – I didn’t even like dealing with the cord after birth…

    Your take on it makes perfect sense. And I am still left with the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I think it is wrong to have PAPs in the delivery room. Don’t think it is right. Now I also have a new image in my mind…

  9. That was me. My son’s adoptive mom was in the delivery room and cut his umbilical cord. I was advised by my adoption counselor that it was a wonderful thing to do for my son because it would create a tighter bond with him and his adoptive mother.

    I hate now, with every fiber of my being that I allowed her to be the delivery room and take way from what should have been between only my son and myself.

    And it is very coercive. Pre-birth matching and having adoptive parents anywhere near the hospital is a terrible manipulative way to make sure the mom gives up her child.

    After my son was born, the very last thing I wanted to do was let him go. He was mine and I wanted to keep him and raise him. But I didn’t because all I could think about was how happy his adoptive family was and how terrible it would be of me to hurt them like that.

    The memory of those feelings is some of the worst I have.

  10. I’m so sorry, Cassi. I’m sure PAPs and others bank on the first mother’s feeling bad at the thought of keeping the baby. It so often works–not just because we don’t want to hurt others, but also because women are still expected to put everyone else’s needs before their own. We grow up with that programming and adoption takes every advantage of it.

    “I was advised by my adoption counselor that it was a wonderful thing to do for my son because it would create a tighter bond with him and his adoptive mother.”

    How the Hell was that supposed to work? I guess it’s just more of that wonderful AdoptoLand magical thinking?

    Pre-birth matching is wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m glad I was born and adopted before it was de rigueur for PAPs to hover around some poor woman throughout the pregnancy like a pair of vultures.

  11. billyandme

    I’d like to see a nation-wide ban on PAPs in the delivery room or hospital. It is abusive and coercive.

  12. Mei-Ling

    “I call my mother my birth mother and I’m not adopted.”
    … ha ha ha. Riiiight.

    That’s like when someone else wrote to me “You know every woman out there who has given birth IS a birth mother, that is no different from calling a woman who relinquished her baby a birth mother, because the term birth implies she conceived it”

    and I said “Um hello, if every woman out there who gave birth is called a birth mother, everyone *would* be calling her a birth mother. But they don’t, they use the terms ‘mom’ or ‘mommy’ or ‘mother.’ It’s the women who give birth but then RELINQUISH their children who are called birth mothers.”

    Head, meet desk.

  13. TAO

    Totally forgot about this post – main reason I hate this new brain of mine.

  14. Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Cutting the cord – what it’s really all about!

  15. Lara/Trace

    Reblogged this on LARA/TRACE (author) and commented:
    imagine the surprise of the adopters who see this – but this is why we blog

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