When adoption entered my life, I had some idea of what life as a birth mother would be like because of various people I knew. Then again, I knew that it would be something that I would have to experience on my own to accept, understand and deal with the many thoughts/feelings/self help that needed to be processed at the time. The world was STILL not as accepting of adoption as I would of liked, but I had hope that things could change, people would listen and take in the stories that were out there to be heard.
I had some time off work which was not good. I will never get over the overwhelming media attention at the time on adoption. This is when the talk shows were still ruled by Phil Donohue, who was the original Oprah, and Sally Jesse Rafael, the original Jerry Springer/Maury Povich. I was recovering from the birth for the first week and of course, I wasn't the happiest person in the world. I laid on the couch for pretty much 10 hours a day watching TV and dozing off to sleep from time to time. I kid you not, out of all the shows that I watched that week at least half of them were surprise reunion shows featuring mothers who gave up their children and were now, years and years later, wanting to just know who their children were, if they were okay. So half way through their story, while they are crying I was listening to them and completely understanding what they were talking about, when out of no where there would come someone from backstage and Phil would say..."Well Sue, meet your son."
The woman would turn around and see a mirror image of herself only 20 years younger, and male. Shock. Surprise. More tears. Open arms. Muffled talk through the mics that were smashed between their bodies. Hugging. More tears. It was excruciating to watch! For the first couple of days I would watch every single minute of the show, trying to see if these mothers could give me any kind of advice as to how to live life without your child. But the problem was, none of them were open adoptions. Most of these reunions were closed adoptions and the TV producers were paying big money to find these people for riveting television. I never heard any good advice, oh no! IT was quite the opposite. Their stories were heartbreaking, disturbing, so very sad. I was freaked out, I mean, what had I really gotten myself into? I was having more anxiety, more depression and worse of all, an immense amount of guilt.
The more the week wore on, the more coverage of adoption I ran across. Have you ever seen the movie "Better Off Dead" with John Cusak? It is a comedy and the premise is that he is totally in love with his girlfriend and she dumps him for the cool guy in school. Well in the movie, there is a scene where he is trying to cheer himself up with a drive in his not so polished station wagon, but he is sabotaged by the radio. Every station he turns on, there is another break up song. She's Outta My Life, Love Hurts, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover...it was hilarious. That is what I was thinking as I flipped through the channels. One show after the other was in someway about adoption and I could not get away from the topic. It was laughable, but I soon could not watch anymore. It hit a nerve too close to home.
I found it strange and very coincidental at the same time. I worked nights and slept most days when I was pregnant, so I really did not have time to watch these shows that I came across as I recouped at home after the birth. I had no idea that it was the time of "The Reunion Shows" for talk shows. It was a very hard time for me, and even though there was a promise of help, a promise of someone that would guide me back to health, a guarantee that I would be checked on from time to time ... well it was all just dust in the wind at that point. There was no help. There was no knock on the door to lend a hand. There was no one calling to see if I needed to schedule a session. Watching the television did not help this situation. Not one bit.
Here it is 20+ years later. There have been remarkable advancements made in technology, medicine, and science. Our world has become more tolerant of many races, religions, sexual orientations and genders. The media has literally exploded and our thirst for news has grown from 3 hours a day to 24 hours a day in the past two decades. But adoption, it has not changed its laws, serious hard core legislative laws in forever. It has not advanced out of the dark ages from the turn of the century thinking it was originated from, and I am sick and tired of everyone marketing it as such a villain. This way of life for so many has it's own Awareness Month, it's own set of ribbons to recognize all sides of the triad, yet there is no talk of it of it in mainstream America.
No awareness for Awareness. How do I know this? Well, let's just ask this question: How many people in America know the up to the minute details of the soon to be Royal Wedding? Now, how many people in America know about National Adoption Awareness Month?