Author Archives: declemen

Why I write about adoption

It can be awkward, this birthmother/ first mother thing. The other night I attended a birthday party, and chatted with a couple I hadn’t yet met here in my rather large condo building.  They passed their 4-month-old back and forth between them as we were introduced. I knew from our building’s private Facebook group that the baby had come into their lives unexpectedly. This little boy, with the face of a wise old man, had surprised his bio parents too. His mother denied her pregnancy until she was rushed to the ER, and the father was even more surprised. 

Denise is a writer, someone said as they introduced me. “What do you write about?” the baby’s mother asked.

“Adoption,” I said, trying not to pull any punches, as I gestured toward the baby.

They might have flinched a little. I might have mumbled a half-hearted qualifier. But then I told them my story, and they told me theirs. “There won’t be any secrets,” the dad said. “He’s going to know the whole story.”

“He’s going to know everything,” the mother said.

“It was so different back in the day,” we said simultaneously, meaning the Baby Scoop Era. “Secrets,” we muttered. “Lies.”

And then neither of them said what I dread most. You were so generous to give up your baby.  No one gives up a baby out of generosity. Here, have mine, says absolutely no one. Really, take him. I insist. C’mon, you know you want him. The most wonderful, kind, intelligent people utter this generosity line. They say it because they don’t know what to say. They say it because they want to be kind. They say it because they know that saying, “How could you do that?” is the wrong thing to say, and they are desperately searching for the right thing to say.

I have so many thoughts about adoption. So many thoughts about what we could say. Thoughts about how we could change things. Here’s a short story (fiction) that I published on Medium.

And here’s an essay (a true story) about giving up my son, also on Medium.

National Adoption Awareness Month is two-thirds over. I’m going to keep posting on Medium until I turn the calendar page. I’ll take a break then, but I’ll be back. Follow this blog. Or follow me on Twitter @demanuelclemen

Bridges

How do you find your way back after believing a lie?

I have a brand new short story here https://medium.com/@demanuelclemen/bridges-232ff31f08f7?source=friends_link&sk=f723d7e29075c8f8defb2b4f6c3a7c2b

And speaking of lies, here’s a shocking piece about adoption from the New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/11/08/world/asia/ap-as-south-korea-horror-home-adoptions.html

Secrets

I’m finished with secrets and have been for some time. This November (National Adoption Awareness Month or NAAM, for short) I made a promise to myself to write about my experience with adoption. I’ve been posting pieces on Medium. Here’s another one: https://medium.com/@demanuelclemen/top-secret-my-sons-name-2189f230b6b6?source=friends_link&sk=88543939d1a03e10c52b9c751bcf2f77

Dystopia’s Child

The story in the link below was originally published in LUMINA vol. XVIII, and yesterday I republished it on Medium.com because November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

https://medium.com/@demanuelclemen/dystopias-child-751610605e63

We are all living in the world of adoption

I haven’t blogged here for a long time. Consider the previous post the post that could have been repeated every day all this while. Children and parents are being separated. Many of them will never be reunited.

This weekend I’m at a small writers’ retreat. There are five participants, not counting our retreat facilitator. Around the fire next to the lake over our first glass of wine, we discovered that our group includes a birth mother, an adoptee, an adoptive parent, and a grandmother of a newly adopted infant. Ten years ago I would have probably alienated myself from everyone. It’s not that I feel any differently about adoption in general. It’s not that I feel any less pain about my own experience. I guess what’s different is that I’m more able to listen to the experiences of others and take in their feelings. I’m hoping I’ll leave with friends.

The Truth about Separating Parents and Children

 

from Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis

We weep. Tear our hair. Exclaim to the heavens about the un-American practice of ripping children and parents apart at the border. But we are all amnesiacs, sleep-walking through the history of a county that has never lived up to its ideal of greatness. In Jelani Cobb’s e sharp-eyed comment on Juneteenth, he sites slavery and the horrors of torn apart Native American families, performed in the name of the greater good, as well as the deficiencies of our social services system..

Let’s add Georgia Tann, a well-known adoption villain–but let’s steady our gaze toward adoption “heroine” Edna Gladney. Peer below the surface there and find more hearts destroyed.

Separating children from parents is what we do in this country. It’s what we’ve always done. If you’re too brown, too black, too young, too poor, too foreign, someone will be happy to judge you as unfit to parent your child. What’s new is that now our president and his cronies are actively orchestrating the new version of this terror.

As the policy of separating families at the border is mitigated (supposedly), do you think some of those children will never find their way back into the arms of their parents?