Category Archives: grief

Cold and Sharp as Razors

I’m not surprised anymore when someone surfaces above the murky waters of adoption. Ever since I came out of the closet as a birthmother almost twenty years ago there’s been a parade of conversations where it’s been revealed that someone I know has also given up a child for adoption–or is an adoptee. There’s sometimes a deep and instant connection when we share our stories. And sometimes pain. I’m at a loss when an adoptee tells me he/she has searched for a birthparent, and the parent has refused contact. Usually it’s the birthmother. It’s the shame, I want to tell the adoptee. And the fear of revisiting the grief.

Losing a child through adoption is its own brand of grief. The death of a child, while the profoundest of tragedies, is beyond a mother’s volition. Giving up a child for adoption is a choice–albeit a “Sophie’s Choice” sort of choice. No doubt the death of a child continues to haunt and hurt, but unless the mother was directly responsible, the knowledge that the child is now beyond harm is perhaps some sort of balm.

I could have kept my son. That’s a truth. A truth without emollient. The rough fact that I would not have had my daughters if I had kept my son is a Judas kiss. My lips feel cold and sharp as razors when I think of it.


Orphans. I’m not a weeper, but the Rachel Madow show was more than I could take tonight. Haitian orphans on a plane headed to the U.S. Adoptive families probably in their futures.
I hope they will find love.
I hope there’s no one left behind in Haiti longing for them, looking for them.
If I were just a little bit younger, maybe I would try to adopt a Hatian orphan.

The Ties That Bind

It’s strange how a common experience can bind us to another human being. Even someone very different. Ex Manson follower Susan Atkins died on Thursday.

It was this quote from the story that made me feel connected to a self-confessed convicted killer.

Atkins gave birth to a son while living at Spahn Ranch, an old movie set, with other members of the Manson family. While she was on death row, she wrote, he was legally taken from her because no one in her family was willing to raise him.

“His name and identity have been changed and sealed, so I have no idea where he is or how he is doing,” she wrote. “I have since been told his name was changed to Paul, and whether or not that is true I like it. … My continuing separation from my son, even after all these years, remains an incredibly poignant and enduring loss.”

The Best Advice I’ve Ever Read About Grief

This comes from Anne Lamott’s book, Traveling Mercies:

All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it.  
Like many birthmothers, I gave birth to my baby in secret. Secret losses can only be grieved privately, without support, and that’s more like denial than grieving. More like the desert than the necessary sea.