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Relinquishment Means...

Since so many expectant mothers seem to be so unclear on what they are giving up, let's make it loud and very very clear. In the kindest language I can use, that is.

It means you lose ALL rights to your child. Since relinquishers seem to think there are exceptions to these rights they lose, let's lay it out loud and clear. Once that paper is signed, your rights to ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ARE GONE. KAPUT. FINISHED.

You no longer have the right to name me, and the name you chose is meaningless. You don't have the right to be listed on my birth certificate or have a copy. Nor should you, as you have signed over your motherhood to a stranger. Nor do you have the right to an opinion on my upbringing, religion, education, social attitude, morals, values, or opinion of you. You are signing away your right for me to know the truth about you. You don't get to decide what my adopters tell me about you. And most of the time their story doesn't match yours.

You no longer have the right to my first words, steps, smiles. You no longer get to celebrate that first time I tenuously pull myself up on the coffee table. The late nights, the cuddles, the tackle hugs and slobbery kisses. The delight on my face the first time I taste chocolate or play with bubbles. The happy pride you feel when I start singing along with Sesame Street and dancing happily to the little songs. The cartoon character stuffies and little shoes. My first day of school, sending me off on the bus, feeling both happy I'm growing up and sad I won't be at home with you anymore. The eerie quiet in the house when I'm gone and the welcome chaos that appears in my wake.

School days, homework, school pictures of awkward smiles with various teeth missing, the terrible haircuts and outfits you thought were so cute at the time. Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas mornings, easter egg hunts. Fourth of July and my amazement at the fireworks, the joy and nervousness of blowing up fireworks in the driveway. Going to the library, days at the park, lazy days at the public pool, or playing crazy in the sprinkler at home. Laying on the couch together after a busy summer day until I fall asleep in your lap. Bedtime, bathtime, inside stories, songs, and secrets. Sleepy kisses on the nape of my sleep-sweaty neck. That moment when I look up at you from my pillow and sleepily say, "I love you, Mommy." and you feel like your heart will just about burst in your chest, it's so very full. All of it gone with that signed Termination of Parental Rights (TPR).

You will no longer have the right to watch me grow up, to shape me, to teach me who I am with tales of my ancestry. I will probably graduate high school, and you probably won't be invited. My wedding? You're not the mother of the bride. You've long since legally signed away your right to be anyone in my life. 

And while my children may be yours by blood, your nearest and dearest descendants, in the eyes of the law and this rose-colored-adoption washed society we live in (the one where handing your child to strangers and leaving their lives to chance is considered "brave" and "selfless"), we are not related at all. The woman who raises me, who is not related to me at all, who only has the right to the title because of signed papers, is their grandmother. Legally, morally, ethically, and societally, she is my mother, my children's grandmother, my grandchildren's great grandmother. As soon as you sign that relinquishment, you lose all of us, in all ways, always and forever. AND WE ALL LOSE YOU, AND ALL MY GENERATIONS FEEL THAT LOSS. As far as the law and adoption is concerned, my bloodline ends with me. The buck stops here.

And let's face it, reunion is, at its best, a small band aid over a large, gushing, surgically inflicted wound. I will never be part of my adoptive family because "she's the adopted one", and I will never be part of your family because "she's the one that was adopted out".

If I die, no one is legally obligated to inform you, regardless of the circumstances around my death. Regardless of my age, minor or adult, natural causes or murder; EVEN IF THE PEOPLE WHO ADOPT ME ABUSE AND MURDER ME (which is far more likely than most would like to believe), there is no legal obligation for you to be informed, nor are you likely to be informed. You do not have the right to execute my estate or bury me. Chances are you won't even be invited to my funeral.

Open adoption is a farce. It is NOT LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE IN ANY STATE IN THE USA. It is fully at the discretion of the adopters once the adoption is finalized, and the figures I've read indicate that 75%-85% of "open" adoptions are closed by the five-years-after-finalization mark.

The people that want your baby are willing to say or do whatever it takes to get it. The adoption facilitators and agencies DO NOT care about you. They are very skilled in making you believe they do. If you are considering relinquishment, you are probably in a very vulnerable situation. You are probably feeling scared and alone. These people know this as well as I do, and they have tailored their language and imagery to manipulate women like you. They are playing you. If you truly believe your adoption facilitator is concerned about you, try conducting a little social experiment. Tell them you've changed your mind, you want to parent your child, and ask them to help you find resources to do so.

I'd be interested to hear any results from this action, but allow me to make a prediction. They will spend some time trying to convince you to change your mind (be prepared for every sympathetic plea and emotional angle in the book), and then they will turn on you like a rabid dog.

The prospective adopters who want your baby are in all likelihood no better. Chances are their eyes are so focused on the prize (your child), that while it's probable they'll say and do whatever you want before the birth, chances are after your child is born and they take it out of your life, you will become an afterthought. It may be instantly or slowly over time, but I've observed that most adopters quickly become resentful of the "intrusion into my family" open adoption entails.

If you're wondering why I care, I am the adult version of that child you're thinking of giving away. I wanted my mother, not the stranger I was raised by. Being relinquished hurts, and that hurt never really goes away.

Please give all of this some serious thought before you sign those papers. Consider keeping me instead. It may be hard for both of us, but we will have each other, and I'm absolutely sure you are the best mom for me. So THINK BEFORE YOU SIGN.

Because some losses never go away, or even lessen. Some losses are permanent and no padding softens their blow. 

Signed, Adopted Adult


  1. Thanks for this. Really good stuff. Dead on. Our voices have to keep being heard.

  2. All true. My parents did it anyway, and their families supported their decision. Did not matter one bit how I felt about it.


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