“Had I loved him any less – one ounce less – he would be with me now! My love for him was the only thing that could enable me to break my own heart.”
I saw this picture floating around social media the other day. I was bothered by it immediately. On the surface it looks nice, pleasant, loving, and the epitome of what a mother is. A mother breaks her own heart for the good of her own child because her love is so great for that child. If her love was any less – one ounce less – she wouldn’t dare break her own heart in order for her child to be okay. This is a true statement. Certainly not of all mothers, but biology says us mothers are wired to protect our young, because of our immense love for them, even if it means great personal cost or pain. This is precisely why the picture above bothered me. I found it manipulative of the strong instinct a mother has for her child. This picture says, “It was only because I loved my son so much that I gave him up. Those who choose to parent their child in less than ideal circumstances do not love their child as much as I do. As much as the world says a mother should.”
This is the message being portrayed to expectant mothers everywhere. If you love your child you will not let them be parented by you. You are harmful. You are detrimental. You are not good enough. You must give him up or you don’t really love him as much as you should. There is a demand for newborn babies to be adopted. It’s just reality. While pictures such as this don’t seem like all out coercion, it is a subtle manipulation which, to me, is just as bad. There is a psychology behind all of this. Not every agency, attorney, or facilitator will use manipulation or coercion to convince a mother that adoption is what’s best for her baby and she is NOT what’s best. A great deal of them do, however. This manipulation plays on the most important thing given to mothers. The maternal instinct that will drive a woman to sacrifice her life for her child. This instinct is used against expectant mothers who don’t have nearly as much as a prospective adoptive parent to offer their unborn child. If you are able to manipulate a mother into believing that keeping her child means she doesn’t love them as much as she should, you have struck the jackpot, in regards to securing the relinquishment of her parental rights to fulfill part of the demand I mentioned above. I will affirm, once again, that adoption should never be about finding children for homes that want them and should always be about finding homes for children who need them. There is a huge difference between the two.
I’m not sure where this quote originated from, but a quick search brings me to an adoption agency website with a more thorough version of this quote. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is where it originated. The quote, in its entirety, is attributed to “Tamra” and is featured on America Adopts.
“I once heard a girl who had decided to parent her child say, “My baby’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” I believed her. But I wanted to ask, “Are you the best thing that could’ve happened to your baby?”…Had I loved (my son) any less—one ounce less—he would be with me now! My love for him was the only thing that could enable me to break my own heart. I didn’t just feel love; I did what love dictated.”
I once heard a girl….sure you did. I don’t believe that for a minute. The above quote was carefully configured to play on the heart strings of worried expectant mothers everywhere. It was created with the hope that it would help secure more babies to meet the demand.
There are many other similarly manipulative quotes on their webpage entitled “Inspirational Adoption Quotes.”
I pondered this quote for a few hours. A few things came to mind. I’m an avid reader and a huge fan of Stephen King. Even if you aren’t a reader, I’m sure most of you have probably seen the movie “The Green Mile” based off of a short story by Stephen King. If you haven’t, I won’t spoil it all the way for you, but you may want to stop reading (and miss the point of my post). There’s an inmate, John Coffey, who is accused of committing a heinous crime. Two young sisters have been murdered. John was found with both girls in his hands. He is crying and says, “I tried to take it back but it was too late.” He is arrested for the crime and sent to death row. We learn, later in the movie, that Mr. Coffey has an amazing gift of healing. He is also a bit cognitively delayed so he doesn’t understand many things. He is a huge man, and African-American during a time where the color of your skin could automatically implicate you in any crime. We learn that John Coffey is a gentle giant who was trying to “take back” the murder of the girls with his healing power. At the end of the movie we are shown who the true assailant is; a man named Wild Bill, who takes the girls and keeps them both quiet so he can commit his crime, by telling each of them that he will kill the other girl if she is not quiet. He says, “You love your sister? You make any noise, you know what happens. I’m gonna kill her instead of you. Understand?” Wild Bill relies on the love the sisters have for each other. A love that is willing to sacrifice their selves to protect the other. A love like that of a love a mother has for her child. With this threat, Wild Bill is able to keep both of the girls quiet long enough to assault and brutally murder the girls. He manipulates them both with their love for each other.
John Coffey sums it up perfectly. He says, “He kill them wi’ their love. Wi’ their love fo’ each other. That’s how it is, every day, all over the world.” Some of the wisest words ever spoken. While no one is being physically killed in adoption, an emotional death does occur for many people. Especially people who start to realize, sometimes years later, that they were manipulated out of their child, that they were good enough (even if they were not well off financially), and that keeping their child didn’t mean they didn’t love them or loved them less. They become angry when they realized their loved was used against them in order for someone else to gain their child.
And then they find their voices. And then, sometimes, adoptees find theirs and become angry as well. Is it so hard to ask people involved in facilitating adoption to act ethically, responsibly? Let’s make this clear, for those who aren’t aware – legal and ethical are not always the same thing. What’s legal is not always ethical and vice versa.
Is it right to use subtle manipulation to convince a mother to give up her child? It is ethical? Is it right to convey the message the mothers who decide to parent, regardless of their circumstances, love their child less? Is that ethical?
He kill them wi’ their love. Wi’ their love fo’ each other. That’s how it is, every day, all over the world.