An Unfortunate Ending To A Daughter's Search
Recently, I read a story on CNN.com that has bothered me deeply. A New Jersey woman is suing the state for allowing an unexpected and unwanted reunion (which apparently left her feeling "violated, in shock and short of breath”) to take place between she and the daughter she conceived due to rape. Unable to handle parenting her daughter, she gave her up for adoption soon after birth. Though she asked to remain anonymous when she signed the adoption papers, she received a letter last August from New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services to inform her that her daughter was looking for her birth parents. The letter asked for the mother to confirm her identity and to respond if she had an interest in pursuing the case. Deciding that she was still unable to face her child, the woman decided to ignore the letter. Yet, last December the daughter paid her birth mother a visit. As a result, the mother is now seeking a million dollars in compensation for “emotional damages resulting from the inquiry and reunion.”
Being that I was raised in a two parent home by people who more or less expected and wanted me, I can’t imagine how the daughter feels. And, being that I hope to become a parent through choice rather than through a violent act, I can’t imagine how the mother feels. Still, I find it hard to imagine that a mother would be unable to meet her child once.
I know a woman who, despite conceiving him through rape, adores her son. Though she was a teenager when it happened, the idea of giving him up was out of the question. With the help of her mother, she was able to raise a respectable family man. True, every woman is different. However, knowing someone who “made lemonade out of lemons,” I’m amazed by the mother in the story.
I believe that everything happens for a reason whether we like it or not. We all are given a piece of misfortune (True, some people get larger pieces than others.) that can either make us stronger or give us a reason to be bitter and self-pitying. No matter which road we take, it changes us and shapes us into whom we are. We often forget that the road we take can affect another’s life.
From reading the article, readers know that this woman conceived her child through a rape. It doesn’t say if the rape was committed by a stranger or by a boyfriend. (It doesn’t matter either I suppose.) In fact, the article doesn’t say much of anything. The article is more about the lawsuit than about the daughter’s need for information or the mother’s road from giving birth to now. We are meant to look at the story as another court battle and not as a story about two lost and hurting people.
Presumably, we are supposed to admire the birth mother for not having an abortion. While I do believe it was good of her, I more deeply believe that something more admirable would’ve been her acknowledging her child just this once. (The article hints more at the daughter’s need to meet her mother than the daughter’s possible hope to have a mother in this woman.) Instead, she has filed a lawsuit that probably confirms her child’s livelong fear that she wasn’t wanted. Considering that the bond between mother and child is supposed to be so strong, I can’t imagine anything more painful.
As thirty years had passed between the adoption and now, it is surprising that the mother never tried to overcome what had had happened to her. Though sexual abuse is something one can never truly overcome, her reaction to the daughter’s visit says to me that she never tried. She has now learned that out of sight and out of mind does not mean it never happened. Had the mother taken the time to send in the paperwork affirming that she had no interest in meeting the daughter, this presumably wouldn’t have happened. Yet, this important paper was ignored. As a result, wounds have gotten deeper. I wish both mother and child peace.
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