Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Momma may give, Papa may take, but god bless the child who . . . has a home

photo from

Hello All - just a quick stop in -

Last night I had a wonderful evening with the All Genre All Gender Book club - photos later....

This morning I met with Gary Carden and then he introduced me to City Lights Bookstore owner, Joyce Moore, whom I spoke with for a time in her lovely bookstore.

Then while looking at something online, I see this article on how Mom's are revealing why they gave up their children - and there's all these articles linking to it; I haven't delved into it all yet -- but, this is one of the themes in Tender Graces; a mother giving up her children. This is still seen as something "bad" for a mother, right? (Father's get a pass, right?)--- anyone who is a mother knows the bond of a mother and child and even if there is a mother who does not feel that bond, she would not want to admit it, would she? This was on the Today show "Parenting and Family" website.

How timely that I had breakfast with Gary Carden, whose own mother gave him up so long ago, when he was a very young lad, and he's 74 now - he still wonders about his mother doing this. (We have this "mother giving us up" in common, though our circumstances aren't exactly the same).

I also find this timely to my book - but it must be a timeless issue. And it makes me wonder about these mom's "Coming out of the closet" so to speak and talking about how they "could possibly give up their children." The articles of what I've read so far make it sound like something new-when it is not. As a daughter who was given up by her own mother, and as an author who writes about this theme, I am interested in seeing what these "modern" mothers have to say. I was given up in the 60's . . . I suppose it wasn't talked about much then, our mother giving up my two brothers and me, to our father.

Anyway, just found it interesting I stumbled on that after meeting with Carden, and after writing the book, and after some other conversations this week.

The article:
From left, Marie Claire editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, clinical psychologist Judith Sills and noncustodial mom Rebekah Spicuglia discuss the growing trend of mothers relinguishing custody of their children with Meredith Vieira.

But, what are your thoughts on this? About mothers giving up custody of their children to the fathers . . . or have you done this? What do you think of mothers who do this? What did you think of how Katie Ivene gave up her three children (in Tender Graces - if you've read it) that what made her an unsympathetic character? or was she sympathetic? or what? Do Fathers "get a pass" on these things, when they leave their children behind and remarry and have more children - and do they 'get a pass' because mother's should have that Bond?

All my years I never much thought about my own mother's motivations and whether she was a "bad mother" or not for giving up her children (or did I? hmmm, okay how could I have not?) all this Media about it -- I'm curious where it will lead, and after I get some work done, later, I want to explore these articles.


Janna Qualman said...

I see two sides of it.

The mother who is selfish and wants nothing but an easy road should be arrested and tried by jury for abandoning her kids. And I'm being nice here.

The well-intentioned woman who knows she's in no position to care for her child(ren) and makes great efforts to provide them with a safe alternative could, in some cases, be commended. (That is, if by keeping them they'd be raised in poor, neglected, under-educated, etc., existences.) But she could still give them love, be a part of their lives.

Anonymous said...

As an adult adoptee, I've found there is a great deal of pain on all sides when a mother has to give up their children. Some women choose to give their children up (like Kathryn's Katie Ivene), but a lot of women had that choice taken from them by family members.

You know a really great book that sheds light on the issue from the adoption angle is called The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler.

Fessler presents a really balanced view on the adoption angle by interviewing women who were forced to give up their children during the 60's and 70's. When I read those women's stories, I knew my mama had loved me even though she had to surrender me.

Then some mothers are simply sick like Kathryn's character Katie Ivene. Alcoholism is a terrible disease, and that was one thing I loved about Kathryn's book - it was an accurate portrayal of how alcoholism can destroy a person's life and drive them from their loved ones.

Thank you, Kat, for taking this subject on! You're a gem.


Analisa said...

Ahhh Kat what a subject. I am and have always been a single parent to my son. When he was a new born I had only worked in retail stores, just a high school education and zero skills with money to match. I remember feeling so ashamed not at having him, but not being able to provide for him what I thought he deserved to have. I could only support him in the early days with welfare and food stamps since my meager pay could not handle the load.

One day I took the phone book down and looked up adoption agencies thinking he might be better off. Tears streamed down my face as I comtemplated it for just mere moments. I wondered what would happen to him? I knew even adopted children suffer abuse. I could not imagine this child I loved with everything I had being somewhere I wasn't. I never made the call.

It has not always been easy, but he is 16 now and since the day he was born has brought out the best in me.

I have seen women whose kids may have been better off if they had been raised by someone else. That however never takes the ache away for the child/adult who wonders why.

Before we put those mothers on a cross we have to ask ourselves. How have I helped when I see a mom? Do I offer to baby-sit my friends, neighbors, or co-workers kids or take them for an outing that single mom may not be able to afford? Do I complement them when I see them and their well behaved child in the mall? You would be surprised to learn who is so close to the edge.

I feel the pain of the children who feel abandoned, and the mothers too. I think our society gives the fathers a pass for the most part,but I don't think the kids always do.

There is nothing easy about any of it.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Janna -you just hit something on the head. I know some adoptions are closed, but with the mother giving the child to the father and then stepping away - "abandoning" the children - I think this is an angle to consider. Is the mother still a big part of the child's life (or children's lives)?, or does she hand them over and walk away - only returning years later when the child(ren) are old enough to not be a "problem." Then, she wants to be a part of their lives: this is a bone of contention with me--if you can read the HARUMPH between the lines ...! If a mother made this choice for her children to have a better home and life, she can still be a part of their lives -giving them her time and love and hugs....that doesn't cost a thing but some time.

Teresa, you are so right -- sometimes the children are truly better off with another family - as in the character Katie Ivene! Although VK so wanted her mother's attention, it just wasn't going to happen, was it? Poor Katie Ivene.

Analisa-this brought tears to my eyes - your son is lucky to have you. To have felt those feelings and to have opened that book - I can't imagine the pain you were in! How wonderful you were able to keep your son and raise him and be a part of his life! *smiling at you*

Jessica said...

Kathryn, this is interesting because I know two sides to the story. The woman who is tired of raising her children, because let's face it, it can be pretty tough, esp. when you're on your own. So there's this mom who dreams of freedom and she lets someone do the work, but she also gives someone a blessing. She won't know what she missed out on, and if she does figure it out, then I think there'll be great regret.
Then there's the other mom who loves her child so much that she tries to do the right thing by letting someone she thinks is healthier, more experiened adopt her child. I think there's a very pure love in this scenario. Why? Because my sister did this with her first child. My sis was young and giving her baby away tore her apart. Really. It was painful to watch, but she did it out of love for her child, who is now in a wonderful family. I don't think there's a day that goes by where my sister doesn't think about that first child. But there it is. You make a choice and that's that.

I don't much like the first kind of mom. If they're selfish or whatever. But then I start to think the kids are better off without her? I don't know...

Anyways, my sister has an open adoption and though she doesn't visit her child (they're in separate states) we're all friends with the adoptive parents on Facebook. LOL! I thought it was so cool. They're wonderful people.

Sorry for writing a book on here. btw, Why do men get let off the hook? What is up with that? Now that's something that can make me mad.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Jessica - This is a different sort of adoption in a way from the women in this article; and one I do understand - sometimes young afraid mothers make sacrifices for their children. I watched JUNO and I thought I'd hate it, but, it was a charming and loving movie--and the ending, well, I was glad it ended as it did, after all.

Hmm, we are hearing much about the mother's who "give up" and we are hearing about those Father's who seem to "get a pass" - what about the mother's who take the children and raise them --anyone out there (like my own mother, Ruth, who took us in! bless her).

smiles4u said...

Oh Kat, my first opportunity to read blogs in weeks and this is one of the first blogs I read and you write about a subject so close to my heart. I don't believe in of late we have had more issues with the mom of the children we are raising and so reading this is so fitting. I have so much I want to say about this but not enough time to write all of

I just want to angry and frustrated as I get with my step daughter and her continuing bad choices and behavior, I still commend her for loving these little ones enough to hand them to people that will love and care for them before she walked away. Even though it is almost 3 years later and now she has changed her mind and wants them back even though she hasn't done one thing to improve her life or equipped herself to parent. So now she puts us in the position of fighting her in order to protect the little ones.

It's a horrible mess but regardless we will do what it takes to ensure their protection and their right to live in a home that is filled with love and safety. The thing is thousands of grandparents or relatives across this country give up their lives every day to do what we are doing. The easy part is raising the grandchildren and the hard part is dealing with your child and fight they bring...nothing hurts more.

I do believe it takes a lot of love to walk away and it takes even more love to stick to that decision....or to do something about your life so that you can be a part of their lives.

I have so much more to say but I must get busy with the little people. Great post Kat!

Kathryn Magendie said...

"Smiles" - thank you for this heartfelt comment -- I hear more and more about grandparents raising their children's children, but, I know this is not a new thing -- whether it happens more now, though, I do not know. I am so glad the children have you and your husband....have a home. I sure wonder about all the people everywhere who take other's children into their homes and love them . . . I mean, we hear the "horror stories" and see HOllywood versions of adopted kids, but, there must be story after story after story of children who were taken in and given sanctuary and love . . . thank you.

NCmountainwoman said...

My simplistic view is that anytime a mother gives up her child, the child is better off than to remain with a parent who views her/him as a burden.

I do not agree for one moment that the woman in the story would have lost her "only" chance for an education had she not given up her child. Far too often giving up a child becomes the easier faster way to obtain one's own personal (sometimes selfish) goals.

The issue is such a complex one that no answer fits all. It definitely is something to further investigate and I admit that almost all women have an innate distaste when we meet women whose husbands have custody of their children. We need to get over that knee-jerk reaction and look into the dynamics of the episode.

Kathryn Magendie said...

NC Mountain woman - it is a very complex one, sin't it! and fraught with emotional iessues.... I do agree that sometimes a woman gives up her children because it is easier for her to do so for her own gains, and sometimes a mother does it as the ultimate sacrifice - I wonder which was my mother's choice? Some of both I suppose.

I haven't heard much yet about the Daddy's -- do we give them a pass because in Nature, naturally, a mother SHOULD want to keep her children - biologically and instinctively? And men, on the other hand are.....what?