Birthmothers Dealing With A Life of Grief

Living the Life of a Birthmother

Giving my son away to adoption in 1987

Dealing with Birthmother Grief the Only Way I Know How

This blog is mostly about living as a birthmother because since November 18th, 1987, that has been the only way I have left to live. That’s the day I signed the relinquishment papers in some dark office in Newton, MA and there has never been a way to get back to the life that could have been. I gave away my baby to people I had never met and then tried to go on living my life as the agency and everyone else expected me to. It didn’t work.

Adoption Affects Birthmothers for a Lifetime

So, more than 23 years later; adoption is a huge force on my life affect me and my whole family every single day. I have no choice anymore. I can’t go back and change it, so I blog. Chances are, if you have found your way here to this blog, you are needing to know what it means to live the life of a birthmother.

That means you are most likely:

  • Another birthmother
  • Pregnant and thinking about placing your baby for adoption
  • Are an adoptee
  • Could be an adoptive parent or considering adopting a child or infant either domestically or through international adoption
  • Know, care for, love, are sibling of, are married to, in a relationship with, researching on, or
  • somehow interested in one or all of the above.

That’s good. Because most things I write about are related to birthmothers, adoption and adoptee rights in some way, shape or form. I’m definitely a “niche blogger”.

No Escape from the Birthmother Club

I think the most important thing to know about living the life of a birthmother is that it is never over. It comes in and settles on our skins and we can never wash it out. Forever stained and continuously affected in ways we never dreamed. And no one can tell us how it feels, or prepare us for what it feels. There are so many things I never knew about being a birthmother until after I let adoption into my life and then it was too late.

What Adoption Experts Told Us to Expect was Wrong.

We can’t get over it.

We don’t always go on to have other children when we are “ready”.

  • It didn’t get easier as time went on.
  • The sense of peace actual erodes if you are lucky enough to buy into
  • it for a while.
  • Our children were not always better off.
  • Reunion isn’t always a perfect happy ending.
  • The years are gone forever.
  • We are hurt. We are sad. And it won’t go away but only changes through time.
  • And you ask yourself “What is wrong with me?”
  • It’s not you.

Adoption Doesn’t Play Out the Way the Professionals Told Us

How you are feeling is normal and you are not alone. Because so many of us feel this way. And if you don’t, well then god bless you and I mean that in the purest of ways. God bless that you have somehow managed to avoid the pitfalls that comes with many lives of birthmothers; the grief, the loss, the unavoidable sadness around your child’s birthday and holidays, your sensitivity to all things adoption and or baby related. If you’re not in the same reality I am, then who am I to push it? But for so many of us, I think we have to face the fact that the birthmother rules that were provided to us was a bunch of untried hopeful theories based on now debunked beliefs regarding the human psyche.

Please know, again, you are not alone. There are many of us out there and many, most of us, feel this way. If you are looking for additional support, there are many adoption support networks, groups, and pages on Facebook.

Adoption Relinquishment = Trauma = Unresolved Grief

I think I write about adoption so I don’t have to feel it. I hate feeling it close within my own life. Sometimes, I’ll be listening to someone else’s adoption story and I will think “How horrible. How can they live with that in their lives?” and for a second I will forget. And then it hits me and I know that I don’t have to image how that person feels affects by adoption.

I know because I live it too. And I hate that about my life.

For non birthparents, the closest way I can describe it is this: When I watched the towers fall on 9-11, I know I shared with millions of fellow human beings the shock and horror of that day. As the day went from bad to worse to unbelievable, we collectively thought ” how can this be happening? No, this isn’t true!”

And if though hope and desire alone, we could have made it stop, we would have; but we could only watch helplessly as the tragedy unfolded. That’s the feeling I get when I allow myself to actually feel the deep loss that accompanies the reality of placing my son to adoption.

While I will always miss the sight of the Twin Towers in the New York skyline, I can only drum up a pale vestige of the complete physical revulsion and horror that accompanied that fateful day. Even when I watch the news footage. But, when I think about Max’s adoption, I could be 19 years old all over again and sitting in that hospital rocking chair getting ready for that last goodbye all over again.

And so I blog about being a birthmother instead of feeling that pain alone.

I share it with you.

More Posts About Life as a Birthmother

Below are ALL the post generally about life as a birth mother. I have also broken things down to help if you are looking for something particular.

 Adoption Kool Aid and  Birthmother Denial

Birthmother adoption kooloaid

Many people enter into adoption believing in some form of its innate goodness. There is often a real shock and a true disbelief that what they wanted to believe about adoption is different than the truth. That’s not denial, but just being unaware.  The question is whether or now, we are able to see past what we want to believe and see the reality presented by the facts. This takes time as we need to process those changes in thought. Some resistance, the continued disbelief, is normal. if it gets pathological and one refuses to face facts, it is denial in some form.


Before Making an Adoption Plan

before making and adoption planIf you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and are considering giving the baby up for adoption, there are many things you should know before making an adoption plan.In fact, there are many things that you should know about the process of adoption before you make any contact at all with a infant domestic adoption agency. Even if you think it would be a good idea to make a few inquiries and get some information about their newborn adoption programs, please STOP TALKING TO THE ADOPTION AGENCIES and READ.


Coping and Dealing with Birthmother Grief

‎"Neither society nor the adopter who holds the child in her arms wants to confront the agony of the mother from whose arms that same child was taken." ~Margaret McDonald LawrenceThe established stages of griefdenial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, often don’t seem to help the grief experienced by birthmothers and adoption losses.Unlike the grief felt from a death, the loss from adoption is often said to be a complicated grief or a continuous grief. As life for both parties carries on through the years, the separation continues to add more missed opportunities or milestones that are normally shared with one’s children.



Birthmother Holidays & Adoptee Birthdays
adoptee birthdays holiday triggers

While other people also suffer from the holiday blues, and other life issues to trigger adoption feelings during non-holiday times, a birthmother experiencing painful memories and sadness is normal on an adoptees  birthday. It makes it easier to overcome this depression in some way by understanding that the adoption holiday/birthday depression is normal and to expect it, rather than fight it. Know that it is situational depression and often, will pass with the change of the calendar pages. Know that you are not alone in feeling this way.


Birthmother Regrets & Lessons

birthmother regrets adoptionAfter you relinquish a child  to adoption, the post adoption birthmother support offered by most agencies doesn’t really go far enough. And that’s assuming that there was any post adoption support and birthmother “counseling” offered to begin with. The rest of the world often doesn’t “get it” at all. There are a limited number of counselors who understand what life as  birth mother is really about. I certainly have found that I was not prepared for what it all entails to be a birthmother, but I did learn some things along the way that might help.


How to Give Your Baby Up for Adoption

Just my personal story from soup to nuts.



7000 Words for the Last 6 Months


In my zeal to help, in my desire to carry the load and rid others, I managed to lose myself. I needed to physically separate myself from all of you so that I could being to understand how *I* felt about adoption and how it was actually affecting my life. I think I literally had no idea what my own emotions were anymore because I was all entwined with everyone else. The anger was most notable absent, but what else was there? This kept me busy for weeks, months.

And again, more paradoxes; how can I be some sort of spokesperson for pain if I find, that in some ways, I, myself am healed? Without the anger, I felt completely unauthentic. And how am I suddenly going to be able to say ‘”Oh by the way, AdoptionLand, you know how I have said that birthmothers cannot ever heal? Yeah, I was wrong. See, I’m fine now.”

See what I mean about a massive identity crisis?
read more…

Pupa: The Transition Stage

bald 5

I have been in a bad funk while I have been waiting for my hair to grow out so I can cut it off. At least waiting for ONE of the two has come to an end.I cut off all my hair. Not sure if this a transitional color. Not sure if this is still part of the transitional stage. Not sure if I am ready to come out of my chrysalis quite yet, but trying to jump start this processes at least. read more…

Kate Mulgrew Comes Out as a Birthmother

kate mulgrew memoir born with teeth adoption

I have to say quite clearly; Birthmother and actress Kate Mulgrew’s new memoir “Born with Teeth” is NOT an adoption book. It’s really a memoir of an actress who is a birthmother. The adoption story part of it is very true to the experience and very real, very raw and one will find themselves totally “getting it”. There just isn’t nearly as much “adoption” as one might think based on the press coverage. Like she really goes into way more and, in some ways much deeper and better, with the interviews. Granted she does write about the relinquishment, but after that, until the VERY end, it’s more of an undercurrent of sorts that doesn’t really get addressed all that much, but referred to in passing. If you are looking for birthmother validation, then you might be disappointed. read more…

Pretty Much a Birthmother’s Nightmare


I mean thank GOD that I had at least a warning that they were going to be there. Can you image if you didn’t expect your agency and they were in your face! They are just lucky that I HAD mentally prepared or the emotional side of me might have taken hold and I might not have been civil and gracious. In fact, the right thing to do on their part would have been to send me a email or note before hand, explaining that they were going to be there for their CEUs and that IF I was open to it, then they would like to take the opportunity to say hello face to face. At least that would have considered my needs and treated me like a valuable person worth of an opinion and having valid feelings. Instead, I somehow feel again like “just a birthmother” whose feelings come last and just don’t matter. That will not work for me anymore! read more…

An Adoption Reunion Update

adoption reunion ten years in healed

I was stuck, while dancing, that indeed I had won. I was having one of those moments when you KNOW you are having an epiphany RIGHT THERE so I stopped dancing and went to Facebook and typed out my new status update at 11:52 pm. I feel 100 time “lighter”. I actually DO feel like it’s over. We have managed to break through the hold and restrictions that adoption has tried to put on our mother son relationship and it can’t do any more damage, Adoption, as a real threat to me and my son, is done. It’s over. It cannot hurt us anymore. The adoption industry might have tried and maybe it’s not the way I wish it had been, but that just doesn’t matter anymore because we are OK. Our connection is still there and we value it and it works.
I almost wonder if this is not that annoying “birthmother peace of mind” they keep yammering about. Of course, I still strongly dislike and will continue fight against the unethical adoption industry and for adoptee rights, but people really better be careful with who they call bitter these days. I am so far away from bitter, I am glowing with happiness. I am transcendent! read more…

A Reunion Question- When Your Relinquished Child Wants to Live with You

adoptee coming home to live with birthmotheer.

Please share your challenges, problems, solutions, and experiences IF your relinquished child has lived with you again post adoption reunion? Or better yet IF you are an adoptee who did move back and live with your original family, what worked? What didn’t? What did you need that you didn;t get or wish had happened? And yes, please use the gift of hindsight to apply to your lessons learned! read more…

Dance the Ghost with Me

Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy

Going back to Boston feels like going back to time. I feel like all these parts of me are swirling together but it feels good. It feels, I think, like it is supposed to. I look around my office, my house, my window, my street. I think of my home, my family, my husband, my children, my friends, my neighbors, my colleagues. I am just so beyond grateful for being here now.
Is it weird to dance and cry your face off because you are just relieved that you are actually happy? read more…

Saving Our Sisters; An Adoption SOS

SAving Our Sisters from Adoption

The simple fact is that we CAN do this. And it is becoming more and more clear that we MUST do this. So if you are at all interested in actually DOING something to really help preserve families, support successful parenting and provide a viable option to a unplanned crisis pregnancy and avoid adoption, PLEASE join this list. read more…

A Question for Birthmothers: Nurses and the Hospital During Relinquishment

online information about adoption

Looking for examples of experiences where a hospital nurse directly interacted with a mom and in some way pushed an unwanted opinion on adoption. Whether or not this opinion resulted in a changed outcome isn’t as important as what was said, how it was said and how it made you feel. read more…

Four Birthmothers – for Mothers

jean strauss film 4 birthmothers

I feel blessed and honored to have been included in the filming of this piece.
The last day of the AAC Conference in San Francisco last year, I heard Jean wanted to film some birthmothers and I volunteered. So we sat in a room and talked about our experiences relinquishing our children to adoption.
Then Jean Strauss worked her magic and this is the end result read more…

Sexism within the OBC Adoption Records Issue

When a man fathers a child and chooses, for whatever reason, to ignore the existence of that child, do we respect his wishes overall and grant him his right to his anonymity? No.. so why do mothers receive this “protection” ? Why are we ONLY concerned with the mothers? If this fear was legitimate, then wouldn’t it be fair and expected to extend that concerned to the father’s as well? Should not all people be protected, then, from long lost relatives that might infringe upon their lives and seek out relationships with them? read more…

Inside the Mind of a Birthmother – Results Are In!

By AstridBeeMom

I know I said that I would keep this survey open until February 5th, but it is almost the 3rd and there hasn’t been any new responses in 2 days. I am going to be busy with work this week so I decided to do my data analysis today. And away we go!

DISCLAIMER: This is not a “scientific” survey. That means that I had no way to “vet” the responders to make sure they were really birthmoms. The survey results are “honor-based.” This means that I trust that the responders were honest in their responses.

There were 181 completed surveys and a total of 429 unique visitors. This means that of 429 people, 181 completed the entire survey and the rest completed it partially. Each individual question will reflect percentages of only people who completed that question. Percentages will be rounded to a whole number.

The following questions were asked in a survey. I asked that only mothers of domestic infant adoption respond.

1) How many years ago did you terminate your parental rights?

8% responded less than one year into being a read more…

When the Adoption Experts are Wrong

birthmother blues adoptive families bad advice

So what I read is a educated therapist adoption professional who SHOULD have access to all the known research of birthmother grief and is seemingly choosing to ignore it instead repeating the propaganda laden ideals of how we WANT adoption to be. The studies clearly state that our grief intensifies over time. There is no peace. A birthmother’s grief is continuous, disenfranchised and complicated. An “article” like this only serves to lead both adoptive parents and any birthmothers up to fail. This supposed two year window sets a stage where people are going to expect that grief will lessen after two years which is a direct contradiction of the research. Now granted there is limited research on birthmother grief, but that gives even more reasoning to expect that Ms. Mantell should be familiar with the facts she speaks of. read more…

Once I Was a Troll

I was reminded of an old mistake today. Granted, it was not a gentle reminder, but a let me shove this in your face because look you SCREWED up taunt, but I had completely forgotten about it, so it was a reminder for me. And yes, I had screwed up. And thankfully, I learned a very valuable lesson on internet transparency, trust, integrity and owning up to mistakes. read more…