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.



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…

Paving a Path to Adoption

As I type this right now, it has occurred to me that I do not recall one single time when any one of my family members ever sat down with me and really asked how I was doing. Not even after I ran away and my whole family was involved in that. No wonder I was looking for love in the wrong places and I ran into the arms of that adoption agency. At least they acted like they cared and I was literally starving. read more…

That Last Night of Gothic Innocence

1987 2

Yup, I went out and partied till God knows when in the AM with all my Goth friends on the Saturday night, then went to NYC in the Sunday to be wined and dined by my much older/ boss/boyfriend/lover. The sponge failed and Max became. Looking at these pictures now, they have so much more significance. Of course, I didn’t know at the time, but inside me a tiny egg was ripening and getting ready to go forth. Now, I see the last night of my non-adoption affected existence. I see the very last vestige of the old me. read more…

Flipping Learning- Shut Your Pie Hole

When Adoptees #FliptheScript

Yeah it might be hard sometimes.. for all the parents involved.. adoptive and birth parents…but the role I have taken for #FliptheScript is to just Re-post, re-tweet, re-share, but not redirect. I always remember, it’s not about me. It’s about the adoptee as it always should be. I’m just a parent doing the best I can to support the rights of my child…even though the voices of others. read more…

NYSCCC- the NYS Citizens’ Coalition for Children NY Conference 2015

NYSCCC- the NYS Citizens’ Coalition for Children NY

26th Annual Adoption Conference Uniting Families in Albany New York

WHEN: May 8-9, 2015
WHERE: Albany Marriott Hotel 189 Wolf Road Albany New York 12205 USA
WHAT: NYSCCC 26th Annual Conference
WHO: The NYS Citizens’ Coalition for Children
BONUS: I have been invited to present a birthparent perspective read more…

Just Sitting with It; Not Fighting, Not Struggling, Not Suffering

hello darkness my old friend

This is my 27th year post relinquishment, so really, I know what to expect. I know what this feels like. I once wrote about this, comparing it to an old shroud, a mourning veil, a tired worn, threadbare sweater that I must wear until it falls off my bones. Hello darkness, my old friend. read more…

New York Times Reporter Interested in Talking to Birthmothers and Expectant Moms

The New York Times

I spent about 2 hours last week talking to Emily Brennan of the New York Times. She is looking to write a factual story about the birthmother of today. She was very nice, easy to talk to and understanding. As this piece is geared around a “modern” birth mothers; my own story and situation does not really apply. I cannot be a strong voice here. She is not looking to tell my story. She is looking to tell YOURS. read more…