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.

 

 



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…

2014 National Adoption Awareness Month

November's national adoption awaness month is like a dark cloud on the horizon

National Adoption Awareness Month? It’s the curse of November gathering on the horizon of my life; the looming shadow that darkens my days of fall, ruining my Halloween, making me anxious. November follows October and onward into National Adoption Awareness Month and the time leading up to Max’s birth and my “Gotcha” days. read more…

Birthing, Labor, and Adoption Relinquishment

When You Throw the Birthing Plan Out the Window

Your adoption plan is what you think you want and how you hope it will go down, but you want it to be like right now doesn’t matter either because like labor, you really won’t be in control once you sign the relinquishment consent. That signature gives up ALL control.
I can tell you that the pain from labor fades. I cannot say the same about adoption. read more…

In Family Betrayal; When Your Aunt Plays Adoption Baby Broker

Kaleigh Holcomb of Alabama born April 17th, 2007

David yanks her from my arms and says, ” I’m not dealing with this!” and walks out the door. I followed him watching her cry and reaching for me and yelling for me. He puts her in the car and shuts the door.
I never told her I loved he. I never told her I missed her. I never told her will miss her. I didn’t get to even tell her goodbye.
I didn’t know I wouldn’t ever see her again. read more…

Adoption ReHoming Injustice in Minnesota

Broken Promises in Adoption and Silence - Leading to Rehoming

After the adoptive parents of her daughter stopped communicating, Kristina learned that they placed her child in foster care to be rehomed. Kristina has decided to try to adopt her daughter back and is not in court. read more…

Adoption: No, NOT Much has Changed in 40 Years

cub the birth parent group

Lee Campbell might as well be the prophet of doom as she speaks about how the pro-adoption stance is growing and how the demand for adoption has begun to increase the stories of forced adoption, unethical practices, and unnecessary separation of families. She calls it.. right on the nose.. THIRTY YEARS AGO. read more…

The Highs and Lows of The Birthmother Chapter

Mothers, Mothering and Motherhood; Across Cultural Differences; A Reader:

Whats More Evil? The word “Birthmother” or the fights caused over it? So, while I hate, hate, hate, the adoption terminology wars and refuse to participate in them, I’m going to break my rules because I also hate, hate, hate assumptions and all the rest too. And since I was literally forced to deal with this today, rather than just enjoying the printed thrills of having my book come in the mail, I’m going to go there. read more…

Birthmother Wars; When the Positive Fight the Negative

subconscious external justification amoung birthmothers in adoption

“This Support Group is SO Negative!”

Lately, it seems that someone who feels “Ok’ about their choice, will express displeasure at what they see as lack of support. Which pretty much ends up being another long drawn out discussion where the Polly Positives complain about the Negative Nancys and the Negative Nancys defend their right to be negative. Rinse, wash, repeat. read more…

The Act of Redemption in the Adoption Process

• In doing what is best for her child, she fulfills her need to see herself as a good mother and accept the pain of relinquishment. In this way, she transforms agony of the entire story into a redemptive experience where she becomes a heroine in her own eyes and in the eyes of others.

Yes, if I am trying to be completely honest and self aware, then I have to admit that some aspect of my motivation to do this work, my obsession with all things adoption, is a form of redemption. I can see that I am making up for the mistake of relinquishment, but I am not 100% sure who I am redeeming myself to. read more…

New Jersey’s Golden Cradle Adoption Inc; More Unethical Adoption Agency Hyjinks 

case of a revocation of an adoption relinquishment consent in Pennsylvania, but Golden Cradle Adoption is insisting that the Adoption in a New Jersey Adoption.

Met Ana; she was told that she had the 30 day revocation timeframe under PA law because she is from PA, she lives in PA, she was told the family lived in PA, and the baby was born in PA, only to now be told that it’s a New Jersey adoption. Of course, New Jersey does not have a revocation of adoption consent period recognized by law. How convenient. read more…

Thinking More About the Birthmother Closet

dead birthmothers in the closet

Sometimes, I literally surprise myself when I say things. I did that while on the show. If you note, I did mention the “skeleton” in the closet in my “before” writing. Rather expected and cliché, I know, but when I took it literally, as a real set of bones, which did mean that something died in the closet; then the visual became, I think, a powerful truth. If there is a real place called the birthmother Adoption Closet, then what really died inside was the mother we were supposed to be before surrendering. read more…

There Is No Escaping Mother’s Day for Birthmothers

There is no escaping from Mother’s Day.

On a day meant to honor motherhood, you can’t help thinking of the one you never get to see. You can’t help missing those who are missing from your life. Mother’s Day, like birthdays and holidays of any sort, become a time to reflect and wonder where your child is and who he honors on that day. Does he think of you? Does he wonder? What is his name and are his eyes as blue? read more…

Emotional Unpacking; One Week After the American Adoption Congress Conference

AAC 2014 adoption conference

So Much Adoption in Just Five San Francisco Days. After going to more than a few adoption conferences, it might seem silly to say that they are life changing events. I mean, really, how many times can one’s life really change? But I have to say, that I did walk away with one giant realization when I got home. read more…