10 Things I Hate About Being a Birth Mother

1. I hate that I can not talk about it with most people. 

The few friends I have spoken about it with have given me the pity “cancer” face.  Holy Christ how I hate that fucking pity face.  I get it, most people don’t know what to say and so they default to “the face”.  So what would be better than “the face”?  It is so hard for me to talk about my experience and so if I brought it up, please ask me questions.  It does not hurt less not to talk about it.

2. I hate that most people think we are drug addicts, abusers, neglectful, uneducated, and ignorant.

In my experience, most people assume one if not all of these things about us.  Yeah it’s true in some cases, but not in most I would wager.  These stereotypes make it even harder to talk about the pain I feel.  I can’t feel comfortable discussing issues surrounding adoption if I’m looked at as a junkie welfare momma.  In some cases, it’s easier for people to label us this way in their heads so they don’t have to deal with the fact that we are the same as adoptive parents in many ways.

3. I hate that I have built up these emotional walls around myself because of the pain of giving away my son.

Giving my oldest away has permeated every facet of my life.  The trauma of not bringing home my baby made my brain change.  My brain is trying to protect me from ever having to feel that pain again.  I can not tear down these walls.  I love my children and my husband more than I can say, but I know there is a part of me that expects them all to leave.  Being a birth mother has made me an eternal pessimist, always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I am unable to accept and fully experience happy moments in my life because I’m always looking for “the catch”.  I’m just waiting for something to happen to make that pain return.  Living this way sucks balls.

4. I hate that someone else is raising my child.

Selfish, right?  Experiencing the joy of watching my other 3 children grow up has made me realize everything I have missed with my oldest son.  I thought that when I gave him up, eventually when I had “children of my own” I wouldn’t miss him so much.  At least, that’s what I was led to believe.  I’m here to tell you, the opposite is true.  Having “children of my own” has made me miss him more.

5. I hate not knowing that my son is happy.

I really have no clue.  I have only had contact with his mother once in the 14 years since I gave him away.  I can only know her side of his life and her perspective.  If he isn’t happy, I highly doubt she would tell me that.  And when I say happy, I don’t mean la la la it’s a beautiful day out and I love playing outside.  I mean on a primal level.  Happy with his life thus far.  Happy to be alive. It feels so wrong to me that I won’t know what my own flesh and blood is feeling about his own existence.

6. I hate that my son doesn’t know his birth story.

I really have no idea what my son had been told about how he came to be in this world. How I came to be in this world is such an important part of who I am.  I know from my own mother what her labor and delivery was like, how she loved me and bonded with me instantly, how she was so thankful to have me.  What can that be like for my son?  Does he know how I bonded with him after he was born? Does he know that I held him and kept him with me for the 2 days post birth?  Does he know that I loved him? Does he care?  Or is it a non-issue for him all together?  Is the only pertinent story for him the story of how his parents came to raise him?  I just don’t know.

7. I hate that being a birth mother has made it so incredibly difficult for me to express my feelings.

Here is my MO.  Something in my life is difficult, a situation or a relationship.  Instead of dealing with my feelings at the time the event is happening, I push them so far down inside my soul and refuse to admit I have feelings about the event at all.  These things could be small or large, the procedure for dealing with them is the same.  Fast forward to some time later and KABOOM! An explosive outpouring of rage and emotion is expelled upon those around me and they have no clue why I’m so upset.  The way I deal with emotions is directly related to being a birth mother.

8. I hate that I can not find a qualified therapist that can help me deal with these issues.

Adoption loss is not the same as other losses.  I’m not saying it’s worse or easier but it’s not the same as having a child die.  It’s a special kind of pain related to an incredibly painful and never ending experience.  There is no closure for me.  My child is still walking around out there.  To this day, I have not been able to find a therapist that specialized in post adoption issues.  Oh sure, I had post adoption counseling (if you could call it that) right after the birth.  But that counseling only dealt with the short term issues.  The long term effects are largely undocumented and much more research needs to be done. I have had therapists that have told me I need to move on with my life, i.e. it was a singular event that happened in my past and I need to essentially get over it.  Losing my son to adoption was not a singular event, it is a continuous string of emotions that only seem to be amplified over time.

9. I hate hearing friends play up the loss that adoptive parents feel when an adoption “fails”.

I have empathy for people who are unable to have children.  But when I hear people say their adoption fails, my mind goes to the mother who decided to parent their child and I just want to let out a big YAHOO!  Of course, I’m not a total asshole so I don’t do that.  But honestly, I can’t wrap my head around the way these friends talk about their potential adoptions.  Why can they not see that by inserting themselves into an expectant mother’s pregnancy they are only setting themselves up for heartache?  Why can’t they see that by becoming so involved before papers are signed they are only participating in the coercion of the mother?  I can’t say these things because if I do, I’m told that I’m only speaking from my own experience and why am I so angry anyway?  Gee, I don’t know, why are YOU so angry about not being able to raise someone else’s baby?

10. I hate that I hate myself.

Now if that ain’t circular I don’t know what is.  I hate myself for not having strength of character.  I hate myself for being such a people pleaser that I gave away my own child.  I hate myself for believing the lies about adoption for so long.  I hate myself for believing that other people were better able to raise my child. I hate myself for not believing in myself.  I hate myself for not exploring every option available to me to parent.  I hate myself for giving up my son.



    • leenilee

      I think the main obstacle in turning these feelings around for me is that there is no closure. My son turned 14 this year and it is a mainly closed adoption. The not knowing aspect of my adoption is what is most troubling for me. Until the day when I can contact him and ask about his thoughts and feelings about his life I just can not get past most of the emotions I have. For me, adoption is a continuous journey with no real end in sight. My journey can’t be over until I can hear my son’s story.
      I know that my writing is angry and harsh. My hope is that in writing negative things about adoption that one expecting mother out there who is unsure and is only being told the upside of adoption can make a fully formed decision knowing all sides and possible lifelong outcomes of giving a baby away. I wasn’t given this kind of information and although I can not be sure it would have changed my decision, I know it would have helped me prepare for the consequences.
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s nice to know that I’m not yelling into a vacuum ha ha.

    • leenilee

      Adoption-the gift that keeps on taking.

      Sometimes I wish I was still basking in the fog of denial. It was easier for those years, even though the nagging feelings were there. It was easier to blindly believe the adoption rhetoric. It was like being all cozied up in front of a roaring fire when there’s a blizzard going on outside. I always knew the blizzard was there, but I refused to take one step away from my cozy seat by the fire. Now that I’m outside in the blizzard I can still look in and see the welcoming fire and I long to go back and sit by it. But, the thing is, it’s not the truth and I always knew that. Hopefully by dealing with my truths and not denying them I will be able to get past some of these things. Maybe for you, because you are in the early years and stages and you already recognize the blizzard, you will be able to get a handle on your feelings and emotions.
      Holy crap, that was one long fracking metaphor ha ha!

    • Karen Waggoner

      50 years later, and it’s not better, despite 30 years of reunion. It’s different, and maybe it is easier to have the knowledge of where she is, but now I not only have missed seeing her grow up, but her children, whom she won’t let me meet because they might tell her aparents.

      You described the feelings so well, Leeni.

  1. Susie

    I can relate to most of these too. I was reunited with my son almost 4 years ago just a few months before his 30th birthday. The main differences I have is that I don’t get the pity “cancer” face when I tell people. I usually get some form of “How wonderful! That was such a loving thing you did”. Ughhhh…

    I have also (finally) quit hating myself over it. I didn’t know any different, I had no support, I did what I thought was the only right thing to do at the time.

    You are a victim of the adoption industry ~ you don’t deserve hate from anyone, much less yourself!

    • leenilee

      Thank you Susie. It’s very difficult being this kind of mother, isn’t it? Not exactly the life they promised us huh? Don’t get me wrong, in not walking around flagelating (sp??) myself, but hate is the best word to describe the first mother experience. My hope is that by lending my uber negative voice to adoptoland I can reach one expecting mother who can hear another perspective besides the rainbow brite crap the agencies spew.

  2. zygotepariah

    Re: #3. I’m an adoptee, I feel the same way, and I hate that I can’t seem to change that. People say you “choose to be happy” but I’m not sure that’s entirely true. My feelings of being “less than” are a part of me, like having blue eyes. It’s not a choice; it’s unconscious.

    I’ve done all the “right” things — read the literature, had a reunion — and still don’t feel any better, still feel defective. If anything my feelings have worsened over time. I can understand why the feelings are there, but they still never go away.

    It’s like having a car that’s making a strange noise. You run a complete diagnostic and determine the source of the noise. You can now in exquisite detail describe exactly why the car is making this noise with pages of data, Excel spreadsheets, pie charts, mathematical formulae, and Power Point presentations . . . but guldarn if that car isn’t still making that strange noise.

  3. zygotepariah

    When discussing your mother you say “how she loved me and bonded with me instantly, how she was so thankful to have me”. I wonder if . . . you ever questioned that, given the pressure placed on you to relinquish. I dunno. How can someone feel that way, but then deny her own child those same feelings she had for her son?

    I was born in 1970, one of those unmarried-teenage-mother-who-got-shipped-off-to-a-maternity-home stories. And yet my adoptive mother, who came from old money and had that “what would the neighbours think” mentality, would always tell me when I was growing up that if I ever got pregnant I shouldn’t bother coming home. What was the message here? She couldn’t have thought very much of me, considering that someone else’s family had to go through that for her to adopt me.

  4. The Unwitting Stepmom

    Thank you for posting this! I have recently found my birth mom and this very much gives me insight on how she may feel and not be able to express to me. She has two other children, a son and a “replacement” daughter. We are still finding our ground together and I am so unbelievably happy to finally have her back in my life!! I hope that you too eventually have the opportunity to tell your child exactly how you feel — it will mean the world to them to know. If it’s any consolation to you whatsoever, I personally never didn’t feel love for my birth mother, even though I was not able to show it to anyone…it’s how I felt inside and still feel today.

  5. tchaiki


    Yes. Number nine.

    Who would even dare to try to compare the loss of a potential adoption to the loss of a human being who grew in your womb? I am shocked every day, though I shouldn’t be, at the entitlement.

    Why doesn’t anyone ever consider that your son (and every other adoptee) would WANT to know he was loved and wanted and cared for immediately after birth?

    #2. Even if you were a drug abuser, neglectful, uneducated, and/or ignorant, so what? Every mother deserves her child. Period.

    #8. Long past overdue, for everyone involved in adoption. A counselor once told me to be grateful to my adoptive mother. Why? Because she said and did inappropriate things to me, it meant that she had accepted me as her own child.

    No kidding.

  6. phaydramorgan

    Reblogged this on Adoption: Second Generation Birthmom and commented:
    But my family thinks I’m mentally unstable because my sons adoption still affects me. I always feel so much relief when I hear someone else say the words I have felt. I know I’m not alone, I know I’m not mentally unstable, and I know that if I had known then, what I know now maybe things could have been different.

  7. lulutoo

    I think this list is so true. How can anyone ever expect someone to ‘get over’ it?? And ‘failed adoption’–boo hoo, you would HOPE they’d be cheering that the child would be with his/her mom! (I KNOW that does not happen; the cheering I mean!)

    • Theresa

      You have no right to judge those of us who went through a failed adoption. Stop acting like the poor birth parents and realize the pain we are going through too.

      • iwishiwasadopted

        Where is the compassion for the child in all this? Isn’t that what all this is supposed to be about? If your heart was in the right place, you’d be thankful that a newborn got to remain in her family of origin. This is a child you claim to love. It’s a win for the baby!

        Infertility is heartbreaking, but breaking a child’s heart will not cure it. Don’t purchase human beings! Bottom line.

  8. Theresa

    I really have a problem with number nine.. You have no right to judge how someone reacts to a failed adoption. We had our daughter for 11 weeks until the day we were called and told. So sorry you have to give her back. It broke my heart and still today it hurts. The birth mom used us and we paid her 10,000 for her costs and guess what we don’t get any of that back. I agree that every birth mom has the right to change her mind but with that you then in turn should have to return any money you got from the adoptive parents. It cost us almost 50,000 in the end and never saw a dime returned to us. So if you don’t want to see it from the other side stop writing about how we should feel.

    • leenilee

      I believe that money should not change hands at all in adoption. For transparency’s sake, I did not receive a dime for relinquishing and the health care I received during my pregnancy and delivery was provided by the state. I also was required to pay the agency I used for both pre and post birth counseling.

      Money corrupts the adoption process and no one should be paying anyone for relinquishment. It may be the norm to pay a certain amount for a pregnant woman’s expenses while she is considering adoption, but it is morally wrong.

      I am empathetic towards anyone who can not conceive a child in the usual fashion. I will never be able to understand the heart ache that comes with being infertile.

      Inability to conceive a biological child does not entitle anyone to someone else’s child. Adoption does not cure infertility. Adoption is taking one person’s heartbreak and transferring it to someone else.

      Adoption is supposed to be for the good of the child who can not be cared for by their biological family. Adoption should never be about finding babies for people who can not conceive on their own. Money tends to twist that notion into something else entirely.

      • Theresa

        This birth mom came to us to adopt her child. We did not seek her out or even think about adoption until she came to us. We out of good faith believed her. So I tell anyone who is thinking about adoption to think very hard about it. And also leave the child in foster care until the legal risk is over. Remember there are thousands of child every year that age out of the foster system. Putting adoptive parents down does not help the children only hurts them. I have another friend who also went through a failed adoption . We are working to change the adoption laws so the adoptive parents are also given rights. We did not ask you to give up your child. We are just open to loving a child no matter who gave birth.

    • Susie

      Theresa ~ It’s not that prospective adoptive parents need to be given more rights! Any reputable attorney or agency should have told you that no adoption is a sure thing until after the baby is born and relinquishment papers have been signed. Your attorney should have told you that any money you paid before the baby was even born would not be reimbursed if the mother changed her mind.

      Major adoption reform is necessary to protect the rights of all ~ the expectant mothers, the infants given up, and the prospective adoptive parents. Take the money out of adoption and that will take care of the problem. A mother facing an unexpected pregnancy should not have to take any money already paid or the pap’s feelings into consideration when making a decision to parent or not parent her child. And a mother cannot make a final decision for adoption until after she has given birth.

      • Theresa

        my sister is adopted and her birth mom and my mom yalk daily and my sister knows she was a gift. My little girl was from someone who asked is to adopt her baby. She was serving a prison sentence and had lost her first 5 kids. She got out of jail and partied for about a week and with an hour of things being final she asked for the baby back. I had one hour to say good by. And I guess you think that should not have caused me any pain. It did and still does every day and you know the sad part she lost that baby too and so Karolyn has been in foster care for 5 years. So is that better? I feel for any person who gives up a child but your thoughts on how we should not hurt that much is wrong. People chose to give up their child , We did not ask you too. I am sorry to say but adoptive parents should also have rights. So when people use people they can’t get away with it.

  9. Sasha Thomas

    This breaks my heart to hear that you feel hatred towards yourself. As an adoptee and an adoptive mom , neither side of me would ever want you or any birth mother to feel that way about themselves. I appreciate that a very hard decision was made in the good faith that I would be better off. Do I know it as truth, no but I believe that I have been very fortunate in life and feel loved by both sides, wether the birth side ever really felt that way or not. It’s my choice to have a positive outlook on it or a dark, life sucks and someone needs to pay or I need to throw shade On All those who have positive feelings about it. To me adoption is a tool God uses to parent those who need a parent. What people make of it can be good or bad, but to me it’s not inherently or always a terrible thing, it’s maybe made that way by people in authority in some experiences. For me, I am thankful for it as the foster care system is no place to grow up. If I had the chance to tell my birth mother anything it would be thank you and I am happy and healthy. I hope that would bring her comfort and closure if needed. I would tell my daughters birth mother the same thing . I will say a prayer tonight for all the mothers grieving for children they may never know. I hope you find peace.

  10. Mary Grubb

    I am also a birth mother who was not a drug addict an abuser, ignorant or neglectful. I was serving my country and was raped. With that said I am now an LCSW. If you are looking for a qualified therapist who gets it we are out here so don’t give up. Keep looking and keep asking questions.

  11. DH

    @theresa: there’s your problem. People don’t choos to surrender their flesh and blood, they are made to believe it’s a good option instead of relying on government support, even Though it’s very purpose is to aid those unable provide adequate care for themselves or their children.

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