Carry That Weight: Adoption is Heavy

I participated in a discussion about birth mothers giving their children up for adoption on Huffpost Live on Monday.  It was the first time I have ever spoken in such a public way about my experience and it felt good to get some of it out of me.  My adoption experience is like this weight I carry around and I don’t even notice it is so heavy until I let a little of it go.


My husband and I don’t talk about the adoption very often or at all really.  He has tried to understand my feelings, but up until now, he hasn’t gotten it.  We had a conversation about the adoption last night.  Okay, it was more like a Chernobyl level meltdown.

He asked me why it was so important for me to speak publicly about it and then uttered one phrase that opened the flood gates.  He said, “I don’t understand it, no one put a gun to your head.”  He didn’t say this to hurt me, of that I am sure.  He said it out of utter frustration because he just could not understand.  The amount of anger that I leveled at him was unprecedented in our relationship.  I screamed at him:


I went on, crying, stammering, blubbering about all of the things that were withheld from me, all of the out right lies that were fed to me.  How I was pushed to feel sorry for the adoptive parents who would be heartbroken if I changed my mind.  How no one, not even my own family, supported me enough to at least explain to me my parenting options.  I screamed that I was made to feel ashamed, and still do feel the shame of my so-called decision.  What kind of mother gives away her child?!? 

My husband, seeing me in this state, cried right along with me.  For the first time, he understood.  More than that, he got ANGRY.  I could feel his raw emotion, the absolute disgust he felt with my family, with the agency, with everyone I was close with at that time in my life.  For the first time, I felt like I had someone in my corner, someone who loved me and supported me.  He finally understood why I can’t “get over it”.  I love him for listening to me, more than that, for hearing me.  I love him for not trying to solve me.  Adoption is not a problem to be solved, at least not in my lifetime.  It is not ever going to go away and all he can offer me is a partner to go through it with.

In this season of Thankgiving, I am grateful for my husband.



  1. everyoneactdead

    I am elated, both for this new breakthrough with your hubby and that your amazing voice was part of the HuffPo conversation.

    (I get so irritated when I see tons of a-parents, zero adoptees, and a lone, token happy bmom in adoption conversations, lol.)

  2. blackout

    Letting loose is incredibly cathartic! I mean really just flipping your shit. My daughter’s father and I reconciled after her birth and talking about the adoption was always uncomfortable and frustrating for him, I know he was in pain as well, but it was not something he cared to talk about–that was very painful and lonely for me. One time in particular when yet another arranged “visit” with my child was cancelled at the 11th hour, I really, really lost it. I had been prevented from seeing her for more than 5 years (another one of those so called non-enforceable open adoptions) and then I was told that I would be able to see her on her 6th Birthday; then all of the sudden they were taking her to Disneyland. So the Birthday visit was cancelled and another date was set for the next month. I was upset, I certainly wailed, but held out patience. Then two days before the next visit was set, I received another call from the agency–they had cancelled again. I completely lost it. I screamed, wailed, broke anything I could get my hands on and eventually collapsed on the floor sobbing like I hadn’t done since the day I was brought home without her. When I collected myself enough to realize that he had just been witness to this whole display of pure, uninhibited grief and outrage, I realized that he also had been crying, and there was a look of total horror and despair on his face I had never before seen, and for the first time I knew that he recognized the full agony I carried, and I recognized his. It was a break through for us. After that he picked up the phone and demanded that the agency contact our daughters adopters and tell them that this was not acceptable. Two days later, we saw her as planned. I wonder if he had not called and yelled, if we ever would have got to see her at all.

    I’m glad he’s in your corner, that he gets it now. These things are just too big to carry alone.

    • leenilee

      Amazing that he did that for you, truly. I think for most men, the whole adoption/birth mother experience is extremely difficult to get. I know part of it, for my husband, was getting past the stigma of what being a birth mother means. A birth mother is supposed to be a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser, a welfare momma, a loose woman. That is the impression that most people have about us their whole lives when they have never been exposed to adoption. Reconciling the stereotype with the reality of who we are has been a difficult journey.

      Having someone so completely on my side that was not present during the adoption makes the support that much better. My family means well, but usually their support involves me having to explain that everything I was told and everything they told me during the adoption was dead wrong. I know they love me, but they do not want to accept the part they played in my current misery about the adoption. When I talk with them about it, I have to do a lot of educating and it ends up being less supportive than it is draining.

      Carrying this alone has felt like the proverbial weight of the world. It feels less so now.

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