This year’s Mother’s Day kicked my ass, plain and simple. Yes, I survived it, but only because there really is no other option, is there?
Up until 2005, I mostly ignored Mother’s Day. I would send flowers or a card to my mother and grandmother, but I didn’t have to really acknowledge the holiday for the most part. I wasn’t emotional, I just ignored the day.
When I got married and had children that I actually am raising, the whole day changed. I could no longer just go about my business pretending that the day didn’t exist. Other people wanted to celebrate the joy of motherhood with me on that day, but not for the child I gave away. No one wanted to talk about that on Mother’s Day.
I think the assumption most people have is that because I now have “real” children that I am raising and am an “actual“ mother to, that I do not think about the child I gave away on Mother’s Day. Most people would not consider me a mother to that child. No, certainly I am not mothering him in any real way now. I have these three beautiful children to celebrate being a mother to. That is real to most people. The child I gave away is abstract.
I am friends on facebook with my son’s father. This is a semi new development that I am very grateful for. He did send me a quick Happy Mother’s Day message, but I am not really sure if it was for our child or just his acknowledgement that I have children and we are friends so have a nice day. Whatever the case may be, it was a small thing that made me smile that day.
What people do not realize is that having these three “real” children only intensifies the feeling of loss I have for my first child. And so, I was a miserable cunt on Mother’s Day this year. Truth be told, the only thing I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and sleep the day away. Instead, I spent the day outside with my kids, watching them play, and hoping that the Mike’s Hard Lemonade I was guzzling would make the day go by faster.
If you were a fly on the wall that day, you would probably not notice anything amiss with me. I simply sat there, drinking my drinks and smiling at my kids. Inside my head, however, was a completely different story.
Here are some random emotions and thoughts that ran through my head:
Anger – Fuck you Mother’s Day! Fucking bullshit holiday on which I must pretend to be perfect Mommy. Fuck you husband for not letting me stay in bed all day. Fuck you Mike’s Hard Lemonade for not providing me with the buzz I so desperately want. Fuck me for not buying a box of wine instead. Fuck you family for not even acknowledging that I might have mixed feelings about the day.
Jealousy – I wonder what my son did for his “real” mom on mother’s day? I wonder if I am even a passing thought for him today? I bet those rich bitches are out celebrating and having the time of their lives today. Fuck you for being able to spend the day together.
Self-pity – I want to be his mother. I should be the mother who gets to hug him and kiss him and love him.
Mostly, I was just irritated that I couldn’t enjoy the day with my family without grieving for my child. One more day to get through in May without having a complete mental breakdown. Jesus, having a mental breakdown at this point sounds like a nice vacation!
My adoption is not a secret. My family knew all about it. My husband knows all about it. A few, trusted friends know about it. So in the strict sense of the word, it’s not a secret. However, I certainly don’t go out of my way to divulge the information. For years now, I have lived with all the pain on my own shoulders. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have brought it up in conversation. Maybe on 2 hands if you count all the times I had to explain while I was pregnant and when I had to tell a doctor or nurse because of medical issues.
Birthmother Shame Only Serves to Silence Us
I have such intense feelings of shame surrounding my experience. I am not naive and I know how most people view birth mothers, even if it’s not a conscious thought process. The thought that someone could view me as some deadbeat loser who gave away my child scares the hell out of me. I want to be liked. I want people to think highly of me. Doesn’t everyone?
For too long, I have been silent. I have allowed those around me to believe that my experience is buried in the past and has no effect in the present. Too many of us feel this way. Our silence is part of what forms society’s opinion about adoption: That it is a beautiful choice. Most people only know about adoption from the adoptive parents’ perspective. For them, it is a miracle. I can not contribute to that any longer. I will not. I decide to no longer be silent. I decide to no longer let my shame be a part of the adoption machine.
I am so afraid of the consequences of my decision. By lending my voice to the other brave birth mothers who speak out loud on adoption issues I am opening myself up to scrutiny. I am opening myself up to ignorance and judgement. This is going to be uncomfortable. This is not going to be easy.
I shared this video about the Life long Impact of Relinquishment today on my facebook page. It was hard. Hard because even though it is certainly not my video, it is exposing me to all my facebook friends as a birth mother. Old high school friends and current friends who know nothing about it. Family members that thought I was “over it.” I was scared as soon as I hit the share button. What would people think?
I posted it a few hours ago and only one person has commented on it thus far. She is an old high school friend who I haven’t seen in years. I’m not entirely sure if she realizes why I shared it. What is amazing is that she said she “had no idea it was like that.” Okay, so I know not everyone will say that or agree with it, but it was the exact reason I posted it. To present a different side to adoption that people are not aware of. It was an affirmation of why I am starting to go public.
At some point, I will connect this blog to my facebook page. I am not ready to be exposed to that extent yet. It is something I am going to come to terms with, but it is a process. Baby steps people, baby steps.
I love my Mom. My Mom loves me. We have a wonderful relationship now, but it wasn’t always this way.
When I got pregnant our relationship was probably at the worst place it has ever been. I was a different person then. I had no direction in my life. My main priority was partying it up with my friends. Everything else came in a distant second place. Looking back, I think my pregnancy was the culmination of every bad decision, every fuck up, every irresponsible thing I had ever done in my life. I can see so clearly now the path that I had taken starting from bad choices in my early adolescence. There was a trajectory to my life then. It was like being caught in a current and I did not have the life skills to swim out of it.
I understand why my mom thought that adoption was the best option for me. I understand that she was not trying to be cruel. I understand that she thought it was the right thing. I was not the most trustworthy person. I was definitely not a pillar of responsibility. I had a terrible track record of laziness and self-involvement. Here’s the thing…I know why she thought adoption was the best option for everyone involved but I have anger.
I resent her because the fact is, she brought up the adoption option. She started the process. She made me think that I could not possibly be worthy of keeping my child. If she had been firm and made me accept responsibility to parent my child, everything would have been different. Me keeping my son was never given a second thought, at least not said out loud to me. I am sure she considered it, but it was never talked about out loud. When I think about it, I get very angry with her. Not the person she is now, but the mom she was then.
Now, I need to be quite clear in this. When I say “partying”, I am not talking about drugs. I am talking about going out dancing and drinking. I am also not talking about being promiscuous, there was only one man I had an ongoing relationship with and he was the father. That is a very complicated story and not all mine to tell so I won’t get into that here. I want to be clear because too many times we are judged as being crack whores from the whole of society.
Getting back to the point now. Wait, what was it again? Oh yeah, anger.
My mom did not force me into anything. I am not delusional in that. If at any point I disagreed with her and stood up for myself, I think we could have worked it out. I did not and I am ashamed of that. Goddamn it though. She should have told me I needed to get my shit together and parent my child. She should have told me that I could get child support from his father. She should have told me that accepting help from the government while I got my shit together was not the worst thing in the world. She should have told me that I could do it. She should not have given me an OUT. What I needed more than anything was someone to tell me I could do it and they would help me figure it out.
When I gave birth to my son, my mom was there. She saw what I was going through. She saw me hold him and she saw that I loved him beyond all measure. She held him for hours as well. I know she loved him. If she had just said, let’s not do this, let’s bring him home, my god I would have done it. That’s all it would have taken.
The anger I feel towards my mom is troubling to me. I love my mom. In truth, she was just as much a victim of the adoption machine as I was. She was made to believe that adoption is the loving option. She didn’t know any better. Recently, I have started talking to her about my feelings NOW on adoption. I haven’t expressed my anger towards her because it’s not really fair. How can I have anger towards my mom when she thought she was doing the right thing for me and my baby? All I can do is educate her and hope that she can see how wrong we both were.
I do a fair amount of venting about adoptive parents here. Yeah, some of them are adoptoraptors, but not all of them. I vent at them because they are a part of the adoption machine. The same machine that made my mom think adoption was a loving choice. Instead of focusing my anger on my mom, I’m trying to focus it on the people that set up the circumstances surrounding the adoption. Hopefully, I can start turning all the anger I feel into something positive. Hopefully I can turn the anger into a way to prevent mothers being separated from their children needlessly. I am trying. It’s a process.
“You are the most selfless person I know.”
“Don’t you know what a gift you gave those people.”
“You did what was BEST for your baby.”
“You would never have the life you have now if you kept your baby.”
TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE…yes yes I am selfless, more please…You’re so right, I am a SAINT, keep it coming….
I have never felt comfortable when well-meaning friends and family have said these things to me. I wanted to believe them, I desperately needed validation, but deep down inside it just never rang true.
I was selfless in one sense. I had no sense of self worth when my adoption took place. I was a people pleaser and the only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to be the slut who got knocked up anymore. I wanted to make my family proud of me again. I needed to show everyone that I wasn’t the irresponsible whore who couldn’t do anything right. If everyone thought that giving my baby away was the right and good thing to do, well then who was I to argue?
Yes, it was a gift I gave to the adoptive parents. I wish someone would have told me that babies should not be given away as gifts. I wish someone had told me that if a baby was a gift, then I was just as worthy as the adoptive parents to receive that gift.
I didn’t do what was best for my baby. This is a truth I have just recently come to in my life. What was best for my baby was to be with his mother, me. I had formed a bond with him when he was inside me. He knew my scent, my voice, my body. The only differences between me and his adoptive mother were money and a ring. I wasn’t married and I didn’t have any money so I wasn’t worthy.
No, I probably wouldn’t have the life I have now if I kept my son. I have 3 children and a husband who loves me. I am not rich, but we get by just fine. I more than likely would have never met my husband if I still had my son. I am not negating my children who I love or my life by saying I wish I had kept my son. My life wouldn’t be the same, it would be different. DIFFERENT does not equal worse or better, just not the same.
The reason I never felt comfortable with being put on a birthmother pedestal is because none of these things were true for me. Most of the time these things are said out of love for me and I get that. But what I wish everyone would understand is that these were also things said to me by people while I was pregnant who should have been giving me support in KEEPING my baby. These things were said to me to make me feel GREAT about giving away my baby to strangers. These things were said to placate and coerce me into giving up the holy grail of babies, the womb-wet, white american infant by an adoption counselor who I trusted.