I realized today, that I have left out a big chunk of the “why adoption” puzzle in my story. I originally left it out because I did not want to make it sound like I was trying to garner sympathy or pity. I do not want either of those things. But today, a memory came to me and I was thrust deep into the throws of the “what ifs”.
I have severe asthma. I have had it since life began. When I became a teenager, it only got worse and from about the age of 15 I could usually count on going to the ER at least twice a year and being admitted into the hospital at least once. For many women, pregnancy exacerbates asthma. My OB told me that 1/3 of asthmatics will get better during pregnancy, 1/3 will stay the same, and 1/3 will get worse. I am sure stress had a lot to do with it, but during my pregnancy with my oldest son, my asthma got worse, much worse. At about the 6 month mark, I had such a severe attack that I was put on a ventilator and my doctors seriously contemplated taking my baby out early.
The first time I ended up admitted to the hospital during the pregnancy was fairly early on, right around the 2nd trimester mark. I had not told anyone I was pregnant yet, except the father. My doctor urged me to tell my mother as soon as possible. I was absolutely terrified.
On the day of my discharge, my nurse came in to talk to me. She was probably only a few years older than me, very pretty, seemed very together. My mother is a nurse, so I know how busy they are. She sat on the edge of my bed, took one of my hands in hers and started talking. She told me how she had an abortion when she was younger and then a year later found herself pregnant again. She told me how terrified she was and how ashamed she had been to be pregnant again. She asked me if I knew what I wanted to do yet. I told her I thought I was too far along for abortion, so I was not sure. She looked into my eyes, which were full of shameful tears, and told me I could do it. I could raise this baby. She explained how she was a single mother and although she struggled, she was raising her child and was thankful everyday for him. I don’t even think I said anything, just cried and nodded in agreement.
This nurse, who didn’t know me from Adam, took the time out of her extremely busy shift to sit and connect with me. To support me and encourage me.
I look back on that moment, before adoption entered the picture and I feel like such a fool. What if I had just listened to her? What if I had asked how she did it? What if, what if, what if.
That day, I was discharged from the hospital, and on the way home I told my mother I was pregnant. This is the moment adoption entered my life and any thoughts of raising my own child faded. Hello what ifs and goodbye what could have beens.
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.