The Original Mother

There are a total of 4 women in my immediate family who have relinquished a child – both of my grandmothers and both of my sisters.  I have a lot of compassion for every one of them.

The level of pain that such a mother may feel depends a lot on the time frame and reason for the relinquishment. I know for certain 2 of the mothers were coerced or forced.  I know that 3 of the adoptions were “closed” and only one was “open”.  That last one was my youngest sister who made the decision to relinquish from the moment she knew she was pregnant and vetted prospective adoptive parents and utilized private attorneys to facilitate the process.

Many such mothers have accepted some seriously false beliefs about themselves –
I would have been a terrible mother and my child is better off.
My child must hate me.
My child will never forgive me.
My child will never believe how much I wanted them.

These mothers also carry with them understandable fears –
Meeting their child and disappointing them.
Facing their child’s anger.
Never knowing what happened to the child.
If it was a secret, family members finding out.
Finding out the child was mistreated or needs help.
The child showing up one day at one’s workplace.
The child never trying to find them.

Within these mothers are many possible responses –
Feeling guilt and regret.
An inability to move on.
Breaking down and crying when thinking about one’s child.
Angry outbursts (caused by bottled up feelings).
Feeling guilty when others talk about their children.
Wondering what one’s child looks like.
Fantasizing about a reunion.
Anger at those who didn’t help them when they needed it most.
Jealous of the adoptive parents but wishing them well for the child’s sake.
Depression around the time of the child’s birthday,                                                                  as well as the day they were given up.
A deep sense of loss that never abates.

Even so, such women have some admirable strengths – they are idealistic, private, protective, resourceful and unselfish

Sometimes, their deep pain is triggered, even after many years, if they happen to run into their child’s father.  Certainly, birthdays and holidays will always be difficult reminders.  TV commercials featuring babies may move them to tears and thoughts of their own child.  And movies about adoption, depending on the emotional content, may be impossible to watch through to the end.

There is one important opportunity that such a mother should not neglect, regardless of the fears connected to it – that is, allowing contact by their relinquished child.

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