The Body Never Forgets

From a Birth Mother –

My baby girl turned 21 this year. It’s been another one of those weeks that I go through every year. There is a five day span before and after her birthday that lays me out. September 11th 2001, the actual day of the tragedy, happened only the day before I went into labor. I was 19 years old on the couch at my parents’ house. I had been crying for 12 hours because I felt like I was bringing my baby into a terrifying world and I didn’t feel like I was “enough” for her, alone without a partner. I woke up at 5:30’ish am on the 12th, went into labor and had her 24 hours later, on the 13th.

We signed relinquishment papers on the 14th, which was also her birth dad’s 21st birthday (quite a poignant year, this year, and that’s how old she is now plus she’s never met or talked to him). I signed surrender papers at the hospital in Georgia, he signed at the adoption agency office in California. The 15th was my leave-the-hospital-without-my-baby day. My arms empty, everyone looking at me being wheeled out of my hospital room with balloons and flowers but no baby in sight. It was like she had died. I had five days of trauma, on top of trauma, on top of trauma, compacted tight.

Without fail, every year since then, my body implodes on itself for those 5 days, and usually, by the 16th, like clockwork, I’m good.

Know this – the body never forgets. Even decades later. No matter what I do to prepare myself every year, I get annihilated physically, emotionally, mentally. My body will never let me forget those five days. I wrote this to her on her birthday.

Dear Wandering Wildflower,

You bloom wherever you blow
Cleansing the air around you
Seeking out the sun
Reveling in it
Dancing in the showers
Gaining strength from the chaos
Finding solace in the shade

There was more. She said it made her cry and was exactly what she needed to read, regarding where she’s at in her life right now. That was exactly what I needed to hear and it warmed my mama’s heart to no end. I wish things could have been different for her and I. My love for her is endless.

The Trauma Isn’t The Same

An adoptee was troubled by her birth mother’s awkward attempts to communicate and find some kind of common ground. As a mother who didn’t raise my own daughter after the age of 3 after a divorce, I understand how difficult it can be for an absent mother. I remember really have trouble finding a commercial birthday card that reflected my relationship with my daughter. Now, I just make my own with a software program.

So this original mother made a really poor choice by sharing a poem that really didn’t reflect the adoptee’s or this mother’s life experience and the adoptee felt angry and I can honestly understand why.

The fate of a mother is to wait for her children. You wait for them when you’re pregnant.
You wait on them when they get out of school. You wait on for them to get home after a night out.

You wait on them when they start their own lives.
You wait for them when they get home from work to come home to a nice dinner.
You wait for them with love, with anxiety and sometimes with anger that passes immediately when you see them and you can hug them.

Make sure your old mom doesn’t have to wait any longer.
Visit her, love her, hug the one who loved you like no one else ever will.
Don’t make her wait, she’s expecting this from you.
Because the membranes get old but the heart of a mother never gets old.
Love her as you can.
No person will love you like your mother will.

I think it was a cry for love and more connection but it fails given the circumstances.

Someone tried to translate this – Some people express themselves wrong as well, because they don’t know how. This poem says “I’m struggling to say this but I waited and waited for years to have a relationship, I’ve always loved you and I want to be able to have that relationship” the part at the end doesn’t strike me as the message. Again, this is how I see it.

I can easily understand that many women who surrender a child to adoption do wait a long time for the child to grow up so that they can have some hope of resuming a relationship. Sometimes it doesn’t happen in time – as it was with my mom, who’s own original mother was dead before she could connect. Now that I have the adoption file and have visited my grandmother’s grave, I believe she was always waiting. The name on the grave is the more childish name “Lizzie Lou” that was on my mom’s original birth certificate, rather than the more mature name “Elizabeth” I saw on a letter after the surrender and on the divorce papers when my mom’s original father legally ended his relationship with that wife.

An adoptee says it clearly – I disagree that first moms (unless they were adoptees also) suffer “just as much” trauma as adoptees. Most first moms don’t start life with sheer torture and live life in fight or flight mode. They don’t spend their childhoods lost in a fog of confusion getting gaslighted and tricked by their families. I have very much sympathy for first moms and the terrible trauma they endure but I would never equate that to what adoptees suffer as infants and children. Adoption shapes our entire lives. First mom trauma happens later in life. They are different.

Infants experience pre-cognitive trauma. Babies have no previous identity or knowledge of their self before the trauma. The memory is stored in the hippocampus without narrative as pure emotion, which is terror and powerlessness. This can get triggered and manifest as emotional flashbacks. And those might plague a person for a long time, if not adequately addressed in therapy.

Infants grow 75% of their brain mass between age zero to age 3. Trauma during rapid brain growth can be more impactful. Trauma “in the first two years followed by ten years of bliss is more damaging than ten years of adversity after 2 years of baby bliss” ~ Dr Bruce Perry, who co-authored a book with Oprah Winfrey – What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing.

Oprah writes – although I experienced abuse and trauma as a child, my brain found ways to adapt. This is where hope lives for all of us—in the unique adaptability of our miraculous brains. I hope that with our book #WhatHappenedToYou, you begin to find the tools to build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate your responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships.

Mental Health and Regrets

An expectant mother says “I’m not sure with my mental health I can parent another child.” This is despite the fact, that she is a good parent to her first child and that child isn’t suffering. Does she really think giving away her baby is going to do wonders for her mental health? She may be the happy mommy for a while after doing, this with no regrets. But she can only lie to her self for so long. Eventually, she is likely to wake up and wonder wtf did I do?

One woman replied – I was this mother. I placed my 3rd. I had absolutely NO idea what it would do to me.. it absolutely broke me! I could barely function for almost 2 years. I don’t think people really understand what giving away a child means. Adoption is pushed as sunshine and rainbows in society, so I think we somewhat look at it in a positive light when we are contemplating making that choice. . But no it absolutely will NOT help your mental state in any way.

And she is alone, another one said – Me too. And yet another one said – Same with my third also. Fact is, it is the rare person who won’t realize they exchanged one set of mental health issues for another and this one lasts a lifetime for yourself, the child, other children, etc…Then this, my mental health took a nose dive after adoption. Mentally I always struggled but since then, I have been in and out of behavioral health facilities and have made 3 suicide attempts. Someone else thought – it’s a way to delay the trauma and people should be honest that all you’re doing is delaying it and compounding it later.

On that last note, came this reply – i think that also delays trauma for many in a different way, too sadly. Granted each can choose for themselves but I have supported friends who have chosen this route for a variety of reason and again, they weren’t supported after or informed of just what an emotional roller coaster it can take you on, for a VERY long time.

Now I get that’s not for everyone and some may not be as impacted by it, but my friends who have (and many were moms already) came to me and told me, they wished they had listened to me (because I told them – I’m not sure it’s going to help in the ways that you believe it would help) and many were seriously already struggling (hence not feeling able to add another kid) and they didn’t think they could nose dive further but many have. In fact, one reached out this week to me talking about how 2 years after, she still regrets it and wishes she had listened to me.

I believe support for people who go this route is lacking and very much needed – many are left to deal with it in silence and it’s a dirty secret and they have guilt and shame, which contributes to more issues they have in the long run because they don’t have a proper healing outlet to deal with all the feelings and even physical stuff sometimes after (my one girlfriend ended up with an infection and needed to be hospitalized which compounded the trauma).

Finally, this – If there are reasons causing these feelings they usually stem from trauma and lack of support – and if those were addressed, it would be still hard to parent (cuz lets be real – its hard!!) but when you have a better support system vs a system working against you (like Child Protective Services or whatever). I said to my original mom recently, what happened after Termination of Parental Rights ? She jumped at the judge when he said they weren’t her kids now, they were HIS. She spent the night IN JAIL after losing her kids. 

No Win Situation

An unwed mother is pregnant with her 2nd child, due in early February, and the dad has no plans to be involved. She has a 5-year-old that she had the same heartfelt struggle with making this decision. She has spent almost every day of his life, wondering if he would’ve been better off if she’d just put him up for adoption. That is what she wanted to before his dad stepped in and said he wanted to keep him. She has limited to no support from her family and friends.

Where she is now . . . “The only consensus I managed to come to is that I’d be traumatizing my baby if I put it for adoption, but if I don’t have support, I’m going to ruin the baby anyway. So many of those adoptees have such a jaded, negative view of their birth families for putting them up for adoption, but they also resent their adoptive families for ‘stealing’ them, so I’m right back to square one of no matter what I choose, I’m evil and ruining my baby’s life.”

From an adoptee – I’m an adoptee of a closed adoption. A DNA test for Ancestry revealed my birth parents. If I were you, I wouldn’t adopt and as an adoptee, I regret being adopted. I don’t necessarily think my birth parents ruined my life by not keeping me because I don’t know what my life would have been with them. Having another baby won’t ruin your life. It won’t ruin your son’s. You can get your mental health back either way, because either way it’s going to take work and probably therapy. I just wouldn’t make the decision out of fear that you’re not capable because I think that’s when we get into decisions we regret.

So often, when unwed expectant mothers come into my all things adoption group seeking insight, it is almost universal that they don’t feel capable of parenting. It is most likely true in all of these cases that those who do decide to parent still have a difficult and challenging situation to navigate. With some mothers, the group goes the extra mile to supply things the mother will need once she has her baby, if she decides to parent. These women often come back when the baby is older saying how grateful they are to have been encouraged to keep their babies.

This group also sometimes helps a parent who has become embroiled in a custody situation where adoptive or foster parents want to keep the baby they managed to get. The legal process is daunting, fraught with challenges and no certainty of being won. Better to at least give parenting a try. Worst case, there is always the option to surrender to adoption . . .

My favorite saying in life is from the Lemony Snicket movie – A Series of Unfortunate Events. I can’t find what I remember anywhere but it comes down to no matter how dark or bad things look, there is always a way out of that situation. It has often inspired me to hold the line until I see the way has proven to be so . . .

Baudelaire Kids from Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events

None Of Your Business

From the sister of an adoptee and once a hopeful adoptive parent –

After being pretty firmly childfree my whole life, I find myself pregnant and have decided to parent. In the past I have even said I would have an abortion if I found myself unexpectedly pregnant but I’ve changed my mind.

When discussing some of my anxieties surrounding single parenthood and everything, my therapist actually asked me if I had considered adoption. It kind of took me by surprise because I hadn’t given any impression I don’t want to parent, beyond discussing average normal fears a new inexperienced mom might have.

This is a new therapist, so we are still feeling each other out, but it makes me uncomfortable that she asked this. It makes me feel suspicious that she might try to subconsciously, or even on purpose, try to manipulate me into adoption. I wouldn’t surrender my child of course but I don’t want to financially support a person who does this to young vulnerable moms who might be struggling with the decision.

Another who was considering adopting or fostering shared – I told my therapist I wanted another child and she questioned me due to how much is on my plate and my mental issues.

I know that’s not the same but I also felt like she overstepped. I’ve been asked that by several people. I feel like it’s not their choice. It’s my and my husband’s and we do great with our two kids. One of my kids is critically ill with a short prognosis. One is healthy. I always wanted two kids, so they can play together etc. So, one can’t play. That’s just one reason of the many I want another child. I don’t know why people try to change peoples lives like that or question them. I’m so sorry she did that to you. I don’t think your being over critical. Try to figure out why she said that. Maybe bring it back up and ask her why she asked. See if she did it to see how you felt about it and if it was something you need to discuss or if she was doubting you because of your concerns or history. She may have had good intentions behind the question but I would be sure to let her know how you feel about adoption to prevent this issue from resurfacing in the future. She’s there to listen and help you and get to know you. So open up to her and let her know how you feel about this. She shouldn’t judge you for that or try to persuade you in any way. If she does, then she is a bad therapist.

Another who is in training to be a therapist offers – She may think she is helping clients to explore all options. I agree with you on how problematic a casual suggestion to give the baby up for adoption could be for clients. You could confront her and try to educate her. Determine whether you want to stay with her based on her response. Maybe she will have a different conversation with the next client navigating a pregnancy. Or you could walk away because you are not obligated to convince or educate her.

Somehow Holding It Together

Nicole Kidman and adopted children Isabella and Connor Cruise

A friend brought Nicole Kidman’s motherhood issues to my attention yesterday. She has my sympathy for many reasons, even though she is an adoptive mom and also had her youngest child via a gestational surrogate – neither of which I am supportive of – but I do understand the challenges she has endured.

Given that Tom Cruise does have a daughter with Katie Holmes, I would assume that the infertility issues were mostly on Nicole’s side of things. One can’t really talk about Tom Cruise without Scientology coming up. I have a very dear friend, who once posted the most gorgeous images every single day (even some she created herself) to my other WordPress blog – Gazing in the Mirror. She is deep into Scientology and even inspired me to want to look at it (I even bought some books) but I just really couldn’t get into it. Some of the health aspects were intriguing to me.

As a mother who’s daughter grew up raised by my ex-husband and a step-mother, I know the difficult balancing act required to maintain any kind of relationship at all under those circumstances. In an article from August 2021 posted at LINK> Now To Love – Nicole never gave up on the possibility of reunion with her adopted children, Bella, 28, and Connor, 26, even after suffering further heartache as she missed out on her daughter’s wedding in 2015.

The two young adults still maintain strong ties to their 59-year-old father’s beloved Scientology – the religion that originally took Nicole’s children from her by discouraging contact. The siblings kept their distance from Nicole due to her alleged ex-communication status as an “SP” [Suppressive Person] following her divorce from Tom. Now that they’re technically adults, they are free to make their own choices. Cruse had legal custody of the two adoptees after the divorce.

“Bella sent out an olive branch to Nicole a couple of years ago by using her name in her clothing brand [Bella Kidman Cruise]. “That meant the world to Nicole,” says our source. “She’s shown nothing but respect for those kids, and she kept to the agreement she made with Tom, who took full custody.” “Nicole really went out on a limb talking about them, but it was important for them to know, even in an indirect way, that it wasn’t what she wanted. And it seems it worked.”

As to the gestational surrogacy. The two younger children are shared with Nicole’s husband, country singer Keith Urban. An article about Nicole’s struggle to have children is in this article, LINK> Nicole Kidman’s Fertility Treatments, IVF and Surrogacy. Though there is separation for the child who developed in another woman’s womb, Nicole’s two daughters with Urban a fully genetically related. As a mother who had two sons via egg donor IVF conception, I can understand wanting a second child as a companion to the first one and wanting them to have that common genetic bond.

Kidman has been open about the difficulties she has faced conceiving. During her marriage to Cruise, she suffered a number of miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilized egg is implanted outside of the womb, resulting in the fetus not surviving. After her marriage to Urban and a year of trying to conceive, thanks to technologically advanced fertility treatments, Kidman was able to become pregnant and give birth in 2008 to her first biological child, Sunday Rose. 

Three years later, in 2011, the couple announced the birth of their second child, who was gestated via a surrogate. Kidman and Urban are the child’s biological parents (her egg and his sperm), the embryo was implanted in the gestational carrier’s uterus. Their second daughter was born on December 28th 2011 in Nashville and given the name Faith Margaret.

Keith Urban, Faith Margaret, Nicole Kidman, Sunday Rose

May the two girls be as happy together as siblings as my two sons are and may Nicole continue to develop an ongoing relationship with Bella and Connor.

An Acceptance Of Being Childless

One of the facts of misogynist mindsets is that women are judged differently than men. Within communities that make adoptee voices the privileged commenters, it is often pointed out that having children really is not a necessity (and given the world’s population and issues of sustainable resources and quality climate factors, I do agree). It is often suggested that infertility should be as accepted by those who find themselves unable to procreate as the sun coming up every morning.

Yesterday, I stumbled on a reference to an article that Rebecca Solnit wrote, which was published in Harper’s Magazine titled – The Mother of All Questions. She had given a lecture on Virginia Woolf. The subject that seemed to most interest a number of people was whether Woolf should have had children. I answered the question dutifully, noting that Woolf apparently considered having children early in her marriage. Over time Woolf came to see reproduction as unwise for whatever her reasons were. She quoted Woolf’s description of murdering “the angel of the house,” that inner voice that tells many women to be self-sacrificing handmaidens to domesticity and male vanity.

Solnit writes, that the line of questioning was familiar enough to her. A British man interviewing her had hounded her about “why I didn’t have children. No answer I gave could satisfy him. His position seemed to be that I must have children, that it was incomprehensible that I did not, and so we had to talk about why I didn’t, rather than about the books I did have.”

She notes “there are many reasons why I don’t have children: I am very good at birth control; though I love children and adore aunthood, I also love solitude; I was raised by unhappy, unkind people, and I wanted neither to replicate their form of parenting nor to create human beings who might feel about me the way that I felt about my begetters; I really wanted to write books, which as I’ve done it is a fairly consuming vocation. I’m not dogmatic about not having kids. I might have had them under other circumstances and been fine — as I am now.”

Solnit goes on to say, “The interviewer’s question was indecent, because it presumed that women should have children, and that a woman’s reproductive activities were naturally public business. More fundamentally, the question assumed that there was only one proper way for a woman to live.”

She goes on to say, “. . . mothers are consistently found wanting, too. A mother may be treated like a criminal for leaving her child alone for five minutes, even a child whose father has left it alone for several years. Some mothers have told me that having children caused them to be treated as bovine non-intellects who should be disregarded. Other women have been told that they cannot be taken seriously professionally because they will go off and reproduce at some point. And many mothers who do succeed professionally are presumed to be neglecting someone. There is no good answer to being a woman; the art may instead lie in how we refuse the question. . . . These are questions that push you into the herd or nip at you for diverging from it, questions that contain their own answers and whose aim is enforcement and punishment.”

“Questions about happiness generally assume that we know what a happy life looks like. Happiness is understood to be a matter of having a great many ducks lined up in a row — spouse, offspring, private property, erotic experiences — even though a millisecond of reflection will bring to mind countless people who have all those things and are still miserable. We are constantly given one-size-fits-all recipes, but those recipes fail, often and hard.” And adds, “There are entirely different criteria for a good life that might matter more to a person — honor, meaning, depth, engagement, hope.”

“The conservative ‘defense of marriage,’ which is really nothing more than a defense of the old hierarchical arrangement that straight marriage was before feminists began to reform it, has bled over into the general culture, entrenching the devout belief that there is something magically awesome for children about the heterosexual two-parent household, which leads many people to stay in miserable marriages.”

Solnit points out – “I have done what I set out to do in my life, and what I set out to do was not what the interviewer presumed. I set out to write books, to be surrounded by generous, brilliant people, and to have great adventures. Men — romances, flings, and long-term relationships — have been some of those adventures, and so have remote deserts, arctic seas, mountaintops, uprisings and disasters, and the exploration of ideas, archives, records, and lives.”

“Society’s recipes for fulfillment cause a great deal of unhappiness, both in those who are stigmatized for being unable or unwilling to carry them out and in those who obey but don’t find happiness.” She notes, “People lock onto motherhood as a key to feminine identity in part from the belief that children are the best way to fulfill your capacity to love, even though the list of monstrous, ice-hearted mothers is extensive. But there are so many things to love besides one’s own offspring, so many things that need love, so much other work love has to do in the world.”

“. . . all the ways of tending to the world that are less easily validated than parenting, but which are just as fundamentally necessary for children to flourish. I mean here the writing and inventing and the politics and the activism; the reading and the public speaking and the protesting and the teaching and the filmmaking. . . . Most of the things I value most, and from which I trust any improvements in the human condition will come, are violently incompatible with the actual and imaginative work of childcare.” ~ Christina Lupton

Solnit recognizes that “Other eras and cultures often asked other questions than the ones we ask now: What is the most meaningful thing you can do with your life? What is your contribution to the world or your community? Do you live according to your principles? What will your legacy be? What does your life mean?”

Safe Families For Children

This organization was recommended to a woman going through a crisis as she is attempting to escape domestic violence by moving to another state. She is currently homeless with a 4 year old child. She worries they will become a target for Child Protective Services. A bit of her story –

A family friend had said that we would have a place to stay but when we got there, they said we couldn’t stay because my son was “too noisy.” He has autism spectrum disorder and is vocally pretty loud. We slept in our car the first couple of nights and then started camping. I tried to make it a fun summer adventure at first but recently we have started to get run out of campgrounds, even though we haven’t overstayed our allowed time. We are assumed to be homeless (which we are, but I don’t go around announcing it). I just found a job and someone willing to watch my son during work. It is all so overwhelming. I haven’t started yet but I can’t even figure out how to get work clothes, gas, even the fingerprints process done – all while living in my car with my little guy. I’m afraid I’ll end up losing the opportunity to work but actually my biggest fear is having my son taken away.

NOTE – Walking away takes a tremendous amount of courage. Taking your child with you to safety shows integrity and good parenting.

Some advice – look for “Women’s Shelters,” “domestic abuse shelters” and organizations that provide shelters specifically for mothers with children. They can give you an address that would satisfy an employer. There is a LINK> National Domestic Violence Hotline. Another suggestion was the LINK> Bridge of Hope program, which serves families without discrimination, extending compassion and grace without judgement to families facing homelessness. Bridge of Hope has no faith or church attendance requirement or expectations.

LINK> Safe Families For Children is an organization that serve families in crisis. Basically prescreened families host kids for a short term in order to keep them out of the foster care system. Safe Families For Children serves families who lack social networks and live in isolation without support of family and friends who are dealing with crises such as homelessness, unemployment, child abuse, domestic violence, medical emergencies and alcohol/drug rehabilitation.

A Lifelong Sorrow

Birth Mothers matter to me. There are 4 women close to me who gave their baby up for adoption. Both of my genetic grandmothers and both of my sisters. Therefore, when I was at the VeryWellMind site yesterday, another article caught my attention. >LINK Putting A Child Up For Adoption Impacts Mental Health, Stigma Doesn’t Help by Sarah Fielding.

The story reveals that when Janice Wright was 16 years old, she became pregnant, and her fiancé dumped her. The most significant struggle she faced came from the lack of mental health care provided to explore her feelings and prepare her for the difficult process. After she gave birth, the doctor who suggested adoption to her loaded her up with a three-week supply of pain pills to help her ‘numb’ her way back to life afterward. Wow.

Without a person in their corner, birth parents can feel even more traumatized by the process. Such was the case for Wright, who felt incredibly alone after putting her child up for adoption. “I had to bear it alone because no one wanted to talk about it,” she explains. “Maybe friends and family were afraid to bring it up, and no one talked about it.”

Both of my grandmothers had some months (6-8 months) with their first born before they lost them to adoption. My maternal grandmother never had anymore children. My paternal grandmother went on to have 3 more. My sisters lost their babies almost immediately. I believe my youngest sister had a bit more time (days, weeks?) with hers than my middle sister did.

Dr Bethany Cook, a psychologist, an adopted child herself and author of For What It’s Worth – A Perspective on How to Thrive and Survive Parenting Ages 0 – 2, notes that “Contemplating putting your child up for adoption is a very traumatic experience regardless of whether or not you believe the choice you’re making is the right one.” She adds, “An individual may feel anxious, sad, fear, confusion, frustration, happiness, and even relief. Many times there are people in your life trying to influence your decision one way or another creating even more angst and dilemmas. Along with natural hormones influencing mood and thoughts, it’s typical for an individual to go back and forth about their decision several times throughout the pregnancy. Even after the adoption has gone through, some biological parents still struggle with their decision.”

Whether made as a teenager or as an adult, unlike many other decisions, adoption is forever and can feel incredibly overwhelming in its finality. The all things adoption community I belong to often refers to this as a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.” They encourage unmarried expectant mothers to at least try to parent their child before taking the irrevocable step. >LINK Saving Our Sisters is an organization devoted to supporting and encouraging that choice. I didn’t know about them when my own sisters were going through this. It was years before I knew the sister closest in age to me had given up her daughter. However, I was the only family member aware of my youngest sister’s choice and was alongside her during her decision making process. Unfortunately, I didn’t know then, what I know now.

Each birth mother’s circumstance is different and so, the decision is incredibly personal and unique to the individual. Here’s another story – Kira Bracken, who put her child up for adoption in January 2019. “The fact I have an open adoption helps for me to know when he has questions, I can answer them,” she says. However, turning again to the vast experience in my all things adoption group, it has been proven time and again, that the intention to have an “open adoption” all too often fails and this intention turns out not to be legally binding.

After unexpectedly becoming pregnant, Kira felt that the compounding factors of being a single mom to a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, recently leaving a marriage, and her mother’s passing of cancer, led to her decision to place her child into an adoption. Bracken felt sad and grieved the life she and the child could have had, “You lose the right to be the mom they turn to when they are sad or get hurt, just the everyday life things.”

Bracken attributes the stigma she felt for giving her child up for adoption to a lack of understanding. “Adoption is so complex and happens for a multitude of reasons. Birth moms go back and forth constantly until they sign those papers on whether this is what they want to do. It’s not an easy decision, and I wish people would stop acting like it was and that one answer fits all scenarios,” she says. “We beat ourselves up enough for the both of us, so instead of criticizing our choice, be there as a friend to help in whatever way we need.”

“The best thing you can do is be a non-judging, validating place they can turn to vent and process their conflicted feelings without fear of filtering what or how they share their core emotions,” says Cook. This includes validating their feelings, listening to them when they’re upset, and providing regular support. A therapist can also help some people sort through their emotions long-term. 

A Sad Truth

Sharing a first person birth mother story . . .

I very regrettably placed my oldest daughter for adoption, after discovering I was unexpectedly pregnant. I didn’t see her at all the first two years. Then, for the past two years, we have only had day visits. It was going great until a month or two ago. Then, there were a few visits, where she clung onto me, crying and not wanting to leave, when I would drop her back off to at her adoptive mother’s. After the last really dramatic time that happened, a few subsequent visits were cancelled. Then, we had our first visit since, and everything was totally the opposite…

Now, she doesn’t want to be with me AT ALL, when her adoptive mother is dropping her off to be with me. She stopped calling me Mama C and just calls me by my first name. The entire ride home she cried that she wants her mom (adoptive mother). I understand, she is with that lady all the time. I’m glad she loves her but it’s clearly causing my daughter distress now to go with me. I don’t know what changed during those couple of missed visits but something definitely did.

Yesterday, I had my first overnight with her. She didn’t want to go with me at first, the first twenty minutes of our drive, she cried for her adoptive mother but then, she seemed was fine. We had a great day, she played with her little sister and my girlfriend’s son all day. Then bedtime came and she just wanted to go home, wanted her adoptive mom, and just seemed generally upset.

I got her to help me put my younger daughter to sleep. I told her we would call her mom, once I got the little one to sleep. My daughter fell asleep with her younger sister. Then, a little after 2 am, she woke up and was very upset, wanted to go home. I told her it was no big deal and we would call her mom and told her she did good by using her voice and telling me what she needs. I told her I understand because when I was her age, up until I was like 13, I would make my mom come get me anytime I tried to spend the night anywhere. I know that feeling she had, a giant pit in your stomach and all you want is your mom, but hers is probably 1000x worse because she’s an adoptee that already has separation trauma. So, we called her adoptive mother and I ended up driving two hours at 2:30 am to take her home. I tried to be silly and play music she liked and sing along (to keep myself awake and to make her feel better) but she was silent the entire drive. She didn’t want to give me a hug or kiss goodbye. She just wanted her adoptive mother.

I don’t know what to do. I know I caused all of this by choosing to put her up for adoption. I chose to drag everyone through a very expensive court case for two years because they were preventing me from seeing her at all. I chose to get shared custody of her in order to remain in her life. I will be honest, I want full custody of her and to keep her with me all of the time. I wish I was the mommy she cried for. But I’m not. At this point, she doesn’t want to go with me any more. She doesn’t want to stay with me and I have to accept that. My heart broke over her distress last night. It is not my desire want to cause her any type of stress or anxiety or pain. I don’t know what to do.

I feel like making her come with me is hurting her right now. But I also feel like, if I step aside and let the visits stop for right now, I’m going to be abandoning her all over again. It would also absolutely break my own heart. But it’s what is best for my daughter. That’s all I care about. I’m bawling my eyes out as I’m writing this. I just want what’s best for her, even if that’s not me right now.