One writes – Was just writing an email to my toddler daughter’s email account (it’s my way of preserving memories in lieu of a baby book) and realized: WOW. I couldn’t believe my birth mother gave up her own flesh and blood as a newborn when I held my daughter for the first time, but I also can’t believe how she’d give up these amazing toddler moments now either. And it’s not like she didn’t know…she had two children of her own already! Just a big F YOU to her. I’m so upset the more children I have, the more I watch them grow. I don’t understand it. I never will. And as much as I guess I love her? I’m still angry. And hurt. Even after all the conversations and heart to hearts. It is all just words. She still gave up her own baby. Later, she adds – I was an affair baby. So I was adopted simply because of who my father was. She had the resources (financially) to keep me. She just didn’t want the shame. If my birth mother had given me up due to lack of resources, I think I would feel much differently. Because that is a system problem, and a society problem. Not so much a personal one.
Another writes – I was pretty “healed” from my adoption trauma until I had my son. It ripped open wounds I forgot I had and gave me a WHOLE new perspective at just how f*cked up both of my moms were. We deserved better and I just remind myself all the time that my baby (possibly babies in the future) will NEVER know that kind of pain.
Yet another – My birth mom kept me for 4 months then put me up for adoption after she found out she was pregnant again. She went on to have and raise 4 children total including the one she was carrying when I was surrendered. I have 5 kids myself and it’s very hard to understand, as a mother.
And this – I know that my birthmother was placed under incredible pressure and everyone told her that if she loved me, she would relinquish me. And, also told her they would put her out on the street if she did not. She did not have access to other voices or assistance. She said no one told her that her body would ache for me and she would spend her life yearning for me. When I see comments from adoptees or former foster care youth that have experienced birthmothers who did not seem to grieve their loss, I feel terrible.
One notes – when we finally got to the point that I could have this talk with my mother, this is the same sentiment she shared. She had a lot of problems and wasn’t much of a mother when I was born. She thought I was getting a better home and a better life. The sadness in her voice when she realized the trauma I endured was… a lot to handle.
And this – I bought into the whole narrative of being grateful for being rescued. I was sure I didn’t even care to know my mother. Then I became one myself. I think that’s the first time it hit me. Whether she was anything special or not, I WAS. I was a precious new life. I should have been protected. I should have been shielded. I should have been wanted enough to cause whatever action was necessary to keep me. I wasn’t. And that’s HER loss… but it was my loss too.
Another – Having my own kids made me so angry about being given up voluntarily and utterly denied the comfort and co-regulation that I needed as a baby and that I saw my kids needing (and of course receiving from me). My birth mother had her reasons, and I quite like her, but ALSO on behalf of tiny, baby me: f- her. Having reasons doesn’t erase the trauma she caused.
One adopted at 7 hours old in a closed adoption writes – My birth mother already had a 2 year old, and gave me up. Then, she had 3 other kids after me. The reasons she gave me will Never. Be. Enough. Being a mom with two kids and seeing all the milestones etc…it just makes me confused and angry all over again, when I think about it. I still have trauma, I’m in counseling but I will never get over it or the feelings, and I will always have unanswered questions because the answers won’t be good enough.
From a mother who gave up her child – I did not know at all the trauma that it would cause my child. There were so many people in my ear telling me how beautiful adoption is and how I’m doing the “right thing” for my daughter. If I would have known then, what I know now, I would have NEVER put my child through that. I was conditioned to believe (based on my own shame and the false positivity all around me) that I was not worthy of caring for my baby. It pains me because it was never about her not being enough, but thinking I wasn’t. There is not a second that goes by where I am not wishing I was having those moments with her and I am mad that I robbed myself and mostly her of that.
Another echoed this – I believed that my son would hate me for keeping him instead of placing him. I believed that by placing him I was doing the very best for him because he would have stability and 2 parents. I never thought that anything bad would happen as a result of placing him. Of course, so many years later, I realized that I could have kept him and we would have been fine. But in 1973, at age 18, I didn’t know.
A woman writes – I have a sister in law who arrived here from an international adoption (and her adopted parents still deny any trauma). They adopted her at 18 months, changed her name and brought her to the US. When we had our own son and he was around that age, it made it so hard to believe that someone thought it was okay to just pretend like the first 18 months didn’t exist. I try to be a very trauma informed person, but having my own child and then thinking about adoption – opened my eyes so much more than anything.
One mother shares – I seriously considered placing my third child for adoption…. Not because I didn’t love him, but it was an unplanned pregnancy and I was already suffering postnatal depression and feeling so incredibly inadequate as a mother to the two toddlers I had; I loved him so fiercely and deeply that I desperately wanted a better mother for him than I believed I was capable of being. At the time, I didn’t really know anything about the trauma it would have caused him.
Finally, this perspective from someone in the field – I have worked with vulnerable children for over twenty years. I have worked with many women who have decided to relinquish their children. This discussion makes things seem like it is an easy decision for a birth mother and there are so many factors involved for each situation. I can’t ever stand in someone else’s shoes and judge the choice that is made. I have spent years with young children / teenagers and young adults in orphanage care (that was in an Asian country) and have tried to be a support to them as they have expressed their anger and hurt, watched them struggle as they have tried to figure out their whys and their who am I questions. My heart aches for these women, it aches for these children. The system is so broken and I don’t have any answers but I don’t want to make assumptions about birth mothers either. Adoption is messy. The world likes to paint this beautiful picture about adoption that is not reality.