My mom used to tell me - "Worrying about being a good mother is a sign you already are."
I've clung to this simple piece of wisdom many times over the years. Especially since my first step into parenting came with being told I wouldn't be a good mother for my oldest son. When you start your journey already judged, it proves difficult sometimes to find a belief in yourself and your capabilities.
I've thought of this wisdom, too, in the world of adoption. As an answer for the question - "What kind of woman would give up her child?"
So many different stereotypes exist when it comes to that question. So many ugly answers that do not reflect the truth of so many women who have lost their children to adoption.
I know we all have our own stories, our own experiences, and some might be drastically different than others. But as I have traveled this painful road of adoption loss, I have met so many amazing wonderful women whose stories I relate to, can feel in my heart as my own.
And the common thread drawing us all together . . .
We worried about being a good mother. Even while pregnant, before ever holding our sons or daughters in our arms, our concern was for the welfare of our children.
We weren't looking for an easy way out. Weren't trying to avoid the responsibility of parenting.
Our thoughts were never on ourselves or our lives. They centered at all times on the precious baby we carried. The life that was a part of us. Loved and cherished long before we ever held them in our arms.
And it was expectant moms just like us that the adoption industry was looking for. Because they knew what we hadn't yet realized . . .
Our worry had already made us good mothers.
And how better to suck a woman in to the dark world of adoption than by playing on this very fear. Using her love for her child to ensure another baby for that desperate, paying couple.
It is those very feelings the adoption industry hopes for. Our worries are their hopes. If they can twist and turn them enough, they just might be able to convince another frightened woman that her only chance of being a good mother is to lose her child forever.
And for so many of us . . . and so many yet to come . . . we've faced this cruel trap. Had our worries, our love for our children used against us. Disected in the worst of ways for the benefit of another.
For "women" like us, already willing to sacrifice whatever it took to make the best life for our child, we were threatened, shoved aside, told what a failure we would be, instead of someone . . . anyone . . . pointing out what we could not see through our fear and worries . . . we had already shown the signs that we were good mothers who would have done whatever it took to give our children the best life we possibly could.
A life together with our child . . . not separated from them.
But that's not what they wanted. Not what the industry was after.
What they wanted was what they got from us - a belief we were failures before we ever tried. A terrible, gut-gnawing fear that raising our children would be the worst thing for them. We were told we were selfish and uncaring to think for even a minute we might be a good mother. Told strangers, who we had never met, knew nothing about, were the ones who would give our children everything we wanted them to have.
Our love for our children was used against us - and still is to this day.
A good mother doesn't have to be rich or married or successful.
A good mother is one who cares every day, all day, about giving her best to her child. It has nothing to do with fancy houses or vacations or the latest trendy clothes. It has to do with being willing to do what it takes to make sure your child is taken care of. Being there when they need your support. Holding them when they are hurt. Letting go in the times when they want to spread their wings.
But instead of being given the chance to be a good mother for our children, it was taken from us. Our very feelings that would have carried us through, pushed us, kept us going, even on the hard days, to always be there and provide for our children, were the ones used against us instead. Used to give our child to someone else who was deemed better because of material things. Size of a bank account. A marriage certificate.
And that is, to me, the most ironic side of the question, "What kind of woman?"
We were the "kind of women" who had already shown with our love and concern for our unborn children that we would be good mothers. And yet we were told that the "kind of woman" who would be the best mom was the one who showed it with the size of her bank account, length of her marriage or status of her career.
In Other Words: Susan Harness and Sandy White Hawk
26 minutes ago