Saturday, April 25, 2009

What Is A Mom

I know I am hard on adoptive moms, and hopeful adoptive moms, here on my blog and I don’t apologize for it. But I do think it is time I step up to clarify that my feelings and the comments I make about adoptive moms do not encompass ALL adoptive moms. I know, with my experience and my son’s experience, I could very easily slide into the habit of clumping every adoptive mother together into one group, doubting and disliking everyone in that group without ever giving them a chance or truly reading or hearing what they have to say.

And honestly, when you spend so much time in a battle for adoption reform and you come up against, over and over again, so many adoptive moms who want to dig a hole in the sand, and stick their head in, who try their hardest to discredit you by calling you crazy, bitter or angry, it sometimes seems almost too easy to fall into the mind-set that they ALL want to believe adoption is great, has no affect on first/natural moms or adoptees and is a right they deserved for their saintly ways.

But I know it isn’t right and there are adoptive moms that remind me I can never say ALL when I refer to adoptive moms. It will never be fair for me to toss them all in that same group, see them outside of the true light of the kind of moms they are.

I don’t fall for the argument I see so often from adoptive parents. The justifications they throw out, repeating themselves and others like an old skipping record. The one that always starts with the same words . . .

I am my child’s real mom because . . .

This is always followed by some variation of . . . I changed their diapers . . . stayed up with them at night when they were sick . . . helped them with their homework . . . etc, etc, etc.

My first reaction to this argument is . . .

So what?

Those are all actions. Something a nanny or babysitter can, and often, does. Yes, that means you are providing for your child’s basic needs but that, to me, is NOT what makes you a mother. That makes you a good caregiver.

So what is a mother then? What is it that I believe some adoptive moms understand that others don’t?

To me, being a mom is based first, and foremost, on unconditional love. It is the realization that no matter what might have happened to bring a child into your life, the minute you hold your child in your arms, it has NOTHING to do with a need they are fulfilling in you and EVERYTHING to do with their own needs.

I’ve heard more than once in my life the saying . . . “Being a mother is the most thankless job there is.” And not only is that statement true but, I believe, that is exactly how it should be. Being a mother means knowing you may never hear the words “thank you” from your children but are always hoping they know that there is NO ONE in the world they can count on to be there for them like their mother.

It’s about giving them the capability to love and believe in themselves. To know their feelings will be validated, understood and never discounted. That our own insecurities or emotional needs do not restrict or hold our children back from finding and being who they truly are.

And, unfortunately, so often in the adoption world, I find adoptive moms who don’t seem to understand the importance of this. They want to find a way, with everything they have, to deny that their child will EVER face issues from being adopted, instead of putting that same fight into giving their child the confidence and trust that they can go to them with their feelings about adoption, no matter what they might be.

They want to declare they are the only or real mom because they do this, that, or the other instead of offering their child the confidence in who they are and in the very real fact that they have two mothers who play a part in their life.

And they want to believe, to the point of absolute denial, that adoption is truly only about greatness and love without accepting the darker side. That they are truly the only ones who could have given their child the “best” life and are superior in some way or another to the first/natural mother who suffered a great loss before they ever had a child to call their own.

These are the moms I speak about here on my blog. The moms who hold that title as their “badge” and leave me wondering where exactly their child fits into the mix.

But, as I said, there are others. Those who keep me grounded when I want to lash out at all because I’m hurt or my son is hurt. Those who seem to be rare but do exist.

To me, these are moms. These are the women who offer true unconditional love to their children. Who love them with all their heart and want only what is best for them and their lives. They aren’t digging those holes, burying their heads as far as they can go. They are, instead, doing whatever it takes, fighting whatever battle there is, being everything they can for their children. Because that is truly what it means to be a mom.

So, here, I want to share them with others. I don’t currently have links from my blog to adoptive moms (something I am considering changing) so I want to lead others through this post to them . . .

There is Malinda . . . Adoption Talk

And Margie . . . Third Mom

And Dawn . . . This Woman's Work

Three amazing women . . . three amazing moms.

And there is one other. She doesn’t have a blog I can link to. But she is someone who I know I am so lucky to have as a wonderful friend in my life. She is a member on a “networking” site where we first came to know each other almost a year ago and she is a member known by so many others as one who believes passionately in adoption reform, the importance of keeping an adoption open and doing everything and anything it takes for her children.

She has faced her own struggles, own moments of insecurity, but she has never given up. She fights for change but fights even more for what is best for her middle son who she adopted. And even as she faces her own struggles through life, parenting and adoption, she is always there for others who hurt as well.

She has been there for me in ways that still to this day amaze me. She has been there for her son in exactly what anyone should expect for a mother carrying unconditional love.

And she is there, stronger than many, in her voice for reform and more awareness in the world of adoption.

She, and her amazing friendship, offered my first step into realizing I couldn’t judge all. And she continues to be, along with the other three great moms I shared here, my reminder that there is hope. There is a reason to continue to stand up and speak out in some of the most negative arenas for a first/natural mom.

And, most important of all, that the true meaning of being a mom does truly exist, no matter how you might have become a parent in the first place.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dear Birthmother


The picture is actually the front cover to a book titled, “Dear Birthmother.”

Two decades ago I was handed the first edition (it’s in its third printing) on my very first visit to the adoption agency where my school nurse sent me for help in deciding what was the best option for my unborn child. Though they never gave me anything on options for parenting my child, they made sure I left the agency with this book, full of just how wonderful adoption is, of letters from grateful adoptive parents, praising how great their child’s first/natural moms are. From first/natural moms radiating how great the adoptive couple is for adopting her son or daughter. Page after page of the amazing life that adoption is.

Yuck!

I hate this book. I hate it with a passion. And I know several other first/natural moms who share the same feelings. I even know of one who burned hers. Turned to ashes all that disgusting sweetness and gratitude oozing from the pages.

For me, I sit here now at my desk, staring at it on the bookshelf next to me. For many years, I hid the book away in a box. Hating the sight of it, the memories it brought back. The sick feeling it turned in my stomach whenever I thought of the nights I spent resting that book on my pregnant stomach, reading chapter after chapter about the happy tales of adoption, naively believing every word.

It’s been less than a year since my husband found the book again. The minute I saw it, the sick feeling returned. And anger. An anger so strong I wanted to take the book and hurl it at those who first put it in my hands. I wanted to scream at them at the top of my lungs. Call them the liars they were. Demand they tell me why they never informed me about the other side. The side that isn’t all roses and sunshine. The side that exists in the real world, outside the fantasy world they create inside those adoption agencies.

I wanted answers I knew I would never get. I wanted to release my anger, my pain on a shadowy figure I knew I would never see again. I wanted someone to hurt as I had been hurt, as my son had been hurt.

Instead, all I got was the book, the reminder, that for reasons unknown, I placed on my bookshelf where I would see it day after day. Never sure what good I was doing by keeping it out instead of hiding it away once again.

In time though, it dawned on me – the good that came with the memory of that book. Every time I read the cruel words an adoptive mom had to say about her child’s first/natural mom. Every time the anger and even sometimes hatred reared its head during discussions about adoption and those involved, I realized just how different that reality was from the one portrayed in the book that stared up at me.

Inside the cover of “Dear Birthmother” a pregnant woman is given an insight to a loving, kind relationship and led to expect that is how it will always be. She is never made aware of the other side. Of the other truths that exist in the world of adoption. The two sides are such a drastic contrast to each other that it’s hard to imagine when you are confused and frightened that what you are reading on those pages might not be the truth. Or to even imagine that two adoptive moms (the authors) carefully crafted the “best of the best” in what they included, steering clear of anything that might cast a negative light on adoption.

But, since I don’t believe in only sharing the “best of the best” when it comes to adoption, I have decided to share some of the OTHER comments that exist out there in the real world of adoption. Some of the ways adoptive parents view first/natural mothers.

These are the words they must have forgotten to add. The actual words from adoptive mothers in public forums. Words the authors obviously couldn’t find a chapter for . . .

** I definitely would not want the birth mother to know where I lived. Many birth mothers have serious issues and can be very unstable and I would be worried about her being around my child.**

** You birth parents need to calm down and get over the child who is no longer yours, just move on with your lives and let these children have normal lives.**

** To all you bmoms ... please get a life! If you wanted to make sure your child was in good hands, YOU would be raising them!**

** Why should I honor an open adoption? She's giving the baby away because she doesn't want it, right? If she's giving away the baby, I don't care what she wants....she's not getting it.**

**I'm "sick of" adoptive parents, like me, being put in the position of trying to explain as gently as possible to their wounded child, why their so-called "mother" threw them away like yesterday's trash**

** Please stop saying it's your baby, you gave her up, maybe that 's the problem, you are obsessed over someone else’s child.**

** If you give up your child, you do NOT have the right to call yourself a mother. You are no longer a mother. Any woman can give birth.**

** So please don't belittle what being a mom is. You might consider yourself a mom but, the adoptive mom is that child’s mom.**

* *Adoptive parents need to be free to cut ties to birth families.**

** If a birthdad does not sign a registry or does not pay for any prenatal care then most states are moving towards he has no rights. That is the trend and I am glad.**

** I have a question.. why should you be allowed to see her? Why screw up her entire life by coming back into it because you had a child you couldn't care for, so she found a new family that could. **

**Legally she does not have siblings. They want to be a normal everyday family and having to add in a birth mom, sisters etc would destroy that. **

** I can't imagine having to have the birthmother in my life on an ongoing basis. I think I may be better off this way than to have some hateful, hurtful, poison spewing woman in our lives.**

** Well... that's the shit you have to go through for giving up a child. **

** Sorry bmom, many adoptive parents are worried about the scary behavior of birth parents, they are obviously not very stable people and I will do everything I can to protect my child and not expose him to unstable people.**

The list could go on and on.

Do all adoptive mothers talk this way? Of course not. But many of them exist with the same feelings and opinions. Many of them poured love and tenderness over their child’s first/natural mom while she was pregnant only to turn around and treat her in the same way as these adoptive mothers once the adoption was final.

“Dear Birthmother,” like so many other things in adoption, doesn’t say anything about the risks. It doesn’t tell you that you just plain and simply NEVER KNOW what life you or your child will find. All the promises in the world, the kindness, the words of assurance that you will always be a part of your child’s life, mean absolutely nothing in the end. That amazing, sweet, hopeful couple who has been with you and supported you through your entire pregnancy might be the very first ones to cut you off and treat you or even your child terribly once the papers are signed.

It’s always important to remember that, just like the book, potential adoptive parents, adoption attorneys, counselors, agencies, are only going to offer you “the best of the best.” They will only offer the sweetness, the roses and sunshine. And you have no way of knowing the truth you and your child are walking into until you turn that last page, close the book, and walk into the reality that awaits in the world of adoption.

Sharing The News

I’ve had good – actually great, amazing – news that I have been sitting on for awhile.

I wanted to wait a bit. Savor and enjoy it before putting it out into cyber world where anything goes and the risks exist for others to use their words to try and take away the miracle my family and I experienced.

But now the realization has hit that nobody in any way can ever take away the happiness I have now that I am both biologically and LEGALLY the mother to ALL of my children. My husband and I adopted back our oldest son who we lost to adoption all those years ago. And for the first time in our lives, our family is one-hundred percent complete.

What adoption stole from my family two decades ago is now back to how it always should have been and nobody will ever separate my family again. Those monsters at the agency who lied and manipulated their way between my son and I taught me one thing – you have to be a bitch when it comes to anyone who might try to take away the most valuable thing in life – your children.

I know life won’t go on perfect from this point on. We will still face the challenges and struggles adoption brought into our life and I still understand that adopting my son back does not erase the many years of his life before this moment.

A paper signed from the courts legally recognizing me once again as my son’s mother doesn’t give me the right, or anyone else, to not acknowledge or accept my son’s adoptive family. Good or bad, they were and still are a part of him and his history and trying to erase or ignore that fact would only cause my son even more pain than he has already gone through.

His adoptive mom will always be there. Though right now, with her addiction and her anger, I’m thankful we haven’t heard from her since my last post back in February, but she still exists. She is still a mother in my son’s life as well, though I’m sticking strong to my decision to no longer remain silent or encourage my son to remain silent when and if her ugly tirades reach out for us again.

But I have faith in my family, in my husband and my children, and I know we’ll make it through whatever life from this point on throws our way. We know life isn’t perfection and that hard times can and will come our way. But we also know we have already stood together through so much in just this short time since reuniting with my son and will continue to do so in the years still to come.

And most important of all, we will never again let anyone separate us for any reason. We are a family and won’t ever let somebody take that away from us.