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.
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.
I was sixteen and pregnant. Frightened and so confused. I remember the pamphlet my school nurse handed me. Pregnant? Confused? We understand. We can help you decide which option is best for you and your baby. I needed that. An adult who would comfort me, help me and not judge. Blindly I walked into the adoption agency, seeking help, information, and my life was never the same. They used my age and my emotions for their own gain. Their offered comfort came with one agenda in mind - to make sure I chose adoption for my unborn baby. I walked in their doors as an unknowing, trusting child. I walked out as a battered mother who lost more than she could ever imagine.
In order to drive a car you must be of a certain age, to drink you must be a certain age, to have your own credit card or even your own bank account without parent signatures you must be a certain age - yet government allows very young vulnerable single mothers to sign a legally-binding document handing over their own flesh-and-blood, another human life, to complete strangers. - Claudia Ganzon -