**Birthmother's are birthmothers. Plain and simple. They gave birth, and that was the extent of their mothering. It's not a slur. It's the un-candy-coated truth.**
I just read that little jewel on an adoption question and answer forum.
Doesn’t it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Reinforce the whole vision of how great and wonderful adoption is?
Do you think anyone in those adoption agencies are warning pregnant moms that they will either be viewed as saints or sluts by the majority of society? That the majority of those they come into contact with will never view them as normal, everyday people? That they will be the “other” moms. The ones who actually gave up their child when the normal response to that kind of loss is, “I could never do that.”
See, because we are seen as different. Whether you like us or hate us, most don’t understand us because they can’t relate to what they know, deep down inside . . . that it is an unnatural, painful and unending trauma to lose your child.
Especially, I think, for some adoptive moms who have suffered great loss in their own desire and love for a child. Whether it be through miscarriages, still births, or early deaths, they have felt that mind-numbing, life changing loss that comes with losing a part of yourself. They know it, in their own form, understand how it has the potential to drag a mother under into the dark waves of hell if she lets it.
But instead of using that as a reason to ask how it is the adoption industry can produce so many moms to give up their children and experience that pain, they instead do whatever they can to diminish, change, or discredit our loss by making us into the “others.” Those moms who, for whatever strange reason, just aren’t capable of feeling the loss of a child in the way they have, and are nothing more than the vessels who gave birth to a child meant for another woman.
Another first mom, Myst, puts this into great clarity in her most recent post, Adoption and Hypocrisy. Where she challenges the fact that adoptees and first/natural moms alike are denied the right to mourn and feel loss through adoption. That they are expected to move on, get over it, and accept what the adoption industry has stated should be the “normal” reaction for those caught up in the web of separating mother and child for unnecessary reasons.
We are expected to be different. Expected to be the “other” who doesn’t feel or mourn their loss in the same way children and parents do when they lose each other in any other scenario. If we show anything that goes against the happy, go-lucky perfect image that society wants to see we are labeled and discredited with disrespectful titles such as bitter, angry, ungrateful. Whatever it takes to deny what we feel in order to keep the belief other’s carry with them.
And the saddest thing is, it is the adoption industry itself who put the first fire to these restrictions on first/natural moms being allowed to regret, grieve and mourn the loss of their children. In this post, Adoption Then and Now, there is a clear and distinctive explanation for how the industry poured all their sunshine and roses into the media in an attempt to sway society to see it as they wanted, to jump on their side so they could continue the profits they were gaining by separating mother and child.
It is through these actions that the contrast of saint or slut first come to life. Here is where it has found its life, its ability to weed its way through the thoughts of society to become not only accepted, but held on to with such a strong, unfaltering force.
Because now, in almost every area of our life, adoption is fed as the most “loving” option a mom facing an unexpected pregnancy can do. It’s portrayed as a “choice” she won’t regret. A loss she will get over. A better chance at a wonderful life, for herself and her child, never known had she not given up the most intimate, dearest part of herself . . . her own son or daughter.
In our world, in the realm of those who benefit from adoption, it’s much easier to accept the good, to allow what we have been “told” to be our driving force. It’s a smaller sacrifice to lower a first mom to nothing more than “the one who gave birth . . . the extent of their mothering” than to try to grasp why so many first moms are speaking out so strongly about their losses. Stating, without wavering, how deeply adoption has affected us.
Because, I believe, to question that, for many, would mean having to question the very process that brought so many adoptive mothers their children in the first place.
And nobody wants to really believe that their happiness was gained on another’s tremendous loss. Only the very strong and confident are able to step back, see the true picture of what adoption is, and accept it without letting it diminish their role as parents to their adoptive children.
Not too long ago, Malinda over at Adoption Talk, posted a blog entry titled, What Does “Gotcha” Mean to a Birth Mother . As a first mom, part of my response was . . .
**To me a "Gotcha Day" is like dancing over someone's grave.**
It was, plain and simple, bared and true, MY feelings whenever I hear an adoptive parent refer to a “Gotcha Day” for their child and/or children. I didn’t mean disrespect to anyone. I tried to make sure I left it clearly understood that I was speaking for myself and nobody else. And yet, I still upset an adoptive mom who felt as if it was villainizing adoptive parents by stating such a thing as “dancing over someone’s grave.”
And the thing is, who would blame her for feeling that way? Especially since she stressed, herself, how she was trying to learn as much as she could, and came back even after that and continued to try to learn and understand what others had said.
But, is it really all that surprising that, perhaps, the very fact that my answer didn’t fall into line with what she had been told to expect, made her feel as if I was turning ALL adoptive parents into villains? I didn’t sing praises about adoption. I didn’t talk about how great it was or at least mention that it was the best for my child.
Instead I said everything, not expected, from what is fed into society. And so generated such a response because it isn’t what so many are told that first/natural moms might feel. It goes against all the “happily ever after” rhetoric that the industry feeds into the media.
It is, in every way, a complete contrast to what so many have been told is true for so long.
And in that, I have a respect for this adoptive mom because she didn’t pull from her arsenal the typical bitter, angry, ungrateful accusations that so many do when faced with a contradiction. She didn’t exactly do a complete turn around and proclaim with all her might that what I had to say might have any true meaning or influence in her view of adoption. But she also didn’t react with that instant need to discredit and disbelieve what I did have to say after her first original “villain” comment.
But, there are so many others that do just that. So many, like the adoptive mom I quoted, who do dig into their arsenal and find whatever they can to make first moms who talk about the loss and grief seem like the weird ones, the outcasts. The strange occurrences that do not fall into line with what society expects of them.
And yet, as odd as it sounds, and as much as it might be straying from whatever true meaning this post is supposed to hold . . . to some first/natural moms there is a great importance put into what adoptive moms have to say and share about them, that keeps them firmly in line with what society expects from them.
I know because I used to be one of them. I used to fight so hard in my denial to hold on to the very tips of the pedestal my so-called adoption counselor shoved me onto that every bit of “like” that came from another adoptive mom’s mouth gave me just a little tighter hold on that edge I was slipping from.
Whenever those emotions I fought so hard to keep back began to threaten an appearance, all it took was a quick talk with an adoptive mom, to shove them back down where I could pretend, for a little while longer, that they didn’t exist.
And I was ruthless in my quest to keep it all hidden away, even if it meant looking down on a not-so-good “beemommie,” in the eyes of the adoptive mom.
Because see, that is where I gained my justification to continue in my denial, by being praised as the good one and compared to what another adoptive mom viewed as a “bad” first mom. I was still redeemed, still accepted, okayed, loved, for accepting the fact that I wasn’t a good enough mother for my child and somebody else was.
I continuously found my self-worth in being praised by adoptive moms who “wished” their child’s first mom’s were more like me. The perfect first mom, who wouldn’t even dare to refer to herself with such a title but would, instead, use nothing but the birthmother title the industry had tagged me with.
The perfect “birthmother” who expressed no regret, no pain, no loss. Who behaved and acted exactly like it was expected and portrayed by the industry, hoping to keep their profits up and growing.
I was good! I was loved! And everything I was feeling deep down inside . . . all those threatening emotions shoving me off the pedestal . . . were silenced, buried, because adoptive moms liked me. They respected me. And they hailed me with their praises instead of pummeling me with their insults.
If only they had realized how I was using their praise to make me feel good just as much as they were using my supposive happiness to make them feel good.
In that, at least I can say it was an equal sharing of bullshit between us.
It was a fair balance of denial for all of us!
And, now, I do believe I have completely lost any true direction for where I hoped this post would go.
But somewhere in there I hope I did make some kind of point that the statements such as the one I quoted are “par for the course” if you are a first mom who dares to speak out about anything other than what the adoption industry has portrayed about the way you should feel.
I hope some will see and understand that we aren’t different, we aren’t the “others.” We are moms who have lost tremendously in our lives. We suffer, just like other moms do, when we lose the most important, vital parts of ourselves. We miss too, the diaper changes, the late night feedings. The story times. The healing of scraped knees. The field trips and family vacations. We feel those losses too. Just as deep as any mom who no longer has their child in their arms to love, care for, and give everything they have to offer to.
We aren’t different. We aren’t strange. We’ve just faced and lost to the strong fist of the adoption industry that gains its strength from our government, from society in general and from the adoptive parents who won’t, or can’t, allow themselves to see that our loss, our child’s loss, is as great and life-changing as that deep part in their heart and soul tells them it is.
In Other Words: Susan Harness and Sandy White Hawk
24 minutes ago