Monday, January 02, 2006

Thought on birth mothers

I've seen some interesting posts in blogsphere about birth mothers. I think my brain has run the gamut of thoughts on birth mothers. When I first started the process I discovered the anti-adoption sites. I was heartbroken. I even second guessed our decision to adopt. I wondered if I was doing this for the right reasons. Could I be a good mother to an adoptive child? I feared birth mothers. I read their sites, their blogs, their anger, their hatred, their pain and I was terrified. I wanted nothing to do with a child's birth mother. Open adoption?? Never! Then I was talking to a client on the phone. He's an adoptive father. Not only does he have an open adoption but it's waaaayyyy open. He's been on vacation with both of his children's birth families! The birth parents are amazing people. Wow. Maybe I was wrong. Then I researched pro-adoption sites by birth parents. There aren't many but they are out there. At this point we have chosen to adopt from Guatemala. I learned that there are some families that have open adoptions from Guatemala. I was fascinated. When you adopt from Guatemala, one of the steps the birth mother must take is an interview in Family Court. Her "story" is recorded and that is one of the documents you receive... Your birth mother's story. Why she chose to make an adoption plan. Marc and I discussed this document at length and decided that the first person to learn Dylan's birth mother's story after us should be Dylan. Please respect this and don't ask - we are not sharing her story. The only thing I will say is that I respect this woman more than words can say. She is an amazing woman. One day, after we received Dylan's DNA results (which we also receive a photograph of Dylan's birth mother holding him) I was mentioning to an idiot coworker how beautiful she is. He said something along the lines of.. Hey - you could hire her as a housekeeper (or something like that). I completely wigged out on this asshat. I basically told him that he's so low he's not worthy to wipe her ass. I told him that if he ever said anything like that again, he'd be hanging out the nearest window by his toenails (much to the delight of his staff). After this happened I was struck by the fierce feelings of protectiveness of this woman who I've never met. I do understand the feelings of fear and intimidating adoptive moms feel of birth mothers. I think it's a process we, as adoptive mothers go through. We are trying to find our place in the world. Are we mothers? Are we real? Are we imagined? Is it us against them? Is it a big happy world where everyone gets along? I pray, in the end, that we (adoptive Moms) realize that we all have our strengths & weaknesses and that all we want.. all of us, is to make the right decisions for our children so that they can grow into happy, well adjusted people. Yes, there are birth mothers out there who have major issue with adoption (many are justified). There are adoptee's who are anti-adoption - they too are justified. I think as adoptive parents we have a resposibility to educate ourselves to the issues these people have. Maybe through this education and undertanding, we can prevent these issues in the future.


  1. Julie-
    i did the same thing-came across all the anti-adoption stuff online after we had decided to do international adoption. i was crushed and very defensive. then i got over it, mostly;)
    i'm very excited to read about our birth mothers story and see the photo of her holding our son. best to you!

  2. I've read some birthmother sites that made me feel like if/when we go down the adoption road I'll be afraid to talk about it. I hope that there is some reconciliation between the two camps.
    I'm glad you put that asshat in his place. i would have kicked him in his shriveled balls. Twice. No.. make that three times.

  3. Hey Julie!

    Cubbiegirl has been talking about this as well. I know all the anti-adoptive parent sentiment I've been reading makes me defensive, and I'm not even an adoptive parent. The notion that someone caring for the child you had to abandon, for whatever reason, is beholden to you rather than your child....

    But on the other hand I agree that there are certainly situations where there can be safe and happy open adoptions.

    I don't know what I'd do, but I admire you for your opinion. As usual.

  4. I also don't understand the hostility on both ends of the adoption spectrum (the birth mothers who feel they've been wronged by adoptive parents and the adoptive parents who are scared of birth parents). But re: the issues- are you a mom, etc? Being a parent is about staying up all night with a sick child, kissing a boo-boo, planning and saving for college, teaching them values/morals according to the principles you believe in. That's what being a parent is, not DNA. That's why I hate it so much when you hear people in the media talking about adoption and mentioning a child's "real" mom. WTF? Does that make the child's parents who raised and took care of him somehow "fake"? Ugh!

  5. I have to say that I very much believe that a non-biological parent is a "real" parent, and it's insulting to an adoptive parent to refer to the "real" mom or "real" dad when what's meant is the biological parent. But I also think we sell birthparents short when we say that they "abandoned" their child or say that biology is completely irrelevant. Making an adoption plan is about as far as you can get from abandonment - as I see it, it's a necessarily thoughtful process that ensures that a baby who you can't (for whatever reason) take care of WILL be taken care of. I think the success of many domestic open adoptions and the movement of adult adoptees to unseal records is exactly what has pushed many international adoption programs towards higher levels of openness -and I think that someday Dylan, who I'm quite confident will love and trust and cherish his adoptive parents, will be very, very happy to have the photo and information about his birth mother too.

  6. Exactly! This is how I feel too. I know I've read Gabe's bm story no less than 10 times since we have been home. I'm so grateful for every single bit of information in it and I'm so VERY VERY grateful for the picture.

    Great post Julie.

  7. Julie, I respect you for not sharing the birth mother story with other people before you share it with Dylan.

    I had a teacher that adopted from China. She did a very nice scrapbook for her daughter. It detailed the whole process of the days they flew to China to bring her home. They read it to her very ofted and she loved it. She brought it in to show it to the class (after getting the ok from her husband and daughter). Just wanted to share that with you as it may be something you may want to do for Dylan.

    They had a biological daughter a few years later and made her a book also. She was jealous though because she thought her sister had a better story :)

    Sorry for rambling. Your post just reminded me of this.

  8. Wow, Julie... this post is so beautiful and really really means a lot to me. As you know, I've spent a good part of the last year coming to terms with my own adoption demons... and while my feelings on the topic continue to evolve... this post is truly an incredibly positive eye-opener for me.

    Because of the circumstances surrounding my own adoption, I have been incredibly defensive of the position of the birth mother... while trying to reconcile this with my respect and affection for many adoptive moms. It's been such a struggle.

    For me to read your account... of your emotional journey through adoption... one that saw you move from fear to protectiveness with respect to your son's biological mother... it gives me such hope... a glimmer of faith... in the process of adoption for ALL parties concerned.

    Julie... I am so unbelievably happy for you... and thank you so much for your unwitting contribution to my own emotional healing.

  9. I don't know much of M's birth mom yet - but I do know she will always hold a special place in my heart. I even hope to someday travel back to Guatemala with little M and meet her birth mom.

    Great post Julie, thanks!

  10. Anonymous4:43 PM

    I'm an adoptive mom to 8 kiddos (yep, I said 8!). Our children came through foster care via DCS. Their mom really is not capable of caring for kittens or puppies, much less babies. However, I, like you, find myself being so very protective of her. She gave life to my children, just as Dylan's bmom gave life to him, and had the strength to find him a better life. Thank you for voicing your praise for this bmom. They so often are the forgotten members of adoption and that is very sad.

    God bless,

  11. I'm a mom of three, one who was adopted. We have a fully open relationship with her birth family. While we're not best friends, we are certainly good friends. It's a very positive relationship.

    I also know a slew of other adoptive parents in open adoptions. I've found that anyone who had problems arise have successfully reconciled through the help of our agency. That's what they're there for!

    Best wishes to you!

  12. Julie, thank you so much for this post! I have been thinking about our son's birthmom a lot since we got our referral and I wonder about her story since we don't know it yet. And even though I know nothing more about her other than she gave birth to my son, I already feel enormous respect and admiration for this woman and I am so thankful to her for putting her trust in 2 complete strangers and letting us be his parents!

  13. Major kudos, Julie. You are such a wise woman. I'm glad our paths crossed. I haven't run into any personal animosity towards bmoms. I have a lot of respect and compassion for them. I have felt a strong connection, maybe even a spiritual connection, to Savanna's bmom even though my agency won't give me any info about her (pisses me off).

    Great post Julie.

  14. I'm so glad that you posted this, and have spoken so wisely about the importance of both sides trying to understand each other. Just as individuals are unique, so, too, is each adoption story.

    I think much of the hard feelings on the part of birthmothers comes from an era when a lot of women really were manipulated and mistreated by the "adoption industry." Things are very different now, at least, as far as I know (hopefully I'm not being naive). I have friends who have adopted recently and in every case, the birthmother had the final say regarding terms and conditions of the adoption -- which family they would go to, and how much contact she would have afterwards, etc. I think that birthmothers today have far fewer reasons to feel exploited.

    One of my friends has regular contact with the birthmother of her two children. That would never work for me, but it works for her. She has a great deal of compassion for her children's birthmother and is very protective of her, just as you are of Dylan's. I know that the birthmother is also very relieved to know that the children she gave birth to are living wonderful, happy lives in a secure and healthy family, and that she knows where they are. All around, it's a good thing.

    I do sympathize with all the angry adopted children out there, just as I sympathize with all the angry donor sperm children (and I'm sure there will be some angry donor egg children coming up in the future -- lucky me!) I sympathize with all my fellow infertiles who are angry that they don't have babies when other people who are less equipped to be parents are so fertile. I even sympathize with those who are angry at women having abortions (even though I'm very pro-choice and don't agree that it is the responsibility of accidentally pregnant women to provide babies for infertiles). But where there is pain, it is hard not to have compassion. Adoption, if it is done right, can truly give everyone what they need out of the situation.

  15. Julie, you are awesome. This was a great post!

  16. Hi Julie - I loved reading this post. I do hope we are able to know our birthmother's story. I think it is so important to have that connection.
    I also wanted to tell you I privately emailed you but then realized it was to your work email and you are not there right now.
    I wanted to tell you that my blog name has changed from Defective Female to Not Showing.
    If it would not be to much trouble could you make that change on your blog list. Thank you so much.
    Hope all is well and you are getting into the groove of being a mommy! :)

  17. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about another difficult issue. The whole birth parent V adoptive parent thing is for me, by far the hardest issue to comprehend. We're just starting to look at adoption and I am honestly scared of birth parents. For me, knowledge of the birth parents is very important, mainly because I want to feel that they made the right decision. I want to know that they weren't pressured by family or stigma, and that they will not regret their decision. But I'm scared I'll resent them. Especially after the whole infertility thing, I'm scared that I'll resent the birth parents for being able to do what I couldn't, and giving that away. It's so complicated and emotionally involving I really respect your understanding of it and ability to communicate how you feel. Every post you make I learn so much from. So thanks again.

  18. Julie that was well said! I am so happy for you. (miss you on the GDT though). ~Celticgoddessjewelry~ AKA Andee

  19. Linda Webber1:51 AM

    I am a mother of adoption loss and I am for family preservation. The truth is the thing that adoptive parents have that most first Moms do not have is money! Singles can adopt if they have enough "money".But that is the thing that will almost guarentee that a poor women will lose her child to adoption:the lack of money.Money is the thing that drives the adoption industry.With out it the over 1.8 billion dollar industry would not survive. The Infant Adoption Awareness Act that provides the tax monies to convince single poor women why she needs to surrender her child to those that can provide the 'things'she can't is what the Bush admin.has succeeded in doing since they are in tight with the Gladney adoption agency that just opened up a new campus to house single pregnant Moms. It is a fact that thought control/coercion works best in a closed system.Too bad there are those that are willing to take advantage of a poor Mother in order to send her child to those that have more 'things'.The truth is there is No triad in adoption because a triad is three equal sides and there is no equality in the business of adoption.