“Women who give up children for adoption hate children.”

“I could never give up my child. I love them too much.”

“Why would you let someone raise your own child?”

“I would never let my child give up a baby. I would raise the baby myself.”

Sigh. Yes, I’ve heard these and others like it over and over again, especially thirty years ago when I first placed my son for adoption. More than the actual words were the looks, the rolled eyes, the gaping mouths, and the look of disbelief that was always followed by whispers. From adults. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to scream, “What are we, a bunch of 7th graders?” Good grief.

My favorite, however, always came around my son’s birthday or Mother’s Day when I was a bit of a mess. Kind people would ask what was the matter and why was I quiet or sad or easily upset. When I explained my grief, it was often met with, “Why are you sad? It’s not like your baby died or something. You chose to give up your baby.”

Over three decades of birth mother experience, I have learned that it is not socially or politically correct for me to have the following feelings about my son, his family, or my adoption experience:

Grief. Nope, not allowed. You can only grieve the loss of your child if the child was taken from you by means beyond your control.

Anxiety. Well, you made your bed, so you need to lie in it. You should no longer feel anxious about if you made the right decision or not. Move on.

Longing. No one else seems to wonder about your child and how they are doing, so why should you? OR You have children of your own that you get to watch grow up. Why do you long for the baby you gave up?

Happiness. There must be something wrong with you if you gave a child up. You don’t deserve to be happy about it or anything else.

Love. That’s weird. Why do you have an extra birthstone on your mother’s ring? He’s not your baby, you know.

Peace. I would NEVER feel okay about giving up a baby.

Regret. You did the very best thing you could have done. You shouldn’t feel bad about it.

One more thing—I’m not supposed to talk about it.

So, I’m not allowed to feel peace or regret, grief or love? I guess birth mothers are supposed to live the rest of their lives in a zombie-like state with no feeling whatsoever.

I refuse. I simply refuse. First of all, I didn’t give up my child. He wasn’t abandoned or thrown away. He was placed, lovingly, with care, after countless hours of tears, counseling, and prayer. Just because I don’t regret my decision does not mean that I don’t grieve. I do. Even thirty years later. I admit the grief is much less since my son and I have been reunited (we have an amazing relationship), but every now and then I realize there is so much that I missed out on, that I don’t know.

I refuse to keep silent. I have four children; three boys and a girl. I share my oldest son with another family. My two oldest sons are named Ben because my first son’s mom named him Ben, and I named my first child that I raised Ben. Yup, my first Ben calls me Lisa, but he’s also called me Mom. Sure, it’s different with my first Ben than the rest of my children. I know every crevice and cranny. I know when they are stretching the truth, can sense over the phone when they are struggling, and have an arsenal of stories that I can and do tell about them. I don’t have those things with my first Ben. That’s okay. His mom does.

Each birth mom’s experience is unique and sacred and wonderful and painful. None are alike. Yet, the one thing we share is complicated, mixed-up, confusing, and sometimes debilitating feelings. Those feelings may lessen and become easier to deal with over time, but they don’t completely go away. We are tough women, stronger than anyone, even though we feel like we are the most fragile.

Oh, for your information, women who place children for adoption are loving, generous, soft-hearted people who love most of all.