Becoming a Birth Mom
I became a birth mother almost seventeen years ago. Things have changed a lot in the adoption world since I placed my daughter into the arms of her parents with an arrangement for a semi-open adoption. And I’ve learned about balance.
For me, it seemed an ideal fit with the balance. I wanted to have enough connectivity to know that my baby was safe, healthy, and well adjusted. While it was incredibly difficult to wrap my brain around the fact that the child I grew inside my own belly was under another roof, in another state, without me being there to witness her growth, I felt confident that I’d made the right choice for her and I trusted her parents completely.
During the first year, thankfully, her parents were diligent with sending letters every couple of months along with a full packet of printed photos of my little nugget. They told me about the funny stories, gushed over the tender moments, and shared milestones along the way. These letters and photos have been my lifeline, and continue on an annual basis even now that we follow each other on social media, which for the past eighteen months or so has given us an even closer look into each other’s lives.
Placing a child for adoption was a huge deal for me. It was my first taste of motherly love and I still love my birth daughter dearly. Over time, it became a little easier to get through the days and move forward with my life, knowing she was in good hands.
Besides my immediate family, not many other people knew about my daughter. I kept my story closely guarded for years, only sharing when I felt like it might be helpful to others when the subject of adoption came up. It wasn’t because I was ashamed of my situation, but rather, I wanted to preserve the special relationship and balance I had developed with the adoptive family. I wanted very much for us to both be able to enjoy the experience, and provide some privacy for my birth daughter’s family.
The Children I Parent
I became the mother to my own children starting almost nine years ago, and I’m currently expecting my fourth child in November 2016. Notice that little gap in baby-birthing? Well, despite being married within a couple of years of placing my firstborn for adoption, there was some underlying guilt and anxiety around having more children after “giving away” my first baby, as so many people refer to it. How could I balance it?
And I remember, from time to time, feeling a little bit like I wanted to simply dedicate myself to my husband before we embarked on the lifelong adventure of parenting. I didn’t want him, or our children, to feel at all overshadowed by this role I already played as a birth mother. Even with my husband, I was very selective about how and when I would talk about my birth daughter. Usually, I only brought it up a couple of times each year, primarily around her birthday when I’d receive the annual package.
I was content to keep this monumental experience close to my own heart since no one could really understand how deeply it affected me anyhow.
Now that I have my own brood of children, my capacity for love has only grown over the years. Each of them taps into my love-line in different ways and I’m overwhelmed with the happiness that I feel by tending to their needs every (sometimes gruelingly long) day.
An Open Book
These days, wide-open adoptions are very much becoming the norm. I’m not at all opposed to it and find it fascinating to observe the intertwining of the birth mother into the adoptive family’s lives.
As I mentioned before, I didn’t necessarily hide my story, but I wasn’t ready to have a spotlight on one of the most intimate experiences of my life.
Recently, I’ve come totally public with my story of adoption because I wanted to share the positive outcome that our particular situation has resulted in. Essentially, things are wide open now. Our families and friends know more about each other’s lives than ever before, and, in a book I just published, I included contributions from my birth daughter and her parents as well as my own mother’s thoughts as a collaborative effort to show the miracle of adoption in our lives.
During the past year, I couldn’t deny the urges I was having in regards to sharing our positive story, despite my busy schedule as a mother of young children and an entrepreneur desperately trying to make ends meet working from home.
First, there was the task, slow and steady, of finding the right balance of connection between myself and my birth daughter and her family with the additional access to each other on social media. That was new and unchartered waters.
Second, there was the balance of talking so freely about my birth daughter with my family and friends, including my own husband and children, without creating a sense that she overshadowed my kids. I never want my own children to feel like they come second to my birth daughter in any way.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened myself up to the masses. Naturally, I’ve been more observant of support groups and online interactions, and I even recently joined the board of directors for a local adoption agency to really engage myself in a way that allows me to be a resource to other women who face a similar situation to mine.
I spend a lot of time connecting with hopeful adoptive couples and being a listening ear to birth mothers and those preparing to become a birth mom. I love to be available and empathetic to their unique situations.
One thing that continues to surprise me is how much more focus some birth mothers put on their birth children than the ones they are currently parenting. I feel as though there wasn’t adequate support during their healing process, and that their role as a birth mother consumes them and holds them in a deep state of unrest, instead of being an experience they are content with.
When I see posts from young birth moms who are in a panic and even steaming with anger that they haven’t gotten a call or text every couple of days, it concerns me for the welfare of all parties involved. I put myself in the shoes of the adoptive parents, knowing as a parent myself how busy and chaotic things seem from day today. I do not doubt that even if they are a bit delayed in communicating with their child’s birth mother, they are no less deeply grateful for the selfless gift they have been given by her.
These are the times I try to step up in those Facebook comments to offer up messages of hope and love and to breathe patience into the hearts of birth moms and send prayers to the adoptive parents and their sweet babies.
Choosing Time Wisely
The need for support in the adoptive communities is relentless, and there is a true sense of urgency for me to continue to be involved.
What I’m finding is that the real balance comes between family and my work and community commitments. And by family, I mean ALL of my family. My birth daughter brings so much joy into my life, but so do my own children. As more of my time is needed to serve and speak in adoption circles, that time will be chiseled from other areas of my life, and not taken from the time I need to spend being a mother to my rapidly growing babies. Elements of my career can wait, but my little children cannot.
I believe that my Heavenly Father provided me with the honor of being a birth mother AND a parenting mother for a special purpose. Indeed, my greatest role in this mortal life. I’m thrilled at the thought that I am a part of helping create TWO forever families during my time on earth.
One of the best steps I’ve taken as my children are old enough to begin comprehending the situation is to include them in the journey and the balance. To be open with them, and to demonstrate to them constantly how fiercely I love them, so they can rest assured that there is enough love to go around for everyone, including my birth daughter.
Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.