Jill Murphy is the mother of three children, one of whom she placed for adoption as a teen and two she adopted with her husband. Jill, self-described in her book as “not a well-known author with a shelf full of best-sellers,” chose to publish her newly-released book Finding Motherhood because she’s a “woman with a beautiful story to share.” In doing so, she helped her “heart heal and find the beauty in my journey.”
I had the opportunity to read Jill’s book and learn more about her journey of beauty and healing. I found the book to be honest and gentle, much like a good mother. I also interviewed Jill, learning more about her story and what’s next for her.
Garlinghouse: What is your connection to the adoption community?
Murphy: I am connected to the adoption community both as a birth mother and an adoptive mother. When I was 17 and ready to head off to college I realized I was pregnant. My boyfriend at the time (the baby’s father) and I decided on adoption. We were too young to be parents—good parents. This baby needed more than what I was capable of and also deserved the BEST life.
Months after I realized I was pregnant we had broken up. Then in June of 1987 I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. The father and I signed the papers, the family was picked out, and this baby was ready to have a beautiful life. A week after we had signed the papers, the father changed his mind and after the involvement of lawyers, he won custody over the plan of adoption I had fought so hard for. A year later he married and his wife legally adopted our son. It wasn’t the plan I had for this baby . . . but I found peace in knowing he had a mother and a father and would be loved.
Fast forward almost ten years: I am married to my wonderful husband and we decided to start a family. We spent 6 years on the infertility roller coaster to discover I could not get pregnant. We closed that painful door and changed our focus onto adoption (how ironic!) Over the next couple of years we worked on paperwork and forms, and in 2001 we welcomed our daughter home from South Korea. Two years later we were blessed with daughter #2, again from South Korea. Our family was finally here. In 2010, I found my birth son and we met. Since then we have had a wonderful relationship and he is very much part of our family. My beautiful circle is complete.
Garlinghouse: On page 14, you talk about your C-section scar and its physical and ever-present reminder of the baby you gave birth to. How do you feel about that scar, that reminder, today?
Murphy: It is funny how a scar can make you feel a range of emotions. It reminds me of being a pregnant teen and the decision I made 28 years ago. It used to make me curious about my baby boy, angry that I couldn’t have babies when the time was right, and now happy that it all worked out. It is a constant reminder that I am a mom in different beautiful ways.
Garlinghouse: Why write a book about your experience?
Murphy: I never ever dreamed of or even thought of writing a book. When I first found my birth son, I had many years of emotions that I had hidden away and did not know how to process them. That lead me to writing a blog about it—which later became my book. My emotions ran the whole show. I dealt with the loss and wonder of my baby boy; the anger, sadness, and mourning of the lost dream of having children with my husband; the joy of experiencing the opposite end of adoption; and realizing what joy a heartbreaking and hard decision a young girl had made a world away would bring me. If I was feeling all these feelings, perhaps someone else was also in any of the situations. If I could say to one pregnant teen, or one infertile couple, or one family touched by adoption that “I get it and I understand,” then my book is all worth it!
Garlinghouse: What do you hope readers gain from your book? What do you seek to “teach” the adoption community?
Murphy: Being a birth mom who has reunited with a child, I realize the importance of respecting boundaries of the other family. That is the child’s REAL family and all he or she has ever known. I was a “belly” mom—it doesn’t make me less important, but important in a different way. As an adoptive mom, I feel it is important to let my daughters know that their birth moms didn’t “get rid of them” or “not want them,” but they made their decision out of such love and heartache. They think about them every day and are loved. I think how wonderful it is when reunions happen that there is all that more love for our children. That it is a positive thing. Adoptive children need to find that missing piece of their life puzzle when they decide to find their birth parents (if they do). I don’t think it has to do with their adoptive family, I think it is a need for closure.
Garlinghouse: What do you see in your future in terms of writing or your involvement in the adoption community?
Murphy: I would love to speak and keep writing about adoption and the many sides of being a birth parent and an adoptive parent. I would love to see better education on terminology and proper conversations. What is the accepted way to ask questions regarding adoption from those not familiar, etc.