Every time I mention to anyone that I am a birth mom, I hold my breath and wait for the questions. Sometimes they come with voices full of love, and sometimes they come with a voice like a cat screeching because someone stepped on their tail. Each time I am surprised by reactions, even though I shouldn’t be. I’ve been asked many questions: some from people who really want to know what it is like to be in the adoption triad, some who know nothing and want to know more, and some who ask the questions that sting; and they know they’ve released the venom. These are my top three repetitive questions and how I respond to them.
The first question I am always asked is, yep, you guessed it: “When will you get to TAKE him/her back?”
We all know that this is a question of the uneducated and I look at these questions as an opportunity to educate. I say “Bring them on!” Most think that foster care is adoption or adoption is foster care. They automatically assume that I was down on my luck and child welfare services had to intervene and bring in the state to find suitable housing for my child. Foster care offers reunification services to the birthparents after completing steps of betterment. Adoption is forever. When I explain the differences to them they either say “OH!” or “oh….” That two-letter response either seals the conversation or starts a new one on the glory of adoption.
Next comes: “Aren’t you afraid he/she will reject you?”
Of course I am afraid of rejection. Who isn’t, right? Our fear as birthparents, in my opinion is a little deeper than the normal every day hum drum rejection. My fear of rejection is, what if my birth child rejects me when she comes looking for answers? That’s as simple as it gets, right? Wrong! Not only with she be looking for answers but she will be looking for where her eyes came from or where her quirky sense of wit comes from. These answers can be seen and heard within moments of meeting your birth parent face to face. What if after the years of letters and correspondence it just stops. Silence. Rejection.
With this said, I look at it from the adoptee and adoptive parent perspectives. Adoptive parents are fearful that they will be somewhat rejected once their child meets their birth parent. They will see the reflection of themselves in their birth parents eyes. They will hear the quirky quick wit coming from two mouths. What if there comes a time that a parent feels that they are no longer the most important person to their child? For adoptees the tables turn. What if they look for reunification from their birth parents and they are turned away out of fear? They will feel it to their core. This is rejection folks, and we all are afraid we will be the one on the receiving end sooner or later.
Finally, the question of all questions is: “Is it hard to give your baby away?”
Did y’all cringe? Yep! I immediately respond with “Yes. Placing my child into her forever family’s arms was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” I then go into why we do not give our babies away. I give away Halloween candy. I didn’t give away my child. That’s a whole different story to write about though so we won’t go into those details. Then I proceed to talk about the pain. The daily struggles and the mixed feelings. I tell them about milestones and missed “firsts”. Sometimes I begin to drop into my own dark box and feel like no one is with me and I’m in a confessional asking for God’s mercy for my decision. I realize that if I am speaking to someone who is clearly interested and open to hearing my story that I can go on for hours without stopping. The pain is real, and it is really painful.
I try not to feel too much about my decision to place because it brings up hard emotions. I always notice that after I have discussed my adoption with anyone it re opens the wound. I am noticing through my writing and advocacy that the wound is getting smaller and smaller each time it is reopened. I have times where I just want to find a safe place to cry for hours and pretend my role as a birth parent doesn’t exist and then there are times that I can rock the “Birth Mom look” like it’s no one’s business. The pain will never, ever go away and neither will the questions. It is up to me to educate and stand up for our role in the community. One person educated on adoption is one less uneducated assumption.