“Adoption is about love.” For the life of my beloved minivan, that bumper sticker was displayed on its back end. That sticker was my way of proudly announcing my status as a birth mother years before my son and I were reunited.
I had been young, single, and pregnant, but I was far from alone. I had the opportunity to meet with a kind social worker who thoroughly explained all of my options and didn’t pressure me one way or another. I had parents who loved and supported me, no matter my decision. The choice to place my baby for adoption was 100% my decision, and I was not coerced, forced, or lied to. I made the choice to place my son for adoption because I loved him enough to be willing to give up my every happiness so that he could have every chance. While I was not perfect (am still not), my adoption was about a mother’s perfect love.
A few months ago, I wrote an article about birth mother grief. It resonated and was shared thousands of times. I was shocked when, through the comments, people commented that my article was blatant adoption propaganda and I was part of an evil scheme to con vulnerable women into doing something they didn’t want to do. Wow. I was completely unprepared for the backlash. I was simply trying to share my own grief in the hopes of helping others understand the lifelong personal sacrifice of a birth mother.
This experience woke the scholar/researcher in me, and over the last couple of months, I have read article after article, story after story, and several books that have testified of a darker side of adoption. While I knew this dark side existed, I had no idea how widespread it has been. websites and other social media groups proclaim “We are WOMEN WHO WANTED to keep our babies. But because of factors such as being single, ill, young, and/or just vulnerable to family and agency pressures, our babies were taken by force, coercion, and lies.” I read stories of shattered women whose words are haunting:
- “The doctor told the nurse, ‘She is an unwed mother . . . Let her hurt.’”
- “She told me that women who were tying to keep their babies were considered psychotic.”
- “There was no choice.”
- “It is not hard to manipulate a teenager who is trying to do what’s best.”
- “It became clear that they weren’t going to bring my baby to me.”
- “My child was abducted by the system.”
- “We were told we only wanted a doll to dress up and play with.”
- “Your baby has already been taken to be placed for adoption.”
- “The maternity home was a shame-filled prison.”
- “The doctor screamed at the nurse to take the baby away from me.”
I openly wept as I read the horrific words of these true-life experiences.
I cannot even begin to contemplate the personal agony of one who has experienced Complicated Grief Syndrome as well as the PTSD that almost all birth mothers experience coupled with the blatant betrayal of family, friends, and the system. In many instances, their children were simply kidnapped, sometimes right out of their arms. I had the overwhelming desire to take a baseball bat and bludgeon the people who did these things to these women.
I suddenly understood why my efforts to ease a soul or two were met with attacking words. Why me talking about “my choice” was seen as a slap in their faces at best, or even an outright lie. I understood why women have chosen to identify themselves as an “exiled mother,” to claim their true birthright to their children.
To all exiled mothers everywhere from a birth mother: I am so very sorry. While what I have to say is meaningless compared to what you have been through, it is all that I have. I cannot even fathom the terror you went through and the agony you have felt every single day since. I am sorry that when you were in the most need that you were utterly betrayed by the very people who were supposed to take care of you. I am sorry that all your choices were taken from you. I am sorry that those who perpetrated such evil will never be punished. I am so very sorry.
It is my sincere wish that those of us who truly feel that our adoption journeys are about love, albeit messy and painful, can reach out to those who associate adoption with tragedy and deceit and can feel our love for you. Perhaps all those who have been touched by adoption can be more sensitive and understanding in that each adoption situation is unique, and we can honor and tenderly cherish the hearts of all of us.