At times, it’s unfair having to live inside my own mind. I am cruel to myself. I’m consistently wishing my waist was smaller, my chest was bigger, was hair was fuller, my future brighter, and my past quieter. To make matters worse, my thoughts are nothing compared to others comments, particularly when it comes to adoption. What makes their words so hurtful, is knowing that people can say things out of ignorance. Ignorance may be bliss for them, but can create a hell for us. Learning how to handle negative comments is an ongoing process but it is something I have greatly improved upon in the last few years of being a birth mother.
Just after my son was born, my world was completely transformed before my eyes. I went from a life of partying to understanding how unfulfilling that was for me. I ached when I imagined my son, young and innocent, realizing what type of life I was leading. I wanted to begin living in such a way that he would proud to tell his friends about his birth mother. Reconstructing my lifestyle left me in limbo between two worlds. I felt all alone. The friends I had attended these parties with wanted nothing to do with me, and I had no friends outside of that life. The oblivion in which I found myself, put me in a position open to commentary by complete strangers. Most of these comments were cutting and noxious.
These comments ranged from ignorant questions to detailed examinations of my life. Starting with a dear friend telling me she could never “give up” (a hurtful term in the adoption community) because she actually “cared for her child”. The implication was the presumption that I didn’t care for my son. The obvious answer is so pronounced that I feel silly even defending it. Had I not cared about my son, I would have parented and given my son unfair instability in his life. In this situation, I was so unprepared for such an abusive comment, I remained quiet. I wanted to scream from the highest mountain peak how much I love my son. Instead, I sat in a state of disbelief. How could someone say something so hurtful in such a nonchalant manner? In hindsight, I wish I had had the courage to defend my decision. Because of that hindsight, I have been able to find the courage to speak up in later conversations. I have been able to speak up for my decision to many others since then. I pray for that power to be upon birth parents everywhere.
Later on down the road I had a different friend express to me how she thought what I had done was a great gift to that child, but it was time to give a gift to myself by “letting go.” As her comment was meant in all genuine concern for my happiness, it cut me deeply. It reached a level of pain more severe than rude expressions because of how little she understood adoption. And that caused me to fear what my son would go through, growing up, hearing people tell him his birth mother didn’t love him enough to remember him. That she loved herself so much she forgot about him. I had a little bit of experience at this point in the adoption, and I felt comfortable enough to have a conversation with my friend about what benefits open adoption provide for all parties involved. I do not know if she understands why, but I hope that the door is open for more educational conversations.
It takes practice, and I don’t even know if practice makes perfect for this topic. However, open conversations about adoption will lead to healthier relationships both in and out of the adoption community. We birth mothers are hard enough on ourselves. I certainly am. It’s an awful flaw, and one I wish I could correct. The world outside of adoption can be uneducated about adoption, and unknowingly hurtful about their comments. Learning how to handle the comments is an ongoing process but it’s something I feel that I have greatly improved upon. It is something I hope I continue to improve on as I bring a healthy education to those around me.