Dear Birth Mom

Someone once asked me what I thought of adoption since I myself was adopted as a baby. Well, I have a lot of thoughts about adoption. I think it’s beautiful, amazing, messy, painful, devastating, precious, raw, and humbling. Those feelings seem to contradict each other (and they do) but I think that’s unavoidable when on one hand you’ve been given away by your own flesh and blood, and on the other hand, you’ve been welcomed into a loving family who actually really wanted you. It’s a complicated mess of emotions to sort through as a child, teenager, and then adult, and personally, I find with each phase of development it doesn’t actually get easier ~ it gets more painful.

As a child, I dreamt that I was like little orphan Annie whose parents adored me and desperately wanted to keep me but something tragic must have gotten in the way or they would have never let me go. Right? Not exactly. As a teenager, I met my birth mother and fantasized about how cool it was going to be to have two families to vacation and celebrate with since I now had half sisters and was just naïve enough to be able to suppress the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. As an adult with my own children, I finally realized the truth of the situation in which I was still the shameful family secret and that it would never change. I could either be content to pretend I was not a part of her family in public and instead just a random friend she met years ago who kind of just stuck around (and looks exactly like her), or I could walk away. I walked away.

Human beings should never be kept a secret. It’s difficult to convey the deep-rooted pain that accompanies it but I can say that sex, drugs, alcohol, and overeating do not take the pain away; I’ve tried. At best, they only mask it for a while and at worst, they give you a whole new set of issues to overcome. I could give you specific examples of the painful experiences I’ve gone through, however, I think in a way I would just be trying to make myself feel better by letting other people know about the wounds that have been inflicted upon me. Suffice it to say that seventeen years of secrecy and shame (whether intended or not) is more than enough for anyone to have to go through.

The psychological impact that being kept a secret has on a person is devastating and it can cause that person not to trust anyone. It can cause that person to push anyone away who could possibly love her. It can cause that person to never show emotion and to walk on eggshells around basically everyone. It can rob that person of a solid foundation on which they can rely upon the members of their family (biological or otherwise). It can make that person walk away from loved ones at the first sign of confrontation to avoid being left behind; again.

Do I support adoption? Absolutely. Confusing, I know, but hear me out. Adoption is an incredible gift. The birth parents are giving their precious baby a chance at a better life. The birth mother has sacrificed her body for all of those months only to hand her child over to someone else. That is sacrificial love at its finest in my opinion. What I wish more than anything is that those mothers would be proud of their sacrifice instead of ashamed. I wish that they would stop caring about other people’s opinions and instead know that what they did was incredibly brave and beautiful and amazing. Where there is fear and shame there is darkness. That darkness consumes a person to the point where they don’t even see that their actions are destroying another. All that matters to them is keeping their deep dark secret safe ~ at any cost. I had to end my relationship with my birth mother because the pain was too severe and there was no way I was going to let my children feel like second-class citizens the way I have for almost 20 years. I couldn’t truly heal until I let her go and I am still pulling the emotional knife out of my chest left from knowing that she’d rather keep me a secret even if it meant losing me.

Any birth mother who lovingly gives their child up for adoption is a hero in my book. Since I can’t get through to my own biological mother, let me say this in hopes that it reaches someone who will take it to heart. Your child will likely come looking for you so please register with the adoption registries so that they know you want to be found. And if you don’t, please change your mind. I could write an entire book about the pain of building up the courage to look for a birth parent only to be met with a veto saying they want nothing to do with you. My biological father didn’t register or look for me and though he was absolutely thrilled to be found, knowing that he never looked is a wound I’m still struggling to heal.

Yes, you gave your child away but you are still their biological parent. Please don’t withhold your love out of fear that your child’s parents will have a hard time with it. Let them deal with that and you just love on your baby.

If you still have a hard time with the circumstances surrounding the conception, pregnancy, and birth of your child please talk to someone about it. I am begging you here. Bottling that up inside will destroy you and possibly others as well. If you are terrified that your friends will judge you for giving your child the gift of life then please get new friends; yours suck. You must deal with your issues about this because it’s not fair to keep someone a secret. It’s not okay to mess with their worth and identity that way. I realize that the pain you’re causing is unintentional and that is why I urge you with all that I am to please seek counseling about this. You gave your child away, that’s going to cause pain. It doesn’t have to live inside of you forever though.

If I could say one thing to my birth mother it would be this. I wish you could see the incredible woman I see. Who at 16 years old made the courageous decision to give her baby to a loving family. That’s amazing. You. Are. Amazing. I’m proud to be your daughter. 

I just wish you were proud of me too.

If you're an adoptee struggling with the trauma please feel free to grab my guide here.


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