Things I’m Afraid To Tell You: My Thoughts On Adoption and Birth Mothers

As Mother’s Day draws nearer, I find myself getting unexpectedly weepy.

First off, now I’m a mom. A role I wasn’t sure I was ever going to have, certainly one I came to later in life. It’s all now really sinking in.

I’m someone’s mom.

Here’s the part where my experience is different from other mothers and where some deep sadness fills my heart.

In addition to being over the moon about our baby, I can’t help but think about Ruby’s birth mom. And how her loss has been the biggest gift we’ve ever received.

Our precious girl.

Talk about a double-edged sword. Someone else’s loss being your gain? Let’s not even talk about what the kids have lost. Totally does my head in.

A number of people have written so eloquently about what adoption has taught them , about how the adoptive parents (NOT the children) are the lucky ones and honoring their son’s birth mother, that I ask you grab your favorite beverage and read their posts. All these posts brought me to tears and made me want to add my thoughts about adoption and birth mothers which at this point are not very eloquent.

I do have to say that not all of our experiences are the same, however I feel a deep kinship with other adoptive parents. I wanted to highlight some of the ways adoption is heartbreakingly beautiful, with an emphasis on heartbreaking.

Since I’m having some trouble putting together my thoughts on adoption and birth mothers in an eloquent way, I’ll just list them in no particular order. I bring these topics up now because I’ve been an adoptive mama for a while now and believe it or not these have come up. In the spirit of transparency on the internet, many brave bloggers are sharing what they are afraid of. 

I do fear people are going to take offense to what I’m about to say. Some want to tell me our experience as mothers is exactly the same and while there are many commonalities, there are a few huge differences. Some will find out they’ve accidentally stepped on toes because they’ve been curious. Some will find my thoughts presumptuous. So be it.

I’m filing this post under: Things I’m Afraid To Tell You.

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While I do not know my daughter’s birth mother, we are connected and I am forever in her debt. Ruby is a gift. She’s changed me in totally wonderfully unexpected ways.

Sometimes I find myself sobbing because I missed the first nine months with Ruby. She was so well cared for which is a relief, however I ache for that lost time.

Please don’t ask to know the details of a birth mother’s circumstances – it isn’t your business. I am nosy by nature, so I get it. But really, not your (or my) business. It is an awkward moment for everyone involved. That story truly does belong to the adoptive child and when they are old enough may or may not wish to share those intimate details of their past with you.

I know I’ve already over-shared some of Ruby’s history with people because I have been caught off guard. I feel awful about this because it’s not my story to tell. If I’ve shared anything about this history, please do not share with anyone. If I haven’t, please don’t ask.

Please don’t make assumptions about birth mothers. There is no typical story. There is no archetype. They are women just like us, making difficult choices. And for god’s sake, please don’t make comments about how “some” people are “breeding” and are “crackheads” who just irresponsibly give birth multiple times.

Really? sounds like right-wing anti-woman propaganda from the 80s. 

Just stop it.

For all we know, the woman standing next to us in line at the grocery store has an adoption story. For some, it is a secret. I imagine, a painful one. Even without your judgement.

Please don’t judge birth mothers. They may or may not have different life styles than us.  Comments about how you could never give up a child aren’t helpful either. Under certain circumstances, we’d all make tough choices to hopefully better the life of our child.

Please don’t say adoptive parents are lucky or saintly for adopting a child – we really are the lucky ones. We are the ones gaining a child to love.

Please don’t give parenting advice until you are also parenting an adoptive child – some things are just different when you are starting your life from a loss. Also, we lean toward Attachment Parenting and would probably be parenting this way even with a biological child.

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What are you afraid to tell people? Please share in the comments or write a post of your own and link back.

Please know that comment kindness is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to EZ at Creature Comforts for the challenge. And Jess for getting it all started.

28 thoughts on “Things I’m Afraid To Tell You: My Thoughts On Adoption and Birth Mothers

  1. You shouldn’t need to be scared to say any of this. It’s real and beautiful. I’ve never been part of an adoption from either side, but even then it all makes sense. We’re ‘exploring’ the possibility of fostering a child right now- terrifying and exciting and agonizing and joyful. But it all starts from a place of loss for this child, and I can’t forget that in this.

    • Thank you. In all honesty, it’s less about being afraid because this loss is real, it is really about blowing the illusion for others that adoption is this happy, happy event for all parties involved.

      I wish you well in your discovery of foster adoption. I recommend reading Rosie Molinary’s blog – search archives for adoption posts and Rage Against the Minivan for other adoption resources.

  2. This is absolutely beautiful… and I love where you said not to judge a birth mother. I knew a girl who had a good job and plenty of money but adopted out her baby. A few of our friends couldn’t believe it and would ALWAYS bring up the job and money. I finally had to point out one day that there is a heck of a lot more to raising a baby than just the finances behind it. That friend had shared her story with me, and honestly, I can’t even imagine myself in the position she was in. Personally, I think she made the right choice. She does of course miss her baby and wonder about life with her but doesn’t regret her decision at all.

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  10. As we grow up we think we know everything and everything will be perfect but life has many surprises for us…soul mates and spouses don’t always fall in order for us so when you find the “right one” may you be lucky enough to be together for a long time. Family is important also which includes the circle that keeps getting wider as we add members to our group May we all find the love to to share with everyone

  11. Thank you for sharing this, it really helps those of us that are not in the adoptive parent community. I never know what to say (not that one has to say anything, I know).

    Anyway, here’s mine: I’m afraid to tell people I am envious of parents who have children that *just* have nut allergies. Not fair AT ALL to even think it but I imagine about how it has to be so much easier (I’m sure it isn’t). I just feel like it would be easier to keep my daughter safe if there was just one food “enemy.”

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  13. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Good for you for saying what you were afraid to say.

    I really appreciate the part about not making judgements about a birth mother. I have said for years that if I got pregnant unintentionally I would most likely give the baby up for adoption to live in a two parent home not a single home with me. Even though I have a loving family who would financially, logistically, and emotionally support me through such a pregnancy and raising of a child, I just wouldn’t do it single.

    And, I’m educated, I have a job and I am an normal woman.

    I would want the baby to have two parents (like Ruby) instead of one parent.

    (Note: I am not against nor do I judge single parents. They are AMAZING. I just don’t want to be one).

    Bravo, Tami!

  14. Yes, yes, yes. Especially to the people who have caught me off guard with questions about the birth mother’s circumstances. I’ve learned to practice answers to some of these comments…

  15. Beautifully said. No toe-stepping – just honest feelings and those are always okay in my book. I can’t speak on the adoption process – whatever you’ve gone through is your story and, as for the loss of those months, I can’t give you that back either. What I do see is
    someone who loves Ruby with every fiber of her being and that, more than anything, will carry you through as you move through and honor those feelings. What I’ve learned, as a parent, is that you absolutely can’t control much of what happens. Your children will do stuff that will boggle your mind, frustrate you and fill you will joy and love in equal measure. So, Happy Mother’s Day to you. I think Ruby has been in your heart – if not living in your home, for much longer than her short time on earth. That is something to celebrate.

  16. I mean, I have no comment here other than I love you and your little family, and I’m grateful that I get to know Ruby (and you).

  17. Agreed completely and beautifully written.

    I am afraid to tell people that I hate it when they say “Happy Mother’s Day” to me. For me, it is a bittersweet holiday. Emphasis on the bitter. Yes, I have a living son, for which I am eternally thankful. But I also have two other children who were stillborn. I hate that the fact that I am their mother is never acknowledged on Mother’s Day. And I hate that I don’t feel comfortable acknowledging it in any public way.

  18. I love love love this. I’m blessed to have adoption in my family, and all of this – especially your feelings on birth mothers – resonates so deeply. Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day, Tami.

  19. Wow. Beautiful. And so are you and so is your precious Ruby. What you said about aching for her first nine months… wow. This fills my heart with so much love and joy and empathy for those who make those hard choices I could never imagine having to make.

    Happy early Mother’s Day, beautiful friend. xxxxooo

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