I’m not going to talk about R’s birthmother here. I’ve said all I’m going to say about her already. Her story and her information belongs to my son. What I am going to talk about is how I feel about all birthmothers in general.
A birthmother is selfless. A birthmother chose to place her baby for adoption because she loves him so much that she wants more for him. She chose adoption out of love and selflessness. Of course she could have raised that baby. What she is doing instead is providing him with whatever she feels she can’t give him: a father, an education, stability, or maybe even protection. She is considering the needs of the baby, and not the needs of herself.
A birthmother is brave. Placing a child for adoption is probably the hardest decision she will ever make in her life. She has to live with the loss every single day of her entire life. Would I have that kind of courage?
A birthmother may be alone. The number one deterrent to adoption, according to Gordon B. Hinckley, is the birthmother’s mother. In other words, the baby’s biological grandmother is often the one who discourages the adoption. Birthmothers who choose adoption anyway may do so without the support of their families or partners. I want to give all of those women a huge hug. How’s that for bravery?
A birthmother loves her children and she loves the adoptive parents. Every birthmother loves her child. Again, she chose adoption because she loves him. Additionally, birthmothers love us adoptive parents. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t let us raise their children! When I went to an adoption conference to hear birthmothers speak, they repeatedly said versions of this statement: “I wish the adoptive parents knew how much I love them for caring for my child as their own.” This touched my heart. It made me see birthmothers more as friends and less as someone to fear.
A birthmother is facing challenges. The majority of birthmothers who place children for adoption domestically are not actually teens: they are in their twenties! Therefore, the stereotype that a birthmother is just too young to raise a baby may be inaccurate. Often, she is a full-grown woman, and she is choosing adoption for a different reason. She may be facing challenges that we can’t imagine.
A birthmother chooses adoptive parents for different reasons. We may never know why a birthmother picks a certain family to raise her child. When birthmothers look at profiles of adoptive parents, different things might impress them. For example, I heard a birthmother say that she chose birthparents who ice skated, because she used to do that as a child and wanted her child to have some of the same experiences that she did. Some birthmothers express a spiritual feeling, which helps them to just intuitively know where their child belongs. Some even express a feeling that the baby never felt like theirs, and that they were entrusted with the job of delivering the baby to his parents.
A birthmother wants to be defended. When I hear someone say, “Well, I could never give my baby up” , especially in front of my child, I bristle. I got in the habit of defending birthmothers, long before my son could understand, so that he would hear me and be able to mimic my responses later. A birthmother chose adoption out of love, and that makes her far more amazing than anyone who questions her decision.
Each birthmother has different needs. Some birthmothers need to see the baby on a regular basis; some may need to see pictures; some may just prefer email updates because pictures are too painful; some may need to distance themselves completely in order to deal with the pain. All of these are okay. I have no idea what I would need if I were in their shoes.
A birthmother doesn’t want to be forgotten. It is very important to a birthmother (and to me) that we teach the child about her. She wants him to know how much he was loved, how much she struggled with her decision, and who she was.
I have gone through many different emotions about birthmothers – awe, fear, anxiety, love, even a little jealousy. I believe that my son’s soul belongs in our family, and that it didn’t matter in what body he came here. Our bodies are just a vessel for our soul. His birthmother brought him to us when my body couldn’t carry him. I love my son exactly the way he is, but sometimes I feel a little jealousy of his birthmother because I wish he would have just come from my body. On the other hand, I also feel completely in love with her for bringing us this little soul and want to celebrate her – and her genes and her selflessness and all that she is!
Sometimes people pretend his birthmother doesn’t exist, I think, but not intentionally. I might be the only one who thinks about her every day. I have taught R to pray for her every night- both to thank her and to bless her. I have to admit that sometimes I might feel just the tiniest bit flattered that people forget about his birthmother, because that means that they truly accept me as his mother. However, I know that his birthmother is extremely important and should never be forgotten. I am teaching him that he has two mothers, two stories, two histories. He will be taught to love her and respect her.
I really only answer to my son when it comes to his birthmother. Someday, I will have to fill in more details for him. Someday, I will have to answer the harder questions. Someday, I will need to show him our correspondence and the paperwork I have. Until that day, we will talk and we will pray. And we will teach others to love and respect birthmothers.