Lately I’ve been reading a lot of blogs written by birth mothers. I especially enjoy reading Jenna’s blog on this site. Obviously, as an adoptee I spend a lot of time thinking about adoption issues from the adoptee perspective but I’m trying to learn more about all sides of the triad. I am generally disappointed at the lack of attention given to the birth mother experience when reading about adoption. In my mind, birth mothers are the most fundamental piece of the triad and yet the least discussed when browsing the web or reading adoption related materials.
I can’t begin to truly understand what birth mothers go through but as an adoptee I feel I can relate to their feeling of loss and grief. And for birth mothers in closed adoptions I understand their longing to know about this person somewhere out in the world that they are linked to. I totally get that part. The part I can’t begin to understand is the pain. I’m amazed at the strength of many of these women. Over the years I’ve thought about what it must have been like for my birth mother to relinquish me for adoption. Even as a child I wondered what it was like for her to go into the hospital carrying a baby and leave the hospital alone. I always imagined she must have been really sad but the word “sad” probably doesn’t really even begin to describe it. When we first started communicating I asked her about it immediately. What was it like? How did she feel? She gave me a fairly detailed description of what it was like to live in a home for pregnant girls and what happened at the hospital. And she told me that a week after I was born she returned to school to complete her final year of college. She told me a lot of details – all of which I’m thrilled to know – but she never told me about her emotions or what it felt like. I still wonder about that.
I remember thinking about this a few months ago when there was a discussion on an adoption listserv about an adoptive parent wearing a t-shirt that said “adoption rocks” while out for lunch with his family. I have a whole range of thoughts about parents who openly advertise their views of adoption on a t-shirt (which I will discuss in a future blog post), as did many others on the listserv. It sparked quite a lively discussion. Most of the people thought the t-shirt was cute or clever or harmless – just a well-meaning gesture by a very enthusiastic adoptive father. Many of the comments talked about the wonderful aspects of adoption and the joys of adoptive parenting and how it was important to project that positive image to others. The original poster said that several people in the restaurant stopped at the table and told heartwarming stories about adoption. The general consensus on the listserv was that while not everyone would feel comfortable wearing a shirt like that, it was an acceptable thing to do.
While reading all of the comments I kept wondering what a birth mother might feel about that t-shirt. Would it make her sad? Would it reopen some old wounds? Would it make her angry to see that an event that was so painful for her “rocks” to someone else? Granted, the members of that particular listserv are mostly adoptive parents so the comments reflected their point of view. However, I was surprised that no one wrote about how a t-shirt like that could be painful for some people. Perhaps others were thinking about it but just not posting to the listserv. I didn’t post my thoughts about the possible birth mother point of view either, but after reading so many birth mother blogs, I wish I had.