The title, birth mother, has a long history and an array of stereotypes, perceptions and negative connotation. Too often, once a woman became a birth mother, her reputation took an abrupt adverse rank, her character seemed less trust worthy, and she was deemed reckless, wild and irresponsible. Although in more recent years, there has been much more news worthy stories focusing on birth mothers and the veil has been lifted and shame is slowly being erased, adoption stories are still more often told by the adoptive parent or birth child/adoptee and rarely does the birth mother tell her story. I am a birth mother and this is my story in my words.
At a recent birth mothers support group, I shared my birth mother story with two young and recently new “birth” mothers. When I began to talk about the time my birth son’s parents let me take him to meet his birth father, the counselor interrupted and said, “Girls, close your ears because this is not a normal situation.” Yes it’s true. My birth son’s parents are beyond the normal grace of the basic human beings, for which I am so very thankful.
I knew very early on in my pregnancy that I wanted an open adoption. I was already a single mother to my son, Jaren who was a young toddler. It was hard enough having to swallow my pride and admitting that I was not sufficient enough to care for both of my children. And the lack of support I had from their father and my family didn’t give me much optimism to ponder other possibilities. I just couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to my infant baby without knowing anything about him or his life possibly ever again.
Most of the agency’s’ standard recommendations at that time for an open adoption agreement included letters and pictures for the first five years. Anything beyond that was strictly up to the families. However, these open agreements, often times were verbal agreements, promises made between two families that were not legally binding in a document or the courts.
On Christmas Eve, I entered the meeting room alone with the agency, a witness and a notary public awaiting my arrival. The relinquishment papers were slid in front of me. Detaining my emotions and tears, I slowly perused through the legal rubbish and I signed my name allowing my newborn to be adopted. A few days later, my son’s new family came to meet us and obtain their infant. With no more expectations on my open adoption agreement, we began to discuss our adoption arrangements. My son’s adoptive parents elected to bump up the correspondence and pictures to eighteen years. “Wow, that’s great!” I thought.
A couples weeks later, we received a call from the adoption agency. They said my birth son’s family wanted to invite me and Jaren out for lunch. They hadn’t left Texas yet to go back home. They were still waiting for the temporary custody to be approved. My first thought was, “Is this normal? Do adoptive parents call birth parents after the adoption to invite them to lunch?” I had never heard of it before. But how could I refuse?
My birth son’s family, who they named Noah, kept their agreement. We became very connected from a distance; I mean as much as we could. I lived in the south; they lived in a northern state. But they emailed me often, sent pictures, called from time to time and even remembered me on Mother’s Day. And I reciprocated their kindness. We were getting to know each other and bonding. We exchanged Christmas presents annually. I sent birthday presents for Noah and his older brother, whose birthday (month and day) oddly or coincidentally was the day after Jaren’s birthday. And they reciprocated with birthday presents for Jaren as well. Although visits were never discussed, I always had this inner knowing that somehow I would see Noah before he was an adult; my family and friends shared this same belief. It just seemed natural.
When Noah was about five years old, it happened. Noah’s parents called to invite me (his birth mom), and his older brother to visit them and even offered to pay for our airfare. They knew I was a single working mom and did not want to put any undue financial hardship on me. I believe since Noah and Jaren shared half of another race from their father’s side, Noah’s parents thought it was important for him to stay connected with his birth family; for Noah to be able to understand why he had his skin color, eye color, hair texture, and facial features that were unlike his adoptive family. I was thrilled that my two sons didn’t have to wait eighteen years or longer to find each other and reconnect.
Since then, they moved a little closer and we have made several trips to visit Noah and his family and they have made several trips to visit us. I am honored to have a relationship with my birth son and pleased both families have kept our open adoption promise. I am very aware that this may not work for every birth/adoptive parent connection. And although we have hit bumps in the road just like ordinary families do, we have worked through them. Sometimes I was the one who was compromising; sometimes they were the ones who were compromising. I will admit, as a birth mother, being in a sequestering style relationship with my child can be challenging at times. But I will say that my son’s parents always seemed to understand my sacrifice and emotional pain. And they trusted me. That last sentence really means a lot. As a birth mother, to have their love and acceptance was an exceptional gift but to have their trust was the one thing that mattered most to me.