My oldest son, Jaren was talking to his younger brother, Noah over the holidays. I heard Jaren say something about “my mom” and then in the next sentence he tells Noah that he went over to “our dad’s” for Christmas. I was thinking, “Really?” After he hung up, I said, “So your dad is our dad but I am your mom? Even though, I have done more for both of you than your dad.”
Explain that one to me?
Jaren was very apologetic. I told him I knew he didn’t mean it the way he said it but I wanted him to understand how it sounds and subliminally what it says. He said he doesn’t know what to say sometimes (when he talks about me and his dad to Noah). I told him I understand.
I reminded Jaren about the time our extended family met Noah and his family for the first time on the east coast. I said to Jaren, “Heck, when we were all down the shore with grandmom, she referred to me as “your aunt” when she was talking to Noah.” I saw this funny look on Noah’s face. I didn’t say anything but I was thinking, “It’s not like he doesn’t know who I am.” Noah has always known that I am his birth/biological mother.
I have a friend; I guess I can call her my friend even though we haven’t met yet. But I feel like she’s a friend. Anyway, she has a blog and writes about adoption and exposes some real issues. As a birthmother, sometimes I feel like she’s linked directly up to my brain and downloading my thoughts. Other times, it’s like she can somehow see right into my heart and feel its emotions. Maybe that’s because she is a birthmother too.
I like it when someone else says exactly how I feel or have been feeling. It makes me feel less crazy.
For me, one of the hardest parts of processing and reconciling with my choice all these years later is how people and by people I mean, family, friends, co-workers and strangers view me as a birthmother. Yes, even my own family.
I remember that very moment when I learned exactly how my mother viewed my role as a birthmother. We were sitting on my back patio. Mom (who came to visit for Jaren’s 8th grade graduation) and I were having a conversation. Then we got to talking about Noah’s family who also came to visit for Jaren’s graduation. She had commented many times over the years at how lucky and blessed I was that I was permitted to be a part of Noah’s life and how gracious his parents are. And I don’t disagree. I am very thankful. But also, mom wasn’t aware of any open adoptions. She believed our situation was rare. So we were having another one of those conversations and my mother emphasizes again about how blessed “I” was. And to be honest, sometimes it sounds like she thinks I’m a vagabond and they are royals. So I tell her, “Well, I think they (adoptive family and Noah) are pretty blessed to have me [and Jaren] in their life too.” I mean, I could have walked away entirely but I didn’t. I think I’m a decent human being. My friends think I’m kind of cool and special. And after twelve years of knowing Noah’s family, I’d say we have become fairly close, like family.
Mom said, “No, they are not blessed to have you. Noah is blessed to have you in his life but not the [name of family].” I knew right then and there just how she measured me up in this relationship. I was somehow less worthy; her own daughter. Not some stranger, not a friend, not a co-worker…her daughter.
This is the same mother, who praised me often for the wonderful job I was doing as a single parent raising Jaren. Who said she thought it would have been easier to abort than to “give up” my child (which she has never chosen or personally experienced either choice as far as I know). Who came to Texas to help me with my “choice” when I gave birth to Noah. AND who couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just leave behind my precious new baby boy, alone, in the hospital, without his mother.
I still have a hard time processing this. The same person who promoted the relinquishment is the same person that now judges me to be the lessor of.
The sad part of all this is Jaren lost his brother too.
I can handle people treating me callously. I don’t like it but I realize it’s part of the territory. That’s my penance. But when others treat Jaren, an innocent child like a second class citizen because of my choice, it’s inexcusable. When adults refuse to acknowledge that my two sons are brothers, when brothers can’t be treated like brothers for a few days every few years because people feel like they have to be careful of what they say or how they say it, or when family members consider the feelings of adults over that of a small child’s feelings is downright wrong!
But the part that REALLY bothers me is their father, who stated he didn’t want any more kids, who was MIA (as well as his entire family) during both of my son’s birthing experiences, who became physically and emotionally detached when I was making these hard choices, and who never verbally objected to the relinquishment to me is somehow “our dad”. And my mother [and other family members], who was the driving force behind my choice to relinquish, is somehow “grandmom”. But the mother who was alone, scared, deciding the future of her two sons and listening to and believing the critical words, who has remained loyal to her second son and his family in their open adoption agreement, was stripped of all her titles.
I know why I don’t get to be mom, but tell me how does the rest of the family get to reap the rewards and keep their original titles, (grandmom, poppy, granny, grandpop, aunt, uncle) when that was the one thing they either initially refused to acknowledge or adamantly fault against. And I’ve often wondered how Noah’s real grandparents and aunts and uncles feel about sharing their earned titles with these biological family members.
How is that for irony? Please tell me the moral justice in that.