The Many Faces of the Birth Mother

I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot lately. It seems that we birthmothers who at one time belonged to one social stereotypical group as in the Baby Scoop Era have now seemed to have morphed into several different categories. I’m not sure that all of this is good or valid.

Riding in the car with my mom one day, we were talking about my adoption/relinquishment. Then somehow our old neighbors (very good friends of my parents who adopted a baby girl in the 60’s) came up. My mother said that the adoptee, after finding out she was adopted which was hidden from her until her teenage years, decided to search for her birthmother. Now my mother didn’t know all the details about their meeting but the next sentences that came out of her mouth would haunt me for years. My mother said, “She found her [birth] mother. The impression I got, her mother wasn’t much of anything.” And then she made some comment about how the adoptee was better off with her adoptive parents. All I heard was, “her mother wasn’t much of anything.” That sentence would continue to play over and over in my mind.

I’ve sat in a room with many birthmothers, women who were working in corporate America, women who were high school teens; women who were prostitutes and women who were drug addicts; single women, married women; women who were pregnant for the first time and women who were pregnant for the third time, women who were in open adoptions and women who chose closed adoption; women who relinquished because they feared raising a bi-racial child and others because they were abused by the father of their child. I’ve seen some women filled with emotion over their choice to relinquish their parental rights that tears flowed endlessly out of their eyes, other women who chattered endlessly about an update with pictures or a long overdue visit with her [birth] child, and yet another woman who never wanted to get pregnant, who said she felt no connection to the being inside her and had no desire to parent that child or any children, and who am I to judge any of them. For we all chose the same thing; to not parent the child that we conceived and delivered into this world.

I think most of us fight hard to dispel the myths of the “bad” birthmother. I mean, we already have a heavy load to carry just by the fact of the choice we made. We don’t want to carry the cross of the “bad” girl, “bad” woman, and certainly not the “bad” mother for the rest of our life. We don’t want to be too happy or too angry about our choice. We don’t want to be measured up against the women who are raising our children as better or less than. We don’t want to fit into any negative stereotypes. Many of us work hard on our image in hopes that society or more importantly, our offspring doesn’t return one day and think or say, “She wasn’t much of anything. I was better off without her.”


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