Concerned United Birthparents Newsletter

Concerned United Birthparents Newsletter

Love and Loss, my featured article published in the CUB newsletter. Check it out…

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This is what Beverly had to say after reading what I wrote for the article.  She continues to inspire me…

“Let me first start by saying that all honour and all glory be to Our Almighty GOD.

I’m very thankful that you thought enough of me to write of me.  It’s not often that I share my personal life with anyone, but that day was special in more ways than you could ever have known.

Out of all the days you had been there on this one day; you out of all the associates had no work nor a seat to sit in.  I’m very grateful that GOD worked it out like that because I needed you and you must have needed me also.  I feel like you needed me due to you sharing your story with me.  

Karen, thanks a million for everything but most of all, thanks for my hugs that you freely give; there comforting.

I will always be here if want to talk, cry, laugh, or just sit in silence.  I have enough strength for the both of us no matter how big or how small it may be.  I will always be here for you.” – Beverly

Humble

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  James 4:6

I was recently hired by the employer that I had been working as a temp for the last few months.  One of the things that I noticed at my new place of employment is the humility of the employees and even the management staff.  They even include the word “humble” along with respect, integrity and fairness in their employment contract.  Now that’s very unusual.  I can tell you that after working in the corporate world for the past twenty plus years, humble people is not a common trait seen among the corporate workforce.  What a concept.  To have humble, compassionate and nice people to work with.

A phone conversation I had over 30 years ago with the mother of the boyfriend I had been dating at the time turned very sour.  She had overheard a conversation and decided she needed to confront me about it.  Someone remarked, “Karen might be pregnant.”  My boyfriend’s mother immediately assumed that it was her son’s girlfriend (aka me), also named Karen.  After accusing me of being pregnant, she then tells me that I was not going to have this baby and that I needed to get an abortion.  Assuring her that I was not pregnant and telling her it must have been another Karen, I decided to go one step further.  I asked her why she didn’t like me.  What had I done?  I knew that she didn’t care for me.  A person knows when someone likes or loves them and when someone doesn’t.  That’s part of how friendships are formed.  Besides having things in common, we feel a warm endearing presence from another who also seems to enjoy our presence when we’re together.

Well, I didn’t get that warm fuzzy feeling from my boyfriend’s mother.  Her response, “You’re too nice.” 

How do you respond to that?

Years later, when I looked back, I would joke about it with some friends and comment, “I should have told her to go “f” herself and then maybe she would have liked me more.”

This wasn’t the first time that someone made this kind of opinion of me.  I recall my mother and older brother saying this is why they believed our stepdad liked my sister, Colleen better than me.  I think their exact words for the reason, “Dad likes Colleen more because she’s tough and doesn’t take any shit.”  He had more respect for my sister as opposed to me, because I was the meeker one.  Seems kind of strange, doesn’t it; to dislike someone because their too nice or to like someone more because they’re harsher.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl_NpdAy3WY  (You like me, you REALLY like me!)

People around in my later years would be quite surprised to hear that I was “too” nice.  Boy, have I changed.

I guess being a mom has changed me a lot.  My protective maternal instincts sparked very early.  I started off battling prejudices from the time I got pregnant.  For those of you, who have children, imagine having to experience one of the most exciting moments of your life without the support of your loved ones.  I was a fragile fish, who just wanted to grow and nurture her baby, swimming among the sharks.

I would have many more opportunities to prepare my heart for battle.  Racism can make a person very callous.  Dealing with the looks, the rejection, the “we’re better than” attitude can be flat-out exhausting.  Then after becoming a birth mother, another layer of social assumptions and prejudices were added.  My skin got tougher and my meekness was slowly fading away.  I would look back and think how blind and naïve I was before I entered into this world of mixed races and birth families.  The reality can be disheartening at times.  I had no idea how the world was until I was on the receiving end.  I became bitter and insensitive.  Sometimes I was downright mean.  Nope, I had decided that I wasn’t taking no more shit from anyone.  I had listened to their shit and shoveled their shit for far too long.  If they wanted to throw shit my way, I was going to through it right back in their face.  See how they liked it.  

Sometimes I feel as though I’ve been given a test and I think that I may be failing.  But those who were placed in my life to love me unconditionally have failed on some level as well.  It’s a ripple effect.  Once the object makes contact with the water, the ripple begins and we can never go back and stop the movement.  The ripple has already occurred and the action is already in process.

Funny thing is though, once you allow yourself to become like them, you no longer like who you’ve become.  So I’ve been trying to find my way back to my meek heart.   

But I will always stand up against injustice.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

The Birthday/Anniversary Blues, Life After Relinquishment

At my last Birthmother’s Support group meeting, one of the birthmoms was discussing how she handles the anniversary of her relinquishment, AKA her child’s birthday.  The counselor, after listening to some of the other women confess their emotional trauma, looks over to me, curls her mouth slightly, and says, “How about you, Karen?  How do you handle the anniversary of your son’s birthday?”

I didn’t have a birthmother’s support group to attend fouteen years ago and the adoption agency never offered me counseling or seemed to care how I handled my parental relinquishment or the loss of my son.  I remember calling “my” adoption agency shortly after my mother left for home.  I spoke with my counselor and told her I thought I needed to set up a meeting to talk about my feelings.  Her response, “You think you need counseling (in a very surprised tone)?  I told her no, maybe not.  I never felt so used in my life.  It was like having sex with a man and then calling him the next day only to hear him make comments that sound like, “What are you calling me for.  I already got what I needed from you.  Now go on about your merry way and don’t bother me (us) again.”

Truth is, I assumed that I handled my relinquishment anniversary very well.  With Noah’s birthday being so close to Christmas, it seemed to me that I was more fortunate because people are generally friendlier, more giving, and more loving all of which somehow helped me to stay focused on the happy rather than the sad.  It’s also a busy time with shopping, decorating, and celebrating.  Staying busy can keep a person’s mind preoccupied.  It’s when our brain idles that our thoughts can invade our mind and linger on until we are left with hopeless despair and shameful guilt.

On the other hand, I knew that something happened to me during this time but I couldn’t really put my finger on it.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized what was happening.  I was reliving the experience, unconsciously, over in my mind.  I would learn later that it’s a real trauma symptom that many birthmothers experience.  And for me, it seemed to get stronger a week or so after Noah’s birthday.  Maybe that’s because I was Noah’s mom for the first week of his life and for his very first Christmas.  Noah didn’t leave me until a few days after Christmas.

For some reason, this year seemed to be much harder for me to maintain my emotional balance than previous years.  I would tear up at work, in the car, and at home for no apparent reason.  It seemed like every minute of every day I had to fight back my tears.  And it was a battle that I was seriously loosing.  I didn’t understand why I was so emotional.  And then it dawned on me.

The previous two years, Jaren and I drove up to stay with Noah and his family during the Christmas holiday.  Both times, we visited a couple days after Christmas (during my trauma period).  Jaren and I always enjoyed this trip.  Our families joined together and the missing pieces of the puzzle were all together again.  And just maybe this togetherness helped me by reconnecting with Noah again.

Seeing both of my sons together, face to face, playing, laughing and talking is the best medicine any mother could have.

The Birth/Biological Family

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.

1999 Momma and boys

How is that for irony?  Please tell me the moral justice in that.

Perception

Perception

  1. the act or the effect of perceiving

Funny but it still surprises me when I witness someone change their perception of me.  It happened today.

I sat next to a gentleman that I have seen and spoke greetings to for the past couple years.  He is an older man, more of a father type figure.  He has complimented me in the past and told me that I have a positive energy about me that shines.  That always makes me feel good.  It’s much better than someone telling me I am beautiful or something related to my exterior appearance.  An inner glow means that I am shining God’s light and I am living in the light.

The last few months, we’ve sat down after the church service and have gotten to know each other a little better.  He learned that I have a son and I recently introduced them.

Today, he and I sat together during service.  On the way out, he noticed a book I was reading.  I showed it to him, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, by Sherri Eldridge.  He got a puzzled look on his face and asked why I was reading this book.  I wondered how curious he really was.

Now at this point, I hesitate for just a moment.  Do I hide the truth and tell him it just seemed like an interesting book to read or do I share the real reason?  I decided to share the true reason.  Truth is always better, right?

I tell him that I am a birth mom.  He looks at me, puzzled again, and then repeats it back to me as a question, “You’re a birth mom?”  Then he fumbles for words to understand and says, “So your son is your son (referring to Jaren), right?”

Calmly with a gentle smile, I explain that Jaren is my son but I had another son who I placed for adoption.

To ease the conversation, I tell my friend how the book is very insightful for anyone to read.  I explain how society has so many stereotypes based around adoption and this book provides a lot of insight.  I see his wheels turning in his mind.  He still seems to be hung up on the “birth” term.

This has happened on many occasions after I tell someone I am a birth mom.   People sometimes get confused on the adoption terminology.  “Who is who again?”  They know me or think they know me but now they’re not sure I am who I am.  I see them trying to figure out their response to me which is contingent on which role I took in the adoption process.  Am I the hero or the villain?

He again grapples to understand and says, “So you have another son that doesn’t live with you?”

“Yes,” I reply.

I see his whole facial expression change.  Something turns in his eyes.  We’ve all been in this situation.  We see or hear something that makes us feel uncomfortable and we try concealing what we think in our mind or feel in our heart.  A positive thought has transferred into a negative thought which almost instantaneously reflects outwardly in the human’s eye.  We try to keep our composure, hide our thoughts and hope that our eyes do not reveal our true feelings.  We don’t want to intentionally hurt anyone.

My church friend’s warm and caring eyes have now become aloof  as he rustles with the stereotypes he has learned from the past.  My self-image takes a direct hit.  

This is where I get really confused.  I mean when I was going through this process, the adoption agency, my mother and parts of society convinced me I was doing this wonderful thing.  I was commended for making the “right” choice.  I was told I was being selfless.  I was like a…..a hero.  But when I get this kind of response still after thirteen years, it makes me question my choice.

So what am I?  Am I a villain or a hero?  Am I selfless or heartless?

My Choice

If there is one thing that concerns me more than my own personal feelings from my involvement with adoption, it is how my son, Noah (an adoptee) may feel from his experience.  If I hurt as a result of my choice, then that is my punishment.  But if my child hurts from my choice, then that is my fought and often times, that is the root of a birth parent’s anguish.  It’s called guilt.

I fully understand that no matter how abandoned I felt from my children’s father, or how isolated I felt from my family, and how much pain I experienced as a result of my choice, it still doesn’t compare to the feelings that adoptees may experience at some point in their life, especially since they were not involved in the decision making.  The choice was made for them.

Another thing about adoption that troubles me is when I hear the term “gave up”.  I’ve read comments from followers on Facebook, blogs and community groups say things like, “She gave up her baby,” or “My mother gave me up,” or “I’m thinking about giving up my baby.”  Yes, believe it or not, unintended pregnant women still say this.  It’s an old term that some human being coined the phrase “gave up” as an appropriate term within the adoption industry many years ago.  I wish I had a copy of the legal documents from the 50’s – 60’s so I could see if that term actually exists in the legal papers.  I assume that what they meant is that the biological parent “gave up” their parental rights now more commonly known as relinquished their parental rights to their child.

Actually, per my legal documents, the birth parent(s) signs a “Placement Agreement of a Child” prior to the delivery and then after delivery, signs an “Affidavit of Relinquishment of Parental Rights to Licensed Child-Placing Agency.”

It does sound heartless for a parent to be able to choose to agree to give up or relinquish their parental rights to their child.  And often times it gets misconstrued as the parent “gave up their child” as if the parent did not want their baby boy or baby girl.  How else can a parent just sign away and terminate their rights?

You see most often, it is not about the child.  It’s about the parent feeling they are inadequate.  Often times, they have been told verbally or subliminally that they are not capable to parent this child.  As for me, I was parenting my first born son, Jaren.  I understood all too well the time, expense, energy and emotional toll it takes to parent a child.  Moreover, I had no relatives nearby and the biological father and his entire family who did live nearby showed no interest in helping me in any way support Jaren, so I expected more of the same response when our second child was conceived.

I remember watching the local news and seeing a story about some mother who killed her offspring’s as if a trigger went off inside her.  Unlike most people who were hateful and judgmental, I wondered how a woman, who had loved her children so much, could turn around and brutally kill her offspring.  What could have set this mother off?  What pushed her to her breaking point and made her mind snap out of control.  And that’s when I considered my options.  As much as I didn’t like the adoption option, I surely did not want to push myself past my limit and risk losing emotional control and possibly harming my kids.  No, I may have actually killed my children but I may have abused them.  And that is not a risk that I was willing to take.

Adoption is never easy for anyone.  I like being a single mother a whole lot more than being a birth mother.   That doesn’t mean I dislike being a birth mother to Noah.  It means that society is more socially accepting of single mothers than they are of birth mothers.  And I’ve shared with many women within the birthparent community and at my birth mothers support group who are filled with grief and sometimes guilt that it is an unnatural experience for a woman to let go of her infant.  For many of us, it goes against every grain in our body.  I imagine it is difficult to lose your child at an older stage as well, whether the parent was neglectful or not.

But what I can tell you for myself, I didn’t choose adoption because I didn’t want to be a parent to my second born child.  I chose adoption because given my circumstance at that present time, I wasn’t confident I could parent both of my children adequately as a single mother, the way they deserved to be parented.

Who knows if Noah’s life is better or worse than if I would have chosen to raise him with Jaren?  Personally, I don’t like to think in terms of better or worse.  I like to think Jaren and Noah both have had a good life but only they can say for sure.  I am certain once they have grown and matured into men, they will look back on their life and analyze it.  And I can only hope that when they do, they will look back fondly on the memories we have shared together as a family.

Most of all, I hope both of my sons understand and know that they are always loved and were always wanted.

DSCF2623

Relinquishment

Pregnant woman in the shadows (BW image)

Pregnant woman in the shadows (BW image) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about the adoption evolution and revolution here lately.  How the adoption agencies and their clients have changed so much in their approach to the modern day pregnant women who is considering adoption as opposed to how they spoke to and about our baby scoop era sisters before us.  The modern day pregnant women considering relinquishing her parental rights are shown compassion, respect and admiration with phrases like:

“You are courageous, wonderful, and selfless.”

“You are giving your child a chance at a better life.”

“You are giving some family a precious gift.”

Now a day’s society understands that women have clear choices.  We basically have two more options that the baby scoop era women didn’t have.  So naturally, adoption agencies and the adoption community have changed their approach to the unintended pregnant woman.

We’ve gone from “You have to give up your baby,” to “You can choose open or closed adoption when you place your child.”  But the truth is, women don’t give up or place their children.  We have chosen to relinquish.  Society doesn’t like that word.  I don’t like it either.  But that is the truth.  Often times, it’s an ugly truth.  Ask any mother (or father in some cases) who has signed a legal document entitled Relinquishment of Parental Rights.  Once the ink makes contact with the paper and the strokes of the pen slowly inscribes your name, it soon becomes very apparent just how real those words are.  And it is done.  Relinquished!

I think back to the times when my (birth mother) sisters who were forced and coerced to leave their babies in a hospital.  The ones who never got to see their child leave their womb and enter the world, the ones who woke up after giving birth to an empty crib and empty arms, and the ones who reluctantly believed a bias society.  Although these women may have signed relinquishment papers, most of them had no other choices.  There was no Roe vs. Wade; only illegal abortions.  There were no single parenting options; only a cruel disapproving society.

Don’t get me wrong, society still has their way of getting into the psyche of vulnerable modern day females.  Family and romantic partners still use coercion tactics on defenseless pregnant women.  Adoption agencies and hopeful clients refer to expecting mothers as their birth mother while her baby still rests within her womb, (and in most cases) warm and safe, surrounded by the love of a mother.  How can a woman who hasn’t even given birth yet or relinquished her parental rights be referred to as a birth mother?  That’s society’s way of psychologically preparing her for what they hope she will choose.  Since they are unable to use the old scare tactics, the shameful tactics, the bad girl tactics, the “you’re inadequate” tactics, they have found new ways to subliminally prepare her for their anticipated choice.  So they call her by the name that labels her as a future candidate for the adoption industry.

Birth mother agreement.4

Birth mother agreement.5

I couldn’t imagine telling someone they should give up, place or relinquish.  I couldn’t imagine telling someone they should abort their child and yet people do both of these things every single day.  I wonder how these people feel about their own selves, after coercing a woman or teenage girl to abort or relinquish.  How does one live with themselves knowing that their persuading or forceful ultimatum created a decision that separated a child from his or her first mother and father?

Personally, I don’t think we appropriately prepare women for the truth of relinquishment.  Adoption agencies like to use nice words, fluffy words (placed, adoption plan, gift, loving choice) to conceal the truth.  I can tell you from personal experience, the word relinquish never came up in conversation once during my pregnancy when I met with my adoption counselor prior to the birth of my son.  The first time I remember seeing and hearing that word was when I went into a meeting room to sign the “adoption” papers.  When the relinquishment papers was placed before me, I remember saying the title out loud with a raised brow as I swallowed uncomfortably and looked over to my counselor.  She tried to offer a slight constellation, stating that that is what it is legally called.

We should ask ourselves why an agency feels the need to hide such an important word that goes hand in hand within the adoption industry.  Without relinquishment, there is no adoption; unless it is through the foster care system.

I wonder how many women would choose to relinquish if they were not persuaded in any way and if they knew all the facts beforehand of post relinquishment despair.  I’m not saying adoption is wrong.  There are some cases where adoption is necessary.  But what I am saying is that first and foremost, a woman should be free to choose with no outside influence.  No adoption should be legal without the consent of both biological parents.  More importantly the adoption industry needs to be truthful in every way.  They need to do a better job at preparing mothers and fathers of the repercussion of choosing to relinquish.

After the reality of relinquishment sets in, a birth mother’s heart breaks in a thousand pieces, her mind fills with images of regrets and what ifs, and if she feels she cannot bear another day without her offspring, she may try to rescind her choice.  However, society could care less about this birth mother now.  There is no going back.  There are no second chances.  Just listen to any mother (or father) who has tried and you will hear an evil hiss among the masses warning her, berating her and making false accusation and claims to sway the general masses.  Never mind that just weeks and months before, she was this wonderful angel doing a selfless act.  Now she is no longer a women giving but a women taking.  The priceless human being that God gives freely to females has now become a commodity, a legal lawsuit, and sometimes, a human ransom.  And so, the lawyers, the courts, the adoption agency, the adoptive parents, and even large amounts of society are quick to point to a signature on a legal document that states, Relinquishment of Parental Rights.  The act of signing ones name, that took less than a minute to complete will now take a lifetime to heal.

Birth, Bio, First Mother

I was reading a blog post the other day and one of the followers expressed their opinion about the blogger using the term “birth mother”, asking the blogger how she could use such an archaic word to describe a mother.  Truth is this blogger is a mother who placed her child into the adoption system.  She doesn’t speak as an outsider looking in, but rather she is one of the brave souls who took this unexpected emotional journey through uncharted territory of loss and sorrow.  No one ever prepares a woman for the ramifications of choosing to relinquish their child.

For reasons I wrote about in my book, One Woman’s Choice, I also took that emotional journey and relinquished my parental rights four days after I gave birth to my son, Noah.  Personally, it doesn’t bother me if someone’s refers to me as the birth mother, first mother or biological mother.  To me, I am Noah’s birth mother.  I gave birth to him during childbirth, hence the term birth mother.  I am also Noah’s first mother.  I conceived him within my womb and our souls were connected as we shared a space within the temple of my body.   And I am and always will be his biological mother.  My genetics, blood and DNA runs deep throughout his body.

Now, I will say that although I have used the term birth father, this doesn’t make as much sense to me as the birth mother term.  The father doesn’t give birth to his child.  I’m also not fond of the term “birth siblings”.  Sometimes the siblings weren’t even born yet.  How can a brother or sister be deemed the birth sibling if they were not born at the time of the birth?  And even if the sibling was born prior to, they did not choose to relinquish their sibling rights as a brother or sister and should not be subject to a label of lessor prominence.   My two sons are not “birth” brothers, they are brothers, period!  They have the same biological mother and father.  This fact inevitably makes them brothers and no relinquishment document can ever erase that fact.

I am the mother of my son, Jaren.  I conceived him within my womb, gave birth to him, nurtured him, fed him, and have raised and provided for him since the time he entered this world.  On the other hand, I have not done the same for Noah.  When I relinquished my parental rights and handed Noah to his new mom, I passed the “mother” title to her as well.  Don’t get me wrong, it hurts to speak this truth.  As a woman and a mother, I would have loved nothing better than to have raised both of my sons as one family with no added titles, but my choice and signature on a legal document changed all that.

Call me whatever you want, but I know what role I have to both of my sons and they know who I am to them.  Whatever they choose to call me is their choice.  Either way, no political title will define me or my relationship with my sons.  My love for them is far greater than any barrier the public tries to wedge between families of diverse circumstances.

I asked Noah one time how he wanted me to introduce him; as my birth son, my son, or Jaren’s brother.  He said, “You can just say I’m your son.”   And so it is…