I Dreamed of You…

You entered my womb without a sound,
Patiently waiting to be found.

Without effort, we bonded to each other
You become my child…I, your mother.

And I dreamed of you…

I provided nutrients, your living bowl
I became your life line….you, my little soul.

You snuggled inside, warm and tight
You became my courage, my inner light.

And I dreamed of you…

The time had come and you were complete
Our bodies worked together, we didn’t miss a beat.

I held you in my arms, thankful for my gift
You became my weight, I became your lift.

Noah's birthAnd my dream came true…

I hugged you… kissed you… and tenderly said good-bye.

I became your birth mother…you, my absent child.

And I dreamed of you…..

How Many Children Do You Have?

I always feel awkward when someone ask me “How many children do you have?” or “Is he your only child?” I never knew how to answer these questions, especially coming from a complete stranger. You see, I have given birth to two sons. One, my first born, I am raising as a single mother. My second child, who is twenty months younger than my first born, I chose to place for adoption.

Now the positive side of this whole experience is that I have an open relationship with my son’s family who adopted him. Part of that decision was based on the fact that my sons didn’t make the choice to be disconnected. Both families wanted both of our boys to be able to maintain contact and have somewhat of a relationship. My oldest son always knew about his younger brother. There were no secrets back then and they are no secrets today. As a result, he told teachers, classmates and friends about his baby brother. And if the question was presented in the grocery store check-out line, well, you guessed it; my youthful son quickly blurted out, “No, I have a brother but he was adopted. He doesn’t live with us; he lives with his adopted family.” This remark most often prompted a confused look at first, and then a pre-conceived notion. Then, what started out as light conversation fell suddenly short into awkward silence.

Although I was not ashamed of my choice, I still didn’t always feel comfortable telling every Tom, Dick and Harry or Sally about my choice. This information was usually reserved for family and close friends and a handful of co-workers. And maybe a counselor, if need be. So when someone asked this question who did not personally know me or my family, I didn’t know how to respond. In addition, I didn’t want to discourage my son from talking about his younger brother. But how much does this person on the street really need to know or for that matter care to know about me and my family? Usually, these questions are for light conversation. After a few episodes of being met with confusion and discernment, I learned my lesson and proceeded with great caution when the subject of children arose.

Then I read a Dear Abby letter from a birth mother who was asking the same questions. Dear Abby responded, “Technically, you don’t “have” your birth child any more so it is okay if you say you don’t have any children.” This actually made sense to me.

I have never denied either of my children. Even though one lives with me and the other lives with his family who adopted him, I know I gave birth to both children and I love them both. So if I respond to your question, “I have one child”, it doesn’t mean that I am lying to you or denying my birth son. It just means I’m sparing you the minor details. If by chance we become better acquainted, I promise to tell you my WHOLE story.

The Birth/Adoption Community

I’ll admit, before I entered into the birth/adoptive community, I was somewhat naïve, judgmental and probably insensitive to what individuals in this community experienced. Now that I have joined the ranks of millions maybe even billions of other birth parents, adoptees and adopters, I see this community in a whole new light.

When I was seeking my son’s new family, all I had to go on at the time was my instincts. I would be choosing complete strangers to whom I had not once previously met; to love, nurture, and parent my child for a lifetime. This in itself is a very daunting task. And then being the mother of a bi-racial son, added to my apprehension for my son’s wellbeing. I mean, just one year prior, members of my own family wanted me to place my first born child for adoption solely on the basis of his mixed ethnicity. I wondered how the families seeking to adopt my new son would differ in their views. Did some or perhaps most carry the same prejudices? Would they be more concerned about his racial background or would they just see a precious child created by God and be willing to love and honor his ethnicity?

I remember almost every detail on the day I reviewed the two family packets who wanted to adopt my son. Yes, only two. Most women (birth mothers to be) will have around ten or more families to consider for their unborn child. I had two. These two white American families were the ones who told the agency they were interested in adopting my baby. It does seem insensitive at times. After all, it’s not like going to a car dealership. I want this color with this kind of hair and these features and so on. But sadly, this is how some people view adoption should be. So naturally, I wondered if these families really wanted my baby or if they were just desperate for any baby. There is a difference.

I understand why some families may not want to adopt outside their race. They fear what others will say and they wonder how their new family will fit into a society. I can tell you from personal experience; at times, it can be more challenging to navigate in the world when your family is of a mixed race. It is what it is. Choosing to do what is right though is not always choosing to do what is easy. And it appears to me that those who are prejudice against other races or are against interracial couples are less judgmental and more accepting of families who adopt bi-racial children than those who conceive them naturally. However, if you are considering adopting a child who is not of your race, think it over long and hard. When someone gives you a stare or makes a comment, how will you respond? I know of one incident that didn’t go so well.

An adoptive mother was checking out in a store with her oldest, biological son and her adopted, bi-racial son. Her adopted son, who was a young toddler at the time, was sitting in the shopping cart. A lady behind them kept staring at them. After a few minutes, the adoptive mother annoyed by the stares barks, “He’s adopted, okay?” Now I know some of you may not see anything wrong with this but hear me out for a moment.

First of all, I am a white mother of a bi-racial son. I have had stares while checking out and not once have I felt the need to blurt out to a complete stranger that my son was biologically mine or that I conceived him.  The adoptive mother’s statement tells this stranger that there is a reason she has this bi-racial child. This is where the hero title comes into play. “You see, I adopted him. I am the good person. I didn’t have a relationship with a black man; I just adopted the child from the woman who did”.

Lastly, if this child was five years old, ten or fifteen years old, would his mother shout out, “He’s adopted,” in front of him? I wonder how that might make her “adopted” son feel? This was neither the time nor the place. Just because he is a baby, and cannot speak, doesn’t mean that he cannot hear or that he doesn’t understand. Trust me; he does understand even if he cannot verbalize his words.

As any mother knows, when you leave your child with someone new, whether it is a new nanny, new daycare or new baby sitter, we worry and hope that our child is getting the best care possible until we pick them up. The difference is when a birth mother leaves her baby with his/her new caretaker, she’s gravely aware that she will not be picking him/her up later on that day. She knows it may be a lifetime until she sees her child again and for some, they weren’t even lucky enough to have that. They left this world not knowing if their choice to relinquish their parental rights to parent their child hindered their child’s experience or enhanced it. Many women took their final breath without ever having the opportunity to see a smile on their child’s face, to caress his cheek or to stroke her hair. I know some of these women and my heart weeps for them.

As for me, I am able to know my son through open adoption. I have touched his face, kissed his cheeks and I’ve seen his beautiful smile light up the room. I know that my birth son’s family has provided a good home to him. And I know they love him. The mere fact that they thought it was important to share their son with his original family says a great deal about their character and it shows respect to me as a human being.

We created our own version of the birth/adoption community and what it meant to us.

Who knows how our son will feel when he is grown. Only time will tell. I hope the fact that he has been able to know his birth family while growing up with his adoptive family has only enhanced his quality of life and that he knows that although I gave him to his adoptive parents; it doesn’t mean that I didn’t love him. I am still here, ever present with love and acceptance, watching him grow and expecting him to do great things with his life.

TO MY BIRTH MOTHERS

Last month, I went to my very first birth mother’s support group meeting.  It’s hard to believe it’s been thirteen years since I placed my son, Noah, for adoption.  My life was much different back then than it is today.  Not in ways one might imagine.  I mean, I’m still single, I still live in an apartment and I drive a ten year old Toyota.  But emotionally, I’m a different person today than I was thirteen years ago.

When I discovered I was expecting Noah, I was already a working single parent of my twelve month old son, Jaren.  This new pregnancy was unsettling to say the least.  I was very aware of the backlash I would get from my son’s father (who by the way was Jaren’s father), and my family, and friends, and co-workers.  To my despair, my greatest fear was realized when I confronted my son’s father and confessed to my family.

My first instinct was to hide this pregnancy from the general population and have an abortion.  I had had an abortion previously and I knew what to expect.  And my son’s father requested for me to have an abortion and even provided the funds to help guarantee his request.  But for some reason, when the day came for the abortion, I couldn’t go through with it.  I don’t know why.  Maybe because I had gone through the experience of growing a child inside me and giving birth to a heavenly human being, it somehow changed me.  For whatever reason, I decided to carry this new baby inside me and place him for adoption.  However, I would not be emotionally prepared for what was about to occur next in my life.

Any woman who has ever been pregnant knows our emotions are in a bi-polar stage as our body and hormones go through a variety of changes.  Add the fact that I was a single mom, no supportive partner or family, and then having to face the facts that I may need to let go of my baby boy once he is no longer attached to me would discharge any human’s beings emotional state off the charts.  Luckily, I was drug free because if not, it would have been very easy to escape into some kind of comatose reality.

After Noah was adopted, I went into a deep depression.  My eyes fought back tears daily, my face lay heavily on my skull and the mere sound of laughter sounded like hyena’s cackling.  Subliminally, I was thinking, “How can they laugh when I am hurting so much inside?

It seemed everyone around me was enjoying life but I was stuck; stuck in a world that no longer existed.

Now, thirteen years later, sitting in that meeting room, I realized I am in a much better place today, at least emotionally.  You see, I recognized the sadness that penetrated these birth mother’s eyes, I felt the sorrow they were trying to hide and I understood the heartache that drenched their body.  All those emotions lay heavily on the birth mother and we want so much to ring it all out of our body like a wet rag but we can’t.  We’re trapped in this state of helplessness.  We’ve been stripped to our core and our weakness is exposed and we become vulnerable to any attack that is thrown at us.  We are at the mercy of our choice and sometimes, our regret.

No, I didn’t know these birth mothers personally, but I already knew their emotions and their heart.  I know who they are.  They are amazing women who were forced to make decisions under turbulent conditions.  They are women who were willing to risk their reputation and public judgment for their sacrifice.  They are women who helped other women become mothers so they could experience motherhood through the generosity of a birth mother.

I wish I had a magic wand to erase all the birth mother’s sorrow but I don’t and I can’t.  And even though we share this experience, I know that each birth mother needs to grieve the loss of her child under her terms and in her own special way.  In the end, I hope my support and seeing me at thirteen years out, that these birth mothers could see that I am still standing and I continue to heal every day, and my quality of life continues to increase.

Life after adoption is not the end of a birth mother’s story.  But rather, a new life emerges, new chapters begin and our stories continue.  It’s a story of love, strength, perseverance and faith.  And hopefully, one day when her child is fully grown into adulthood, it will be a story of thanksgiving.  Thanks be to God.

Adoption in the Perfect World

English: Globe icon.

English: Globe icon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read some blogs from a birth mother site. I was surprised to say the least for so many reasons. Birth mothers, who were hurting and very angry, were attacking adoptive families. Adoptive families were backlashing with ridicule towards the birth mothers. One adoptive mother even said she was sparing her child from telling him that he came from “bad stock”. Really? Have we come to this? Or maybe I have just been shielded and naïve to this birth/adoptive community. No loving parent would ever want to bad mouth or say derogatory things about a child’s family; loving being the operative word here.

I was born out of wedlock in 1963. My mother chose to keep me and parent me as a single mother. She already had two mouths to feed, my older brother and sister from her first marriage. Four years down the road, my father went to prison for murder. She never told me that I came from “bad stock”. She actually allowed me to maintain contact through letters and an occasional phone call with my imprisoned father. At times, I felt like a second class citizens for being born out of wedlock, for not having my father in my life and then finding out later about his crime and prison sentence. If I had been told I was from “bad stock” or was made to feel guilty for something my parents had done, it would have made me feel horrible and like less of a human being.

The only reason a person would choose to portray someone as “bad stock” is if one person wants to make another person look bad so they can make themselves look better. So in essence, it has nothing to do with the birth parent or birth child but in fact with the voice who is speaking the hate and judgment.  Isn’t that called bullying?

My mother told me that she decided not to tell me anything derogatory about my father because one day I would grow up and I could decide for myself what kind of man he was. She said if she tried to make me hate him, I would end up hating her; smart woman.

I agree that too often, expecting pre-birth mothers don’t have the resources to consider their other options, like single parenting. And many times, post birth mothers were forced, coerced or convinced that placing her child for adoption was the best choice. But one thing that really bothers me is all this blame going back and forth between (what appears to me) birth mothers and adoptive mothers. Let us not forget that most of these women (birth mothers) had consensual sex. The real reason this child is made available is because too many men are shirking their responsibility and the expecting mother is alone many times without any support of family and friends. So yes, her choice is made in a desperate state. Once she hands over her child (if she was allowed to do so) to the adoptive parents, her grief begins.

It does seem like at times, that some of our society would like a perfect world. But remember, in a perfect world, no pregnant woman would be left to fend for herself without the contributing male donor that helped her conceive “their” expecting child. Couples who are unable to conceive biological children would remain childless. In a perfect world, no woman would be raped by a man but decide to carry her child nine months to be placed for adoption. In a perfect world, no father would molest his daughter. And the daughter would not be shamed again and judged by an adoption agency, a nun, a hospital nurse, or a society claiming “the birth mother” was easy and a slut. IN A PERFECT WORLD!!!

I am a single mother and a birth mother. My first born, I am parenting and my second born I chose to place for adoption. I have an open relationship with my son’s family. And although we have hit bumps in the road, we have worked through them for which I am most grateful.

We may not live in a perfect world and I may not have a perfect solution. This is God’s world and I believe He guides us so we may all work together in a loving way to support each other; to respect each other; to find common ground for the good of our children and for all humanity. I live in the real world.