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I am birthmother to a 41 year old son. Back when I was pregnant with him, mine was a shameful secret, because only “bad girls” got pregnant. I’m happy to say that the world has changed a lot in that respect. Girls who become pregnant today face a very different set of problems than I did. Many girls today even chose to keep and raise their children, an opportunity that was not imaginable 40 years ago.

Over the last 18 years I have gotten to know many birthmothers who relinquished their children in the sixties and seventies. A lot of them found the support and understanding of other birthmoms, and with time managed to reach a place of peace and acceptance with their past. For women like me, just being able to say “I’m a birthmother” and not feel shamed by that is huge.

Over the years, though, I have also come to know or know of many women who gave their children up in secret, and held cryingbmomonto that secret for their entire lives. Having run an online reunion registry for years, I have heard time after time about adoptees searching for and finding their birthmoms, who then refused to have contact because they had never told another living soul their deep, dark secret. These are the women that I refer to as being in the “birthmom closet”. They’re not happy in there, but they’re scared to death to come out.

These women had a chance to get to know the children that they gave up and grieved over for years, but they refused to do so out of fear. Their spouse doesn’t know their secret. Their other children don’t know their secret. In some cases, even their parents don’t know their secret.

I suggest that it’s time for these scared women to finally come out of the closet. Gone are the days when they had to hang their heads in shame. Work up the courage to open that door and step out, because the world is not nearly as painful for a birthmother who learns to speak openly about her experiences.

I facilitated a number of local support groups over the years, both for birthmothers and for adoptees and birthmothers together. Those meetings were always healing. There were plenty of tears, but the tears helped to wash away the shame. For many birthmoms, myself included, it was extremely healing to talk with adoptees and find out how they felt about their birthmoms. I personally received a tremendous amount of support from adoptees, who always encouraged me to search for the son that I hadn’t felt I had a right to search for.

Look through your local newspaper, and search online for support groups in your area. From the first minute that you connect with other birthmoms, you’ll be so happy that you did. These are women who truly understand your feelings, because they lived through the same experiences that you did.

Even if you find that you don’t have any local support groups, there are many support mailing lists online, through which you can receive daily emails that are nearly as healing and helpful as attending meetings. As you make and nurture the connections to other birthmoms and to adoptees, you’ll find that the support and understanding helps to move you along on your healing journey.

If you are a birthmother still holding onto your secret, and living with the pain every day, I strongly encourage you to take the steps necessary to get out of that stifling closet that you’ve been in for so long. There really can be healing for you, but it’s up to you to take that first step, and when you’ve done that, each step after will be a bit easier.

To all birthmothers, I wish you healing and peace of mind, and never forget that you’re not alone on this journey.

Visit my website: EFT4adoption.

Natalie Flowers is a birthmother who recently reconnected with her now grown son. The story below was in an email she sent me, and I asked Natalie if I could share it, because she expresses herself so beautifully. Not one letter has been changed.


At this moment I don’t have anybody to tell this to who would understand at 8:24 in the morning and is a birthmother.

Last night my son arrived, sans girlfriend, stood at the front door of a man whom I consider to be my dearest friend.

Since my son’s arrival there has been a many years gap where people who were around me didn’t know that he was actually missing in action in my life. By my choice, by his parents’ decisions, by timing that went awry, we just didn’t get to see one another very often. As much as I have talked about it to therapists and to my close friends, there was no way to describe the emptiness inside me, a space left carved out of my heart in the shape of Spencer, the beautiful being whom I bore.

This is the dinner party with professional gay men. Intelligent, kind, literate professionals with tendencies toward traditional family recipes, wine consumption, and world travel. Truly, only four of them have known that I was a singer, and it is hardly ever discussed. Mostly I go to be part of my friend George’s extended family, to listen to his latest discoveries in personal growth, to love on his dogs, and to bask in the luxurious social environment that he creates in his home to share with all of us.

So last night Spencer entered this space of tender travelers and met George for the first time. We ate some delicious home made food, and while sitting at a table I realized that the man across from me was someone who used to collect my music and promote it in his own small way to everyone he spoke to, and as he was talking to Spencer and to me, he asked Spencer “How do you know George?” And Spencer answered “Through her.” And he pointed to me.

Then the gentleman pried some more. It wasn’t painful, simply a need for more detail, so Spencer eventually said to him “She is my biological mom.”

This particular moment is something you dread, the uncomfortable surface of an old and now ancient memory of a moment so painful that it burns into your psyche like a sankara. No matter how many times you play it in your head you cannot imagine that it will be easy when the words slip out, or that the person receiving them will even grasp the scope of all that they represent.

Of course, this man never knew that I had a child. It explains a lot about my past behavior and why I have written so many songs about loss, the other side of midnight, and being devoured by insatiable longing for connectedness and trust in something greater than myself.

The next phase is then “Why, I can see the resemblance!” which, of course, makes me secretly beam.

In fact, I think I notice a beam between Spencer and me, there at the table, a beautiful light of love that saturates us, and all of the feelings of dread and inadequacy fall away for moments I never dreamed would happen.

As much as your rational adult side tells you that you will one day be with your child and have a decent relationship with him, the irrational side of you thinks nothing of dashing your hopes to the rocks, over and over, like waves in a mighty ocean.

I am sitting in a moment I knew would happen and I can see the brevity of every breath and every bit of beauty there is in it!

This must be the God people are talking about!

Spencer navigated well in the crowd of beautiful men. He is a tolerant, flexible spirit who is very convincing when he is sold on something. I am eating dip and watching him from afar. George starts telling stories about the adoption, how Spencer almost ended up with him instead of Rick and Cheryl, but how Byron, then his other half, wanted a life of passion and travel and didn’t have room for children. I remember, I was there when he said it. I also breathe a secret sigh of relief that my friend Byron didn’t raise my kid. I’m not sure he would have done any better than I. It is merely a game to put all of this in retrospect.

I KNEW I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have a job, or a home, or even the beginnings of a home (I was living with someone’s grandmother), my life was essentially full of all of the reasons why you do not insert a child into the fabric of society when you have nothing to offer because you are young and immature and have spent your life blaming others for your mistakes. I might have produced a person destined to become a psychotherapist. Instead, Rick and Cheryl allowed his expansion through loving him. However imperfect that situation seemed to me at the time, the developments in Spencer tell me that they did something absolutely right, and I must credit them here, as much as I used to think I would never do that. I know that I have wronged them in some way.

George would have made room for Spencer, but it wasn’t meant to be. It has been one of life’s greatest losses for me for my son not to have met the people whom I considered to be my family. I so wanted to share them with him, their wisdom, humor, and insight. How much compassion can you have poured into your life by a family of human beings? Mine has been like an endless pitcher of that very substance, over and over again I am reminded that I have been able to cope with all of my circumstances by the grace of something I cannot see or even talk about, and it arrives unexpectedly and offers me a home whenever I am in need, food when I am hungry, hugs when I need them, reality checks when I am not being real. This is what I received in exchange for giving my son up for adoption. I got a spiritual welding job.

As the party drew to a close, I got to sing for the group so now they really know what I do, and after Spencer left, George leaned into me and said “Natalie, I just LOVE him! He so reminds me of you, the greater half of you, he is so much like you!” I knew this would happen. I knew that they would get along and even perhaps know one another from before, because that’s just how it is. Some of us do. George has been reminding me of this for most of my life.