You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘birthmother’ tag.

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.

A truly thought provoking article by guest blogger and adoptee Jane Besmehn.

I was adopted at the age of 5 months old. That was in 1941. I was born in December of 1940. Back then many mothers went to birthing hospitals to have their babies and stayed with the baby for three months so that the baby could nurse and get a good start.

My mother didn’t positively decide to release me to an adoption agency until the last minute. It is my understanding that she agonized over the decision. I went to the adoption agency at the age of three months and then was adopted when I was five months old. By the age of five months, I had been moved three times.

I have eight kids of my own. Every one of those babies knew me at birth! There is no question in my mind that they knew me and would have been affected if I would not have kept them, even if they had been removed from me at birth.

My head understands how difficult it would have been for my birth mother to keep me. I intellectually understand the pressure she was under to give me up… away. I guess giving “up” a baby for adoption sounds better than “giving away.” I feel very strongly that she did love me and that she probably had limited options and resources and was also convinced that I would have a better life in a stable family.

My adoptive parents were good folks, educated, mature, owned their home. They weren’t my mother. They had an adopted son, he was eight years older than me, and they adopted another little girl three years after they adopted me. We were pretty much middle-class America.

I had little books of nursery rhymes. Three Little Kittens… picture for a minute a little girl, about three, sitting on the carpeted floor of a living room cutting the mittens out of the book and pasting them back with the kittens. There is another nursery rhyme called A Tisket A Tasket… I sat on the floor and cut the letters she wrote to her love out of the book and pasted them back in the green and yellow basket… no one thought it strange… just “cute.”

My second grade teacher wrote on my report card, “Jane seems to be hiding her light under a barrel.” How perceptive. No one else noticed.

One of my favorite books was Lassie Come Home and I read it probably about 20 times or more during my pre-teen and teen years. I always cried hard at the end when Lassie finally made the journey home and was reunited with her people. In fact, I’m still crying, now, as I type. I see the connection, why I read the book so many times, why I cried so hard, then, and now. I have spent my life trying to put things together that belong together. And today, I’m seeing how futile that has been, because all I ever really wanted was my mother.

Because of some archaic laws, I can’t even know her name.

None of the people in my story are villains, it’s a story without the bad guys. Everyone involved including my mother, my adoptive parents and the Children’s Home Society staff had good intentions and acted in what they truly believed to be my best interest. Maybe that is the danger in believing any one can really know what is in the best interest of another; but something needed to be done. I understand that; and outwardly, I did have a good childhood.

Inside, however, it’s a different story. I was odd. I never fit in. I felt displaced and still do. I never tried to excel in anything, just settled for a very mediocre life. It was too risky to risk, and besides, a very long time ago I made a vow that no one would ever get to know me or see me, who I really am. That decision partly came out of an ongoing conflict I had for most of my childhood with my adoptive mother. Nothing I was interested in was interesting to her, or even acceptable. I was a tomboy and she adopted a girl. I wanted to learn to play the guitar, she had me take accordion lessons because we already had one and my little sister was taking lessons. I wanted a horse. Of course, I couldn’t have one. She wanted me to go to college, I wanted away from school, period…! I was so uncomfortable in any social or academic setting where I had to interact with others. I only had one or two friends at a time. I didn’t keep any of them. I chose to be alone.

I was constantly having stomach problems (which I kept completely to myself… I did not believe it was safe to do anything to rock the boat and I got in trouble when I threw up.) I remember lying very still on my back while I fell asleep at night, afraid to move because if I did it felt like I would throw up. No one knew. Not their fault. I didn’t tell anyone. I did not trust. I still don’t trust. That is the story of my life to now. It has affected me in everything that I have attempted to do, hold a job, start a business, stay in a relationship, even hold on to friendships. I always sabotage relationships, or myself, and still do. It’s safer to live that way than to trust and risk hurt. I don’t even know how to trust and all my behavior is designed to protect me from ever having to feel the full pain of separation again.

Slowly the pieces are fitting together and the way I have lived my life is making some sense to me. From that place, I will be able to make some choices about how I will spend the rest of my life. EFT will help.

Over the last 20 years, many birthmoms have come out of the “birthmom closet” and talked about their pasts. Many have searched for the children that they lost to adoption, and many have reunited. These are women who have dealt with the past in one way or another and moved on.

Unfortunately, there are still many women who refuse to acknowledge what they went through, and who have kept it a secret all of their lives. For these women, the child they bore and gave up becomes THE secret.

Many of the women who worked so hard at keeping their secret have not even shared with their husband that they had a child that was relinquished. Nobody in their life knows what happened but them.

That is a huge secret to carry for such a long time, and the weight of it must be enormous. I can’t even imagine how it must feel to keep a secret like that from the entire world.

For this group of birthmothers, they live in fear of being found by the children that they gave up. They are terrified of a knock at the door or a phone call that will result in their secret being revealed.

How could you possibly explain to a husband of 25 or 30 years why you never shared the fact that you had a child before you married them? These women are scared to death that their marriages and family lives will be put on the line if their child shows up.

I worked with an adoptee who searched for her birthmother for years. She finally found her and made contact and was told that she could never have a relationship because her very existence was a deep, dark secret.

The situation was devastating to the adoptee, but it couldn’t have been easy for the birthmom either. She HAD to want to know her daughter, but didn’t dare let her into her life.

Historically, one of the biggest problems in adoption has been the secrecy. Sealed records make adoptees and birthmothers alike feel like there is something to hide, otherwise why would the records be sealed?

For so many years birthmoms were actually encouraged to keep their experience a secret. That may not be the case today, but there are still many thousands of birthmoms keeping their secrets, because they don’t know any other way to handle what happened to them.

I look forward to a time when most adoptions will be open, all parties concerned with be honest and forthright with each other, and respect will be accorded to all parties. The secrets of adoption need to be left behind.

I did a session with a birthmom today that left me with a lot on my mind. She gave up son up in what was supposed to be an open adoption, but the agency refused to commit anything about that to paper. Even though the birthmom spoke with the adoptive parents and they agreed to regular visits, pictures and ongoing contact, there was nothing to prove that they had made that commitment.

In point of fact, the adoptive parents refused this birthmom contact with her son for 18 years. Only when he was old enough to start making his own decisions did she get to see him.

This birthmom was very angry, and felt betrayed. How could she feel anything but betrayed, under the circumstances? An agreement had been made in good faith (at least on the part of the birthmom) and years down the road she was still feeling like the system had completely let her down. And it had!

I have no answers here. I’m just railing against a system that treats people the way our current system does. Nobody has a right to treat another person the way the birthmom I worked with was treated, and the way the many other birthmoms through the years have been treated.

Feeling betrayed by the system? This may help:

Setup:

  • Even though I feel angry about having been betrayed by the entire adoption system, I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself.
  • Even though I was lied to and misled by the adoptive parents and the adoption agency and that makes me angry, I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself.
  • Even though I was betrayed by a system that only cared about my child, and not about me, and that makes me really angry, I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself, and I hold myself in kindness and compassion.

Reminders:

  • I’m so angry
  • And I feel betrayed
  • The agency lied to me
  • The adoptive parents lied to me
  • Nobody cared about me
  • They only cared about my baby
  • And that makes me angry
  • And feeling very betrayed
  • I’m so angry
  • But maybe I can start to let go of that
  • I feel so betrayed
  • But maybe I can work on that
  • I was lied to
  • But maybe I can put that behind me
  • I was betrayed and that hurts
  • But I need to move on
  • So much anger
  • So many feelings of betrayal
  • But I choose to start working
  • On releasing those feelings
  • Letting go of the anger
  • Letting go of the betrayal
  • Letting those feelings drain away
  • And replacing them with an energy of healing.

And to all you birthmoms who have been through this kind of painful experience, I wish you healing and peace on your journey.

Adoption search is a complex topic. There are so many things that can happen during or at the end of a search that it boggles the mind.

Adoptees in search of birth families seem to have the best track record. Since they have access to non-identifying information, they have an advantage over birth family members. Their adoptive parents may also have information, even identifying information, concerning their family of origin. All of this can be extremely helpful in a search.

At the end of an adoptee’s search, the situation can go in different ways. They can find a birthmother or other birthfamily member that welcomes them with open arms. This is the happy ending that most adoptees hope for. Unfortunately, adoptees can find that their birth family (usually their birthmother) wants nothing to do with them. This is most often due to the fact that the birthmom has never confided to anyone about the child that she gave up, and years down the road, after keeping the secret for decades, they are afraid to tell the truth. This is a sad situation, but is not uncommon. Adoptees can also find at the end of their search that their birthmother is deceased. There may still be siblings who welcome them, but not all birthmoms go on to have other children, or tell the children they have about “their secret”.

A birthmother searching is more complicated. Since they are usually not entitled to non-identifying information, they often have a lot less information to use when searching. Some states have birth indexes which help in searches, but access to a birth index depends on the state in which the child was born. Birthmoms often have to bite the bullet, and pay a professional searcher to find their child. The end of a birthmom search is more up in the air than an adoptee search. Birthmothers are rejected by adoptees far more often than adoptees are rejected by birthmoms. A complicating factor for birthmoms is that once they’ve found their child, the adoptive parents may feel threatened by them, and when this happens, it usually prevents any kind of a relationship from happening, sadly.

More and more often over the last few years, I’ve seen adoptive parents helping their kids to search. These kinds of searches have the best chance of a happy ending, since the searcher has the support of their parents in their search. I’ve seen a number of wonderful reunions that came about when adoptive parents helped their children to search. When everyone is involved, and adoptive family, birthfamily and adoptee all come together as an extended family, wonderful things happen.

The most important thing for any searcher to remember is that you never know what you’ll find at the end of your search, and you need to be as prepared as possible for any eventuality.

If you are currently searching, and are feeling stressed, why not try a little EFT to rid yourself of the stress?

Setup Statement:
Even though I am really scared about what I may find at the end of my search, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
Reminder Phrases:
This fear, what will I find?, this fear, searching is scary, I choose to transform this fear, into an energy of healing, I choose to release negative feelings, and embrace positive feelings.

Back to No More Adoption Pain

Anger — we all feel it, but not many people find it acceptable. When we were children, most of us were encouraged not to show our anger, and we carried that habit over into adulthood. We get angry about all kinds of things, but we’ve learned over time how to “stuff those feelings down”. Maybe we smoke a cigarette, maybe we have a drink, or maybe we go around the block until we’ve walked it off, but we seldom let others see or know that we’re angry.

There is lots of anger in the adoption triad. We’ve got angry adoptees, angry birthmothers and angry adoptive parents. To each of us, our anger feel justified, and it may be.

Adoptees are often angry because they feel that they’ve been abandoned. In their minds, their birthmother saw them as an inconvenience, and it was far easier to let somebody else raise their child than to raise it themselves. Very seldom is this actually true, but lots of adoptees feel this way.

Other adoptees are angry that they have been, as they see it, victimized by the adoption community. The decision about where and how they would live their lives was made by others, and even as adults they’re not allowed to know about their families of origin. This is an anger that I feel is well justified, and I’d like to think that at some point the system will be reformed so that adult adoptees can always find out where they came from. Everyone deserves that right.

Birthmothers have their share of anger. Many are angry at their families and “the system” for forcing them to relinquish children that they didn’t want to give up. That anger is intensified by the fact that birthmoms are not expected to or encouraged to express grief over the loss of their child, but are instead told to “forget it and move on”.

Birthmothers have virtually no rights when it comes to getting non-identifying information so that they can find their children. That makes it mighty hard for a birthmom to search and find. This is still another reason (again, justified) for anger on the part of birthmoms.

Adoptive parents feel that they have plenty to be angry about, too. Many get angry at their children if they decide to search for their birthfamily. They feel betrayed, theatened, or just plain jealous, and therefore they are angry. Some are also angry at birth family members who have found their children. These parents harbor the feeling that once relinquishment papers are signed, a birth parent has given up any right to ever know the child.

So much anger, for so many reasons… Anger is usually an uncomfortable thing to deal with, and we end up with guilt on top of that anger. EFT is the most effective method that I’ve ever found for dealing with anger. Once you zero in on an incident that made you angry, and tap through 2 or 3 rounds, the anger is often totally gone, and you are left with a feeling of peace and calmness that is far more pleasant than anger.

Why not give EFT a try for your anger? Five minutes of tapping might just give you the relief that you’ve been hoping for.

Back to No More Adoption Pain

The quick answer to this question in most cases is NO!

Abandonment is a fairly common issue for adoptees. Even though the logical part of their brain may recognize that they weren’t actually abandoned, that baby who lost his/her mother so very early feels abandoned anyway.

Many birthmothers, particularly those of more mature adoptees, really didn’t have options as far as keeping their child. Family and societal pressures forced them to relinquish their child, even though for many of them it was one of the most traumatic events of their life.

Mothers of younger adoptees may have had options, but may have also realized that a child raising a child is not a good idea, and you can’t offer that child the best life if you can’t even take care of yourself.

It’s important for adoptees to realize that the vast majority of birthmoms carry emotional scars for a lifetime after losing a child to adoption. You don’t carry a child in your womb for 9 months, and then just put it out of your mind. Birthmothers never forget the children that they lose.

This is not to say that there aren’t some women who willingly give up children and don’t look back, but for most birthmothers, they carry their child in their heart for a lifetime, whether or not they ever carried that child in their arms.

For adoptees with abandonment issues, please know that EFT can give you tremendous relief from any pain and anger that you may be feeling, and can lead you to a place of peace in your heart.

Back to No More Adoption Pain

At some point in time for every adoptee or birthmother who chooses to search, this becomes the big question. Am I good enough? Do I have a good enough job, make enough money, have a successful enough career, and on and on. Whether you want to go to this place or not, you can’t help it — you’ll end up there sooner or later.

Adoptees think about their birthmoms and worry. If she went on to have other children, will she favor them? Will I be good enough? Will I be too fat, too thin, too tall, too short? What does she expect of me?

The fact is that for most birthmoms, they have no particular expectations. They just want to get to know YOU, no matter how you look, no matter what level your education, no matter what kind of job you have. It’s pretty hard to disappoint a birthmom when it comes to a found son or daughter.

Adoptees also think about birth siblings they may have. Will they accept me? Will they like me? Will I be able to be a real sister or brother? Birth siblings are a bit harder to predict. Many are thrilled to connect with a long lost sibling, but the reality is that there are some who are jealous, or who want nothing to do with you. This is a part f searching that you have to be ready for. Acceptance is wonderful, but not everyone has a happy ending.

Birthmoms worry in the same way that adoptees do. The truth is that they have more to worry about. I know far more birthmoms who were rejected by their found kids than I do adoptees who were rejected by their birthmoms. If, however, you are fortunate enough to be accepted by the child you find, they probably won’t have a lot of expectations to live up to. They’ll probably be glad just to get to know you, and maybe to have you in their life. Chances are they won’t give a darn about what kind of job you have, where you live, or what kind of clothes you wear.

Adoption search is always a crap shoot. I’m being honest here, because you never know what you’ll find at the end of the road. If, however, you don’t have the courage to take that road, you’ll never know whether or not you can have a happy ending.

Back to No More Adoption Pain

My son was born in 1967. I was a teenager, and at that time you didn’t have options if you were in my situation. My parents forced me into surrendering my son for adoption. It was one of the most painful events in my life.

I spent most of my adult life grieving over the child I lost. I couldn’t think about it without crying. I described it to people as “having a hole in my heart”. That’s how it felt.

I saw a number of counselors and therapists over the years, but found that none actually understood my pain, and none could help me with it.

Early in 2008 I discovered EFT — Emotional Freedom Techniques. I started small, dealing with work stress and anxiety, and when I found out how effective it was, I used it on more and more of my issues.

Finally, I started working with an experienced EFT practitioner, and we worked on the pain of losing my son. After a couple of sessions, I found that I could talk about the experience without tears, and without all the emotional charge I had carried for so long.

Since I’d worked for so many years with other birthmoms and adoptees, through my online reunion registry, I wanted to be able to help others in the way that I was helped. I trained as an EFT practitioner. Now I’m reaching out to those of you who may be carrying the kind of pain that I was, and offering you free sessions (by phone or Skype) in order to help others. If you’ve been dealing with adoption related pain, with no relief in sight, consider scheduling a session.

Back to No More Adoption Pain