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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.

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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.

My child was born in the ’60s. It’s a very different world today, where children conceived outside of marriage are not a shameful thing. Back when my son was born, though, there was a terrible stigma to becoming pregnant if you weren’t married.

In addition to the stigma of a pregnancy if you were unwed, there was the fact that birthmoms at that time didn’t have options, as they do today. Back then, you had 2 choices — to surrender your child for adoption so that (in the words of social workers) they could have a good life and loving 2 parent family, or to keep and raise your child, with everyone looking down their nose at you and judging you. Not much of a choice. (Just to clarify, abortion was not yet legal in the U.S.)

Birthmoms at that time were often treated badly. They often weren’t allowed to see their babies when they gave birth. Sometimes they weren’t even told the sex of their child. Their rights weren’t explained to them, what few they had. Many were forced to sign relinquishment papers when they had barely recovered from the delivery of their child. All in all, it was a very bad time to have a child out of wedlock.

Even within our own families we were shamed. Many birthmoms were sent away to live in unwed mothers homes until the birth of their child, because their family didn’t want anyone to know they were pregnant. My own mother told me that I humiliated her in front of every relative, friend and neighbor she had. What I had done was unthinkable to her.

I think that it’s important for the adult adoptees of today to understand how their biological mothers may have been treated, and what it was like for them. Shame that deep seated is not something that you get over. You carry it with you for a lifetime.

I have personally dealt with a number of birthmoms who refused to acknowledge a son or daughter that found them because they had NEVER in their lives told a single soul about the child they gave up for adoption. It’s not about them not wanting to know that child; it all about not being able to face and deal with the shame of their past.

Searching adoptees, please keep in mind that this could be your birthmother. Maybe, hopefully, she might have been treated better, but that shame from the past still can have a powerful impact on us today, and for many birthmothers, it does.

Birthmoms, please know that EFT can help with this shame, and I am living proof of that.

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