Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Birth Mother's Story

Last night I participated in a panel of birth mothers at a meeting for multi-racial families. Most of the audience were adoptive families with biracial or African American children. The panel included myself and two ohers, Peggy whose child is 35 and Sheena whose child is 15 months old. My adopted son will be 24 this month. Sheena was accompanied by her son's adoptive parents and together they spoke about open adoption. Both Peggy and I had closed adoptions so seeing how open adoptions works was very eye opening and educational for me. The audience seemed very grateful to hear the point of view of birth moms. I still think there is a stigma for birth moms even while everyone extolls their courage and selflessness. The three of us had an opportunity to tell our stories and take questions from the audience. Peggy had a particularly touching story of reuniting with her adult son a couple of years ago and how it felt to come full circle. My adoption search is still in the future. I don't know the impact to the audience, but I hope they found it helpful. I learned more than I was able to share. As I sat in front of the audience playing with my newborn, it struck me that at least some of the women in the audience were adoptive mothers because of infertility issues. It made me wonder if this is the crux of the divide between adoptive and birth mothers- perhaps the birth mother is a constant reminder of what the adoptive mother cannot accomplish and as such must be put out of sight, out of mind, marginalized and stigmitized. At any rate, I'm glad I sat on the panel and told my story.

6 comments:

"Loving Pecola" said...

I will admit that one thing that keeps me from considering adoption seriously (as half of an infertile couple) is having contact with a birth mother. It's not the only thing (I know I could go the closed route) but it certainly is one of many reasons...

And thanks for the heads up on another blog I can read!

LovingPecola

Laborpayne said...

LP,
I would love to hear your reasons why contact with a birth mother would be a deal breaker for you.

"Loving Pecola" said...

It is as you said, I don't want to be reminded that it is not "my" baby - as in, from my own womb, and seeing her would be a constant reminder for me and my husband. And I think it would too hard to make the mental transition from "*her* daughter/son" to "*my* daughter/son" if she's always present. I would feel obligated to return her child to her if she asked, because she's been there the whole time - it's not like being able to say "but WE raised this person" because she might have had a hand in raising the child, too (depending on the extent of the openess) and if that's the case, then do I really have any more right to "custody" than she does? It just seems like an increased possibility of complications in a situation that's already complicated enough...

Laborpayne said...

LP,
You make a compelling point. Even as a birth mother, open adoption does not seem like Nirvana to me either. Being 'allowed' to come around occassionally to me only increases the sense of marginalization. I'm intrigued enough to ask Sarah if you would like to do a panel on open vs closed adoption.

Anonymous said...

So glad you are sharing your beautiful birth stories and wise woman thoughts with the rest of us.

We need beauty an wisdom more than ever.
Thank you Sherry
Diana

Karen K (from LLL) said...

The divide is felt on both sides because I have heard birth mothers say the adoptive family is able to parent where she is not. I am a prospective adoptive mother, but have given birth once, with much detriment to my repro system, and I mourn the idea that I will not have the joy of being pregnant or delivering once more. So, as you see, there are a variety of feelings along the divide. I can only hope that when we do match with a birthfamily that it will be what everyone involved wants.

I had a suspician you had a life full of various experiences since you are on child #9 now. :)