I talk about being a birth mom a lot. It’s something I am passionate about because I long to see human dignity stretch into adoption from all sides of the triad.
I believe deeply in the inherent value of people. So, talking about adoption and my experience as a birth mom comes naturally, and sometimes I assume I am the only birth mom in the room. Most of the time I am.
It can get lonely sometimes. There’s a sort of hustle to it. I feel like I have to represent birth moms well and speak up for our experience. I don’t like to hear people talking about “those women” or how this child or that child was “abandoned” or “forever family” as if I am not part of my son’s forever family.
There are times I need another person in the room to just know.
There is something holy about community. To have your people who know you and get you and give you a space to be and think and speak. It’s a lot of ands. There’s not just one benefit but many.
Even as an introvert I see the value in having a tribe. Those closest to me help me think through things, understand other viewpoints and see the world differently. When we collaborate, we create something bigger, something better than what we are individually. Having a group of people around you to do life with is invaluable in the scheme of work, art, play, parenting…you name it. People in communities have their instant bonds and their inside jokes. Sometimes the people in your community can anticipate your needs and help meet them. They start from common ground and have a working knowledge of how your experience might shape up and change over time.
Community makes us better. We all need community.
As a birth mom, this could not be truer. Birth mom communities have been invaluable in processing my adoption. There is something remarkable about a knowing smile or shared tears.
It’s a healing balm.
It’s validation. It’s being known. It’s recognition. It’s acceptance.
To hear these emotional stories and be trusted with the hard truths of the birth mom journey, is nothing short of an honor, but it’s something else for me too. When I have the freedom to talk about my child without all the disclaimers and careful words, I feel more whole. Don’t miss that. That is big for a person who is living without a piece of her heart. To feel whole is a longing that is seldom satiated for birth moms.
Consider the worst question a birth mom can be asked: How many children do you have? It’s painful for me, even after (almost) eighteen years. No matter what I answer, I am separating myself from him (again!). If I answer three (because I parent two children), the questions come about where he is and why we are separated. If I answer two, I am removing him from me by omission.
Again, there are times I need another person in the room to just know.
Every letter or phone call, visit or picture helps a birth mom connect with that wholeness. We love them! But when we get to be in a space and have conversations that are safe and understanding of our birthparent experience, that wholeness, that wholesome goodness, is tangible. It just feels right.
Anytime I am entrusted with a birth mom’s story, when I hear her say, “I’m a birth mom too,” I feel like I’m instantly, deeply connected to her. As if our stories are cut from the same cloth, I can listen and be heard without effort. There is no need for her to explain all the details or tell the full story. I don’t need to be told about the sheering pain or the spikes of joy. I know she loves and loses over and over again because of her choice. I know there are those that don’t understand and those that do. I am familiar with the inconsiderate questions and the unacknowledged status as a mother.