“When the baby was born in June, I had a little time with him by myself; then when I was ready, I invited the couple into the hospital room, handed him to his new mother and said, ‘Meet your son.’ The look on her face was worth every tear.
“People can promise an open adoption, promise everything under the sun, and then renege when they have the baby in their arms, but it doesn’t have to be that way. My son’s parents have been wonderful to me. Ellis is 3 years old now, I get to see him every year, he knows who I am and that he grew in my tummy, and he knows his mom and dad couldn’t have children and that God gave him to them. They tell him his story twice a week at bedtime so that he'll never remember a time when he didn’t know it. His parents send photos and videos that help me feel that I’m a part of his life, and sometimes we Skype-chat. They don’t send me just the ‘happys’ either; I get some of everything: the potty-training moments, going to the dentist, the bump on the head, the temper tantrum videos, helping mommy shovel snow, playing with his trains, ‘reading’ books. I appreciate that. I want to know who he is, not just who he is only when he’s happy. His adoptive mother doesn’t flinch when I refer to him as my son either. He has two mommies who love him.
“Could I have kept him and raised him? Could we have made it work? Maybe, but how healthy would that have been for any of us? I wanted the very best for my son. He has a better life than I could ever have given him, and I don’t just mean in terms of material resources.
“There is still so much stigma around adoption, and until we can get the issues out and talk about them, they won’t go away. People can be so critical of birthmothers without knowing anything of the circumstances. Every situation is different. There is no such thing as a typical birthmother. We are single, married, divorced, teenagers, in our 20’s or 30’s, self-sufficient, dependent on parents, already raising children, working full-time, or just not ready. What we have in common is that we love our kids and want the best for them, like any mother. Just because we aren't raising our kids doesn’t mean we aren’t mothers. Sometimes there are valid reasons for closed adoptions, but I’m very much for open adoptions whenever possible.
“Deciding to place your child for adoption is tough. It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is joy for the child and for his new parents; on the other, there’s tremendous grief over the loss. There are times when I get up in the morning and just say, ‘It’s hard, and it sucks.’ Anytime I see a child who looks like my son, who is my son’s age, it grabs me by the heart. If I see a little blond-haired boy splashing in a pool with his dad, for instance, I feel grief at first, then I imagine my little boy enjoying swim time, and I text his mother to ask, ‘How does Ellis like playing in the water?’ and she tells me. Holidays and birthdays can be especially difficult. Mother’s Day and Ellis’s birthday are within a month of each other, and those 30 days are rough. I try to work and stay busy so I won’t think about it, and that helps some. I also try to do things that are constructive, things to take care of myself. I communicate a lot more with his family during that month, and they understand.
“Churches have support groups for people who are grieving, but because we as birthmothers haven’t had a death --- our child is still alive --- we are told we don’t fit into such a group. We don’t belong. Of the three members of the triad (birthmothers, adoptive families, adoptees), birth mothers receive the least support. There’s a lot of processing that needs to be done by birthmothers, and we need a safe place to do that. Grief never follows a neat pattern. We can be doing fine, but then be set back to the beginning because of a photo or what someone says, or perhaps because of a holiday or birthday or seeing a child who looks like your child.
“Birthmother support groups do exist---I’m a member of one---but that number needs to be expanded. That’s a big part of the reason I helped to start a chapter of United for Adoption (licensed non-profit) here in Memphis: to help provide that support for all members of the adoption triad. We’re not an adoption agency ourselves, but we want to provide a neutral space for those who are interested in or already involved in some aspect of adoption, a space not controlled or sponsored by any one agency. The national organization United for Adoption has been around since 2012, but the local chapter was just launched in December 2014, so it’s still new and we’re still working on building the program. We're also working on changing the way the media approaches adoption. We provide emotional support and we're working toward being able to provide housing for adoptive families who come from out of town for an adoption. We find counselors who work with adoption issues and help expectant mothers with their decision, whether they choose to place or to parent. If they choose to place, we connect them with a birth mother support group, and if they choose to parent, we connect them with state and local resources to assist them. We also work with a couple of local homes to provide housing for expectant mothers who need a place to stay during their pregnancy.
“One of our chapter’s goals for this year is to sponsor an all-day adoption conference. We plan to have panels made up of various members of the adoption triad so that attendees can ask questions, gain perspective, and participate in open dialogue about all aspects of adoption.
“Our chapter is operating with a staff of 4 right now and are meeting only once a month, but we hope to expand to more support groups and twice a month meetings soon.”
I am not just a birthmom...
I am also the mother to a precious little girl who is my entire world...
every day she does something that makes me laugh or smile,
even when I'm having the worst days.
I am not just a birthmom...
I am a singer. I love music.
I love to learn new songs, and love filling my heart with music.
I am not just a birthmom...
I am an artsy craftsy chick. I like to sew, knit, and other random arts and crafts.
I'm not particularly wonderful at any one of them, but I am fairly decent with many :)
[read Tabitha's essay in its entirety HERE]
Local chapter: https://www.facebook.com/ufamidsouth
National organization: http://www.unitedforadoption.org