Dear fellow bloggers,
I read this article when I was doing some research about post placement birth mothers. This is one perspective from a birth mother who placed her son in 2007. I admire her strength and courage to do what she needed to in order to heal and I encourage all birth moms post-placement to do the same….here is her story…
First, motherhood is a complicated thing. The most difficult thing for me has been owning my motherhood. There are a lot of forces out there that want to make sure that we, as first mothers, know our place. Our place being that we aren’t moms that we don’t deserve that title because we “gave our babies away.” In this day and age of open adoption we are moms in our own right. We give of ourselves in many ways, different from our children’s adoptive parents, but we give of ourselves just the same.
When we first started the adoption process after Punkin was born, everything was birthmother this and birthmother that. It was my first realization that people think it is important for us, as first mothers, to learn our place right off the bat. I hadn’t even relinquished my parental rights yet and I was being referred to as a birthmother. I was still his only mommy at that time and I was determined to hold onto that, no matter whose feathers I ruffled, and so I did. When I talked to him I was his mommy. Even though his pre-adoptive parents were bonding with him, I was still taking that role in his life as his primary choice maker and I was going to be his mommy whether anyone liked it or not.
The personnel in the hospital were also very confused by my proactive role in his life. I frequently heard comments like “Well, most birthmothers don’t want to know.” Well, first of all right now I am not a birthmother, first mother, life mother or anything else; I am his mother. Secondly, he is my child I will always want to know how he is, five weeks from now, five months from now, and five years from now. I will always love my son and in my heart I will always be his mother with no adjectives in front of it to make the rest of the world comfortable with me and my role in Punkin’s life. Thirdly, no first mother is the same. Some don’t want to know anything about their child, they want to get on with their lives and hope to heal that way. I knew that I would never heal and that in order to achieve anything like healing I would always have to know how my son’s life is progressing.
His adoptive parents have had a hard time referring to me as anything other than Maja or as part of a “very special couple.” It is very hurtful to me that they are incapable of thinking of me as another mother to him. I don’t want to take away from his mom’s role in his life, I just want my own special role in his life as his Mutti (German for mommy). I am sure that for adoptive parents it is a very difficult thing to accept that your child has two sets of parents and that they will forever have to share him, but that is how they chose to build their family. I as a first parent should not have to pay for that choice for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love Punkin’s mom and dad very much and they are very good to my partner and myself, I just wish that I felt more accepted by them as a mother.
So what do I do to own my motherhood? I keep important documents from Punkin’s birth that I know he will want someday such as his original birth certificate and his hospital records. I make him things, like pieces of needlework that will someday, hopefully, become family heirlooms. I buy him books and music, because I love both and hope to pass that love onto him. In my own mind I just think of myself as his mom. I am learning to stand up for myself when I need to and say hey, my involvement in Punkin’s life goes far beyond just giving birth to him. I am a mother in my own right.
Of course this is something that I am still working on and probably will for my entire life. As he gets older and can help define my role, I am sure it will get easier for me. For right now, I think of myself as his mom and him as my son, with no words defining who or what we are to each other. I have two moms and two dads myself, and think of them just that way, and I’m sure that my son will be able to do the same someday as well. So in the meantime, I work on being a mom in my own ways, and work on changing the ideas that society has about what I should be to my son.
© Maja Hedman