Monday, September 25, 2006

Birthmothers keeping their secret

Something that has stuck with me since reading it was Notmother's opening remarks to her class presentation. This is an excerpt from her post: "How many of you know an adoptive parent?" Everybody."How many of you know someone who was adopted?" Everybody (maybe one that didn't.)"How many of you know a birthparent?" The professor (which was a given because she's a social worker) and one student (who I've been feeling knows about me). A part of me wanted to laugh or tell them they could all raise their hands, but I just filed it away in the "Yeah, it's really true." category and got back to my real focus.

This resonated with me at the time because I thought, yeah, we should be comfortable with people knowing we're birthparents as much as people are comfortable with publicly acknowledging their status as adoptive parents and/or adoptees. But then I remembered all the stereotyping and rude comments that occur, and decided keeping quiet was still a good idea, at least for me, at least for now.

Lately her post has made me realize that hey, I'm not alone. In any group setting there may be another birthmother, also keeping her secret. This thought occurs to me from time to time now, especially whenever I'm around a group of people. I even find myself purposefully thinking, hmmm, I wonder if anyone else here is a birthmother?

Whenever I'm in public with my daughter she gets a lot of attention. This attention comes from people who are grandparents, parents, children. Occasionally there is a random stand-alone comment but almost every comment from an adult is followed up with "... I miss mine being that small", ... "our newest grandchild is her age", etc. Even if someone doesn't make a follow-up comment, there's a certain way people act around babies that let's you know if they are parents or grandparents, in the same way you can tell your waitress is a mother if she is careful to put your drink out of the baby's reach. There's also a certain way people talk and look at babies that gives them away as parents, grandparents, just as there is a way childless people act who are crazy about/around babies act.

Last night in the grocery store I noticed a woman noticing my daughter. No big deal. Later, on the other side of the store as I was standing still for a moment by the dairy section she stopped to tell me how beautiful my daughter was and how much she just loves babies, all the time looking at my daughter. None of her body language indicated that she was a mom. And the slightly sad way she was focused on my daughter struck me as someone who was being vicarious, the way I was and sometimes still am as a birthmother. Sure, she may be someone who always wanted to have a child and couldn't, didn't have the opportunity, or lost a child through death or divorce, but in my gut I just felt like she might be a birthmom. I wanted to ask, to let her know it was okay to acknowledge her status and to let her know I identified with her. But I couldn't. I mean, how would I feel if someone just came out and asked me that? And I thought about asking the more generic, "Have you ever had a baby?" (rather than, "Do you have a child?", but she could have easily lied like I have so many times.

And maybe she does just loves babies.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Being raised elsewhere

There was a day last week that I wound up talking to two different mothers in the same day about their sons living with their dads. The first mom in particular emphasized how much better off her younger son was with his dad because his dad could provide more financially for him and also had more time to do things like sports with him. Plus, she said, her son had a male role model in the home. "It really is the best thing for him," she said. "Yes, there were tears, but he's much happier and I have to think of him and what is best for him."

All of it sounded so much like me when I was 19 and pregnant with my son. It breaks my heart to hear it from someone else but not only does it remind me of how much I really was trying to do the best for my son, it also makes me realize that there are mothers in all kinds of situations who make a choice that means they don't get to spend every day with their children.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Letter Writing - Pondering

Something I've been thinking about this summer is writing a letter to my son. It's something I should probably do as I am feeling more and more strongly about it. But the thought terrifies me when I think seriously of writing just to him, not his parents, when I envision him reading it, assuming his adoptive mother would give it to him to read.

How do I write a letter to a person I love so much but I only truly know as a baby? It seems so direct. And terrifying.

Or perhaps it's just my perfectionism and constant self criticism telling me that I may blow it or he isn't interested or he won't/doesn't like me.

Maybe just a simple note will do. Dear Name, I love you very much and I have loved you since before you were born. I just wanted you to know that, in case you ever wondered. Love, Jayne.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Another assumption/reality check

My son's birthfather and I have managed to remain in intermittent contact over the years. Recently I received news that he has been experiencing some life threatening health problems. It made me realize I always assumed he would be around, out there in the world, should our son ever want to meet him.

Part of me has always been concerned (jealous, really) that my son may want to meet his birthfather and have little interest in meeting me. After all, I've met his adoptive parents and sent letters twice a year so he may know as much about me as he wants. He knows very little about his birthfather and so there is more mystery there. Plus being a guy, he may care more about that male connection. I may be wrong.

Learning about the health issues, though, made me realize that I do want my son to be able to meet his birthfather if he so chooses, and I was mad and upset that he may not have that chance when he is ready.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Still Waiting

I guess the answer is no. It's been 2-1/2 months since I wrote M to ask if she was interested in more frequent communication between us. So I'll just go back to waiting for the annual Christmas note/letter. The thing is, I know part of me is hoping that there will be some big answer in it, like how they discussed it as a family and this is what they're willing to do (and explain whatever that would be), or that my son has actually been asking for a while to meet me or talk to me on the phone and maybe it would be time to let him do that. I know it's not good for me to get my hopes up, but I can't not recognize that there are these hopes in my heart. So we'll wait and see. As usual.