Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More Birthmother Thoughts

I talked to another birthmom today. I called her, a bloggy friend, about a non-adoption thing and we wound up chatting for over an hour.

Truth be told, I don't really know her that well. Sure, I've been reading her blog for over a year, we've had a couple of phone conversations and we exchange witty observations on each other's flickr photos. But that's not really enough to know someone. So part of our conversation today consisted of some fun banter that doubled for learning more about each other. There are differences but they don't matter. It's kind of fun just getting to know someone, you know? The thing is, the birthmom experience, even with its differences for each of us, bonds us. For both of us, it's nice to be able to talk about it, our feelings, our observations, our fears, our thoughts, the differences and yet similarities in our experiences. What matters to us at the moment, what ignoramuses we were and continue to be about the whole thing. We can touch on them or talk about them in depth. We can move to another topic and then circle back. For me, it's like a comfortable/comforting conversation with an old friend, even though, like I said, I don't really know her that well.

I've found something similar since parenting. People who never would have been friends before are now friends (of varying degrees) because of the common bond of motherhood. But it's easy to be recognized as a mother when I stroll my 2 year-old around the neighborhood, push her in the swing at the park or run after her at the mall playground.

And while parenting is a life changing event, I don't feel as connected to other mothers. Parenting is not the seismic shift that losing a child is, even if that child was voluntarily given to another couple. My bloggy friend and I discussed anecdotally in a prior conversation about the type of personality a birthmother has. In that conversation we talked about how we are givers, people pleasers. Today we talked about things like compassion and empathy. (Or maybe I just talked about them and she listened ... I can still be more self centered in my conversations than I'd like to be.) And I think when you are that type of person and you've given your child away because you were led to believe you didn't deserve to be a mother, your spirit is irreparably crushed.

I also think that we are still waiting for some kind of approval, yet none is forthcoming. I mean, who is going to give it? The system that told us we weren't good enough to be mother? The adoptive parents who have what they want? Our parents who urged placement and/or won't acknowledge today that there is a grandchild out there? We are nobody now. Even to the children we birthed and placed.

It is my belief that the failure to effect a full recovery from our loss coupled with our need, on some level, for approval (validation?), cause us to (1) see things, life, people, etc., on a different level, even if we don't want to and (2) seek but not find emotionally fulfilling relationships which causes more grief as expectations of validation by a third party continually go unmet.

We seek a connection because our bodies gave birth to children who were supposed to be nurtured by us on the outside as well as the inside while they grew. I gave birth to a child who would have loved me unconditionally, just as my daughter does now. 14+ years of waiting to see that spontaneous smile, hear that innocent laughter dug a hole in my heart, in my being that can never be filled.

Yes, my pregnancy was unexpected, but my decision to place, which caused the 14+ year interruption in motherhood has had horrible, unintended consequences to my spirit. And I've never seen a pro-adoption billboard or advertisement aimed at potential birthmothers mention that side effect.


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