Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared an interview that I set up with a birthmother in my life. In Part 1 of the series, I laid about why I feel this subject is important, who the birthmother is, and how I went about interviewing her. Part 2 of the series features the first half of the interview itself. Today, I’ll be wrapping up the interview. In my next (and final) post of this series, I’ll share some personal reflections on my conversation with her.
BEAN: How often do you think about your child? And is it possible to heal from such a catastrophic separation?
BIRTHMOTHER: I think about her all of the time and not all of the time. That’s confusing but a real thing! She is in the front of my mind at some points and just there in the background at others. I have wondered sometimes how it would be different. I muse about what different phases would have been like but it’s not with sadness. Just curiosity.
BEAN: You have mentioned to me that your child is 19. So, she is an adult now. What kind of relationship have you had with her over the years, and how has it evolved?
BIRTHMOTHER: In the early years, we didn’t have our own relationship outside of her parents’ involvement. I’m not sure if that’s best or not but its the way it turned out for our situation. I was always REALLY conscious of not usurping their roles. [Lately,] she’s struggled with typical teenage issues, so our ability to forge a true relationship has been stunted by that … as I imagine could be true if I had raised her. However, she is coming out of that now, and I’m looking forward to the beginning of a new kind of relationship. I’m happy to keep you posted as to how I get along! What I will say is that I’ve been able to be a place she felt she could come with no judgment. She could share things with me without fear I would try to “parent” her. That doesn’t mean I didn’t give honest feedback even if it wasn’t the answer or reaction she was looking for.
BEAN: Have you ever experienced stigma/prejudice as the birthmother of a child who you are not raising?
BIRTHMOTHER: I don’t know if I would say stigma or prejudice. I’ve had people question my decision but I know they just don’t know what they don’t know. Most of us, including me, don’t plan for that so we don’t also think about how to react to people who’ve been in that place. I acknowledge that most of the people who comment negatively are also commenting from a place of ignorance.
BEAN: What are some things you would like adoptive parents to know about you, and birth parents in general? And what things would you like adoptees to know about their birth families?
BIRTHMOTHER: I can’t speak for other birth parents except broadly so I’ll speak for myself. I’m a human being who has made mistakes. I’ve had to make difficult decisions based off of circumstances I hadn’t planned on. I’ve suffered great loss and come through that with strength and grace for myself and others. I would ask that we all, on both sides of adoption, give each other grace and empathy. If we can’t have empathy, let us have sympathy. There have been losses and disappointment on both sides. There have been tears and heartbreak. I can’t say I’ve walked in the other shoes. I don’t know what it’s like to have a desire so deep and consuming but not the ability to make it happen for myself. My heart breaks for those who have felt it because I HAVE known pain. I would simply ask for compassion.
I love that answer. I’ll be honest. I anticipated something a little different. (More on that in the next post.) This amazing mom was so full of honesty, grace and compassion. In getting to know her, I can’t help but feel our commonalities more intensely than our differences.
Next week, as I close this series, I will share a few of my long-term takeaways from my conversation with the birthmother in my life. Until then, … what are your thoughts? Has anything that you have read about her story surprised you? Concerned you? Struck a cord? If so, feel free to shoot me a comment or message … I love hearing from you!