Familiar Birthmother Sadness

Yesterday the sadness crept up on me and I had a heaviness in my chest.  It’s a familiar sorrow, one that I prefer to keep buried beneath the surface, but some days that just isn’t possible. I read an article, Adopted or Abducted,  about the coercion of mothers during the 1940’s through 1980’s, to place their children for adoption.  It brought back memories, ones I try not to recall very often; it also brought back my friends’ stories.

One, in particular, keeps interrupting my thoughts.  Years ago I met a friend, Beth, through an adoption triad group (adoptees, adoptive parents, and birthparents).  We quickly became close as we shared our stories and sorrows; we understood each other.  Beth became pregnant as a young teen and was sent to a maternity home operated by a large adoption agency.  Having had a difficult childhood, Beth thrived in the routine and safety of the home.  She was fed, educated, clothed, and cared for by the staff, and for the first time in her life, she felt loved and secure.

Beth understood the maternity home’s expectation that her child would be placed for adoption, but as the weeks passed, she grew more and more attached to her baby and felt that she could not give him up.  She worried about displeasing the staff, but trusting the relationship she had built with them, she told them her plan to keep her baby.  She was informed that it was her choice, but there was a financial cost for the months she had spent at the maternity home, and with no adoptive parents to pay the bill, she would be responsible for it.

As you can imagine, it was a large sum of money for a teen, even one from a financially secure family, and it was completely out of reach for Beth.  She pleaded for help, but was told that she had two options, give up her child, or pay the bill.  In the end,with great regret and sorrow, she gave birth to her son, placed him in the care of the adoption agency, and left with empty arms and a shattered heart.

So today, when I should be writing something about adoptive parenting, it is birthmother sorrow that is coming out of my fingertips. I think of Beth and wonder if I should seek her out.  Unfortunately, she is one of the friends I lost when I became an adoptive mother; it was just too painful to walk that road with me.  I understand, I really do, it is very complex to be an adoptive mother without also being aware of my life as a birthmother.

I would probably feel better today if I got busy and cleaned my kitchen, or added to my “giving thanks” list.  Gratitude is a good antidote to sorrow.

#861  870 giving thanks

my sister arriving from Seattle today

little boys collecting worms

rubber boots

a good washing machine that tackles muddy clothes

my son, who I am so grateful to know

quiet moments with Russ this morning

Beth, who was a good friend for many years

the Holy Spirit who comforts us in our sorrow

children to teach

a messy kitchen to clean

Thanks for bearing with me, friends; I’ll be back to adoptive mommy blogging soon.

Lisa

 

 

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

26 Comments

  1. Gwen
    March 29, 2012

    I believe that your perspective and experiences as a birthmother are as much a part of adoptive mommy-ing as anything else. Every side of the adoption triad is touched by the other sides. Your posts remind me of my children's mother, and for me, that's highly relevant to the way I parent my children. You, your son and your son's adoptive parents will be in my prayers today. As your day is, so shall your strength be… may God give you His sovereign strength and peace today. <3

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Gwen, I so appreciate your prayers,and thank you for your encouraging words.

      Reply
  2. Jacqueline
    March 29, 2012

    Don't apologize. I think you're best as YOU in all the ways that life has shaped you. As an adoptive mom, I feel blessed to hear the words of birth mothers – the grief and pain is important to acknowledge. Adoption isn't necessarily the best solution – even though I accept that in an imperfect world it's all that's sometimes available for the children impacted by death of parents, etc. Our children are best served if we are honest and open about the fact that adoption is marked by pain and grief as well as by, hopefully, joy.
    How horrible for Beth to have been treated in such an unethical way!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Jacqueline, thank you. It seems that if we don't acknowledge the pain that surrounds adoption, we are blind to the grief of birthmothers and the sorrow our children bear. When we come to adoption as adoptive parents, we join the suffering. I've been thinking about Beth all day.

      Reply
  3. Mountain Momma
    March 29, 2012

    I am an adoptive mom and have never been a birth mom, but have been a foster parent to a child placed for adoption. That experience gave me an greater insight to the pain a birth mother deals with. Our family loved this foster child and when we brought this child into our home, it was our desire to eventually adopt. Because of circumstances beyond our control, that was not to be. I will always love this child and continue to grieve the loss. I think the loss is even greater because the adoptive family has chosen not to continue a relationship with us and have cut us out of the child's life almost completely. We are very open in our relationships with birth family/foster familes, and so to be cut off causes an even deeper sense of loss. Though it is not the same, I think this experience has given me a window into the great loss and grief birth parents deal with. Although it does not take away the grief, it can bring much healing and is a great blessing when families(birth/adoptive/foster) can share the blessing of a child through openness and relationship with one another.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      I am so thankful you shared your story. You have a unique window into the sorrow birthparents feel, especially when there is no contact or ability to maintain relationship with the child. I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm sure you know this, but your love for the child will always be a sweet blessing to him/her. You gave a gift of yourselves that will have a lifelong impact.

      Reply
  4. peaceliving
    March 29, 2012

    I think it's important for us adoptive mothers to hear your story from the birthmother perspective. It's easy to forget that there is a lot of pain on the other side of adoption, too. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      You are very welcome, and thank you for extending grace to me.

      Reply
  5. Joelle
    March 29, 2012

    Your'e on my heart and in my prayers.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Thank you, Joelle. You've been on this journey with me for a very long time.

      Reply
  6. Diane
    March 29, 2012

    I am thankful for your Mom heart, not birth, not adoptive, but, for your Mom heart. One with Jesus, He took the Bread, gave thanks, and, broke it….

    Thanking you for sharing, in communion, your broken heart.

    Reply
    1. Cindy
      March 29, 2012

      This is beautiful Diane……

      Reply
      1. Lisa Qualls
        March 30, 2012

        I agree, Cindy.

        Reply
    2. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Diane, your words are precious to me today. Thank you.

      Reply
  7. Anita
    March 29, 2012

    You shouldn't feel pressed to write only as an adoptive mom blogger! I know many, many readers have been blessed by your rare perspective as both a birthmother and adoptive mother. Praying you have peace today!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Anita, thanks for the encouraging words; I'll keep writing.

      Reply
  8. Ellen
    March 29, 2012

    I, too, am grateful you share your perspective as a birth mother. Our foster daughter has been with us less than 2 months, and she'll soon be transferred back to her home county and another foster family. Even though everything in our circumstance is as it should be, our hearts feel like they're being ripped. You're right to share your grief.
    I am grateful we all serve the living God, who not only stores all our tears in a bottle, but will wipe every last one of them away. Longing ever more for heaven….

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Ellen, such good words. I love hearing your heart for your foster daughter; really loving people opens us up to pain. I admire you for being a foster mom.

      Reply
  9. Dana@AdoptionJourney
    March 29, 2012

    I have no words. But thank you for sharing truth. All of your kids are so blessed to have you as their mom.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Thank you, Dana. I'm thankful I can share my heart about my life.

      Reply
  10. Emily
    March 29, 2012

    I love Lisa-blogging of all kinds. Thanks for your thoughtful approach to all of life, and for sharing it with us. It encourages me.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Thank you, Emily. I like being able to use my blog to teach and share, but I appreciate knowing I can also just be myself and share my heart.

      Reply
  11. Cindy
    March 29, 2012

    are you kidding me?? Lisa, I love hearing your story and for sharing your sorrow with us. You have become someone who is more transparent about the deep places of your heart and that makes you real. This subject is so important to me, please keep on sharing with us the other side of the adoption coin. Luv 2 U

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Cindy, thank you. I hope my experience as a birthmother can help us all be better adoptive mothers.

      Reply
  12. Tereasa
    March 30, 2012

    I admire every bit of who you are. You are a precious soul and I am so thankful to have you in the adoption triad community. The birth mothers I have in my life help me to keep things in proper perspective. I love them so much. I pray that you feel loved on all sides.

    Also, thank you for responding to my email so quickly. I have not responded (obviously) but I have considered the things you said about counseling for our daughter and will continue to pray for the right support to be revealed.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 30, 2012

      Thank you, Tereasa, for your encouraging words. Don't worry a bit about not responding; I am generally terrible at keeping up with email.

      Reply

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