I’ve been a mother for almost half of my life. Definitely for more than half of my remembered life. And yet I’ve never been a mom, probably never will be. So why then do I spend so much time contemplating how to be a good parent? When every teenage will hate their parent at some point, why do I spend so much time fearing the hatred of the teen who is mine, but not mine?
As a parent when I see something that makes me worry I cannot ignore it. And yet as a not parent I’m not guaranteed a tomorrow to rebuild the relationship. It’s a parent’s job to provide guidance, information, context. But it’s also a parent’s good fortune to be right down the hall while doing so. I’m not down the hall, he doesn’t have to see, or talk to, or visit me. I’ve already been blocked on one social media platform and while I respect the boundary I’m scared he’ll draw more. That he’ll cut me off completely. So I have a choice. I can tell him only the good, converse about only what we agree on, smile always or I can be real, provide alternate opinions, share context he might not see, let him know when I worry about his choices and risk alienation.
I love him more than my own life and for some that might seem to mean I should expose him to nothing that might make him unhappy or uncomfortable. Instead it means I will risk my own happiness to provide him with what i think is important for as long as he’ll let me.
I should be on my way to campus right now. I have documents to code and lit reviews to write. But instead I’m laying in bed wrapped in a towel; drops of water from my hair mingling with my tears making it difficult to see the computer screen. I dont cry often anymore, better living through chemistry and all that, but today i can’t seem to stop.
It started in the shower, which really is the best place for tears, warm comforting water and seclusion all in one. I was suddenly hit with memories of 16 years ago. 16 years ago I was pregnant. 16 years ago give or take a few weeks I was sitting down with my parents, my then boyfriend, and his parents. 16 years ago I was naive and full of hope. I had hope that by the end of that sit down someone would have given me a way. A way to parent my baby. Someone, any one, was supposed to tell me how I could do it. Instead I was told I was being childish. I was called selfish. I was reminded about how there are people out there who deserved a baby. People who deserved my baby. I didn’t consciously see the implication that I wasn’t one of those people who deserved my baby, but I internalized it. I internalized it fully.
I also remember being told that someday, someday when I was ready, I’d get to have a “baby of my own” as if the one I was carrying already wasn’t. I hate every single person who has ever uttered those words to me. I want to send hate mail to my former boyfriend’s family. I want to yell at my parents. I want to punch the facilitator in the face. Because someday is here. Someday is today. And still I dont get to have, “a baby of my own” still I am not one of those deserving of a baby.
I listened to them then and am reaping my punishment now.
An advice column was shared in a group I belong to. A family was having a hard time with their teen he was, “[becoming] more and more difficult to live with — moody and disrespectful, mostly, and his grades have taken a nose dive.” Additionally, this teen wanted to do live with a different family member. The advice giver, who claims to be a psychologist and has claimed a domain titled “parent guru” suggests the parents response to this situation should be to immediately find an attorney. A lawyer can’t fix this.
He states that, “Some researchers estimate that today’s children, compared with 1960s kids, are 10 times more likely to experience a major emotional setback by age 16.” This knowledge combined with the complaints of the parent(s) seem to indicate this teen needs support. So why instead of recommending family therapy or even individual therapy for the teen does he recommend an attorney? Simple,
- the child is an adoptee
- the family member he wishes to move in with is his birth mother
- the advice giver has, “been opposed to open adoptions from the beginning”
He provides no statistics or research that have led him to be against openness in adoption. He provides no reason for the readers to believe he has any knowledge of a expertise in open adoption. AND YET, he decides to proceed to give advice regarding open adoption.
Further the situation described by the parent(s) implies there was no direct contact between the child and the birth/first mother until he was an adolescent. This changes the dynamic from that of an open adoption to more like an adoption reunion. This further recommends that support/counseling is needed. A lawyer can’t fix this.
The advice giver complains that, “schools that no longer teach critical thinking skills” and yet as far too often happens he jumps directly to: get a lawyer. A lawyer can’t fix this. A birth parent isn’t an adversary, they’re a resource for a child, who in this case is admittedly struggling. I’m not saying pack up your child and ship them off to the birth parent. Far too often things are seen as either or without seeing the in between options. For instance one intermediate option might be every school break with the birth family giving both child and parents space, gives child and (birth) family time and access to each other, doesn’t disrupt education, also forces (for lack of a better word) cooperation between families showing the child it’s not going to be a free for all at the other persons house that all his parents are on the same page and have the same expectations of him. Because despite this advice giver stating that, “Of the players, only the [adoptive parents] truly know him and have his best interests in mind.” Birth parents also only want the best for their children.
As a birth mom living open adoption, if my son said he wanted to live with me. I’d want to really delve into the motivation(s) and what expectations he had. That being said if he wasn’t just trying to piss off/hurt his parents and if his parents were supportive (he is under 18 after all) of the move I’d welcome him in.
16 years ago I was pregnant and being convinced I’d be a horrible mother. That it’d be selfish and childish to parent my son. One person in particular emphasized that I could always have children “of my own” later. When I was older. When I was ready. When it was socially acceptable.
Well, it’s later. I’m in my 30s. I’m married. I have an advanced degree. And I’m infertile.
Unexplained (so far) secondary infertility. I’m going through the motions of getting tests done seeing if there is rhyme or reason for my inability to conceive these last 2+ years. If there is a reason and if it’s fixed/treated with a simple pill with minimal risk maybe I’ll give it a go, but beyond that … I don’t know, I really don’t. I don’t think want to be pregnant badly enough to justify IUI or IVF or hormone injections. I do want to be a mom though.
Do I want it enough to adopt? Some people ask if they could love a child that’s not biologically theirs. I have no doubt I could. Some wonder if they could live with being not the only mom. That doesn’t phase me. What gives me pause is something else entirely. Do I want to be the reason someone else lives the birth mom rollercoaster? Could I voluntarily do this to someone else? I don’t think I could. I don’t think I could look someone in the face and ask her to give me her baby.
Maybe I’ll adopt from foster care, but it comes with its own batch of ethical issues I’ll have to wrestle with.
I’m just as guilty as anyone of hiding behind the social media facade. Of sharing, not quite only the good, but definitely of censoring the bad. I’ll share the snark, the annoying, the deserving of a side eye. I wont share the real. I dont want pity, I dont want to be perceived as self pitying. I dont want to scare those who love me or give fuel to those who dont. But in hiding the real I dont give any opportunity for those who might help to do so and even more importantly I dont give any clue to those who might need help that I’m available. That I’ve been there. That they can lean on me. I can’t fix anything, but I can listen, without judgement, with understanding.
So here it is.
It took a full mg of Ativan to put on clothes today. Just to put on clothes.
I left my apartment for the first time in too long today. I rode the T to the pharmacy, picked up my meds, grabbed a mediocre chai, and rode the T home. All told I was gone for about an hour.
I’m back in bed now. I’m still dressed in leggings and a shirt dress, not because they’re as comfy as pjs (although that certainly is a bonus), but because I dont have the energy left to remove them. I have about half my mediocre chai left so maybe that will change.
Thats all I have the energy to write right now. Maybe i’ll come out from behind the wall again.
Identity is complex thing. It’s personal, so very personal. And yet, it’s also very public. Identity can be shaped by DNA, by interactions, by role. By the intersection of all three and more. But my identity, is not up for debate.
You don’t like being called Black? That’s fine I respect your use of the words African American to self-identify but I remain a Black multi-racial person. You don’t like the word fat? Also fine you be thick, big boned, curvy while I declare that fat is no worse than thin no different than tall. You don’t like birth mom I will call you first, natural, original. I will drop the qualifier all together it’s usually unnecessary anyway. But I will not let you dictate who I am.
I am a birth mom, or rather I am my son’s birth mom. Not because I am limited to a one time event, but because along with all the other things we share we share that special moment. I am the only person on the planet who can lay claim to having birthed him. I was there, I could have died, I wear the scar with pride. On that day over 15 years ago, with my own mom by my side I brought forth the first born of the next generation of my blood. I did that. With help I created a human being whom I love more than my own life and then I, and I alone, gave birth to him. I am not ashamed nor will I allow anyone to demean what it means to me that I survived that. That he survived that. That even if only for moments I looked into his eyes as my own mother held him near my head as I lay on the operating room table.
I’m not offended if you refer to me as a first mother, I was his mother first. I’m not offended if you refer to me as a biological mother, his biology is in part my biology. I’m not offended if you refer to me as a natural mother, it has long been the opposite of legal mother and that I am not. But I will not allow anyone to steal from my the joy I have in remembering him happily introduce me to his friends at age 4 as “Kat, my birth mom”. I will not allow anyone to erase the elation I feel when he takes my calls or returns my text after “Kat Birth Mom” flashes across the screen. I will not allow the disdain of others to tamper the pride I feel each time I glance at the family picture he drew at age 8, a picture he included me in unprompted.
I know I am more than a walking uterus. I know I am more than an incubator. I am one of my son’s mothers, I happen to be the one who gave birth to him. I am his birth mom.
Do you. I’ll do me.
I never in a million years thought I would write this post or any post like it.
I don’t support crowdfunding adoption. It’s gross. It reeks of child trafficking / child selling. It reeks of entitlement. It pretty much just reeks.
However, thats not what this is. This is an adoption fundraiser I support. And I will be adding this link throughout the post in the hopes that as you read you will support it too.
This is a case where children were placed in a home for the purpose of adoption. These children had been living in foster care and have no legal ties to any biological family. Let me repeat there is no biological family members who are able to raise them.
They were placed with a family and attachments developed on all sides. Then, however, someone who calls themselves a social worker but is unworthy of the title began thwarting their every effort. Allegations were made, investigated, deemed imaginary and yet this “social worker” removed the children. The “social worker” seems to be operating under some combination of homophobia, classism, ablism, and racism.
This family cooperated with the system at every turn and when it became apparent the “social worker” was doing everything in their power to keep the children away (including transferring them to multiple temporary homes) they took on the added attorney expense without question. However, as this gets drawn out longer and longer they have come to a place where they must ask for help. They do not do this by oversharing the children’s story to capitalize on sympathy as is so often the case. Instead they try to protect their children’s anonymity while hoping people will still step forward and offer support without the heart crushing details.
If you are considering donating, but have questions. Please feel free to ask in comments. If i can answer the question without shredding any semblance of anonymity I will. If you believe you know who the family is please do not share identifying information (names, genders, etc) as we don’t want the family to be further targeted and we dont want the children to lose their anonymity