unrequited motherhood


I’d like to write some happy news about adoption…

But if I did that, not only would I be remiss in my responsibility to do whatever I can to ensure that the tragedy that has befallen me not befall someone else in the future, but I would also be adding another layer to the already polluted mountain of deceit in the broader base of information that’s out there regarding adoption and how “wonderful” it is.  Therefore, what I will do is the only thing I can do, which is work through this unrequited motherhood right here for all to see, in front of God and everybody, and let whosoever will see what the real deal is about adoption.

Please, if you have a child on the way and are unprepared for it, and you are considering relinquishing that child to prospective adopters, please, if you know anything at all about unrequited love – even if only in storybooks and/or Shakespearean plays – take what you know of that anguish and multiply it infinity times infinity, and you will have a more honest look at what the future holds for you if you go through with it.

If you have any desire for children at all in the future, then consider this upcoming birth you are preparing for to be your future.  The future is inside you right now.  Chances are, your future as this child’s mom is a whole lot brighter than you’re able to comprehend right now, and that beautiful, unknown person you are carrying is probably someone you are going to want to know – and that time may come much sooner than you might think.

There is no guarantee of open adoption – even if you get it in writing.  Adoptive parents have been known to make all kinds of elaborate promises to keep you in the loop and/or in your child’s life, but I’m here to tell you that promises just like the ones you may be hearing get broken every single day.  If you’re not sure about whether or not this is true, I will unhesitatingly introduce you to people who were given such promises by people they very much loved and trusted only to have that trust betrayed, and they’ve no idea where their children are, how they are, and they hear no news at all.

And even if you’re thinking of closed or semi-closed adoption, and you’re thinking you’re not going to want to know this person who is inside you, let me assure you of this one thing: Giving birth to a child is a twofold event.  You will be bringing a child into this world, an inescapable reality, but you will also be giving birth to a mother, and you are that mother.  You haven’t known yourself in this light before, you haven’t known yourself as a mother, so before you shut the door on this person who is about to be born, this mother you are becoming, I encourage you to allow your mind to drift and imagine yourself as that very person, that mom.  Go to the park and watch mothers with their children and let your heart do the talking about what is TRULY right and TRULY in the best interests of your child.  The good, the bad, and the scrubby little ugliness of motherhood will all be there and will give you a pretty well-rounded viewpoint, but what you do not – indeed, cannot – know right now is that even the ugly parts are all part of it, and it’s okay (love covers a multitude of sins).

Your baby doesn’t need the frills and advantages that prospective adoptive parents can provide.  Your baby just needs one thing, and that is you, his/her mom.  That is all the universe is asking of you at this time is to be your child’s mom.  You are irreplaceable, and the child you are carrying is irreplaceable.  No matter how many children you may have in the future, no one will ever be able to do away with or fill the loss you are about to experience if you give him or her away – no matter how good the promises may sound of a better life than you think you can give to your child.

And if you are naively hoping that you will someday have your child back in your life, let me also put that in a new light: there is no guarantee that your child will want to know you or know anything about you if you give him or her up.  I didn’t have adoptive parents who skipped out on their promises to keep me informed; they faithfully sent letters with plenty of pictures every year, just like they promised.  I naively thought I would have my son back in my life when he came of age.  I know where he is.  I know how to find him.  I have contacted him.  Apparently, he wants nothing to do with me.  This happens too.  If you think it can’t happen to you, I’m here to tell you, I thought that too.

There just are no guarantees in this life – about anything…including one’s next breath.  Whatever it is that is compelling you to look to adoption as an “answer” to what you are struggling with, please let me assure you that adoption is a permanent “solution” to a very temporary set of circumstances.  Whatever it is you are going through, it will pass, and you will move on.  However, my own experience – which is eerily similar to multitudes of birthmothers/first mothers/whatever you choose to call us whose accounts I’ve read, whom I’ve met personally, or whom I’ve come across in passing, and whom I currently know intimately (and not in a sexual way, lol) – has proven that there is no moving on from relinquishing a child to adoption.  As soon as you sign the papers and hand your baby over, you are stuck right there, in that moment, that awful, awful moment, potentially for the rest of your life.  Instead of thinking about adoption, just think about unrequited love.  Think of those star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.  I’m no stranger to unrequited love, either, and I can tell you that unrequited motherhood is far more tragic than unrequited love’s outcome – multiplied by leaps, and by bounds, by mountains, and by earths, by stars, and by planets – hell, by whole UNIVERSES!

If you’ve any questions, just email me: freebairn@ymail.com.  I’m here all day in my own unrequited motherhood, not going anywhere. I’m busy, but I’ve got all the time in the world for you, and I mean that with every fiber of my being.

You’re pregnant.  It happens.  Every day.  And, guess what:  It’s not the end of the world, not by a long or even a short shot.  It may be hard for you to believe this right now, but it’s going to be alright.  Your baby is inside you – and not inside the potential adoptive mother – for a reason, and if you choose it, you get to live out the next few years finding out what that’s about.  And it’s going to be okay.  Your perspective on children is about to drastically change over the next few weeks and months – and it’s a beautiful thing!  It’s a huge and a very scary thing you are facing, true, but you don’t have to face it alone.


25 thoughts on “unrequited motherhood

  1. You’ve said it perfectly. I’m sad to say, and I’m one living the broken promises or ‘unconditional love as long as I’m a good b-mommy’. Well, I’m not a good ‘b-mommy’, so I’m cut off as is my 10 year old. Living the adoption lie. What a life sentence of pure hell on Earth.

  2. This so hit home. I was 16 when my daughter was born. That was 1970 and things were so different then. We didn’t have daycare or the support and acceptance of being an unwed mother. I am one of the fortunate ones. My daughter reached out to me last year after 41 years and we now have a good relationship. I have my daughter in my life. However, those 41 years were filled with such a hole in my heart, a pain I never thought I could have. I did raise 2 children but NEVER got over the loss of my first born. The worse part is I surrendered her because of the reasons I mentioned and I wanted her to have 2 parents who would love her and give her the life I couldn’t. Little did I know they would divorce and she was raised by a woman who never made her feel loved. My poor baby grew up thinking neither her birthmother nor her adoptive mother loved her. I am so grateful she now knows how much I loved her and wanted her. She has been accepted by her half brother & sister, her grandmother was thrilled to meet her first grandchild for the first time. I have 4 grandchildren I would have missed knowing. My story has a happy ending but I cannot forget the 41 years of pain & heartbreak. There is nothing worse than losing a baby.

    • Sharon your story is amazing – and so heartbreaking at the same time. Thank you so much for sharing it! And I’m so happy you have a happy ending! I do know that my son is very loved by both of his parents and by his extended family as well. He has total love and acceptance in his adoptive family, and that has helped – sometimes some, and sometimes a lot, and sometimes not at all…As you said, there is nothing worse than losing a baby…

  3. “if you know anything at all about unrequited love – even if only in storybooks and/or Shakespearean plays – take what you know of that anguish and multiply it infinity times infinity, and you will have a more honest look at what the future holds for you if you go through with it”

    This says it all…even open adoptions where there is some contact can be FULL of toxic horrors and there is nothing, nothing that can be done as you are forced to watch from the sidelines as your child is methodically taught to view you as the enemy, as as threat to their perfect little bubble. It can make you feel crazy like a caged animal, to watch their beautiful minds and be poisoned and manipulated against you. It is a living horror. And the people at the source of this pain are completely indifferent, going about their lives, not knowing nor caring that a person has literally been murdered heart and soul because of their actions; these people have your child and they will have your grandchildren. And some will take pleasure in your loss and delight at your pain. I know these people.

    Thank you for an incredibly well written post, I sobbed the entire time I read it, because every single word spoken is the absolute truth.

    • My heart was crushed when I read the experience with even open adoption that you seem to know all too well. Thank you for speaking your truth.

  4. I think, from my experience, that a lot of the blame lies with the adoption agencies. My adoptive parents were told that it would be just like having their own child (even though I was almost 2 years old when I was placed with them) and that as long as they were “good” parents, I wouldn’t even think of trying to find my original family. They were good. They gave me every advantage. I searched anyway! I’ve dealt with agencies a lot while doing my search and helping others search and they say that none of that happens any more. Well, I sure hope so. An adopted child is not like their own “natural” child. No amount of pretending can make it so.

  5. Pingback: speaking to my former self | helloooo, i'm bleeding, here!

  6. It is sad to read stories about birth moms and their losses. I live in South Africa and adoption regulations are a bit different here and there is also very few, if any open adoptions. But is adoption all bad? I don’t think so. It is one thing where the bm decided to place the baby for adoption and a whole another story where the bm abandoned the baby. The question is maybe if there is a need for open adoption, then adoption is not the right choice? I don’t think adoption is always so clear cut, definately not in SA. The best interest of the child should, however, be considered at all times and I agree that should the birth family be able to keep the baby they should, as that should always be the first choice.

    • You raise a very good point, Adele!! If open adoption is needed then, that is an excellent point: maybe it’s not the best thing.

      I’m all for adoption in the case of a child who has already been abandoned or orphaned and has no one. Taking a baby “fresh out of the womb” is where I take issue. I think that everyone should have the chance to parent and prove they can’t – rather than never even be given the chance at all! There is absolutely no way a woman can know what is in the “best interest” of her child when she is pregnant – she hasn’t even met this person she is carrying yet! How can she possibly know?

      • Indeed! That is why proper and true counselling is essential, but in SA a birth mom has 60 days after she decided to put her baby up for adoption to change her mind. I think this is very important – as you say – after the birth a mom changes……

      • Indeed! That is why proper and true counselling is essential! In SA a bm has 60 days after she decided to put her up for adoption to change her mind and I think this helps as you say after birth everything changes ….

  7. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I am saddened for you and your loss. Your story touched me, but I couldn’t help thinking of all the circumstances in which it truly is in the best interest of the child to be surrendered for adoption. Specifically in my case, it may have been the best choice for my birth mother.

    I was removed by DSS from my birth mom’s custody at 3 months old due to suspicion of child abuse and neglect. I had a broken leg and dislocated shoulder, which she swears occurred while I was in the care of a babysitter. She also says that her stepmother spread lies about her leaving newborn me alone screaming for hours at a time in her apartment, while she went out partying. This made a strong case for DSS, and she admits feeling backed into a corner with only one choice to make–to sign away her parental rights.

    The thing is… I don’t know if I believe she didn’t do those things. And for this reason, I am reluctant to allow her into my life. I am certain that my life would have taken a much less positive turn if I had remained in her care. She hasn’t told me herself, but I’ve heard from my trusted adoption search angel (who grew up with my birth mom) that she comes from a sexually/physically abusive and alcoholic family. She is rumored to have been “passed around” to her father’s friends (two of which she named as my possible biological father). She was homeless for a while, a prostitute, a drug addict and is currently a functioning alcoholic. But all those things aside, I still love her because she brought me into this world instead of ending my life before it had even begun.

    When I was 6 months old, and she only 17 years old, she signed away her parental rights because she thought it was the right thing to do at the time. She knew she could not provide for me, and the odds were stacked against her anyway due to DSS’s case against her. That was the last time she saw me until I found her in February 2013.

    For years, she was tormented by losing me and still is. I suspect that the downward spiral that her life took after losing me was due to depression and self-torture. Her sister admitted that my birth mom had a nervous breakdown, but I can’t bring myself to ask about the details yet. I truly wish things could have been different for her.

    I am sad that we lost the first 32 years of our life together. However, I’ll never regret having been adopted into my loving, supportive family. I am a happy, well-adjusted person because of them. Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like had I grown up in my birth mom’s care, but I try not to dwell on it. I’ve realized that living a “what if” life will drive me mad, so I deliberately focus on the “here and now”. This is the only way I can make sense of it all.

    I’m sorry that these terrible things happened to you. I’m sorry for your son’s rejecting your love. I do hope he grew up in loving arms and one day will consent to meeting you. From my perspective as an adoptee, I’m sure that he must be equally as affected as you. He probably wonders who you are, why he was surrendered for adoption, what life would have been like if you hadn’t… Maybe he’s afraid. Maybe he’s just not ready yet. There are so many questions and factors. In my experience, it was the passing of time and the birth of my first child that influenced my readiness to search for my birth mother. And I’m still not ready to let her in completely.

    I hope that someday, you will be reunited. If I could wave a magic wand and grant your wish, I would do it in a heartbeat. Until then, keep the faith. Much love & hugs from me to you…

    • Jessica Marie, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I do agree there are cases where adoption is necessary, and your case is certainly no exception. I’m so glad you had love and support instead of a history of one long nightmare. In my heart, I believe that every pregnant woman deserves a chance to try and fail at motherhood rather than to never be given the chance at all. In most cases, where the newborn is surrendered so soon after birth, adoption is usually a permanent solution to a very temporary set of circumstances, and by the time things have smoothed out for the mom, it’s too late. The saddest thing of all about that is, a vast majority of women who succumb to an adoption plan would have had difficulties parenting, especially if they are parenting single, but they don’t have the kinds of things stacked against them that your mother had when she terminated her parental rights, and they are not at risk of putting their children in danger.

      I understand your hesitancy to let your birthmother into your life. I have had people in my life – specifically family, immediate family – whom for years I had to estrange myself from for a time, and even though those relationships are now restored and better than ever, I still hesitate to allow myself to be completely vulnerable to them like I was when I was younger. I am glad that you trust your instincts there. I’m sure they are not steering you wrong, and I understand the conflict in trusting those instincts. If and when it is time to allow yourself to be around her more, I’m sure the same instincts will not steer you wrong.

      Since the writing of this entry, my son has contacted me, and we’ve been writing some back and forth, and it’s been the most wonderful thing! He’s not quite ready to meet in person. And I understand and completely support him in that. The most important thing to me is and will always be his well-being, and I trust his instincts to know what is best for him. I just love him. He’s my son. I may never be a mother to him, and I accept that, but he will always be my son.

  8. I agree that many pregnant women have been forced against their better judgment to surrender their babies for adoption, and they should have been given a chance at motherhood. Time changes everything, and sometimes the realization of having made the wrong choice comes with hindsight. Pregnant women considering adoption should seriously and mindfully weigh all their options before making a final decision.

    In my circumstance (given my birth mother’s lack of family support and history of abuse), I wish she had made the choice to surrender me on her own instead of what happened to me. I believe that because she tried and failed at motherhood, I have suffered emotional trauma that could have been avoided from the very beginning of my life. I was neglected as a newborn, hospitalized at 3 months old, in foster care until 11 months old and then adopted into my family. My mother said when my parents brought me home, I could not smile for the first 6 months in my new home–not because I refused, but because I could not muster the joy to do so–the earmark of a neglected child. Can you imagine? At less than one year old, my caregivers changed four times. And it all could have been avoided.

    Please don’t get me wrong… I sympathize with you and realize that your circumstances were completely different than that of my birth mother. This makes me to wonder, however, how many other child traumatizations like mine could have been avoided if birth mothers in similar circumstances as mine had made the choice on their own and before irrevocable damage was done to the child. Not all women are suitable for motherhood, and some of these women make the noble choice to surrender their child for adoption because they know this. Of course I realize that these mothers are only a fraction of all mothers who have surrendered their babies… but this is my realization and obviously not the majority.

    I am very happy to hear that your son has made contact with you. This is amazing news! From my perspective as an adoptee, I understand exactly what he’s going through. There are so many feelings that surface–both good and bad. While I was searching for her, my first fear was of rejection and that my birth mother wouldn’t want to know me. Now that I’ve met her, I wrestle with feelings of wanting to know more and to spend time with her to not wanting to offend or betray my (adopted) family. My family is the only family I’ve known. They have accepted and nurtured me, and I love them.

    I think you have the best outlook regarding your relationship with your son. It must be difficult to keep your distance when you have waited so long and endured so much. When you said, “I may never be a mother to him, and I accept that, but he will always be my son”, it really hit home for me. I imagine this is how my birth mother feels as well.

    Sending you virtual hugs, comfort and positive vibes… Take care and best wishes!

    • Have you considered this? If she had surrendered you the way most of us did our babies, without having known anything about how the parent/child scenario would play out, how would you have known these things about her and about what you endured in the earliest days of your life had child protective services not had to step in? You wouldn’t have known. You couldn’t have, because her history and motherhood skills, or lack thereof, had not been put to the test yet. Women, from all sorts of backgrounds, surprise themselves – either in a good way or a horrific way – when they give birth to a child. And if your mom had made an adoption plan in her pregnancy and stuck to her plan then there’s a good chance you’d be feeling similar things to the things felt by some adoptees who grew up with little to no experience with their birth family – and the damage, the trauma, would still be there…it would just be there in a different way. I don’t know how many other people’s stories you’ve read who grew up being placed in an adoptive home “fresh out of the womb.” I have read and heard some of their stories. The outcome is no less traumatic and hard to comprehend. So, I propose that there is no “easier” or “better” way to be separated from one’s family of origin. All paths to separation have their own set of challenges that force one down a path of either having to deal with those challenges – or deny those challenges and let them unconsciously keep blindsiding again and again, leaving a person to be spun around and around in a vicious cycle of manifestations of the trauma (and science is beginning to prove there is trauma for a newborn being separated from family of origin). Being abused by one’s family of origins leaves a person with a particular kind of trauma and set of challenges. Being separated at birth also has its own particular kind of trauma and set of challenges. In either case, when it happens in infancy, the affects of the trauma are not things that are obvious unless one knows what to look for – which, most people don’t.

      I’m sorry that you had to be that little baby being abused and neglected. As a mother, the thought of that is more horrendous that I can emotionally take in – and yet, as a mother, I cannot help but to take it in…as a mother, take it in I must, and it’s awful! I’m sorry, too, that my son had to deal with the confusing notion of calling someone mom while having some other mom, some unknown person who is also yet mom be out there, somewhere, and I’m sorry he had to try and find a way to deal with the unavoidable questions of why that mom didn’t keep him. In your case, you know the circumstances, and it is obvious that removing you from that environment was what became necessary. An adoptee in the circumstance of having been separated so quickly after birth does not have anything like that to wrap his or her mind around and find something that brings a sense of closure. Some adoptees’ parents have more information on the family of origin than others, and some are honest and forthcoming with that information while others are not – and all variations of the spectrum. How does an adoptive parent handle that information – with a little kid??? There just are no easy answers – to all of it.

      Thank you so very much for your kind wishes and care. I too think of you with compassion and wishes for peace.

  9. Thank you for this response. Interactions like this are what I appreciate about life. People can agree, disagree, challenge one another’s beliefs or simply agree to disagree. That is the beauty of it all. 🙂

    To answer your question, I have made the exact consideration you mentioned. Until I found her, I did not know the circumstances of my adoption; although somehow I always felt an inexplicable suspicion that it wasn’t good. I have concluded, however, that if my life’s pathway had not transpired in the manner it has, I would not be the person I am today or have such an appreciation for life. Every single thing in life happens for a reason–both good and bad–and when we’re in the thick of despair, there is a light waiting to rescue us on the other side if we just keep pushing forward. As my grandmother says, “You take the bad with the good”.

    Thank you for this intellectually stimulating conversation. Every human interaction gives us a chance to learn about ourselves. By chance, I found your blog, and for that I am grateful. Take care & lots of love to you and yours!

  10. I am not a birthmom nor and adoptee.

    While giving birth to our very desired and very much loved child I almost died and had to be taken to ICU. When he was born and I felt dying I could not hear him scream, I just wanted someone to take him out of the room and calm him down. All of this just to let you know that I did not fall in love with my son at first sight and I do love him now with all of my heart.

    Sometimes you just know you love your child even if you don’ love coping with the situation you are in. I could not care less for him at that instant and yet if asked I would have said I deeply loved him. If such mixed feelings are there when a desired pregnancy with a supporting partner and family happens, I can not imagine the whirlwind some women are put through.

    I wonder if this is of any help to anyone.

    • Perspectives of any kind on pregnancy and birth and how things can change certainly can’t hurt, and, so, yes. I think it’s fair to say this perspective could be helpful. Thank you so much for your compassion and for sharing your experience and your candor.

      • I forgot to share with you that during those first days with my son (i got to meet with him on day 3 when I left the ICU) breastfeeding was hard. My mom suggested botlefeeding to help me regain my strength and my answer was that if I could not breastfeed him, why would he need me? They had taken care of him successfully for 3 days and I was no good for a mother. I had lots of pain and lots of need to sleep and rest, not a good mix with a crying newborn.
        One night at the hospital while I cried I let my mom know my son did not need such a sad mother. My mom said that my son needed me on top of everyone else, he needed me for so many reasons. I was not able to understad what she meant. I look back and I get it, but I can exactly remember how it felt and I felt completely worthless.
        Day 1 of your babies life is too early to judge any feelings. How can decisions be made even beforehand? Mothers need time to process. It’s just not fair. I hope all your mother hearts are somehow restored and yet I know that this probably will never be the case and I feel frustration, so much frustration.

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