I've made myself pretty clear about how I feel about "birth mother * celebrations" and "birth mother" cards (nix to both, see links below) partially because they are generally the misguided concoction of adoption agencies to "give back" to the wholesale suppliers (that would be mothers) of the commodity they deal in, babies. I say this with the understanding that the Birthmother Day to be observed the day before Mother's Day was the brainchild of birth mothers in Seattle in 1990.
And I do understand the impulse to meet with other first mothers--I myself am trying to find a few out here on the eastern end of Long Island--and just let your hair down and tears out, if they will, and simply share an hour or two of understanding and acceptance over a glass of wine or two. Some have written to us that they have found some agency-sponsored celebrations pleasant and comforting.
But my main beef about "birth mother" holidays, is that they attempt to normalize the situation of giving up a child, when "normal" for that act is merely sad acceptance. I am not a "proud" birth mother and I do not want to "celebrate" my fate, no matter how the event is handled. If I am a voice crying out in the wilderness, so be it.
Today I discovered that in Rochester, New York, the Hillside Children's Center will host a gala Birthmother's Day celebration on Saturday, along with god knows how many other agencies across the land. The driving force behind this event was Casi Picow, who as the writer in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle tells us, "let the woman who gave birth to the baby live in her Greece home."
Casi Picow, 53, saddles up as her daughter, Shaylee, holds her horse.
Excuse me? That's in the first paragraph. I almost choked when I read that. After "letting" the, er, hand-maiden who is fertile and pregnant live in your home for months, all I could thing was: the poor teen/woman never had a chance to keep her baby. By the time he or she was born, the mother undoubtedly felt incredibly indebted to these nice people, and almost certainly would not have had the courage to stand up and say, I can't do this, I'm keeping my baby. Images running through my mind are Hagar (the handmaiden) and the elderly Sarah of the Bible, and how later Hagar, the mother who bore Abraham's first son was cast out--after elderly Sarah herself miraculously gave birth. (Isn't that often the way with so many adoptive parents, they adopt because they are not producing on their own, and then, a few years later, whoops! they get pregnant.) However, the unfortunate phrasing in the story (let the woman) must be credited to the writer of the piece, Robin. L. Falnigan; who knows what the situation actually was--maybe the woman desperately needed a home. But I digress.
Now this modern day Sarah (above on horse), instead of casting out her Hagar, however is celebrating her: “It’s a way to honor where your children come from, to step back and be so extra grateful for the opportunity and the privilege of being a mom,” says Picow, who was present at her daughter’s birth and has an open adoption. Ah yes, present at the birth. Another goad to implanting in the pregnant woman's mind that she really must relinquish, that she has no choice...otherwise she will disappoint these terribly nice people.
THE DOUBLE-BIND OF OPEN ADOPTION
|Expulsion of Hagar, by Claude Lorrain|
But I digress. Co-organizer of the Rochester event, social worker/adoptive mother Karen Rabish, makes the point that the event provides a safe place for adoptees to release their feelings within the protective umbrella of others in the same situation:
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” says the adoption social worker, facilitator of a local birthmothers support group and adoptive mom of two daughters. “Adoption is a journey; it’s not an event. You can’t shield your child from the sadness and loss of adoption, and this provides a nice segue to talk about it. There has been a lot of healing that’s happened because of the celebration.”But then alarm bells went off when I read that graf: she facilities a birth mother support group and she is the adoptive mother of two? Now I'm speechless. Can we imagine, in our wildest dreams, a first mother hosting and facilitating a support group for adoptive mothers? Who are currently upset (and apparently are lighting up the adoptive mother blogs and boards) because the character Thor in The Avengers explains his brother Loki's violent killing spree with the flip comment: "He's adopted."
Personal ironies abound in the Rochester story. The upcoming event that caught my eye is in the city of my downfall, at the very agency though which I relinquished my much-wanted daughter, and the story is the Rochester D&C, the very place I was working when I became pregnant with the child of the political columnist who sat across the aisle from me.
LAST YEAR WAS FAR DIFFERENT FROM THIS YEAR
But yes, Mother's Day is Sunday, no way getting around that. Last year, weirdly enough, I got such a beautiful email from my found granddaughter that I did not share that here because it seemed too boastful. I knew many reading FMF would not be having a good day when the phone did not ring, or the child was still an unknown. But last year, I personally was flying high. That was in May. In the summer, said granddaughter met her biological father. I do not know what occurred. But I do know that my daughter and I were estranged when she was pregnant, and I did not know that she was pregnant until she had given birth. Though I understood the father wanted to raise the child with his mother--a plan I wholeheartedly supported--my daughter would not hear of it. To convince me he should not be allowed anywhere near their daughter, she said not nice things about the father. I did not know what to believe, dear reader, I admit that I doubted what she said, but I was powerless to do anything but accept her words at face value.
After the birth, my daughter and I reconnected on a very close level, and that year the gushiest, floweriest, biggest Mother's Day card arrived. No mention of "birth mother" on the card. Soon after she came for a visit. She was more understanding of me then she had ever been; it was as if she had been determined to find out for herself what relinquishment of one's own flesh and blood was like, to repeat history. Yes, it's sick, yet there it is. But going back to before...when we were apart and she was a couple with my granddaughter's father...I can only imagine what she said about me to him about me.
Not nice things.
Immediately after meeting her father, my granddaughter began drifting away--the phone calls were stilted, the emails were cool and short, the planned visit was cancelled--and finally in the late fall she wrote that she was in a good place now and wanted "no contact." I was dropped like a lover you are done with.
So here I sit this year. Oddly enough, after all these months, I don't feel much anymore about her. I feel rather numb. I am not hoping that she will change her mind, and want me in her life; I feel that would only lead to more disappointment down the line. And if she did want to resume a relationship, after I opened my home and my heart to her once, could I trust her to not leave me out in the cold again?
I've already gotten a funny card from my very ironic step-son, who never forgets. And he will probably phone. Always does.
Sunday will be another day. Though my husband and I often go out to brunch on Sundays, we will avoid the restaurants this day, as they will be wall to wall with adult children entertaining their mothers, as I once did mine. If it's nice, we'll garden--pull up weeds and those darned maple seedlings that sprout everywhere, trim the edges around the garden, put in the ornamental grasses we've bought to plant alongside the shed. Maybe we'll take in a movie--The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel got good reviews and looks like it will be amusing, and not a tear-jerker or a violent movie about the end of the world. The finale of Survivor is on that night--and yes, I am an old and avid Survivor fan and for those of you who are also, I'm rooting for Kim. And tick-tock, the day will be over.
And Monday it will not be Mother's Day anywhere for another year. --lorraine
* Others may use birth mother as one word, but for me it will always be two, so that that MOTHER stands alone. Why not adoptivemother as a single word--English has long words, the meaning would be clear, and the adoptive mother would never be able to escape the adoptive part, just as we are not allowed to escape our lowly status as long as birthmother is a fucking single word. If you want to know how I really feel.
Source: Birthmother's Day a source of healing
How Birth Mothers Survive 'Mother's Day'