I got my hair cut today and as I was waiting to pay my bill, I heard the receptionist say to the woman ahead of me--Happy Mother's Day. The woman responded, I never had children. Neither, it turned out, did the receptionist. When she said this to the woman, I could see they shared a moment of understanding.
When I approached the receptionist, I quietly told her Mother's Day is a painful reminder not only for women who never had children--and wanted to--but also for those whose child had died, or were like me, a woman whose only child had been relinquished and adopted. In years past I might have ignored her well-meant gesture, but I'd known her for a while and felt comfortable speaking up. Besides, she had several more days to remind other mothers of loss that this godawful holiday was upon us.There's no way around how much a trigger Mother's Day is for mothers of relinquishment, whether you call us biological mothers, birth mothers, first mothers or natural (same as biological) mothers. I've been through the gamut of emotions myself, beginning when I did not know where my daughter was (a nightmare), and my own mother did not even know my daughter existed (no one to share the blues), to those years after reunion when I tried to ignore the hoopla the week preceding the big day, always hoping she would remember me in some small way. But alas, she often did not. (A good day to dig in the garden.)
|The card Jane sent one year. |
Mother's Day for women who have had other children is different than it is for me, one of the approximately one third who never had another child after relinquishing a child. The others will be honored by the children they were able to keep
|Lorraine, her granddaughter, and Jane in 1993.|
SPEAKING UP TRUTHFULLY
As for me, I just suck it up and wait for the damn day to be over. It's only one day, I remind myself. After my reunion with my daughter, when she was married, she did a whole lot better remembering--especially after I told her that her ignoring me on the day--was hurtful. Once I got a handmade card that said: To my Other Mother. Inside it says: "I couldn't find a
Now my daughter is gone--she died more than a decade ago--as well as my mother, and I realize the day is mine to deal with as I choose. I could mope all day. Or not. It is a given that throughout the day I will let thoughts of my mother, and my daughter, flit by with sweet sadness. My mother died two decades ago. We fought when I was growing up, but she was the rock I leaned on when I went to college against some odds, and later, when I went public about being a woman who relinquished a child and argued for unsealing birth certificates, she encouraged me. "Everyone must want to know where they came from," she said. Despite what others thought in the senior-apartment complex in our home town, she held her head up. I admired her courage for surely there was gossip.
|My mother, Victoria Wrozek Dusky|
in her twenties
We've all got something. But I will admit that since my daughter's passing, the way I handle the day is different from when she was alive and I did not know where she was, or how she was. Dealing with her death was a matter of mourning, of accepting and accommodating grief, but also knowing that she was at last at peace. The grief wasn't trapped in some damn limbo of closed adoption that leaves you wondering if your child is dead or alive, and you are supposed to just stuff it down, pretend that you are not dying inside. That kind of grief is insanely consuming, and never changes. You can stomp it down--otherwise you will go crazy--but it's still there like a sore that will not heal to the scar phase. When she died, I could grieve publicly, I did not have to pretend that I was "okay" within days or weeks of her dying.
DON'T JUST STAND THERE AND WEEP...
So for those mothers without children who will be a part of your life on Sunday, and children whose original mothers fill their thoughts, make a plan: Call a friend or someone else who might otherwise be alone. In the era of Covid, doing the ordinary things such as going to a museum, taking in a movie (a comedy!), or even having lunch with a friend is complicated and maybe not possible. If the weather permits, and you're a gardener, dig in. Others might do yoga, go for a longer run or bike ride than usual, or even--clean out your closets. Throw out 31 things, I heard someone say that the other day. Why 31? I don't know, but it sounds like a reasonable goal. The mental rewards of throwing out stuff is not to be denigrated; it leaves room for the new. Cleaning closets is highly underrated.
And remember, come Monday it will not be Mother's Day for another blessed 364 days!--lorraine
PS: I began writing an addendum about the noxious "Birth Mother's Day," the Saturday before Mother's Day, but I became annoyed about such a ridiculous day, designed to normalize giving up a child, that I quit. Supposedly it was started by a first mother herself. But when I Googled "Birth Mother's Day," it led to gifts for the occasion and adoption-agency sites. If we want to acknowledge our grief on this day, let us do it on our own, not through the conduit of our loss!
Thank you for this article.ReplyDelete
To those of us who had children after, it takes everything to hold back the tears and pain for the sake of our other children who make a big deal of the day when all we want is to be left alone.ReplyDelete
I play along and wait until night time to cry for the child lost who refuses to acknowledge me now, but also for the ones with me whose happiness I struggle to share on that day.
your mother is lovely..and thank you for this post.
Sad that we have to keep dealing but, that is the way it is.
My Mothers Day is not bad, so i don't feel too bad, but the sadness is always there.
I was told "Birth Mothers Day was started by a first mother in the Seattle area ? who wanted us to have our "own special day" (why?) and also so the adoptive mother would not have to "feel intruded upon"....eeeeeek....
My family and I celebrate the regular Mothers Day, as we think the day is big enough for everybody.
What a pretty lady your mom was, Lorraine. I never had any more children after my first one, a boy, was ripped away from me in 1978. It was too much trauma, for me. Such is how I know the experience was more traumatic for my son. Yeah, Mother's Day I can do without.ReplyDelete
My first mother is one of the women you speak of that did not go on to have other children. We are very friendly but there is so much that is missing and I feel a lot of pressure to do enough for both her and my adoptive mom. I know it is a painful day for her and I try to do what I am capable of and then add a bit more.ReplyDelete
Actually, Mother's day can be a sad reminder to adoptees who had an abusive adoptive mother too and somehow survived it or are still struggling with the relationship. Something that is rarely talked about. I think Mother's day is only to make money for the the card and flower industry. I like mother's day so I can get special attention from my understanding husband.ReplyDelete
Extra love to you dear heart....Delete
I miss my children very much as I fight for them. I am a dv survivor and they are using that, my stroke and its resulting disability, and my past honorable military service 25 years ago as excuses to adopt away my son. My oldest daughter was alienated away from me by my abusive ex who then tried to kill her, forcing her into hiding. My second daughter is in appellate care, due to her age, safe from TPR. But the government is absolutely desperate to adopt out my mildly autistic 11 year old son. Fortunately, we have a pact that I am to never leave my home so he will always know where I am.ReplyDelete
I always look to other first mothers on this day and especially to you Lorraine. It has become a day to get through but also a day to grieve. So many years my heart was in so much pain as I struggled to just get through this 24 hours. Now I allow myself an hour, no less no more, to grieve. It helps to acknowledge the loss. Hugs to all of you first mothers...I hear you.ReplyDelete
Since getting in contact with my b-daughter 2 years ago (on her 50th birthday) - this is the first Mother's Day that she sent me good wishes! :)ReplyDelete
I first found her 2007 but she wasn't ready yet to get "acquainted". And on her 50th birthday - I said "what the heck" I sent her an email wishing her a Happy one. And since then we have been in contact thru emails & Facebook. I love it. We are supposed to "meet up" in July of 2022.
I don't celebrate and barely notice the "happy mother's day" nonsense that is poured on me by well meaning souls. I noted that my daughter is again rotating into my orbit. I don't even know how to cope...my health is failing and I can't do this again. Well, I keep trying...but yeah, not again.ReplyDelete
This was the first Mother's day since reunion began in October. His amom posted a pic of them together, he was wearing the fleece I gave him for Christmas. I was not acknowledged that day.ReplyDelete
I am so sorry. It's awful. All I can say is to remember the guilt trips the adoptees are under for reunion in the first place. My daughter, even after years of reunion, did not understand the special stab that not being recognized inflicts on the worst of holiday for mothers who relinquish. One day I told her, and she responded well. It must be a weird day for adoptees growing up, thinking--what about that "other" one? Does she ever think of me?Delete
On June 7th, my daughter once again started her drive towards "speaking" to me by both reading my blog and making her profile searchable...today I decided enough...so I politely messaged her that she looked well and I hoped all was well...within minutes, without a single word, she once again ghosted me. I am relieved.ReplyDelete
I understand. The emotional turmoil can be overwhelming when the relationship is always iffy.Delete
I so understand "That kind of grief is insanely consuming, and never changes." I was just telling my therapist yesterday that the shadow/shame/guilt/loss never goes away.ReplyDelete
I lost my daughter to adoption at 16, and of course was told "awww dear you will have kids of your own when the time is just right for you". Well that never happened, I was unable to have any more children. Then my daughter found me over 17 years ago and I found out she was raised in the same zip code, so my family, the birth fathers family and the adoptive family all live in the same damn town and they continue to do so, as my daughter grows her family I am unable to see her or my grandchildren. (I guess in reality nothing is actually "mine") but she has chosen to have a relationship with the birthfather's family and his children-her half siblings. The adoptive mom also was adopted and was never a cheerleader for her daughter meeting me and made it very difficult for us to have any type of relationship and had to keep it hidden. Her amom wished me dead and held things financially from my daughter to where she had no choice but to bail.
I was an emotional mess and continue to be.
So for me to have some inkling of peace I had to move out of my home town away from that madness. So while my grandkids grow up right under me there is absolutely nothing I can do. I thought or fantasized really, that I gave her life she owes me at least a relationship of some sort or at least to know her children but in all reality - she owes me absolutely nothing. It literally took me till yesterday to realize I shouldn't hope nor hang onto any notion I will have anything with my daughter EVER!. I have no email, no phone number nothing I just know where everyone lives and I stay out of that town b/c I feel like the "forever secret" no one wants around.
I just continue to go to therapy as I have all my life. However, as cruel as this sounds. I could have gone all my life without having met her. I could have just sent pictures of myself and gave info by mail. I was doing much better before I met her/reunion. At least I could imagine her out there having a good life but it is horrible as her life goes on around me and I am just a person in the crowd as I will always be.
Thank you Lorraine for this forum so our voices can be heard!
Patty--I am so so sorry to read your story. One sentence was unclear--about her adoptive mother --withholding financial help unless she "bailed" from a relationship with you? But she has a relationship with the father and her siblings? Sounds like a double curse. No one deserves that.Delete
Your name? I looked it up and saw that a Patty Reed was a child survivor of the Donner Party. It is a fitting choice of a name for you, as I assume that is not your real name.
Dear Lorraine. My name is Cindy. Eight months ago I met my birth daughter. After what I thought was a wonderful reunion, at Christmas ,she decided to stop our relationship. She just stopped talking to me right in the middle of a conversation. I have been handling it until Mother’s Day. I totally broke. I don’t know how to move on. Is there anything I can read or any ideas to help heal. I’m missing out on my life because I can’t get past this pain.ReplyDelete
Adoption trauma is so severe that reunion is turmoil, and feelings well up from before language, when the loss occurred. We mothers come at reunion differently, and hope we might have a good relationship, but sometimes the feelings are just too overwhelming for a person to absorb. So they cut off contact. Mothers do it too. As for your daughter, her cutting you off might have been something you said, it might have been nothing you said that seemed innocuous, but wasn't to her. Or she couldn't deal with the flood of emotions stirred up by your obviously loving presence. Because that leads to: Why didn't she keep me?
As I've written about my own reunion, it was up and down, good and bad, for the whole quarter of a century we knew each other. Recognize that your daughter's odd behavior is a reflection of her turbulent emotions, yes, caused by the adoption, but do find a way to live with the reality of it. People like to say, "you have to forgive yourself," but those words aren't adequate; I don't know any that are. We have to accept reality, and work with that.
Give your daughter time, reach out periodically, cry when you must, send her your love through the ether, focus on the people who are in your life and realize however, that you cannot control what your daughter does. You can only control what you do. Remember that the people who want to be in your life will be; you don't have to go chasing after them.
And may peace come your way.