Birth Mother: What's in a Name?
Marlena and Mary both are called 'Birth Mothers' by society. To me, and many other birthmothers as well, this is an insult to the sacrifice and the very love it took to make the choice to place our children for adoption.
You can see the love Mary had for her child. To ensure her child's best interest, Mary made what she felt was the best choice.
You can also see the lack of love Marlena had for her child and herself. She didn't put either of their best interests into consideration.
I have asked myself time and time again why some still look down on me for my decision to place my daughter. Could it be they do not see me, but instead they only see the latest news story of the 'birthmother' who dumped her helpless newborn in a trash can?
I placed my child for adoption. I did not 'place' my child into a trashcan. I did not 'place' my child in intensive care so that the State had to step in. I literally 'placed' my daughter in the arms of her new Mother.
When I think back to the time when I was pregnant
with my daughter and all that I went through to ensure her future... When I think of the tears I have shed and the brokenness I have felt.... Why shouldn't I be enraged when I am put in the same box with women who leave their babies for dead?
I feel I should not have to share the same label as these women. We certainly do not share the same love for our children. Why should we share the same name?
Some women who lost or gave up babies to adoption decades ago do not refer to themselves as Birthmothers. In fact, some may find it highly offensive. What are their alternatives?
Though it is used in the states as well, I have heard many birthmothers internationally call themselves 'Natural Mothers'.
Some call themselves 'First Mothers' or 'Life Mothers'. I like these two options, however, I know if I am talking to a person in day-to-day life, the word birthmother sometimes stumps them, Life Mother would really throw them into confusion!
Calling myself Life Mother is compared to wearing slippers around the house. When I am in an environment I am comfortable with and is comfortable with me (i.e. Online Adoption Forums) I use this title. In every-day life, if I choose to disclose this information, I use Birthmother.
Sometimes the news will come on and a horrible story of child abuse is told. The newscaster says, "And the Birthmother has had her parental rights terminated by the state...."
Can I really blame society for looking down on me? Can we really expect future adoptive parents
not to fear Birthmothers?
You may be wondering what the solution could possibly be. I am wondering the same thing myself. I believe there is no one thing we can do to change society as a whole.
Keep in mind, that what makes up a society are the people, one by one. What makes up people are their hearts and minds, which somebody can reach, one by one.
My ultimate goal for this article and each article I write is to educate... to break the stereotypes and tear down the walls of silence and shame.
Some may tell me that Birthmothers are just like the women who throw their babies away. I challenge you to tell me something I haven't heard before!
You can count on the fact that I have heard just about every negative comment there is. You can also count on the fact that in spite of it all, I will still be here, writing from my heart.
Birthmother and fellow Themestream Contributor Jennifer said to me on this subject:
"Eric is a precious, healthy
, pleasant, and adorable baby. Greg & Michelle are the wonderful, loving, honest, and caring parents I gave to him in an open adoption. When I return from a visit, stare at his beautiful photographs, I want to be able to run to the nearest mountain top and share the pride and joy I feel in the family that I helped create.
Fear, however, keeps me silenced. Because I fear that the loving, heart-wrenching, and selfless decisions I have made will quickly be overlooked and be replaced by a stereotype. A stereotype that labels me as an irresponsible, immoral, dirty, or scandalous person.
Worst of all, I fear that you will think I don't love him. That I "gave him away". So, for now, I will stay quiet. And when society is ready to praise my title as a Birthmother, then I will climb to that mountain top and spread my good news of love, beauty, pride, and joy!"
* * *
Lastly, when I refer to myself in writing, I write Birthmother, not Birth
Mother. Birth Mother
says to me 'Label'. While Birthmother says to me 'Title'.
Please take a look closely at the word 'Birthmother'. What do you see? The term Birth Mother is made up by TWO words: 'Birth' and 'Mother'.
Birth ~ One of life's most beautiful events. However, not every woman is able to give birth.
Mother ~ One of life's most beautiful roles. However, not every woman who gives birth is a Mother.
Put them together and what do I see?
Birthmother = Love.
© Skye Hardwick (c)2001