Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First Mothers

I would like to talk about another, considered ‘taboo’ adoption topic.

Gasp, I know, from the girl who NEVER , breaches taboo things in adoption.

I want to talk about ‘first mothers’.
If you have adopted, there is a woman, somewhere, alive or dead that was your child's source of life. She was there first mother.
Our children did not appear. They were not born out of a file cabinet. They were carried, grown and given life, there fore have history with someone else.

This may be a source of pain for you. It may be a source of anger, sadness, loss that you were not the one to do this for your child. There may be resentment for trauma’s your child experienced, or gratitude’s for a choice that was made in selflessness that allowed your child into your arms. Whatever the case, she is part of your family.
Do you hate me for saying that? Because I am going to say it again, if you have adopted, whether she is alive or dead, known, or faceless, your child’s first mother is part of your family.

There are eight women that twice a year, on my children’s birthday’s and on Mothers Day I consider, love on, forgive, and send gratitude to. Ultimately, regardless of anything else, she chose to give my child life.

In the last month, I also have been on the opposite side of this choice. Someone I am  close to, someone that I love with all the depth of my heart, made “the other decision” to end the possibility of life. And I walked this path with her. My soul ached, my understanding of her circumstances and complete inability to parent, or even carry life, when her life was too much to handle on a daily basis was met with love and acceptance.
and tears, loads and loads of tears. What I can say, is until you are staring this decision directly in the face, when you are walking a path between terrible, and beyond hell. Your perspective changes, and unless you want to be buried in sorrow, you chose love. You choose love, when that is all that is left.

and so knowing and breathing and living all of this. I also choose to see the beauty of these eight woman, that are an intricate part of who my children are, she is carried in my children’s walks, the depth of their eyes,  the cadence of their laugh, the hiccups in their crys, the eye brow tilt when they frown, and the laugh lines when they smile.

All eight women, some I have never met. Some have passed on. Some I too have parented for a time, some I have hugged and ached with as I walked away from her holding her child.
Some I have had to forgive. Some I have tender understanding for her circumstance and a choice she made in fear, poverty, situation and even abuse. Some I have given names to for my child, whom stories remain a mystery.

Regardless, I have chosen to love her.
And it is not , I repeat NOT an easy thing to do.
But what I have learned, in all of my children’s stories is one thing. She means something to them. There is a part of them that misses her, wants her, and identifies that they were once a part of her. Loving our children’s first mothers, is accepting ALL of our children.

We don’t have to love every piece of them, nooooooooooo. BUT, what our children hear and perceive about our feelings towards their first mothers, is a direct correlation on how they think we feel about them. It’s truth, they do. They can be angry at her, they can even hate her. And that is O.K….
But when your child gets on that bandwagon. Do not jump on. Even if you really want to.
Maybe they are wondering if you believe all of those terrible things about them?
Maybe they are testing you in your acceptance; maybe they really do what you to jump on, but then will feel defensive, or worse judged themselves when you do.
Supporting them in their anger, and joining them are two separate things.


“I am so
MAD at Carla for not loving me enough to keep me, she sucks, I don’t ever want to see her again.”

“I hear that you are so angry, and maybe a little hurt, and that is great you can share that with me”

“Do you HATE her too”

“No, baby, I don’t, because I know she was doing the best she could, and maybe it isn’t my best, or even your best, but I do know, she loved you enough to give you life, and I was lucky enough to be here when she couldn’t…so you know…I kinda love her, and feel sad for her too.”

So on a scale of 1 to 10, how much do ya’ll hate me right now?
I hope even in the worst of circumstances, (and yes out of 8 adoptions I have those too)…you have maybe tweaked your thinking a little. If not, that is O.K. too, you can go ahead and tell me to shut my yapper. I will still love you.

As Mothers Day comes, a day fraught with so many big feelings, and ghosts of Mothers past. Why not give yourself a small healing gift, and let go of some of that hurt, hate, resentment or even indifference, and for a minute even half a second, send all of those first mothers some love.

Happy Mothers Day.


  1. Yeah, so... I don't hate you. That *might* be easier for me because I don't have any birth mothers.

    But I do have myself. Who chose life. I do have myself. Who didn't know how to attach to my child. I do have myself. Who can be riddled with guilt at times. And I do have a bioDad who disappeared at my child's most difficult time.

    There is so much guilt, sorrow, and mourning that I hold and hold and hold. While my dude and I have seen some serious healing, we both get stuck in the yuck from time to time still. And in those times, when I've splintered off from my true self and I've lost myself in the past... I forget that I *did* do the right thing. I did choose correctly for us and our situation.

    And often I see the me that was a pregnant teenager and I wonder who she was and how that could've been me. That very ill part of myself is gone. But just as with any deep healing when we're urged to meet our inner child with compassion and love... This is a perfect introduction to the idea that I can meet my young parent self with compassion, love, and forgiveness.

    You got me good, here, Linds. Really good. Thank you. <3<3

  2. Nope. No changed thinking here. Just a BIG AMEN because I couldn't have said it any better myself.

    On a scale of 1-10 how much do I love you and respect you...about a 12.

  3. Nothing but love for you! My scales of love run to at least 100.

  4. Awesome. I love this post. I'm a first mom and I made decision mostly out of love for my son and maybe a little bit of selfishness for the life I wanted to have and the life I wanted my child to have. On Mother's Day, I am so very grateful for my son's second mother. The woman who stepped into my shoes for him and became a dear friend of mine.

  5. Nope, no hating here. Like Diana, I couldn't have said it better myself. And as much as loving my children's first mothers may hurt from time to time, I'm very, very grateful for them. And even more grateful that one is still actively a large part of our family and for that relationship with her. :)

  6. My thoughts exactly, Lindsay. We have continued to honor our kids' Haitian moms. We have told them the truth about what brought them into an orphanag--which their parents verified when we met them again last summer. Thanks for spelling it out here.

  7. I love the three first mamas in my kiddos lives. Have tried to reach out to one even and make some connections if she wanted to, she doesn't... my heart aches for my child who lives so close to his birth mom (within 30 minutes), but even after 6 years, she is just not ready to connect (I won't share that with him until necessary) in the mean time, we talk about what it was like to be in Mama L's tummy.

    I mourn with my two kids whose birth mother died....

    And I sit and wonder what my Haitian little man's birth mother was like. We talk about what she might have been like, if he might look like her at all? Is she still alive, did she survive the earthquake?

    I was trying to think of some little ceremony thing we could do for mother's day to honor first mothers... on earth and in heaven.... maybe releasing helium balloons with love notes attached (I know- not environmentally friendly- but sometimes hearts are more important than being green!).

    I do want to honor those precious women... despite choices that were made, mistakes, or sacrifice... they hold a special place in my heart.

  8. No hating here - this is the essence of love, to try to understand and embrace what we can as a gift for our children and for ourselves. Thanks for sharing. Love you!!

  9. Thank you for talking about this. Sometimes I forget that other adoptive families are more closed than ours. I have no idea what possessed me but long before I had any ideas or education about open adoption, closed just felt wrong to me. We went against everyone and included our first daughter's mother in our life with open arms. Now we have extremely open relationships with any and all safe family members of all our children. They are our family now, too. My kids call their adoptive siblings' mothers their step mothers for lack of a better term but they all happily share tons of grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

  10. Chris who calls everyonce in a while to bug youMay 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    I just sent flowers to all my kiddo's birth moms (I've got to remember when Mother's day is coming up so I can PLAN and do something cheaper next year!). One is still incarcerated so we just had to send a letter, cards aren't even allowed.

    I totally love having people to send flowers and gifts to - I don't agree with all of their choices but that's not mine to judge, especially since I haven't had to live theirs. Sometimes we have to manage the level and type of contact, be tactful, be thoughtful of feelings, etc. but I cherish these women.

    I see their faces in my kiddos' faces and I wonder what the future will bring, but whatever it is, love always sets us on the right path.

  11. I appreciate your First Mom thoughts on this Mother's Day! I have been having a lot of those same thoughts myself, having recently "found" my son's birth mom in Russia. I have felt so many emotions, mostly good ones, having made this contact. She seems so much more like a "real" person (to me) now, and I really do want to send her love for bringing my precious son into the world. I love that she is willing to make contact with me, and I love that she asked me to help him know that she loves him. What surprised me with all of it has been the reaction of grandparents who are horrified that I might show him this information or her picture. Is it just a generational thing, when adoptions were all closed? I keep hearing that it is way too confusing for a child (never mind the fact that the reality of his story is confusing to a child no matter what). I am so disheartened- really wishing I had never mentioned the birth mom contact to the grandparents (esp my Mom). I was just so excited to have made contact...
    So anyway, I DO agree with you about feeling the love and not holding onto any bad feelings. Happy Mother's Day!

  12. This was such a great post I just had to read it all over again (am having some ambivalence/sadness about latest reaction with my kids' first mom). Thanks for telling it like it is.

  13. Friend, I am a momma of one RAD kid and I am SO thankful that you put words to my heart. I will refer friends to your post often. It's so nice to hear someone else express what is in my heart and the more people our friends/family can hear it from the better. Thanks for connecting the dots.