Our Mother’s Day Mosaic

How can one be a mother yet not a mother at the same time? How can one be a daughter yet an orphan all at once at never at all?  How can we walk that line of in-between and straddle both worlds of decadent joy and pure loss?

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Mother’s Day is complicated and almost every single person, on this day, can both celebrate while also grieve. For some the loss is more than others, and for some there is nothing to grieve at all – but one day there will be. That is what is eventual. One day there will be. For we are all born into this world from our mothers. Every last one of us has one. Some lost her before our first breaths could be inhaled and others not until their skin had grown wrinkled and worn themselves. Some of us have had more than one mother in our lives and others have had only one. What is unending, undying, and ever true is this one fact – we all exist because we have a mother. It matters not if she is present today, yesterday, or in the future.

Once a year we partake in a celebration, appreciation, and honor of our mothers and foremothers. For many of us we feel ostracized during this national celebration, while thinking of what was or what could have been. It is for these mothers, these daughters, and these sons that I write for today.

I ask you to remember them.

I ask you to be aware of them.

I ask you to take a moment of silence for them.

You may not even realize you know one of them. It may be something they’ve never mentioned. But, chances are, you do. We are everywhere. The world is broken, it is full of broken people and broken pieces of broken lives. For some that brokenness wins. It eats them alive with its insatiable hunger. But if we’re lucky we come together, especially on days like Mother’s Day, and we take all of our broken pieces of our broken selves, and our uplifting words to each other become the glue that puts us back together. The pieces don’t match, there’s some from this person glued to that person, but somehow it makes our mosaic that much more vivid, that much more eye-catching.  It makes us stronger, even in our brokenness. We may be orphaned or  lost, we may be grieving, we may have empty arms with a mother’s heart, but we are intertwined with each other and we do not have to be alone.

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and I have no doubt that many are grieving and thinking of mothers lost, children lost, motherhood lost. I stand in remembrance of us. In honor of us, in silence for us.

This will be the first Mother’s Day I get to spend with my relinquished daughter and I am so thankful for that but, at the same time, I am mourning all the days lost. Reunion doesn’t fix it. It brings it to the forefront and demands attention.

 

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The Cult of Birthmother’s Day – A Mother’s Day Celebration For First Moms – #Not a BraveLove

It’s almost electric, the emotions flying around social media this time of year. Like a storm brewing or a dam waiting to explode from too much pent-up pressure in the tidal wave of water, Mother’s Day elicits an almost primal, and strong, response from those of us in the adoption community. Especially us first/birth/natural mothers.  If the tension on the Internet is only a fraction of what is really going on inside of our hearts this time of year, I can’t imagine what our real lives, as opposed to online lives, may look like.

* Not a BraveLove * *Not a BraveLove * * Not a BraveLove * *Not a BraveLove *

Some of us have other children that we parent and I know, at least for me, that helps to soften the blow. We will be getting “Happy Mother’s Day!” cards whether they are handmade or store-bought. We will be recognized on this day as a mother. It doesn’t make the hurt of having one of our children missing any softer, but at least we have recognition of who we are. For those who do not have other children that they parent, Mother’s Day can be one of the cruelest of days of the year. Walking that line between “mother” and “not-the-mother” can prove painfully ironic and many times friends and family members aren’t sure what to say. They worry if they buy a card or acknowledge the day they may be ripping open wounds best left stitched up. I’d say a good majority of the family members and friends of the first mom community are probably left with no recognition at all unless they are parenting other children.

* Not a BraveLove * *Not a BraveLove * * Not a BraveLove * *Not a BraveLove *

To add insult to injury, there is this thing the adoption industry came up with, years ago the adoption industry hijacked (although it is only the past 5 years or so that it has really taken off), a holiday dedicated just to “birthmothers.” It is “Birthmother’s Day” and it is celebrated the Saturday before Mother’s Day. As if not being recognized as a mother on the very day created to celebrate mothers isn’t bad enough, you aren’t even allowed to consider being a participant in Mother’s Day now because you now have a day dedicated for the sole purpose of recognizing that all you are is an instrument of birth. Birthmother’s Day was created by Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh in 1990. It was intended to be a day of solidarity, reflection and grieving for mothers of adoption loss. It was never intended to be celebratory.

From research:

“Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh first conceived the idea as a result of her own adoption experience. She knew she was a mother, but didn’t feel recognized as such, either by those around her or by her daughter’s parents. Remembering the feelings she’d experienced at her daughter’s birth – feelings of triumph and euphoria; she used them to help in her own healing. May Birth Mother’s Day bring acknowledgment and recognition to every birth mother who ever loved a child lost to adoption. May it honor and celebrate every mother who became childless after birthing a child, and was forgotten on Mother’s Day. For birthmothers, the observance can be a time to affirm joys and acknowledge the sorrow, grief, and pain that are a part of many experiences. It can also be a time to break the silence and release years of anguish, worry, shame, or guilt. The purpose of Marsh’s Birth Mother’s Day ceremony is insight, affirmation, growth, and wisdom.”

From Brenda Romanchik’s insightful article on Birthmother’s Day:

“Birth Mother’s Day was created in 1990 by a group of Seattle Washington birth mothers who met each other at a birth parent support group. It grew out of the shared recognition that Mother’s Day is one of the most painful days of the year- second only to the birthday of our missing children. Yet birth mothers have been shut out of the traditional celebration and remembrances of the holiday. Most birth mothers are neither named nor recognized among the mothers in our midst. For most birth mothers there are no cards or flowers. Society treats the motherhood of the birth mother as a momentary event that fades quickly from the collective memory. It often seems we are even forgotten by those who received the gift and the privilege of parenthood through the birth mother’s loss.” (1)

Why should first/birth/natural mothers have to have a separate day, other than mother’s day, to be celebrated and recognized? If the “creators” of Birthmother’s Day truly wanted to do something for first moms so they didn’t feel left out on Mother’s Day, why didn’t they encourage others to recognize them on that Sunday instead of making up their own “holiday” just for them? Having we been singled out enough already?

* Not a Brave Love * * Not a Brave Love * * Not a Brave Love * * Not a Brave Love *

What Birthmother’s Day Does For the Adoption Industry

There was a time, not so long ago, where the cultural norms of our American society equated having a baby out-of-wedlock to that of, say, murder. It was not accepted. You may as well have walked around with a big scarlet letter on your chest. You would be shunned by society. This worked to the benefit of the adoption industry. To acquire a woman’s baby for purposes of adoption all one had to do was work the “shame-angle.” With time, however, this cultural stigma in American society is, for the most part, non-existent. Women were no longer relinquishing babies simply because it was too shameful to keep them. To combat this, and to continue procuring babies to meet the demand (and fatten their pocket books – even non-profit agencies are making huge profits) the adoption industry had to reevaluate their methods. These methods were a complete 180 from the predecessors.

Instead of shaming young women into relinquishing their children, they instead made them heroes. For someone facing a crisis pregnancy it’s probably suffice to say they are already facing some serious self-esteem issues and their self-worth is probably considerably low. Giving first mother’s “Birthmother’s Day” is a way to make them feel special, like a hero. It’s almost like the same rush of having 5 seconds of fame. “Look how great I am! I did this great thing for my kid and for this great couple! I’m so awesome! Yeah, it hurts, but look at how much attention I’m getting! I’m brave! I’m selfless! I’m a hero!” Immediate self-esteem boost and the rush that comes with that. For someone who has lacked that for a long time it can become almost addicting. So, for the adoption industry, Birthmother’s Day first serves this purpose. Another purpose is to prevent first moms from “taking away” from the glory of the adoptive mom on actual Mother’s Day. Couldn’t have that, could we? No sharing of the motherhood here. You are not really the mom and you are not worthy of the complete recognition on Mother’s Day itself. There is one more purpose, however.

* Not a Brave Love * * Not a Brave Love * * Not a Brave Love * * Not a Brave Love *

The other night I was watching a television show about people who had lived in a cult. People that are missing something in their lives and don’t have a positive view of their self-worth are often the most susceptible to being drawn into a cult. It fascinated me to see how these cults could influence people to do things that were so obviously not right or okay. I decided to look up how a cult goes about brainwashing someone. Almost always, in a cult, people are sucked in by believing they are doing things for the greater good of their eternal soul. In other words, to get into Heaven. They are willing to accept a lifetime of abuse and pain to secure their spot in Heaven. Similarly, in adoption industry coercion, a mother is willing to do whatever it takes, endure a lifetime of pain and grief, to secure a “better” life for her child.  That “better life” is the equivalent of the cult’s “ticket to heaven.”

* Not a BraveLove * * Not a BraveLove * * Not a BraveLove * * Not a BraveLove *

Recruiting is very important in a cult. Using “brother and sisters” of the cult to get new recruits is the most common path taken. You have people who are already in the cult and participating telling you how great it is. Similarly, in the “birthmom world,” those first moms who have already been taken a hold of by the “adoption cult,” as I will call it, are active, all the time, in recruiting more members. It ensures that the rush they feel about being a hero, brave, selfless, IMPORTANT, continues on and on. They will go out of their way to help recruit more women to join the club of “birthmom” because it is just so awesome, right? What they are really doing is helping to procure more babies for the industry of adoption and the profits that follow (did you click on the link earlier in the article? Would you like to see the profits that domestic infant adoption brings in? Click here). The adoption industry is the leadership of the adoption cult. Like any leadership in a cult, they are in it for self-serving purposes. Profits. And they don’t care who they hurt along the way to get it. As long as they get what they are after. So the last reason that Birthmother’s Day is so pervasive and useful to the adoption industry is because it continues to give their cult members and new recruits the fantasy that they are important.

* Not a BraveLove * * Not a BraveLove * * Not a BraveLove * * Not a BraveLove *

The Reality of Birthmother’s Day

The reality of Birthmother’s day is that it ostracizes first moms. It tells them they are not good enough (unless you’re a cult member then you think you’re better than) to celebrate themselves on Mother’s Day. Nothing could be further from the truth. I always see these memes going around on Facebook. They usually start with “A real mother…” or “A real father…” and go on to talk about bedtime stories, sleepless nights, etc. And that is not entirely untrue. That is definitely part of what makes someone a mother or father. The unconditional love that first moms feel for their children and the lengths they will go to protect their children (even if being brainwashed that their only ticket to Heaven – providing a good life for their child) is the very definition of a mother’s love. And, for many, there was no choice or brainwashing at all. They were literally forced. They were tied down to a table to give birth and had their children taken from them despite their useless protests. Does the mother whose child was kidnapped have less of a right to celebrate Mother’s Day than the kidnapper who is reading that child bedtime stories every night?

Why do we have to single ourselves out as “birth” mothers? We don’t hear people going around calling themselves “adoptive” mothers. Unless you are speaking about the two and you need to distinguish which mother is being talked about I see no need for qualifiers. Why should there be qualifiers? Are we not both mothers? And why do we have a Birthmother’s Day and not an Adoptive Mother’s Day? Puts things into perspective a bit.

* Not a Brave Love * * Not a Brave Love * * Not a Brave Love * * Not a Brave Love *

Finally, if you are reading this and you have a first mom in your life and aren’t sure how to approach the topic of Mother’s Day, let me tell you this. Celebrate her. Recognize her motherhood. On Mother’s Day. There may be tears, but it is nothing compared to the isolating and lonely feeling of pretending you aren’t a mother, of being a ghost in the crowd, of straddling that thin line between “mother” and “non mother.” She is worthy of being celebrated.

No matter where you are in your lifetime journey of “birthmother,” I’d like to say to you –

Happy Mother’s Day my sisters.

* For those wondering about the little inserts, there is currently a huge billboard campaign, nationwide, by members of the adoption cult that is being used to procure more infants by the industry. They are using first moms to encourage others facing a pregnancy, in less than ideal situations, to surrender their children. The terms, strewn about my blog, will help this blog come up in search results when anyone googles it. This is the only way I could think of to combat this hideous campaign.

#notabravelove

(1) http://www.firstmotherforum.com/2010/05/why-dont-we-have-national-adoptive.html – comments section