Friday, November 26, 2010

26. Birthmomma Drama

Reblogged from August.

Here's been today's topic. In your opinion, in the above picture, who is Olivia's mom?

Am I her mom because I gave her life? Is Val her mom because she is raising her? I don't consider myself a mom. I do believe I am a BIRTHmom. I am going to pull some bits and pieces of blogs that I have read today. 3 of them, exactly, all about being a mother.

One perspective of an adoptive mom, Mary.

Two perspectives of birthmoms, Birthmom Buds and Sterling.

When first reading the title, "Am I A Mother?" on Birthmom Buds. I really thought about it. I get it. I gave birth but is that some sort of rite of passage? I somehow now have the "ins" of being a good mom. Now, I can compete with other women who has had the longest and most horrible labors, who had to push for the longest and who had to get the most stitches. I don't think that's what a mother is ALL about. I think the whole experience of bringing a child into this world is what's important. It's a role that we have but not all of us get to have that role of bearing children.

On Birthmom Buds it says:

"I looked up the definition of Mother

'The state of being a mother; the character or office of a mother.'

I found that definition extremely vague and unhelpful. Because I am currently not in the state of being a mother. I currently do not have a child. But I guess I could be the character of a mother..but that to me still doesn't seem right. Yes, I gave birth to one heck of a beautiful little girl (if I do say so myself :) and yes I am a character, but I am not her mother. I am a birthmother.

I looked up the definition of Birth Mother 

'The biological mother of a child; a person's mother related biologically rather than by adoption'

Well this could be a lot of people then. My mom would be a birthmother and she didn't place for adoption, so could my aunts, my neighbors and friends.

So all of this searching did not lead me to any answer. In fact it has frustrated me quite a bit. So I want to know.... What is your opinion.

Are birthmothers : Mothers, Birthmothers, or just girls who placed their baby for adoption."

For me, personally. Birthmothers aren't JUST the girls who place their babies for adoption. But I don't call my mom, birthmom. But she gave birth to me, I still call her mom. I don't call my neighbor, birthmom (even though she could be one), she possibly gave birth but I still call them my neighbor or friend. I think the term birthmom, is almost directly towards the women who have placed their children for adoption. Because it is our identity. It is apart of who we are. At one point, it has defined us. In group, we talked about how adoption is part of our identity. It may be for a time a big part of our lives. And I have definitely seen in my own personal experience, that in time, I have just moved on. I still carry that identity with me everyday, but I don't make a t-shirt that says, "I'm a birthmom. Talk to me."

That's just my personal opinion on the matter.

On Mary's blog, this is what she has to say,

"Why I call my child's birthmother her birthmother:
Because she gave birth to her.

Seems simple enough, right? Apparently not.

Evidently there is a bit of controversy in the adoption world surrounding the nomenclature of women who give birth to children and place them for adoption. Perhaps I was too naive or idealistic before I adopted for thinking 'Why would something as beautiful as creating families through adoption be considered controversial?'

If you don't think adoption is full of controversy, you will quickly discover it certainly is once you've started the adoption process, adopted, or placed a child for adoption. Better yet, start publicly writing about your experiences and you will most assuredly receive immediate criticism for your viewpoints and experiences- whatever those happen to be."


"What is most disturbing to me is that much of the condemnation heaped upon birthmothers is from other birthmothers who have been in their exact situation and whom you would hope would thus be filled with a greater amount of understanding and compassion.

Take, for instance, Jill's thoughts on the matter in her recent postName Calling:
'One of the first things I noticed when I encountered adoption meanies on the interwebs was that many of the birth mom meanies consider the phrase "birth mom" to be the vilest of insults. One compared using it to using the N-word. And I thought, wow, really? Because I've never heard "birth mom" used as a put-down, a slam, an insult, a verbal weapon, or a dressing-down.'
'The meanies feel that calling a woman a birth mother is insulting, akin to referring to her as an incubator or a breeder. Again I think, really? The only names that would suggest to me that woman was an incubator or a breeder are ... well, incubator, and breeder.
The meanies would much rather be referred to as natural mothers, first mothers, or original mothers. All three of those make me a little uncomfortable. Because if I'm Roo's natural, first, original mother, what does that make Roo's mama? Unnatural? Second? Unoriginal - an impostor? Pshaw. I don't buy that for a second. Roo's mother is her real, natural, actual mother. I didn't place with a robot or a cardboard cutout.'
I've come to the conclusion that the birthmothers who are the most critical of adoption in general are those who placed their babies in an era where open adoptions weren't as prevalent as they are today and/or the agency they worked with used 'coercive tactics' (whatever that means) pressuring the prospective birthparent to place for adoption.

Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't the fact alone that a pregnant woman is consulting an adoption agency or looking at profiles of adoptive parents in the first place attest to the fact that she has thought out her options and is considering adoption? (Unless, of course, she has no free will in the matter and has been FORCED to place her child for adoption, a hypothetical and highly unethical situation). But whether the birthparent decides to place or parent their child IT IS THEIR CHOICE so can it really be considered coercive, manipulative or predatory for prospective adoptive parents to address the woman who is considering adoption as a "birthmother"? Is "prospective birthparent" better?
I've already shared my opinion: I Call My Child's Birthmother 'Birthmother' because she gave birth to her.

What are YOUR feelings on the matter? If you have placed your child for adoption do you find the terms 'birthfather' or 'birthmother' to be offensive?

If you are an adoptive parent , how do you refer to your child's biological parent(s)?

If you are adopted, what do you call the people who conceived you and gave you birth? "

I have already left my comment on there. And my opinion. I shared two sides of the story.

It was probably a few weeks after I placed. And you know, I was still getting used to transitioning from mom to birthmom. And I had posted pictures of Olivia on my facebook and I'm sure the captions were, "My beautiful 11 day old daughter" or "I love my daughter." An adoptee said to me, "I'm not sure if you should be calling her your daughter. She's not yours anymore."

You're right. I forgot I was supposed to lose all of my maternal instincts as soon as I dotted the i's on the signatures of my relinquishment papers. My bad. After a while and having to get used to that title and realizing that you know, Olivia isn't here with me everyday, I don't think I should be calling her my daughter. She doesn't call me mom. So she's my birthdaughter. Yes, all of my children will be considered my "birthchild." But I won't be calling them birthson or birthdaughter. They will be my son and daughter. And they'll be calling me mom, not birthmom. Does that make sense?

My second example. Oh Tayler. He might murder me. I had corrected him for calling me mom when he first met Olivia. In the beginning, he was always good about comforting me and being like, "you're still her mom." Something about that phrase almost rubs me the wrong way. I don't know. Probably because I have nothing to say after that. When Tayler met Olivia back in January, I think he kept saying, "Olivia is so cute- like her mom." "Of course, she's sweet, just like her mom." I'm not exactly sure what was said. I'm sort of paraphrasing. I felt uncomfortable because I didn't know how Val would react to that. After Val and Dustinn had left. I told Tayler not to call me mom because Val is Olivia's mom. I'm her BIRTHmom. I think that was the first time for me to recognize that as well.

Val has sent me e-mails before. She has reassured me that I will always be Olivia's mom. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing it. But sometimes, it makes me cringe.

I'm going to steal what birthMOM (Desha) wrote,

"While i was still pregnant i actually did have a problem with the word/label/name 'birthmom'. but not because of the 'birth' part. because of the 'mom' part. at the time, i felt like giving birth did not make me a 'mom', it made me a woman who had given birth. at the time i felt like what makes a mom are the things that come AFTER the birth, the sleepless nights, the bottles, the diapers, the bathing, the teaching, the nurturing, the sheltering, the protecting, etc. to me, THOSE were the things that make a woman a mom. not an act of simple biology. and i wasnt going to be doing those things, i wasnt going to be the 'mom' to this baby i was carrying.

i tried to come up with another word/label/name to call myself, the best was 'uterine storage vesicle', which was always only used with love and humor btwn me, my friends, and my family. (i always use humor and sarcasm is my middle name) i can totally understand how uterine storage vesicle would cause many to be offended and irate, but for me and my situation, it was hilariously perfect.

that label didnt stick however and i proudly entered the realm of 'birthmother' when i gave birth, and then took care of my son for 2 days and then did what any good mother would do- what i thought was the very best for my son.

then a couple of months later, at one of our post placement support group meetings, a bunch of us were talking about how i was almost literally to the day twice the age of one of the girls who was about to place. I was 28 at the time. my roommate, who was still pregnant and pursuing an adoption plan, said to me, 'you are like the mom of the birthmoms, taking care of all of us.' i started blogging right about then, so i chose my screen name to be birthMOM.

Now, i am proud to be a birthmother. and i always will be. i feel it sets me apart and above all the 'regular' mothers and i feel like it demands a sacred reverence to utter. but just like anything that has ever been sacred and/or reverent, it is a word/label/name that has been completely degraded, disrespected and forever tarnished. yin and yang, good and evil, hot and cold, up and down. there is always opposition, in everything. what matters, is what YOU choose to make of it."

I'm going to reiterate the part where she talks about what a mother is AFTER birth. My definition of mom, is somebody who reads you bedtime stories, who kisses your boo-boos better, who makes you crazy if you're out past curfew, who stays up with you when you have your first major heartbreak, etc. I'm not going to be that to Olivia. I can't be the one who helps her with her homework every night, who makes her after school snacks. I'm the woman in the background. What a girl said tonight in group is, "Everyone gets the joy from my pain." With my whole entire soul, I wish I could be that mom for Olivia. Instead, I'm going to be the one in the background of the pictures. Or what I like better is, I'm the one standing on the sidelines cheering her on.
I gave Olivia life. I gave her Val to be her mom. I gave Dustinn to be her dad. I gave Bradshaw to be her brother. I gave her a forever family. I sacrificed a whole heck of a lot to give her that. A little recognition would suffice. The title, "birthmom" is not degrading, insulting, or mocking. It shows courage, strength, and love.

"(S)He is mine in a way that (s)he will never be hers, yet (s)he is hers in a way that (s)he will never be mine........and so together, we are motherhood."
-Desha Wood

I love Sterling's blog as she reiterates the principles of the Gospel and what we believe in and I love what she said at the end.
"Birth is the science. Mother is the emotion. Birthmother is... love."

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