How It Feels to Be a Birth Mom on Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is always sad for me. I have bipolar and PTSD, so in 2005, I asked my psychiatric nurse, my therapist, and my OB-GYN if it was OK for me to have a baby considering all my diagnoses. They all said that they did not see any major reason why not.

The only real barriers I faced were that I was a lesbian and not in a relationship. I bought a book on how lesbians could have a baby and I was set. I hired a program and went about searching for a donor. I found a donor and got inseminated. I had to go off my psych medications to have a safe pregnancy, so I was told.

I got pregnant on the first try. I went on to have trouble with my mental health during the pregnancy. I ended up back on my medications and in treatment for suicidal ideation and depression. I made it through the pregnancy and the only impact was that my daughter was small when she was born.

We had a good first couple of years. My mental health was stable, and I handled single motherhood well. Around my daughter's 2 ½ year mark, I became sick. I was having a mental break. She was triggering my memories of my past sexual abuse. This went on for two years. After my daughter lived in someone else’s care for a year and a half, I finally was asked by my daughter’s therapist to either bring her home or place her for adoption. I felt I did not have a choice. I was not well and could not be around my daughter without being triggered and debilitated by flashbacks, body memories, suicidal thoughts, and nightmares.

I went on to place her with a Black lesbian couple. They were a good fit for her. We have had our struggles over the years, but all in all, they have done an extraordinary job in raising our daughter. She is an exceptional child in personality, character, and academics. I could not ask for a better child.

Every year Mother’s Day rolls around and everyone is celebrating. I am not. I miss my baby girl. She is 17 now and over the past 13 years, I have only received a card twice. I miss my daughter tremendously. I get to see her once a year and sometimes get updates and pictures quarterly. I do not get cards or phone calls. No acknowledgment of my status as a mother of my daughter. It is hard every day, but especially on this day, to cope with the loss. Everyone else is celebrating and I am sitting at home with my feelings.

How I cope with losing my daughter to adoption on Mother’s Day

  • I stay away from social media; the images of people happy with their mothers and children are heart-wrenching.
  • I do something that reminds me of my daughter, maybe take out some pictures and reminisce.
  • I call someone who can relate and talk about my daughter (I have friends from my adoption support group).
  • I love flowers so I buy myself Mother’s Day flowers.
  • I write her a letter (I try to do this every year and revisit them).
  • I relish the Mother’s Day cards I get from my favorite aunts.

How can you help a Birth Mom cope on Mother's Day?

  • Acknowledge the day as a celebration of the gift of life she gave.
  • Acknowledge how hard this day must be for her and that she is justified to feel sad. (She can go through this even if she has had additional children.)
  • Encourage her to talk about her experiences with the loss and help her process.
  • Send her flowers.
  • Send her a Mother’s Day card.
  • Take her to brunch. Bring a casserole. Share a meal.

You can do this. Do for her what you would do for any friend that is suffering a loss. It does not matter how long ago it has been — she is still struggling to come to terms with the placement and all the issues that surrounded it. You can help her come to terms with what she went through and encourage her to get further professional support. She needs you. I need you.

I find ways to celebrate myself and try not to fixate on the loss and my feelings of guilt and shame. I try to remember that I am a good mother and that I have done nothing wrong. I deal with a lot of self-blame. I struggle to let it go that I should have known better than to have a baby on my own, that my doctors should have warned me that it could have ended up this way.

If you have experienced a loss due to adoption, please know you are not alone. There are many of us out here. We have been silenced by a society that does not see our loss as legitimate. We are often blamed for our loss and then invalidated. I want you to know you are legitimately grieving. Your loss is real and deserves the love and support anyone would receive from experiencing a loss.

Our loss is invisible to society but apparent to us. Take this Mother’s Day to realize that your pain is real, and you deserve the room to grieve.

Also, know your children and my daughter are thinking of us today and wondering if we are thinking of them. I know we are, and they can feel us loving them back. Do not block this feeling. Lean into it and it will sustain you. We may not get a card this year, or any year, but we can celebrate anyway. I am off to get some flowers.

I love you and so does your child.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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I am Black, lesbian, disabled, mentally ill, fat, a birth mom, mom and grandmom (grand ma Coco to be exact) and Funny. I am a woman who is constantly fighting for my and your liberation.

I have a history of working for those living at the margins mostly in activist and nonprofit spaces. I currently work in the mental health field serving those who have been convicted of felonies and are in mental heath court. I am also a writer. I write about disabilities, chronic illness, mental health, racial trauma, sexual violence and disordered eating. I am also a public community speaker on the same topics. Hit me up if you need my writing or speaking skills.

Please use she or her pronouns when referring to or about me.

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