One of the more un-nerving parts of this journey is figuring out where I stand in the land of women who have relinquished their children. I’m finding out that this is a land divided, and I have no idea where I stand; in fact, I feel like I stand firmly in the middle of both sides.
There is the side who sing praises of adoption, those who feel as though they were redeemed and it was a miracle to participate in. I was on that side. But I’m not anymore.
There is the side that rejects all of the adoption language, including birthmother, and many other terms that I’m accustomed to. This side fights for reform, and justice for the women who had their children stolen from them. I love their cause, but I can’t seem to find the same fire within. I understand the terms, and where they come from. I understand why some would find them offensive, but I don’t feel the incinerating anger that seems to flow from this side when the terms are used by others who are impacted by adoption. I am angry, yes, but not at the terms, but at the actions that were imposed on me. I feel that focusing on these terms distracts us from the bigger picture of taking down the agencies who use these as their weapons- focus on the laws to get these agencies out of the picture, or to force them to reform.
I feel strongly that adoptees should have full access to their families, their original records, and anything else they need in order to understand where they come from. I feel that there is an inherent need to regulate, or legislate laws that would force agencies to perform adoptions in a far more ethical manner. I believe that adoption, in a lot of the world, if not most of the world, has become an industry, a booming financial business in which many are getting rich. I believe that there should be laws binding adoptive families in open adoptions to follow through on their promises. I believe that women should have access to all of their options during a pregnancy and be allowed to parent their child BEFORE looking at adoption. I believe that women should have access to birth control, meaning contraceptives, and should be allowed to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy without judgment or penalty; I believe that adoption should honestly be the last option considered. Not because it’s wrong but due to the lasting impact it has on all involved. I believe that adoptive parents should have to undergo more then just a financial and medical background check. I believe there should be extensive education for all sides- adoptive parents and mothers choosing adoption- regarding the impact, positive and negative on the adoptee, in the present and in the future. I truly believe this business of luring “unwed” or “young” women who are pregnant is unethical, and at the heart of it, is a massive feminist issue. I believe that we need more attention to issue of selling babies and buying babies, and feel that more of us should be alarmed at this industry that has arisen before our eyes.
So where do I fit? I use the term birthmother because it’s the one I was “taught” to use. Will I ever refer to myself as something else? Maybe, but that will come with time. I will likely continue to use it as long as there are agencies around who continue to groom women and their families with such language. I will continue to use it in my writing so that potential birthmothers can find me, and those who I am linked to through comments, or external websites. I will continue to refer to myself as a birthmother until I feel ready to refer to myself as otherwise. I will not refer to the father as a birthfather, because he did not carry, or give birth to The Kiddo. He is inherently the biological father, and nothing more, proven by his investment in the whole process pre-relinquishment.
I am a mother, another version of it. I gave birth to him, I nourished him for 9 months in my womb. I still love him with a fierceness that matches the love I have my parented children. I don’t want to get caught up in arguing semantics, or debating whether I am a mother or a birthmother (truly, I am both). I don’t want the positive experience some may have had to be ignored by my truly negative experience. Where is that happy medium between those who are pleased with their choice, and those who legitimately feel raped because they had no choice? Does a place even exist, or will I be forced to join a side?
So where do I fit? Who am I in this new to me world of women who have been touched by adoption? Where is my home in this group of women who have lost a child to adoption? I’m determined to move past the anger, and let it become a resilient part of who I am, but not allow it to envelope me for life. I won’t ignore the past any longer, and I won’t pretend that it was a glorious life changing experience.
I want to change the adoption world, I want to help, but I don’t want to sell myself to the wrong cause again.