Becoming a mother is a defining moment in any woman’s life. However, navigating the road to motherhood as adoptee was my awakening and began my journey out of the fog. You see, I never considered myself someone who would be a good mother. I am sure everyone has those thoughts at some point, but for an adoptee coming from a closed adoption, it looked different.
I was born in 1985, and the popular narrative within the adoption community at that time was “she loved you so much, she gave you away”. I talk a lot about this narrative and why it can be damaging to adoptees, but mostly it is dangerous because it takes the most sacred of biological relationships and connects it to abandonment.
Growing up and becoming more aware of the role biology plays into our lives, I allowed the self-doubt to creep in. What if nurture was not enough? What if all the love and support my adoptive parents poured into me, would never overshadow my biology. Surely, I was missing the “mom” gene. She loved me so much she gave me away. What if I was not fit to be a mother?
On January 3rd, 2015 at approximately 7 a.m., our perfect and amazing daughter, Harper, was born. Despite my fear and insecurity about becoming a mother, here she was. I was finally holding my first piece of biology, right there in my arms. I sat there, held her close, and breathed in that newborn baby scent. I promised her I would always protect her, empower her, and fight for her. I did all the things any new mother would do in those precious moments after giving birth, and then it hit me. My mother did this. My mother labored and gave birth to me; she was here in this same space with me only separated by time. The only difference is, my mother left the hospital empty handed.
It was then that I cried. In that moment, the grief all at once washed over me. I finally understood what this all meant.
She loved me.
She loved me so much, but she had to choose; the reality of that choice brought me to my knees. I was not abandoned, and she was not a bad mother. She was a woman who became a mother in crisis, but she was not without love. It was as if my entire world shifted in those first few hours. Here I was a new mother, overjoyed with this precious new life, but also grieving another mother. One who I would possibly never meet, but who I now felt connected to more than ever.
It was in this moment, holding my own daughter that I finally was able to feel empathy for my birthmother. Most of my life she had been this phantom of a person, always on my mind but sorely out of reach. Every birthday, holiday, graduation, and special event, I carried her with me. It was now that I realized I didn’t need to carry her, because she was a part of me. Staring up at me with big brown eyes was proof that her choice was the right one. This moment, this life, everything I have is because of her.
I think adoption has made me a better mother. There is not a day that goes by that I am not keenly aware of the joy, pain, celebration, and loss that occurred to lead me here, to being a mother to these exact children. Adoptees are unique in that we have experienced both extreme loss and extreme happiness often times before we can even form words. I believe this has made me acutely aware of others’ emotions and has enabled me to be more available and tuned into my children’s needs. Adoption has made me realize that all things in life come with a duality to them, and being cognizant of that fact has allowed me to enter into new phases of motherhood prepared to face what may come. I celebrate the DNA that makes them unique, but I also celebrate the delicate tapestry that was woven for them through adoption.
Adoption gave me and my children several women to celebrate on Mother’s Day, and there is not a day that goes by that I do not think of her.
Guest Blog Writer:
Claire is an adult adoptee and the founder of Project Dawn, focused on elevating the adoptee experience through curated education and conversations for all triad members and their families. She is a mother to three rambunctious children and resides with her husband and chocolate lab in North Carolina. Her goal is to create a space within the adoption community where the adoptee experience is honored, and the ethical treatment of adoptees throughout their life cycle is held to a higher standard. Claire believes that by sharing our stories, we can begin to make waves within the industry. Please join her on Instagram @_project_dawn or on her website at www.project-dawn.com.