Barbara Jo’s Adoption Story:
I am a birth mother, something that made me uncomfortable for a long time, now that I am open about it, makes other people uncomfortable. Being a birthmother is now part of who I am.
My daughter was surrendered to a closed adoption in 1976. Her biological father was my neighbor, childhood friend, and first love. We were not given any choices. I was 15 years old, he was 18, our daughter was conceived the night he graduated from high school. The adoption was arranged through my church, I was sent away. I lived with wonderful foster parents, who I stayed in contact with until they died. My church isolated me, the only counseling I received was to make sure I knew and understood that I was not capable of taking care of a baby. They made sure I understood I had no family support and how hard it would be. How much I would embarrass myself and my family. I got pre-eclampsia and almost died during the delivery. I was told I might not have more children. At this point they had put me on such a head trip, I did not think I deserved a family. The only way to resolve my sins was to do the unselfish thing and give her to responsible adults who could provide for her. When I asked what would happen if I did not sign the papers, I was told her father would be charged with raping me. I could not ruin both our lives, I signed the relinquishment papers. It would be the best decision for the baby, she was all that mattered, I loved her with all my heart.
They brought the baby to me, let me hold her for a few minutes. She was pink and perfect. I checked her fingers and toes, she was beautiful. In those few minutes, I whispered all my hopes and dreams for her. I knew she would be a nurse. I knew she would have a beautiful laugh. I knew she would look like her father.
They told me I would go home and forget the adoption had ever happened. No one in my family talked about it, I was never allowed to grieve. My best friend, her father, disappeared from my life. I prayed for her every night. I always thought of her as the baby, could never think of her as my daughter. I married a wonderful man, who was and continues to be understanding, I did not lie to him. We were not able to have more children.
When the baby turned 18 I put my name on every adoption registry, in case she ever looked for me. I did not think I had the right to look for her. When she was 29 years old, her birthfather contacted me and wanted to know what I could tell him about our daughter. All I knew was her date of birth and the hospital she was born at. It was like a dam bursting inside of me, someone finally gave me permission to call her my daughter. I started doing research about finding her, luckily she was adopted in a state with confidential intermediaries, the Supreme Court of Arizona gave me permission to seek my daughter, and issued a court order giving my CI the sealed adoption file. My daughter was contacted and signed the papers for full contact.
Instead of being in the state where she was born, adopted and raised, she had married and was living 30 minutes from me. After 29 years I finally knew her name. She has three beautiful children. In our first meeting, she invited my husband and me to dinner. My daughter made me a wonderful scrapbook, I have pictures of every phase of her life, it is the most precious gift I have ever been given.
I am very lucky, she stays in contact with me. We will never have a mother-daughter relationship. It’s all right, I have more than I ever thought possible. She really does not need me. She has been gracious enough to include us in her life. Her adoptive parents have been wonderful and supportive.
Her birth father was in the fifth year of his second marriage when I found our daughter. He had never told anyone about his firstborn child. When his wife found out, she was very insecure and insisted he cut off contact with me. He made me promise to never forget him and that hopefully, he would be able to meet our daughter.
A few months ago I found his obituary. It breaks my heart that he will never meet our daughter. I am saddened that we were not able to process our grief. His death has made all my memories of that sad time resurface. I am having days that I struggle with all the emotion. I’ve gotten through this before and will again.
The upside is, and I am not sure how my guess is, his sister, who I contacted to find out how he died had something to do with it, his other daughter is in contact with my daughter and has gotten her to do a DNA test, I think she will also be in contact with his two sons. Now I am waiting for my daughter to tell me about her siblings. Being a birthmother has taught me patience.
I was given a photograph of her before I left Arizona to return home, I told her about this picture, she had a pink dress in the photo, she is thoughtful and kind, she always wears pink when I get to see her.
Adoption is hard.
A birth mother is the only kind of mother I will ever be. I am grateful to know my daughter. Grateful she was raised by a loving family. Grateful she is a well-adjusted, caring, productive person. Grateful for the intuition I had all those years ago. She is a nurse, has a beautiful laugh and looks like her father. Grateful for every hug and I love you she gives me.