Hey, you: mother who just placed or mom who just earned the title through adoption… welcome to the motherhood. (Adoption is the mother of all neighborhoods, after all!)
Whether you’ve been longing to join this club for-seemingly-ever (as many adopting mothers do) or dreading this arrival (as many birthmothers understandably feel) you’re likely to feel something like Alice in Wonderland, just after she tumbled down the rabbit hole.
That’s okay. You may be new to all this, but you’re only human, after all. Take a deep breath. Dust yourself off. Look around and get your bearings for a bit.
Motherhood is a role we all have to grow into; nobody “gets it” all instantly. It takes some time to make sense of becoming a mom, or a birthmother or an adoptive mother. So go easy on yourself, and feel whatever you feel.
(There’s plenty of support to be found, if you need it, whether on the Abrazo Forum or in our counseling program or within our private groups or elsewhere.)
You’re Still You
See, here’s the thing to remember, even your new role seems overwhelming: you’re still you.
Motherhood changes a lot of things about a gal, absolutely. Still: the truth is that the girl you were before all this and the woman you’ll be many years from now are going to continue to be equally amazing, with or without that mamarific job title.
Some females grow up believing that their most sacred calling in life is to be somebody’s mother. Others see it as something that might be a bonus if it happens, but in their minds, it’s not a deal-breaker if it doesn’t. We’re not here to judge. If mothering is your highest calling, then hey, good for you, and good for your child/ren. If, however, you’re not in a place in life in which you knew mothering is/was the best use of your skills or resources, then kudos to you for your brazen honesty on your child’s behalf.
Because the world needs all y’all: women who raise children, and women who “mother” those around them in other ways, too. That’s the thing about this neighborhood called Motherhood: we all have different callings, different skills and different paths ahead, and it’s up to each of us to do our best in whatever role we feel is meant to be ours.
Finding Your Place
For women who have adopted, been adopted, or released a child for adoption, though, motherhood is typically a concept steeped in extra expectations and emotions.
Adoptees often grapple with understanding how the addition or subtraction of a mother in their lives has shaped them, for good or for bad. Birthmothers commonly struggle to make sense of their role as a mother who has given birth to a child she is not or has not or will not parent. And adoptive moms often wonder if their inability to conceive and/or lack of a biological connection to their son or daughter impacts the authenticity of their job title or their ability to fulfill the duties that come with it.
All of these questions are reasonable. None of the fears behind them are foolish. Adoption may have added a new zipcode to a landscape that otherwise looks familiar, but home is still wherever you are. Keep learning all you can from other birthmoms and adoptive mothers with more experience than you have, then one day, make sure you pay it forward, too. And please remember to always honor the other mother whose story is part of your child’s life, because that connection is more important than you know. We’re all just trying to find our way, the best we can. And together is the best way to get where we’re all trying to go.
Desha Wood, herself a birthmother and adoption advocate, sums it up best. She wrote
“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.”
Making New Friends
If you imagine Abrazo as a park in the neighborhood that is motherhood, open adoption would be the beautiful garden in the center, where everyone makes room for everyone. It doesn’t mean that everyone’s needs match perfectly. It doesn’t mean that everyone is always emotionally up for the same thing at the same time. But it means that in our adoption neighborhood, everyone’s interest in each adoptee’s welfare is always welcome.
Because the truth is that we need each other. And the adoptees needs us all, too. (Even if they don’t necessarily know it yet.) So welcome to the motherhood, y’all!
However motherhood comes to you, it’s an enormous, often thankless job, with daunting responsibilities. Keep this in mind, and don’t be afraid to seek out support if you need it. Whether you have placed or adopted or not, being a mom can be exhausting, and it’s not disloyal to admit it. You’re not alone; we’re in this together. (And if you’re not new to the motherhood of birthmoms or adoptive moms, know that you’re just as important to Abrazo as you ever were, and you’re never forgotten around here.)
So whether this weekend for you is about Birthmothers’ Day or Mother’s Day, please consider this our heartfelt tribute to you, and however you got here: welcome to the motherhood.