My Birth Mother, My Stranger

You were adopted because your birth mother didn’t want you.

I will never forget the day I heard those words. I was in middle school when my social studies teacher decided that he would do a lesson on adoption. Sitting in a room filled with my peers, I remember him starting the lesson by looking straight at me and saying, “You were adopted because your birth mother didn’t want you.” I remember hearing some of my classmates gasp and the room going silent. I remember everyone looking straight at me…nobody really knowing what to do or say. It was probably one of the most humiliating and heartbreaking moments of my life. I don’t remember much else about that day, but I will never forget those words.

When I think about those words, they hurt just as much today as they did over 17 years ago. It was something I had often felt when I was younger, but hearing someone else speak those words to me was absolutely devastating. The difficult part for me was not knowing the truth. I couldn’t tell him that he was wrong, because I didn’t know. And, deep down, I feared that he was right.

My whole life, I have wrestled with the feelings I have towards my birth mother. There are days when I miss her, which feels strange to me, since I don’t feel like I know her at all. Other days, I feel an overwhelming sense of anger and hatred for her. She fed me and held me and cared for me for an entire year (maybe longer). I was hers and I’d like to think that she loved me for a year before deciding that she could no longer parent me. More than anything, being a mom of two, a part of me can’t help but to feel empathy for her, as I cannot imagine what that decision must have been like to make.

During my senior year of high school, I ended up getting pregnant. I was just months away from graduation, and I couldn’t believe that it could ever happen to me. I was overwhelmed, scared, and I didn’t know what to do. I was really sick and I couldn’t keep anything down. I was losing weight like crazy, and I was missing a lot of school. After going over the options with my doctor and my parents—and taking into account how sick I was—I made the extremely difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy. It was a decision that wasn’t made lightly, as it went against my religious and moral beliefs, but it was the right one for me at the time.

When I think about that experience, I find myself feeling sympathetic to what my birth mother must have gone through. I wasn’t strong enough to make the decision she made. She brought me into this world—something I wasn’t able to do for my child. While I don’t regret the decision I made, I know what it’s like to wonder about what might have been. When I think about my birth mother, I wonder if she thinks about me…if she misses me. I wonder if she ever finds herself searching for my face in the crowd.

I know I’ll never meet my birth mother—and I don’t know that I would ever want to—but there are some things I want her to know. I want her to know that I’m okay and I’m living the life I’d like to think she wanted for me. I have an amazing family whom I love so much. They love me and support me and have given me a really good life. I have a wonderful husband and two handsome little guys who are too awesome for words. I am blessed and life is good.

My birth mother missed out on my life and the person I have become, but I am thankful for the decision she made to bring me into this world. Thinking about her will always be somewhat painful and my feelings towards her will continue to fluctuate. She brought me into this world, but I don’t consider her the person who gave me life—my adoptive parents did that. She won’t ever be the person I call “Mom”, but she will always be my birth mother. She will always be a stranger to me, but she will forever be a part of me.

24 thoughts on “My Birth Mother, My Stranger

  1. The callousness of some teachers can be shocking. As if such issues are ever so cut and dry. As if he knew anything he was talking about at all.

    I just stumbled across your blog today, and I want to say thanks for writing it! I have always planned on adopting when it was time to have children, and it’s really helpful to get this kind of personal view about adoption and transracial adoption. So thanks =)

  2. So sorry for your life long loss. I have had the same loss, and it’s devistating. I think when someone dies we grieve their death, but in adoption its just a continued grief and I don’t know if it will ever go away. I still sob tears as if I were a little girl thinking about my birth mother. Amazing, she’s passed awayand I only got to meet her a very few times. She rejected me, and it hurts the most. I understand your pain, and we share it forever. @adopteeluv4ever 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I love so many things about your comment, but especially: “I think when someone dies we grieve their death, but in adoption it’s just a continued grief and I don’t know if it will ever go away.” Such a profound and true statement…I’m so sorry to hear of your birth mother’s passing and of her rejection of you. I think I sometimes fear the rejection more than not knowing. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone! Sending you big hugs!

    • crazycalimom says:

      As an adoptive mom, what advice can you give me to help our kids know about their bio family without the bad parts (inutero drug exposure/addiction at birth, etc. We have given info more & more little by little as they get older & can understand or process a little more. What would an adoptee advise???

      • I have to say that this depends on the situation, but for the most part, it is best for adoptees to know the truth about their birth parents and where they came from. It’s good that you are sharing the information as you go, and when you feel your children are able to process the information.

        A colleague and dear friend of mine kept the information in a drawer in her home. Her kids knew the documents were there, and they each looked at their information when they felt they were ready. I think this was awesome, as it gave her children the power to find out about their birth parents in their own time.

        There are so many questions in adoption, and many adoptees live their lives constantly searching for answers. Histories in adoption records can be somewhat cold and very cut and dry. By telling your children, you can do so in a way that is respectful, honest, and that honors who your children are and the birth parents who brought them into this world.

        Trust your instincts and introduce information when you feel your children are ready.

  3. I wish I could NOT believe a teacher would say that. I hope most would not. I heard the same thing from some of my peers when I was a child. My mother, however, told me that the greatest and most difficult act of love ever performed for me, except for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, was my birth mother placing me for adoption. I will probably never meet her either, nor will my little daughter meet her birth mother, but they are our “angels”, someone who is far from us but will always be part of our story.

  4. crazycalimom says:

    Some people’s ignorance amaze me! Do they actually hear what actually came out of they’re mouth & think it’s an ok subject? We are a family of 6, which 4 of our children we adopted. I know they feel a loss, pain, abandonment & so many emotions BUT I have always told them that their biological mother or father loved them so much but couldn’t take care of them (more detailed as they get older). Especially for one of our sons she wanted him so bad & loved him deeply but the drugs & alcohol had too much of a grip on her young life. I thank God for her because without her I wouldn’t have my son. Our other 3 are a sibling group & I tell them the same thing (the bio mom has passed away). They are in conctact at least w/grandparents but sometimes gets a little wierd because they tell them things we feel shouldn’t be shared yet or at least tell us first so were not blindsided. I think they still hold bitterness against us because we as foster parents fought for 2yrs but won our battle since families home study was denied.

  5. Not fair to make me gasp & get goosebumps as I read this in a waiting room! I’d like too assume teacher “today” would know better & that wouldn’t happen to another child….but…
    My daughter was adopted almost 2 years ago at a year & a half old. It tears me apart wondering about the circumstances of her bio family having her for a year & then losing (relinquishing / abandoning /losing/dying??) her.
    I know she “misses” them. She has no memory that she can share, but (when I got her) she remembers nursing. She tells me she misses her first Mom. I pray & hope that I am adequately able to guide & support her journey filling that hole.

    • The respect and love you have for your daughter’s birth mother just shines through your comment. It sounds like you already are a wonderful source of support for your daughter! Blessings and best wishes to you and your family!

  6. Connie says:

    I am a Mother of a beautiful daughter I gave up for adoption at birth. I didn’t want to, but had to because I could not protect her from her Father, he would have killed her. I made the ultimate sacrifice and grieve every day for the child I lost and the woman I will probably never know. I am sorry some Mothers reject their children, if I am ever lucky enough to see my child again I will welcome her with open arms and a heart filled with gratitude.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Connie. My heart goes out to you, and I hope you didn’t find this post disrespectful. Because I don’t have a way of finding answers, I have a feeling this will always be something I will struggle with. I want you to know that I respect you and the heart-wrenching sacrifice you made for your daughter. I pray you are able to someday have a connection with your daughter. Blessings to you.

  7. Connie says:

    No, I did not find this to be disrespectful, quite the contrary. I understand completely why you would feel abondoned and hurt. My circumstances were just so horrible and at that time there was no help for battered women. Her Father beat me almost to death, I have a traumatic brain injury and still suffer from PTSD almost 30 yrs later. I just wanted to illustrate that it is not always what it seems. My adoption was crooked the attorney knew without a doubt I was being abused and wanted my child. But, I let it take place, because I knew the safest place for my baby was far away from me. The adoption took place in Florida, so there is hardly any chance that I will ever get to tell my daughter how very much I love her and how losing her killed my soul. I now hate the adoption industry, the politicians who deny the children the right to their birth records and the adoptive parents who fear, instead of honor the child’s Mother. It has created so much loss and grief, for the children and their real Mothers. Thank you for your blessings and I pray that we all find peace, amidst the heartbreak.

  8. I’ve been silently stalking your blog for a while now and have appreciated all your posts, but this one resonated with me more than any others have to this point. Just wanted to say thank you for being able to put into words some of the things I’ve never found a way to say.

  9. The harshness and stupidity of a teacher! Sadly, I know that there are still teachers this stupid, clueless, and cruel.

    Did you share this situation with your parents at the time it happened?

    I am an Amom to two daughters born in China and a stepmom to two great teens whose mom, in the past year, has choose to completely remove herself from their life. We deal with a lot of emotions in our home.

    We do not know the circumstances of our Chinese daughters’ mothers and families in China. As they grow older we try to give them the facts of China as best we can in as loving and supporting way as we can. There may be some situations where the families ‘don’t want’ their children, but I think in most cases it more of a situation that the families and mothers feel they have no real choice. I cannot imagine the heartbreak, feeling of hopelessness that their mom’s very well felt and live with.

    I can’t help but contrast this with the situation we face with my stepkids and their mom– who is choosing to not be a part of their life– after 13 and 15 years. I have a really hard time wrapping my head around it– so are the kids.

    • It definitely speaks to the importance of adoption competency in schools…Yes, I did share this with my parents, but there wasn’t much anyone could do, being that the teacher refused to acknowledge that he did anything wrong and the principal sided with the teacher.

      I’m so sorry to hear of what you and your family have gone through with your stepkids’ mom…

  10. Alysia Foote says:

    I am a birth mom to a beautiful 4 year old and I have a very special and open adoption relationship with her and her Mommy. Although we live on opposite sides of the US we are involved in eachother’s lives. I am not an adoptee, but I was raised by my grandparents because my parents chose the life of drugs instead of parenting. That constant rejection alone pulled in a lifetime of hurt and anguish. Although I know who I look like and I know where my attitude comes from it doesn’t make it any easier. I am a Mom of four wonderful children and I could have NEVER thought of giving up one of my babies, but when the time came for my husband and I to make that difficult decision, we did and we have never regret it for a moment. She is a part of my life and her parents are the best parents they could ever be and more than what I could have wished for her. Although our stories are different, they are all the same. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Julie Walter says:

    Ohh…that teacher should have been fired on the spot!!!! Ignorance is so cruel. My daughter is adopted and I have always made Amy, her birth mother, a part of our life, even if Amy was half way around the world serving our country we prayed and talked about her daily. It wasn’t that Amy didn’t want that sweet precious little girl…she wanted her to have everything that she, at age 16, couldn’t give her. My daughter is so blessed to have many, many people that love her unconditionally and beyond ignorance…she knows that she was “wanted” so desperately that she is one very special little girl.

  12. I am a birth mother, now aged 65. I can assure, what ever the circumstances were, a mother lives with constant regret and endless curiousity. I looked into every stranger’s face of the right age and sex, always wondering. Was my daughter happy? Healthy? Still alive? Now I know. IT’S BLISS….

  13. anonymous says:

    Hi Christina,

    Thank you for being so open about your most painful choice… that really took guts.

    Perhaps birth mothers may or may not have wanted their child… but the fact remains, adoptees are abandoned and their lives manipulated. Not only by the birth parents who relinquish, but also by the adoptive parents who say “your mine”‘ now. Adoptees aren’t usually given the room to grieve, the torment they’ve been put through. So, to have someone like your social studies teacher do what they did, must have been horrific. 😦 😦

    How do you know you’ll never meet your birth mother?


  14. Kenzie says:

    Never say never! I always said I would never ever meet my birth family and last year my birth mom found me and asked if I would meet her and my little siblings. My first reaction was to be angry but after a week I responded and we talked for a couple days before I decided to meet them. It has been the most amazing experience of my life. I love my little brother and sisters most than anything in the world and my birth mom is one of the people closest to me.

  15. In China parents relinquish children under high pressure. If they don’t do this familyplanning might come and take the child. Chinese adoptees all have in their papers stated that they were abandoned. In reality this was often not the case; families chose other families to raise their child, paid them for it and without them knowing it the fosterfamily brought the child to the orphanage. Also, there is the Chinese cultural preference for boys which makes that especially the paternal side of the family might make a child disappaer and tell the family that their child died. I believe there are quite a few Chinese families who believe their child has passed away but what they do not know is that their child might be alive and well, living in a country overseas. It is so very tragic. So, I always tell adoptees not to believe that their parents did not want them, on the contrary I believe you all were so very loved.

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