Friday, April 24, 2015

An opportunity to be heard

A while ago I asked mothers of adoption loss if they would like to be included in this painting. I added their names and the birthdays of their lost children. Since then I've done a number of other paintings, written narrative poetry to go with the pieces and did a book called Silent Voices.

Now I have a wonderful opportunity to continue this series of work about adoption and share it with the public in an upcoming exhibit at the 567 Center for Renewal art center in Macon GA. The exhibit will be in April 2016. My plan for the exhibit includes 14 large paintings (13 of them are done, the birthday candle painting will be included), a series of collages and a display of boxes. My plan for the collage work is to include handwritten stories from other natural mothers and also have some sheets of paper that are blank so people visiting the exhibit can add their own voices to the display.

My dear mom friends out there.... would you be willing to add your voice to this exhibit? This is a chance to have our voices heard. Showing at an art center with an exhibit that focuses solely on adoption loss from the mother's point of view is a rare thing indeed. I'd love to include as many of you as possible. Let's share our stories. Too many people have no idea what infant adoption does to the original family.

If you would like to participate, let me know in the comments. You can leave your story in the comments too and I'll write it out on paper but I would love to have your hand, your touch on that paper and then I'll make it part of the collage. You don't have to write a long thing- a paragraph or two would be perfect. You could write about any aspect of adoption. How did losing a child to adoption impact your life? How has it affected the rest of your family? What were the circumstances around the adoption? Were you able to hold your baby before relinquishing? Was it a closed or open adoption? Did you have to keep the adoption secret? These are just a few ideas.....

We can get in touch through email or you can message me on FB and thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope you'll consider adding your words. It would make the exhibit so much more powerful!

Saturday, March 21, 2015



Hand print ghosts in blue and green
fingers curl around colors
brows furrowed in concentration
making pictures never to be seen
watercolor strokes
tulips and bees
orange suns and lollipop trees
 adorn the fridge
footsteps pitter patter
paint splatters
childhood goes on in another universe
locked away from the dreaming heart

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Speaking for us again

You know..... I see articles like this and I go through such a range of emotions. I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to punch somebody, I want to laugh, I just smh. Once again an adopter is speaking for us. Once again an adopter thinks she knows what we think, what we feel and what she thinks we should do - such as "move on" from our grief.

First of all, I wish they would stop calling us "birthmothers". They are mothers, I am a mother. Period. She writes of a mother's experience after giving birth....

"They may feel a surge of connection to him, as well as pride, sadness, and grief."

May feel? Ya think? Yeah, maybe she'll be sad that she's losing her first born child. Maybe, just maybe, she'll feel connected to this little person she just grew in her womb. The child she shares cells with, a child who carries her DNA, a child she's nurtured and loved within her body for the last 9 months. It's utterly baffling to me how people can make such statements. 

"Adoptive parents who experienced the grief of infertility may use that experience to empathize with their baby’s birth mother. One mother told her child’s birth mother at the delivery, “I am sorry you are going through so much pain. I wish I could go through labor for you.”

I've talked about this before and some people may not like what I have to say but.... gonna say it anyway. When grieving infertility the grief is real, it hurts, I get that and I'm not trying to minimize it but it's grieving what could have been- what will not happen. It's grieving an imaginary child, the child that will never be. When a mother is grieving the loss of her baby to adoption she is grieving the loss of an actual child- a living, breathing human being. They are both grief, they are both real but they are completely different. I don't know what it feels like to feel the grief of the infertile and I won't pretend to. An adopter who is infertile has no idea the level of grief a mother deals with. She can't grasp what it is to carry a child and feel that child kicking and moving within. She can't grasp the sacred connection a mother has to her own flesh and blood. She can try to empathize but she will never know. I appreciate an effort to empathize but not when she still feels entitled to take the baby from his mother.

"I wish I could go through labor for you"?  She says she cares so much about the mother that she wishes she could go through the labor for her. BS! If she cared so much about the mother she would ask that mother what she could do for her to clear whatever obstacles are in the way of that mother taking care of her own baby! But of course that won't happen. That would interfere with her being able to take that child from the mother. She says things like this so she can show concern but still she thinks she's entitled to take the baby home and raise him as her own.

"Following a period of emotional chaos and grief, most birth mothers reach a level of acceptance in their lives. As your child’s birth mother becomes more at peace with her decision, she may gain renewed energy for her current life, and more clarity about her role as a birth parent and her relationship to you."

Reach a level of acceptance? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. How does she know what most mothers do? Mothers don't reach acceptance, they learn to hide the grief, they learn to hold in the tears and let them go when no one is watching, they learn to function so they can go to work everyday. In an open adoption they learn to cover up and keep silent so the adopters don't see it and decide she shouldn't have contact with her child anymore. She learns to be the good girl so she can, if she's lucky, stay in the adopters good graces because they hold all the power.

"While each contact may reawaken some of her feelings of loss, most birth mothers report that these contacts help them to move on from the sadness and be more productive in their lives."

The loss isn't reawakened, it's always awake. Every minute of every day for the rest of a mother's life. That doesn't mean a mother doesn't have a productive and fulfilling life, even a happy one. It just means that the loss is always with her. The lost child is not replaced with the birth of more children or a fabulous career or anything else the mother might do. There is no getting around that and reunion doesn't fix it. You don't just "move on" from the loss of a child. 

And why do they feel the need to tell us to move on? Did they just move on from the loss of their fertility? Did they say- "well it wasn't meant to be that I have children so maybe I should focus on volunteering or fostering children"? No. They jump through hoops, pay a lot of money to the industry, have business cards made that they can hand out to pregnant women who aren't wearing wedding rings, hire people to design slick full color brochures advertising themselves as better than mothers who are poor, in a bad situation or are just unsure of themselves, place ads on Craigslist and use crowd funding to get other people to help them buy a baby. 

Adopters, please stop. Stop telling us to move on. Stop telling other adopters how to help mothers leave their children.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Am I a hero?

This post got me thinking.... am I a hero?

What does a hero look like? Does it look like a woman who is pregnant, young and not at all sure about what comes next? Does it look like someone who surrendered to pressure because she didn't have the finances or the strength to back her up? Does it look like someone who surrendered to the pressure of family and church because those people believed that having a child outside of "wedlock" was morally wrong and the child is then illegitimate and doesn't deserve to be included in the family? Does it look like someone who didn't have anywhere else to turn? Does that make me a hero?

According to the woman who wrote that post, we- meaning the mothers who bore children and were unable to keep those children-, we are heroes. What's wrong with that picture?

Not having choices does not make anyone a hero. It makes them simply choiceless. It makes them people who are doing what they have to do to survive. It makes them people who have to carry on in the face of grief that they're expected to live with regardless of how other people view the situation or how horrendous that grief is. It makes them people who carry on even though they want to just curl up in a ball and die.

Like the woman who wrote that post, the woman who adopted my daughter thanked me one day for giving her the gift of my daughter. I replied with- "she wasn't a gift, I didn't give her willingly. I was forced" There was silence on the other end of the phone. The subject was quickly changed.

Adopters are saviors and first mothers are heroes. This is what the adoption industry would have us believe. This is what they bank on. This is what keeps the bottom line healthy.