The Adoption Interview Project ~ Making it Real, Part One: Meet Andrea… Birth Mom

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust

Growth, something I seek—in part to more fully support my children as they navigate what it means to have been adopted. I have chosen to develop a deeper understanding of and expand my compassion for as many integral pieces of their life journeys as I can.

One course of action has been to open up dialogue with those that have direct “roles” in and have had their lives forever altered by adoption—adults who have been adopted and birth parents. This ongoing need to dialogue brought me to participate in The Adoption Interview Project, an initiative created by Heather Schade, who is a mom through open domestic adoption and is the caretaker of the Open Adoption Bloggers, a network of writers from all sides of adoption.

As I outlined in my post on November 9th, the purpose of The Adoption Interview Project is to shed some insight, differing views and perspectives about the complexities of adoption. I am thrilled to participate and have been randomly paired with Andrea, a birth mother who recently relinquished her son.

Andrea and I have been exchanging emails for several weeks. I have found her to be thoughtful, intelligent, warm, and caring. We’ve had discussion about the often-held misinformation and stereotypes of our capacities: birth mother and adoptive mother.

My hope is that by reading this interview with Andrea, you will come to discover much. In her blog, Andrea doesn’t hold back when expressing her emotions. And she certainly is open about her story, albeit (and rightly so) the names have been changed. The rawness of what she has been dealing with and the love for her son comes through. As a woman and a mother—who has given birth and adopted—I feel the essence of what she expresses.

Andrea adds profound humanity, voice and weight; the “shadowy” birth mother image fades. She is real. She is grieving. And she loves her son.

I’m going back to your original post, Onewhere you state, “I am new to blogging but figure it could be helpful.” I know you continue to grieve. Have you found that blogging is helping you to process your feelings about your son, his birth father and your decisions?

I have really enjoyed blogging. I am not sure how many people actually read it, but I find a great deal of comfort in knowing that my words are out there and I am not so alone.  I am still sad and it still hurts but it hurts a lot less to at least get my feelings out there. I often treat it like my journal but mostly I like the idea that others can read it and see that there is more to being a birth parent than the stereotypes we often get labeled with. I don’t know that anyone will actually ever read it but I like the idea of it.  I also like that I can do it without ever revealing who I really am. Some day I may be ready for that step but for right now I would prefer most people I know in real life not know about my adoption. Even though they may not be as judgmental as I fear, I am not ready to take that step and be completely open about my adoption.

How emotionally prepared and supported were you by the agency you worked with prior to, during and after relinquishing your son?

I have very mixed emotions about the agency I went through.  On one hand they were great, they took care of me when I was unable to care for myself.  Ericka, the woman who works with birth mothers is a very sweet and caring person and I am glad to have met her.  I always felt that she went above and beyond what was required of her. On the other hand though it is a for-profit agency and their goal is to make successful placements.  It’s a double-edged sword.  I often feel that there should be some sort of birth mother advocate that is involved in adoption.

While I was lucky to have a very supportive adoptive couple behind me I am not sure that all women will have that same luxury. It’s like there is an added guilt factor that I don’t believe is intentional, but there are two people that you have come to know and trust and have provided for you with the expectation of placing your child with them.  You know that if you don’t place it will not only have accepted their help but you are going back on your promise to them when they have lived up to their promise to you.  I was very lucky that I have such wonderful people that never made me feel that way but I have a strong suspicion that is not the norm.  I read a quote from another agency that it is good to build that bond because it is less likely that a woman will change her mind after having the baby, as she doesn’t want to disappoint the waiting couple. It just came across as very unethical.

You have an open adoption with your son’s adoptive parents. What is the best part about being in an open adoption? The most difficult? How do you manage boundaries? What has the response been about what you share in your blog?

The best part is while I may never be his mother I still get to be in his life.  I like to think of all the things I hope to one day show him and it’s really what keeps me going.  I love the idea of taking him roller-skating some day, or taking him down a slide in my lap.  It is those happy pictures in my mind that keep me going.

The most difficult part of it is that there all these day to day things I see him doing that I wish I could do with him.  I won’t see him take his first steps.  I won’t hear his first words.  It saddens me and also makes me jealous.

As for boundaries, I gave Chuck and Melissa access to my blog because I want them to know that part of me too.  I also want them to feel comfortable with what is being written on the Internet about them. As for communication I try and take my cues from them.  I try not to email them unless they email me first. (I slip up from time to time though) I have their phone number, but I don’t think I have called them since before little man was born.  It’s all so new that I often worry about pestering them.  I don’t want the open adoption to become a chore for them.  I want it to be a good functional relationship that they enjoy having as much as I do.  I really wish there were more books about this life as a birth mother, but there most likely won’t be because no two birth parent adoptive parent relationships are alike.

Overall I think they enjoy it.  They often will comment on things that I write.  Particularly when I go off on tangents about things out of nowhere like I did with tort reform.  The only tough part is they often want to act on things and that is never my intention when I write.  I don’t want them to feel like they need to try and help me every time I write about something I am struggling with.  I know that they only do it because they care.  I just worry that it will strain our relationship and I never want that.

** Please check back tomorrow for Part Two of this interview. And please, share this with your friends. Thanks from The International Mom and Mama Andrea!


Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Advocacy, Events, Grief, Loss, Multicultural Families, The International Mom

6 responses to “The Adoption Interview Project ~ Making it Real, Part One: Meet Andrea… Birth Mom

  1. Pingback: 2011 Wrap-Up | The International Mom's Blog

  2. Pingback: The Adoption Interview Project: Making It Real, Part Two: More with Andrea… | The International Mom's Blog

  3. I enjoyed Andrea’s answers about the good and the difficult parts of being a birth mother in an open adoption.

    Looking forward to part 2!

  4. er, nuanced interview. i am sure your emails are nuanced and lovely as well. clearly i need more coffee! -kate

    • Hi Kate,
      Coffee sure seems to help me! Never begin a day without it. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I think the Project is a wonderful concept and I’m thrilled to be part of it.

  5. Thank you for your lovely and nuanced email. As a birthmother, I really appreciate your compassionate approach. Your blog is great! I am so glad that I came across it through this project. I look forward to reading your interview as well. -kate

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