Letting Go and Moving On: A Birth Mom Myth


I never “let go” or “moved on” from losing my daughter.

Apparently, that was something I was supposed to do. It was expected of me from the agency, my parents, my extended family, my pastor, and society.

Having no other birth mom friends, I believed myself incredibly selfish and broken for not “moving on” from my daughter. What was wrong with me? I was supposed to move on as if nothing happened. I was supposed to be happy for her and her fairytale life. I was supposed to return to who I could never be again.

I was selfish for wanting to keep her while not being married. And here I was being selfish again, not “letting go” and “moving on” now that she had this “better” life without me. A double-whammy. They say other moms let go and move on from their babies. Why can’t you, selfish girl?

I did get married. I had a stillborn.

And people showered me in condolences, and food, and mementos, and visits.

People told me that the worst thing in the world was to lose a child.

My mother, the very one who coordinated the adoption of her first grandchild and never spoke of her again, bought me books about grieving miscarriages and stillborns. She had acquaintances write me heartfelt letters about their miscarriages and stillborns in an effort to give me a support group.

I had a son. I had another daughter. I had another daughter.

There are moments every day that I study them. Whether they’re sitting in my lap or busy at play. I study their faces, their personalities, their mannerisms.

And I wonder what deranged world I live in for anyone to tell a mother she could or should ever “let go” or “move on” from the loss of her precious child?

Let Go.

Move On.

Words of a psychopathic culture.

It’s hard having to live like a psychopath when you are, in fact, not a psychopath. (I’ve been in trauma therapy a few years, my therapist insists that I’m not one)

It would probably be much easier to be a birth mom if I were a psychopath. Maybe that should be the first question adoption facilitators ask moms. Are you a psychopath? Yes? Then this should be a walk in the park for you. No? Then you’re going to find the “letting go” and “moving on” part a bit more difficult. Like therapy for a number of years more difficult. Like in 20 years the most trivial things will trigger you more difficult.

For many years, what put me to sleep were fantasies of a long-awaited embrace. She would turn 18, and as they promised, she would be back. We would run towards one another in a crowded airport. Pictures would be taken. People would be clapping and cheering. Those were good thoughts to put a restless mind to sleep.

It’s been 19 years. No airport. No embrace. She’s living her life as she should be.

I no longer rely on the fantasies to put me to sleep.

But some nights, I do wish to be a psychopath.



18 thoughts on “Letting Go and Moving On: A Birth Mom Myth

  1. I love your comparison of the sanctioned types of grieving with regard to losing a child. Why is it that a still birth elicits so much compassion but people can dismiss and even glorify the pain associated with relinquishing? My example of this from the adoptee perspective is how the tragedy of separating mother and child is ignored, dismissed and glorified yet when a story breaks about babies who were switched at birth and sent home with THE WRONG mothers, there doesn’t seem to be any difficulty recognizing and validating the tragic nature of this situation! And the need for the switched child to meet their actual mother is 100% expected, encouraged and in fact seen as required from all parties. The tragedy for all involved is inherently understood. Yet in adoption that separation isn’t given the same weight of importance. Relinquishing is called brave and heroic. And the icing on the cake is that the complexities of navigating the subsequent steps is not blamed on the “ungrateful”child who had no say in the matter. None of the parties seem to have the layers of shame toward going forward in reunion. It is highly suspect to me that in the case of switched infants the concept of The Wrong Mother is so easily understood and grieving is sanctioned.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I don’t know. There are all these rules to follow with acceptable grieving and it seems like the rules are constantly changing.
      I know that the online adoption community has probably at times literally saved my life. It’s so important that we continue to talk about the grief that permeates adoption. Others talking brought me out of my silence and solitude. Validation is so important in grief. Losing your family- a mother- a child- should never be something to be shamed into silence about.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Great points. In addition to relinquishing being “brave and heroic”, it’s also seen by others as a choice. Others believe that the pain birthmothers feel after relinquishing is deserved because we made a choice to separate ourselves from our children. Still births, miscarriage, at-birth switches, infant deaths – all of these are tragic accidents. Because they weren’t chosen paths, they apparently deserve to be mourned more than chosen relinquishment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. We did the “right” thing by relinquishing our child in a usually temporary crisis. It makes us “brave” and “selfless” until we can no longer carry the yoke of pain. Then we’re child abandoners and deserve to suffer.
        We live in a psychopathic culture.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. This was an incredible post. I’ll be thinking of it for quite a while…my husband and I are expecting our first child this year. It’s my first child since I relinquished my firstborn 11 years ago. This post validated some of the feelings I’ve been wondering about as we enter this journey of parenthood. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think having more children awakened me even more to what I had been subjected to. It’s a joy to be a mother, but with adoption, there are times that it can be very triggering. Congratulations and just give yourself grace and space.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I am a birth mother who was made to relinquish a beautiful baby girl in 1968. I was told in no uncertain terms to get over it and stop moping. I was told to get married and I’d have “proper children”. I did get married and has another daughter followed two years later a son.I Have never stopped thinking and worrying about my first born. Both my 2nd daughter and son have known about their big sister since they were in primary school. I have always had a photo of my firstborn on display in my home and tell people who ask, who she is. I have met her and now have photos of her as an adult. She did not want to betray her adoptive parents so contact with me is now through FB. I think of my firstborn as much as I think about my 2nd daughter and son. Time does not heal having as my father put it a couple of replacements does not heal. I look at the two I was allowed to raise because I had a gold ring on the 3rd finger of my left hand a lovely husband who is very supportive and wonder did my lost one look like that or do that and probably millions of other thoughts. The wound I received on the day a social worker took her out of my arms and laid her in a carry cot with a bag full of clothes I’d bought and things I’d knitted is just as painful today as it was 50 years ago. I could go on but I am getting too tearful.
    good luck everyone you are not alone. XX

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They knew that advise wouldn’t work on me. They said you can forget, I chose to forget the rape. They said if you try to keep she will be taken immediately. They said here’s an intimidating court, they said now don’t try to find her. I wonder what they said to her that she’s too scared to find what she needs

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am adoptee, the other part in the equation who “they” expect to be psychopaths too. “You’re fine.” “You have a ‘nice’ family now.” “Your mom was a whore.” “She didn’t want you.” We are not allowed to feel either.

    Notice “they” are never the ones who are or will be touched by either side of this grief? Easy to call out from the cheap seats, while we’re the ones in the arena bleeding.

    Thank you for this. I am so sorry this has been your experience. You deserved to grieve. In fact, you deserved to be shown support to keep your baby. That is a dream of mine – to open homes for moms in crisis where adoption’s grip can’t get them.

    Bless you. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t know who you are but I was researching to write my story and found that you have already wrote my story. 😭😭😭
    I truly believed no one who have it….
    But here we are. Hi, I’m Jodi. Nice to meet you. Sending a big hug, I’m going to cry some more now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh Jodi. You’re not alone. I thought I was for so long. But it turns out- there are lots of us. And most of us have a very similar story. Which then makes you realize it was all planned and you and your child were pawns in the game. They never thought we’d find each other on social media. If you blog- I would love to follow. Hugs to you.

      Liked by 1 person

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