Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Coming Out of the Closet: "I'm a Birth Mom!"

There I said it!

Sometimes people don't even know what that means. I have had to explain so many times what a Birth Mom is. I placed my firstborn child for adoption. One time I had a midwife just not getting it. So I continued and continued to try to explain it. By the end we were both sweating.

It really must be that uncommon...or maybe birth parents are just underrepresented.

What's the balance between not defining who I am based on this title and yet honoring that it is a significant part of who I am?

When I got hired at CCU to be the RD I remember in my interview answering honestly to what I had been doing the past few years since undergrad. I said I had a baby that I placed for adoption and I needed to take some time to heal so I worked for a year as a waitress and a substitute teacher and lived with my parents to save money and to focus on healing emotionally. The responses from the interview team varied but I remember the lady who would become my boss saying that she would expect me not to share that with the CCU students. (Shame Inducing Statement) Of course, I knew that the goal would not be to share it with every student but what was I suppose to do with my pictures of my firstborn? I didn't want to hide them because that felt like I had done something wrong.

When I had to sit across from the Dean of Student Development at Anderson University (a man I deeply respected and babysat for) to share with him the news of my unplanned pregnancy which was particularly relevant to him as I was the Director of New Student Orientation that was to take place in just four weeks from that time I will never forget his response. He prayed for me and he said "Priscilla, I believe this is going to be a redeemed story in your life." What a profound statement. Thank you God, it is! But I have been shy to tell it. I fear others' responses. I fear being misunderstood or even judged. I hear comments that were made to me when I chose adoption for my firstborn. "You are a disgrace to our family!...How dare you name your daughter Grace!" "I can't help it that you don't WANT your daughter!" "God has told me you are making the wrong decision!" And honestly I could go on with that list. No matter how hard I try to forget I still hear all of those judgmental statements in my head.

One of the greatest conundrums I have found in regarding sharing this description of myself as a Birth Mom is that that title and what that means to me is one of the most precious things in my heart and in my life. The way I feel about my firstborn and the way I feel as a Birth Mom is so precious that I feel completely naked every time I share it with someone for the first time. I put open myself up to be judged, criticized, and even misunderstood. Sometimes I am not strong enough to put those false accusations to rest. When I am weak I wonder if people are right?

I have to constantly bring myself back to the truth:
  • I am a Birth Mom to beautiful 8 1/2 year old girl.
  • I have the privilege of sharing in her life through open adoption.
  • I don't have to feel shame about my unplanned pregnancy. I know that God forgave me.
  • I don't have to feel ashamed of my decision. I made the best decision I knew to make at that specific time in my life, with my specific circumstances.
  • I don't have any control of what ultimately comes from this situation. I pray that my firstborn will not feel abandoned by her birth family. I pray she will know she was and is loved and was never unwanted.
  • The truth is always best. My firstborn knows who I am. She is still gaining a complete understanding of it. My son, Simon and any future children will always know the truth of our family. I want my children to know all of who their Mom is.
When I became a Pregnancy and Adoption Counselor at Catholic Charities, it was understood that I wouldn't share my with clients that I am a Birth Mom. And I agreed with this from a professional perspective. But I also realize that nine years later, I have largely hidden this aspect of my life from people. In the most recent years, I have tried to practice just mentioning it when it's appropriate. I don't always correct people when they refer to the number of children I have or the number of pregnancies I have had incorrectly. I don't always tell people but I am starting to try to integrate this as naturally as I can into my life. It's been freeing.

Every time I get pregnant, I just become overwhelmed, almost consumed with thoughts about adoption and being a birth parent. I think it just stirs my heart thinking about to my first pregnancy and delivery experience and all of the raw emotions and stories that come with that. I really believe I need to share my story, all of it. From this point on, I am going to shamelessly practice writing about this on our blog. It just might end up in a book, even if it's never published.


Megan Bernardez said...

Priscilla, thank you for sharing. I enjoy reading your blog and insights. I think that's an incredibly brave thing to do and to share, and I've always looked up to you as an incredible woman of God. Truly you are, and I pray the Lord continues to bless you and your family!

Katie K said...

If we lived close to each other, I would totally want my family to be all up in your family's space. :) You are a woman who really encourages me as a disciple. Thanks for your honesty, it's a great thing!

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