The Measure of a Mommy
I saw this postcard on Postsecret.com last week. I am guessing that it may have been submitted by someone who placed a child for adoption. It's impossible to know why this particular adoption was closed but it's clear that someone was deeply hurt by this action.
I keep in touch with my daughter's birthmom via email. She lives out of state, but we do have an open adoption. We signed a communication agreement when A was born, but it is not legally binding (I believe such agreements are legally binding in some states; just not in ours). We have always been willing to honor it. I must confess that when my daughter was born, at times I felt conflicted as far as how much interaction we would have with her birth family in the years ahead of us. In the beginning, we had quite a few visits and spoke on the phone regularly. At the time, I was learning how to care for (and bond with) an infant. I loved and respected J and wanted to do right by her and the baby, but I also had a need to solidify the bonds of our newly-formed little family. I understood that A's birthmom was grieving and that it was important that I do my best to be supportive. There is no handbook for these things, so we muddled through.
People have funny ideas about women who choose to make an adoption plan for their child. My daughter's birthmom never asked us for money or anything else (well, she asked for photos, a request that certainly seems more than reasonable to me). She was not a drug addict or an alcoholic, nor was she promiscuous. Nor was she a teenager. She was simply a young woman who was going through some tough times eight years ago (severed relationship with the baby's father, not-so-great job prospects, etc.) Today, she is married and is raising three sons. I know she loves A and thinks about her every single day.
Sometimes, when people find out that J and I keep in touch they say, "Oh, I don't know if I could do that." My mom gets a little nervous about A sending letters to her birthmom. She worries that maybe one day her beloved granddaughter will reject our family in favor of her birth family. Although I fully expect that when my daughter is a teenager, she will slam doors and dramatically inform me that I am the "worse mother ever," I know I'll still be her mom (and her Meemaw will still be her Meemaw). She will always be a part of me and she will always be a part of her birthmom. These relationships are not mutually exclusive. Plus, there simply would be no purpose served if I restricted my daughter from contacting her birth family.
When someone changes your life and gives you, you know, a human being to raise, I figure the least you can do is to treat that person well.* Fortunately for me, my daughter's birthmom is a very likable person (I don't have to pretend to like her, in other words). I have no reason on earth not to keep in touch with her. Plus, I am very proud of my daughter and want her birthmom to know how awesome this kid is so that she can be proud of her, too. I tell J how well the kid is doing in school, how she talks too much, etc.
While I cannot say that my current line of thinking evolved overnight . . . in the end, I know I must stand on my own merits as a mom. Whether I am good at this mothering business or whether I royally suck at it, restricting other people from having a relationship with my daughter will not enhance my resume in any way.
All I know is that when I look at the curly-haired girl who lives in my house, she who will not get up on time, she who farts at the dinner table, she who is so smart and beautiful and sassy . . . I feel like the luckiest person ever.**
*I acknowledge that such a relationship is not beneficial or perhaps not possible in cases where abuse/neglect/drugs have been involved. OR, where the birth family has decided that "no contact" would be preferred.
**I apologize for the schmaltzy sentiment. I promise to go back to my law-breaking ways in my next post.