Mother’s Day can be a very confusing time for adoptees/ relinquishees. Why? Because our lives are complex. Our relationships, or lack of relationships, are complex. But isn’t that true for anyone? Absolutely!
What can complicate things further for adoptees/ relinquishees is that we have additional relationships – we have two mothers: a birth/biological mother, and an adoptive mother. Depending upon where an adoptee/relinquishee is in her/his development process, there can be many unresolved issues around being adopted/ relinquished that surface almost at any time, but can be very emotionally powerful on Mother’s Day.
Here’s a passage from my memoir Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth to illustrate just how complex things can be:
My mother had dark hair and olive skin. She was beautiful, the sort of a woman who stood out in the crowd, almost movie star-like with her strong, yet feminine, features. Her smile was a smile that knew things—a smile of former sadness that eventually metamorphosed into contentment, happiness even.
My mother was a red-headed beauty from the University of Wisconsin. She had freckles and blue eyes like me. A smile full of sparks, girly mischief. Later it was a crooked, tragic smile. She was a deadly fire compared to my adoptive mother’s stillness like calm water.
The former mother was the mother who held me on her lap, seven days after I was born; the latter mother gave birth to me, then relinquished me. I went from being unwanted to being doted on; the banished baby, then the most-fussed-about baby.
Adoption is forever. It is not unusual for an adoptee to be challenged throughput his/her life with issues around abandonment, rejection, loss, grief, shame, and identity.
Again from my memoir Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth:
There are always going to be questions, things I won’t know. I will never know the intense pain she felt as she hemorrhaged and lost a lot of blood two days after I was born. I will never know my adoptive mother’s fearful joy as she maybe held me in her arms for the first time. I will never know my biological mother’s grief—or relief—as she placed me in some strange social worker’s hands.
Complex unknowns and emotions? Absolutely! Insurmountable? Absolutely not. It is certainly my responsibility to accept myself and my narrative so that I can find peace within myself, and hopefully fulfillment in my relationships. Though it sometimes takes an immense amount of ongoing work to do so, that’s ok. And I’ve learned to anticipate some of those difficult days, like Mother’s Day.
And sharing my narrative helps me to do both – anticipate the emotions and process the emotions. Thank you for allowing me to do so.
I wish all the Moms out there a Happy, Safe, and Healthy Mother’s Day, including my moms: Karen and Joan.
David B. Bohl, a.k.a. Baby Boy Bender
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