My experience: A mother’s story

First came a friend request on Facebook. Just another ‘I don’t even know you’ moment like so many others so I just ignored it. About a week later the postie was knocking on my door with a registered letter. My mind started racing, was this good news or bad? I looked at the return address and thought ‘I’ve seen that name before’. As I was opening the letter, I somehow just knew what it was about. I hesitated. After about 10 minutes I opened it and started reading. I nearly fell off my stool. Was this real? What a stupid question.  Who else would know about this? Such a lovely letter and there was a phone number too. Do I ring? When do I ring? OMG. The day I had waited for for years was here. I wasn’t prepared for this. I wondered how do you prepare for this? What would that look like? Well here goes.  Some small part of me was hoping he didn’t answer. ‘Hello?’  I stumbled to reply. ‘Umm, I just received your letter’. I’m thinking, what do I say now? Things progressed awkwardly for a bit but slowly got better. We both had so many questions, so much to say. He was so easy to talk to. That was a relief. He has always known about me and that he was adopted. I am so grateful to his mother for that. Here’s me wanting to explain everything and wishing it wasn’t so hard and emotional. How do I explain what I did? How am I 68 years old and don’t know how to deal with this? My thought processors weren’t helping me at all. I was like a little kid learning how to speak.

It’s been approx 9 months now. He lives in another state but we talk at least once a week on the phone. We have met face to face once. He and his family travelled over here to see his adoptive mother and then travelled to the country to see me for the afternoon. I met his wife and daughter. What a wonderful afternoon. Not nearly long enough. We are getting to know each other and it’s a wonderful work in progress. I have missed all the milestones in his life. There is no recovering from that. He sends me such beautiful messages and signs it ‘your son’. I hesitate to respond with ‘your mum’. I don’t want to take away from his adoptive mum. Could it be the shame I feel about what I did?  I was made to feel bad. My parents were embarrassed and not supportive. I had no one to talk to. I was not allowed to see or contact the father, the only one who would have supported and understood me and what I was going through. I was always made to feel ashamed and I guess that was so instilled in me at the time that it has followed me all my life. I hadn’t told anyone in my family or even my friends. I felt I would be judged.

I have hidden my emotions in the very back of my mind but my boy has always remained in the forefront. I guess I needed to do this to survive this awful time in my life. So many memories are coming back that have been suppressed. Memories I didn’t even realize that I had. All the  ‘what if’s. Was it my fault?  Why wasn’t I stronger and told them ‘no’?  Should I have said no to the pressure to surrender my baby?  Could I have said no? And so many missing pieces. My mum is dead now so I can’t even ask her, but would she tell me the truth? I know that she was part of the conspiracy. What right did she have to do this to me? She was only 17 when she had me.

The stigma from being pregnant at 16 was horrific. Not just from the so-called professional people involved in the adoption process but also from my parents, the staff at the hospital, the other mums in the maternity ward. No one EVER spoke to me. I was never asked how I felt, was I ok etc. I don’t even remember most of the birth but I do remember hearing the staff in the birthing room discussing putting me to sleep. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember. I was put in a ward with 5 mums who had their babies. My bed was at the far end of the room so that no one had to walk past me. The glares from those mothers felt like daggers. I just wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. Days and days being in there and feeling like a total outcast, like I had horns or something. Nothing can prepare you for this. Finally the day to go home was here. I had organised with the hospital staff to see my baby before I went home. Well ‘that wasn’t going to happen’ I was told. It wasn’t good to see him. I would only get upset. I kept insisting and they kept saying no. Eventually I told them that if I can’t see him I will tear the adoption papers up: instant action. I was taken into a small room where he was laying in a little crib wrapped in a blue blanket. I asked the nurse if I could hold him and was told a firm ‘No, he’s asleep’. So here we go again. I think they realized it would be in their best interests to let me. I held this tiny human, my baby, in my arms and just wanted to run. He was so tiny with jet black hair just like his dad. He didn’t wake up so I couldn’t tell the color of his eyes. I was so smitten with this darling little boy. I suddenly realized I made this baby. He was mine. I wanted to take him with me but he was swiftly taken from my arms and was gone. I remember walking away with my mum feeling numb. I was just so numb. And here’s my mum saying ‘He’ll be better off’. How do I tell my mum what I think about her right now?

And then it was business as usual. No recognition of what had happened at all from any one. I was left to deal with this all by myself. And so the process of not thinking about it began. Pushing memories away, far away. As time went on and life returned to some normality I allowed myself to wonder about him. Was he ok? Was he with a good family? Was he even still alive? So many times these thoughts would surface. I had thought about finding him in later years but what if he didn’t know he was adopted? It could shatter his world.

As I am writing this for the very first time ever, the tears just keep coming. I wonder what it would have been like if I hadn’t adopted him out. I question what sort of life he would have had with me as a single mum back then. Times were different and life would have been difficult but I reckon we could have blitzed it together. But then maybe not. I guess one consolation about all this is that I was able to give the gift of a new life to people who would never have been able to have that experience.

We are moving forward now and continue to stay in touch. His family has accepted that I am in his life. I still feel awkward though. A bit like a third wheel. His mother and I have exchanged letters and hopefully we will meet one day. For me, this is the best outcome from a horrible experience. I am so grateful that he wanted to find me and did. Others have not been so fortunate.