I was so grateful to have received a beautifully honest post submission from Jesse, a birthmother. Her voice is worthy to be heard. These are her words:
It was 1958, I was 16 years old when I had my daughter. I came from a white, middle-class family – no one expected this from me. I couldn’t even tell my family. I am now 72 years old and I finally understand that all those years of therapy and trying to resolve that grief just wasn’t going to happen. While watching the documentary, Closure, I lost my breath hearing your birthmother, Deborah say; “I’ll take it to my grave.” I now accept that the pain and anguish will go with me to my grave too, just like Deborah. I understood Deborah’s secrecy. I also understood her family’s anger with her for not trusting them with The Big Secret. Explaining the lifelong grief and pain that comes with losing your baby is a hard thing to explain for anyone. After searching for my daughter for 30 years, I finally found her 5 years ago! She denied any contact. I learned that she is a professional musician (jazz pianist) in Chicago, this is beautiful because I also play jazz piano and my mother and both my grandmothers were classical pianists. It is so sad that she has no idea where her music comes from. I was able to see her at one of her performances a few years ago – anonymously, of course. I sat just 15 feet away from her and watched her incredible talent for a couple of hours, then I got up and left without approaching her. It was hard, indeed, but just seeing her face made the huge, gaping hole in my chest a little smaller. I know she is well and doing what she loves.
My wish is that people – especially adoptive parents – are educated about the totality of adoption, including the dark side. Some adoption agencies see people like me (and the other women in my birthmother group) as being bitter, angry birth mothers. We may be that at times, but losing your child for any reason is life-altering and not in a good way. People who lose a child due to a death have support and support groups there for them to work through their grief as much as they can. Birthmothers are not allowed to grieve, we have no support sometimes, and in my generation, we were supposed to be quiet and disappear. So we’re left with unresolved grief which manifests in depression, substance abuse, failed relationships, etc. I know I did the right thing in relinquishing my daughter but it was not a choice. There was no choice – as it is for most of us, whether due to youth, poverty, family or societal pressure, or religious pressure.