A WORTHY VOICE: “I’ll take it to my grave.”

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.


8 thoughts on “A WORTHY VOICE: “I’ll take it to my grave.”

  1. Very worth sharing, I pray her daughter will see this and others who may gain an understanding of “the baby scoop” era. I lived it in 1966 and though I am happily reunited after a 15 yr search, I like Deborah will take it to my grave. In the meantime I will fight for family preservation and equal access to Original Birth Certificates for those adopted.


  2. I appreciate hearing these stories, because as an adoptee from the closed era, it helped me to understand a lot about my birthmother, both before and after I found her, by hearing voices like this talk about their experiences. While adoption may have been the only possible choice for me, and while I adored my parents and had a wonderful life with them, I did have to grapple with the knowledge that it came at a very steep price for her. It may be difficult to know, but understanding is always better than not. Thank you for sharing Jesse, and thank you Angela for allowing us to read her words.


  3. Such a mixture of emotions from reading this post. Thank you for bringing all sides of adoption to a common place of healing.:)


  4. I know Jesse feels the rejection from her daughter. I can relate because I had a relationship with my mother from the age of 27 to about 38, and then the wheels came off and I could not handle the pressures from my adoptive parents and felt other pressures, so I put her out of my life without much explanation. Life got too hard and everyone needed me too much. It is hard to internalize, but I would bet that this young woman struggles with who she is and who her mother needs her to be even if her mother is not putting on any demands. It’s so hard to feel like the object of everyone’s focus and desire….

    All that being said, I know it is devastating for Jesse, and I am so sorry for that.


  5. I hesitated to click “like” on this page, since there is nothing TO like about this situation, but I did want to up your blog-stats so more people might find and read this heartbreaking, beautifully articulated post.

    I am so sorry that this has been your reality for your entire adult life – and is the reality of most birth mothers and adoptees. So many changes needed in our society and the rapidity with which we judge others without “walking a mile in their shoes.”

    While not *directly* relevant to the first article in my Diagnosis and Grief series, I will be backlinking it so that perhaps those whose diagnostic grief is complicated by factors like your might find some comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

    BEAUTIFULLY expressed. My heart goes with you.
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    (blogs: ADDandSoMuchMore, ADDerWorld & ethosconsultancynz – dot com)
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”


  6. Thank you so much for sharing this! I think what people want to believe about adoption and what is reality are two totally different things. Adoption is a beautiful example of both the bitter and the sweet, as well as a testimony to God’s grace in both circumstances. We eat, live and breath this daily – it is impossible to explain our reality without stepping into our world. I’m always so grateful when people are willing to express candidly about their emotions from both sides of the fence. I’m also looking forward to watching the documentary soon! =) God Bless! ~Erika


  7. Thank you for sharing, I can only imagine how my birth mother felt as her 5 children were either given up for adoption or taken by the state. This happened over a long period of time. She was not able to care for us properly so she did what was best for us by giving us up for adoption. I was always told for as long as I can remember that I was adopted and to look at it in a beautiful perspective. When I was 16 I decided that I wanted to start looking for my birth family. My adopted mother told me she was very willing to help me and together we searched the internet, newspapers, etc. in hopes of finding my birth family. I was traveling to my adopted sister’s house with a friend and when I arrived my adopted mother called to tell me that she found a member of the family and that I needed to call a phone number she gave me. I remember sitting on the stairs and I was so nervous to dial that number. My great grandmother answered the phone and told me that my oldest birth sister was home on Christmas break from college. I got to talk to both of them and within the next two years I met a lot of my birth family. Unfortunately, I did not get to me my birth parents as my mother passed years before and my birth father was a predator. I still have contact with some of the family and only wish I could have contact with more. My family understand how I feel and are very accepting of the whole situation. I wanted to let you know as an adopted child I understand your hurt and compassion on both sides.


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