I think everyone remembers the cute book titled “Are You My Mother?”, a book that explores adoption in a way that no one really thinks twice about. This little creature goes from one animal to the next asking if they are their mother.
Unlike this book, I knew who my mother was but not until much later in life. I had no contact with her and all my documents point to someone who is a complete stranger to me. So to wonder who my mother was at the very core can keep me and other adoptees filled with anxiety.
Understanding mothers is a complex concept because though I was not raised by the woman who gave me life, the person who played the role was toxic. Just like me not knowing or understanding who my biological mother was, I had no idea who this other woman was either.
One day she was kind and loving and the next day she used manipulation and anger to get me to do what she wanted or needed at the time. I could never get to her core. What was she all about? Why was she the person she was? How did we get here?
When you grow up, you start to see your caregivers as just regular human beings. Though they are filled with flaws, you still find yourself protecting them and standing up for them.
My birthmother died without me in her arms. She could not take the pain of me not being part of her life. And as a result, other families members died emotionally. My only sister was in her teens when ,my mother passed so all the trauma of not having her little sister around stunted her psychologically. My brothers seemed to handle the situation differently. But I was not part of them and they were not part of my vernacular during days like these; mother’s day.
We celebrated this woman from head to toe. The idea that I had to lose everything to gain something was not really a conversation we had at the table. I hid my feelings away, I put them in the pocket of my soul. You see, during Mother’s Day, I didn’t want the person who was raising me to feel like I didn’t love her or want to celebrate this special day with her. I just always wanted to celebrate the person who brought me into this world. I do not recall ever doing this.
When I look at old photos of me taken with my blood mother, I cringe because they do not look authentic; they look forced. My mother appeared to be forced to smile when the picture was being taken. I can’t imagine what went through her mind. Smiling? My daughter is gone….without my consent….how am I supposed to smile?
I’m pregnant with my first biological child and there is nothing more I want to do than to meet him and tell him who I am. I will stare into his beautiful eyes and remind him how much I love him. I will tell him how I will care for him and always listen to how he feels and when/if I don’t, I want him to tell me I messed up. I can’t for the life of me begin to imagine what it would be like to have him apart from me. The concept of not raising the child I birthed is scary and should not be anyone’s reality. And yet it is. And it has been seen as normal.
I’m not talking about a village raising a child. I’m talking about colonialism, white supremacy, elitism, money, religion, etc. All of these things contribute to mothers losing their children. Poverty should NEVER be a good enough reason to not be allowed to raise your own child.
And should we talk about fathers? What role do they play in relinquishing the children to strangers? For the most part, they have no say at all. It is unfortunate that the courts don’t view fathers as caregivers. My father could have cared for me. My mother also could have cared for me had she known that I was taken. So who is my mother?
My mother is someone who lost me. She didn’t know she could not get me back. When she did get a chance to meet me for the first time, there was no turning back. My traffickers had already sealed the deal with the devil. They had allowed someone to create paperwork that made me what we call a “paper-orphan.”
The mother who raised me really does not deserve a celebration from me. She may deserve it from her biological children but as for me, I’m not there yet. Maybe down the line I will be able to celebrate her but I do not think it will happen anytime soon. I want to respect a few qualities she has but motherhood is not one of them. When you willingly and knowingly take a child without the mother or father’s consent, you are not doing what God would want but instead what you want.
It sickens me honestly to know that my biological mother spent years wanting me back. The number of feelings that arise in me are numerous. I can only imagine the confusion, the anticipation, the stressed anxiety, the sadness, the anger and the utter fatigue she must have felt knowing her daughter would never return to her.
So, who is my mother?
My mother is someone to be celebrated for her persistence. Her persistence in wanting me back. Not the mother who went to any length to take me away.
This year on Mother’s Day I feel sadness. I’m sad because I am bringing a child into this world who will never be able to meet their grandmother. I’m sad because the mother who raised me still thinks she did the right thing. Some things are unforgivable. Knowingly trafficking a child is one of those unforgivable sins.
This Mother’s Day I want to reach out to all those adoptees who lost their mother due to adoption and gained a mother that was a complete stranger. Don’t be afraid to celebrate the person you were not raised with.
I stand in solidarity with you. I am there, listening to your hurt and pain.
Mother’s Day is not a “fun” day for many people. And that is ok.
_______Mother’s Day! You fill in the blank.