The Mother’s Day Conundrum

Mother’s Day has multiple layers for many adoptees. For me, I have a first mother, a present mother and I am a mother. How these intertwine depends on your individual story as an adoptee, however, there is absolutely no doubt that they are all complex.

My First Mom: This is a hard year for me in this regard. I had been in reunion with my first mother as soon as I turned the “magical” age of 18 and was given permission to. As soon as it was my choice, I went through the steps of contacting the agency and beginning that process. I remember vaguely hearing the counselor at the time talking about “fantasy” and was I prepared. I said I was and opened the door. My First Mother was absolutely full of life, she had waited my entire life to to read words written by me in a letter, to hear my voice and to see my face. She was also a product of the system and she never really had a solid support system or family. She went from the child welfare system, directly into the adult welfare system. It made me sad. My mother was full of energy and full of spunk. She also had many diagnoses and a limitation. However, regardless of the challenges and struggles, as soon as I met her, I never doubted she loved me and that she was waiting for the day to see me again since she was permanently separated from me. Our relationship was complicated, and full of feelings (good, bad and otherwise). She passed away this past November. I was able to be by her side in the hospital, make decisions and show her the support of family that she never had. I am so happy for the time I was able to spend with her and the opportunity to meet and develop a relationship with her. I am grateful.

My mom: Our relationship began to mend when I became and adult and I moved out. It took some years but we are now in a much better place and I am eternally appreciative of her. She is fierce and she loves strongly. In an effort to keep our story private, I will end with the same as above. I am grateful.

Myself as a mom: Having children opened a world I never experienced before. Not just the normal motherhood but the link of DNA, the physical mirror of myself in someone else. As soon as my oldest daughter was born, I immediately felt this rush to love and protect her. When she was one years old, it was her beautiful self that motivated me to go back to therapy, under my terms, with my permission and with no one else above me. I wanted to work through my stuff to better myself as a mother. She deserved that. Every child deserves that. A story has always stuck out to me, and it was that story and my daughter when she hit the same age, that I believe made me realize so deeply how hurt and traumatized I was through my first year of life. It was always told in a comical way. Like a “reminiscing” on that one difficult child that put you through it. I was described as a very hard baby when I came at 11 months old to my family. I cried a lot and in particular, I would cry for hours when it was time to go to sleep. My mother said they would sit on the front porch of our summer cabin because I cried so loud and long. Eventually, I was put on sleeping medication, which I was on until I turned 18 and left home. When my daughter was 11 months old, it hit me extremely hard. I didn’t know my family when I first came to their house at 11 months old. It was unfamiliar. I was described as a great baby by my former foster family and that changed drastically with a move into a new family. I was hurting, I was confused, I was conflicted. I was trying to be heard the only way I could be, but I went unheard. I wanted my mom. I faced removal from my birth mom and more than one placement before the time I came to my adoptive family. There was layers of trauma interwoven in my story before I could even verbally express my feelings. If you had tried to separate me from my daughter at that age, she would have cried every night too. And that was a hard pill to swallow. It makes me want to go back in time and wrap myself around the baby version of myself and whisper it’s ok. There is much more to my story but that was the beginning of me, owning it from my perspective and my lived experience. Being a mother has been the absolute most amazing part of my life. If there is one job I strive and work my hardest at, it is motherhood. If there is one thing I feel like I fell into and fit. It was motherhood. I am grateful.

Mother’s Day for an Adoptee can be difficult. It can stir up a lot of feelings and deepen the seed of shame for appearing “ungrateful”; the narrative that society and many people have deeply rooted in the frontline of the adoption world. Adoptee’s, please be gentle with yourselves. Adoptive parents, please be mindful that even if your adoptee may not show it, they could be feeling very big and real feelings. Feelings that hurt and are conflicting. Feelings that they may feel scared to share. This is not everyone’s story, but it is many.

Happy Mother’s Day ❤

Published by Stephanie Oyler

Stephanie is a Licensed MSW professional who specializes in the area of adoption and foster care. She is also an adoptee herself. Adoptee LIT is a space created for education, advocacy, personal insight/experience and guidance in the sphere of Adoption.

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