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Adoptive Mother Reaches Out to Birthmothers

By Leceta Chisholm Guibault

I have discovered the Internet and all its adoption-related resources! One particularly amazing experience I have had is when I posted a letter to a birthmother's newsgroup. The reaction and support I received was overwhelming. This is a collection of thoughts and experiences from all members of the adoption triad.

It starts with my letter…..

"I am the mother of two precious children adopted as infants from Latin America. They are now 6 1/2 and 3 years old. When I adopted my first child I was 28 years old and all I knew was that these children were closing a hole in my heart and they filled my selfish need to be a mother. I attended "How to Adopt" conferences and networked with other adoptive families. It wasn't until a year ago when I attended a conference with a triad theme did I truly realize that as adoptive parents we had all the joy! How unfair. I was drawn to the birthmothers present and the adult adoptees. I had to learn all I could from these caring, compassionate, loving yet deeply suffering people. I HAD NO IDEA!!! I asked birthmothers what would have made their lives easier after placement and each one said, "a photo, a letter, to know that my child was alive, loved, happy". Each adult adoptee shared that they wished that their adoptive parents had been more open, not so scared that they would not be loved if their child had contact with birthfamily.

I left the conference with a goal. I was going to find my children's birth families in Guatemala and Colombia. Although my children are very young, I felt there was no time to waste. I wrote letters to my daughters foster mother and birthmother, and to my son's birthmother. I was lucky because my adoption agency had provided addresses in the adoption documents. Nine months later I heard from my daughters foster mother. She was thrilled to hear from us. She said she kept my daughters baby fingernails! She sent us five never before seen photos of my daughter while still in Guatemala. She answered a lot of questions. A week later I heard from my son's Colombian grandmother. She thanked me a thousand times for letting her and her family know that the baby was alive! She said that they will always love him and will never loose hope that some day they will know him.

I promised my new extended family to cherish these children of "ours", and that someday I will take them back to Latin America for a big fiesta. I promised that they will know each other through letters and (hundreds) photos. I will be able to answer so many of my children's questions, and hopefully ease their suffering.

I love them so much! I don't want them to hurt from feelings of abandonment, identity problems, racism. Please, I need words of encouragement from birthmothers and adoptees to help me be the best mother I can be! Help me help them to grow with a strong sense of identity and self-esteem. I now know that love is not always enough. I know that my children do not belong to me, but to God. I have the honor of raising my gift children. I LOVE THEM, and in turn I honor and love their birth families. They have to be amazing to have produced such souls. I could never pretend to be able to do better myself..."

I was totally surprised by the number of replies I received to my letter, not to mention the strong emotions expressed by some of the birth mothers and adoptees.

Here's a sampling…

"It is so refreshing to see an adoptive mother (and father!) who "gets it", who really understand birthparents and adoptees' issues. I'm kind of down right now because I have been trying for 6 years to open my son's adoption, and the adoptive parents are pretty reluctant. In the past 6 years I've gotten 4 letters and one set of pictures. It took 4 years before they would send me a picture or his first name (at least, I think it's his real first name). It also hurts to know that John (my birthson) is not interested in contact, even though he could write to me himself. He is still young (19). But it still hurts. I'm so glad that you are taking an active role in finding your children's birthfamilies, and that you realize the importance of them in your child's life."

"Thank you for making my day.  I sit at my keyboard, tears running down my face.  I can only hope when I meet my son's adoptive parents they will feel half as loving as you.  My son is 26 now and engaged to be married.  He also had a loving family and the reunion has been wonderful. I too a grateful he was brought up knowing I loved him."

"I am a reunited birthmom after having found my son after 28 years. His little face never left my thoughts, as I became an adult.  I prayed for him daily. Now he is a beautiful young man.  I am so proud. The advice I offer is to LOVE your children. Be consistent; teach them about JESUS, and love. You will do fine.  Your loving search has given you and them a chance to include the people who could not raise them. Your children are a gift, as all children are.   Treat them with dignity and trust your God given instincts." 

"My daughter was placed in an open adoption and the adoptive parents have decided to cut me off from getting any pictures or letters about my daughter. This was the agreement we had made even before my daughter was born. They were to send me pictures and letters every year. I feel now that this was not what they wanted in the first place, but were willing to do it to get a child. After she was born and adopted they changed their minds. The law still protects their rights and there is absolutely nothing I can do except plead to their conscience.

"I hold your words very close to my heart. They are the words of a mother's true love for her children and the woman who gave them life. May God bless you and your children."

"I am so glad to hear you are concerned for the birth families of your children and for the adults that your children will one day become.  I am a birthmother and an adoptee.  As an adoptee I can not get any verifiable info on my birth. So who am I and where did I come from?  Is there some poor woman out there mourning the loss of a child.  I may never know the truth because of all the secrets and lies that have been told about my birth. As a birth mother this makes me fear for my son.  What is he going through? Does he think I just walked away and never thought of him again?  Does he feel like he belongs to a family or does he feel like excess baggage.  Does he know how much he is loved by the woman who gave him life, or does he feel forgotten and alone. It really does not have to be like this. Sometimes we make mistakes or fail to think things through.  Then we are faced with what seems an impossible situation and have to do something so drastic and so painful we wish could have died rather than go through with it. I am searching for him and I can only hope and pray he is OK physically and emotionally. 

"There are so few birthmothers who want to take their children away from their adoptive homes, not because we just don't want or love our children but because we do.  I would never do anything to hurt my son.  I just need to know he is OK.  If more adoptive parents would try to understand there would be no need to lie or hide the whole adoption process.  There would be so much less pain for everyone.

"Thank you for taking the time to find out what birthparents and adoptees think and feel.  I wish there were more adoptive families like yours."

"I have a 30yr old son I am searching for just to know he's O.K. and to be here if he wants any of his unanswered questions answered or whatever he wishes on his terms.  I have a cousin who adopted two boys from Brazil and I am going to save and share your letter with her.

"Thanks again for seeing all sides of the triad." 

"I am sitting here with tears in my eyes...  Thank you so much for what you are doing.  You do understand what we go through!  I have reunited recently with my "baby" girl of 31 and we cannot even get her adoptive parents to let me see one photo of her as a baby or a child.....How that would have eased my anger and hurt to have received some news when she was growing up. Your children are lucky to have you.  I know they will respect and love you always."

"Well, you've touched my heart.  I am the birth mother of a gorgeous, kind, well-adjusted 30 year old woman, whom I've just met for the first time (since she was 1 day old!) this summer. I have missed so very, very much. The way adoptions were handled thirty years ago was nothing short of medieval.  Yet society thought it was the best thing.  Now we know better.  My own mother has been torn with guilt for 30 years over my relinquishment and I hope she can meet my daughter very soon, perhaps to soothe her guilt - she did what she did for me.

"You sound as though you've educated yourself in this situation.  Bravo!  It appears as if you are doing everything possible you can to make this the best situation for your children, as they, of course, of the most important in this equation.  I only wish that all adoptive parents had their eyes open to the triad as you do.  Perhaps if you wish to do something further, you could help in trying to educate the existing adoptive parents, the moms and dads of children my daughter's age. 

"Adoptees also don't have a right to their original birth certificates, and thus, their heritage.  Many adoptive parents don't realize that ALL we want is to know our children are alive, and loved.  We are not out to 'get our children back'.  The next time that my daughter walks in to a new doctor's office and is asked to give her medical history, she will have it.  Prior to this time, all she could say was, "I don't know." Bless you for your open heart and mind."

After receiving these wonderful and heartfelt letters, I posted another letter to thank the birthmothers and adoptees who replied:

"I am so overwhelmed!!! I posted my little letter, first time ever on the Internet Friday night. (Adoptive Mom reaching out the Birthmothers). Thanks to all 40 (in two days) of you who responded with words of encouragement, wisdom and love! I have learned something from every one of you. Thanks for sharing your stories, although I lay awake in my bed all night thinking of everyone of you. I could not sleep for the tears. Most of you said I was "special, a great Mom, an angel!" I tell you honestly, I was not searching for such praise and felt overwhelmed and unworthy. I am just a mother trying her best and reaching out to do the best for my children, as I know that you all have done, in the name of love. YOU are the angels. I honor you in your sacrifice.

"One of you encouraged me to educate other adoptive parents of the issues (and rights) of adoptees and their birth families. I will admit that I have been disappointed by the attitude of some of my friends (adoptive parents or otherwise) when I share my excitement with having contact with my new Latin American families. Some seemed totally puzzled that I would want to "open that can of worms". "You owe them nothing", they say. They feel that my children's birthmothers could not possibly care, and have probably forgotten their children by now. WHY ARE THEY SO "THICK"? This does not make sense to me. I think some of the blame has to go to social workers, lawyers and agencies. You know, they say, "take your child home now. He is YOURS". Yes, in a way he/she is mine. But they also belong to others...others that are going to hurt the rest of their lives. I think they feel we will bond faster if we don't think of the birthfamily. It is naive.

"When I look at my daughters beautiful and delicate hands, I can't help but notice her tiny veins with her blood running through. This is not "my" blood. Would I love her more if it were? NO WAY! Impossible.

"When I lay on my 3 year old son's bed with him, I listen to the beat of his precious heart. I thank GOD for the young Colombian woman (mother) that allowed this heart to continue to beat.

"Life is so short. I am not scared to have more family in my children's lives to love them. Who has too much love? When I write to birthfamilies and send photos, they are a captive audience! Except for their grandparents here, no one else in the world wants to listen to me brag more than their birthfamilies! Thanks also to the adoptees who have given me insight. As a mother, I want to hold you and make it all better.

"I will save all of your letters, in a special place, for my children. I have not made contact with my daughters birthmother in Guatemala yet. If I am not lucky in my search, I know that some day my daughter will take comfort in your letters. As birthmothers you have shared that you never forget and never stop loving or searching. Thank you for this present."

Copyright Leceta Chisholm Guibault

Birthmother articles and support links are available on Nancy Ashe's webpage.

Leceta Chisholm Guibault has two children, adopted from Guatemala and Colombia. She is an active board member of the Montreal area adoption support group "The Federation of Quebec Adoptive Parents" and co-editor of their newsletter "La Cigogne" (The Stork). Leceta Chisholm Guibault is a frequent contributor to numerous Canadian adoption newsletters and magazines including two short stories published in the book, "Touched by Adoption". She may be reached at:
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