Lost Connections: Thoughts from an anonymous birthmother

In honor of November being National Adoption Month, I am running a special series called 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days.  Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, waiting adoptive parents, and foster parents-turned-adoptive parents.  Painful and beautiful, these stories will bring you a deeper understanding of what adoption looks like, allowing you to appreciate the many brushstrokes that comprise a family portrait.

By an anonymous birthmother

Adoption has touched every part of my life:

At age sixteen, I was best friends with someone who was adopted; at age eighteen, I placed a baby for adoption (in secret); and also at eighteen, I learned I had a brother who had been placed  for adoption  nine years before I was born.

Seeing adoption from my particular points of view is an experience I would not wish on anyone.

My friend –we’ll call her Sue– has no interest in her birth family.  She holds no grudge.  She just feels her adoptive parents are her parents and has no desire to explore any further.

When I made the decision to give up my baby for adoption, I was influenced by Sue’s point of view.

I chose open adoption in the hopes of one day knowing the child I had been unable to raise.  I chose and met the adoptive parents–we’ll call them the Smith’s.  I even told them both they were more than welcome to view this as the birth of THEIR child.

The day I chose adoption, I stopped thinking of the baby as mine.  I likened myself to a surrogate.  I was carrying someone else’s child.  I explained this to the Smiths when I invited them into the delivery room.  Mr. Smith declined, but Mrs. Smith was there and was the first person to see her baby.

She was literally there the moment her child entered the world and took its first breath.

For almost two years, I received cards and pictures from the Smiths.  But I could not bring myself to write back.  It just hurt too much, I was afraid to say the wrong thing, I was afraid of hurting the baby in some way.

It has been fifteen years since Mrs. Smith watched her baby come into the world and fifteen years of daily kicking myself for not writing back.  Sure, I could go to the agency and drop off a letter, but part of me feels not worthy enough to contact the Smiths.

I also would never forgive myself if “the baby” opened the letter first.  I have an agreement with the Smiths that “the baby” not seek me out until after eighteen years.  (only to ensure the maturity to understand the situation).

I am so afraid “the baby” will never seek me out.  I’m afraid of never knowing what happened after that first breath.

My family never knew I went through any of this.  How did I hide it?

I was living at home, but by the time I was showing it was cooler weather so I just wore a lot of layers and big sweaters, and spent as little time at home as possible. I am not a small person, so already being overweight hid the pregnancy as well.

As for delivery, I had arranged for a close friend to cover for me and say I was spending the night at her house. When I went into labor, I was not at home and called my mom and told her I was not coming home that night or the next. She didn’t question it, I was rarely home anyway. I also was working 3 shifts at 2 different jobs at the time so my family was used to not seeing me. As for work, I called in sick, and was only out a few days.

Carrying the silent burden of my pregnancy was made all the more difficult when I learned:

My mother gave up my brother, forcibly, in 1969.  She was not given any other option.  She was sent to a home for unwed mothers and told never to tell anyone.  They gave her a fake name, and after the birth of her baby she was then required to care for him for two weeks until the adoptive family was approved.

After twenty-seven years, my brother found my mom and made contact.

I was secretly pregnant with the Smith’s baby at the time.  To this day, no one in my family knows about my baby.

Adoption is a wonderful choice, I will always believe that.

But my personal story is one of sadness only because of the lost connections.  I fear the Smith’s child will feel as uninterested in me as my friend, Sue, feels about her birth family, and will never try to seek me out.  On the flip side of that it would also make me feel good knowing the child is happy and does not feel the need for anything else.

As for my brother, after fifteen years we have seen him ten or so times. He is a self-proclaimed “slow mover” and we respect that and let him come to us when he is ready.

My friend Sue is now married with two biological children and is looking to adopt a third.  She still has no plans to contact her birth family.

I will never regret the choice I made.  I made it for the baby, not myself.  I just hope one day to see the Smiths again.

Thank you for giving me an outlet to tell the story I have held onto for fifteen painful years.


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  • Birth mothers are some of the most unselfish people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. My son will always know how much we respect his; I hope that the Smith's are passing this on to their child as well. You are very brave too. Thank you for sharing your secret with us readers, I hope it can bring you some peace.

  • Write the letter.
    Maybe you'll deliver it, maybe you won't.
    Or maybe you'll save it until the child you carried turns eighteen.
    But write it.
    The act of writing is a release, as I'm sure you've seen in creating this post. And in putting to paper the words in your heart, you may find that there are actions you can take that you wouldn't have otherwise imagined.

  • I agree that writing a letter may be helpful. You will have it and pour your heart out and then decide what to do with the letter. Thank you so much for sharing your story. There are so many fears and so much pain related to adoption...it is so important to talk about these very real stories. It sounds like the Smith's were open to having an open adoption, and may still be very interested in hearing from you. Maybe the agency could contact them and ask them if the would be open to receiving/exchanging letters again? I truly hope with all my heart that you find peace in however you decide to move forward. All my best.

  • Dear Birth Mother,

    First of all, you are still being such a fantastic mother to your daughter, putting her interests above all else. Second, as an adoptive mother, I just thought I'd share with you that I have written to my son's birth mother and sent pictures since I adopted him 2 years ago. She sent him birthday cards on his first and second birthdays, which made me irrationally happy and which I have saved for him. Sadly, his third birthday came and went with no card from her. I also haven't received any replies to my letters, and I shed a few tears at a possible lost connection for my Lenny.

    Based on what you have written, I would be surprised if the Smiths don't want to hear from you. Follow your heart - it's beauty shines through in your post, and I wish you well.

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    Contact the Smiths. Most teenagers won't open mail directed to their parents, so the chance of the child reading it is slim. I am certain they understood that you needed time, they probably did too. but It couldn't hurt, if only to know that your baby is safe.

    I am amazed by your strength! Thanks for being willing to share your story.

  • Thank you to all of you who are offering support to this birthmother. She sent me an email that said she is completely overwhelmed by the support she is receiving both here and on the Portrait of an Adoption Facebook page, and that some of the comments are bringing her to tears. She has never had this kind of support. Thank you, readers.

  • ...and Carrie, kudos to you for providing this warm and inviting forum for everyone to express themselves from the depths of their hearts

  • I could have written this post (right down to having dinner with my parents a week before the baby was born and them not knowing a thing until a year later), and know EXACTLY what you are feeling. I kept secrets from everyone but very, very close friends and immediate family, and felt the guilt and fear you're feeling for years. Here's the good news -- my daughter sought me when she was ready. Here's the other good news -- I blew the lid off my secret and my family and friends have been nothing but supportive.

    I'm glad I waited and didn't force myself on her, even though it was always a temptation. I'm not sure about the pouring out of the soul in a letter stuff, as I don't know if an 18 or 19 year old would be able to handle an overwhelming amount of emotion from you when she's dealing with her own overwhelming feelings.

    Do write and tell her that you love her, and that is WHY you made sure she had a loving mother and father. Do outline your family's health history. Even if she chooses not to have contact (which will probably not be the case), it's important that she can answer health questions -- especially if she's planning on having children of her own. Do let her know that your door is open to her, and that you'll answer her questions as honestly as you are able.

    Do know that I am saying prayers for you and hoping you find the happiness I have found with my own daughter.

    Peace, my friend. And hope.

  • In reply to lspiller:

    Yours also is a very enlightening and well-written post. I am so grateful for everything I am learning about a birth mother's perspective. The selflessness of birth mothers such as yourselves is so inspiring. Talk about "if you love somebody, set them free" - this is the ultimate expression of love.

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    That was beautiful. If a letter is hard to write, maybe some pictures of yourself with notes on the backs or other sentimental things would be easier. It could turn out to be an important ground in hard times for everyone. Best wishes.

  • I was 16 when my twins were born. I was lied to at the hospital and told I could not take my children home unless I was employed.
    I found out years later my mother signed them off in a secret private adoption. The people who adopted them did a horrible job. The " adopter father "who was healthy claimed social security disability and also worked taking money under the table for years.
    The " adopted mother" was a woman who married a man 25 years older than her and she had no skills to parent or make money herself. My children were used to support these two and abused in the process.
    I searched for 18 years and found them at the age of 18. Both were very mentally ill from the start from the years of abuse they endured. They were told by the " adopted mother" that they were " not wanted" and that " their mother dumped them off on them."
    All lies. But after living like that for years along with physical abuse. The daughters I had longed for were broken shells of the two healthy beautiful babies I had given birth to. I found it ironic because of my financial circumstances I was unable to raised my children. Yet two scam artists conning the government could.
    They received a total 1800.00 a month for my two alone free money for the next 18 years. All the while raising them to hate themselves and their natural family.
    My girls are mixed race black and white. the adopters were prejudiced and told them they were not black but puerto rican instead. All the while raising them in a household where the "N" word was common. When They found out they were half black they refused to believe it. Even though I offered to take blood test.
    So prejudiced where theses girls it made me and my family sick in our hearts. Today they are too sick to have contact with either family. Even though we have reached out to them.
    Adoption can turn out to be a really nasty thing when placed in the hands on sick incompetent individuals.
    These girls have lied so much we can't have them around the family after all the waiting we did for them. They where raised to the point where they can not be trusted because they harbor such hatred for their biological brothers and sisters.
    I do commend those who do the right thing with adoption but in every case it doesn't always turn out with good consequences.

  • In reply to ChicagoMa:

    ChicagoMa, I am really, really sorry about your heart-breakingly sad adoption story. People can destroy a child's life so easily, by their words and actions. I wish you peace in the knowledge that you did your best, given these sad circumstances. Take Care of yourself - I wish your daughters well, and I hope they realize your value someday.

  • In reply to ChicagoMa:

    Dear ChicagoMa,
    Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story, and for reminding us that not every child who is adopted finds a happy ending. Oh, how I wish we could go back in time and change the cruel fate that was given to your babies. I am so sorry for your pain, for their pain, and for the suffering. It is horribly unfair. Sending you my thoughts.

  • You are MORE than worthy. Go ahead and write that letter or send a copy of your post above. There is a very good chance that the adoptive parents and your son have been wishing to hear from you for a long time.

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    In reply to YokoMama:

    you are worthy. worthy. worthy.
    please write to your child.
    as an adoptive mom to two little girls, i pray you will. what a gift for your child to see your very own handwriting and read your very own words and to know your story.... which is the beginning of their story. please consider sending a current photo too. these are treasures!!

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