Posted with permission from the author, this post was written by Kelsey Stewart, Author of The Best for You which explains adoption from a Birth Mothers point of view. You can also find her on her blog The Birth Mother Voice
What is in a name? Birth mother, first mother, natural mother, original mother, just mother? WHO am I? Everytime I visit a blog I am hearing a new term that describes those that gave birth to, but did not raise their children. Why are there so many names? Why can’t we all just decide on one? What is going on?????
Birth mother is not a very popular name with those in adoption. I know this because I am asked all the time about the name of my blog. For the record, using Birth Mother in the title tells people RIGHT AWAY who I am, no explaining my view there. Everyone uses what words they like, but it can make it confusing. Birth mother is the common one, the most identifiable word in the english language. However, now there is a choice of phrases. First mother is becoming more popular. Natural mother is nice and warm. Original mother is not for me, but I have seen it used. Mother is what I hear many adoptees say, there are many that do not like the birth mother term. There are so many, which do you use? No one really knows, it is more of a personal choice, that is what I have gathered from other blogs that I have read.
I first heard birth mother when I began the legal proceedings during my first adoption. I thought it was appropriate and I always knew who they were talking about when they said it. When I said it to other people, they always knew what I was talking about. It was a term that came from a book released about adoption two decades before I became pregnant, and the term stuck in the world of adoption. It explains in two words what a woman’s position is in a child’s life. I never really had a problem with it at all. Like I said, I thought it was appropriate. That is until I started living the life as a birth mother. Then it became weird to me, kind of cold and distant. Why not just say test tube mother. I was more irritated at the first word than the second. It was almost as if my mothering stopped when she was born. That I only had maternal feelings, emotions, thoughts and fears while I was pregnant with her, that it all stopped after she was born. But unless you replace it with “I have children that are not with me, I chose to place them for adoption”, there were no better words than those two to explain immediately who I was.
Two years later, when I was traveling the adoption road again, those words began to really irritate me. I had been living for two years without my daughter and felt that just saying birth mother was a rejection in my ears. It made it sound as if I just stopped caring, stopped being a mother. So, I listened to it but began to think of something else that I could call myself, something just for me to express how much I loved her, how much I missed her, how I longed to hold her hand…I thought and thought. Nothing came to me. After I had given birth to the twins and returned home to Missouri, I began to detest the word birth mother. I used the long sentence from above to tell people, but they always came back with … “Oh, your a birth mother.” And soon after that I was right back to that place just after you give birth and let go of your child, I was not just a birth mother. Then there always comes the insecurities of others, who like to bombard me with their opinions of who I was, that it was good I did what I did because I was not worthy to have children, that I was a coward for not raising my child … that I was just so selfish. It takes a very strong and brave person to listen to those opinions, take them in, and learn from the fear. It takes courage to talk to people and explain the reasons, and the journey through the pain. It takes a lot of pride in oneself to face everyday knowing that you have no control of what will happen to your child, no control of what will happen to you, or what your heart will have to listen to because of the ignorance of others. It takes a lot to walk tall. I takes a lot.
So way back in the early 90’s I realized one day that I have one very brave heart. That was it. Braveheart. I liked it, more descriptive. And even if I was the only one who knew what I meant, it made me feel good to say it. So true, so simple, so devine. I am a Braveheart. It tells you that I have had pain, that I am now proud that my children are living happy lives. I still hurt, I still cry, but I can also smile knowing that they are so very loved in their own lives. They know I care. They know that I am thinking of them. They know. So Braveheart is what I chose to say it, and it was good.
Enter Mel Gibson with a kilt and blue face paint. Braveheart. One of my favorite movies of all time, what passion in that film. It won awards, it won people’s hearts, it was a global phenom. It was the end of my beautiful name for birth mothers. People would hear me say it and immediately think of angry Scottsmen slamming people to the ground and bludgeoning them to bits. This is the furthest thing from what I had in my mind. I would try to explain, but they always thought that I was ripping off the movie. I began to think it was useless, that I should just not mention it anymore. But after watching it over and over, I could not help but again see the parrells to my life as a mother. William Wallace was a man of pride. He was a man of his word. He was a man that you could count on to do the right thing and help others. He was a man that was a leader among his people and reminded them what it was to be free, to be living. That movie captured the soul of a man who fought for love, who fought for what he believed in, who fought for freedom. I may not have traveled these roads for my country, but I did travel none the less. I fought hard for my heart, my character, my life as a mother without her children. I fought hard to silence the critics, to tell my truths as I know them, to stand up for myself and others like me in a time we were told to shut up and feel guilty. I have fought my own battles, and my heart has been so very brave to not cave into the disgust, the hate and the ignorance of others. I chose to learn from them, find myself again, understand that I cannot change what has been done, and to live life with love.
So Braveheart it is.