I honestly believe its because the industry wants them to continue to be labeled harshly so they won't be given the credibility that they deserve. Look around you at work and in the grocery store. They are there. You would be surprised at their numbers. They are human beings just like the rest of us. They deserve the decency and respect that we give others. Why doesn't the adoption industry continue to treat them with such disdain. They create the heartache that these women have gone through.
Here is the article in full:
Monday, May 05, 2008
Until last week, I didn't know there was such a thing as Birth Mother's Day.
But when I heard that this Saturday, the day before Mother's Day, there would be such a celebration, it struck me that the idea is an excellent one.
The special day -- launched eight years ago in Calgary by the agency Adoption Options -- celebrates women who chose to carry their baby full-term, but who made the difficult decision to have the child adopted.
I, like many of you, recently saw Juno -- the brilliantly scripted movie about a sharp-tongued pregnant teenager (played by Ellen Page) facing an unplanned pregnancy.
The film -- which deservedly won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and three Oscar nominations including Best Picture -- has done a fine job of raising awareness about open adoption issues from the birth mother's perspective.
Still, according to one birth mother I recently spoke to, Juno's conclusion was helplessly Hollywood: it failed to deal with the grief birth mothers go through once they hand their child over to his or her new family.
Grief, I'm told by 23-year-old Tina Johnson, is something the birth mother experiences even if she's confident that adoption is the right decision.
"It really is a life-altering experience. There is so much loss involved," says Johnson who, when she was 15, gave birth to a baby boy.
She, much like the character in Juno, found a family where she placed her son and she's able to visit with him regularly.
"I remember feeling like I had given away part of myself. It's not natural to go through that whole experience and then to place your child," she says. "You feel really, really lonely after. I remember feeling empty."
That said, Johnson -- who has since earned a university degree in biology -- insists she made the right decision.
"If I had to go back again, I would still do it and I would choose the same family. Seeing Max and how happy he is . . . I could never take that away from him," she says.
In her opinion, open adoption is a win/win situation for all parties involved. She can confidently say that her son is healthy and happy.
"Plus, I can have a relationship with him. Even though I don't have the relationship as mother, there's still a special bond we have," says Johnson.
"He knows his story. He knows I placed him because I wanted him to have a mom and dad. To have opportunities I couldn't provide for him. He knows my choice wasn't because I didn't want him."
As much as Johnson would like to see Max every day, she says, she recognizes and respects the boundaries of her situation.
In open adoptions, the birth mom -- or "tummy mummy" as some call her -- places her child with a family through an agency. (In Calgary, two of those agencies are Adoption by Choice and Adoption Options.)
The birth mom then remains in contact with the adoptive family and her birth child. Most often, the child refers to his or her birth mom by her first name.
"Years ago, it was accepted practice to have 'closed' adoptions where birth parents had very little say in terms of where their child went and they never saw them again," says Ramone Kindrat, manager of program services for Adoption by Choice.
Open adoption, she explains, evolved from a belief that people handle their lives best when addressed with honesty and trust -- as opposed to half-truths and secrecy.
She emphasizes that open adoption is not anything like shared or co-parenting. Arrangements for contact, she says, are not legally binding. But they are morally binding.
During our interview, Johnson -- whose son is now eight and living in Edmonton -- struck me as a smart and thoughtful woman.
She also struck me as a woman who still holds a whole lot of love for the child she had so many years ago.
I can't even begin to imagine how tough it was for her to make the decision she did.
It seems to me that Birth Mother's Day is about recognizing bravery -- the courage of women, who were
really often just girls, during one of the most difficult moments in their lives.
Kim Gray is a journalist and mother of two. She welcomes your feedback and story ideas at email@example.com.
- A Birth Mother's Day event, entitled Connections, will be held Saturday, May 10 at The Kahanoff Conference Centre, 2nd floor, 1202 Centre St. S.E. from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $20 and includes lunch. Fees will be covered for those requiring financial help by Friends of Adoption Options. For more information, contact Sheryl Proulx at Adoption Options at 270-8228 or check out adoptionoptions.com.