Adoption Awareness Month is in full swing, and one of its goals is to educate people about adoption.
It’s a task that Hillary Jones has taken upon herself to do not just this month, but every month of the year.
Hillary is a birthmother and a photographer. Through her photographic essay, The Birthmother Series, she hopes to change the way that society views birthmothers by giving them a voice—and a face.
“Giving up a child for adoption isn’t nearly as much of a taboo today as it was a few decades ago,” she recently told Canada Adopts! “Yet I know I am not the only birthmother who has faced judgement and harsh criticism as a result of the stereotypes of women who place their children.”
By documenting their first-person stories, Hillary hopes to go beyond the “birthmother” label and show that women who placing their children for adoption aren’t a stereotype.
“We are mothers who have chosen to give our children the life we knew we could not provide for them.,” she says.
And she also hopes the series will speak to adoptive parents who have already adopted or are looking to adopt.
“Many adoptive parents are eager to have a relationship with their child’s birthmother, but many, including my son’s adoptive parents, either refuse to have an open adoption or go back on their word to stay in contact with the birthmother because of some irrational fear that stems from these stigmas and stereotypes.”
Learn more about The Birthmother Series here.
I knew it would be tough. I knew that I would be judged for my decision, but I also knew my son wasn’t meant for me. I wasn’t meant to be his mommy.
He taught me how strong I am; he taught me that everything happens for a reason. He will always be my baby.
And if the day ever comes, I will welcome him with open arms.
Back in 1981 the only option was to have a closed adoption. I almost wish I’d had the opportunity to have an open adoption, but saying goodbye to her the first time was so horrible. I don’t think I would have had the strength to do it over and over again.
My daughter and I have been in reunion for a few years now.Her adoptive mother contacted me and asked me if I would be willing to build a relationship with her. I didn’t see that coming. When she asked me for my address I expected her to send pictures of my daughter growing up, but when the mailman came he delivered a beautiful necklace with two open hearts.
It said, “If you will accept this with the love with which it was given, we can share this necklace like we share the love for our daughter.”
It was such a precious gesture.
People have this picture in their minds that a birth mother is either some drug addict or a young and irresponsible girl who is making a selfish choice. In most cases, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I have no regrets about my decision to place my son for adoption, because I know he is happy with his new family, but I do wish I would have had the courage to stand up for myself more, at least where my parents are concerned.
They pretended like it wasn’t happening, as if they thought ignoring my pregnancy would make it go away. My father didn’t even visit me in the hospital.
We sent his Christmas gifts a little late because we were still trying to catch up on money. I painted a few margarita glasses to send along for his adoptive parents, because I knew they like to go to Margarita Mondays at some local place. When I sent the gifts and the painted glasses to them they promised to send pictures soon, but they still haven’t.
It was supposed to be an open adoption.
We originally planned to have visits at least once a year. I even made sure I had the week off from work so that I could visit him for his birthday, but when I emailed his adoptive mother she said that after speaking to psychologists, social workers and doctors, she changed her mind. She told me that there wouldn’t be any visits until my son shows an interest in meeting me.
I have an understanding of what an older child eventually wants to know about their biological family, and that is why I firmly expressed my desire to have an open adoption.
Tearful nights become worth it, or at least easier to endure, when I get pictures and see the happy smile on his face. But in the back of my mind I have this fear that these pictures and updates will stop. I’m afraid that someday these things I hold so dear will be ripped away or denied me. But for now, I try to enjoy the moments that I’m allowed.
I lost someone who I thought was my best friend–I actually had to kick her out of my apartment at the time because she went off on me so badly. She told me that I would go to hell for placing my daughter up for adoption and kept screaming all of these really horrible things.
I also had another woman tell me, “how could you do this to other people? You don’t know what is going to be wrong with that baby. You’re obviously depressed, there has to be something wrong with you and now it’s going to happen to your daughter too. You’ve given this baby to these people…think about what you’ve done to them.”
It’s so strange because we don’t even ask for that. These people judge birth mothers so harshly and yet they haven’t lived through what we have. They only assume that they know better.
I still firmly believe that the best thing I could have done for my daughter was to give her a family. I don’t have the means to provide the stable environment that she deserves. What she has with her adoptive parents is perfect. I could not have chosen a better family for her.
I will never forget the day I left the hospital. My daughter’s adoptive mother came into my room crying. She told me she felt like she was stealing her away from me. I told her that was ridiculous. From the moment I met her, I knew that she was the perfect mother for my daughter.
I am so thankful that my daughter’s parents are willing to have an open adoption, and that they seem to genuinely want me to be a part of her life, but I can’t help but wonder if that will continue when she’s older. I always have this fear in the back of my mind that they will change their minds, or worse, that she will decide she doesn’t want to know me.
I placed my son with his adoptive parents over 6 years ago. Initially we all agreed on having a semi open adoption: pictures and updates at least once a year around his birthday. When I didn’t receive anything after he turned 4 my social workers contacted them. Apparently my son’s adoptive father decided that I didn’t deserve anything else from them, and wouldn’t let his wife contact me either. He turns 7 this year and I haven’t seen a picture of him since he was 3 years old.
The day I left the hospital I gave them a scrapbook to give my son when he is older. On the last page I wrote a letter to him explaining why I’d chosen to give him a family instead of parenting him.
My biggest fear is that he’ll grow up angry with me for not keeping him.
I’m going to confess this secret part of me to the world: I never wanted to have children. I’d asked doctors for years to let me have surgery but they all told me that I was too young and that I would change my mind, so they refused to perform the procedure. Oh the irony.
I was 29 when I made my adoption plan. A lot of people at the time didn’t understand why I chose to place my daughter because I was so good with kids. Just because I am awesome with children doesn’t mean parenting is the best choice.
The type of person her biological father was played a big part in my decision not to parent. It was based a lot on psychological reasons as well. I wanted her to be safe from the psychological damage an absent and abusive father can inflict on a child.
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