There are millions of us. For every adoptee, there is a birthmother. We’re your sisters, your friends, your aunts, your cousins, your teammates, your co-workers, your wives and girlfriends, that person next to you on the plane who’s flying home to see her mom and tells you everything after her 4th rum and coke.
Each of our stories is unique and they’re all the same. What you say to the particular birthmother(s) that you know probably depends on the story. Think about what you know. Step into her shoes. Is she still keeping her secret from others with you being one of the few in her confidence? Is she happily reunited with her son or daughter? Has her child refused to meet her? Is she searching? Does she have other children? Maybe you invite her over for coffee or take her out for a drink. Maybe you tell her you feel enriched by knowing her story, or you give her a card or a take time for a conversation. Maybe you ask her what she thinks of Birthmother’s Day, which is today, by the way, in case you didn’t know.
I don’t exactly hate the idea of Birthmother’s Day, myself. But I don’t really love it either. The phrase Happy Birthmother’s Day pretty much gets stuck in my throat. I’d rather cough up a carving knife than say that, but the idea of commemoration is a good one. We’re here. So, I’m thinking of us and all of our stories.
I chuckled a little to myself when I read THIS. If Ms. Bullock had concealed a pregnancy under her Oscar gown–now that would have been remarkable. There are countless birthmothers out there whose survival depended on a well-kept secret. I was one of them. It was easy to keep my secret under wraps, aided by the fashions of 1970. Pantyhose had replaced stockings and garter belts, but the women in my family were still uncertain how to keep our hose from sagging. We sometimes wore the new stretchier panty girdles over our panty hose. These girdles were not the old-fashioned types that made one’s body appear to have been coated in cement—they were more relaxed, but still provided support. As for dresses, there was the empire waist, wildly printed tent dresses, the A-line and the casual look of men’s shirts worn un-tucked over jeans or shorts. An old dress shirt of my grandfather’s surfaced at my house, and I wore it constantly. In addition to these fashion statements, I wore a school uniform for eight hours a day. A frumpy pleated skirt and a large blazer concealed a lot of things, which is the intention of a Catholic school uniform in the first place. No one suspected. Not at the prom at the beginning of May. Not at graduation at the end of May. Six weeks before my son was born, I went away with a tale concocted to explain my disappearance. A month later, I returned bereft–and concealed that too. Like so many of us did.