Tag Archives: love

Simone Biles’s Birthmother

Rendition of an ugly stepsister’s foot from the fairytale, Cinderella.

image from stargazer-gemini.deviantart.com

About Simone Biles’s birthmother

Here’s the link to a newspaper article about Simone Biles’s birthmother. I read it twice. And I also read another interview with her in the Huffington Post and in the New York Daily News–all based on an interview with her from TMZ. It’s worth a read. After you it, read the comments. If you can stand a foray into the meanness olympics.

So, here’s the deal. Shannon Biles says she’s glad she and her daughter are not estranged any longer, but their relationship is still fledgling.

And that she wished her dad hadn’t thrown her under the bus in a recent interview of his with the press. Also, she said she thought he was insensitive about the way he described her battle with addiction.

She admits that she took the loss of her children very badly. That she yelled at her father, and that she was hard-headed, and that she didn’t understand then why she couldn’t see her kids. But she says she understands it now. She admits that she wan’t able to care for them back then.

And she admits that she was an addict, and says that she’s been clean for nine years now.

She is raising her two youngest children herself. She has a job.

It seems pretty clear that Shannon Biles’ s children were in jeopardy. “In and out of foster care” is not a good thing. It worked out well, probably better than imagined. Simone’s grandfather and his wife legally adopted Simone and her sister and are now their mom and dad. Hooray for all that. Gold medals all around.

Stop the hate

While I understand the hunger of the media for a story and the  curiosity of Olympic viewers and the general public about all this, I don’t understand the hate directed at Shannon Biles in the comments sections.

Shannon Biles was an addict. She lost custody of four children. That’s a clusterfuck of hurt  for a lot of people, including innocent children. It’s personal disaster beyond measure. BUT this woman who lost her children and the respect of her father is now clean. She has turned her life around. In the olympics of her personal life, that’s pretty damn golden.

Birthmothers are human beings

Birthmothers/first mothers/bio mothers are human beings, deserving of compassion. We did what we did for a million reasons. Put on those shoes, haters. Try a little running and jumping in them, and when your feet are bloody, give thanks for your perfect life and your shiny veneer over your hate-filled soul. I have to try a little bit not to wish you ill, but I can do it. I wish you well. I wish for you understanding, and some personal peace, and an inclination for you to share that with the world instead of hate.

What to Say to a Birthmother

Birthmothers, the mothers in the shadows

Do you know a birthmother?

There are millions of us birthmothers. For every adoptee, there is one of us. 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.

Do you know what to say on Mother’s Day?

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.

Family Resemblances

A strong family resemblance between me and my mom
as we watch pelicans dive into the marina a few years ago.

Mother/daughter resemblance

A substitute teacher, the mother of my regular teacher, taught this morning’s t’ai chi chih class. It was eerily wonderful to see the same tilt of the head, the same gesture overtake the fingers on a smaller set of hands, a similar look of joy on an older face.

Across 3 generations

This past week during the visit from my son and his family, my younger daughter and my son’s wife pointed out the family resemblances between my son, my older daughter, his oldest child, and me. It’s the way we walk, they said. Our basic body language.

This is not remarkable at all–unless you have been separated by adoption. When you meet your child for the first time when he’s 20, seeing those resemblances is a profound experience. It’s a reminder that you’ve been connected all along by genetics even though you had no idea where your child was. Even though you didn’t even know his name.

I see some of these resemblances in the next generation, too. In my role as grandmother it feels sometimes that I have been yanked backwards in time when I catch my older granddaughter out of the corner of my eye. Like some portal has been slit open and I’m slipping back a dozen years into my older daughter’s childhood. Once again, not remarkable at all. Unless I’d never found my son. In that case, I wouldn’t know that my granddaughter existed.

My granddaughter at age 11
My older daughter at age 25.

Adoptees and resemblances

The day I met my son for the first time, he told me what a shock it was to see the resemblance between us. It was weird to learn he was not unique, he said, as he always felt he was. Other adoptees have told me they have the sense of having “fallen to earth”—they feel alien, unconnected by the family resemblances that bind biological families. Biological families engage in a running commentary about who looks like Mom or Dad or a particular sibling, aunt, or uncle. The discussion extends beyond physical attributes too. In a biological family, talents, temperaments, and failings are all attributed to genetics without a second thought.

Eric Mueller, a Minneapolis based artist and an adoptee has a book called “Family Resemblance” which includes photos of family members with shared resemblances.

This Mom’s Mother’s Day


If you’re a birthmother, Mother’s Day is different. Really different.

Tobias Wolff, author of This Boy’s Life, has this to say about his mother:
“In her life she didn’t get anything right, except one thing, and that was love. After reading This Boy’s Life she said: ‘ I’m glad you didn’t tidy me up and turn me into someone I wasn’t. That would have meant that I hadn’t been of any use to you as a mother.’ “

Giving birth to my son at 17 and giving him up, I have to admit I didn’t get much right. But I loved him. That story is not a tidy one. Hallmark doesn’t have a card big enough, wide enough, or ragged enough to cover all that.

But anyway, Happy Mother’s Day. You know who you are.