Guest blogger, Ligia Cushman, shares her personal story of her family's adoption journey. As complicated as Mother's Day can be for us adoptees, it is refreshing to hear Ligia's story and her belief on how important it is to include birth & first mothers. Please note this is her personal story and we all have our own voice to share, please respect her journey she has chosen to share with us. Thank you :)
I wasn’t supposed to be a mom; at least not in the traditional sense. Yet thirteen years ago I stood in the delivery room and watched my son enter this world. There I was in a space with his first mother encouraging her to push while I wiped her brow. Together, we welcomed him, our son, into this world. I guess this is why I struggle when other adoptive parents don’t talk to their children about their journey to adoption. In my post, Adoption: A Glimpse Into the Day My Son was Born, I share my step by step recollection of his birth and how It changed me forever.
Telling our son about his journey to adoption has taught me there is enough room in his heart to love both his family of origin and his adoptive family. Now, this idea wasn’t one that I came to easily. If I’m being honest, when I finally got to celebrate my very first Mother’s Day I was selfish. I thought only of myself, our son and how my prayers had been answered. When thoughts of her came to my mind I pushed them away. I didn’t want to think about how hard that first mother’s day must have been for her. They didn’t stay away very long before they crept back in.
Like many adoption stories, ours begins with loss. The loss in our case was the loss for our son, his mother of origin and for ourselves through infertility. I recently spoke on a webinar about he losses in adoption when an adoptive mother reached out to me. She was offended when she heard me say “adoption begins with loss.” She struggled with my wording and I get it. I explained that having been an adoption professional for 18 years I have seen adoptive parents grieve their inability to conceive. I have seen children feeling the real ambiguous loss of not being raised by their family of origin. Often times, we don’t even think about the loss that the first family experiences and yet its very real. There is a child they will never truly know who shares their DNA. That is loss.
This is why I am forever grateful that we not only got to meet her before he was born but we got to know her. I will never forget the first time we met. Would she like us? Would she turn and run? The moment we met her we could see she was beautiful, caring, and committed to her decision. We became friends. Can you imagine that?
(2018, my son hugging his first mother)
In the months leading up to his birth, we spent a great deal of time together. I accompanied her to medical appointments, developed a delivery plan, and discussed what interactions would look like after he was born. I felt so honored when she introduced the idea that I am in the delivery room with her. What sticks out the most was her desire to give our son (hers and mine) the life she never had.
In hindsight, I can say that we grew to love her before we even met him. Loving her was something I could not have anticipated and yet it was easy. You see how could I not love the woman that gave me my son? Without her life and love I would not be a mother and the magnitude of her sacrifice is not lost on me.
The days that followed his birth would be tough…tough for her especially. She would entrust him to our care and we would lovingly bring him home. Hoping we would be everything he needed to thrive. As little as he was he was much like her, a fighter. Braver thank any other person I knew and somehow she had everything to do with it.
When you are an adoptive mother of an infant like me, you get all the firsts. The first laughs, kisses, words, hugs, and the magical first steps. It’s a privilege if you ask me. Especially because no matter how well I recorded his entire “firsts” to share with her she would never truly have that with him.
This is why I say adoption starts with loss especially for the birthmother. I talk a lot about this in my book entitled Heard. In the book, I share difficult moments like, when she left the hospital and wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll it would take for her body to want to breast feed a baby that now b