Wounded Roots – Part 1
Photo attribution: Martin LaBar
Myth: Birthmothers are irresponsible, selfish, and untrustworthy.
Reality: Birthmothers, experience a loss and grief adoptive parents can identify with.
My wife, Kristin, was walking into the CPS office, holding our foster child, B. He was one month old and had been with us two weeks. We had already met numerous people involved in his situation – both from the state and from our agency – and now Kristin was to meet another caseworker to facilitate B’s first parental visit with his mother.
“There’s the little man,” said a woman greeting her as she walked through the CPS doors. The woman was confident – put together. “I’m his mom,” the woman said.
Kristin introduced herself. Needing to sign some papers, she set him down in his carrier.
“Can I get him out?” his mother asked. “Is it okay if I hold him?”
Kristin was a little unsure of herself. She didn’t know what was allowed and the caseworker hadn’t arrived yet. “Of course,” she said. On top of that, B’s face had started drying out and peeling a couple days prior. “His skin was so beautiful when he first came,” she said. “I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.”
His mother was kind to her. “You might try Jojoba oil,” she said. The women chatted about skin care until the caseworker arrived.
We were privy to many of the details surrounding B’s removal from his mom’s care and had grown a bit haughty, developing a very one-sided view of the situation. We were good and his mom was bad. We knew that wasn’t true, but we still thought that way, at least until Kristin’s chance encounter rounded out our view of her. It didn’t make us second-guess B’s removal, but the experience made us as aware of our similarities as we had been of our differences. The more we contemplated that, the more deeply we cared for her. Occasionally, we would pray for her.
Four months later, when B went to live with his dad and grandmother, we had a very different view of our position as foster parents. We felt a faint echo of the ache his mother must have felt when he was removed. We played an important role in B’s life and we hope our prayers played a part in his mother’s life because meeting her changed us.
Our brief exchange about lotion with B’s mom informed our attitudes when we adopted our daughter months later and eventually met her birthmom. I’ll share more about that in part two. To be continued…