An Emotion Filled Mother’s Day: An Adoptee’s Reflection on Mother Loss

I am a notoriously cold-hearted, non-feeling, definitely non-emoting bitch.

Or so some people say.

This is in part due to a severe case of resting bitch face but also because I need time to process emotion, which results in you saying something heartfelt, me looking at you seemingly blankly, and then you thinking I’m a cold-hearted, non-feeling, non-emoting robot.

However, as I get older, I find myself being more emotional in general and more emotional about my mother in particular. (My mother passed away from breast cancer over 20 years ago, so as you can see I’ve had quite a long time to process those emotions.) This Mother’s Day it should have come as no surprise that I was attacked by feelings. In fact, it started Saturday night when, for no immediately apparent reason, I found myself crying. These feelings of *breaks out emotion chart* loss, grief, sadness carried over to Sunday, when I was scheduled to serve as part of the prayer ministry at church.

I contemplated not going. But, I had made a commitment, and anyways I didn’t think I was too overcome with emotion that I couldn’t be there. I was wrong.

Decades later, I find myself grieving over my moms – the one who raised me and the one who gave me life. This is new for me. To grieve. To grieve over my moms. When my mother passed away from breast cancer, I didn’t allow myself to fully grieve. I suppressed. Over the past several years, I have found myself coming to terms with what her absence means. Perhaps it is because of various milestones I am accomplishing or will accomplish, but I recognize how important she is to who I am and how much I miss her, how much I’ve missed her.

My birth mother I’ve never consciously grieved for. As I was growing up, my feelings towards my birth mother were confusion and anger. I had no understanding of why someone would give up their child, especially as I got so many mixed messages, from family, other adults, and society, that children were “a blessing,” children should be with their *biological parents, and that adoption was an anomaly, adoptive children were somehow “bad” or deficient, and adoptive parents not “real” parents. I harbored much anger and having no way to express it, or even really identify it and why I felt the way I did, only led to more anger.

Only recently have I started expanding my understanding of my birth mother. Throughout the past year, as I’ve gotten to talk to other adoptees and hear their experiences with birth family searches and reunification with their birth family, I’ve realized how confining my perspective on my birth mother has been. Through the stories of other adoptees, I have found a humanity in my birth mother, one that recognizes her as a complex human being. Not a piece of my story to erase, I find myself curious about who she was, who she is, and if I’m anything like her.

If she’s anything like me, then it has probably taken her a while to process the many emotions that she’s had about giving her child up for adoption. Not a piece of her story to erase, I hope she has not suppressed however she feels.

Serving at church on Sunday led to an emotion filled Mother’s Day. As Pastor Cartagena remarked, amidst the celebration of mothers, it can be a very difficult day for some. And, it was a difficult day for me but at least now I’m able to recognize those feelings instead of suppress.

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