Our new Member Mondays blog series will feature new stories and commentary by the folks that attend Ohio Birthparent Group’s peer support meetings. Follow along and get to know the amazing community that we’ve build over the last 3+ years! First up, our amazing long-time member Redefining Elizabeth talks about her experience connecting with OBG’s birthparent support group in Columbus.
What OBG Means to Me
by Redefining Elizabeth
I am a birth mother who surrendered my first-born as a teenager in the late 1980’s. I have been attending Ohio Birthparent Group (OBG) meetings for the past 3 years and treasure the people I have met and all their stories.
I was an emotional wreck at the first meeting I ever attended, sobbing while telling my story – the loss of my son and details of his semi-closed adoption. At my first meeting, I was focused on a possible reunion with my now-grown son. He had written me his first letter months before but our communication was still through the agency as intermediary and I wasn’t sure if another letter would come or if that reunion would take place. I was someone who was still living in the shadows as many newer friends, in-laws, and acquaintances did not know that I was a birth mother. More importantly, my young children I was raising with my husband did not yet know and I was so afraid to tell them, afraid of losing their love and respect.
Despite my tears that day (and many since), it was a relief to share, to express feelings. I knew no other birth parents in my everyday life so there was a tremendous power in being in a room with all those other women (and men) who have walked this path, empathize and don’t judge. We all come from different eras (1950’s to present day) and different types of adoption – completely closed with no knowledge of where one’s child is to completely open with regular visits and even overnights in the adoptive family’s home. We use different words to describe ourselves – birth parent, first mother, natural parent. We feel different degrees of “choice” in our children’s adoptions and sometimes those views have changed over time. Despite our differences, there are so many similarities such as the need to process guilt and shame, the desire to be what our children need us to be (even when we aren’t sure what that is), the bittersweet joys of time spent with our sons and daughters, and our hopes for the future. We share our triumphs and our heartbreaks.
There is such amazing power and freedom in an OBG monthly meeting. In that safe room, I am not the “selfless angel” put on a pedestal nor “that kind of girl”. I get to be who I am in all my beautiful complexity.