POSTED ON Feb 05th 2013 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Abortion, Adoption, Online Debate, US Media
A few days before the Super Bowl, ESPN ran a color story about Colin Kaepernick and his birth mother. Colin is adopted and apparently his birth mother wants contact with him but he has refused her. Through that article I found the [Birth Mother,] First Mother Forum. In both the article and forum, writers assume that Colin refuses to meet his birth mother out of stubborn loyalty to his adoptive parents, even though they have given their blessing. They think he is shutting her out and that he should call her.
Ignoring the problem in the rear view mirror, that is, busybody reporters seeking drama by hunting down birth families every time an adoptee becomes famous, adoptees and birth families can have many reasons not to seek each other that are, apparently, inconceivable to people raised by their genetic parents.
I too am adopted. I too have no intention of finding my birth parents, particularly my mother, but not because I worry about betraying my parents. They, like the Kaepernicks, have always offered their support and help if I ever chose to search. It is not for lack of curiosity. I really want to know if I have siblings. Nor do I harbor anger at my birth mother for abandonment, the knee jerk assumption most non-adoptees make. Granted, many adoptees do feel this way, and in some circumstances it fits, but for most mainstream adoptions, the abandonment issue comes from others making a big deal out of the adoptee’s lack of genetic relations. We teach adoptees to feel abandoned, but that is a post for another day.
I have never searched for my mother out of intense gratitude and concern for her. She gave me almost a year of her life, endured the strife and stigma of unwed pregnancy in the 70’s, and a gave part of her soul that I can’t imagine the pain of sacrificing. I don’t want to make her revisit it. It is possible that she was just one of those mothers who simply couldn’t be bothered with the burdens of motherhood. If so, I was very lucky both that I was born just before Roe v. Wade so the quick out of aborting me wasn’t readily available and that she gave me to a loving family. In that case, in gratitude, I feel I owe her privacy. But more likely, and highly likely for adoptees born after Roe, she loved me and wanted to give me a better life.
I’ve always suspected that giving up a child would have been difficult, but it wasn’t until I held my firstborn that I understood. In those first minutes, I thought of her and what it must have taken, in that moment, to put me in someone else’s arms. For her, that happened in hours. Colin’s mother, refusing to have him in foster care for the six weeks waiting period, kept him in her arms. Turning him over to another woman to raise…to watch another woman pick him up… How many mothers reading this could endure that?
If you look at the articles about Colin and Russo, his birth mother, most is hearsay. No one but the two of them knows what she said in the letter he opened at 18, the details of the conversations when he asked her about his father, or what he thought when she asked to stop receiving update letters in his childhood. I suggest that maybe, just maybe, at least part of the reason Colin Kaepernick does not contact his birth mother is out of respect. It sounds like this has been a long struggle for her, one complicated by his fame. Maybe he is trying to help her move on, or just trying to give her some peace. Maybe he keeps her at arm’s length because he loves her too.
My brother’s mother checked on him once. He was about four years old and she was getting married. My mom told her about the daisy picking in the soccer field and his general mischievous nature. That’s the only time we heard from her. We’ve never heard from my mother. My brother and I figure the quiet is for a reason. To give us life they placed us before their bodies and their hearts.
It is the kind of sacrifice I can only repay by doing the same for my children. My parents have been wonderful, but this first and most important lesson about love, that it is freely given without regard for self, I learned that from my birth mother.