Reflections on Mothers and Adoption

It is a beautiful Saturday morning in Las Vegas. We have had rain the past two days and the left over coolness is still in the air.

As I write, I find myself in a Starbucks with my chai tea and my thoughts. It is busy here. I see an older couple, talking softly to each other. A family that has come from some sort of a music lesson as the children carry all sorts of instrument cases. A very excited 20 something guy telling his friend about buying a car, his voice lifting in excitement at the purchase. The baristas rushing, blending, mixing and offering their efforts in cups to customers. And me, near the door, observing the world around me.

It has been a long time since I have blogged, or written anything not related to my clinical notes. I just have not had the energy. The words are there, in my heart, circling around in my mind, but the energy to sit and write has been absent.

When I left my home, I grabbed my computer, not with any actual plan, just a hope that I would find something to share, to say, to release. We shall see where my swirling thoughts take me today.

In past years, on this Saturday before Mother’s Day, I would share some flowery, hopeful, loving post on Facebook about it being ‘Birth Mother’s Day.’ The day that adoptees and women who have given children to adoption reflect and remember each other. I read my Facebook memories from years before I found my family, and I feel sad. I wrote these posts from a place of deep sadness, hope, longing, from the unknowing of who she was and who I came from. Describing the details that I had “Barb age 27 had 5 boys in foster care in 1965 and I was born in Henderson, NV……” always searching.

Now, over two years later, I can not bring myself to even consider such a post about “Birth Mother’s Day.” It just is not in my heart to say “Happy” in relation to this day. I do reflect, feel and think of my first mother on this day, as I do almost every day. I wonder about her. I wonder if she really did forget about me for 51 years until I found her through a DNA match as she said he had. Knowing I was forgotten by a mother has, at times, brought me to tears, like now, they sting my eyes and I ache. How do you forget a baby?

I was raised by a reluctant mother, by her own admission. I remember numerous times her saying, “I wanted dogs, your dad wanted kids, so we got both.” I know how this sounds or seems harsh, but my mom did the best she could with the skills he had, and maybe this has to be enough for me. And, she gave me the opportunity to be around a lot of amazing dogs in my lifetime. And goats. And cats. And burros. And a rat named Joshua.

I have conceived, carried and gave birth to two children, both boys, who I could not imagine not loving or knowing or raising. I think the sun and the moon sets over both of them as they have always amazed me with their quick wit and kind hearts. I really enjoy their company and no matter what they do in life, I am here for them, no matter what. I don’t leave.

Maybe this is because I am adopted. Maybe this is because my mother was not as loving as I needed her to be. But, I swore when I was a mom I would love and hug and kiss and tell my kids that I loved them every day. I hope they truly know I love them no matter what, because I do. My heart gets happy when I see them together now as grown men.

And yet, with all the love I have for my children, my husband and others in my life, I feel that deep ache of loneliness so often. This is adoption. This is because of the loss I had the moment I was born. I wish I could shake it, I wish I could relieve myself of the insecurities it gives me in friendships. I wish I could allow myself to release all the deep hurts I have, that I can not even name. I wish, I wish, I wish. No amount of wishing seems to take it away. The mother wish is a deep, painful, full of hurt wish.

As I sit in this Starbucks, writing, reflecting, wishing, aching and hoping, I am reminded of a poem I wrote in High School about being “alone on the center seat of the noisy school bus,” and that feeling of being forgotten wells up inside of me, and the tears have now started to just drip off my face. Just like on the bus, no one notices me.

All my adopted-ness welling up inside of me.

Then, a feel a wet and warm feeling on my left arm, and look to see a huge dog looking at me, his owner standing talking to someone else. He is a service dog. He noticed me and said hello, letting me know I am seen and I am worth a warm lick and brown eyed smiling look. Dogs know me, and I am just so grateful he and I shared that experience.

Whatever these days are to you – Birth Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day – My wish for us all is that we can find a bit of joy even within our ache. I know it is not easy to feel all the feeling associated with life, but I do know I can find a bit of joy on a cool, May morning and in a big dog’s goofy face. I hope your joy licks your arm today in whatever way that is for each of you, dear readers.

“The price of Love is Loss, but still we pay, we Love anyway” – Next to Normal (my favorite Broadway Musical)

I choose to continue to love anyway.

3 thoughts on “Reflections on Mothers and Adoption

Add yours

  1. I, too, was adopted by a reluctant mother. As I grew older, she said, “Just stay out of my way. You have your animals and musical instruments and we have 73 acres to walk, so you should not be bored.” I was an only child with no playmates and no books.

    My adoptive mother lived a long time, and we reconciled. Still, even though my search angel has found my birth father’s side of the family, we can’t seem to find my mother. So I really feel inside like Mother’s Day is a commercial put-on for a lot of us. It’s good to show appreciation, but my relationship with my close relatives is my own darn business. And I think of all the adoptees and others who really aren’t feeling the warmth.


  2. I wrote a chapter in a book just published. Stranger’s By Adoption. I wrote only one chapter but to read the other stories and now your I don’t think anyone ever fits into the slot of a file folder once separated from our original mother be it birth or older child.


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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW

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