Do you have any kids?

Written by Danelle Henden. This is a hard question! Before becoming a birth mom, I easily answered this dating 101 question. Now, however, I feel funny with whatever answer I give. I’ve tried to find clever ways to answer it: “I’m not raising any kids yet,” or “I don’t have that responsibility as of right now,” or just “Sort of.” It doesn’t matter if I lie or tell the truth – I always feel like I must explain.

Questions are a fear of mine. When I chose adoption, I knew it was a bit taboo. In my community, there are two choices that people seem ready to acknowledge, abortion and parenting. I thought long and hard about both. I sat and looked up videos on one and read books on the other. Both options made me ill. I was mentally and emotionally broken. I think that was the closest I’ve ever come to that dangerous side of depression. I knew right then that the deep want, love, dreams, and amazement I felt weren’t enough. The fear, doubt, lack of direction, and crushing depression would keep me from being the parent they deserved.

Lunchtime! 2012

My fear, as I mentioned earlier, is questions. As much as I dislike answering questions for new people, the twins’ asking questions makes me downright fearful. The “why didn’t you keep us,” the “didn’t you want us,” and the “did you love us” questions – I utterly dread those. So, my plan was to be there as often as I was allowed so that any questions they had would be answered before they thought to ask them.

Christmas morning, 2018

I want to stress that not all birthmothers are created the same. We all have fears and ideals that lead to why we do things. Dawn, the oldest child, had an idea of what a birthmother is. Me showing up often provided her another opinion, and at times, I think it made things a bit more confusing for her. I didn’t want my choices to make her feel abandoned because, before me, her norm was that birthmoms go away. Since I had that fear, I didn’t go away.

Just know that by no means is it easy to stay and be committed to forming a relationship. It hurts – it’s like ripping the thread out of stitches before they have healed. Watching little people you created be transformed into someone else’s kids is unnerving. It’s a search to find where you fit, and if you fit at all. I cried, often, and I still cry at times.

Ron and Dani, 2012

I understand that this decision, the decision to be open, is intimidating. However, this is for the kids. I am not raising them, but I am still a mother – and I care about them more than myself. I dealt with the pain because, from the moment I had them, all my choices were about them having better lives. Again, birthmothers are human; we all have different motivators, goals, and ideals. I’m not sure how things would’ve worked out if I had been parenting already or if my fear of questions wasn’t as strong as it is.

Danelle & Darnell, April 2019

It was C.S. Lewis who said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” I think, in the beginning, the fear I had was grief. The reason I pushed myself was because I was grieving. I was grieving being a mom. However, I knew my life had changed, and I had to change with it. Another beautiful quote was by Lana Lang, who said, “Life is about change. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s beautiful. But most of the time, it’s both.” I have never read more truthful words.

Published by Danelle Henden & Stephanie Lundeen

Danelle: I am an HR professional with a keen interest in psychology and in adoption activiwsm. I work with a nonprofit that supports adoption, On Your Feet Foundation. Stephanie: I am a writer and editor with a background in education (I have taught English as a Second Language, college writing, and college literature courses).

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