by Jenifer Hulburt
In my quest to find my ‘birthmom identity’ I have stumbled across a new me. I have found new and courageous ways to raise awareness about adoption. I never thought that I would be the speaking kind. I have always feared getting up in public. In fact, when I started out, I had to lean myself against a podium or nearby wall to mask that I may pass out from my anxiety. I somehow mustered up the courage to go on and I still get nervous, but the anxiety has eased greatly. I have come to learn that there is nothing to fear. I have come to speak to these people and to share my story. It’s mine to share. I know it. I own it.
Do I have some very useful information and insights for these people who I speak to? Absolutely. Do I learn and grow every time I speak? Absolutely. So why not continue this? I have spoken to Pregnancy Clinics, groups of prospective adoptive families through the County, and I have also shared my story with close to 50 High School students in my area. I have gone to the schools now 4 times, always speaking to a small group of pregnant or teen moms.
Among the many great reasons why I enjoy this and choose to continue:
1. It helps me to heal
2. Shows another side to birthmothers
3. Answers questions they may have
4. Bust some of the myths about birthmothers
An important thing that I always keep in mind is, to always be honest and open about my story. If I’m not honest about it or if I keep something and hold back, they will see right through me, and then my purpose is wasted. I am always open to whatever questions they have for me and I am always willing to share. Otherwise, why am I there? The high school students always have some interesting questions! One of the greatest fulfillments for me is being able to answer questions. I will never forget this one question that came from a prospective family member: “What would you do if the family ever decided to stop contact with you?” (I have a semi-open adoption and receive photos 2 times a year.) My answer was able to include information from other birthmoms that I know that have experienced this. I tell them exactly what I’ve seen it do to someone else. I get the opportunity to tell them how it affects a birthmother when a family chooses to do this. While it doesn’t ease the burden of the birthmother it’s happened to, maybe this family will think of what I told them if they ever decide to try and stop contact. Maybe, just maybe, it will get this family to think about it and they won’t do it.
Another thing I always keep in mind is, to never preach about anything. I’m not there to tell anyone what to do. This is my story and how it worked out for me. Plain and simple.
My husband (who is my daughter’s birthfather) supports me sharing my story. He has no desire to come with me and hear me speak or share his side of the story. But it means a lot to me to have the opportunity to share. I am always thanked for coming and sharing, but honestly, I get a lot out of it too and usually thank them for letting me share.
I encourage you to contact Pregnancy Centers, High Schools, and Adoption Professionals in your area and share your own story!