A We Are Family member shares a candid and heartfelt reflection on meeting her son’s birth mother.
My little one came home in October last year. Last week I met his (birth) Mum. I was terrified of meeting her, so worried she’d be angry with me and my husband for having her child, worried she would clam up and not really want to answer our questions or realise she didn’t actually want to meet us after all. Scared that it wouldn’t go well, what if she came across as a horrible person and what would we tell our little one about it in the future, this meeting was for him after all. But actually I realised it was for me too, as his forever Mum. I wanted to know her, and build a relationship.
She was bubbly and chatty and we could have talked for hours. I came away feeling like she was my little sister (she’s half my age and looks even younger), and a lot of other unexpected things too. The feelings and thoughts have been overwhelming, and I realise how much of a gap there is in how I feel about it and how my husband does.
I woke up the day after meeting her and felt the world was a bit less shiny than before. She has been through so much, a lot of which we knew about through the 60 page report during matching, and more she told us about when we met, and yet there she was sitting chatting and unbelievably positive. I loved this about her and was so happy to see it, it’s a trait I see in our son.
I know it was 100% the right decision for him to be brought into care, she wasn’t able to keep him safe or meet his needs. But it made me question even more where the adults were who were supposed to keep her safe, protect her. Why could they not find a way to let her be a child and show her how to be an adult before she became pregnant and a child was at risk? I felt angry at this.
Trying to muddle through my emotions I also realise I am angry at how unfair it is that because of my secure, safe and comfortable background I am afforded the privilege of being mum to her baby where she is not. I’m sad and guilty and grateful all at the same time. Happy for having had the chance to meet her, a colossal act of bravery on her part I think. I also know, maybe in a few days or weeks my privilege will mean these feelings will dissipate as my time is filled with looking after our child (hers, mine, birth dad’s and my husband’s), but she will still be without her son.
After the meeting on the way to the train station I was surprised at how upset I was by the chat between social workers and my husband. They brushed off how well she’s doing, pointing out gaps in her self-awareness or emotional response to questions, interrogating her ability to cope, as if she was another statistic following the same pattern as all the other ‘failed mothers’. Part of the reason for the detailed debrief was because just before the meeting we found out she is pregnant again. (Birth dad is having another baby too but that’s another story).
When we found out my husband was angry and disappointed with her, he felt she seemed like she was taking a step backwards. I was shocked, and overwhelmed. Happy for her to be having another chance, worried for our little one and what that would mean for him and his sense of abandonment and their relationship in the future, and anxious about the new little one, how they and she would cope if she wasn’t able to meet their needs. I felt a strong pull to connect to her, mum to mum, family member to family member.
On meeting her I felt even more strongly the link between our two families – our little one is going to be a brother. She’s determined to make it different this time. She’s accessing help and being supported and I have faith and hope for her. I want so much for it to be different for her this time, for the baby, but I’m being told it’s ‘unlikely’, ‘this happens all the time’. We weren’t allowed to take the scan picture she’d printed out for our little one, I didn’t really understand why. She’s not a statistic, she’s a person, a mum, trying her best, which may or may not be good enough to keep her child safe. People are watching so the new baby will be taken into care if they need to be, it would just be so good to hear they believe in her.
During the meeting I wanted to hug her, share more photos, keep talking, see her again sooner but I’m advised not to.
She’ll always be his Mum, I will too, and I don’t think I can wait another 16 years to see her again.
Author: We Are Family member