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Birthmothers support Leceta's search


Leceta Chisholm Guibault

A few months ago I wrote a letter to a birthmother's discussion group on the Internet, titled "Adoptive Mom Reaching Out to Birthmothers." Here it is:


I am the mother of two precious children adopted as infants from Latin America. They are now 6-1/2 and 3 yrs.

When I first adopted, I was 28. All I knew was that these children were closing a hole in my heart and fulfilled my selfish need to be a mother.

I attended "how to adopt" conferences and networked with other adoptive families. It wasn't until a year ago when I attended a conference with a triad theme did I truly realize that as adoptive parents we had all the joy! How unfair. I was drawn to the birthmothers present and the adult adoptees. I had to learn all I could from these caring, compassionate, loving yet deeply suffering people. I had no idea!!!

When I asked birthmothers what would have made their lives easier after placement, each one said, "a photo, a letter, to know that my child was alive, loved, happy". Each adult adoptee shared that they wished that their adoptive parents had been more open, not so scared that they would not be loved if their child had contact with birthfamily.

I left the conference with a goal. I was going to find my children's birth families in Guatemala and Colombia. Although my children are very young, I felt there was no time to waste. I wrote letters to my daughter's foster mother and birth mother, and to my son's birth mother. I was lucky that my agency had provided addresses in the documents. Nine months later I heard from my daughter's foster mother. She was thrilled to hear from us. She said she kept my daughter's baby fingernails! She sent us five never-before-seen photos of my daughter while still in Guatemala. She answered a lot of questions.

A week later I heard from my son's Colombian grandmother. She thanked me a thousand times for letting her and her family know that the baby was alive! She said that they will always love him and will never lose hope that some day they will know him. I promised my new extended family to cherish these children of "ours", and that someday I will take them back to Latin America for a big fiesta. I promised that they will know each other through letters and (hundreds of) photos. I will be able to answer so many of my children's questions, and hopefully ease their suffering.

I love my children so much. I don't want them to hurt from feelings of abandonment, identity problems, racism. Please, I need words of encouragement from birthmothers and adoptees to help me be the best mother I can be! Help me help them to grow with a strong sense of identity and self-esteem. I know now that love is not always enough. I know that they do not belong to me, but to God. I have the honour of raising my gift children. I love them, and in turn I honour and love their birthfamilies. They have to be amazing to have produced such souls. I could never pretend to be able to do better myself ...

I was totally surprised by the number of replies I received to my Internet letter, not to mention the strong emotions expressed by some of the birth mothers and adoptees. After I posted my letter I was overwhelmed with 40 replies in two days. Although all respondents were involved in domestic adoptions, I am sure that our children's birthfamilies abroad have most of the same feelings too.


Here are just some of the heartfelt responses ...

* * *
It is so refreshing to see an adoptive mother (and father!) who "gets it", who really understand birthparents' and adoptees' issues. I'm kind of down right now because I have been trying for six years to open my son's adoption, and the adoptive parents are pretty reluctant. In the past six years I've gotten four letters and one set of pictures. It took four years before they would send me a picture or his first name (at least, I think it's his real first name). I'm so glad that you are taking an active role in finding your children's birth families, and that you realize the importance of them in your child's life.
* * *
Thank you for making my day. I sit at my keyboard, tears running down my face. I can only hope when I meet my son's adoptive parents they will feel half as loving as you. My son is 26 now and engaged to be married. He also had a loving family and the reunion has been wonderful. I too am grateful he was brought up knowing I loved him.
* * *
I am a reunited birth mom after having found my son after 28 years. His little face never left my thoughts as I became an adult. I prayed for him daily. Now he is a beautiful young man. I am so proud. The advice I offer is to LOVE your children. Be consistent, teach them about JESUS, and love. You will do fine. Your loving search has given you and them a chance to include the people who could not raise them. Your children are a gift, as all children are. Treat them with dignity and trust your God-given instincts.
* * *
My daughter was placed in an open adoption and the adoptive parents have decided to cut me off from getting any pictures or letters about my daughter. This was the agreement that we had made even before my daughter was born. They were to send me pictures and letters every year. I feel now that this is not what they wanted in the first place, but were willing to do it to get a child. After she was born and they adopted her, they changed their minds. The law still protects their rights and there is absolutely nothing I can do except plead to their conscience. I am in the middle of writing a letter to them asking them to try to understand my turmoil and would like very much if I could send them a copy of your email. I will not do this without your permission, but feel that there was a reason that your first letter came to the group on the evening that I began writing my letter to my daughter's adoptive parents.
* * *
I hold your words very close to my heart. They are the words of a mother's true love for her children and the women who gave them life. May God bless you and your children.
* * *
You've made the move to get the information your children will be longing for. You've made contact with the people who are longing to know how their children are and if they're happy. You've stepped outside your own needs and fulfilled the needs of both your children and the women that bore them. That, my lady, is a remarkable and wonderful thing.
* * *
I am a Birth mom. I am very pleased to see that you love your children enough to learn that they are going to have wants and needs to be filled that they can only learn from their birthparents and You have already taken that BIG step for them out of the LOVE you have for them. And maybe they won't grow up like so many do always wondering and afraid that if they search their adoptive parents will think that they do not love them, which is not so. I know my son has a Mother as I know I am only the one who gave him life. I cannot ever be his mother, as to me a Mother is the one that is always there for her children, I would give anything to be a part of my son's life and for him to know that I loved him then and I still and always will love him with all my heart.
* * *
I am so glad to hear you are concerned for the birth families of your children and for the adults that your children will one day become. I am a birthmother and an adoptee. As an adoptee I can not get any verifiable info on my birth. So who am I, where did I come from? Is there some poor woman out there mourning the loss of a child? I may never know the truth because of all the secrets and lies that have been told about my birth.

As a birth mother this makes me fear for my son. What is he going through? Does he think I just walked away and never thought of him again? Does he feel like he belongs to a family or does he feel like excess baggage? Does he know who much he is loved by the woman who gave him life, or does he feel forgotten and alone?

It really does not have to be like this. Sometimes we make mistakes or fail to think things through. Then we are faced with what seems an impossible situation and have to do something so drastic and so painful we wish could have died rather than go through with it. This is how giving up my son was for me. He will be 19 years old on November 6 and the pain has never stopped. I am searching for him and I can only hope and pray he is OK, physically and emotionally.

There are so few birthmothers who want to take their children away from their adoptive homes, not because we just don't want or love our children but because we do. I would never do anything to hurt my son. I just need to know he is OK. If more adoptive parents would try to understand there would be no need to lie or hide the whole adoption process. There would be so much less pain for everyone.

* * *
I am sitting here with tears in my eyes..... Thank you so much for what you are doing. You DO understand what we go through! I have reunited recently with my "baby" girl of 31 and we cannot even get her adoptive parents to let me see one photo of her as a baby or a child ... How that would have eased my anger and hurt to have received some news when she was growing up. Your children are lucky to have you. I know they will respect and love you always.
* * *
Well, you've touched my heart. I am the birth mother of a gorgeous, kind, well-adjusted 30-year-old woman, whom I've just met for the first time (since she was one day old!) this summer. I have missed so very, very much. The way adoptions were handled thirty years ago was nothing short of medieval. Yet society thought it was the best thing. Now we know better. My own mother has been torn with guilt for 30 years over my relinquishment and I hope she can meet my daughter very soon, perhaps to soothe her guilt -- she did what she did for me.

You sound as though you've educated yourself in this situation. Bravo! It appears as if you are doing everything possible you can to make this the best situation for your children, as they, of course, are the most important in this equation. I only wish that all adoptive parents had their eyes open to the triad as you do. Perhaps if you wish to do something further, you could help in trying to educate the existing adoptive parents, the moms and dads of children my daughter's age.

Adoptees also don't have a right to their original birth certificates, and thus, their heritage. Many adoptive parents don't realize that ALL we want is to know our children are alive, and loved. We are not out to "get our children back". The next time that my daughter walks in to a new doctor's office and is asked to give her medical history, she will have it. Prior to this time, all she could say was, "I don't know."

* * *
Your children will surely grow up psychologically healthy and happy, and will love you all the more for your unselfish love.
* * *


In response to the outpouring of support I posted a second letter to the birthmother's discussion group:

Thank you, birthmothers!!! I am so overwhelmed!!! Thanks to all 40 (in two days) who responded with words of encouragement, wisdom and love! I have learned something from every one of you. Thanks for sharing your stories, although I laid awake in my bed all night thinking of every one of you. I could not sleep for the tears. Most of you said I was "special, a great Mom, an angel!" I tell you honestly, I was not searching for such praise and felt overwhelmed and unworthy. I am just a mother trying her best and reaching out to do the best for my children, as I know that you all have done, in the name of love. You are the angels. I honour you in your sacrifice.

One email encouraged me to educate other adoptive parents of the issues (and rights) of birth families. I promise all of you that this will be my new mission! I will admit that I have been disappointed by the attitude of some of my friends (adoptive parents or otherwise) when I share my excitement with having contact with my new Latin American families. Some seemed totally puzzled that I would want to "open that can of worms". "You owe them nothing", they say. They feel that my children's birthmothers could not possibly care, and have probably forgotten their children by now. This does not make sense to me. I think some of the blame has to go to social workers, lawyers and agencies. You know, they say, "take your child home now. He is yours". Yes, in a way they are mine. But they also belong to others ... others who are going to hurt the rest of their lives.

I think they feel we will bond faster if we don't think of birth family. It is naive. When I look at my daughter's beautiful delicate hands, I can't help but notice her tiny veins with her blood running through. This is not "my" blood. Would I love her more if it were? NO WAY! Impossible. When I lay on my three-year-old son's bed with him, I listen to the beat of his precious heart. I thank God for the young Colombian woman (mother) that allowed this heart to continue to beat.

Life is so short. I am not scared to have more family in my children's lives to love them. Who has too much love? When I write to birthfamilies and send photos, they are a captive audience! Except for their grandparents here, no one else in the world wants to listen to me brag more than their birth families! Thanks also to the adoptees who have given me insight. As a mother, I want to hold you and make it all better.

I will save all of your letters, in a special place, for my children. I have not made contact with my daughter's birthmother in Guatemala yet. If I am not lucky in my search, I know that some day my daughter will take comfort in your letters. As birthmothers you have shared that you never forget and never stop loving or searching. Thank you for this present.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this experience... Leceta.

Leceta is mother to Kahleah (Guatemala, 1991) and Tristan (Colombia, 1994). Leceta and husband Jean and family live in Joliette, near Montreal.

Leceta Chisholm Guibault is a board member of the Adoption Council of Canada and the Federation of Quebec Adoptive Parents, and moderator of the email list Canadians-Adopting (

Copyright 2004 Leceta Chisholm Guibault,

First published in Post-adoption Helper No. 5, May 1998, as "Finding the birth family abroad", and Post-adoption Helper No. 6, Aug. 1998, as "Birthmothers speak ... we should listen!".

Also published in Blair Matthews, Touched By Adoption, Vol. 2, 1999.

Also online at, as "Adoptive Mother Reaches Out to Birthmothers".

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