A Story Shared by Deaf Birth Mother
TamiJo shares the heartbreak and blessings of being a Deaf birth mother of a hearing daughter who was placed in an open adoption.
Hi, my name is TamiJo – TJ. I want to share about my life as a Deaf birth mother. I’ve really enjoyed watching the different stories about adoption and adoptees, and I wondered where were stories from birth mothers – or even birth fathers, if there are any out there. I want to share my journey. It was not an easy decision, but I know that I definitely made the right decision.
Deaf Birth Mother Chose Open Adoption
About 20 years ago, I gave birth to a daughter who is hearing and I gave her up for an open adoption. I chose the family, who were a couple who had wanted to be parents for a long time. I found them through Lutheran Social Services (LSS), who helped me find a family. I started contacting the family while I was pregnant, then I met them in person when I gave them the baby. The agreement was that we would keep in touch through email, pictures, and the occasional present.
Grief as Deaf Birth Parent
The first year was especially tough, as I was grieving and missing my daughter. I saw her when she was six months old and then I didn’t see her for about three years. I appreciated that the adoptive family had sent pictures showing her walking and growing up during these years. When they asked me if I wanted to see her, I was thrilled. So I saw her again when was four years old. It was such a shock to see how much she had grown. I was happy to hug her and spend time talking with her. That was a wonderful visit.
Contact with Adoptive Family
After that, contact with the family faded a bit again, although they still sent some emails and pictures, but that was all. We met again when she was eight, then it started becoming an annual thing until 2018. There were more emails and pictures, in addition to one summer visit in another state, which I can’t name due to privacy reasons. In 2018, when my daughter turned 18, she decided that she wanted to move out on her own. Of course, I was shocked, but I respected her desire to be independent.
Deaf Birth Parent Attended Daughter’s High School Graduation
I flew out to attend her high school graduation, which was such a blessing to see and an important event. Unfortunately, after this, all contact with the adoptive family came to a stop. It was heartbreaking. I don’t know why it happened. One great thing about open adoption was that I could keep in touch with the family and still be able to know about her life and background, her school, her health and so on. Her family could ask me questions and I could provide answers. That was worth it.
Hearing and Deaf Cultural Differences
The downside, however, was that I still struggled with grief and sometimes regret. Also, the parents did not learn to sign, as I had asked them to, and this was disappointing. Another hard thing was the hearing and Deaf cultural differences. They didn’t understand my different culture and language and I didn’t always understand theirs. We were all on our own journeys. In spite of this, I am still blessed, because I know the parents did their best and they are wonderful adoptive parents. I do wish they still kept in touch with me, even though my daughter is on her own and will turn 20 in December.
I still keep in touch with my daughter through Instagram and texts. She’s doing well. Sometimes she will ask questions and want to know more about herself, or her father, or my pregnancy, my family background, her father’s background. So, there are pros and cons about open adoption. I just wanted to share this with everyone. Thank you for watching. Take care.
Video description: TamiJo is sitting ouside between brick walls, with a glass door behind her. She is wearing a short-sleeved top and signing her story.