County resident pens self-help book for birth moms
Monday, Dec 31, 2012 11:53 am
A Rocky View County resident has released a self-help book for the birth mothers of adopted babies.
Conrich-area resident Theresa Gonzalez, who at 18 had a child and gave him up in a closed adoption, wrote Silent Moms, The Secret Grief of Birth Mothers to help others who have gone through similar experiences work through their feelings.
It is Gonzalez’ first book.
“It was a little scary in a way (writing the book) because I have never done it before, but it has also been a very humbling and very rewarding experience to be able to put something together in hopes of helping others,” she said. “The book is meant to create conversations.”
Gonzalez became pregnant in the early 1980s and as an unwed mother, felt she had few options. She moved to a maternity home three hours away from her small hometown in Alberta and into a room with 12 other pregnant youth.
While waiting for her son to be born, she attended classes on nutrition, labour, delivery and birth control. Gonzalez had few visitors and after several months bore a son that she promptly gave up.
Gonzalez, who was a professional dancer for years, left the home alone, hoping to begin a new life. Instead, she said she found herself derailed by emotions she couldn’t face.
“It wasn’t the dark ages, but the treatment I received was very similar to what women in the 1960s and 1970s experienced,” she said. “You were told what is done is done, give up your child and move on with your life. It was heart wrenching.”
Gonzalez said she suffered debilitating shame, guilt and grief for many years.
Gonzalez began working at The Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre and took part in counselling groups. She said although she was the only birth mother from the closed adoption era involved in the group, the grief felt by many of the young mothers was similar.
“I met older women and I saw unfinished business in them as well,” said Gonzalez. “(Many felt) anger, regret and shame - that is why a lot of them have kept their secret for years.”
Gonzalez, who has not had other children, said the process of getting over the grief can be particularly difficult as many of the birth mothers felt judged and no one was around to support them and help them through their grief.
Gonzalez began speaking to others in similar situations. In 2003, she was speaking in Moncton about the difference a support group might have made to her life back then when she noticed an older woman sobbing in the back of the room for the duration of her presentation.
“I wanted so much to go and seek her out and learn a bit about her story, but she was gone,” said Gonzalez. “That did start the journey.”
Over the past few years, Gonzalez began writing her book and recently completed it.
She said it was important because there are more women affected by adoption than one might think.
“You just don’t know who has been touched by this,” she said. “There are many women out there who will keep this secret to their graves. I think we need to be open to the grief we experience. It is just taking the time for one another and creating the conversations.”
The book touches on a number of topics such as dealing with grief, the history of adoption, forgiveness, open and closed adoption and reuniting with an adopted child. The book is illustrated by a local artist, Harriet Stanley and editing was done by Carmen Wittmeier, who also lives in Rocky View County.
Silent Moms is self published.
For more information about the book, visit www.silentmoms.ca