Happy National Birth Mother’s Day to Betty, who loved me enough to give me up

Happy National Birth Mother’s Day to the woman who carried me for nine months during trying, uncertain times, gave birth to me, then gave me up to protect me and give me what she hoped and prayed would be a better life. At least that is why, deep in my heart, I believe she made the decision she made.

It’s just one of the many reasons I love Betty — whom I never met — so very much.

I won’t go into all the details here. I’ve written about them over and over for the past 17 years since finding my three older full siblings and learning some of the sad fragments of the difficult life Betty endured both before and after I was born in February 1961. For Mother’s Day 2011, I wrote a narrative about her and my journey for The Dallas Morning News, where I’ve now worked for 22 years.

Countless adoptees must live with discontent and feelings of bitterness, even hatred, toward their biological mothers for what they perceive as rejection, which in many cases is far from reality. Many haven’t met their bio moms to hear their stories and learn the true circumstances in which they were often forced to give up their babies as teens.

Betty with my brothers Crys (right) and Robin in West Logan, West Virginia, where my birth family lived from about 1948 to 1951. The photo is likely from 1950, when Crys was 6 (he’s now 78). Robin, who passed away at 61 in 2009, would’ve been 75 this July.

But I prefer to believe that Betty, a 39-year-old, divorced, single mother of three, chose adoption for me not only because she feared for my safety but because she loved me just as much as she loved her first three children, who at the time I was born were 17, 13 and 6 years old.

My siblings — brother Crys, who turned 17 the day I was born; brother Robin, who turned 14 five months later; and sister Terry, who’d just turned 6 two months earlier — were raised and nurtured with love and devotion by Betty Louise, born in July 1921. For 20 years, she also loved their father, Bob — who was mine, too — and did her best to look past his love affair with a woman who held him closer than any lover. He could never escape the seductive ways of booze.

After their divorce kept them apart for only so long, a pregnancy blindsided Betty. With the regretful facts that I waited so long to search for her and that lung cancer took her at 71, making it impossible for her to answer the untold number of questions I have, I’m left to speculate about so much of what happened — since my sibs don’t know either.

But because of Bob’s problems and the likelihood that he never knew about her pregnancy after being arrested in a drunken rage, never to be seen again, I’m convinced Betty decided — perhaps with the help of relatives — early on that she couldn’t keep me. The reasons would’ve been multiple, including her inability to support a fourth child as a single mother working the kinds of jobs she’d been holding, including department store and drugstore clerk.

Most telling, though, knowing what my siblings and others have told me about her loving and compassionate nature, I’ll never have a second guess about Betty’s concern for my welfare and safety — and that of her children.

Betty with my sister Terry in October 1980, when Terry and her husband Rick married. Betty was 59 at the time — younger than I am now (61).

What if Bob had found out about me? He could make a mess of things and try to take me away from her, and surely she knew I’d be in dire circumstances if he were somehow successful. And although he ended up moving to Florida, we don’t know if Betty knew that or, if she did, when she found out. So she must have feared that if he learned about her pregnancy and returned, her children’s safety would also be at risk.

The whole situation was extremely delicate, and Betty had to be very careful. That’s why, for several months of her pregnancy, she and the kids moved out of our hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, to Ironton, Ohio, where she took a job singing with a small dance band in an upscale hotel’s bar. I can only assume Bob tried unsuccessfully to find her, and by the time they moved back to Huntington when she was about six months along, he was already in Florida — where he drowned, homeless, in a tragic accident in July 1962.

That’s more detail than I meant to get into. But all this is to say that I’ll never stop believing that the decisions Betty made where I’m concerned came straight from her huge, selfless heart. She loved her children more than anything, and that included her unborn son about whom she had to make a painful choice.

I’m sure she knew it to be the right and necessary one — for me, for Crys, for Robin and for Terry.

Thank you, Betty. Because of you, every day will always be Birth Mother’s Day for me. ❤


8 thoughts on “Happy National Birth Mother’s Day to Betty, who loved me enough to give me up

  1. Well said, my friend. I think it’s safe to say she loved you and when someone asked about her kids, you were there in heart. That much is obvious. I have a friend who gave her baby up 40 years ago. She eventually married the father and they never had another child. This was a sore point and they divorced after decades of marriage. I asked her a few years ago if her daughter had gotten in touch and while the parents would send her updates and pictures throughout her childhood, the daughter did not wish any contact with her birth parent(s). Sad to think she has that ability and chooses not to use it. I hope someday she does. The birth parents were both good people. Still are. There’s nothing in there that was bad or evil. They were just too young. And gave their baby to a family desperate for that child. A total act of love. Happy Mother’s Day Betty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karl, thanks for your always thoughtful words. What a sad, although also uplifting, story about your friend. Their daughter did end up in a good home, it sounds like, but if they ended up getting married, it’s too bad they didn’t keep her after all. And then to not have had any more children … I can see how there must’ve been a good bit of unhappiness in that marriage. 😦 Thanks for wishing Betty a happy Mother’s Day. Hope you and your beloved are well. We still need to get together sometime to meet! You up for lunch sometime on a Monday when I’m off? Since we’re both in Arlington, that can be easily arranged! 🙂

      Like

  2. I have relatives who are adopted; all have searched for, and found, their biological families, to mixed results. I’m happy for you that you believe she did the best thing she could to secure a better future for you. Sometimes, to really love someone, you have to make agonizing choices like letting them go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Tiffini, thanks so much for reading my post about Betty. I replied once but I guess it didn’t take, so I’m trying again! 🙂 Interesting to hear you have adopted relatives. I’ve been blessed that when I found my 3 older siblings — who, as you read, are full sibs — in 2005, they accepted me immediately, and we’ve developed a tight bond (we lost our brother Robin in 2009). You are so right about making those painful choices when it comes to those we love. I clicked to follow your blog — it’s great to find someone who writes so well and whose words mean so much and can be so helpful to others. I hope you’ll also follow my blog. Feel free to ignore the posts about baseball, lol. 😉 Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve followed you! Looking forward to reading more about you. My sister grew up schooling me on baseball — we traveled to meet Javier Lopez once upon a time. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, that’s cool that you know baseball — and you met Javy Lopez! One of my recent posts is about a trip Kay (my wife) and I made in March to meet my favorite Astros (that’s my team!) player of all time, Terry Puhl. It was only a brief chat after his team finished playing a doubleheader (he’s been coaching a small-college team in Victoria, TX but is now retiring) …. but it was enough for me just to have met him! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll take a read of it! We were an odd bunch. We loved the Braves… but also the Yankees. 🙂

      My girls like going to football games, so we probably watch more football than anything right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How cool that the girls like FB! What a bonding experience for y’all. My wife Kay is the same (loves football!), but she goes to baseball games w/me because she knows how much I love it — and of course because she loves me. 🙂 Braves and Yankees — yep, that’s quite a combination! I’ve always liked the Braves … until, um, this past season when they beat, um … well, you know! And the Yankees … uh, sorry, not a fan, lol. 😉 Our kiddos (soon to be 21 and 18 … we had kids late!) don’t care about sports at all! We often wonder how they can really be ours.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s