Raquel McCloud shares about her life on Instagram and on her blog, including sharing about placing her daughter for adoption 18 years ago. Recently, McCloud wrote about the complex emotions she experienced making the trip to see her birth daughter graduate from high school. The beautiful, life-affirming piece was picked up by Love What Matters, reaching more readers and sharing the much needed perspective of a courageous birth mother.
In the essay, McCloud reflects on the journey that got her there. She wrote, “I woke up in a motel, alone, 700 miles from my husband and our 2 daughters because I have a daughter graduating high school and she wanted me to be here for it… I’m a birth mother.” She considers other names for a “birth mother,” like “first mom” and “biological mom,” adding, “It is all just the politically correct title for someone who places a child for adoption, which is what I did nearly 18 years ago and today I’m going to watch this beautiful young lady graduate.”
Elsewhere, McCloud has shared that she discovered she was pregnant with her daughter at 14. After a childhood of abuse and trauma, McCloud was scared and did not know what the future would hold when she gave birth and made an adoption plan for her child.
From this place of fear and uncertainty, McCloud did not know what kind of contact she would have with her birth daughter. The adoptive parents got in touch with her first, and from there a beautiful relationship has blossomed. McCloud’s birth daughter has met McCloud’s two other daughters and shared many milestones. McCloud wrote, “Had my birth daughter’s parents not reached out, I would have spent a lifetime assuming she didn’t want to know me.” Many children adopted as babies have a strong desire to make contact with their birth parents if only to express their gratitude.
Even though McCloud has such a positive relationship with her birth daughter, she wrote honestly about the feelings of fear and inadequacy that haunted her on the day of the graduation. She wrote, “I can sit in this room and reflect on every moment I’ve missed, I can drown in every thought of inadequacy and choke on despair. I can allow the ‘what ifs’ to eat me alive from the inside out…The other road is more difficult. It extends into the horizon and is lined with heart work, hard work, healing and hope. It’s painfully optimistic and incredibly therapeutic even if on some days it feels impossible.”
There is no doubt that McCloud chose the latter. After embracing the day, no matter how nervous she was, she watched her birth daughter graduate. For a young girl in McCloud’s circumstances 18 years ago, abortion advocates would assume that abortion is the “solution.” But McCloud’s birth daughter is the living proof that there is another person in every abortion decision.
What is more, the effect that McCloud’s birth daughter has had in shaping her life for the good shows just how much is at stake. When young and vulnerable mothers are told that abortion is their only option, they can face a lifetime of pain and regret. When mothers are given real solutions and life-affirming assistance, they are not only saving their children’s lives but shaping the rest of their own.
McCloud remained nervous as she drove to the graduation, but as she pulled into the parking lot her birth daughter called to ask her to sit with her boyfriend so he was not all alone. McCloud’s presence was natural and appreciated, a moment of success that everyone who cared about her birth daughter the most was able to share.
On Instagram, McCloud described her essay as “an honest look into the coexistence of heartache, anxiety, happiness and hope.” “If you’ve ever questioned if joy is worth fighting for…I say it is.” She wrote elsewhere, “Existing as a birth mother in an open adoption is an experience I never imagined having but our relationship means more to me than I could ever articulate. Thankfulness and gratitude do not negate hardship or suffering and it’s okay for them to coexist.”
McCloud’s candid account of being a birth mother provides a beautiful perspective of what love and sacrifice really look like. As she noted, “Adoption is a chaotic balance of hopes, fears, expectations, healing and love…and at the apex is the child and their best interest.” If only more people knew this beautiful truth.