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A Birth Mom’s Journey: Kate Mulgrew

In 1977, a young Kate Mulgrew became pregnant unexpectedly with a man she did not wish to marry. At a time when pregnancies outside of marriage were considered taboo, Mulgrew knew marrying the father of her baby was not the right decision for her.
The actress, best known for her portrayals of Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager and, more recently, Red in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, has defended her decision stating that it was the best option for her and her child.
“Abortion was absolutely out of the question. So was marriage,” Mulgrew told Wilmington Star-News in 1979. “I suppose I thought I was in love…but I knew he wasn’t the man I wanted to spend my life with.”
Mulgrew became pregnant just as her acting career was beginning to blossom through her role as Mary Ryan in the soap opera Ryan’s Hope. The show’s writers wrote the pregnancy into the script allowing her to continue her acting career. But even so, she wasn’t ready to become a mother and “would not consider raising a child as a single parent.”
She remained committed to her adoption plan throughout her pregnancy and made arrangements with a Roman Catholic agency to complete the adoption. Mulgrew revealed to the Star-News that there were only two times when she “cracked.”
“The first time was the night I sneaked out of my hospital room and, against policy, went down to the nursery and stood at the glass partition getting my only look at my daughter. It was a terribly difficult moment,” Mulgrew said.
The second time “was when I went home from the hospital – without her.”
Finding Peace
Raised an Irish Roman Catholic, Mulgrew believes the sanctity of marriage is of the utmost importance. She grew up in a tight-knit, loving family and they were incredibly supportive of her decision to place the child for adoption. She finds comfort in knowing that her daughter was raised in the same sort of family.
“I know my child is being raised somewhere by two loving parents in a home that’s filled with warmth and joy,” Mulgrew told Star-News.
Mulgrew has no regrets about her decision to place her daughter for adoption and is thankful to have had the experience.
“I believe it was God’s will,” Mulgrew said. “I wouldn’t trade the experience. I also wouldn’t repeat it. It’s a lingering pain, a pain that will always be there.”
Through the pain, however, Mulgrew has been able to find peace in her decision.
“Though I’m always going to feel the hurt, at least I know my child is alive and that she is happy somewhere and growing up surrounded by love.”
Mulgrew is now happily married and has two sons. She was reunited with her biological daughter in 2001.