As families gather during the holidays, our thoughts are with birth parents – sending you peace, love and good will.
The holidays can be a difficult time for some individuals and families as they gather together and take stock of the year and what has been gained and what has been lost. Sometimes the absence of a relative is felt acutely, though many families do not name the loss out loud. Birth parents who have placed children for adoption often quietly struggle through conversations about others’ children and milestones and joys but are rarely asked about the child they birthed and placed, often because relatives do not know how to ask and do not want to cause pain.
The constant cultural reflection of the Virgin Mary, the unwed teenage mother who suffered from stigma and housing insecurity, surrounds us in churches and media as a sympathetic character worthy of admiration, but the real life stories of our friends and relatives who have struggled at times seems too complicated to acknowledge. It is important that we, if we know a birth parent, reach out and let them know they are seen and supported during this emotionally fraught time of family togetherness. It is important that we, if we are birth parents, take time to practice self care through whatever soothes us – exercise, prayer, petting cuddly animals, meditating, belting out songs at top volume in the car, allowing ourselves to grieve, alone and with trusted companions. Seek out people who can genuinely hold space and compassion and ask for the support you need. Give yourself permission to take breaks from crowds and family and seek solitude to get your bearings.
If you have contact with the adoptive family and your child, write meaningful words in a card and send your gifts with love, so your child can feel your care and thoughts during a time that might be hard for them too. If you do not have contact with the adoptive family and your child, write a letter in a diary with the word you want them to hear and save it for a future time when there might be a reunion and you can share your yearly reflections of love. Above all, love yourself. You are worthy of love and happiness and you do not have to fit into standard narratives of family to deserve a sense of belonging. From the poet Max Ehrmann, “Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”
Adoption Connection is proud to serve our birth parent clients by helping to connect them with resources and support throughout their lives. During this season of giving and throughout the year, please consider making a donation to Adoption Connection, so that we may continue to help support birth parents.