Christmas is over, the presents that were wrapped so carefully now have new homes in the corners of my house. Soon my husband will return to work and life as I knew it will return to normal. In comes the New Year and with it, the resolutions that I will inevitably give up on as I look at the seven layer chocolate cake in the bakery window. Being a birth mother has always made me look at every day completely differently, as opposed to before I placed my son. Even bringing in a new year is a different experience for me now. I mark this milestone and think, “I made it another year. I survived when I never thought I would”. This year, I feel so comfortable with my decision to place my son, that I’m taking it a step further and actively working on improving the “birth mother” side of my life. Here are 5 resolutions that I have settled on for myself, and feel like a lot of birth mothers could all apply them to her life:
1. I will work towards finding a “happy zone” somewhere between adoption and the rest of my life.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. For me, I am either at every adoption conference, panel, support group and constantly posting on social media about adoption… or completely isolating that part of my life. There has been no middle ground for me and this year I will be working on making it something that is always with me, but not always consuming me.
2. I will make time for myself because I am worth it.
One way I tend to “handle the hard days” is by consuming my day to day life with so much that I don’t have time to think about why I’m feeling upset. This isn’t healthy, I know it, my husband knows it, and eventually my children will start to see it. It’s a piece of advice that is given to so many people because it’s a piece of advice so many people tend to not engage in. This year, I will make time for myself. This year, I will allow myself time to remember why I am unique, why I am special, and bring up my lacking confidence so I can fully enjoy and engage in life. I am worth it.
3. I will offer a hand or encouraging word to someone who is struggling.
I have confided my story to countless strangers, but it’s so hard to confide to those I know on a personal level. Perhaps I’m selfish and I don’t want anybody to see me cry, or hurt, or to decorate adoption with anything besides a positive light. Adoption is amazing and was the best choice for my child and for me, but to paint a picture of it to make it seem painless is an insult to the process for every party. Not only that, but we all are fighting a battle during our lives. Perhaps me sharing my story with friends and family will help others to realize that even though we have to go through hardships, it doesn’t mean our lives are all that bad. In fact, it’s the hardships that bring dimension and color, allowing us to see the world in all its beauty.
4. I will try my best to maintain a healthy relationship with my child and his/her family.
Although I have a fabulous relationship with my son and his family, I still feel like it’s a hard balance. How many pictures can I like on Facebook before it seems “weird”? I know I can randomly text them whenever I need to, but how often should I “need to”? If I buy a gift for my son, should I buy one for the rest of their kids? If you can’t tell, I tend to overthink things. This next year, I am going to do my best to maintain, nurture, or anything I can to allow for the healthiest relationship between my son, his family, and my family. This includes appropriate interaction on social media, phone calls, visits, gifts, and so forth. This should, obviously, be different for every adoption situation.
5. I will remind myself every day that I am a good mother for making the selfless (and pretty terrifying) decision to place my child.
Being an advocate for adoption comes with many rewarding experiences, but there are a lot of people who have been hurt by adoption. Some of them will seek out opportunities to tear down those who don’t agree with their opinions on adoption. I’ve run into a few of these people, and while I try to remember that they are hurting, I need to remind myself that I am a good mother. I will remember that I love my son and him living with me was not a suitable life for him, simply because of the situation I was in. I will remember that he has many people who love him, and I have many people who love me. It was terrifying, painstaking work to search through hundreds of profiles of good people who needed an outside force to expand their family. There were a lot of unknowns and fears. But the one fear that was silenced, was wondering if my child would be taken care of in a loving home. And since I couldn’t offer him stability through myself, I found him a couple who could. I will remind myself every day that sometimes, being a good mother is something I had to do alone… and I did it. I am a good mother.