My Christmas Wishes
Today as I was waiting in line at Starbucks for my mobile order, I noticed the room full of tables and comfy chairs completely vacant. Pre-COVID world, I would be dodging people going in and out of the store. There would have been people watching all of the coffee drinkers typing along on their laptops, the moms chatting about their kids in the corner, and even the awkward coffee date playing out on the patio. But now, the once-bustling coffee shop was as empty as I have felt at times this year. It’s been a hard time for everyone but as a birth mother and adoptee, I have noticed myself getting triggered about twice as often this year. While this year has been challenging, it has been extremely eye-opening as well. It has reminded me how blessed I am for what I have. It has shown me that no matter how difficult the situation is, the people who love me will always show up to support me and they are my community. 2020 has also shown me that life is fleeting. So instead of all these revelations, my Christmas wishes for the adoption triad are a bit more intentional this year.
I personally have a very limited relationship with my birth mother. She’s an addict and she daily struggles with her mental well-being due mostly to her poor choices. However, over the years of knowing her, I have seen what closed adoptions and a lack of post-adoption support can do to a birth mother’s wellbeing. Unfortunately, when I was born back in the 1980s, closed adoptions were just the normal outcome of a woman choosing to place a child into a home through adoption. This meant that their baby would be taken away and they would be lucky to get updates through the agency.
I was flipping through my adoption records the other day for some reflection during National Adoption Month and I was so thankful to find that my mother sent updates to my birth mom through the agency consistently. She would say “our daughter is doing XYZ and she is loving XYZ in this season of life” and whatever else was relevant with me at that time. The fact that she still allowed my birth mother to hold space in my life with the simple words “our daughter” touched my heart in a different way than most adoptees. As a birth mother, I know that the simple use of “our” instead of “my daughter”, means that the adoptive mother was acknowledging the motherhood of birth mama. That’s HUGE.
So, here’s my wish for my birth mother and other birth mothers out there. I wish for you the space of recognition as a MOTHER. I know sometimes it seems like we are not recognized as such, but make no mistake, you are the embodiment of a mother regardless of having a child under your care at this time or not. We all made an extremely difficult decision to put our feelings on a shelf and set our children up for a life that we felt they needed at that time. That sacrificial love is best exhibited by mothers.
Another wish that I have for birth mothers is that they always have hope to see and know their child again. I know that my grandparents said that when I did not show up after I turned 18 they began to doubt that I’d ever show up at their door. Four years later I did. While I realize that not every situation allows for hope to thrive, I truly believe that there is always the possibility of reconnection. And if you already have a connection with your child through visits or letters, hold tight to those moments. The main goal of our choice for adoption was for our child. It sometimes takes adoptees like me longer to process our stories. Give them grace and space to decide when they want to include you in that story, but never give up hope.
Y’all have such a bad rap. Even I have been guilty of dogging on birth fathers, and I am sorry. I truly believe that men feeling any emotion is not normalized. You are under so much pressure to always be the strong and stoic ones in our society. I assume that these unrealistic worldly expectations of men are causing a lot of pressure among some men to be quiet about their hurt. Therefore there are a lot of birth fathers (and male adoptees) who do not get support, choose to go to therapy, or talk about how they feel about their adoption plans.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a good fraction of men who don’t want any part of the adoption process. We hear about them all the time when a birth mother is asked if the birth father was a part of their child’s story. While I hate that this is such a prevalent thing, I am trying to make more space for grace for birth fathers. I don’t know what your childhood looked like, you may have avoidant attachment or other traumas causing you to listen to the flight side of your survival mechanism.
My Christmas wish for birth fathers is that we can make efforts to normalize men’s feelings of emotions. Whether you were actively involved in your child’s adoption story or you impulsively fled when you found out you had helped create a child, I want you to know that it is never too late to show up and feel. Show up and possibly be connected with your child. Show up and be supported by the birth parent community. We all make mistakes and we all fear our emotions and how we will be perceived. But I wish for you a safe place to find community and support.
For my children personally, I have always wished endless possibilities and love for them. I want them to be able to pursue passions, to discover their identities and quirks, to pour their hearts out in service projects that impact the world, to always know what love looks like because they have it abundantly placed over them, and to always choose their own path for their future.
For adoptees searching for their biological roots right now, I wish you peace of closure. Personally, I know the emotional rollercoaster that can come with searching. I had disappointment after disappointment. However, I realized through it all that there were things I gained from the hardships that I’d never trade an easier time for. I have a connection with family members that want to be in my life even if it’s not all the family members I had hoped for in the beginning. I have the closure of who I am, which honestly was the goal when I began looking. And lastly, I have learned a lot about my lineage and that was cool to be able to build out my family tree and learn where my ancestors hailed from (shoutout to my English and Scottish peeps). I hope that you find closure in some form as you search for answers and that you have peace even if it becomes difficult or challenging in knowing that there can always be positives found.
For adoptees who are connected to their biological family, I wish you more memories. I have had a ball knowing my Macon Family for a decade now. My great-grandmother, Granny G, left us only six years after I got to know her. It was devastating, but I am so thankful for the memories I have of her and knowing how much she loved me. Memories are forever and we can always lean on them when we are hurting or feeling alone.
For the adoptee who struggles with their story, I wish you support. I will be the first to say I have been guilty of feeling uncomfortable sitting in feelings opposite of mine. But if I have learned anything from being uncomfortable in any situation, I know that growth can always be found in those moments. I hope that people can begin to give you room to feel whatever you are feeling and try and sit with you through that. We don’t have to see adoption the same as other adoptees after all our stories are as unique as we are. Whether you have negative feelings or even anger about adoption or parts of your story, know that your feelings are valid. I am sorry that we as an adoption community do not always rally with you in support. Adoption is messy so how can we expect every story to be perfectly wrapped in paper and bows?
When I was choosing my daughter’s parents, I knew in my heart that they were who I wanted to raise my little girl. My wish for them at the beginning of our story was the same as it is now, to always feel the love of family. C and A did not have children already so our girl was the one to complete that wish for them. I hope that they always know how much I treasure them for giving our daughter the world. We have had some interesting bits in our story, but I hope they know that no matter what I am so proud of them.
For hopeful adoptive parents, I wish for you hope and fruition. I have heard my parents talk about the struggles of trying to start a family and not being able to. They tried for 9 years before considering adoption. My heart aches for the people who struggle with infertility, miscarriages, and incomplete adoption matches where an expectant mother considering adoption decides to parent instead. I imagine it is hard to hold on to hope when it seems everything is against you, but I pray that you keep on pushing towards your dreams. My greatest wish for you is the fruition of a family, however, that comes to you or whatever it may look like one day. I am cheering you on.
For adoptive parents who have already adopted a child, my wish for you is perspective. I hope that you put in the work before adopting by researching adoption trauma, attachment disorders, and listening to adoptees share their stories. As I mentioned earlier, adoption is messy. As an adoptee, adoption was painted as a beautiful and honorable thing that was nothing but joy and completion of the family. While it has those things, it is not so simply put. Adoption is created from loss and we need to honor that part of the story. Connection to birth parents through semi-open or open adoption helps adoptees tremendously (and helps the birth parents, too), and being transparent with them about their story also helps them navigate their identity as they grow up. I have heard a lot of adoptive parents express hesitancy when it comes to open adoption and having a relationship with birth parents. I hope that as more birth parents share their stories, we can show the adoption community that open adoption can be as normal as meeting up with extended family, and that birth parent stigmas are far from reality.
I dream that one day we can all see one another’s perspectives and cohesively work together to make the future of adoption better.
The truth is my wishes for the adoption community are limitless. We as a community are in an awakened state. Life-changing things are happening all around us, but there is still so much work to be done. It cannot happen if we do not come together to do our part. No matter what your role is in the adoption triad, I hope that if you take nothing away from this but one thing it is that you are important. Your voice matters, your perspective is insightful, your story is impactful, and together we can move mountains in modern adoption.