How do you deal with grief? It’s a tricky thing that every person handles differently. The grief that a birth mother feels is also only something that someone can truly relate to if you have experienced it. Sally Vandenburg, she placed her daughter for adoption when she was 17 years old. But most adoptions at that time were closed, so she had no information about her daughter. She wasn’t even allowed to see her after she was born. Like many birth parents, Sally wondered and thought about her baby throughout her life.
Over 50 years later, Sally was diagnosed with a terminal illness and was told she wouldn’t live past May. Then the daughter she placed so long ago, Karen Williams, reached out to her. All of a sudden, I wasn’t weak anymore when I heard about Sharon,” said Sally. They were able to talk on the phone. Then they planned a visit to meet each other. They were able to spend a few days together getting to know each other and gain a sense of closure for both of them.
“I obviously am going to go very happy,” said Sally.
As previously mentioned, birth mother grief is unlike any other grief there is. In an article on adoption.com, birth mom Lisa Taylor described the experience. She wrote, “While many people understand the initial grief and sacrifice of a birth mom, what is not widely understood or even known is that birth mothers die a million deaths over and over and over again. While it is true that the keen, all-encompassing, open grieving lessens a bit over time, the depth does not; it cannot. This is because of the very definition of grief. If grief is defined as ‘the keen mental suffering … over loss’ then, for the birth mother, loss occurs over and over again.”
This just reiterates the importance and validity of Sally’s need to meet the daughter she placed before it was too late for her. Karen reported that it was nice for both of them to have the closure and relationship they both needed.