When you identify yourself, what are the first things you mention? Is it your marital status? Your gender? Your religious beliefs? Your title within your career? Noting that you’re a survivor of a tragic event? Positive adjectives describing your character? Your parental status? Everyone chooses to identify themselves differently based how they feel about themselves as well as poignant events in their life.

For many birth mothers, one of the first things they identify with is just that: being a birth mother. Placing a child is a string of events that alters who you are and who you become. It can definitely bring out the best and worst of people. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Oh no. This can be one of the best things that ever happened to you! Let me explain.

When I got pregnant with my son, I went through a lot of the same highs and lows that most women go through during an unplanned pregnancy. But what I never could have foreseen was how amazing being a birth mother is. Since placement, I’ve grown to appreciate adoption even more. It’s something I feel so strongly about that I’ve chosen to make an attempt at making a career out of it. Not placing all of my kids of course, but working in the field of adoption. And I’m sure many other birth mothers also feel they are drawn into the world of adoption after having a good experience. However, this is not to say it should take over every aspect of life.

Though very important and meaningful, adoption probably shouldn’t consume us. There are so many more wonderful things we can each do with our lives than dwell on a struggle-whether it turned out good or bad-so we can continue to progress.

Some of the best ways to avoid making adoption the center of your personal universe are simple:

Serve others: Whether it’s you who feels the burden or those around you who feel weighed down, give of yourself. When you’re thinking about other people and their struggles or big life events, you home in on their needs and can use your experiences to empathize.

Keep busy doing things that give you meaning: If you are able to work, exercise, attend school, or even take up several hobbies, you’ll find more wonderful things about yourself that you can identify with. Just keep adding to the list of things that make you so great!

Consider counseling: If your experience with adoption is truly getting in the way of you performing your everyday functions, you may consider going to talk with a professional. They can help you compartmentalize your priorities and get you to a place that can incorporate adoption without it foreshadowing every other aspect of your life.

Adoption, in my opinion, is not a bad thing at all. I think it is amazing and should be better known and understood. However, I do recognize that it has it’s time and place to be put on the table. If you really do love adoption and want nothing more than to make it a focal point in your life, seek learning and work opportunities to make that a reality. As for the majority of us, we just need to find ways to use it to help us and others, rather than making it our go-to in everything we say and do.