Adoption is a sweet thing. It’s giving opportunities for growth to everyone. But there is bitterness to the beauty. There’s often animosity towards a birth father, jealousy towards the adoptive parents, or even self-loathing towards the reflection in the mirror. And no, it’s not just pregnancy hormones. These feelings can go on for years and eat away at you.

I feel it is very important to learn to let go of bitterness, to let go of the negativity that hinders opportunity. As a birth mother, there are plenty of internal struggles you’ll go through. You don’t need the extra weight on your shoulders.

One tried-and-true method that I’ve used is writing and journaling. I don’t have a way with words when it comes to talking. I’m not very confident and don’t usually convey when I’m feeling. And sometimes I don’t necessarily want to talk TO someone. People tend to tell me that I need to choose to be positive, or that I should stop being so angry (yeah, that doesn’t help me feel better.) Microsoft Word isn’t going to tell me my thoughts and opinions don’t count. The paper won’t judge me for what I’m feeling. I can be myself when I literally spell out my thoughts. This isn’t the case for everyone, but I find it’s easier to express myself without someone commenting back.

Another way you can learn to expel those feelings is to do the exact opposite: talk with people you trust, who you know will listen, and who will have your best interest in mind. This is hard for me, but I can speak from the other side of the conversation. When I’m able to sit down with someone, and let them talk through what they’re feeling, it can do wonders. If I can manage to ask the right questions so they can understand why they’re feeling the way they feel, if I can make them feel validated, if I can make them feel understood, they can let that bitterness out and move forward.

Lastly, I’d like to suggest something I personally struggle with immensely: forgive. This is a hard one because it takes two kinds of forgiveness. It takes forgiveness towards whomever you’re feeling bitter towards, as well as forgiveness towards yourself. You don’t feel bitterness towards someone else without feeling some dissatisfaction with yourself. Let go of all of it if you can. Whether that bitterness is rooted in animosity, jealousy, hatred, or rage, please try to forgive and let it go. There is happiness waiting for you that can’t fit in the same space as that negativity.

There are so many other things you can do to remove bitterness from your heart, so please, do what is best for you. Don’t do something just because another birth mother said to do it. Do what works for you because you deserve to replace that bitterness with joy. You brought joy to your child by doing what you thought was best for them, so now, keep going and show them how to maximize that joy. They call it bitterness for a reason; it’s a bad taste that lingers. Replace it with the sweet taste of relief and happiness.