Sure. I could say all the normal platitudes about placing a child for adoption. You know, “you can always have more children,” or “time heals all wounds,” or even “you gave someone the greatest gift that they could not give themselves.” BLEH.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe each of those sayings is true. I have, in fact, clung to them at times. Boy, howdy, do I ever wish that there was something that anyone could say, that I could say, that would ease your grief or strengthen your fragile soul.
There are simply too many adoption stereotypes. For example: a) All birth moms are under 18 and come from messed-up families, b) All adoptive parents want an infant, c) All birth fathers abandon the mother, d) Etc. I have been told that I hate children (hmmm . . . I have chosen to parent three children after I placed one for adoption AND I became a teacher of junior high critters nonetheless), that I wouldn’t graduate from high school (let’s see . . . I have the title “Dr.” in front of my name), and that I was likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the loss (never had either—really!). I was a teenaged birth mom (true to stereotype) but had a great, supportive family and a boyfriend didn’t abandon me and who proposed to me two years later (I was the one who broke off the relationship).
I know birth moms who married the birth dad and who had children of their own; I know several people who adopted children at age seven, or eleven, or even sixteen; and I know of birth moms who parented one or two or even three children and then chose to place the next. Each of our stories is unique; therefore, our grief and loss is very unique. How can I, in just a few hundred words, give an uplifting message that will work for each of us?
What I can do is share a few experiences, as birth mom veteran of thirty-one years, that helped me.
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- The theme song from An American Tail – ” . . . and even though I know how very far apart we are, it helps to know we’re wishin’ on that same bright star . . . it helps to know we’re sleepin’ underneath the same big sky.”
- A clipped article from an Ann Landers column from a reader who had adopted a baby and what it was like to bring him home.
- Putting my birth son’s birthstone in my mother’s ring with my three that I raised (as well as mine and my husband’s).
- Hearing a 60-year old man say how grateful he was that his 14-year-old birth mom placed him for adoption.
- One of my students who wanted to find her birth mom say to me, “I hope that my birth mom is as cool as you are.”
- The movie Juno.
- A little guy in a children’s church class say, “Guess what? I grew in one mommy’s heart and in another mommy’s tummy. Aren’t I lucky?”
- Meeting a family of five in which NONE of the family members is of the same race but they all share the same last name.
- Being reminded in a Sunday School class that Jesus Christ was adopted by Joseph.
Mercy River is one of my favorite musical groups. There is a line from one of their songs that when I am struggling will be on repeat in my mind. It says, “Hope has a way of turning its face to you just when you least expect it.” I could easily change the word hope to comfort, peace, or strength. I have found that when I am very sad and the grief of being a birth mom weighs very heavy, that an unexpected something will come along and be just the right thing at the right time.
Then, if all else fails, I work to remember why I made the decision to place my child in the first place. I simply knew it was the right thing to do. For me. But especially for him. Then, the slightest hope, comfort, peace, or strength (or all four), sparks deep inside. That flame cannot eliminate the complete sorrow, but that light allows me to pause, take a deep breath, and move forward.
So, what uplifting words can I give from one birth momma to another? Simply this.
- You are amazing.
- You are beautiful in the ways that REALLY matter.
- You are, and will always be, a mother because a real mother sacrifices herself for her child, and that is exactly what you did to the very extreme.
- You have a right to act a little nutso sometimes.
- You have the strength to do what so many others couldn’t.
- You belong to a special, sacred club that only birth moms really understand.
- You are not alone.