What is it like to be a birth mom through the holidays?
I placed my little girl in October last year, just as the holiday season was beginning. It was raw through the following months and being around family was nice but I still felt a loss for a little spirit that could have been joining us. I guess I was surprised at how much of my emotional progress depended on me. I had assumed the holiday spirit and family traditions would carry me through it. I was supported immensely by family, friends and strangers who followed my story. Even with that added strength, somehow it still wasn't enough.
I had to fake a few smiles and force myself to attend some family gatherings. I felt bad I wasn't more in tune with the loved ones I did have around me but I found some peace in owning how I felt. I finally decided to give credit to the taxing emotional experience I has just gone through. My biggest saving grace, and not all birth moms have this mercy, was being around my baby girl.
I am blessed with an open adoption and an incredible friendship with my adoptive parents so as I look back to last year, being in touch with them was what made the difference. I was able to see them and remind myself she wasn't gone, she was just bringing another family joy. A joy without comparison! That time spent with them was doing a handful of healing on it's own.
If your adoption is closed and that relief is harder to find this time of year I have a few thoughts that may help bring some peace. Those moments of loss are incredibly difficult and can bring you to question your decision. My advice is to think back to your "Why." Why you chose this for your baby to begin with. Remind yourself of those peaceful feelings you had when you chose a better path for your precious child. Yes, they aren't with you for these special times but they are building bonds and memories with the people God placed here for them and you're an angel for making that possible!
It is absolutely challenging to stay positive and upbeat every day, all the time, I understand that. Continue to surround yourself with support and lean on your agency if needed. They saw you through the process and can give you the perspective to help you get through the heartache. I know I can reach out to my case worker for strength, no matter the time of year.
If you're years past placement or even decades, and adoption was a part of your past no one knows about. Don't do this season alone. You can also find a calm from support. Seek out an agency or fellow birth parents. Having someone know what you're going through will make a world of difference.
Open or closed, fresh or seasoned; regardless of the stage you're in, let those around you lend support! While families gather and what's meant to be joyous seems daunting, remember why you chose adoption. I personally found it helpful to do a few things:
- Light candles and bring in scents from my childhood that helped me feel comforted and close to my roots.
- Play traditional holiday music to remind me of the purpose of this season and in turn remind me how important my decision was.
- Write down how you feel and know it's okay to be sad, confused, lonely, etc. but try to find joy despite the pain. Reach out honestly for connection and support!
As we head into this holiday season I have been able to feel more in control of my emotions by preparing for those down days. I have set aside alone time to write, read, and pamper myself physically and emotionally. I have a system and visits scheduled with my adoptive family.
If your heart aches through this season or all year long, try to move forward knowing you are admired and loved for your sacrifice. My heart is with you during this season and I pray for happy holidays for you and your loved ones!