As birthmothers, we love our children; so much so that often, we break our own hearts in order to give them the best life possible. This is the utmost example of selfless love. As birthmothers, we grieve our children, although when grief is thought of, it’s often associated with death, and our children are not dead. Opposite ends of the spectrum here, right? Selfless love and immense grief. How are we as birthmothers supposed to reconcile these two seemingly opposing emotions sprung from the same circumstances?
A birthmother’s grief is usually expected to be handled behind closed doors, shut away from the public eye; from the eyes of their support system, from their child’s Adoptive family. Showing that grief can be misconstrued in so many ways. Others may interpret it as regret or shame or any number of other emotions. Why? Because how does one grieve when the child is doing exactly what you hoped for- thriving in their family dynamic that you chose to place them in, fervently praying that they would flourish? You expect that they would be happy. You don’t want to doubt that they will be loved or safe. And they are, so grief doesn’t belong there, right?
Birthmothers Need Space To Talk About Their Grief
Birthmother’s grief absolutely belongs in every adoption story, whether it is openly shared or privately felt. Knowing you have made the right choice in your head doesn’t necessarily mean your heart comes along hand-in-hand for the ride. I know for me personally, while I was making this plan, I had a Pros & Cons list for both my head and my heart. And they said very different things. I used this list throughout my pregnancy as I yo-yoed back and forth on my decision. Getting my head and heart to align took months of work and yes, so much grief. I was very lucky to have a support system in place that didn’t require me to hide my grief as many birth moms don’t have that safe space to share their genuine, authentic selves, always having to put on a mask of happiness to present to the world.
Society tells us to only share the positive highlight reels of our lives. “Post the happy pictures and funny memes, but keep the sad stuff behind closed doors” is what we’re told. No one wants to see the hard times, so if you do happen to share your grief as a Birth Mom, people naturally try to usher you back to the happy side of your adoption story: the completed family, the two-parent home your child gets, the financial stability…all the reasons you chose adoption to begin with. It’s almost instinctual in our society at this point to only accept the positive. While all of that positivity is valid, so are your very real feelings of loss. For Birthmothers, this presents quite the dilemma.
Your journey cannot solely live in one side of the story or the other. If you only live on the happy side of your adoption story, you’re not healing. You’re not growing. The same is true if you only live on the sad side of your story. By living your full story, the happy, the sad, the hard, the blessed, the beautifully bittersweet unique story that is yours, your child’s, and their family’s alone is the only way for your journey to be one of healing.
Getting Your Mind To Accept Unreconcilable Grief
This is how you reconcile the unreconcilable; the Birth Mother’s Grief. By living through both sides of your story, however that looks to you as an individual (therapy, Birth Mother Support meetings, sharing authentically with your support system, journaling, etc). By feeling the entire bittersweet spectrum, sitting with all of the feelings- both the highs and the lows, and working through them one day, one hour, one minute, one moment at a time.
If you or a birthmother you know need post-placement support, please reach out; there are resources available at no cost to you. Don’t suffer alone, we would love to help!