Hearts of Adoption Options:
I was nineteen when I found out I was pregnant; fast forward thirteen years later to today and I (like many others) am flooded with so many happy memories as I look back on my journey with Open Adoption. Memories like dancing in the kitchen with my son Tom and his adoptive parents to the Black Keys, with the volume on full blast. Family trips to Disneyland, and even quiet snuggles when he was younger as I’d read him ‘just one more story’ before bed. These are all things that I truly never believed I would ever get to experience as a Birth Mom; so ‘grateful’ doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel most days. However, there is a part of my story that I haven’t shared before now. I suppose I’m writing this in hopes of it helping just one other Birth Mom to not feel like she’s entirely alone on the subject.
OK, so grief may seem like an obvious thing that one would need to deal with when going through something like Open Adoption. In fact I think there may have even been a group therapy class available to me when I was pregnant (that I likely skipped). I didn’t need training on grief, I was apart of something too wonderful to have time to be sad. I didn’t get it. And it took me a solid twelve years (there’s no exaggeration there) until I actually felt it. I suppose looking back, I didn’t feel like I had the right to grieve. I felt too much guilt around it…even feeling shameful at times for being remotely sad about something that had turned out so beautifully. I mean, how could I possibly feel sad when this little boy was so loved and taken care of, and I still get to see him, and I should be grateful, and appreciative, and, and, and.
And I managed to make it through those first twelve years pretty seamlessly - until finally last Mothers Day, in the middle of my steak dinner, it came over me like a full on f**king tsunami. I absolutely lost it. I burst into tears, and yet still tried to smile as I just kept putting fork-fulls of food into my mouth. Have you ever tried to eat and cry at the same time? It’s not easy, I assure you. My poor partner didn’t even know what to say…and neither did I. That night, and into the next morning, I just cried. And I mean ugly-cried, like snot pouring out of your nose, wiping it on your sweater, can’t catch a breath, sobbing into a pillow, cried. I was finally grieving. Grieving the loss as a Mother who wasn’t able to raise her own child. It was happening whether I was ready for it or not, so I decided to finally give myself the room and permission to properly do it. I allowed myself to feel disappointed, to feel angry, to feel jealous, to feel empty. I leaned into the hurt, and just sat with it in that dark room by myself. I acknowledged its existence, and then told myself that I was not a bad person for feeling this way. To clarify: my therapist told me I was not a bad person for feeling that way, I however, thought I was a horrendous human being. The whole experience was pretty cathartic to say the least.
Looking back today, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I only wish I’d given myself permission to grieve a little sooner, and realized that just because I feel sad sometimes, doesn’t take away the immeasurable gratitude and love I also hold. I guess I’ve learnt over this last decade that there can be space to feel both. And I encourage you to give yourself permission to feel all the feels, because when you do, it’s pretty damn liberating.
MC (birthmother) xoxo