Thursday, October 16, 2014

When the grief of a birth mother hits you- an adoptive mom's perspective.

 You know over 13 years ago when we began doing foster care with our oldest sweetie- Abigail... no one told us a whole lot.  I mean we took the foster care classes and "adoption" through foster care classes - as they were back then.  They told us about the fact that children in foster care may have experienced some really not so nice things. 

They said they may only come with a few things from their biological parents home.  They told us about behaviors they may have.  They told us about foster care, how it works, what are the goals, and what the "steps" are in the process. 
 Of course I don't know if they really told us what to do about any of those behaviors, or how to help your child heal, or how to bond with your child.  Of course that is a whole other post. 
 BUT NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT GRIEF!!!  Specific to that of the birth mother.  No one explains that you are doing this because you care about the children, but that you will have a lot of emotional feelings for the birth family as well.  No one says it....or at least not out loud. 
 Clients I work with in domestic adoption say all the time, I don't know what kind of relationship I want to have with the birth family yet.  What do you think about that?  I know some of them are just not sure because it isn't something reading an article prepares you for.  It isn't something that you just know inherently.
 It is usually something that hits you!  RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES!  Somewhere between getting matched, or taking in a foster child....and the consents being signed, or the stinging words of the judge saying from now onward you have no say over anything having to do with this child, or maybe on the airplane ride home from another country. 

WHAT???  Wait a minute?  What about the woman who carried this child for 9 months?  What about the biological father who may or may not even know about this child?  What are they feeling?  How hard is all of this on them?   
 It is at those moments that you feel the weight of it all.  The heaviness of the situation.  The pain of loss. 
 Oh some of you and maybe even myself at times tell ourselves that the gain is great.  It is for us we get to be their parents and we love them more than life so of course it is a gain too. 

But you can't have great gain without great loss.  That loss of being known to the family that once held you tight.  The loss of a relationship that God created.  The pain and loss of sometimes circumstances beyond your control such as poverty, addiction, or feeling trapped in a relationship that is harmful.  Those situations are HARD! 

They are not situations that I have faced or even really know anything about.  Which can make it hard to know how or what to feel, but grief comes because of compassion.  Compassion for them, and for how hard those situations are.  For how hard that decision must be!!  Love for them in what they are facing right now. 
 The list of reasons birth families place their child into another's arms is long, sometimes it may not be their choice, but a judge has had to make that tough choice for them.  Each one a real struggle.  Something they wrestle with for a long time.  When that reality hits for you...what do you do with that?   
 Grieve!  Grieve about it!  Let your child know you are grieving.  Share with them about it.  Share with them about their losses, because I know for a fact our children feel those losses.  When you open up and become real with them it helps them and you heal.  Let those emotions be real and don't hide them away! 
 I truly believe that when we are real and open it helps us, the child/ren, and their birth family.  It says we care and we want to help you and your birth family. 
 It says even though I may be out of my comfort zone I will send those pictures and letters.  I want to write to you about how amazing this child that we have in common really is!!!  Even if we meet up- I am not "threatened" I am empowering myself, the birth family, and our child to heal.  I am saying that YOU - THE BIRTH FAMILY MATTERS TOO! 

What if the Body Of Christ worked together like this more often.  Then we get inspired!  We start sharing that even though there are hurts that God created us to work through those for the benefit of ALL.  What if we got on our knees and thanked the Lord for the special people in our lives and that included our children, family, and birth families?  How would that change our focus in adoption? 
 Trust me I am not saying it is easy!  I am not saying it is something that comes naturally.  I am saying when that grief hits you, and you respond in a way that is honoring and loving our world can change in ways no one can describe.  We start loving more like Jesus! 
 After all isn't love the whole reason we started the adoption process?  We just don't always expect the love to be for our children AND their birth family.  I can assure you that even if you have never met and may not ever get to meet them you can still have a love for them.  You can still pray for and rest assured that God carries that love to them.  
 In the past couple of years our vacations have been awesome!  Because we have had fun- yes, but also because we have chosen to visit some of our children's birth families.  Were we nervous - ummmm....YES!!!!  We were very nervous. 

Things many adoptive parents ask and sometimes what keeps them away from doing visits are questions like:  What if our children love them more?  What if they don't want to come home with us?  What if we don't seem "as good" in our children's eyes?  We can break down with those nerves. 
I can assure you that this hasn't happened at all.  What has happened is experiencing the huge smiles on our children's faces (even though some of them were nervous too), the smiles on their biological family's faces, and of course on our faces too!!!  The joy of a time of healing, of something very different than we expected.  The time to say- wow look at these wonderful children!!  Aren't they the greatest?  And having them in total agreement!  How can that be negative? 

Oh and don't worry because from every experience I have ever had with birth mothers I have worked with and our own- both families are always nervous!!!  Both sides feel judgement in different ways.  So know that you are in good company, and that sharing the love of your children doesn't make it smaller- it multiplys!!! 

***Today's pictures brought to you by swim time on vacation.  Note daddy is chasing the boys playing the gotcha game.  It is a long family tradition.  Oh and the JOY of seeing Michael learn how to swim!!!  It is amazing to watch him figure out breath control, coming up for air, and loving splashing away!!  :)

1 comment:

  1. I mention our children's birth parents to them, but none of them really have feelings about the parents. We send photos and money to Haiti once a year, but we've lost our contact there so I don't know how to get them to him anymore. Adam is facebook friends with his birth family but feels no attachment to them. Jasmine has seen pictures of her birth mom and knows her musical ability comes from her but has never talked about her. If they ever want to know or discuss it, we will help them, but I think you're right that it is something that isn't covered in MAPPs or other programs. And most of their discipline stuff was useless. You were supposed to parent to prevent the poor behaviors from happening--which might work if you got the child as a newborn--but most foster kids are already exhibiting those behaviors so the ideas don't work.

    The swimming looks like a lot of fun.