I recently had the blessing in my life in the form of a visit from my son and his parents. My family and I moved out of state a few years ago, and visits have become more challenging due to about a 12-hour drive. However, they decided to come for a visit! We had been planning it for months, and I was so excited. I went through a wave of emotions while my son was here. He is so mature for his age, and just had a blast!
Those Pesky Emotions…
There is a plethora of emotions a birth mother may experience when visiting or talking with her birth child. I know because I have experienced many of them. Regardless of how long it has been since placement, what forum we are communicating in, or how old he is, I always experience powerful emotions when I interact with him. The following are some emotions that are perfectly normal to experience and some tips on how to manage those feelings:
Grief is one of the most powerful emotions that I experience as a birth mother. While I have processed through much of this, I still have waves of its stages. In the beginning of our adoption relationship, I would experience grief in a very substantial way. I would lay my eyes upon him and must hold back tears because I was so sad that I couldn’t provide for him. I felt angry at the people who weren’t supportive while I was a mother. Over time, through therapy, and with support, I have come to a place where the grief has lessened so substantially that I barely notice it.
I was a mother for six months with an infant, and nine previously when I was pregnant. I didn’t choose adoption immediately upon learning that I was pregnant. I had the mentality that I was a mother, and that I was going to raise a child. Now that I am a birth mother, my role has changed to my son. I am not the one who puts him to bed, disciplines him, or teaches him daily. Sometimes I still find that I will experience confusion regarding my role in his life. There are moments when I desire to parent him when I am with him, moments when I miss him, and moments when I’m not even sure what to say to him.
The greatest feeling of joy that I have ever felt is when I am with my son. No matter what is going on in my personal life, when I talk to him or see him, it gives me the energy to keep moving forward in my own life. I know that what I did by choosing adoption was brave, and his happy and healthy life only further proves that it was the right decision. I have felt depressed before interactions with him, and by the time the interaction ended, I literally have wanted to bottle up the joy I felt and save it for later when I need some happiness in my life.
Peace is the goal I think. No matter what you have been through as a birth mother, no matter what obstacles you have overcome as a woman, and no matter how difficult life can be, peace with adoption is the goal of being on a healing journey. I can confidently claim to have a level of peace in my life today. I saw my son recently, and just could enjoy my time with him. I was in the present, didn’t obsess over what was or what could have been, and truly got to love on him and was able to let him love on me.
If you experience negative emotions while engaging in interaction with your birth child, keep in mind that it is completely normal. You might tear up a bit, you might even have to step away to cry. What’s important is that you take a breath and remember what a blessing you have given this child. Look at his or her life and be grateful for what that child has. The adoptive parents that you choose should bring you comfort as well, just by knowing that you choose them and they choose you and your child.
If you find that phone calls and visits are proving a bit too challenging, don’t beat yourself up. Perhaps it is best to limit your visits to an hour or two, and phone calls to five to ten minutes. That’s what I have done, and his adoptive parents sometimes need these limits as well. If we can all respect each other’s needs, we get through the difficult times together.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.