The art of writing is not to be overlooked. Conveyed in the pen is the heart. Whether you are feeling or thinking, your pencil can guide you. Lots to say or a little can be conveyed via the paper. As a writer, I know the joy associated with writing. I know that it serves so much more than the purpose of distributing a thought.
Writing is healing. As you pour yourself onto the paper, the glide of the writing utensil can take all your emotions and make sense of them again. Let’s not forget the joy of a hand-written letter as well, where the swiftness of the writing conveys hurried or thoughtful penmanship. As a birth mother, I have found writing to be a wonderful way to help heal the soul after choosing adoption or going through any type of traumatic experience.
Writing is a Lost Art
Handwriting is practiced in the classroom of young students. Yet, before technology intervened in our society, handwriting was a daily expectation. With our smart phones, laptops, and other devices, we are blessed to be able to communicate with others at the push of a touch screen button. With all the good that technology brings with it, there are consequences as well. Sometimes we hit the send button without considering what we are saying first. Sometimes impulse can take over along with laziness and we say things that we don’t mean. While I am a huge fan of technology, I think that it is overused.
Why Writing is Healing to a Birth Mother
So, what does technology and my complaints about its abuse have to do with being a birth mother? Consider the child you have placed for adoption. He or she is living a life in an adopted family. Hopefully, they are happy, healthy, safe and secure. Yet, in an open adoption, there is a desire for both the birth mother and the child placed for adoption to have a relationship with one another. Even in a closed adoption, a birth mother will miss her child and perhaps struggle with the urge to communicate with him or her. There are so many emotions that go into being a birth mother. There is also the constant craving that a mother has a relationship with her child. These are all normal feelings.
Writing Letters to Your Child
Considering how healing writing can be for a birth mother, coupled with the benefits of a handwritten note, brings me to my point: write your child letters. Use the paper as your canvas, and consider what you are going to say before putting the tip of the pen to the paper. Use a pencil if you need to write a draft letter before your final version. Now imagine, years from now when your child is grown up, how much they will appreciate these letters. Not only have you taken the time to write to them, but you have considered what you are writing. A tone is conveyed in penmanship as well. As a young child who has been adopted, having a pen pal in the form of a birth mother can be incredibly exciting. “Did birth mother’s letter come yet?”
To Send or Not to Send
Choosing to send or not to send the letters that you write to your child is completely up to you. If you have a closed adoption, then you will not be able to mail the letters you are writing. However, if they are appropriate, you can save them for when your child is grown and perhaps decides to seek you out. These letters will serve as memorabilia of your life and how much you have loved your child for their entire life. You can explain your adoption decision, talk about what you have gone through, and share the joyful milestones you have reached in your life.
Respect Adoptive Parents
In an open adoption, mailing a letter to your child may be acceptable per your adoption agreement and post-placement contact agreement. If you are in an open adoption, but have not agreed on letters, then assess your relationship with the adoptive parents to determine if asking them about letter writing is appropriate. Remember, no matter what you do as far as healing goes, to always respect the boundaries set forth by adoptive parents. Keep in mind that they have needs as well as you, and they are also parenting, which adds more needs for healthy boundaries. If adoptive parents agree that a birth mother can become a pen pal for her child, then please always make sure your letters are age-appropriate for your child.
Consider This When Writing Letters
Here are some things to consider when writing letters to your child who was placed for adoption, whether you send them or not:
- Keep in mind how old your child is. Young children are in school and may be doing extra-curricular activities. These are great things to comment on and ask about. Ask the child how he or she is doing in school. Ask the child how their activities are going.
- Don’t bring up anything that may be too mature for them. For example, your struggles as a birth mother are not appropriate to put on a child. Their little minds can’t comprehend that hard times is a part of life, and it is very likely they will not understand or that they will take it the wrong way.
- Don’t be surprised if your child’s parents read the letters before sharing them with your child. This is going to be their way of protecting their child, and that is not only their right, but their responsibility. It may be good to ask them for feedback regarding content from time to time if you do send the letters, so that adoptive parents can let you know what is and isn’t appropriate.
- Keep the letter content on the lighter side. Don’t get into heavy conversations or points, as that is not appropriate for letters to children. If you do find that a situation arises in which a conversation may need to be had, talk to your child’s parents about it. If your child needs to have a conversation with you, that may be better addressed in person or over the phone.
- ALWAYS RESPECT BOUNDARIES OF ADOPTIVE PARENTS. I cannot stress this point enough. If the adoptive parents are not interested in having you send letters to your birth child, then don’t do it. It is more important to have a relationship with your child in the long-term rather than satisfy a desire in the short-term.
- Know that ultimately, writing letters is a tool for healing. If you don’t send the letters, you can still write them. Tell your child how life is going for you. Use the opportunity to let some of your feelings out, and sort through the mess that may be going on in your mind.
Healing is a Right and Responsibility for a Birth Mother
No matter whether you send letters or not, I highly recommend that you write them. A hand-written letter from a birth mother to her birth child is a beautiful thing. This keepsake not only aids in the healing process, but may turn out to be invaluable to the relationship a birth mother has with her child in the future. Birth mothers have a right and responsibility to heal, and letter writing can be one more tool in your healing toolbox.
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.