“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
Hindsight is 20/20 when it comes to gratitude. In the thick of the forest, we are unable to see through the trees and hold a clear vision for our destination. Pain can be blinding, and our eyes may not be able to adjust properly in such a dark place. However, once we have walked through the fire, we can look back at what we have been through and see the purpose in it. We can be grateful for our walk, if for no other reason than it made us stronger. I felt like this when it came to anyone ever falling in love with me after choosing adoption. Today, I am grateful for the man that I call my husband, and that I can now see how choosing adoption didn’t make me less loveable, it made me more loveable.
Self-Love is Reflected in Our Relationships
The love from our parents, or our caretakers, is the first true love we ever become consciously aware of. After that, we meet peers, lovers, mentors, and others who embrace us on the path of life. However, when we go through hard times, the most important love we experience may seem difficult to find, and that is self-love. Self-love is the ability to create a love for us from ourselves. Self-love is about enjoying being with ourselves and cherishing who we are. Of course, self-love leads to self-respect. The love and respect we hold for ourselves is what determines our standards for how others in our lives will show us love. If we have low self-worth, and a lack o f self-respect, we will have no reason to hold others to higher standards when it comes to how they show us love and respect. I struggled with self-love quite a bit after choosing adoption, and it showed in my personal relationships.
The Shame of Choosing Adoption Doesn’t Have to Last Forever
In my experience, I held a lot of shame for choosing adoption for a period of time. While I knew it was the right choice for my son and I, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was a failure as a woman. The bittersweet emotions that come with choosing adoption are difficult to navigate. There is no black-and-white world for a birth mother. We deal in mostly gray areas. I was afraid that no man would ever love me again after I failed as a parent. At least, that is how I felt. I didn’t have enough self-esteem to create a self-love and self-respect that would be reflected in my romantic and intimate relationships, and it showed. Then, I met my husband and everything began to change.
Let at Least One Person Love You Through Your Healing Journey
My husband was not only intrigued by the fact that I chose adoption, but found it incredibly brave and selfless. He knew my reasons had everything to do with how much I love and loved my child. He respected me for the decision that I made even when I struggled with respecting myself for it. It was as if he gave me permission to forgive myself and begin to love myself again. I couldn’t create the love and forgiveness for myself until someone stepped in and showed me that healing in that arena was a possibility. My husband is the one who helped me walk through the thick of the forest. He is the one who showed me that I was worth loving. That was exactly what I needed to finish pulling through when it came to self-respect and self-love.
Birth Mothers CAN Love Themselves Again
If you are a birth mother who finds herself in a similar emotional rut, be encouraged that there is hope for you. You will go through many emotions, but as long as you face them, healing is possible. My experience has taught me that it doesn’t matter who loves you through your pain, as long as at least one person can. There is a phrase I learned in recovery from drugs and alcohol that has stuck with me ever since I was introduced to it: “We will love you until you love yourself.” This phrase gives others permission to love you, until you can accept the permission that they give you to love yourself again, or maybe for the first time ever.
Birth mothers should be encouraged to allow other people to love them. Don’t be afraid to let someone love you, because sometimes it is the best medicine to loving yourself again. If you have chosen adoption and can’t seem to find forgiveness and peace within yourself, please reach out and ask for help. There are healing resources available to you in the form of the anonymous internet, one-on-one therapy, birth mother support groups, etc. If you are considering adoption and concerned that these issues may arise for you, contact an adoption agency that can place you in support services right away. Starting the healing process sooner rather than later will only benefit you. Feel free to reach out to an adoption professional through this form. Remember that you are not alone and that if anyone loves you while you find self-love as a birth mother, it is me.
This is the third post in a 12-part series on gratitude in adoption. Stay tuned for more.
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.