Expressing one’s self creatively is an amazing outlet for grief, fear, and stress. Healing as a birth mother means facing a lot of painful emotions. In those times of trouble, it is important to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Creating artwork in any form is a great way to process any kind of emotion. Drawing, painting, crafting, writing, etc. are effective ways to apply healthy coping mechanisms for healing as a birth mother.
Why is Healing Important for a Birth Mother?
Birth mothers who choose to place their baby up for adoption will face many painful emotions in post-placement life. A birth mother will grieve her role as a birth mother, face loneliness from missing her child, and face the reality of her life changing dramatically as the result of an unplanned pregnancy and adoption. Of course, every birth mother situation is different, and she may find some pain from other sources of stress as well. All these emotions can affect a birth mother’s mental health. It is important for birth mothers to accept that they will need to process such emotions, and do so in a healthy manner.
If trauma and negative emotions are not dealt with, they will bottle up and become a problem in the future. Signs that a birth mother has not processed her negative adoption emotions are regret, depression, and perpetual negativity and anger. To avoid long-term issues, it is best that a birth mother faces her emotions head-on and develop healthy coping mechanisms early on in post-placement life.
How Does Creativity Impact Healing?
According to the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth, “It takes a lot of effort for the brain to deal with trauma. Whether because of post-traumatic stress disorder or the many adaptive behaviors that victims use instinctively in threatening situations, the traumatized brain is constantly on high-alert, particularly its lower regions, where survival instincts originate. Simple artistic activities like drawing or sculpting clay can soothe those lower regions, which is why arts therapists argue that their methods can help trauma victims calm down and release some of that mental tension. These evidence-informed therapies use creativity to raise victims’ awareness of their physical and mental states and build resilience and a sense of safety.”
Creativity helps the brain to process in general, which will only increase one’s ability to deal with painful emotions from situations and experiences that may have caused some level of trauma. A birth mother who faces an unexpected pregnancy, or even an unwanted pregnancy, will find that expressing herself through creativity will help her in processing her painful emotions.
Creative Activities for Birth Mothers
There are many ways that a birth mother can express herself creatively. Some of the creative outlets a woman who has chosen adoption can utilize are:
- Keep a diary of daily thoughts and activities.
- Write poetry that expresses intense or overwhelming emotion.
- Paint or draw on paper or canvas with any utensil to expose negative emotions.
- Craft something unique to become a keepsake.
- Color adult coloring books that have meaning to a birth mother.
- Gift any of the artistic ways to express one’s self to people who a birth mother cares about.
- Create something artistic for the child who has been placed for adoption.
Links for Creativity
A birth mother facing negative emotions after choosing adoption for her baby may want to check out some of these resources to prompt healthy coping mechanisms creatively:
- Art 4 Healing offers online courses for artistic healing from home as well as Expressive Art Workshops.
- Purchase adult coloring books at a local bookstore, which are great for healing.
- Stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby are great resources for arts and crafts.
No matter what your creative outlet is for healing, make sure that it is used as a healthy coping tool. A birth mother may find that creativity is not enough for her healing journey, and may decide that she needs additional support. If this is the case, please feel free to contact your adoption professional and find out what additional therapy and counseling resources they have available.
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.