How to Survive Your First Christmas Post-Placement

This year will be my first Christmas post-placement. Sometimes,it’s hard to believe that I will be celebrating without my son. Last year he was still a little bun in the oven, kicking around, and this year he will be a 6-month-old. My heart broke at Thanksgiving and I can’t imagine it being much easier at Christmas. Time and God’s grace seem to be healing a lot of these wounds, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt any longer.  So in this post, I’m going to share my plans to survive my first Christmas post-placement.

Plan a Visit

If you have an open adoption that allows for visits, ask politely (and only once) if you can do a visit early this month. This would allow you to have your own little Christmas.  I know asking is scary but if you agreed to an open adoption that allows visits you have nothing to fear.  As long as you are polite and do not harass them, they won’t mind.  Hopefully, they will say yes but if not remember that December is a busy month and it’s nothing personal.

Buy them a present

Again, this depends on the openness of the adoption. If you are allowed to send things, send something special that they can keep. Be creative!  I am getting my son a stocking that has his nickname on it and a stuffed cow! Whatever it is, make it a keepsake that they can cherish.  Show them that you thought of them that first Christmas.

Write Letters

If you have a less open adoption, write a letter. You can keep it or send it if you choose but it is an excellent way to get out those feelings. Tell them how much you miss them.  Tell them what you wish you could have got them for Christmas.  Tell them what their birth families Christmas traditions are!  Whatever is on your heart, write it down.  Eventually, that letter will reach them and they will know how missed and loved they are.

I would also encourage you to write the adoptive parents a letter.  This is a great way to remind yourself why you chose adoption and why you chose them.

Start a Tradition

I love the idea of starting a Christmas tradition that includes my birth son. Your birth child is as much part of the family as anyone else.  These traditions can also be a great way to familiarize your future children, if you plan to have any, with their brother(s) or sister(s).  Some great ideas are:

  • Custom Ornaments
  • Hanging a stocking with their name.
  • Keep a present for them under the tree

Cry

I know this sounds crazy but I will always encourage crying. You deserve to cry. There is nothing wrong or shameful about it. You have suffered a loss and need to grieve. Crying has this amazing way of taking a weight off your shoulders.  As birth mothers we hold things in a lot, but this Christmas, you deserve a good cry.

Surround Yourself with Love

This Christmas I will be spending with my parents, my sister, my favorite cousin, and my best friends.  These people have loved and supported my decision from the beginning.  They also love my son.  They will join me as a weep.  They will miss him too.  They will love him as well.  Sometimes you just need to know you’re not alone and you’re not the only one who misses them.

Remember Why You Chose Adoption

Somewhere out there is a beautiful child who is getting loved and spoiled.  Somewhere out there, there is a couple whose hearts have been made whole.  Somewhere out there is a family that is complete because of your choice.  Don’t ever forget that you made this decision for a reason and while it may hurt now, it was the best thing for that beautiful little baby.  Celebrate that!

4 Facts About Birth Moms (You Probably Didn’t Know)

 

Hello,

My name is Terra.  I am a birth mother to a beautiful 6 month-old boy and I am not addicted to drugs.  I’m not addicted to anything.  In fact, I am a straight-A college student who attends church every time the doors open.  I have career goals, a loving boyfriend, a stable home life, and a strong support system.

Are you surprised?

Probably.  This is because today’s society has placed a stigma on birth mothers a long time ago that has yet to be lifted.  Most people expect birth mothers to be addicted to crack or a teenage girl who slept around too much but would be surprised to find that their idea of what a birth mother is, is most likely wrong.

So allow me to help.  Here are some things that birth mothers truly are.

 

Unique 

We all look different.  Birth mothers come in all shapes and sizes.  We are short, tall, skinny, chubby, young, old, black, white, dark-haired, light-haired, etc.

We all place for different reasons.  All of us have stories that lead to our placement, but none are ever the same.  Some of us place because we are not financially stable, some because of their mental health. Some to keep the child out of an abusive situation, some had children taken by the state, and sadly, some because they are forced.

We are all in different stages of our lives.  Some birth mothers are in school trying to get a degree.  Some are married to the love of their life and have children that they parent.  Some are in a relationship that is fading fast.  Some birth mothers are searching for a job, trying to pull themselves out of a pit.  Some are grandmothers who love their children and grandchildren more than life.  Some birth mothers are trying to focus on an algebra test and not write their crushes name all over their binder.

We are from different backgrounds.  Some birth mothers had loving parents and a stable home life.  Some were kicked out and became homeless.  Some were abused by the ones who were supposed to love and protect them. Some were adopted themselves.

There is not a single birth mother that is like the other.  Do not put us all into whatever category fits your stereotype.

Selfless

Birth mothers get told all the time how selfish we are for placing our child.  Those people could not be more wrong.  A birth mother choosing to place her child can be one of the most selfless acts.  We choose to hand the child we have bonded with for 9 months into the hands of another person, most likely a stranger.  We choose to suffer silently in the hopes that our child has a better life because of it.  We recognize our inability to parent our child and we choose someone who longs to.

Most birth mothers creates a hole in their heart to fill the hole in another woman’s heart.  If the adoption is closed, we accept that we may never see our child again or know anything about them.  If the adoption is open we watch as our child calls another woman mommy.  Regardless, we do it because we want our babies to have the best life possible.

Human

Believe it or not, we are all humans.  We laugh, we cry, we make mistakes.  We are not perfect, nor have we claimed to be.  Your words hurt.  When people tear us down and belittle us for our choice to place, it is painful.  When people make flippant comments like “well you gave your baby away.”  it destroys us.  I’ve never met a birth mother who doesn’t love and miss her child terribly.  Think before you rush to judge us.  Get to know us, talk to us, find out why we chose to place.  Understands that your words have the power to throw us into a tailspin for the rest of the day.  Birth mothers are humans.

Mothers

This is probably one of the most controversial topics when it comes to adoption.  Some people believe that birth mothers are not mothers and have no right to call themselves that.  But let me ask… If we are not mothers, then what are we?  An incubator?  We carry our children for 9 months.  We love our children.  We long for our children.  We miss our children.    We choose the best life we can for our children over our own happiness.  How are we not mothers?

Now I don’t say this to cheapen the adoptive mother.  She spends thousands of dollars, waits months, and love and provide for the child in a way we could not.  We love our children’s adoptive mothers even if they do not love us.  We deeply appreciate our children’s adoptive mothers.  However, we are still mothers too.  My favorite adoption quote is “He is her’s in a way he will never be mine and he is mine in a way he will never be hers.  Together we are motherhood.”  Adoptive or birth, we are both mothers.

We are not what we are portrayed to be and we are not the negative image so many hold on to.  The majority of us love and cherish our children.  We want them to live better lives than we could ever give.  We are not ashamed of our title.  WE. ARE. BIRTH. MOTHERS.

A Birth Mom’s Guide to Open Adoption

Congratulations! If you are  reading this you are most likely pregnant and looking into open adoption.  Open adoption is a beautiful thing.  It can be the coming together of two families to love and support the child that connects them.  I, personally, think that open adoptions should be the “go-to” as they make the process for the birth mother a little easier and make sure that the child will have answers to the many questions that come with being placed.

However, open adoption is not for the faint of heart and can get complicated.  It requires a lot of work on either side and communication.  Both parties (birth and adoptive family) need to be fully committed for this arrangement to thrive.  That is why I decided to write this.  I wanted to give you (the birth mom) a list of things to consider and do when going through the placement process.


Do the research!

STOP! Before you do anything you need to do your research.  I am obsessive when it comes to researching things.  I won’t eat at a restaurant without checking the ratings so there is no way I will let someone become involved in the placing of my child without ensuring they are legit and concerned for myself and my child.  Look into agencies and their ratings. Read birth mothers accounts of placement.  Look at other options such as private adoption.  Ask other birth moms about their experiences. This decision should be entirely your own and you deserve to be informed!  Prepare yourself!

Pick an Agency

This only really applies to those who are choosing to go through an agency.  Agencies are a great tool for some birth mothers because they do all the heavy lifting.  They allow you to choose the parents, meet with them if you want, and may even offer services such as counseling.  Find an agency that best fits your needs and really, truly cares about you.  If you have done your research, you should already have an idea of what you want and who you want to work with.  All you have to do is call, explain your situation, and that should get the ball rolling.

Pick the Parents

When I met my son’s adoptive parents, I knew they were going to be incredible.  I never doubted that the child that became theirs was going to be a lucky little girl or boy… And that was a year before I found out I was pregnant.There are some incredible people out there who would love not only your child but you as well, so don’t settle.  Take your time.  Look at every single option.  Pray.  Meditate.  Do whatever you need to do to make sure you are at peace and these are the people you want raising your child.

Discuss, Discuss, Discuss!!

This is something I really wish my adoptive parents and I had done more of.

There is a difference between discussing your hopes and dreams for your child and actually sitting down and being realistic.  I know that it kills the mood but it is necessary to have a healthy relationship with your adoptive parents.

Here are some things you may want to discuss:

  • Visits: Do we want them?  How many a year (or month)?  Can you bring your family?
  • Updates: How often?  What do you want them to include?
  • Social Media: Do you mind if I post pictures?  Can we be friends on Facebook?  Do you mind if I comment on pictures?
  • Relationship: What should I be called?  Will you explain who I am?  How do you plan on answering questions about his birth family? How are we going to handle conflict?
  • Contact: Can I text you?  Can we do phone calls?  Can we do video chats?

Those are just a few that I recommend discussing but there are plenty more that may be brought up.  Whenever a question pops into your mind write it down!  That way you are prepared.  Let the adoptive parents ask questions as well.  This is an effective way to put everyone’s mind at ease and establishing communication and trust.

You may walk away realizing they are not the parents you want for your child  and vice versa.  That’s ok.  It just opens the door for the right couple or the right child.

Write It Down

This is a touchy one.  I know this may strike you as me not trusting adoptive parents or accusing them of lying, but that is not the case.  I am adding this to the list because after the baby is born reality comes crashing down.  Feelings that you or the adoptive parents never thought would come take over you.  By getting everything in writing and signed, it is a way of showing an agreement was made.  It gives the adoptive parent a chance to really think about what they just said or agreed to, and decide if they REALLY meant it.

I’m not saying it is legally binding but it can’t hurt.

Get an Advocate

This will be a rough few months.  I’m convinced that babies suck brain cells and there will be many times when you are simply not thinking straight.  This can lead to some rash, hormone filled, crazy reactions or decisions.  As a way to make sure you’re not doing anything you regret, find someone to advocate for you.  Some agencies act as an advocate for you but if not find someone you know has your best interest at heart.  Discuss your wants and expectations with them so they are able to advocate for you to the best of their ability.

Find a Therapist

This is SO important.  I am going to give you a harsh reality.  It’s offensive but you probably need to hear it.  You CANNOT do this alone.  You need someone to support you.  I think a therapist is the best option because they are impartial.  They are not emotionally attached so they will not get drained the way a friend or family member does.  They can also help you to see things from a different perspective and aid the healing process.

Baby Blues

Postpartum depression is extremely common.  Combine that with the sadness of placing and it is a recipe for disaster.  You have to grieve, that it perfectly natural.  Postpartum is not.  You need someone to watch you, to see if you’re going past sad into depressed.  If someone voices concern, take that serious and go see your doctor.  They can prescribe antidepressants or help you talk through these feelings.  It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Find a Community

I joined Birth Mom groups on Facebook almost the moment I got home from the hospital.  I was desperate for a safe place that I could share pictures, stories, fear, and hurt.  They are wonderful women that hurt and laugh along side me.  They understand my pain and the love I have.  I couldn’t do this without them.

Finding a group of birth mothers to share with helps more than you know.  They share your hurt and love.  They don’t judge you for placement and don’t get uncomfortable hearing about your birth child.  Fellowshipping with other birth mothers is not required but a huge help in regards to recovery.

Making Memories

This is a case-by-case thing.  Some people really love to journal and this is an awesome way to remember this time you had with your child.  If you’re not into writing, find other ways to record your feelings throughout this process. Do a maternity shoot. Painting, photography, vlogging, blogging, scrapbook, etc.  Whatever works for you.  Just remember these are the only times you will have that it is just you and your child.  Cherish them.  Remember them.

Don’t Be Scared

No matter how hard you try not get attached, the moment you hear that first cry and see that tiny human, you will fall in love.  And that’s ok.  So make sure you don’t let the fear of getting to attached take away from things you would love to do.  For example, I chose not to hold my son first because he needed skin-to-skin contact.  To this day I wish I had.  It may have made it harder but it would have been one of the few firsts I would get to share with him. Don’t be afraid of being a mommy, even if for a short time.

My last and most important piece of advice is this…

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

If anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, makes your feel uncomfortable, used, or unsafe, throw the brakes on.  At the end of the day, placement or not, you are a mother and mothers always know what is best for their child.  You have the power and control until you sign those papers.  Don’t abuse that but don’t be afraid to use it either.

Open adoption is such a beautiful, heartbreaking experience.  These are all things that my fellow birth mothers and I wish we had known while we were placing.  This will be a hard road but I hope this list will give you more of a sense of direction.


You are strong and beautiful, momma!  Regardless of your choice, you are incredible.  Adoption is nothing to be ashamed of so embrace it.

 

*Special thanks to all my fellow birth moms who suggested items for this list!*

The Other Side of Adoption

“Congratulations!”

“OHHHH”Congratulations!”

“OHHHHHH!!! He is amazing! You will be amazing parents.”

“HOW PRECIOUS!”

These were all comments on the first picture my son’s adoptive parents ever posted of him.  She posted the picture with the caption:

“Today, our world changed forever. Because of the love of such a wonderful, selfless, and incredibly STRONG young woman, My husband & I became parents.  Our family has grown by way more than just 2 feet. Because of this precious baby boy, we have also gained a new family. For someone to sacrifice so much, how could you not love them forever? I know that our journey may not make sense to others, but that’s okay. It’s only our journey to understand….”.   

I could never express how much it meant to me that she included me in her caption, but as the comments flowed in my heart broke a bit.  I watched as people congratulated them and sent kisses.  People were so excited to meet him!  And no one cared about me.  

 

After 9 months of pregnancy, 10 hours of labor, and leaving that hospital without my baby, only one person mentioned me… And she was a fellow birth mother.

 

I’m not going to lie to you.  Adoption has been the hardest thing I have ever done.  For a long time my heart broke constantly.  There was not a single week for many months that I was able to fully function.  There are so many things I wish I had known before I made this decision. So, in this article, I want to explain the things no one tells you about placing a child for adoption.  

 

1. YOU WILL LOVE MORE THAN YOU EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE.

Pretty much my entire pregnancy I hated the baby growing inside of me.  It was an unwanted pregnancy that was ruining my life.  I lost my friends, my credibility in my church, my reputation, and I just wanted it out of me.  Two nights before my son was born, I screamed at my mother, who had just finished arguing with my aunt about the adoption, that I didn’t care where the baby went I just wanted him away from me.  

 

Boy, I was wrong.

 

The moment I heard him cry for the first time my heart filled with so much love, I couldn’t stand it.  He. Was. Perfect.  His blue eyes, his big ears, his little toes, and fingers… Absolute perfection.  All the resentment and anger I felt towards him melted away.  From that moment on I wanted to do everything in my power to love and protect him.  I would have gladly laid down my life for him.  I only wanted to be near him.  I finally understood unconditional love.  

 

2. YOU WILL HURT MORE THAN YOU EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE.

No pain will ever compare to the day I signed over my rights and left the hospital.  You’re probably thinking “Well, why didn’t you just change your mind?”  The answer is pretty simple.  I adore my son’s adoptive parents.  I knew them long before I got pregnant and they had loved him from the moment I told them about him, unlike me who only did when I met him.  They had dished out tons of money for a lawyer, home studies, a nursery, and so much more.  They were ready to be the parents they had always dreamed of being.  How could I take that away from them?  

 

Regardless, my heart felt as if someone had shattered it with a sledgehammer and I was neither physically or mentally able to pick up the pieces.  I honestly don’t think my heart will ever be the same again.  Some days I’m OK but others I want to crawl out of my skin.  For the first time in my life, I’ve contemplated suicide.  These words I’ve written don’t even begin to cover the hurt you will feel.  Though I’m told it gets better.  (Update: It does get better.)

 

3. YOU WILL DISCOVER WHO TRULY LOVES YOU.  

Want to know who truly loves you unconditionally?  Place your child.  

I have lost so many relationships because of my choice to place.  Friends have abandoned me because all of it is too heavy for them.  People at my church no longer trust me.  Co-Workers have decided it was their job to judge me.  But out of all this, the most painful is when family leaves you. I have some family members who have decided that I have betrayed them and the relationship has been ruined since.  Needless to say, unless they decide to change their tune, I may never see or speak to them again.  That hurts.  A lot.  

 

4. PEOPLE MEAN WELL… OR NOT.

The Bible tells us that the tongue has the power of life and death.  When you choose to place be ready to hear a lot of both.  For some reason, people don’t know when to be quiet.  Everyone feels the need to give you their opinion on YOUR choice.  Good or bad, it gets really old, really quick and every comment goes one of two ways.

“OH! What a selfless thing to do! I’m so proud of you.”

or

” How dare you! You abandoned your responsibilities.  You’ll regret it.”

Ugh.  Sometimes, you get to the point where you will want to tell them “Unless I initiate a conversation about my child, DO NOT talk about it.”  Honestly, if I wanted their advice I would have asked for it a long time ago.  If I talk about my kid I don’t want to know your opinion on my, (again) MY choice.  I want you to shut up, look at the pictures like you’re happy, and tell me what a beautiful baby I made.

5. EVERYONE GETS TIRED OF LISTENING.

Adoption is emotionally draining for everyone involved, including the adoptive parents.  As a (birth) mom you want to brag about your kid or cry on someone shoulder when you’re having a rough day.  Unfortunately, your go-to people will eventually get burnt out.  My go-to people are my parents.  They were so strong during my pregnancy.  But, eventually, it started to wear them down.  Not only were the taking on the heartbreak of placing their first grandchild but they were taking all of heartbreak as well.  My mother finally told me she couldn’t take it anymore.

 

I can’t be mad at her about it.  Just like we get tired of people talking to us about it, our rocks get tired too.  That is why I strongly urge all birth moms to find someone with no emotional attachment to the situation to talk to.  Going to counseling is a must.  Counselors not only listen but they offer advice and point of views that are actually helpful.  Another good resource is birth mom support groups.  There are many birth mom support groups on Facebook that are awesome!


All of this being said adoption is a beautiful thing.  Although I am hurting, I am at peace knowing that my son is safe and loved.  He is being raised by two amazing people who will love him unconditionally and give him the best life possible.  While sometimes I regret my decision and wish I had made the choice to parent, I realize I did the right thing.  Not for me but for my boy.  I am blessed to have an extremely open adoption where I get to play a big role in his life.  

 

I hope this helps you prepare you for what is coming.  I didn’t write this to persuade you to change your mind, I wrote it prepare you.  There are so many resources for adoptive parents but no one ever cares about the birth moms. I also hope, that if you are looking to adopt, already have adopted, or even just have a birth mother in your life, you would read this and be conscious of what you do and say.  What you would consider a little comment can send a birth mother spiraling for the rest of the day.  

 

Be strong birth moms! You are amazing!

 

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