We all have an adoption story, don’t we? Most of us understand that family isn’t only defined by blood. Family is the place where we are fully known, fully loved. I’ve experienced this in many forms and have learned that sometimes even your blood relations can fully know you and not love you. I may be a birth mother in the adoption triad but I have experienced the joy of being accepted and appreciated for who I am by people who have no obligation to love me.
I was asked to speak at a fundraising banquet for the adoption agency that helped me find a family for my daughter. The banquet room was filled with over 400 people and I was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed not by the eyes or judgements of those who might hear me share such a vulnerable story about my life. I was overwhelmed by how many people supported children… how many people supported me.
It might come as no surprise to you to hear that birth mothers and birth fathers have the least amount of support in the experience of adoption. Whether your parental rights are given away by choice or taken away by force, the grief you feel as the void in your heart remains ever present is not met with much support on the back end. Yes there are support groups for birth parents, though not many. How many birth parents do you think actually want to attend a meeting where they have to admit that their children were taken away from them? Even an adoption by choice leaves a birth parent with feelings of guilt. Many birth parents can’t face those feelings of guilt in a way that would even allow them to walk into a support group. With so few birth parents speaking out, it may often feel that there are not many out there who can relate to a birth parent. But as many children as there are in foster care, there are that many birth parents grieving.
When I stepped onto that stage to share my deeply personal story, I was hit with a wave of acceptance. Every single person in that room was there because they appreciated the sacrifice I made. They appreciated the pain that I went through in deciding that my daughter might live a better life without me. They accepted me because of my experience.
I don’t know how many birth parents out there will read this but I want to encourage them to share their story. We can’t experience true acceptance without opening our hearts to let people in. Be brave. We might not be able to be there for our children, but we can be there for one another.