How can an adoptive family express their love and support for the woman who gave life to their child?
“After watching my child enter the world, I looked over at her (my child’s birthmother). At that very moment, I felt so much love for her. I was keenly aware that she was the reason I was becoming a mother. How would I ever express the depths of my love for her?”
What a great question. How can an adoptive family express their love and support for the woman who gave life to their child? Offering encouragement as she moves forward after placement, pursues her goals and dreams and attempts to re-integrate into the life she once lived can be easy. What isn’t so easy, however, is knowing how to offer support when she is grieving the loss of her child – your child. What does one say? What does one do to help?
It can be awkward. After all, she is grieving the loss of her child – the child that you are celebrating. You may feel helpless. You may feel guilty that she is hurting and you are rejoicing. What do you do with so many conflicting emotions? How can you encourage her as she struggles with her loss?
One of the best things you can do, according to Patricia Roles, social worker, therapist and reunited birthmother, is listen. Just as you are sharing your new journey of parenthood with her, allow her the freedom to share her new journey with you as well. Some of her journey will involve great excitement as she finds her “new normal”, experiences new things and develops new relationships. But some of her journey will also involve great sadness as she grieves what could have been.
Affording your child’s birthmother the opportunity to talk about her feelings - the positive and the not so positive - is one of the best ways for her to process her own feelings of grief and loss and ultimately, experience better grief management. What an amazing gift you can give to her in return for the amazing gift she has given you.