I think a great way to work through the grief many birthmothers experience is through journaling. However, sometimes I think that some birthmothers struggle with where to start and what to write about in regards to journaling.
Michelle Thorne, a fellow birthmother, wrote a book dealing with this very subject. Her new book, Revealing You: A Journal for Birthmothers, is not typical. This interactive book is more about the birthmother, her thoughts, her feelings, and working through her grief as she journals. The book is divided into fourteen chapters. Michelle shares her thoughts, quotes, and journaling prompts on a different subject in each chapter, and then provides the reader with lots of blank-lined pages for her own journaling.
Michelle has been a birthmom in a semi-open adoption for fifteen years. I asked her a couple of questions about why she wrote the book and how journaling has helped her over the years.
How and why did you come up with the idea of creating a journaling book for birthmoms? I think that writing is a safe and healthy way to cope with the intense grief associated with adoption. As a birthmom, and also as a Birthparent Advocate for an adoption agency, I have seen the need for positive coping mechanisms after placement. I have used a lot of the ideas and questions in the book with the post-placement support group I facilitate. It has proven to be helpful.
How has journaling helped you as a birthmom? I process through writing and have since I was young. Journaling helped me understand and organize my story. It made me realize two things: one, my story is important and needs to be shared, and two, my story changes. There are things that remain, but when I look back to the writing from 2005 or 2010, it is vastly different from my story today in 2015. Writing about my adoption journey is tender, but helps me own my story—the good, the bad, and the ugly, all of which are important and make my story what it is.
Why do you think journaling is important, specifically and especially for birthmoms? Birthmothers need positive coping mechanisms. So many positive coping mechanisms are simply designed to keep you out of jail or from getting pregnant again. I think journaling is valuable to birthmothers because it helps us process what happened and what is happening now. It’s more than a quick fix. Journaling is a walk with yourself when you need honest company to get you through the moment.
Anything else to add? You don’t have to be a writer to journal. This journal has prompts and questions to help you think critically through your adoption journey. The chapters can be visited and revisited as you continue on. The hope is that you take the journal and make it your own with thought and color. And out of that comes some sense of hope and purpose, and perhaps a bit of relief too.
I highly recommend this book for birthmothers. I also think it would make a great gift idea for the birthmother(s) in your life. I think journaling is an important and healthy way to work through the grief all birthmothers experience and this gives you a great starting point.