The holiday season is upon us. This time of year can be particularly difficult for birth parents who have made an adoption plan. It can also be challenging for expectant mothers who are planning to place their child for adoption.
This time of year is usually considered a time to celebrate. The white lights glow on the houses in your neighborhood. Nostalgic tunes and movies take over the airwaves. Families and coworkers gather for parties. Store shelves are stocked with decorations, wrapping paper, and toys for the children. For many, this is the most wonderful time of the year. For expectant/birth mothers, however, these festivities can bring up some painful feelings of loss and grief. This is normal.
Of course, adoption is an act of love that brings many benefits. It is a positive and loving choice. Many women who place their child for adoption can confidently say that it was the best choice they could have made, for their child and for themselves. Still, it is only natural that feelings of loss arise as a part of the process. These feelings can be amplified during the holiday season, when family comes together.
Adoptions With Love wants expectant/birth mothers to know that you are not alone. Whether you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering making an adoption plan, or you placed your child for adoption many years ago, you can still lean on your adoption agency for support. You can also take this time to create some new, happy traditions for your child. In fact, with a little creative planning, you can make this the best holiday season yet! Here are some ideas for birth mother holiday traditions, that will allow you to celebrate both your child and your adoption story for years to come.
- Write a letter
If you have an open adoption, you can start a new tradition of writing a letter to your child’s adoptive family. Your letter can share an update on your own life, a wish for your child, and your own feelings and celebrations surrounding the holiday season. Depending on your relationship with your child’s adoptive family (and whether it is open), you may even want to write a letter directly to your child. This could be something to discuss with your adoption agency or the adoptive family ahead of time.
- Send a present
It may not always feel like it, but you are, in fact, a mother. The fact that your child is not living in your home does not mean you cannot celebrate him or her. Take your time, peruse the shops, and pick out something you think he or she would love. It can be something small. It does not have to cost a lot of money. A gift that can start a collection for your child may be a nice way to go. Perhaps it is a Christmas ornament, a snow globe or model plane. Remember: It is the thought that counts!
- Buy or make a special ornament
Whether you want to create something meaningful, or buy a personalized ornament from Etsy, it can be uplifting to have a special ornament that is devoted to your child. You may choose to put his name on the ornament, or even the date of his birth and/or adoption. Think of this as a special badge of honor. Being a birth mother is an incredible thing. You have created a beautiful little life, and you have so selflessly chosen to ensure that your child has the best life possible. You can turn your pain into a positive, and this special ornament can serve as a reminder each year when you put up your tree.
- Light a candle
Here is another special idea for birth parent holiday traditions. When you take out your holiday decorations for the season, or even on Christmas Eve night, have a special candle that you light in honor of your child. This is often done for those who have passed away. Although your child is not gone from this earth, lighting a candle may help you recognize your feelings of grief – and that is an important part of the birth mother journey.
- Schedule a visit
Depending on your relationship with your child’s adoptive family, you may be able to schedule an in-person visit. This is a very special time of year, so what better time than Christmas to meet with your child, and his/her mom and dad? Your adoption agency can help facilitate this request and arrangement, depending on the level of openness in your adoption plan.
- Make a phone call
If an in-person visit is not an option, you may choose to connect over the phone instead. Hearing your child’s adoptive parents’ voices will bring you comfort and joy. Depending on your relationship and open adoption status, you may be able to speak with your child, as well.
- Treat yourself to something special
In the rush of the holiday season, and the emotional challenge of your grief, it is important to take care of yourself. Whether you treat yourself to a mani/pedi at the salon, or buy yourself a new, cozy coat, you may find that buying yourself a little something can raise the holiday cheer.
- Start a scrapbook
When the holidays come around, folks like to be with family. This is one of the biggest reasons that Christmas is so hard – emotionally – on birth mothers. With the focus being on family, you may want to see your child. If you cannot see him/her in person, you may want to start a scrapbook. You can start with photos of yourself during pregnancy, and add any hospital or birth center photos you may have. Each year, you can build on this scrapbook with photos of your growing child (which may receive from your adoption agency). It may help to include photos with your child’s adoptive parents. This will serve as a reminder that she is safe, healthy, happy, and loved.
As one birth mother described the season: “Every year that goes by gets easier… When the holidays come around now, I mostly just look forward to seeing new photos of my daughter.”
Another birth mother explains,
“I think the thing that helps me the most is looking at pictures of my daughter. I love seeing her photos and reading the letters her parents have sent me, because it reminds me of the amazing life she has and how much she is loved. It brings me peace to know that she’s a happy, healthy kid in a loving family. That’s exactly what I wanted for her. So even when I miss her, I know that she’s happy.”
- Find support
As a birth mom who placed her child with adoption through Adoptions With Love, Kayla has some wise words to share for this time of year:
“During the holidays, you most likely will have a very difficult time. For me, it’s the hardest time of the year and I won’t lie, I have days where I do nothing but cry throughout the day.
“Though we don’t want to, it’s a very normal thing to feel this way.
“My advice is to have someone you can talk to, whether a friend, family member, or even another birth mom to just let your feelings out. If you have an open adoption and can ask for a picture of your child to cheer you up, that has helped me also many times.”
If you do not have anyone to talk with, never hesitate to reach out to Adoptions With Love. We always love hearing from our birth mothers, and are always here to talk. We provide free, ongoing counseling to birth mothers who made an adoption plan with AWL.
If you have not worked with Adoptions With Love before, but are seeking support, we can help you find the support that you deserve. If you are pregnant and considering adoption, we extend free counseling services to you. If you are a birth mother, we can help refer you to a local support group with other birth mothers experiencing grief this holiday season.
If you would like to speak with an Adoptions With Love social worker this holiday season, please call 1-800-722-7731. Amy, Nancy, Brittany, Jess and Carli are available 24/7 to answer your call, no matter what time of day or which day of the week – that is our promise to you.