The holidays are always looked forward to, however, for birth parents it can bring up hard emotions and be a tough experience. Because holidays are about sharing time with family and loved ones, this can bring up complicated emotions when the child you placed is spending it with their adoptive parents. While you can be happy that they are establishing new family holiday traditions, this may be a time of grieving the fact that they won’t be establishing those traditions with you. Adoption is a bittersweet journey and it’s not unusual for the holidays to make it even harder.
Every birth parent’s situation is different, so it is important to think about what you are feeling and what you might do to cope with your individual emotions. No matter how recent your grief from your placement is, you should always take the time to care for yourself. You made one of the most selfless and brave decisions a person could ever make by choosing adoption.
If you’re feeling grief and sadness around the holidays, here are some things you can do to address your feelings.
Talk to your adoption specialist or someone you feel comfortable with
Allow yourself to be truthful and feel every emotion, whether good or bad. Ignoring your emotions is unhealthy for your mental well-being. The heightened emotions of the holidays can be too much for anyone, but you should not have to cope with these feelings on your own. Your adoption specialist or social worker is always available to talk you through what you may be feeling, either to offer advice or just a shoulder to lean on. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those you trust for support during this time. While they may not completely understand what you’re going through, they care for you and can provide the support you need during this time. There are also other birth mothers experiencing the same thing and attending a birth mother support group can help remind you that you are not alone.
Make your child a part of our holiday activities
The child you placed for adoption will always be a part of your life, and it feels appropriate, you may feel that is it important to include them in your holiday traditions. If you have an open adoption and the ability to visit them, take advantage of that if you feel that it may ease some of your heavy emotions. Whether it is a phone call, a video chat, or an in-person visit, connecting with your child can be helpful when facing these emotions during this time.
If you don’t have the chance to involve your child in your holidays physically, find a way to honor them on your own. You can make a special ornament or decoration that you put up each year or light a candle for them. Or send if possible, send them a gift each year.
Not acknowledging your grief is the worst thing you can do for yourself. Finding a way to either include or honor the child you placed for adoption is a great way to recognize your feelings and honor their importance to you.
Take time to yourself
The holidays can be an overwhelming time for anyone and for birth parents, it can be even more so. You may feel obligated to spend time with family and friends and act happy, but if you are not feeling like doing that, you don’t have to. Self-care is so important, especially when coping with such complex feelings.
Whether is it immersing yourself in a hobby or activity, journaling, attending a support group, or doing something you enjoy, this can help you through these emotions.
To hear more ways for birth parents on how to cope during this holiday season, you might find this episode od Adoptions From The Heart TV to be helpful as they host a social worker and a birth mother to speak on the topic: