It’s that time of the year. The beginning of the holiday season where my Pinterest board is showing DIY costumes, Thanksgiving crafts, and new Christmas traditions to start. And as I reflect upon this, I remember that not too long ago the holiday season was a time of great sadness for me. And now I get to fully enjoy the true meaning of the season with my son. Yet, I feel the empathy for a mom out there who is heartbroken and sad during this time of the year. One thing that is hard for others to understand is that adoption, while it is a beautiful and joyous thing, is from sadness. Sadness that can last a lifetime for birthmoms while we are enjoying the blessings.
Let me tell you a little bit about my family. Hudson, my energetic, funny, and loving two year old was adopted domestically as an infant through an open adoption. The relationship with his birthmom has not been easy. In fact, it was one of the hardest relationships I have ever had. But we worked through it and it is a beautiful thing, for all involved. Not many understand why we chose to do an open adoption, or even keep it open with some of the things that happened. But, I fought for this relationship for my son and I am so glad I did. Now we are currently in the process of adopting another son from Africa. He is legally ours, but still lives on the other side of the world. And someday he will be home, but not before this holiday season.
When we started this adoption we were told we would travel 4-6 months after receiving our referral. After months of waiting and grieving 3 lost referrals, we received news that things were changing and it would be closer to a year before we could bring him home. And this holiday season is particularly hard, because this month will mark 6 months since receiving his referral, I thought we would be home. But now I see this change, this experience, has given me empathy for Hudson’s birthmom that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Of course I was compassionate and understanding. But no one can really know what it feels like to have a child that is yours, which you love, and have called your son since you first saw their face and not be with them during the holidays.
I now have a good relationship with our birthmom, but twice a year I have come to expect anger from her: May and December. May is of course Mother’s Day, how could she not hurt?! This past Mother’s Day I felt her pain as I celebrated with one son here to hug and another sick half a world away. And then for our birthmom she relives the pain of the day she gave birth to a son she doesn’t raise. To a son she doesn’t get to rock to sleep when he is sick, or kiss every night before he goes to bed. It’s a hard month. And I get it. And last December, I thought I understood her pain at Christmas. I knew what it was like once to long for a child to watch experience the joy on Christmas morning, but I was wrong. It is not the same hurt. And unfortunately, as I am buying gifts for my son who won’t be here this Christmas, I see her pain is much deeper than mine was when I longed for a child to hold.
So, we celebrate and honor her. We call her on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, which is actually Birthmom’s Day. We make her gifts and Hudson colors on her card. We call her on his birthday and send her pictures. At Christmas we have incorporated some if her Christmas traditions into ours to and call her Christmas morning. This Christmas we are incorporating traditions from our next little one’s country into ours. So as you are experiencing such joy and happiness this time of year, make sure you take the time to remember someone out there is hurting. Someone is trying to push back the tears and enjoy the season. Honor them and the blessing they graciously and selflessly gave you.
What are some things you have done to honor your child’s birthmom, whether or not you know who she is?