Navigating the Emotions of Reconnecting After a Semi-Open Adoption

I have been a birth mom for 21 years and navigating what that journey looks like ever since.

For a season, I didn’t share my journey, it was mine, and honestly, it was very personal. I didn’t want to invite anyone else into it; kind of like a kid with candy! I wanted to keep all the good stuff for myself.

Working in a pregnancy center, my career put me in a position to be vulnerable with my journey, often sharing it with complete strangers. I began connecting with some online birth mom support pages to help navigate some of that vulnerability. Other birth moms are amazing! Seriously, this journey can make us feel alone but I have yet to face a situation that another birth mom hasn’t already navigated through.

However, as I began to open up and share our story with other birth moms, I realized a whole new world! It seems obvious, but it can be crippling.

No two adoption stories are the same.

As years have passed and open adoption became the new normal it left me feeling a huge void with my daughter and her family. All the milestones I had missed, the relationship that I was missing. The truth is I was jealous, envious, and a little bitter. I longed for nothing more than to have a healthy and thriving relationship with my daughter. I patiently, impatiently waited. Naturally, as we began our reconnection, I was ecstatic! I thought it’s finally happening! I am going to have one of those fairytale, open adoption stories like other birth moms. I was eager to reconnect and rebuild my relationship with her mom has helped me heal from the pain and loss of placement.  She was one of my rocks before, during, and for the first year post-placement. I was also nervous to see how my daughter and I would connect. Would there be this instant connection? Or, would she be angry or hurt and filled with a million questions?

It did not take long for my little bubble world to pop, the disappointment to set in, and what should have been an amazing joyful occasion was filled with bitterness. It wasn’t that instant happy reunion that I had dreamed about since placing her in her mother’s arms. For the first time since placement, I found myself in need of counseling and guidance because I was flooded with new emotions and fears.  The fact I needed counseling alone made me feel broken all over again. That is the amazing thing about having lifelong counseling for birth moms, it is there to help us navigate through every season of our journey. The counseling and guidance offered to me helped me see I was not broken, and my feelings and fears were completely normal. My reconnection was awkward, like trying to make a new friend. It was and is a constant balance of respecting her parents and the life they provided for her and being there when she reaches out. After all, they provided the life for her I was not prepared to do, and I owe her life, love, and happiness to them.  

It is loving her with the truth even if it isn't what she wants to hear and may result in a few weeks of not communicating.  It is being patient for when she is ready to take the next step in reconnecting even through every part of me is longing for the day I can hold her in my arms again.

There are two very important things I have learned during our reconnection season.

One:  You never know when you are going to need counseling, so don’t beat yourself up for it when you do.

Two:  Stop letting comparison have a negative effect on my journey or how I feel about others.

Now, I own our story! I’m proud of it and all of its differences. I can rejoice with other birth moms without feeling jealous or bitter, and  I keep my faith and have a joyful and expectant hope knowing the story will end the way it’s supposed to.

- Angela

This article was written by Angela - a wife, mom, birth mom, adoption professional, and friend. Meet Angela here! 

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