Navigating the Emotions of Reconnecting After a Semi-Open Adoption

I have been a birth mom for 26 years and navigating what that journey looks like ever since.

For a season, I didn’t share my journey, it was way too personal, and honestly, it was mine. I didn't want to invite anyone else into it, kind of like a kid with candy!  I felt like I had shared enough good already on placement day, so I wanted to keep all the good to myself and I didn't want to jade the beauty of her story with the hard.

I had to learn to become vulnerable with my story during the five years I worked at a pregnancy center.  During those five years, my career put me in a position to share my journey with complete strangers.  I learned about BraveLove at a Conference and quickly began connecting with some online birth mom support pages to help navigate some of that vulnerability.  The adoption journey is just that, a journey with highs and lows, and some pretty heavy emotions to navigate.  Finding other birth moms was amazing!  Seriously, this journey can make you feel alone but I have yet to face a situation that another birth mom hasn't already navigated through in one form or another.

However, as I began to open up and share our story with other birth moms, I realized a whole new world!

No two adoption stories are the same.

It seems obvious, but it can be crippling.  The whole comparison is the thief of joy was not only real, but became comparison was the source of sorrow.

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:  I will never know when I am going to need counseling, so don't beat myself up for it when I 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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