Article adapted from a blog written by CAC Adoption Consultant Dawn Wright.
Thirteen years ago, when my husband and I began doing foster care, there was a lot they didn’t tell us. We took the foster care classes and adoption-through-foster care classes as they were required.
- They told us about the fact that children in foster care may have experienced some difficult things.
- They said they may only come with a few things from their biological parents home.
- They told us about behaviors they may have.
- They told us about foster care, how it works, what are the goals, and what the “steps” are in the process.
What they didn’t tell us about was grief – particularly grief that you may experience regarding the birth mother. No one explains that because you are doing this out of a heart for children, but that you will have a lot of emotional feelings for the birth family as well.
My domestic adoption consulting clients regularly say “I don’t know what kind of relationship I want to have with the birth family yet. What do you think about that?” I understand their questioning. It’s not something that you can read and article and prepare yourself for. It isn’t something that you know inherently.
It’s usually not something that you decide. More commonly, it just hits you like a wave. Somewhere between getting matched, or taking in a foster child….and the consents being signed, or the stinging words of the judge saying from now onward the birth family has no authority, or perhaps on the airplane ride home, it hits you:
What about the woman who carried this child for 9 months? What about the biological father who may or may not even know about this child? What are they feeling? How hard is all of this on them?
In those moments that you feel the weight of it all. The heaviness of the situation. The pain of loss.
We ourselves that the gain is great. It is for us – we get to be their parents and we love them more than life. Of course, good is coming from this.
Even so, you can’t have great gain without great loss. Your child’s loss of being known to the family that once held them tight. The loss of a relationship that God created. The pain and loss of circumstances beyond their control such as poverty, addiction, or feeling trapped in a relationship that is harmful. Those situations are hard.
They are not things that I have faced or can identify with, which can make it hard to know how or what to feel. Even so, grief comes because of compassion for them. How hard that decision must be…what pain they must face!
The list of reasons birth families place their child into another’s arms is long, sometimes it may not be their choice, but a judge has had to make that tough choice for them. Each one is a real struggle – something they wrestle with for a long time. When that reality hits for you…what do you do with that?
It’s ok to grieve. Let your child know you are grieving. Share with them about it. Share with them about their losses. Our children feel those losses too. When you open up and become real with them it helps you both heal. Let those emotions be real and don’t hide them away!
Caring means that even though I may be out of my comfort zone I will send those pictures and letters. It means writing to a birth mom about how amazing this child that we have in common really is! It means not feeling threatened if we meet.
It means saying that the birth family matters.
Christian Adoption Consultants can help you walk through the entire adoption process, including thinking through and relating to birth parents. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.888.833.1114 to reach a consultant.